• Published 12th Oct 2012
  • 8,590 Views, 317 Comments

Lunarium - Tramper

In an alternate timeline where magic has vanished together with Discord, six fillies from the city of Canterlot go to find its burial ground and reawaken the ancient powers.

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Chapter 4 ~ Have You Ever Dreamt Of Dying? (V2)

There hadn‘t been any earthquakes in the past few months. Nopony had given it much thought, but Twilight's hope had been that they were gone for good. But now the upheaval struck and she heard the walls cry and the wood break. Listening to it, unable to block it out, the foal began to understand just how wrong she'd been. At least, she thought, it would stop soon.

Yet the quake only grew in power. She heard more things begin to break, both mechanical and organic; she could hear the wood of the hall slowly bend under the pressure. But Twilight still couldn’t look up, she never could, because a certain memory was still fresh to her.

Once in her hospital room, a part of the ceiling had come down, and squashed the empty bed beside her own. It could’ve easily hit her, and as the unknown surroundings burst they might hit her too. She felt cold and her whole body shook, but her legs felt too weak to move and her heart raced while her breaths became harder. Twilight hardly noticed, what with the adrenaline shooting through her veins.

Somewhere in the distance the ground must have moved with such strength that it tore down a building. She could hear it, the falling stones crashing into the ground, and the screams of the ponies that must’ve been so far away. It was too loud to miss, even from here.

Suddenly, she heard Lyra scream, and felt somepony wrapping their arms around her. It was an unprecedented warmth and an alien feeling, yet, she felt one more pony adding to the hug. Twilight kept her eyes closed, but somehow, between the shaking and the distant screams, a piece of her felt safe. Once more the earth’s roar bellowed across the city. Then, finally, it stopped and silence filled the air.

Twilight slowly crawled out from beneath her tiny fortress. Lyra had apparently dragged Trixie to her and pulled both of them into a hug, trying to keep them safe, and Trixie had returned the embrace with fierce strength, her hooves shaking and tears running down her cheeks.

Eventually, Lyra asked, “Is every pony alright?”

“Trixie is always fine,” Trixie answered between sobs, but she didn‘t come out of Lyra‘s embrace.

Instead she hugged the other two even stronger, so that Twilight had to wonder from where she summoned such a force. Twilight couldn't tell whether or not Trixie wanted to stop herself from crying then and she herself didn’t know whether she wanted to hold her tears or just continue wailing, even if nopony would hear them.

For a moment she wondered if she wanted to break apart now. She felt safer than she ever had at home, almost as if nurse Redheart was there.

“This wasn‘t supposed to happen,” Twilight said, and unconsciously added, “I wanna go home.”

Lyra looked at her, putting her strange smile on before saying, “Yeah, that‘s probably for the best. We can all go to your hospital. It‘s safe there.”

“Can I take the blanket?” Twilight asked hopeful, not wanting to grow even even colder.

Lyra however had shifted her attention to Trixie, breaking the hug to wipe the tears from her eyes despite minor protests. So Twilight just decided that she could do whatever she wanted. That marked the point where the three finally parted, though only carefully. Twilight observed the other two, not knowing what to do.

The caped unicorn got to the task of stuffing Twilight‘s medicine in the pockets on the inside of her cape. Lyra watched the walls and let her eyes slowly follow them to the ceiling. Her ears went down and her tail whipped around nervously. “We should go,” she said with a shaking voice.

Twilight followed her gaze at once to see why, there were cracks in the roof and dirt fell from them as they slowly grew.

They got everything together as quickly as they could and jumped from the armchair. Twilight fell again as she touched the ground, her legs not managing to hold her up even after some rest. By now she grew weary of her weakness. She gritted her teeth as she tried to stand up, but her knees shook and she couldn’t keep her balance.

Why? she wondered, looking up to the ceiling and cursing herself to Tartarus. But she wasn’t alone; Trixie and Lyra both moved to her side quickly, helping her up and out of the building.

“Don’t worry,” Lyra said, behind a wide smile that made Twilight question whether she really was just faking it now, or was just brave. “We got you.”

With that, they went out to the streets, with the dark clouds moving across the sky, mixing with the smog from the factories. Maybe it'd soon start to pour, Twilight thought, and she might just stand beneath the rain for once. It had always looked so pretty from behind the windows and she always wondered what it'd be like to stand amidst the rain. The room and the bed where so far away now, too.

