• Published 23rd Dec 2012
  • 3,487 Views, 69 Comments

Remnant of a Nightmare - Rainedash



Twilight learns that some secrets of the past are best left undisturbed.

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Discovery

A chilly wind blew between the trees of the Everfree Forest carrying spores from various flora. All around I heard the animal calls, mostly from birds. On the last count, I had seen about three different bird species, though I’ve never been much of an expert on them. Perhaps I should have brought Fluttershy with me. I took that moment to mark the newest path I created on my map. At this rate, I’ll be done... Never. The farther in I went, the slower my progress became, and the places I explored will have new growth by the time I get back to them. According to some old legends and myths, the Everfree Forest was a place that just refused to be tamed. To go here, was to accept chaos. A few even claimed that this was the place of Discord’s birth.

In the end, I suppose it was my own fault. Earlier, I set up three ideas for furthering my studies and had Spike pick which one he thought sounded best: Mapping out the Everfree Forest. Though, at the time, I was glad he did. I knew there had to be more to this forest than just the horror stories and the ruins of Celestia’s and Luna’s old castle. Except my patience had been wearing thin.

For most of the afternoon, I had been pushing forward, trying to see anything worthwhile, leaving no stone unturned; literally in fact, I had turned over every stone I found and even broke a few to see if they contained a fossil or some unique gem. That last part was a longshot, I know, but worth a try.. I don’t understand why there wasn’t anything worth finding. All legends have a kernel of truth to them, right? Combine that with all the legends that exist about the Everfree Forest, this place should be teeming with rare finds. Maybe I was too late, and all the interesting relics and rare discoveries had been found by other ponies centuries ago. The Image of Celestia’s disappointed scowl forced itself to the forefront of my mind and sent a shiver down my spine. I think I’ll just keep this failure to myself.

As I was forcing the image from my mind I tripped over a root which sent me stumbling forward. I yelped and tried to stop my momentum, but it was too late. I smacked muzzle first into something and crashed into the cold, hard ground. I wouldn’t have put it past the forest to have had that root come up just to trip me.

It wasn’t until I got back up that I really looked at what I hit. In front of me, was nothing but thin air and more forest. I reached out my hoof and tapped on what felt like a solid, curved wall. To my shock, small ripples like those one would expect from water spread across the air. It was some type of shield spell, though nothing like what Shining or I use. When we created one, you could tell something’s there, and from everything I’ve seen that was the norm.

I extended my magic outward, poking and prodding it, seeing if there was any sign of weakness and to measure it as well. It was at least big enough to fit over a house, and there was perfect uniformity to the magic. Whoever, or whatever, made this must have been very powerful. The oddest part was that I couldn’t see anything inside of it. There was nothing but grass, bushes and trees beyond that point.

My magic moved down, into the ground. Maybe, they overlooked the possibility- aha! The shield did not go through the ground, only above it.

When I thought about it, that was another oddity about all of this; they went through that much effort but didn’t think about anyone digging under it. The most logical conclusion was that they hoped no pony would be out here or that others wouldn’t notice it. Considering that somepony had to touch it to know that it was there, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it either.

All of this didn’t even touch on the subject of who would do it. Zecora has never spoken of others living out here. There wasn’t really a way to find when the spell was cast either so it could have been something from centuries ago for all I knew.

I needed facts and there was only one way to find them. I concentrated on the air in front me, spinning it faster and faster until it formed a small tornado, and drove it into the ground like a drill. Dirt flew in all directions but getting your hooves dirty was simply part of the process when making a discovery.

On the inside, it was near perfect darkness. The shield wasn’t invisible after all, it had an illusion spell weaved into it. Which was a brilliant idea, but it would take several unicorns or some pony that was very powerful to do it. I doubted that even my magic could create something this elaborate on its own. The air was stale and felt oppressive.. In the distance, I saw a single source of light in the shape of an orb.

I lit my horn to see that the grass around me was completely dead, and with my first step some of the dead grass collapse into dust. Even a small breeze could have blown all of it away. The more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me just how old this spell must have been.

I started walking around the inner perimeter of the shield, keeping my eyes trained on the light in the center every step of the way. I wanted to see it from every angle before getting any closer.

I couldn’t say why, but this magic felt eerily familiar. Worse though, it felt wrong somehow. It just rattled my nerves and I was expecting something, anything, to pop out at any moment.

