TiM: The Truth in Meanings

by Twidashforever

First published

TiM #1: If you had the power, how far would you go to save a friend, and would they hate you for it? Would you hate you for it? Actions have consequences and we are not always the ones who pay the price.

Story number one of the Twilight is Magic series. See the author notes in the first chapter for a link to the read order.

Twilight is the bearer of the Element of Magic, or is she? is it possible that the logic is in reverse? Twilight must learn that every action has consequences. Some are more damning than others even in the best of intentions. But with the power to save someone you love, can you honestly say you would do any different?

This story takes place approx six years after the first episode, Friendship is Magic part one. (Five years after EQG)
Eventual-twidash (this should go without saying for a story written by Twidashforever)

it is said that stories are never truly finished, only abandoned. I have not abandoned this story, as such, if you see something I did wrong, please point it out. I will still make changes as needed.

NOTE 10-18-15: Revisions are in progress (Thank you, The Derpy Writer), revised chapters will be labeled as such with an (R)

Define: Impossible (R)

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Canterlot Throne Room

“No. . ."

This isn't happening, it can’t happen, it wouldn’t, it shouldn't, it didn't.

As her mind ran through this train of thought for the third time, she realized something was fundamentally flawed; her brain wouldn’t process what was in front of her. Her eyes told the story clear as day, but her brain wouldn’t accept it.

Concentrate on what is real, she told herself. What I can process.

I'm... I'm in Canterlot, that much was obvious to her, she could see out the windows and verify that fact.

Looking around the room, she could make out other details as well. I'm in the throne room, the presence of the the princess and the stained glass windows, they all confirmed that much to her. They matched up with what she remembered the throne room looking like.

The... the thrones are covered in blood, that was different. She’d seen blood before. Although never in this quantity and never before on the thrones themselves. It was strange, it was unusual, but it was not so odd that her brain wouldn’t process it.

When her eyes once again fell upon the source of that blood. The cyan-blue pegasus body that the blood used to be in, that it used to call home. That's when her brain went blank. It knew what had happened, it knew what had occurred. It simply would not accept what had occurred. The reality of accepting the truth was too much, too painful.

Unlike the other three times, this time, the pain would not go away. It became her.

It was so painful that she couldn't even bring herself to scream.

It is well known in the medical professions that when the brain is overloaded with stimuli, it will shutdown to protect itself. While this normally applies to physical pain, her brain could not tell the difference at this point, so that is precisely what occurred. The pain Twilight suffered caused a vasovagal attack and she fell unconscious from shock.

And the annual Princess Summit had started off so well.

Sadly, Cadance could not make it due to her pregnancy, but Twilight and her friend had arrived on time. Only Rainbow Dash was able to accompany her this time, the pegasus would never leave a friend behind, even going as far as to miss her last-minute Wonderbolt performance.

Spitfire, the Captain of the Wonderbolts, was not happy about that. Rainbow was personally requested for the birthday of a very wealthy donor and Rainbow’s reply to Spitfire's insistence that she make it was not exactly PC.

Her other friends found their lives progressing at an unusually fast rate and each had to decline the offer in turn.

Applejack officially took over Sweet Apple Acres after the passing of Granny Smith. She was recently hit with a huge cider order by Filthy Rich, one of the richest ponies in Ponyville.

Pinkie Pie was the brand new owner of Sugarcube Corner, an honor she took with all the determination and drive normally reserved for her parties. Although Pinkie had wanted to go, Mr. Cake insisted she keep the bakery open in order to ensure the re-launch went smoothly.

Rarity finally married her special somepony and they were currently off on their honeymoon.

Fluttershy was dealing with sudden outbreak of a critter flu that refused to go away.

They didn’t think anything about it as only the first Princess Summit Twilight attended five years ago ever had any issue. After the whole 'Sunset Shimmer fiasco', the princesses all agreed to move the summit to Canterlot, where the royal guards could keep a closer watch.

But, with time, every pony gets relaxed. No pony suspected the catering company hired was a changeling infestation waiting to happen. No pony had seen or heard from Chrysalis since her last failed attempt to get back at Twilight by filly-napping the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and that had been years ago.

Most damning of all, no pony suspected that the royal guard commander that replaced Shining Armor was in fact, the queen herself.


The Queen of the Hives could not be more pleased with herself. Everything was just perfect; this day, she had planned out every detail years ago. Replacing the royal guard next in line, ensuring that the 'Princess of Love’ and her annoying husband would be far too busy to interfere. She even had specially designed magical dampeners strategically placed in the wall.

Nothing had been left to chance.

This is my day at last!

Chrysalis did her research this time. Setting events in motion to ensure that her target, the ‘Princess of Friendship’ would be without those who made her strong. She engineered events to keep all of Twilight's friends away, from the farmer with the hat, to the annoying cannoneer.

If there was one thing that did not go the way she wanted it to, it was the Wonderbolt showing up, but as they say: no plan survives contact with the enemy. Chrysalis made it work, while she had wanted to hit Twilight first, taking out her friend was just as satisfying and accomplished the same effect. Twilight was incapacitated, ‘as good as dead’, so they say. All that was left was to do the deed. However, after she took a quick moment to bask, Chrysalis decided that the active princess should come first.

Luna and Celestia looked on in shock. It happened so fast, Chrysalis returned to finish her grudge against Twilight. The knives held at Celestia and Luna's throats kept them in check, for now at least. Of course, greater concern were the weapons held against the throats of the senators and representatives at the back of the room. Some of them were cutting deep enough to draw blood.

Celestia took one glance at her sister and saw her intention clear as day. Luna was going to act, one way or another.

She whispered, “Calm dear sister, we cannot endanger these ponies with rash action.”

“DID YOU NOT SEE WHAT SHE DID‽” Luna shouted. “She WILL die for this, we will do it ourselves!”

“Will I?” Chrysalis laughed. “I've won you foolish mare! Setting this up took years, but victory is finally mine. I knew the true threats this time around and took all the steps to prevent you from bringing them to bear. The only flaw in my plan was the blue one, but as they say, improvisation is the key to victory. However, unlike last time I will not make idle chatter with you two.” Her hoof ran across Luna's muzzle. Pulling away just in time to prevent Luna from biting it.

Chrysalis grinned at Celestia.

“Nor will I leave you two alive. Changelings, KILL THEM!”

The knives began to cut into the princess's throats, drawing a trickle of blood. But just as suddenly, they both shattered. Celestia, Luna, and Chrysalis looked on in shock as the noise was repeated twenty times in the background. All her minions were disarmed in one fell swoop.

“What is this‽” Chrysalis screamed. “The magic dampeners couldn't have burned out already! This isn't possible!” The sudden overload of every dampener in the walls told her that is exactly what had just occurred.

Chrysalis knew those devices would not last against an alicorn for more than a few minutes. Against three, one would be lucky to last a minute, that’s why she had ten of them installed. Even still, it had been less than a minute since she activated them.

“Sister!” Luna gasped. Her gazed locked on a sight behind Chrysalis.

All eyes in the room turned to the newest princess.

Twilight hovered a few feet off the ground, purple magic radiating from her in waves that even earth ponies could feel in their bones. The most telling feature was her eyes, pure white orbs in place of their normal purple hue.

Chrysalis shouted, “THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE! You WILL not interfere again!”

She drew on all the power she could muster, even stealing the energy from the changelings she strategically placed around Canterlot to absorb the love of those in the city. Chrysalis summoned up all the energy available, readying a maneuver she had prepared as a fallback plan in case the princesses managed to break free of her trap—a blast twice as powerful as the one she used six years ago to defeat Celestia.

The energy shot from her horn with all the power of a cannon going off, the beam temporarily blinded everypony that looked in its direction.

It never got within three hooves of Twilight. The energy was stopped dead by Twilight's power. In horror, Chrysalis realized that Twilight had just absorbed the energy.

Twilight glared at the queen, raising one hoof she took Chrysalis by the throat with her magic and started squeezing.

Chrysalis looked at her with true fear in her eyes. “I looked into you… you… you were never this powerful.”

She sent a mental distress signal to every changeling in range, commanding them to save her.

In a voice that was several octaves under her normal one, Twilight replied to her comment, “You must not realize how powerful I truly am.”

At that, the changelings in the room attacked in a desperate bid to save their queen.


Canterlot City

To an outside observer this day was like any other.

Ponies in the street went about their daily business, some laughed, some cried, some loved, and some even died. That all changed when the energy shockwave hit. A wave of purple energy was released over the land, shattering every window from Manehattan to Appaloosa.

While this had no lasting impact over the ponies in Equestria, save for a few emergency landings from the pegasi, only two of which suffered minor injuries. For the changelings, this wave was pure death. Every changeling on the continent died in one swift motion. To her horror, Chrysalis felt every single death as her children were slaughtered in mass.


Canterlot Throne Room

Chrysalis’s mind could no longer process what had occurred. Her body went completely numb, no longer registering the lack of oxygen. She merely looked at the impossible figure in front of her, the one that caused the death of her ENTIRE hive.

“Good,” spoke the thing that used to be Twilight Sparkle. ”You now know a little of the pain you caused me. And with that knowledge, you have my permission to die.”

With a sickening snap, Chrysalis fell to the ground; her neck bent at an impossible angle.

Celestia cautiously approached Twilight, she had seen this side of her student—no her friend—before. Her first encounter with Twilight was under similar circumstances. As a young filly, Twilight's magic went completely out of control. Performing feats from transmuting her parents, capturing three fully qualified instructors in a force bubble beyond their combined skill to break, and aging a newly hatched dragon to full size. Such feats would be beyond even the highest level unicorns, or some alicorns for that matter.

Such feats, Celestia never would have believed possible, yet that little filly had done them all, and more importantly, she did them completely unintentional. That was the strange part, magic tended to fade and fizzle when miscast. Twilight’s magic did not; it seemed to have a mind of its own, seeking release.

What occurred today made those events look like foal’s play.

“It’s okay, Twilight,” Celestia spoke softly, drawing on her centuries of experience to keep the fear from her voice. “You can relax now.” She gingerly placed her hoof on Twilight's shoulder, hoping the simple gesture would work just as well now as it did back then to snap her out of it.

The contact was a mistake, upon her hoof touching Twilight's shoulder, Celestia's world turned upside down. She ‘saw’ into a realm not meant for the eyes of mortals, but she could not take her hoof away. Twilight’s magic NEEDED her as another release. It was pent up for far too long and the events of today were the equivalent of a dam bursting in her mind.

Celestia realized that despite everything her friend had done, all the spells she had cast, all the impossible feats that Twilight accomplished in the course of the last five minutes, it was nothing more than the tip of a VERY large iceberg. It was a lot, too much, in her worst nightmares. Celestia had never even dreamed this was a possibility.

“This isn’t possible,” Celestia spoke aloud without intending too.

“I've heard that phrase a lot today. I do not think it means what you think it means,” Twilight said, her voice seeming to come from every location at once around the two but her mouth.

“Twilight, I don’t think you understand what we're seeing. This is the magical plane, the spirit world in layman’s terms. We're viewing the world as only the gods see it.”

As she looked at her student, Celestia was blinded by the awesome power radiating off Twilight.

“Twilight you must tone it down, you're radiating too much power, the consequence here could be dire for all of Equestria if you don’t control yourself.”

“I know,” Twilight replied. “Don’t worry about me. I can keep this up indefinitely. Besides, I need it to keep him away.”

“Who is him?’ Celestia asked.

“Death, the Grim Reaper.”

It took Celestia a minute before the full implications of Twilight's reply worked its way into her mind. As unbelievable as it was, and a lot of this would qualify as such, the possibility existed that Twilight might be right, and if so, she had to put a stop to this.

“Twilight, I know it might seem tempting, but you can’t stop this. You must let her go. If he’s here, it’s her time. The natural order must be maintained.”


There was no malice in the reply, no hate, or anger. It was merely a simple response to a question, yet that one word shook Celestia to her core.

Her friend never disagreed with her before. It was the first time Twilight ever told Celestia no.

Celestia realized that Twilight was beyond her in every conceivable way right now and there was no way she could force her. She had to hope that she could still reason with her.

“Twilight please, you must let this happen. I know it’s hard, but I'll be with you every step of the way, I’ll give my royal duties to Luna and I WILL be there for you throughout the grieving process. As will all your friends. I’ll see to it, but no one can cheat death. Not even you, it’s impossible.”

That seemed to get through to Twilight. She considered her teacher's words very carefully. Slowly, in a way of response, the aura surrounding Twilight dimmed until a figure stepped through the wall at the other end of the room.

It was a pony unlike any other Celestia had ever seen—or ever wished to see again. This figure of ancient myth and legend emanated his name-sake. Hooded from head to hoof, with no part of him revealed other than the occasional bone that appeared through his torn and faded-grey cloak.

The aura around him was the opposite of Twilight's in every way possible. Darkness radiated from him as a sickness. Decorative skulls rattled at his cloak, acting as some sort of belt to keep it from opening.

Instinctively Celestia knew that to view the figure's form beneath that cloak would destroy the sanity of any who saw it. The most telling feature was the jet-black scythe floating over his body, seemingly from its own power. The scythe's length and hilt was decorated with skulls and symbols that would warp the mind of any who stared at it too long.

There was no doubt in her mind, this was the pony of legend, this was The Reaper of Souls: The Grim Reaper.

As he walked, the scythe reaped the corpses lying on the ground, cutting the ties of the souls free. The souls of the dead rose slowly around him from all the changelings—even Chrysalis herself—and went to their final resting place. The macabre figured moved silently to his final objective in the room: the body of Rainbow Dash.

“You know, princess,” Twilight spoke, “by my calculations, I've done two impossible things today. Let’s see if I can make it three.”

Celestia had just enough time to turn and look at her student before it happened. The entire room went dark; every scrap of magic in the palace was immediately drawn to one focal point: Twilight’s horn. It sucked in every single iota of magic in a five block radius. It drained every single pony with even a little magic energy in its radius, the unicorns nearby would not survive.

Celestia had never felt this weak in her life.

In those few seconds, Celestia realized her analysis was wrong, the energy wasn’t being drained from everything surrounding Twilight, rather it stopped being drawn from Twilight to everything else. She had no time to consider the full implications of this as Twilight turned and aimed her horn at the figure slowly approaching the fallen pegasus.

Celestia let out a weak “no” as Twilight released the energy.


Princess Luna had seen some amazing things in her time. She had a lot of time to observe the world in her one-thousand year imprisonment on the moon. She did not cherish those memories, as most of them were spent with hatred in her heart at her predicament.

Still, she did remember.

Luna had seen some grand things in those times: fall of empires, the birth of legions, rulers and prisoners alike each coming into their own. None of that could prepare her for today. Even discounting the events of earlier, nothing prepared her for when her sister, the Sun Goddess herself, touched the newly minted alicorn and just froze.

Nothing should have been able to do that to an alicorn. Not even another alicorn had that sort of power. If they did, Nightmare Moon would have been victorious all those years ago. Fear began to creep up Luna's spine as the possibilities begin forming in her mind. One in particular seemed to be at the forefront of those thoughts, it was something that when she first heard of Luna had dismissed it as an outright impossibility.

Now, it felt like that event was coming back to haunt her, to tease her for dismissing it so. But she couldn’t accept it, not yet, she needed to know more.

Moving in to investigate, Luna saw that both alicorns were still alive, just unmoving. Luna was stronger than Celestia at magic. As such, she was more versed on some of the extreme theories, prophecies.

Some prophecies she knew of were frightening even to one such as her. Luna tried to dismiss the nagging feeling that she felt earlier, after all, no pony can actually control the magic plane, right? However, when she felt the power drain on her own magic, she knew then that something had taken control of it, with no telling how far its reach extended, or how many would be affected.

Suddenly Twilight turned ninety degrees and aimed her horn at the back wall. Luna knew then she was out of time. The council ponies—the ones who were still alive at least; so any that were not a unicorn—looked on in shock, the horror of their imminent deaths written upon their faces. Luna used the last of her strength to teleport the survivors away. She knew not where they ended up, but anywhere was better than the fate they were facing.

With her strength exhausted, Luna blacked out seconds before a second sun emanated from Twilight’s horn, flashing out at impossible speeds, disintegrating everything in its path.

Define: Bittersweet (R)

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Las Pegasus
T minus ten until Death Wave.

Rarity could not believe all that had happened.

She’d always longed for; no, needed her prince, and now she had him. In the span of twelve months, she’d met the love of her life, gotten married, and gone on the dream honeymoon she’d always wanted. Her husband—Rarity giggled a little at that thought—had acquiesced to every request she made of him.

Not only was he charming and rich, but Rarity knew in her heart that she had found, at last, the stallion of her dreams. The only thing he’d ever insisted on was the date of the wedding. While a little odd, she didn’t mind. He hadn’t complained about a single decision Rarity had made, so if he wanted to do this fast then she let him have that one little thing.

Even with the wedding so close to the Princess Summit, all of her friends were still able to attend. It was a little strange to board the train with Rainbow Dash and Twilight while she was leaving for her honeymoon, but they got off at Canterlot while she continued on to her destination.

Rarity glanced up as her stallion finished his swim. He was her special somepony, her husband, her ‘Rare Gem’. Rare Gem never failed to give Rarity that 'special feeling' when she looked at him.

She very much appreciated the irony of his name, in more ways than one.

Even now with his muscular frame, soaking wet flanks, and that one-in-a-million look on his face, Rarity swooned a little inside. At times like this, she wondered how she’d managed to keep her hoofs off him all this time. She had, of course, insisted that they wait until after marriage to engage in 'uncouth and unladylike' behavior; but now, now she would rock his world.

With that thought in her head, she ran over and grabbed his hoof. Rarity whispered in his ear more loudly than she intended, "BEDROOM, NOW."

As they ran to their suite, Rarity could not help but notice the jealous looks she got from all the other mares they passed, not that Rare Gem wasn't getting his own looks of hatred from the stallions.

