• Published 9th Jan 2013
  • 13,018 Views, 414 Comments

Molded to Love - Radiant Dawn

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if all who behold you see naught but a monster? Given the chance, can this conception change? Sometimes, it just takes one person to reach out...and help.

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Chapter 9: Guiding Light

Chapter 9: Guiding Light

A sharp bump woke me from my slumber rather suddenly, and after whipping my head around and confirming we were now on the ground, I relaxed. The guards were unhooking themselves from the chariot and stretching their legs, wings, and backs, which were likely tense from flying for hours. I pressed a crystal to the side of me, dissipating the magic on the glass-like cover, and it seemed to dissolve into glittering motes of light.

After taking a breath of the cool, fresh air, I gently nudged Twilight with my nose. “C’mon Twi, time to wake up.”

She groaned at my prodding and pushed my face away with a hoof. “Nooo...five more minutes, mom.”

Giggling at her foalish behavior, I decided to tease her a bit. “C’mon, up and at ‘em. Princess Celestia is taking you to breakfast at Donut Joe’s.”

Her head snapped up so fast, I was afraid she would have whiplash, but then the pony proceeded to hop around adorably doing what Celestia referred to as the “yes dance,” complete with the excited chanting. It took a few moments of her excitedly hopping around the chariot before she realized where she was, as well as who was present, at which point she proceeded to attempt to become the same shade of red as a tomato. It was amusing, to say the least.

After flashing us all a glare that asserted we hadn’t seen anything, she cleared her throat and nonchalantly observed, “So, this must be Origin Valley.”

The larger of the two guards schooled his expression and answered with a grin. “Yes ma’am, it is. We’ll be stopping here for a few hours to rest. It doesn’t get dangerous until nightfall, so we’re safe for a break here.”

Twilight glanced around at the landscape, likely taking in the lush, green grass, calm, blue lake, and large, broad-leafed trees, before she looked back at the guard and asked, “Dangerous? How so?”

The guard looked to me and raised an eyebrow. “You want to take this one? You know more of the history than we do.”

Just going by his words and expressions, I deduced two things: 1. Princess Celestia had apparently briefed her guards on just who they were transporting, and 2. They apparently did not hold any ill will toward me. Either that, or they were far more afraid of the princess than they were of me. I’d personally like to think the former, but the latter was quite possible, as well.

My mouth had dropped open in momentary surprise, so I closed it and nodded to him. “Of course. I’ll handle it.” I still felt a little uneasy that two strangers now knew who I was, but I sensed no hostility or even nervousness from them, so for the time being, it was a non-issue. I extended a feathered wing over Twilight’s back and pulled her along with me to the lake. She protested for a moment, seemingly catching on that the guard knew, but followed me dutifully when I shook my head with a reassuring smile.

We stopped underneath an ancient, sprawling oak tree a few dozen feet away from the lake. Taking a seat between two of the giant branches, I pulled out a canteen and took a long drink before handing it back to Twilight, who did the same. Thinking of how to start, I looked around where we were, and decided to start with the name of the valley itself.

“This place is now called Origin Valley due to it being the origin of the first known pony civilization, but back when ponies still lived here, it was known as Dream Valley.” I explained, turning the pages in my ancient memory to remember as much as I could about the ancient home of Equestria’s most common race. “I can only assume that the history of why the name was changed was lost in the era of Discord, but let it simply be said that this place no longer lived up to its name, so it was renamed to something more accurate.” Turning my eyes to the pony at my side, I pointed to her horn. “You’ve been feeling a buzzing sensation, akin to the feel of an extremely powerful spell being cast, haven't you?”

Twilight rubbed her horn with a hoof and nodded. “I’m glad I wasn’t just imagining things. It’s not exactly painful, but it’s certainly noticeable, and annoying.”

I nodded again. “That feeling, and what causes it, is why this place is so dangerous when night falls; it's also the reason no ponies live here.” I took a deep breath and released it from my nostrils, taking my time before continuing. “There’s really no easy way to say this, so I’ll be direct: this valley is cursed.” Forestalling her rapid-fire questions, I held up a hoof as I elaborated. “I don’t mean in the way that bad things seem to happen often, or that unexplained occurrences are commonplace. I mean exactly what I said.”

Twilight’s face scrunched up in thought as she voiced, “But curses aren’t real. Yes, there exists dangerous spells that can be applied as traps, but curses like the ones in storybooks don’t exist.”