Canterlot itself wasn‘t pretty. When somepony walked through the alleys that was especially true. Beneath one‘s hooves were stoney streets full of dirt, with puddles whose origins nopony ever dared to question.

The whole city was filled with the stink of motorized carriages and trash that was taken away only once a month, if at all. Rats housed in the trash cans and on dry days, Twilight had heard the nurses say, the stink became unbearable in most places, if not all.

A pony could easily wander off into the alleys and get so lost they‘d never find their way out again, and she had heard of changelings abducted runaway children in the deeper darkness. Remembering that also made her question why she had left the hospital in the first place. Not only was there an earthquake, but now she would also get abducted by changelings! There wasn‘t even any means to actually navigate through Canterlot, she found, as every alley looked the same.

The alleyway they walked through was no exception, there were pipes and clothing hung to dry, leaving little to no room to look through and if there was, then the sky was hidden behind a mixture of smog and rainclouds. As expected, trash lay splattered across the ground and shards of glass made her glad to have hooves.

Despite all that, Canterlot was still considered one of the prettier cities in the republic, if Nurse Redheart was to be believed. It had the castle garden and even a few trees on choice streets.

“Sure, most of them are dead but there’s some,” she had told Twilight once, and the filly had to agree with the grown ups sentiment.

It couldn’t compare to the mules' wandering cities which she had read about, or the artful camel metropoles of the far east. She had seen the beautiful pictures in her books, and even the griffon holds, with their walls of stone might’ve been considered finer, if only because they had less trash. Her father had told her that Canterlot was the capital of the republic and they should be proud of it. Twilight was proud.

“... and for the little bits of beauty your mother loved Canterlot, Twily,” he had said, looking out of the window when she had been at home, unsmiling. She had never catched what it was that had caught his attention back then, but at least her agreement had soothed his rage. So her pride made her feel closer to him even now.

There were cracks in the walls and small fissures in the ground. Somewhere in the distance smoke was rising, and somehow Twilight just knew it had nothing to do with the local industry. Screams echoed from where it was rising, and Twilight felt a strong need not to go in that particular direction.

Every wall seemed dangerous, every fissure seemed like the beginning of another disaster. Twilight was scared, she was utterly afraid of what could happen now that another quake had happened.

“Why was there an earthquake?” Trixie asked. She looked pale, and her tail was tucked between her legs. Much like Twilight, she never took her eyes off the fissures.

“I dunno, but we‘ll be safe at the hospital,” Lyra answered and gave a smile that Twilight took for reassuring. Trixie wasn‘t even looking. It made her happy that Lyra could be so positive about this despite everything. Maybe it wasn’t that fake a smile after all.

As they walked through the dirt-filled street, Twilight stepped on some clothing that had fallen down on the ground and spotted one of the pipes from above having crashed into a window. Nopony else had noticed, so she wondered if the houses were empty. Her attention drifted past the windows, and nopony was looking outside. She gulped and perked her ears, not quite sure why.

Somewhere in the distance parts of the city had been destroyed and ponies were screaming. Yet that didn’t change the truth that these alleys were empty and if not for the far-off sounds, she would‘ve said they were the last ponies in Canterlot. That thought scared her and she was quite happy that they‘d return to the hospital. It was good her two new friends helped her trot, too, otherwise she was sure to be lost here forever.

You‘re going in the wrong direction.

The voice was lying, she knew. Nurse Redheart was in the hospital, the doctors, too. They were mean, of course, but they only meant to help. They would help them and the adults would find a solution, because earthquakes never happened in quick successions, had never done so. Twilight hoped and told herself that she was a smart filly, and so, she knew all that.

“Do you think the others are alright?” Lyra asked, looking at Trixie on the other side.

“I- I don‘t-” Trixie stammered, eyes widening as her thoughts took some surely gruesome turn.

“Right, stupid question, of course they‘re alright. Derpy‘s probably even the cause for this, considering her record,” Lyra laughed.

Twilight, of course had no idea who this Derpy was and how she could have been responsible for an earthquake, but she didn‘t ask. Later on, there would be enough time for questions and right now all she longed for was to find Nurse Redheart and apologize for running away.

They took each step carefully, and Twilight regulated her breath as much as she could. Her heart was racing and her legs were aching. Nonetheless, they took the twists and turns of Canterlot. Walking through these back alleys made Twilight only notice more that she hadn't seen much of the mountains that the city so famously hugged, but maybe it was a blessing, because she also didn't want to see the steep cliffs to the other side.

