• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 3,753 Views, 136 Comments

Unity at Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17



Book III. With the lord of chaos released from stone and being the only none-Element, Dusk is left behind by the others. But he will soon discover that there is much more to him than he could have ever known...

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Chasing a Rainbow

Despite a little bit of reassurance that now all would be well, for the most part anyway, and that Discord would be close to his defeat, Luna was still worried, for both the fate of Equestria and the pony that she considered to be her friend. She stood on her balcony, her legs and hooves rested on the railing, staring out at the chaotic Ponyville in the distance and pondering what Dusk was doing now, if he had recovered from what Discord had done to him… and what Blackhole Doom had forced him to do.

Where she had felt fear for the heartless, crueller version of her friend, she now also felt an overwhelming pity and compassion for him. Now they had both had to endure when their darker desires had gotten the better of them and something else had taken over. Luna could still remember from her own time as Nightmare Moon, her attempts to bring about eternal night, trying to seriously hurt Twilight Sparkle and her friends, all the bitterness and anger that had fuelled her to do all of those things. At first, she thought nopony would understand what she had been through, but now…

She sighed as she thought of him. He didn't deserve what had happened to him, she didn't even know. It had been detailed in the ancient writings, but she had interpreted it differently and took it to mean something else. Now, she felt extremely guilty about it all, for she should have known what its meaning was and acted to stop it. Then, Dusk would have had to have gone through all of what he had done and all that Blackhole had done and she had made his life a little more difficult as a result of it. He didn't deserve that…

But she took heart in something else. By now he would have gotten the reports back from her sister, along with Twilight Sparkle and the two of them would be using their magic to return their friends to normal, hopefully without Discord interfering. In his eyes, he had won, so there would be no need to bother with them. She only hoped that Fore Sight was indeed right in his writings. She pulled out the ancient scroll, unfolded it and read throught it again…

Son of night, be born soon

With a sliver's power of the moon,

Whose greatest weapon is his mind

Though through discord, darkness may reside

Against this evil most unhallowed

He is light opposed to shadow

Though to keep this darkness stayed

The stars must come to his aid

Great deeds he did,

Though modesty forbids

Unlocks power once hid

Through the mists of time

When chaos is at prime

And when six do cease their fight

By his light, they unite

Enacting justice to chaos' crime.

She stopped at this point, for it was the next part of the prophecy that concerned her, the part that even she was a little unsure of. Would Dusk be able to figure it out? What did Discord know about it and would he be concerned enough to try and stop it? If that were the case, would he do it himself or use his dark minions, the ones she and her sister had destroyed during the Uprising. He could just as easily create more Paraserpents and there would be a lot more of them this time around. But what could they do?

They had to be more active, they had to do something more to help…

"Hoot!"

Luna was brought out of her thoughts by the sound of an animal. It was a snowy owl, rested on the railing near her, with a letter attached to its leg. It had a somewhat nervous disposition about it, as it had now hidden its head behind its wing and refused to look at Luna. It was also shaking a little in its feathery body, absolutely terrified.

Suspecting this owl could only belong to one pony in particular; Luna reached out gently and untied the letter. Smiling her thanks to the bird, she unfolded it and read what was written, calling out her sister who was busy sending back Twilight's reports on friendship.

"What's this Luna?" Celestia asked. "I still need to send the rest of Twilight's reports."

"I do not think that will be necessary, listen." Luna proceeded to read aloud.

Dear Princesses Luna and Celestia

To the eldest of you, Twilight and I have received your reports and their intended purpose has been fulfilled. You can stop sending them now, I don't think Spike can take much more of the effort required and deserves a rest. Thank you for reminding us of the true worth of friendship and reminding us of who we are.

And to Luna, my friend… you've helped me more than I could have ever thought possible. You probably know the origin of Blackhole by now. All I can say is thank you, from the deepest recesses of my heart, thank you so much for helping me get back to the light and I am so sorry for what I… he did to you. I only hope you can forgive me, for the pain I caused you is nothing compared to the guilt I feel for failing in my duty to prevent it.

Any other help you can give would be appreciated, because I have a feeling the worse is about to begin. You've both done so much for your subjects and have already fought this battle once before. Still, it never hurts to have a little more help.

Your loyal subject

Dusk Noir

"I already have," whispered Luna, rolling up the scroll and turning to her sister. "We've done it then."

"We have, but our task isn't yet completed," Celestia said, staring out at Ponyville.

