• Published 15th Apr 2021
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The Fall of the Anoian - bookhorse125

Equestria is not the only land full of magical creatures. Welcome to Anoia.

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Chapter Two - Twilight

Princess Twilight Sparkle’s hoofsteps echoed through the empty halls of Canterlot Castle. She walked slowly, in no hurry to get to her usual monthly meeting. Every meeting was the same. Guards and captains came in to report that they had no luck finding the missing ponies, and she and her friends talked about how all the citizens of Equestria were living in fear, afraid that they or somepony they loved would be next to be taken without a trace, how they would only leave the house if they had to, how the school had been closed and mothers kept their foals close. Occasionally the leader of another kingdom would visit, also to report that they had no luck in their kingdoms finding their missing subjects.

Twilight sighed to herself. It was all too depressing. Even the weather seemed to agree. Clouds covered the sky in a thin layer, not enough to rain but enough to make the day feel very hopeless and dismal. The stained glass windows depicting Twilight and her friends defeating every foe that had dared step into Equestria had hardly any light to let into the empty hallways and dark rooms. It differed so much from Ponyville and Twilight’s castle there that Twilight got a lump in her throat, the aching homesickness that she always carried with her flaring up and bringing tears to Twilight’s eyes. It had been several years since Twilight had started ruling Equestria, but that didn’t make being away from Ponyville any easier.

The doors of the council chamber loomed in front of Twilight, interrupting her thoughts. Twilight took a deep breath and opened the doors using her magic. A large chandelier hanging from the ceiling was enough to light the room, even when the tall windows along the walls failed to do so. A long table with one and a half dozen golden chairs took up most of the room. On a raised platform at the end of the table was Twilight’s chair, with Spike’s smaller seat next to hers. Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Starlight Glimmer were sitting in the chairs closest to Twilight’s. Usually, there would be at least half a dozen captains of other commanding officers filling in more of the chairs, or at least one other leader occupying a council seat, but today, Twilight had instructed that any guards who didn’t have anything to report would not be necessary at today’s meeting. That meant that there were no guards there. Twilight sighed again, but she trotted up to her seat and sat down. Spike was sitting in his chair, and he cast a sideways glance at Twilight, wondering where she had been. It wasn’t like Twilight to be late, or even arriving at the last minute. Twilight avoided looking at him. For a moment, nopony spoke.

“This is ridiculous!” Rainbow Dash burst out, slamming her hoof on the table.

“Rainbow Dash!” Applejack glared across the table at the blue pegasus.

“More ponies are going missing every week!” Rainbow Dash continued, ignoring Applejack. “None of our guards have found anything. They’re just disappearing!”

Twilight sighed quietly to herself. A few months back, three pegasi went missing from Cloudsdale. One week later, several more ponies also disappeared. Since then, ponies had been suddenly disappearing without a trace all over Equestria. Twilight couldn’t find any pattern, and she had no idea what whoever was taking her subjects wanted. She had all her guards out looking for the missing ponies, hoping that they could find a clue. And it wasn’t just Equestria. She’d received word that the other kingdoms neighboring Equestria had missing subjects, too. Some of them were convinced that one of the other kingdoms was hiding their missing creatures, while others were more concerned with finding them and dealing with whatever was taking them later.

“I say we declare war!” Rainbow Dash slammed her hoof on the table again.

“Oh, dear,” Fluttershy muttered to herself.

“Rainbow, what has gotten into you?” Applejack demanded.

“I quite agree. This is not going to be solved by going to war with our neighbors,” Rarity said. “We don’t have any proof that it was them in the first place.”

“We don’t need proof! We just need force!”

“Rainbow, I understand that you want to find the missing ponies,” Starlight Glimmer said gently, putting her hoof on Rainbow’s. “We all do. But Rarity’s right. This isn’t going to be solved by going to war. What we need is to figure out where they went, or who took them, and work from there.”

“But we don’t know where they went, or who took them!” Rainbow swiped her hoof out of Starlight’s reach. “What’s to say that one of the other kingdoms didn’t take the missing ponies?”

“I’ve told you, Rainbow,” Twilight said quietly, “the other kingdoms have missing creatures, too. Not just Equestria.” Everypony turned to look at Twilight when she spoke. She might be their friend, but she was still the ruler of Equestria.

“Well, they could be stealing some of their own subjects, to make them not look suspicious!” Rainbow Dash declared, looking satisfied with herself.

“No way!” Pinkie exclaimed. “You saw how mad or scared or sad the other rulers were when they came to Twilight saying that their subjects were missing, too.” Pinkie’s eyes were red and puffy from crying, and her mane was on the verge of going flat again. She hadn’t been the same since she’d received word that her sister, Limestone Pie, had been taken.

“Well, what if it’s some new villain who is stealing ponies to have leverage on us?” Rainbow said, the triumphant look fading from her face.

“It’s very possible,” Twilight whispered. “And if it is…” Twilight trailed off. She didn’t need to finish her thought. Everypony understood.

