• 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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Ponyville

Chapter 8
Ponyville

The world was bathed in a sea of red. Everything seemed to be obscured by a bloody crimson light filter. All movement was blurry and distant, as if Twilight were watching a movie rather than seeing out her own eyes. She was in her room, walking around it invisibly. There were three other ponies in the room with her.

The first she noticed was Princess Celestia. Celestia was staring, dumbfounded, at an area of wall behind Twilight. The Princess looked startled, frightened even. She looked away from the spot in the wall. Her head created an afterimage as Twilight watched. Twilight still walked around the room.

The next pony Twilight noticed was one she knew as Stern, but he did not look well. His nose was bleeding badly. He clutched his ribs in pain. Twilight didn’t know how, but something told her that his ribs were broken.

“Wh-where did she go?” The last pony asked. Twilight knew who that was. That was Stern’s partner, Wiley. He looked petrified. Why did everypony look so frightened? What was wrong?

Him. Echoed a sinister voice inside Twilight’s head. It’s going to be him.

“What was that? Who’s there?” Twilight asked. Oddly, Twilight didn’t feel her vocal chords move when she spoke. Must have just been akin to the blurred vision and red environment, she reasoned.

Twilight! How wonderful of you to join me finally. The voice said.

“Be on your guard! She could be anywhere.” The Princess said.

“I could be anywhere, couldn’t I?” Twilight said. She hadn’t meant to. The source of the voice she was hearing was driving her to move, talk, and function in general. Twilight had no control over herself. “It’s like a game!”

“Who are you? What are you doing to my body?” Twilight asked. Again, she wasn’t heard by the occupants of the room, only herself.

“Twilight, I know you are there, the real you! You must stop this madness. Take control!” Celestia shouted. Twilight took notice of the Princess’s call and attempted to will herself back into reality, but she was unable.

“I’m trying, Princess!!” Twilight shouted.

“You fool!” The voice shouted out loud. It turned its attention back to Celestia, Twilight could tell. “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!”

“Why are you doing this?” Twilight asked.

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

“Oh I’m so scared!” The voice said, ignoring Twilight’s plea. “Look at you, you can’t even protect your guards!”

You’re about to learn how powerful you really are, Twilight. The voice echoed inside Twilight’s head. This is the new you. This is what you will forever be.

Twilight reappeared on the other side of the room, beside Wiley. As she let go of her invisibility, she saw Stern’s head whip up to look at her.

“Wiley, look out!”

“NO!” Twilight screamed.

Wiley looked to the side in horror, his eyes becoming wide and his jaw dropping. Twilight prepared a magical spear. She couldn’t control herself. Twilight fought back with as much force as possible, but no matter how much she put into fighting off this evil, it would not work.

She threw the spear. Wiley’s eyes shut forcefully as the lavender object pierced his chest…
***
***

Twilight awoke in a panicked, nervous sweat. She panted heavily and felt her head pounding. She shook her head in an attempt to diffuse the pain, but it only resulted in hurting more. She felt a particularly strong twinge of pain coming from the new scar over her right eye. Twilight sniffed and held back the tears that were threatening to pour out of her eyes.

I killed somepony… Twilight thought. I ended their life…

Twilight looked across the room at the carpet and suddenly realized that the book was no longer there. Great. Twilight thought, and Celestia knows that I’ve broken into her study. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has no problems condemning me to death.

Twilight felt numb. The weight of the situation was just too much for her to bear. What purpose was there for her to be alive anymore? All she was was a menace. Twilight could no longer contribute to pony society. She was like a prisoner on death row, slowly awaiting their demise.

“I’ve always admired your thirst for knowledge, Twilight.” Celestia said.

Twilight looked over to her right side to see that Princess Celestia had been sitting on her stomach beside her bed the whole time. Twilight swallowed with her dry mouth and looked at the Princess flatly, waiting for her to continue.

“And I now know what lengths you will go to obtain it.” Celestia said. She patted an object in front of her, which was the forest green book that Twilight had broken into Celestia’s room to obtain.

“Sorry.” Twilight said plainly, honestly not caring now whether the Princess was upset or not.

“You are at no fault, Twilight.” Celestia said.

“It was me who took the book, Celestia, not… her.” Twilight said, referring to her evil self with a shake of her head.

“I am aware of this, Twilight.” Celestia said, “No, if anypony is to be sorry, it is me. I was hiding the truth from you, and I do apologize.”

Twilight nodded and buried her face in her hooves. She let out a heavy sigh and fell back onto her pillow.

“Princess… this is terrible.” Twilight said, “Everything is.”

“Indeed, Twilight.” Celestia replied weightily.

“Oh, Princess!” A pegasus guard said from Twilight’s open door. Celestia looked up at the guard and nodded.

“We haven’t had any luck finding the baby dragon, but we’re going to keep looking.” The guard said.

“This just keeps getting better.” Twilight said sarcastically.

“Do keep looking, Horace.” Celestia said. The guard nodded with a determined face and ran away, down the way he came.

“Does Wiley’s family know? Does the public know?” Twilight asked Celestia, lowering her hooves to her side.

“Stern agreed to abide by a false account. The two were attacked by a Manticore while on a mission to the Everfree Forest. Only Stern escaped with his life.”

“It’s vague.” Twilight pointed out.

“But it works.” Celestia said. “Ponies don’t go into the Everfree forest. They will believe it.”

“I don’t like this. I don’t like lying. I don’t like living with the knowledge that I am the reason that pony cannot return home to his family. I just… want this to be over.” Twilight said distantly.

“We all do, Twilight.” Celestia said.

“So… do you want to end this?” Twilight asked, turning to Celestia.

“What… do you mean?” Celestia replied.

“I mean.” Twilight said quickly, “What the book says.” Twilight gulped and blinked once, “You need to kill me, Celestia.”

