• Published 24th Feb 2013
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The Secret Apprentice - The Grimm Reaper

Twilight finds out the truth about her old lessons under Princess Celestia from an old friend who suffered because of them.

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Chapter 1: Resonance

Ponyville was bustling with excitement as a new day dawned upon the restless villagers of the town. Pony after pony moved like purposeful ants to their destinations to either give or get what they wanted or needed for preparations for something or other. The weather was clearer than the pools in the Crystal Empire; not a cloud in the sky, even over the Everfree Forest which seemed rather domesticated compared to usual. All in all, it was a good day for everypony and everything. I on the other hoof was having a terrible day. The scaly pest of an assistant had decided to count my diary as one of the books that needed re-shelving and had hidden it somewhere in the Library. That reptile would soon become the perfect saddle bag, or perhaps a dragon skin rug right by the fire. To my greater misfortune, Spike’s Draconic memory had kicked in a week prior and he began reciting entries from my diary that he’d skimmed over, one of them concerning how cute Big Macintosh looked at the Royal Canterlot Wedding.

Spike and I both gasped as if we were suffocating as Applejack entered the Library with a smile on her features. There was an eerie silence as I waited for the cage to come down on the rule against her brother and before we knew it, Spike and I really were suffocating.

“What’re we doin’?” Applejack asked, breaking the ice. I had no answer for the farm mare. Fortunately, Spike came to our rescue.

“Tai-chi! It’s just so relaxing.” he replied. I winked at the reptile who smiled warmly, the hint of deceptive glee present in a way only I could depict.

“Ain’t that the same excuse we gave Fluttershy after she entered when y’all said ya wanted ta kill Angel bunny for decoratin’ the Library with… uh… caviar?” Spike and I fell to the ground. We forgot that Applejack’s memory was entirely comparable to a dragon’s.

“Besides, y’all can’t do Tai-Chi ta save your lives.” Having added insult to defeat, I knew what was coming next: “So, what were y’all talkin’ about before Ah entered? Ah promise Ah won’t get mad at y’all.” My eyes shot over to the quickly opening muzzle of the dragon.

“Oh well we were talking about how Twilight thought Big Mac was–.”

“I will skin you alive, you traitorous reptile!” I threatened. Spike just blew me a raspberry and finished the sentence.

“Cute.” I blew my top off. Bursting into flames, I began to chase the lizard around the Library, being careful not to burn any books as I swept closer and closer. I was about to create Fricassee dragon when he came to a screaming halt and covered his mouth like he was going to throw up.

I reluctantly reserved my anger towards him for another time as he belched a letter from the Princess. Catching it in my aura I read it over.

“Ugh, the urgent ones taste bad.” the dragon grumbled as he clutched his stomach. While Applejack offered a comforting pat on the shoulder, I skimmed over the letter again. It was different to any other letter the Princess had sent to me. While it read urgency on a regular level of danger, it felt as though the urgency was much greater than she led on. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

“We need to go to Canterlot immediately.” I stated.

((Four hours earlier – Canterlot))

Deep within the dungeons of Canterlot Castle, where not even the rats would tread, the entire row of cells were empty, save one. Runes and spells of all sorts covered the bars and the walls within that cell. Guards would not tread more than thirty feet from the entrance for fear of going mad.

The Princess of the night, however, was not so easily swayed from such a dangerous place. Luna walked with two of her night guards at either side of her. She had a proud stride to her, its grace not lost even in a place as this. As expected, her escort stopped thirty feet from the cell, leaving her to go on ahead. She understood their perturbation all too well; even as she approached the door, she could feel waves of magical energy seeping through the cracks of the doors. But then again, that was supposed to happen. The cell was designed to drain the prisoner inside of all their magic, leaving them with just enough to survive. It was a constant and painful thing, something Luna felt nopony deserved to suffer.

She swallowed hard before unlocking the door with her magic, a light blue hue emanating from around her long horn. There was a clicking sound from within the cell door and it opened with a loud and long creak, sliding into the wall beside it. The magic rushed out like compressed air, stinging Luna’s senses. She was surprised to say the least that the magic had taken on a physical form; wispy waves of tri-coloured magic soared past her, begging for release.

The stench of a prisoner unkempt and malnourished filled her nostrils. It was the smell of something on the border of death. She looked at the far wall from the entrance and saw him: the ocean blue unicorn with the olive eyes and sky blue mane hanging from chains bolted to the wall. But he was now even less of the unicorn he once was. Luna closed her eyes and refused to look upon him further, but she continued forward, using her mind’s eye to guide her way up to him.

“Princess…” a surprisingly clear voice reached her ears. It sounded weak, but it wasn’t nearly dead enough.

“I am here, Orion.”

The blue unicorn lifted his head to meet Princess Luna. He noticed her closed eyes and smiled as best he could.