I completed a full circle around the orb, arriving back at the hole I made without finding anything new. Again, I thought of Princess Celestia only this time about how proud she’d be to hear my report of this discovery. I could be the first pony in centuries to learn about this place’s secrets. I took a deep breath and readied myself. It was now or never. Well, technically not never, I could have always come back with a full team of ponies from Canterlot’s magical research academies. but I wanted to do this on my own.

Slowly, I took a single step towards the orb and it moved. I swore I saw it move, just the slightest of vibrations and then it stopped. One more step, and it moved again. It was actually reacting to me. It must have been able to feel my presence.

I’m not too proud to admit that this thing, whatever it was, scared me. Terrified me, in fact. I should have turned around right there and gotten help but I didn’t. I don’t really know why I didn’t. Maybe, out of morbid curiosity, the unwillingness to turn away from something so intriguing, even if the whole thing felt wrong.

I stepped forward once more, though this time, the orb didn’t stop with just a single movement. It vibrated wildly, getting brighter and brighter, until a burst of magic shot out from it, hitting my horn. I thrashed around and screamed. This couldn’t be happening. I tried backing up but it wouldn’t let me. My magic was being absorbed, I could feel myself getting weaker with every moment. In desperation, I tried to channel a large blast of magic through the connection, hoping to overload the orb. It didn’t work, the orb continued unfazed. I fell to the ground, sobbing and begging for it to stop.

Its light grew brighter, unleashing another burst of magic straight down. When the magic hit the ground, it poured out, taking the shape of a magical sigil, as if it were liquid filling a mold. As the light became stronger, my vision drew darker, until there was nothing left.

***

I felt the cold breeze again. My eyes just started to come back into focus, and I could see the grass. It was green, so it had to be alive. Was I out of that place? I had to of been.

Everything ached, my muscles felt like I had just run ten marathons. Slowly, I forced myself to stand. I had to get out of here. My legs gave out on my first step. On my second attempt, no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t stand. I tried dragging myself forward, but went at a pace that even a snail would have considered slow. I wasn’t going to be able to leave the Everfree Forest, was I? I panicked. I didn’t want to die here. My vision grew cloudy with tears and I my heart sped up, its sound drowning out any ambient sounds of the forest. Why didn’t I turn back? I could have. I should have. Why?

“Twilight!” said a voice above me, halting my panic. “There you are.” Four blue legs landed in front of me. “We’ve been searching for you all night.”

I... I was rescued. Somepony actually found me. Thank Celestia. “D-dash?” Wait, all night? But it was the afternoon when I went in.

“Whoa, you don’t look so good. You’re all pale,” said Dash, as she poked at my side.

Pale? “Dash, I can’t walk.”

“On it.” I was lifted up, dropped onto her back, and off we went. A million questions circled through my mind about what had just happened.

***

I don’t remember much of the flight, except for Rainbow Dash loudly cursing halfway home. She was upstairs now, in my bathroom. According to Spike, I threw up on her during the flight back. The other girls had come shortly after I got home; Pinkie, Applejack, Rarity and... Trying to remember their names brought a dull pain to my head. Oh, Fluttershy, that was it. Trying to remember anything from before yesterday was making my head hurt.

“Ok everypony, back up and give her some room,” said Spike. Most of them followed his directions. Applejack left the room completely.

Fluttershy, however, stayed close. “I can’t find anything wrong with her.”

“Deary, you see animals from that horrible forest all the time; surely you’ve seen something like this before,” said Rarity.

Animals. I didn’t even think about them when I was looking at that orb. The shield could have been up to keep them out. At this moment, I’d be happy with any explanation, even one as bad as that.

“No,” said Fluttershy. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Neither have I.

“But darling, look at how pale she’s gotten. Surely something must be wrong with her.” Thanks Rarity, you always knew what to say in a time of crisis.

Applejack came back in and brought some juice and a salad. “She was out all night, and anything that was in her stomach ended up on Rainbow, so maybe she just needs something to eat.”

My stomach rumbled at the sight of it. Maybe a bit of food and rest really was all I needed. It only drained my magic, so maybe time alone could get me back to my old self. I devoured the food.

“Ah told you so. Feeling better sugarcube?”

I actually did start to feel a little better. I still felt like I was in slow motion, I was still sore, and worst of all, I still felt like I needed something else. Something that I just couldn’t figure out. But, yeah, I got back a touch of my energy thanks to it.. “Yes; thank you, Applejack.”

“Good, now maybe you can tell us what the hay happened to ya.”