"What do you mean?" asked Luna, confused.

"It means that I think you and I have been playing too passive a role in this battle." She looked down at her and shared a knowing smile. "I think it's time we take a more active stance, don't you?"

"You took the words right out of my mouth, dear sister," replied the younger, getting ready to fly. "But I think it would be prudent to get some additional force."

"So would I." Celestia joined her at the edge of the balcony, raising her wings. "Come then Luna, it's time to take the fight to Discord!"

With that, the Royal Pony Sisters leaped from their castle, spread their majestic wings and took to the skies, ready to finish this once and for all.


Twilight performed the memory spell she had learned once again on a restrained Pinkie Pie, letting her remember all of the times she had made her laugh, both with their friends and every other pony in town, reminding her of the irrepressible ball of happiness that she was and not the cynical, grumpy mare Discord had forced her to become.

Dusk was performing his own similar spell, his eyes closed as he created a colour puppet in her image that, when complete, dissolved into her and restored her fur colour to normal, at the same time that her own magic took effect. In a way, they were taking two halves of the spell. She focused more on the memory, while he channelled the emotions, somehow, through his own unique magic. She knew this because she had felt it when it had reawakened the magic within her after Discord had extinguished it.

She had never felt anything more wonderful, more beautiful in her whole life as in that moment when he had performed that spell on her. All of those positive emotions pouring into her, the happiness, the joy, the wonder he had shared whenever he'd been with her and everything that she had made him feel by just being his friend. There had been something else, a feeling that she shared and that had been growing stronger since he had returned. That had shone as brightly as the sun and was enough to make her cry just thinking about it.

But despite the joy he no doubt felt from his return to them, she couldn't help but notice something else about him too. In little moments, there were times he would look guilty, distraught almost from some unknown, secret fault of his. It was even more obvious when she looked into his eyes and saw it, burning in there like a fire. He would always look away from her when she did this, but it was there, even though he tried to hide it. What was he hiding then? What was making him feel like this?

She would ask him later, for right now, they had work to do. Pinkie was already back on her hooves, bouncing away and hugging everypony tightly.

"I'm back! I'm back! I'm back!" she chanted, embracing Twilight. "I mean, I was all grumpy and misery and sad, but now I'm all happy and bouncy and jumpy and I just love it so much I just wanna throw a party for it! No, wait, several parties, all at the same time, with different hats and cakes! That would be absolutely positutly funeriffic and it would all be just 'cause I'm so happy to be back to my old Pinkie-dinkie-twinkee self!"

"I'm glad to have you back too Pinkie," Twilight said sincerely. "It wasn't the same without you."

"Aw, thanks Twilight, that's sweet." She gave her a perky smile and whipped around to hug Dusk. "And you! I knew it, I knew you were psychic, I just knew it!" she insisted. "I could feel you, inside my head and putting all that lovely bubbly stuff in there with Twilight, like you were putting cupcakes and everything sweet right into my brain. Hey, maybe you're both psychic! That would be amazing! Then you'd be the cutest couple ever for sure!"

Twilight felt her cheeks flush at the mention of that and suddenly became very interested in her hooves, not making eye contact with anypony. Why did she have to bring that up, was it really that obvious? Not that it was meant to be, she still thought it was a silly idea anyway, of course it was. Yet, somehow… she rather liked the sound of that more than before. She didn't know why, but it just sounded… good.

Dusk sounded rather embarrassed as well, mumbling in his quiet voice.

"Um er… we're not a couple Pinkie, but I'm… happy you're back," he added, trying to pull the subject away from that territory.

"I'm happy you're back too! I mean, I remember you being gone and I was so sad now looking back on it, especially since I said such a mean thing about you. But now you're back and I'm just over the moon, stars and universe about it. In fact, I'm so happy you're back, you get a second hug and this complimentary cupcake!" She hugged him again and placed the sugary sweet in his hoof, beaming at him.

Dusk stared at her for a few moments, then just laughed it off. "Thank you, Pinkie, it's much appreciated."

"Come on, we'd better get going," prompted Twilight, after she finished giggling.

"Just a sec Twilight, I wanna have a talk with Dusky, won't take a moment," she assured. "That is, if Dusky don't mind?"

"Um… not at all," he said unsurely. "Twilight?"

"Well… if you have to, but don't take long," she said firmly. "We still need to find Rainbow Dash and stop Discord."

