• Published 28th Nov 2012
  • 4,396 Views, 110 Comments

SIX walk IN - KitsuneRisu



Twilight and Friends visit an old house to celebrate a birthday with deadly results.

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1 : And There Upon the Hill Rested the House

1 -And There Upon the Hill Rested the House


Marble and gold.

Marble and gold were the ingredients to this recipe, and the exterior of the house certainly didn’t leave indication of its true majesty. While the outer shell fought back against the years and elements, the belly of the beast was free to live unchecked. While it remained, all these years, unkempt and cold, everything was preserved as how its absent owner intended.

Even the obligatory layer of dust that coated everything was barely there, and presumably, was only present now due to the main doors having been opened a few days ago. Had Twilight not cast the room to the elements, things might have been as well maintained as a stone in an air-tight jar.

Whoever built this place certainly loved circles – there were circles in motifs, filigrees, designs and carvings. Interlinked rings and solitary hoops danced upon the edges of balustrades and on the bases of lamps, across the stone and marble floors in reds and creams, and interwove themselves into the fabric of sofas.

One large circle was cut out of the wall across from where they were standing – a round fireplace, on closer inspection, judging by the remnants of ashes and bits of wood, undisturbed by a wind that could not get to it. Next to this was another hole, one that led to dark places beyond.

To the far left and right of the ornate grill that bordered the fireplace was a pair of curving, winding staircases that led from the floor they were on to the floor just above. The two of them together creating yet another example of function in form; were they to be pushed together end to end, a perfect loop would they form, one in which a pony would be stuck, forever walking up and down and never reaching the end.

But not the lavish Victorian designs, nor the paintings that spotted the walls, nor the Ursa-skin rug that lay helpless in front of the fireplace gave a clue to any of the six about the identity of the one who built the house, or why he had decided to leave, if the decision was even his to make at all.

A dull glow pulsed from the smudged windows. Standing in the room, it was as if they were gazing at everything through a hazy fog, but it was enough to just barely make out the room, and any additional light would be well appreciated.

Twilight obliged the silent request, a small orb of light now twirling around the tip of her horn.

“Electric lamps,” Applejack noted, spotting a pair of them on a table. “Guess this place isn’t that old after all.”

“But there were sconces outside, dear,” Rarity pointed out, always one to pay attention to small detail. “Perhaps this place is constantly being refurbished?”

Twilight nudged a small heater in the corner with a hoof. It was a portable kind, something that barely warms up a single pony, let alone a room as large as this one. It looked remarkably out of place amongst the rest of the décor, a white island sticking out of a velvet sea.

“That’s… weird,” Rainbow muttered, joining her side and staring at the piece of equipment. It wasn’t plugged in – there was nothing to plug it into. It sat, innocently enough, pointing towards one of the corners; a dark space underneath one of the stairs. Somepony had left it to rest in a redundant position.

Almost as if to confirm the very question on Twilight’s mind, Applejack once again made an observation.

“These lamps ain’t plugged in,” she said, trailing the lamps' cords to an open end. “Ain’t nothin’ to plug 'em into, anyway. Don’t think this house is wired up.”

“Why… why would someone bring them and set them up and just leave them like that?” Fluttershy asked, raising her voice for the first time.

“I don’t know,” Twilight responded, looking up. The staircases led to a horseshoe-shaped balcony that looked down upon the foyer, and in the dim lighting she could just make out doors on either side and an opening in the back. Her eyes continued upward to a magnificent cast-iron chandelier hanging from above, and only when she realised that it was swinging by its own volition did the accompanying squeaking of metal against metal start to register in her head.

It was almost as if she had forgotten to pay attention to the things that she normally took for granted, but her eyes kept on, trained on the object, as it moved to and fro lazily.

The others caught her and looked up as well.

"Whoa," Rainbow said, watching it move. "Why's it swinging?"

"Door must have made a gust or somethin'," Applejack guessed.

