• Published 28th Jan 2012
  • 6,809 Views, 249 Comments

No Matter How Dark - Picardy Third



Attacks and destruction in Ponyville occur on top of Twilight's recent incidents of memory loss

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Discovery

Chapter 7
Discovery

The ponies returning from Canterlot arrived home that day with heavy hearts and lowered spirits. A small crowd of ponies had awaited the five friends’ return at the train station, awaiting the return of their beloved unicorn friend. When they discovered that Twilight wouldn’t be returning, however, the mood turned from jubilant to somber immediately.

Ponyville somehow darkened when Twilight left. One would think that the unicorn’s impact on the town was meager at best, but you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Although Twilight’s stay was short, she had become an integral part of the community, always active and present whenever a helping hoof was requested. Being librarian was only a portion of what Twilight did for Ponyville.

The library had become desolate and empty. Cheerilee was doing a fine job filling in the position of librarian, but Twilight and Spike somehow breathed life into the building with their presence. Twilight’s love for books seemed to nurture the very wood of the tree the library rested within. Every visit brought something new, whether it was something you learned or perhaps a nice conversation with the intelligent unicorn. Without her and Spike, ponies just lost whatever little interest they had gained.

“Looks like we need t’ just return t’ how things were before.” Applejack told their group before separating upon their return. Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie left the station and headed into town while Applejack began to walk back to her farm. Applejack looked up at Canterlot Castle off in the distance. For some reason, it seemed like Twilight was within walking distance, just there waiting for them.

This was not true, however. Twilight was far from them in multiple ways. Not only did the train ride take most of a day to reach Canterlot, but her soul was in a dark place that was miles from normal. Applejack shuddered at the thought, that their friend Twilight could snap at any moment and become a monster capable of ending all their lives.

“Y’sure know how ta pick ‘em, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack commented aloud, then chuckled at her own joke. Sweet Apple Acres came into view and Applejack sighed. She looked down at the cast that wrapped her leg and kept it from being useful. She’ll have to make sure Big Mac gets seconds at dinner whenever he wants, because he will really have to pick up her slack. Applejack smiled at the thought of a nice dinner with her family.

“That’s what Ah need right about now.” Applejack said, then smiled despite the circumstances and slowly made her way into the farm.
***
***

“I can’t find anything!!!” Twilight shouted somewhere within the archives. Celestia had just entered the large room to find the entire place torn apart. Celestia’s jaw dropped and the princess knew certainly Twilight hadn’t been able to read all of these scrolls and books in the few hours she had been left alone. Piles and piles of parchment and books were scattered all over the archives, obscuring Celestia’s view so she could see no more than a few feet.

“You sure have been busy.” Celestia said, taking interest in a stack of discarded books near the door, each of which was about the Dragon-Pony War. “And you have been reading an interesting array of topics!”

“You never know what you’ll find in an old book, Princess!” Twilight said, “I don’t want to miss anything!”

“Of course, Twilight, I believe I was the one that taught you that.” Princess Celestia reminded Twilight with a grin.

“…Oh, right.” Twilight replied quickly. Celestia looked around for the source of Twilight’s voice, but could not locate the unicorn in the piles of books. Celestia walked through the piles, but Twilight just didn’t seem to be reading on the floor anywhere.

“Twilight, where is Spike? He was here when I left.”

“I sent him off to take a break. He was working himself to death!” Twilight called out.

“How very thoughtful of you.” Celestia commented. She looked back and forth, but still couldn’t see the unicorn anywhere.

“Um…” Celestia began, about to ask where Twilight was, but suddenly a purple shape off to her right stirred and caused the princess to jump slightly with a start.

“Oh, sorry to startle you Princess!” Twilight said. She was on top of a stack of books, about five feet in the air. Twilight’s hooves were at Celestia’s eye level.

“You never cease to amaze me, Twilight.” Celestia commented.

Twilight ignored the comment, “Here, when was this written?” Twilight asked, pushing a scroll in Celestia’s face. Celestia studied it quickly, then answered.

“This is a first-hoof account during the great unicorn migration… easily four thousand years ago.” Celestia said.

“Interesting…” Twilight said, then her horn quickly lit up and levitated the scroll over to a stack of similar-looking scrolls. Twilight gingerly set the scroll down and continued her search.

“You say you have been unsuccessful in your research?” Celestia asked.

“Unfortunately.” Twilight replied flatly.

Celestia just hummed in reply and moved to search a different section of the archives. A silence enveloped the room, in which the only sound that could be heard was the shuffling of papers and the occasional sigh or yawn from either of the ponies.

“Oh?” Twilight said curiously. Celestia was on the other side of the library, but she turned and looked in Twilight’s direction with interest. Twilight jumped down from her perch atop the books, creating a dull thud that sounded much louder than it actually was. She walked around the mountain of books and pulled a book from the bottom shelf.

“Now how did I miss this?” Twilight asked nopony in particular. She held the book in front of her face with magic and brought it over to a table. She laid it down carefully. The book was rather large, huge in fact, square in shape, and very old. The pages were aged, dark, and fragile, so Twilight didn’t even come into physical contact with it. The cover was green and had gold lettering that read, A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.

“Was Queen Terra your mother?” Twilight asked Celestia. Celestia perked up and whipped her head around to face Twilight.

