• Published 22nd Jan 2013
  • 42,235 Views, 2,893 Comments

The Monster in the Twilight - Georg

Twilight Sparkle’s brilliant mind was gone, burned away by her own power when she nearly destroyed Canterlot twelve years ago. Now there is a monster prowling the Everfree. And it is starting to remember what true power felt like.

  • ...

Ch. 2 - Hope

The Monster in the Twilight

Royal Guards cascaded out of the sky around the school, each darting about to check for wounded or dead, but Princess Celestia could not bear to watch. Instead, she stood alone on the half-molten stub of the tower, looking off into the distant Everfree Forest.

They were dead. All dead. Her best chance to save Luna. All of the students and parents at the test. An unknown number of ponies in the school who had not taken cover soon enough. All blown to plasma by the life-giving sun, or buried in molten rock in the chamber where Celestia had teleported them for their safety.

They would be only the first to die if Nightmare were to return unchecked, but still their deaths burned deep holes within her immortal heart. It was her fault. She had underestimated Twilight Sparkle’s strength, and the result was on her head.

Even then, after all the deaths, Celestia did not have the nerve to actually kill. In the fraction of a second it took her to lunge forward, the mindless husk who had once been her best hope for saving her sister had just looked at her.

It was as if there was a tiny spark of life still trapped inside the monster, so much like her own sister trapped in the Nightmare. If Celestia did not have the will to slay this one to save the city, how would she be able to kill her own sister to save the world? The lunge had turned into a spell, wrapping around the tiny burning creature and teleporting it deep within the Everfree Forest, where even the basic laws of magic were warped and distorted beyond any reason. Twilight would be jarred out of her Flare, her magic spell snuffed as a candle. And she would die. Alone and in agony, consumed by her magic. Just like Luna.

“There’s something under here! Get some guards to move these blocks! Hurry!”

A small cluster of guards were desperately digging at the collapsed wall of the tower annex, where the reinforced waiting room used to be until a jet of solar plasma blew off the roof in an avalanche of huge stones. The heavy construction that was supposed to ensure their safety had undoubtedly crushed the children to a horrid red mess she had seen far too often over her uncounted years. Still, a sudden shout of joy lifted her dismal mood when a small sobbing voice was heard. Then another.

She never even noticed herself moving until she appeared behind her loyal soldiers as they passed one small filly or colt after another out of a ragged hole in the cooling wall. Only after all the young ones had been passed to safety, did parents begin to emerge, staggered and bloody, but alive. She could not help but match faces to names as they blinked in the warm sunshine. Every face took a small pebble off the weight crushing her heart, every cry of joy as a filly or colt was reunited with their parents gave her hope until there were only two sets of parents remaining outside, waiting in vain for children who would never again be seen alive.

“Son,” called out a guard into the dark hole. “Can you make it out?”

“My shield will collapse if I move,” came a thready male reply that she recognized as Shining Armor, the last surviving child of Night Light and Twilight Velvet. “Are they safe? I can’t hold this much longer.”

“Stand back,” commanded Princess Celestia to the guards, who parted before her. The rubble glowed with her magical golden power, causing half-molten stones in the unstable heap to separate like taffy and lift into the sky, vanishing with sharp popping noises. As one shifting stone after another vanished, a pink hemisphere of magic was revealed until finally the exhausted unicorn colt inside released his spell and slid to the ground with a crashing thud.

“Shining Armor!” The piercing shriek of her niece corresponded with a pink thunderbolt of feathers who collided with the colt almost before he hit the ground. Princess Mi Amore Cadenza clutched the semi-conscious colt with a fervent emotion that sent several of the nearby guards stumbling backwards. “Oh, Shiny! What happened? Where’s Twilight?!”

“Twilight Sparkle is gone.” Princess Celestia walked carefully to her Cadenza’s side and bowed her head. “She Flared disastrously during her test. I’ve never seen anything like it before, she overpowered me and… drew upon the sun for power.” Princess Cadenza gasped in horror while Celestia continued, “Nopony could possibly contain that amount of power and remain sane. I’m afraid it destroyed her mind and nearly killed her.”

“Nearly?” The flicker of hope in that one word drove a dagger of despair into Celestia’s heart.

“I transported her deep inside the Everfree Forest to break her hold on the sun, or we all would have died. There’s nothing left of the filly you used to foalsit, Mi Amore. She’s gone from us now. Her mind was destroyed by the power she touched, ever so briefly in her panic. You have to let her go.”

“NO!” The Princess of Love turned to Celestia with blazing eyes. “She’s the most special unicorn I’ve ever known. I’m going after her.”