Sorry ladies. Rarity thought, This is one thing I will not be generous with.

She barely made it into the honeymoon suite before throwing herself onto her husband. The suite they were staying in was a grand affair, complete with everything you could want: two couches, a fully stocked bar, and even an entertainment system that would make the great DJ: DJ-Pon-3, green with envy.

Yet, at that exact moment, as far as Rarity was concerned; it was all a waste of space. She wanted, no needed, her husband in every way imaginable. It was not just a one-way street either. It seemed as if the more passion Rarity showed, the more energetic Rare Gem became. He quickly began matching her kiss for kiss, rubbing his hooves in all the right places against her fur.

If it were not for the unexpected, “hmm hmm” from the bellhop clearing his throat, Rarity would have consummated her marriage on the floor right then and there.

Even still, the thought did cross her mind.

No, she would not give the stallion the pleasure, especially as he was rude enough to interrupt instead of just closing the bucking door. As such, Rarity merely replied with a wave of her magic, slamming the door on the bellhops muzzle with a satisfied grin. She would go out of her way to make it up to him later, if she saw him again that is.

With a look on her face and a sway in her hips that would make lesser stallions weep for joy, she turned to her husband and said, “Shall we retire to the bedroom, dear?”

Rare Gem gave his best nonchalant grin as he followed his wife into the bedroom. He acted cool, but in reality he was trying desperately not to trip over his hooves.

As Rare Gem entered the bedroom his wife was already on the bed.

He looked at her as the vision of beauty she was: lying sideways on the bed with her hair in the perfect symbiosis of lady/seductress there could be. In his mind, he could not believe his luck; this would put his brothers and sisters to shame. With the energy he had right now, he’d last forever on this.

Rarity frowned a little as Rare Gem paused to admire the view, even if it was of her.

“You know, it’s rude to keep a lady waiting.”

She giggled a little as that seemed to snap him out of his thoughts. She could see his eyes change from admiration to lust in an instant.

“There’s my big man.”

It happened so fast, too fast to process all at once. Rarity looked on in horror, watching it like it was happening to somepony else. As it was at that moment, every window in the hotel blew out all at once, showering the room with glass and debris.

The Death Wave had made it to Los Pegasus.

The windows shattered inward with a wave of force that rocked the building itself. The glass covered every inch of the room, showering both of the ponies inside. That was not the worst of it; immediately after, a purple energy wave passed over the two.

The effect on Rarity only shocked her, it was more ticklish than anything else, it felt very familiar too, with a lasting effect on her horn she didn’t understand nor had time to comprehend.

The effect on Rare Gem was anything but. He stood up suddenly like someone just stabbed him in the back, the look on his face one of pure agonizing pain. He clutched a hoof to his chest and toppled backwards. He lay where he fell, still as the dead of night.

Rarity rushed to her husband’s side. She looked at him in horror.

Rarity was unwilling to accept what she’d seen, hoping and praying to Celestia herself that her husband wasn’t dead. As Rarity neared him, she picked his head up in her lap and went to stroke his mane.

That… that’s odd, w-what happened to his mane? The long locks that Rarity loved to groom were gone, to be replaced with… with scales?

Jumping back in horror, a being that repulsed her to her very core replaced her husband. The realization finally dawned on Rarity. Her husband, her stallion, her Rare Gem, was a changeling. I-I almost bucked a changeling!

Hours passed for Rarity, or were they just minutes? Truthfully, she did not know. She could hear the commotion outside. The medics were going around treating every sort of wound imaginable from this disaster.

Can I even call it that? Wouldn’t the bigger disaster been if I had...

Again, she did not know.

Rarity refused to answer the door, return phone calls, or even speak since it happened. She didn’t trust herself anymore. Looking back, it was obvious; Rare Gem was perfect, too perfect. Of course he was a changeling. He was everything Rarity ever wanted from her special somepony.

I should have listened to Spike, the thought kept replaying in her head.

In the end, it was not the hotel staff that snapped Rarity out of her melancholy, but a green puff of smoke that appeared right in front of her face. Looking down at the letter that the smoke dropped in her room, she untied the bow that kept it sealed. Reading over Spike's letter she blinked, she read it again, and then three more times just in case. It did not take long, as it was only three sentences; three little sentences that changed everything.

Gulping, she bolted out of the hotel room.

Buck my bags, Rarity thought.

She had a train to catch. It would seem that today was a bittersweet day for more than just her.


T minus twenty until Death Wave

Fluttershy was upset, VERY upset.

She wasn’t hiding under the table with her hoofs covering her face. She wanted to, but there was no time for that, her animals needed her and she needed to help them as quickly as she could. Flying back and forth between makeshift beds all over her house, Fluttershy gave each one a kind word and whatever medicine she thought they could handle.

Her house looked more like a triage station each day, animals were dying, and there was nothing she could do to save them all.

That fact did not stop her from trying.

The sickness had spread quickly.

What started as an isolated case—a lone chipmunk coming out of the woods sick—rapidly evolved into something more. Each day ten more animals would show up at her door. It didn’t matter what race they were or how healthy they were just the day before. The sickness seemed to attack them all with the same gusto. How and why she did not know.

She could cure it, but for every one that left out the front door she had to take two out the back.

It was breaking her heart.

Fluttershy kept the severity of the situation from her friends, even going as far as to say it was simply a minor case. It had been for Rarity's special day after all. After everything that pony gave, how could she do any less?

The sickness was anything but minor, the deaths came quick, and even she did not respond as quickly as was needed at first. Taking two more of her friends out the back, she paused to look at some of the first graves she had to dig. Back then, she was able to take the time to give each of them their own grave, what she would give to be able to do that now.

Of all the graves, there was one she would not look at, she would not glance at the one up the hill, her Ang— No; there was no time for that. Each time she did that Fluttershy broke down and started to cry, when every second mattered, mistakes like that would cost lives.

Arriving at the mass graves, she laid the bodies down with care and spoke a few soft words for her lost friends. The tears started again, she forced them back.

Her critter friends were counting on her and she could not pause to grieve, not yet anyway. On her way back to the house, Fluttershy looked on as another creature emerged from the Everfree Forest: a little rat.

The rat was blissfully not sick, something Fluttershy gave thanks to Celestia for, yet it was moving with a purpose. It was heading right towards Fluttershy.

She gave it a faux smile. “I'm sorry, little one; I don’t have time to play right now.”


“What's that little one?”


“You know what’s causing the sickness‽”


“Lead the way!”

This Fluttershy could take time for.

She followed the rat into the forest as quickly as it could take her. The yellow pegasus and little rat wove through the woods as fast as possible, both suffering a few scrapes along the way.

In no time at all they arrived at a clearing, the watering hole where most of the animals came to drink. Fluttershy was starting to put some of the pieces together when she heard a soft buzzing sound in the distance. She was familiar with that noise, as only one creature made that particular sound when flying: Changelings!

There were a lot of them too, at least ten by her rough count, and they were carrying something Fluttershy was not familiar with. Some sort of barrels filled with Celestia-knows-what. Her darkest suspicions were confirmed when they began dumping their cargo into the lake and the water color turned a light shade of green.

The changelings are poisoning the water!

Fluttershy was madder than ever. These creatures are killing my friends, the forest itself, and why? Changelings feed on love, killing animals made no sense. It’s not natural; it’s not the way of nature.

Her anger quickly turned to hatred, but there were too many for her to take on by herself. Fluttershy thought about getting her friends, but Twilight, Rainbow, and Rarity were away. No doubt Pinkie and Applejack would help, but that would involve her taking the time to explain what was wrong. And too much time had already been wasted already.

She briefly thought about sending a letter to Discord, but he was too far away to be of any use right now and the letter would take too long to reach him.

She realized she would have to do this herself.

Well, not exactly by herself.

Fluttershy pondered her options as a foreign thought came into her head—the kind of idea that she normally would never have, but today, after all she went through, after everything that happened, everyone she’d lost, it was a thought she relished. Fluttershy knew of a cave—very close by, with someone that COULD help.

Whether he wanted to or not.

As Fluttershy approached the cave she briefly remembered the last time she had been here. This creature had almost killed little Spike and three of her friends; she laid down the law, of course. He knew his place now and would never threaten another pony ever again. Now though, she needed his power and muscle to put things right.

The green dragon's cave was an inferno. His breath stank; however, Fluttershy did not mind. She was here for a purpose and would not be dissuaded by a little thing like a bad smell.

As she approached the sleeping dragon, Fluttershy remembered her Iron Will training from years ago, Don't be shy, look them in the eye.

“Dragon, I need your help, the forest is in danger and the little creatures in it are dying,” she pleaded with him.

The dragon woke with a start, unused to anything so small addressing him, and then realization crossed his mind. The little pegasus that was speaking to him was the same one as before, the one with the peering eyes that commanded obedience. Standing to his full height, he glared at the young one before him.

“I've kept our accord,” he spoke, his voice ancient and powerful. “You keep to yours and leave me in peace.”

The young pegasus flew up and landed on his noise.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

Wait, Fluttershy thought. Never apologize when you can criticize.

“I'm sorry you seem to think that I was giving you a choice in the matter,” she said sternly. “You WILL come with me right this second and you WILL help me put this right.”

Her stare pierced right into his soul.

He shrunk at that. Any choice he had was gone before he knew it.

“Yes, Ms. Fluttershy,” he replied.


Fluttershy knew that she should have been horrified at her actions, the death and destruction brought upon the changelings by the dragon SHOULD have been unquestionable, immoral, and terrifying to her. Nevertheless, at this moment, she could not manage anything more than a smile.

Something clicked in her, this was vengeance for all the suffering her friends endured, and her revenge for what she lost.

The changelings never stood a chance. Each and every one was swatted out of the sky, burned to a crisp, or stomped on. Had Fluttershy been in a different mood she would have questioned why they did not turn and run. A fully-grown dragon attacking you would have sent anypony fleeing for their lives. Fluttershy would’ve let them run too, but she never got that chance. They all continued working like the dragon was not there.

They paid for that mistake.

When it was finally over and the dragon left to return to his cave, Fluttershy looked at the carnage she had wrought. She knew, on some level, that this event would scar her for the rest of her life, but for now, she turned away with a grin on her face. She began the journey back to her home. There were a few survivors amongst the leftover changelings, but they were no longer a threat. Few had anything left of their wings and not one of them would be able to fly again.

The few survivors died when the Death Wave hit.

Fluttershy squeaked a little when the energy hit her. The feeling was akin to somepony tickling you unexpectedly, and left an odd sensation in her wings.

The effect on the surviving changelings was a lot more noticeable. All the surviving changelings died on the spot. The agony on their face spoke of the pain they suffered.

This is wrong, this is... this is, no different from what I did. The realization hit her hard. She almost gave in to her depression when a minor detail entered her mind, demanding her attention.

The water was clear again.

Fluttershy flew back to her cabin. The water is clear! Maybe, she dared to hope, whatever that wave was, it might have fixed everyone!

Arriving at her front door with a speed that would have impressed Rainbow Dash, she opened it with a slight push to find that none of her animals were sick. Yes, they were still in bed recovering their energy, but the worst was over. She could finally relax. Well, not yet, there were a few more things she needed to do while those in her cabin regained their strength.


Fluttershy finished covering the graves in the back yard with a sigh.

Some of her healthy animal friends were present with her for this ending, one even tried helping. Fluttershy would not let him, she shooed him away with a hoof and went back to work.

It gladdened her heart to have them here, but this was her burden and she would not let them carry any of it. She’d reveal everything to her pony friends later. They would understand, they would help her; but, for now, this was on her.

Her victory in the forest left a bittersweet taste in her mouth, but now was not the time to consider that. She had one more thing to take care of, someone to say goodbye too.

Fluttershy approached the grave on top of the hill and slowly placed her hoof on the tombstone. It was the first grave she dug, and it had killed her to carve the writing on it. She ran her hoof over the markings she carved:

Here lies Angel Bunny.
The best friend I ever knew

Fluttershy fell to her knees.

The sadness she had kept in check since this all started was washing over her like a sickness. Now she could let it out, now she could start the grieving process in earnest.

That was the plan anyway, but a flash of green fire quickly interrupted it. She looked at the letter lying on the ground. This insignificant piece of parchment had disturbed her in more ways than one.

Picking it up, Fluttershy began reading; and her world came crashing down.

Define: Necessary (R)

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Sweet Apple Acres
T minus thirty until Death Wave

Two months have passed since Applejack officially took over Sweet Apple Acres; two months since Granny Smith's funeral. She knew to expect it, so did Big Mac, and Applebloom. Granny Smith was one of the oldest ponies in Ponyville. That did not make it hurt any less, or the loss any more bearable.

The way she died... not quietly in her sleep but from a Timberwolf attack at night.

What was she even doing in the woods alone at night? Applejack asked herself for the umpteenth time.

Applejack was unable to simply dwell on the bad though, good things were happening too. Rarity just got hitched; Applebloom and her friends all finally got their cutie marks, not that that stopped them from being HUGE nuisances. Even Big Mac was finally going out with Cheerilee. Applejack could not help but feel pride in all that happened. Pride with a little jealousy if she was being honest, and she knew no other way. All her family and friends were moving on with their lives, and here she was doing the same thing day in, and day out. Not that she would want to do anything different, but still, it would be nice to have a special somepony too.

She dealt with her emotions the same way she did everything else, throwing herself into her work with renewed drive and determination. Her friends were all there for her, at first. Pinkie threw a ‘we are always here for you' party. Rainbow Dash took leave from the Wonderbolts for a few days, Rarity offered to put her honeymoon on hold for the time being, something that really made Rare Gem upset, but Applejack would not let her do that, she did not want to be responsible for their first fight. Even when the others had to go back to their lives Twilight and Fluttershy stayed behind, Twilight just seemed to know that she needed somepony.

Is there anything Twilight doesn’t know?

It was not until these last two days that Applejack felt truly alone. The stupid Princess Summit took Twilight's attention. Why does she keep attending those things? Only the first one was remotely interesting, the rest were just blab, blab, blab. She knew it was Twilight's ‘Royal Duty’; in which case being a princess must not be any fun.

Lately, Fluttershy seemed distraught at the notion of spending any unnecessary time away from her home. Applejack made a note to check on her later. She had been so caught up in her issues that she failed to notice something wrong with her friend.

That had to wait. As of now, she had a huge order to fill.

None other than Filthy Rich himself placed that order. Four days ago, he came to Sweet Apple Acres asking to see Applejack personally. Apparently, he was expanding his business to Manehattan and needed a huge stockpile of Sweet Apple Cider, fifty thousand barrels worth to be exact. Applejack wanted to say no, and she was about to until Filthy dropped the down payment of a hundred thousand bits in her lap. Saying that would be ten-percent of what he would pay once she completed the order.

Applejack was more than conflicted. She knew that it was impossible to make that much cider in Ponyville, even if they used every apple in the orchard, which she would not do as the town would starve. Telling Filthy as much he just smiled.

“You can have the other Apple Family Apple Orchards across Equestria help. If you split the production between your whole family it should be more than doable.”

Applejack didn’t even need to check with them, it wasn’t necessary to check with them, the Apple Family would always honor the promises of its kinfolk. The money was well worth it, without a doubt, but even with the other orchards helping, she needed help to get it all done in time. Normally she would turn to her friends; however, with everyone occupied she would have to seek outside help. That meant hiring extra ponies, and not being able to go with Twilight and RD to the Princess Summit.


AJ was running behind, the wedding was great, and she was thrilled to be one of Rarity’s bridesmaids, but it cost her several hours that she’d spend the next few days making up. She was trying to be careful about this, the last thing she wanted was a repeat of the last time she bit off more than she could chew and her friends had to bail her out. Even still, the workload was immense. So much so that she hired on her sister's friends to try to speed it up. Amazingly, they were actually helping, putting their normally limitless energy to a constructive task. Unlike some other ponies Applejack could name right now.

Applejack could not believe how badly she misjudged the two stable hooves she hired. Sure, when they’d interviewed for the job they were hardworking, diligent, and not afraid to get dirty. As soon as she turned her back; however, they were more lazy than Rainbow Dash. She’d have fired them on the spot if there was any time at all to find somepony else. As it was, she had no option, she would have to have them supervised at all times just to make sure they were doing their job. Another delay seemed necessary; Applejack would have to go get somepony, no, some dragon to watch them for her, if she could cheer him up that is.


Spike was not a happy dragon, Stupid Twilight, stupid Rare Gem, stupid Rar— he could not finish that last one. How can I call the most beautiful pony in all of Equestria names? Ugh. This train of thought just made him feel worse. This was Twilight's fault, just because his growth spurt happened to coincide with Rarity getting married, she did not want him to go with her.

“Well I guess that does make some logical since. If it was greed induced Canterlot would be the last place I should be,” He said to no one but himself. Stupid logic. On the plus side, he was now just as big as the other ponies in town, bigger than most in fact. He knew he was nowhere near full size, but the longer he put THAT off the better for everypony. Somehow, he still couldn’t get over the nagging suspicion that Rarity was making a huge mistake. Of course, when he even mentioned this to anypony they all just dismissed it as jealousy. Are they wrong? On some level Spike was forced to admit they probably were not.

His thoughts began again, for the fourth time that day, almost as if stuck on repeat, when there was a knock at the door.

“It’s open!” Spike yelled.

Applejack came into the castle. “Applejack, you know you don’t need to knock, after all. you're basically family.”

“I know, sugarcube. But with Twilight away it didn't feel right just coming in all willy-nilly.”

“Not another word of that, you girls are like sisters to me. So what brings you by today of all days? I figured you’d be as busy as ever.”

“That’s just it, Spike. I hired on some help, don’t look at me that way I'm not the same as I was before, and I know this job's too big for one pony or even three ponies. Well, they didn't exactly turn out as I wanted so I came by to ask you a favor.”