"Isn't that thing a bit… heavy to be blown around by a small gust?" Rainbow asked a follow-up question, looking Applejack in the eyes, who gave a small shrug as a reply.

“Look… Candles,” Twilight muttered, still staring up, her friends zoning in at where she was looking shortly after. “That chandelier was made for candles. You can see the little dishes that were made to hold them. They probably installed that when the house was made, so that would be a more accurate gauge of when the house was built.”

“A terribly long time ago, then,” Rarity commented.

“There’s a kitchen here,” Dash said, passing by the large recliners in the middle of the room and nudging open a door to the right. A peek inside was all it took, despite the low lighting conditions. There were just those shapes about a kitchen – shadows and silhouettes – that made it remarkably unmistakable.

“Hallway here.” Applejack peered down the opening that lay to the right of the fireplace, along the back wall. “Bedrooms, probably. And toilets. I hope. They used toilets back then, right?”

“Yes, of course they did,” Twilight replied. “But I can’t say if there’ll be running water or not.”

Fluttershy stayed quiet, not daring to approach any of the doors or move away from any of her friends, and as such took comfort in inspecting the furniture with Twilight.

“This looks like a study or a parlour of some kind,” Rarity said, trying the final door on the left. “I see a lot of books and tables of sorts. And this might be quite cliché, but there is in fact a large spinning globe in the corner. One of those old ones that you always see in movies of the period.”

“I’ve always wanted one of those,” Twilight said offhandedly, standing firm in the very middle of the room.

“It’s very tacky,” Rarity said.

It was about then when, in the silence and the gloom, did they notice that there was silence.

A specific silence.

And while this was not something that was peculiar in general, it was peculiar due to the fact that from the time they had entered, one voice had failed to speak.

One voice resounded its wordless contribution.

One voice lingered in the dark.

“Pinkie?” Fluttershy asked, turning back toward her. The normally jovial and curious pony hadn’t moved a step from the entrance. The last they heard was her voice beckoning them in, a jaunt through the door, and suddenly she was a statue, mute and stoic.

“Pinkie,” Fluttershy repeated, moving closer, with the sudden speed of alarm. “Pinkie, is everything alright?”

“Yes,” she answered, in her normal voice. “Yup! Just taking it all in. It’s absotively amazing, isn’t it?”

“You’ve been… quiet,” Fluttershy commented.

“Just enjoying the atmosphere,” Pinkie asserted, lowering her voice and giving Fluttershy a mute smile.

Any further questions were quickly brushed off, and in the end the rest of them came to figure that Pinkie’s odd behaviour was due to a mix of her awe and a little bit of genuine worry at being in such a creepy place. It was a sentiment that all of them shared, but none of them voiced. Even Twilight herself, stubborn as she was to see her plans through to fruition, had to admit that she felt a tinge of unease about the house.

And no one could blame Pinkie. No one could without criticizing themselves as well.

But it was time for the plan to be put into place, and a little nod to Applejack set her off down the first floor hallway with Pinkie under the pretence of 'more explorin'', leaving Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Rarity alone in the foyer to set up.

Twilight led them up the stairs in an effort to get a bit more privacy.

Their quick look around the second floor showed the doors on left and right sides of the landing led to bedrooms; guest rooms by the looks of it. Each was huge and fashioned to such degree to show off nothing but lavish indulgence, and clearly were made to expound the wealth of the house’s owner.

The dark spot in the back was another corridor, leading off to even more rooms of various types.

It was quickly decided that the room on the right would be where Rarity would get into costume. She had brought the monster suit along with her in one of her saddlebags, hiding amongst party equipment and picnic food. Dash got into position at the very end of the hallway, crouching in the darkness.

Fluttershy hid in the room opposite Rarity’s, ready for her own part in this magnificent play.

And as two grumpy ponies exited the entryway next to the fireplace, Twilight rushed back down and started her act.