“I beg your pardon?” Celestia asked.

“Queen Terra.” Twilight said, then pointed at the book, “Was she your mother?”

“Yes, she was. How have you…?”

A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.” Twilight recited. She opened the cover and looked at the opening pages, but yellow magic suddenly covered the book and closed it. Twilight jumped back in surprise and saw that Celestia was smiling nervously, taking the book from Twilight with her magic.

“Um… Princess? What are you doing?” Twilight asked.

“I’m so sorry, Twilight, but all books written by my mother I must keep in my personal library.” Celestia said with a serious face. “I don’t know how this got in here…”

“What? But… this could truly hold the answers we seek!” Twilight complained.

“I will be certain to look over it when I get the chance.” Celestia said, then walked over to the door with the book. Twilight scowled and watched Celestia walk out of the room.

“I’m sure there’s something in here.” Celestia said. “Have faith, my student.”

Twilight groaned as the princess left. She was frustrated to the point of kicking a desk, which only resulted in causing her pain in her hoof. Twilight walked over to the pile she had made previously and picked up a book that she had been resting on. She scanned the cover: Pony Sicknesses and Plagues of the Dark Ages.

“I really needed to see that book.” Twilight said out loud. She casually opened the cover of the book she had picked up and flipped through some pages. She had already thoroughly scanned this volume, but arbitrarily flipping pages and looking at the diagrams seemed to provoke thought in Twilight.

“What if the Princess is hiding something from me?” Twilight continued the conversation with herself. “What if there’s something in that book that she doesn’t want me to know?”

“No, Twilight.” Twilight lectured herself, “You need to trust the Princess. She must just want the book to stay safe. It is very old, after all.” Twilight said, “Still… if any book will hold answers, it would be that one.”

“I’m back, Twilight!” Came the small voice of Spike from the door to the archives. “Woah! Did it get messier in here?”

“Spike!” Twilight said happily, “I’m back here!”

Spike strolled through the library and found Twilight sitting in the back holding a contemplative hoof to her chin while staring at a book. Spike walked over to the book and looked at it, then cocked his head in confusion. He lifted the cover off the surface of the table just enough to see the title, which confirmed his suspicions.

“Uh… Twilight? You were looking at this book when I left.” Spike said. Twilight was taken out of her thought when Spike brought that fact up. She laughed lightly and closed the book with her magic. Spike still looked at Twilight with confusion.

“Spike, I need you to do something with me tonight.” Twilight said.

“Sure, Twilight!” Spike said, then looked at Twilight’s serious face, “What is it?”

“Celestia’s been my mentor for over twenty years. I have never questioned her judgment before. I trusted that she knew what was best.” Twilight said, pacing away from Spike. She spoke as if Spike were taking a note, as if this were some discovery of hers. Spike glanced around nervously, wondering if he should actually be taking this down.

“But now, I know that I need to start taking matters into my own hooves.” Twilight recited. “The Princess is keeping something from me, I know it. I need to see that book!”

“What book?” Spike asked.

A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.” Twilight said. She was running her hoof along the edge of a shelf, studying the way it carved patterns into the thin layer of dust that had accumulated.

“How will that help you?” Spike asked. “And who’s Queen Terra?”

“Queen Terra was Celestia and Luna’s mother. Celestia told me that the last known pony to have the same curse that I have was a close friend of Terra’s. I know that if this truly is a matter that concerns the safety of Equestria, the Queen would have written about it.”

“So… where is it?” Spike asked. Twilight frowned and looked at Spike seriously. “What?” Spike asked.

“We need to break into Celestia’s study.”
***
***

Twilight watched the sun on its journey through the sky with great interest. Once it crossed the horizon and night fell, she began to prepare. She and Spike had been entertaining each other for hours in Twilight’s room, though most of the time was spent thinking of a way to get into Celestia’s private study.

Finally, they had thought of a plan, which Twilight thought to be brilliant (considering she thought of most of it). Nighttime signaled the beginning of it, so as planned, she turned to Spike and nodded.

“Sun is down. Begin phase one!” Twilight commanded.

“Yeah, yeah...” Spike said, not taking Twilight seriously with her tone. Spike walked over to Twilight’s bed, lifted up the overhanging covers and slid underneath it. Twilight walked around and flattened out the blankets that had been disturbed, then checked to make sure Spike couldn’t be seen.

“You alright under there?” Twilight asked.

“Just wonderful.” Spike grumbled.

“You won’t be under there long, I promise!” Twilight said, then she walked over to the window and stared out it until the next signal came. From this window, Twilight could see Celestia’s chambers. The windows were illuminated with a soft yellow glow, and from within Twilight could occasionally see Celestia’s form as she paced about the room.

Celestia’s study was connected to her chambers, and unfortunately the study was connected to the room by an open archway that could easily be seen through from the bed. Twilight had to be absolutely sure that Celestia was asleep.

There was a knock on the door. Twilight got up and walked across the room. As Twilight had planned, there stood two royal guards when she opened the door. The guard on the left was a gray unicorn and the one on the right a white pegasus.

“Evening, Twilight.” The unicorn on the left greeted.

“Good evening, sirs.” Twilight said casually.

“Just checking up on ya. We’re beginning our watch now.” The pegasus said.

“Thank you, I am here. Safe and sound.” Twilight replied.