“Fortunately, that is mostly true.” I countered with a firm nod. Letting my eyes wander to the beautiful landscape, I took another breath of the fresh air. “The knowledge to create curses is all but lost to time, and nearly all cursed artifacts have been destroyed. However,” I paused, looking intently into Twilight’s lovely violet eyes, “curses are very real. Your two princesses actually spent much of their early lives stamping out every instance of curses, sinister magic, and dangerous artifacts they could find, including any and all knowledge of curses themselves -- you should ask them about it sometime.” The memories of how the world was before the “living day and night” swept across the world and cleansed it caused me to cringe, but I continued regardless. “While I abhor the destruction of knowledge, I can honestly say it was the right choice to destroy this knowledge. No matter how positive one’s intentions may be, nothing good ever comes from curses. While even ‘dark’ magic can be used to help or heal, curses only cause pain and suffering. The practice and knowledge of it is best buried,” gesturing to the landscape, I nodded, “and this place is proof of that.”

Twilight again looked at the picturesque landscape, and tilted her head in confusion. “I don’t understand; this place is beautiful. Is there something I’m missing?”

Placing one of my feathered wings over her back, I shook my head and gently leaned my shoulder against her. “Curses are not illusions, so it would be quite obvious if the curse were in effect. However, the magic of this place only activates under the blanket of darkness, so now, it is beautiful. During the day, this place is the same as any other unsettled wilderness, and while under the light of the sun, it remains that way.” Thinking back to the library, and the many books we had read together, I looked into her eyes and asked, “Do you remember the story The Adventures of Emberstreak?”

Thinking for only a moment, Twilight nodded with that same cute tilt of her head. “Yes, I do. It tells the story of a dishonored soldier who decides to find meaning in life by traveling the world.”

Revealing a smile, I nodded to her. “Correct. That story is fiction -- as far as I know, there was never anypony named Emberstreak, nor was there anypony that he could have been modeled after -- but all of the locations he visited are real: the river of the dead, Skypiercer Peak, and even the Hellmouth of Trampler Downs. All of the locations mentioned exist in the real world, and though some of the details were exaggerated or embellished, there’s nothing fictional about the sites themselves.”

The surprise and wonder in Twilight’s eyes whenever she learned something new was always so wonderful to behold, and now was no exception. Her expression of wonderment, and the subtle wiggling of her hind end told me that, had I not been holding onto her, she would likely be up and bouncing in excitement. Thankfully, she was far more content with the closeness between the two of us, but it was clear she was quite interested to know more. With the information already provided to her, however, I was privy to the exact moment her mind put the pieces together, and she gasped, bringing a hoof to her lips as she once again looked around the valley.

“Th-this...no, it can’t be.”

I nodded grimly, also turning my eyes to the beautiful landscape around us. “It is, Twilight. Welcome to the Valley of Agony. Such a lovely place during the day, but it’s no surprise there aren’t any settlements even remotely close to this location, nevermind in the valley itself.”

It was silent between us for a few moments, but eventually, Twilight swallowed hard and asked, “...was the curse exaggerated?”

Having read the book with her, I knew what she was talking about, and so I could only shake my head sadly. “No, it wasn’t. Even at the height of my power as queen, as well as the height of my cruelty, I never, not even once, considered doing something like this to anyone. Even then, I couldn’t even stomach the thought. This is truly one of the most heinous acts of torture that has ever taken place on this world.” Noticing she was trembling now, I added one arm to the wing I already had around Twilight, and held her close for comfort. “Using the deep ur magic of the planet as a power source, the curse raises the innocent spirits of those that died here due to the curse, and they are subjected to the everlasting torment of having their souls rent all throughout the night, every night, probably for the rest of eternity. They are trapped here, and will live their pseudo-immortality in agony until the planet itself dies. Anyone living who remains after the sun sets has their spirit ripped from their body, and they join the rest to be tortured for the foreseeable future.”

While not audibly crying, silent tears were still falling from Twilight’s eyes as she took in my words, so I simply hugged her tight, offering reassuring nuzzles to try and calm her.

It took a few minutes, but eventually she composed herself enough to creak out, “Who could have done this? W-what kind of pony would do something so terrible?”

I shrugged helplessly, even my extensive knowledge failing me. “No one knows for sure, and perhaps it’s better that way. While this may be the most powerful curse still in existence -- so strong that even the might of the Sun could not destroy it -- curses all follow the same rule: they will kill, maim, or cripple anyone caught in their grasp, regardless of intent. As I said, their knowledge is best buried, never to be used again.” Twilight suddenly went very still, and I preempted her question with an answer. “No, I never used curses. Besides being extraordinarily difficult to properly create, they have a propensity to harm the caster, sometimes even requiring a sacrifice of their own life energy to create it. It was simply too dangerous to attempt, even for me. So you see, even the desire for the use of a curse, in itself, comes from a very dark place.”

