• Published 6th Mar 2013
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Nightmare's Return - CanterlotGuardian

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When Your Whole World Shatters

“H-hello? Is anypony out there?”

Twilight’s hoof-falls were barely audible in the dark hallway. It was as though the walls were swallowing up every sound she made. Were she to scream… would the walls eat up that noise as well? She hoped not- or, more accurately, she hoped that she would not have a reason to scream in the first place.

She looked down the hallway, squinting to see anything that she could maybe recognize, something that would tell her just where she was. No such luck. It was blacker than night itself in that hallway.

Her horn flared a bright purple, as she mentally cast a spell to provide her with light. It seemed to not make any bit of difference, though, as it was just as dark then as it was before she began to use her magic. The light spell she was using, luckily, took almost no concentration to keep up, and it provided minimal taxation on her magical reserves. Thus, she wasn’t really worried about running out of magic, should she need it for something else later on.

She called out again: “Hello?” This time, her voice did not shake as much. “Can anypony hear me? Where am I?”

This time, she got a response. A sinister laugh echoed throughout the hallway- or, at least, she assumed it was a hallway. She had been walking for quite some time, so she could logically deduce that it was not a single room that she was confined to. That did not really matter at that point, though, for the laugh had chilled Twilight’s blood in her veins.

Figuratively, of course.

Twilight racked her brain, as the laugh continued to echo in her mind, though it had actually ended a few seconds earlier. She knew that she could recognize that laugh from somewhere… but where?

“I know I’ve heard that laugh before,” she said aloud. “It seems so familiar, and yet so distant…”

A voice came out from the darkness, and its timbre was much the same as the laugh she had just heard. “Of course, you recognize my voice, young Twilight,” it said. “I spoke to you directly, so many… moons ago.”

Twilight gasped in recognition. “Nightmare Moon!” she exclaimed.

The laugh could be heard again. “Yes… I have come to visit you again. My friend.”

“Ha,” Twilight responded, though there was no mirth in her voice as she uttered the false laugh. “Friend? After what you tried to do to me and my true friends? I would hardly use that word to describe the relationship between us-“

“I tried to do nothing to you,” the voice echoed, a bit more distant this time, “nor to your so-called “true” friends. My only goal was for eternal night to reign over Equestria. Would that be so bad, do you think?”

Suddenly, dark flames flared up all around Twilight, and she could see further in a dusky light. She saw a throne room, adorned with symbols that she vaguely remembered seeing in some ancient runic texts. The light played games with the shadows, causing them to contort into shapes and figures that Twilight could not recognize.

“You bring foul creatures of darkness to your throne room?” Twilight asked. She hoped her vocal inflection had come across as defiant, but from the look on her foe’s face, she had not achieved the intended effect.

“Foul creatures? What on Equestria would make you think that?” She smiled grimly. “Are your eyes playing tricks on you, student of my dear sister?”

This infuriated Twilight more than she thought she should have been. “Don’t you dare sully Princess Celestia's name by allowing it to cross your lips…” she growled. “You were cast out from her presence because of your deeds. Didn’t 1,000 years’ imprisonment on the moon teach you anything?”

Nightmare Moon laughed devilishly. “Oh yes, Twilight Sparkle, it taught me many things. More, in fact, than you could ever imagine.” The flames around her flared brighter, illuminating the whole room. Twilight gasped in shock as she beheld what she could not have seen before.

“It seems you are beginning to grasp the direness of the situation,” Nightmare said, grinning as she gestured to the five forms chained up to the wall of the room- more of a dungeon, Twilight could see now. “I have already incapacitated five of the six Elements. And now, all I need is you… for my work to finally be complete.”

She began to advance towards Twilight, and Twilight readied her magic in defense.

“It won’t matter at all,” Nightmare said, smirking. “Nothing you have ever worked for will matter at all after tonight… When my return to the world of the living will be complete!”

Twilight found herself lifted off her feet, and though she struggled mightily, she could not break the grip that Nightmare Moon’s magic now had upon her. She screamed a silent scream as she flew through the air, towards the only set of shackles that did not currently bind a pony to the walls. As soon as she had made contact with the wall, the chains snapped shut around her forelegs and hind legs, trapping her there. Again, Twilight tried to use her magic to unbind herself, or barring that, just to magic away the chains that held her.

She failed.