“Yep. Goodnight Ms. Sparkle.” The first guard said, then Twilight closed the door. Twilight heard Spike sneeze from underneath the bed.

“Can I come out now?” Spike asked impatiently.

“No, Spike!” Twilight whispered. She walked back to the window and resumed her watch of Celestia’s chambers. The tower was a few stories above Twilight’s room, though still connected by the same hallway. Twilight sighed as she waited. Her eyes began to wander. Since the castle was built into a mountain, Twilight had a magnificent view of the landscape. It was nighttime, so things weren’t quite as visible as usual, but it was peaceful.

Twilight’s eyes fell on a faint glow off in the distance: Ponyville. An aching filled her heart just by looking at the town she previously called her home. The all too real possibility of never being able to return crept into Twilight’s mind as she studied the minute details of the tiny town. It truly hurt her spirit.

Twilight then thought of Rainbow Dash, how she was probably at home being lazy right about now, settling in for the night. She wondered if Rainbow Dash ever looked out her window at Canterlot and thought of her, thought about what she was doing. She wondered how Rainbow Dash would react if she knew that Twilight was about to sneak into Celestia’s private study to steal a book. Would Rainbow Dash think Twilight as brave? Twilight hoped so. Twilight felt like she was being outright insane.

Something caught Twilight’s eye. Celestia’s light went out. Twilight turned away from the window and walked over to her dresser. She opened a drawer with her magic and pulled out a set of dark-colored socks. She slipped them on her hooves quickly and walked over to the door. As she hoped, the socks muffled the sounds of her hoofsteps to nearly inaudible thuds.

Twilight opened the door once she reached it. The guards looked at her curiously. Twilight returned the look with an innocent grin.

“Um... I’m sorry to ask, but could I trouble you gentlemen with a favor?” Twilight asked sweetly.

“Sure, Twilight, what’s up?” The guard on the left said.

“I really, really need Spike for something right now. Could you two go to his room and bring him here?” Twilight asked.

“You want us both to go?” The guard on the right asked, cocking an eyebrow.

“If you don’t mind.” Twilight said with another wide smile.

“Well, we’ll be back then.” The same guard said. The two guards began walking away, “Don’t tell the Princess that we left our post, alright?” The guard asked.

“It’ll be our secret.” Twilight replied. Once the two guards were out of view down the hall, Twilight turned to her bed.

“Okay, Spike, you can come out now.” Twilight said. Spike quickly emerged from underneath the bed and joined Twilight by her bedroom door.

“Nice socks.” Spike commented with a chuckle.

Twilight grimaced, “C’mon, we don’t have much time.” Twilight said. She led Spike out of the room and up the long, curved hallway leading to Celestia’s room. Twilight padded quietly in front of Spike, the small dragon trailing behind her with haste. Ahead of them was a large, double door with fancy carvings and strangely iridescent colors highlighting the patterns.

Once they reached the intricately decorated door, Twilight’s horn illuminated. Twilight tried the handle on the right and found it to be unlocked. With expert care and precision, Twilight turned the handle and released the latch without a sound. The door began to open and squeaked. Twilight and Spike both winced and Twilight stopped instantly.

With a quick modification to the spell, Twilight cast a magical field around the hinges of the door, soundproofing it completely. The door opened just enough for Twilight and Spike to squeeze through.

Once inside, they were immediately in Celestia’s study. Twilight remembered the space from when she was in there talking to Celestia the other night. The magical instruments and trinkets were dark and lifeless in the study, which was only illuminated by the light of the moon streaming through a window on one side.

The fireplace had long since been extinguished, but some of the coals were still red. Twilight turned to and fro, checking the space. She looked toward Celestia’s chambers. As expected, she could see her bed through the wide archway connecting the two rooms. Celestia’s sleeping form was present beneath the covers. Twilight then bent over to whisper in Spike’s ear.

“Okay, look for a really, really big green book with gold letters.” Twilight whispered to Spike.

Spike held up a thumbs-up and began looking through the shelves. Twilight began to do the same. Twilight carefully walked over to the desk on the chance that perhaps Celestia just set the book there when she brought it back with her. Twilight had no such luck. There was some parchment on the desk with a writing quill, but no book.

Twilight opened the drawers of the desk, but there was nothing. She moved her interest to a bookshelf behind her. Twilight created a small orb of light that she used to scan the higher shelves. She studied the multicolored spines of the books above her. There were some amazing tomes that Twilight would normally have been drooling over, but none were A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.

“Twilight!” Spike whispered. Twilight whipped her head around and looked at the baby dragon, who was currently extracting a large, dark-green book from the shelf.

“Spike, you did it!” Twilight whispered back. She walked over to the shelf to help Spike. She and Spike pulled the book out and set it on the ground. Twilight frowned. This wasn’t the right book.

“Oh… sorry, this isn’t it, is it?” Spike asked.

“No, this is a photo album.” Twilight said, taking note of the picture on the front depicting a framed photo.

“A photo album of… Celestia’s family?” Spike asked. Twilight looked at the book with interest. She had to admit, she was growing ever curious about this Queen Terra. Also, the thought of seeing Celestia and Luna as fillies seemed ridiculous to Twilight.