“You fear the appearance of somepony who has suffered far greater than yourself?” he asked. Luna ignored the insult within the question and answered him truthfully.

“I pity one who has suffered greater than myself. I pity you, Orion.” she tried to be kind and considerate, like her sister had been to her after she’d lost to the Elements of Harmony, but…

“Pity doesn’t erase the pain suffered in the past, justice does. You’re too forgiving, Luna. Had I been in your horseshoes, I’d not have forgiven Celestia so lightly.” Luna sighed at his response.

“Vengefulness breeds pain, forgiveness breeds peace.” attempting wisdom on the young stallion, she found it to be in vain.

“Forgiveness is not justice.”

Seeing no reasoning with the unicorn, Luna sighed and approached him closer. “Neither is vengeance, my little pony.” no response came from the unicorn. It appeared as though no more words would be spoken amongst the two. As Luna proceeded to leave, opening her eyes toward the exit, he spoke once more.

“It is both of these things.” Luna halted and turned to face him, forgetting his appearance disturbed her.


The unicorn cracked his neck and motioned the princess closer. “What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil, or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil? In either case, evil remains. You can’t have a concept of justice without good and evil, both of which are merely two sides of a game whose winner matters not.”

Luna listened to the blue stallion, considering his view on the way of things. “Then what would you do were you set free?” she asked.

“Should you trust me to answer truthfully?” he replied with a smile.

“Somepony who has such a grey view of the world would see no reason to lie.” she countered. Orion’s smile deepened and he nodded.

“Too true your majesty. Yes, should I leave this place, I would attempt to get my life back.” he said. Luna smiled at him and left the cell, closing the door afterward.

“I will discuss your release with my sister. I believe you will do great things for Equestria, Orion Starlight.” As she left Orion sighed, his smile fading immediately.

“Again, it’s all perspective, Princess.” with a powerful kick against the wall he rested on, the runes surrounding him lit up. The magic that had once been stolen from him returned in full force. His bonds were shattered to pieces and he fell to the ground. The magic continued to flow through him and his eyes lit up with it.

“In order to get my life back, I must take it from your sister.”


“So that’s what happened?” I asked, seeing no lie in Princess Celestia’s eyes. She’d regaled my friends and I with the news Luna herself had delivered to her.

“Yes, Twilight. I believe the Elements of Harmony are the only thing that can stop him now. Orion is stronger than any enemy you’ve come against so far. Nightmare Moon, Discord, Chrysalis, King Sombra… all are inferior to this pony and you and your friends are the only ones capable of stopping him. I fear also, that he is after my life.” Princess Celestia replied. I found it difficult to believe that the same colt I met when I first started learning under the Princess could be the most powerful foe I’d yet to face. I almost didn’t want to face him for those two reasons.

“What Ah don’t get is why he’d wanna take ya life anyway, Princess” Applejack said, drawing in a question I myself wanted to know the answer to. Princess Celestia seemed less than willing to answer truthfully.

“Orion Starlight… is my student.”

“WHAT?!” A chorus consisting of our combined voices rose to challenge her claim. The Princess seemed saddened still.

“While Twilight’s enrolment as my personal student was publicised, I took in a secret student, Orion. He was given the same tests as Twilight. In a sense, he was a test himself. I needed two unicorns of completely opposite gender and personality. I’d set them up in different environments, such as the public student, and the secret apprentice. I gave the same teachings to the both of you and over the course of time, Orion became warped and twisted.” she said. As her student and her subject, I felt it right to believe her.

“Oh, that old song and dance, Celestia? Honestly; a partial truth may still be a truth, but it leaves the rest to be interpreted as a partial lie. Therefore, it is still a lie.” An unfamiliar voice spoke out directly to my right. I’d thought Pinkie Pie had been beside me, but as I looked toward the source of the voice, I saw… him. Orion Starlight. He was as magnificent as I remembered. His coat and mane were shiny and his eyes clearer than ever before. Despite my appraisal of his appearance, I gasped in surprise along with all the others.

“Orion! You dare show yourself here of all place–.”

“You forgot the part where you used me as a test for Twilight’s lessons. Used my own endurance to test which would be better for her. Should she fight a dragon? Let’s test the possibility on Orion. Would she benefit from climbing the mountain that was the home of the Windigos? Let’s see if Orion makes it first. Every lesson I succeeded with ease, you gave to Twilight, every lesson I either failed or had difficulty succeeding in, you checked off her list.” I couldn’t believe what he was saying. Princess Celestia had used him to test the difficulty of my own lessons? It wasn’t possible.

“Poor Twilight thought your teachings were a result of hundreds of years of perfecting your teaching skills, when in actuality, you played with my life to ensure she was raised and taught the finer lessons in life.” there was no conviction in his voice as he spoke, only sadness and for some reason, sympathy.