“Anything for you, Applejack. What can I help with?”

“I need you to watch the two hooves I hired. Just make sure they keep workin’ and don’t start slacking off. Those two are some of the laziest ponies I ever met; they’d give RD a run for her bits.”

“I don’t know, Applejack. Twilight left me in charge of the castle for the week. She wouldn't be happy with me leaving it for the day.”

“C'mon, Spike. I’ll tell Twilight that I asked for your help, and if she’s mad I’ll take the blame for everything.” Spike didn't look convinced, so Applejack decided to up the ante. "I’ll tell you what, you come with me and on the way I’ll buy you a dozen of them sapphire cupcakes you like so much.”

That got Spike's attention. “Really‽ Let’s go.”

Applejack smiled as the two headed out of the castle towards Sugarcube Corner. It was then she realized that she hadn’t smiled like this since Granny passed on. Helping her friends, that was what she’d been missing all this time. She made a vow to herself now that she would use this money for the benefit of all her friends, and Ponyville.

The two arrived at Sugarcube Corner to find it unusually empty for this time of day. The reason why quickly became obvious as they entered. The entire shop was covered head to hoof with cookie dough. Applejack watched in amazement as Pinkie went about cleaning up the mess the only way she knew how: by licking every surface clean with her tongue at a speed that even Spike could not hope to match.

AJ looked at Spike and saw a hunger in his eyes, he wanted in on this.

“Go on.” Applejack whispered, ‘"Just promise me sugar that you won’t tell Twilight I let you.” The look on Spike's face was priceless; he jumped into action, putting his skills to work assisting Pinkie. Part of Applejack, deep down, knew that whatever mare Spike did end up with would be VERY happy to have someone that skilled with his tongue.

Spike was growing up fast but as she watched him work and saw the joy in his eyes, Applejack was happy that he was not growing that fast just yet. It was nice still seeing that spark of innocence in him.

Pinkie Pie and Spike left the place spotless in less than five minutes. Applejack would have been disgusted if it were not for the many, many tests Twilight ran the last time a similar event took place. Somehow, these ‘cleaning sessions’ left the place 100% germ free and spotless, Twilight even suggested marketing Pinkie's saliva as a new cleaning agent.

When all her friends laughed at the idea, she played it off as a joke, but Applejack wasn’t so sure it was.

Sighing that this was just Pinkie being Pinkie, Applejack dismissed both events with the standard hell if I know Ponyville phrase that was quickly adopted by the whole town, and the princesses if their last few visits had been any indication.

The three friends quickly fell into their chatter, and as the only ponies in the building, they weren’t worried about disturbing anypony else. Before she knew it, they were all laughing like no time at all had passed when Filthy Rich walked into the store. Applejack could tell he was not happy with her being there.

“Applejack!” Filthy shouted. “What are you doing, shouldn't you be working right now? There's no way you're finished already.”

“Filthy you hired me to fill an order, and plum reckon I’ll get it filled, however that doesn't give you the right to boss me around.”

“You can’t be serious,” He glared at her. “The amount of money I'm paying you? You should be lucky to be working for me at all.”

Spike looked on in shock at that last comment. It didn’t matter how much money he had, no pony disrespected his friends. He looked at Applejack and saw the reflection of his feelings written on her face. She was about to bite his head off for that last comment. No pony could stop it now, Spike chuckled to himself, this was going to be good.

Pinkie just grabbed some popcorn and started chowing down, even though the bakery did not sell any.

As Applejack was about to begin chewing Filthy's head off, Pinkie started vibrating hard enough to crack the floor. Three set of eyes turned to stare at her, the look of horror on her face sent chills down Applejack's spine. “Pinkie, what's going on?”"

Over the years Applejack has seen Pinkie in many moods, she did happy best—of course. Applejack has even seen her sad, quiet, angry, and even downright pissed—she’d never come that close to breaking a pinky promise again. This was the first time Pinkie’s face showed true fear. “Geeeetttttt Ooooouuuuuutttt.” Pinkie managed to say through the vibrations as Spike grabbed Applejack and took off out of the bakery.

Pinkie's vibrations soon caused an earthquake that engulfed all of Sugarcube Corner. The roof came down first, followed by the walls which covered the area in dust. Applejack just looked on in horror, only her and Spike managed to make it out of the building before it collapsed.

“Pinkie.” There was no sign of the pink pony. Filthy was another matter altogether.

Applejack and Spike looked at the poor pony with disbelief on their faces. Half of him did indeed made it out of the shop, the debris crushed the other half. Dismay clouded their faces as they realized he was still alive. “It shouldn’t have happened like this,” Filthy coughed, blood coming up from his massive internal bleeding.

“Don’t talk, Mr. Rich,” Applejack said. “We'll get you help.”

“You stupid dumb hick, what makes you think your doctors could help someone like me? Ugh, I hate being in your form, much less letting one of you touch me.”

Spike and Applejack stared on in shock as the pony they knew as Filthy Rich—one of the most powerful ponies in town—transformed into a changeling before their eyes.

“Well I guess the cat's out of the bag now,” the changeling spoke. “It doesn’t matter now; it’s too late for you to do anything about my queen's plan.” He tried to laugh, but just coughed up more blood.

“What plan is that?” Spike asked.

“Come on you dumb hillbillies, think for a second. You just happen to all be too busy to accompany your friend. The white one just happens to get married near the same time, all these coincidences just happen to occur. I know ponies are dumb but you all set a new low. I still had my fun though; dropping the old one off in the middle of a timberwolf pack at night was hilarious. She really can sleep through anything.“ He managed a small chuckle at that memory.

“Twilight...” Spike said as the realization of what the changeling said finally took hold. Between the bug's confession and Spike's tone, Applejack finally snapped back to reality, she was mad, no, she was pissed.

“I don’t care for a cotton picking minute what you bugs thought you were going to do with Twilight, but I can promise you one thing, YOU won’t be there to see it.” She reared up her back legs to buck the changeling in the face. Even in her present condition, she knew her legs would crush his skull in an instant.

The blow never landed; the Death Wave made it to Ponyville.

The shockwave hit first, knocking Applejack on her side, the pony was unbalanced from lifting her back legs for the kick, The wave blew away the loose rubble from what used to be Sugarcube Corner. The shattering glass from nearby buildings went next. All the ponies that were around quickly ran for cover, not knowing what was happening—yet again—to their beloved town.

The purple energy hit next.

The wave ended the Filthy Rich changeling in seconds, much quicker than Applejack thought he deserved, but the pain on his face did some to lessen her grief. At least he suffered for his crimes, she thought. As the wave passed over her, Applejack felt a tingling sensation around the back of her head, but chose to ignore it for now, Spike was of greater concern. He was scratching heavily at his back, desperately trying to get to a very stubborn itch that just wouldn’t go away.

Spike looked at AJ with a pleading face. “Help,” was all he managed to say.

Applejack ran over to Spike, worry crossing her face as she spun him around. “Spike, stop scratching.” He reluctantly obeyed. What she saw astounded her. Mini dragon wings were sprouting from his back. Small for sure, but they were growing, and quickly.

“Spike, you're… you're growing wings.”

Spike turned and looked at her, the itch completely forgotten as he processed what Applejack had just said. “What… but… how? Twilight told me—”

He never got to finish his sentence as the debris of Sugar Cube Corner began shaking apart. Both pairs of eyes turned and stared as the largest piece of debris seemed to cut itself in half, revealing two halves of a pony mold. Both bisected, falling to either side as a pink pony sat in the center, her coat somehow completely untouched by even a speck of the dust and dirt around her. If you ignored everything else, she looked like she did on any other day, minus three things: Her smile was missing, her mane and tail were both flat, and she was crying.

They both ran to their stricken friend. Somehow, Applejack knew Pinkie would be fine, that pony could do anything even if she didn’t know how she did it. Seeing Pinkie's face and the tears she now shed, Applejack could not help but worry that she had been mistaken.

As they approached, Pinkie looked at the two, her face normally one that brought joy to all who saw it, it broke Applejack's heart to look at it, but Applejack could not bring herself to look anywhere else.

“Pinkie, are… are you alright?”

Pinkie only managed to speak between sobs of heartbreak, it took a while for her message to come out, a message that would change everything. “Raa... Raiiinn... Raiiinboooowww, she’s... she’s deeeeaaaad!”

Applejack and Spike stopped dead in their tracks, they both heard the message, and they both knew there was no way Pinkie could possibly know that. Yet they both knew without any doubt that Pinkie was right. When it came to her pinkie sense, Pinkie was always right.

Applejack wanted to stop, she wanted to shut down and join Pinkie in crying her eyes out, but she wouldn’t. If something like that happened to Rainbow Dash, then Twilight would be in trouble as well, that realization hit her hard. Twilight would need them all ASAP. So grieving would have to wait for another day. “Spike, ready three letters.”

Spike only looked on dumbfounded, he could no longer think or act of his own accord. So his mind latched on to the order Applejack gave him; in times of crisis it is easy to follow someone's command.

A few minutes later they were all back at the castle. Spike looked at the letters he wrote, three identical pieces of parchment, each addressed to a different pony they loved, ponies they all considered dear friends. At that moment, these three letters were the three objects Spike hated most in the entire universe.

“Applejack,” Spike whispered. “I-I don’t want to send these.”

“I know, Spike. I don’t want to either, but it’s necessary. Send the letters, 'cause we have a train to catch.”

Spike picked up each one, one at a time, and adjusted his magic just as Twilight had taught him last year. He sent each to its appropriate receiver. They would take a little longer to get there, as it was not quite the same as when he sent them to Celestia. Twilight's theories were sound, but not quite as good as Celestia’s, not yet anyway. As each letter burned to a crisp in his claws, he wished that were the end of them. Yet he knew that each receiver: Rarity, Fluttershy, and Shining Armor would get them in the hour. Most damning of all, the news contained inside would devastate each pony.

Rainbow Dash is dead.
Twilight’s in trouble.
Get to Canterlot ASAP.

Define: Pyrrhic Victory (R)

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Canterlot Throne Room

The scythe sprang forward to protect its master, it cast force field after force field. The spells it used—some of which Celestia had only read of in legends—some she had never seen before in her life. She knew that even one of those spells would be sufficient to stop any attack she threw at them.

Twilight’s magic didn’t seem notice they were even there. The scythe broke under the impact of the pure raw energy; it broke into three pieces, each of which flew off in separate directions. Its master merely gazed on with a look of contentment on his face. Celestia wasn’t sure how a skull could show emotion, but there was no doubt he was appeased with this.

The energy slammed into its body with unstoppable force. Incinerating its robe, the skulls around its belt, and finally its very bones. Celestia could only watch in grim fascination as the energy continued, blowing a hole in the tower and moving farther beyond, past where the eye could see.

From that moment on, a new star was visible in the night sky. The energy Twilight released easily broke orbit and would continue on, forevermore.

It would forever disintegrate anything that crossed its path.

Celestia’s vision finally returned to normal, the magic keeping her in the same realm as Twilight finally let her go; or more specifically, finally drained itself to the point where it no longer needed her as another outlet. Twilight fell to the ground with a loud ‘thud’, completely exhausted from the day’s events, yet still breathing.

For the first time in her life, Celestia could not honestly say if this was a good thing or a bad thing. She quickly shook that thought away, Twilight was her student, her friend, and as a daughter to her. Of course her being alive was a good thing. It always would be a good thing as far as she was concerned.

Celestia looked around; the damage to her castle was intense. The giant hole in the wall would take some time to fix, but what hurt the most was the dead. She wasn’t surprised to find that they were all unicorns. She didn’t see any of the pegasus or earth ponies around. Good, at least some made it out safely.

There were dead changelings everywhere: a good number had blown against the back wall. Several probably fell out of the giant hole. A few were in the path of the energy and were either completely disintegrated or halfway gone. Chrysalis was one of the latter.

On that Celestia had mixed feelings. The last time Celestia thought Chrysalis was defeated; she did not even give chase, Celestia did not want to wipe out the entire Changeling race. Such actions always have unforeseen consequences, Celestia had learned that lesson the hard way over the years.

Yet inaction has its consequences too, Is this my fault? Is Twilight's pain yet another lesson I have to learn? Will she ever forgive me?

These thoughts would haunt Celestia, forever.

As Celestia was just about to give into her melancholy, she noticed her sister lying off in the corner. She tried to fly over to Luna, but quickly found herself too exhausted to flap her wings. Therefore, she took the long way. She walked over the rubble lying in her path. Hoping, praying that her sister was fine. When she finally made what felt like the longest journey in her life, Celestia noticed that Luna’s flank was indeed rising and falling with weak, but steady, rhythm. Celestia collapsed next to Luna, thankful but exhausted.

The noise woke Luna up.

“Sorry Luna, I didn’t mean to disturb your slumber.”

Luna chuckled at that. “Sister, after today’s events our slumber is the last thing on our mind.”

“What happened?” Celestia whispered the words.

“We were going to ask you the same question. we have a few theories but we want to hear from you first.”

Celestia sighed; she supposed one of them had to start first. With Luna being the one that looked worse for wear, it made sense that Celestia should go first. Therefore, she began to recant the story, Twilight's power, the grim reaper, Twilight's reply, and the damage inflicted on the tower. She left out no detail, no matter how much she wanted too.

Recanting the story made it real, which in turn made it somewhat easier to deal with. Celestia found her strength beginning to return as she finished, she was able to raise her head without much issue now. As she finished, she looked at Luna; if she didn’t know her sister better she would have thought Luna was sleeping.

Luna didn’t want to believe what she’d just heard, she wanted to call her sister a liar and scream at her for making up something like that at such an important time. Yet it all fit her theory, as a certain prophecy was running repeatedly in her head, like a bad dream that would not let her forget it. Luna also knew her sister far too well; Celestia would never lie about something like that.

“So, then it’s true,” was all Luna managed to get out.

“What's true?” Luna just grimaced at the question Celestia asked, she knew it was coming but that didn’t change her trepidation at having to answer it, “Luna I need to know what you know, no more secrets.”

Luna just sighed. “Perhaps you’re right, sister. No more secrets. Although we fear you won’t like what we have to say.”

“If somehow Twilight is involved I need to know, dear sister, she is like a daughter to me and the first pony to bear the Element of Magic in a thousand years. I have to know.”

“Well, you are half right, sister.” Celestia looked confused at that. “She is a daughter to you, more so than any of your ‘legitimate’ daughters ever were," Celestia just shrugged at that, she never had much luck with any of her own children. “However, she was never the bearer of the Element of Magic, rather magic is Twilight Sparkle, or more precisely, Twilight is magic.”

Luna recognized the look Celestia gave her even after a thousand years’ banishment. It was her patented, You’re bucking crazy if you think I’ll accept that without an explanation, look. Luna had tried copying it a few times only to find that it always escaped her. “Let us explain, although we should warn you this story begins a long, long time ago, around the time of Clover the Clever's death.“


Celestia mainly kept quiet during the story, she only interrupted when she needed further clarification with something Luna said. The tale was unbelievable, unrealistic, imposs- No, she would not use that last word. She may never use it again. If the events of today taught her one lesson, it is that nothing is impossible.

The most damning part, it all fit. Everything she witnessed today fit perfectly with what Luna told her. Again, she had to consider the possibility that Luna fit the story to today’s events, and again, she dismissed that idea. This was too big, too much had happened, and Luna would never make something like this up. If what Luna told her was true, then Equestria, no the world would be forever changed.

Celestia looked up to speak as Luna finished telling her tale, but the shock on Luna's face caught Celestia’s attention. Luna was looking over Celestia’s shoulder at something with her mouth agape, her eyes were as wide as dinner plates. When Celestia looked over, what she saw removed any doubt of the validity of Luna’s tale.

In the back of the room, sitting near the thrones, was a cyan-blue pegasus. Blood covered over half her body.

Rainbow Dash stared at the two princesses; both of which were looking at her with their lower jaws on the floor. “What…what happened?” Rainbow asked. The hole Chrysalis blew in her chest was completely sealed, replaced by new skin and fur as if it never happened. Again, Celestia was reminded that nothing is impossible. Was this a victory after all? She did not believe that for one minute, the cost was too high, and she knew, without a doubt, it would be increasing.


Canterlot Emergency Room

Beep,,, Beep… Beep…

“Spike, shut off that alarm!”

Beep… Beep… Beep…

“Spike, I said shut it off! I just got to sleep.”

Beep… Beep… Beep…


“Uh, Twi?”

That wasn’t Spike, that wasn’t right, that was Rainbow Dash. She tried to open her eyes to find out what Rainbow was doing in her room, but something was blocking her from seeing. She reached a hoof up to her eyes and found a bandage covering her head. That wasn’t right at all.

“Rainbow, why is there a bandage over my eyes? What happened last night?”

“Twi, what do you remember?”

Twilight had to think about that for a minute: the memories were coming back, the wedding, she had enjoyed that. The train ride, the palace, the summit, and then something... something happened. “We're in Canterlot, the Princess Summit, I was enjoying your company, and you were showing me some new trick the Wonderbolts were teaching you. Then... and then you... you died”.

That caused Twilight to awaken; she ripped the bandage away from her eyes so she could look at her friend.

“No don’t...” Rainbow said. Far too slow to stop Twilight.

Twilight didn’t care, the light was blinding at first but soon the glare went down. When her vision came into focus, there, sitting on her bed like it was simply another day, was the fastest pegasus in all of Equestria: Rainbow danger-professionalism-whatever-else-she-wanted-her-middle-name-to-be Dash. She cocked the little grin she was so well known for, “You happy to see me, egghead?”

Twilight cried, but these were tears of joy.

Rainbow was forced to watch, she wanted nothing more than to comfort her friend at this time, but Celestia’s orders were to avoid physical contact with Twilight at all cost. Something about not upsetting her further. Although, seeing Twilight as she was now, Rainbow did not know if that was really a risk. “I…I… I thought, I felt….” Twilight tried to get out what she wanted to say.