“Maybe a quick peek.” Twilight whispered, then opened the book with her magic. The first photo was a full-page picture of Celestia and Luna with their mother. Luna looked as she did when she was first released from Nightmare’s hold, with a light blue mane that swirled about her face magnificently. Celestia’s mane was a light pink and looked similar to Luna’s in shape, if not a bit longer.

Queen Terra, their mother, stood behind them with a regal grace unlike any Twilight had ever seen before. Terra was very light blue in color, almost white. Her mane swirled and shimmered a combination of light and forest green, a similar shape to what Celestia and Luna now possessed.

“She’s beautiful…” Spike commented quietly. He hadn’t clarified who he had been speaking about, but Twilight knew it was Queen Terra. It was true, she was radiant. She was certainly one of the most beautiful ponies Twilight had ever seen. What intrigued Twilight, though, was the fact that she had no cutie mark. Even Celestia and Luna had cute marks, why didn’t their mother?

A noise made Twilight’s heart jump. It was the sound of Celestia’s bed creaking. Twilight and Spike held completely still, Twilight killing the light in her horn. When the pair was certain that Celestia had not woken, Twilight lifted the book with her magic and replaced it on the shelf.

“We need to get out of here.” Spike said nervously.

“I agree.” Twilight said. “Let’s find that book.”

Twilight left Spike at the bookshelf again and began walking away when she noticed something, through the arch to Celestia’s room. Twilight looked through the darkness into Celestia’s chambers and saw with horror that the book she was seeking was placed on a small table across the bedroom from where she was currently standing. Twilight gulped audibly and turned to Spike.

“Spike… I found it.” She whispered.

“That’s great!” Spike replied in an excited hushed tone. He joined Twilight under the arch and felt his stomach drop as well.

“What are we gonna do?” Spike asked.

“I’m gonna get that book.” Twilight replied. Spike nodded slowly and Twilight snuck forward, watching Celestia’s bed the entire way. Twilight had never seen Celestia asleep before. She found it very odd how her mane didn’t shimmer and glow like it did while awake. It was as if the princess’s entire being entered a state of rest. She looked peaceful.

On the other side of the room, Twilight reached the book and lifted it with her magic. She turned to Spike, who gave her a quick thumbs-up and a nervous glance at Celestia’s bed. Twilight began to walk back toward Spike, but she stopped in fear when a glow appeared to her right. Celestia’s mane!

“Mph…” Celestia muttered, rolling over in the bed. “Wha… who…”

Twilight bared her teeth in panic and whipped her head around, looking for a way out. She quickly dove in front of Celestia’s foot board. She hoped that Celestia would just fall back asleep and she could walk out of there, but Twilight had no such luck.

“Is there anypony there?” Celestia asked the room. Twilight held her breath and didn’t dare exhale. She saw underneath the bed that Celestia’s hooves had touched the ground. Twilight’s heart raced and she looked back. Spike had disappeared from view under the arch, which relieved her a little bit, but the sound of hoofsteps brought her panic back.

Twilight thought quickly and hid under the bed. From underneath the bed, she watched Celestia’s hooves move across the floor and move to the arch. Twilight looked down at the book that she was now clutching to her chest and felt a new surge of fear course through her body. If Celestia sees that her book is missing, she’ll know somepony’s been in her room!

Celestia walked out of the bedroom and into the study. Twilight feared that Spike would be discovered, but she didn’t have time to worry about that. Once Celestia was out of view, Twilight quickly left the cover of the bed and darted over to the table where she found the book. She replaced the book carefully and turned to jump under the bed again, but froze.

“Hello?” Celestia asked from the study. Twilight saw that the glow from Celestia’s mane was approaching the arch again. Celestia was returning to her room. Twilight panicked. She didn’t have time to get under the bed again! What could she do? What could she…

Twilight’s eyes widened as she realized that there was something that she could potentially do. She felt silly for not thinking about it before, but it was a risky move. Twilight moved over to a shadowy part of the room quickly and her horn lit up.

I hope I do this right… Twilight thought, then she quickly cast a spell. The feeling of being submerged in warm water swept over her body and Twilight looked down to see that her body had completely disappeared. Twilight smiled and admired her work. Even the black socks had disappeared!

Ah, the invisibility spell. Twilight thought with relief. The corner she had stepped into was right beside the table that the book sat on. She looked up just in time to see Celestia reentering her bedroom. Celestia didn’t immediately return to bed, though. The princess walked straight over to the table where Twilight had returned the book. Celestia rested a hoof on the cover of the book and traced a circle on it. Her tired eyes looked troubled as she gazed upon the book that Twilight sought after so badly.

“Thank goodness.” Celestia said. “I was fearful that Twilight was making an attempt to take this book.”

Twilight’s eyes opened wide as she listened, mere feet from Celestia’s body. Was Celestia confirming the suspicions she had? Celestia stepped away from the table and returned to her bed. She tucked herself back in, turning her head away from Twilight and the book. She dared not make a movement until she was sure that the princess was asleep.

Minutes passed with Twilight standing in the corner watching Celestia fall asleep. Celestia’s mane became dimmer and dimmer until the ethereal mane had darkened completely. Twilight finally managed an exhale before turning to the book and looking down at it. If Celestia really didn’t want her to see it that badly… should she really take it?

Twilight stared at the book contemplatively for another minute before making up her mind. She lifted the book off the table and set the book down on her back.

