• Published 21st Sep 2012
  • 7,216 Views, 117 Comments

Ptolemy - Wellspring



Twilight Sparkle resorts to Black Magic in an attempt to bring back Surprise.

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The Bond that Binds Us

Ptolemy
by Wellspring

The Bond that Binds Us



Fluttershy cleared her throat as she opened the creaking door of the library. It was hard to believe that the inside was dark as it was at this time of the day. The house was dim, lighted just barely by a lone candle and sorcery’s glimmer. The lack of ventilation had trapped the thickening smell of moldy paper and dust.

There stood at its core was the lavender unicorn whose name was Twilight Sparkle. Every time Fluttershy saw her, she thought she would have to jump to her friend’s embrace. Gone were the bright sparkling eyes that thirsted for knowledge; in its place were strained red pupils tolled by exhaustion. The unicorn's body, now pale and purple, loomed over a desk as a dozen books lit with purple energy consistently revolved around her.

The unicorn was studying a scroll with such scrutiny that she had not notice her friend until her name was braved.

“T…t..twilight,” Fluttershy called. She knew that Twilight could hear her, but chose not to. Again she called, louder, “Twilight.”

“I heard you the first time.” the unicorn said, “What do you need?”

"Are–are... you busy?"

"Yes."

“It’s… umm… your birthday today and–”

“I know that.”

“...and that uhh... there’s a party for you in Applejack’s barn.”

“I believe I made it clear that no party will be necessary. Neither will I attend to, if any.”

“But–”

“Will that be all?”

“No... I mean, yes.”

“Then kindly close the door on your way out.”

Fluttershy stammered, searching for a word to say. Not even a minute since she entered and her friend was already implying her leave.

Where had her friend gone, she thought, is there no way to get Twilight Sparkle back?

But Fluttershy knew she had to be confident, she resolved to convince her once again. After all, the other ponies and Spike counted on her to talk to Twilight.

“Twilight,” pleaded the pegasus, “Come with us.”

“Fluttershy, please!” Twilight said, her tone less sympathetic and more frustrated. “Can’t you see I’m busy? If you ponies have time to mess around, I don’t!”

The books revolving around Twilight spun faster as though to create a wall between them.

“O... okay.” was all Fluttershy could say.

Her resolve had gone as quickly as it came. There was nothing she could do. She knew that her assertiveness was less than that of her friend, especially now more than ever.

Fluttershy meekly hung her head and turned to the door. She whispered the only words she could as the last means to, at the least, offer comfort, "We'll be there in case you..., change your mind."

Twilight made no reply.

“Please don’t overwork yourself. We kept telling you it wasn’t your fault that... you know...”

She thought that her words could not be heard, or that they would have no effect on the impervious devotion and concentration of the unicorn to her books. She was wrong.

“What was that?” Twilight said suddenly, turning around to meet the pegasus for the first time, “What did you just say!?”

“I didn’t mean... I said that–”

“Get out!” Twilight’s horn glowed and random furniture started launching to Fluttershy’s direction, “Get out of my house!”

Fluttershy had already scrambled running before the first thrown object landed and smashed the door. A furious Twilight did not stop. A flurry of books, cabinets and chairs came crashing down until the last light of the opened doorway was sealed with random debris.

A few minutes later there was only the sound of her panting. She turned around, returning to her revolving books, cursing Fluttershy for her interruption.



The sun was starting to set. Twilight knew it was time for her appointment.

Ripping some pages from the revolving books and dropped the rest on the floor. She fired a black bolt that consumed the debris blocking the door as she was moving to its direction.

She took a hooded jacket and covered herself entirely as she went out, careful that no one would see her. She moved in to the shadows avoiding ponies as much as she could, but it was not completely necessary –the ponies were avoiding just as much if not more. She was not unaware of what they thought of her. It was as though she could hear their thoughts from a mile away: What is she doing out here?; She’s been like that for a year now; Why should we even worry about her after what she did!

She managed her way to Everfree forest and saw the hut that was her destination. Almost instantly, she heard the singing in her head once again.

She’s an evil enchantress,

She does evil dances,

When you look in her eye,

She puts you in trances

Twilight shook her head, ridding herself of the voice. It was another distraction she could not afford. She pushed open the door, removed her hood and greeted Zecora: “Do you have what I asked for?”

“Ah Twilight Sparkle, You’re just in time. The recipe is here, in this slime.”

There was a time when Twilight was even entertained with Zecora’s way of speaking. Now she simply found the rhymes frustrating. She held her tongue, there was no use complaining over something could do nothing about.

Twilight moved closer to the giant pot Zecora is mixing. It was a green slime that consistently boiled over the fire.

“Before we begin, let me run through this one more time.” Twilight started surfing through the pages she carried, running through them among the several notes and ingredients on Zecora’s desk.

She checked and rechecked, constantly bickering Zecora about the accuracy of her measurements. Satisfied, she closed the book and smiled for the first time in months.

“Alright, let’s begin.”

“I must warn you that–”

“I said let’s begin!” Twilight interrupted. Another one of those rhymes and she thought she’ll snap.

Zecora sighed and started pouring the remaining ingredients. Some flowers, some clay, and powdered fossils. Twilight, with the guidance of the torn pages she carried, casts a spell on the slime. The mixture fully liquefied and turned white.

“Now only one more ingredient: the Element of Laughter.”

Twilight’s horn glowed purple and in an instant a purple light appeared on top of the pot. The light died out and a golden necklace manifested in thin air. The accessory contained a light blue diamond the shape of a balloon. Gently, it descended on the pot.

As soon as the necklace touched the white liquid the boiling stopped. The liquid, as though it has a life of its own, climbed to the necklace and wrapped itself around it. Focused on the necklace, the liquid acted like clay and started to be shaped and molded by invisible hands. It was a slow process, but the results were visible. The form appeared at the same time: the mane, the tail, the legs.

And then finally, there she was. Blue eyed and curly hair, there was the pegasus Surprise.

She would have fallen to the now empty pot if not for Twilight’s magic guiding her gently to the ground.

“Oh dear Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed, tears forming in her eyes, “I’ve missed you so much.”

“T..t..twi-twilight?” Surprise stuttered in disbelief.

“Yes. It’s me Surprise. You’re back.” Twilight Sparkle ran up to her friend and embraced her, “It’s been so long! All this time, I thought we wouldn’t see you again. I’ve spent my whole life... but... but it was worth it. It was all worth it just to have you back with us. It’s not the same without you. Everypony is–”

But Twilight felt something was wrong, something awfully wrong. She felt liquid.

“T-twilight… light.” she heard Surprise whisper.

She pulled back, half in fear and half in hope that her fear held no meaning. She was petrified by what she saw. Surprise was melting like the slime that formed her. Her eyes, her teeth, her mane, all turned the same uniform white as it returned to its original state.

“No, no!” Twilight panicked, her friend melting in her hooves, “No, no, no, no, no no no no no. Not again, not again!”

She tried to bulk together the slime, to maintain the form of her friend. But the muck had dissolved entirely, leaving only a golden necklace resembling the element of laughter.

There was a long pause. Twilight Sparkle held the accessory in her hooves and pressed it against her bossom. Under her feet a wet and white fluid dribbled messily on the floor.

Her body shook violently. In a fit of rage she grabbed the pot with her magic and threw it around the hut. Several concoctions and bottles toppled down, the antique ornaments fell and broke. Twilight grabbed Zecora and pushed her down.

“It’s your fault you stupid incompetent, Zebra! You couldn’t even do it right! I should’ve known better than trust your kind!”

Twilight approached the coat hanger and put on the robe as she exited the hut.

“To obtain things once lost, demands an equal cost.” Zecora said to her, “But lives ended in tragedy, could not be unfixed with sorcery.”

Twilight had been warned before but, perhaps now it was the heavy rain, she did not hear it again.

So soon away from the Everfree forest, the rain was reduced to a drizzle. As she entered Ponyville, the drizzle was reduced to raindrops. By the time she reached a tree on top of a small hill in Sweet Apple Acres, the rain had dried up completely, and only her mane, and the dirt she stood on, was wet.

Beneath the tree was a lonely gravestone. It reads:

HERE LIES
SURPRISE; PEGASUS
THE ELEMENT OF LAUGHTER
CARRIER OF SMILES AND DELIVERER OF JOY
WISHED US ALL HAPPINESS SHE COULD GIVE
AND MORE

Twilight read the words twice. The gravestone was still clean and the letters legible. Below the inscription was an embedded cutie mark of three balloons.

She felt the necklace she was holding. Something dripped down her cheek, a purifying liquid like water. She lied to herself that it was the rain until, as the tears grew uncontrollable, she could lie no longer. She broke down crying. Twilight Sparkle dropped on her knees and took the gravestone in her arms.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she wailed, “I’m not powerful enough. Not yet. But please wait, I promise I’ll bring you back. I promise!”

She continued wailing like this. Aside from the false hopes broken tonight, these tears were the only emotions Twilight has left for anypony. And it was for the friend she lost a third time.



“Have some o’em hot coco on me, Twilight. Ah reckon yer chillin’ cause of spendin’ too much time in the rain.”

“T-thank you.” Twilight received the cup handed to her said and drank everything in one gulp. The soothing warmth seemed to melt the ice in her bones.

Applejack took several layers of blankets and threw it over the unicorn’s shoulder who barely noticed the gesture. The earth pony took a sip of cocoa from her own cup and looked out the window, measuring the weather. She was determined to make her friend stay for the night as a night change from the library, a rain would be a good excuse. She turned to Twilight, who turned away from her, clearly avoiding her eyes.

“Happy birthday, Twi.” She said, hoping for a response. But Twilight Sparkle only turned away even more, “It’s good that ah bumped in to ya today. You didn’t go to your party earlier and... having not seen ya for a long time got us worried. I baked you this apple pie. It’s Granny Smith’s own recipe. Hope ya like it.”

“Thanks but... I really don’t have any appetite right now.”

“Don’t say that, sugarcube. Look at yerself, you’re thinner than an apple tree offseason.”

Twilight took a slice of the pie and bit off a piece. She chewed it in her mouth and found the taste delicious. Maybe it was hunger, but the apple pie Applejack made was one of the most scrumptious treat she ever tasted. Unable to swallow, she jumped and regurgitated the mesh to a nearby sink.

“I-I’m sorry Twilight.” Applejack said, quickly running up to her and giving her a pat on the back, “It was the taste right? Somethin’ bout the taste?”

“No… it tastes great. It’s me, I–... I have to go.”

“Stay the night here girl.” the earth pony said, cutting her off the door, “It’s already starting to rain outside and you’re very tired. Stay the night with me. Let’s talk.”

“AJ, I-”

“Please.”

Twilight was too exhausted to argue. She silently took the offer and returned to the corner of the room, covering herself with more blanket. Applejack followed, placing a small heater beside her as their only source of light and heat, as she cuddled beside her in the small corner.

“Everypony’s worried.” The earth pony said, “Fluttershy came back crying. Not cause ya got angry at’er but cause she felt sorry for ya. We want you back Twi, we want our friend back.”

“I can’t go back.” Twilight whispered, “No one go back to the way things were... not after Surprise...”

“And what would Surprise say if she saw sulking like that over her?”

“What do you want me to do? Jump in joy and sing a song.”

“She outta tell us all to keep laughing and smiling a little bit more for her... we’ll say that not even everypony has enough laughter that could’a beat hers, and that’s why we miss her so... but she’ll just smile and laugh again telling us that she’s always with us. And she’ll end it all with’er ‘Okey dokey lokey.’”

Twilight remained silent. She knew that’s exactly what Surprise would say. She already imagined her smile and laughter as the white pegasus jumped around like a squirrel only to fall down on her derriere with a honk.


“Hey, you know what this call for? A party!”

Twilight pushed her hooves against her eyes; doing everything she can to avoid the memory and the tears.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself darlin’. We’ve all went through to this.” Applejack reassured her, “Some ponies just move on faster than others.”

“Because it’s easier for them.”

“Ya don’t deserve treatin’ yerself like that. Nopony’s blamin’ ya fer what happened. It wasn’t yer fault that Surprise–”

“Oh, enough of that lie!” Twilight stood up and threw away the blankets, “I’m sick of hearing it. Sick of it. You know it as well as the others: I killed Surprise!”

The last four words struck Applejack’s ears like thunder. But it was a reverberating thunder she knew too well, one loud enough sent a shiver down her spine. But not once did it shock her. She knew that Twilight Sparkle was the cause of the death of Surprise, though indirectly.

She heard about it, there was no pony in Ponyville that did not.

The story was as follows:

Twilight Sparkle began practicing Black Magic. It was not one of those usual unicorn magic practiced by every unicorn, neither was those of Zecora’s race. It was magic practiced only by ancients such as the alicorns and Discord. Twilight’s power meant well, the power she wanted was the power to protect the life she valued now in Ponyville. She wanted power, not to control, but to let go. Surprise was the first to find out of Twilight’s forbidden studies. She tried to convince Twilight to stop her pursuit. In anger, Twilight had attacked Surprise and clipped off her wing. Several days later, finding out Surprise was alive, Twilight led the pegasus to the mountain where she buried her under an avalanche. When Surprise’s body was recovered, the pony who represented the Element of Laughter showed only agony in her face.

When questioned by the royal guards Twilight said that both incidents were an accident. Nopony believed her, but being the protégé of Princess Celestia everypony were forced to. Only Applejack and Fluttershy genuinely believed the tormented unicorn who did not even believe herself.

The funeral was held in a small hill in Sweet Apple Acres to accommodate the number of guests that stretched from all over Equestria. Twilight was nowhere to be found during the funeral. It was the only day in Equestria where nopony laughed. Everypony felt that something in them went away with Surprise, something irreplaceable. Ever since then, the town appeared to return to normal. It became quieter and more practical. It was as though everything suddenly turned gray. There were a few parties from time to time, but eventually the celebrations died out. Parties were no longer an expression of joy, but a constant reminder of something lost. Nopony said anything about the sudden change, but everypony felt it.

Rainbow Dash was the first. No longer did she sleep in the afternoons. She practiced flying far away where nopony could see her, desperately trying to make the Sonic Rainboom she could no longer do again.

Rarity distanced herself from everypony. She moved to Manehattan and sold her property in Ponyville after saying that business is looking low. She visits from time to time, but recently her presence was replaced with letters. Her last letter was three months ago.

Applejack remained the same. Busying herself with the farm and the family business. She has little time to herself now as she constantly, and knowingly, overloads herself with work. Her only relief from this past year was tending Surprise’s gravestone.

Fluttershy became a motherly figure for many. Farthest from Ponyville, her cottage was like the last refuge of a slowly sinking ship. She took care of many foals and animals. Gummy and Spike lives with her now, the latter unable to survive Twilight’s living conditions. Fluttershy, along with Applejack, are the last two ponies that ever enter the library.

It has only been a year, but ponies spoke of ‘the good-ol-days’ as though it was a distant past. The entire timeline of Ponyville had split in half since the funeral. That the ‘good-ol-days’ was a long dream where there was nothing but happiness, smiles, good cheer, flowers and cupcakes –and where you can expect Surprise to appear from nowhere whenever you’re down. Only everypony woke up to a mundane reality they never knew was there, a reality that, perhaps, Surprise was shielding them from all along.

“It was my fault, my fault!” Twilight Sparkle now cried on Applejack’s arms, “If only I listened to Surprise, she’d still be alive.”

“There, there,” Applejack patter her friends back as she embraced her, she could not help but shed tears of her own, “It was an accident, nopony meant for it to happen.”

“I was weak... weak and stupid and... and...”

“Enough of that talk now. Ya didn’t want it to happen, that’s all that should matter. And ah swear, on Surprise’s grave, that she forgives ya.”

“Tell me, Applejack? What am I gonna now? I can’t just go back, link our hooves together and sing a song. B-but... how I want to have those days back. I couldn’t save Surprise... I couldn’t!”

Twilight kept on crying in Applejack’s embrace. She continued to wail and wail, like the night her friend died. The sun was already starting to rise when her eyes dried up and her sobbing ceased.

“I’m alright now, AJ. Thank you.” But Twilight did not let go, and remained her head buried on her friend’s arm.

“Anytime, sugarcube. Anytime.” she hugged her tighter, “We all feel for Surprise. But sometimes ya just have to learn to accept things an’ let ago. You’ve done enough for Surprise. Ya only got to do the one thing ya should’ve done before.”

Twilight looked up to teary eyes of the earth pony.

“Forgive yerself.” Applejack took the element of laughter that Twilight had been holding all this time and set it aside.

* * *

A week had passed since Twilight’s birthday. Applejack and Fluttershy had managed to gather a lot of ponies together for Twilight’s after-birthday party. It was the first party in Ponyville in seven months.

“Rarity!” Applejack said as she heard a colt-pulled carriage, “You’re here, and so late.”

“So sorry, Applejack.” Rarity said as she stepped out, “You know traffic in the city. Now where’s that birthday girl.”

“Right here.” Twilight came out of the door to meet her guest.

Instantly, Rarity was all over her. She dashed to her side and took her in her hooves. “Oh darling, I’ve missed you. I’ve been worried about you in Canterlot but couldn’t take time to even write a letter... Look at you, you’re skin and bones and pale.”

“Ya should’ve seen ‘er a week ago.” Applejack said as they went in, “She looked more worse than critter.”

“Not to worry. A few trips to the spa ought to fix that. And not to mention the dress I made for you, it’s gonna make you look dashing!”

Inside, the party was reaching its height topped by Rarity’s presence. Fluttershy immediately greeted her friend and the two went off together for an idle chat. Applejack went around and made sure everypony was entertained. Spike returned to Twilight’s side.

“Maybe you should go talk to Rarity.” Twilight said to the dragon, “It’s been a while since you’ve seen her.”

“In a minute.” Spike said, “We still have a lot to catch up on.”

“Oh, Spike.” Twilight ran her hoof on Spike’s head, “Even though you’ve gotten a little taller you’re still a baby-wubby dragon.”

“Twilight...” Spike pouted, “Not in front of Rarity.”

Princess Celestia, with her younger sister Princess Luna, approached them both, “Ahh, my faithful student Twilight. Happy to see you returned in good spirits.”

“Princess!” Twilight exclaimed, unable to hide her surprise, “You honor us with your presence in this humble gathering.”

“No need to be so formal, Twilight Sparkle.” said Luna, “We would not have missed it for the world.”

“Your brother sends his regards.” said Celestia, “And his apologies for his absence. He could not leave Canterlot for the time being.”

“Is something the matter, your highness?”

“It’s Cadence. She...” Celestia took a pause as she watched her student wait in anticipation, “Princess Mi Amore Cadenza is pregnant.”

“Oh. For a second there I thought that... wait,” Twilight stopped, her thoughts coming into place, “I’m going to be an aunt!”

The three busied themselves in the following conversation, Twilight throwing numbers of questions. The two princesses were careful not to mention anything about the rumors concerning Black Magic and Surprise, they were more than satisfied that the news about her brother and his bride was enough to distract the unicorn.

The party continued on. Applejack looked around and kept everypony occupied, keeping her eye on Twilight most of the time just in case something happened. Spike was now flirting with Rarity like the lover boy he is and Fluttershy was talking to several ponies while serving them pastries and punch. Everything was going smoothly except for one thing: Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be found. Applejack saw her several times before the party and asked her many times to come. The cyan pegasus promised just as much but there was no sign of her keeping the promise.

“Speaking of dashing,” Rarity said, as she finished talking about the latest fashion, “Where’s our little speed demon?”

“Oh, she’ll be here.” Applejack answered, though she was as unsure as anypony.

The party ended a few hours later and everypony was leaving and saying their goodbye’s to one another. Twilight Sparkle and Applejack saw them off one by one.

“I really had a good time tonight girls. Thank you for the party.” Fluttershy said as she left.

“Wonderful news that business in Manehattan loosened a bit.” said Rarity, “Perhaps I would visit again as soon as the week after.”

“Please do.” Twilight replied.

The last of the party guest left, leaving two ponies, and Spike, together.

“Now then, ya go take yer rest now.” Applejack said to Twilight, “You’ve been awfully busy today ah’m impressed yer still up.”

“In the end, Rainbow Dash never did come.” The unicorn whispered, “She’s still mad at me isn’t she?”

“Nah, I reckon she’s just busy. Practicing for the Wonderbolts and all.” the Element of Honesty did not lie as far as she knew the Element of Loyalty.

Applejack was about to start the cleanup but Twilight mentioned that she was willing to take care of the rest.

“Thank you for everything, Applejack. I don’t know how to thank you enough, so atleast let me do this.”

“Ya sure you’re alright?”

“I’m fine. I have Spike back with me now.”

“If you say so, sugarcube.”

Applejack left Twilight’s house. She turned back only once to see her friend still standing on the doorway, waving. She waved back and continued on her way. She was still worried though, not knowing if anything might happen. But Spike is with Twilight now, and she advised Spike to report to her directly if anything weird were happened to Twi.

The long walk to Sweet Apple Acres left Applejack to her thoughts. Her mind tried to focus on the Twilight and trying to think of other means to help the mare’s recovery. But her thoughts eventually wandered to the cyan pegasus who broke her promise.

And as though reality was reading her mind, she saw her. Rainbow Dash hang suspended in the air, glaring with anger she never knew possible to anypony.

“Rainbow Dash?” the earth pony said, “What in tarnation are you doin' out'ere? We were waitin' for ya at–”

"Buck it, AJ." interrupted the pegasus, “I thought it was just some sick joke you were trying to pull. Never thought you’d be serious enough to do it.”

“Do what, exactly?”

“A party? Of all things, a party!” Rainbow hissed, “For that pony!”

“That pony happens to be Twilight Sparkle. And Twilight Sparkle happens to be our friend.”

Applejack knew nopony was more hurt with Surprise’s death than Rainbow Dash. The two pegasi were childhood friends who grew up together in Cloudsdale. They were the only pair who were each other’s friend before Twilight’s coming.

“I'm through with her. That pony isn’t my friend!” said Rainbow Dash as she flew towards Applejack, looking down at her from above, “She killed Surprise. Are you trying erase her from memory by hanging out with that... that killer?”

“Ya better be careful with ‘em words, Rainbow. Nopony is erasing anypony. And it wasn’t Twilight’s fault that Surprise died.”

“For somepony who has the element of honesty you’re a liar!”

“And for somepony who has the element of loyalty you gave up on your friend’s only chance to have’er life back!”

“You wanna fight?”

“No, but ah reckon you do.”

Rainbow Dash’s hoof landed on Applejack’s face, dropping her hat on the ground. It was a quick thrust followed by many. But Applejack was not the type who let herself to be pummeled. Grabbing one the pegasus’s hooves she countered and jumped over Rainbow Dash, pinning her to the ground. She smashed her forehead against the pegasus twice before a pair of back legs smashed against her chest.

Rainbow Dash recovered and charged at Applejack who managed to block her blow and stop her in mid air. Applejack smashed her friend against the tree and continued punching her in the stomach several times. The pegasus flapped her wings upwards to try and escape, but the earth pony was quick the grab her by the side, smashing her to yet another tree. The impact was so powerful that the tree broke in half against the pegasus’s spine.

Seeing the orange earth pony running towards her, Rainbow Dash quickly ducked, picked up a rock and smashed it against Applejack’s jaw. The workpony fell back with a groan. Rainbow Dash climbed on top of her and started punching her against the ground. Before the fourth punch could connect Applejack sent the pegasus rolling away with a kick.

The two recovered from their fall and, without hesitation, charged at one another. It was there that a certain canary pegasus jumped between them and cried out.

“Stop! Please stop!”

Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash froze at the same time. Standing between them was the shivering figure Fluttershy.

Both of the fighters looked at one another, then to the crying pegasus. They both wanted to approach Fluttershy, to kneel beside her and tell her that’s everything’s alright. But the thought of getting dangerously close to one another stopped both from taking a step forward. They just stood there, listening to the pegasus cry her heart out.

“Stop it. Stop it!” Rarity said, as she appeared from a nearby bush, “Really–you two!–just really immature.”

Rarity trotted toward Fluttershy, throwing angry glances at Rainbow Dash and Applejack.

“Why are you two fighting...” whispered the canary pegasus, it was a whisper they all heard, “I don’t like it...”

Rainbow Dash landed on the ground and closed her wings. “Don’t worry about it. Me and AJ were just horsing around. Weren’t we, Applejack?”

“No.” Applejack picked up her hat from the ground and placed it back on her head, “I’m tryin’ to help Twilight back on her feet and yer tryin’ to stop me. Somethin’ like that ain’t as simple as horsin’ around. Ya changed RD. Ya might have begun takin’ yer friends for granted but ah sure as hay don’t.”

“Take friends for granted? Me?” Rainbow gritted her teeth for each word she spoke. She felt her eyes twitch and blood pulsed around her forelegs. She thought of bursting through both Fluttershy and Rarity just so she could break Applejack's muzzle. “I’m not the one who killed Surprise.”

“And ya think Twi did!” Applejack yelled back, “It was an accident.”

“I don’t give a flying feather if it’s an accident or not! She did it. If she wasn’t alive, then Surprise would be.”

“Now yer not makin’ any-”

“And if killing Twilight would bring my best friend back then I’d do it myse-”

Rainbow Dash stopped midsentence. The shocked looked of the three ponies in front of her made her realized the full implications of what she just said. In her rage she just screamed out her innermost wish for vengeance.

“I could not believe my ears.” Rarity thought that it was her turn to speak up. “Applejack is right. It’s too early to give up. As her friends–”

“Oh, c’mon! The last thing I need right now is a lecture from a phony like you.” Rainbow Dash quickly interrupted, flaring new anger at the white unicorn.

“What? Phony?”

“Yeah, you heard me: phony, faker, hypocrite."

“Hypocrite? What in Celestia’s name are you blabbing about now?” Rarity’s eyes twitched uncontrollably. She knew the answer to her own question.

“What’s the matter Rarity, still in denial? Why don’t you tell everypony why you moved to Manehattan. You left Ponyville because you couldn’t stand Twilight for killing Surprise. You’re as disgusted with her as I am, maybe even more. But at least I didn’t wear a fake smile and entered a party pretending everything was fine.”

As she heard those words, Rarity’s face contorted and made a ferocious scowl. The hypothetical mask Rainbow Dash had accused dropped entirely.

“So? So what if I’m disgusted by Twilight Sparkle!” Rarity shouted, “There, I said it. But at least I still haven’t given up on her. At least I wanted to believe that she can be good again. That it wasn’t her fault! And when she gets back on her feet I could just keep on pretending that I’ve always been on her side just so I wouldn’t have to tell her how sorry I am for hating her guts.”

“Rarity!” Applejack gasped. Utterly appalled with what she was hearing. This was nothing like the Rarity she knew at all.

“...enough...” Fluttershy's voice was a low squeak of plead, “...please, no more...”

The three ponies stopped and bit their lips. A mile away from where they were, there was nothing else to hear but the sound of the pegasus's sobbing.

“Hey... hey... what happened to us?” she asked to nopony in particular, tears running down her cheeks, whole body shivering, “Why did things have to turn out this way?”

Had Surprise’s death caused all this? Applejack thought, If Surprise was here things would’ve been different. The white pegasus would jump to the center, sing a song and probably make us laugh. Maybe after wards Rainbow and me would make up in silent agreement. Rarity would regret saying what she did and Fluttershy would’ve stopped crying. True that that it was Twilight that bought us together; but it was Surprise who held us like glue. Because that’s what Surprise is like: she knew that ponies together was as natural as it could get. Not like this.

Applejack eyed the other two ponies. Rainbow Dash had turned around, wings closed, hoof crushing the ground beneath her feet. Rarity eyes were downcast. Neither of them could look at Fluttershy in the eye as the canary pegasus searched for the answers in theirs.

“Ah don’t know Fluttershy, ah don’t know.” Applejack covered her eyes with her hat, “But Twilight’s changin’ for the better. That’s it, there’s nothin’ else that should’a matter now. But the gal still needs our help, her friend’s help. Ah don’t care what the rest of you think anymore but ah ain’t about to abandon Twilight. All she needs is for us to give’er a second chance.”



A few hours later, back in Ponyville library, Spike woke up in the middle of the night from thirst. He initially tried to resist the urge to stand and rise from the comfortable basket-bed, hoping that sleep would quench his throat until the morning.

He discovered, as he descended, that the living room was still a mess from earlier; a dirty table cloth was left untouched, confetti on the floor and leftovers abandoned everywhere.

How long had I been asleep? He asked himself.

The last thing he remembered that happened after the party was Applejack leaving and Twilight telling him to go to sleep and leave the cleaning to her, an offer which he happily took.

Ever since Surprise died Twilight’s lifestyle took a drastic turn. No longer was she the organized pony who always left everything clean and organized. All the housework was left to Spike while Twilight busied herself with her books. As time went on Twilight became more and more hectic in her research.

Until one day while Spike was cleaning some books on the floor Twilight had yelled at him for interfering with her research. Spike answered back trying to convince Twilight to ‘snap out of it’ but the unicorn responded with a bolt that sent him to a coma. A baby dragon could only endure so much. Fluttershy adopted Spike until the day Twilight would be back to normal, much to the baby dragon’s dismay he had to agree.

He thought that this day was the day that Twilight would be able to take him back.

So what was this mess? he asked himself, maybe Twilight was just too tired. It was her first party, anypony’s first party, in a long time.

But Spike could not help feeling that there was something wrong. The feeling came from the basement, the only place in the house where light creeping from beneath the door.

What could Twi be doing there now? he thought.

Before he could turn the knob, the door burst open and the figure of Twilight emerged.

The purple unicorn looked down at her assistant. For a moment Spike thought that the look was that of anger, but reconsidered as the unicorn’s words did not match it. “Spike, what are you doing this time of the night?”

“I got thirsty.” The dragon said with a shrug.

“I think we still have some leftover punch in the fridge. C’mon, let’s get you some. I’m feeling thirsty myself.”

Spike looked over the side to try and peek inside the basement. Sensing the baby dragon’s peering eyes Twilight immediately kicked the door closed.

“Spike, listen, the basement is off limits from now on.”

“Huh? But why?”

“It’s just that... the entire place is a mess.”

"Well the living room is a mess. I thought you said you're going to clean that up?"

"Yeah, it kinda slipped my mind."

“Want me to help out?”

“No!” Twilight snapped, and baby dragon backed away instinctively. “I mean... No, you don’t have to do that. I can fix it myself.”

"Then I'll stick to the living room then."

"Yeah, you do that." Twilight moved toward her assistant and embraced him. “I’m sorry, Spike... It’s just that, with everything that’s happened...”

“It’s okay, Twilight. I’m here for you, again.”

After the two of them had calmed down they went passed through the living, exchanging responsibilities on who will clean what. They went into the kitchen where Twilight gathered some of the leftovers for some midnight snack. Normally, she wouldn’t approve of such unhealthy habits but tonight was her birthday after all.

"So..." Spike drew in breath, "What were you doing in that basement anyway?"

“Nothing, just thinking of a letter to write to Princess Celestia.”

“All night?”

“All night.” Twilight said, handing out a glass of punch to Spike, “It’s a long letter I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. It’s about how friends shouldn’t give up on each other. And I’m especially thankful for all my friends.”

"In the basement?"

"That's where I've been keeping my notes recently."

"Oh..." Spike absentmindedly played with the spoon in the punch, “Want me to write it down?”

“Write what down?”

“The letter. Duh.”

“Now?

“If you want.”

Twilight paused for a moment. A small sad smile appeared as she gave a nod to Spike. “All right.”

“Ready when you are.” said Spike, grabbing a parchment and a quill.Twilight cleared her throat.

“Dear Princess Celestia,” started Twilight Sparkle. She turned away from Spike, not wanting his number one assistant to see her face, “You have tasked me, three years ago, to send you a letter detailing what I have learned about friendship. This is perhaps the last letter I will send you...”

* * *

Rainbow Dash looked around; not a pony in sight.

She descended down the small hill were the gravestone stood prouder than she was. She flicked her tail against the stone, dusting the small grass away from the rocky edges of the balloon shaped embeddings. She looked around again, making sure that the Apple family had already tucked in for the night. Satisfied, finally she spoke.

“Hey there, Surprise.” Rainbow Dash said to the gravestone, “It’s been a while since I’ve paid you a visit. A lot of weather work to do recently. You know how it goes.”

The gravestone remained unresponsive.

“I finally made it as a Wonderbolt. They said they’re glad to have me in and that I was basically a member waiting to come knocking in, being an Element of Harmony and the fastest flyer and all. It’s not official yet though, still don’t have that awesome hoodie. But I guess... I kinda disappointed them when I couldn’t do the Sonic Rainboom again. But- but! I’m still welcome to join... it’s just that my initiation could’ve gone better if it ended with a boom, you know what I mean...

“Hey... Mind if I tell you something... It wasn’t really as exciting as I thought it’d be, being a Wonderbolt I mean. But then again, what’s exciting these days? Or maybe it’s because you’re not here to see it. I don’t blame you though, don’t get me wrong here. I know somewhere up there you probably cheered for me. It’s just that all this time I’ve always imagined celebrating the day I finally turn to a Wonderbolt with your party and all our friends. Who knows, maybe up there in pony heaven you’ve actually thrown my party. I mean you would have. You’ve always bragged about how you’ll throw me the biggest party ever when I finally make it...

“But I guess I didn’t have it that bad. Me and the team hang out for a small get together afterwards, but only for a night. I invited Fluttershy along but she couldn’t leave her animals alone... Sorry, no. I didn’t invite anypony else. B-B-But, wait, it’s okay. Applejack couldn’t fly anyway and Rarity is on business –they wouldn’t have wanted to come anyway. The Wonderbolts were welcoming, but they aren’t really a friendly bunch. They’re good ponies only they’re more of a team than a circle of buddies. No, I’m not disappointed. Just–what’s the word?–enlightened, I guess. I realized that when failing to do the Sonic Rainboom was more of a technicality than anything else... They weren’t like us. I mean, they weren’t like how we were. But at least I beat Soarin’s lap record! That’s something I could make up for the Rainboom, right? Yeah... Guess not. You’d preferred that too...

“You always love the rainbows. Especially the ones I made. You love it more than anypony else... Remember that time when I first did it during the Young Flyer’s competition? Afterwards I couldn’t get you off me that day. It’s either I’ll teach you how to do it or you’ll join me in practice. Man, you were a headache for me at that time. Hahaha!

“Rainbows meant a lot to the both us, huh? But I’m guessing it meant a lot to me because it meant a lot to you. I mean, c’mon! Rainbows!? Not exactly the coolest thing out there for a speed demon. It was more of the speed and the adrenaline and boom that made it special for me. But for you it was the bright colors... Hahaha! Yeah... I guess so. I mean... you were the only pony I know who didn’t think that rainbows are... y’know... useless. I came here to tell you that I think I’m starting to understand why. Maybe I don’t fully get it yet... but those colors meant something, and that’s why I couldn’t do it anymore... I feel really, I dunno, weak... I need to know somehow.... I wish you were here. You could clear up some things for me, make us all feel better and turn this world upside down. To be honest, I still don’t know if I can forgive Twilight for what she did to you. You would’ve forgiven her, that’s for sure. It was an accident, I know. But an accident she made happen. I’m not as strong as you. How do you do it, I wonder. And why isn’t there more ponies like you... Anyway, I guess this is just the stress kicking in from overworking too much. I’m not very dashy and cool recently. This morning while on weather duty I got mad at Derpy for– ...nah, you don’t need to hear about my complaining. Again, it’s the stress piling up. I actually still have a lot of work waiting for me tomorrow so I couldn’t stay long. See you soon, PBFF.”

Rainbow Dash opened her wings and took to the air. Not a few feet away she hesitated and returned to the gravestone.

“You know... I’ve always been jealous of you. I don’t know why but I’ve been thinking of you and my rainbows. Who knows, maybe after all this time you are actually the only pony who could see all those colors... If I could see the world though your eyes for a day then –Well, not just me... but if everypony can see Equestria in your eyes then maybe... I dunno, ponies like me would realize that the world is much more colorful than what we were forced to believe.”

* * *

“I told you that some spa magic would get back those lost colors of your coat.” Rarity said waving her new bathrobe around, “You’re simply dazzling now. Although, we still need to do something about those eye bags of yours.”

“Is it that bad?” Twilight said, inspecting her eyes in the mirror.

“Nothing a few cucumbers can’t fix, dear.”

“Like in that slumber party we had. Remember?”

“Count me in. I could use some of’em cucumbers.” Applejack followed, hurrying out the spa, “All this frou frou nonsense makin’ me hungrier than a parasprite critter.”

Rarity rolled her eyes at Applejack’s comment. Twilight only giggled.

The four of them continued to talk as they exited the building. Much to Applejack’s discontent they have made it their thing to go the spa every time Rarity had the opportunity to visit.

It has been two months since Twilight’s birthday. The worry had gone and Applejack and Fluttershy’s constant visit to Twilight did not become as imperative as before. As far as Applejack was concerned if things continue at this rate then Twilight would’ve fully recovered by the time applebuck season’s over.

There was only one nagging problem: Rainbow Dash.

The absence of the Element of Loyalty beside Twilight was a constant reminder of Surprise. Soon it became apparent that they were avoided for that very purpose.

Applejack tried to catch her attention several times but the cyan pegasus would scowl and fly off at the slightest hint of her presence. Rainbow Dash’s only company was her weather team, one of Apple Bloom’s friends and the occasional Fluttershy.