Nightmare laughed with evident mirth as she saw Twilight’s efforts to free herself. “Resistance is futile, young one,” she chanted. “Your friend Rarity tried much the same thing… I very quickly disabused her of that notion, as well.” In a mere moment, Nightmare Moon teleported herself across the room, going from being very distant to Twilight’s location to being eye-to-eye with her.

“And now… we begin.” She cackled as her horn glowed with an ominous light, and as she deftly dipped her head down to touch Twilight’s horn with her own-

---

Twilight’s eyes flew open and she bolted upright in her bed. She was drenched with a cold night-sweat that clung desperately to the individual hairs of her usually well-kept coat. Now, though, hairs were out of place everywhere from where she had been tossing and turning in the throes of her night terror. Her mane and tail were much the same way.

She looked around her in horror, her mind racing a million miles a minute. She had to take in her surroundings for a good five minutes or so, just in order to reassure herself that she was not in the dungeon that she had been in during her dream.

When she was sufficiently aware of where she was, she flopped back down onto her bed, staring up at the ceiling. She was still breathing quite heavily, and her heartbeat had not yet begun its descent to a normal resting pace.

A few seconds later, Spike poked his head out of his covers, rubbing his eyes sleepily. “Hmm…? Twilight? Are you alright?”

“No, I’m not…” Twilight replied, shaking her head. “This is the third time in the past two weeks that I’ve had a nightmare involving… well, Nightmare.”

“Nightmare Moon again?” Spike already knew the answer to that question, though. The first time that Twilight had her Nightmare Moon dream, she had been nearly inconsolable upon awakening. The second time was not as bad, but just barely so. In fact, she was taking it remarkably well this time around.

“Yes,” Twilight said softly. “I fear she may be returning soon… Though for what, I know not.”

“Well, it’s not eternal night all across Equestria yet, is it?” Spike said, no discernible hint of sarcasm in his voice. “So technically, she has that one really big reason to come back.”

“That is true… But why would she pick now to do it?” She sat up and swung her legs around so they were hanging down off the side of the bed. Spike always found it funny when she did that; it made her look like Lyra sitting on the park bench. “The Elements are still around, and we’re more powerful now than we were even back then, when we defeated her the first time.”

“She doesn’t know that, though, does she?”

“I wouldn’t put anything past her, Spike.” Twilight hopped down off the bed, all four legs making contact with the wooden floor, making soft “pomf” noises as they impacted. She stretched a little bit, trying to get the last bit of blood flow back to her limbs, as they had locked up on her during her marathon tossing and turning session.

When she was done doing that, she walked over to a door and opened it. The night air flowed in, and Twilight closed her eyes momentarily in silent appreciation of such a simple, and yet so pleasurable, sensation.

“You’ve always loved that, haven’t you?” Spike asked. Again, he already knew the answer to that. Twilight had told Spike multiple times of her love for the cool night air. Spike had always thought that she would like the morning air better, with her being Celestia’s student and all, but not one single time had he ever voiced this to her. He dared not see her reaction to that sentiment.

“Yeah,” Twilight said, maybe a bit sheepishly. “You know, Spike, you and I have been through so much… More than I have with any of my other friends, and I’ve known them just about as long as I’ve known you.”

“Well yeah, that’s because you were there when I hatched, silly.” Spike laughed a bit. “Oh, what a day that was. I was safe and snug in my egg, and all of a sudden- bam! The shell gets rocketed out from around me, and then there I am, sitting on a little bit of egg-shell that was left underneath me. I’m seeing all these ponies that I had no idea who they were, much less what they were. I mean, I was only about ten seconds out of my egg, mind you.”

Twilight giggled as she remembered the scene he was recounting. The day that she got her cutie mark, as well as being the day of Spike’s hatching.

“And then…” Spike paused for a second, as though trying to figure out what would be just the right thing to say in that particular situation. “I saw you.”

“What’d you think, then?” Twilight asked, her curiosity taking over her.

“I can’t remember exactly. It was quite a while ago. But if I knew myself, and if I was anything back then like I am today, it was probably something like, ‘Wow, did she do that? That’s amazing…’”

Twilight giggled softly for a second. “It really was amazing, but I had no idea what I was doing. And then when my magic went out of control, I turned you into a giant dragon…”

“Yeah, you know the funny part about that? I guess it was because it actually wasn’t an aging spell that you put on me, but I didn’t actually remember anything about that until Celestia used some spell to show me what had happened. Man, I got big, and really quickly too!”