“Twilight, don’t you suggest a thing like that!” Celestia shouted, standing up.

“It’s the only way.” Twilight continued, quietly and calmly, “I’m ready.”

“No, you’re not!” Celestia shouted. “You have too much to live for; I will not give up like this!”

Twilight jumped out of her bed, “And I am not going to allow one more pony to get hurt because of me!”

“Luna and I have already found a solution to that.” Celestia said excitedly. “You need to trust us.”

“Oh? And what is this?” Twilight asked skeptically.

“Luna is actually on her way now. If you’ll just wait a moment…”

“I’m here, sister!” Luna said with a yawn. She walked into the room with something black and cloth-like draped over her back. She finished her yawn as she arrived at the bed. “Good morning, Twilight.” Luna said casually.

“Thank you so much, Luna.” Celestia said appreciatively.

“Yeah, well it took me almost all night to fly to Alcoltraz and back.” Luna said. “It’s a mile off the coast of the western sea, you know.” She yawned again and levitated what appeared to be a black garment of some sort off her back and onto the bed. “Hope I didn’t miss anything last night. Would you like me to stay for a few minutes?”

“You are tired. Go rest, my sister. I shall see you in the evening.” Celestia said.

“Oh-kay.” Luna said, in the middle of yet another yawn. “Goodnight, girls.”

Luna walked out of the room, accidentally bumping her rump against the frame of the door, letting out a little ‘oof!’ as she did so.

“One of the things I pride myself in is my ability to stay up past my bedtime.” Celestia said with a little smile. For the first time, Twilight actually snorted out a little laugh.

“Alcoltraz, huh?” Twilight said, eyeballing the strange garment on the foot of her bed, “And that is…?”

“Equestria’s highest security prison.” Celestia said a little darkly. “It’s on an island in the middle of the ocean. Equestria’s greatest threats are kept there.” Twilight’s heart sank. She looked down at the garment and added up the situation quickly.

“P-princess, I…” Twilight began, backing away from the bed.

“Don’t fear, Twilight, we’re not sending you to prison.” Celestia said. Twilight felt a little bit of relief, but was still worried. She’d rather die than be stuck in some prison.

“So… what’s with the suit then?” Twilight asked.

“This is the uniform all the unicorn inmates are required to wear.” Celestia said. “It is magical, as you might imagine.”

“How so?”

“The uniform cannot be removed by the wearer. It must be removed by a designated pony, say, me. The wearer will find that it is quite impossible to remove.” Celestia said proudly. Twilight figured that this was an invention of hers.

“Okay, so I can’t take it off.” Twilight acknowledged, “What’s so special about it?”

“It completely blocks all magical output.” Celestia said. Twilight’s heart sank again. She looked down at the garment with terror. She then subconsciously moved a hoof up to her head and felt her horn. She gave a little spark, as if to remind herself what it feels like to have magic.

“Oh my…” Twilight said.

“’Tis only temporary, until we find a solution.” Celestia assured Twilight. The unicorn still stared at the sinister granite-black suit that lay out on her bed with disgust.

“I know, Twilight.” Celestia said. “Especially for you, I’m sure the thought of being without magic must be unbearable.”

“But the alternative is…” Twilight said, looking at the book that still sat on the floor next to Celestia. Twilight gulped and decided that as long as she was alive, she could live without magic.

“I’ll do it.”

“Thank you, Twilight. If you ever need any help, please let me know.”

“I will just miss my magic greatly.” Twilight said. She lit up her horn and brought the garment over to her.

“I will have to put it on.” Celestia said. She and Twilight walked to the foot of the bed and met in the middle. Twilight handed over the uniform. Celestia took hold of it with her magic. She spread the garment out on the floor where the four leg holes were spread out just right.

“Go ahead.” Celestia encouraged. Twilight took a deep breath and stepped into the leg holes. Already, she could feel a strange presence emanating from the fabric, like an encompassing heat wave rising from the floor. She feared how it would feel when the whole thing was on her.

Celestia pulled the garment up and over Twilight’s body. Her tail got caught for a moment, but a quick adjustment pushed it through the hole on the backside. Immediately, Twilight felt like she had been cut off from the world. The uniform was suffocating. The suit had a magical seal on top that Celestia closed and could only be opened by her. Twilight quickly tried to cast a simple spell. She tried to pick up the green book that was close by. There was no reaction. Her horn gave absolutely no indication that magic existed within it.

“Well… this sucks.” Twilight commented.

“I’m sorry, Twilight.” Celestia said. “Does it work?”

“Yeah, it certainly works.” Twilight said. She screwed up her face in concentration, but absolutely no magic came from her horn. The more she tried, the more she lost her grasp on the feeling of magic inside her. It was completely blocked.

“Well, I won’t be hurting anypony with magic anymore.” Twilight said.

“And that will help.” Celestia said. “Good. Well, I must now resume my rule. I will be in the throne room if you need anything.”

“Okay, Princess.” She said, “Thank you.”

Celestia smiled, “No problem.”

Twilight watched the Princess leave and jumped back on her bed again. She sat on her stomach and studied the uniform she now wore. She couldn’t ignore the constant block that almost numbed her horn, like it didn’t even exist anymore. One thing she noticed was that there was a blank spot that had evidence of a patch originally being there. She reasoned that it was where the prisoner’s number would have been.

That’s good. Twilight thought. At least average ponies won’t know that I look like a prisoner right now.

“Why are you wearing a prisoner’s uniform?”

Twilight snapped her head up and saw Rainbow Dash standing at her door with a confused face.

“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight said excitedly. She jumped off the bed and ran over to embrace her friend. “Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to see you.”

“Me too, Twi!” Rainbow Dash said. “I left Ponyville last night. So yeah, why do you look like a prisoner?”

“Aw, rats.” Twilight said, frustrated, “I hoped normal ponies wouldn’t know that this is a prisoner’s uniform.”