Speaking of Fluttershy, Applejack saw the pegasus talking to Rainbow Dash just before their trip. Since then she had been acting more occupied than usual.

Applejack looked behind her to see Rarity and Twilight chatting merrily. She turned her attention to the canary pegasus beside her and whispered, “How’s Rainbow doin’?”

“Oh... she’s... fine.”

“How fine exactly?” Applejack advanced a few steps further hoping to draw their discussion away from the two unicorns.

“She ain't no mad at us still?”

“She is. I mean she isn’t. I mean... she’s still mad.”

“Figured she’d cooled that temper of hers by now.” Applejack waited for Fluttershy to say something, but the pegasus just nodded. “Ya alright, sugarcube? You’ve been all silent the whole day, more so than the usual.”

Fluttershy nodded her head.

“Saw ya two talkin’ while ago. That Rainbow ain’t saying bad is she?”

Fluttershy shook her head.

“She aint hurtin’ ya now? I swear to Celestia if she touches one hair on any of us I’ll–”

Fluttershy shook her head even more.

“Then what’s eatin’ ya?”

Fluttershy cleared her throat and slowly, almost imperceptibly, looked behind her. Applejack followed her eyes to find that she’s looking at Twilight Sparkle who was busy chatting with Rarity.

“Is it about, Twi?” Applejack asked, her voice lower, “That no-good Rainbow’s bad mouthin’ her behind her back.”

“Oh no. Rainbow Dash never talked about her like that.”

“Ah know it isn’t mah place to pry but ah wanna know what Rainbow and yous talkin’ about. If it aint too much to ask.”

“She usually just asks about us and... umm... how well we’re doing.”

“Is that right?” Applejack doubted, “Then why ya’ll worried about Twi?”

“Well... she–”

A spark of magic flashed before the two ponies. Twilight appeared from thin air and stood before them with a smile. “Hey, there you two.”

The sight of the unicorn made Fluttershy bite her lips.

“Woah there, nelly.” Applejack said with a small laugh, “Mighty scary just poppin’ out infront of us.”

“Sorry. Force of habit.”

“Where’s Rare?”

“She left already. You two were too far ahead that she decided back to the train station alone.”

“Without sayin’ goodbye?”

“It’s alright. She promised she’ll be back next week.” Twilight looked at them both, “Anyway, I lost track of time and need to get Spike’s dinner ready.”

“Ya do that. Spike’s gettin’ hungrier every day.”

“Well he is a growing baby dragon. Isn’t he, Fluttershy.”

“Oh... uh... yes...”

“You alright? You barely said a word the whole day.” said Twilight. She held up a hoof against the pegasus’s forehead as though to check her temperature. A second after the touch Fluttershy jerked away.

The three of them noticed the sudden motion.

“I... uh... I’m sorry. I’m not feeling well today.”

“Gosh, maybe you should see a doctor.”

Fluttershy nodded.

“Anyway, take care of yourself. See you tomorrow you two.”

Twilight turned to leave but as she did she left a last wink to the pegasus. Fluttershy knew it was a reminder of last night.

A reminder? Fluttershy thought, or a warning?

The pegasus regretted thinking of such a thing.


It was in the dead of night. The canary pegasus forced herself awake to attend to the sound of rapping against her living room door. She initially believed it was some injured animal seeking refuge.

What else could it be? she thought.

She was not wrong. Twilight Sparkle appeared from the other side of the door. Though the unicorn had recovered most of her vitality she appeared now to be emotionally scolded. She was exhausted in every possible way, the kind of exhaustion possible only when a pony attempts a week’s worth of work in a day.

“My goodness! What happened to you?”

“Studying.” Twilight smiled, “Can I go in?”

Before Fluttershy could inquire the state of her disheveled friend, Twilight Sparkle was quick to stray from the topic and forced an idle chat. But nopony would come knocking in the middle of the night to talk about constellations, Spike and coffee. Fluttershy knew Twilight was up to something.

It was only when Twilight thought that she had stayed long enough for propriety’s sake that she deemed it appropriate to voice her intentions. She wanted a favor from the canary pegasus.

“Pleeeease, Fluttershy.” Twilight begged, “You’re the only one I can ask this to.”

“But... isn’t that kind of... like stealing?”

“No, it isn’t. All I’m asking is for you to ask Applejack for the element of laughter .”

“But I’m supposed to tell her that it was Princess Celestia asking for it?”

“Because it’s for a gift I’m planning to give to Applejack. I mean, I can’t surprise her that if you told her I asked for it... please.”

But why me? Thought Fluttershy. But then she considered the other two options. Rainbow Dash still won’t talk to anypony and Rarity had been in bad terms with Applejack since their last meeting.

“Well, ok...” Fluttershy agreed. For how could she show her support to her friend if she refuse such a small favor. “I sure do like gifts.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Twilight thanked her several times that night as she left. She knew that favor was the only reason she visited. Not the idle chat, not the company, not the tea. But for a favor she could not ask anypony else. She asked Fluttershy because the canary pegasus was the most innocent and naïve pony of them all, and they both knew it.

Later that night, Fluttershy could not understand why she couldn’t stop crying.


Fluttershy followed Applejack back to Sweet Apple Acres. She couldn’t remember the long walk from the town to the farm. It was as though Twilight’s wink and the memory was all the distance to Applejack’s home.

“Any time today, sugarcube?”

It took a moment for Fluttershy to notice that the earth was holding the door open for her “Oh! Yes... uhm... sorry.”

“Mah bad, ah meant that as a joke.” Applejack asked, “So what was it ya wanna tell me?”

“It’s... uh...”

“Ya want cider? Ah must’ve tad left from last season.”

“No, thank you.”

“Or how about some of Granny’s tea with apple pie? Ah reckon we’ll be having ourselves a long talk.”

“Actually, Applejack, I’ll be quick... Do you have the Element of Laughter?”

Applejack remained silent for a while before responding. “Sure do, keepin’ it warm all summer... why’d you ask?”

“Well... it’s... umm... Princess Celestia. She said she want it back.”

“Hmm... that’s funny, ah reckon ah saw some of’em Royal Guards flying by earlier this morning, ah’m sure they could’ve asked for it then.”

“I don’t... know... She-uh... just told me.”

“And when was that exactly? You’ve been with us the whole day.”

Applejack interrogated. She was not one who would doubt her friends, quite contrary she was one who would trust her friend’s words as much as her own. But that was back in the good-old-days. Now, much as she hated it, suspicions everywhere are necessary. And with Fluttershy behaving as she did since this morning the canary pegasus was far from exempt.

“There’s somethin’ yer not tellin’ me is there?”

But Fluttershy did not answer. She merely trembled on the spot. Applejack sighed and took the Element of Laughter from under her pillow. She dropped the necklace in front of her and stared at Fluttershy with a cold eye.

“Ah know yous got a reason.”

“Thank you–” Fluttershy said as she reached for the necklace, only to be stopped by the earth pony’s harsh words.

“But ah got mine. So spit it out Fluttershy ‘cuz this here Element of Honesty don’t like being lied to. Why’d Rainbow Dash set ya up for this?”

The pegasus blinked twice.

“Ya two talked this mornin’. That darn Rainbow threatened ya to get the Element of Laughter so she could dangle it infront of our Twi, try to scare her or somethin’. I’ll teach that backstabbing, no-good–”

“No, wait.” Fluttershy said, quickly catching up on the earthpony’s line of thought.

“Won’t do ya any good trying to cover up for’er. She thinks ah don’t know but ah see’er at night flying over our hills hanging around on Surprise’s grave. Who the hay does she is? She thinks she’s the only pony hurt by all this. Why ah outta–”

“Oh please listen, Applejack. Rainbow Dash has nothing to do with it.” Fluttershy flew over Applejack’s path, trying to calm the mare down,“It was Twilight.”

“Twilight?” Applejack stopped on her tracks, perplexed.

Fluttershy nodded.

“Why in tarnation would Twili–” Applejack stopped. She remembered three months ago when she saw Twilight soaked from the rain, crying atop Surprise’s grave. Back then she was holding the Element of Laughter in her hooves.

What did she do, Applejack had thought, Rather what was she doin’?

Applejack looked at Fluttershy, then to the Element of Laughter, then back to Fluttershy, “You mean Twilight asked ya to get the element for her?”

Fluttershy nodded.

“Why’d she have to go do that?”

“I don’t know.”

“She could’ve just asked me.” But Applejack knew she would not have handed it so easily to Twilight as she would have to Fluttershy, “And ya didn’t have to tell that story ‘bout the princess,”

“But I...”

Applejack sighed and wrapped her forelegs around the pegasus’s neck. “Ya one of mah best gals. Ah expected a lot from ya. Yer the only pony ah could trust with Twilight so don’t lie to me like that, we need to help one another. I want to trust ya. I need to trust ya.”

“I... I’m so sorry.”

“S’all right.”

Applejack was not disturbed of the fact that Fluttershy lied to her. Gullible as she is the pegasus found the courage to tell the truth after all. Her constant paranoia and impending sense of bad things might be the remnant of the pasts shock. It was to her that Spike came crawling to when Twilight Sparkle had began to become unstable. It was her, after being reproached time and time again by Twilight, that kept watched on the purple unicorn. To ask her to believe her fully recovered in only the span of two months, compared to a year of instability, would be difficult. Applejack knew that trusting Fluttershy was the least she could do. The canary pegasus felt the exact same thing.

“Applejack...”

“Yeah, sugarcube?”

“There’s something else I still haven’t told you.” said Fluttershy, breaking the embrace.

“What is it?”

“Actually... it was Twilight who told me... to tell you that it was Celestia who wanted the element. She... didn’t want you to know.”

Applejack paused for a moment to think. Then spoke, “When I saw Twilight on her birthday she was holdin’ the Element of Laughter. Couldn’t imagine how or why she has it. When I got to her she was cryin’ on top of Surprise’s grave, soaked to the bone, and it looked like–well that’s how it looked to me but–it looked like she was tryin’ to dig’er out.”

“Oh... my...”

“She wouldn’t of course. She was hysterics. Couldn’t even talk to’er properly. Had to drag her back to mah house and keep her warm and cozy. She kept sayin’ that she’s tryin’ to save Surprise. Now ah’m not gonna pretend ah knew what she was talking about or what it was she was’all doin’ locked in her library for a year, but ah reckon it’s not healthy.”

“What are you saying?”

“Ah think now is the time to go and ask Twilight what she’d been doing all year being all secret-like... and maybe what she plans to do from now on. If she wants Surprise's element back I better know what she's plannin' on doin' with it."

Applejack felt a hoof wrap around her shoulders, “I’m scared... I don’t why, but I’m scared. I feel like something’s... coming.”

“Ya don’t need to be scared. Nothin’ bad’s gonna happen. There shouldn’t be.”



Spike gathered the courage to enter the basement he was warned against. But it was not the sinister miasma sending shivers down his spine that compelled him to do so. It was the fact that he knows Twilight Sparkle stood at the miasma's very center.

Ever since Twilight wrote her last letter to Princess Celestia two months ago, Spike worries had returned. Perhaps, he believed, to be an overaction. Twilight was back to how she originally was: friendly, hardworking, and punctual.

There shouldn’t be a reason for me to worry, Spike thought, but the words in that letter...

Spike opened the door and the thick air hit him like a punch to his face. Everything beyond the door was pure darkness. He no longer recognized it as the basement he remembered, the underground library now resembled a dungeon. He climbed down, step by step, his back pressed against the wall. He didn’t know why, but as he descended it felt like something could pounce behind him

“Twilight...” he called out. No response.

He descended further until he saw the only source of light. Twilight Sparkle stood over a pentacle drawn from chalk. Above her, hovering just above her horn, was an orb of shadow. The orb was material, yet it lay suspended as though it was not subject to known metaphysics, as if it was a reflection from another dimension. The orb constantly shifted and absorbed the light around it, pulsating as though it was alive.

Suddenly, in a flash of knowledge, and a flash of fear, Spike felt what it was. The baby dragon knew his kind held strange affinity to magic, an affinity different from ponies and other creatures, yet he did not know that this foreknowledge was so powerful that it nullified both instinct and knowledge. But Spike need not be a dragon to know, to feel, that Twilight Sparkle was using Black Magic.

“Twilight!” Spike called out, “Twilight, stop!”

The lavender unicorn heard his assistant and turned to face him. The sparkle on her horn ceased and all presence of magic stopped. But the orb was still there, still pulsating slowly like a dying heart.

“Spike...” said Twilight, “What did I told you about going down here?”

“What’s this?” The baby dragon could not take his eyes away from the orb, “What is this?”

“It’s nothing you should worry about.”

“It’s Black Magic. You’re doing it again. I don’t like it, Twilight. Stay away from it. That orb feels like it sucking me in and pushing me away at the same time.”

“My safety is unconditional. I could not say the same for yours. Leave now while you still can, Spike. To Canterlot if possible.”

“Huh? Why? Twilight, I’m so confused. What’s happening?”

“Then again, the difference is only temporal.” said Twilight, ignoring the baby dragon’s inquiry.

“Twi... you were using Black Magic.”

“I was.”

“But... that’s forbidden.” Spike argued, he looked at Twilight who had an amuse smile, then to the orb, “The princess didn’t even allow you to study Black Magic, especially do it... And that thing.”

“The spell is called Corporatio, it creates new raw matter reflecting the nature and amount of bio-energy in a magical creature.” Twilight’s horn shined and a book from a shelf opened between them, showing a page with a picture of the orb.

“You can say it is magic given form. You can also say it my soul given substance.The created is the reflection of the creator. In reconstructing raw matter one needs a catalyst of order, such as an Element of Harmony, and consciousness, to formulate its structure. For Surprise, I need only the Element of Laughter and my own projection of her. ”

“That... is your soul?”

“For a more poetic use of the concept, yes.” said Twilight, looking up to the orb, “Though bio-energy would have been scientifically apt.”

“But... Black Magic... Princess Celestia said...” the baby dragon stammered. None of what was Twilight saying was making sense.

“That it’s immoral simply because Black Magic acts in complete opposition to normal magic. I know what the princess said. To this I agree: 'disharmony precedes destruction; order precedes creation'. But what the Princess failed to say is that Black Magic could also be used for good. Ponies fear what they do not understand and they despise what they fear. It is for this reason that term Black Magic had left an unsettling connotation to those ignorant of its power. It is unknown, yes, but not unpredictable. Colt Sagan once said that magic is but science unexplained. It is with this new kind of power that I can protect everypony.”

“But the Princess–”

“The princess doesn’t know anything!” shouted Twilight, on impulse the baby dragon cowered to a corner, “She lived a thousand year and doesn’t even know what a parasprite is. At least Surprise knew–...”

Twilight’s raged subsided, replaced by the paralyzing stab of memory.


Little flying insects had multiplied to thousands and ate away almost everything in ponyville. Her magic couldn’t do a thing against the pests. But Surprise, against all our doubts and all our remorse, took all the musical instruments and played music to save the day.

“I couldn’t save her...” Twilight whispered to herself, “For all my power, I couldn’t save Surprise. I talk and bragged about how learning Black Magic could save Equestria... yet... I killed her with it.”

“Twilight, we’ve been through this. It was an avalanche. An accident.”

Twilight ignored him. “That’s why I want this magic, this power, so I could protect those I love. Don’t try to stop me.”

Spike cleared his throat. Even since Spike was hatched from the egg the first pony he laid his eyes on was Twilight Sparkle. He remembered being raised by her, taken care of and loved. He bragged to over how proud he is of being her assistant; that he, for all the treasures in the world, would not ask for anypony else. Now, he could not make sense of what he was seeing: for the first time in his life Twilight Sparkle threatened his safety.

But still, his survival was a small price to pay for the life Twilight had given him. He would protect Twilight Sparkle, even if it means he’ll go against her.

“No.” said Spike, “I won’t allow you to do this.”

“I wasn’t asking for your permission Spike.”

“Neither am I.” Spike tore off a piece of paper from the floating book, something he had never deliberately done before, “I’ll send this to the Princess. Apparently she’ll know what you’re up to. And if you think that–”

Clavicula!” invoked Twilight. A black tendril slithered out of the orb and pierced through paper and dragon scale.

The shock did not come as fast as the pain. Spike dropped the paper he held in his hands before he could send it to the Princess. The tendril pulled out, yanking the baby dragon to the ground. Spike felt nothing but pain centered from blood flooding his lungs.

He struggled to stand up but Twilight fired a purple bolt to his direction that sent him propelling to the wall.

“Ahh!” Spike screamed, the searing pain entered his small body. It was as though somepony replaced his blood with electricity.

Twilight stopped and watched the unmoving body on the floor. But Spike rose again, half conscious and can barely hold his footing.

“I love you, Spike. I didn’t want you involved. Stand aside and stay silent, that’s all I ask.”

Blood dribbled from the baby dragon’s smile. “No.”

“Don’t force me to kill you!”

“I-I... won’t stop... Twi. I-I’m going... to protect you. I can’t let you... do this to yourself.”

Twilight Sparkle closed his eyes, “Then you leave me no choice... Accersi: Cockatrice.”

The black sphere behind them started to pulsate quicker and quicker until, from it’s surface, gave birth to full-grown cockatrice. It slithered to Spike, tail connected to one of the orb’s tendril, as the monster waited for its master’s command.

“I’m giving you once last chance, Spike.” said Twilight, there was a hint of pleading in her voice, “It’s either you’re with me or against me.”

Spike made his last smile.

Twilight turned away from him and walked away up to the stairs. “The time has come. I will not allow anypony to stop me. I will protect the happiness of everypony in Ponyville –in Equestrua. I’ll bring back those days.” Twilight turned to Spike; their eyes, wet with tears, met for the last time, “I’ll bring back Surprise.”

Twilight closed the door behind her as she left.

The cockatrice inched closer to the baby dragon, hissing and cocking its body. Spike tried to move away, but the pain in his would not allow it. The cockatrice was already all over him, tails and claw wrapping round his limbs. He closed his eyes avoiding the creatures gaze at all cost; but the cockatrice’s claw forced had forced his eyes open as it stared him down.

And it began. The edge of his tail, his legs, slowly were becoming stone. There was no pain this time, no sensation of any sort. There was only numbness as though he never had any legs or tail in the first place. Satisfied, the cockatrice was pulled by the shadowy cord to be absorbed by the black orb.

But it was not Spike’s impending doom that worried him. There was no feeling of dread or trepidation. In his thoughts there was only, as then and forever, Twilight Sparkle. To save the unicorn, even after braving her anger and sadness. He understands now that he lives for nopony else than she who gave him the gift of life, who took care of him when all others had been abandoned, she who grew up together and learned life’s lesson through the letters sent to the princess. It was not to Celestia that Spike had pledge his life; it was, willingly and in full intent, to Twilight. To live and die for her with that same loyalty as with a knight to his princess.

With his arms he crawled on the floor, gathering every piece of paper and scroll his limbs could touch and bundled everything together. Out reaching his claws, Spike desperately scratched on the surface of the floor. He could feel the paralysis climbing his stomach, his chest, his neck. His body grew heavier by the second. Spike, with his last fate-defying breath, fired out a green flame.

If I would go down, the dragon thought, then for no greater honor would it be than in eternal service to Twilight Sparkle.



The sun hid its head and every filly and foal returned to the safety of their homes. Applejack and Fluttershy trotted towards the library and, as soon as they saw it, hastened.

Applejack could not afford to wait for Fluttershy. The pegasus knew it too. They trotted as fast as their legs would carry them. Neither had said anything to the other, but they both felt it. The house was somber, and a disquieting stillness crept from it. The closer they approach the building the more air thinned out, replaced by a malevolent energy and a sense of dread. There was nothing in that house, no sound and no light.

Applejack burst through the door and looked around, there was nothing to see.

What is happening? The earth pony thought, where is Twilight and Spike? Why do I... feel so scared?

Applejack prayed to Celestia that nothing was wrong, that everything was just her imagination.

“Twilight? Twilight!” she shouted. Her only response was the sound of rummaging coming from above.

“Applejack?” a voice replied, but it was not from the unicorn she had expected.

“Rarity?”

“What in Equestria are you doing here?”

“Ah should be askin’ ya the same thing.”

“You’re not with Twilight are you?” Rarity asked, looking through the door, only to find Fluttershy running towards them from the distance.

“No. Where is she?”

“I do not know. She headed out for somewhere... She was carrying a shovel.”

“A shovel? What for?”

Rarity hesitated, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

“And what’re y’all doin’ here sneaking up in Twilight’s house?”

The unicorn’s eyes twitched.

“Ah thought Twi said ya left for Manehattan.”

“Leave now, Applejack. This doesn’t concern you.” said Rarity, ignoring the question, “I have business to take care of.”

“No way, no how,” Applejack snorted. She felt insulted of how irrelevant Rarity implied she was. “Ah still have a bone to pick with ya.”

“Now is not the time for that.”

Rarity turned away but the earth pony was quick to grab her by the hoof. “What’re y’all mean a few months back when ya said yer disgusted with Twi?”

“There’s a time and place for you to quibble on your trivial pursuits.” said Rarity as she tried to yank her foreleg away, “Let me go, you ruffian.”

“Not till ya answer mah questions. I’m tryin’ to help Twili–”

“Oh, spare me that rubbish!”

“Rubbish? Is that what this is to ya?”

“I envy you, Applejack. At the same time I feel sorry for you. You don’t know what you’re trying to save.”

“Ah’m tryin’ to save a friend here.”

Rarity remained unimpressed. Her face turned dangerously serious. “Do you really want to know why I am so utterly disgusted with that friend you want to save?”

Applejack let go of the unicorn, she did not know whether it was of fear or something else. She hesitated to answer the mare’s question. “Ah don’t wanna know. But ah need to.”

“Follow me.”

Fluttershy arrived at the doorstep. Applejack quickly told her to stay out of the building, to which the pegasus was more than happy to comply.

Applejack followed Rarity to the basement. She felt the air thinning out as they descended. She half expected the unicorn to yammer about how the ambiance would be bad for her coat. But Rarity maintained her composure even against the difficulty of breathing that Applejack had physically expressed.

Only when she descended further did the miasma reached its height. Rarity’s horn made a small glow that lifted away the weighing darkness.

The disorderliness of the room was uncanny; it was the worst living condition Applejack ever saw. The shelves were empty of its books, which seemed to have replaced the tiled floor. Left over wax from candles thickened messily on the desk. She recognized pictures of Princess Celestia, Luna and Discord among the few papers pinned to the wall. There was a map of Equestria hanging loosely by a nail. Applejack picked up a book from the pile. It was entitled Transmutatione Mannulus by somepony named Fountainhead. The pages showed a diagram of a pony’s anatomy lying on top of a magical circle.

Applejack closed the book and lay it on the side. She did not understand what it meant. Rather, she did not want to understand it.

The light from Rarity’s horn dimmed and Applejack saw the unicorn trying to push away a shelf stacked in one corner.

“What’re ya doin’?”

“It should be here.”

“What is?”

But the unicorn did not answer her question. The shelves proved too heavy for Rarity’s magic to push that Applejack offered her help. There were several shelves, and as Applejack pushed each one it became apparent that the wooden furnitures were hiding something.

Before the earth pony could push the last shelf away, Rarity’s light illuminated that which was inches before Applejack’s eyes.

“What in tarnation!”

Applejack fell back in shock. The shelf crashed and splintered. Rarity looked away and bit her lip.

“Is that... who ah think it is?”

In front of the two ponies, floating aimlessly inside a large cylindrical tank, was a white pegasus with golden mane.

“It’s... Surprise.” Applejack said, clearing her throat.

“It was supposed to be.”

“Huh?” Applejack tried to look at Rarity, but she could not tear her eyes away from the pony in front of her. “What in all things sacred was Twilight doin’?”

“She told you.” said Rarity, “Several times. Only she knew you wouldn’t take it literally. She said that she’ll save Surprise. And that is exactly what she’s doing.”

“She’s trying to... bring’er back.” said the earth pony. It was not a question.

“In spirit at the very least. Surprise remains at peace in her grave. Twilight was trying to make a substitute by trying to give life to this.”

Applejack worked up the courage to inspect the creature. The features bore a striking resemblance to the pony, but not to one that lived. The wide open eyes were dilated glass. The patches of skin that were not covered with artificial feathers were made of bisque porcelain. The cutie mark was a clumsy smear of paint.

The earth pony drew back, sat on her haunches, and stared at the comfortable void of the darkness away from the puppet. Her heart sank and something else took it place. She released a heavy sigh, one that contained all the recent memory of Twilight and their newfound friendship.

“Why did ah... Why did Twi never... she should’ve... somethin’ atleast.”

“I know how difficult for you to absorb this right now.” said Rarity, “But we need to find Twilight.”

“Yer... yer right. No use cryin’ over spilled... anythin’... somethin’... Let’s not tell Fluttershy about this. Not yet.”

“Agreed. I couldn’t imagine how the poor thing would take it.”

“Hey, Rare, can ah ask ya something...” said Applejack, “It’s kind of private.”

Rarity looked at the earth pony in confusion and waited for the question.

“Do ya love Surprise?”

“We all do, darling.” said Rarity, thrown off a little from the question.

“Would ya bring’er back too if ya could.”

“A year ago, I would have said yes to you. But now...”

“Why?”

Yes, Rarity thought, why indeed. “Would you bring her back too, if you could?”

“No... Ah don’t think so.”

“Why?”

“...Ah don’t know...”

“I’ve always been jealous of Surprise.” said Rarity, approaching the earth mare. She knew know why Applejack asked permission for her questions. She knew, or felt rather, that Surprise’s meaning to each of them was a reflection of something deeper, something unnamed but principally vital to each of them.

“We’re all jealous of Surprise.” said Applejack.

“...All of my life I am propelled by my love for beauty in all its form. I have lived in constant pursuit of this, of how only the beautiful is there to see. The clothes and gems and fashions that I made were to reflect all that is good in us. It was a hard and difficult battle, but it was worth it. And what I envy about Surprise is that she has already won what I still fought. And it was though she was able to do it so... naturally.”

Applejack waited, she knew that Rarity had one more thing to say.

“That is why I do not want Surprise back. Not because I am jealous of her, but because I want to protect that jealousy. If Surprise were to see what kind of world we now live in and crumbles–”

“She won’t.”

“But if she does... what do you suppose it would mean for me?” Rarity choked on her next words, “It would mean that which I have been seeking has been lost. I see this world as something to be made beautiful; Surprise sees this world already beautified. And If somepony as innocent as Surprise could no longer see beauty then how do you suppose a backstabbing, hypocritical, manipulative, two-faced mare like me possibly could.”

Applejack fell silent. She thought of Rarity, to a degree, to be such as she described; but never in those words. The earth mare could not console her friend without breaking her own loyalty to the honesty of her feelings. Silence was all she could give.

They turned away from each other. Something unspoken passed between them and the two felt the need to leave the room. Rarity led the way.

“Rarity... One more thing if ya don’t mind,” called Applejack as they ascended the stairs, “How did ya know about–”

Applejack was interrupted with the sudden pause of the mare in front of her. The pause was abrupt, like that of a door slammed shut. Rarity was frozen in place, looking at a rock on the floor.

“What’s wrong?" the earth pony rushed in aid.

Was she seein’ diamond’s again, thought Applejack.

No words escaped the unicorn’s mouth. Her entire body shivered and her eyes focused in one direction.
But there was something peculiar about that rock, its shaped was awfully familiar. Applejack let go of Rarity, all the while cursing her imagination as she neared the object.

Applejack rationalized; it's a dumb statue, she said to herself, it's mah eyes playin' tricks on me.

But the earth pony has reached a point where denial was impossible.

Just beneath her hoof was Twilight’s pet dragon, Spike–the faint sign of un-life hinted on his agonized and pained expression.

Applejack watched Rarity fall on her knees and take the petrified dragon in her bosom. Perhaps it was pride, but Applejack could see how the unicorn struggled to contain her tears.

The earth pony, too, painfully shut her eyes closed in denial.

Ah can't afford no mourning, Applejack thought, not now.

Embedded on the floor where Spike’s claw had been was a series of letters.

The letters said the following:

TwiS > SUPrI GRaVe

blK maGIc

HELP TWILIGHT SPA

The last series of letters were cut short. But the clue Spike managed was enough. Even in his last moments Spike gave everything he had for Twilight.

Applejack took off her hat in salutation to the act of loyalty and offered a moment of silence. Rarity bit off a piece of cloth from the desk and threw it over the cold frozen body of Spike; the last act of kindness she could offer to the dragon that loved her.

“Ah don't think ah can handle believin' Twilight did this...”

That was wrong to be believin’, Applejack thought, there’s not even a reason that Twilight did this. For all we know Spike left it here so we could help out Twilight... from what exactly?

Without as much as a breath of reply, Rarity ran passed Applejack and trotted up the stairs, hoof slamming on each step. It was only for the briefest of instants but Applejack saw something in Rarity's eyes. Whatever Applejack saw she knew it was not tears, it was something uglier.

Rarity continued unchallenged passed through the door and Fluttershy. Applejack followed, maintaining her distance between the unicorn and the pegasus.

The night had given them worse than Applejack could ever imagine. Seeing Rarity’s anger, she realized that either her or Twilight were bound to cross a point where nopony could return. The night was young, and Applejack’s whole body was shivering.



The sky was crying and the clouds murmured. A lone pony stood on top of a hill, conversing with the invisible stars.

“Ah! Am I crying?” said she, raindrops hitting her face, “No... not even close.”

She had finally done it. After months and years of painstaking research; nights, countless nights, collapsing on her desk in exhaustion; meals and sleep interrupted at the sudden spark of an idea, only to be disappointed once again; the isolation. Her happiness was the price for the knowledge she now knew, and it was a small price to pay. Twice now had she failed, but in this third she would not. For now she had the two missing piece in life's enigma: authenticity...

"...And sacrifice." said Twilight.

Twilight Sparkle stood over a desecrated grave. A muddy shovel lay by her side. She stood as lethargic as the corpse beneath her. Her eyes remained fixed on the sky, staring blankly at the coat of darkness. She considered counting the raindrops if she could distinguished them from the stars. She remembered her best friends: Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Surprise.

How long do ponies live? She thought, do they last as long as a raindrop? Infinitesimal and insignificant to the eyes of a higher power.

Yet those raindrops meant something to one another, something that higher power could never understand. She thought that there was a time when raindrops weren’t raindrops. That they were a small puddle of water, compressed high up in the clouds. They were one.

Twilight wanted to giggle at her thoughts. She thought she was being a hopeless romantic, like those fantasies she once read at night years ago. But there was nothing romantic in what she felt now. No sense of heroism or guilt, as though what she just did was a monotonic action of an automaton.

She saw the lone purple balloon floating from side to side.

Would Surprise be proud of me, she asked herself, Of course not.

But she had no choice. She has reached the point of no return long ago. The only way forward now is transgression.

“Twilight! Twilight!”

A familiar southern accent called out to her. She recognized it an instant, and only had to look over her shoulder to confirm who it was.

Three ponies rushed to her direction. Applejack, overtaking Fluttershy and Rarity, led the trio.

Would that count as romanticism now? Twilight smiled at the thought, eyes focused and proud of the earth pony. She had not expected anything less.

She remembered how, not too long ago, she saw the same scene; the same orange-coated pony running for her. It was at this place where she stood now, crying her heart out after the most recent failure, where the earth pony has proven herself to be the loyalest and most dependable of friends. It was Applejack that saved her that night, and she trusts Applejack to save her now.

Twilights moved away from the open grave and greeted her friend. She smiled and waved her hoof to her, expecting a warm embrace amidst this cold rain. But Applejack did not meet her. She saw the earth pony stop on her tracks and take a step back.

“Twi... what have ya.. Ah’m too late.” said the earth pony. She lost her footing and fell down on the muddy dirt. Applejack saw everything: the opened grave, the muddy shovel and the lock of curly gold mane that Twilight held.

“No, no.” the purple unicorn shook her head as she helped her friend to her feet, “You’re just in time. I finally discovered it, the missing ingredient!”

Applejack almost threw up as Twilight pressed the gold hair to her face. She could not believe it. Twilight, the protégé, an Element of Harmony, who saved Equestria from Nightmaremoon and Discord, who helped each and every one of them as much as she could, had desecrated Surprise’s grave.

“Missin’ ingredient... for what?”

“Twilight! Applejack!” Fluttershy flew towards them, crying their name in desperate confusion. Rarity followed behind her, lips locked with gritting teeth.

“Stop!” shouted Applejack before her friends could get any closer. But it was too late. It took only a second for them see, and a second more to believe.

“Tw-twilight... what have you done?” Fluttershy’s voice slowly turned to a whimper. Her eyes remained on the lock of hair that Twilight held in her hooves, she knew without a doubt to whom that color belonged, and what had to be done to take it. As Fluttershy’s imagination grew, her consciousness dwindled. The yellow pegasus fell on Rarity’s arms, dropping the Element of Laughter she had been carrying.

“Fluttershy!” Applejack called.

“Remain calm... she just fainted from the shock.” Rarity said as she placed the pony down to a nearby tree.

Twilight and Applejack both wondered how Rarity could maintain her composure. They realized their inattention when the pristine white unicorn marched and stood face to face against the lavender unicorn. Now Applejack realized what she saw in Rarity's eyes earlier. It was an emotion she had never known or felt but, after everything that happened, was not impossible: complete and unadulterated abhorrence.

“Were you the one who killed Spike?” asked Rarity, there was solemnity in how she mentioned the dragon's name.

Twilight’s eye twitched. It was all the answer Rarity needed.

“And you killed him because you’re going to do it again, aren’t you,” Rarity could held her footing, she could barely grab hold of herself with the anger fueling her, “You’re going to revive Surprise!”

Twilight Sparkle burst into laughter echoed by deafening thunder. It was laughter of joy and triumph, of a long lost achievement believed to be lost only to be delivered in front of her; like the sheer irony of discovery from the incongruous.

Rarity’s anger manifested itself in action. She screamed, pouncing on the still laughing Twilight Sparkle as they came toppling downhill. The two unicorn crashed messily against the wet dirt below. Rarity pushed Twilight down and began pulling her mane.

But as though to deny her attacker the pleasure of pain, Twilight kept on laughing; laughing joyously and jubilantly as though without a care in the world.


Rarity was one of the few who genuinely cared for Twilight’s safety. She, along with Fluttershy and Applejack, would go the makeshift library-prison in an attempt to free the deranged unicorn from self incarceration. Sometimes Twilight would notice their presence, oftentimes she would not. Immersed in her reading, none of Rarity’s words could pass through her books. Rarity had tried everything she knew; she tried to reason with her, argue with her, and even fought with her on certain occasions, all received with equal indifference.

“Be reasonable.” Rarity told her once, “You cannot possibly go on living like this.”

“Then I won’t live.”

What Rarity thought to be an exaggeration soon became a reality. Twilight drowned herself under thousands and thousands of seemingly endless books. It was then that the pristine unicorn realized that, in order to save Twilight Sparkle, she would have to take drastic measures.

One night, Rarity entered the library and set fire to several bookshelves in front of Twilight. She prepared herself for the exchange of harsh words that would follow, but not the madness that she thought would happen.

“This is for your own good!” Rarity had said, but there was nopony to hear it.

Twilight eyes glowed a heavy harsh light. The fire that kindled the books died out in an instant.

What happened next was lost to her memory.

When Rarity came to she found herself in Ponyville urgent care several weeks later. She found out soon after that she was reported to have been unconscious and dangerously drained of energy in the middle Fillydelphia streets. Fluttershy, equally clueless to this phenomenon, had arranged for the unicorn’s transfer back to Ponyville.

A few days later, barely recovered from the incident and ignoring therapist precaution, Rarity left the hospital and marched straight to the library.

It was then that Rarity realized her own limit, a limit that no physical pain could bring her to. It was pure coincidence, yet it could easily be believed to be a play of Discord.

Rarity felt strong magic emanating from the basement and, finding Twilight nowhere, was left with no choice but to search to where the supernatural reeked.

“Come on, you can do it.” the voice of the lavender unicorn reverberated throughout, “You’re almost there.”
Rarity descended to the miasma. Inside she saw that which would haunt her forever.

Twilight Sparkle stood on a giant sigil. In front of her was a lately shattered cylindrical tank. And from the container, crawling out of an unknown green viscous fluid, motioned by magic, limbs flapping lifelessly, came a deformed white and gold mesh of porcelain she easily realized to be Surprise zombified.

The next day, Rarity sold the Carousel Boutique and moved to Manehattan.


Now, she held Twilight by the throat. She did not know how far she was willing to go. It was as though the torturous and haunting months of the vivid imagery of what took place in Twilight’s basement had caught up to this moment. It wiped out the memories of their friendship and all that it stood for. There was only anger and disgust, the desire to hate and hurt. To inflict pain to this pony that reconstructed a deformed marionette of Surprise, who desecrated the grave and who found herself able to laugh through it all.

Twilight was long gone, Rarity reminded herself, this pony is but a hollow shell of her former self.

At that thought Rarity’s horn glowed and the shovel levitated to her hooves. She raised the sharp rusty spade high in the air, her eyes locking on the lavender unicorn.

Yes it’s possible, Rarity thought, I could bring myself to kill Twilight.

“Stop, Rarity!” Applejack shouted.

The orange-coated earth pony had ran down the hill just in time to stop the killing blow. She pushed her body against Rarity and held her from behind.