Twilight was about to say something, but she cut herself off before she could even start, and her smile faded into a frown. “And now all I’m thinking about is those nightmares again. I just can’t get them out of my mind…”

“Then send another letter to Princess Celestia, and let her know about your fears.”

She sighed. “I already have. Multiple times. In fact, I think Celestia’s getting kind of annoyed with me sending her so many letters. It’s always a variant of the same response every time, too: Nightmare Moon is not returning, so don’t worry about it.” She shivered a bit. “I can’t help but feel, though, that it really and truly is going to be happening soon. I just can’t shake this dread…”

Spike sat down beside her and rested his head against her leg. “You’ll think of something. I’m sure of it. You always think of just the right thing to do in every situation. Like that one time when-“

“Spike.” Twilight looked down at Spike, and her assistant looked up at her as well, just in time to see a familiar gleam creep into Twilight’s eyes. “I have an idea.”

“I kinda figured that,” Spike retorted. “That’s usually what it means when you get that light in your eyes. So what’s your idea?” He stretched as he finished the last part of his sentence.

Twilight smiled. “We’re taking a little journey.”

“Hope it’s not too long. I don’t want to miss my afternoon nap again today.”

She stuck her tongue out at her assistant. “You’ll be able to sleep all you want on the way there and back. Besides… you never have liked the Everfree Forest, have you?”

---

Twilight approached the old-looking shack with deferent hoof-steps. She didn’t really expect Zecora to be mad at her for showing up unannounced, but still she wanted to be respectful to the zebra shaman. Zecora had taught her so much about magic and about life lessons in general, and Twilight felt she owed her quite a bit.

Naturally, Zecora didn’t feel that Twilight owed her anything, but- as Twilight thought- that was probably why they got along so well. It wasn’t like Zecora was lording anything over her.

She knocked on the door a bit more quietly than was probably necessary, but she also had Spike to think about. He had taken Twilight’s advice to heart, and had fallen asleep shortly after they had departed for the Forest. His face was pressed up against the clasp of the bag that Twilight had slung over her shoulder before leaving, which meant that he’d have a decent-quality impression of Twilight’s cutie mark on his forehead when he woke up.

She’d gotten the bag as a Hearth’s Warming gift from Derpy a few years back, and she loved it so much that she’d been using it for just about everything ever since.

She could hear Zecora coming up to the door. “Who is at my door this eve?” came the voice from the other side. “If you’re a boogeypony, I suggest you leave!”

Twilight chuckled a bit. “No boogeyponies out here, Zecora. It’s just me. Twilight.”

She could hear laughter as the door opened up from the inside. “This I know, my dear friend. It was all a joke in the end.”

Twilight stepped inside Zecora’s hut and closed the door quietly. Zecora turned to ask why she was being so quiet, but before she could say anything she noticed Spike asleep in her bag.

She smiled. “The young one it seems could not stay awake, though it was quite the long journey to make.” Twilight nodded in assent and took the bag off gently, placing it down softly near the door. Spike always did like the softness of the moonlight, and if it helped him to sleep better, then what was Twilight to deny him that?

By the time Twilight had turned her attention back to Zecora, the zebra had already gotten out two of her special cups and filled them up with a very aromatic tea. Twilight’s eyes glistened as she walked over to the table; she’d had Zecora’s tea many a time before, and she knew how good it was. She carefully picked up her cup with her hooves and took a sip, as it was still hot. She closed her eyes and smiled, as the dual tastes of apples and cinnamon trickled down her throat as she swallowed.

“How does my concoction taste?” Zecora asked. “I hope my talents have not gone to waste.”

Twilight smiled. “They most certainly have not, my friend. Your tea is just as good as always.” She looked over at Spike, still sound asleep in her bag. Suddenly, something occurred to her. “Hey, Zecora. Why are you up so late, anyways? I would figured you’d be asleep by now.”

“I have never had much need for sleep,” Zecora responded, “for I enjoy the night, so dark and deep.”

The mention of the night brought back the images of Nightmare Moon into Twilight’s mind, and she shivered involuntarily. Zecora noticed this, being as watchful as she was.

“What troubles you so, if I may know?”

As much as Twilight didn’t want to tell her, she knew that it was the entire reason why she had come to Zecora that night. So, she swallowed deeply and began from the beginning, first relating the story of how the Elements had defeated Nightmare Moon (though she was sure Zecora already knew all of that), going up through the beginning of the nightmares, and finally ending with that most recent appearance that had prompted Twilight to make the journey into the Everfree Forest to see Zecora.

