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Equimorto


"...what did I just even read." - Wintermist || "Pour la beauté du geste" || ooo || π

T

Canterlot; 05/11/994
A unicorn is dead.

Files, transcripts, fragments, articles, pictures and letters concerning Twilight Sparkle's disappearance and subsequent death, the events immediately related to it, and the lives and actions of the ponies whom the event drastically affected.


An entry into The Twilight Files Contest.

Prereading and cover art assistance courtesy of Reviewfilly.

Chapters (45)
Comments ( 62 )

Wonderful work in peeling back the layers of deception to reveal the horror beneath. The twist reveal of the captain's identity was masterfully executed.

I admit, I was a bit confused at first because I was reading the dates as M/D/Y rather than D/M/Y, but I figured it out soon enough. Thank you for a gripping read, and best of luck in the judging.

This really was a satisfying read, and a clever one as well.

To be honest, the M/D/Y thing threw me for a loop for a second, but I suppose it's a matter of habit, and it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

The ending surprised me, and it's nice to see the AU tag utilised properly.

I also really liked the format, I must confess I'm a sucker to this kind of writing.

Best of luck in the contest!

Wow!

Very compelling and intriguing. Mystery actually had a very, very satisfying resolution- every time I got to a new reveal I would be like "oh shit" and go back to previous chapters and read and ohhh mmhmnmnmng it fits together SO WELL

I guess one thing I'm a bit :duck: about is unless I'm really dumb, I didn't really notice how Shining died? In the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter, but I guess I kind of wish it had been tied to the whole central conspiracy or whatever. Or maybe it was explained and I'm very oblivious. Still, not a big deal.

Great job again!! I can't emphasize how much I appreciate that you managed to actually stick the landing at the end. Too many times I get to ~the reveal~ in horror stories/movies and I'm like "oh okay" but this one made me like, snap my fingers and go "OH SHIIIIIT!"

Her roommates had at the time declared how her behaviour had not seemed "any weirder than usual".

oof, if her story had ended here that is indeed the line with which it would have ended. definitely a chilling and intriguing start

I've looked into memory spells in case I'm caught trespassing, I will test them on Moon' and the others tomorrow just to be safe. I can't afford to be kicked out of the Academy for this.

love the shortening of Moondancer's name, as well as Twilight casually testing memory spells on her "friends" with only her larger goals in mind.

She got what was coming to her
There's a reason those signs are there

With all due respect it's a mare's life we're talking about
Ponies will ask questions and they'll want answers

oof, i'm guessing the redacted name is Shining Armor, and if so he is being very restrained in the face of callousness about his sister's death, and in that case i assume the [redacted] hasn't made the familial connection

Letter delivered to Detective O.G.'s apartment in date 08/11/994

well the "N.L." is clearly Twilight's dad, who would definitely want to get to the bottom of this no matter what it takes. i do wonder if "O.G." is meant to be a pony we know, though.

I worry about being found out, but I have to get to the bottom of this. I risk getting kicked out of the Academy, but if I'm right it will have consequences. It might even get me an audience with the

I shouldn't fantasise like that. It's getting late and you need to wake up early tomorrow. Go to sleep, Twilight. Right. I should do that. Goodnight, me.

augh that little bit of self-talk at the end really equinises the writer if she weren't already a known main character.

As scales have been previously removed, crystal-lined blades are used to slice the relevant portions of skin, then to remove the flesh underneath. Automatic drainage systems are applied (fig.6) and the excess blood flow is blocked.

oof, turning living dragons into magical devices of some sort? sounds like just the kind of horrifying thing to keep locked away in an archive. guessing this connects to Spike, or the lack thereof in this AU, as well as darker secrets to come.

Shame they don't allow enchanted quills during tests.

yeah i imagine there are many reasons for that!

possible corruption of an earlier rhyme about a tower, which could explain the second part

ponies will sometimes claim the Spire emits sound

the geological conditions of Reconciliation Park and the wider Canterlot area appear to be perfectly stable, and the structure is at no risk of sinking nor leaning

ooh how delightfully unsettling! the idea of foallore preserving lost knowledge like this is always a fascinating one to explore, and i can't wait to see how these pieces come together.

camo.fimfiction.net/WM9KYqyIipI1OjzDAgRHt6oz1ORKFTNqCHRjBCo_kro?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmedia.discordapp.net%2Fattachments%2F840972796603662397%2F1005428107462840340%2FIMG_20220806_125201.png

again, love the unsettlingness! just how many ponies know of The Spire's secrets? enough for some to vandalize the Royal Palace about it? (is The Spire the living body of a harnessed dragon???)