"Great! We'll talk in here, won't be long." She pushed him into a side room, beamed at them again and shut the door behind her.

Twilight stared at the door, then around at her friends, who of whom looked just as confused as she was. What did Pinkie need to talk to Dusk about that was so important? And why did she feel the need to talk to him about it away from the rest of them? Was it something to do with what she had said about her and Dusk? At first, she was willing to respect her wishes, but it became harder and harder to keep herself from listening.

In the end, Twilight's curiosity got the better and she sneaked over to the door and pressed her ear against it. She had to know what they were talking about. She caught the end of a sentence that Dusk was saying, in a scared voice.

"… could you know about that?" he was asking Pinkie.

"I saw bits of it when you were doing your spell. A bridge formed can be crossed in either direction." A moment of silence following this unexpected pearl of wisdom. "I saw that in there too. Your noggin's full of clever stuff like that."

"That's a matter of opinion," muttered Dusk. "What… else did you see?"

"Eh, nothing I'll say to anypony else, but this thing got me worried about you." Her voice was now sympathetic, concerned. "You wanna talk about it? I know it's hard for you."

"That doesn't even say the half of it…"

"I know, but I just want you to know Dusk, I don't blame you," she said gently.

"How can you say that?" he responded bitterly. "How can you in all honesty even say that?"

"'Cause it wasn't your fault, that's why. It was just an accident, like the ones you did before and you got all sad about. Remember that, by the lake?"

"But it was!" he shouted back. "Blackhole got out and he hurt you, caused untold damage and suffering and it was all my fault! I was supposed to keep him locked away, keep you all safe, but I didn't! I failed Pinkie, don't you see that? I failed…" He was silent again, Twilight straining her ears to listen. "But do you know what the worst part is?"

"What?"

"It was my body he used, my abilities, my emotions and I can remember every bit of it. I see it, every time I see you or Twilight or any of them. All I can see, all I can think about is the pain that I caused them, hear their screams, their cries and their begging for mercy and that's just you girls. There's so much more he's done, all because of me and I have to witness that every single time and I can do nothing about it. Nothing!"

His voice trailed off and Twilight, feeling her heart wrench, could hear him sobbing, muttering over and over again how it was all his fault and how he could do nothing. It was enough to bring tears to her own eyes, which she wiped away as they trickled down her cheek. It was all so clear now, where it was he had gone, why he now looked so much more guilty and forlorn than before and why she hadn't seen his so-called brother since he'd returned.

The others were all watching her with inquisitive looks as she listened at the door.

"What's goin' on in there?" whispered Applejack. "Twah, you okay?"

"I'm… I'm not sure," she mumbled, gesturing her to be quiet. "Hold on, I'm getting more…"

She heard hooves approaching Dusk and Pinkie's sympathetic voice again.

"Shh it's okay, it's okay," she whispered. "I know it's hard, but believe me, it's not your fault. Even if he brings raining chocolate which is yummy and tasty, it's all that meanie Discord's fault, not yours."

"But I-" She shushed him, cutting him off.

"Listen to your aunt Pinkie Dusky," she said. "I did some mean things too, I can remember all the grumpy stuff that I did and said when he did that to me. But I know that he's the one to blame, not me and I know that, because of what he's done to you, to me, our home and our friends, he's soon gonna see the bad side of Pinkamena Dianne Pie and believe me, you gotta do something pretty bad to see the bad side of me!"

Dusk was quite for a moment, no doubt considering this. "I'm not sure I believe you entirely, I don't know if I can yet, but I agree with you on one thing: Discord does need to be stopped and we all need to do it together."

"That's the spirit!" She heard her hug Dusk again. "We can talk more about this later, okay?"

"Yes… thanks Pinkie. Just… don't tell the others yet," he asked her. "I don't… want them to know yet."

"No problem, I won't. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," she Pinkie promised sincerely. "Come on, we better get going."

"Right you are," he agreed, Twilight backing hurriedly away from the door as it opened.

Pinkie bounced out happily, followed by Dusk. "Oh and one more thing. Eat up that cupcake, I promise that once you're done, you'll feel loads better."

"I'll bear that in mind," he said taking a bite out of it. "So, shall we get going?"

"Oh yes, of course!" Twilight agreed. "Come on, let's go everypony, only one more to go."

