• Published 12th Nov 2011
  • 13,551 Views, 320 Comments

Envy and Arrogance - Mindblower



The Elements are critical to world stability. Twilight and her friends find this out the hard way.

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Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

*******

Scootaloo halfheartedly poked at the food she was given. There was nothing wrong with it; there were crisp lettuce leaves, ripe strawberries, and daisy petals to make up the plate of salad with some steaming tomato soup off to the side.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Saphira asked. “You didn’t have food last time I saw you.”

“We found food, thank you very much,” Scootaloo growled.

Saphira looked away. “D-Don’t be mean...”

“Why not?” Scootaloo challenged. “You’ve caged me here and won’t let me out. Why should I care about your feelings?”

Saphira didn’t answer.

Scootaloo nibbled on a lettuce leaf. “That’s what I thought.”

There was a long pause as Saphira paged through her novel. Her lips moved, but they failed to form words until she asked, “Wh-What w-was Ponyville like?”

Scootaloo was unsure whether to answer or not. “...It wasn’t anything special. There was a town hall, a bakery, a library, a school...” she trailed off.

“Y-You must miss it a lot,” Saphira assumed.

Scootaloo nodded suspiciously. “Um, yeah, I guess... What about you? Where do you come from?”

“I’m from St-Stalliongrad, before it was...” Saphira trailed off.

“Before it was what?” Scootaloo asked.

Saphira bit her lip. “It was destroyed, a-all of it. I was lucky to escape with my life.”

“What about your parents?” Scootaloo was immediately sorry for asking that question.

“My mom is dead, and I c-can’t talk to my dad anymore,” Saphira said, wiping her eyes.

Should I feel sorry for her? Scootaloo asked herself. She could end my life like flicking a switch, so why hasn’t she already? It’s not like I’ve been nice to her or anything. She just looks... She looks sad. Like a lot of ponies since three years ago. Fillies that could barely walk were spared by the Daymare simply so that she could see their bodies lying in the street a week or so later and laugh. I’ve heard stories from refugees. It’s just awful.

“You joined the Daymare to save your life,” Scootaloo finally said.

Saphira nodded. “What choice did I have? What ch-choice do I have…?”

Scootaloo didn’t have an answer. She stared into her salad bowl until Saphira asked another question.

“How di-did you get your scar?” she asked.

“Huh?” Scootaloo asked, though she instinctively brought her hoof to the long, thin line running down her cheek and to her shoulder. “I got it when the Daymare attacked Ponyville. I would have died if my friend hadn’t healed me.”

“Oh,” Saphira said.

“How’d you get yours?” Scootaloo asked in return, motioning to the white line that bisected Saphira’s cutie mark.

Saphira bit her lip. “M-... Mm...” she stuttered. “M-My d-...”

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Scootaloo said.

“...-ad,” Saphira finished. She buried her head in her hooves.

“...Oh,” Scootaloo said. Here I am, in the midst of the enemy, talking to the enemy, and all I can do is feel sorry for her. Why? Why did Equestria have to become such a terrible place?

=====================================================================

*******

After the celebration cooled down, Luna quickly hurried the group inside a central room in her Fillydelphian headquarters and shut the door tight. There was a giant flat bowl in the center of the circular room, about two meters in diameter.

“What’s the deal? I was having fun,” Dash protested.

“And where are Sweetie Belle and Olly?” Rarity asked.

“I apologize for the interruption, but there are some things I need to tell you posthaste,” Luna breathed. “The first is that we must depart in the morning to attack Canterlot.”

“What?!” Applejack exclaimed. The rest of the group had similar reactions.

“I am aware you’re exhausted, but this is the only advantage I’ve had over Discord in three years and I’m not giving it up! We must strike while they are weakened or let more ponies die,” she stated.

“But Princess, the Daymare is immortal; she would have recovered by now,” Twilight pointed out.

“But her minions haven’t,” Luna argued, “and that’s besides the point; the Daymare intended to strike us with full force, break through our barrier, and then lay waste to the city. Her body may have recovered, but the amount of magic she used will take a couple days to regenerate completely, at the very least.”