Zecora listened patiently as Twilight poured her heart out to her, only speaking when she was sure that Twilight had said her full piece. “It makes sense that you would be here, with your heart being in so much fear.”

Twilight sighed. “I just didn’t know who else to turn to, Zecora. You’ve been so helpful in the past, giving me wisdom when I needed it most. And… well, I need it pretty badly right now, too.”

Zecora nodded thoughtfully. “It seems to me that Nightmare Moon, may not even be returning soon.”

That was good news for Twilight. At least Zecora was saying this with a level head. “Why do you think that, Zecora?”

“Nightmare Moon has lost her power, thanks to you and your friends in that hour. You banished her to Celestia knows where, and since then she’s remained there.”

“But that’s the thing, Zecora. Nightmare Moon is no more, or so we thought anyways. The Elements of Harmony combined to turn Princess Luna back into the way she was before she became Nightmare Moon. So technically, Nightmare Moon shouldn’t exist anymore… should she?”

“If what you are saying is right, then peace should have already come to the night.”

“But it hasn’t…” Twilight sounded like she was about to be on the verge of tears. “It hasn’t been that way at all. At least, not for me.”

“Let me ask you a question, then. Has this same dream come to any of your friends?”

Twilight was about to answer in the negative, when she realized that Zecora had a point. The others hadn’t said anything about Nightmare Moon coming to them in their dreams, but they might be just as scared as she was about it. They might not want to talk to her about it at all.

“Have any of them come to you about it, Zecora?”

“None of them have come to me, but some of them are still scared, you see.”

“Not any of the Elements. Though some of the other Ponyville residents might still be…” Twilight looked up at Zecora, a steely determination suddenly filling her eyes. “I knew it was the right decision to come to you. Thank you so much!”

Zecora smiled. “It is always a pleasure to assist; it is how we Equestrians peaceably coexist.” Twilight smiled and walked the few steps to Zecora, hugging her tightly; Zecora returned the gesture, still smiling. Twilight dropped down onto all fours, and was about to go and get her bag to leave when Zecora stopped her. “Before you leave this night, I have something I want you to try.”

Twilight turned to face her again. “Oh? What’s that?”

Zecora walked over to her potions cabinet and got one out; she nodded, and Twilight levitated it over to her with her magic. “This is a potion I made, that might be to you an aid. Drink this when you get home tonight, and no dreams will come to you to fright.”

Twilight smiled graciously. “I was going to ask you if you had something like this… Thank you so much. Let’s hope it works for me.” Still holding it above her head, she went over and put on her bag, slipping the potion into a side pocket. She smiled at Zecora and walked out the door, Zecora waving at her as she left.

---

A few hours had passed by the time Twilight got back to her library home. Spike had stirred a few times on the journey back, but eventually he’d gone back to sleep each time, just like Twilight had thought he was going to do. Twilight smiled as she levitated Spike over to his bed, placing him inside and covering him up snugly with his favorite blanket.

“He’s really out cold…” Twilight said softly with a smile. “It’s almost like that one night when he stayed up all night at Pinkie’s birthday party-“

A thought occurred to her suddenly, which caused her to stop in dumbfounded shock. “Oh no! I can’t believe I forgot all about it! Scootaloo’s birthday party was tonight! Oh no, I hope I didn’t miss it…” She bolted out the door, running headlong in the direction of the Cake’s bakery, which was where the party was being held at.

As she got closer to the door of the bakery, she could see wild lights waving all about inside. That, coupled with the thumping music emanating from behind those closed doors, reassured her greatly that the party was indeed still in full swing. She slowed down to a walk and, trying to catch her breath from running all the way there, opened up the door.

Naturally, she was greeted immediately by Pinkie Pie.

“Welcome to the party, Miss Latey-Pants! Oh!” She found herself suddenly enveloped in a giant hug. “Twilight! We were all wondering if you were ever going to show up! Good thing I convinced Vinyl to keep this party going for a bit longer!”

Twilight smiled a bit. “Sorry about that, Pinkie. I actually completely forgot about the party. I had gone out to see Zecora for something and… well, I guess the time just got away from me.”

Pinkie was looking at her oddly now. “Wait, wait. You only go see Zecora when you have something really heavy weighing on your mind… Hold on a second.” She bounded off in the direction of the refreshment table, and she came back not with drinks, but with Applejack and Rarity. Twilight smiled at them each in turn.