"Great! Hey, now I think about it, there's so many things you can laugh about from all this. I mean, I was bouncing up and down and up and down in the library before, which was weird, but funny, just bouncing going boing boing boing! I love making that noise, it's so much fun, I mean what's not fun about a noise like that? And then there was when I…"

Pinkie bounced out of her house laughing and talking all the way followed by the others as Dusk created a puppet of the Pegasus pony they were looking for.

As they set off at a slower pace than before, for Pinkie had started laughing and rolling around so much about all that was happening, even about her fur being grey, Applejack had to move her around in a nearby cart, Twilight turned her attention to Dusk, munching away on his cupcake and perking up a little bit at the end of every bite, though still with something of a guilty demeanour.

So, while Discord had changed the others with his magic, he had done something truly cruel and horrible to Dusk. He had actually created a darker side for him, what that had taken over his mind and body completely. That was why he had said Dusk was as good as dead, because he had been left in that part of his mind. Remembering all the things Blackhole had done to them, she could understand completely why Dusk looked and felt so guilty around them now. He blamed himself for all he had done… and that just wasn't fair.

She wanted nothing more than to hold him in her arms, to tell him that it was fine and everything was going to be all right and how she thought he was the most special pony she'd ever met and she could never, ever blame him for what he did… wait what? Where did that come from, she thought with a blush. Still, they had a task to focus on now, which both she and he knew and had to remain focused on.

Later though, she vowed, I'll talk to him. He certainly needs it.

They reached Rainbow's house on the outskirts of town, Fluttershy flying up and peeking through the windows to try and find her. Pinkie had, at this point, calmed down and was capable of walking again, while Dusk, in accordance to Pinkie's promise, looked a little better after eating that cake, watching his Rainbow puppet which he hadn't yet cut off. She gave him a reassuring smile while they waited, which he gladly returned.

"She's not here," Fluttershy reported, flying back down.

This got Twilight worried. "Without Rainbow Dash, we can't use the Elements."

"She could be anywhere by now!" despaired Applejack. "We're never gonna find her."

"Excuse me, ladies," Dusk said. "Apologies for sounding rude, but I wasn't done tracking her yet and if you would look to that cloud, you'll find our cyan Pegasus… or grey, rather."

Twilight looked where the puppet had stopped and was now fading now its work was completed to see the daredevil, laid back and relaxing on a cloud without a care in the world, just as grey as they had been previously.

"Hey! I spotted her there too!" Pinkie tapped her head and pointed at Dusk. "See, we're the real thinkers of the group."

Twilight decided not to respond to this and called up to her. "Rainbow Dash!"

"Hey guys!" she responded, not even looking up.

"We've been looking everywhere for you!" informed Twilight.

"That's nice," she said nonchalantly.

"Discord's still on the loose!" pressed Twilight, trying to get a better response. "We need you to help us defeat him with your Element, Loyalty!"

Now she looked up, making a dismissive noise. "Loyalty, schmoyalty! Have you guys seen Ponyville? It's a disaster! I'm staying here in Cloudsdale where everything's awesome."

"How in Equestria can she think that tiny patch of cloud is Cloudsdale?" asked Rarity.

"Don't," said Dusk to Applejack as she leaned over, no doubt to mention Rarity's incident. "It's an extent of Discord's powers and manipulation. He can use his magic to create hallucinations in the recipient to bend them to his will if need be."

"Ah, I see," nodded Rarity, with a look that said she hoped nothing would be mentioned. "So he's done that to Rainbow then?"

"It would seem so and believe me, I know…" He diverted his gaze to the ground, making Twilight well up with pity for him again.

"Time for Plan B," said Twilight, deciding to move the subject away from that before anypony broached further. "Pinkie, do you still have your balloon?"

"Yes indeedy super seedy," affirmed Pinkie.

"Applejack, you have your lasso?"

"Sure thing," she nodded.

"Right, here's what we do…"


Dusk was feeling weak at the knees again as the hot air balloon floated gently upwards into the sky as his fear of flying began to take hold once more. He knew he had to be strong for the girls and control his fear until Rainbow Dash was restored to normal and back on the ground, but that still didn't help the shaking he had throughout his body. What was worse was that he had to leave the relative safety of the balloon in order to perform the spell once she was restrained which made him feel even worse. Oh well…

He looked down at the sleeping Pegasus as she rested on her cloud. She was the only one he hadn't done anything to when he had been his darker self for that brief period. No doubt however she would be just as angry with him as the others would be once he told them all about what he had done. While he had talked to Pinkie about it, thanks to her uncanny way of finding out about these things, he still had to talk to the others about it afterwards as they no doubt would want to. Then what would happen? What would they do? He didn't want to leave them again, it had been too hard the first time…

Focus on the now Dusk, he told himself mentally, Discord had to be stopped. Worry about what comes after when it comes.