“Okay, is that it? Because I kinda liked being the center of attention,” Dash said, motioning toward the door.

“No,” Luna said, her tone grave. “You desire answers, correct? I can give them to you here and now if you just listen.”

“But isn’t that Verba’s job?” Pinkie asked. “And Obsidian’s?”

“It is, but the Gateway also has a one-day cooldown. It isn’t usually a problem, but for all our sakes, I must tell you the things you need to know immediately,” Luna said, with a sense of urgency that even unnerved Applejack. “Please, time is something that we can’t afford to waste at the moment.”

“Okay, Princess,” Twilight said. “What do you need to tell us?”

Luna nodded. “Obsidian and Verba have tested you, correct?”

They nodded.

“Well, those tests weren’t designed to test just your Generosity, or just your Honesty. They were designed to test you against your opposites, as well,” Luna explained. Some of the group opened their mouths to ask questions, but Luna held up her hoof. “Patience. Let me explain. Now, there are mundane opposites, such as greed being the mundane opposite of Generosity, but those traits are of little importance. If you were to be an Element at all, you would never display those qualities. At least, not successfully,” she added, glancing at the slightly sheepish Applejack.

“Although dishonesty is the mundane opposite of Honesty, quite obviously, Arrogance leads you not only to lie to others, but to yourself as well, until you no longer know what the truth really is. Envy leads a soul to not only keep everything to themselves, but also wish they had more, and wish that others had less. These are called polar opposites, and each of you has one,” Luna said. “You will know them when you see them.”

Luna’s horn glowed, and a stream of the purest water started to fall into the bowl in the center of the room.

The water, however, was magical. It twisted and turned to form a pony’s shape, a unicorn mare. Envy.

“Now, I will show you your polar opposites, the Elements of Discord,” Luna stated. “He, you are already familiar with.”

He?” Fluttershy asked.

Luna nodded. “Envy was originally a colt. He was actually fairly average-looking; in fact, Obsidian might have shown him to you as Krysk, his original form. Envy is a controlling and self-centered pony, and he can switch bodies in mere seconds, where his siblings take an hour or so.”

“Wait, so yer sayin’ this here mare is actually a colt?” Applejack gaped.

Luna smiled a bit. “As were the spirits of Magic, Honesty, and Loyalty.”

Twilight glanced at her chest. “Um… that’s really creepy.”

Luna laughed. “It’s something all Elements of Harmony have to deal with at one point or another. If you think about it, though, the Elements are so old that they’re nearly gender neutral.”

“Just how old are they?” Fluttershy asked.

“Almost back to the beginning of recorded history, many thousands of years ago,” Luna said. “Even older than I. The world has much changed, of course, but the Elements haven’t.”

The water morphed again, this time into a tall alicorn princess otherwise known as the Daymare.

“This is Arrogance mixed with my sister, Celestia,” Luna said. “Arrogance and Envy often work together because their abilities complement each other. Arrogance can overpower almost any soul, given enough time, and dominate their body for centuries. Envy probably weakened my sister before attacking me, allowing Arrogance to invade her soul. However, it took nearly one thousand years for the transformation to complete.”

“Pardon?” Applejack asked.

“The last completely Celestia decision my sister made was probably a month before I became Nightmare Moon. Everything after that had some form of Arrogance influencing it,” Luna explained.

“Even sending you to the moon?” Fluttershy asked.

Luna nodded. “Yes, in fact, Celestia didn’t look anything like she does now. Her mane was originally red, orange, and yellow, and her eyes were amber instead of magenta. Even her pelt has some change; it’s redder than it was before.”

It suddenly dawned on Twilight. “I was apprenticed to Arrogance my entire life!

Luna nodded sadly. “Yes. The only reason I didn’t notice after breaking out of the moon was because Envy was still grappling with me for control of my heart; by the time I broke free, I barely had time to hide you before the attack began.”

