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

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Looking For A Distant Light

Twilight stared at the creature before her. That was the best term that she could use for her; she wasn’t exactly a pony, Twilight knew. She had something else mixed in. Changeling. She was the queen of the Changelings, after all. Her eyes were met by those of her visitors, a spark flaring to life in those green irises.

Her fangs poked out from her tight-lipped smile, and Twilight knew that she couldn’t be up to any good. Still, she didn’t dare look away.

“Why did you choose to take the form of Zecora?” she finally asked, finding her voice after her initial bout of shell-shocked silence.

“The zebra fascinates me,” Chrysalis replied, not losing her wry grin. “And besides that, I was following you ever since you and your little dragon left your house to go out into the Everfree forest. The whole way there, I was above you. While you talked with her, I stood outside her hut, watching you try in desperation to get answers about your problems. And while you came back, I was not too far behind you.”

“Were you following me all the way to the party?” Twilight asked with some trepidation. She feared what Chrysalis’ answer was going to be. What more havoc could she wreak if she had seen some of the other ponies that were at the party? Maybe it would give the Changelings even more ammunition in their constant war against the ponies, more forms they could morph into in order to fool the unsuspecting populace.

“There was no reason for me to do so. I simply stayed here until you returned, then assumed the form of your zebra friend before you entered.”

Twilight’s brain was starting to work again, and even more questions were flooding her mind. She wanted to ask them all at once, but she didn’t want to turn Chrysalis off from the conversation. Maybe if she kept the Changeling queen talking long enough, she could figure out how to get her out of her house and back on her way.

She had no way of knowing whether or not this plan would work, but it was the only thing she could come up with, so she had to go with it for the moment at least.

“Do your changelings know you’re here?” She regretted the question almost as soon as she asked it. Of all the questions that she could have proposed to Chrysalis, that one had to be the first one…?

Chrysalis smirked. “Of course they do, and they’ve taken the proper safety precautions to guard until my arrival back in our homeland. My Changelings know everyplace I go, and vice versa. We are never without our connection.”

“I thought you were expelled, though, after Princess Cadence and my brother’s wedding… How did you get back here?”

The Changeling queen’s grin faltered for a moment, as the unpleasant memories of her defeat at the hooves of Shining Armor and his powerful spell that ricocheted herself and the Changelings away from the Canterlot royal hall. She didn’t let this get at her for very long though, and after a moment or two, her grin was back as though it had never left.

“That was a very unfortunate setback, and one that I admit I had not thoroughly planned for. After our defeat, we went back to our home to plan our next attack.” She sighed, slipping her fangs back inside her mouth. “That attack never happened, though.”

“Why not?” Twilight asked, still trying to buy time.

“We were too weak, and our numbers were decimated in the attack. Thanks to the pink one using you as… some kind of rapid-fire spell machine, my Changelings were defeated far quicker than I could have ever thought possible. I had hoped to bolster our forces by the time the planned attack was to be carried out, but obviously that didn’t happen.”

Curiosity overtook Twilight at this point. “How exactly did you plan on creating the new forces you needed for the attack?”

The look in Chrysalis’ eyes now was one of pity, as though a teacher was looking down upon a student who just couldn’t quite grasp the subject matter at hand. “How do you think it happens? I give birth to them. I’m not called queen of the Changelings for nothing. It’s not just a title.” She tried to put on the sneer that had been on her face for the first part of the conversation, but it just didn’t seem- to Twilight, anyways- to come as easy as it had.

She decided not to press the issue at the moment. Instead, she slipped out of her bed and stretched a bit, yawning. She knew she had to sleep but at the same time, thought it rather impossible with Chrysalis standing in her bedroom.

“Can you at least tell me why you’re here?” Twilight asked after a moment. “As far as I was told, you and your Changelings were banned from Canterlot and its surrounding areas- which, may I remind you, includes Ponyville- after your failed attempted coup d'état at the wedding. So you’re automatically taking a huge risk in coming here to see me.”