“Unhand me!” said the white unicorn, struggling in futility against the pressure of Applejack’s hold, “Unhand me, I say.”

“Calm down Rarity!”

“Somepony has to end it. Somepony has to kill her!”

“Nopony’s killin’ anypony!”

“It’s the only way we can finally end all of this.”

“Consarn it. Get a hold of yourself.”

“Twilight is dead. We lost her years ago.” Rarity said, her eyes transfixed on the lavender unicorn struggling to stand, “That... that thing... is not Twilight. You saw what was in that tank. As if killing Surprise wasn’t enough she’s trying to make a puppet for a replacement. And Celestia help me if I’m just gonna stand here and watch her turn the memory of our friend to another one of her science experiment.”

Applejack’s grip loosened.

Rarity was right, the earth pony thought, Twilight has to be stopped. But not like this, not by... by killing her.

Rarity tore away from Applejack’s hooves, “And how far will you be willing to sit there and watch with nothing but your good intentions. There are some things in this world we can’t tolerate.”

“But to kill’er? Rarity, now that is too much.”

“It’s the only way.”

“Killin’ her won’t fix any of this.”

They both said it, in silent mutual agreement, that abstract unknown concept known only as the ‘this’ that refused to be named. They could have been referring to Surprise or the state of Ponyville, the ‘good-ol-days’ or the miasma that enveloped the town unacknowledged.

But if it will..., the thought crossed Applejack mind, –No, Even if everything’ll be done fix ah ain’t about to hurt Twilight.

“Who knows?” Twilight chilling breath brushed against the earth pony’s mane and neck, “She could be right, Applejack.”

Applejack felt something crawl up her spine as soon as she heard the voice. She had not felt the unicorn move and crept behind her. One second Twilight was struggling to stand, the next their bodies were manebreadths away.

Moving on pure instinct, Applejack and Rarity leapt away from the unicorn. Twilight Sparkle hid her eyes beneath the muddy mane. Only her smile that showed her full set of teeth indicated the malicious nature she intends.

“Now if you’ll excuse, there’s one more thing I’ll need.” said Twilight. She eyed the Element of Laughter beside the unconscious Fluttershy.

Rarity caught up on Twilight’s intention. She charged to the unconscious mare. Twilight teleported beside the canary pegasus, reaching for the element. As she did, Rarity doubled her speed, snatching the necklace with her teeth before throwing it to Applejack’s direction.

“You really intend to stand in my way?” said Twilight. It was a challenge.

“Don’t let her have it!” shouted Rarity to Applejack, ignoring the unicorn.

Twilight horn glowed powerfully. It rained harder and the clouds rumbled like the belly of a thunder god. A small black dot the size of an apple blinked on the ground just below where the Applejack was standing. A fraction of a second later a blackened bolt of lightning came crashing down the ground and landed where the black spot had been.

“Applejack!” cried Rarity. The flash of light and crack of thunder numbing her senses.

“That was a warning shot,” said Twilight, “Give the Element of Laughter to me.”

The earth pony released all the air she kept in her lungs. She stood in disbelief that her friend, Twilight Sparkle, almost tried to kill her.

“Twi,” said Applejack, “Are ya really planning on doing this?”

“Applejack! Get away from here and run.” commanded Rarity, “I’ll slow her down.”

“Answer me, Twi, because ah don’t want to believe it.” Applejack was pleading now, “Tell me you’re not willing to go that far.”

“Damnit, Applejack. I said run.”

“Please, Twilight. Please. Don’t ya do this.”

Twilight Sparkle said nothing. Locking eyes with the earth pony, she motioned to the Element of Laughter and stretched her foreleg.

Applejack’s head drooped. She hid her eyes under the brim of her hat. She muttered something nopony heard as the rain noisily splashed against her shoulders. The same rain hid her long held tears.

Twilight stretched her foreleg towards Applejack again. “Give it.”

The cowpony looked up, eyes red. “Over mah dead body.”

Twilight’s horn glowed. A black dot blinked infront of Applejack. The orange mare jumped, dodging the lightning by inches. The cracking thunder and blinding light took the surroundings away. But Applejack, by sheer instinct, made a jump to the right in time to evade the second bolt. Twilight would not let up, seconds after seconds lightning followed Applejack’s trail. The earth pony moved quickly, to and fro, as unpredictably as she could. They both knew that blind chance is the only thing saving her.

Applejack had grown weary. Blinded and deaf, her foreleg caught a rock causing a misstep. She clumsily fell on the ground and waited for the bolt. None came. The moment was gone. Applejack recovered and looked, struggling with her eyes. She saw Rarity wrestling Twilight to the ground.

Rarity locked horns and hooves with the lavender unicorn. They both knew the dangerous unpredictability of casting spells when two different horns were in contact. It was the only way Rarity knew to silence Twilight from casting spells.
Applejack ran towards the pair, toppling Twilight to the ground. Applejack raised his foreleg in the air and–

Conivio!” said Twilight.

–her hoof hit nothing but dirt.

Twilight had melded into the shadows and reappeared behind her. “Clavicula!”

Several tendrils sprouted out of Twilight’s shadow and came swooping towards Applejack. The earth pony tried to block, in vain. The thorns broke easily through her left foreleg, drilling several holes on her limb.

Applejack screamed.

The tendrils retracted and prepared to strike again.

Rarity’s horn glowed. Several rocks launched to Twilight’s direction, hitting the unicorn in the face and toppling her back a few steps just before she could have sent another attack to Applejack. Twilight turned her attention Rarity.

The earth pony mare watched Rarity dodged thorns and tendrils of shadows. Applejacks limped away from view when she realized that she was near Surprise’s open grave.

Applejack cleared her throat. Behind her were sounds of grunts and swish. It seemed irrelevant now. She felt a nagging sense of dislocation as she crawled a few inches closer to Surprise’s grave. She felt that she had to see what was beneath the coffin, against the sickness in her gut. She needed to see it, she needed anger and a reason to hate Twilight. Some proof that she was on the right and Twilight was on the wrong. She does not know why she thought she would find it looking straight in the decomposed desecration of all that was once pure and happy.

She did not care.

Applejack crawled near into the fresh grave. And peeked inside...

A tendril caught the back of Rarity’s legs. The appendage wrapped around her limb, then another, and another, rendering the white unicorn incapable. The same tendril dragged her closer to the lavender unicorn whose horn started glowing.

“Any last words?” said Twilight.

“I was to offer you,” said Rarity, a black dot blinking between her eyes, “the exact same thing.”

Where Twilight was standing came pass a blur of lavender and gray. Rarity rolled away in time to dodge the lightning.

Applejack was panting heavily. She stood just over Surprise’s gravestone. Her legs coming down from what has been the most powerful buck she had given. Applejack collapsed from her injuries. Rarity rushed to her and caught the earth pony in her hooves.

The ground shook as the clouds rumbled louder. The tombstone that flattened Twilight shattered to pieces. The lavender unicorn shrugged off the pain and the bruises in her body, turning pain to anger and anger to power.

“I am through playing with you!” yelled Twilight, the thunder that followed could not match the volume of her voice.

A black spot appeared on Twilight’s head. Several forks of lightning came crashing down the tip of her horn. Concentrated energy focused on a single point, Twilight redirected a force of nature like the fist of angry god.

And a fraction of a second later, before Applejack could scream, everything was white.

A traditional earth pony, Applejack never relied heavily in magic. But for one second, in one second of that comfortable whiteness, Applejack wished there was a spell that would make all this go away. That by some magic trick and a poof she would wake up from this long sick nightmare: that Surprise never died; that Twilight was her usual adorkable self; that they were all friends, nothing could tear apart and that they’ll be happy forever and ever. But that whiteness only lasted a second.

Am ah dead? She thought.

The lightning numbed her senses again, more powerful this time. The earth pony could not hear anything. She opened her eye, partially, and saw the image of an angel with what seemed to be unfolded wings blocking all that lightning: that angel was Rarity.

A force field shielded them from the black lightning. Rarity’s horn glowed and glowed that it was almost blinding, Twilight’s horn sullied with the tendrils of darkness as though it was blindness all over. Between the two unicorns were two raging spells competing for control. Applejack saw the two of them shouting angrily at one another, but there was nothing to hear. The light drowned all sound. Twilight bit her lower lip in frustration. Rarity’s eyes shed tears.

The shield Rarity was holding up made a small crack; and slowly, sound returned to Applejack’s ears again: the cracking thunder, of zapping lightning, the clinking of the shield as though it was glass.

Twilight shouted incoherent babblings. The black bolt became bigger and the crack spread out on the force field like a spider’s web. Bits and pieces of white fragments broke off and flashes of lightning seeped in briefly. Rarity was barely holding up. A string of blood dripped down her nose and her horn was losing its luminosity.

“Twilight, stop!” Applejack yelled. Nopony heard her.

She tried to stand but the sprain from her injured foreleg held her down.

“Forget about me, Ah’m done for.” she yelled to Rarity, “Take the Element and get outta here!”

Rarity dropped on her knees as more bits and pieces of the shield splintered. The light in her horn was dying out.

“Consarn it, Rarity! Save yerself.”

But the white unicorn would have none of it. And, as Applejack saw, albeit the pain in her hooves, the pressure in her body, the burning in her horn, there was smile of defiance etched on the white unicorn lips.

But her confidence was short-lived. The shield took all the pressure it could withstand and shattered completely.

“Ahh!” the blast sent Rarity rolling on the dirt several feet away.

Twilight melded with the shadows and reappeared just in front of the white unicorn, the smile her face was similar to that of a bully hitting a small animal. “Forsake this petty rebellion. You have reached your limit.”

“Not... yet.” Rarity grunts, her horn blinking.

“A unicorn dies the moment she exhaust all her magic. Continue this struggle and you would have killed yourself with this reckless abandon.”

Rarity scowled.

“You didn’t think you could match the Element of Magic, did you?” Twilight’s horn lighted and lifted the Element of Laughter, dangling it before the white unicorn, “Still, a force field. I was impressed. I didn’t think you’d be willing to study and perform such... uncouth spells.”

“That’s not... uncouth.” Rarity coughs, “This is!”

Twilight was working on Rarity’s smile when she felt something behind her. She turned to look –a levitated shovel came smashing down her head!

Twilight’s head fell back; the impact broke apart her horn to pieces. She fell on the ground, unmoving.

“Vae Victis.” Rarity said triumphantly.

Thunderclouds have stopped. And the sound was only of the two panting ponies.

“You okay, Applejack?” Rarity said with a smile, lending a hoof to her injured friend.

“Ah’m fine. Thanks to you.”

“And Fluttershy?”

“Still fainted... but other than that she’s safe.”

Applejack helped the white unicorn up. As she did Rarity’s knees buckled as she collapsed in the arms of the work horse. Her white coat had grown pale and, as Applejack felt, her friend felt seemingly weightless.

“Ya alright?”

“Utterly exhausted, but only just.”

“Ya sure”

“Yes.”

“What was that thing Twilight said about running out of magic?”

“It’s nothing much, dear. Unicorns use their energy as magic when casting spells. If they ran out then so will their body’s ability for self-preservation. It’s nothing you should worry about. ‘Tis but a unicorn thing. I still have enough left in me to recover within a day’s spa. I am actually more troubled about this mud all over my coat.”

If she could still worry about her coat like that then she’s fine, Applejack thought.

Applejack smiled as she embraced Rarity tight in her hooves, to the unicorn’s surprise and embarrassment.

The earth pony glanced over the distance. Twilight’s body remained inanimate, barely breathing. It lied on the dirt covered in mud and shards of broken horn. Applejack notice how she and Rarity were staring at the same seemingly lifeless object.

“Is she...” muttered Applejack, hoping Rarity would interrupt her mid-sentence, “dead?”

“No, she’s is most probably unconscious. If she had not screamed from pain she had definitely fainted from it.”

As a unicorn herself Rarity knew the anatomy of a unicorn’s horn. Beneath the cold skeletal frame was a network of the most complex neural veins. The intricacies beneath is the most sensitive part of a unicorn’s body and, cruelly so, the least fatal.

Rarity gently moved away from the earth pony’s embrace. She knew there was work to be done. The white unicorn inched closer to the downed carcass.

“We’ll do it your way,” said Rarity, “We need to deliver her to her majesty the Princess. Without a horn she’s basically powerless now. Let’s be quick and–”

“Wait, stop!” warned Applejack, but it was too late.

The white unicorn stood over Twilight and nudged her with a foreleg to check if she’s still alive. Rarity turned the corpse over and her heart almost jumped out. Twilight was fully conscious, and smiling.

The lavender unicorn grabbed the shovel lying beside her and stabbed it against Rarity’s throat.

“Rarity!” Applejack screamed.

Twilight stood up, amused that Rarity was still conscious. “You almost had me, dear.”

Twilight raised the shovel again. Applejack braced the pain in her leg and ran to Twilight. Twilight swung the shovel down, smashing against Rarity’s chest. Applejack charged on Twilight and bucked her away.

“No, no, no, no.” She uttered several times, “Rarity, wake up. Rarity!”

Rarity lay on her arms, moving, grasping and begging for breath. The bruise in her chest and throat indicated the crushed her windpipe and lungs. Eyes dilated, arms swinging around, helplessly and begging for air, Applejack watched Rarity drown. And there was nothing an earth pony could do but scream.

“Rarity!” the Applejack erupted, “Rarity!”

Twilight shambled to the two ponies locked in embrace. In Applejack’s delirium she had not notice the lavender unicorn.

“She’s not dead yet.” said Twilight, “She will be. Give me her horn and I’ll save her.”

“You will?”

“Yes. Hurry, there’s not much time.”

“Twi! She can’t breathe. Twilight!”

“Break off her horn and give it to me.”

“Promise me you’ll save her Twi. Promise me.”

“I promise.”

“If there’s anything that our friendship once meant you’ll save her.”

“I will. Just give me her horn. I can’t do it without a damn horn!”

“Please–”

“Hurry!”

Applejack could not afford to hesitate. Rarity palpitated and shook parts of her body as to object, or approve, or to panic. The earth pony placed her left foreleg against Rarity’s horn and, mustering years worth of strength, snapped it in half.

Applejack saw the most painfully distorted expression in Rarity’s face, amplified even more by the unicorn’s inability to cry out in pain as its only release from such agony. The earth pony shut her eyes closed, unable to look at that suffering she caused, as she held out the alabaster horn to Twilight like a sacrificial offering.

Twilight snatched Rarity’s horn in Applejack’s hooves and, through it, channeled her own magic; the Element of Laughter levitated by her side. Satisfied, Twilight turned around and walked away.

“Twilight! Twilight!” called Applejack, “Now save Rarity. Hurry!”

“Oh. About that...” From the distance Twilight looked over her shoulder, “I lied.”

Applejack felt the weight of the world in those two words alone.

Rarity’s hoof raised a lethargic hoof to the pony that held her –in comfort, in forgiveness, or in cry for help. Applejack thought she could see the memories that Rarity was now seeing. A small tear glinted from the unicorn’s wide eyes; but the sentiment did not last. The pain and suffering had taken its toll. Rarity’s eyes rolled back to the back of her skull. The unicorn’s hooves went down and dangled loosely to her side, her final silence freeing her from torture.

Rarity was gone.

The memories came back to Applejack. She always thought Rarity to be uptight and she in turn believed her to be uncouth. Rarity always pointed out her lack of standards and how could she look more beautiful. They barely see eye to eye. Out of the six of them they were the polar opposites, always at each other’s throats yet always at each one another’s side. She recalled the sleepover and the sisterhood social.

What have I done, thought Applejack, what did Rarity do to deserve this? What did anypony do to deserve this? Rarity didn’t deserve to die.

She saw Twilight climbing up the hill.

Didn’t ah only thought what’s best for us? Applejack thought.

Corporatio!” Twilight shouted to the air, raising Rarity’s glowing horn. The dark clouds had gathered just above the lavender unicorn and condensed to become a solid black sphere. The orb pulsated like a beating heart. From it, tendrils slithered in the air and took hold of the Element of Laughter, dragging the necklace to its core. Several more tendrils ejected from the orb and this came crawling down the fresh wound of the earth where a white pegasus had been laid to rest.

Applejack shut her eyes and turned away, unable to look at how the orb dragged in the remains of her lost friend to be absorbed as its own.

Twilight chanted in the ancient language, not letting go of her focus on the horn she held. A bright purple sigil etched across the surface of the orb and dissipated slowly. By now the black sphere is pulsating so fast, the afterimages of its motion seemed to distort space. Tremors moved the ground and gusts of wind blew from every direction. Energy radiated, time stopped, an outpour of energy could be felt; the sphere was a bomb about to explode.

Applejack laid Rarity’s body to ground. The earth pony got up and shambled towards the lavender unicorn. In one final attempt at defying what she herself knew to be inevitable, she charged towards Twilight Sparkle with, for the first in her life, the intent to kill.

Twilight, sensing the earth pony, briskly turned around. “Clavicula!”

Tendrils sprouted from the core of the orb and delivered a blow to the earth pony. Applejack came tumbling about the rocky ground, the last of her energy and motivation spent in an exercise of absolute futility. Twilight turned and looked down to her, almost sympathetic.

“Applejack,” the purple unicorn said, with the familiarity and gentleness she always knew, “I expect neither your understanding nor forgiveness, but Surprise has to come back... at all cost.”

“Somepony like you... plan to bring back Surprise in this world you made.”

“I can’t let her pay for our sins.”

“What sins?”

“The original sin, to which only Surprise is immaculate. And that it was us, me!, who begrimed her purity.”

“You’ve lost it Twilight! You’ve gone crazy.”

Twilight opened her mouth to say something, hesitated, and stopped. For a moment Applejack thought that Twilight was crying, painfully and uncontrollably crying. But she had no way of finding out. Twilight turned away and approached the orb, putting her hoof against it’s surface.

“Witness, Applejack,” she said without looking, “the end of the first and the first of the second. Magic could not revive those who had gone... but this is not magic. This is a miracle.”

Tendrils wrapped around Twilight’s foreleg, then her whole body entirely. She was pulled in, offering no resistance. Another sigil resurfaced on the sphere, and the orb solidified.

A small fracture scratched the surface and, from it, a blinding light emanated. The fracture grew. More and more cracks slowly appeared and the untainted colors began pouring out. The orb shook to an internal tremor. A loud screeching sound came from within. The tension of space materialized in the vibrations in the air.

The orb has held all the violent energy it could and, ultimately, exploded.

The last thing Applejack saw before the flash of light was a dash of rainbow carrying her and Fluttershy away to safety.

* * *

Amidst the broken rubble of land where Ponyville once stood there was nothing else but an empty crater. Everything in a mile was a wasteland.

Twilight stood at the very center of the emptiness. She looked up the blue sky, the white clouds, and the yellow sun peaking from time to time, showering her with its warmth. Only the sound of the wind against dust accompanied the two of them–Twilight and the little pink filly she carried.

“Who’s a cute little filly, yes you are.” Twilight baby-talked the pink foal, handing her a purple balloon, “You really are the cutest aren’t you, Surprise.”

* * *

“Twilight Sparkle!” the royal Centerlot voice of her highness shook the courtroom, “For the use of Black Magic; for the practice of necromancy; for the desecration of the dead; for the attempted murder of Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Applejack; for the deliberate murder the unicorn Rarity and the dragon Spike; for the destruction of Ponyville and Cloudsdale leading to the deaths of thousands; you are hereby found guilty of all charges. No such atrocity has ever been occurred in the history of Equestria. You left us with no alternative. Your punishment: public execution. By high noon of the day after you will be petrified for all eternity. I, Princess Celestia, will bring it upon herself to see through this punishment... Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“Only one question,” said Twilight, in a whisper heard by all, “Are you proud of your student?”

“Very well. If the accused will have no say in her defense, take her away.”

The pedestal cage where Twilight was imprisoned lowered at ground level. The doors opened and two pegasi in golden armor escorted her out in chains. They dragged her to the exit of the castle through Canterlot, all the while ponies crying out curses and profanities to her direction. The crowd threw anything they could get their hooves on, rotten tomatoes and fruits, which splashed and ricocheted against her body. From out of nowhere a rock the size of a brick hit her in the face and sent her down. The guards dismissed her condition and continued dragging her body until they reached the dungeon. They took Twilight’s body over their shoulder and threw her down a well-like pit that would serve as her prison.

Twilight rebounded from wall to wall, landing bruised and battered face-first. She could barely breathe. Moving only her eyes, she surveyed her surroundings. There was only the familiar darkness. She sharpened her hearing, only to hear the squeeks of mice from a corner and the echo of droplets of liquid from somewhere. She thought how easy she could teleport out of the place if she had anyway magic left, if she still had her horn. She touched her forehead and felt only a stump left by Rarity.

At least some water, Twilight thought, if I had any magic left in me I could use some water.

But tried as she might, nothing happened. Her only liberation from the thirst burning her throat now would be sleep, or death. She started humming:

When I was a little filly and the sun was going down,

The darkness and the shadows they would always make me frown.

I’d hide under my pillow from what I thought I saw,

But Granny said that wasn’t the way to deal with fears at all.

She said, ‘Sur-prise you got a stand up tall, learn to face your fears,

You’ll see they can’t hurt you just laugh and make them disappear.’

“Ha, ha, ha.” Twilight continued singing as though without a care in the world.

* * *

In the dead of night, Twilight Sparkle was still humming some songs.

She felt the air change and the rats scatter. She knew she was no longer alone. She turned around and looked up as cyan pony with a rainbow-colored mane landed on its feet. She recognized her in an instant, how could she not, they had been long time friends despite the mare’s year long absence. She smiled at her guest.

“Hello, Rainbow Dash.”

The pony’s eyes were hidden under her mane. In the underground prison, where the colors had been drained from wall to wall, her bright spectrum was reduced to a dull gray hue. Still, Twilight could not doubt it was her friend. She knew her shape, her cutie mark, and the sound of her half-sob.

Rainbow Dash approached the unicorn. No sound could be heard other than the crackle of a flaming torch. When she has neared Twilight, she raised her hoof and crashed it down against the unicorn’s cheeks. Twilight’s head arched back from the impact as she muffled a light scream. Rainbow raised her forelegs again and continuously assaulted the unicorn. Twilight offered no resistance.

A few minutes later the sound of their breathing echoed throughout the pit. Rainbow stood over a bloody pulp, her own legs buckling from exhaustion, the edge of her hooves covered in blood not her own.

Twilight lay on the floor with fresh open wounds and darkened contusions all over. Yet she maintained a recalcitrant smile on her face.

“D-do you... feel hap... –py now, Rainbow?” coughed the unicorn.

“No,” said the pegasus, “Not even close.”

“Nop...–pony is... stopping... you.” said Twilight. They both knew that the several prison guards above could hear them, and chose not to.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t kill you right now.”

In response, Twilight emitted a light chuckle, which only infuriated the anger of her attack. Rainbow grabbed Twilight by her broken horn and held her up against the wall.

“Why’d you do it Twilight! What made you do it?”

“T-the magic... Black Magic,” Twilight’s hoof gentle ran over Rainbow’s cheek, “I... I did it... to p-protect everypony.”

Rainbow did not know what it was that angered her: what Twilight said; or how honestly and wholeheartedly, how innocent, the way she had said it.

She threw the unicorn into the floor and proceeded to trample on her. Plain fury was the sole energy that moved the pegasus. It was fury that she never felt or seen before, fury that she knew not possible to anypony. She hated Twilight, hated her as the vilest and most contemptible creature she is.

“R-r-rainbow...” Twilight muttered, “P-please... don’t cry.”

At once, Rainbow Dash stopped her assault. She looked at Twilight, still breathing, still smiling, as her image turned blur. The pegasus felt something dribble down her eye and down her cheek. For one second she paused, at the next she screamed at the top of her lungs. She punched the wall and emitted another loud cry.

“Why’d you do it?” Rainbow asked again, “Why’d you kill everypony? What happened to you? Give me something... anything! Give me a reason to hate you!”

“B-black Magic... protect everypony...”

Twilight remained consistent. Rainbow, with nothing more to ponder, sat on the corner and satisfied herself with the thought that her once great friend had ultimately descended to madness.

An hour of silence had passed before the next words were spoken.

“Everypony else in Ponyville is dead because of you.” Rainbow Dash whimpered, “We’re the only ones left: you, me, Fluttershy and Applejack. Maybe if I got there faster, I could have stopped you... I could’ve... saved everypony.”

“D-did you... saw her?”

“Who?”

“Surprise.”

“Surprise...?”

Twilight looked genuinely curious, growing more confident as she sees how this new shocking revelation is having an effect.

“You don’t know... do you?”

“Know what?”

“I see... so Celestia hid her away.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I managed to... bring her back, Rainbow.” Twilight said triumphantly, “I... I did it. Surprise is alive.”

Rainbow Dash rose to her feet, “Surprise is... alive?”

“I remembered... you two love playing pranks on... everypony.”

“Where is she!?” The cyan pegasus took Twilight by the throat and pushed her against the ground, “Tell me where she is!”

“And that time in cider season. You two were very close. Of course Surprise was close with everyp-”

“Where is Surpise!?” Rainbow Dash hoof connected to Twilight’s jaw.

“C-C... elestia.” the unicorn smiled, “She’s keep... -ing her.”

To replicate the life of one that had already gone at the expense of a thousand who hasn’t. What kind of world will that Surprise live in from now on? It is impossible for her to be the same Surprise. The thoughts clouded Rainbow’s mind.

“C-can I... ask something of you?” said Twilight.

“No.”

“The princess... wants to k-kill... Surprise. Please... stop her.”

“Shut up!” came the reply, “Why should I listen to somepony like you.”

“R-Rainbow...” said the unicorn, “I’m sorry... and... t-thank y-you.”

Rainbow Dash remained silent. Gathering all her resolve not to kill Twilight Sparkle, the rainbow-maned pegasus struggled to unfold her wings and fly away.

* * *

Daybreak, Fluttershy could not sleep the whole night. The eerie silence and hush and shush of nurses haunted her.

What happened to Ponyville, she asked anypony, none responded. What happened to my friends, none looked at her in the eye. What’s happening? No one could answer.

It was odd, she thought, that she had to stay at the hospital when she bore no injury. Yet more so that she felt perfectly safe in this place. She would not, could not, exit the door. At the back of her head, something was telling her that this was her sanctuary. As though the last vestige of reason and mental health were in enclosed within the four blank walls. If she were to leave this room, so will the sanity to her mind.

Fluttershy satisfied herself at the rationalization that everything was okay, that everything will work out in the end, that bad things will come and go but good things will last forever, and that it doesn’t matter if these thoughts were a lie, it was the only ones worth believing.

But the light of reason could not hold the paradox of her cowardice.

If things are really as benevolent as she forced herself to believe then what is she doing here.

Why am I not out there? she thought.

Fluttershy crawled into a fetal position and tucked herself under a blanket.



Meanwhile, above the surface ground, and further above the Royal Palace, Princess Celestia marched down through halls and anterooms, stopping in front of a granite door guarded by two pegasi. The door opened and the Princess entered, magically sealing the door close behind her.

Inside, Luna took a light bow in acknowledgement of her sister’s presence and returned to the mechanical device in the room.

The chamber was a dome several meters wide, tiled with white and golden marble. A makeshift from an observatory the gigantic telescope had gone, replaced by an ancient mechanism unearth after nearly a millennia. The machine was an orrery, where the continent of Equestria was place at the fulcrum of the home planet. Revolving in symmetry around the globe was a sphere representing the sun, and a cape of the moon and stars to represent the night. Several rotating disk spun in place, composing the surface of the globe. Inside those rotating disk was an enclosed glass container filled with what seemed to be transparent sand. And inside it floated a small pink foal.

Celestia’s eye turned up to observe the filly. She looked at it both in remorse and in awe, not knowing which was superior. The filly was neither conscious nor able, but it was alive.

“How fares the family?” asked Luna, hoping to break her sister from the trance.

“Their conscience and names are clear. Though their receptions as of late were ill-received, but to no such extent that any permanent harm was done. The subjects needed another outlet for their hatred, but they are not so foolish as to go beyond hurtful rumors and destruction of property.”

“Her father and mother?”

“For the moment, I have moved them within castle grounds under the guise that they were prisoners for interrogation. They both understood that this is the only way I could protect them from the persecutions.”

“And of her brother?”

“To preserve the integrity of the Royal Guards, Shining Armor has resigned from position as captain. With Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, the two are set to leave Canterlot and head far west... away from the execution.”

“Twilight’s arrogance blinded her of the monumentality of her decisions.” Luna stomped her hooves in anger, “She is a plague. A cancer of this world.”

Princess Celestia took notice of her sister’s outburst. There was implication that Twilight’s pernicious and malign influence has reached farther than they anticipated. And Luna knew it.

“Have you discovered anything, Luna?” Celestia motioned to the pink filly in the glass container.

“Indeed.”

“Pray tell it is not as we feared.”

“It is not, dear sister. It is, in fact, worse than our predictions.” Luna waited her sister to reply. Hearing none, she continued, “The rate by which her bio-energy is increasing multiplies by the minute.”

“And the levels of this bio-energy?”

“We...” Luna cleared her throat, “We have lost count. The machine was not capable of calculating such measure.”

“That much?” Celestia’s eye widened.

“And growing still. The filly is still capable of producing this amount of magic.”

“That is most disturbing.” Celestia said as she neared the pink foal.

The ancient machine’s purpose was to calculate the potential and actual bio-energy in an entity. It was used long ago, long before Luna and she were goddesses of the sky. The last time the machine had been put into function occurred the day after Discord’s lapidification. And even then it was capable of measuring the bio-energy of an ancient Draconequus, a god.

What has Twilight accomplished, Celstia thought, What is this filly?

“Dear sister,” called Luna, “We have no other choice but to–”

“Get off me!” A familiar voice rippled from the door and all across the chamber, “Get outta my way! I need to see the princess! Celestia! Celestia!”

Both sisters looked, puzzled of interruption. The chamber door bursts open and a cyan pegasus with a rainbow mane jumped in, barely contained by the two royal guards obstructing her path.

“Princess!” yelled Rainbow Dash as soon as she saw the alicorn, “I need to talk to you.”

Before the two royal guards were forced to resort to violence, Celestia intervened.

“That is quite enough. Let her in.”

The two royal guards looked into one another, nodded their heads and let go of the cyan pegasus who bursts between them unchallenged. Returning to their duties, the guards bowed their head and returned to guard the chamber door.

Celestia waited for the guards to leave before addressing her guest, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“Is it true that- Surprise!” Rainbow was quick to see the machine. She flew past the two princess and stopped to the filly suspended in the machine, “Surprise... so T-twilight really did it...”

It was Surprise. The pink filly was sleeping soundly, eyes closed and gently breathing. It barely moved but Rainbow Dash knew well the foal was alive. Though her wings had gone, mane straightened, coat turned to a bright cheerful pink; she could not doubt it no more than she could have doubted the original. It was the familiar unique air of benign laughter just by being in her presence. But most of all, the proof, was the smile, that benevolently authentic and unfaltering smile that belonged to nopony else.

The cyan pegasus realized she had tears in her eyes, and made no attempt to conceal it.

“Princess, look!” she approached Luna excitedly and pointed at Surprise, “It’s Surprise. She’s alive! Look, look.” she flew to Celestia, “Look, look, it’s Surprise.”

“Rainbow Dash, please-” the white Alicorn tried to say.

“Look how cute she is.”

“Rainbow-”

“She’s back to being a filly.”

“Please calm down and–”

“That is not Surprise!” Luna interjected.

The cyan pegasus was silenced.

“This creature is one fabricated from a Black Magic spell. She barely resembles your friend.”

“No. I don’t believe it. Look at her, look at her, that’s definitely Surprise.”

“Rainbow Dash, you must understand that–.”

“No, no, no!”

“–your friend is dead!”

“Luna!” Celestia exclaimed.

“Surprise isn’t dead!” the cyan pegasus yelled back, “She’s right there. She came back. See.”

Rainbow Dash sat on her haunches and wept. There was an ominous feeling of disappointment and happiness, a paradox that shared the same contradiction of how, looking at that pink little foal, she sees, in the most literal of sense, nothing more than a filly –and yet somehow, beneath the corporeal shell of that strange unknown creature, it was the spirit of Surprise she was seeing.

Celestia draped her wing over the pegasus in comfort as she held a knowing glanced at Luna. The dark alicorn was quick to understand the message. In a flash of light, Luna blinked away to privacy.

“There, there, little pony.” Celestia returned her attention to the pegasus, “You have nothing to worry about.”

Rainbow broke away from Celestia’s wing. She dried her eyes with a quick sweep of her hooves and stepped forward the princess. “Why didn’t you tell us about her? Not even the Elements of Harmony?”

“The Elements are fractured. There are only three of you left.”

“Four. Surprise is back.”

“Rainbow Dash... you have to understand the current circumstances.”

“When you told everypony that you captured Twilight you didn’t say anything about Surprise. You kept her from us, her friends!”

“And if it so happens that nopony spoke of such a thing, how could you have known?”

“Twilight told me.”

“And you took her words over mine?”

“And I’m glad I did... Things apparently aren’t what they seem.”

“Be careful not to let Twilight’s influence cloud your judgment.”

“As far as I know it wasn’t Twilight who was keeping secrets from me.”

“The reason for this confidentiality is not whimsical.”

“I bet.”

“This insolence is unbecoming of you, Rainbow Dash.”

The pegasus knew that her confidence came from the belief that she held the upper hoof on moral grounds. So long as she could keep using the Celestia’s own dishonesty against her, she could lead the conversation away from the princess’s self-righteous imposition of royal authority.

Celestia, however, knew this as well.

The alicorn rose and unfolded her wings to its outmost limit before closing them once again. She stood straight in brimming posture fit for the appearance of a public address, the same posture she took when she pronounced Twilight’s death sentence. Her eyes glinted; and Rainbow’s confidence had crumbled to the sight of majesty.

“What do you know about magic, pegasus?” The white alicorn said. She walked past Rainbow and set her eyes on Surprise, “Answer.”

Rainbow Dash felt herself under the power of a thousand year reign. She realized, be it by her own consciousness or by Celestia’s magic, her own immaturity in comparison to the immortal before her. Rainbow Dash regretted her own foolishness.

“I do not repeat the same question twice.” said Celestia.

“I... I know that only unicorns have magic. And alicorns.”

“You are mistaken. Everypony are potential to magic. Tell me now, what is magic?”

“Magic is... the ability to do freaky stuff we couldn’t explain.”

“Allow me, then, to indulge your ignorance.” Celestia began, “In order to comprehend the principles of magic, it is necessary to keep in mind the two concepts: matter and bio-energy. Matter is that which exist in space and time. Magic is the ability to manipulate matter. It is the power to change the structure of a concrete substance in space. Levitation is the process of re-coordinating matter within spatial parameters. Transformation is the process of re-arranging the molecular components of matter. Teleportation is the process of quantum entanglement on a macroscopic level. Time manipulation is the process of folding the dimensional cross-sections. Matter, that which occupies space and time, is only either moved or altered in the process. Bioelectromagnetism, or bio-energy, is the animating principle present to all sentient beings that makes magic possible. The ancient philosopher had many names for this: emotion, soul, consciousness, spirit and such. Bio-energy holds the physicality of living entities, only that for sentient entities it also holds our very being. With bio-energy and matter it is possible to perform magic. In this sense, every pony possesses this inside them, yet it is only unicorns able to maximize this potentiality. Do you know why?”

“Because of their horns?”

“A cone: a convex shape that narrows outwardly to a vertex. It matters not how it appears in substance or to whom it belongs; a horn acts as an amplifier by concentrating adjacent bio-energy and releasing it, point by point, to influence the external world. Imagine hooves so innumerable, infinitesimal and dexterous it could tinker with matter on a quantum scale. That is the principle behind the use of magic. And this is why, Rainbow Dash, you were able to perform it.”

“Me!?” The cyan pegasus was too dumbstruct, “W-when? Where? I don’t even have a horn.”

“The Sonic Rainboom.” The alicorn turned to her, “In your attempt to save the late Rarity, you were able to bend space around you, creating a cone that you subconsciously managed to use to cast the spell and emit the Rainboom. It is no coincidence that the spectral colors matched that of your own.”

“Y-you mean... that was magic!?”

The princess nodded.

“But... no one said that...”

“However, magic is not omnipotent. Constant conversion of bio-energy to magic would exhaust the user. However, this exhaustion is not physical, though it often manifests itself too in the process; it is more animating than that. Drained of it, a creature’s physical process would stop altogether leading to an inevitable death. Physically, the earth ponies are the strongest and most enduring because they have no means to exert their bio-energy, the same is true for the pegasus’s speed hindered only by their innate magical ability to control weather. The unicorn becomes the physically weakest species because they can remove their bio-energy from their body as used magic.”

“Wait!” Rainbow grew impatient, the sudden influx of information and revelation left her awed, but nowhere, “What does this have to do with Surprise?”

“As a body’s self-defense mechanism, a unicorn, and any other entity, could not willingly exhaust all their energy. They would faint of physical exhaustion before so. In the process bio-energy is regenerated over time in the natural absorption of other natural energy present in surrounding nourishment. It is not so different from a plant-animal respiratory relationship.”

The alicorn approached one of the large containers beside the machine.