Twilight fell to her knees. “This… This can’t be real!”

“I’m sorry, Twilight,” Luna began, “but it gets worse. Had Arrogance had her way and was in complete control of my sister, you would have stayed a bookworm all your life. Arrogance realized right away that you were the Element of Magic and cast you aside from society, isolating you as best she could and satisfying your intense need for knowledge with the royal library. Celestia was only able to gain control for one, critical moment--the moment she sent you all to Ponyville, where Arrogance believed the rest of the Elements resided.”

“I always thought that letter didn’t sound quite like the Celestia I knew,” Twilight chuckled weakly, still trying to wrap her head around the situation.

“When I escaped from the moon, Envy was still in control, and he tapped into your Elemental powers in order to confirm whether you were the Elements of Harmony or not. He placed specific tests in your path, and when you found your Elemental necklaces, he attempted to subdue you. It was a dire mistake on his part, though, and Arrogance fiercely reprimanded him for it when you weren’t watching. However, he was still partly in control of my body--that’s why I was shorter that usual, and also why my mane lacked its magical flow.

“Arrogance and her siblings decided that it would best to keep you all in one place until they attacked, so she had you stay in Ponyville for a few months. All the while, she was trying to keep you happy, which, in the end, meant keeping you close friends. She strictly avoided training you in Elemental magics, however, and kept you from ever knowing about Obsidian and Verba. She appeared to you personally sometimes, but that was only to avoid suspicion; it was expected of a Princess to appear before her most treasured subjects at least a few times a year. Just before the attack, I broke free of Envy’s control and rushed in to save you. You know the rest.”

Twilight stared at the floor, her emotions limiting her ability to think as they rampaged through her soul. Eventually, though, she nodded at Luna, signalling her to continue.

Luna waved her hoof, and the water changed again, this time into a white earth pony mare with a silver mane. She looked sad; as if she had just lost a loved one, and it made the others sad, too. However, the most defining feature was her dagger-like eyes.

“This is Guilt’s last known body,” Luna said with a grimace. “He cannot speak, but he doesn’t need to. Negative energy flows from him like a broken dam; it is so strong that he has burst unicorns’ horns and even killed regular earth ponies that can’t handle the energy.”

“What a horrendous ability,” Rarity remarked.

Luna nodded. “But he isn’t very powerful on his own. He works with an entity called Hate.”

The water morphed into a scrawny green unicorn colt with a shaggy blond mane. His eyes darted to and fro, and the grin plastered on his face made Applejack want to spit. His slitted pupils didn’t help.

“This is Hate’s last known body,” Luna said. “It is impossible to attack him while feeling negative emotions; you will only hurt yourself. The only way to defeat him is to make yourself happy in some way, and with Guilt present that is often impossible. They alone can kill inexperienced Elements of Harmony. However, they are not the ones you have to really worry about.”

Fluttershy swallowed. “Wh-Who are the ones that we have to worry about?”

The water changed into a yellow pegasus mare with silver-tipped wings. She looked down upon the group with what looked like pity, and for a moment Pinkie felt really angry, but not at the Elements of Discord, at her friends. It disappeared quickly, though.

“This is Vengeance’s last known form,” Luna explained. “She can tear Elements apart like the press of a button because she possesses all of the other Elements of Discords’ strength. However, she is useless without a body, and she can only inhabit a willing host.”

“What do you mean, ‘willing’?” Twilight asked.

“The host has to want to give his or her body to Vengeance, and has to want revenge on somepony. It’s frightening how often she actually gets a body, but that’s usually because this next one is involved,” Luna said.

The water changed again; this time into a handsome maroon-colored stallion with a crimson mane. He smiled warmly upon the group, but his dagger-like eyes told a different story.

Luna looked upon this one with the utmost of loathing. “This is the Element you have to look out for.”

“Who is he?” Twilight asked.