“Well, I have an uncle in Alcoltraz.” Rainbow Dash said. “Visited him a few times.”

“Your uncle’s a unicorn?” Twilight asked.

“Yeah. Only one in the family. Turned out to be a real jerk.” Rainbow Dash said.

“Apparently.” Twilight laughed. “So you don’t think other ponies will notice?”

“Nah. It looks good on you.” Rainbow Dash said. “Looks like a spy outfit or something! And what’s with the scar on your eye?” Rainbow Dash asked, “It’s wicked awesome!”

“Oh, it’s… nothing.” Twilight said, prodding her eye with a hoof.

“Okay, then.” Rainbow Dash chuckled, “So why are you wearing the uniform?” Rainbow Dash asked for the third time.

“Oh, these suits are designed to block out magic.” Twilight said.

Rainbow Dash gave her a confused look. “Why would you wanna do that?”

“Um…” Twilight said uncomfortably.

“Is this because of that stupid curse thing?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Yeah.” Twilight said.

“Is Celestia making you wear it?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“No… well, yeah, it was her idea, but… I decided to wear it.” Twilight said. “I, um…”

“What happened, Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked, “Did something happen last night?”

Twilight walked over to her bed and sat down on it. Rainbow Dash quickly followed her and sat down beside her. Twilight hated to recount the dismal events of the previous night, but having Rainbow Dash next to her somehow made her more comfortable.

“I really am glad you’re here, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight began.

“Me too, Twilight.”

“Last night… was the worst night of my life.” Twilight said.

Rainbow Dash listened intently, looking at Twilight as Twilight looked at the bed covers. Twilight continued.

“I… well, rather, the evil me… attacked my guards last night.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash remained quiet, listening. “And… one of them didn’t make it… out.” Twilight said. She shook her head and wiped away a tear that had formed. She did not cry.

Rainbow Dash draped a hoof over Twilight’s shoulders comfortingly. Twilight rested her head against Rainbow Dash’s. “I killed somepony, Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said weakly.

“Hey, it’s alright.” Rainbow Dash replied softly, her voice cracking a little the way it does.

“But it’s not… Rainbow Dash, he had a family. He had a wife and kids, a family that has just lost a father.”

“Hey, I grew up with just my dad, and I’m fine.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight let out a weak hum in agreement.

“That’s not all that happened last night, though.” Twilight said.

“Oh yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“You see the book sitting on the ground over there?” Twilight asked, using her left hoof to point at the ground on the right side of the bed.

“Yeah, the green one?”

“Celestia’s mother wrote that.”

“She has a mom!?”

“Of course she does!” Twilight reacted.

“Well then… who’s their mom’s mom?” Rainbow Dash asked, putting a hoof to her chin and looking at the ceiling.

“Wha- I don’t know! Dash, we’re getting off track.” Twilight scolded.

“Sorry.” Rainbow Dash said.

“It’s fine. Anyway, she wrote an account of the last pony to have my curse.” Twilight told. Rainbow Dash nodded.

“She knew how to deal with it, but… it’s not good news.”

“Yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked nervously.

“The last pony to have my curse was… put to death.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash was silent. Twilight moved her head to look up at Rainbow Dash’s, but Dash looked absolutely blank. Twilight looked forward again and sighed, but was suddenly pulled into a hug from Rainbow Dash.

“Twilight…” Rainbow Dash said, her voice wavering. She sniffed, “It’s not true… tell me it’s not true…”

Twilight was in awe. Rainbow Dash was… crying? Twilight suspected Rainbow Dash was crying the last time she visited her house, but now she was here, the tears were falling, and Twilight would have joined her had it not been for the huge number of tears she had already cried during this whole ordeal. Twilight hugged back fiercely.

“I wish it weren’t…” Twilight replied.

“I don’t want you to die, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash wailed into Twilight’s ear. “You can’t!”

Twilight didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know how to comfort Rainbow Dash. She wished she could tell her that everything would be alright, that she and the Princesses had a plan to stop this curse before it got worse, but she would be lying. They had no idea what to do. They may have bought themselves some time with this prison uniform, but in the end, Twilight would be taken over by this darkness, and there was nothing they could do to stop it, unless they just kill Twilight now while they still have the chance.

“Listen, Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said. “This uniform has bought us some time. I’d say we already know as much as there is to know about this curse. The only direction we can go is forward. We’ll learn more and who knows? Maybe there’s still hope.” Twilight said.

Rainbow Dash sniffed and laughed. Twilight gave Rainbow Dash an inquisitive glance. “What’s funny?”

“Twilight, I’m supposed to be the one cheering you up.” Rainbow Dash said. She shook her head and wiped a tear away, “Look at me, crying like a filly…”

“I think a little role reversal is healthy.” Twilight said with a little grin, “It can only help to think positive now anyway.”

“Twilight, you amaze me.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight blushed and looked down. Rainbow Dash moved her right hoof back down to the bed, the left one remaining around Twilight’s shoulders. She gave Twilight a little squeeze to fill the silence that was quickly forming.

“Hey.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight looked up again, meeting Rainbow face-to-face. Rainbow Dash smiled that wonderfully cocky sideways smile, “No matter what happens, I won’t leave. Ever. Remember that.”

“I will.” Twilight said. Three seconds passed. Twilight didn’t even realize that her head was moving forwards. Their kiss was brief and light, but meaningful. Rainbow Dash then rubbed her nose against Twilight’s and rested her forehead against the base of Twilight’s horn. They still looked into each others’ eyes, their hooves intertwining on the covers.

For a glorious few minutes, Twilight and Rainbow Dash forgot about the dark times they were currently in. There was just the two of them, apart from the world.

“That was my first kiss.” Twilight said softly to Rainbow Dash, petting her hoof.

“Yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked a little lazily.