“Well, that was… helpful,” Applejack complained sarcastically, a frown on her face. “With the sun goin’ down it’s gettin’ we can’t see jack squat at all. Couple’a Earth ponies can’t do much without magic.”

“It was soooo spooky!” Pinkie chittered. It seemed a bit of her bubbly demeanour had returned, at least. “There were shadows and everything in the corners, and creaky noises and funny smells! And we found… we found…”

“What?” Twilight asked, an eyebrow raising.

“A toilet!” Pinkie beamed.

“Uh… yeah. We found a toilet. Water weren't on, as you figured. There was a buncha bedrooms too. Huge dinin' room, connected to the kitchen on the other side… Weren’t anythin’ much else, though.”

"Yeah, the rooms were funny though!" Pinkie said, elaborating with some hoof gestures. "They all looked like ponies had been in them, but there's nopony here but us!"

"Yeah." Applejack nodded.

"And there were things all over the place that were just funny, too! But not like in a 'ha-ha' funny kind of way, but more like a 'oh-my-goodness-why-is-that-there' kind of way! Like a stack of empty plates…"

"… buncha old empty saddlebags just lyin' there in the corner…"

"… oh! And that one thing with the thing…"

"… and a hat right in the middle of one of the beds," Applejack concluded. "Just regular things in funny places."

"Weird," Twilight said, partially to herself. "But anyway, like you said, it's getting dark really fast. Applejack, could you help me set up the lights and party stuff? Pinkie, the others are taking a look around upstairs. I think they went to the room on the right. Could you go let them know we're starting with dinner?"

"Sure!" Pinkie gave a little hop in place, hooves clinking on the hard marble floor, before she turned and trotted to the stairs happily. This was fun! I mean, it was nice that her friends were throwing her a party and all, but a halloween surprise birthday party? That was just double the pleasure.

Double the burden.

Double the bother.

Pinkie noticed her steps had slowed to a trudge as she pulled herself up each cliff of the staircase one by one. Behind her, the chatter of her friends went on, with Applejack asking 'where should I put this lantern?' and Twilight responding with 'Oh, just leave it next to that other one that's already there.'

She shut her eyes as she walked upward, a strange feeling interrupting her working mind. It was like trying to think through strawberry jelly – clear, yet distorted, and shrouded in an eerie shade of red. A strange shade of red that flickered in her mind once before, at the moment she stepped into the house.

Her eyes flicked back to life as she hit the top step.

"Door to the right!" She smiled, bounding to the varnished frame set in the wall.

The door edged open, surprisingly silent for something so old. It should have creaked. Don't doors in old houses always creak? Don't they always stick in certain places and have handles that wouldn't turn? This door felt far too inviting.

Darkness poured out suddenly from within, bulging from the depths and crushing the small swells of light that came from the bottom floor.

It pushed its way out and masked the upper landing. It ebbed like the flickering pulse of a fire.

It shadowed over Pinkie's face as she ducked her head in, pushing her eyes wider to capture the silhouettes and figures.

Blocks and blobs. Shapes and sizes. They all swirled back and forth, swaying on an invisible line, everything familiar but none recognized.

A glint from the dark caught the very edge of Pinkie's eye. A small shiny spark, something… no, a pair of things that were shiny enough to grasp at the tepid light from the hall and cast it back.

It danced and hovered around the furniture, it flew amongst the stars of dust, and it dragged itself closer, ever closer, to Pinkie.

She held her breath. Her joy, her fun, her defence, her compensation – her measures all disappeared in view of the thing that was lumbering towards her, ragged and hairy.

It had a long face – one that stretched, thin and lanky, to the floor, upon which were two yellow globes that must have been its eyes, sticking out at odd, uneven angles. Its body still wore, upon its back, a cloak of darkness, but its mammoth legs left trembling pounds upon the floor, and the scratching noises accompanying each step betrayed the presence of something sharp clawing its way into the wooden floorboards.

It was white and slimy, and ragged tufts of fuzz glinted when it passed through small streams of light.