“Shhh. Don't talk yet, Twi.” Rainbow whispered. “Let it out first. Then we can chat.” She watched her friend go through this alone; Rainbow was there with her, but not really. Although Twilight's eyes still freaked her out, they were minor compared to everything else that had happened, and besides, she had seen them like this before.

After a few minutes, Twilight's sobs eventually stopped. She merely stared down at her hooves in the hospital bed. “I thought you died. Chrysalis she… she shot you. How long have I been asleep? How are you up right now?”

All these questions, just like Twilight. Rainbow thought. “Come on Twi, you know it takes more than some overgrown bug to keep this pony down. Don't worry about it; you've only been out for a few hours. The docs said that you’d just exhausted yourself when you ended that queen bitch. You'll have to tell me about that later on.”

Twilight smirked at that comment; she remembered breaking the bitch’s neck all too well. However, it seemed that Dash did not know about the other thing she did though. When she recalled those memories and the way... the way she felt after Dash had…

Twilight threw herself on Rainbow, barely registering the needles pulled out of her hooves by the action, “Dash!” Twilight cried.

Dash gulped, she broke a promise not to touch Twilight for any reason. Given the event had occurred in reverse of what she was expecting. I guess the cats out of the bag now? she thought.

Dash looked down at the alicorn's head burying itself in her chest, any other time she would have insisted that no one got that close to her. She hated anything girly like that, but now... now she didn’t seem to mind. Maybe it's because I can't feel it?

Once Twilight finished crying into Dash’s chest, her mind began to realize something off, something she could not figure out. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks, she looked up in the pegasus's eyes, “Dash?” Twilight asked softly. “Dash, why are you so cold?”

Dash slowly ran a hoof through Twilight's mane, seeking to comfort her friend and not wanting this moment to end, although she knew it would have to. When she told this story it would shatter Twilight's world. Maybe, just maybe I can persuade Twilight to wait for the explanation to come from Celestia herself?

Looking into Twilight's eyes, Rainbow smiled; Celestia had been wrong about one thing. Even with Twilight's eyes pure white, she was still the same pony. Rainbow could still read the emotions in those eyes: there was pain over what had happened, fear over what will happen, and something else, something Rainbow could not place her hoof on. Rainbow knew Twilight would want the explanation from her but she still tried to delay.

“Twilight, something happened, I've had some time to come to terms with it, but this will all be new to you. I only know a little bit and Celestia wanted to tell you herself when she got her energy back. Will you wait for her to tell it?”

As expected, Twilight would not be persuaded; she shook her head. “No Rainbow, I want to hear it from you, not Celestia, and not Luna, you.”

Rainbow expected as much, although she did feel something stir in her with when Twilight spoke that last phrase. That was weird; I shouldn't feel anything anymore. Rainbow dismissed the thought and sighed.

Rainbow began telling Twilight her story. “You see Twilight, I’m dead.”

Twilight's jaw dropped to the bed.


“And that’s all I know, you’ll have to get Celestia and Luna to fill you in on the rest.”

Twilight could not process that story right now; later, in pieces, yes. As a whole, right this second, no. Therefore, she broke it into its core pieces and filed in her mind under ‘shit to deal with later’. However, There was one piece of the story that did require her immediate and undivided attention. “So, you’re dead huh? What… what’s it like?”

“I don’t know.” Rainbow answered. ”Hey don't look at me like that! When have you ever known me to stop and think about anything other than flying, naps, or Daring Do? If I had to stop and think about it, it’s actually kind of cool. I’m not hungry, I won’t get thirsty, and I don’t get tired. Admittedly that’s a double edged blade, as I can’t take naps anymore. I can’t feel pain or well... well anything to be honest, but the only real bad thing is.” Rainbow really, really did not want to say the last part out loud. Doing so felt like she was somehow making it real. Twilight deserved the truth though, even if it was the most painful thing Rainbow could say. “I can’t fly anymore.”

Twilight did a double take. “What? But... but your wings look fine. You've been moving them around the whole time!”

Rainbow looked at the lavender alicorn that threw herself at her, clutching tightly to her chest. She was very distraught at the news, Rainbow was too when she first heard it. Somehow, still being alive and being able to see her friends had lessened the blow though. “Twilight I can’t feel anything. Let me ask you, egghead. How do wings work?”

“Wings work by creating enough lift and thrust to overcome inertia and gravity.” Twilight spoke, choosing to give the brief version.

“A little textbook, but accurate," Rainbow Dash replied. “Now tell me, how do pegasi make their wings do that?”

“They do it by feeling….” It finally clicked for Twilight.

“Oh Dash, I'm so, so sorry.” Dash sighed as the lavender alicorn again buried her head in her chest. Well if she keeps this up I won’t need a bath, Rainbow jokingly thought.

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Twi, don’t apologize, it’s not like it’s your fault.”

That seemed to be the wrong thing to say as Twilight squeezed tighter than ever and started bawling like a filly.

“I’m so, so sorry.”

That’s weird, Dash thought. For a minute there I thought I felt…

It took a few minutes for Twilight to calm down, but eventually she was able to get control of her emotions. Looking at Dash's soaking wet chest hair she began to laugh. “I guess you can skip your shower today, huh?” That got Rainbow laughing as well.

“That’s funny, I had the same thought.” That got them both laughing. Twilight set back on her hind legs, oddly this made Dash a little disappointed. Although, she could not place her hoof on why. Twilight looked at her hooves; the bandage she removed from her eyes were tangled up in them when she sat back.

She needed all the answers she could get.

“Dash, why were my eyes covered before? You know, when I woke up?”

“Yeah, about that. The doctors were messing around with your eyes while you were out. They had to put some drops in them, something about ‘siolate’ or some big egghead word like that.”

“Why did the doctors dilate my eyes?”

“Dilate, yeah that’s the word, anyway they did it because your pupils are gone.”


“Your pupils are gone, shame too I always like the purple in yo-,” Dash cut herself off from saying that last sentence. It was good that Twilight wasn’t paying attention at that point as she was desperately trying to find a mirror. When Dash finally handed the mirror Celestia gave her to Twilight, she saw her reflection for the first time since waking up. Her pupils were indeed gone. She had been told her eyes did this a few times before, usually when they used the Elements though, and they gave those up quite a few years ago.

It was unnerving for Twilight not to recognize the face in the mirror, but truly, she didn’t mind that much. After what Rainbow lost, Twilight could not complain about the simple loss of her pupils.It felt unfair: Rainbow lost her life, her dreams, and everything she cared about, and Twilight lost the color in her eyes. It didn’t even seem to affect her sight. Twilight would have started crying again but she was out of tears.

The two stayed together in the room for a few hours after that, conversing back and forth about how crazy their lives were. The conversation never turned towards recent events, the pain was too fresh for Twilight. Eventually, one of the royal guards showed up and invited the two to join Celestia and Luna in the palace gardens. The throne room was unavailable for obvious reasons.

As Twilight and Rainbow made their way down to the garden, Rainbow could not help but see the nervousness in Twilight's walk. Pausing, she turned to her friend, blocking her path, “Twilight, what’s wrong? Let's not keep secrets, alright.”

Twilight looked at Rainbow, fear in her eyes. There was that one detail that she hadn’t told her friend just yet. “Rainbow, there’s one thing I didn’t tell you; I kind of did... something, something bad.”

“Twilight, I know you, we've been friends forever, and I know your heart. You’d never do anything bad. Whatever it is, let me know and we can get through it together.”

“Well you see... I kind of, well that is, I killed Death. Well the Grim Reaper to be precise.”

It was Rainbow's turn to pick her jaw up from the ground.

She had questions dammit, she had a lot of questions: Are you serious? What? How? Why? What? How? Is that even possible? How? What? You cannot be serious. The Grim Reaper doesn't exist, does he? However, all that came out was a grunt.

Rainbow stared at Twilight as her friend seemed to be poking at the ground with her hoof. Twilight wasn’t willing to look Rainbow in the face. luckily for Twilight. Rainbow hadn’t been paying attention to where they were, as at that exact moment the doors behind her opened with both Celestia and Luna on the other side.

Twilight, grateful for the distraction, ran past Dash and embraced her former mentor and friend in a hug. “Celestia! I'm so happy to see you.” The hug seemed to be too much at this moment. Celesta fell back, too weak to support her own weight plus Twilight's.

“Celestia, what’s wrong?”

Celestia’s reply came between grunts. “My dear Twilight, don’t you remember? You were victorious against the changelings, but in doing so, you destroyed the world."

Define: Prophecy (R)

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1007 years ago

Starswirl was missing. The old unicorn disappeared almost a year ago and no one took it harder than his three most faithful students. Luna and Celestia spent the better part of the year looking for him; they couldn’t understand why he would just take off. True, he had done stuff like this before, as his sabbaticals were the stuff of legend, but this was the first time he didn’t tell anypony where he was going, that he was going, or for that matter, when he would be back.

Clover the Clever took it the hardest of the three. Ever since Starswirl left, he fell into a depression. In truth, Starswirl was the only reason he was able to stand ‘Her Royal Ass’, not that he would ever call Princess Platinum that, well, not to her face anyway. Platinum had a habit of banishing ponies, then throwing them into a dungeon at the place where she banished them to.

Clover had personally seen her do it a few times.

That was the problem: the only way Clover managed to deal with a crazy ass ruler was with Starswirl's guidance. Clover had a feeling in his gut that the days spent in Starswirl’s council were long gone. Luna and Celestia would not find him; he was gone, maybe forever.

There is one spell, Clover thought, but no, he dismissed that idea as soon as it came.

Starswirl never taught him that spell, he didn’t want anyone using it, yet ever the documentarist, he still wrote it down. He buried it afterwards in his files, of course. Although that had not stopped a certain nosy unicorn from stumbling onto it while looking for the cookie jar one day. Back in his youth the one thing Clover loved more than learning was cookies, so for him it was a win-win.

The spell is madness, no that metaphor was flawed, the spell caused madness, or more precisely, the effects of the spell would cause its victim to succumb to madness. The physical limits of the brain would not allow the user to comprehend the effect of being able to understand and fully comprehend the natural flow of magic. The brain would seek to save itself by shutting off that which caused it such distress, which for a unicorn would be death. Yes, that was it; Clover always did like to be exact about such things.

Although if casted on the right pony, maybe… No, he dismissed that idea as well. If Starswirl didn’t use the spell then there was no ‘right pony’. Wait... did he use the spell on himself? Starswirl always seemed to know, well, everything about everything. The old pony had a knack for being right where he needed to be at the exact moment he needed to be there. Almost as if it was his special talent or something. Is it possible he was cheating? Well, not cheating per se but did he use this spell to help him? It would be within his power to do so.

Clover’s thoughts were starting to get the better of him.

Why was he hiding it? Most likely it had some side effect; obviously, it would kill the wrong pony, but what about the right pony? What would the side effect be for them? What would the reward be? Clover sighed; if he were capable, if he were the 'right pony', Starswirl would have noticed that. Maybe he did? Starswirl didn’t take on just any old student, in all his time he had only taken on five students and four were alicorns. Clover was the only one who was not. He was gifted for sure, but to be chosen to join the likes of Celestia and Luna to learn from the Great Starswirl the Bearded?

This line of thought was getting nowhere fast, and Clover knew Starswirl never did anything without reason. Did he leave it there for me to find? No… stop thinking like that; causality is a dangerous road to travel and often ends back where it begins. He needed sleep, but unfortunately a mind as gifted as his never lets go of a problem. The ramifications of the spell plagued his thoughts and dreams for the next few weeks.


A month later Luna finally returned from her quest, crestfallen over her failure. She’d tried to convince Celestia to return with her, but her sister was not ready to give up just yet.

Luna on the other hoof had a friend she wanted to see. Clover had been on his own for too long. She knew that it was time to go home. Despite her failure, seeing Clover's house over the ridge brought a smile to Luna’s face. Clover had wanted to go with them, but without wings, he would have slowed down the two sisters and made the search next to impossible. That didn’t even consider his advanced age.

Immediately, Luna could tell something was wrong. Clover was a pony of habit with meticulous attention to every detail. The yard in front of his house had a week's’ worth of growth on it, the windows lacked their normal shine, and the walkway needed sweeping. Most ponies never would have noticed, but Luna had been Clover's friend for years. Such details stuck out like a sore hoof to her.

“CLOVER THE CLEVER, WE HAVE RETURNED FROM OUR QUEST!” Luna prided herself on her ability to draw everyone's attention when she spoke; her Royal Canterlot Voice was by far her best asset.

There was no reply; this caused the hairs on Luna’s neck to stand on end. Something was wrong; something had happened while she was gone—something very bad.

Luna shattered the front door with her magic, too concerned with the safety of her friend to worry about something as trivial as a little property damage. She burst in, desperately looking around Clover's normally immaculate house. The house was in ruins, books and papers scattered everywhere, almost as if a weather pony caused a tornado in the living room. The sight caused Luna to fall into a state of shock, whatever happened had happened a while ago. Luna was too late to help her friend.

Luna would have started to cry if not for the slightest noise coming from upstairs. This broke her out of her melancholy and she took off up the steps as fast as her hooves could take her. Arriving quickly at Clover's bedroom, she opened it with slightly less force this time and stepped inside.

What she saw brought her little comfort.

Clover the Clever lay on his back; from the looks of the room he had fallen out of bed. The sheet and pillows that were not completely destroyed lay all around; his eyes were as wide as dinner plates, pure white, and completely devoid of pupils.

Luna raised her friend up with her magic, with a casual flick of her horn the bed, pillows, and blankets remade themselves. Stuffing and feathers flew back to where they belonged as the stitching reasserted their rightful place of dominance over the cotton. Gingerly placing her friend back on the bed, Luna began to hear his whispers in earnest.

“The night cometh and in such…”

“Banishment for a thousand…”

“Tears unsung, tells untold…”

"A princess's lullaby..."

“A curious deity, an unexpected birth…”

“The night returns, the friends defeat…”

“Chaos delivers, twists and turns...”

“Crystals in the dark change to beget the evil...”

“The land comes back from darkness…”

“A mortal personified, ascension…”

"Evil defeated, a castle created..."

“The impossible upsets the balance…”

“When the gods play, mortals lose…”

On and on they came from Clover's mouth, no sentence was complete, and none of them made even the slightest bit of sense to Luna.

The options here were limited, something had occurred and only a few ponies could actually accomplish something like this against one of Starswirl the Bearded’s students. In fact, Luna could only name four: Starswirl himself and that was preposterous, Celestia who was with Luna the entire time, Luna who she could vouch for ha, and finally something done by Clover himself. One of Starswirl's personal theories sprung to Luna’s mind: When you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth.

“Clover, what happened? What did you do?”

Luna couldn’t bear to watch her friend suffer, there were too many options as to what occurred and too few ways of fixing them. Clover was old, older than most, and the stress of this would see him dead before long. Sighing, Luna could only think of one way to help him in these moments. A lesson learned a long time ago: in the dreamscape Luna could go into Clover's mind and try to help him through whatever had caused this calamity.

Luna’s basic sleep spell seemed to do nothing, she had to resort to the more powerful ones before Clover was actually able to shut his eyes. Luna took one last look at her friend's sleeping form, fearful that this would be the last time she saw her friend's body alive. With that thought, she shut her eyes and joined her friend in his dreams.

Clover’s dreamscape was a mess, the kind that would normally send the stallion into a bout of cleaning for weeks. Books and scrolls lined the floor. None of them seemed to say anything at all, the ink on the pages forming a jumble of words that were incomprehensible.

A voice came from behind her. “LUNA!” Luna turned to see the stallion bounding up the hill of books with a smile on his face, the face Luna remembered from all those years ago. Clover seemed to prefer the look he had back in the days when he helped found Equestria to that of his current self.

A pity, his older form has a grace that we may never personally know.

Bouncing like a colt, Clover asked, “Did he come? Did he, did he?”

Luna didn’t need to ask to whom Clover referred to; Starswirl had knack for being exactly where he needed to be when he needed to be there. The look on Clover's face when Luna shook her head nearly broke her heart. “We're sorry,” was all Luna managed to get out.

He paused, a frown quickly upon his face. “It was an old fool's hope, once I realized my mistake I hoped he might come and save me from it, but it looks like he’s well and truly gone,” Clover replied. A single tear fell from his eye.

“Clover, what did you do?”

“There was a spell, Luna. Not one he taught us, but one which I found back in the day, it allows the user to see the magical plane. I thought I might use it to find him for you two. I was so wrong, please forgive me.”

Luna cried at that, “Clover we could never blame you, you were just trying to help. Forgive me, we never should have left you on your own for as long as we did.”

“How about we forgive each other our sins. No regrets, okay?”

Luna hugged her friend for the last time, “Okay Clover, no regrets.”

“You should go now, he’s coming.”

“Who's coming?” Luna asked inquisitively.

Clover just smiled. “Tell Celly I love her too, and that I don’t blame either of you. You two shouldn't blame yourselves either.”

With that, Luna left the dreamscape of Clover's mind. She paused and watched her friend's body slowly moving up and down, the rhythm of his sleep slowly getting weaker and weaker.

Luna was able to time exactly when it would occur; as her friend took his last breath, she at last let the tears fall from her eye and turned to leave.

Suddenly, Luna felt something grab her hoof and drag her back.

She was face to face with Clover, his eyes as white as pearl. Clover spoke for the last time at that moment.

“There will come a time when magic will seek to understand itself. It will do it through the same process that all beings use, in this form; it will do the unthinkable and disrupt the natural order to save the one it loves. Only it can set things right.”

With those last words, Clover fell to the bed. His eyes gently closed, never to open again.