“You can’t bring her back, Mi Amore. If she is still alive by some chance, bringing her out of the Everfree could doom us all. She grabbed the sun away from me, don’t you understand?! She’s more dangerous than you could possibly imagine!”

“I’m going, and you’re not stopping me.” The emotion radiating away from Princess Cadenza was almost visible as she glared at her aunt.

“I’m going with you,” rasped Shining Armor in a near growl while staggering to his hooves. The falling rubble had carved shallow grooves across his back and one cheek, while dried blood caked his blue mane across one eye, but the remaining eye locked to hers with an iron determination. “If Twily is hurt, she may lash out. My shield may be able to protect us.”

She wanted to call out to her guards to restrain the young fools before they could pursue this insane path, but she restrained herself. Deep in her heart, she knew they were right. If she had the moral strength, she would go with them herself, to mourn over the body if Twilight Sparkle had died, or to drive a blade through her heart to end her torment if she was still a danger. Instead, she sent all of her remaining guards to protect them.

There was nothing left to do here. The rubble was silent as a tomb, with the only sounds being Twilight’s parents sobbing along with the Lulamoon’s. Celestia wanted to go console them in their hour of grief, but was afraid. Immortals were not supposed to be touched by death, no matter how much she hurt inside. Without a daughter of her own, Celestia could never understand their own pain. How it felt to lose a part of your own flesh and blood to the machinations of an ancient monster who fed the fires of her regret with the lives of their children.

Trust in Harmony.

They had been Starswirl’s last words to Celestia before he had vanished, words that she clung to during times of great sorrow and pain. The old unicorn shook off trouble like a wet duck, never daunted by adversity or discouraged by failure, and always there when or where he was needed. There had been something of his mannerisms about the Lulamoon child that had sparked Celestia’s whimsy during the preparations for the test, a quirk that also reminded her of Luna and the way she used to speak louder whenever she was afraid. All it took was a few quiet words, and Trixie’s name had appeared unexpectedly on the final list. At the time, Celestia had rejoiced in her heart. Trixie’s cries of joy were so much like the first time Luna had raised the moon.

And now the sun had killed her.

Trixie had not been inside Shining Armor’s shield spell when the building collapsed, and nopony knew where she had gone. Both her body and the baby dragon were likely buried under tons of rock and rubble in the remains of the tower, if not vaporized without a trace by the lash of stellar fire that had melted granite like butter. Celestia’s greatest and her most unlikely candidates to save Luna, both slain by her incompetence.

She bowed her head in the direction of the rubble and Celestia released her iron control long enough for one tear to fall in memory of them both.

She paused.

There was a spell being cast inside the rubble.

It was a weak and gentle tingle of power, felt through her hooves more than horn, almost as if the source were directly beside her. Celestia released her magic gently, watching it flow across the broken stone blocks as a soft golden fog until it swirled and coalesced around the base of two huge stones that had fallen against each other.

With the most delicate of magical touches, she bent down to the gap between the stones and unwound the invisibility spell, feeling the touch of hope once again in her heart as the contents were revealed. A small blue filly was wrapped almost all the way around the baby dragon with both of them tightly tucked into the shallow niche which had saved their lives.

“Trixie,” she whispered with relief. “It’s safe now. You can come out.”

The trembling little filly shook her head vigorously, and whispered back without opening her eyes. “Spike and I are hiding.”

“Don’t you want to show your parents your new cutie mark?”

Trixie gasped, staring at the crescent moon and wand mark on her flank. “Spike! I got my cutie mark! Momma! Papa! Look at me!”

Princess Celestia felt a lurch in her chest at the glittering star-topped wand and crescent moon of sparkles on Trixie’s flanks, so much like the stars and the moon obeyed her own sister. It was a stroke of fantastic luck that the little filly had managed to find the only place in the falling stones where she and the dragon would not be crushed.

Where skill and power was unable to save Luna, perhaps luck was the answer.

“Trixie Lulamoon, you have a very special gift. Most adult unicorns could never cast an invisibility spell on themselves. But you need to learn to tame your abilities through focused study.”

“I don’t like to study,” said Trixie with a defiant grin. “Uncle says I’m a natural.”

Even more like my sister than before.

“Well, then. How would you like to become my personal protégé at the school?”

“Can I keep Spike?” The young unicorn filly still had not released her vice-like hold on the baby dragon, as if she were afraid he would vanish into thin air without physical contact.

“Most certainly.” Princess Celestia smiled down at her new student, trying not to cry.

Deep within the Everfree Forest, a small broken creature crawled under a bush and cried in her stead.