“You lie, Orion. I will not have you making things up to sway my ponies from me.” Princess Celestia said. As she spoke, my friends and I instinctively circled the stallion, cutting him off from escape. I was torn between wanting to know the full truth and remaining loyal to my Princess. Orion looked at me with those eyes, the sympathy emanating from them.

“She said it herself, Twilight. I’m more powerful than anypony you’ve faced before. How do you think that’s possible? I know everything you know, true; but your knowledge alone makes you little more than a great unicorn, certainly not a threat to Equestria. Your teachings alone couldn’t possibly make you what I am, so the only conclusion is that I know more from the teachings she denies having taught me.” I was slowly becoming convinced of his side of the story, but my heart wouldn’t allow me to lose faith in my teacher, our teacher.

“Don’t let him trick you, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash said, diving for Orion. Without breaking ye contact with me, I watched as the blue stallion jumped up and twisted his body around. His hind leg collided with Rainbow Dash’s head at the right moment and she was sent upwards, hitting the roof. Orion had finished his rotation and had returned to his stationary position staring into my eyes still.

Rainbow Dash fell to the ground hard, harder than she was used to. A whimper escaped her as she refused to move from her spot. Fluttershy broke formation around Orion to try and aid the fallen Pegasus. As I’d hoped, Orion didn’t try to stop her.

“I have no quarrel with you or your friends, Twilight. Princess Celestia is my only objective.” he said.

“Objectify this, you ruffian!” Rarity shouted, using her magic to wrap Orion in the Castle’s curtains. With his eyes still on mine, a magical force burst forth from Orion’s body, tearing the curtains apart. They rested around him and he made no move to incapacitate Rarity. I continued to watch in silent awe at his effortless methods of repelling my friends.

“Looks like it’s apple buckin’ season!” Applejack charged forward, stopping just short of the unicorn. She skidded around and reared her hind legs up. As she thrust her hooves towards him, Orion made no move, taking the full force of Applejack’s buck. His head barely moved, let alone showed signs of being struck. A second later, Applejack was dragging her hindlegs along the ground.

“Gosh darn it! What’s his head made of, Iron?” I found it incredibly difficult even he could shrug off one of Applejack’s kicks. She’d been apple bucking trees most of her life. She had the strongest legs in all of Equestria, short of magically enhanced muscle and bone structures. That was how he did it. Usually enhancements such as that were limited to the legs, but he’d augmented it to include his entire body. He’d be as strong as a teenage dragon.

Up next was Pinkie Pie. Hopefully, she was able to grasp the danger of the situation and think of a way to stop it. The odds weren’t in our favour. Before she could even move, crystals emerged from beneath the stone floor and wrapped themselves around Pinkie Pie and the others. I looked back to Orion to find his eyes changed to those enhanced by dark magic. He released his hold on the crystals and they stopped growing. All but Fluttershy and I were entrapped in the crystals. I assumed he’d spared her from entrapment so she had freedom to aid Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Why he left me alone was a mystery still. Finally moving from his place, he stepped toward me. I found myself frozen. Step after step felt like pangs of ice cold fear shooting through me. His hooves resonated through the hall and stopped right in front of me.

He was inches from me. That was all I knew; he was so close and he didn’t have any semblance of the boy I knew.

“Orion…” I didn’t know what to say next. There was something about him that had me stuck in place, my body chilled to the bone, but my heart burning hotter than the sun. I wanted to run, I needed to run. But I couldn’t.

“Stay away from Twilight, Orion!” I heard Celestia shout from behind me. Orion finally dropped his gaze, and a weight was lifted off of me. He shouted back at the Princess.

“You lost the right to command me three years ago!” Three years ago; the year I defeated Nightmare Moon, they year I moved to Ponyville… the year I found my friends.

The situation was growing too great too quickly. I forced magic into my horn and then expanded it outward in every direction. Orion was forced backward away from me. Celestia was pushed into her throne. My friends were freed from their crystal bonds and I had space to think. Orion seemed unperturbed by my demonstration of power. I’d have gone so far as to say he was dissatisfied with it.

Before things could go any further, my brother burst forth from the entrance along with a contingency of royal guards and surrounded Orion.

“Leave my sister be, Orion!” he ordered. Orion seemed to not even notice the spears pointed at his jugular.

“You’re not ready yet, Twilight. You’re not strong enough to fight me. When the time is right, we’ll face off.” he said.

“But I thought you had no quarrel with me.” I protested.

“And I don’t, but I do have plans for you; one, specifically. But until then, I’ll be waiting.” before anything more could be said, he disappeared in a flash of light that was my teleportation spell. Everypony dropped their guard and felt the danger pass overhead. I fell to my knees in mental exhaustion. Princess Celestia had some explaining to do. I wouldn’t be satisfied until everything was answered, and she knew it.