Luna cried on her friend's bed openly now, the tears falling freely, and she could think of no good reason to stop them. She couldn’t bring herself to leave, just to stay there and mourn the loss of her friend. Her mind was completely empty of thoughts, she was grateful for this time to mourn in quiet. When unbidden, a history lesson from years ago sprang to her mind. A day that was no more noticeable than any other, but for some reason, she couldn’t stop thinking of it.


”Settle down, I won’t warn the two of you again.” Luna and Clover both turned to their master, with the preverbal ‘caught red hoof in the cookie jar' look on their faces. Celly just glared at the two of them.

Goody horseshoes Luna thought.

“Now ponies, what were we just talking about?” Starswirl asked, already knowing they weren’t paying attention.

“I don’t know,” Luna and Clover admitted. They both knew they were in trouble, and lying would simply make it worse for them. Celestia's hoof shot up like a bat out of Tartarus.

“Yes, Celestia,” Starswirl called out.

Celestia cleared her throat before starting. “The four primal forces of nature: Chaos, Gaia, Eros, and Tartarus. Each said to exist in harmony with the other three and said to have come into existence before the universe.”

“Correct, Celestia.” Celestia just grinned at that, sticking out her tongue at Luna in playful banter. “And what do the four forces represent, exactly?"

Luna knew the answer to this one and shouted it out before ‘teacher's pet’ had a chance to reply, “Chaos is the force of change; it exists to ensure that everything continues to evolve and improve, thereby reducing the threat of stagnation. Tartarus is the force of death and exists to ensure those forces that would disrupt the natural order never do so, it also exists to ensure that life would be sacred.”

“And how is that achieved, Luna?” Starswirl asked.

“By having it be finite,” Luna countered, grinning as Starswirl nodded at her to continue. “Gaia is the force of nature, the planet one could say. The one who grants us the magic we use and the spark that gives us life. The youngest, Eros, is the force of Love, it exists to help mortals overcome their own limitations, it’s in many ways the strongest and weakest of the primal forces.”

Starswirl grinned at her. “Well somepony has been studying. Good job, Luna.” It was Luna’s turn to stick her tongue out at Celly.

“But professor,” Clover interrupted, “aren't these all theories from old ponies back in your day?”

Starswirl laughed at that. “Young Clover, I may be old, but I'm not that old. To answer your question, yes. The ancient ponies thousands of years ago came up with these for the standard forces that they encountered all the time: Chaos to explain why things change, Gaia to explain magic, Tartarus to explain the dead or dying, and Eros to explain love. It’s much easier to assign Godly properties to things than try and figure them out yourself.”

“But Starswirl, we know that Tartarus is a real place,” Luna replied.

“Yes, dear Luna, but it is not a force of nature; it's merely a prison that keeps in the evil creatures that are locked down there.”

“That’s Cerberus’s job, isn’t it?” Celestia asked.

“Yes and no, Celestia. Cerberus is more of a gatekeeper, he guards the entrance from Hades to Tartarus. His job is to ensure that nothing that is in can get out, and nothing out can get in that shouldn't be in.”

“Wait, I thought Hades and Tartarus were the same thing?” Clover asked the old unicorn.

“Not quite, dear Clover. Hades is where the dead go. It's the afterlife if you will. Tartarus is where the monsters are kept, those beings that exist only for destruction and domination of all life and, more importantly, those that wish to disrupt the natural flow of life to death or the creation of new life.”

“New life?” Luna inquired .

“Yes, dear Luna, without the flow of souls from life to death, no new life can be created.”

"So, it's like resurrection?" Clover asked.

"No, imagine if you will, two large ponds, one higher than the other, connected by a pipe. Water flows from the pond up high to the one down below. Block off the end of the pipe at the higher pond and no water can flow. Block of the end at the lower pond and no water can flow."

Starswirl smiled as understanding crossed his student's faces.


Looking back on it now, Luna would swear that Starswirl didn’t truly believe the answer he’d given to her question. She didn’t believe the old pony lied about anything, but that there might be more to it than even he knew.

It would be another week before Celestia finally gave up her search for Starswirl and reunited with her sister. Unbeknownst to Luna, Celestia had discovered an empire in the north that desperately needed their help.

Before they left, Luna insisted they both make one last stop: Clover the Clever's tomb. The old pony had his gravesite already picked out. Luna felt honored to be the one to carry out her friend’s last wishes.

“I should've come back with you.”

“Celly, do not do this to yourself, you couldn't have known how close he was to death.”

“You did.”

“No, we didn’t, we only came back due to the length of time we've been gone. Had we known we would have brought you back too, with force if we had to.”

That made the two sisters laugh, the very thought of them ever fighting with each other for real was a fantasy only a mad pony could come up with.

With a somber mood growing between them, Celestia looked at Luna. “Tell me, Luna, honestly, did he blame me for not being there in the end? Did he hate me? I would've hated me.”

Luna chose to only tell her sister about how Clover passed and his last words in the dreamscape. Celestia took it well, with the knowledge that her friend found peace in the end. Any further grieving or storytelling would have to wait; as at that moment, they had a tyrannical king to overthrow, and a Crystal Empire to try to save.

Define: Cost (R)

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Canterlot Royal Gardens

In some religions, the concept of karma is seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results—good or bad, in this life or the next—by your current actions. Right this second, Twilight was feeling like karma had just hit her upside the head with a baseball bat. She could only stare on dumbfounded, at the two weakened princesses, or more accurately, the one that just told her: You just destroyed the world.

Leave it to Rainbow Dash to jump into the rescue. “Hang on, I don’t care if you are the princess; no pony talks to Twilight that way.” Rainbow ran to Celestia, literally face to face with her, poking the Princess of the Sun with her cyan-blue hooves, anger radiating off her in waves.

Twilight had little time to comprehend this as Rainbow started up again. “All she did was SAVE ME from some reaper pony. How did that destroy the world? If anything that means no one can die. Isn't that the opposite of destroying the world? More like saving it if you ask me.”

“Yes, she saved you, Rainbow Dash. She saved you from your afterlife. You and everypony from that moment on are forever stuck here. Never able to move on, never able to be at peace.” Celestia sighed as she spoke. “You’re trapped forever in that body and can never die, all because Twilight refused to let you go. Yet you do not fully comprehend; you are the exception to what's occurring. I'm not sure why yet but your body is not suffering the rigamortis as the others that die.”

She paused to let that sit in before continuing. “Twilight has learned a lot under my tutelage, however, she has yet to learn that nothing is free, all actions have—”

“Consequences.” Twilight finished the sentence. Rainbow turned to look at her friend, the heartbreak on Twilight's face was self evident. She had indeed ‘destroyed the world’, maybe not physically, but their world, as they knew it, would no longer be. The implications and the cost were drastic.

“What do you mean by Rainbow Dash being the exception?” Twilight asked.

Luna took this question. “For some unknown reason, Rainbow's body is not suffering the rigamortis that is normally brought upon by the passing of life, Rainbow's cells are not degrading at the rate of a normal pony’s. The others that have died are not so lucky, the spark of life is still present in their bodies, but two to six hours after death they become unable to move at all. The long term effects can only be guessed at—which we wouldn’t recommend doing. Based on the few reports we’ve received and our examination of this problem, well, let just say the ramifications are enough to give us nightmares.”

“On top of that,” Celestia added, although she seemed very reluctant to continue her sentence, “I have received some other reports, it’s too early to tell if this is related as the numbers are low right now, but it seems as though every foal born since… since it happened, has not been born alive.”

The concept of the Alicorn of the Night having nightmares frightened Twilight; however, stillborn foals were on a totally different level. In addition, it was her fault. Twilight looked close to breaking at the thought. Rainbow noticed this immediately; the thought of her friend losing it again was too much to bear. She had to stop this before it started.

“No Twilight.” Rainbow ran to her friend and hugged her. “I'm not letting you do this, thanks to you I get to see our friends, I get to watch Scootaloo continue to grow. You didn't know what would happen. Don't blame yourself for this, you had seconds to act and thought you saw a way out of this that was win-win.”

“I don’t,” Twilight spoke in a whisper that would have put Fluttershy to shame. All three set of eyes stared at her with that one.

“What was that?” Luna asked, not out of disbelief but more so from genuine curiosity at what Twilight's reply was.

Luna and Celestia's words cut like a knife, she hadn’t believed the ramifications could be so bad; Twilight had wanted to save her friend, how was that wrong? How was protecting Rainbow from that ‘thing’ the wrong decision? Yes, there were unforeseen ramifications, but when was that not true? There were always unforeseen ramifications to everything. Sometimes they were good, other times, not so much. This was just one of the latter. This was just one more problem, yes, the effects were far reaching, a little bit more than she was used to dealing with, but this was just another issue that she’d deal with.

I’ll set this right and I’ll keep Rainbow alive in the process. Twilight’s resolve surprised even her.

Rainbow Dash’s words tipped the scales in her mind. Twilight's loyal friend: Rainbow, still believed in her, and more importantly, she didn’t hate her. I can fix this; all I have to do is well, what I always do. Plans were beginning to draw up in her mind. She needed to make a checklist. Where’s Spike when I need him?

It was then that a voice carried down the hall into the garden.

“Blazing Spear, let me pass.” The voice had no need to shout, the force of presence it carried was enough to command the attention of everyone who heard it. All four sets of eyes turned to look at the door.

Luna was impressed, Perhaps I should take notes; that’s way more effective than the Royal Canterlot Voice ever was.

“I'm sorry, prince. I'm under orders to ensure the princesses are not disturbed.” Twilight didn’t recognize the voice that spoke. However she knew that it was most likely Blazing Spear's.

“Blazing, there are two types of ponies in this world, the first type are the ones that DO NOT get between me and my sister, and the second are the ones that do. Now, I consider the former to be friends. Do you want to find out what I do to the latter?” Shining Armor replied with his trademark 'give me what I want or I will end you' sentence.

Twilight smiled at that, Shining would be joining them soon, although while that didn’t surprise her, what did was the next voice she heard. “I told you darling, it's best just to get out of the way.” Rarity was here. She dared hope the others were too; she really, really needed her friends right now.

Shining Armor was the first to turn into the garden but not the last. Rarity followed next, followed quickly by Applejack, Pinkie, Spike, and Fluttershy. Twilight had never seen her friends so depressed in her life. With the exception of Shining Armor, they had all been crying.

Shiny still carried his stoic aura, but even that still had some cracks showing through. Fluttershy looked like she flew here; her wings looked awful. Twilight didn’t know how she could even see with her one visible eye so puffy. Spike looked like he was keeping it together, although Twilight could tell it was just a mask for the others, she had known the dragon for all his life, and… and, are those WINGS? She’d want an explanation for that later.

Rarity looked defeated; Twilight didn’t know what had happened, but the mare looked ready to just give up. Pinkie looked horrible, which was ironic because her hair was no longer a mess. Somehow seeing it straight was so much worse than its normal cotton-candy look. Her face looked like someone had sucked every iota of happiness from the poor pony.

Of all her friends, Applejack was the only one who resembled normal. Her stubborn nature allowed her to deal with the worst situations better than the rest, given that later she’d have to deal with her true emotions, but she’d go out of her way to help everyone else first.

It was then that Rainbow realized she was still hugging Twilight, her mind balked at the idea of being caught doing something so uncool. Although, for the first time she could remember, another part of her didn’t want to let go. That’s odd; I never had that sort of idea before. Is it because I’m dead? Eventually the former part of her mind won out, but it was a hard fought battle with many casualties. She doubted it would win again.

Rainbow let go and sheepishly looked at her friends. She watched as tears formed in their eyes while they all stared at her, dumbstruck. “Hey girls, what’s up?” The six beads of eyes looked at Rainbow as if she was a ghost, the silence that filled the room was deafening.

It was Pinkie that first broke the silence, not with anything she said but by starting to vibrate uncontrollably. Spike and Applejack looked at each other with fearful expressions on their face, but one look back at Pinkie and those vanished. The vibrations were causing her frown to turn upside down.

Pinkie was smiling.

Jumping the forty feet from the door to where Rainbow Dash now stood, Pinkie shouted out. “DASHIE!”

Rainbow knew it was coming but let it happen anyway. At least I won't feel it, she thought. Pinkie stopped in the middle of the air seconds before the force of her impact would’ve hit Rainbow. Instead, she slowly landed on her hoofs and hugged her friend.


In Pinky's mile-a-minute talking, Rainbow only assumed she stopped somewhere to take a breath, but she was unable to say where that pause had occurred.


Something Pinkie said caught Twilight's attention but she’d not quite put her hoof on it. The look on Rainbow's face robbed Twilight of any chance to consider what that was. Rainbow gave Twilight a pleading ‘make it stop’ look. While Twilight would normally never insert herself between Pinkie and whatever had her attention at the time—as she was too afraid that it might jump to her, but Rainbow had been through enough that day.

Using her magic, Twilight detached her pink friend and moved her to the side. To Rainbow’s annoyance Pinkie was immediately replaced by five other bodies—apparently not wanting to take turns as they all engaged Rainbow in a group hug with the cyan mare in the middle.

“Thanks girls, really, but can you get off me? It's starting to get embarrassing.” After much longer than Rainbow would have liked, her five friends let go. Each one of them went and stood by Twilight. They were glaring at Rainbow as if they were all concerned over something. If Rainbow had three guesses as to what that was, she would have only needed one.

It was Applejack who finally voiced what they were all thinking, “Rainbow, why are you so cold?”

Rainbow sighed at that; while she knew, logically, she’d have to tell her friends what had happened, that still didn’t make it any easier. “Well…” Rainbow began, rubbing the back of her head with her right hoof while admiring a flower on the ground, “You see, you see I... I…” it was then she felt somepony touch her left hoof.

That's not right, I shouldn't be able to feel anything and I hate ponies touching my hooves, Rainbow thought.

She looked at the interloper. Twilight was holding her hoof and was smiling encouragingly at her friend. That smile gave Rainbow Dash all the confidence she needed. “Pinkie wasn't wrong girls, I am dead.”

Rainbow and Twilight each took it in turn to recant the story, only leaving out the more ‘personal’ stuff that occurred after Twilight woke up; that the truth was important was not in doubt, but not all of it had to be told. The only thing they couldn’t fully explain was Twilight's eyes. Yet she still told them what she could and that the loss of her pupils didn’t matter that much right now. It was something that could wait.

The looks on their friend’s faces spoke volumes: shock, anger, disbelief, hatred, righteous indignation, fear, surprise, and confusion. Twilight gulped at that last one, as the story ended they didn’t seem to know how they felt about it.

It was Fluttershy that broke the stillness; the timid little pegasus walked to Twilight, her one visible eye unreadable, even to Twilight's new senses. When the pegasus was face to face with Twilight, she reached up and hugged her friend with all the strength she could muster.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

The timid mare squeaked out, it was then Twilight felt the tears fall on her shoulder; Fluttershy was crying. Soon the rest of her friends hugged her as well. Only Rainbow Dash and Shining Armor didn’t join in, but both looked at Twilight approvingly. My friends are with me, Twilight thought. With their help she felt like nothing was impossible; I can fix this. No, I will fix this! I’ll restore the flow of souls and get things back to normal, and I’ll do it all without losing any of them.

It was several minutes later before the group broke apart, Celestia and Luna both patiently waited for them to finish, some things were worth taking the time for. Between the two sisters, Luna spoke up first. “Do you girls understand the full cost of what has occurred here?”

Applejack turned and looked at the princess. “Here’s what I reckon princess, the changelings attacked, ‘again’. You two were caught off guard, ‘again'. Twilight saved the day, ‘again.’ Then Twilight prevented somepony from taking RD away from us. Everything else, I don’t give a rotten apple core about. Maybe if you two actually did your JOBS this never would have happened.”

Luna jerked back as if visibly struck; to say she wasn’t used to ponies speaking to her like that would be an understatement. The more painful part; however, was that she couldn’t find fault with the stubborn pony’s words; they all had the mark of truth to them. No wonder this pony was the bearer of the Element of Honesty, Luna thought.

“Girls, if you wouldn’t mind, we need to talk to Twilight alone,” Celestia said. All of Twilight's friends exchanged nervous glances with each other. The tension in the room was palpable, and none of them wanted to leave her alone for a second. When they all glanced at Twilight with a look of ‘what do you want us to do’, she sighed. Whatever Celestia wanted to talk about was important and just for her ears. Twilight gestured for them to leave. Slowly, her friends started moving to the door. They each turned and looked back at Rainbow—just to make sure that what they saw was real—before moving around the corner.

There were only two left now.

Shining Armor hugged his sister with liquid pride in his eyes. “I'll be just down the hall if you need anything.”

“Thanks, BBBFF,”

After Shining Armor turned the corner, Twilight looked at the last holdout; Rainbow Dash was sitting back with her front hooves crossed over her chest. “I’m not going anywhere,” she spoke matter-of-factly.

Twilight looked at her with annoyance written on her face. “Don’t give me that look, egghead. I don’t care who gave the order. After all, what's she going to do? Execute me? Last time I checked laws are for the living.”

Twilight sighed at this; she knew how single-minded Rainbow Dash could be. While she ‘could’ make her leave, she’d never use such measures on a friend. And if she was being honest with herself, she was actually quite glad that Rainbow wouldn’t go. Twilight turned to the doors and shut them with a final push of her magic, announcing to the two others in the room that Rainbow was indeed staying.

“Very well,” Celestia replied. “Rainbow can stay, but I must insist that she does not interrupt, regardless what's said between the three of us.”

Twilight glanced over to her friend, Rainbow slightly nodded her consent to these rules; although Twilight had her doubts that Rainbow would actually obey them for the entire time. She kept those doubts to herself.

“Twilight, when I told you to let go of Rainbow Dash, I was not being atrocious. I know you love all your friends, but I have been alive a lot longer than you. Such actions always have unknown consequences and we’re only starting to feel the effects of it. I don't know how to fix this, but I feel… no, I know that the cost will be high for you,” Celestia said the words with pain in her eyes. It was always hard to deliver such news.