Chrysalis finally let her wry smile fade away, and a depressed frown replaced it. It was only then, that Twilight noticed that the queen looked to be very tired like she was. She wasn’t manifesting any other kind of outward symptoms besides the tired look in her face and eyes, but Twilight recognized it immediately. She knew what it meant; she was having to deal with the same thing herself, at that particular moment.

“Is everything alright?” Twilight asked in spite of herself. Almost as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wondered why in Equestria she had asked that. This was an evil queen who was standing in her room, and here she was, asking her if she was ok. Have you lost your mind, Twilight? This is totally not what you need to be doing…

Chrysalis’ face shifted back into its normal smug façade. “Did you really just ask me that, Twilight Sparkle?” She laughed condescendingly as she faced Celestia’s protégé head-on. “You’ve grown much too soft, even more so since we last fought.”

Twilight backed up a bit, defensively. “I’m not soft. And even if I was, it’s still better than what you are…”

An almost seductive smile crept over Chrysalis’ face. “Oh really, now? So you know sooo much about me, do you?” She started walking towards Twilight at a slow creeping pace. “Tell me, then… What am I?”

For some reason, Twilight found herself getting a bit flustered at the way Chrysalis was looking at her. Did she have some sort of mind powers or something else that Twilight didn’t know about? As it was, she was barely able to choke out her answer: “You’re… a devil…”

“Oh? Is that so? Well then, I guess that makes my Changelings my demons then, doesn’t it?” She kept on coming towards Twilight, still with that look on her face. “And maybe you’d like to meet my demons again… You would like that, wouldn’t you?”

Twilight looked desperately around for anypony to come save her. She saw nopony, though. Not even-

“Where’s Spike?” Twilight cried out a bit pitifully. “What did you do with him?”

“Me?” Chrysalis asked with an innocent tone. “Why on earth would I want to do anything to your pitiful little dragon? It’s not like he is of any threat to me at all…” She grinned again. “Nothing like you. He is small, weak. You, on the other hand… could probably pose a pretty big threat to me and my work, if you were to actually want to do anything about it…”

The rage in Twilight’s eyes was becoming more and more evident by the minute. If Chrysalis expected her to believe that she hadn’t done anything with Spike, then the Changeling queen was more of a fool than Twilight had expected her to be. She had to have done something with Spike… didn’t she?

“Your Changelings took him, didn’t they?” She spit those words out with as much venom as she could muster, though they ultimately fell short of the rage that she was truly feeling inside. “If they harm him in any way…”

“You’ll do what?” Chrysalis said tauntingly. “You’ll do nothing, because you never could do anything. You’ve been relying for far too long on your book-reading to get you by in life. You’ve never tried to put any of that into application. And that is why even your unicorn counterpart- what was her name? Rarity, I believe- is stronger than you when it comes to that. Simply put, any unicorn in Equestria will eventually turn out to be better than you, because of that simple fact.”

She spat on the ground. “Why do you think I’ve hated Celestia for so long? She makes all of her students weak sheep, unable to function out in the real world. They’re too dependent on knowledge to feel important, and who do they get that knowledge from? Celestia, of course.”

Twilight’s rage built up more and more by the second, and her eyes began to glow a pale grey-green color. “Do… not… talk about Princess Celestia like that…”

Chrysalis smiled coyly. “Or you’ll do what? That’s my point, Twilight. You can’t do anything. Not to stop me, not to stop Nightmare Moon when she returns, not-“

Almost immediately, Twilight’s eyes returned back to normal, and she visibly recoiled. “Wh-what did you just say? D…did you just say something about Nightmare Moon’s returning?”