“Now then, let me ask you: what happens when a unicorn overflows with magic?” She eyed Rainbow, “They destroy everything else. The manners of converting bio-energy to spells are fixed commands. However, raw bio-energy in the air is unpredictable and can become any random spell to the smallest of influences as bio-energy, too, is matter. Normally, a pony could not absorb more bio-energy than its body could contain and there is no cause of worry about overflowing... Until now. This filly, this creature, is not a pony. She is a new form of life: of purely condensed bio-energy animated by a Black Magic spell.”

“...Black Magic?”

“Black Magic, Ancient Magic, Arcane Magic, Chaos Magic –different names for the same taboo; spells unnatural to unicorns or alicorns alike, but inherent to a very rare. It is magic of a different level, of divine level. It violates the axiom of the physical laws governing bio-energy. It is the magic of creation, to make something from nothing... and of annihilation, to nothing of something. It is called Black Magic because of its potential chaos to disrupt the flow of nature. It respects no limits. The creation or annihilation of matter would tip the balance between bio-energy in living entities and the natural magic in the world, ruining the pre-established harmony unifying all of existence. This filly was created by reforming and substantiating Corporatio, a Black Magic spell reflecting its casters bio-energy; tasked only with producing, reproducing and re-reproducing bio-energy from nothingness in an endless cycle. It has already produced more than enough bio-energy to affect our entire world, and she continues to produce more. Plain spoken, I do not know the measure of bio-energy she holds now. But it is extraneous to calculate. If such bio-energy is released it could either create an unlimited amount of matter to cause irremediable cataclysm –or reduce all matter to the void of oblivion. Regardless, it would mean the end for all.”

“Wait! Hold on a minute here.” Rainbow caught herself, “Are you saying that Surprise, this Surprise, is... a bomb?”

Celesitia, without looking at the pegasus, shook her head. “No... What I am saying is that Surprise is the apocalypse, the Armageddon, the all’s end.”

Rainbow shook her head wildly, hoof pressed against her temples. The information was too much to absorb at once, and the last was too inconceivable.

What was Twilight Sparkle thinking, Rainbow Dash thought, why did she have to make a bomb out of Surprise?

Confusion and despair overwhelmed her. Again, Rainbow Dash wept uncontrollably.

“Wha-What’s gonna happen to her?” the pegasus muffled under her breathing.

The alicorn eyed the pegasus who was choking on her tears. There was only one thing to be said, “The life of everypony in Equestria is my responsibility.”

Rainbow puzzled on the evasive answer, until she arrived at the unthinkable extreme she hoped impossible in implication. “You’re not thinking of...”

“I am.” Celestia nodded. “Surprise has to be destroyed.”

“She’s just a filly!”

“Be it by my hooves or by the very nature of her existence this little filly will be destroyed. The former is more merciful.”

“Isn’t there another way?”

“If there was it would’ve been accomplished by now.”

“But she’s... she’s innocent. She’s got nothing to do with this... It was Twilight who threw her into this mess.”

“I understand your objections, and I hope you understand mine as well.”

“But she’s Surprise!” yelled Rainbow, as though the name was proof of something.

Celestia did not reply.

“I can’t let you do this.”

“Then would you rather the whole world’s devastation? Here,” Celestia stepped aside from the pegasus and the giant contraption, “I invite you to take her.”

Rainbow Dash shivered in place. She could not take a step forward.

“You see, my little pony, we have no choice. We never did.”

As though on cue, the two guards earlier marched in and stood beside the stunned pegasus.

“Please escort Ms. Rainbow Dash outside the castle lest she lose her way.”

One of the guards approached Rainbow and tapped her shoulder. The cyan pegasus did not budge. The other guard had to come and the two had to push her out of the room. Rainbow offered no resistance other than the natural immobility of one mentally paralyzed.

As soon as the massive doors closed its shadow crawled on the ground and approached Celestia. The shadow took form and manifested itself in Princess Luna.

“My apologies for eavesdropping.” The dark alicorn said, “I could not have risked any more foolhardy behavior.”

“You need not worry. I gave her the opportunity but she did not even take a step to do it.”

“More of fear than reason. Her hesitation proves I was not wrong.”

Luna’s horn glowed and sparked. A flash of dark blue light emanated and four guards, dark-coated pegasi in black armor, bowed down in honor of the two royal sisters.

Luna gave her command, “Gather all our military forces. I decree of the highest order: complete isolation of Twilight Sparkle and this chamber. Nopony without written permission from her majesty Princess Celestia and Princess Luna would be allowed access to either. Anypony in violation are incriminated without due trial. No exceptions, especially the Elements of Harmony. Effective immediately. Now go!”

The four black guards bowed their heads and flew all over Canterlot to spread the new command.

“What are you doing, sister?” Celestia asked, angrily.

“I am declaring martial law.” said Luna. She noticed her sister’s expression tightened. “I am glad of Rainbow Dash’s coming here. It opened my eyes to the dangers of Twilight Sparkle’s influence. Her miasma has extended to the point where her friends could compromise the safety of everypony in Equestria. You have seen how the pegasus acted had you not? Unwilling, true, but still an agent. Next it would Fluttershy or Applejack... or any of her friends. And it would only be a matter of time when one would foolishly gather the resolve to save this... this... thing!”

Celestia noticed. Rather than anger it was sadness that dominated her sister’s words. She knew that her sister was taking her burden. Luna did not speak as Luna the alicorn, but as part of the body politic obliged to save their subject.

She remembered, a year ago, Luna returned overjoyed from her first Nightmare Night festival. She spoke happily of how she scared the entire village of Ponyville and of how Twilight had helped her. She spoke of Surprise who, dressed as a chicken and feigning fright, made the night as fun as possible.

“Twilight Sparkle’s execution would signal the end of all this,” Luna said suddenly, “As well as with the execution of this thing. Until then, my men will keep the citizens and everypony in check.”

“Do not be hasty. We could not be certain that Twilight’s demise would resolve any of this.”

“Still clinging to her innocence, Celestia? You have heard it from the horses’s mouth.”

“If what you have shared before is true then Twilight Sparkle’s reason is corrupted with Black Magic.”

“Still thy insults! I must have succumbed to the temptation of Black Magic like she, but unlike your protégé I have never taken a single life.”

Not wanting to dwell on the topic further, Celesia proceeded to exit the room as Luna feigned inspection on the machine.

It was strange how, after a thousand year reign, only now Celestia realized the intense size of the royal castle. There was not a soul to see or a sound to be heard. She passed the silence of marble corridors, through the antechambers of empty chairs and up the lone spiraling tower where her room was guarded by a pair of guards whose objectivity made them no different from ornaments.

“See to it that nopony enters.” she said to them, hoping for an unlikely response, “I do not wish to be disturbed under any circumstances.”

The two royal guards saluted as the princess passed between them, door gently closing on her way in.

Celestia habitually looked out the window and watched as her sister raised the moon for the nightfall. As soon as Luna finished, the white alicorn retired to a large mirror placed beside her bed. She removed her tiara and necklace, placing both carefully in an elegant box. She eyed herself in the mirror, watching the flowing of her mane as the only sign of life.


“Are you proud of your student?”

Twilight’s voice reverberated.

She searched for any emotion in the reflection, finding it odd that she found none – or that it was possible for a pony to maintain a face with no emotion.

Twice now the same glass appalled her. Only a day had passed when she stared blankly at the same mirror, and found a reflection not her own.

After having sentenced Twilight Sparkle to death she cried like she had never cried before; wailing and sobbing, utterly inconsolable. She cursed every drop of tear she shed; dismissing the weakness unfit for royalty.

But deep inside she knew it was the rarest moment where she, Princess Celestia, would wish herself stripped of the title. Alone in her room where she was neither sovereign nor monarch, but a grieving mare.

It was not permissible.

Twilight was her responsibility. The catastrophe was her responsibility. To whatever insanity Twilight had degenerated it, too, was her responsibility. If only she was there to protect her student, to be by her side as her friends did. Twilight Sparkle was not a student; Twilight Sparkle was the daughter she never had.

* * *

The dust clouds blocked most of the sunlight. The once candy-colored land of Ponyville, or the wasteland that was left of it, turned to the burnt sienna like that of her coat.

Applejack could not help but look at the sky and wonder how much time has passed since she started working, the molecules of sawdust made it impossible to tell. The few pegasi in charge of clearing the sky found it near impossible due to the sheer volume of the motes. They had retired and concluded that it would be more productive to help the earth ponies with manual labor and let whatever wind take care of the orange clouds.

Applejack did not mind, the weather was the least of her concerns. She continued the laborious task of hoarding what debris remained from the explosion. She had been carrying the giant wooden beam when her legs gave in to the pressure. She fell on her knees, the load crushing her flat against the sand.

Ya know the drill, she said to herself, ain’t no restin’ durin’ work.

Not allowing a moment’s rest she heaved herself up and continued to carry her load. Two steps later her path was obstructed by Rainbow Dash descending before her.

“Howdy there,” Applejack said mechanically, lifelessly, “What can ah do ya for?”

“How about you start by taking a break, AJ.” said the pegasus, looking at Applejack’s current state.

The earth pony only had three working limbs left. Her left foreleg hanged on a sling and bandages, fractured and barely mobile. Long hours of working under the sun and ravenous gust had shredded her once perfect coat.

“Shouldn’t you be in the hospital?”

“Ah’m alright, Rainbow... ah’m alright.” As soon as the earth pony said those words her buckling knees gave in to the weight.

“Oh, for the love of...”

The pegasus pushed away the wood crushing her friend and helped her up. She expected Applejack to take her hoof, but the workpony turned to the beam and, again, carried it over her shoulders. Rainbow grew irritated and pulled at Applejack who responded by pushing the pegasus away.

“Are you trying to kill yourself?” said Rainbow Dash.

Applejack carried the beam and walked around the pegasus.

“So you’re ignoring me now? After I saved your life.” The pegasus flew past her and stood on her path, “How about a thank you.”

Whatever Applejack was thinking it hidden very well beneath her blank expression. She kept her eyes under her hat and her body stopped moving altogether. She could pounce on Rainbow Dash and beat her to the ground or just stand there for hours with the same indication, or lack of it.

Before either of the two ponies could move, a third appeared from the dust clouds.

“Applejack..? Rainbow Dash..?”

The two ponies reacted to their names and saw Fluttershy approaching them. Applejack made a gasp, dropped what she was carrying and ran towards the canary pegasus.

“Fluttershy, darlin’” the earth pony wrapped her arms around her friend, “What are you doin’ out here?”

“I... I want to help. What’s going on? Where’s Ponyville?”

“It’s all alright here sugarcube. We got everything under our hooves. No need to worry yourself. Please go back to... someplace else.” Applejack nudge Fluttershy around and led her away.

"But I... I just got here.”

Rainbow Dash looked on from the distance and watched as the two ponies talk, Applejack masking her worry in a smile. After a while, Fluttershy, though unconvinced, turned and flew away dejectedly. As soon as Applejack was sure the canary pegasus had gone she dropped the mask entirely.

“She hasn’t seen it yet,” said the earth pony, “you have.”

The two ponies faced the direction where the sun was hiding. A gust of wind pulled away the curtain of dust, opening the horizon to their view. In front of them were hectares worth of body bags.

“Take a long good look, Rainbow. That’s everypony Twilight murdered.” said in a whisper, “At least all the bodies we could’ve recovered.”

From the distance Rainbow Dash saw an earth pony pushing a body bag into the pile. The earth pony slips and the bag opens. Inside was an orange pegasus filly with purple mane. The filly died without even having discovered her cutie mark. Rainbow Dash turned away, barely resisting the urge to vomit.

“Me, you, Fluttershy and Twilight, the four of us are the only ones left of Ponyville.” said Applejack.

“...Five.” Rainbow said with hesitation, “Twilight managed to bring back Surprise.”

“Oh... she did it.”

“Yeah...”

“Well ah do hope she’s mighty proud of herself.”

“She was.”

“I wasn’t... I wasn’t asking.” the orange pony distracted herself by carrying the wooden beam on her back. Rainbow Dash followed her obediently.

“AJ... I think Celestia wants to destroy Surprise.”

Applejack remained unfazed.

“She hid Surprise from us and now she’s planning to destroy her like she didn’t exist.”

“Let me stop ya right there, Dash. Ah don’t want you to get the impressions that ah give a darn.”

“Okay, what the hay is your problem?”

“That wasn’t Surprise.”

“So what if she’s a little– Wait! Are you telling me you’ve seen her?”

“No, ah haven’t. Ah probably won’t.”

“Then how do you know?”

“Whatever Twilight managed to make, that wasn’t Surprise. Ah couldn’t care less. It might be somethin’ that looks like Surprise, or move like Surprise, or talk like Surprise, but she ain’t one. Surprise is gone. An’ if she comes back she certainly wouldn’t be made up of dead ponies. Celestia can do whatever the buck she wants with it for all ah care.”

“You’re telling me that you won’t even bother seeing her?”

Rainbow watched as Applejack heaved the heavy object. The earth pony fell down again after a few steps but kept on going.

“Alright, I know that you’re pissed that you were wrong and I was right about Twilight, and that it doesn’t help you any better that I’m talking to you right now. I get it. But I saved your life. You owe me.”

“Ya think this is about who’s right an’ who’s wrong?”

“No. This is about you paying me back. Show me some loyalty here.”

“Loyalty!” The earth pony’s teeth gritted. She sent the beam she was holding crashing down and she threw her hat on the ground. She marched to Rainbow face to face and looked at her eye to eye. “You wanna talk to me about loyalty!?”

The cyan pegasus felt paralyzed. Applejack was staring her down and she couldn’t even look at her straight in the eye.

“Don’t ya dare talk to me about bein’ loyal!” Applejack yelled, “When Twilight needed ya to stand by her side where were ya? When we were fightin’ Twi what’s yer support? Ah wanted your help, Rainbow, ah needed it. Because ah thought we could count on ya. Back in the good-ol-days you were always there when yer friends were in need, ya were first in line. Don’t give me that Wonderbolts talk. Ah’ve seen fly throughout Ponyville. You’re not making them tricks or anything. You were flying faster and faster with your tail between yer legs hopin’ the clouds you break will dust up whatever you was tryin’ to leave behind. All the while ah was tryin’ to keep it all together. Ya see Ah’m not the kind who leaves their friends in the dirt when it gets dirty. Ah’m not the one who gave up on Twilight. Ah’m an earth pony, and if there’s one thing we know is that we get nothing done by runnin’ away, or whinin’, or cryin’. Ah ain’t got no wings or horns like the rest of ya. Ah’ve got nothin’ to show but my word and mah guts to prove how much I cared. While you were leavin’ us all behind, while Rarity was keepin’ in all that disgust she felt, while Fluttershy was lyin’ behind mah back; ah was the one who wanted what’s left of us to be together an’ happy. And what’d ah get? Ah get to bury mah friends and family!”

Rainbow Dash looked horrified, her throat dry and empty. Applejack raised her hoof, ready to break the pegasus’s jaw at a moment’s notice. The earth pony looked as though tears would erupt from her eyes at the slightest nudge. Rainbow Dash closed her eyes and braced herself for the impact. None came.

“If ya were just there then maybe... none of this would’ve happened. Everypony would still be...” Applejack’s hoof remained still in the air; the raging struggle of an internal conflict evident in her body’s immobility. “Some element of loyalty ya are. Yer not even worth hitting.”

Applejack set her hoof down. She backed away several steps and spat on the ground between her and the pegasus.

Rainbow kept her eyes close; in fear of having to stare at the face of honesty. When she opened her eyes again she was alone. She could see Applejack carrying the large wooden beam from the distance. Hanging by a nail on that wooden beam was Apple Bloom’s ribbon dangling against the wind.



There was a knock on the door. With neither thought nor care, the canary pegasus absentmindedly stared and listened at the resounding knock for several seconds before opening the door. It was Rainbow Dash.

“Fluttershy...”

“Yes?”

“Can I... talk to you for a sec?”

Fluttershy nodded. Rainbow Dash helped herself inside and seated herself comfortably on the hospital bed.

“How are you?” the cyan pegasus asked dutifully.

“I-I’m fine...” replied the canary mare just as mechanically, “And you?”

“Fine...”

“Okay...”

“Yeah...”

The pair avoided looking at one another. Fluttershy eyes remained on the window. Rainbow Dash's explored the room: the unkempt sheets, the wilted flowers, the untouched bowl of soup.

“Guess I’m just a little upset.” said Rainbow Dash, unable to deal with the deafening silence, “Applejack gave me a piece of her mind and I just took it, so... you know...”

Fluttershy gave a dutiful nod, disinterested.

“You’re still not hurt are you?”

“I’m fine...” Fluttershy made a small flap of her wings to assure her friend.

Both of them knew it was unnecessary. They knew that Fluttershy had not suffered a single physical injury. It was skin deep that worried her friend.

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath. Before she knocked she had stood for minutes behind the door, forming any form of rationalizations and generalizations she could offer her depressed friend. Even now she struggled, the words she practiced lost to her memory, to beg for Fluttershy’s moral sanction, forgiveness and help.

“Fluttershy I-”

“Am I...” the pegasus interjected, “...really that useless?”

“What- No!” Rainbow Dash remained baffled. This is not what she wanted to discuss, and neither did Fluttershy. “You’re not useless. What made you say that?”

Fluttershy could not say anything.

“Come here.” Rainbow stood up and put her hooves around her last remaining friend.

Fluttershy tucked herself under Rainbow Dash’s chest, “Everything is so different now. All of us used to be so...”

“Happy?”

“Together.”

“Is there a difference?”

“No... I don’t think so.”

Fluttershy seemed paralyzed, her eyes remained staring at the cyan pegasus.

“Rainbow... I want to ask you something... what happened that night?” The cyan pegasus cleared her throat. “Where’s Ponyville... what happened to our town? Where is everypony? My pets and my house? Angel? What happened to Twilight? And Rarity! Where’s Rarity? Nopony’s telling me anything.”

“Easy there.” Rainbow whispered as she hugged her friend tighter. Fluttershy was tearing up from the corner of her eyes, and neither of them knew whether it was one she tried to conceal, “I think you still need some time to calm down.”

“Right... I know. I’m Fluttershy, the weak and helpless and useless one. I probably won’t be able to handle it, right? And I’ll probably be more of a burden then...”

“Nopony... said anything like that.”

“But that’s what you’re thinking.”

Rainbow Dash gaze was downcast. She could not deny the accusation.

“I-I think I already have an idea of what happened. But I don’t... remembering the friendship the six of us had, I don’t want to believe it... I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’m here Fluttershy, I’m not leaving you.”

“Then please tell me.” pleaded the canary pegasus, “Please. Don’t leave me in the dark. Whatever it is, I want to face it with what we have left.”

“Okay.” said Rainbow, “I’ll do it. I’ll tell you everything that happened.”

Rainbow recalled the events of that night.


She was high up in the clouds, higher than Cloudsdale, wasting her energy to a Sonic Rainboom she knew had become impossible. An unplanned cluster of black nimbus clouds caught her eye. She found it odd that the weather patrol had not informed her until, upon looking down, she saw the weather team in panic. The nimbus cluster was impossible for a pegasus, or anypony for that matter. It was an unnatural cloud, the kind that forms only in the Everfree Forest, and it was forming just above Sweet Apple Acres.

Her first thought was that the ominous clouds must have strayed from its ominous forest. The notion was quickly brushed aside. Clouds, especially one of such mass, do not move towards a single direction as though it was held on command; clouds do not carry such a miasma that birds and little critters would flock away from its air; and clouds do not accumulate to a single point –especially not on top of Surprise’s grave.

Rainbow Dash suspected only one pony.

Her first instinct hastened her to the library, positioning herself on a conveniently well-hidden cloud that hid her away from the mare that lived in the building. Several times now she had watched from above for any suspicions she could use against the lavender unicorn. There had been both blinding sparks of magic, unhappy laughter and, most often, there were sobs.

Rainbow Dash bucked the window open and dove in.

“Twilight!” she yelled, searching the darkness.

The feeling of nothingness swept over her, it was strange feeling–nothingness–but there was no other word for it. The malevolent miasma where the library had been the epicenter was nowhere to be felt, and its absence chilled the pegasus more than its presence ever had.

“Twilight!” she called again, but she knew no reply would come. Twilight Sparkle was not here.

A lightning, an unnatural black lightning, crashed on top of the hill of Sweet Apple Acres. The deafening sound seemed to have a cracked the air and Rainbow Dash turned in horror towards the apple farm.

Through the door, Rainbow Dash could see the clouds condense over Surprise’s grave.

Another lightning came crashing down, and Rainbow Dash could hear the people of Ponyville scurrying off in to the safety of their homes.

If I find Twilight there I swear I’ll– the crack of another thunder stopped Rainbow Dash’s thoughts.

Fighting off the numbness in her wings Rainbow dashed to the small hill, bracing cold rain and thunder, hoping she was not too late.

But she was.

By the time she got there Applejack was limped and lay battered on the floor; Fluttershy fainted, breathing heavily; Rarity, not breathing. A giant dark orb was pulsating on top of a hill and Twilight seemed to enter its core. The pulsating had stopped and froze. From the energy seeping out she knew that whatever that thing is it was about to explode. Not allowing hesitation to delay her, Rainbow Dash flew in and took Fluttershy and Applejack in her hooves and escaped as the black orb released all the energy it was holding in, destroying all of Ponyville and Cloudsdale.


“There were no survivors other than... us.”

Fluttershy remained still, perfectly still and patient as though she was still waiting for the cyan pegasus to finish. When she knew that she was, she walked slowly to a corner and sat on the floor, her back turned to her friend.

“Okay! Applejack was right, I’m part to blame for all this!” said Rainbow Dash, “Maybe if I wasn’t being a stuck-up I should’ve seen this coming; or maybe if I went to her birthday party she wouldn’t have done it; or maybe if I didn’t ignore the black clouds to go to the library, hoping that I could catch her red-handed so that I could play hero, then maybe I could have stopped her.”

“Or... or maybe if I never gave her the Element of Laughter...” said Fluttershy, “Or maybe if I didn’t faint...”

“Look nopony expects you to...”

“Nopony expects anything from me.”

“No! I mean–damn it Fluttershy, look at me–let’s not play the blame game here. We all messed up, some more than others, but it’s Twilight who did it all to us. If we need somepony to blame, we blame her.”

“Rainbow Dash...” Fluttershy whispered to the wall, “Would Surprise... you know, blame her.”

No, Rainbow Dash thought.

She heard herself say the opposite. “Twilight's beyond forgiveness.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I did.”

“No.” said Fluttershy, her head turning slightly, “I’m not asking if she could be forgiven... I’m asking if Surprise would forgive her.”

“What? You want me say that she’s still our Twilight? That she could go back to normal, is that it? It doesn’t matter if Surprise forgives her or not. You still want to believe that Twilight is innocent because of what we once shared together as friends. Well, look at me in the eyes say it!”

Rainbow Dash took the canary pegasus and turned her around.

“Tell me how you–”

Before Rainbow saw Fluttershy’s eyes she never believed that sorrow could fully manifest itself physically. She was proven wrong. Fluttershy’s eyes were completely blank. There was nothing in them anymore. Fluttershy was right; her mind was unable to conceive of what she had heard to be possible. It was as though Twilight’s madness did not belong in this world. The act of murder was not impossible to believe, the act of mass slaughter was. The Element of Kindness had taken all the pressure it could and had finally collapsed in spirit.

It was out of instinctive fear that Rainbow Dash accidentally took her forelegs off Fluttershy. The pony fell down on the floor like a ragged doll.

That’s what she’s become, thought the cyan pegasus, a doll. A doll has eyes, but there’s nothing behind it, not even a reflection. Her eyes might as well be hollow, and there would be no difference.

Without so much of an eep or a change in expression, stream of tears ran down the eyes of the doll that was Flutershy. Rainbow knew that beneath that hollow exterior only sorrow was left–that if she could see beneath that skin there would only be darkness; the same void she saw upon entering Twilight’s library.

Rainbow Dash took her friend in her arms, hating herself for letting go. “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. I’m sorry.”

They lay there in the corner for a long time in the warmth of each other.

“Why did she do it...” Fluttershy murmured. It was not a question. “Why did Twilight...”

The canary Pegasus broke into more sobs. Rainbow Dash held her tighter. “I don’t know, Fluttershy... I just...” she fell into silence.

They both knew that tomorrow afternoon, when the sun is at its highest, Twilight Sparkle would be executed. They felt no sense of satisfaction, no sense of justice. The only feeling they had was the sense of impending pain in their chest, as though their heart was anticipating the prick from a needle inches away.

The memory of Twilight still lingered. It had never left them. Twilight Sparkle had saved Equestria twice, Twilight the egghead, Twilight who had made a circle of friends that could not be replaced, had lived with them and took a place in their hearts.

“No!” Rainbow yelled suddenly. Fluttershy, caught by surprise, immediately drew back. “I can’t let it end like this.”

“Rainbow Dash...?”

“It shouldn’t end like this. Twilight deserves to die but... not like this. Not without explaining herself. Not without her feeling sorry for what she’d done.” She stood, eyes aflame. “Nopony’s dying anymore. No more hurt, no more pain.”

The rainbow-maned pegasus gently took Fluttershy from the ground and helped her up.

“Fluttershy... I need your help. We’ll save everypony.”

A small glimmer sparked in Fluttershy’s empty eyes. Rainbow Dash knew it was the flash of hope. The canary pegasus slowly nodded her head.

Everypony, Rainbow thought, including Surprise.

* * *

Today was the day justice is to be served. Hundreds of ponies stood by the sidelines of the plaza to watch the execution. A dozen of the Pegasus royal guards of Celestia guarded the sky as Luna’s elite dwelt within shadows.

The two heavy dungeon doors heaved open and several earth ponies in golden armor emerged from its darkness dragging a chain-bound lavender unicorn with them. The lavender unicorn shambled weakly, bruises all over her coat.

Celestia kept her gasped at the back of her throat. She had not ordered Twilight to be tortured, yet her condition indicated that she had not spent the night on the dungeon in solemnity. The spectators eyed her, and she returned their gaze to each one. There was none of the howling, screaming and cursing that most of them expected; none seemed to have courage to initiate. Thus, Twilight’s procession and ascent to her execution was held in a serenity fitting for a saint’s knighting.

The method was simple. Once on the pedestal,she would be stabbed in the chest with a spear until she displays the most agonized expression possible to her. Then Celestia’s spell would drain Twilight of her magic, petrifying her state of agony. The unicorn would then be forever demonize as the evil sorceress who had murdered an entire population.

Still wrapped in chains, she was thrown on a pedestal where she awaited the small seconds that would end her life.



Rainbow Dash breathed deeply. She overlooked the execution from high above. She rose above the clouds, feeling the burning heat of Celestia’s sun against her wings and back. Again, she breathed. There was only one chance for this to work. She would be risking everything: her life and those of everypony. But this was one thing she knew she could not back out of.

No, she did not know if she was doing the right thing. Only that this was something nopony else could do.

She flapped her wings and flew higher, the air thinning with each flap.

She breathed deeply for the third time. Every second counts.

I’ll make everything right, she thought, I have to do this.

Another voice entered her head, it spoke of hesitation and consequences and danger and risks. But Rainbow Dash was quick to shake her head and ignore it. She knew it was the voice of reason.

Without further thought, she unfolded her wings to its limit and dived down with all the speed she could muster.



“You can’t even look at me!” Twilight yelled to Celestia. “Look at me in the eye if you are going to kill me!”

Celestia did not look.

“What are you waiting for?” Twilight shouted again, “What’s stopping you!”

The princess, to the surprise of the audience, could not reply. It was the voice of Princess Luna they heard. “Silence, apostate! A felon has no authority to demand, especially the princess’s attention. Her majesty hesitates whether you are worth dirtying her unsoiled hooves. Very well then, I, Princess Luna, will take it upon myself to-”

The night princess was silenced by Celestia’s wing against her chest. Luna looked at her sister who shook her head and looked at Twilight Sparkle in the eyes for the first time.

Without a word, Celestia climbed on to the edge of her balcony and unfolded her wings. Her horn glowed a bright gold like that of the sun.

Several earth ponies held Twilight in chains as she struggled. A unicorn in golden armor marched in front of her, spear levitating above him. Twilight Sparkle shivered.



Rainbow Dash was picking up speed, wings flapping faster and faster. Her eyes teared up, she could barely see the lavender unicorn that was her target. Closing in, Body tightening, space bending. She felt the mach cone forming around her.



The pedestal beneath Twilight started to shine, and she could feel the cold energy emanating from it. She knew that in a few seconds she would turn as cold as the stone beneath her.

But then, in defiance of solemnity, a long scream for hope pierced the air.

“Twilight!!!”

Rainbow Dash moved like a bullet, faster than any eye could see. From above she reached the lavender unicorn almost instantly and grabbed her in her hooves. Her momentum stopped for two seconds as the whole of Canterlot witness the pause. The space bending around Rainbow Dash had reached its limits and rebounded, propelling them in the air faster than anypony could accelerate, leaving only a trail of spectrum behind them.

The pedestal shined and petrified all earth ponies and pegasi who jumped in an attempt to stop the cyan Pegasus. Luna emitted a loud cry and Celestia could only stand with her mouth agape.

“Find them.” Luna was shouting, “Find them!”

The sound of the princess’s howl signaled Luna’s guard. They emerged from any point of shadow there was in Canterlot, shocking and frightening ponies everywhere. The entire plaza which was frozen in fear, now panicked in fright of the sudden commotion. All except for one.

Applejack glared at the sky, stomping her hoof heavily on the ground.



“Rainbow...” said Twilight, carried by the pegasus, “You saved me.”

“Shut up!”

Not far from the commotion, Rainbow Dash flew down and threw Twilight on a nearby alley. She glared at the lavender unicorn.

“I’m not doing this for you.”

The cyan pegasus flared her wings and took to the sky. She made a spin and shouted. “Hey! I’m over here!” She flew to another direction, chased by pegasi in armor.

She thought about calling out to her but decided against it. Rainbow did this so she could escape.

“Psst.” she heard a whisper just beside her from the alley. “It’s me.”

Fluttershy came out of the corner and garbed Twilight in a tattered cloak and offered her a basket of lettuce and some fruits. “It’s not much but-”

Twilight, having not eaten anything for two days, wolfed down the food like a stray pig. She choked on a carrot and the Element of Kindness was quick to offer her some water, which the lavender unicorn was quick to consume.

The sudden release from the threat of death, the sudden intake of gorged food in her stomach, the sight of a friend still caring for her, exhausted her. Twilight leaned against the walls of the alley for support.

“Let’s get you out of here, Twilight.” Fluttershy wrapped a wing around Twilight. The two of them blending all too well with the panicked mob.



Fluttershy led the way. If she could feel anything she would be surprised of how Twilight Sparkle barely resisted her. They dodged the slightest presence of any guards, making their ways between dark alleys and crowding mobs. The lavender unicorn obeyed her dutifully. When Fluttershy ordered her to get down, she would stoop low. When she ordered her to stay behind, she would jump and hide herself to the pegasus.

Rainbow Dash’s instruction was simple. Fluttershy was told to keep Twilight Sparkle in a place where nopony could find her. After much discussion, their best odds was to hide Twilight beneath the Canterlot Royal Theater. A place with sufficient space and had been abandoned for the last couple of days.

They reached the Sculpture Garden behind the castle where Fluttershy stopped in retrospect. It was filled with statues of renowned ponies of valor of the past. The first time they entered these gardens all six of them were together, and not one of them doubted that one day they’ll share the same honor. She saw themselves there:


“Oh yeah! Watch out Equestria.” proclaimed Rainbow Dash, “Soon Rainbow Dash would have the biggest and fastest statue here in Canterlot.”

“Uhh... fastest?” said Applejack, raising an eyebrow, “Sorry to break it up to ya sugar but statues don’t move.”

“Not yet! Mine will be the first.”

“Oh be fast all you want,” said Rarity, “They better do it soon while we’re in our prime. I just have to look stunning making sure the artist get all my little details. Isn’t that right Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy gave an approving nod, hoping she won’t look as mesmerized with the idea as she truly is.

“Ah can already see it, Rarity dressed in one of’em big frou-frou skirts.” Applejack snickered, and Rainbow Dash made a laugh.

“At least one us is gonna get dressed. I think you’ll prefer to be sculpted as you are?”

“No better way to remember this rodeo pony with nothing but her hat on.”

A white pegasus pony with golden mane came jumping in. “In that case, let’s practice.”

“Practice?” several ponies said in unison, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, since we’re they’re gonna make a statue of us we better have some good poses.” Surprise was jumping excitedly.

“Practice?” said Twilight, “I’m sure you know that sculpting isn’t as instantenous as photography. You have to stand for what seems like hours.”

“You’re such a dork, Twilight.” said Rainbow Dash, “I say let’s do it.”

Surprise and Rainbow jumped at the center and started doing some poses.

“Seriously, you two.” Twilight rolled her eyes, though she could barely resist the urge to join them.

“C’mon guys.” Surprise said, taking Fluttershy by the hoof and pulling her. Applejack couldn’t resist anymore and joined in, followed by Rarity who was already seeing her statue behind her glittering eyes. “You too, Twilight.”

Twilight released a sigh, but a smile appeared on her face. She took her position in its center and all of them posed as though a photograph would be taken.

There they were, the Elements of Harmony. Rainbow Dash poised as though she would pounce on the sky, wings flared. Rarity brushing her mane with her hoof. Surprise embracing Fluttershy in a tight hug, making a heart with their body and wings. Applejack tipped her hat. Twilight Sparkle standing in the middle. All of them smiling.


Fluttershy broke off from her trance. The memory had appeared so real it seemed to replay itself right there in that very spot. She took a few steps forward and realized something damp on her cheeks. She had not felt it, but she was crying.

“Twilight,” she called, “Twilight.”

Fluttershy was surprised at the sound of her own voice. For the first time in two days it was as though she drowned herself somewhere in the torrent of sadness inside her little body where her heart was the maelstorm. But, as though the sadness broke through her eyes, the real innocent Fluttershy had resurfaced: not the indifferent Fluttershy, not the hopeless Fluttershy, not the empty-doll Fluttershy. It was the Element of Kindness, the Fluttershy that loves to love and loves to be loved. The one who wishes all the best for everything and everypony.

The lavender unicorn looked stopped and looked over her shoulder, patient.

“Why did you do it?” said the canary pegasus.

“Do what? Killed everypony?”

“Y-Yes.”

“I wonder how many times I have been asked that.”

Fluttershy remained patient for the answer.

“What would it change if you knew why did it or not?”

Fluttershy remained silent.

“If I told you why I killed all our friends would that change anything? No. Well, who gives a buck as to why I did or not.”

Fluttershy was tearing up, but remained steadfast.

“There’s nothing else you need to know.”

Like a broken dam unable to withstand pressure, Fluttershy screamed out all the air in her lungs, “Tell me!”

Twilight winced, more surprised of the volume of Fluttershy’s voice than her anger, “For the same reason Rainbow Dash saved me today. We want everypony to be happy.”

“No.” Fluttershy cried. “Don’t compare yourself to Rainbow Dash... she wouldn’t sell her friends like you did. You’re a monster.”

“Yes... I guess I am. But I did what I have to do. I needed to bring Surprise back.”

“At any cost?”

“At all cost.”

“But that’s-”

“But what?” The unicorn turned and trotted towards Fluttershy, “Are you gonna say that she isn’t worth it? Surprise is the only pony in Equestria who-”


“Hi! My name is Surprise! And I threw this party just for you.”


The memory had slipped in her memory faster than it had gone. Twilight shook her head. “I don’t have to explain myself to you.”

Twilight leaned over a rail and started to make slow grunting noise.

Fluttershy had no idea what Twilight was suddenly doing. The lavender unicorn started to cough out blood and spit. She started to breathe as though there was something stuck against her throat. If Fluttershy didn’t know any better she’d think that Twilight Sparkle was giving birth from her mouth. The lavender unicorn then started to empty her bowels in a green vomit and Fluttershy swore she heard the clang of something solid.

She treaded carefully towards Twilight who was panting heavily and could barely stand, yet her instincts demanded caution from the magically impaired and physically drained unicorn.

In an instant Twilight’s body had stopped moving and briskly turned towards the her, holding her weapon between her hooves. Fluttershy saw it; Twilight Sparkle had regurgitated a pristine alabaster horn. A horn Fluttershy recognized.

“That’s... Rarity’s... How did you...” Fluttershy was frozen in place. The thought of Twilight Sparkle forcefully removing Rarity’s horn from her skull entered her mind.

“There is one thing I should tell you.” Twilight coughed, “When I bought back Surprise, I could have accomplished it without the need of destroying Ponyville or the loss of any lives.”

Fluttershy gasped.

“However, I chose not to. You see, the fact that you were spared was the result of a miscalculation. In truth, I wanted to kill you all.”

“How– how could you!?” Fluttershy cried, “We’re friends. We’re all friends!”

“I did it for the sake of our friendship! I did not want any of you to live through any this. But I have no choice now. I will correct my miscalculation.”

“What do you–”

Magicae Exhaurire!”

The thought was stopped somewhere in the middle. She could not think of anything else. Before she knew it, Twilight Sparkle had dived for her and impaled her chest with Rarity’s horn.

Fluttershy took a step back. She felt the horn draining the warmth and color from her coat. She felt herself heavier and realized that she was slowly turning into stone.

“T-t-t-wi...light?” the pegasus muttered in horror.

Fluttershy felt her energy away. Her movement and breathing grew slower.

“Help!” The pegasus cried, “Twilight, help!”