“I’m glad it was with you.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash giggled and rubbed her cheek against Twilight’s affectionately.

“That was the first kiss that I didn’t think twice about.” Rainbow Dash said, “And the first one I didn’t regret.” Twilight smiled wide, pride filling her entire being. She didn’t know how, but somehow she had managed to get Rainbow Dash to fall for her.

And she didn’t know how, but somehow she had managed to fall for Rainbow Dash.

“Twilight, there was something I needed to ask you.” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Hm?” Twilight asked.

“Did something happen between you and Spike or something?” Rainbow Dash asked. Twilight pulled her head away from Dash’s and looked at her seriously.

“Where is he?” Twilight asked.

“He showed up in Ponyville on the Friendship Express this morning.” Rainbow Dash said. “Then he shut himself in the library bedroom and hasn’t come out since.”

“Oh no…” Twilight moaned.

“What happened?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“I attacked him. It must have scared him half to death.” Twilight said. “Gah, I’m so stupid!”

“Twilight, relax. We’ll go to Ponyville and get him back. Sound good? It’ll be nice to see everypony again anyway.” Rainbow Dash said. She ran a hoof through Twilight’s mane casually, as if this were just some throwaway conversation between friends.

“I doubt Celestia would let me leave Canterlot.” Twilight said.

“But it’s worth a shot, don’t ya think?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Yeah, I supposed you’re right.” Twilight said, “But I wouldn’t bet my bits on her allowing me to leave.”
***
***

“Yes, I do believe that would be fine.” Celestia said calmly.

“Excuse me?” Twilight asked. Celestia was nodding her head from where she sat on the throne. The Princess giggled at Twilight’s response and stunned reaction.

“You heard me correctly, Twilight.” Celestia said, “If it makes you feel any better, I will keep a close eye on you while you are away, and if anything goes wrong, I will provide assistance. I am very confident that this magical uniform will provide enough protection, though.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Twilight said, “But Rainbow Dash,” Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash beside her, “If anything does happen… if I succumb to darkness, you must fly. I won’t be able to hurt you if you’re in the air. Understand?”

“Got it, boss!” Dash replied confidently.

“Then… let’s to go Ponyville, then.” Twilight said, “To get Spike back!”
***
***

“I’ve never ridden in one of these things before.” Rainbow Dash commented. She and Twilight were sharing a white chariot trimmed in gold and pulled by two royal guard members. Twilight nodded and looked at Rainbow Dash, who was looking over the edge of the chariot, examining the landscape.

“I mean, I fly all the time, but it’s kind of nice to fly without concentrating on flying.” Rainbow Dash said, then looked up contemplatively, “If that makes sense.”

Twilight laughed, “It makes plenty of sense, Rainbow Dash.”

Ponyville was getting ever closer. Twilight started seeing finer details, like ponies walking around town square. She could see the top of the library and felt a pang of sadness. Not only was she looking at her old home, but inside was one of her oldest friends, hiding from her.

“I was always fascinated by these chariots.” Twilight said. She had to speak loudly because of the wind rushing past them. Rainbow Dash looked back to Twilight and listened.

“I mean, according to the laws of physics, they shouldn’t work,” Twilight said, “I mean, there’s nothing to support them behind the pullers, we should be dangling below them and falling to our deaths!”

“You know I’d catch you.” Rainbow Dash said.

Twilight chuckled, “My hero.” She said flatly.

“I believe you told me once that it’s magic, you don’t have to explain anything!” Rainbow Dash said.

“Well, that’s true.” Twilight said, “And I’m sure these are enchanted chariots.”

“They are!” One of the pegasi pulling the chariot called back to Twilight.

“Oh, thank you!” Twilight shouted back.

The guard whinnied in reply and continued pulling the chariot closer to Ponyville. Twilight scooted over to Rainbow Dash and leaned against her. Rainbow Dash wrapped her leg around Twilight’s shoulders and squeezed her affectionately.

“You think we should tell ponies?” Twilight asked Rainbow Dash.

“About us?” Rainbow Dash asked. She felt Twilight nod in reply. “Why not?”

“I don’t know… it just seems like now, with all that’s going on… they may not think that it’s the right time.”

“Who cares what others think?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Twilight let out a little laugh, “I guess you’re right.”

She and Rainbow Dash intertwined their hooves and remained silent for the rest of the trip. From that point, there was about another ten minutes of travel, during which time Twilight grew more and more nervous. Spike trusted her, and she turned on him… he must feel betrayed. Now he was all alone, he must feel lonely too.

“Were here, ladies.” One of the pegasi pulling the chariot piped up. The wheels touched ground smoothly and they coasted to a stop in the middle of town.

“I always wonder why it makes more sense to land in the middle of town.” Twilight commented as she was helped out of the carriage by Rainbow Dash.

“To make an entrance.” Rainbow Dash assumed.

“Right you are, ma’am.” The other pegasus in front of the chariot commented. He snorted to his partner and the two set off for Canterlot. It took all of three seconds for Ponyville to realize who had just landed.

“Hey, everypony! Twilight’s back!” Came a stray voice from somewhere in town. A multitude of cheers sounded and a group of ponies came up to Twilight to welcome her back. With quick greetings and a little help from Rainbow Dash, Twilight managed to escape the ponies that were trying to steal her attention. This also helped her avoid telling everypony that she wasn’t here to stay.

They ran through town, avoiding everything and everypony as best they could until they got to the library. There would be time to socialize after Twilight made things up to Spike. The wooden door of the library approached and Twilight let go of all her anxiety. She was going to make Spike feel better. It was only right. Spike had done so much for her.

Twilight and Rainbow Dash burst through the door hurriedly and scared the life out of Cheerilee, who was reading a romance novel in a corner of the library. Cheerilee composed herself quickly and smiled at the pair, appearing overjoyed that Twilight had returned.

“Twilight!” Cheerilee greeted, “It’s so wonderful to see you!”