But it was the eyes, the eyes that kept staring, unblinking, unwavering. The eyes with its yellow gaze that pierced through Pinkie's heart and stopped it for a bare moment.

She jerked her head out of the frame, pulling the door close with both front hooves, stumbling back in the process.

And there she sat, shuddering and breathing lightly for fear of attracting its attention, eyes affixed on the door, waiting for some noise to be made.

But nothing came.

The light from a single electrical lamp ebbed from downstairs.

There was no movement, no shadows. Just a lamp fighting back the darkness.

Not even her senses, the ones that warned of danger and impending events, alerted her in the way it normally did.

There was no movement at all.

She peered over the edge, scurrying on her rear to the balustrade and glancing between the bars.

No shadows were caused by no ponies.

She screamed.

Pinkie had never screamed before. Not in a day of her life did she give a bellow, a shriek, a call, an utterance of fear, a howl of displeasure, an outcry of pain.

She cried. She lamented. She interjected in discomfort and she yelped in minute shock. She did all these, but she never screamed.

She never knew fear. She laughed. She fought it away with friends and cheer.

But she screamed. A good, long scream, a noise that she didn't want to believe was coming from herself – a plea for help, a beg for safety – and she screamed the entire length of time that a pair of disembodied hooves dragged her from her place at the edge of the second floor, down the dark hallway and to the end where nothing shined, not even the eyes of monsters.

It had picked her up without a second's warning, and pulled her, yanking her so swiftly and harshly that she barely touched the floor. Down, down she went, spiralling down, into the pool of the corridor that lay behind her.

And when it had stopped; when her back had touched the wall at the end of the road; when she had felt the rug beneath her hooves and the air become still did her scream break apart into breaths, intermixed with utterances like a dog stuck in the rain.

All she saw was the glow at the end of the hall, and she scrabbled, rushing forward, her mind suddenly propelling her; her curly tufts of hair getting in her face and her mouth.

But she didn't care.

The light was at the end of the hall, and she rushed to it.

She didn't look behind when something grabbed her leg and pulled her back a little bit. All she did was clutch at the floor, slide on the rug, and bite her lower lip to cancel out her thoughts.

It released her again, and forward she moved. One step. Two, three and four. And again the darkness clutched at her, pulling her in the wrong direction.

If it had intentions to do anything else, it thankfully didn't make them known, as Pinkie finally burst out of the hall, panting and dizzy, rolling to the right just to avoid being in the mouth of the hallway. She bathed in the faint light and thanked her blessings that she escaped.

But… from what?

She didn't care. She had to move. The second of respite that came with the overwhelming feeling of reaching a checkpoint was overridden by her need to move. To find her friends. To get downstairs, maybe, and perhaps Twilight and Applejack would be there to help her and tell her things would be okay…

"Boooo…" came a weak voice from above her.

Pinkie blinked. Suddenly her fears melted away. Suddenly all unknowns became known. It took a second to realise it, but it took a while to finally register.

Pinkie's mind was still stuck in the place between shock and recognition; and although she had pieced it together the second she saw Fluttershy hovering over her with a look of embarrassment on her face, she didn't realise what it had meant until she let the absence of her pinkie sense bridge the gap.

The moment it began was when Pinkie frowned.

"I… I don't believe this," Pinkie said. She said it. She didn't sing it. She didn’t chitter or bubble. She said it.

"I'm… oh, I'm sorry," Fluttershy said, landing and hanging her head low. "You weren't supposed to see me…"

"See you? All this… all this was a joke?"

"Um… well…"

Pinkie shook her head, her eyes blazing fire. She turned away, brushing past Fluttershy with an intentional bump, and stormed down the stairs.

"Twilight! Applejack! Get out here!" she yelled, storming to the centre of the room where the picnic supplies and a big chocolate cake had been set up.

The cake read 'Happy Birthday Pinkie Pie'.

Pinkie stared at it.