But the unicorn avoided her eyes.

Fluttershy let out a squeal but it died out the moment her lungs petrified. Numbness climbed her throat and face. Tears turned to stone. Her legs and wings battered in futility as the coldness spread throughout her.

Is this how it ends? Fluttershy thought.

All her life she thought of death as a possibility with no purposeful end. That death was too unnatural to anypony. But the reality filled her mind and left no room for else. She was going to die.

No, no, no; Fluttershy thought in terror and desperation of the inevitable, IdontwannadieIdontwannadieIdontwannadie.

Until her thoughts, too, were silenced. The last thing Fluttershy saw was the image of Twilight mouthing an apology as the impending darkness freed her from despair.



“I’m sorry.” Twilight said. The last colors of the pegasus had gone and turned gray. Fluttershy was no more.

Twilight stood over the stone in the shape of her friend. She did not like the expression of the statue. But there was nothing to be done. She yanked the now shining silver horn protruding from its chest. As she did, the stone crumbled to dust.

Magicae Exhaurire, a Black Magic spell that drains the bio-energy from another magical creature and transfers it to another. All it needed was direct physical contact with a magical medium and a victim.

Twilight Sparkle needed some way to regain her strength. The explosion that annihilated Ponyville and gave birth to the new Surprise had demanded a great deal of bio-energy, leaving her powerless for the Royal Guards to capture. She had not thought farther than the reincarnation of Surprise, everything else was irrelevant at that time. But before her capture she swallowed Rarity’s horn as a last resort to preserve, and conceal, her only means of using magic. Surprise was torn away from her hooves, Twilight was dragged into Canterlot, tried and prosecuted, and was thrown to the dungeon. When Rainbow Dash came and attacked her that night, she had thought of using Magicae Exhaurire, but reconsidered knowing full well that under no circumstance could she overpower the fastest mare in all of Equestria.

Fluttershy, however, was vulnerable.

It didn’t have to be Fluttershy, Twilight reminded herself, even though she’s weak and helpless it didn’t have to be her. But rest assured, her sacrifice will not be in vain.

She tucked her neck under the hood of her cloak and proceeded to her destination. Now filled with magical energy she was confident of the next task ahead of her.

The statue of Discord was an erected altar of an agonized Draconiquus. One of the last remaining ancients with power equal, if not more, to that of an alicorn. Frozen and petrified in place, it was helpless. A well that held an ocean of bio-energy.

Twilight held her hoof against the statue, and she heard the voice of the God of Chaos in her head.

“Twilight Sparkle... why am I not surprised to see you here.” the voice no longer held the humor it once had, “You’ve changed.”

“I know...”

“You have become more... sophisticated. More chaotic. More...”

“Familiar?”

“If you want to put it that way.”

“It’s Black Magic. You can feel it can you?”

“What do you want Twilight Sparkle?” the voice boomed without warning. It did not stir the unicorn to the slightest. “Do you want power?”

Magica Exhaurire!”

She looked up to the statue, held the silver horn in her hooves and plunged it to the heart of the God of Chaos.

“No, Discord. I do not want power.” A single tear trickled down Twilight’s cheeks, “I want more power.”



Rainbow Dash struggled to break free from the chains clasp around her wings, the same chains that, not an hour ago, held the rogue unicorn Twilight Sparkle. Four pegasi Royal Guards held her in the middle of the plaza, forcing her head bow down in front of royalty.

“Rainbow Dash...” said Celestia, towering over them all, “do you realize what you have done?”

“I’d do it again.” she replied defiantly and a Royal Guard pushed her face down the dirt.

“I believe we have had an understanding.”

It was not a question. Rainbow Dash could not look at the Princess’s face even if she wanted to. She swore she felt a sense of pity, or of disappointment, slipped within the words that had passed.

“What made you act as you did?” Celestia asked.

It was the question Rainbow Dash was waiting for. The guards pulled her up to her feet so she could reply. “A trade.” she said, her eyes serious.

“A trade?”

“Twilight Sparkle... for Surprise.”

The princess’s eye widened in disbelief, “I think you’re serious.”

“I don’t know much about magic, but I know it’s only a matter of time before Twilight can get her power back. When that happens she’ll go for Surprise.”

“How can you be sure of this?”

“If Twilight was willing to...” her voice trailed off in retrospect, “...destroy Ponyville... or kill her friends... then she’ll stop at nothing to get Surprise back. I know where Twilight is, I can bring you to her before her magic recovers. We all know that in the state she’s in she could only get stronger.”

Princess Celestia cringed in disgust; it was not an emotion she allows herself to feel, especially to her subjects. Rainbow Dash, however, had crossed the line. The Element of Loyalty rescued Twilight Sparkle only to sell her out, threatening all of Equestria in the process.

“And I’m the fastest flier in Equestria,” Rainbow Dash continued, “I can bring Surprise with me while you stop Twilight. She’ll never manage to get to her.”

“And you intend to run away with the apocalypse with you?”

“Yes.”

“Your straightforwardness will bring you nowhere.”

“Think fast princess, for all we know Twilight Sparkle is getting her magic back.” Rainbow Dash lied, she knew that by now Twilight Sparkle is beneath the Royal Canterlot Theater, watched over by Fluttershy.

“And what do you propose after Twilight’s recapture?”

“Force her to make a spell or something, anything that can get Surprise out of her curse.”

“It is not so easy.”

“Either way you don’t have much choice.”

Princess Celestia closed her eyes and shook her head, “My little pony, you and I both know that is not going to happen.”

“I won’t let you destroy Surprise.” said Rainbow Dash, blatantly, flatly, without an expression, “Nothing will stop me. Not you, not your Royal Guards and definitely not Twilight.”

“Then ah reckon ah can.” Another voice entered, it stood out among the commotion and the silence. Rainbow Dash recognized it in an instant.

The orange earth pony limped towards the pedestal, her right foreleg still encased in bandages. None of the guards stood in her path.

There was something in the way she paced herself, in the way she hid her eyes under the brim of her hat, in the way the wind blew across her mane that made it seem she held authority and power seconded only by the princess.

“You keep swaying from one barn to the other.” said Applejack, “That’s not how loyalty works, Rainbow. Who are you really loyal to? Or better yet... what are you loyal to? It’s high time ah find out.”



Princess Luna trotted all over the ancient archives of the Canterlot library. With neither pause nor hesitation, from bookshelf to bookshelf, anything that caught her attention flew to her side. There was no time to sit, no time to read. Gritting her teeth she flipped pages and pages skimming through text and drawings of scholars of the past.

Several pieces of torn parchments levitated beside her, a set of random crumbled pages sent by Spike to her sister. Princess Celestia had received the documents not long before the news of Ponyville’s destruction reached her. At first they had no idea of what to make of these pages, setting it aside to address the disaster. It was only later that they realized that Spike’s last message held a clue to the nature of Twilight’s actions. Princess Luna was tasked to find out whatever she could.

“Because of my affiliation once,” said Princess Luna to herself, “For Tia still sees me to be Nightmare Moon.”

She trotted deeper into the archives and stopped when a lone tome sitting on a pedestal caught her attention: Alicorns and Apotheosis; Draconiquus and Divination. It was a compilation of text written by one of Celestia’s most celebrated archivist, Fountainhead. The first scholar, and perhaps the only one, who dared a thorough study of Black Magic.

She skimmed through its text of ancient writing. She saw depictions of herself and her sister beatified fighting against Discord, a battle that lasted a hundred days and a hundred nights.

She read past through several pages, comparing the mouthwriting, language and terminology of the book and of the documents she held aloft. It became apparent that both came from the same source. Turning several more pages however, made her see copies of the documents she held in the book.

Even if she had not kept a record of this ancient lore she knew well enough that nopony other than herself and her sister was allowed to enter these archives. And that a complete and exact duplicate would be impossible by normal magic, even time-magic was unable to retain form once its source had gone. Luna’s only conclusion was that Twilight Sparkle was able to recreate the book using Black Magic, which would mean that Twilight Sparkle was able to use Black Magic prior to obtaining this book.

Would this mean that Black Magic was natural to Twilight, Luna thought.

Luna returned to the first pages and started skimming.

Black Magic, she read, was unnatural to ponies. To which Luna suspect Twilight to be exempt of this alleged law.

Black Magic and normal unicorn magic, she discovered, was affected by its user’s polar emotion: strife and love respectively.

Black Magic, she knew, was able to interfere with creatures with bio-energy allowing numerous possibilities. It could allow its user to directly alter the physiology of other creatures which would otherwise be impossible.

Black Magic, she learned, allowed the creation of something from nothing and the annihilation of something to nothing.

At the turn of the page, Luna saw a drawn picture of Discord.

Black Magic, she knew to be false, was said to drive its user to even more strife and hatred.

At another turn of the page, Luna saw a picture of herself transformed to Nightmare Moon, aesthetically demonized in order to lionize Celestia’s victory. Instead of skipping past the page as she was tempted to, Luna decided on the necessity to acquire as much information as possible.

Fountainhead wrote:

“...And in battle yonder, she of sun banneth thy beloved sib to ye heart of thy night. And ye first rays of light carest thou; and thine fields and thine rocks and thine mountains. Days of years nay be threatened more; and thee equines and all doest rejoice for Princess Solari.”

All of which were still fresh in Luna’s memory. Diana and Solari, one of the many names she and her sister respectively held throughout the millennia.

She turned to the next page, detailing the alleged consequences of Black Magic to her:

“...And only that of ill will could Princess Diana, noble in thine blood and thine power, could befall thy majesty. Forsooth! No sin of she but that of the occult had possesseth thy very judgment.”

“‘Tis a lie!” yelled Luna, eight centuries too late, “It was not out hate that I caused eternal night, it was of–...”

Luna stopped, remembering that she was explaining herself to book.

“It was out of...” Luna said to herself, “...I was alone.”

The next pages seemed lighter in weight. It spoke of the Everfree Forest, an area where left over bio-energy had gathered. It spoke of several examples how love and strife are the two most important factors in the nature of magic. And finally, it spoke of the list of known Black Magic spells. Luna read each one:

Obcidione, a Black Magic spell capable of erasing matter out of existence.

Corporatio, a Black Magic spell capable of creating raw matter in proportion to its caster’s own bio-energy.

Clavicula, a Black Magic spell manipulating the form and substance of that which does not exist; of shadows and of darkness and of the void, that which is the absence of something.

To be able to manipulate like limbs that which do not exist, Luna thought, Black Magic clearly violates all known principles.

She read on the list.

Conivio, a Black Magic variation of teleportation. A combination of Obciodione and Corporatio, this spell annihilates existence and recreates it elsewhere regardless of space, mass, coordinate and location. This includes entities with bio-energy.

Magicae Exhaurire, a Black Magic spell used to absorb bio-energy from one creature to another. The nature of bio-energy, however, remains constant and fixed but slowly adjust itself to the new creature.

Luna paused for a moment after reading about Magicae Exhaurire. Though lacking on the essential details, she doubled back and returned to the nature of the other spells.

–Then, like the spark that triggered the Elements of Harmony, Princess Luna fit all the pieces together. All of which makes sense now–:

Surprise, an animated Black Magic spell Twilight created from Corporatio. The filly had no physiology, her entire being made up of pure bio-energy, where flesh and bones made only to appear as that of any other pony. Surprise was constantly and passively using Corporatio on herself to create, re-create and store an unlimited amount of bio-energy.

Luna shuddered at her next thought: If Twilight Sparkle was to absorb such energy...

“Dear Celesitia...” Luna muttered in disbelief, “Twilight Sparkle wills godhood.”

Four tendrils of shadows came bursting out from the darkness swishing at the air towards Luna’s direction. The alicorn was quick to make a force field only for it shatter to pieces at first impact. Before Luna could scream, two tendrils impaled her against the library wall, another wrapped around her nozzle and the last sliced through the air and cutting her horn clean off its base.

“You know too much.” A familiar voice said, “But still not enough.”

The princess, unable to scream, struggle and fight, was left at the mercy of her attacker.

As though the floor was giving birth, a lavender unicorn crawled out from its shadows. It held a glowing alabaster horn in one hoof and an orb of shadow in the other.

“Your redemption is short-lived.” said Twilight, “I understand your hate. Ponies slept through your night, rejoiced in Celestia’s day. It was jealousy that has grown to hatred. Thus, seeking power, you succumbed to Black Magic and froze the night. Your sister banished you for a thousand years. Imagine it: A thousand years! Even I could not comprehend what self-pitying isolation she deserted you to... But I can comprehend this much: such a punishment beyond what is just and reasonable could not be so easily forgiven.”

Luna tried to deny the accusation. But the shadowy tentacles muffled her voice to nothing. She squirmed as the lavender unicorn closed in on her.

“You hate your sister. I could feel you reeking of negative bio-energy. You are Nightmare Moon still.” Twilight pressed the alabaster horn gently against Luna’s beating chest, “Magicae Exhaurire.”



Rainbow Dash’s head snapped back. The impact shook her entire body. She would have rolled over to the other end of the plaza if not for the guards that held her on each foreleg. Appljack’s hoof connected next to her belly and she felt as though the contents of her stomach would jump out of her mouth.

“Where is Twilight!?” Applejack yelled.


“Where is Surpise!?” Rainbow Dash hoof connected to Twilight’s jaw.


It’s the same, Rainbow thought. Applejack was beating her up the same way she beat the crap out of Twilight Sparkle.

She let out a small chuckle which only infuriated the orange earth pony more than she already was.

“Pr’voke me will ya!” Applejack launched a series of punches, all landing on Rainbow Dash’s face, “doule-crossing... unloyal... little... filly.”

The princess could not look at the barbarity ongoing in front of her. Applejack, the Element of Honesty and the most dependable of ponies, unleashed rage on one of her best friends. Even the guards who held Rainbow Dash were tempted to let go, questioning now who is it they truly needed to restrain.

When Applejack was finished she was panting heavily. Rainbow Dash took a moment of relief.

“Why’d you do it?” Applejack said, “Why’d you save Twilight?”

“I don’t want to save Twilight... I want to save Surprise...” Rainbow Dash made a small grin, “How a-about you... Applejack... Why did you... What hap-pened to that.. talk of yours... About saving Twilight and stuff.”

“She killed all our friends!” Applejack pounced on the cyan Pegasus, pinning her to the ground, “She killed Granny Smith, she killed Big Macintosh, she killed Apple Bloom.” Applejack was in tears, punching the ground beside Rainbow Dash’s head for every name she mentioned. “She killed Spike, she killed Rarity-”

“She bought back Surprise!”

“She’s not worth it!” Applejack’s powerful hoof shattered the marble tiles.

Silence. Rainbow Dash was unfazed. “I’m... starting to doubt that.”

The thought entered their mind simultaneously: what would happen if Surprise was here? Would things happen as it did? Would friends be hurting friends?

No.

There was something about Surprise. Something she alone has. It was her smile, her parties, her bright eyes, the way she hopped, the way she laughed, the way she sang. Proof that, so long as she lived, every day was a new day. That there was never any pain in this world and that there’s shouldn’t be. That every creature can live their life in constant happiness because we’re meant to.

“That ain’t true!” Applejack shouted, unknown to her whom it was she tried to convince, “Ya and Twi are the same. Ya keep on blabberin’ on how Surprise is supposed to be some kind of powerful messiah who can just come in here to make it all better. Well, she ain’t! I’ve seen it. Back in Sweet Apple Acres while Rarity and ah fought Twilight tryin’ to save everypony I looked in Surprise’s grave. And there was nothing there but Surprise. That’s it, there’s nothin’ else. No sacred relic of the ages or... or some holy salvation or some incorruptible saint. Surprise is the same rottin’, decomposin’, pony like the rest of us!”

Before another word passed them the sound of growing murmurs and gasps filled the air.

Ponies of all races were looking, pointing, up to the sky as their instinct crept the chilling touch of fear across their spines. Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Celestia all turned their heads in unison. And then they saw it.

Descending from what seemed to be the core of the sun was a harbinger of all things profane. They doubted whether it was a pony or even a creature of this world, for no such creature could literally distort the miasma around them. It was a lavender unicorn with a pair of large open eyes glowing a harsh white and a broken stub on her forehead where her horn should have been. She eyed the heavens, her forelegs spread wide apart as though she was embracing the world while her back legs were firmly pressed together making her look like an upright cross. Huge wings protruding from her spine kept her aloft, not of feathers as those of the graceful pegasi but with thorns and tendrils of the blackest swamp. She wore the Element of Magic on her head; and the Element of Laughter round her neck. On each hoof she held a horn, one of alabaster and the other of melanized onyx.

Applejack got off Rainbow Dash and the two unknowingly retreated a step.

Celestia was too much in awe to notice the small detail that would later cause her dispirit.

What have I done, Rainbow Dash thought, How could she regain her power so fast... how could she-

“Twilight!” screamed the rainbow-maned pegasus, “Where’s Fluttershy.”

The creature in the sky turned her head to Rainbow Dash. It was a movement too slow to notice. “How could you do such a thing, Rainbow Dash?”

“Do what!?”

“How could you leave poor and helpless Fluttershy with me knowing full well what I am capable of...” said the lavender unicorn, she had her sights on the cyan pegasus but it seemed as though she was not looking at her.

“You wouldn’t hurt her... She’s Fluttershy.”

“As every appeasement to the almighty demands a few sacrifices, so does a crusade demands a few martyrs.”

“You didn’t!”

“I tore her to pieces. Limb from limb, dismembered her fragile form, tore the skin from her flesh and her flesh from her bones. She cried and begged me to stop all the while screaming your name hoping you will save her.”

Rainbow Dash’s heart stopped for what seemed like forever. Cold sweat ran down from her forehead. Her mouth suddenly dries as she remembered her promise to the Element of Kindness that they would save everypony.

“The pegasus Fluttershy is no more and neither is the unicorn Twilight Sparkle.” Then, as though speaking to all things living, she turned her head to the heavens, “My name... is Ptolemy.”

A dozen pegasi guards charged towards the impending threat. Rainbow Dash, too, took the air but was immediately captured within Celestia’s magical grasp.

The pegasi jumped on Ptolemy, grabbing her in midair. The tendrils that made Ptolemy’s wing sprang to life, as though willed on its own, and started diving towards the Royal Guards. The shadow-matter pierced through their sturdy armor and less sturdy flesh. The tendrils seemed to suck the life out of its victims, turning them stone.

More screams of panic erupted as the petrified corpses came falling down and shattered to pieces. A head rolled off the floor and stopped just under Applejack’s hoof.

As her tentacles protected her, Ptolemy raised her hooves up in the air.

Clalivucula Ultimus!”

A mare somewhere in the plaza screamed. Her own shadow protruded to a tendril from the ground and pierced her heart, gradually turning her to stone. The process was too quick for the bystanders to fully absorb. But the same phenomena happened to a random stallion somewhere in the plaza, then to a random unicorn filly, to a pegasus in the air. First two, then four, then eight; the numbers doubling with each instance, ponies were being attacked by their own shadows.

Now realized, the horror was too much to grasp. The air in Canterlot was filled with screams. No event in the history of Equestria had triggered such an emotion to such a number. There was nowhere to run or hide, their shadows followed them everywhere, but to run and hide was all they could do. The hopelessness in their eyes was apparent. When they could turn to their sovereign, the subjects chose to run amok in fear for their lives.

Celestia was now too shocked to move. She could feel her legs trembling for the first time in a millennia.

Ptolemy turned from Canterlot and faced the sun.

Coniveo Ultimus!”

With neither warning nor transition, the land of Equestria and beyond blackened, the great castles and towers was bathed in an orange glow of darkened hue. A giant sphere of solid rock had instantaneously manifested over the daylight–where only the last ebbing rays peeking from the sphere’s edges was proof of its existence–absorbing the warmth, light and hope that it stood for.

It was an event that had not occurred in history: the moon blot out the sun, completing a full solar eclipse.

Princess Celestia made a loud cry of despair, a cry that out voiced the panic of her subjects. She knew, the moment Ptolemy gave rise to the moon, that her sister Luna was no more. And she now recognized one of the two trophies Ptolemy held, and to whom it rightly belonged.

Celestia’s head fell in sudden silence. In the span of a few minutes Twilight Sparkle achieved the unfathomable: she had thrown the world in to chaos, slayed one of its princesses and now proceed to destroy all life; and still her motives remain unknown.

Regardless, Celestia thought, they were now at the apex of the Apocalypse.

The alicorn stepped towards one of the petrified remains of a Royal Guard. She knelt on her knees and embraced the cold lifeless matter.

“Rainbow Dash,” there was an oddity in the princess’s voice, as though it came from a deep well. Nopony could confirm, her eyes hidden beneath the veil of her flowing mane.

High above them, Ptolemy pointed the dark horn towards the white alicorn.

“Y-yes, your highness?” the cyan pegasus replied, her legs and wings trembling. In the darkness beyond she could hear ponies being dragged into the now omnipresent shadows.

Four tendrils came out the tip of the horn Ptolemy held and shot towards the alicorn. Celestia’s horn glowed in bright gold to create a brazen force field around her, the dark appendages slamming against the barrier.

“I accept your proposition. Take Surprise as far away from Canterlot as possible.” Celestia looked up, her eyes glowing white, “I’ll stop Twilight Sparkle.”

“But I-”

“Let the Elements of Harmony protect you.”

The alicorn’s horn glowed again, giving out a bright light. A golden surge of magic wrapped around Rainbow Dash. From this gentle light, two of the Elements of Harmony were each on her wings; the Element of Loyalty on one and the Element of Kindness on the other.

“Now go!” Celestia’s command was unquestionable.

Rainbow Dash nodded her head and flew straight towards Canterlot castle.

Celestia flared her wings, took to the air and faced the demi-god.



“Dear Princess Celestia, you have tasked me, three years ago, to send you a letter reporting what I have learned about friendship. This is perhaps the last letter I will send you.”


The tendrils that were Ptolemy’s wings turned and shot straight to the alicorn. Celestia maneuvered in the air, dodging the black spines.


“Words fail to express my debt of gratitude, but in no other means could I express them now. So please listen and hear me say, first and foremost: Princess Celestia, I thank you and I love you. For all that you have given me and for all that you have taught me.”


Several of the tendrils formed together to what seems to be a drill. It spun and launched straight to Celestia. But the princess’s wings possessed hidden agility. Celestia darted across the air, crisscrossing the sky in attempt to speed pass the spines trailing her path. She turned a great arc heading towards Ptolemy at full speed.

Ptolemy invoked several layers of force field. Celestia came crashing down on the wall, shattering several layers to pieces before her momentum came to a halt a few layers before reaching Ptolemy. The black drill circled behind Celestia and whizzed the air in its lunge. Celestia kicked herself from the shield, dodging the drill attack by a manesbreadth.


“But most of all, it is friendship that I truly wish to thank you for. The value of friendship that you have given me as a mentor to her student, and the value of friendship you have urged me to discover.”


The drill distorted its form, taking in mass seemingly from nowhere, and transfigured to what seemed to be a giant canine head. It barked and growled at the white alicorn.

Baring its fangs and slithering in the air, the dog-head moved faster than the tentacles composing it. Unable to dodge the mass of shadow-matter, Celestia’s began casting several layers of her own force field. The dog-head stopped against the magical wall, hitting it face-first and shattering a few, before chewing on its layers to reach the alicorn prey.


“Back in Canterlot I never had any friends. I hated my classmates, especially ponies my age. I used to think that they were inferior foals wasting their time on trivialities like hanging out or chasing love when they should be working on higher pursuits like studying. Needless to say, it was I who drove them away. But in my contempt I learned a lot. I learned to be independent; I learned not to count on other ponies other than those I believe to be superior to me, which weren’t many. I learned the notion that the need for an equal is a weakness.

“But throughout that time I felt something wrong about it. I didn’t know whether it was because of me or them. I was bitter. I hated how happy they all seem to be. I used to think how inconsequential their lives are, how trivial their interests were. I used to think how they should suffer, like me, to achieve greater heights...

“I admit that sometimes I was tempted... to just put aside the books and reduce myself to their level just so I won’t be alone anymore... But I knew better. I keep convincing myself how wrong they were and how right I am. Back then... I didn’t even know why I had to force myself to believe it. I know now. I was afraid that the loneliness would last forever. I spent most of my time in the libraries with books and scrolls as my only company...”


Celestia let out an earth-shattering scream, eyes glowing bright gold. Her whole body began to burn aflame as a suit of thick golden armor and helm carrying the regalia of the sun manifested itself from the fires. Another shrill cry. Another light, brighter this time. And a golden sword appeared above the princess.

Ptolemy recognized the sword immediately: the legendary Helionis, an artifact that until now has existed only in medieval romances and childhood fairy-tales. Rather than magic it was from its symbol where the sword draws its power. When patient and wise Celestia resorts to violence it is the sight of Helionis that would make her adversaries see reason. That the might of she who controls the sun ought not be challenged lest they never see it rise again.

Celestia took the hilt in her mouth and dashed toward the dog-head, slashing the creature in half. The severed parts came falling to the ground, burning from where it was sliced.

Ptolemy crossed the two horns she held. The moon stirred.


“We come to this world alone. Knowing and trusting nopony else surer than ourselves... I have read once that friends are the families you find, to which only now have I come to understand. Friends are the ponies we choose to put in our lives to grow and be a part of, the ones we choose to trust and know. We learn together, we grow old together and we grow up together.”


Ptolemy summoned four more tendrils from her wing, each turning into the shadowy dog head, even the severed tendril has regenerated almost instantly and returned to its ghastly form.

The dog-heads charged Celestia, barking and flaring its fang.

The royal princess did not disappointment them. Slicing between and through teeth and thorn, Celestia shot herself like an arrow towards Ptolemy leaving a trail of umbrageous cinders in her wake.


“Rainbow Dash, the Element of Loyalty. In her heart lies the courage to stand firm and fight for us and what we believe in.

“Fluttershy, the Element of Kindness. She whose bosom we can faithfully rest on.

“Rarity, the Element of Generosity. Who sees nothing but the inner beauty in all of us, seeking to match it with our outer appearance.

“Applejack, the Element of Honesty and the loyalest and most dependable.

“...and finally, Surprise.”


Celestia ignored whatever spell it was Ptolemy invoked and doubled her speed. As she did, a fork of lightning fired off from both horns and straight towards her. The alicorn dodged the black lightning and continued her assault. The next thing she felt was a surge of pain running throughout her body.

The lightning she dodged had rebounded off from one of the tendrils acting as a rod and struck her from behind.

Celestia recovered in the air, now wary how the black lightning traced the air through the tendrils.


“...If you have never sent me to Ponyville, I would have never known them or what they stood for. Through them I learned that independence doesn’t mean I have to be alone. I learned that our friendship, whether obligated by the Elements or not, counts for something. I learned that I don’t need to hate ponies. I don’t need to hate myself. That ponies aren’t as judgmental as me. I learned that I can be a part of somepony’s life and, in turn, they could be a part of mine.”


Ptolemy channeled the black lightning between the two horns she held. A beam of lightning cracked the invisible sound barrier and fired off to Celestia.

The alicorn swung her sword and slashed the lightning beam in half.

Several of Ptolemy’s tendrils channeled black lightning in between them and started firing the beam in several direction. Celestia raised Helionis and allowed the sword’s magic to absorb the electricity. Two dog-heads charged from beneath her and the alicorn was forced to retreat and draw her sword, leaving her vulnerable to the sparks of energy running across the air.

Celestia rolled in the air, dodging two beams of lightning, before slashing frantically at the two dog heads. She sliced one, cutting its jaw off, and watched in curiosity as the other flee.

Celestia felt a disturbance in the air. She looked above and her jaw dropped.


“I discovered that we have a little bit of each other in ourselves. We are generous with one another, kind, loyal, honest, and we share laughter as the proof of authenticity; all the while we feel that this spark would last forever. Each one of us is one more reason to make life worth living... and I felt, for the first time in my life, that the loneliness won’t come again.

“In my three years in Ponyville I have grown more than all my years in Canterlot... My friends, and the bonds we share, mean the world to me.

“This bond of friendship is so strong it becomes inseparable from our lives, we become connected, and that we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Our destinies now run together, like the meeting of six rivers, never to be distinct again. That this bond we share now binds us. That I could no longer escape from them even if I do so for their sake! I tried, and I’ll continue on trying. But I can’t.

“So here, at last, is the last lesson I have learned: that sometimes friends are not to last forever.”


Ptolemy’s spells was worth its delay. The moon’s stirring was to shake its crumbling dust to Equestria. Thousands of moon rocks of gargantuan mass, all aflame in purple fire, were competing for their descent towards Canterlot.

Celestia sped forward with all her might to avoid one meteor the size of the Royal Garden. She made a fast turn once more to avoid the next, one the size of small building. A third was the size of the plaza and Celestia, gritting her teeth, braced herself.


“My painful conclusion was undeniable–that sometimes if we were to save our friendship we need to give up our friends; and that sometimes, still, if we were to save our friends we need to give up our friendship.

“Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity... Surprise.

“I’d give my life for them...”


Ptolemy watched as Celestia was cornered beneath the great mass over her. She was delighted at the thought that she knew the princess would not be fast enough to fly away.

Ptolemy’s smile lasted only a second. She saw, as the giant meteor supposedly crushing the alicorn, split in half. And from between the long narrow opening, Celestia came speeding fast towards her.

Before Ptolemy could create a force field, Celestia was a meter away. The sun goddess lunged forward. Ptolemy dodged too late. The lavender unicorn lost her left foreleg in the attack. The limb and dark horn fell, disintegrating to ashes.

Flashing her sword, Celestia turned to Ptolemy.

There was no scream, there was no pain, and there was no blood. Ptolemy smiled as though she was unscathed. From where her extremity has been was a black smudge of darkness where several black tendrils sprouted.


“Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle.”



Rainbow Dash sped through Canterlot, maneuvering the air to avoid the multitude of gigantic moon rocks that shook and shattered the earth. Even high in the sky she could feel the ground trembling and the earth cracking every time one of the colossal rocks collided and crushed castles.

She made her way inside the Royal Castle through the balcony. A lantern had fallen from the crumbling ceiling, setting fire to the carpets and curtains of the antechamber. She passed through the walls of fire and into the corridor where pieces of two petrified royal guards, the pair who hindered her path before, were laying lifelessly on the floor.

She bucked open the chamber door and dashed inside. Surprise floated in the middle of the center of her hourglass prison. Despite the shaking earth, the thundering noises, the echoes of screams, that innocent filly was sleeping soundly.

As though the earth was stirring the filly awake, the ground shook powerfully.

One of the falling rocks must’ve crashed nearby, Rainbow Dash thought.

Obeying the tremors, the Royal Castle began to lean towards the jagged earth and buildings. The ceiling shed its marble tiles, breaking the ornament and the disks around the hourglass prison. The room tilted and the container that held Surprise slid to gravity’s direction.

Rainbow Dash flew in and broke the prison, careful not let the glass scratch Surprise’s fragile body. She took the pink filly in her hooves, pressing the foal safely against her bosom. Hearing the sound of the roof pressing in on them, Rainbow Dash made for the window, bracing the shattering mosaic against her coat, and flew away from the crumbling building.

Looking back, she saw a meteor the size of Ponyville crush the royal castle. She had managed to rescue Surprise just in time, a minute later would have been too late.

When Rainbow Dash looked at the filly in her arms a small smile etched across the pegasus's face. Surprise was finally awake and was looking at her with wide eyes.

“H-hey there...” said Rainbow, “The name’s Rainbow Dash... you used to call me Dashie.”

For some reason the foal made a cheerful giggle and reached for the spectral mane. Rainbow Dash’s heart sank as she watched Surprise laughed and giggle, chewing on her mane.

Around them both; meteors fell all over Equestria, the earth had opened its maw to swallow edifices, the cries of a thousand mares replaced the air, houses were engulfed in purple fire, and two of the most powerful beings fought to the death.

“It’s worth it.” said the pegasus, “It’s all worth it.”



Celestia dodged lightning bolts, falling moon rocks the size of houses, and several of the barking dog-heads charging towards her. The dog-heads had evolved, moving faster and more rigorous, shooting out tendrils from their mouth that became equally powerful dog-heads.

In a matter of seconds Celestia was surrounded with hundreds of black flaring canine creatures twice her size. One came pouncing on her, then another, and another until she was overwhelmed.

“Do you see now, Celestia?” said Ptolemy, “The power of Black Magic you so ignorantly refused.”

Celestia broke free from the creatures, bruised and battered, and charged straight towards Ptolemy. The sword pierced the lavender unicorn right through the heart. It was too late when Celestia realized that she struck a decoy. The dummy burst, exploding in a firestorm of black thorns, spines and tendrils.

Ptolemy fired a lightning beam towards the recovering alicorn. Celestia managed enough to shield herself with the Helionis, the sword absorbing the electricity but rooting her in place for the meteor coming from above. Celestia rechanneled the lightning beam and threw it against the falling moon rock, slowing its momentum. The alicorn spun in place and sliced upwards, the force of slashing the air powerful enough to split the moon rock in half. Her horn glowing, she used her telekinesis to launch both halves of the flaming meteor to Ptolemy.

Obcidione!” With a flick of the alabaster horn, the two meteors phased out of existence.

Ptolemy looked from high below and casted another spell.

Accersi: Draco!”

The multitudes of dog-heads melted and formed into the homogenous black orb of Corporatio. It expanded in size and started to take the shape of a giant upright reptile. Though made of the same shadow-matter its features were discernible despite the darker pigmentations: sharpened claws and fangs, purple scales and green spikes running from the back of its head to the tip of its tail.

It was an animated shadow of the dragon, Spike.

Ptolemy came up and nuzzled the creature. In response, one of its mighty claws gently caressed the pony.

Seeing the new threat, Celestia made her horn emit a blinding glow. A great flash later and hundreds and thousands of swords and spears and arrows, all distinct from one another, levitated to a wall of weapons behind the alicorn. All their jagged tips pointed towards Ptolemy.

The two fighters braced themselves. Ready to strike at any moment.

“I beg for your surrender.” Celestia’s voice boomed louder than the thunder, “I now wield the blades of they who died for me. I shall not disappoint them now that I fight with their honor.”

“Open your eyes, blind Celestia. What could corporeal steel do against one who is elevated to the status of a demi-god, much more one who holds reality by the throat?”

“I can see through your pretense. You claim to be invulnerable? Then let the warriors of history test your thesis.”

The dragon roared. Fully under the control of Ptolemy, it came lunging toward the alicorn.

A hundred thousand weapons propelled forward; slicing, cutting and plunging on the beast’s belly. Immune to pain and death, the dragon was unstoppable. The weapons were absorbed to its formless skin, working only to increase its mass. With the firing weapons behind her, Celestia grabbed Helionis and charged the behemoth.

Celestia spun around in place and threw the Helionis. The sword shot straight and through the throat of the dragon and straight to Ptolemy. The lavender unicorn dodged the weapon just before it could behead her. The dragon, still unhindered, swept its mighty claws towards Celestia, crushing the alicorn.

The light that kept the weapons aloft died out, its source gone. Thousands of swords and spears and arrows fell harmlessly to the ground. Ptolemy’s body relaxed.

It was over, Ptolemy thought, Celestia is dead.

“I renounce you.” came a whisper from behind the unicorn.

Ptolemy felt two things: the chill of hearing her mentor’s voice inches from her; and the legendary Helionis through her stomach.

Teleportation, she thought, the oldest trick in the book.

The dragon emitted a loud roar as it dissipated to nothingness. The last of the meteorites had fallen and what was left of the tendrils had slithered back to Ptolemy’s gaping wounds. Celestia threw Ptolemy to the ground, crashing her on a small building.

There the lavender unicorn lay powerless, too wounded to recover from the fall. Her stomach bore a slit that seared the skin shut, disallowing her tendrils to heal the opening. As the dust cleared she saw Celestia land, slowly trotting for her with the Helionis levitating in the air.

“I have failed you, Twilight Sparkle. As your mentor I should have been able prevent this from happening. This is my sin as much as it is yours.”

“As with... any... s-sovereign... your arrogance is outstanding.”

“It is only just that I am the arbitrator of your undoing.”

“Do not bother justifying your hatred in a shroud of righteousness!” snapped Ptolemy, immediately she vomited blood, “Hate me, yes ...but do it honestly.”

“I am the ruler of Equestria! I am a princess, queen and monarch; Ra, Solari, Helionis, Celestia. A bearer of a thousand names for a single fear. My subjects need neither justification nor hatred.”

“Yes. But you do. And you have neither more justification nor hatred than you have conviction or power.”

“See where you lay now at my mercy. Do not think that I am not more than willing to free my student from the corruption of Black Magic.”

“Corruption?” said Ptolemy, genuinely baffled. Then her expression changed to that of amusement. “You believe that Black Magic has influenced my better judgment?”

Celestia winced.

“I overestimated you, my mentor. True that Black Magic has opened the paths of destiny I would not have taken otherwise without, but it is I who so chose to take it. Everything I have done up to now, from the murder of Spike to the destruction of Canterlot, was as deliberate as it was premeditated.”

Ptolemy shot several tendrils, but the alicorn cut the tentacles away with minimum effort.

Eye’s glowing in anger and disappointment and disbelief, wings flared, Celestia’s voice echoed loud and wide, “You were my daughter, Twilight Sparkle! I loved you!”

Ptolemy smiled, “I love you still.”

Celestia raised the Helionis but–

Conivio!” invoked Ptolemy.