“How do you mean? After everything that I've lost, what more could possibly happen?”

“Twilight, listen, we…” Celestia glanced over to her sister. Luna just nodded for her to continue. “We believe that when the balance is restored, those who should’ve passed, but didn’t, will pass on. All of those who should’ve passed.”

“So you’re telling me that when I fix this, I’ll end up losing…” she couldn’t finish this sentence. Twilight merely glanced over at the pegasus sitting in the corner. Rainbow looked back at Twilight, her expression blank, unreadable. “No.” Twilight spoke with a little more force than she intended.

“Twilight, listen—” Celestia attempted to say before Twilight abruptly cut her off.

Twilight was tired of this conversation, it was far too circular for her liking, she knew their logic was sound, but she didn't care; she would listen to no more of this. The lavender alicorn began to levitate as her anger took hold. Luna and Celestia both looked on in shock; this was Twilight as she was back in the throne room. Twilight was floating off the ground, vertically, her impressive wingspan shot straight up with her feathers pointed outward. A strong purple magical aura surrounded her body with white energy radiated off her eyes.

When she spoke, her voice lost the normal sweet tone it carried, instead it had dropped by several octaves. “No Celestia, you listen.”

Again, Luna had the thought that she really should be taking notes; No wonder the Canterlot Royal Voice fell out of use, it’s irrelevant now.

“I WILL NOT lose one of my friends, this mistake was mine, I’ll fix it, but I’ll fix it my way.” Twilight saw something at that moment, a look on her mentor’s face that she had only seen a few times in her life, and never directed at her: Fear. Celestia was afraid of her. In her view, it changed nothing.

Luna put on her best ‘we are shocked, how dare you' face, but if anyone looked closely, and thankfully no one did, they’d have been able to tell it was a facade. Here was her sister's prized student, the one she had chosen to join them in ruling all of Equestria. For the first time since Luna had met her, Twilight was truly asserting herself. She was a Princess of Equestria; she was their equal—and based on her power, their better. There was no doubting her power, Luna had learned that the hard way when she was transformed from Nightmare Moon, but part of being a princess was learning to trust your own judgment.

Truly, for the first time Luna could remember, Princess Twilight Sparkle was coming into her own. She knew Celly would feel the same, once enough time had passed that is.

“We're done here,” Twilight said. “I vow I’ll fix this myself, and until then I’ll leave damage control to the two of you.” Reversing the finality that she used to start the conversation, Twilight ended it. After she slammed the doors open, the two friends left the Royal Gardens. Turning the corner, Twilight finally put her hooves back on the ground. She was surprised when Rainbow blocked her path.

“Yes, Rainbow?” Twilight said with a sigh, expecting a lecture.

Rainbow Dash did a quick look around, checking to make sure no one was in earshot before saying, “Twilight if you ever try and tell anypony else this, I'll flat out deny it, but you just got a hundred and twenty percent cooler in my book.”

Twilight could only smile at that. Yes, the cost may be high, but for friends like these, I’d willingly pay it twenty times over.

“Thanks Rainbow.”

Define: Home (R)

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Canterlot Royal Gardens

There were tears in her eyes; Celestia was crying. Other than the day Nightmare Moon was defeated and Luna was reunited with her sister, she could not remember the last time she had seen Celestia cry. Twilight’s words had cut her deep.

Luna reflected on the situation at hoof. This was the first actual time Twilight has ever stood up to you, sister, she thought. This impressed Luna more than anything else. The fact the young Princess Twilight Sparkle, whom Celestia raised, said no. More than that, the fact she had insisted on fixing this problem her way, without help. Pride returned to Luna’s heart. Twilight was truly coming into her own.

For now though, Luna had a sister to comfort.

Luna went and laid by Celestia's side, gingerly laying one wing over the stricken alicorn; kind words were not needed right now, simply company.

“She hates me,” Celestia spoke after several minutes had passed.

“You're wrong Celly, she merely disagrees with how to proceed.” Luna calmly nuzzled the side of her sister’s face. “You chose well, you know. We have to say, we are a little jealous.”

“You know, Luna. That's the first time you've ever said anything like that.”

“It’s the first time we meant it; what we saw today wasn't the little filly that would be utterly convinced one plus one equals four if her mentor told her it was so. We saw a Princess of Equestria standing up for what she believes is right, even against her own teacher. And her POWER, it made us a little jealous that you had her to yourself all these years.”

“You make it sound so sultry,” Celestia said with a laugh.

“Dear sister, you cannot tell me you’ve not once thought about it.”

Celestia pushed Luna on her side as she got up and walked out of the garden. “We didn't hear a no!” Luna protested.

Celestia laughed inward. Because I didn't say no.


Canterlot Palace

The six friends were catching up with each other when Twilight and Rainbow approached.

“That was quick,” Applejack said.

“The conversation went south, I decided it wasn't worth my time,” Twilight replied. She hoped Rainbow would keep her trap shut about the details. Much to her chagrin, she overestimated Rainbow’s ability to keep quiet about anything.

“You guys should’ve seen it, TWILIGHT totally showed up both those princesses. It was AMAZING!”

The others just stared at Twilight after that, with every set of eyes on her she started to consider a vanishing spell she’d been working on. Shining Armor spoke before she could ready it. “Twily, what happened?”

“They told me that to fix this I would end up having to let Rainbow go. I told them I was disinclined to acquiesce to their request, and will find a solution where that does not happen,” Twilight said matter-of-factly.

“She basically told them to buck off,” Rainbow said in a laugh.

All seven of her friends started laughing at that; even Twilight was unable to hold the death glare she was giving Rainbow at that moment and soon joined in with the others.

After a while, they all started to fill each other in on their events since the wedding. Spike, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack went first. Once they were done, Twilight gave a predatory glare to Spike's wings, the kind normally reserved for when she was about to dissect something new. He almost felt the need to remind her that he was not a chicken.

Fluttershy went next, recalling the events of the sickness and the changeling infestation that caused it. She left out some more of the questionable details, merely stating that a dragon attack finally ended it.

When she mentioned Angel’s death, Rainbow walked over and hugged her. Twilight could not help but feel her chest tighten at the sight.

Shining had nothing new to report, other than that the baby would be due within the month, and they were all invited to come see the newborn when it arrived.

When Rarity told her story, she did so with tears in her eyes. Afterwards, no one felt like laughing anymore. A brooding silence descended upon the group.

Ironically, it was Rarity that spoke up first; she turned to Rainbow and asked, “So, you’re like a zombie pony now?”

Before anyone could comment, Pinkie appeared right behind Rainbow Dash. Pinkie’s coat and mane were colored to resemble that of a half-dead pony, her voice spoke in a slow rasping tone. “Brraaaiiinnnnsss… brraaiinnsss, I want to eat your brraiinness.”

Looking at Pinkie in a getup that would have been perfect for Nightmare Night, the rest of the group burst into laughter. Not even Shining Armor was able to hold back. After five minutes, the eight of them slowly came down from their giggling fit.

Soon after Luna came to visit. Greeted by several hostile stares, Luna quickly apologized for interrupting their reminiscing.

“Twilight, we aren't here to fight, merely to talk,” Luna said.

Fluttershy spoke next. “Do... do you want us to leave?”

“No, young one, this involves all of you, as every one of you is connected.”

“She hates me, doesn’t she?” Twilight asked, sheepishly running her hooves over the ground.

Luna couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her mouth, “Young one, you and her are so much alike. She couldn't hate you even if she tried.”

“But I argued with her! I basically told her off.”

“We know; we were there, remember? We’re both very proud of you. What’s with that look, did we misspeak?”

“Proud? Proud? How can you be PROUD?! I told off my teacher, I went against her wishes, I... I'm the worst. Student. Ever!” Twilight cried.

“Yes, we agree,” Luna replied.

That look on your face is priceless, we wish we had a camera, Luna thought.

Before Twilight could blow up—which she was about five seconds away from doing—Luna chimed in. “What you forget, Twilight, is that you’re not a student any longer. You’re a Princess of Equestria, one of only four that exist. You’re our equal in this, and today, for the first time in four years, you’ve proved that. So, like we said earlier, we are proud.”

Twilight was flabbergasted; she had no idea the conversation would turn as it did, as such, rather than say the wrong thing, she decided to go with the golden rule: silence is golden.

“As per your orders, Princess Twilight Sparkle, Celestia and I will go on damage control. Celestia will speak to the ponies about what has occurred. If she can head this off, we can prevent a riot from starting.”

Rainbow asked. “What will you do, Luna?”

“We shall go to our neighbors, to ensure the other rulers know what’s going on. This affects more than just Equestria after all. If we can get ahead of this, we can avoid damaging relations, and any possible escalation of force that might occur. You should get going too, Twilight, the train is waiting to take you home. We believe that your search would be better off starting in Ponyville.”

“The train doesn’t arrive for another twenty seven thousand one hundred and twenty seconds. How can it be waiting for us?” Pinkie chipped in, pointing her right hoof at a watch on her left one.

“Dear child, just because Twilight has never taken advantage of her position, doesn’t mean the rest of us haven’t. The perks make the job worth doing you know,” Luna said with a sly smile as she turned and left the room.

“Come on girls, it's time to go home,” Twilight said.

They all gave their goodbyes to Shining, as he needed to get back to the Crystal Empire. The rest of the return trip was uneventful. Twilight used the time to gather her thoughts and reflect on what had occurred, then immediately wished she hadn’t. The prior events were too big, too extreme, and she didn’t want to think about it. Her melancholy had distracted her though; they were coming up on Ponyville.

As Twilight and her friends departed the train, what she saw next astounded her.

A part of Twilight balked at what was in front of her. There, in the center of her town, her home, was a parade unlike any she had ever seen before. Hundreds of Discords were marching down the street. Each Discord present was waving a banner or playing a musical instrument. The ponies of Ponyville were more than cautious, they knew from experience to stay away from anything Discord was doing. Most of them simply stayed inside during this festive ‘event’.

The marching band was playing louder than most nightclubs, on each banner was a picture of Twilight’s cutie mark. The larger ones had the words ‘She did it!’, ‘Twilight’s joined the dark side!’ and even ‘Come get your FREE COOKIES!’ printed on them. A seven-hundred hoof balloon passed by in the spitting image of Princess Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, white eyes and all.

To say Twilight was in the mood for this would have been to say the Moon was bigger than the Sun. But for a being like Discord, Twilight’s mood made her the perfect target. “Twilight my dear,” Discord spoke, surprising nopony when he magically appeared by the group. “Free cookie?”

To everypony's surprise, Twilight did take a cookie; to no pony's surprise, Pinkie ate the rest in one fell swoop. “What?” Twilight asked, noticing the strange looks on everypony’s face. “You know how long it’s been since I last ate?”

Discord literally laughed himself to pieces. After a few minutes, the pieces disappeared from the ground and he reappeared floating above the alicorn. “Twilight made a joke!” he yelled. The noise from the parade doubled in volume. New signs appeared all over Ponyville with ‘Twilight made a joke!’ written on them.

Twilight was anything but joking; she really was quite hungry. She just hadn’t noticed until Discord offered the plate of cookies, but it seemed to put the draconequus in a good mood so Twilight played along.

“Twilight, this truly is a WONDROUS day: First you FINALLY join my side, causing more chaos in one hour then I have in thousands of years. Then you find a sense of humor! Tell me, where did you find it? Did you find it in your new eyes?" Discord checked both with a large over-sized magnifying glass. "No, not there; was it under your wings?” With a sense of violation running down her spine, Discord lifted up Twilight's wings. “No, not there, under your horn maybe? “ Discord reached up to pluck Twilight's horn off her head.

Discord is the Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony; the laws of the real world do not apply to such a creature. When Discord applies just a fraction of his will to something, reality goes on a forced-unpaid vacation. As such, Discord can make it rain chocolate milk at will, drink glass, and explode liquid; he can even rearrange a pony's features, without any undue harm coming to the unfortunate victim. Therefore, when Twilight’s horn refused to come off, he was shocked. Although, of all the things Discord was, and there was quite a lot on that list, he was persistent.

“Hmm, that seems to be stuck on there,” Discord spoke as he called to a nearby construction worker Discord, one that seemed to be on a coffee break, to come and take a look at the problem.

Construction worker Discord raised a jackhammer to Twilight’s head. A few seconds after activation, the tip of the power tool broke. Construction worker Discord examined it in disbelief. “Gonna need the Jaws of Life on this one, boss.” A second Discord appeared behind the first, this one dressed as a firefighter carrying mechanical inverse clamps.

Ramming the clamps between Twilight’s skull and horn, Discord checked the mechanism to ensure that everything was in place. With a final safety check performed by another Discord dressed as a safety inspector, who snapped safety glasses on all the watching ponies. The clamps started up with a life of their own, the motor struggled to pull the alicorn’s horn free. The drive quickly burned itself out with the effort, and, losing power, the clamps fell off.

"That’s things stuck on there with safety glue or something,” safety inspector Discord said.


Twilight was livid, the assaults, while not painful, had jarred her head quite enough for one day. She didn’t know why her horn wouldn’t come off, as Discord never had a problem doing as he wished before, but she was done with this.

“WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN?’ Twilight’s voice dropped down a few octaves. Her eyes radiating with barely contained fury.




The parade was over and Rainbow could not help lament its absence. The look on Twilight's face spoke VOLUMES to the level of mad she was at that moment. Twilight's friends ducked for cover, memories of libraries flying hundreds of hooves up in the air were fresh in their minds.

Discord actually looked scared.

That power, Discord thought. I've encountered it before, but where? The party was over, the preverbal party pooper, one ’Miss Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle’, had ended it. Whatever power Twilight had, it was enough to give him pause. It felt familiar in a way he couldn’t fully recognize.

Secretly he was happy to find somepony like this; it was too normal to be able to screw with everypony, having one he could not bend, well that satisfied the ‘chaotic’ nature in him. Unbreakable toys are so useful in breaking other toys, he smirked inwardly to himself.

“Okay Twilight, I’ll be good.” Some fights weren’t worth the effort, and right now Discord doubted his chances anyway.

Twilight didn’t look convinced; the magic around her seemed to be forming into something substantial, something tangible. Discord was worried, Perhaps I did go ‘a little’ too far with that last one, a fight might be unavoidable. If it was not for a little yellow pegasus that walked up to Discord and rubbed his claw, a fight is what they would’ve had.

“Twilight, he said he’d be good."

The magic around Twilight faded; she quickly forced the anger down and regained control. She looked at her timid pegasus friend, “Just keep HIM away from me.” Twilight turned around, ashamed of herself for losing control of her temper and began walking toward her castle, her home.

What Discord said next would haunt Twilight worse than the dreaded night of ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders Page Tearers!’

“C'mon Twilight, I want to help.”

Twilight’s eye twitch returned.


The eight of them ended up in the castle for the next few hours. It had taken quite a bit of coaxing from Fluttershy and some kind words from the rest for Twilight to allow Discord to enter. Twilight was not used to logic working against her, but for the second time that day, it had been her enemy.

Last time she won, this time—not so much.

“I don't know where to even began fixing this. Where should we go? Can this even be fixed?” Twilight pondered, unaware that she was speaking aloud again, instead of in her head.

“Well if it were me, I'd go talk to the reaper pony's master.”

“What was that?“ Twilight snapped, staring daggers into Discord.

If looks could kill.

“I said I'd go talk to whomever the reaper pony called master.” Discord repeated, a little shocked and pleased that Twilight didn’t come up with such an easy answer herself.

Dammit, I just got rid of this eye twitch, Twilight thought.

“Who, may I ask, is that, and how’d we go about finding them?" Rarity asked.

“I'm so glad you asked, Ms. Rarity,” emphasizing the ‘S’ sounds as he turned himself into a snake and slithered over to her. “Oh, I'm sorry, it's Miss now isn’t it,” Rarity looked ready to buck his teeth out at that and Twilight would have helped. "Let’s see, you're a reaper, commanded to spend all eternity separating the thread of life from mortals who passed on, ensuring they go to their final place of rest. Now where oh where could your master possibly be?”

“HADES!” Rainbow Dash shouted, hoping to show off a little with what she assumed to be the right answer.

“A for effort." Discord replied. “But right now we need exact, so you get an F.” Discord stamped an F on Rainbow's forehead, much to the disgust of the cyan mare.

Twilight easily caused the red mark to disappear before she turned to Discord. "He’s in Tartarus, isn’t he?”

“Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner folks.”

“Well so much for that plan, mortals cannot get into Tartarus," Twilight said with a sigh. “When I lead Cerberus back last time, I just had to throw the ball down the hole.“

“Well, it’s a good thing two of you don’t qualify as that anymore.”

Twilight and Rainbow Dash looked at each other, knowing exactly whom Discord was referring too. Twilight eventually broke eye contact and turned to Discord.

“I'm not immortal, Discord. Celestia told me that much after my coronation.”

“I never said Princess Sun Butt made you immortal,” Discord was holding a balloon copy of the sun princess in his hands. When he blew it over to Pinkie Pie she began playing with it like a filly. “But, Twilight, I can assure you that you. Are. Now. Immortal.”

Well if Discord is right, and that’s a big IF, Rainbow and I could make our way into Tartarus and talk to whomever was in charge of this ‘reaper’ to find out how this can all be fixed. As far as plans go this ranked somewhere up there with, ‘my leg has a cramp in it so let’s cut it off’. However, we have nothing else to go on.

Twilight was REALLY beginning to hate logic.

Packing turned out to be quite easy. Rarity had a fit about how little they were taking, but that was expected. Between the two of them, only one needed to eat, drink, or sleep. By splitting that load up neither had to carry much at all.