My explanation made it possible for Twilight to relax against me once again, and though it was clear she was deeply troubled by the suffering caused by such a visually beautiful place -- the birthplace of her race, even -- she could now understand a bit better, and thus, process it properly. Though Twilight’s innate innocence and naiveté were characteristics that I valued and found precious, there was some knowledge in the world that would require a minor sacrifice of that same innocence. I was proof alone that our life experiences can profoundly change who we are as people, so I could only hope that as Twilight grew and matured, she wouldn’t lose that deep wonder, and kindness that made me fall in love with her.

For the next few hours, we simply sat together in silence -- one of us trying to come to terms with the fact that the world was not a nice place, and the other hoping her love and support was enough to protect the core of the one she adored.

We were again flying through the sky, Twilight and I comfortable and safe within the enclosed chariot, and the two pegasi exceeding my expectations in terms of stamina and speed. I was told we would arrive in the early morning, so I settled myself in for a night of being rocked to sleep in the sky, with Twilight at my side.

Twilight, of course, was a bit more morose and quiet than before we had stopped in Origin Valley, but I had expected that. So, I simply offered support in whatever way I could, whether that be a gentle nuzzle or kiss on the cheek, a wing over the back, or even just laying quietly nearby, to let Twilight know I was there for her. I couldn’t clearly remember my earlier years anymore, but I knew that at some point, I must have also needed time to process the horrors that were common in the untamed world, as well as in history. I was essentially doing what I felt like I would have desired for comfort in the same situation, but I was unsure if it would be enough.

Thankfully, my instincts seemed to be spot-on, as Twilight slowly began to relax against me after a few silent minutes. The tears came again, as I assumed they would, but any show of emotion was a good thing, in my book. Having kept my empathic senses chained to preserve her privacy, I reached out ever so slightly and felt her confusion, sorrow, and regret, but under all that was gratitude and love. I had no doubt that the story of Origin Valley would stick with her for awhile, but having me there was going to help her recover. Unfortunately, I knew Origin Valley was just one horror among many, and we were heading to an ancient land with stories that rivaled that of where we had just been. It appeared that Twilight was going to need my support far more than I originally assumed, and I found myself quite glad that I had chosen to accompany her myself, rather than let a royal guard do so.

“We should probably go over our plans again before we sleep for the night.”

Twilight’s quiet, subdued voice caused me to flinch, surprising me due to her actually talking. Looking at her with clear concern, I nosed her cheek affectionately. “Are you sure? Are you going to be okay?”

Twilight leaned into the contact briefly, but only offered me a fragile, wounded expression that spoke of just how not okay she was. “...no, I’m not sure, and I’m really not okay, but we still have a job to do. Also, I’d prefer not to sit here with nothing to distract me.”

“Fair enough,” I answered, reaching into Twilight’s large saddlebags and pulling out the itinerary she had drafted the day before. Compared to most of the lists she wrote up, this one was much smaller and less detailed, simply because we were flying into unknown territory, meeting with an unknown local that would find us when we arrived, and we would be staying for a yet undetermined amount of time.

“So,” she began, her eyes roaming over the list, “when we arrive, we should be prepared to camp for a night or two in a relatively open place, and one of the locals will be making contact with us. The guards, of course, will be leaving, so it’ll just be the two of us. Our primary objectives are as follows:

  1. Set up camp and allow our primary contact to find us. Once contact has been made, relay what information we can in exchange for the information he or she is willing to divulge.
  2. Attempt to set up a meeting with a high-ranking member of the local population, preferably someone that the locals will listen to.
  3. Notify the kitsune that we are the Equestrians sent by Princess Celestia, and prove that however we can. Revealing the true nature of Chrysalis may actually work in our favor, as the kitsune have not had any negative dealings with changelings.
  4. After a foundation of friendship and trust has been established, arrange for willing members of the society to journey to Canterlot to meet with the princesses.”

Heaving a long sigh, I shook my head at the plan. “Unfortunately, this relies on far too many moving parts, so our most valuable skill is the ability to adapt quickly to deviations from the plan, as well as any dangers we may encounter.” Noticing the faint sour look she now had on her face, I nuzzled Twilight gently and smiled at her. “Don’t worry, this is what changelings excel at. We adapt to survive, however that may be -- we’ve evolved to be the ultimate adaptations to any situation. Just stay close to me and follow my lead, and we’ll be fine. When we finally find ourselves in the midst of the kitsune people, and we’ve built some sort of trust between us, that’s when your skills at making friends will come in handy; as much as I don’t like to admit it, making friends was only recently developed as a skill for me, and I’m still not very good at it.”