–the sword was stilled of its fatal descent.

Standing between them both was an agonized statue of a certain dark blue alicorn, the most powerful shield against Celestia.

“L-Lu... na..?” the sun goddess muttered.

The moment was gone. That one second of hesitation was all Ptolemy needed. A tendril tore through the statue, shattering it to pieces, and striking Celestia away. The golden armor shattered, the black thorns piercing through skin and flesh. Celestia emitted a loud scream.

Ptolemy got up to her feet, and invoked her most powerful spell:

Omnes Finis!”

The amount of black magic coming out of Ptolemy almost tore her body apart. The darkness around Equestria thickened.

Celestia, physically and mentally wounded, managed to stand and turn to the eclipse. Above she saw the moon getting bigger.

No, Celestia thought in horror, the moon does not grow... it comes closer...



Rainbow Dash flew faster the farther she went. She did not know why, but ever since she took hold of Surprise she felt power surging in her. It did not take as much as effort as it used to in order to fly as fast as she did.

Was this the power of Black Magic? she thought.

But there was no time stop in awe.

Perhaps, still, it was gripping terror in her heart that had pushed her to limits untapped. She had seen the battle between Ptolemy and Celestia and was frightened by the sheer power displayed by both. She could not have imagined that two ponies alone would have enough power to change the world as they have.

Black Magic or fear, was the difference so evident? She did not care.

Then its fear, she thought, I need the speed.

The speed to do what? a voice in her spoke, to runaway?

“No, of course not!”

Liar.

Then what are you doing now?

She looked at Surprise who was watching her intently with a foal’s concentration.

“I’m trying to save Surprise...” she said to the small filly as though it was she who was asked the question, “I’m trying to save you...”

Applejack’s anger reverberated in her head, summarized in a single word: disloyalty.

She stopped in mid air, unable to move forward.

“I’m trying to save Surprise.” Rainbow Dash said aloud to nopony in particular, “Isn’t that enough?”

No.

Then what is?

No, she thought, this is the same... I’m still trying to run away.

Deep down she knew. Ever since the first Surprise died she was unable to do a Sonic Rainboom again. It took great effort to fly then, fast enough to run but not escape, as though a tremendous burden weighed down her body. And every time she went close, so close, to breaking the invisible wall that seemed to be freedom, a powerful force that seemed to come from the past would pull her back and propel her to the present:


“Rainbow Dash!”

The cyan pegasus woke up to her name.

“Rainbow Dash!”

She recognized the high-pitched voice. On any other day it would have sounded like tinkering bells. But even tinted with worry, that happy-go-lucky could not have belonged to anypony else.

Heck, I could recognize that voice even without waking up; Rainbow thought.

“Rainbow Dash!” Surprise called for the third time.

The rainbow-maned pegasus got up from the cloud bed where she napped and looked down.

Several months had passed and Rainbow Dash could still not get used to it. Below her she saw Surprise, earth-bound: a wing on one side and broken stub on the other. Surprise, who once graced the air with her, was now incapable of flying.

And it was all her fault... Rainbow thought.

“I’m glad you’re awake.” said Surprise anxiously, “You gotta help me.”

“Woah, calm down. What is this about? We gonna prank somepony?”

Rainbow thought whether it would be rude if she were to fly down Surprise’s level.

Would she take it as an offense? Would it remind her that she couldn’t fly anymore? Isn’t it ruder that I’m staying up here, the place she once belonged but could no longer go?

“I can’t calm down! This is a problem! This is an emergency!”

“What’s wrong?”

Surprise was Rainbow Dash’s best friend. Among the group the two of them were the closest. Perhaps it was because they grew up together in Cloudsdale, or because they were the most active pegasi who shared the sky, or because they had a thing for rainbows. Now, Rainbow Dash could not near Surprise without serving as a constant reminder of what the pegasus lost, and how dearly she missed it.

She could see Surprise, time to time, with her eyes in the sky. And Rainbow Dash hated herself for pitying her.

I don’t want that, Rainbow thought, Surprise’s too good to need me feeling sorry for her.

“It’s Twilight. She’s missing.”

Rainbow, who feigned attention during the conversation, was now focused at the sound of a name she did not want to hear. Her eyes glared unwillingly and her hoof almost tore through her cloud bed. What the hay did she do now? she wanted to say, but the words did not passed through her gritting teeth.

“I can’t find her anywhere. I think she’s doing Black Magic again.”

“That’s it?” said Rainbow, making her voice sound as carefree as possible, “For a second there I thought something really bad happened.”

“This is important!”

“Yeah, yeah. Magic Shmaghick.” Rainbow jumped and tumbled comfortably on his cloud, “Can’t believe you woke me from my nap for that.”

The truth was that Twilight Sparkle was the last pony she wanted to see right now. Not after what she did to Surprise.

“Dashie!”

“Damn it, Surprise! Will you let it rest?” said Rainbow, her anger erupting at the thought of the lavender unicorn, “She’s leading you on.”

“What does that suppose to mean?”

“Don’t you get it? Twilight hurt you, and you forgive her. That’s cool and all. But if you haven’t noticed she wants to make you feel that you have to prove you forgive her.”

“Twilight won’t do such a thing.”

“Oh yeah? Then what is this cat and mouse game? I saw her making her way to the mountains awhile ago. She’s probably rubbing her hooves together hoping that you’d catch up so that you’ll go on your knees and beg for her understanding... for the hundredth time!”

Rainbow Dash expected a rebuttal, but none came.

“I can’t get over the fact that she-” as she turned, she saw Surprise already running away in a hurry, “Fine! Don’t believe me.” she yelled to her.

Rainbow Dash slumped back to her bed and crossed her forelegs.

Go after her, an inner voice said.

Why?

No answer.

She rested her forelegs over her eyes and kicked the cloud bed in tantrum and frustration. The sun suddenly seemed too bright for a nap.

Damn that Twilight, thought Rainbow Dash, I don’t need this so early in the afternoon.

It was the last time Rainbow Dash saw Surprise before the funeral.


She let Surprise die by not trusting her. She let Fluttershy die by abandoning her. She let Rarity die by being there too late.

Element of Loyalty, she thought, I don’t deserve that title.

She looked over her shoulder. Somewhere the fight had died out. The last of the meteors have fallen, the tendrils have gone and so was the giant shadow dragon that looked like Spike’s grown form. She could not see Princess Celestia and Twilight Spa–no, Ptolemy– anywhere in the battlefield. But she knew both still lived. She could feel their energies lingering in the air against her sensitive wings

A voice inside her was shouting, yelling to her to keep on running; that there was no shame in cowardice if it meant redeeming herself from the fallen Surprise. It told her to keep running away from Ponyville, from Canterlot, from Ptolemy, from the responsibility, from reality.

But another voice spoke; a voice that whispered from a place deep down her very being –a place that cannot be discovered, but only proven. It, too, spoke of redemption. Ptolemy had to be stopped.

She only had two futures waiting for her: die running away, or die fighting.

The difference of which would determine whether she would be able to forgive herself. No, she corrected, not me. It would determine whether she would be worthy of Surprise’s forgiveness.

The little filly in her hooves made a small giggle. It was the happiest sound Rainbow Dash ever heard.

Wiping a tear from her eye, Rainbow Dash turned towards Canterlot, braced her wings, and fly.



Celestia had lived for countless millennia. She had seen and overlooked all of war and famine. She thought she had seen all possible evils the world has to offer. Yet now she was trembling like a filly who could only cry against confrontation. It was fear she felt, fear like she has never known before.

The moon grew, inch by inch. The moon was moving by miles, eating away at the light.

There was no stopping it, not even all the powers of the unicorns, earth ponies and pegasus would be powerful enough to hinder its movement.

“Twilight!” Celestia shouted, “You’ve damned us all!”

Ptolemy smiled meekly from the corner of her mouth. She lay exhausted on the ground, almost deprived of her power. To stand in her state was an achievement in itself. “One can only stop the juggernaut by standing on its path...”

Celestia knew what Ptolemy meant. There was only one way to stop the moon’s descent and save all of Equestria.

Hesitation meant certain death. Celestia took the sword Helionis, unfolded her great wings and stood in front of the colossal rock. She flew like a rocket towards the moon. She closed in, ascending.

Celesita horn glowed gold, casting her ultimatum. It was a spell she had not dared used in Equestria in fear of burning the surface of the planet. Behind the moon the sun had died out, extinguished like candlelight.

Celestia’s entire body kindles into warm gentle fire. Powerful, blazing, controlled.

Celestia bursts from the clouds, moving faster and faster towards her target. She was in space, seeing all the heavenly bodies of the cosmos until the colossal satellite occupied her vision entirely. She felt the pull of great matter over her and it looked to her as though she was entering a new foreign earth.

The alicorn princess gritted her teeth, bracing herself for impact. She knew this would be her final moment. Her memories rushed back, of a thousand year reign and of millenniums worth of lives.

But most of all, it was the thought of her sister Luna that kept her going. It could have been fear. The knowledge that has yet to set in, but will knowingly arrive: that she will never see her again in this life. If on the next plane of existence would she ever meet her sister then no better way to cross the border than to lay down her life saving the world.

“Rainbow Dash,” she whispered, eyes closing, “I leave the rest to you.”

Celestia collided with the moon. A small glimmer could be seen by all those whose eyes are in the heavens in fear or in prayer.

The moon has not stopped its mighty descent, but its form and substance started to alter. Stone by stone the moon quickly caught aflame. Though engulfed in bright red fire it did not burn. Stone by stone the moon dissipated to ash, morsels and pieces swept by the wind like a swarm of flickering migrating fireflies that spread in every direction.

Before the moon could come close to the planet’s atmosphere half of it has disintegrated to ash fall. By the time it reached Canterlot the giant rock had reduced itself to motes that replaced the sky.

Everypony knew they had seen their last daylight wrap to a close amongst the enveloping darkness.



Ptolemy stood at the very center of Canterlot. Her hooves wide apart as she looked up at the sky of millions of twinkling orange lights that came to and died. There was a strange familiarity in her stature. Three days ago she stood in the same position over Surprise’s grave, embracing the raindrops. Now she felt infinitesimal still-warm ashes of the moon touch her coat.

Corporatio...” she said.

A tendril crawled out from the alabaster horn she held and formed to a sphere. Ptolemy took the black orb in her hoof and let it go. It moved upwards and into a distance. Then it started to spin, slowly at first, and draw the ashes in the sky. As it spun faster and faster it took debris and bodies along with it. A second later and it created a maelstrom, absorbing everything in reach.

Celestia was no more. The sun was no more. The moon was no more. That which sustains all living had gone, and the end of the world has begun. And through it all, despite the screams of agony, the prayers of despair and the curses of hate from the living left of Equestria, she felt this world come to a close with the stifling silence of a whimper.



Rainbow Dash dug Surprise and herself out of the graven ash. She had used her own body to protect the filly from the heavy ash fall. To her relief, Surprise was unscathed and, contrarily, giggling at the danger. The rainbow-maned pegasus shook the dust off her wings and took the foal in her hooves.

It was cold. This world she found herself in was drained of heat.

Am I in a dream? she thought, or am I in the place where dreams are made?

Around her darkness prevailed. She found herself in the middle of an ocean of ashes. Everywhere she looked Equestria was reduced to a dull gray, robbed of its once spectral colors. Everything was buried beneath the ashes except for the few peaking towers of a crumbling castle.

And then, having her senses returned to her, Rainbow Dash heard it.

Screams, begs, and muffled cries of a thousand ponies buried alive beneath her. Ponies who are incapable of flight and pegasi who does not possess enough strength to escape the pressure, all earthed under the ashes just the same.

Rainbow Dash fell to her knees and covered her ears shut, but it did little help. She could still hear them: the anguish moaning of the dead and dying, the unanswered cries for sweet death, the monotonous refrain repeating itself over and over and over again–“this is your fault!”

What seemed to be hours had passed, and then silence.

Surprise beside crawled to her side. Rainbow Dash grabbed the little filly and embraced her, feeling herself pathetic for seeking refuge on a foal. The two of them lay there in enveloping darkness. Rainbow Dash sobbed heavily.

A tendril shot out from the darkness and pierced Rainbow Dash’s shoulder. She let out a scream which frightened Surprise to tears. The pain jolted the pegasus back, and she instantly, safely, let go of the filly in her hooves.

“Twi... light!” The cyan pegaus grumbled between her teeth.

At the other end of the tendril a lavender unicorn stood with an outstretched foreleg. She neared, painfully so, until she was reached Rainbow Dash with her muffled voiced.

“G-Give... me... Surprise.” said Ptolemy, eyes glowing.

Another tendril shot out from where his left foreleg had been, piercing Rainbow Dash through her other shoulder.

The pegasus muffled a scream.

“Give her to me!” Ptolemy yelled.

“No!”

“You can’t save her! I can!”

Ptolemy formed a tendril to the shape of a drill and pointed the appendage towards Rainbow Dash. The pegasus tried to fly away but Ptolemy locked her in place with the two tendrils incapacitating her movement. Rainbow looked in horror as Ptolemy raised the drill.

The spiraling object darted towards her. Rainbow Dash covered her eyes. The sound of something flying in the air. The sound of trotting. The sound of impact. The absence of expected pain.

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes, slightly, and saw a graying coat of orange hue. Her jaw dropped, unable to believe what she was seeing. Standing between her and Ptolemy, acting as shield and savior, was the loyalest and most dependable of ponies.

“You!” Ptolemy scowled.

Applejack held the drill with her foreleg and teeth until it came to a full stop. She was no longer wearing her hat and her beautiful mane dangled freely. Her left foreleg was still enwrapped with bandages; her right was armored with the Element of Honesty and the Element of Generosity like a gauntlet.

“You’re still alive?” the unicorn said.

“Of course ah’m.” Applejack said quietly, “If somethin’ like that was all it took to kill this rodeo pony then... I won’t be an Element of Harmony in the first place!”

With strength drawn from the earth and a loud battle cry, she grabbed all three tendrils and pulled in Ptolemy. As their bodies collided, Applejack sent the unicorn tumbling with a powerful buck to the chest.

Rainbow Dash did not know how many emotions erupted at the sight of the orange mare. She knew that relief was one of them. “Applejack...”

In response to her name the earth pony turned to her, eyes brimming with silent fury. Rainbow Dash was frightened at the thought that Applejack’s anger was directed at her, but grew horrified that she realized the object of hate was the filly she carried. The pegasus, despite the painful effort made by the holes through her shoulders, took the crying filly in her hooves and backed away from the orange pony.

“That’s... that right there is Surprise... isn’t she?” Applejack said, her anger dissipating, “The one that Twilight...”

“Y-yeah...”

“She sure is... uhh...” she looked away, “...purdy cute there... or somethin’.”

“Applejack, I’m sorry about–”

“Can it. We got bigger problems.”

The two of them rose up, startled, to notice a movement where Ptolemy landed.

“The Elements of Harmony,” said the staggering unicorn, “they’re the only ones protecting you right now.”

“Ya just don’t know when to give up do ya?” said the earth pony.

“Applejack, be careful.” warned the pegasus.

“You two!” What are you fighting for?” Ptolemy said. The tears forming in her eyes shocked the ponies she confronted. “Look around you! There’s nothing left to defend.”

Upon hearing this, Rainbow Dash glared at Ptolemy. She gently placed Surprise down and stood beside Applejack, ready to safeguard the foal with their lives. They were the last living creatures of this world. The last Pegasus. The last earth pony. The last unicorn. And Surprise.

Ptolemy’s anger made her grit her teeth so hard it pained her. She barely felt it. Sprouting several more tendrils from her missing limb, the tentacles dangled freely like loose whips.

“Your martyrdom is misplaced.” Ptolemy launched several of the tendrils towards the pair’s direction.

Applejack ran towards Ptolemy, dodging more and more tendrils as she neared. She immediately launched a hoof the moment her Ptolemy was within reach. The unicorn put up a force field to block the attack in time. The shield did not last. Applejack’s foreleg went straight through the shield, shattering it to pieces, and connected to Ptolemy’s face.

The unicorn was came tumbling away from the impact, using several tendrils to break her fall and lift herself from the ground. Before completely recovering, a spectrum darted towards her line of sight. The force field was not fast enough, Rainbow Dash grabbed her body, dragging her towards a building, and had her crashing through the wall.

Ptolemy recovered quickly, having her tendrils sprout off her wings and cushioning the impact. As she saw Applejack run towards her she took to the sky, away from the earth pony.

“To the skies, RD!” said the orange mare.

Applejack locked hooves with Rainbow Dash. The earth pony spun in place like a top, gathering speed and momentum, before throwing the pegasus like a spear towards Ptolemy. Rainbow Dash met the unicorn midair with a head butt. Ptolemy staggered. Rainbow Dash bit on one of the tendrils and dragged down Ptolemy back to the earth. Pinning the unicorn against the ashes, Rainbow Dash managed to connect two hoof punches on her cheek. Ptolemy fired another tendril that pierced the pegasus’s side. Rainbow Dash raised her hoof for another attack, but the tendril was quick to push her away back to Applejack.

“Ya alright?” asked the earth mare, helping her friend up.

“Yeah.” replied Rainbow Dash.

Hundreds of tendrils sprouted from Ptolemy’s spine and formed a canine’s head. Rainbow Dash and Applejack ran in opposite directions, circling Ptolemy. The dog head chased after the slower earth pony.

The dog-head opened its great maw. Applejack turned briskly and caught herself between the beast’s jaws. The earth mare heaved the mouth open, enduring the pain of having her hooves pierced with the dog’s fangs.

Rainbow Dash pounced on Ptolemy from behind. The two wrestled in the air, Rainbow Dash with her foreleg crushing Ptolemy’s neck. Defying physiology the lavender unicorn reformed her body to where she was face to face with the pegasus, their muzzles inches away. Ptolemy opened her mouth to its utmost limit and, slithering from her stomach, a tendril crawled out and wrapped around Rainbow’s neck.

“Rainbow!” Applejack yelled.

Ptolemy flared her wings and bought the choking pegasus to the sky away from the earth pony. Rainbow Dash tussled desperately, trying to tear away from the tendril crushing her throat.

Applejack stretched her limbs to the limit, dislocating the dog’s jaw. She climbed on top of the frantic hound, bucking its eyes and pulling on its ears. Years of riding animals had taught Applejack that pain is the fastest measure of control. Grabbing on to the dog-head’s nose she rode the creature towards the sky, straight to Ptolemy and Rainbow Dash.

Ptolemy saw Applejack’s heading for them. Immediately she invoked the spell.

Obcidione!”

The dog-head Applejack riding vanished in thin air. Before the last traces of the creature had gone, Applejack kicked herself from the dog’s snout. Their body colliding, the earth mare’s foreleg came smashing against Ptolemy’s jaw. The unicorn let go her grasp of the pegasus. Rainbow Dash fell on the ground, grasping for air.

It happened too fast, yet it was the longest second in Applejack’s short life. Still in the air, wrestling Ptolemy down, Applejack felt a new tingling sensation in her chest. She looked to see a certain alabaster horn protruding from her heart.

Magicae Exhaurire!”

From the tip of her tail, of the hooves of her back legs as she dangled, crawling towards her stomach, Applejack felt her body harden and petrify.

“AJ!” Rainbow Dash looked in horror as she recovered.

Darting in to the air with unrivaled speed the pegasus tore between Applejack and Ptolemy, disrupting the drainage. A half-conscious Applejack fell on earth. Rainbow Dash quickly flew down, catching the earth mare and laying her down.

“AJ, speak to me.”

“D-darn... it!” Applejack groaned, “Can’t feel mah legs.”

Applejack turned to back legs and turned away just as fast. Half of her, from the belly down, was turned to stone.

“Dear... Celestia... There goes Bucky McGillicuddy and Kicks McGee.”

“This isn’t time for–AHH!”

Rainbow was cut off with electricity coursing through her body. Her body grew hot, feeling pain everywhere. She tumbled several feet away. From the corner of her eye she saw Ptolemy descending towards helpless and horrified Applejack.

“No rest for the wicked.” said Ptolemy.

Several tendrils slithered out of Ptolemy and pierced the earth pony’s torso. Applejack spat out blood. The tendrils lifted Applejack in the air, as though to display her dangled bleeding carcass. The earth pony wriggled in place for a few seconds. She could not cry out if she could.

And then she was silent and still.

“Applejack!!!” screamed Rainbow Dash.

One of the tendrils detached and yanked the two Elements out of Applejack’s foreleg, placing the artifacts around Ptolemy’s own. Satisfied, the tendrils flung the body away.

“And then there was one...” Ptolemy said, eyeing the pegasus.

Rainbow Dash remained still, utterly paralyzed. Her only sign of life was apparent in the tears now flooding her face.

“You brought this upon yourselves.” said Ptolemy, “I had only wished for your death, never for you pain.”

Ptolemy watched as the cyan pegasus drop down and sob like a filly. She had never seen her break down, not even once. The pegasus’s pride could not permit her a show of weakness to her friends. But the sight of Applejack murder, the destruction of all of Equestria, and the reality of it all, had finally brought brave Rainbow Dash to her knees.

Ptolemy’s wings and tendrils crawled back to her spine as she descended. She slowly paced towards the last pegasus. Ptolemy stood before a wailing and sobbing Rainbow Dash. There was a peculiar way of how Ptolemy eyed the pegasus, as though she at her looked with pity. The same kind of pity one would show an incriminated wrongdoer whose only sin was ignorance and innocence.

Ptolemy knelt and took Rainbow Dash in an embrace.

“How long...” whispered the unicorn, “Since we have felt each other’s warmth like this?”

The pegasus hid her eyes under her spectral mane, offering neither resistance nor shock.

“Rainbow Dash... You don’t have to suffer anymore.” A tendril sprouted from Ptolemy’s spine. “You don’t have to fight anymore.” The tendril rose and pointed towards the pegasus’s face, “I’ll make all your pain go away.”

The tendrils came down. It stopped as it reached its target. The cyan pegasus caught the tendril in her hooves, its edge inches away from the skin between her eyes.

Ptolemy blinked twice, pushing herself away from the sobbing mare. She was surprised with Rainbow Dash’s newfound speed and agility.

“My loyalty...” the pegasus whimpered, “Since Surprise died... I never knew where it went. Have I ever truly been loyal to anything? Hey, Twilight... All I really wanted was... to have all six of us back together again. Was that... too much to ask?”

To this, the unicorn knew the answer: “Yes.”

Rainbow stood up. Twilight prepared another tendril on her side.

“I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” the unicorn said, “Just die.”

She looked up and, despite the tears in her eyes, she was composed. Perhaps it was the acceptance of the inevitable, or the sheer hopeless and despair that now consumed her, or even insanity, but Rainbow Dash had calmed.

But there was something in that calmness. Something in Rainbow Dash’s eyes that made Ptolemy back away.

Ptolemy skidded back from the unknown threat, firing a tendril in retaliation. Rainbow Dash took the tendril in her mouth and hooves and cut it loose with her teeth.

The pegasus recovered in the air with a flip of her wings. She took the tendril she bit off and threw it to Twilight’s direction. The unicorn dodged it with a side-step and fired off a bolt to Rainbow Dash, striking down the pegasus.

Rainbow Dash felt pain all over her body as hot electricity coursed through her veins. She felt her wings stiffen and her muscles break. She saw Twilight charging a bigger bolt with the horn she held. In a final attempt to dodge Rainbow Dash braved the pain in her wings and-

Ptolemy fired the bolt. The beam shot to the pegasus’s position, bursting in a fiery explosion. Unsatisfied, Ptolemy fired again and again. For every bolt she shot the unicorn felt as though somepony were pounding from deep within her chest.

Ptolemy stopped, finally, after several heartbeats. She was panting heavily, her mind and body on its limit. Finally exhausted, she dropped down on the ashes. A tendril crawled from her to retrieve what was left of the pegasus-

No, she corrected, of the Elements of Harmony. The last artifacts I need.

Feeling nothing there Ptolemy sat up, perplexed. The ashes blocking her view cleared. Rainbow Dash was nowhere to be found.



She was in the heavens among the stars, eyes closed, feeling the absence of warmth in the oblivion that was Equestria. The air was thin but it barely mattered, she barely breathed.

Rainbow Dash felt nothing now, not even the sense of emptiness. She felt she was just a wayward soul, all wishes and no body. She wanted everything to be a dream again. The idea never escaped her thoughts. She wanted to believe that she was already in the state of waking up after a long nightmare.

She opened her eyes. The dark ashen clouds were below her and the starry sky above her. She had never flown as high as she did now. She felt no sense achievement.

The reality overwhelmed her as she watched the vortex absorbing Equestria to its core. Her sides were burning in pain. She had dodged Twilight’s attack and stealthily made her way up, just up, leading to a nowhere.

Rainbow Dash could not see Twilight, but she knew the unicorn was there. She could still feel her malevolent presence.

It all ends now, she thought, no matter how it ends.


“This is why, Rainbow Dash, you were able to perform magic.”


Celestia’s word returned to her: The Sonic Rainboom.



Ptolemy looked up, shivering. She felt the power of the last living pegasus high above her.

Rainbow Dash looked down, shivering. She felt the power the last living unicorn below her.

Both of them knew it.

This was it, the pegasus thought, no more tricks, no more running away, my last card. Twilight... if you could survive this, you win.

As though their thoughts were intertwined Ptolemy held the alabaster horn tight in her hooves.

Rainbow Dash’s body relaxed. She aimed downwards, flared her wings, and darted down.

Ptolemy screamed and pointed her horn upwards, an aura of dark magic emanating from her.

Rainbow Dash shot like a powerful bullet. Space folded around her. Wings flapping, every muscle in her body felt like it is being torn. Faster and faster she went, the cone around her grew sharper and sharper.

Ptolemy invoked a spell with all her power.

Murum Clipeum Jericho!!!”

Immediately, twenty force fields the shape of a shield formed in front of her. Biting her lips, her hooves up, she braced for the impact of the unstoppable force against the immovable object.

Rainbow Dash broke through the cone the moment she hit the shield. The collision created a sky-shattering wave of rainbow that swept away the gray ashes of Equestria.



–Not far from the source, the filly known as Surprise watched in awe as the dull monochrome was overwhelmed with spectral colors. The filly smiled and clapped her hands in joy and marvel at the sight–



Rainbow Dash broke through the first several layers of the shield with ease. Shattered pieces flew out and sliced against her body. She broke through another layer, and another, and another; the next sturdier than the last.

Ptolemy held her hoof up, feeling the bones in them starting to disjoint under the building pressure. The pegasus broke more and more of the layer, nearing towards her. Ptolemy screamed, reinforcing the lasts layers.

Five shields remaining. Then four. Three.

Rainbow Dash screamed, pushing her body to its utmost limit. She could see Ptolemy struggle, a few feet from her.

It doesn’t matter, she thought, it doesn’t matter what happens. Just Surprise... Save Surprise from her.

The third shield broke to a million pieces.

The pegasus bled from her nose and mouth. She made a small crack against the second shield but only just. She batted her wings furiously, desperately, losing her momentum every second. She was weakening.

Ptolemy made a triumphant smile, sensing the odds in her favor.

Just a little more... Rainbow thought.

A hoof came down and broke the penultimate shield. The unicorn and the pegasus both look and gasped in shock.

“Ah... t-told... ya.” said Applejack, crawling her carcass on the ground with her last working limb, “If that is’all it takes to kill me... then I won’t be an Element of Harmony in the first place!”

Applejack’s powerful hoof came down on Ptolemy’s last shield. It made a crack.

“Do it, Dash!” Applejack said.

“But you’ll be–”

“Bucking do it!”

“No!” screamed Ptolemy.

Applejack’s hoof came down.

The last shield shattered.

The Sonic Rainboom connected to Twilight Sparkle.

An explosion shook all of Equestria.

* * *

“...'Cuz I love to make you grin, grin, grin!

“Yes I do!

“Busted out from ear to ear,

“Let it begin!

“Just give me a joyful grin, grin, grin!

“And you fill me with good cheer!

“It's true, some days are dark and lonely,

“And maybe you feel sad

“But Surprise will be there to show you that it isn't that bad!

“There is one thing that makes me happy

“And makes my whole life worthwhile,

“And that's when I talk to my friends and get them to smile!

“I really am so happy!

“Your smile fills me with glee!

“I give a smile, I get a smile,

“And that's so special to me!

“'Cuz I love to see you beam, beam, beam!

“Yes I do!

“Tell me what more can I say to make you see

“That I do!

“It makes me happy when you beam, beam, beam!

“Yes, it always makes my day!

“Come on everypony, smile, smile smile!

“Fill my heart up with sunshine, sunshine!

“All I really need's a smile, smile, smile!

“From these happy friends of mine!

“Come on everypony, smile, smile, smile!

“Fill my heart up with sunshine, sunshine!

“All I really need's a smile, smile, smile!

“From these happy friends of mine!

“That's the perfect gift for me!

“It's a smile as wide as a mile!

“To make me happy as can be!

“Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile!

“Come on and smile!

“Come on and smile.”

* * *

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes. It was the only part of her body that didn’t ache when moved. She was looking at the sky, or what was left of it. Her Sonic Rainboom had blown the ash clouds away and above her she saw the clearest night sky. There not a speck of cloud or ash or dust that obstructed the sight of the million stars that winked over her.

Not bad, she thought as she admired would-be constellations, not bad at all.

She picked herself from the dirt. It was difficult; she could no longer move her right foreleg and her left wing. She felt cold all over, drained, and utterly indifferent.

Rainbow Dash looked around. Equestria was reduced to a blanched wasteland. The maelstrom still raged, absorbing ashes and debris furiously in an expanding vortex. At the corner of her eye she saw a peculiar hint of orange not far from where she was. She ran to it immediately, limped, fell, and continued running.

The pegasus fell on her knees before she could reach Applejack. The orange earth pony was half buried under the ashes. Rainbow Dash crawled to her last friend and nudged her shoulder.

“Hey...” she whimpered, “H-Hey Applejack...”

The earth pony did not move.

“C’mon... quit joshin’ me.” The pegasus nudged harder, hoping for some response. “...Applej-”

The name stopped at the back of her throat, interrupted by a muffled sob. She took the earth pony in a tight embrace to relish the last fading warmth. Still holding tight to her friend Rainbow Dash released all the air in her lungs with a loud scream.

She yelled several times at the top of her voice, wailing and sobbing. Tears streaming down her shut eyes. It was as though she was trying to wake the earth pony by screaming through the afterlife –or to remove the pain in her chest exorcised only by crying her heart out.

Several screams had passed. Rainbow Dash’s throat had dried and started to hurt, her wounds bleeding furiously from the strenuous effort. She wiped the tears in her eyes and gently removed herself from the earth mare.

Surprise, the name clicked in Rainbow Dash’s head. She staggered to stand up and looked around again. Her keen eye caught the hint of something pink in the distance; it was the color amidst the gray and black.

Rainbow Dash reached the filly after the much difficult labor of walking. Surprise was rolling innocently on the ashes making small giggles. She was unscathed. The foal saw the spectral Rainbow Dash and clapped her hooves in joy, laughing.

“Surprise...” the pegasus said, taking the filly in hooves. “At least you... I couldn’t save everypony... but atleast... at the very least...”

The filly sensed the discomfort of the pony that held her and proceeded to explore the pegasus’s tears with her hoof. Rainbow Dash made a slight chuckle that came from somewhere distant.

The two of them stayed still there for an instant.

The maelstrom had formed to a tornado, doubling in power and started absorbing more and more ash clouds. The sky darkened yet again. Rainbow Dash knew she would have to move if they were to escape the growing torrent.

Something crumbled and move several meters from where she stood. Rainbow Dash felt it from the ground beneath her. It wasn’t rubble. This one was animated, alive. As the pegasus inspected closer she saw a hoof came out of the rocks and ashes. Rainbow Dash’s eyes went wide as she noticed the hoof’s familiar color. It was lavender.

“No!” Rainbow Dash yelled, “No, no, no, no no no no. No! Why are you... Why are you still –No! No!”

Surprise shook and cried in fear of the violent voice. Rainbow Dash shook in fear at the sight of Ptolemy unearthing herself from the ashes.

The lavender unicorn was alive, and she was a monstrosity. Drained of all vitality she was pale. The Sonic Rainboom had crushed most of her. From every slit and hole where blood should have dripped were tendrils slithering in the air–from the greater half of her face, from her mouth, from her bruises, from her eyes–; it appeared as though her body was a shell that contained an army of writhing umbrageous tentacles frantically trying to escape from her every wound.

“Dear... Celestia...” Rainbow Dash muttered in horror.

The tentacles and tendrils slithered on the ground, dragging Ptolemy closer to the pegasus. She only one intention. "Give... me...”

“Damnit, Twilight!” Rainbow yelled to whatever reason the creature maintained, “Just... Damnit! Why are you still alive! What’s keeping you from-... What are you fighting for!?”

“...Sur... prise.”

Ptolemy launched a tendril but the thorn went no farther than a meter before it fell harmless on the ashes. She shot another tendril, this time with more force, and it reached the two ponies.

Rainbow Dash could have dodged the attack with a sidestep but feeble as she was the tentacle pierced through and hooked around her knee. She felt another tendril break through her side, and another through her stomach. Still she held Surprise.

“I-If... yo... you want her... pry her from my cold, dead, hooves.”

I’d protect her, Rainbow Dash thought, to the last of my strength. I won’t let the last good of this earth fell on your hooves. I’d fight it. I’d fight everything; reality, Ptolemy, Black Magic, whatever the hay it is. If one minute is all I could last before you take her from me, I’d fight you to my last breath.

Rainbow Dash didn’t feel pain in her body anymore. She saw more tendrils pierce her torso, her throat, her wings. She realized that she lost her hearing; neither the sound of the filly’s crying nor the raging tornado fell on her ears.

Rainbow Dash could only see. In front of her, Twilight launching more and more tendrils that latched on her. She tried to block until she realized she couldn’t move her arms anymore. Her head fell down and she saw the ashes under her hooves crimson from something dripping.

Rainbow Dash sight grew dim. The only thing she could see now was the pink little filly she held.

Slowly, the image of this filly transformed: her coat turned white and her mane to bright gold. Surprise smiled at Rainbow Dash and the cyan Pegasus smiled back. The whole world, too, suddenly transformed. Gone were the ashes, the vortex, the maelstroms and the darkness; Rainbow Dash suddenly found herself sitting at a table inside sweet-smelling Sugar Cube Corner.

“Hey, Dashie...” said Surprise.

“Hey there, Surprise.”

Rainbow Dash could see from the windows that it was already dark outside. Most ponies are asleep at this time of the night. There was no sign of Mr. and Mrs. Cake anywhere. The chairs are empty and neatly put aside. The two of them had the lights of Sugar Cube Corner to themselves.

“It’s been awhile.” said Rainbow Dash.

“I know. I made us a cake to celebrate!”

Surprise went over the counter and returned with a small plate of cake on her head. She placed the small piece in front of Rainbow Dash before she moved her chair close to the cyan pegasus. Surprise lighted a lone candle on top of the cake and turned off the lights. The orange glow of the small flickering fire was all the world they shared.

The cake was white with light yellow frostings on its edges. The letters ‘PBFF’ were writing in crystal blue icing.

Surprise wrapped her hooves around her best friend, “I try not to put too much sugar this time. I know you don’t like sweets as much as I do and– Hey, are you okay, Dashie? Why are you crying?”

“I-I’m not!” said Rainbow Dash, wiping her face with her hooves. “Listen... About what happened, I–”

She was cut off when Surprise wrapped her forelegs around her. “It’s alright Dashie. You’re still the coolest, awesomest and bestest friend anypony could ask for. You’re always the Element of Loyalty in my book.”

Rainbow Dash froze on the spot. The tears in her eyes wouldn’t stop. She fell on her chair and dropped on her knees. Surprise immediately caught her friends in her hooves.

“I’m sorry, If only I listened to you... I should’ve... would’ve... I sh-should’ve been there...” Rainbow Dash kept on muttering time and time again as she held on to her best friend, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“There, there.” said Surprise, pressing her friend closer to her bosom, “You’re my best friend, Dashie. Of course I forgive you.”

“I’m sorry... I’m sorry... I’m sorry...”

“But there’s one thing you still need to do.”

Rainbow Dash looked up.

“Forgive yourself too, okay?” Surprise smiled at her.

Rainbow Dash nodded.

“Can’t have Equestria’s fastest flier all mopey-dopey.”

“Okay... I’ll try.”

“...and?”

“...a-and I’ll keep on trying.”

“...until?”

“Until I-uh... deserve to be... beside you. I’ll never leave you again.”

“Silly, Dashie. You never left my side. We were together the whole time.”

Rainbow Dash held on to her best friend tight. There was a slight muffled chuckle in her next words. “This is so... I like this... Even if it’s a little sappy.”

“There we go.” said the golden maned pegasus with a giggle, “Feeling better now?”

“Yeah...”

“No more frowns?”

Rainbow Dash wiped the tears off her eyes, “No more frowns.”

“Alrighty-o!” Surprise grabbed the cake from the table and set it down on the floor between them, “Now you can tell me all the wonderful adventures we had. We’ll spend the rest of the night talking. You tell me all about the Wonderbolts and I’ll tell you all about the parties! Then we can tell each other ghost stories and the colts we have crushes on. Then we’ll talk about candies and rainbows and colors and–”

“Take it easy.” said Rainbow, placing a hoof on Surprise’s mouth, “We... we have all the time in the world, right?”