She,” Luna corrected. “Her name is Deception, and she has become a growing problem in all of our pursuits. She is incredibly intelligent and can act to such an extent that…” Luna drew a shaky breath. “Her specialty is infiltration and sabotage. Her primary weapon is that she can copy the abilities and personality of whomever she possesses, even if the body is deceased. She is incredibly dangerous.”

“Wait, you mean that these Discord spirits possess ponies that are already dead?” Dash stuck out her tongue. “Gross!”

“It makes the job much easier on their part,” Luna sighed. “The only reason they haven’t killed me or Celestia is because we are immortal. If you see somepony you know possessed by an Element of Discord, you will never see them alive again.”

Lyra, Twilight thought. Oh, poor BonBon. How can we tell her?

“That’s the long and short of it,” Luna finished. “Be extremely careful; Deception is incredibly crafty, and is often the mastermind of Discord’s most successful schemes. All we really can do is hope for the best,” she added unreassuringly.

The Elements of Harmony contemplated that, but before long they hustled to the rooms Luna had given them.

“Wait, don’t we even get to see any of our friends?” Rarity pleaded at the goddess.

“No, you’d stay up all night!” Luna said sternly. “After you beat the Daymare, I couldn’t care less about your social life, but you need to get some rest now because we leave at dawn.”

The entire crew was disappointed, but they accepted it and also accepted a quick supper before settling in for the night. Sweetie Belle and Olly had met up with them at dinner. After the short meal, they soon clambered into their beds and snuffed their candlelight.

Applejack, Rarity, Sweetie Belle, and Pinkie had all fallen asleep fairly quickly, but there were four ponies that didn’t.

=====================================================================

*******

Fluttershy was tossing and turning in her room. It was a very nice room, with a nice bed, good décor, and a balcony, but something just wasn’t right. She felt it.

Getting up, Fluttershy sighed and leaned against a wall. But then she heard something.

Fluttershy heard somepony crying.

Fluttershy gently pushed open the door of her room and walked outside into the hallway. Looking into the room beside her, she saw that Dash was lying on her bed, sobbing softly, but not so softly that the gentle Fluttershy couldn’t hear her.

“Dash, are you alright?” Fluttershy asked.

Dash looked up suddenly, and then buried herself in her blankets. It was clear she didn’t hear Fluttershy approach. “Y-Yeah, I’m fine. Just leave me alone.”

“Are you upset about something, Dash?” Fluttershy said, hopping up onto Dash’s bed and sitting down next to her. “What’s wrong?”

Dash turned away from Fluttershy and refused to meet the yellow pegasus’s gaze.

“Dash, please,” Fluttershy asked. “I want to help.”

Dash looked up. “I feel like I’ve failed, alright?”

“Why would you think that? You really saved us out there; we couldn’t have done it without you,” Fluttershy said.

“I don’t feel like I’ve failed you,” Dash said, wiping her eyes and trying not to meet Fluttershy’s gaze. “I feel like I’ve failed Scootaloo.”

“Oh, Dashie…” Fluttershy’s heart cracked. The strong Dash, being reduced to tears from failing to save her friend. “She made her choice, and we still don’t know if she’s dead or not.”

“Yes we do!” Dash insisted. “She never would have been kept alive. The Daymare’s probably killed her already, and I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye!” she sniffled.

“It’s not over yet; don’t give up on her,” Fluttershy persisted.

Dash just threw herself under her covers. “I can’t, I just miss her so much. I’ve already missed three years of her life; how am I supposed to survive missing the rest?”

“You’re strong, Dashie. You can pull through this just like everything else,” Fluttershy said.

“But I can’t, I just-” Dash’s voice cracked. “I should have done something, anything; I was right there! Now she’s gone, and I’ll never see her again!” she yelled a little in frustration.

Fluttershy gently hugged the lump of comforter she assumed was Dash. “Come on, Dash. There’s nopony in the world more loyal than you; if she was dead, you would feel it.”

“But I do,” Dash mumbled through her tears that were beginning to dampen her comforter.

“Then you just want to feel it,” Fluttershy argued. “Please, Dash, I can’t help you if you can’t help yourself. Tell me that Scootaloo isn’t dead. Please.”

