• Published 17th Feb 2013
  • 318 Views, 2 Comments

Nightmare's Sparks - RoyalCoat



Something more than the eternal night that Nightmare Moon threatened has come to Equestria. A vast nothingness has consumed the land. Twilight must find her friends, and save them from themselves, so that they may save the land itself.

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Prologue

The town of Ponyville is a peaceful place, bordered by rolling hills, high fields, and flowing rivers. Despite its close proximity to the Everfree Forest, it is rare for creatures from within to find their way out, and rarer still for ponies to wander inside. So, it could be said, under the watchful eyes of Canterlot, even the chaos is contained: the growth, the weather, the animals, each carefully attended to by ponies whose passion, whose destiny, it is to perform that service.

An easy example of this is the town Librarian, Twilight Sparkle. Her calling, magic itself, lends itself well to study, which in turn entails an appreciation for books. Her appointment to the position, though provided by Celestia herself, can be seen as a fulfillment of the magic of the land to find a proper order. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. It fit well with the unicorn's mindset, to be sure.

Were she thinking clearly, Twilight might have appreciated the irony of that line of thought. Particularly as she tore through the library looking for research materials. Books lay in unorganized heaps all around the room, and sheets of parchment littered every surface, kicked up in frantic searching. Twilight needed to confirm an idea before she lost track of it. In her frenzy, the idea of pages and ink being literally under-hoof seemed to be lost on her.

“Spike! Have you seen my copy of 'Objective Order: Observations of a Controlled Cosmos'?” She called out, still nosing through stacks of books.

After a moment of no response, she called out again. “Spike! Where are you?” She trotted to towards the stairs, kicking up a cloud of paper.

By chance, a parchment fluttered down, landing right over her nose. It happened to be a claw-written note by the dragon in question. Neat quill marks took up only a small portion of the page.

Little coincidences like this happened all the time in Ponyville and, indeed, in all of Equestria. Certainly there were mistakes, but for the most part, if ponies needed to meet, they found each other. If a package needed to be delivered, it reached its destination at the correct moment. If a town needed to be saved for horribly ravenous little creatures, then it would be at exactly the right time. Twilight payed it little mind, and began to read:

'Dear Twilight,

Rarity asked me to help her find more gems for something she's working on. I had to help her out!'

“I bet...” The mare smirked at the thought. Rarity was still Spike's object of affection. Twilight sometimes wondered if she as stringing the baby dragon along too far. It wasn't really fair of her to use him as a source of manual labor.

'Anyway, don't worry, we'll be on the look out for any more diamond dogs. I'll see you later!

~Spike'

She stared at the parchment. It was frustrating but understandable for Spike to be out and about. It was hard, but the baby dragon was growing, and needed to be on his own a little bit more often. Without that, he would have difficulty growing into a teen and later an adult, mentally anyway. Despite this, Twilight felt it difficult to consider her little brother, whom she had watched over most of her life, growing independent.

Her reminiscing was interrupted by a rapid knock on the door. This in itself was strange, since most ponies would simply enter the library if they needed to speak with her. It was a public place, after all.

The knock came again, more urgent this time.

“Coming, coming.” Twilight called to the door, walking closer.

She pulled the entrance open, ready with a “What do you need?” in greeting, but was pulled off her train of thought at the sight of her visitor. The mare blinked as a she met the hard gaze of a royal guard, though his normal golden armor was streamlined, his helmet flatter to his head. The stallion's wings twitched slightly as she looked him over.

Twilight recognized the male as a member of the royal messenger service. While the princesses most often communicated through dragon's fire for urgent messages, or else used the normal postal service for packages, they maintained a group of dedicated pegasii, specially outfitted, to bring packages when timing was crucial. The thought prompted her to look down, where she saw a large box, nearly the size of her head, laying on the step. She looked at her visitor.

“How can I--” Twilight began, but was cut off my a sharp nod from the stallion. As was characteristic of the guards-ponies, he did not speak, but simply tapped a hoof on the box, then saluted. Before she could say anything further, Twilight was watching the other pony disappear into the sky. Headed in the direction of Canterlot, if the rather impressive contrail was any indication. The unicorn stared at the sky in puzzlement for a few moments, then pulled the parcel into her home.

The package was mostly unremarkable, but of high quality, with a royal seal marking it's point of departure. A quick application of magic saw it open, the top falling to the side with a soft thump. A tiny burst of magic, glowing a faint white, escaped as well. Twilight frowned at the little spark of a display. What she had just witnessed was a security spell placed over the box. Unless the proper pony used magic on such a spelled container, it would be unopenable by all but the greatest of force. What could be so important that the palace (though probably her mentor) would take so many precautions?

The box contained what appeared to be several cylindrical objects, wrapped tightly in packing material. These were partially obscured by a small bit of parchment laying atop them. Curious, Twilight lifted the page with her magic to get a better look.

'Twilight

When you receive this, please put on one of the bracelets inside the package. Read no further until you have done so!'