I’m sorry, Princess. Twilight thought, but this is just too important.

Twilight, book in tow, went into the study and closed her eyes. Using her magic to scan the area, she saw the outline of Spike huddled underneath the writing desk. Twilight walked over to the desk and peeked underneath it.

“Let’s go.” Twilight whispered.

“Is it safe?” Spike asked shakily.

“No, I just decided to tell Celestia that I’m sneaking around her bedroom after dark and stealing her book.” Twilight said sarcastically. “So she’s kicking us out.”

“You what?” Spike asked, surprised.

“Just get up, Spike.” Twilight commanded. Spike frowned and crawled out from beneath the desk. He saw the book on Twilight’s back and smiled. Twilight smiled back and the two left Celestia’s study together.

They hastened down the hall and made it back to Twilight’s room before the guards returned. Twilight entered first. Spike glanced down the hall and followed her into the room. Twilight went over to the carpeted rug and set the book down on it. She laid down next to it and ran a hoof along its cover.

“Two questions.” Spike said.

“Shoot.” Twilight replied.

“One: why did you send the guards away?” Spike asked, “It’s not like they would stop you from leaving your room.”

“No, but I didn’t want them to know that I had left.” Twilight said.

“Uh huh…” Spike replied with little understanding.

Twilight sighed, “If they knew that I was gone, Celestia could have told them in the morning that she suspected I was in her room, then they could have told her that I was out after dark, and Celestia would know everything!” Twilight said with increasing vigor.

“Okay, okay!” Spike said. “Next question! How are you gonna put that book back?” Spike asked, “We don’t have to go back, do we?”

“No, no. Now that I’ve seen where the book was, I can just teleport it there when I’m done with it. The distance is pretty short, too. It won’t make any noise.”

Twilight opened the cover of the book. Spike walked over to sit beside Twilight and likewise studied the pages. Twilight found the preface a few pages in and began to read out loud.

From the desk of Queen Terra, ruler of Equestria and guardian of Earth.” Twilight read, “In my time as Queen, I have traveled far and met many diverse inhabitants of this magnificent land. Equestria is an incredible place with a rich history that spans millennia. The history is so rich that I have decided to document all that I can in my time remaining as Queen. In this collection, I will recount what I have viewed as the most important events that have happened in Equestrian history to the best of my memory, and in the years to come, I will continue to record these events until the day of my death. It is my hope that in this book the history of Equestria will be preserved and cherished for all to study and learn from."

Twilight looked at Spike and breathed deeply. Spike returned the look and encouraged Twilight to open farther into the book. Twilight was about to proceed when a knock was heard. Twilight looked up at the door in fear, but remembered who it would be. Twilight quickly cast a spell and the book disappeared. Spike looked at the spot in the floor where the book used to be and dropped his jaw. Twilight opened the door and smiled at the two royal guards that stood behind it.

“Good evening.” Twilight greeted.

“Miss Twilight, I’m sorry, but we couldn’t find Spike anywhere.” The unicorn spoke.

“Yeah, he wasn’t in his room or anywhere!” The other guard said.

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, boys.” Twilight said with false sincerity, “Spike showed up all on his own shortly after you left!”

“He did?” The pegasus guard asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yep! See? He’s right in here.” Twilight said, then opened the door wider to reveal Spike, who was now feeling the spot on the carpet where the book had been.

“I guess you’re right.” The same guard said. “Well, I guess we’ll just resume our post then.”

“Thank you so much, gentlecolts. I’m sorry to put you through that.” Twilight said, this time actually sorry for making them go on a wild dragon chase.

“’S no problem, Twilight.” The unicorn said, “We usually need things to do anyway.”

Twilight smiled at the guards and went back into her room. Spike looked up at Twilight, begging for an explanation. Twilight sighed and illuminated her horn again, casting the same spell and returning the book to where it was.

“I just hid it in my dresser.” Twilight explained quickly.

“Oh… right.” Spike said, scratching his head.

“Anyway… let’s find some answers.” Twilight said with determination. She flipped open the cover and began to scan over pages with her magic. She recited aloud what she came across as she went, occasionally stopping at an entry to see if it held any answers.

“Pony Plague, no… Dragon-Pony War, no… Banishment of the Changelings, no…” Twilight continued, flipping pages faster than Spike was even able to register.

“Is this how you read all the time?” Spike asked, but did not receive an answer.

“The Conquest of Orion Teering… The great migration… Patsy Feathers’ first sonic Rainboom…” Twilight groaned, seeing that she was almost through the book, “There has to be something in here!”

“Keep looking, I’m sure there’s something!” Spike said.

“The two year drought… The Cu-“ Twilight stopped immediately, her words catching in her throat.

“The what? What did you find?” Spike asked.

“The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession.” Twilight said. “The entry is short.”

“Well, read it! See what it is!” Spike said.

