• Published 14th Sep 2011
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The Eternal Storm - TDarkchylde

The Nightmare returns, now using an Element Bearer as a host.

  • ...

Terrible Reality

The Eternal Storm - Chapter 2 - Terrible Reality

"The Element of Magic. While her magical power is without peer among mere unicorns, her will is stronger still. She is a poor choice for a host... but her role will be crucial nonetheless."

Rainbow Dash was speeding towards the ground at unreal speeds. It would only be seconds until the only thing remaining of her would be a rainbow-patterned smear on the ground below.

Twilight Sparkle was determined not to allow that to be the case. Princess Celestia would not make it in time to assist her.

She had to act quickly to save her friend.

Her horn began to glow as she desperately tried to wrap Rainbow Dash in a levitation field. She had done this many times in the past - every unicorn's magical training began with simple telekinesis, after all.

Of course, this was far from simple. Twilight realized this as she felt the backlash from Dash's supersonic descent wrack her body. Her magic ebbed quickly.

It was certainly noticeable. "Twilight!" Spike yelled.

"I just don't have the power for this," she lamented as the strain forced her eyes to close. "Even trying to wrap a TK field around her feels like it's going to tear my horn off!"

"You've got to hold on!" Spike shouted as he looked towards the rapidly approaching alicorn. "Princess Celestia! Hurry, please!"

Even at her fastest, however, the Princess of the Sun was still too far away. Rainbow Dash would be but a memory by the time she could even begin to assist.

Just as Twilight was about to give up hope, as well as her grip on consciousness, a new thought entered her mind and new power flowed through her body.

"No. Rainbow Dash must live. The Princess is too far away... I can do this. I MUST do this!"

As her newfound power flowed around the careening Dash, she screamed as loud as her voice could manage.


Rainbow Dash's limp form began to slow in the air as Twilight's power reached an impossible level, even dwarfing the outburst that landed her in Princess Celestia's tutelage. Not only did she have Rainbow Dash secure in a telekinetic field, she was actually able to bleed off her velocity both quickly and safely. She felt blood begin to trickle down her face as she labored on. Nothing would stop her, she felt as she continued slowing Rainbow Dash's fall.

With one final anguished scream, she gained full control over Rainbow Dash and lowered her to the ground. Just as Dash was safe, though, Twilight felt her power and her body give out.

Princess Celestia would arrive only a couple of minutes later to discover a broken but breathing Rainbow Dash, as well as a comatose Twilight Sparkle and a sobbing Spike cradling her.

"Twilight?" Spike pleaded between sobs. "Twilight, wake up, please! Wake up!!!"

The distraction allowed an eerily familiar black mist to streak off towards Canterlot unnoticed.


The all clear sounded in Ponyville as its residents began to emerge from the shelter.

Pinkie Pie was among the first to emerge. She was bouncing happily as usual - even the near-end of all life wouldn't put a damper on her spirits. "After-hurricane party at Sugarcube Corner tonight!" she exclaimed happily.

"Raincheck, sug?" Applejack wearily asked as she made her way outside. "Ah gotta make sure all the apple trees got thru this."

Both could hear a familar, regal voice speaking into their minds - the voice of the Princess of the Moon. "Ponyville needs a day or so to wind down, and I'm sure Big Macintosh can assess the damage. You're needed in Canterlot now," she said.

Each of the two Element Bearers gave the other the same puzzled look. "Wha?" they both asked in unison.

"Forgive the intrusion, but this really is important," Luna replied. Her mental voice was soft and guarded. "Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash are in Canterlot. My sister is making sure both are being taken care of. You need to get here. Quickly."

Both Applejack and Pinkie Pie sprinted quickly toward Canterlot as they heard the word "quickly."

"What about Fluttershy an' Rarity?" Applejack asked between breaths. "Somepony's gotta tell them too!"

"It's being taken care of," Luna said. "Please, hurry."


Celestia had finished relaying a similar message to both Fluttershy and Rarity. While she had instructed Fluttershy to come quickly, she had sent Rarity to meet up with Scootaloo's parents. She was unsure if either Rainbow Dash or Twilight Sparkle would fully recover, and Rarity had wanted to spare Dash's young idolizer from possibly seeing her hero in such bad condition.

The experience was starting to wear on the Princess. She sighed deeply as she took in all that had happened. She had given Dash's ramshackle plan her tacit approval, and it had nearly gotten both her own student and Dash nearly killed.

As she reflected on it, she began to sob, realizing that even with the benefit of hindsight, she would do it again.

A gentle tap on her shoulder returned her to reality. "Your Majesty?" a stallion asked.

She sniffled and cleared a tear away as she turned to the stallion. "Yes?" she replied.

"You asked to be informed when the two patients you brought here were stable," he said. "While Miss Sparkle is still in critical condition, Miss Dash will pull through." He wore a guarded expression on his face.