Applejack emerged. One look at Pinkie made her sigh and cast her eyes away.

Twilight wasn't so relenting.

"Did you set this up?" Pinkie asked, no longer shouting but still furious. "The monster and the dragging. Did you set it up?"

"Yep," Twilight said, standing defiant. "Did we get you?"

"It wasn't funny," Pinkie stated. It was the truth, plain and simple. It was not funny.

"Well… it was supposed to be scary," Twilight said.

"I can't believe you did something like that!" Pinkie raised her voice.

"Hey, look now, it was just a prank, okay?" Twilight shot back, her eyebrows slanting to the middle. "You know? A joke!"

"Yeah, well, I'm still waiting for the joke to start!"

"Listen–" Applejack cut in.

From above the players all exited their stages: Rarity in her costume, Rainbow from the dark hallway, and Fluttershy who failed in her role.

"No, you listen," Pinkie cut back. "That… that wasn't funny. It was mean. It was frightening. It was scary. Too scary. You went too far, Twilight."

Twilight sighed. She rolled her eyes but gave way to social politics.

"Fine. I'm sorry," Twilight said. "I didn't mean to scare you. I just thought it'd be fun. You know, usually you like this kind of stuff! What's wrong with you today?"

Pinkie's eyes glared crimson.

"Fine, let's just eat some cake, alright?" Twilight said.

"I'm not hungry," said Pinkie.

"Come on, Pinkie. I said I was sorry."

"And I said I'm not hungry. Go eat it yourself if you want. Don't follow me," Pinkie declared, already half-turned toward the door to the study.

The five stared as she left them, barring herself from the rest of the world.

"Twilight, that wasn't…" Applejack said, shattering the tension.

"Look, all I wanted to do was to give her a birthday scare. Is that such a bad thing?" Twilight frowned, a prick of pain appearing in her head.

"Well, no," Applejack said. "But–"

"I told you this was a bad idea," Rainbow called from above, walking out to the edge of the landing. The three of them on the upper floor looked weary and tired, and all of them suddenly found the heart to openly oppose the idea.

"That was rather harsh," Rarity agreed.

"I'm so… so sorry," Fluttershy lamented, to no one.

"I don't believe this!" Twilight stamped her hoof. "I go through all this trouble and this is the thanks I get?"

"Well, it didn't have to go that far, that's all we're sayin'," Applejack said, shaking her head, the voice of reason.

"No, it wouldn't have ended up like this if it had gone to plan. I'm sure of it! It was perfect. Perfect! You guys did it right, didn't you?"

Twilight's head jumped from Rarity, to Rainbow Dash, both of whom showed only expressions of mild contempt at the situation, but she froze on Fluttershy, who could not hide her guilt.

"What did you do?" Twilight yelled.

"Hey, come on," Rainbow Dash said.

"No, what did she do?" Twilight argued back. "I'm telling you, it would have gone perfectly if she didn't mess up! Your costume! You're not wearing your sheet! She saw you didn't she?"

Fluttershy nodded at the floor.

"Ease up, girl!" Applejack said forcefully, to Twilight.

"Twilight, it wasn't her fault," chimed in Rarity.

"It is! It's your fault, Fluttershy. You're useless, you know that? Why can't you do anything right?" Twilight spat venom up toward the Pegasus on the balcony, who was already on the verge of breaking out into one of her usual cries.

Almost instantly, words came from the other three; even from Rainbow who usually kept out of such things. Mostly it was calls of Twilight's name in that way and that tone.

Applejack, Rarity and Dash had plenty to say in defence of Fluttershy.

The whole yelling match ended with one clear voice ringing out – a stern, harsh one, which echoed into the room.

"… just a plumb mean thing to have said, Twilight. What's gotten into ya?" Applejack concluded the assault. "You know she didn't even want to do it! She only tried because you said to! She just didn't wanna let you down, is all. Can't you be a little understandin'?"