“Well, I was mapping out some of the Everfree-” I didn’t get far before Rarity cut me off.

“What-what-what? Good heavens, deary; why would you ever do something like that by yourself?”

“Yeah, that idea seems loco in the coco,” added Pinkie.

“Um... Yeah. That’s right. Heh, that idea is horrible, why would you do that?” Spike backed away as I glared at him.

“Look girls, that’s not important. However, what I found is-” I told them everything that I could remember. That shield, that infernal light, and how I was drained of my magic.

“That sounds awful,” said Spike, stating the obvious.

“Is there anything we can do the help?” asked Fluttershy.

“I don’t think so. I just need to do some studying on what I saw. Maybe Celestia will know where to begin.” I held my head as the pounding started up again.

“Spike, darling, you wouldn’t happen to have any pain killers here, right?” asked Rarity.

“On it,” he replied.

“Well, I guess we’ll get out of your hair and let you get some r and r,” said Applejack.

***

I could remember that, on her way out, Pinkie wanted to throw a party because apparently nearly getting killed is a reason to celebrate. Spike was adamant that I get the day to rest though. I did apologize to Rainbow for the whole puking on her thing and she seemed to accept it, though she was still grumbling about it on her way out. The rest of the day was just a blur.

It was night now, and I sat on my bed, staring out the window. Nothing but dark grey sky for as far as the eye could see with the occasional bolt of lightning. It had started to rain at some point, I think around noon, and the storm was still pounding away at Ponyville. Listening to the rhythmic sounds of the raindrops hitting my window with the interspersed thunder helped me to relax and let me focused on something besides what happened. I had the window cracked earlier and was enjoying the cool breeze, but Spike made me close it.

I had tried to sleep. I swear to Celestia that I tried. I just kept tossing and turning. At one point, I even fell off the bed, and tried to find a comfortable spot on the floor. That failed.

My stomach rumbled again. Off and on, it had been acting up since I had returned. The main problem was that it still felt empty. I ate and drank plenty; Spike made sure of that, but it was never enough. Just like earlier, it continued to feel like something was missing.

“Of course I’ll take a dip in your chocolate pool with you, Rarity...” Spike mumbled in his sleep.

I crawled over the edge of my bed and looked down at him. Despite being a pain in the flank half the time, he was still adorable, especially when he was asleep.

I started hear a faint, but steady beat, it sounded somewhat like a metronome set to a quick rhythm. I checked my own chest, thinking it could be my heart pounding again, but no, this one was quicker. It had to be Spike’s.

He was always there for me, giving it his all. It’s true that telling me to map the Everfree Forest wasn’t a good idea on his part, but he had been by my side taking care of me since I returned. No matter what it was, all I had to do was ask and my number one assistant would get it done. He would do anything to help me.

I continued listening to that beautiful beat, inching closer with each one, until I was right at his neck. I could feel it. What I needed was inside of him. I knew he’d be ok giving it to me. Right, my little assistant?

I slowly opened my mouth, leaned in closer, and started to bite down on him. Just as I felt my teeth touch his scales, my eyes popped open and I jumped back, my own heart was going a mile a minute.

Dear Celestia, what was I about to do? I backed up, until I came into contact with the door. Was I really about to bite Spike? I was ashamed that part of me still wanted to. That heartbeat, that stupid, tantalizing heartbeat was still going. I had to go. I didn’t care where, just somewhere far from here.

I yanked open the door, ran down the steps, and out into the rain. It soaked my fur as I ran through the streets and alleys of Ponyville. The buildings became less and less recognizable and I wasn’t even sure where I was anymore. It was just some back alley. I sat there, letting the rain drench me, hoping that it might somehow wake me up from this.

“Looks like that idea was a bust to.” Was that Apple Bloom? That pounding came back as I tried to remember what her voice sounded like. No, this was Scootaloo.

“Why did ya’ll even listen to Silver Spoon? Ah told you that we couldn’t get our cutiemarks for finding clouds shaped like things. Why are we even doing this in a storm anyways?” This one had to be Apple Bloom.

“I’m cold.” Sweetie sniffled, “Can we go home now, please?” There’s the last crusader. I wonder if she tastes as sweet as her name implies. A part of me was revolted that I had actually thought that.

I stomped my hooves to the ground, digging them into the dirt. I refused to do this. I wouldn’t give in. Their voices and hoofsteps sounded like they were getting closer. With each noise, my stomach rumbled a bit more.

Author's Note:

Revised on January 29.

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