Twilight frowned again. Her mentor was rarely, or never, so informal in her communications. Usually, it was 'My Student, Twilight Sparkle' or something like it. To be addressed on by her first name was strange, to say the least. Further, the quill marks bore none of the grace she normally associated with the monarch. They were hurried, scratched quickly into the surface. More urgency. It didn't bode well.

She put the parchment aside and levitated a single object from the box. The wrapping was quickly shed, revealing a... the Princess had called it a bracelet, but Twilight felt it better described as a shackle. Whatever it could be called, the ornament was plain, two flat bars of metal curved into half circles, and joined at the edges by a well hidden hinge and clasp. The exterior was rough, the interior smooth, when it was worn, it would be seamless from the outside. It was strange to the unicorn, not because it looked old, but because it felt old, somehow.

Choosing to trust her teacher, and with only the slightest hint of trepidation, the mare clasped it around her right foreleg. Despite her misgivings, nothing readily apparent happened. Certainly nothing magical, anyway. It was a little immodest, but Twilight's well studied senses could detect magic at even the smallest level. The accessory clung to her upper leg, only its remarkably little weight left to remind her that it was there.

Satisfied she had attended to Celestia's concerns, the unicorn levitated the parchment again, and continued reading:

'If you are reading this, Twilight, I trust that you have followed my instructions. If not, please do so. It is of great importance.'

The mare looked a little hurt, but continued reading.

'Now that you are wearing the bracelet, please continue. I know that you are probably very curious as to why I have sent you this package, but regretfully I can not go into it now. Suffice to say, something is happening, something that I have little control over.'

Twilight blinked. This was getting worse. What could rile her teacher? What could be so great as to be outside the power of a being who could control the sun? She delved further.

'So now I must ask you, my dear student, to complete another task. There are five bracelets still in the package. You must find the other Elements of Harmony, and have them put them on. Do so as quickly as you can. When you are finished, bring them to the palace. Go quickly. Time is not on our side.'

The note was unsigned, but the unicorn barely noticed as she cast the note aside and pulled the box onto her back. This was far too urgent to second guess her teacher. Before the paper had reached the floor, she had exited, pulling the door closed only as an afterthought.

=== \¯\¯\_/\_/¯/¯/ ===

Twilight made a mad dash for the Carousel Boutique, the closest of her friends homes. Nearly halfway there, she skidded to a halt. Rarity wasn't going to be home! Spike's note had said they would be out collecting gems... They could be anywhere in the rocky hills nearby. This was not what she needed right now.

Fighting down a feeling of panic at the disruption of her half formed plan, the unicorn set her mind to a new one. Several seconds passed until a realization struck her. Of course! She needed to find Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash! They could help her cover more ground and find the others.

After a quick deliberation, she whirled around and headed for Fluttershy's cottage. The shy pegasus might take some coaxing to help with a search by flight, but she was more likely to be at home. Rainbow might be out sleeping on a cloud, and looking even further for her sort of defeated the purpose.

Fate helped Twilight out. As she was tied up in her thoughts, the unicorn nearly ran headlong into another pony while turning a corner. There was a quick 'eep' as the yellow mare leapt backwards. When the unicorn recovered herself, she found the very pony she was looking for staring at her.

“Is something the matter, Twilight? I mean, if you don't mind me asking...” Fluttershy asked with a little trepidation. The purple mare sighed internally. Fluttershy could stare down fearful creatures and be as brave as the rest of them, but still she struggled to ask her friends things without going into a whisper.

Unfortunately, Twilight didn't have time.

“Quick, put this on!” The mare shouted, pulling another shackle from the box with her magic. The packing surrounding it was completely shredded in her haste.

Fluttershy, for her part, was standing stock still, an expression of surprise on her face. She made no move to resist, even as Twilight wrapped the ornament around her fore-leg. With a satisfying click, it locked into place, and the unicorn relaxed slightly.

“I'm sorry Fluttershy, but we don't have much time.”

“I... I...” The pegasus seemed to be shaking. She almost looked on the verge of crying. “Twilight, what's going on?” Was all that came out in a tight voice.

“We need to find the others. As quickly as possible. Can you start flying and try and find Rainbow or Rarity? I'm not sure where they are.” Twilight continued.

“What... what's this about?” Fluttershy tried to voice.

“It doesn't matter! We have to find the others!” The unicorn grimaced as the pegasus flinched. “I'm sorry for shouting. But we need to find the others. Then we can all get some answers.” She finished much more softly.

The yellow mare still seemed like she was made of fine china, but looked at her with renewed focus. “O... Okay. Rainbow should be on her favorite sleeping cloud. I'll go get her, then we'll look for Rarity. Is that alright?”

Twilight smiled. “That will be fine. I'll go get Applejack. Get everypony back to the center of town, okay?”

The pegasus responded with a soft nod, and a look of determination. Then everything went awry.

Twilight first felt a cold at the edge of her magical senses. She couldn't suppress a shudder, even though the sensation wasn't real. It felt like her body was in ice water. Then a shadow grew across the town, plunging the corner the two were standing at into a murky half light.