“I’m sorry, Cheerilee, it’s wonderful to see you too, but I need to find Spike.” Twilight said.

“Oh… he’s upstairs.” Cheerilee said, a little crestfallen. “Best of luck, we haven’t been able to get him to talk.”

“Thank you!” Twilight said obliviously. Rainbow Dash eyed Cheerilee curiously and walked right beside Twilight as they ascended the stairs, even making the effort to quickly intertwine their tails for a few seconds.

Twilight arrived at her old bedroom door and stopped in front of it. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a second. Rainbow Dash stood right beside Twilight, with her every step of the way.

“Um…” Twilight whispered to Rainbow Dash. The cyan pegasus fluffed her wings and listened.

“Rainbow Dash, I’m very glad you want to help, but I think I need to do this.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash’s ears drooped.

“Alright, Twi. I’ll meet you downstairs.” Rainbow Dash said.

“Thanks.” Twilight said. Once Rainbow Dash was downstairs, she took another breath and knocked three times upon the door. There was no answer.

“Spike! It’s me, Twili-“

“NO! GET AWAY!” Spike’s small voice cried out from behind the door. Twilight almost heard her heart snap in two.

“Spike, I’m sorry. You know it wasn’t me that attacked you!” Twilight attempted to reason.

“Twilight, I c-can’t-“ Spike sniffed. Twilight pressed her ear against the door, “I’m afraid…”

“I’m sorry, Spike! I would never hurt you!” Twilight said.

“You say that now, but you’ll kill me in a heartbeat if you turn evil!” Spike called back. Every word the dragon said made Twilight sink lower and lower into a pit of sadness and guilt.

“Okay, Spike…” Twilight whimpered, “I see you just want to be left alone…”

No answer.

“I love you, Spike.” Twilight said. She turned and faced the stairs, ready to walk down them, when the door behind her clicked. Her ears perked up and she turned around hopefully.

Rainbow Dash sat across the room from Cheerilee. The magenta pony hadn’t picked her book back up and just looked around the room, sometimes looking at Rainbow Dash, but breaking the eye contact when Rainbow Dash noticed this. The silence was horrible.

“So…” Cheerilee finally said. Rainbow Dash stopped picking wax out of her ear and looked at Cheerilee.

“You and Twilight.” Cheerilee said, “Are you…”

“We’re together, yes.” Rainbow Dash said assuredly and confidently. Cheerilee nodded and mouthed the word ‘okay’ then focused on her hooves. Rainbow Dash did some quick addition in her head during the silence that followed.

“You, uh… had a thing for Twilight, didn’t you?”

“A bit, yeah…”

“Oh…” Rainbow Dash said. She didn’t know what to say. Cheerilee must feel terrible. “Uh… no hard feelings?”

“Of course not.” Cheerilee assured, but her tone was uncertain and Rainbow Dash still felt bad. She was happy to have Twilight over Cheerilee, but she still wished that this moment hadn’t happened. Rainbow Dash sat in the palpable awkwardness and resumed excavating her ear canal.

“Spike?” Twilight asked when she entered the room. The room was dark, the shades pulled down, and Spike took it upon himself to occupy Twilight’s bed. Twilight watched as he took the last few steps to the bed and jumped onto it. He sunk his head into the pillow and curled up into a ball, facing away from the door, away from Twilight.

“Spike… are you alright?” Twilight asked. What a stupid question. Twilight told herself, of course he’s not alright.

“Mmph.” Spike replied. Twilight walked over to the bed and climbed on it, next to Spike. When she did so, she saw his body tense up. If it was possible to break your heart twice, it had just happened.

“Spike… you have no idea how sorry I am.” Twilight said. She carefully extended a hoof to his body and rubbed his back soothingly.

“Twilight, why did this have to happen?” Spike asked quietly.

“I don’t know, Spike…” Twilight said. She remembered Celestia’s answer when she asked the same thing: “Because life is a cruel prankster that loves to see terrible things happen to good ponies.”

“Promise me… this will be over soon?” Spike asked. He still hadn’t turned over. He refused to look at Twilight.

She knew it would be a lie. She knew that Spike wouldn’t believe her, but… sometimes the realistic answer isn’t always the best answer.

“I promise, Spike.” Twilight said, “This will be over soon.” She continued to rub his back in a motherly fashion. There was a silence in the room. It was unlike the silence that was enveloping the two females downstairs in that this silence was not empty. It was filled with emotions between the two shaken spirits.

“Twilight…” Spike said, then to Twilight’s relief, he turned around. He looked up at Twilight with his big green eyes and blinked once. Twilight smiled down at him as nicely as she could.

“I’m sorry, but… can I stay in Ponyville… until this is over?” Spike asked.

Twilight was afraid he would ask that… as if he needed her permission. Twilight’s heart sank lower as she thought that about how she would no longer have his company around the castle, but realized that asking him to return would make him uncomfortable.

“Of course, Spike.” Twilight said sweetly.

“Thanks.” Spike said. He reached up and hugged Twilight around the neck, “I love you, Twilight.”

“Love you too, Spike.” Twilight said.
***
***

“Oh it is just marvelous to see you again, Twilight!” Rarity said over her tea.

“Thanks, Rarity. It’s nice to visit.” Twilight said, then she scratched her side. The uniform she wore tended to itch.

“I love your spy suit, Twilight!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, “It’s so mysterious!”

“Thanks, Pinkie. It’s a prison uniform, actually.” Twilight said. The four clueless ponies looked at her incredulously. Rainbow Dash snickered and sipped some of her chocolate milkshake from a striped straw.

“I had a feeling you’d react that way.” Twilight said, “Celestia’s only having me wear this so I can’t use magic.”

“Oh you poor dear, that must be awful.” Rarity said.

“It’s giving me a bit of a headache, yes, and I find it a little difficult to do things, but it’s not too bad.”