As her thoughts went off into a random direction, she suddenly noticed that with each step she felt her heart less and less, and instead her legs became more steady, her breathing less forced. That usually didn’t happen, and whenever she normally grew better, it never was this quick. Was the medicine working properly now? Was it because she wanted to see nurse Redheart again? Because she wanted to be closer to her papa again?

She didn’t know, but either way, she felt herself recuperating.

“I can walk on my own now,” she said after a few steps. Trixie and Lyra both gave her worried looks, but they let Twilight prove herself by allowing her to move on her own. And move she did, steady on her hooves, like she wasn’t ill at all.

You‘re really going into the wrong direction, Twilight.

They advanced, slow at first but then they sped up. Twilight felt her legs growing stronger with every meter, and then the trot transformed into a canter. Twilight moved her hooves with ease.

It felt like she had done this all her life, like she had never been a bedbound filly and instead one who had pranced and danced across the western flower fields. With every step she felt herself not growing more fatigued, not weaker, no. Her heartbeat became unnoticeable and suddenly she was putting hoof before hoof at a speed she had never reached before.

Twilight galloped.

The other two could barely keep up, so Twilight slowed down again once she noticed that. Alone, she would‘ve never been able to move through the maze of alleys, and even though she suddenly felt a surge of energy, she was still aware that she had no idea where she was.

Despite what she had thought however, the main street was only two turns away, and with the other two by her side, she stepped onto it to look at what had been somewhat peaceful when they'd left.

Now, motorized carriages were standing in the middle of the road while ponies hurried around. Twilight knew not from whence they came and where they were all going, all she saw was sheer chaos in the wake of the trembler. There was smoke coming from a distance, too.

Twilight couldn‘t make out anything because of how far it was away, but some ponies were yelling something and it seemed to terrify and anger them. She didn‘t know why but somewhere down the road one pony was attacking another, shouting with an anger-filled voice.

Just as they came out of the alley, Twilight saw something else, a huge cleft on the road. She saw doctors hurrying around, coming directly from the hospital. Motorized carriages were turned upside down and she saw some ponies lying unconscious, blood seeping through hurriedly applied bandages.

She had felt the rumbling, but it looked so much worse than she had thought it would be. Then again, from everything she had heard and read, maybe all the quakes were more terrifying when they first appeared to be.

She felt a drop of water on her nose. Twilight shook her head bewildered and looked up at the darkest sky she had ever seen. Blinking, she felt a light breeze on her coat and then felt another drop touching her muzzle. She had the blanket though, so even as the rain started to pour down on them, she felt little and less. Plus, she was stronger than ever, even her heart didn‘t give her any problems. Yes, she didn‘t even feel it beat as she normally did and that was probably the best thing.

Water came down from the sky; small, greenish drops that felt and smelt bad as they dripped on her. Twilight’s father had always liked to remind her not to drink it, since it was dangerous. Some drops had a shade of grey she noted, they had probably wanted to take some dust back to the ground.

That was the moment one of the adults finally noticed the three fillies. A male pegasus, wearing a black uniform with golden buttons on it. It was the same one she had seen before with ‘RD‘ and this time actually had time to see that his coat was as black as his outfit and his mane just added to the monotony. From what she could remember, he was the complete opposite of RD with her six-colored mane.

“What are you doing here?” he asked with a pressing tone in his voice, “Go home to your parents where it‘s safe.”

Twilight wanted to open her mouth, wanted to answer something but no words came out as she spotted something that her mind surely conjured up out of nowhere. All she could do was blink, just to check if her eyes weren’t lying to her, and as she confirmed it, she realized that she did not know a single word to explain what it was.

She could see it, right behind the pegasus, whatever it was. It looked like a tower of mud with thirteen black sticks for arms, atop its crown was what looked like an eyeball. What should‘ve been white was blood red and it appeared cut, with more mud leaking out of it.

It moved and the way it did sent shivers down her spine, so unnatural it was. Like the motions it should have made were missing, like she was blinking and the arms had moved in between. Then, as Twilight followed the thing, she noticed the ends of the arms, scissors.

Twilight Sparkle, this is important. Look at it and then tell me: Have you ever dreamt of dying?

“What?” she asked.

Because you‘re about to die. So do as I tell you … Twilight–

Run!” she yelled, following the instruction, not even daring to look away from the creature.