“So, sugarcube,” Applejack began, “Pinkie here tells me that ya’ve been to see Zecora.”

“How is she, by the way?” Rarity interjected. “I have not spoken to her hardly at all in quite some time…”

“She is… well, about the same as she always is,” Twilight responded, smiling. “And yes, I did just come back from visiting her. I had to speak to her regarding a particular issue I’ve been having to deal with lately.”

“Issue?” said a familiar voice from up above her. “You haven’t told any of us about any issue, have you?” Dash looked to the others for confirmation, and got what she was looking for. She turned her attention back to Twilight. “So...? ‘Fess up: why haven’t you come to any of us about this, but you’re more than willing to go to Zecora for advice?”

Twilight’s face fell, and they could all tell she was probably about to cry. This caused them all to glare at Rainbow Dash, who adopted a “What’d I do?” look on her face.

“It’s fine, really…” Twilight said, her voice down low. “I kinda figured you’d react like this. I mean, you all were such a big part of it all, and for me to keep it from you… It seems wrong somehow-“

She suddenly found herself being pulled out the door by Rainbow Dash, and the others were following her looking a bit confused. As Dash forced her out the now-open door, she saw that Fluttershy had joined them, and wondered for the briefest of moments where in Equestria she’d come from.

As quickly as Dash had started dragging her, she stopped once Twilight was all the way outside. The door closed, muffling the thumping bass lines coming from inside.

“I’m confused about something,” Pinkie said, trying to clean out her ears with the tip of her hoof. “What exactly were we a part of? Or did you not tell anypony that yet?”

“She hadn’t said yet,” Rarity responded. “But you will tell us… won’t you?”

“Of course I will…” She looked down at the ground, ashamed of her actions. “I just thought… well, I thought it was just so silly and stupid, that none of you all would take it as seriously as I’ve been taking it…”

Applejack stepped up and placed a comforting hoof around her shoulder. “Now why on earth would ya think that, sugarcube? We’re your friends, aren’t we? So whatever has got you so down in the dumps, maybe we can help ya out with it? Ever thought of that?”

“I have, but… I know that you all have your own problems that you have to deal with, and-“

“Darlin’ your problems are our problems, too. You’re one of our dearest friends, and besides that you’re the most important member of the Elements. Remember that? You’re the one who’s holdin’ this all together. So just come out with it already. What’s botherin’ ya?”

Twilight swallowed deeply as she faced the friends she should have come to all along. “It’s… these dreams that I’ve been having. Three times in two weeks, and every time it’s the same basic theme…” She paused to collect herself, then finished her thought. “Every time, it ends with Nightmare Moon returning to rule Equestria again.”

There was an almost deathly silence over the group for a few moments, only broken by the sound of Rainbow Dash bursting into wild laughter.

“Oh… oh wow… Th-that’s what you were worried about this whole time?” She had to stop her actual words due to now laughing so hard, she couldn’t get anything out. The rest of the ponies in the group were glaring at her, but she was too busy cackling to even notice.

Rarity was the first to speak after the outburst. “Rainbow Dash…” she said chidingly, “you know better than to laugh at our good friend like that. Though-“ She shifted her attention back to Twilight. “-Dash does have a point. Why on earth would you be worried about that? You saw just as well as we did, how the Elements defeated Nightmare Moon for good. That’s that.”

“Yeah! And even if Nightmare Moon did return, why couldn’t we just use the Elements again and seal her away this time too?” Pinkie was bouncing up and down as she normally did when forced to stand still for a long period of time against her will. Of course, nopony was actually forcing her to do this, but she wasn’t thinking about that at that point.

“I’ve thought about all of that…” Twilight admitted, “but still I can’t shake that feeling. I know it’s highly improbable, though I wouldn’t say impossible because statistically speaking, nothing is impossible… which is honestly what really gets me. It’s not impossible, which means it is possible, which means-“

“Sugarcube,” Applejack interjected before Twilight could get off on one of her rants that involved big smart words that nopony besides her- and maybe Derpy, who usually was able to freely converse with Twilight when she was around for one of her faux-intelligentsia discourses- were able to understand, “ya gotta listen to us. We ain’t just hopped off the apple cart yesterday. And I think deep down, ya know that too.” She took a breath to collect her thoughts a bit further. “So what did Zecora say when ya went ta talk ta her?”