They were in position above her, while she was completely unaware of their presence. They just had to keep the element of surprise until the right moment.

"Okay, Fluttershy, you grab Rainbow Dash and hold her down. Applejack will lower me and Dusk down from these ropes so we can cast our memory spells on her," Twilight recapped of her plan.

"Got it!" saluted Fluttershy.

With a ferocity he rarely saw from her, Fluttershy sped towards Rainbow Dash while she slept. But just as she reached her, she stopped and tapped her lightly on her flank, enough to wake her up. She wasn't going to do what Dusk thought she was, was she?

"Um...I'm just wondering if it's okay if I hold you down against your will for a little bit?" She was. Despite his affection for her, Dusk couldn't help but groan in annoyance.

"Nice try! Ponyville's your problem, not mine." Hopping back onto her cloud, Rainbow Dash sped off in the blink of an eye.

Improvising quickly, Dusk handed Twilight a length of rope, which she lowered down in front of Fluttershy.

"Come on, Fluttershy, we've got to catch her!" Getting the message, she grabbed the rope in her mouth and began to pull the balloon along like a dog pulling a sleigh.

Dusk could feel his heart race as the wind whipped through his mane, grabbing his hat to stop it from flying off as they sped after Rainbow. However, Dusk knew they didn't stand much of a chance of catching up to her. She was far lighter, faster and more manoeuvrable in the air than they were in their cumbersome balloon. But they had to try, for if they couldn't, Equestria would be under Discord's rule forever.

Fortunately, it was Rainbow's cocky attitude that gave them an edge. No doubt in a bid to confuse them or to show off, she whirled around, sped back towards them and whizzed past their balloon, flying this way and that to throw them off. Even though she was no longer as loyal as she was, Dusk had to admit she was still a good flyer. While it made her difficult to keep track of, it also brought her close enough to use their fall-back plan.

"Applejack!" Dusk called, grabbing a length of rope.

Because Twilight was busy at the reigns, Dusk grabbed another rope and tossed it up to her. She caught it and spun it around her head while Rainbow Dash flew right next to her, a foolish mistake. Applejack's aim was dead on, wrapping around her waist and fixing tightly around her. Smiling at their small victory, Dusk turned to see if the rope was secure only to discover, too late, that it was around the legs of Pinkie and Rarity.

"Look out!" Dusk made to grab Rarity's hoof, but both she and Pinkie were pulled out of the basket, screaming all the while.

"PINKIE! You were supposed to secure the ROPE!" screamed Rarity.

"Oops," was all she could say.

Dusk at first was going to levitate them back, but he noticed that their combined weight had pulled Rainbow off her cloud and they were even reducing her speed due to the added body mass. As long as the rope held, they'd be fine. They'd just have to catch Rainbow all the more quickly now.

"Rarity, Pinkie, hold on! Y'all are slowing her down!" observed Applejack from atop the balloon.

"Oh, Fluttershy, would you be a dear and FLY FASTER, please?!" called Rarity.

Fluttershy, however, was at her limit. Dusk could make out the tears streaming down her cheeks. "I can't!"

"Come on little sister, I know you can do it!" he called out to her.

"If you can't catch her, Discord wins!" added Twilight.

"That big...dumb...MEANIE!" That last word was accompanied with a sudden burst of speed Dusk would never have expected from her.

"This is the last one Applejack!" Dusk shouted, tossing her the last rope. "Don't let us down!" He then remembered Rarity and Pinkie. "Oops… poor choice of words."

As Applejack prepared her last lasso, Dusk looked out at Rainbow, still speeding away from them as fast as she could. They still needed something else that would slow her down and make her an easier target, but what? What could they use? Remembering what he accidently did to her on their first meeting, he realised there was one last thing he could do.

"Sorry to do this to you, Dashie," muttered Dusk, tapping into his magic and forming a large orb directly in front of her.

"What the- AGH!" The bright light was enough to blind her and make her stop flying.