"You're not telling me everything, Doctor," the Princess observed. "Something else is wrong."

The doctor sighed. This was the second-worst part of his job - the worst being breaking the news of a death to a pony's loved ones. "We can't repair Miss Dash's wings. They're just too badly damaged. She'll be earthbound for the rest of her life."

The Princess sat in silence for what felt like an eternity. "Please, inform her family. They need to be here. Her friends are already on the way," she said as she stood. "I have to notify my sister of the situation. Excuse me." As she finished her sentence, she flew back toward the Palace.

Two pegasus Royal Guards followed her, keeping a respectable distance. One's eyes had an unusual, almost serpentine appearance.


It took longer than the guard had liked for the Princesses to dismiss him. He had told them he wasn't feeling well, which was the truth. Having been infected by the Nightmare, his body became little more than a plaything to it. Its goal wasn't the Princesses anyway. For now.

As he took turn after turn into the depths of the castle, he was being drawn to one single goal. It was locked up deep underneath the castle in a secret vault, its location only known to five ponies - the two Princesses, the Element of Magic, Celestia's head guard - and himself, the second in command.

The Princesses were understandably distracted.

The Element of Magic was fighting for her life.

As for Celestia's head guard, he was laying unconscious a few corridors back, left with a nasty bruise on his head. He'd survive, though he'd no doubt call for an investigation. It would be a short one, anyway - he'd seen his assailant. The Nightmare wasn't concerned with trying to hide the identity of his attacker, after all... he was just as disposable as all of them.

...All except the one it truly wanted, anyway.

As he continued, the Nightmare blocked off any feelings of guilt the second in command would have over the treasonous act, forcing him to focus on the task at hand.

The Nightmare and its host finally reached the goal - a magically sealed vault. Though the door itself was easy to open, there was a shield in place that only recognized the five ponies who knew what laid inside. It already controlled one. Channeling its power outward, it created a magical facsimile of a second that would allow it to pass.

Both the controlled guard and a semi-transparent magical construct radiating Twilight Sparkle's magical aura passed through and the shield fell. Inside was the bounty, and the next component of the scheme...


"Fluttershy! You made it!" Pinkie Pie shouted as she bounced up to Canterlot General.

Applejack trailed slightly behind her. "Consarn it filly, how're ya' still full of bounce after all that?" she yelled weakly.

"Lots and lots and lots of sugary treats!" Pinkie replied, bouncing in place. Her ever-present smile was a little more forced than usual since hearing Luna's message.

"Oh, thank goodness I made it up here in time," Fluttershy said as she joined her two friends. "Princess Celestia sounded so worn out when she called me. I'm just glad she had someone else bring the animals back to Ponyville."

"Yeah, that's great an' all," Applejack interjected, "but we're still missing one. Where's Rarity?"

"I had a more important task for her to take care of first," called a voice from the sky. "She'll be coming via chariot as soon as that is done."

Fluttershy, Applejack and Pinkie Pie looked skyward upon hearing Princess Celestia's voice. They started to bow, but were quickly waved off.

"There's no time for formalities," Celestia said as she landed. "We should hurry inside. Rainbow Dash is waking up. I want her to have friends close by when... when..."

"Out with it, Princess... what happened?" Applejack asked. Honesty was demanding honesty in kind. "Are Twilight and Dash gonna be okay?"

The Princess led the three young mares into the hospital. "Rainbow Dash will survive, though even I have no idea how," she said.

"But... what about Twilight... eek!" Fluttershy began to ask, before Princess Celestia looked back at her. "I'm sorry..." she said, intimidated.

"Don't be scared," Celestia said, trying to reassure the meek yellow pegasus. "Whatever you have to say, you don't have to worry about my reaction. None of this is your fault."

"Um... ok then... what's wrong with Twilight then?" Fluttershy asked, still slightly frightened.

"I'm sure she's fine, Fluttershy," Pinkie said, trying to reassure her friend. "One, Twilight's been through a lot since we've known her. She's even had a safe fall on her and She Got Better. Two, Princess Celestia would never, ever let Twilight get hurt anyways!"

Pinkie's overly optimistic outburst was enough to fracture the shreds of emotional self-control the Princess was desperately clinging to. "They..." she started as she began sniffling, "they don't know yet. From what... *sniffle* Spike told me, Twilight was channeling so much power to try to save Rainbow Dash that *sniffle* she may have been feeding the spells with her own life force. She... she might not make it."

The three young mares froze. Applejack was the first to speak. "Ah didn't understand a word of that other than 'she might not make it.' Ya' sure them docs know what the hay they're talking 'bout?"