Dash tried, but she couldn’t form the words. All she could do was cry for a life lost. I understand, Fluttershy sighed to herself. I felt the same way when Apple Bloom died.

“Please, Dashie,” Fluttershy murmured, hugging Dash close. “I can’t help you if you can’t say it.”

“Sh-She…” Dash began. “She’s not dead.”

“There you go,” Fluttershy encouraged. “Come on, say it again.”

“She’s n-not dead,” Dash repeated, slightly stronger this time.

“What are you going to protect?” Fluttershy asked.

It took Dash a bit to answer. “What matters,” she finally murmured. She pushed her covers off of her. “Thanks, Fluttershy. I-I think I’m okay, now.”

Fluttershy nodded. “It’s okay to cry,” she said. “Everypony does. And it’s good that you got those feelings out, so that you can fight your hardest with all of us tomorrow.”

“But what if she is dead?” Dash asked. “What if they took her body?”

Fluttershy looked sternly at Dash. “Were you lying to me, Dashie?”

Dash smiled a bit. “No, Fluttershy. I… I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”

With a last gentle hug, Fluttershy walked out of the room, feeling greatly fulfilled and a bit sleepy. She had emotions she wanted gone, too, and as she tucked herself in, she finally let go of the hole Apple Bloom left in her heart, replacing it with the memory of the young filly who gave her life to try and save Harmony.

I’m sorry, Apple Bloom, Fluttershy thought as her eyelids slid over her eyes, but there was nothing I could do. I’ll always remember you… Always. And that’s a promise.

Fluttershy then slept deeper than she had in three years.

=====================================================================

Twilight had too many questions to sleep; they bubbled up just as fast as she could think about them, and while the explanation Luna gave answered a few of her questions, about a million more came rising to the surface.

Thankfully, she wasn’t the only one tossing and turning. Her ear twitched as she heard a small thump in the room next to her, Olly’s room. Getting up, she went to investigate.

She peeked in the crack to see the light brown stallion wide awake, tossing, turning, and gnawing on his pillow in frustration. Stifling a giggle, she slowly knocked on the door. “Olly?”

“Uh, come in; I’m not doing anything weird,” the red-maned stallion said, tossing his pillow behind his bed. Twilight obliged, and Olly asked, “You awake too, huh?”

“Too many questions,” Twilight sighed. “I didn’t get to tell you earlier, but that was a really impressive stunt you pulled with the rusty knife. I still don’t know how you aimed it.”

“Well, maybe it has something to do with this,” Olly chuckled, motioning to the mark on his flank, a set of crosshairs.

“So why are you awake?” Twilight asked.

“Aagh, my memory!” Olly moaned, rolling over in bed. “The last thing I really remember is getting thrown into that cell, and the rest is all hazy. I’ve been trying to remember all night, but so far I really haven’t made any progress.”

“Well, I can’t say I know what that feels like,” Twilight admitted, “but is there any way I can help?”

“I wish; I’m probably more stumped about it than you are,” Olly grumbled.

Twilight laughed a bit. “Well, we can start with where you’re from. What was it like where you lived?”

“Hmm…” Olly thought for a moment. “I remember rolling green hills with forest all around, like a center of nature… and dusty plains with train tracks and skyscrapers.”

“Olly, those are two completely different places,” Twilight said. “Maybe three!”

“Well, you’re a help!” Olly laughed. “I can’t control what I remember, y’know.”

Twilight sighed; this was going to be harder than she thought. “Okay, family members?”

“A brother. No, a sister,” Olly said. “Wait, or was it both? Or neither? Were my parents divorced…?” He threw his head up in frustration. “I have absolutely no idea.”

“A job?” Twilight suggested.

“Hmm, that’s a tricky one,” Olly said, rubbing his chin, deep in thought. “Either a plumber or an electrician.”

“Well, that’s a start,” Twilight said.

“Or was it a broker?” Olly asked, more to himself than to Twilight.