"Well, maybe she should have just said something from the start instead of blindly listening! Why would she do something she didn't want to do?"

"Aw, you know how she is, Twilight!" Applejack pleaded the case. "She just didn't wanna disappoint you and everypony else."

"Well, it sure ended in disappointment anyway, didn't it?" Twilight glared at Fluttershy.

"Enough is enough, Twilight!" Applejack yelled, intensifying her tone." Y'all need ta take a time out!"

"I… fine. Look, whatever, then." Twilight stormed away from the one berating her to the hall next to the fireplace, where they had been hiding earlier while Pinkie was being subjected to abject horrors on the second floor. "You know what? You guys have fun, then, your own way."

Twilight shook her head as she burst in, heading for the nearest bedroom, which she threw herself into, lighting it up with a burst of magic. Her head pounded. She was dizzy, hot, sweaty… and for some strange reason things seemed to be coated in a tinge of red ever since all the arguments started. A few blinks of her eyelids now, in this room, and it was gone.

But her anger lingered.

Out in the main room the rest left one by one – Rarity to the room to remove her costume, Dash back down the hall to 'look for something', and Applejack to the upstairs room with Fluttershy to comfort her. But it seemed that they were all excuses to take some time off; confusion hit the crowd and there was an understanding to let everypony have a moment to themselves to cool off before any partying could commence.

This gave Twilight the moments necessary to stew.

Stew and ponder, look and think.

The room she found herself in was so beautiful that it momentarily distracted her from her anger.

Bound books lined a solitary bookshelf in the corner, made of oak or maple, perhaps. Velvet curtains were drawn over a dirty window, but the gold lining and brass hanging bars made it almost better off closed. A luxurious carpet lay in the middle of the hardwood floor, and a simple desk was pressed against the wall, with a series of shelved nooks rising above it where pieces of paper and letters were stored neatly in their homes.

But what was certainly the centrepiece of the whole room was the bed.

The four-post bed with the silk screen.

The towering bed with a duvet made with the hours necessary to stitch together the fine circular patterns, along with some embossed pillows with the fancy filigree. It was ornate. It was regal.

And it drew the eye upward to the top of the bed, where above it balanced a stained glass spectacle – an image painted in crystal, a figure there to greet whomever slumbered underneath it. It perched itself on the bedposts in lieu of a normal wooden roof, and Twilight had to crane her neck sideways to realise that it was a representation of an old saint of early-day beliefs.

Twilight thought she recognized it as Jude, the Stallion of something or other.

But she tore her eyes away, and her voice flooded back in her head, repeating the words over and over until she spat it out vocally.

"It should have been perfect. Perfect!" She stormed about the room now, throwing a tantrum, letting it all out. Just one mistake. One small mistake and it fell apart. It was Fluttershy's fault. And now it wasn't perfect. Not perfect. Not perfect.

Twilight brushed against a lamp that stood on the bedside table, upsetting the shade. It was made to resemble a flower of screened silk that sat perched on a brass gas burner, the petals now turned to the side as if to capture the invisible sun.

She stared at it, turning around, looking at it framed up against the rest of the room. It was a mar. It was a spot, begging to be washed out. The immaculate nature of the room was suddenly destroyed by the upset shade, and Twilight, head full of spiders, found it only necessary to push it back to centre with a flick of her hoof.

There. How easy it is to fix things. How simple it is to restore the world to perfection. Why couldn't everything just go as planned? Why couldn't–

A sound behind her made her turn her attentions away from the lamp.

In her own small world, a sphere illuminated by the light of her horn, did the edge of all things blur into darkness. It was almost as if reality itself had stopped in a bubble around her, and as the room disappeared beyond the threshold of her magical light, so did it also remove itself from existence.

The things beyond lived as shadows, spirits, blurred images and wisps until once again called into Twilight's warmth, where sound and touch and smell and everything about them coalesced into familiarity.