“Well, as long as it’s lettin’ ya come down here, I’m glad yer wearin’ it.” Applejack said. She had a cup of apple juice. Fluttershy sipped her tea quietly and nodded.

“And it’s great to see my wittowe Spikey-wikey again!” Rarity cooed to Spike, who sat beside her. He grimaced and accepted Rarity’s patronization with distaste. Twilight giggled and smiled at Spike, who grinned back in reply.

“Nice to see you again too, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack said a little sarcastically, “’Course you must not be so happy ta see us, seein’ as how yer always flyin’ out ta Canterlot to see yer fillyfriend.” Applejack laughed and went to take a sip of her apple juice.

“I SWEAR I DIDN’T TELL!” Rainbow Dash suddenly shouted at Twilight, who’s eyes widened and she blushed madly. All the ponies and Spike froze. Fluttershy’s teacup clattered onto its saucer, and Pinkie’s jaw was hanging open in shock.

“What?” Rainbow Dash asked, clueless.

“Well, you just told us, Rainbow Dash.” Fluttershy said with a giggle.

“…oops.” Rainbow Dash said to Twilight, who giggled and took the opportunity to pull Rainbow Dash’s chair closer to her.

“You two are fillyfriends?” Rarity asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, we are.” Twilight said happily. As soon as Rainbow Dash had sat down again, Twilight pecked her on the cheek, as if to prove that she was telling the truth.

“Well, Ah’ll be.” Applejack commented, sitting back on her haunches.

“YAY! We have to have a congratulations party!” Pinkie shouted.

“I told you, Pinkie, no parties this time!” Rarity scolded. “But this is splendid news, Twilight, we are very happy for you two!”

“Thanks, girls.” Twilight said.

“Yeah, thanks.” Rainbow Dash agreed. She turned to Twilight, “Sorry… I kinda walked into that one.”

“You did.” Twilight said happily, “But that’s alright.”

The table erupted into happy talk about Twilight and Rainbow Dash. Twilight was thrilled to share the story of how Rainbow dash and she fell for each other over time. Rainbow Dash wasn’t good at talking about mushy stuff like that, so she let Twilight do most of the talking. They were in it together the whole time, though, and Twilight took great comfort in that fact.

“So, how have things been here since I moved to Canterlot?” Twilight asked, too caught up in her euphoria to be downtrodden by her leaving of Ponyville.

“Oh, dreadful, Twilight.” Rarity said.

“They have, truly.” Fluttershy agreed.

“Really? How?” Twilight asked, surprised.

“It’s just not the same without you.” Pinkie said.

“Ya really were the final piece of the puzzle, Twilight.” Applejack said.

“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.

“Before y’all showed up here, we hardly ever saw each other.” Applejack explained, “Ah mean, we were friends, yeah, but not hardly the friends we were after ya moved in.”

“Really?” Twilight asked, touched.

“Totally!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, “Remember how you, Rarity, and I would have lunch together because our houses are so close?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, I never saw Rarity so much before that!” Pinkie Pie said, “And we hang out now more than ever!”

“It’s true, darling, Pinkie and I have become very close friends.” Rarity said. “But our lunches are so drab without you.”

“I don’t know what to sa-“ Twilight tried to say.

“And if it weren’t fer yer idea of havin’ pony pet playdates, Ah would have hardly ever spoken to Fluttershy!” Applejack said, “An’ we’re real close now.”

“We are.” Fluttershy said, “Angel misses Owloysius, too. They used to get along so well together.”

“Wow, girls… I had no idea I had done so much for you…” Twilight said, “I’m touched.”

“And don’t even get me started on the Library.” Rarity said, waving a hoof with a dissatisfied expression on her face.

“What’s wrong? Isn’t Cheerilee doing a good job?” Twilight asked.

“She’s doing a fine job, but she’s not you.” Rarity explained.

“We miss you, Twilight.” Pinkie said sadly.

“I miss you girls, too.” Twilight replied. “So much…”

She felt her eye twitch, followed by a small burning sensation. She causally reached her hoof up and scratched it, but winced when she touched her scar. It felt very sensitive.

“Ya never did tell us where ya got that nasty scar.” Applejack mentioned.

“It just… appeared. During an attack.” Twilight said. Her eye burned again, a little more aggressively this time. She rubbed her face and grimaced.

“It’s very fierce.” Rarity commented.

“I wish it were gone, but I wasn’t able to get rid of it, even with magic.” Twilight explained.

“How mysterious.” Fluttershy commented. Twilight’s eye burned again, this time sending a jolt of pain into Twilight’s skull. She grunted and put a hoof to her head.

“You alright?” Rainbow Dash asked, concerned.

“I’m… fine… let’s step outside for a second.” Twilight said. She knew what was happening this time. She feared it. The ponies watched the pair leave Sugarcube Corner with worry in their faces.

“Your scar is glowing, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said, pointing at the pulsing scar.

“Rainbow Dash, agh…” Twilight felt a throb in her head, this one not so powerful, but painful nonetheless. “… I feel an attack coming on. I am gonna make a run for it, but you have to get the girls somewhere safe.”

“What? Oh no! Uh… uh…” Rainbow Dash said, “Where?”

“Anywhere! Remember, I can’t use magic.” Twilight said. “I have to go, I’ll come back when the attack ends!” Twilight shouted. She ran away through town as fast as she could, dodging ponies as she went.

Rainbow Dash darted back into Sugarcube Corner and looked at the ponies with worry.

“What’s wrong?” Pinkie asked.

“Twilight felt an attack coming on. She ran away to try to get away from us, but that won’t stop her.” Rainbow Dash quickly explained. Spike looked up in horror, “She’s not as much of a threat without her magic, but she asked me to get you somewhere safe.”

“We could go back to mah farm.” Applejack said, “Tha’s pretty far away, an’ we can lock ourselves in the barn.”