At the same time, Applejack threw her last rope and made the target. She'd done it! With this rope now fully secured and with Rainbow still struggling blindly and rubbing her eyes, Fluttershy slowed down and lowered them gently back to the ground. Dusk jumped out as soon as it reached the floor, eager to be back on solid earth and also to check up on Fluttershy, who looked exhausted, but proud as well.

"Fluttershy, that was brilliant!" She accepted his hug weakly. "I knew you could do it, I just knew it!"

"Thanks…" she panted. "You were great too, that orb really helped to slow her down and you tossed the ropes to Applejack to stop her. You did wonderfully."

"Yeah well… you were the one pulling," he mumbled.

"Now don't go bein' modest, sugar cube," Applejack called, still firmly holding on to the ropes. "Y'all were a big help an' we know it. Jus' gimme a word-a warnin' next time ya do one-a them orbs, ya nearly threw ma aim off."

"Right… sorry…" he replied quietly.

"No sweat, we got her now." She struggled a little when Rainbow tried furiously to take off again. "Now, how 'bout givin' me a hoof here? This one's almost too wily, even fer me."

Organising themselves quickly, they were positioned so each of the girls were holding on to a rope to reduce Rainbow's struggling as much as possible, having her in a state where she couldn't fly, as her wings were tied down, or run, because her rear legs were in the sky or fight back because of the distance between her and her 'wranglers' as Applejack had called them. That left only Dusk and Twilight to do their magic.

"Lemme go!" ordered Rainbow, still resisting them. "I don't need you guys! Leave me alone!"

She was snorting angrily when Twilight lowered her head and Dusk was weaving her shape, remembering how much admiration he had for her for committing to be the best that she could be, her dedication to fulfil her dream but also her ability to just be laid back and cool, knowing exactly the best way to carry herself and look and sound like one of the best, as he knew she was and one day would be the best member the Wonderbolts ever had.

Dusk beamed, Rainbow's cyan coat returning along with her signature mane, though he had a slight headache from the effort. Her stone also lit up around his neck, glowing like the others. Only one left now…

"Wh-what happened?" she asked groggily. Then she gasped at sudden remembrance. "How's Ponyville? Where are the Elements?! Did we stop Discord?"

The last question she actually tackled Applejack to the ground. Overwhelmed with affection and relief, Dusk joined the others for a group hug around her, though she looked confused as to the purpose of it. It was almost a perfect moment, until three buffalo wearing tutus and ballet vests pirouetted past, reminding them of their duty.

"Maybe it's a little early for a group hug," remarked Twilight.

"But not entirely unfounded," added Dusk, renewed with spirit. "Now, we just need the Elements and I know exactly where those are."

"To the Bat-Ca- uh, library!" declared Pinkie, galloping away as they sped off back towards town.

Despite being a firm believer in faith and the impossible, Dusk still couldn't believe they were actually about to pull this off. Against all the odds, all of the trials, tribulation and turmoil that had been placed before them, they had almost come out on top. His darker side was defeated, his friends were restored to normal and all they needed to do now was get the Elements, return Discord to stone and save Equestria.

What was best of all was that Dusk, despite everything that his dark side had done, had played a part in bringing all of this about. Once again, thanks to the wonderful friendships he had formed with these magnificent mares, he actually felt like he was worth something and had actually done his vital part to bring Discord to justice for all of his crimes. Truly, nothing could stop them now and nothing could crush his happy mood and blazing hope.

But something did, when they were arriving back in town.

Dusk was just galloping with them through the market place, when he thought he saw something stir down one of the alleyways. Just like what he had thought he had seen before after they'd rescued Rarity. Maybe it was still nothing, or that was what he thought until he saw something else move close by as well, accompanied with a sinister hiss. That sent a chill down his spine and made him freeze in place. It couldn't be… could it?

"Dusk?" Twilight was looking back at him with concern. "Is something wrong? You look like you've seen a…"

The rest of her sentence remained unfinished when she saw what he saw. It was slow at first, deliberate and calculating, just moving in the darkness. Then they came, slithering out of the shadows like a little foal's nightmare. At first there was one, but then there were five, ten, dozens if not hundreds emerging out of every crevice, nook and cranny, their many red eyes fixed on them and their wicked fangs glinting in the light.

They weren't as big as the one they'd faced, their eyes weren't as small, but there were many, many more of them this time. They were completely surrounded by Paraserpents… and they looked very hungry.

"Yes, I'd say it's definitely too late for a group hug," deadpanned Dusk.

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