Fluttershy simply collapsed and started crying uncontrollably. Pinkie Pie embraced her gently and started talking softly to her. "It... it's going to be okay, Fluttershy," Pinkie said, trying to console her friend. "Those mean doctors don't know what they're talking about. Twilight's going to pull through, you'll see! She always does..."

"That's not the only problem," Celestia said as she too began crying.


It was getting late and a unicorn was about to close up shop in Canterlot. Iron Hoof had received no business as usual - things that usually required his services just didn't happen often in Equestria. Things are usually hard for a businesspony when their special talent is creating prosthetics in a land where nopony loses a limb, after all.

As he was about to change the sign on his shop to "Closed," a cloaked pegasus ran up. "Wait! Don't close up yet!" the pegasus yelled. "I need your services."

Iron Hoof coughed. "Eh? A customer? You're the first one I've had in months," he said as he motioned for the pegasus to come inside.

"My daughter's been hurt. Flying accident. They say she might be earthbound," the pegasus said as he entered the store. "They also say you're the best at what you do."

"I gave up tryin' tae argue wit' 'them' a long time ago, good sir," Iron Hoof boasted. "Anything tae drum up a sale, even if the poor lass ain't got a prayer of flyin' again," he figured. "You want the best? I'm it, laddie."

The pegasus smiled sickly as he pulled back his cloak, revealing his serpentine eyes. "That's just what I wanted to hear," he said as he began emanating a black mist.

Iron Hoof began to scream, but it was quickly silenced. A few minutes later, he opened the side door of his shop and casually dumped the unconscious Royal Guard in an alley. "I might be the best at what I do, but if I would have had to listen to that despicable accent just a moment longer..." he spat as he ducked back inside and shut the door.


The bad news was met with Rainbow Dash launching a monitor at the nearest wall, nearly taking Applejack's head off in the process. She had only been awake for two whole minutes, and now her world was shattered. "Earthbound? I'm going to be earthbound? For. The. Rest. Of. My. LIFE?!" she angrily yelled. While her wings were shattered to the point of uselessness, the rest of her body was almost unharmed in comparison.

"Dang it Dash, we ain't the reason your wings broke!" Applejack retorted. "Why'd you have to go flyin' into that storm anyway? What about us?"

"Calm down..." Pinkie Pie said as she began to shut down from all the arguing.

"What about you? Hello? I saved Ponyville and all of you! You’re welcome, by the way... but I'm the one who'll never fly again!" Rainbow yelled hysterically. "My life is over!"

Fluttershy darted outside of the room when the outburst began heating up. "This isn't happening," she mumbled between sobs.

"Your life? Sugarcube, not all of us been blessed with wings," Applejack yelled back. "Ah ain't ever had 'em, and Ah've been gettin' along just fine all these years! Besides, what if you'd gone an' died out there?!"

"Applejack, enough... please?" Pinkie weakly pleaded. Her hair was beginning to lose some of its curliness.

The realization that she could have died hit a nerve for Rainbow Dash. She had considered it when she flew into the storm, of course, but adrenaline had served to blunt her reaction to it. "I... I wouldn't have died," Rainbow said weakly.

"An' you didn't, on account of Twilight riskin' her neck to save you," Applejack said. "An' now cause of some weird unicorn magical stuff, we might lose her!"

"It's not my fault..." Rainbow Dash said, weakly. "I didn't mean..."

"Course you didn't mean it, but it happened," Applejack said bluntly.

"Stop it!" Pinkie yelled as her hair fully straightened. "Applejack, seriously? You're getting on Rainbow Dash for something any of us would do if we had her skills?"

"Pinkie..." Applejack stammered as the weight of Pinkie's words struck her.

"...And, you," Pinkie said as she turned to Rainbow Dash. "I'm sorry you got hurt trying to save Ponyville, and I thank you for that, but you need to realize that you mean a lot to us, and you need to control your recklessness sometimes!"

Both Rainbow Dash and Applejack stared silently at Pinkie Pie.

"Friends. Don't. FIGHT. Like. That. When. Another. Friend. Needs. Them!" Pinkie screamed. She then took a deep breath and her hair resumed its curly state. "There. Now I need to go visit Twilight Sparkle. She needs her friends right now more than ever," she said as she bounced purposely out of the room.

As Rainbow Dash and Applejack opened their mouths to argue some more, Pinkie stuck her head back into the door. "All of them!" she said as she exited for real this time.

"...Can I have some alone time?" Rainbow Dash asked, quietly, defeated. "I... I need to think for a while. Tell Fluttershy I'm sorry, okay?"

"Y-yeah, sure, Dash," Applejack said as she left the room. "You're gonna be fine, filly. The docs are wrong anyways."

"Don't you know it!" Dash said, faking some bravado for the sake of her friend. "But... I really do need to think," she stated to an empty room.

The worst part for Dash was that she was stuck in that bed, unable to go thank the friend who may well have given her life for her...