“I guess it’s worth a shot.” Rainbow Dash said. “Okay, let’s get over to Sweet Apple Acres!”

Twilight made it to the edge of town right when a powerful stab of pain rocked her skull, almost tripping her. She continued to run regardless, trying her best to block out the pain, but it was no use. She knew that soon she would fall to the power of Mallumo’s Possession. The best she could do now was get away from everypony.

Then, her vision clouded completely and she felt herself stop running. It felt as though she was lifted from her body, but she was still within herself, trapped. She lost control of her body and all of its functions. Her head had stopped hurting, but it was replaced with a terrible feeling of uselessness.

Did you miss me? The cold, lifeless voice echoed in Twilight’s head.

Her vision restored, forming the red-tinted landscape she remembered from the last attack. Everfree forest was in front of her. With this filter over her vision, it looked even more sinister than usual. Twilight stood still, a blank look on her face. Her eyes glowed as they usually did when she suffered an attack.

“You are not welcome here.” Twilight told the voice.

Oh darn, and I was getting so comfortable, too!

“How is it I can talk to you now!?” Twilight barked, “And why do I remember these attacks?!”

We are becoming closer, Twilight. Soon, we will be but one entity, and you will feel as I feel.

“Never! I will not succumb to your ways!” Twilight shouted.

Oh, but you already have. The voice replied, Now, let’s go visit your friends back at that confectionary. I really miss that baby dragon…

Twilight felt the entity behind the voice attempt to cast a teleportation spell, but failed. Twilight smiled and felt a surge of frustration spread through what she pictured to be the body belonging to the voice she heard. It attempted to cast another spell, then another, each one failing, and each time increasing her frustration.

WHAT IS THIS??? The voice screamed, causing Twilight to flinch.

“Good luck with your magic. It’s blocked completely!” Twilight said proudly.

You… you will pay for this! All of you ponies will pay for this! The voice shouted, then Twilight felt herself lurch forward and began running back into town. Twilight knew that she was still stronger than usual, even without magic. Had she wanted to, she could seriously injure some of the ponies in town. She hoped that the evil inside her didn’t feel like doing that, because that would be hard to explain.

They galloped with great speed for about a minute before Twilight looked up and skidded to a stop. Flying toward town from Sweet Apple Acres was Rainbow Dash! Twilight felt her heart skip a beat at the sight of the pegasus and she felt the urge to call her name. Twilight opened her mouth to shout and suddenly felt an adrenaline-like surge behind her voice, strengthening it.

“RAINBOW DASH!” Twilight shouted. It came out of her own mouth, in her own voice! But, as quickly as it happened, she receded and found herself thrown back into the void of her own mind. Rainbow Dash looked down at Twilight and began to fly toward her.

What just happened?! The voice cried out in frustration. I am going to kill her!

“Rainbow! Fly away!” Twilight screamed, but this time it remained unheard by the world.

“Come and play, Rainbow Dash. I haven’t had fun with you in awhile!” Twilight shouted at Rainbow Dash. Her voice was the high, raspy voice of her evil self this time, though, and Rainbow Dash came to a halt in midair about twenty feet from Twilight.

“I gotta say, you’ve seen better days, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash said jokingly. “Your eyes are a little blank.”

“Oh, is this REALLY the time to joke?” Twilight asked within her mind. Her body glared at Rainbow Dash intensely, then walked away, not into Ponyville as planned, but in a different direction.

“Ha! You’re not so tough without your magic, are you?” Rainbow Dash jeered.

“Careful, Dash.” Twilight warned silently.

Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash and gave her an evil smile before breaking into a sprint toward Sweet Apple Acres.

Rainbow Dash felt her stomach drop and she flew in front of Twilight. Rainbow Dash landed a good distance in front of Twilight as she sprinted toward her.

“You should stop.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight continued to run, not stopping. Rainbow Dash held out her hooves to stop Twilight, but Twilight charged straight into Rainbow Dash, taking the pegasus by surprise with her strength. Rainbow Dash staggered to the side and fell.

“No!” Twilight shouted inside her head. She wanted to look back to check on Rainbow Dash, but her body would not let her. Instead, she was trained on the spot where Twilight reasoned her friends were hiding.

“Hey, stop!” Rainbow Dash screamed. Twilight internally sighed with relief to hear Rainbow Dash’s voice. Then, Twilight felt hooves on her flanks as Rainbow Dash tried to pull Twilight the ground.

“Oh no, not smart, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said, worried.

“GET OFF ME!” Evil Twilight screamed. Twilight winced as she felt her legs buck back, hitting Rainbow Dash square in the jaw. Rainbow Dash’s hooves fell off Twilight and she crashed to the ground. Twilight looked back this time, watching how the pegasus crumbled on the ground, moaning in pain.

“RAINBOW DASH!!!” Twilight screamed, but it went unheard again. Her head was jerked away from looking at Dash’s body and they continued on, sprinting at full speed toward Sweet Apple Acres.

“RAINBOW DASH, SAY SOMETHING!” Twilight begged. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if anything happened to Rainbow Dash. She heard nothing from the pegasus, though, and the farther they got from her, the more hopeless Twilight became. Her heart sank even lower when the red barn of Sweet Apple Acres came into view.

“Alright, everypony just stay calm. We’ll be fine if we stay here.” Applejack said to everypony that was gathered in her barn: Pinkie, Rarity, and a terrified Spike being comforted by a slightly less terrified Fluttershy.

“I hope she doesn’t know to come out here.” Rarity said, “I am afraid of what she would do to your barn.”

“She already burned it down once.” Applejack said flatly.

BAM! All the ponies jumped and looked at the door. They were silent. For a few seconds, the only thing that filled the room was the sights of dust dancing in the late afternoon sunbeams. Applejack dared to move, but jumped again when another loud BAM was heard and the door shook.