The goodbyes had been harder; Twilight didn’t want to do this without all her friends with her, but here, yet again, she had to leave them behind. After a few tearful goodbyes, her friends left to go back to their jobs. Twilight had insisted on it, the journey to Tartarus would take a full day on hoof.

The two would stay in the castle tonight and set off at first light, best to get the goodbyes out of the way before then.

Of course, Discord gave some lame excuse about the place being too boring for his liking, not that Twilight wanted him to tag along anyway.

Rainbow left Twilight in the castle alone for a few hours; she had to go say goodbye to a certain orange pegasus. Twilight was sad to see her go; the two had kept each other company ever since Twilight woke up that morning. Her absence seemed almost oppressive in the castle. Twilight was, however, glad to avoid that conversation; she didn’t envy Rainbow having to tell her little sister what happened.

Twilight was asleep when Rainbow returned; the sleeping alicorn looked so peaceful on her bed, cute even… ’Where did that come from?’ Rainbow sighed; those sorts of thoughts were strange, to say the least. She looked down at her soaking wet coat. Huh, Scoots, you're a lot like Twilight in that regard. Rainbow knew she couldn’t smell anything, but others could. I’ll hop in the shower; might be my last one… that realization hurt, but she didn’t let that stop her.

After a longer than normal shower, Rainbow grabbed a random copy of Daring Do, she climbed to her favorite perch in the castle and started reading.

Daring Do, and the Journey of a Thousand Miles. The irony was lost on her.


It was hard to leave her home, even with Rainbow Dash at her side. Sure, they had a rough plan on where to go, but the fact that the rest of her friends were unable to accompany her still weighed heavily on Twilight’s shoulders. She glanced over to the pegasus on her left. Rainbow had none of the doubts written on her face that Twilight did; her determination, her drive, and her willingness to go to the end of the world and back with Twilight was all she could see. Twilight was able to borrow that courage and strength.

On the magic plane, Twilight saw that energy come off Rainbow in waves. With the slightest effort of willpower, she directed them into herself. Twilight was not stealing from Rainbow; rather, she was drawing on the excess strength and determination emanating from Rainbow. This newfound strength allowed her to take a single step forward.

It was the most important step she’d ever take in her life.

Define: Peregrination (R)

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Whitetail woods

The journey took the two friends through Whitetail Woods; few words passed between them, as they were simply content to enjoy each other’s company. While it would have been faster for Twilight to fly the two there, the indignation it would have put on Rainbow was enough for her to reject that idea outright. The once and future—if Twilight had any say in it—best flyer in Equestria would NOT be carried in the air by anypony.

It was with a heavy heart that Rainbow looked at the woods. They reminded her of the better times, when the six friends had no real responsibilities and lived each day for the enjoyment of spending time with the others. One such event in particular stood out in her mind, the Running of the Leaves. Rainbow sighed aloud as she realized that she had missed it for yet another year.

“Rainbow, what’s wrong?” Twilight asked.

“I don't really know, Twi. This place just reminds me of all that I missed since becoming a Wonderbolt. I look back on those times we all spent together as the best years of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Wonderbolt, the fame, the adulation, the glory, but I miss this, I miss you… and the rest of the girls.” Rainbow quickly added the last part.

Twilight knew how she felt; so much had changed in a few short years. Friendships that had withstood the likes of Discord, King Sombra, and Nightmare Moon, they... they were now drifting apart. It seemed time would do what the greatest evils of the world could not.

No, she resolved that ‘that‘ wouldn’t happen. Twilight bumped Rainbow on the flank with her head, “Then let’s change it.”

“Huh? What do you mean, Twi?” Rainbow asked.

“I said let's change it, when we get back I‘ll talk to all the girls. I want my friends back. Don't get me wrong, I consider it an honor and a privilege to be a princess. However, I’d be lying if I said it was the most important thing to me; my friends are. And I know in my heart the rest of you feel the same way.”

“It’s a nice thought Twi, but we all have lives and responsibilities. We can’t just take time off each week, you know.”

“Well then, I'll just have to take a page from Luna's playbook and pull rank. I doubt even the Wonderbolts would ignore a royal decree to give you extra time off, and if they try, well, I have been perfecting the 'banish to the moon' spell. I don’t even think I would even need to pull the elements from the tree to use it right now,” Twilight said, walking forward matter-of-factly.

“Ha ha, nice joke, Twi.” With a look at her friend, a lump built in Rainbow's throat, “You're kidding, right?”

The look on Twilight's face as she glanced back said she was anything BUT kidding. “As Luna said, it’s the perks that make the job worthwhile, and I want my friends back.”

“Twilight, don't do that. Twilight... Twilight... TWILIGHT!"

Rainbow ran up to Twilight trying to get her to change her mind, but she knew it was too late. Once Twilight had her mind set on a course of action only Celestia herself had any hope of getting her to change it, and with recent events, Rainbow doubted even she could convince Twilight otherwise.

It took Rainbow a while to wrap her head around this change of events. It WAS going to happen, and Spitfire wouldn’t be happy about Rainbow getting such special treatment. Rainbow knew that some extra duties and teasing were in store for her.

She paused as she realized that this is the first time she considered that she might actually rejoin the Wonderbolts. In truth, ever since finding out that she was dead, and could no longer fly, Rainbow had written them off. Here she was considering a future with them after just a few seconds of talking with Twilight. That made her consider one more possibility she hadn’t thought about before, something she hadn’t even considered before. ‘Do I even want to rejoin them?’

Rainbow Dash made up her mind in ten seconds flat.

“Twi, there’s no need for you to do that.”

“For the last time Rainbow, I've already made up my mind.”

“You misunderstand, Twilight, there is no NEED for you to do that, because, when this is over, I'm not going back to the Wonderbolts.”

That caused Twilight to stop, “What do you mean, Rainbow? Being a Wonderbolt is your dream, I… we don’t want you to give up on it.”

Rainbow sighed aloud. “On that you're wrong Twi, being a Wonderbolt WAS my dream. Ever since I was a filly, being a Wonderbolt was my only ambition; it pushed me to do some amazing things. It's part of the reason why I moved to Ponyville. Don't get me wrong, Cloudsdale is awesome, but it's crowded, so there's not a lot of room to practice. I figured I’d use the free space in Ponyville in order to push my limits and get better. Then I met you girls, I loved hanging out with all of you so much.”

Rainbow was glowing as she remembered all the times they had shared. “Don't spread this around, but a little after I joined the Wonderbolt's reserve, they offered me a spot on the team anytime I wanted it.”

Twilight was shocked at this confession; Rainbow had delayed joining the Wonderbolts? Her story had been they didn’t have room on the squad.

“I told them I needed a few years to get better. I don't know why I did it, but looking back, I think, even then, I knew I didn’t want to spend my days away from yo... I mean, all of you. It wasn't until we all started drifting apart that I ran out of excuses to stay away. I sent Spitfire a letter and went in the next week. Now though, I realize that being a Wonderbolt is no longer my dream. Sure, it's exciting, thrilling, and a huge ego boost, but it isn't what I want anymore. I want to be around you girls."

Rainbow paused as she realized something. "It's kind of funny you know; I had to die to figure out what's truly important in my life.”

Twilight was touched; she tried to say something, but was truly lost for words at this, so she settled for actions instead. Twilight walked up to Rainbow and hugged her. “I want to be around you too.” She managed to say with a few tears in her eyes.

The two friends walked side by side after that, engaging in friendly banter and enjoying each other's company. Twilight knew Rainbow couldn’t feel it when their coats touch but she appreciated the connection all the same. Eventfully Rainbow broke the mood.

Rainbow turned to her friend, a glare in her eyes that spoke only of trouble, “Hey Twilight, you wanna race?”

Twilight paused, then in her best Rarity impression said, “As if, like I would ever engage in such uncouth unladylike behavior.”

Rainbow stopped; shocked at her friend’s easy dismissal and spot-on Rarity impression. Rainbow stared at Twilight as she continued walking past her; Twilight even slapped Rainbow's muzzle with her tail as she did so. Several seconds later Twilight looked back with a grin on her face. “Not without a head start that is.” Twilight sprinted ahead at that.

It took Rainbow’s brain a minute to catch up to what had just happened. Twilight just played me! Maybe Discord was right? Rainbow thought. She quickly shook her head free of ‘that’ thought, “Oh it's on, egghead!”

It was not much of a competition, Rainbow had years of athleticism, speed, and agility on her side. On top of that, she had her Wonderbolt training, and the fact that she could not tire helped too. Although, it did take a little longer then she expected to pass Twilight, Rainbow was soon well ahead.

Rainbow shouted, “You give up yet, egghead?” When she didn’t hear a reply, she looked back. What she saw made her stop in her tracks. Rainbow could not see Twilight anymore; they had separated.

“Twi? Twi? Twilight... Twilight? TWILIGHT!” Rainbow shouted. She only stopped shouting when she heard a noise behind her. It’s probably a bad idea to give away my position to everything in these woods, she reasoned. Rainbow began heading back down the path. After a few twists and turns, Rainbow realized one horrible fact, she was lost.

To make matters worse the noise behind her returned. Even worse was when she recognized what the noise was, she now knew what was tracking her. “Timberwolves.”

Rainbow started to panic, while she had no fear of being killed per se, a timberwolf mauling would definitely slow them down, and the thought of Twilight finding her in such a state.... Rainbow immediately sprang into action. Normally she would have been able to smell them, but as this was anything other than a normal day, the only option remaining was to run. Choosing a path at random she took off as fast as she could.

Rainbow proceeded to plow right into one.

The timberwolf shattered into its component pieces, causing Rainbow to trip and land on her face. She knew it would quickly reassemble, but the more dangerous thought was they do not hunt alone. Rainbow got up and ran as fast as she could. Several wolves gave chase behind her; while she was keeping her distance, Rainbow was unable to gain ground either.

Rainbow thought she might just be able to keep this up, they would tire, and she wouldn’t. That idea was quickly lost as she saw one jump out at her from the woods. Feeling a slight tug on her head that quickly released, Rainbow ran faster. She realized too late that the path she chose was a poor choice. In her panic she had run into a dead end. The rock faces were too high to jump and surrounded her on three sides. The pack had the fourth covered. Of all the days not to be able to fly, Rainbow thought. She tried anyway, only to end up on her face a few times.

The pack closed in for the kill, “C'mon then, you won’t take me without a fight!” When the first two jumped at her, Rainbow knew it wouldn’t be much of a fight. Sorry Twi, was her final thoughts.


They never landed; both timberwolves were forced against the cliff face by a purple energy beam. The magic that kept them together lit up; igniting the two creatures in a hellfire they could not hope to survive. Rainbow stared on in shock, following the beam to its origin. She saw Twilight on all fours, completely out of breath, with both wings flared out, residual magic energy was radiating from her horn.

Her face told it all: Rainbow's rescuer was pissed.

The other wolves instantly recognized the new threat. They attacked Twilight as one solid unit, and they didn’t stand a chance. Twilight's analytical mind formed a plan before the wolves took a second step. She glanced over to the second cliff face and with a wave of her horn picked the entire side up and dropped the twenty-ton rock face on top of the timberwolves. “Get up from that.” Twilight snarled.

“That. Was. Amazing!” Rainbow shouted as she rushed over to thank her friend. Rainbow stopped halfway there when Twilight's venomous glare turned her way.

“Umm, Twilight what’s wrong?”

“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! Running off on me like that! Do you have any idea how scared I was? I called out for you to stop seven times! Then I heard the howling and I still couldn’t find you.”

Twilight paused to catch her breath before continuing. “It was only after my third lap in the air that I saw the pack chasing something." Noticing something strange, she paused and ran the rest of the way to her friend, “Rainbow, your ear.” Twilight roughly grabbed Rainbow’s head to examine the injury.

“What’s wrong with my ear?” Rainbow asked.

Twilight conjured a mirror, allowing Rainbow to examine the damage herself. A large amount of her right ear was missing, torn off in the chase. After a few seconds she spoke. “I like it, it makes me look that much cooler.”

Twilight slapped her.

Although she didn’t feel the pain, it still hurt, it just hurt in other ways. “C'mon Twilight, you know I didn’t mean it like that.” Twilight turned away and sit back on her flank, staring off into the distance. “Hey, I'm sorry alright; I must not have heard you during the race.” Rainbow walked around to look her friend in the face. Twilight was crying again.

“I could have lost you. I would have had to do this alone, I… I… couldn’t.”

“I'm truly sorry; I promise I’ll never leave your side again,” Rainbow replied.

“Pinkie promise?”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.” Rainbow went through the ritual without a second thought.

Twilight smirked, “Pinkie should really come up with a new one, pegasus always hope to fly,”

Rainbow replied, “Yes, but no one wants a cupcake in the eye.” Both friends started to laugh at that.

As they turned to leave, Rainbow took one last look at the mountain that had been ‘disposed’. Mental note: DO NOT get on Twilight’s bad side.


On the way out of the woods, the two got turned around several times until they found the path. Rainbow was hoping that they would make it out soon; she recognized the clouds overhead: Snow clouds. Eventually, Rainbow had to accept the inevitable, they wouldn’t beat the snow. “We should camp here, the snow is going to hit and you don’t want to be caught out in it. The first snowfall of the year is always the worst.”

If anything that turned out to be an understatement, as the unexpected blizzard kicked up shortly after Rainbow helped Twilight pitch the tent. Rainbow sighed, a year ago, she would have known this was coming; being on the weather team had its benefits. Heck a few days ago she would have cleared the skies in ten seconds, well maybe twenty; there were a lot of clouds.

Having only brought one tent, Twilight was already inside it. Twilight cast a heating spell on the tent to ensure that the snow wouldn’t build up and collapse it. The spell had the added benefit of keeping it nice and warm, However, even her magic could not make it bigger. It was too small to fit two fully grown ponies comfortably; so Rainbow insisted on standing guard. She didn’t want to put Twilight out, she could not feel the cold anyway.

After a few hours Rainbow found a flaw in her plan, her legs were getting very difficult to move. Twilight seemed to sense something was wrong at that moment as she came out and said, “Rainbow, come inside.”

“I'm alright, Twi. Go back to bed; it’s not like I need the rest.”

“That’s not what I'm worried about, Rainbow. True, you don’t feel the cold, but that’s because your body doesn't process heat. I can see the strands of your life force breaking around your wings and legs, if you stay out here, you won't be able to move in the morning.”

Rainbow sighed; while she understood next to nothing of what Twilight said, she didn’t question it because, after all, when was Twilight wrong? Rainbow stepped inside the tent. As she figured earlier, it WAS much too small for two adult ponies.

“Rainbow you’re a bucking popsicle.” Twilight complained. She tried to get comfortable but to no avail. Finally, Twilight got tired of it. “Hold still.” Twilight picked up Rainbow with her magic and laid her on her side with her back pressed up against the alicorn’s chest, much to Rainbow's chagrin. Twilight trapped Rainbow with her hooves as she wrapped a wing over the struggling pegasus.

If it were still possible, Rainbow's whole face would have turned red as her mind realized what position they were in.

“Um, Twilight, I—"

“Shut up Rainbow, there isn't enough room for anything else, and I cannot get comfortable until you’re at least somewhat warm.” Twilight spoke as she wrapped a blanket over the two of them with her magic.

The mental image of the rock-face came to her mind and Rainbow quickly decided that she wouldn’t press the issue.

“Good choice." Twilight spoke, guessing what was going through the pegasus's head.

Rainbow sighed; like it or not she wasn't going anywhere tonight and although she would never admit it to anyone, she did not, exactly, not like it.

An hour passed and Twilight slightly began to drift to sleep, her pegasus teddy bear locked firmly in her hooves. Rainbow noticed this slight change in Twilight’s demeanor.



“You know this is totally unfair, right?”

“Mmm hmm….”

Well at least she knew. Rainbow thought a little more on the situation.



“When this is over and you get me back to normal, can… can we do this again?”

“Mmm… hmm….”

“Pinkie promise?”

“Mmm… hmm….”

Rainbow took that as a yes.


The next morning when Twilight woke up, she was surprised to feel a heat source radiating off Rainbow, however, as soon as she took the blanket off and removed her wing the cyan mare bolted out of the tent, ruining any chance for her to examine it further. “Finally! You have no idea how boring it is for me to be up all night with only an egghead's heartbeat to listen too."

Twilight blushed at that; Rainbow had stayed up all night just listening to Twilight’s heart.

“I’ll tell you, Twi, I don’t know what you were dreaming of but if I were alive I'm pretty sure you would've suffocated me in your sleep.”

Twilight’s cheeks began turning a brighter shade of red. Much to the amusement of Rainbow, Payback feels good.

“Well egghead, eat up, I'm going to look around. When you’re done, we'll pack up and head out; we can’t be more than a few hours away now. Oh, and Twilight?” Twilight looked up at this one. “Red's a good color on you and all, but I prefer purple myself.”

Rainbow had to duck the silverware Twilight threw at her.


The two of them reached the edge of the ridge a few hours later. Twilight vividly remembered the last time she was here, leading a stray pooch back home. Of course, that ‘stray pooch’ was a forty-hoof three-headed dog, and that home was the gates of the underworld.

“So, this is the gate to Tartarus?” Rainbow asked.

“Not quite, that’s farther in. This is the gate to Hades.”

Define: Repugnance (R)

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Gate to Hades

The entrance to Hades was massive. The cave's ceiling easily dwarfed the tallest building in Ponyville. Stalactites lined the ceiling of the cave, an unwritten threat that one might drop down and crush any visitors that did not take care. As the end of the cave was black as night, it could easily be described as a dark hole in the world.

Twilight was secretly envious of Rainbow's inability to smell at that moment, as the wind carried the scent of what she could only describe as rotting flesh out of the cave. However she’d never voice such a comment; doing so would only remind Rainbow of all that she’d lost.

“So, last time you came here all by yourself?” Rainbow asked.