“Right!”

“Then how about we start with this cake here?”

“Ooh! Good idea.” Surprise giggled. “...After you, Dashie.”

Surprise smiled.

Rainbow Dash smiled back. She leaned forward and blew out the candle.



Ptolemy retracted all her tendrils. The thorns slithering back to her body. She collapsed the moment it did. Utterly spent and all out of magic, she was powerless. She felt the magic sealing her wounds unbind and the blood that trickled down from it.

She looked on. Rainbow Dash’s body stood upright and stiffened. It was no longer moving. It was no longer alive. But in its clutches it held the crying pink foal.

What puzzled the unicorn however was that Rainbow Dash, in her last moments, managed to emit a triumphant smile, a smile not of defiance but of an affirmation. The smile, Ptolemy observed, somehow reminded her of Surprise’s own.

Ptolemy crawled on her belly until she reached the pegasi, leaving a heavy trail of blood on her path. She rose up from the ground and took the Elements of Loyalty and Kindness from the unmoving body and clenched the artifacts between her teeth.

Is it irony, Ptolemy thought, or defiance; that you, the most vibrant and most colorful of ponies, were the last to fall in this dull gray world.

Before Ptolemy could further contemplate on her victory, she took Rainbow Dash’s body and placed her gently on the ground. Then she took Surprise from the dead pegasus, forcefully yanking the foal from Rainbow Dash’s cold rigid hooves. Carrying the filly, Ptolemy limped towards the maelstrom.

At last, she thought, everything is complete. The six Elements, Surprise and all the hate she could muster.

Ptolemy stood and removed the Elements of Harmony, slowly tossing it towards the maelstrom’s direction.

The wind carried the artifacts to giant black orb that swallowed everything. Absorbing its power, the black orb’s power breached the limits of the material and transcended to the metaphysical.

The black orb was no longer absorbing the land, it was absorbing reality. Like shards of broken glass, existence shattered. It was as though she was inside a giant hatching egg. The black orb absorbed space, time and matter, returning entities to its most fundamental constituent. No longer the earth shook, no longer the wind raged. It spun everything in a torrent of nothing, reducing the whole of existence to a duality: magic and matter, the noumenon and the phenomenon.

Ptolemy held on to Surprise as though she clung for dear life. She prayed to Celestia, the mentor she loved and murdered, that whatever brought her to this moment was not futile. Only she and the little filly was immune to the black orb.

The orb came to a full stop.

The pressure had let go.

Ptolemy opened her eyes. Behind the fabric of reality there was nothing. She and Surprise floated amidst emptiness, not even darkness. It was the presence of what was not there. She stood on nothing, yet she felt the security of moving.

As Ptolemy gazed on the orb her eyes went wide. Lo and behold, she was staring at the universe from the outside. From revolving galaxies and star clusters, to the single blade of grass and the grain of sand; there was no detail that she could not see. Through some intricate process of perception and conception, she was looking at everything from everywhere. It overwhelmed her mind.

The orb patiently waited for its missing piece. Ptolemy rose and held out Surprise to the white orb.

Surprise floated steadily until something invisible gently drew her in. She broke through the surface, the orb rippling like cool summer water. The black orb shed its dark exterior, revealing it for what it was. Free from all corruption its color became a bright white. The white orb shined and glowed as the only source of light, luminous against the backdrop of nothingness yet calm. The light emanated was gentle.

It’s starting, she thought.

Ptolemy felt power. It was coming from the very core of the white orb. Space, time, magic and matter; inside the orb everything reshuffled in place. Reality and consciousness form together. History and destiny collides.

Ptolemy fell on her knees and prayed –No, not prayed, but felt that which could drive ponies to prayer. To turn hope to faith. To subject calculation to chance. To put belief on that which one has abandoned. She had murdered her family. She had murdered her mentor. She had murdered her friends. She murdered her assistant. She bought about the death of all life in the universe. And now she begged to Surprise, to that unknown white orb, to any higher power that could control that which she cannot.

This was everything. Everything she had done, every unconscionable act, every irremissible sin, was to bring her to this moment.

This was it. Ptolemy: the fulcrum where all turns.

To this, Twilight Sparkle had gambled, literally, everything.

The white orb emitted a powerful light, expanding throughout the void. The nothingness had been filled.

* * *

“Surprise!” a certain golden maned pegasus shouted with a honk of a horn.

Twilight Sparkle yelped and leaped off her bed to the sound of a noisemaker. She accidentally tossed the book she was holding and it landed on top of Spike, who jumped out in a shock.

“Seriously, Surprise, could you greet ponies normally. You’ll give everypony a heart attack.”

Surprise spat out the horn and hovered over the bed. “Hearts don’t attack ponies, silly.”

“I meant you need to keep your voice down.”

“But Twiley-wiley, how can I greet you normally if I keep my voice down. And how can I keep my voice down knowing that today is your birthday!”

“Is it breakfast time, yet?” said Spike, wiping his eyes.

Twilight ignored the baby dragon who was probably too groggy to hear anything. “My birthday isn’t until tomorrow.” she said to Surprise.

The pegasus rummaged through her saddlebag and held out a clock. Three motions later the clock turned from 11:59pm to 12:00am signaling the new day.

“Surprise!” the pegasus repeated, “Happy Birthday Twilight!”



“Mighty thanks for the awesome party, Twilight.” Applejack said.

“You’re welcome. But I guess you should thank Surprise. She’s the one who threw the party after all.”

The two of them turned to the golden-maned pegasus. Surprise was flying upside down, inspecting the presents with Spike. The two were rigorously shaking each carefully ribboned boxes.

“I’m guessing it’s a cupcake.” said Surprise.

“Sounds like it’s harder than that.” Spike shook the box again against his ear, “What does cupcake even sounds like?”

“You’re right it could be a muffin.”

Twilight and Applejack giggled.

Spike jolted back and fired out a green flame which formed to a scroll. Twilight unfolded the letter from the princess and began to read out loud to her friends. It was a heartfelt congratulation for her birthday and an apology from her and in her sister’s behalf that they were unable to join them despite Surprise’s invitation.

But what took Twilight’s breath was Celestia’s gift signed at the bottom of the letter.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” Twilight squealed. Immediately her friends gathered around her.

Twilight almost fainted with excitement if not for Fluttershy rubbing her back and reminding her to breathe.

“Darling, calm down.” Rarity said, “What on earth did Celestia sent you?”

“Probably a book like ‘Magic for Eggheads’” said Rainbow, her mouth filled with cookies.

“The Princess...” Twilight said, taking long deep breaths, “Made me... an honorary speaker for the quadricentennial anniversary of Canterlot Unicorn University!”

Rarity and Fluttershy gasped. Applejack and Rainbow Dash exchanged eyebrows, trying to make sense of what all the fuss was about.

“Congratulations, Twilight!” exclaimed Rarity with a hoofshake and a hug. “You’re Princess Celestia’s handpicked speaker for CUU.”

“I know.” The lavender unicorn said, “This is quite an honor.”

“The most prestigious university in Canterlot.” said Rarity, almost swooning. “Just imagine. You’ll be conducting a lecture in the same stage as did Colt Sagan, Stequine Hawking and Albert Neighstein.”

“...the biggest names in theoretical magic.”

“And you’ll be like the youngest mare ever!” shouted Rainbow Dash, picking up Twilight and throwing her in the air.

“...the youngest one ever...” The unicorn echoed with a gulp as she landed on Applejack’s hooves.

“Yer the most magical unicorn there is, sugar. Ya leave them hanging by yer fancy magic talk.”

Twilight Sparkle started to shiver.

“Umm... Applejack,” said Fluttershy, “By ‘them’ do you mean thousands and thousands of ponies from all over Equestria that’s gonna be watching and judging everything that Twilight says?”

At the thought of such a prospect Twilight, and somehow Fluttershy, fainted.

Meanwhile, Surprise couldn’t resist the urge and opened the present she was shaking. “Aha! I knew it was a cupcake. Wait a minute... oh yeah, this one’s from me.”



Twilight hurriedly flipped through several index cards making sure that, for the umpteenth time, everything is as it should be. The last thing she needs right now is to fumble mid-speech because of a disordered page or a missing punctuation mark. She had flipped one card among the pile, turning another upside down and trying to figure out where to place a free donut coupon.

“Arghh!” she moaned, planting a hoof on her face and throwing the coupon away.

She peeked through the giant red curtains for the third time. The seminar hall, which is as big as an amphitheater, was packed full of ponies from all over Equestria. She could see Princess Celestia sitting with Luna in a private box. Her parents were alongside her brother Shining Armor and Cadence. Her old professors, all esteemed scholars, sat in a single row just having finished their own lecture about star clusters, dragon evolution and pegasi metabolism–the novelty of which distracted her from her own.

“...and that concludes my research about the Everfree Forest ecosystem. Thank you for listening.” the current speaker concluded, he had a green orchid for a cutie mark.

Twilight drew back to the invisibility of the backstage. She was next. She was saved for last. Of all the speakers she was the youngest and the only one among them who has yet to earn a doctorate or a published dissertation. It was only of her mentor’s influence that she was able to stand on the plateau where she is now; and as such, much was expected.

She heard the applause of ponies from the other side of the curtain.

“Twilight?”

“Gah!” The lavender unicorn shot up to the sight of a canary pegasus. “Fluttershy?”

Fluttershy stood nervously in front of Twilight. Applejack stood beside her, flipping her hat.

“Ah’m sorry. Did we startle ya?”

“A little.” Twilight approached both of them and linked her hooves around theirs.

“Don’t be nervous.” Fluttershy said, her knees shaking.

“Really? cause you’re more nervous than me.”

“Oh... I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. Thanks for being here... Where are the others?”

“Oh, Rare is with’er fancy Canterlot buddies and Surprise and RD are both soundly snorin’ in their seats.”

Twilight giggled. The thought of Rainbow Dash and Surprise sleeping through an entire lecture was a thought that has been lingering at the back of her head. They could have flown away to some of Canterlot’s more entertaining districts but Twilight was happy to know that her friends waited patiently in support for her, even though they’re asleep.

Twilight heard the master of ceremonies fiddle with the microphone, “And now, for our last speaker...”

“I’m up next.” she said to the ponies.

“Good luck out there, sugarcube.”

“...the personal protégé of our Princess Celestia...” she heard the emcee say, “... bearer of the Element of Magic.”

Twilight gulped. Her chest tightened up. Her knees felt cold.

“Please give a round of applause for Ms. Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight entered the stage. The sound of stomping hooves came from every direction. Shining Armor and Cadence, along with her mother and father, were waving their hooves. Princess Luna stood at the edge of the balcony for a closer look. Princess Celestia gave a knowing nod to give her approval. Somewhere in the back of the audience she could see Rainbow Dash and Surprise cheering her name which, despite inappropriate, calmed her nerves. Rarity had formed a cheering group of rather young students who were the loudest in their applause.

Twilight breathed deeply. The support everywhere drove away the pressure. She was ready.



Twilight Sparkle held back tears by pressing her face against the pillow. Not a single drop escaped her eye and everything seemed to well up to her chest.

“It was academic,” she said to herself, “purely academic.”

She tucked herself beneath the safety of bedsheets, seeking cover from the echoing laughter. But there was no use; the laughter was coming from inside her head.

It came back to her in flashes of vivid imagery.

Twilight had delivered her lecture with an underdog’s enthusiasm. She began with the history of magic, starting with the first recorded use, up to the present day, following with quick summaries of the most powerful magic users, a comparative study between magic and physics, and finally ending the discussion with her own hypothesis regarding magic theory.

“...and that concludes the applicability of quantum teleportation with Fountainhead’s theory. Though there is yet a unified theory of magic it is not impossible to believe that all pre-established theories is subject to a single template built on the axiom of the dasein’s relationship with its values to the world. And with that, I thank you.”

Twilight took a bow. Everything was exactly as she rehearsed. She was calm, confident and articulate. She had her facts checked and rechecked.

There was only one thing she didn’t expect: the reception.

The applause wasn’t as grand as with her introduction. There were perplexed faces all over. Surprise and Rainbow, as well as Rarity’s group, were the only ones who cheered the loudest until the awkward misapprehension got to them.

Eventually, the last of their cheering died out to the sound of a colt coughing somewhere.

Twilight could see it, in their eyes, behind the euphemisms of their voiceless visage. Their eyes said what their mouths couldn’t, and the words were apparent. Twilight could hear the condemnations and accusations in her head, not knowing whether it came from them or as a reflection of her own.

...You’re too young. You have a lot to learn.

...Who in Tartarus do you think you are?

...To challenge seven hundred years of magic history.

...To stand on the same stage as the legends before you.

...To even think that your research, with no hint of credibility, is worth presenting.

...You are embarrassing everypony here.

...If it wasn’t for Princess Celestia.

Twilight shut her eyes. She knew, of course, that the princess was neutral in academic affairs and was no way obligated to defend her.

At some point in time, the master of ceremonies had already moved the discussion for questions.

“If your report to the princess that Discord was able to disarm your magic potential by magically removing your horn, and of the Element of Generosity, as well as capable of removing pegasi wings -then you yourself have experience firsthand the very contradiction of your thesis!” A unicorn was saying, he was the assistant head of an organization nopony cares for, “You have said it clearly that magic could not interfere with a pony’s bio-energy and, consequently, its physiology.”

“But Discord is different. He-” she tried to refute.

“Let me finish speaking. Not only has your paper conflicted with actual facts, which you yourself wrote as a report to the princess following Discord’s escape, you are trying to bring back a magic theory from Fountainhead whose plausibility has been discredited by the scientific community ever since the discovery of bio-energy. Seriously, emotions such as love and hate affecting magic? Fountainhead is passé, as we call it –and is no longer a valid source for academic research in our contemporary world view.”

“I-I... I’m sure there are a few holes in the theory but–”

“A few holes? Ms. Sparkle, your paper is a clumsy compilation of obsolescence posited as fact.”

The questioner waited for answer to an unstated question. Twilight did not have that answer.

She looked around, only her eyes moving, searching for help within the audience. She expected none and she found none. She stammered, hearing a small snicker at one corner and a whisper at another.

It was the same further back during her first test in Canterlot when she hatched Spike. There were the same ponies then, all of them yawning at her attempts. It was worse this time. She noticed the small malicious snicker at the corner of their lips, seemingly enjoying her humiliation. She felt the weight of their stare in her gut, forming like an alien matter to be regurgitated.

Twilight did not know she was backing away until she hit the microphone with her tail, toppling the object as it released a screeching electrical noise that amplified the silence. It was followed by scoffing laughter from the audience, more apparent this time.

Cornered, Twilight’s horn glowed. In an instant she was gone.

She had teleported away to her old room at Canterlot. She did not return when her name was called for the awarding ceremony. She did not return to deliver her closing remarks and acknowledgements.

An hour after the seminar Celestia visited her. Before the princess could speak Twilight leapt and knelt beneath her mentor’s feet. She sobbed, wailed, and whimpered on how sorry she was of her incompetence.

“I’m sorry, Princess! I’m sorry I embarrassed you. I was being arrogant. I was getting ahead of myself. I don’t deserve to be your student.”

“Relax, my dear Twilight Sparkle.”

“I can’t.”

“It is simply academic. It does not diminish your value to me in any way.”

The princess had cancelled all her plans and had spent the rest of the day comforting her protégé. She had explained that her reception was mostly due her audience’s jealousy, that the rude questioner was a frustrated academic whose thesis was not approved. That it was startling for most scholars that somepony as young as her would be able to accomplish what they spent their whole life trying.

It did little help to soothe the pain.

Academic. That was the word Celestia used. It was simply academic. It was for the expansion of knowledge. It was the research that mattered, not the one who presented it.

Yes. It was purely academic.

Twilight Sparkle got up, whirling her bedsheet away. She was back in the present, a week after the humiliation.

“‘You’re too young’ they said.” she muttered, “‘I have a lot to learn’ they said.”

She climbed down her room and marched straight down the basement, wiping away the tears that had formed from her recollection.

She felt relieved, feeling the pressure in her chest drained out. There was nothing to stop her now–no physical barricade, no moral qualms. After all...

“It is purely academic. They’ll see...”

Twilight sat on a lonely desk in the basement and laid out the copied volumes from the forbidden archives. She had broken in inside the section where even she had no access. It was there that she was able to cast a newly made spell that allowed her to copy the ancient tomes word per word. The books were all written by the ancient Fountainhead discussing in detail the practices of Black Magic.

“...They’ll all see.”



There was a knock on the basement door.

“Spike!” yelled Twilight from below, “I said no disturbances.”

The door opened and a beam of light lacerated the darkness. It was unnaturally bright for Twilight’s eyes.

“Sugarcube?” the familiar southern accent of a mare called out, “Ya here?”

Without waiting for a reply, her five best friends came rushing down to her.

“Girls.” the lavender unicorn greeted, hugging the nearest pony she could get her hooves on. Fluttershy returned the hug.

“Me too, me too!” Surprise hopped in and embraced the two.

Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash all took a second to survey the surroundings.

“It’s mighty dark out here...” Applejack said to Twilight, taking note of the few flickering candles on the desk.

“Oh, let me fix that.” Twilight broke away from the hug and casted a spell. Light emanated from somewhere and the room brightened as though it was engulfed in daylight. “I was too busy studying that I forgot where I was.”

Where Twilight was is somewhere her friends could not quite comprehend. Her basement, once unexempt to the unicorn’s orderliness, now showed unnatural neglect in the mess of unorganized books and melted wax.

Her friends threw glances at one another as though it was a nudge to speak.

“Umm... actually... I hope we’re not intruding... or anything.” Fluttershy said.

“Oh, no. It’s perfectly okay. I could use a break from time to time.”

“Darling, you need more than a break.” Rarity ran a hoof around her messy mane, “You look like a fashion disaster.”

“I guess I was a little careless with myself.”

“A little?” Applejack raised an eyebrow, “Spike there said you haven’t slept in three days.”

“Oh, Spike. He’s just overly worried as always. I get a few naps... from time to time.”

“We thought you were crying yourself to sleep because of what happened in that seminar.” said Rainbow Dash, and immediately she received glares from Applejack, Rarity and even Fluttershy. “What?”

“Oh... that.” Twilight looked away in embarrassment, “I already forgot about that, honest.”

Applejack nudged Rainbow Dash’s shoulder as though to say ‘See what ya did.’

“It’s perfectly fine.” Twilight said as though she understood the gesture, “I’ve mostly gotten over it.”

Rarity cocked an eyebrow, “Dear, pardon me for saying so but you look far from having gotten over it.”

“...and that’s why we’re here!” said a golden-maned pegasus, hopping on Twilight’s back, “We were so worried that you were lonely and sad that we decided to throw you a–”

“Party?” said Twilight. She did not even need to make a guess.

“Exactly! You’re such a smarty pants Twilight. Your Surprise’s Surprise Party is waiting for you in Sugar Cube Corner. Everypony in Ponyville will be there.”

“Thanks Surprise. I guess I could use a party.”

“Anything for my Twiley Sparkly.”

“Now hold yer horses now.” said Applejack, “Guess we have to call off the party in the meantime. Don’t want Twilight fainting on her tiresome.”

“I most certainly agree.” Rarity nodded, “Finding out about your sleep deprivation I must say that a party is not the healthiest of option for you right now.”

“Especially not a surprise Surprise party.” Rainbow said to the golden maned pegasus who was about to blow a party horn.

“Awww...” whimpered Surprise, her wings and ears drooping.

“I’m sorry about this.” said Twilight.

“It’s okay. They’re right about you needing plenty of rest anyway.”

“To make it up to you I’ll help you organize my surprise Surprise party like you always wanted. Would you like that?”

“Would I!” It wasn’t a question. Surprise jumped up and made some hoops in the air. She had always wanted Twilight to help organize a party just so she could see what a Twilight-themed party would be like. Most of the time Twilight refused her invitation because of the unicorn’s busy schedule. Surprise laughed happily in joy over such a prospect.



Surprise laughter was a constant ringing bell at a time when most ponies were asleep.

Fluttershy and the golden-maned pegasus volunteered to help Spike in nursing the lavender unicorn. The three tucked Twilight in her warm, cozy bed; making sure that no books would tempt the unicorn from her sleep.

Twilight, however, was far from unconscious. She felt utterly exhausted, yet never more awake than in the act of forcing her eyes shut. Outside the isolation of the basement Twilight heard the jeering laughter erupt back from her memories. Now, more than before, she heard it amplified and more real. She realized that the laughter did not come from her mind, not this time, but from the living room below.

Twilight tucked herself under her sheets and covered her ears.

Spike, Fluttershy and Surprise were all laughing. Twilight could hear bits and pieces of their conversation; something about Surprise’s flying stunt, Fluttershy’s problems with Angel or Spike’s first attempt at sending letters. They all giggled and laugh.

Shut up, Twilight thought. Immediately, she regretted using such crude phrase to her friends.

Giggled and laugh. That’s all Twilight could hear. She knew her friends would never laugh at her, but she didn’t care for what she knew. She could no longer tell the difference between the kinds of laughter. All she wanted was for everypony to stop laughing.

Unable to bear anymore, Twilight cast a spell, one of the few black magic she mastered in the little amount of time. Her body melted into the darkness and trailed along the paths of the lightless.

She escaped her library, slithered across Ponyville and reemerged somewhere within Ponyville square. Nopony walked these streets at this time.

With nothing to do and nowhere to go Twilight paced herself around the darkness, eventually landing on a nearby bench lighted by a lone street lamp. Somehow she found her position strangely comforting. This was her safe zone, she knew. She was in a territory all too familiar: loneliness.

“Twilight! Twilight.” she heard her name called. Not an hour having escaped her voice the golden-maned pegasus was already descending before her.

“Surprise... How did you find me?”

“I’m a pegasus, silly. I flew and I saw you from above. Fluttershy and I were so worried when Spike wasn’t able to find you in your bed. So me and Spikey split up and went looking all over for you while Fluttershy guarded the library just in case you came back. But I think she’s just scared to go out at night, she’s Fluttershy afterall. Although I don’t know what her name has to do with going out at night. Maybe its because she–”

“Surprise,” Twilight interrupted, trying to maintain her composure, “if you don’t mind, I want some time for myself.”

“Sounds fun! I’ll join you.” Surprise cuddled next to her, “I also want some of your time for myself.”

“I think you miss the point. I... want some time alone.”

“You can’t. You won’t. You haven’t even gotten much sleep yet; and I made a Surprise Swear to the girls that I’ll be looking after you. If you don’t sleep now then this’ll be the fourth night you won’t be able to sleep. And that means you can’t make it to the next party. And that means we can’t make a Twilight themed party.”

“It’s alright. I’m not feeling really sleepy.”

Twilight was far from rejuvenated. She was tired, but the exhaustion was one thing sleep could not relieve her of.

“I just want to... read a book I guess.”

“Want me to get you one?”

“That won’t be necessary. Conivio!”

The single lamppost the lighted them flickered; and in that micro second of an instant a book had manifested itself on Twilight’s hooves.

“Wow!” Pinkie Pie gasped, “That was a cool new spell.”

“Thanks... but it’s nothing really. It’s like a teleportation spell but more handy. The book calls it Conivio.” Twilight said. The pegasus cocked her head to the side as though waiting for a complete explanation, something Twilight was very enthusiastic to deliver, “This is a different kind of magic. Instead of bending the cross-sections of space as I used to, shadow teleportation annihilates anything and recreates it instantaneously in another place. It is more accurate than normal teleportation because it does not have to go through intervening matter. The object I’m teleporting doesn’t even have to be in the same room as me. In addition to these; shadow teleportation barely consumes any magic.”

Surprise’s facial expression had a stiff smile on her face indicating that she understood all too well or understood nothing at all. Twilight believed it was the latter.

“It’s the very contradiction of my thesis,” Twilight sighed, “An axiom of magic is that matter could not be destroyed or created, it could only be moved or changed in form. Matter could not cease to exist or come into existence. However... this violates everything. Corporatio!”

Without even a glow of her horn a pink cloud that smelled of sugar manifested in thin air. It started raining chocolate syrup.

“That’s...” Surprise stuttered, “That’s Discord’s chocolate rain!”

The cotton candy cloud leveled in front of Surprise. The golden-maned pegasus jumped and began indulging herself on the sweet confectionary. Twilight smiled, meekly.

“Discord, Nightmare Moon and the changeling race are all able use Black Magic.” Twilight noticed how at the mention of the word, Surprise body paused, “Another axiom is that magic could not interfere with bio-energy, which is the blueprint that determines the structure of magical creatures. Yet... Discord was able to remove horns and wings with a snap of his finger, Nightmare Moon was able to transform to mists and various objects, the changelings were able to alter their physical appearance. Such feats are impossible with normal magic... I mean, why did you think that we can’t use spells in therapy and that we have to rely on traditional medicine? Magic can’t be used into ponies and yet–... Surprise? Are you alright?”

Without warning the pegasus jumped on her and pinned her hooves on the ground. Surprise face showed a mixture of both awe and horror. “Twilight! I thought you said you’ve already gotten over it.”

“W-what?”

“You said you were already okay with it. About that thing in the seminar... I thought you said that it doesn’t trouble you anymore.”

“I do. I did.” Twilight tried to break away, “This is different.”

“Black Magic?”

“What do you know!? You’re just like one of them; bunch of elitist know-it-alls. Laughing at me behind your smiles in front the Princess, my friends and families.”

“Twilight? I’m not laughing at you. I have never!”

But the lavender unicorn would have none of it. She only recalled the echoing laughter of Surprise, Fluttershy and Spike that has been no different with the laughter of the academe.

“I’m better than them and they know it!” Twilight resisted, pushing and kicking the pegasus on top of her, “There’s a reason why I’m the Element of Magic and they’re a bunch of critics who can’t even create what they criticize.”

The commotion the two ponies are making stirred the town awake. One by one, the closed lights of nearby house turned on. “Twi- ouch! You’re hurting me.” Surprise held fast, “We’re you friends. We love you.”

Twilight felt herself once again at the breaking point. She was about to teleport away if not for the comforting hooves of the Element of Laughter.

“You’re just being silly again, Twilight. Friends don’t–”

Silly? Twilight thought, Like something foalish!? Like something to be laughed at! “I said don’t laugh at me!”

A shadow-shaped pincer slithered from Twilight’s shadow and clutched on Surprise’s wing. The pincer rolled and tucked, clipping the pegasus’s pride clean off its base. The pincer retracted, cowering itself under Twilight’s shadow.

“Arrgh!!! It hurts!” Surprise cried out in pain.

The sound of Surprise’s cry–a sound unuttered before– roused the surrounding houses awake. Windows and doors burst open to witness the scenario, hurriedly rushing to aid the pegasus the moment they saw her. Covered in blood and feathers, twitching in pain, eyes rolled to the back of her head, Surprise screamed in agony.

A crowd had gathered around Surprise. They had paused at first, unable to believe what they were seeing. “Give her some space,” a stallion was shouting. “Call an ambulance!” a mare shouted. “Is Surprise alright? Why is everypony worried?” “Quiet, Sweetie Belle, go back to the boutique.” “But sis–” two sisters argued. “Twilight, what did you do!?” somepony said to her.

“B-b-but she was laughing– I mean... I didn’t...” Twilight tried to explain where no explanation is acceptable. Not even she knows what she had done. She, Twilight Sparkle, who would have never hurt a blade of grass, just attacked one of her friends.

The glare from the crowd grew stronger. Twilight recognized the ponies; friends of friends, each throwing a glance at her. The memory came back, worse this time, more accurate. The same scrutiny that no longer hid behind the mask of smile and showed true emotion: disgust.

“I’m sorry... I didn’t mean it... I–”

The majority of the crowds ignored her, turning their attention now to the pegasus. Mumbles passed from one pony to another for a second until they decided to carry Surprise to the hospital.

Few ponies stayed to glare at Twilight for a little longer. Rainbow Dash was one of them, her mouth agape in disbelief; her eyes glaring.

Twilight melted into the shadows and re-emerged to someplace where no light entered.



Celestia’s sun was hot on her shoulders. It felt like her mentor’s gazed: searing, unforgiving and inescapable. Even the cave of the dragon’s lair was not enough to relieve herself of the heat.

It was a long climb, and she had to do it on foot. The sun’s marvel was shining too bright to even allow a hint of darkness for her shadow teleportation. The sun seemed to be consciously restricting her movements.

Princess Celestia has not yet heard of what happened to Surprise. Twilight was too afraid to tell the princess what had happened. That it was her student who injured the happiest pony in Equestria and that it was by means of Black Magic. If the princess ever found out...

–No! Twilight thought, my affinity with Black Magic is the least of my concerns.

It had been three weeks since the incident with Surprise. The white pegasus had been rushed to a hospital where her wing was tended. The whole of Ponyville had stirred that night; as though everypony felt a disturbance at the thought that Surprise, of all ponies, was crying in pain.

The day that followed breezed whispers throughout Ponyville; ugly rumors about what transpired that night growing more perverted with every exchange of breath.

Twilight was not blind to the sudden change of ponies around her. They would throw side glances on her path, others passed by her with their snouts in the air, mumblings reverberated among crowds only to be silenced the moment she was within hearing distance. At worst, some ponies would ignore her as though she did not exist; or that if she did, she was a leper who was to be avoided.

It did not, however, last too long. The day Surprise recovered her first course of action was to throw a party for the whole of Ponyville. Everypony was invited and everpony came. It was at the climax of the event where Surprise, onstage with a microphone, gathered the attention of everypony and cleared Twilight’s name.

Before the night ended hundreds of ponies personally approached the lavender unicorn and apologized for their behavior.

Her friends, who seemed to have vanished during her status as a pariah, emerged one by one from the crowd.

“Don’t... uhh... beat yourself up over it.” Rainbow Dash had said, “...we’re still cool.”

“Nopony’s ought to be blaming you.” Applejack had said, “Not even yerself.”

“Don’t take it to heart, dear.” Rarity had said, “I mean...We all made mistakes here.”

“It was only an accident after all.” Fluttershy had said, “We’re sure you didn’t mean it.”

“Of course I forgive you, silly.” Surprise had said.

It was an exhausting night for Twilight, yet the turn of events that Surprise spun managed to make it all seem better.

Seeing Surprise walk knowing she could never fly again burdened her. She had told Surprise that she would find a way to fix things but the pegasus, the earth-bound pegasus, made her Surprise Swear that she would no longer resort to Black Magic.

Now, as Twilight entered the desolated caverns, she was committed to breaking her oath.

Twilight Sparkle’s horn glowed to an uncanny black and several sigils burned to the cavern’s wall. Her magic powers had grown exponentially since her studies of the Black Magic began, and more so in the last three weeks of her social exile. She had learned amplification through sigils, the manipulation of nothingness, the bending of shadows, merging with the void. She had learned and mastered more about magic in the last three weeks than in her life. And every second her power grew.

“Twilight! Twilight!” A voice was calling out to her. A voice she knew all too well.

Twilight smiled to what she believed to be a very convenient coincidence. One that made her believe that pony luck was on her side. She stood just within the cave’s mouth and greeted the panicking mare with an embrace as it sprung unto her. “What happened to you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Twilight... please.” Surprise was panting heavily, completely out of breath. She has yet to grow familiar with using her legs.

“What is it? How did you even find me?”

“I paid you a visit today and you were gone. Then I looked around for you, Dashie said she saw you going all the way up here. What are you doing?”

“I’m just... you know, practicing my magic.”

“You’re practicing Black Magic aren’t you?”

Seeing Surprise’s worried expression Twilight would not lie even if she could, “Yes, I was. But-”

“You made a Surprise Swear!” the pegasus suddenly bursts out, “You broke your promise.”

“I know, I know. But listen-”

“Black Magic is dangerous. Princess Celestia said so.”

Twilight made an involuntary glance to Surprise’s missing wing. She knew the pegasus was not referring to the incident, but the thought nagged in her memory. “Surprise, I don’t have enough apologies to convince you that what happened was an accident.”

“I believe you. But I’m talking about what happened to you!”

“Me?”

“Yes, you! After the accident almost everypony in Ponyville was mean to you because they thought that you hurt me. I don’t want that happening to any of my friends. And if everypony finds out that you’re using Black Magic then... I dunno- they’ll probably hate you like they did to Nightmare Moon and Discord. I don’t want to see Ponyville again with grumpy faces, I want everpony all smiling, especially my friends.”

Twilight’s jaw dropped. Even now, after what she had done to Surprise, the white pegasus still worries for her.

“Twilight please, I don’t want to see you getting hurt.” Surprise begged, her smile had gone and it was the only thing Twilight noticed.

“I can’t... I’m sorry. I’ve already crossed the line when I took out your wing.”

“I don’t care about my wing.”

Surprise lied, and Twilight knew it. For a pegasus who once graced the sky to be earth-bound was to be handicapped. Twilight knew that ever since Surprise escape the hospital, her sights remained transfixed to the sky; a home she may never again return to.

Twilight would not have it. She would not have the happiest pony in all of Equestria be anything less than what she is.

“Remembered what I told you before about Black Magic?” Twilight said, slowly opening her eyes, “I want to show you something.”

Twilight moved towards the darkness and removed a shadow from the cavern wall. The shadow slowly formed into the shape of a razor edged dagger. Twilight took the weapon in her hoof and, with it, stabbed her left hoof. Surprise gasped in shock but the lavender unicorn was unfazed.

Twilight retracted the dagger as it dissipated into the air. Blood dribbled from the corner of her hooves and dripped on the floor for Surprise to see and confirm. Satisfied, Twilight’s horn glowed gently. A tendril coming from the walls slithered and wrapped around the injury. A second later, the tendrils retracted and the wound was gone.

“This is the power of Black Magic. It allows me to tamper with physiology. Surprise, I know it’s scary but please listen...” Twilight took a step back so the pegasus wouldn’t. “Throughout the history of Equestria there were ponies who practiced Black Magic. Discord was one of them, so was Luna who turned into Nightmare Moon, there were the Changelings who are believed to be pony Discordians. There was Fountainhead, the first who has given in it its name. And there was Star Swirl the Bearded who, spending his entire lifetime in rigorous study, had managed to convert the simple Black Magic spell of amniomorphism into normal unicorn magic.”

“Twilight, what are you trying to say? I don’t understand.”

“The term ‘Black’ in this form of magic is a connotation originated by Fountainhead. As unicorn magic is powered by love; Black Magic is powered by hatred. You see, Surprise, it was not an accident that my power in Black Magic grew when ponies started hating me. And it was not an accident that ponies started hating me when my power grew. Hatred breeds power and power breeds hatred. My thesis was right all along. Fountainhead was right. It doesn’t have to do with that bio-energy rubbish. It was just simple love and hatred. Sure there are still holes with the theory and it will be hectic writing the paper, especially on where I got my sources but... you know...”

“Twilight... You’re still angry about that?”

“Angry? No. Hate? ...Maybe.”

“Twilight, you’re scaring me. I don’t want to be scared.”

“I know. And I’m sorry. But remember that magic is still just a tool. It’s the pony using it that counts. I plan to continue on studying about Black Magic and make spells with normal unicorn magic that will make everypony in Equestria happy. Just imagine the possibilities, Black Magic could be used in medicine, or in production, it could be used to protect everypony!”

“Everypony except...”

“Me.” Twilight smiled, “I know. I’m prepared for that. For tampering with life and death, creation and annihilation, ponies would have justified contempt for me. Even I would hate me.”

“I don’t want it!” Surprise said, “I don’t want you to be hated.”

“Have you heard of the mythological Ponytheus? He was said to be a stallion who gave ponies fire by stealing it from Helionis. For his transgression he was chained to a rock and tortured by griffons. But he had left ponykind a gift that lifted darkness off the earth. I guess I’m being ahead of myself but I’m thinking that I’m like him.”

Twilight made a small giggle in an attempt to comfort the pegasus. It failed. Surprise jumped over Twilight, nuzzled her neck and wrapped her hooves in an embrace.

“I can’t turn back now after all I have learned.” Twilight returned the embrace momentarily, “If that’s the case I want to make the most out of it.”

Twilight gently pushed Surprise back. She distanced herself a few steps from the pegasus before her horn started glowing.

“Twilight, what are you-” Surprise stopped midsentence. Beneath her a dark purple sigil formed itself on the ground.

“I don’t know if doing this will make me hate you, or make you hate me...” Twilight said, the shadows around them moved and enveloped itself around Surprise’s broken wing, “But this is the least I could do.”

Despite the seemingly morbid spectacle of shadows wrapping around her wing, Surprise was shocked to find the sensation painless. In fact, she felt the darkness around her soothing, calm and gentle, like a coat of velvet. Slowly, she felt she could felt the darkness in control taking form. Even slower, she realized that the darkness was becoming her wing.

The pegasus gasped, in surprise and in awe. Right in front of her eyes she saw her wing completed. Not healed, it appeared as though it was never injured in the first place. She looked at the unicorn in front of her, who had nothing but a smile in her face, then back to her wing, then back to the unicorn. Surprise flew to the air.

It was a wing, Surprise thought, it was her wing.

She danced in the air, spinning and making turns. To feel the wind against her mind, the cool air beneath her hooves, the strength in carrying her body. Then, looking at Twilight, she dashed and crashed on top of her unicorn friend, holding her in a tight hug.

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.” she said, patting several kisses on her friend’s cheeks.

To her surprise, Twilight was genuinely perplexed.

“Is my smooching making you blush?” Surprise tilted her head.