“She’s here!” Spike whimpered.

“Shh, Spike…” Fluttershy calmed him.

“What’s the matter, girls?” Twilight’s evil voice pierced through the barn door. Its cold and lifeless sound sent a chill through the ponies’ spines. “Aren’t I invited to your party?”

“We’re not having a party!” Pinkie shouted.

“SHH! Pinkie!” Rarity whispered.

“Oh, that’s alright, I just like SEEING you girls!” Twilight screamed with another loud slam against the door. Spike began to cry and Fluttershy was close to doing the same.

Suddenly, the door was busted down and Twilight stood there, eyes glowing brightly and red scar shining like a ruby. Upon laying eyes on the black prisoner’s uniform and noticing that her horn was dull, the ponies all felt a bit of relief, but considering she was strong enough to break down a door, a new worry crept into them.

“You ponies are so predictable!” Twilight shouted. “I AM GOING TO CRUSH YO-!”

SLAM!

Twilight fell to her side, unconscious. A pair of red legs retracted from where they had bucked Twilight in the head.

“BIG MACINTOSH!” Applejack screamed, “What in the hay didja do that for?!” Applejack hollered at her brother.

“Well you sure as sugar weren’t doin’ anything!” Big Mac said.

“Ya could’ve seriously hurt the poor gal!” Applejack shouted, running forward to examine Twilight. Her scar was still glowing, but it was weaker. Twilight was breathing, so Applejack knew that Mac had only knocked her out. One thing, though, was the welt that was quickly forming on the side of Twilight’s head.

“Well, Ah’m sure the princess can take care of that.” Applejack muttered. Her friends gathered around and looked at Twilight with concern.

“TWILIGHT!!!” They heard Rainbow Dash scream from a distance away. Applejack was pushed to the side and the cyan pegasus fell on Twilight’s body, nose bleeding heavily.

“Twilight! Twilight, are you alright?! What happened? What happened?!” She asked frantically. “Where did this welt on her face come from??”

“Ah’m sorry, Miss Dash.” Big Macintosh said. “That was mah doin’.”

“You WHAT?” Rainbow Dash hollered, jumping to her feet and facing Big Macintosh with a fury.

“She was gonna hurt mah sis an yer friends.” Big Mac said, “Far as Ah’m concerned, Ah did the right thing.”

“You listen here, Mac.” Rainbow Dash spat, “You’d better hope that Celestia can fix that welt on Twilight’s head, or I’ll do what Twilight was about to do to you!”

“Rainbow Dash!” Applejack shouted. Rainbow Dash suddenly stopped and realized that she was hovering in the air, a foot above Big Mac’s head. His expression was hardened and unchanging. He was not going to back down from this.

“Now Ah know you didn’t jus’ threaten mah brother fer two reasons.” Applejack said angrily. “First bein’ that he’s twice yer size, second bein that he’s mah brother, an’ you know better than to get ta me.”

“And what if he had killed her?!” Rainbow Dash shouted back, “What then, huh?”

“What if she’d killed us, Rainbow Dash?” Applejack demanded, “Ya don’t seem ta acknowledge that much.”

Rainbow Dash was silent. She lowered herself to the ground and stared daggers at Applejack.

“Ah’m goin’ back out to the fields.” Big Mac said nonchalantly. “Got lots o’ buckin’ ta do.”

“Ah wish Ah could help you.” Applejack said, still not looking away from Rainbow Dash. “Ah really do.”

Rainbow Dash finally looked away from Applejack and fell to her knees beside Twilight. Rainbow Dash sighed heavily and curled up next to the unconscious unicorn, petting her as she did so. Blood continued to ooze out her nose from where Twilight kicked her. Applejack shook her head and turned around to see Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy staring in horror at what had just unfolded in front of them. Aside from Rarity somewhat, none of them had ever seen Twilight like this, and Rarity had only seen her silhouette in front of her house.

“Well, now ya know.” Applejack said, “What it’s like.”

“I think I’m gonna go home.” Fluttershy said weakly, then took wing as fast as she could, escaping the situation.

“I believe I will do the same.” Rarity replied uncomfortably, “Care to join me, Pinkie?”

Pinkie nodded with watery eyes and followed Rarity as they walked out of the farm. Spike followed the girls with a shaky body and petrified expression. Applejack watched them leave before turning back to Rainbow Dash and Twilight. She walked over to the pair and sat down on the other side of Twilight’s body.

“Sorry…” Rainbow Dash muttered.

“It’s alright, sugarcube.” Applejack replied. She patted Rainbow Dash on the head and smiled. Rainbow Dash sat up and looked down at Twilight’s unconscious body with worry and sadness in her eyes. She prodded her nose and winced as she did so.

“We need ta get that cleaned up.” Applejack said, lifting Dash’s chin to see the extent of the damage, “Luckily, Ah don’t think it’s broken.”

Rainbow Dash pushed Applejack’s hoof away and shook her head.

“This… isn’t very fair.” Rainbow Dash said.

“What makes you say that?” Applejack asked, merely just to keep Rainbow Dash talking.

“The first filly to fall for me… and this happens.” Rainbow Dash grumbled.

“Ah’m sorry.” Applejack said sincerely, “Ah wish Ah knew how you felt, but… honestly, Ah’ve never had a colt fall for me.”

Rainbow Dash eyed Applejack.

“Ah said colt.” Applejack said with a little grin.

Rainbow Dash chuckled and brushed Twilight’s mane with her hoof. Rainbow Dash took the time to really admire Twilight. Sans the welt that was forming on her head beneath her mane, Twilight just appeared to be sleeping peacefully. “She’s so beautiful, Applejack…”

“Ain’t many fillies like her.” Applejack said.

“No, there aren’t.” Rainbow Dash said. “Twilight truly is something special, and I am going to make sure she gets out of this alive, no matter what.”

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