“Well… she said pretty much the same thing that you all did. That I really shouldn’t worry about it because of the work that the Elements did-“

“And she’s absolutely right!” Rainbow butted in, apparently done with her laughing fit at Twilight’s initial pronouncement. “We kicked Nightmare Moon’s flank that night! There shouldn’t be any doubt that she won’t be coming back. I mean, has Princess Luna disappeared any time lately? Nope. And why is that? Because she’s not Nightmare Moon anymore. She’s just Princess Luna again. So there, problem solved.”

Just then, Derpy stuck her head out the door. “Hey, Rarity! You… comin’ back in, or am I gonna have to *hic* drag you in…?”

Rarity flushed a little bit at Derpy’s words. “Oh my… I’d completely forgotten that I was supposed to be designated pony for Miss Hooves tonight… If you all will excuse me.” She turned to leave, but not before placing a comforting hoof on Twilight’s foreleg. “Don’t you worry about a thing, darlin’. Nightmare Moon isn’t coming back. That much, I can promise you.” She smiled kindly at Twilight, who did her best to return the gesture. With that, she slipped inside, calling out to Derpy to come back to her as she entered the party room. The music grew louder for a moment with the opening of the door, then fell back down to a dim roar as it closed again.

Rainbow turned to look at Twilight again, as she’d turned around to make sure Rarity got inside ok. “Well I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready to get back in there and party some more! Anypony else comin’ with me?”

“Oh, you bet!” Pinkie started hopping up and down again though pretty much everypony could tell this time it was from excitement about getting back to the party. “I’ve got to greet more ponies, and plus there’s this mare that’s been eyeing me from across the party all night. I wish I knew her name. She looks so much like me. She’s a pegasus, though…”

Pinkie led the way, with the others following closely behind her. Even Twilight went in with them, in spite of her true want to go back to the library and go straight to sleep. She’d come out to wish Scootaloo a happy birthday, and she was going to make sure she wasn’t going to leave without doing that.

Although, if she’d really be honest with herself, she was more concerned about not having another nightmare that night, than anything else.

---

Almost four hours later, the door to Twilight’s library opened up silently. Twilight stumbled inside, closing the door gently with her magic. She’d spent way longer at the party than she’d expected herself to be there for, but she wasn’t intoxicated in any way. Not that she didn’t want to be, though; in fact, she caught herself drinking quite a bit with Rarity and Derpy throughout the night, who at one point had disappeared only to return about half an hour later not wanting to say anything about where they’d been or what they’d been doing.

For some reason, though, she couldn’t even catch a buzz, even though the Apple family had donated some of their best distilled hard apple cider for the occasion- not for Scootaloo herself, or at least it wasn’t intended for her. Rainbow Dash had naturally slipped her a glass or two, just to see if she’d like it. She did.

Twilight yawned as she started to ascend the stairs that would take her up to her bedroom. As she walked quietly, so as not to disturb Spike’s beauty rest, she thought she heard somepony walking around in her room, but she assumed it was probably Spike just getting up to close the window he habitually left open, or maybe he had to go use the little dragon’s room.

Whatever it was, she paid no serious mind to it.

When she got to her room, she turned the doorknob and went inside. She went straight over to her bed and flopped down onto it. She sighed in relief as she snuggled down into her mattress. She was just about to let the deep, beautiful darkness of sleep wash over her when she heard the door open.

“Hrmm…?” she muttered sleepily. “Spike…? Is that you…?”

After a moment came the reply: “This little dragon you keep here is not the one who wants your ear.” Immediately, Twilight recognized the voice and her eyes snapped open. If she was tired at all before, now she was back awake.

“Zecora?” she asked, sitting up and propping herself up against the backboard of her bed. “What on earth are you doing here at this time? And why are you in my house to begin with? I don’t remember giving you permission to come in. How long have you been here?”

“So many questions…” Zecora muttered. “Too many, if you ask me…”

Twilight was about to respond, when something occurred to her, and she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Hold on a second… Zecora has never not rhymed when she speaks. You just said two sentences back-to-back, and they didn’t rhyme.”

The thing that called herself Zecora smiled. “Oh, darn. I didn’t think I’d slip up this soon. No matter. You would be better off knowing what I truly am, anyways.” A green light enveloped her, coming from the ground up as it completely encased her. When the light had gone away, a very familiar form stood before Twilight, grinning.

“Well now, Twilight Sparkle… Now, things start to get interesting.”