“Okay…” Twilight said, “Here goes…”
The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession
I have dealt with all sorts of maladies, some more gruesome than others. I have seen ponies wither and die from the most debilitating plagues, and yet none prepared me for this. On a cool spring evening, I was startled when my dearest friend tried to kill me. This, of course, disturbed me greatly, as he returned to normal before the night was up. This pony was named Blue Streak, and he was afflicted with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession.
This curse is more different than any illness because unlike an illness that will eat away at a pony’s body until they are deceased, the Curse of Mallumo’s Possession makes a pony stronger. Since I have only witnessed this in one pony, and it was a unicorn, I do know that it increases magical output and growth greatly. When possessed, he became unreachably evil. His soul was dark and is intentions darker. It only became worse over time. He would become this darker version of himself more often and grew more powerful.
Blue Streak had reached a point of no turning back when he and I discovered what was necessary. All medicinal or magical remedies are useless. No amount of spiritual guidance can rid the cursed pony of the darkness that overtakes it. It is with regret that the only way to deal with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession is…

Twilight stopped reading. Spike dropped his hands to the ground, then opened his jaw. He made a few hand motions to try to get Twilight to spill, but she just stared dumbfounded at the page.

“Twilight, what is it?!” Spike asked fearfully. Twilight gulped loudly and read the last sentence again.
It is with regret that the only way to deal with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession is that the cursed pony be put to death.

Silence filled the room. Twilight quietly closed the book, but stared forward blankly. Spike looked horrified. Had he heard correctly? No, he couldn’t have.

“I’m going to be put to death.” Twilight said weakly.

“No! Twilight, don’t say that, there’s another way!”

“I’m going to die…” Twilight continued, even quieter.

“Stop it, Twilight, you’re scaring me!” Spike shouted.

“What’s so hard to understand, Spike?!” Twilight suddenly barked, “I am a danger to Equestria and all its inhabitants! Why didn’t I see this solution before? It’s so obvious!” Twilight said hysterically.

“No, Twilight, you can’t!” Spike said, now in tears.

“But it’s the only way, Spike!” Twilight said forcefully. “Weren’t you listening?”

“I was, there has to be another way!” Spike sobbed once, “You can’t die! I love you!”

Spike ran forward and hugged Twilight around the neck. Twilight was now tearing up herself. She looked down at Spike, who was now heavily crying into Twilight’s neck. Twilight sniffed and hugged him back.

And for a minute, neither of them spoke.

“Spike, I…” Twilight started, but stopped when a sudden burst of pain flowed through her head.

“…aargh!” Twilight groaned in pain. “What the heck?”

“What is it, Twilight?” Spike asked. Twilight felt another rush of pain and stepped back, away from Spike.

“Twilight, are you okay?” Spike asked nervously. Twilight rubbed her forehead a few times and looked up at Spike with worry.

“Spike, I think something bad’s going to hap-AGH!” Twilight fell to the ground as an indescribably painful flash rocked through her head.

“Twilight!” Spike shouted, then ran forward. He reached down to help Twilight up, but was suddenly blown back by a magical force that originated from Twilight’s body.

“AAH!” Twilight screamed now, suddenly on her feet. Spike went tumbling away, just missing the bed that would have surely injured him. When he collected himself, he looked up to see Twilight’s eyes beginning to glow and her body gaining a black aura that moved and danced like fire.

Twilight then reached her head back and bellowed a high-pitched screech that pierced the walls and sent shivers down Spike’s spine. The baby dragon covered his ears and looked away, too scared. When he looked back up again, Twilight was breathing heavily, her head hung low between her front legs.

“T-Twilight?” Spike asked.

“I’m sorry, you seem to be looking for the wrong pony.” Twilight said in cold, sinister voice that seemed to drain life out of everything that heard it. Then, Twilight lifted her head and revealed a bright red scar that opened over her right eye, still allowing the eye to open fine, but extending for an inch or two in both directions above and below it. The scar was bright red and pulsed like a heartbeat.

“Twilight just doesn’t seem to be here right now!” Twilight jeered, when the door opened and both of the guards entered.

“Twilight!” One of the guards shouted. “What’s going on here?”

Twilight’s head snapped toward the door so fast, the ponies in the room could have sworn Twilight had just broken her neck. She stared right at the first guard to enter the room, the gray unicorn clad in the golden armor that signified that he was a part of Celestia’s own royal guard. The stallion went rigid with fright and began to sweat. Twilight snarled and darted toward, catching him by surprise and pinning him against a wall with force.

The stallion struggled for air as Twilight held him there by the neck with a strong hoof. The guard on any normal circumstance would have easily been able to throw Twilight off of him, but some magical force was making Twilight stronger than usual.

“Shouldn’t you be at your post?” Twilight growled at the guard. He bore his teeth and struggled with Twilight, almost succeeding in pulling her hoof off his neck. At this sudden display of strength, Twilight pulled him off the wall and threw him away, forcing him to go tumbling across the room. He lay still, recovering from the attack, while Twilight turned her attention back to the other two occupants of the room.

Spike was crying and holding his knees, pressed up against a corner of the room. The other guard was standing paralyzed by the door. When Twilight’s eyes fell on his, he suddenly darted out the door and up the hall. Twilight clicked her tongue and shook her head.

“You royal guards aren’t so tough, are you?” Twilight insulted. She walked up to Spike casually. Spike’s breathing increased and he squeezed his eyes shut in fear.

“T-Twilight, what’s gotten into you?” Spike asked shakily.

“Oh shh, shh Spike, don’t be scared.” Twilight cooed softly, insincerely. She put a hoof on Spike’s cheek and began to stroke it softly.

Spike opened his eyes and looked up at Twilight, who had pulled his face up to meet her gaze.