“Well… what if they’re being sucked into another dimension?” Rainbow asked, racking her brain for any other explanation for how fifty ponies could disappear without a trace. “Like the one that Twilight has a mirror to?”

“I wrote to my friends in that world,” Twilight murmured. “They’re looking for any signs that could help us.”

“What if they’re lying?” Rainbow Dash said. “What if they’re the ones taking them?”

“They would never!” Twilight and Starlight both flared up at the same time.

“Rainbow, my friends in that other world are alternate versions of all of you,” Twilight cried. “I’ve saved that world with them twice, and they’ve saved everyone there almost as many times as we have.”

“Yeah, but what about that other pony? The one who stole your crown? Sunshine Shimmer, or something? That sounds like something she would do.” Rainbow sat back in her chair with her arms folded.

“She’s changed,” Twilight insisted. “If it wasn’t for her, the Sirens would have taken over that world and gathered enough strength to come here! Also, she saved my counterpart from ripping both dimensions to pieces when she was corrupted by magic.”

“So you have an evil twin? Maybe she did it, then!”

“Rainbow, enough! None of my friends in the other world would do anything to hurt Equestria!” Twilight’s violet eyes were blazing with anger. She was breathing in and out deeply, her chest heaving with anger. She felt the urge to blast Rainbow Dash with her magic or turn her to stone. But she forced those feelings down. She hadn’t gotten much sleep lately, and she tended to explode sometimes if she wasn’t careful enough. Rainbow Dash winced as though she had been slapped and cowered in her chair. For a moment, all was quiet as everypony stared at Twilight, wondering if they should fear her. Twilight blinked, and then she sat back in her chair, shame written across her face.

“I’m sorry, Rainbow, I just - I…” Twilight looked down at her hooves. “I’m sorry,” she repeated.

The door opened, and Lyra Heartstrings hurried into the room. She looked worse than Pinkie Pie. Her eyes were bloodshot and always seemed on the verge of tears with dark circles under them, indicating that she hadn’t slept well, either. Her mane was disheveled, and her legs were shaking as if they were too weak to hold her up anymore. Lyra felt so hopeless that she could walk into a birthday party right now and everypony would suddenly feel sorrowful and hopeless like they were at a funeral.

“Have you found BonBon yet?” Lyra gasped. She was panting as if she had just run a mile. Behind her, two guards peeked into the doorway. Their gazes locked on the light green unicorn and their eyes narrowed in unison.

“Not yet, Lyra,” Twilight said regretfully. About once every day, somepony came into Twilight’s throne room, wondering if the pony they loved that had been snatched had been found and would be returned to them. Twilight always hated breaking the news to them that they’d had no luck with the search. Lyra plopped down on the floor and began to cry.

“She’s been gone for three weeks!” she choked out between sobs. “I want my friend back!” Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie came up to Lyra and began to comfort the distressed unicorn. Lyra wailed into Fluttershy’s shoulder, soaking Fluttershy’s long pink mane, which Fluttershy didn’t seem to mind, while Pinkie Pie put her hoof around Lyra’s shaking shoulders and wiping tears from Lyra’s cheeks.

“Fluttershy, Pinkie, please take Lyra somewhere where she can get a proper rest and food,” Twilight instructed. The two ponies nodded and led Lyra from the room.

“See?!” Rainbow Dash cried out again, pointing to the closed doors. “This is why we need to find the missing ponies! How many other ponies or creatures do you think are out there, crying and not sleeping because they miss their friends so much?”

“Believe me, Rainbow, all of us want to find them. We’re trying as hard as we can.” Twilight tried to calm Rainbow down with her voice, but it didn’t work.

“Well, then you need to try harder.” Twilight winced as if Rainbow had hit her.

“What if we pass a rule that nopony can leave the house unless an adult pony, or at least a friend is with them at all times?” Applejack jumped in hurriedly. “Maybe whoever is taking ponies only takes ponies that are alone.” Twilight shook her head.

“Thorax tried that in the Changeling Kingdom. A whole family of changelings went missing while they were out having a picnic.”

“Oh dear,” Rarity muttered. “What exactly are we going to do?”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out!” Rainbow screamed at her. The force of her voice blew Rarity’s mane out of order.

“Ah, my hair!” Rarity quickly started to try and fix her mane while Rainbow rolled her eyes.

The door burst open again. Twilight looked up, wondering if Lyra was back, or if it was somepony else who wanted to ask about the search. But it was neither. Flash Sentry raced into the room, followed by two purple pegasi Crystal guards, one with a pink mane and one with green.

“Pardon my intrusion, Your Majesty,” Flash Sentry said, hastily bending his legs into a bow. The two other guards followed in suit. “Urgent news from the Crystal Empire.”

“Did more ponies disappear?” Twilight asked as she hurriedly stood up and trotted over to the guards. “Are Cadance and my brother okay?”

“Worse,” the green-maned guard growled.

“Your Majesty,” Flash whispered, “Princess Flurry Heart has been captured.”

Author's Note:

Constructive criticism is appreciated.