Slipping past security to get here wasn't hard, they're even lazier inside than they are outside.

the combination of security and complacency is interesting

I'll probably buy a Spire-themed hat for dad later. Shining would have loved one of those.

oof, i don't like that "would have"!

S.S.

well it looks like not all the guards are incompetent! these initials though, they always make me feel like i should know which ponies they are!

If you're lucky just a memory wipe
That's what the one who found her got
I imagine Twilight would have gotten the same if we'd gotten to her in time
Dismissed

Yes ma'am

ah, guessing the "ma'am" is the S.S. from earlier, then! and Private Lightning Dust? also, i guess that memory spells are pretty routine in this Equestria

From what I could find it looks like he was just a stallion they called to supervise the works and so they could put his name on paperwork, but I doubt the project was even his considering everything else he worked on afterwards and before.

yeah they should've had a better cover for that! and i like that Twilight is in the same position of being intrigued by the clues and needing to solve the mystery as the audience (me) is.

All files relating to previously decommissioned Project Starcrown are to be copied and shared amongst the members of the project. Any attempt to share the information provided outside of the authorised ponies will result in removal from the project and subsequent mental cleansing.

i guess that memory spells have been historically routine in this Equestria

It opened. Now I just need to push the door.

The sound has gotten louder.

edge of my seat!

The Spire was officially opened in 698. Construction work began officially in 695, but multiple sources cite preliminary work being done starting from 693, and some mention measurements and soil tests being conducted as early as 687.

so more than a century passed between the one document about Project Starcrown and the spire! have entire generations of ponies been devoted to whatever this is?

What took them so long? And why were they rushing construction when they could have had the opening coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Reconciliation?

excitement for reveal increasing

I'm having nightmares lately. Ever since I was assigned to Twilight's case. I wish I'd never read what they allowed me to of what was in that diary.

the familiarity of calling her "Twilight" does make me think this is Shining Armor, or at least somepony that knew Twilight personally.

No, it's like... I'm standing on something. The ground is alive.

oof, The Spire being the housing for a chained dragon wyrm does seem to match these clues...

Extract from Detective Orange Gin's notebook; Entry dated 22/11/994

O.G., nice!

978 - train crash

this one just snuck in there at the end, and doesn't really fit in with the others... considering Twilight was twenty-one in 994, that would make her five in 978, which makes that a possible date for her cutie mark event in the canon timeline, which should have been her hatching Spike...

The core of the Spire is hollow. The available maps of the inside make it look like the whole space is accounted for, but things don't line up properly, and the only way for them to is if there's an added empty space in the middle of the building. I hypothesise it's a square space about a couple of units wide, but it could easily be a circular space.

definitely sounds like it's housing something very long...

Train ticket from Manehattan to Canterlot dated 13/11/994 found torn apart in a trash bin outside the Central Station. Could be our mare.

four days after Twilight was found dead! so who is this...

It's not a monument. It's a prison.

it's coming together!

Subject's hooves appear to be worn out.

Subject's teeth present signs of acid erosion on the back, similar to those produced by repeated gastric reflux. Subject's teeth appear worn out from use. None are missing.

oof, all of these details are very unsettling :( just why would her hooves and teeth be worn out???

Most reports agree that the pony appeared to be a unicorn, and some noted they were of above average stature.

the "our mare" from earlier? Twilight is actually alive and an alicorn now?!? i really have nothing

The archivist looked at me weird when I mentioned Asylum. I don't think she meant to, but I noticed it, just for a moment. She's a unicorn, a little older than me. Sun-something I think, I didn't fully catch her name.