“You wanna know why you’re my number one assistant?” Twilight asked in her disgustingly cold and raspy voice. Spike didn’t answer. He blinked hard and continued to shake in fear.

“You just know how to make me happier.” Twilight answered her own question, “I can have FUN with you!” Twilight’s horn lit up to attack, but before she could do anything, she was tackled to the ground by a headfirst charge from the guard she tried to incapacitate. Twilight fell to her side and grunted.

“Spike, run!” The guard said frantically to Spike. Twilight quickly got to her feet and turned to face the guard with rage in her face. Spike was frozen in fear.

“Now, Spike! You have to get out of here!” The guard yelled. Spike suddenly snapped out of his trance and jumped up from where he was. Twilight began to prepare a spell that would bind Spike in a magical embrace, but the guard locked horns with Twilight and began to fight with her. Spike ran out of the room and away from there as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Twilight screamed in frustration and sent a spark through the grey unicorn’s horn. He reeled back in pain and was rocked with a back-hoofed slap to the muzzle. His face was pushed to the side with the force. Blood began to trickle down his snout and into his mouth. He looked up to see Twilight’s livid face. Her glowing eyes sent a chill down his spine. They looked so empty… so soulless.

“You know… I really hate it when ponies try to stop me from having fun.” Twilight said irritably. She lit up her horn and lifted him off the ground. The blood from his nose dripped onto the floor, leaving little crimson dots on the wooden floor. Twilight threw him across the room. As he hit the floor, his metal armor made loud clanging sounds and he coughed loudly.

Twilight ran over to him and whipped him around so that he was on his back facing upwards. With a quick movement from Twilight, his armor flew off in all directions, exposing his body and a sky blue mane. She stamped a hoof down on his ribs. The force was assisted by magic and broke a few of his ribs. He let out a pained grunt and coughed some more, a little bit of blood in the coughs. Twilight prepared a magical attack, then unleashed a little boomerang-shaped burst of lavender energy.

“AH!” The guard cried out as the magic sliced open his front right leg and right side. More blood poured from his wounds, staining the floor and creating a pool beneath him. Twilight rubbed her hoof in the wound on his side, making him wince in pain. She brought the hoof to her face and licked it, tasting the blood.

The armor-clad guard breathed in as best he could, then quickly cast a spell that pushed Twilight off him, if a bit weakly. He scrambled to his hooves and ran to the door, but Twilight was too fast. Twilight caught his tail with a magical hold and yanked him back into the room. The force on his tail hurt him, but he thought quickly before Twilight was able to pull him all the way over to her. Once he was within range, he bucked his legs back and scored a hit right on Twilight’s muzzle.

Twilight staggered back and let out a cry of pain. The guard then made another run for the door. He was almost out the doorway when Twilight teleported in front of him and swung her hoof at his face again, this time hitting him in the jaw. There was an audible crack as his jaw broke. He fell back and brought his left front hoof up to nurse the injury, but Twilight wasted no more time.

“You know what? I respect you.” Twilight said a little frantically. She grabbed him with magic and slammed him back down on his back, forcing out another cough that brought with it some more blood.

“You have put up the biggest fight so far. I can actually have fun with YOU!” Twilight shouted, then swiftly kicked him in the side, forcing him to groan in agony and clutch his stomach. “And I will be happy to make you my first kill.”

The grey pony’s eyes widened in terror. Twilight pressed her hoof down on his neck lightly. She bent over close to his face and grinned. Her nose was still bleeding from his kick, coating her snout, and as she spoke, she spat it on his face.

“Any last words, you pathetic pony?” Twilight growled out.

“Ce… lestia…” The guard murmured.

“HA! Your princess cannot protect you now!” Twilight laughed maniacally.

“Think again.”

Twilight looked up to see princess Celestia standing there. Her brow was furrowed, her eyes narrowed and her face displaying a fierce scowl. Behind her stood the guard that previously ran away. Celestia let out a powerful, “ha!” and used her superior magic to pull Twilight off the guard and pin her to the wall opposite them.

“We are here for you, don’t worry” Celestia said to the guard. He smiled and nodded, then let his head slump to the side as he recovered. Twilight, firmly attached to the wall with Celestia’s magic, pulled her head back and let out an earth-shattering scream. Celestia winced at the sound, then was horrified to feel her hold on Twilight breaking.

“I am sick of you princesses interfering in EVERYTHING!!!” Twilight hollered. She then broke free from Celestia’s grip and disappeared.

“Wh-where did she go?” The guard standing beside Celestia asked fearfully, looking around the room.

“Be on your guard.” Celestia warned the two. “She could be anywhere.”

“I could be anywhere, couldn’t I?” Twilight’s sinister voice echoed through the room, as if coming from everywhere. She let out an evil laugh and then continued, “It’s like a game!”

“Twilight, I know you are there, the real you! You must stop this madness. Take control!” Celestia shouted.

“You fool!” Twilight’s voice echoed, full of malice. “You think Twilight has any choice in this matter? I will soon be all she knows, and all she will ever know. We will be eternal!”

“Not if I have anything to do with it!” Celestia said fiercely.

“Oh, I’m so scared! Look at you, you can’t even protect your guards!” Twilight jeered.