Chrysalis grinned again. “Well, that got your attention, now didn’t it? As a matter of fact, that is the reason why I wanted to come to you to begin with. See, the truth is-“

A very familiar voice came from behind Twilight: “The only truth you need to know, is that you are not supposed to be here. And I have just the thing to remedy that.” Before either of them could even react, a solid bolt of energy flashed past Twilight and struck Chrysalis straight in the chest. She reared back and readied a blast of her own, but a second bolt struck her before she could even get all the way readied. Enraged, she spread her wings and pivoted, flying out the window. She barely avoided the third and fourth magic bolts as she flew away, crying curses as she sped towards the horizon.

Twilight turned and looked at her savior, though she already knew who it was. She smiled when she saw the familiar white form that stood in front of her now, and she couldn’t help but think that it had been an eternity since she’d smiled like that. Her encounter with Chrysalis had taken that much out of her.

She bowed in deference. “Princess Celestia… thank you.”

Celestia looked concerned as she scanned the horizon, but she managed a brief smile for Twilight’s benefit. Her horn glowed briefly, and Twilight could sense the surge of power that always accompanied Celestia’s use of magic in the area. It was active for only a moment or two, before the glow died down, and the magic level in the area began to equalize itself again.

“Okay…” Celestia said softly. Seeing the inquisitive look on Twilight’s face, she continued: “I was casting a spell to make sure that Chrysalis or her Changelings weren’t still in the area. It appears she has fled for good… for now.”

Twilight tried to force herself to relax, but she simply couldn’t get her muscles to de-tense. Just then, a small purple face poked itself from around the back part of Celestia’s hind leg, and Twilight couldn’t help but let out an excited squee.

“Spike!” she shouted gaily. “You’re alive!”

“Well yeah…” Spike muttered. “Why wouldn’t I be…?”

Twilight rushed over to him and hugged him close to her. Her outburst of emotion surprised even herself. Spike blushed faintly, but embraced her back.

“Your assistant here came and got me, as soon as he saw that Chrysalis had come back,” Celestia explained. “That is why he was not here when you returned. It had nothing to do with Chrysalis or her Changelings harming him in any way… though I cannot blame you for thinking that. You had no knowledge to the contrary.”

Twilight looked up at Celestia, and a tear formed in the corner of her eye. “I… I didn’t know what to do. If you hadn’t have shown up… I don’t know what would have happened.”

“I understand,” Celestia replied with a kindly smile. “It was hard enough for you to take on Chrysalis the first time, and that was with the other Elements at your side. Having to face her one-on-one is probably something you wish not to repeat. It is good fortune that Spike was able to get to me when he did, so that nothing of harm would come to you.”

It was only then that Twilight remembered something that Chrysalis had told her. “Chrysalis mentioned her, you know. Nightmare Moon.”

Celestia’s smile faded. “I heard her say that, right before I intervened. I wonder why, though... Did she know something about her that you or I did not?”

“I don’t know,” Twilight admitted. “She never got around to telling me why, before you came along and saved me.”

Her smile returned, and she laid a comforting hoof atop Twilight’s head, ruffling her mane affectionately. “If I had to take a guess, Twilight, she was simply using Nightmare Moon’s name to scare you into doing something that she could later take advantage of. As far as I can tell, she failed in that regard.” She looked around outside, but saw nothing except the placid night sky. “Would you like me to dispatch a few of my guards to keep watch over you tonight? Just in case she comes back, I mean…”

Twilight smiled. “No thank you, though I appreciate the gesture. I’ll be fine, I think. If I have to, I’ll ask Fluttershy or one of them to stay here with me tonight.” Celestia nodded and gave Twilight one last quick hug, before taking to the air and flying out the window.

She looked down at Spike. “Did you and Celestia get in through the window?”

Spike nodded. “We didn’t want Chrysalis to notice us before Celestia was ready to blast her.” Twilight nodded; that much made sense. Suddenly, she swooned on her feet, her eyes closing rapidly. Spike hurried to help her over to the bed, and with his help she made it. She collapsed on the bed and in moments was soon asleep.

Spike walked over to his bed, feeling very much tired himself. As he settled in, though, a voice echoed through his head, one that chilled him to the bone.

Soon, my young one… You will all know the new world that she will bring upon you…