“You made friends with the other girls just fine, from what I’ve seen.” Twilight pointed out, making a few notes on her list. “In fact, I’d say that most of them -- Rainbow Dash especially -- have become even closer to you since finding out who and what you really are.”

I rolled my eyes at her point. “Yes, that’s true, but I also had you to help lubricate the whole thing. If I hadn’t had the support of a certain lovely lavender pony, things most certainly would have taken a turn for the worse. Remember how they reacted when I first revealed myself?”

Twilight was blushing now, likely from just the minor compliment (she is adorable!), but still had enough self control to keep from stammering like a filly. Instead, she only shot a half-exasperated glance at me and returned, “You might be right, but Applejack and Rainbow Dash aren’t ponies who are going to be friends with other ponies simply because one of their friends likes them. They pass or fail you depending on your own merit.”

I raised my eyebrow at her word choice, unable to resist the desire to tease a bit. “Really? ‘Pass or fail?’ Aren’t you just the most dedicated student?”

Her blush deepened as she shoved me playfully. “Shut up. Being a dedicated student is what got me where I am today, thank you very much.” A moment passed, and she turned to me with a wolfish grin. “Besides, you can’t tell me that the thought of a schoolfilly uniform, complete with cute glasses and a pleated skirt, doesn’t sound attractive.”

Nearly against my will, the image of Twilight wearing a classic schoolfilly uniform popped into my mind due to her words. She had on black rimmed glasses, her normal manestyle was instead pulled back into a tidy bun, and she wore a pressed white collared shirt with a black tie and a gray pleated skirt. Her front hooves had on shiny black hoofshoes, and while her rear hooves had the same, her hind legs were also fit into snug, white stockings with frilly embroidering around her upper thighs. The skirt was just barely modest, and framed her shapely rump quite nicely, while somehow still retaining a look of innocent beauty for her. To top it all off, she was looking to me with her eyes half-mast, with her bottom lip caught in between her teeth as she gazed at me with sultry adoration.

My overactive imagination had me blushing madly, and I had no doubt that I would have fainted had I been standing up. I wasn’t sure if she had meant for the image to be that fetishized, but it was how my mind had taken it. In the end, I could only gulp with a stuttered breath before conceding to her suggestion. “...okay, point taken.”

What made it all the more frustrating was the fact Twilight was grinning. She knew exactly what effect her words had on me, and felt victorious because of it. While it was true we were both inexperienced when it came to physical intimacy, her social experience exceeded mine by a good margin, which was why she was able to tease me relentlessly when she wanted to. This, of course, couldn’t be allowed to stand.

Unfortunately for her, I knew a few of Twilight’s weaknesses when it came to the dynamic between us.

It only took a few subtle shifts of my posture and a lowering of my eyelids to don the required persona, and I took great pleasure in the way Twilight’s eyes immediately jumped to rove over my body. I had laid down on my side, essentially exposing my undercarriage completely, and stretched my legs out behind me. Only the subtle curve of one leg kept me from outright flashing her, since even though I was facing her, one twitch of my hoof would show her everything. I rested my head on one outstretched hoof, using a wisp of magic so subtle it was nearly invisible to cause my mane to cover one eye, giving my face a playfully sultry look. Finally, I absently ran my free arm up and down my side lazily, delighting in how her eyes followed it along with her eyes. The blush that bloomed on her face was worth it, even with how silly I felt at the moment.

Yanking her head away, Twilight snorted at me, even as the blush continued to grow on her face. “That’s not fair. I can’t do ‘sexy’.”

I giggled at her pout and wrapped both arms around Twilight, pulling her down to the chariot floor to lay with me. She only resisted for a moment before curling herself against me. I nosed the space between her ears, causing them to flick away as she giggled in return. “I love you just the way you are, Twilight. Besides, ‘sexy’ is a skill that takes years to learn to do properly, and the same ‘moves’ don’t work for everyone. It works because I’ve had practice, and I know you. If you really think it’s something you would like to learn, I could teach you, but I think you’re already wonderful the way you are.” I moved my hoof up and grasped hers, holding it tightly. “I love the way you don’t lie about what you feel, even if it’s embarrassing. I love that you’re playful, and snarky. I love that you still call your brother your BBBFF.” She snorted at that, which only pushed another giggle from me as I began gently stroking her mane with my other hoof. “You saved me Twilight, even though I didn’t deserve it. I’ll never be able to express to you how much that means to me. That alone was enough to plant the seed of affection within me, so know that simply who you are is plenty for me to fall in love with.”