When the unicorn looked up to ask Fluttershy if she had felt the same thing, she found her friend hovering just off the ground. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw the other mare's eyes. They were wide and fearful, almost shrunk to pin-pricks, gazing behind the unicorn. Twilight felt as though she shouldn't turn around. In fact, she shuddered again at the thought, but did so anyway.

What she saw was beyond any of her experiences or learning.

There was a gray wall on the horizon, reaching up to the heavens. They were in shadow because it had already crossed over part of the sun, which only let through a dim gloom. It's surface roiled and churned, like the thunder-clouds the weather ponies sometimes had to make. No lighting flashes marred it surface, though. Only an unsettling feeling was projected before it.

In the time it took Twilight to observe and understand this, the wall had moved forward with frightening speed. From the position of the two ponies, the sun was eclipsed, swallowed by the growing darkness. The unicorn vaguely wondered if Canterlot could still see the sun, or if it had been consumed. For that was all that she could think of. A great beast, unlike anything that still existed in Equestria, devouring it's prey.

She could make out the sound screams, things being dropped in the streets, the opening and closing of windows. None of it mattered. It was moving too fast. Nopony could escape. It was the doom, the death knell of Equestria. A sound began to fill the air. At first it seemed like a roar, dull and at the edge of hearing, but then it became a rushing sound as the thing drew closer. There was nothing she could...

“Twilight!”

The unicorn snapped out of her trance, looking around wildly, several hairs out of place. She centered on the pegasus behind her with a surprised and ashamed expression.

“I'm sorry... I don't know what came over me.” Was all she could find to say.

“Thank goodness! I just don't know what to do... Then you stopped talking...” Fluttershy still looked fearful, but there was a glint of rare determination in her wide blue eyes. It was a startling contrast.

“Oh, the animals... I hope they're okay. I'm sure they don't know what to do. I--” The pegasus started to ramble.

As embarrassed as she was at going to pieces, Twilight was thankful that Fluttershy had shaken the stupor from her. Now though, she was returning to her worried nature, and that was something they, again, didn't have time for.

“Fluttershy!”

The butterscotch mare jumped a little.

“Ye... Yes?”

“Take two of these, and try to find some of the others. Meet me at...” Twilight looked over her shoulder, trying to suppress a shudder while preforming some quick calculations. “...the edge of Sweet Apple Acres. I'll find AJ and Pinkie.” The unicorn scooped up two of the bracelets and dropped them into Fluttershy's hooves. “Now, get moving!”

Fluttershy looked stunned, but performed an about face in mid-air, then flew off in the opposite direction. Twilight sighed, then turned to run for the only place she hoped Pinkie could be, Sugar Cube Corner.

=== \¯\¯\_/\_/¯/¯/ ===

By the time she was nearing her destination, it was already quite clear to the mare that she would be unable to outrun the thing coming towards them. Whatever was going on, it was clear now that Celestia feared it. That was a bad sign. It also seemed that these shackles... bracelets... whatever, were intended to help. How, at this point, she couldn't even imagine.

Twilight rounded the last corner, very happy to see the familiar shop amid the growing murk. A gaggle of ponies were crowded around the door, glancing around nervously, but obviously straining to get inside. A familiar giggle made it's way to her ears through the opening.

“Hey everypony! I know it's scary out there, but it's not so bad! We'll have a big party, and everypony can get their mind off all the stuff outside! You see, my granny told me something about being scared....” Came the voice of Pinkie, who proceeded to trail off into a song. A familiar one at that.

The unicorn called out to the hyperactive earthpony, but couldn't make herself heard over the music. How did she manage to do that, anyway? Twilight continued to try and find a way through, but after another minute, gave it up. It was so tightly packed inside that there was no way she could get in, short of teleportation. And that was definitely a bad idea around big crowds.

“Twi'light! What's going on?” Came a shout from behind her.

The unicorn turned at the southern drawl, and was rewarded with the sight of Applejack racing down the street toward her.

“Applejack! I need help! We need to get inside and grab Pinkie!” Even as she shouted, the mare raced towards AJ, trying to pull another bracelet from her box.

“What the hay is that?” The farm pony questioned as she drew closer.

“No time! Just put this on!” Twilight said breathlessly.

The earthpony gasped, looking past Twilight. Despite herself, the mare looked behind her. Her eyes widened.

In the short time since she had arrived, the wall had drawn closer to them, and was continuing with frightening speed. In an instant, the ponies surrounding the Corner vanished. The swell of Pinkie's song was consumed into a growing silence. And still it advanced. Now there was no rush, no roar, only an unbearable deafness. Twilight might have shed a tear if there had been time.

Now though, in the space of a breath, the unicorn turned back to the farm pony. AJ had a mixed look of horror, confusion, and sadness on her face. She payed it no mind. The unicorn clamped the bracelet around the other mare's fore-leg, just as she felt a seeping cold draw over her flank.

Applejack could only stare, dumbfounded, in the time it took for her friend to be enveloped by the darkness. Her face went slack in the horror of the moment. Then she too was consumed.

And all was gloom. The sun and the moon and the stars were vanquished, helpless. The end of Equestria had come.