Twilight laughed. “Okay, not so much. If you have no idea, just tell me, okay?”

Olly sighed. “I’m stumped. Maybe I never had a past at all, like in that one movie I saw put on by illusionists. Ponies were made to order in a factory. It was weird, because they got all these different angles, it was like a 3-D experience…” Olly’s eyes lit up. “Wait, I was a photographer!”

Twilight nodded. “Well, that would make sense, I guess. Your ability would allow you to get the best shots, and very precise ones from far away.”

Olly nodded. “Well, I guess I can settle with that for tonight. Thanks, Twilight; I owe you!”

“Hey, we’re friends, right?” Twilight smiled. “I help you, you help me, and we protect each other. Isn’t that how it goes?”

Olly grinned. “Yep, sounds about right. Well, I’m going to have a snooze. Night, Twilight.”

Twilight nodded and left the room, going back to her own.

It feels nice to help ponies, she remarked before falling asleep. Dear Princess Celestia, what I learned today about friendship is… she sighed sadly.

Oh, Princess… What are you really like?

=====================================================================

*******

Twilight shook herself awake. She was in the same drifting gray space she had been in after she had almost fatally wounded herself. “Verba?”

“Yessum?” Verba asked. Multicolored runes started to piece themselves together, but it took them a minute to fully form Verba’s haphazard shape.

“Where is this, again? My dreams?” Twilight asked.

“Technically, no,” Verba said, just as his body finished forming. “It gets kind of complicated.”

“Tell me,” Twilight said.

Verba scratched the back of his neck. “Um, well, we’re in your subconscious. Y’know, the place in your mind that has dreams?”

“Oh, okay,” Twilight yawned. Sleep pounded at her, but she resisted the urge to lay down and curl into fetal position. “Can I control it?”

“Sure. Give it a shot,” Verba said.

Twilight thought long and hard about where she wanted to be right now. Sleep may have influenced it slightly, but she attained an idea rather quickly. The gray ground below her slowly hardened into wooden planks and logs that bent and curved to form a room. A bed slowly rose out of the floor, and a sun appeared, letting light in through the developing windows. A drawer lined with books sat next to a podium with fresh ink and parchment.

She was in Ponyville, in her bedroom.

“Nice place,” Verba observed, strolling around the cozy loft.

Twilight sighed. “Well... Not anymore.”

Verba put a glittering hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “C’mon, cheer up. You can always rebuild. Restart.”

“But I can’t replace the ponies,” Twilight said, turning away from Verba. “It’ll never be the same, Verba.”

Verba’s nonexistent eyes darkened. “At least you have a home. Closest thing I have is Obsidian, and... Y’know what? Let’s go outside. I don’t really want to talk about this here.”

Twilight nodded, but she stopped when she heard Spike call, “Twilight?”

Before Twilight could open her mouth, she heard another pony answer for her. “I’m heading upstairs, Spike. Make sure the bread doesn’t burn; the flames have to be exactly red-orange! Not red, not orange, red-orange!”

“Oh, who uses a brick oven anyway?” they heard Spike grumble.

Twilight saw a translucent version of herself walk upstairs and scan the room, probably looking for something. After she checked the drawers, she groaned in frustration and headed back downstairs. “If I don’t find The Misadventure of the Marvelous Mare in Manehattan, I don’t know what I’ll do!”

Twilight gaped for a moment. “What...?”

“Well, you are living a memory, right?” Verba grinned. “Which one was this?”

Twilight thought for a moment, then smiled warmly. “This is when I lost my favorite chapter book before Spike and I baked blueberry bread for a party at Pinkie’s. Spike did end up burning it... the flames were too orange. I think I managed to find my book under Spike’s bed later that night. He was probably reading it and didn’t want me to know.” She hung her head. “I miss him so much... I can’t believe Luna didn’t let me visit with him. I wasn’t even allowed to see him.”

“The Princess has a lot on her plate, managing a broken country and all. Once you deal with Arrogance, everything’ll go back to normal,” Verba promised.