I could feel as her entire body began to flush.

“And besides,” I continued, enjoying how her smaller body seemed to mold against mine perfectly, “we have plenty of time for you to become more comfortable with romance as a whole, intimacy, and the playful games couples play with each other. Remember: I’m learning too, Twilight. Apart from this being the first friendship I’ve had, this is my first time earning love instead of stealing it, as well as giving love in return.” I laid my head atop Twilight’s, my nose beside hers, as I continued stroking her soft mane. “This is a learning experience for both of us, and I’m sure we will both make mistakes, have embarrassing moments, and say or do the wrong thing. Learning from mistakes is far more important than not making any, and that applies to relationships, too.” I felt her hoof squeeze mine in return, and for a few minutes, we just laid together in silence

“Sometimes, I don’t think I deserve you.” she finally said, her tone soft and loving.

I smiled, since I often thought the same thing. “Same here, Twilight. So, instead of us trying to discern who deserves what, let’s instead promise each other to be the best version of ourselves that we can be -- both for herself, and for each other.”

The hoof holding mine moved, and I felt as her lips gently touched my fetlock. I only smiled in response as she whispered, “I promise, Chryssie.”

Glancing up through the clear barrier above us, I could see the dark sky of night had descended, so I nosed Twilight’s cheek and suggested, “We should call it a night, I think. We’ll be arriving tomorrow, and if we get up early, we can go through your itinerary one last time to be sure we’ve got everything down before we arrive.”

Seemingly realizing she was, in fact, tired, Twilight let out a mighty yawn and nuzzled herself against my cheek as she smiled. “That sounds good, Chryssie.” Her close eye opened to look at me briefly, and she added, “...thank you for your support. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

I returned the smile, shifting to more comfortably lay against her as I shut my eyes. “If I have my way, you won’t have to find out.”

Together, by way of the loyal Equestrian guards, we floated through the air as the day -- and our energy -- waned, eventually settling ourselves to fall asleep among the moonlit sky. As I surrendered myself to rest, I couldn’t help but silently thank the stars for guiding me to Twilight...and to my new life.

Comments ( 21 )

Holy shit an update.

I don't remember what this is about.

OMG we could have went through high school again in this timespan! But we're glad you persevered and brought this awesome update.
So they got on their way and Chrissie reveals the world outside Equestria isn't always so sunny. Here's to hoping that taste has prepared Twilight for the even less savory things...
We wonder if the curse applies to all sapient beings or just ponies? That could be a terrible disadvantage if any were to figure it out...
Keep going! ;)

What the fuck, an update? I won't complain.

This is the highlight of my day.


~Crystalline Electrostatic~

It's alive, by Celestia's beard it's alive!

Like the world building, lots of mysteries in this world~ And Chryssie and Twilight are adorable.

I should probably reread this story, I remember only parts of it.

Anyway, glad to see you and the story back!

That is not cancelled what can eternal lie, and with strange eons-OMG an update, huzzah! :pinkiehappy:

How does having the sequence of events existing as an alternate reality differ from ignoring the events subsequent to season 3? Is that the same as saying it all 'could' have happened but didn't?

Hence "alternate reality". What currently exists in the canon will be mentioned, if only often in passing, but it still exists. The reason this is an AU is because one difference created a completely different timeline.

That ending made me squeeze.

THANK THE HEAVENS, It has returned and it has been so long

Had to back and read all the chapters in this thing. Now that I have, I can say this is quite the triumphant return.

Well fuuckkkkk....
Even if my recollection was spotty at best it was very interesting to read.
I still forgot why they together and many more details.
Welp, seems like I'm in for a reread.
Still, happy that it got revived though! Only a handful of stories got moved from my "possibly dead" shelf. Keep it up!

Wow, quite a good story.
It was a joy to read, no criticism on plot, phrasing or typos from me :)
I do hope you continue this story?

that makes sense. although personally i don't think the ponies of equestria would find any source acceptable.

Yanking her head away, Twilight snorted at me, even as the blush continued to grow on her face. “That’s not fair. I can’t do ‘sexy’.”

Also known as "Stupid Sexy Chrysalis". :rainbowlaugh:

Will this ever be updated?

I really hope you continue this

Normally I abhor romance stories they have such a railroad plot it hurts, but this one this one is Gold and Im not ashamed to say I love it.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if all who behold you see naught but a monster?

Oh, wait, that was on Final Jeopardy last night...

This story feels complete and wholesome even if it's marked incomplete. It gets my Platinum grade favorite library for the joy it brought me. :raritystarry:

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