“Uh... yes. I mean no. I mean, wait a minute here...” Twilight looked at Surprise from head to foot with a raised eyebrow, “So you don’t hate me? Because I certainly don’t hate you.”

“How could I ever hate you Twiley-wiley?” Surprise flew round and round inside the caverns, “No matter what happens your friends will never hate you.”

Twilight blushed. She felt her heart beat once more, the first in weeks, after hearing Surprise’s words. She had expected that at least one of them would hate the other as a consequence of a Black Magic but, shockingly so, it didn’t. Was her theory wrong again? Or was their friendship simply too strong?

“C’mon Twiley! You know what this calls for!?”

It doesn’t matter, Twilight thought, neither mattered. Science can wait. As long as Surprise is happy then all is right in the world.

As though on cue –it happened:

Without warning, without warning at all, Surprise dropped dead on the floor.

Twilight Sparkle did not have the luxury to blink. It happened in front of her. Too fast to do anything; too slow that she absorbed every excruciating detail.

Surprise had been flying and dancing. Surprise had been saying something about telling all their friends. Surprise had been smiling. And suddenly, she lost whatever animating principle that controlled her body. Her words stopped and hanged mid-air. She fell on the floor with a thud.

There was no question about it. Surprise was dead before she hit the ground. Nothing could put a pony to a state of such stillness.

The thought imploded upon Twilight’s consciousness. She was on the verge of screaming but the sound was locked in her throat; her own voice choking her, she could barely breathe.

Twilight felt her eyes moisten but she could not feel herself cry. Neither sob nor whimper escaped her lips.

I killed Surprise, she thought, I killed Surprise.

She searched around for any means of escape, for any means of denying the indisputable. The sigils that littered the cavern wall offered no reply. She had backed up, feeling the walls touch her flank. She turned, panicked, all over. The walls appeared to have eyes, the cavern became a living thing that witnessed her murder. Taking long deep breaths, the air stung Twilight’s lungs like needles.

With no options, no reason, no sense of morality, Twilight Sparkle casts a spell. The earth shook and an avalanche caved in on the body of Surprise. Melding with the shadows, it would be a year before Twilight would see the next daylight.

* * *

A lavender unicorn held a little pink foal as she traversed the barren wasteland. She felt the cool breeze of the night gently mingle her coat. It was not too cold, the air was perfectly cozy in fact, and still she wrapped the filly with another layer of blanket, not wanting her to catch a cold.

It was a glorious night. The unobstructed sky showed no shortage of the twinkling lights above. The unicorn looked up solemnly. She could pinpoint the location and the name of the visible constellations; and one by one she recited it to the filly.

“...and that constellation is called Cassiopeia.”

The pink earth pony followed the unicorn’s hoof and looked at the stars, her eyes shining in reflection. She returned to the outstretched limb and started nibbling on it. The lavender unicorn giggled.

They continued onwards to nowhere in particular.

Eventually they reached a small desolate farm house in the middle of this wasteland. It was a humble place filled with rocks and tattered trees. A windmill spun slowly at one side and a water tank stood beside it.

The unicorn knocked on the door several times. It was in the dead of the night but a few flickering lights indicated the presence of some presence. The door opened and a brown earth pony wearing a wide-brimmed hat appeared. He had a pickaxe for a cutie mark.

The lavender unicorn introduced herself to have been once the student of Princess Celestia and acquainted with royalty. She asked for a night’s lodging to which the brown earth pony, seeing the pink foal in the unicorn’s hooves, was generous to provide.

As the night wore further the earth pony, whose name was Clyde, and the unicorn retired to the main living room where a discussion was traded. The unicorn promised Clyde fortune, prosperity and good health to his family whenever he might need or want it. Not one who eyes material goods, Clyde was disinterested. The promises, furthermore, were too fantastic; even considering that this may perhaps be the devil’s handiwork.

It was here that the lavender unicorn offered the pink filly she carried.

The unicorn offered, practically begged, for Clyde to adopt the pink filly. She told him that the foal needed a family to love her and take care of her. It was the only thing, the unicorn explained, she was powerless to provide. Clyde saw her guest for what she really was at that plea: a ragged despairing mother who would give everything for her daughter’s happiness.

Clyde saw little choice in the matter. The riches were immaterial. He had always wanted the third daughter her beloved wife could no longer give. His good nature as well would leave his conscience agitated if he were to turn down this mare’s desperate cry for help.

Clyde agreed without a second thought.

* * *

“Pinkamena Diane Pie! Are you playing with those rocks again?”

The pink filly known as Pinkie Pie stepped around a pile of rocks the shape of a balloon.

“Oh Pinkamena. Whatever am I gonna do with you?”

“I’m sorry mama.” Sensing Sue’s distraught, Pinkie Pie hugged her mother.

“Is this about those dreams again? Nevermind... It’s alright Pinkamena dear.” said Sue, rubbing Pinkie’s straight mane, “Just move all the rocks to the north field.”

“Okay mama.”

After her mother had left to prepare lunch, Pinkie was quick to fix her mess and move all the rocks to their designated positions. Finished, she saw her sister dragging a small cart and decided to help out.

“Thanks, sis.” said Blinkie.

“No problem. Found anything lately?”

“Well... I found this.” the grayish filly rummaged down the pile of rocks and took out a purple stone.

“Oh... What is it?”

“Granite... I think.” Blinkie held out the rock to her sister but Pinkie Pie declined with a shook of her head. “Not what you’re looking for.”

“No... It still looks... gray.”

“I’m sorry, sis.”

“It’s alright. It’s not your fault.”

The third sister, Inkie Pie, showed up and approached the two. “You’re not gonna find one out here, Pinkie. There’s no such thing as colored rocks.”

“There is too.”

“There is not.”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

“Just because you haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

Blinke looked to and fro her sisters. The pair had developed a sibling rivalry ever since Pinkie’s constant fear of shadows gave her an excuse to sleep with the lights on, much to Inkie’s jealousy. Blinkie decided to step in before their argument escalates again. “I still don’t know why you want to look for colored rocks.”

“Well...” Pinkie Pie looked at them both, then around the rock farm. She held out her hoof to nowhere in particular, “Don’t you think there’s something missing?”

“Like what.” asked Blinkie.

“It’s gray.”

“It’s supposed to be gray.” said Inkie, “They’re rocks, stupid.”

“Not just the rocks. I mean... everything out here is gray... grayish.”

“Well, Papa is brown.” said Blinkie.

“...and you’re pink.” said Inkie.

“Well, don’t you think it’s kinda... wrong?”

Her sisters tilted their heads in confusion.

“It’s wrong, isn’t it!? I mean... Well wouldn’t it better if everything is... you know... colorful?”

“Uh-huh.” said Blinkie with a slight nod.

Inkie sat on her haunches and seriously considered her sisters words. Her tone was less hostile this time, “I guess so... Wanna tell papa about it?”

“Nuh-uh! Papa might get angry again.”

“I’m telling papa on you.” Inkie got up and ran to the house, “Papa! Pinkie thinks the farm is wrong!”

“I did not!” Pinkie Pie followed.

“Wait, you two.” Blinkie went after them too.

A few minutes later their mother clang on the triangle bell signaling that dinner was ready. They gathered around the table, said grace to Princess Celestia, and began their meal. It was house rules that no one spoke while they were eating, nopony except their father.

“Granny Pie is coming tomorrow.” Clyde said, looking at her wife first then to her daughters, “That means I want all of you to be on your best behavior.”

The three fillies could not hide their joy. Granny Pie was their favorite visitor. She only visits a few times once a year but every time she always brought some toys to give them.

“Now Pinkie,” Clyde continued, the singled out earth pony turned to her father, “I don’t want you making too much of a fuss like last time. Give Granny Pie some space and stop being clingy all the time.”

“Yes, Papa.” the filly nodded.

The day passed uneventfully. The fillies had been talking about nothing but the presents they would get. Last year Blinkie got a toy necklace, Inkie got a book and Pinkie got a toy oven.

It was late at night when the three sisters retired to their rooms after a long day’s work. They fell asleep as soon as their little heads landed on the pillow.

* * *

They were everywhere. Small cute little insects that did nothing but food and furniture. Everypony was panicking except for a few who were still trying to figure out how to salvage the town.

“Okay, here’s the plan: Rainbow Dash you distract them...” A lavender unicorn was saying, “Good. Everypony else we need to make an exact copy of Ponyville right over there. We have less than a minute... Zecora was right, we’re doomed.”

Then another pony came trotting through the street, playing all sorts of musical instruments at the same time. The insects stopped eating, amused by the jubilant music played by this sudden polka playing pony.

It was her, Pinkie Pie. Only she wasn’t Pinkie Pie. For some reason she was a white pegasus with golden-yellow mane. Her cutie mark is some three purple balloons.

Leading the insects away from the town, this enchanting pegasus saved the day.



Pinkie Pie woke up in the middle of her sleep. She was having one of those dreams again, only she was not sure whether they were dreams anymore. She knew that dreams are supposed to be a surreal, incongruous and vague. These particular set of dreams were too consistent in events, too detailed and fixated to be unreal.

Was she Pinkie Pie dreaming she was the pegasus? she thought, –or was she the pegasus dreaming she was Pinkie Pie.

She couldn’t remember when it first happened. She only knew that it became more frequent, and its influence more apparent, as she grew older. In these dreams Pinkie Pie had seen things she had never seen before, like a library tree house, an apple farm and a bakery.

There were others as well, all special ponies like her. The orange earth-pony who always wore a hat; the a canary pegasus who was good with animals; a white pristine unicorn who made dresses, the rainbow-maned pegasus whom she was very close to; and there was a very powerful lavender unicorn.

Not all of it are dreams though. Sometimes there were nightmares. The lavender unicorn would suddenly become turn away from her friends, succumb to malice and hurt others with black spines and tendrils. In these nightmares the golden-maned pegasus was nowhere to be found.

Pinkie Pie got up. She was a grown filly now. She could handle this. No more would she cry and scare her parents.

She proceeded to climb down for some glass of water to help her through the rest of the night. She stopped just beside the door way as she noticed her father and mother still in the living room. It wasn’t strange; her father always spent the night reading. What made Pinkie Pie stop was the unnatural visitor her parent spoke to.

“I hope this would cover you for the time being,” the guest said, placing a satchel of something metal on the table. She was covered in a heavy black cloak that covered her entire body. “If you ever need anything just tell me.”

“Please...” her father said, “We don’t need very much. We are happy enough as it is that you brought her to our lives.”

“Still, I have no other means to repay your hospitality. Please take it.”

Her father grabbed the satchel and put it aside. The gesture seemed obligatory. As though to refuse what was offered was an act of rudeness he not permissible in his household.

“How is she?” the guest asked.

Pinkie’s mother and father exchanged a glance. Clyde spoke up. “She’s fine. Perfectly healthy.”

“Only...” her mother hesitated, “Her ‘dreams’ are becoming more frequent.”

“I see...” the guest said, looking away, “Has she been... Can you tell me what she told you about her dreams?”

“It’s the same things. Only she seemed to be having a clearer imagery of it now. She kept telling about how she was pegasus with many friends.”

“A white pegasus?”

“With a golden mane, yes.”

Pinkie Pie leaned in closer. By this time she was sure that they were talking about her. Her curiosity rid her of any awareness to her surroundings. As she moved closer her tail accidentally nudged a stool that fell noisily on the wooden floor.

Suddenly aware of the presence, the three adult ponies rushed to the source of the noise to see Pinkie Pie by the doorstep.

“Mom, Dad and... Granny Pie?” The filly turned to each one, suddenly surprise to discover the identity of the mysterious ‘guest’ that, until now, had traced no resemblance of the grandmother she knew. Her surprise was short-lived however, as three pair of eyes silently demanded an explanation, “I’m sorry. I was having a dream so I went down to drink some water but then I heard you and I stopped to listen and please to be mad at me.”

Her two parents looked at one another, then to Granny Pie who was already holding out a hoof.

“Don’t worry Pinkie, nopony’s mad at you.” the youthful voice she heard earlier had gone, replaced by the familiar aged tone. “Let’s get you upstairs now, sweetie.”

Pinkie Pie let herself be carried back to her bed. Granny Pie tucked the foal asleep and sat on her bedside. The filly remembered her thirst as soon as the worry about getting punished was gone, but even before she could say anything her grandmother handed out a glass of water from seemingly nowhere.

“Wow!” Pinkie Pie said, gulping down the liquid, “How did you do that?”

“Just some old trick your granny picked up here and there.”

“Here and where, grandma?”

“Oh, you know.”

“Can I travel around the world too?”

“Oh Pinkie. You don’t need that.”

“Why not?”

“You have everything you could ever need here. You have two very lovely sisters and very kind parents... even if Clyde is often strict.”Granny Pie giggled to cheer up Pinkie but stopped when she saw the filly’s downcast eyes, “Why would you ever want to leave them?”

“I don’t want to leave mama, or papa, or Blinkie and Inkie. I want to leave the bad dreams.”

“Bad dreams? Nightmares?”

Pinkamena made a nod.

“You’ve never told me about nightmares before.”

“I was scared.”

“Can you tell me more about it?”

Pinkie Pie looked around. She closed the doors and curtains, then proceed to inspect the insides of her closet, drawers and under her covers. Satisfied, the filly crawled to the safety of her grandmother.

“What are you looking for?” asked the elder.

“Can we keep the lights on, granny?”

“Oh, sure... Why are you so afraid of the dark?”

“Well there this was this unicorn in my bad dreams.” Pinkie rubbed her hooves together, “She could move shadows and she could pop out in dark places. She used to be very happy because she has lots of friends. Until the white pegasus suddenly left. Then she started hurting everypony. That’s all I remember. She’s scary. She’s like a ghost. She might hurt me.”

For a long time Pinkie Pie lay still on the bed. She was trying to make out how her words could put her grandmother to a state of eye-widening silence.

“Is there anything wrong, granny?” asked Pinkie, “Did I say something bad? Did she hurt you?”

“It’s... It’s alright, Pinkie. I’m fine.” Granny Pie took the filly in her arms, “As long as I’m here she won’t be hurting anypony anymore, especially you.”

“Do you know her, granny?”

“Yes.”

“Who is she?”

“A very bad pony.”

“But she’s just a dream, right?”

“Go to sleep, dear. We have the whole day ahead of us. I’ll be here in the morning.”

“But... I’m still scared.”

“I’m here. The shadows won’t hurt you... not this time.”

Pinkie Pie nuzzled closer to her grandmother, more so than the usual that her body was uncomfortably tucked. Granny Pie realized how the filly was looking away from the other end of the room where the shadow of a barren tree dangled menacingly against the wall.

“A great pony once told me that we ponies were meant to stand up tall.” said the elder, “She told me that we should not be afraid of anything. She sang to me that we should laugh at our fears. Laugh. Can you believe that? Because what scare us are the things we don’t have to take seriously.” Granny Pie started to sing:

“Giggle at the ghosty,

“Guffaw at the grossly,

“Crack up at the creepy,

“Woof it up with the weepy,

“Chortle at the cooky,

“Snortle at the spooky...”

Granny Pie continued humming until the filly was sound asleep.



Granny Pie stepped out of the house. The entire family stood by the doorway and watches her leave.

“I had a wonderful time.”

“Please do visit again soon, Granny.” Sue said.

“I will. At everypony’s earliest possible convenience.”

The three little fillies lined up and embraced Granny Pie a farewell, re-thanking her for the gifts.

“Thanks for the abacus granny.” said Inkie.

“And thanks for the coloring book.” said Blinkie.

“The next time I come back I’ll bring you more toys and books.”

“Thanks granny!” the two said in unison.

Pinkie Pie waited for her turn as the two sisters finished. She walked close to her grandmother and spoke in a low voice.

“I’m still sorry about sneaking around last night... and thank you for the song you taught me.”

Granny Pie embraced Pinkie and touched her chin. “It only works when you’re smiling dear.”

Exchanging their last farewells Granny Pie trotted far off into the distance carrying nothing but her cloak.



Away from the watchful eyes of all things living, the pony who had been called Granny Pie stood in the middle of the wasteland. Beneath her rags, tendrils of darkness crawled through her coat. Like a snake shedding its exterior, the enveloping shadows tore off like small patches of skin to reveal a lavender unicorn mare.

The lavender unicorn continued to walk from nowhere to nowhere.

She did not stop. The sandy storms of the desert tattered her skin. The gleaming sun of the wasteland scorched her body. She walked for days, with neither food nor water, carrying nothing but the star on her head and the melancholy in her mind.

Does she remember about me? she thought from time to time. How could she even? She isn’t supposed to. There was no way she should remember. What if I had made another miscalculation? What if she finds out who she really is? And what this world is?

Only her thoughts were her awareness. Miles of hoofsteps had passed unnoticed before she reached Ponyville. She circled around the busy town not wanting to see or be seen. She climbed a steeped mountain on foot and into a cavern all too familiar to her. There she drifted to sleep, the only place in this universe where she believe to belong. Or deserve to.

* * *

She woke up several days later. Her stomach grumbled and she felt her body too weakened for movement. She melded into the shadows and re-emerged just in front of the mouth of the cave. Night was in full bloom, and the stars were as present as ever. She lied down on the edge of the plateau, overlooking the sleeping town of Ponyville.

She thought of the ponies she knew once. In such a small town it would only take a month or so to memorize all the names. But it would take years know each and everypony as they were. One of the few luxuries she was glad to have in her lifetime.

Her stomach grumbled once again and, with a flick of the white horn she carried, a daisy sandwich appeared beside her. She savored the meal from the first to the last bite, the only treat she allow herself to indulge in weeks and months. She enjoyed her food to the point that she barely felt the few fragments of her existence break down and glimmer away to what seemed to be stardust.

* * *

Weeks had past when the lavender unicorn next woke up to a start of heavy breathing. Her first motions were to look up at the stars only to see daylight too bright for her eyes. She searched around, looking for some indication of the date. Finding no clue, she fought sleep until the blanket of night unfolded the stars.

Small pieces of her cheeks broke off like glass and drifted away. There was no pain, only the chilling sensation of the lack thereof.

I doesn’t have much time left, she thought, it’s happening faster than I predicted.

She pulled her hood down, covering the hollow in her face, as she crawled back to her cave and slept.

* * *

Months went by. The lavender unicorn woke up from a beautiful dream. She could not remember what it was.

She moved out of the cave and in to the moonlight. Her body had grown pale and translucent as more shards of her glittered away.

She watched the small pieces drift upwards until it became indistinguishable from the stars. Then her eyes turned to her hoof.

Do I still even matter? She thought to herself, Surprise is living a perfectly normal life with a loving family. She needs me no longer. I have done all I could for her.

She re-entered the cave and returned to what may become her final sleep.

* * *

The lavender unicorn was surprise to wake up a year later, she had not expected to have lasted this long. Her heavy eyelids barely budged and it demanded conscious effort for her to move her body.

Even without consulting the stars she knew she had slept far too long. She had slept through an entire year, unable to fulfill the promise of her return to the fillies.

This was her last day, she knew. Only the remnants of her Black Magic sustained her corporeal body.

“Maybe one more time...” she said to herself, “At least... before I go.”

She took the pearl white horn in her hoof as she invoked a spell. She melded with the darkness.

She re-emerged a mile away from the rock farm. From the distance she could already see the wooden house and the water tower. As she neared she could see four ponies working diligently on the field: Clyde, Blinkie, Inkie and Surprise.

She thought of disguising her one last time as Granny Pie but she could not bring herself to do so. The lavender unicorn had spent the rest of her life within the shadows of this world; unveiling herself a few hours a year to the family. Even regardless of this invisibleness, the thought of final exchange with the pink filly was too grievous and tragic a farewell. She contended, as always, to see from the curtains of unseen.

Surprise will grow to a fine mare, she thought.

The lavender unicorn reconsidered. She shook her head. Surprise was no more. She was Pinkie Pie.

The unicorn spent countless hours watching the pink pony work. The unicorn smiled, it was no different from the smile of a mother proud of her daughter’s success.

It was not until Pinkie Pie and her sisters were called by their mother to end the day that the lavender unicorn finally stood up and walked away.



Pinkie Pie had just finished pushing a rock from the pile. There was not much talking during this time. It seemed that they have already exhausted everything there is talk about. There was no laughing either. Laughing, as her papa said, was a constant distraction in work.

She had been scolded again by her papa. She was digging on a fairly distant part of the farm trying to look for the kind of rocks she could only read from her monochromic geology books. Aquamarine, the book mentioned, was light blue. Topaz was yellow. Ruby was red. Her papa always told her not to disturb the earth trying to look for such things; she won’t find them, he said. Her mother also said that rocks only come in different shades of black and white.

Is it because I’m pink? she thought.

Perhaps it was her unnatural color that seemed too bright for the dull rocks and stones, the pale wheat and darkened sky, that she has always yearned for something bright and vibrant. She refused to believe that life is, and could be no more, this uninteresting.

Show me something, she thought to nothing and no one, show me that there is more to Equestria than its gray earth.



The lavender unicorn had nothing more to do. She had done all she could to guarantee that Surprise would be able to live again.

There was nothing for her to do now except to fade away to the oblivion.

No, she thought, perhaps there was one more thing I could give; a last parting gift.

The unicorn looked around; she was alone in the deserted wasteland. She held the white horn up and casted her final spells:



–A beautiful white unicorn filly busily ran her hooves against cloth. Without warning, her horn glowed brightly, fully aroused at sensing magic emanating from itself –and yet not itself; in a sort paradox. Like a soul looking for its mirror body, the unicorn was dragged for an entire day until she reached a giant rock.

–Magic in the air condensed and formed to a group of pink butterflies. The creatures positioned itself below Cloudsdale just in time to cushion the fall of a canary yellow pegasus.

–A cyan pegasus with rainbow mane felt a powerful surge of magic run through her body. She felt lighter, faster. The newfound speed pulled her entire being as she dived down, closing in to the earth. She burst through a cloud in time to pull up and has accomplished the impossible: a Sonic Rainboom.

–An orange earth pony filly was watching through window, witnessing a rainbow form right in front of her eyes, pointing to where her heart belongs.

–A unicorn filly stood under the scrutiny of several judges. She was desperately trying to hatch an egg when a sudden magical explosion shook Canterlot. Something inside her was unlocked that same instant. As though a dam had collapsed from within, waves after waves of primeval magic untapped overflowed from every inch of her body.



The lavender unicorn sat on the ground. She rested on the edge of the cliff, overlooking at the empty wasteland that suddenly grew colors. She was able witness the Sonic Rainboom’s lingering effect throughout the horizon.

Since when has this become a habit? she thought.

Her spell, her last gift, was her last contribution. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy and her young filly self, would be able to find each other no matter what the course of the universe may be. They would be the Element of Harmony again and they would find a new Element of Laughter to be with them, somepony who isn’t Surprise.

The lavender unicorn sat quietly and let the day pass. She was waiting for her death now and nothing more. She amused herself with memories and revelations, her mind returning to simple and trivial things.

She thought of how hardworking Applejack was, of how Rarity was always brushing her mane. She thought of Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy and how they became friends for the first time.

Celestia, Luna, Spike, her mom and dad, Shining Armor, Cadence. She remembered them all.

She felt her body weakening and sleep seem inevitable. Even with the sun high up, she had never felt so sleepy in her entire life.

She closed her eyes and rested her head on her shoulders. The sun had finally set upon her shoulder.



Hoofstomps?

The lavender unicorn’s ear twitched at the sound. She was still alive, but barely.

She heard the hoofstomps trot closer and closer but was too exhausted to pay it mind. It was probably some pony, lost like she, who happened to pass by her vanishing body.

She heard the hoofstomp stop just beside her, replaced by the sound of heavy breathing. As though the pony had run a long mile none stop.

Finally, she heard the pony spoke. Her heart jumped at the recognition of the voice that uttered her name:

“Ptolemy?”

The lavender unicorn, suddenly fully awake, startled up and turned to a small pink filly. She had a small gentle smile on her face as if to say “I found you” after a long game of hide and seek. The voice was calm under her panting breath. It was a high toned voice that contained a hint of twinkling laughter, the kind she had not heard in years. It was the voice of Surprise.

“Or should I call you Twilight Sparkle?” the filly’s smile broadened.

Twilight sucked in air and cleared her throat. “S-Surprise?”

“Hi, Twilight.”

It was heartening, Twilight thought, to hear her name spoken without contempt.

A gust of cold night air brushed against them both. Surprise’s mane had returned to its old bouncy curls.

“How did you...?”

“My body started twitching, it’s the first time that happened, and it told me to go here... I didn’t doubt that it was you I’m gonna find.”

“Do you remember... anything?” Twilight feared to ask.

“I remember everything.” Pinkie closed her eyes in recollection, “My real family, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity. I remember our adventures, the fun things we did and all the parties I’ve thrown. I remember how I died and what happened afterwards.”

“But how...? I wasn’t... I didn’t.”

Pinkie Pie shrugged and made a chuckle. “I don’t know either but I think it was the Sonic Rainboom.”

“Rainbow Dash?”

“The one and only. When I was a filly and the two of us were still in the other universe Rainbow Dash made a Sonic Rainboom to try and stop you, didn’t she? I saw that. And seeing another Sonic Rainboom in this universe just now... I dunno. The two Rainbooms suddenly clicked together and then I remembered everything.”

No, Twilight thought, this wasn’t possible. This wasn’t supposed to be possible. My spell was supposed to influence everypony else but her.

Twilight dropped on the ground and covered her eyes in frustration.

This wasn’t supposed to be, she thought. Surprise should not be able to remember any of that. She ought restart and relive a life away from Ponyville and me.

A hoof came down her shoulder and Twilight, on impulse, jerked away.

“No. This is wrong? This isn’t supposed to be happening!” Twilight said, accidentally raising her voice, “Everything I had done was made to avoid this.”

“Twilight, it’s alright. I’m not mad at you. I never was. You bought everypony back. You bought me back. I’m sure they all forgive you if they knew. I forgive you.”

“No!” Twilight screamed, “Don’t say that. Don’t you ever say that.”

The unicorn slapped away the filly’s hoof. In another swift movement she pushed her away.

“I forbid you from saying that!”

“But Twilight-”

“Do you have any idea of what I’ve done? Of what I’ve become? Do you even know what you are? You are Black Magic incarnate. You are copy of your former self and it was I who made you that way. So don’t say that you forgive me. Don’t you say it.”

Pinkie Pie moved closer to the sobbing unicorn. “Twiley... do you think I’m some kind of... monster...?”

Twilight took in breath. The sheer genuine innocence of the filly made her realize what she had just implied. “No, Pinkie. You’re not the monster. I am.”

The sky grumbled. Drops of water moistened the sandy wasteland with the sounds of tips and taps. Then the rain grew harder. It was though every star in the night sky worked together in concealing Twilight’s tears with their own.

“Do you remember how I killed you?” Twilight said. Pinkie Pie opened her mouth to protest but the unicorn cut her off. “I should have known better. It was the recoil of Black Magic rejecting your being. I’ve told you before that Black Magic is empowered by hate as normal magic is empowered by love. That’s why it didn’t work. I have neither reason nor grounds to hate you. And you haven’t had an ounce of hatred towards anything in the world. Even after what I’ve done to you. Up to now you can’t even grant me that justice of hating me. Do you know the things I’ve done? The things I did? After I killed you I lied to everypony and told them that it was an accident; perhaps it was true that my intentions were pure, but it does not absolve me of my sin. I was hated openly and I felt no greater justice after having harmed the happiest thing in Equestria. Unable to accept your death, I turned to the power of science to create your substitute. When the subject failed I turned to the mysticism of Zecora who was no better. It was then that I realized I need to return to Black Magic if I were to succeed. I defiled your grave. Applejack, Fluttershy and Rarity tried to stop me. I killed Rarity and stole her horn. I bought you back to what you are now, but the recoil of magic destroyed Cloudsdale and Ponyville. Did you hear what I just said? In the act of bringing you back to life I caused the death of thousands of ponies. The royal guards captured me. They tore you from my hooves and I remember myself feeling how much I hated them for it. I was put to trial and condemned to be forever be set in stone as one of the most contemptible and evil ponies in history. Rainbow Dash saved me from the trial just so I could help her save you. Princess Celestia wanted you dead before the recoil of Black Magic that you are would destroy Equestria. I killed Fluttershy. I killed Luna. I killed thousands of lives in Canterlot. Then I killed Princess Celestia. I killed Applejack. And I finally killed Rainbow Dash. I killed all sentient life forms in the world before, using you, as a source monumental power, and the Elements of Harmony as a blueprint, I played God and recreated reality. Here, I forced you to a desperate family. I bribed them to keep your origin and my identity a secret. I paid them to love you. And now you’re telling me that you can forgive me?”

“Yes.”

Pinkie Pie retained her smile. Twilight stood there, eyes wide, mouth hanging, awestruck.

“B-but why!” Twilight cried, a loud thunder echoing her cry amidst the downpour. “I... I don’t deserve... to be forgiven. Not by you... anypony but you.”

Pinkie Pie took a step forward. Twilight took a step back, hindered only by edge of the cliff where they stood. Unable to move further, Twilight succumb to small filly’s warm embrace.

“Twilight!”

“No! Let go of me.”

The unicorn tried to tear away from the hooves around her. The filly wouldn’t let go. After a moment of struggle, Twilight gave in. Her forelegs dropped to her sides, her face hidden under Pinkie’s neck.

“You did all that... for me?” Pinkie asked, her hooves still fastened in an embrace.

“For us. All of us. For you and your friends, damnit!”

“...and you? We already have this world, Twily. We’re also your friends.”

“No. Not me. Never for me.”

“We love you.”

“No. Shut up! I’m hated. I’m supposed to be hated. It’s Black Magic!”

“I don’t believe that.”

“What do you know? You’re just–” Twilight bit her lip.

“Black Magic,” said Pinkie, “Right?”

“Surprise, I didn’t mean–”

“Let me tell you something you already know: you love your friends more than anything in the world. Now why can’t you believe that your friends can love you back?”

“Be-because I– ...Black Magic–”

“We get angry, we get mad, we get upset.” said Pinkie, her determination grew with every word, “But we never hate each other. Black Magic never made us hate you. Not one bit. And you never hated us. You didn’t saw what was happening. We could. The day you use Black Magic, ponies in Ponyville started avoiding you. The more you use it the more you drifted apart. Don’t you see? Black Magic didn’t make you hated, it made you alone.”

The revelation struck Twilight. Hundreds of miscalculations and theoretical inconsistencies were suddenly adjusted to a perfect counterbalance from an idea that seemed too absurd a suggestion:

...The changeling’s need to hide their monstrosity just to rid themselves of loneliness.

...Discord, who was the last of his kind.

...Princess Luna, who had no ponies in her night, never knew friendship.

...And me... back in Canterlot: Twilight the outcast, the loner, the hater.

Hate and loneliness, two misconceptions easily interchanged, the former emanating from the latter.

Could it be? Twilight thought; that the relationship among ponies, something so simple, so absurd, so petty and so trivial, would be the unifying principle of magic?

She remembered her youth when she hatched Spike as an egg. There was no rainboom that shattered the locks of her caged power then, but she was able to unleash her power all the same beneath the eyes of judges that have never made her feel more isolated. Only now did she realize that it was Black Magic. It is for this reason that it came for her so natural and so easy, Black Magic is her nature. It was her special talent.

And if loneliness were to be the foundation of Black Magic, Twilight thought, then what of normal magic? Friendship?

Twilight’s mind kept flipping hurriedly through the pages of books and the pages of her memories.

So this is why Princess Celestia sent me to Ponyville, Twilight thought, she does not want me to be alone. How could I be so blind not to have seen it?

When Princess Celestia said that friendship is magic, she meant it literally!

“T-that’s why you died...” said Twilight, “When I used Black Magic it was not the recoil that killed you, but its incompatibility. For all the health of your benevolence, Black Magic was contrary to your nature. You, the happiest and friendliest of ponies. Your life and the fundamental effect of Black Magic cancelled each other out and...”

Twilight’s voice trailed off. She pushed Surprise slight aback, far enough that they could see each other’s face but without leaving each other’s touch.

“Did you know what it felt like? Killing everything you’ve ever loved in a gamble. You think you’d win because of how much you gave up. You’d think that sacrificing an entire world’s happiness would entitle you to an achievement, only to find reality turn you over at the last possible moment. You weren’t supposed to remember that you were, Surprise. I wanted you to live a normal and happy life away from all the hatred, all the pain and all the loneliness. Away from me. I meant for you to stay here as you are; as Pinkie Pie.

“When you died, a part of Equestria died with you. The world was never the same after that. I knew that I cannot bring you back there, not after all I did. But back to the Equestria you knew, and made. You see, I have only recreated the universe; I did not un-create it. So long as I live the other reality refuses to be just another nightmare. This was supposed to end at my death... I am the last proof that the other universe existed. But now, so are your memories. And I have to erase both.”

Before the words made sense to Pinkie Pie a sigil had formed beneath her feet. “Twilight, what are you doing-”

“I’ll save you, Pinkie; from that other world, from me and from yourself. I won’t have you burdened with my sins.”

Somewhere inside Pinkie’s mind something snapped off. Like a piece of her consciousness was plucked away. There was no pain to be felt, only a hollow remnant of what was once there.

The unicorn’s color started to dwindle away. Fragments of her existence broke off into sands and stardust trailing towards the heavenly bodies. Amidst the curtain of countless raindrops and the blanket of the twinkling nights, those floating fragments shone the brightest.

Pinkie Pie broke down in tears as jumped and clung unto Twilight. She had never grabbed anypony or anything so tight before. It was as though she clung on for dear life. “Twilight, don’t go! Don’t make me forget!”

“You have a long life to live, Pinkie. You’re no longer Surprise.”

“Twilight, please. You don’t have to do this.” Her memories started to fade. First, it was the friends she had met in Cloudsdale. Then her family.

“I knew that happiness was the price of knowledge, and I was willing to trade my happiness if it would guarantee the happiness of my friends. I allowed myself to be swallowed in the swamp of Black Magic so that nopony else had to. I fought for a world where you have to fight no longer. I’d sacrifice myself to save the world –but I’d sacrifice the world to save you. And, to that, I have no regrets... Pinkie, I am tired.”

“You don’t have to be alone anymore!” yelled Pinkie, the ponies of Ponyville started to vanish in her mind one by one, “I’ll be there for you. Surprise Swear, Pinkie Promise –Whatever it takes!”

“Do you know what you are Pinkie, and why you mean so much to us?” Twilight smiled, she felt the grip of the embrace grew tighter, “It was your smile. The kind of smile that knows no fear, no pain, no suffering, and that believes there shouldn’t be. You always looked at the world full of joy and beauty where every sky is the bluest sky and every morning is the brightest of all mornings. A world where the air is always fresh; everypony is the bestest friend you could have and just being together is a cause for celebration. You are the very image of the pure, innocent and untouched joy in living. Projecting the sense of a pony born and reared in some radiant utopia untouched by suffering, unable to conceive of ugliness or evil, facing life with the confidence, the benevolence, and the joyous self-flaunting of a proud filly who is happy to display its own happiness. To display its love and attractiveness as the best gift it can offer to the world. For us you were like the last ebbing rays of the sun at dusk as we chase the sunset. We may never be able reach it, but knowing... just knowing that a pony like you exist somewhere out there we refuse to stop running.”

“...Twiley...” her tears wouldn’t stop. The memories of their adventures had gone. Their details and names forgotten, the memories of her dearest friends had turned to vague apparitions. There was a cyan pegasus with a spectral mane. There was a pearly white unicorn. There was a canary pegasus. There was an orange earth pony who loved apples.

“Ponies of the past all searched for that which they called the ultimate good. But I really think that... you already have it all along. So keep being what you are, Pinkie. Keep smiling. Keep laughing. Be happy for the sake of us who can’t, and maybe... just maybe... one of this days we’ll be able to reach you or, at least, die trying.”

The lavender unicorn started to glow a gentle light.

The memories started to leave Pinke and she fought with all her will as pony to keep it all in: Twilight Sparkle, the smartest wisest and most trustworthy friend who bought the six of them together; Twilight Sparkle, who saved the Equestria time and time again; Twilight Sparkle, who had played the villain to the world just so their friendship would never be broken.

“Twilight! Please don’t go!”

“Goodbye, Pinkie Pie.”

The white glowing apparition Pinkie held scattered to a million of the brightest stardust. Pinkie got up and reached for them, trying to catch as many as she could; only to find the translucent fragments phase through her hooves as it floated into the air.

“No, no, no!” She ran. She continued running, chasing the stars. She tried to cry out the unicorn’s name but the memory was lost from her mind.

The name, she thought, what was her name.

She tried to remember. What was she trying to remember? Even that she forgot. The only thing she knew that it was important, more important than anything in this world.

Her head ache.

Don’t forget her, she said to herself, don’t forget her.

Forget who? She didn’t know. She was lost. The only thing she knew is that she shouldn’t forget.

She crash on the wet sandy ground, hooves clasped in her head.

Then she saw a star far above in the distance. In was the shiniest brightest star and it glowed a deep purple. Something in her sparked, like the last wink of flame from a firestorm. Before the last trace of memory would vanish from her mind Pinkie Pie got up, she ran to the edge of the cliff and, gathering all her breath, gave out a loud wailing cry that nopony in the history of Equestria has ever cried before:

“Twilight!”

Finally, the memory was gone.

THE END