Sunset yay! if she were the one that had gotten further into researching the Spire, that would be fitting, i think! an interesting reversal to have Sunset turn back from the precipice, and Twilight push herself over it

Either someone's been breaking in, or we have rats wearing horseshoes

hehe i do quite like this phrase. also, why the note-passing if it is so urgent? mysterious

The sound is deafening. I made makeshift earplugs with the sandwich wrappings, but it still left my ears ringing.

aww i can just imagine this

Everything here is so tall. You could fit a two stories building in the tunnel, and it's a little wider than it is tall. It's square. There's light down here. I still hear the pillar.

always eerie to be in a space not built for your body's scale

Experiments went nowhere. Results were inconclusive. War never started and treaties were signed. Project abandoned. Something about incompatibility between 'dragon brainwaves' and 'pony-tuned spells'.

sounds like official documentation covering up another secret project...

Dust on the floor. Couldn't avoid without triggering the alarm. They know I'm here.

oof, tension rising!

She was almost my age. She still had her parents.

One more visit.

Orange Gin isn't too old themself, then!

'The Spire is not a monument' he wrote in his notes.

oh, so he must have been the one who did the vandalism!

They signed as 'S.S.', I've wondered if it was the Archivist.

well i feel silly now not connecting a really good candidate for who "S.S." is. and officially being an Archivist and not officially connected to the guard structure means it makes sense for her to be passing notes to somepony who is.

Centerpiece of the park is the Reconciliation Fountain. Commissioned by the Crown, it was officially inaugurated during the 300th anniversary of the Reconciliation. The fountain is decorated with intricate marble and metal sculptures, beautifully entwined to represent the harmony between the previously opposing factions, which persists to this day as Equestria proposers as a single, unified country.

can't wait to see how the Spire is a load-bearing part of keeping Equestria together, since that is what i am getting from this!

I haven't slept.

just want to give Twilight a hug :(

I think I'm starting to remember the place I see in my dreams. I'm growing afraid of earthquakes. I don't know why. There are no earthquakes in Canterlot.

premonition of what would happen if a sleeping dragon wyrm long-buried in the middle of it were to be woken up, perhaps?

Look at what we've done. We can't let it go to waste. We need to be strong, or it will all have been for nothing. We need to keep going. We'll find a way.

really excited to see this pay off! love it when horrific things are justified because they prevent even more horrific things.

No food. No need for food. Repeated vomiting. My stomach hurt because I had nothing to eat.

I cut it off.

oof, her disquieting injuries are all coming together now. horrifying...

I'm scared. I've seen something I shouldn't have. I don't want to remember anymore. Why have I been there before?

Why have I been there before?

have all ponies "been there", somehow? i am with Captain S****** here i am freaked out!

I see nothing but light. I have stared into eternity. I'm free.

at least i can carry in my heart that Twilight did triumph, in her own way, before her grisly end.

Weak though those locks may seem few ponies ever have existed with the talents necessary to get through the barriers she crossed
Similar accidents are unlikely to happen again within the next few decades

ah the cost-benefit analysis. hard to make them not sound cold-hearted

Entry dated 13/07/1000

well that raises a lot of questions

I'm falling through infinity.

Twilight has ascended beyond our mortal comprehensions!

it's a difficult thing for many writers to express, as it's so easy to have something off about the rhythm or scope. you do a beautiful job of it here. i feel as if i am falling through infinity with her.

The body of Detective Orange Gin, 22, real name Applejack, has been found lifeless on the beach this morning by a group of tourists. Her head remains missing.

aaaaaa

well i am now filled with emotions. (augh, the name, the age, "still having her parents", the clues were always there! i love this!)

No mention of the project, be it the current ongoing iteration or the officially terminated one, is to be made in the presence of my sister until her mental situation has been found to have properly recovered.

Princess Luna

ooh that is a fascinating wrinkle.

I'm leaving this life behind. I leave this Twilight happy. That's all I need to know.

The Spire is singing.

augh this just sent chills through me. amazing way to use the weight of the series finale by having this Twilight watch it with us. augh i just loved this

But what do they need it for?

the question that so many of these worldbuilding bits have been swirling around! augh i am excited

I know the reasons behind the bloodbath of their staged five years war. I know of the battle that came before that, a thousand years ago.

the presence of Luna in the 600s did make me think that original rift between Sisters went differently here

That's what the Spire is. Nothing but a shell for the knife lodged in the beast's head, the same way the mountain is just a shell for its corpse. A hollow pretty lie to save appearances.

ooh love this!