“Wiley, look out!” The grey guard on the floor screamed. The guard next to Celestia looked to his left in horror just in time to see Twilight launching a magical spear into his chest. The white pegasus guard named Wiley let out a pained groan and fell to his knees. The lavender spear lodged itself in his body for a few seconds before disappearing and letting out a torrent of crimson blood.

“WILEY, NO!!!” The grey guard on the ground screamed, followed by a coughing fit.

“No!” Celestia said, horrified. She swooped down gracefully and caught the falling pony with a front hoof. She carefully laid him down, and with a wave of her horn, his armor disappeared, exposing a white body and a royal blue mane. Blood poured out of the wound in his chest, pooling on the ground.

“Did I do that?” Twilight asked innocently. Celestia lashed out and cast a bright pink magic-blocking bubble around Twilight, binding her to the ground. It took Twilight a few seconds to realize that the barrier was blocking her magic, and her angry cries were muffled by the barrier, allowing Celestia to tend to the guard at her side. The grey unicorn guard struggled to drag himself over to his friend.

Wiley’s breathing was ragged and Celestia and the other guard could definitely tell that he did not have much time left.

“Hey… Stern…” Wiley said to the grey unicorn guard through his breaths. Stern blinked a tear from his eye and nodded. Wiley looked into Stern’s eyes with a blank expression, “Tell… Melodia… and the… kids… I love ‘em…”

“Wiley, don’t talk like that, come on, you can make it out of here.” Stern said. Twilight’s screams could still be heard, though they were indistinguishable. Celestia lowered her horn to Wiley’s injuries and it lit up. The skin closed and the blood stopped flowing from it. Stern looked at Celestia with hopeful eyes, but Celestia shook her head

“His injuries are too deep. I cannot save him, even with magic.” She said solemnly. Stern’s lips began to quiver and he nodded.

“You’re a brave guy, you know that?” Stern said to Wiley, tapping him on the chest.

“Yea… sure I am…” Wiley replied weakly with a little smile. He was going fast.

“You go kick the afterlife’s ass, alright?” Stern said.

“With… a vengeance…” Wiley said, then his eyes became blank and he breathed his last.

“No…” Stern muttered, sinking his muzzle into his friend’s chest. Celestia stood and walked to Twilight. Twilight huffed from beneath the barrier a few times, her stance lowered threateningly. She then closed her eyes and composed herself.

“You release Twilight from your hold now, foul creature.” Celestia demanded.

“Save it, princess.” Twilight barked from beneath the shield. “Your Twilight is returning. My work here is done anyway… for now.”

Celestia breathed a sigh of relief and watched as Twilight’s eyes began to lose their white glow. The new scar over her eye became less bright, the pulsing becoming less and less. Unlike the other signs of Twilight’s corruption, however, this remained. The dark magic that burned from Twilight’s body dissipated and soon Twilight had returned.

Celestia released the magic barrier and rushed forward to catch Twilight when she almost fainted. Twilight sniffed and Celestia looked down to see tears forming in her eyes.

“Princess…” Twilight said hesitantly.

“I’m here, Twilight. I’ll always be here.” Celestia assured Twilight.

“I remember… everything…” Twilight choked out. She sniffed again, “Celestia, I just killed a stallion!”

“No, no, no, Twilight, you did not.” Celestia comforted Twilight. “This curse you bear has caused this terrible tragedy, but you did not.”

“Celestia, I was there! I was in myself, I felt every hit, knew when I was about to attack, even t-tasted the blo-“ Twilight gagged once, then sobbed again and allowed herself to fall against Celestia’s body. Twilight turned to look at the two guard ponies, but Celestia stopped her head.

“No, Twilight. Don’t look.” Celestia said, “Save yourself the trauma.”

“I remember…” Twilight muttered again. “I’m a monster… and Spike… Spike!” Twilight suddenly shouted. “Where is he? Is he alright??”

“I wasn’t aware that he was even here.” Celestia said, a little worried, “Do you think he is hurt?” Twilight knew that Celestia was just asking if Spike had been attacked.

“No… I didn’t hurt him.” Twilight said. “I would never…”

“Then I’m sure he’s fine, and we’ll find him.” Celestia said.

“Celestia, I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” Twilight said solemnly. She walked over to her bed and collapsed on it.

“Do not be sorry for anything, Twilight, for you are not at fault.” Celestia said.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Twilight wailed into her covers, ignoring the princess. Celestia placed a hoof on Twilight’s back and rubbed it affectionately. Celestia turned to see Stern staring at them.

“Twilight Sparkle.” Stern said seriously. “I do not blame you for this. You are forgiven in my eyes, and I’m sure you would have been forgiven in Wiley’s as well.”

Twilight sniffed and looked at Stern finally. “Thank you.” She said softly. One look at the deceased pegasus drove her head back into her hooves again and she cried.

The moon was full that night. The glow it cast upon the landscape somehow reflected the night’s dismal events. Still, one had to admit. If any night were to be a pony’s last, this one was beautiful.

***
***

Rainbow Dash watched the moon from Ponyville. Somehow, she could sense that something was wrong. Something had happened only a few hours prior in Ponyville that warned her that something had happened with Twilight. Rainbow Dash turned and looked back at the library, where she had just left from. Then, with a strong wing beat, she took off into the night toward Canterlot.

***
***
Note: Mallumo is the Esperanto word for 'darkness.' A cookie to anypony who knows what Esperanto is.

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