“Maybe...” Twilight trailed off. She motioned toward the stairs. “There was something you wanted to tell me, right?”

“We don’t have to walk, y’know. This is your dream, after all,” Verba pointed out.

“Oh! Okay.” Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated on the town square. The ponies, the decorations, the dirt roads, and the shops. When she opened her eyes, she was there.

“I have to say, Ponyville is one of the most idyllic towns I’ve ever seen,” Verba laughed. “Jeez Louise, it’s as if nopony’s ever even heard of a pickpocket before!”

“PIckpocket?” Twilight asked.

“Well, to be fair, not many of them have pockets, either.” Verba shrugged. “Still, it’s weird seeing a town this happy. Most of Equestria isn’t like this.”

“Why not?” Twilight asked.

“Dunno,” Verba admitted. “If Arrogance had control over Celestia, though, it’s probably gotten worse. I’m surprised she let a town like this survive. Like Luna said, it was probably to keep you happy.”

Twilight paused, glancing at the ponies’ translucent bodies. “Why are they all so hazy?”

“Huh? Oh, that’s because they’re projections,” Verba explained. “They’re like a placeholder for your memory instead of just having a blob there. Memory doesn’t usually function on sight, see, it focuses on little details that make up the big picture. Anything you can see through, you don’t really remember, and your subconscious kind of guess-timated it based on your other memories.”

Upon closer inspection, Twilight saw that Verba was correct. Most of the shops, signs, and wagons were translucent as well. Even the dirt road could be seen part of the way through.

“What was it you were going to say earlier?” Twilight finally asked. “About not having a home, or something?”

Verba scratched the back of his neck. “See, Obsidian and I... we aren’t real ponies. As in, we’re not real, real ponies. As in, uh, we only exist inside of you, and... Y’know, I shouldn’t over-complicate things, right? It doesn’t really change who we are, anyway.”

Twilight nodded. “So... What now?”

“Get some rest,” Verba advised. “You’ll need it for tomorrow, trust me.”

=====================================================================

*******

Scootaloo had fallen asleep in her cell, and Saphira was wandering around the ruins when she heard a scream.

NO!” she heard somepony yell. “I WON’T LISTEN! NEVER!

She knew who it was. “Lyvia!” she yelled in panic. “It’s happening again!

“On it,” Lyvia grunted from somewhere nearby. She was rushing through the corridors toward the source of the noise.

It was Lorey.

He was bent over a table, retching and trembling. Vomit was scattered everywhere. His face was contorted in pain, and dark energy swirled around him. His mane, usually well-kept, was tossed in random directions.

I won’t listen. GET OUT OF MY HEAD!” Lorey screamed. His pupils were changing from dagger-like to normal, but it sometimes sped up and slowed down.

“Help me hold him down!” Lyvia yelled to Saphira. She grabbed the shaking and spasming Lorey and held him to the ground. He was trying to shake her off, but his attempts were uncoordinated, as if they were only partly controlled.

GO AWAY!” Lorey screamed, tears flowing down his face. He was kicking and screaming, clearly having an inner war.

Saphira was crying as well as she tried to hold Lorey’s legs down. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it’s still just as scary. I think it’s getting worse.

YOU’LL NEVER BEAT ME!” Lorey screamed. “YOU’LL NEVER WIN! I WON’T LET YOU! NEVER! NEVER!

Whatever was left in Lorey’s stomach was spewed out to the side of his mouth. The dark energy around him, however, was starting to ebb away. Whichever side Lorey was on, he was winning.

Lyvia was struggling to hold the adult stallion down, but she was tough enough to keep him under control until the episode ended. Lorey’s contortions ceased, his eyes returning to normal. The tear flow stopped, and the dark energy disappeared.

“Never,” he growled, staring at the ceiling. “She will never overpower me.”

“But she came pretty darn close,” Lyvia grumbled, wiping acid off her leg. “What if you have one of your fits while I’m gone? Saphira can’t control you on her own. Not while you’re like that.”