The pegasus stood there, bewildered. “What?” he asked and raised his hoof, “Blasted kids, you don‘t need to-”

There was a noise. A snip. His own hoof moved against his will, higher than intended, not the way he had planned, and he did not realize why. It took a moment for him to grasp what just happened. Blood flew across his sight as he noted that he hadn’t really moved it, it had been cut off. Something just cut his hoof off.

The pegasus didn’t react, Twilight, however, did. She screamed as loud as she could but did not know where to go, not that it mattered anymore.

She stood in an open field, rainbow colored grass waving in the air, mountains of gingerbread with sugar on top of them rose in the distance, and pink clouds of cotton candy were above her. That sight wasn‘t enough to stop Twilight, in fact she didn‘t even notice that the ground beneath her was made of solid chocolate.

She just galloped with all her strength, she just galloped, screaming for help.

The stallion himself hadn’t even screamed, had been silenced before he could make a sound. Now he was gone and she was in a field of candy. She saw a blue unicorn running across the distance, the purple cape Trixie had just worn fastened around her neck. That one suddenly stopped and turned towards Twilight. She must have recognized her, because she quickly hurried towards her.

Twilight herself didn‘t know how to react to this. She wanted to close her eyes, look down and gallop horn first. All she managed was the part where she looked down. That was when she noticed her own coat was a mulberry color. It was pretty, too, and oddly familiar.

Still, she hadn‘t time to question it as a screech sounded up behind her. An otherworldly howl that made her head hurt immediately. That was how she knew that thing was coming, with its thirteen stick arms with scissors for hooves. Despite herself, she turned around, to look at it, but there was nothing but the strangely colored grass, mountains of candy, and earth of chocolate.

Then she saw them in the distance, and looked up, and saw them even above her.

Around them the clouds were falling down, dropping down to the ground. She quickly noticed that they were cotton candy and they had arms and legs like lines of chocolate. They all held umbrellas with candy canes and canopies that looked like they were made out of flowing caramel. The moment they landed, they created noises like a mixture of dropping a stone into water and breaking somepony's legs.

As they rose on their thin legs, they immediately grew moustaches and top hats made out of chocolate. It was all Twilight could do to take the strange sight in, not knowing whether she was scared or curious. By then, the azure foal stood by her side. Stood, because now they were surrounded by cotton candy clouds with moustaches and top hats.

Twilight’s vocabulary had no words for this situation.

“Please tell me this is a dream,” the blue filly asked with a familiar voice, so Twilight took one look at her face. The black eye, the missing teeth and all the other bruises immediately gave away Trixie's identity.

Sadly it‘s not.” They both heard the ghostly voice. Trixie looked up, clearly hearing it now, too.

You two are either very lucky or incredibly unlucky, but you‘re the first to see that thing since the princesses.

For a moment Twilight wondered what he meant, but then she noticed something she'd overlooked earlier. The thing rose up from the horizon. Twilight couldn’t make anything out but a deep blackness, like she grew blind the moment her eyes turned on it, and also a deep, lingering feeling that she should run away from it. A voice within her told her to move quickly, far away and then farther still.

Two red orbs grew out of the unshaped darkness and they glew with a violent longing. Something was swirling within them and Twilight would've said they had an unearthly beauty, one she only grasped for a second, because then she felt as if the darkness turned them towards the two, like they were its eyes. She felt herself ready to gag, felt her legs weakening and cold sweat running down her brows. Just looking at it was like watching her father walk back to her, telling her he had a solution for her illness.

For a second, it felt like there was a rope tightening around her neck as she envisioned him smiling while killing her. Then, a sound echoed across the plains. It was a sound that could be described the noise a pony made when rusty saws cut through their flesh. Twilight had no idea how she came up with that definition and it did nothing to calm her. She really wanted to be back with Nurse Redheart now.

“What is that? What is going on? Where are we?” She asked, barely able to breathe.

Oh, Twilight. You‘ve stepped into the first phase of this world‘s end, of what will happen when magic isn‘t brought back. My little pony, that thing is the embodiment of fear, the king of nightmares."

Both ponies stared at the thing, but Trixie turned around as those fluffy clouds started moving towards them, their every movement as eerie as the one from the beast itself. The snipping of their scissors, and the horrible breaking sound of their walking legs added itself to the distant screams, that, and the laughter of a thousand children.

Dreamy called it: Magia.

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