They're fools. It was not enough. Nothing of what they could do will ever be enough. The blood of five years' worth of sacrifices only kept the monster asleep so long, and a hundred more Spires couldn't kill it. One day it will wake again. Right now madness spills like a river from its wound. Twilight saw it. Twilight walked in it. She walked in the snake's light and heard the song of its dreams, and it drove her insane.

and augh, an entire civil war just to kill off enough ponies to power a blood sacrifice? that is very hardcore!

One was a simple message. 'You've been here before'. My own hornwriting. I know why I saw that place in my dreams. This was not the first time I was there.

The second was a picture. I know why the dreams I've had of that place were all nightmares.

i guess the memory erasure the first time managed to leave some dormant subconscious traces...

I will not be here for the day the snake wakes, nor the one its rotten rancid infection spreads past the confines of its prison tomb and seeps into the thin cover of dirt we've thought could keep us safe from the horror. I will not be here to forget what I have learnt, to live on an ignorant over the deathless corpse of our world's sleeping demise. There are wounds of the mind no spell can cleanse, and I will not let them try. Think I'm insane if you want. One day the creature will rear its head again and your marble towers will crumble and your own nightmares will come to life. You will be there. What good will all your efforts have done you then?

love this entire monologue. again, it's easy for writers to overdo or underdo a passage like this, but i rather like how you've done this one.

Sassy Saddles

ah, the "larger than average" unicorn that leapt from the Spire! the S.S.! and somehow the darkness and heaviness of all of this contrasted with the very light role that Sassy Saddles has in the canon, the absurdity of that contrast, there is something delectable there.

There shall be nothing to celebrate, though I shall attend it. I know you can hear it too, though you delude yourself into believing you do not. It's only a monument to our madness you've built. One day you will have to wake up from this dream. One day it will wake again too.

i'm reading this as Celestia's journal, fitting in with Luna's earlier mention of Celestia having withdrawn into a fragile mental state, and oof. i do not blame her for that!

Entry dated 10/10/978

you just had to twist the knife, huh? augh. now i wonder if i missed anything connecting Shining Armor's death to something bigger, or if it really was just a random train crash. but either way, augh.

poor filly Twilight.

Equestria, where chaos once roamed
Now crushed beneath our hooves
By princesses been sealed away
Nevermore to return

i grew up with the American National Anthem, but it was always something to just sing and not think about the meaning behind the words. this reminds me of the first time i realized that the verses were referring to actual events instead of living purely in the realm of poetic metaphor.


in any case, wow. way to stick the landing on the dénouement!

like augh, the first half of the fic built up so much suspense and so many unsettling hints that it was hard to imagine the fic would manage to pay off all of them but it TOTALLY DID! like, wow, even the stuff i didn't even expect to pay off, it did, somehow? it was such an amazing reading experience thank you so much!

now i'm going to ramble a bit about the end because that was just so great! first we get Twilight's ending, gaining the knowledge she had sought out so desperately at the cost of her sanity and life, but with it something beautiful beyond that knowledge, which is a glimpse into a reality free from the horrific compromises that her world had been built atop of, a vision of life as it should be if the universe were not cruel. and as an adult human who has spent an absurd amount of time thinking about ponies these past two years, hoowee does that resonate with me.

and then the horrors of the compromise that this reality was built upon. nothing i can say here will match the poetry with which Sassy Saddles and Celestia described it, living as they are with the full weight of the horror on them, but wow. just so hauntingly grim, to match the grim end of Applejack and the unnamed stallion of decades ago and even the more mundane end of Shining Armor. the precarity of their false peace, the suffering literally buried in the past and the horrors that await.

and then the last two chapters! closing the loop on Twilight's ecstatic, mindless end with the last glimpse of her innocence as she unknowingly awaits to learn that her older brother has died and is gone forever. two cracks of light bookending a lifetime of darkness. then the national myth told through the Equestrian national anthem, letting the last peek we have of this world be seeing the entire nation and all that is based on through the lens that the filly Twilight would have had.

just fantastic stuff. i wish i could read more like this.

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