There, on the very edge of this bubble, was a section of the bookshelf – just the corner, protruding into Twilight's view with offering of her favourite things in the world. Words and worlds, information and stories, all the things she loved and could trust in.

And one single book lay on the floor.

She walked over, bringing the full piece of furniture into view, extending her illumination such that it now encompassed the whole thing nicely. And soon she was in a world, alone with a bookshelf.

The book on the floor was an old one, one with a title in a language that Twilight wasn't familiar with. But it had fled from its jail on a shelf, and even without knowing the words, it wasn't hard for Twilight to realise where it went. There was a gap on the shelf; everything else was full from edge to edge.

The binding of the book too, matched its immediate neighbours, and the set was returned to completion as Twilight floated the book back in its spot.

It was only her scientifically-charged mind which caused her to ask 'I wonder what these books are' first, before considering the more obvious 'What made the book fall?'

But once she reached that question, she found she had no answer.

Nor did she have the time to think.

There was a sweeping from over her flank, from the corner where the lamp was, now just out of reach of her light. And she walked back with a faint hesitation, trotting carefully along the carpeted floor, as if that had any bearing on the situation at hand.

The lampshade was askew.

Twilight frowned.

This time, this time she moved it slowly into position, jiggling it in its place, letting the metal clasp fall over the ring in the base that was designed to hold it. And it fit, securely, as if they were made for each other, which was in fact the case.

But she kept a hoof on it – just for a while, just to make sure – and she backed off, slowly, step by step, holding her hoof out, ready to spring forward at any time to fix it again.

And after a moment all was well.

The peace of perfection.

Serenity.

Twilight crossed to the bookcase again to inspect it closer, but stopped short at the sight of what was lain bare before her. All the books were sticking out randomly; a half in, a quarter out, all across the board was it an uneven tempo of paper; edges where there shouldn't be and precociously perched tomes on the verge of leaping off.

She stared. Her chest gripped her heart. She knew there was something wrong about this situation. It was clear something was now intentionally striking her where it was softest, but she could not find the will to leave.

She had to do something about this. After all, it wasn't perfect.

And everything just had to be.

She ran a fevered hoof across the shelves, pushing everything back in as fast as she could. She performed with haste because of two distinct emotions that now ran through her head in a haze.

One was that of annoyance. It was stronger than ever, intensified and exaggerated by the throbbing in her head that grew over the seconds. In fact, they intermingled, and soon the pain was satiated by her efforts to right what was wrong.

The other was a numb fear, which was caused by one simple fact – she wanted to leave the room behind. She wanted to tear herself away from the bookshelf, but she was unable to. It was almost as if her needs had taken over her faculties. It wasn't that she was being controlled, or forced, or coerced; it was as if her senses had been pushed into a blind spot, such that anytime she focused on doing what was right, the idea simply vanished and stayed tottering in her peripheral vision, a little out of reach.

She could only let her worry grow as she performed the action that helped diminish the pain in her head – shoving the books in one by one until they were all flat against the shelf, like a hammer beating in nails.

It was barely done when the noise of cloth against fabric swept in from behind her, and she rushed on cue to the bed to straighten a bed sheet that had gotten crumpled in some mysterious manner.

Then it was to the carpet to flip over a corner that got turned up, and then back to the bookcase where yet another book had fallen in such a way that it was open and laying on its face.

And oh, it creased a page! Twilight hated that. She hated when that happened on any regular day, but now it was a burning fury – something that pinned her heart to her chest and made her squirm as she attempted to rub the fold out.

The book was shoved back into place. Was it the right slot? She didn't know. In fact, she didn't have the time to find out. There were more things to straighten behind her. The curtains which came undone, the chair which toppled over, the quills and scrolls that shot over the desk, and that lampshade, that dastardly, dastardly lampshade which refused to stay in place…

Twilight's eyelid twitched as a bead of sweat trickled down her defeated face, and in that little world of light she stood in, everything started falling apart, piece by piece.

End : 1