Saphira looked up at Lorey, still crying. “Please, h-how long do you think you can keep this up? You can’t fight her f-forever.”

“I can try,” Lorey snarled, but not at Saphira. He wiped his mouth. “I’ll kill myself before that monster ever gets a hold on me.”

Lyvia sighed. “I’ll pray for you, Lorey, but you better think up a better way to fight her off, otherwise…” She crossed her hoof in front of her neck and made a slicing sound. “Kssh.

Lorey used magic to clean the area up, even though he was already drained. “My willpower overrides hers. As long as I have something to fight for, I will never give in to her power.”

Lyvia looked fondly at him. “You better keep that promise.”

Saphira wiped her eyes. “Don’t leave us yet, L-Lorey,” she murmured.

Lorey nodded. “This is a war I have to win.” He exited the room.

=====================================================================

Lyvia was wide awake, lying in her queen-sized bed and staring at the ceiling. “It’s happening too often. He’s not telling us everything,” she muttered to herself. “Lorey...” I hate to admit it, but I’d probably be more upset than Saphira if he kicked the bucket. He’s the only one ever to see past... this, she thought, motioning to herself.

She heard a knock on her door. “Who is it?” Lyvia asked.

A blue earth pony slowly creaked the door open. “L-Lyvia?” she asked.

“What is it, kid?” Lyvia asked.

“I-I can’t sleep; I had a nightmare,” Saphira trembled.

Lyvia resisted rolling her eyes. The kid’s never matured, not out here. She’s a filly in a teen’s body. “Get up here,” she said, motioning toward her bed.

Saphira nodded, walked up, and hopped into Lyvia’s bed. She curled up next to the blood-red pegasus and shivered. “Th-Thank you.”

“Why aren’t you with Lorey?” Lyvia asked, stroking the younger pony’s mane.

“B-Because he’s s-still scary,” Saphira stammered, tears filling her eyes. She turned around to face Lyvia. “I-Is he going to lose?”

“If he does, I’m still here,” Lyvia said, holding the young teen close. Saphira had started to cry. “And don’t you forget that, okay?” Lyvia added.

Saphira nodded, and squeezed Lyvia as tight as she was able. Lyvia hugged back, and pulled the covers over both of them.

She’s so scared, Lyvia sighed to herself. It’s a wonder the Daymare allowed her to survive in the first place. As much as I like the kid, she’s not useful like me or Lorey, which means she’s probably going to have some awful fate. Just like the rest of us, I guess.

“Lyvia, w-what am I g-going to do i-if L-L-L...” Saphira stuttered, crying harder into Lyvia’s pelt.

“Don’t you worry about that, okay?” Lyvia soothed, rocking Saphira. What is this, the third time I’ve had to do this? The kid’s shattered so bad it almost makes me want to cry.

“But wh-what will I do, Lyvia?” Saphira whimpered.

“I’ll stick by you every step of the way,” Lyvia stated. “As long as I’m still kicking, nopony’ll be able to lay a hoof on you, you hear me? Nopony,” she added. “‘Cause you and me, we’re sisters now.”

“Sisters?” Saphira mumbled, her eyes closed. “I’d li-like that, Lyvia. Can you k-keep m-me safe?”

“I’ll protect you, Saphira, I promise,” Lyvia murmured in Saphira’s ear. “Whatever it takes.”

Saphira’s breathing steadied, and she slowly fell asleep in Lyvia’s limbs. Lyvia silently kissed the young mare on the forehead. I hope nopony saw that, she muttered to herself.

“I’ll keep you safe. I... I’ll protect you,” Lyvia promised softly. There’s only three of us. We need to keep each other safe, because if we don’t, who will? Not the Daymare. Not the Elements of Harmony. We’re on our own.

Tucking a pillow under Saphira’s head, Lyvia curled up in her comforter and closed her eyes. And that’s just the way I like it, she added before silently falling into slumber.

=====================================================================

[Note]: I do not own anything in this story that already belongs to someone else.
This entire storyline takes place BEFORE season two, but AFTER season one.