“Well, not exactly. Cerberus had escaped; I was leading him back here to ensure that nothing in Tartarus got out. Not much will mess with a forty-hoof three-headed dog, you know. Don’t look at me like that, I didn’t subdue him or anything, that was Fluttershy. I simply used the ball Pinkie gave me to lure him down here.”

“I thought you said you just threw it down a hole?”

Twilight nodded to Rainbow's comment.

“How do you know that he stayed? Or that he didn’t come back out after you left?”

“There was a noise after he went in. I'd have a hard time explaining it but it seemed to be saying thank you. It left me with the distinct impression that whoever lost him would take it from there.”

Twilight could tell that Rainbow wasn’t quite satisfied with that reply; however, she didn’t press the issue. Both ponies started down into the cave, Twilight’s horn lighting the way for Rainbow. Twilight didn’t seem to need the light; as best she could tell her eyesight was perfect in pitch black or bright light. Must be a side effect of the eyes, she thought. Her analytical mind was already beginning to think up some tests for later when Rainbow broke the silence.

“Hey Twi, there's one thing bothering me about all of this.”

“Just one? You’ve got me beat.”

“Hardy har Twi; no, but seriously. While I recognize that no self-respecting pony would come down here normally. Doesn't it seem odd that the gate to the underworld has no guards? That nothing is defending it? It seems like it’d be a bad idea to leave it open like this, there are some that would want to use a place like this in the worst possible ways. I mean I expected a dragon at least… not that I really want to fight one.” Rainbow hastily added the last part. She’d almost been eaten once, and once was enough.

Twilight could not help but think Rainbow was really talking about Chrysalis at that moment.

“Just because there are no guards, Rainbow, doesn’t mean that it’s not defended. First thing you would have to get across is the River Styx.”

“You mean that river?”

Twilight looked forward; they had traveled to the end of the tunnel. In front of them was a river the likes of which Twilight had never seen before. There was no water, just energy. A quick glance in the magic plane confirmed Twilight's suspicion. The river was composed of life energy, souls. She chose to keep that fact to herself for now.

As the two friends approached the river, Twilight couldn’t help but gag a little. The smell was definitely coming from this thing. Her disgust almost cost Rainbow her soul.

“Rainbow, no!”

Rainbow paused, her hoof surrounded in Twilight's purple magic, mere inches from the river's edge. Although Rainbow could not see it, Twilight saw the souls of the river reaching up and trying to grab onto their new friend. Twilight used her magic to lift Rainbow back a few steps, placing her softly on the ground.

“Don't touch the river, under any circumstances. This is the first defense; no one can survive contact with that; well, let’s go with water.”

“Well, can you just fly us down the river?” Rainbow asked.

Twilight shook her head, “It’s said that those who try find their flight cut off halfway there, and you can guess what happens then.”

Rainbow nodded her head. It didn’t take an egghead to figure out the fate of those who fell in.

“So, how do we cross?” Rainbow asked.

“We wait. Kharon should be on his way shortly.” The questioning look on Rainbow’s face told Twilight she needed to continue with that statement. “Kharon is the ferry pony who brings the dead to their final resting place, for a price. To be honest, I'm surprised that he's not here yet. He can't have much work with things how they are.”

“Did you bring any bits with you? I'm kind shortchanged at the moment.”

Twilight just nodded to her question.

“One last question, tell me, if I asked how you know all this would the answer be 'I read it in a book?'”

Twilight nodded again.

“Thought so,” Rainbow said with a sigh.

A few minutes later, both ponies turned as they heard a noise coming from down river. Twilight put just a fraction more power into her horn to light up the tunnel.

“Uh, Twilight, take it down a notch!” Rainbow shouted, temporarily blinded by a light that's brightness she could only compare to that of a sun.

“Sorry, sorry,” Twilight quickly lowered the power in her horn back to where it was. The light dimmed back down to normal. It’s more work keeping the power low, she thought. Truthfully she had yet to test her newfound powers, and the idea that such a small amount of energy could do something so potent to a basic light spell frightened her a little. Twilight would have to redefine some basic concepts; a small amount of energy to her was anything but to anypony else.

As Rainbow waited for her vision to return, she couldn’t help but hear that the ferry pony was singing a song to himself.

“I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life…”

“I think the ferry pony is bored, Twi.”

“NO SHIT SHERLOCK!” Came a much-unexpected reply from Kharon.

The boat docked against the side of the river. It was a rickety old thing made of rotten wood and one single oar. Rainbow had no idea how it even stayed afloat; as by all rights, with the sheer number of holes in the bottom, the thing should’ve sunk long before now.

Kharon did not look much better than the boat. Rainbow had to do a double take. The pony had a grey and green coat, resembling that of a leper. A disgusting looking cloth covered his eyes, his back legs were in bandages, and his front looked like they should have been in some themselves. However, it was his cutie mark that drew Rainbow’s attention, on his flank was the very same boat he now rode, floating on a river of dead creatures, some whom she could make out to be ponies.

As Rainbow looked on, completely lost for words, Twilight spoke up, “Sorry about that, Kharon. My name is Twilight Sparkle, and my friend here is Rainbow Dash. We’re looking to buy passage on your boat.”

“Only the dead may cross, now shoo! I know you’re not dead. There haven’t been any customers for over a day.”

“I may not be dead but my friend is,” Twilight replied, she really hoped Rainbow would not take offense to that comment. To her relief, Rainbow just shrugged.

“Yes, but she’s not bound here; her soul is still attached to her body. I can smell it.”

How he could smell anything beyond the stink of the river was a mystery to Twilight, but not one she could dwell on.

“Excuse me sir, but what is the actual rule that you have to follow for carrying others across?” Twilight asked.

“No living mortals are allowed to cross,” Kharon spoke, “So go away!”

“No living mortals, so someone like Rainbow who is no longer living wouldn’t qualify as a ‘living mortal’. Am I right?”

Kharon seemed to consider this for a while before speaking, “I suppose that’s true, but you, Twilight Sparkle, still can’t cross!”

Twilight cleared her throat, “I was getting to that, as you said, no living mortals can cross. I'm no longer mortal, I'm immortal.” Twilight enjoyed having logic back on her side. Let’s never fight again, she thought.

Kharon looked at her with a disbelieving glance, “Yeah right. You know how many times I've heard that one, and no, just because you’re an alicorn doesn't make you immortal. Now be gone, I’ll take your friend but not you!”

“I'm not lying.” Twilight spoke with an air of confidence she did not truly possess, she cleared her throat. “What do I have to do to prove it?”

Kharon laughed at this, he knew the test for this one, and no one had ever passed it before. “Put your hoof in the river,” he said with a wicked grin on his face.

Twilight just stared at him, unsure if what he said was a joke. Glancing over to Kharon, she saw that he was anything but joking. She’d have to do this if they wanted to continue. Turning around was never an option. Accepting this test as just another one she had to pass, Twilight started walking to the bank; Rainbow immediately ran in front of her, blocking her path, “Twilight, no!”

Twilight just looked at her, the worried expression on Rainbow's face sent chills down her spine. “Rainbow, move aside. We don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“We can find another way,” Rainbow replied, her voice shaking with desperation.

“There is no other way.”

“Twilight, we don’t know for sure that you are immortal. We only have Discord's word on it. Do you trust him?”

“About as far as I could throw him,” Twilight remarked, although given her current power level that might have been an overstatement, but Dash seemed to get the message anyway.

“Then don’t do this.”

“I'm sorry, Rainbow. We…I don't have a choice.” Twilight picked up Rainbow with her magic and walked the rest of the way to the river.

“Twi, don’t!”

Using her new sight, Twilight watched the souls in the river reach up to grip their new friend. She slowly lowered her hoof into the water, unsure what the effect would be.

Rainbow turned her head and shut her eyes, not wanting to watch what her friend’s fate would be.


The screaming seemed to come from everywhere; the very sound would rattle bones and shatter windows. The type of pain that could cause this was only true violation of a soul. No one who heard this scream could ever doubt the shear agonizing pain that had to cause it.

The souls around Twilight’s hoof were shattered, broken into a million pieces and lost forever in the current. The area around her hoof turned to water, purified of all the anger and hatred that existed there moments before. Twilight drew her hoof back in shock at the noise. “Does…does that mean I passed?”

Kharon was dumbstruck. No one had ever survived contact with the river before. The souls in it were testament to its deadly nature. Anyone who so much as touched the energy found themselves trapped in it, forever damned to spend eternity guarding it from other would-be trespassers. That this pony, this little filly survived, that she destroyed the souls in that area no less. She was indeed what she claimed: He was in the presence of a true immortal.

Rainbow ran up and gripped Twilight in a bear hug.

“Don’t you ever, ever do that again!”

“I'm sorry, Dash. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” The genuine fear in Dash’s voice caused her to pause. Maybe that was a little reckless, Twilight thought.

As the two friends embraced, nopony noticed the tear falling from Dash’s eye.

A little while later the two friends separated. Twilight stared at Kharon who seemed just as shocked now as when Twilight survived his test. “So, now that you know the truth of who we are, I assume it's fine for you to take us across, I believe the going rate is two bit each, right.”

“Four bits each!” Kharon countered.

“Four bits‽” Rainbow shouted, “That’s crazy!”

“Why should we pay you four bits?” Twilight asked.

“Because you two are my first customers in over a day; I need to eat too, so if I have no other customers the few I do get need to pay a little more,” he chuckled. “Besides, it’s not like you're coming back out, no pony comes back out.”

“We'll see,” Twilight replied.

Twilight paid the eight bits to Kharon as they both boarded the boat. Rainbow looked uneasy, knowing she could not fly if something bad were to happen. It was only Twilight's presence that stopped the mare from jumping off and heading home, little did she know that it was only her presence that stopped Twilight from doing the exact same thing.

Soon the opportunity to escape was beyond either of them, as Kharon pushed the boat away from the bank and down the river.

Twilight lit up her horn and stared ahead, while she doubted that Kharon need any assistance with direction, she knew Rainbow could not see in this darkness. Looking out at where they were heading, Twilight wished she could not see as she did. In the magic plane, the souls in the river were avoiding her gaze at all costs. They were actively trying to stay away from the thing that caused more pain than any of them had ever known. Twilight shut her eyes, not wanting to see the fear she was causing in these things.

Turning around she opened them to find Rainbow staring into the water at herself. “Rainbow? Rainbow? Rainbow‽” Twilight shouted, trying to get her friend's attention.

Rainbow Dash had just glanced down into the water after Twilight turned on the light. Her reflection stared back at her, except it was wrong in more ways than one. The grin on her reflection’s face was pure evil, her wings were trashed and torn, and the blood around her hooves was obviously not her own. The body of Twilight Sparkle lay towards her left side, cut and bleeding from a thousand wounds, all inflicted by the knife in Rainbow’s mouth.

“No,” Rainbow mouthed.

“Yes,” came the reflection's reply.

“I would never.”

“Yes, yes you would, goody four hooves, this was all done by you. You killed your best friend in the whole world. Who knew the Elements of Harmony were capable of making such a grievous error? You're not loyalty, you're betrayal.”

The scene played out like a sick joke in Rainbow’s mind; she lived through her murder of Twilight Sparkle a hundred times over.

When the fight left her, the reflection saw its chance; it lunged at her, seeking to grab the cyan pegasus and drag her down to share its watery grave.

Twilight's energy blast stopped it, completely destroying the damned soul and cutting a hole through the cave wall. The blast seemed to snap Rainbow out of it. She grabbed ahold of Twilight, refusing to let go as if to do so would be to lose her forever.

“Twilight! I saw… I saw—”

“You saw your worst fears,” Kharon interrupted.

“What was that?” Twilight asked, more annoyed by this late warning than anything else.

“My poor, poor children,” Kharon spoke, staring down at the river without a hint of sincerity in his voice. “They get lonely you see, and while there may be a lot of them in there, they can’t interact with each other. They all see themselves as the only one there. So they seek out friends, they do this by seeking to entrap those who foolishly look into their depths. The older ones, the smarter ones, they know if their victim is weak, they won't fight back. As such, anyone foolish enough to stare into the waters will live out their worst fear, the one thing in the world that would horrify them to their very core. Tell me young one, what did you see?”

Rainbow still refused to let go of Twilight, “I saw… I saw myself betraying Twilight; I led her into a trap and, killed her… over and over.”

“Ah, you fear betraying the one you love the most,” Kharon said with a smirk.

Rainbow finally let go of Twilight and turned to Kharon, the fire in her eyes spoke volumes, “I would never! And me and Twilight are just friends.” The last part sounded weak even to Rainbow.

“I don’t doubt it, young one. Your nature would never allow you to betray someone to such an extreme, but that’s how the river works. It finds the one thing so repugnant to the viewer and seeks to make it a reality. In truth, it should make you proud that it took something so extreme to get to you; it shows that your heart is indeed pure.”

It did not.

The two friends lay side by side on the boat. Dash was still visibly shaking from her experience and Twilight wanted nothing to do with the water again. Before long the dark journey ended and they could both see where the river ended. Somehow, that did little to soothe Twilight or Rainbow's nerves.

“We're reaching the end of the river,” Kharon spoke. “I suggest you two be on your way; however, I must give a dire warning of what's ahead. While I know not why you would insist on coming to this place, understand that soon you will undergo trials that you cannot prepare yourselves for. Whatever you seek will not want you to find it. You must rely on each other down here and no one else. For here, you two are all you have.”

Rainbow Dash and Twilight both looked at each other, that one look conveying a conversation between them that spoke louder than any words ever could. Of course they would rely on each other. There was nopony else that the two would rather be with at that moment.

Theirs was a friendship that was forever changed by what they had been through, and what they would go through from this point on.

Define: Elysium

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Chapter 10 Define: Elysium

The Underworld

Twilight and Rainbow left the river behind, heading deeper into the cave. Eventually they finally reached the literal gate to Hades. It was a little underwhelming, a simple iron gate that looked like it would barely hold up in a small wind. While the gate may have been shut, it did not appear to be locked in any noticeable way. Rainbow looked at Twilight with a surprised expression on her face.

“You've gotta be kidding me! This is the gate to Hades? This is a joke, right?”

Twilight thought the indignation on Dash’s face was somewhat cute. “Well, what did you expect? Some big red gate with fire flowing off it?”

“Maybe… I don't know; just not this, it feels kind of like a letdown.” Rainbow poked at the gate with her hooves. The entire thing swayed over, ready to collapse.

“Rainbow, stop playing with the gate. Let’s just teleport over.” Twilight somehow doubted that the gate served any real purpose; however, she did not want to accidently cause any more damage. Enough of that has already occurred for one lifetime.

Rainbow huffed at the gate then walked back to Twilight as she finished casting her teleportation spell.

The two friends disappeared in a flash of purple energy and when they reappeared, they were anywhere but on the other side of the gate. The area they were in was pitch black.

“Uh Twilight, where are we?”

“Someplace not good; someplace we definitely shouldn't be.”

“How did we get here?”

“I think that’s my fault. Teleportation has become second nature to me over the years, so when I put the normal amount of energy I use into it, I forgot to adjust for the power differential with my new abilities. I kind of... supercharged it.” Twilight said with a guilty tone in her voice. She needed time to figure out her new powers. Sadly, time was the one thing she did not have.

Twilight’s eyes were darting back and forth, due to the fact that several creatures were passing around the two, big black dogs that seemed to radiate hatred of them.

“Twi, a little light if you don’t mind. “

“Sorry,” Twilight was a little distracted, so she forgot that Rainbow could not see in the dark. Adding light to the situation did not lighten Twilight mood, as the hounds were now plainly visible.

“What are those?” Rainbow asked, clearly shaking a little at the monstrosities she saw that were in the room with them.

“Hellhounds, and they have us surrounded. You asked something about guards earlier, Rainbow?”

“Not funny, Twilight.”

Seven hellhounds were circling the pair with more arriving every minute; their usual prey was the lost and the damned souls. The ones that got a little too uppity for their own good. As such, an undead pony and an immortal were a little confusing to the pack.

“Don’t hurt them, Rainbow. These are the guards in Hades, they're just doing their jobs.”

Rainbow looked at Twilight with an ‘are you bucking serious’ face before replying, “Yeah I’ll be sure not to hurt them. Can you tell them to do likewise?”

The pack attacked Rainbow, she avoided the first one. Her natural speed and agility served her well. The hellhounds were fast; when they moved in, they left a fire trail in their wake, but her name was not Dash for nothing. The pack quickly adapted; one at time was not getting the job done. A second hellhound joined in, but it was not until the third started to help that Rainbow received her first scar. A slash down her flank alerted Rainbow that this was not a winning strategy. Only Twilight could beat these things, but if they had not won yet, had something happened to her? A glance over confirmed her fears. Twilight was holding back, and losing because of it. “TWILIGHT!” Rainbow yelled as she jumped in the way of a hellhound leaping for the back of Twilight’s neck.


When the pack attacked Twilight, she immediately responded with a magical blast of her own. She reasoned that the bigger threat she made herself into the less Dash would have to deal with; however, she did not want to hurt any of them. Blasting the first two with as little energy she could manage, she still felt a little sick at the ‘thud’ they made when they impacted the back wall. Although it did seem to accomplish the objective, Twilight definitely had the packs attention.

Twilight alternated between shields and beams, she kept the numbers in check, but only just. Her mind worked like a computer, playing out the attack vectors and locations of each of her enemies in turn. It allowed her to keep up the pressure on their foes. Unfortunately, much like a computer, she could only process information that her senses imputed. She missed the one that snuck up behind her.

Rainbow yelped as the hellhound closed its jaws around her back, she was thrashed around as the beast grabbed her and pulled her away. Twilight looked at her, horrified at the sight of Rainbow in the hellhound’s mouth. The beast itself seemed shocked, the taste was anything other than what it expected. Before Twilight could do anything, the hellhound ran off, Rainbow carried like a chew toy in its mouth.

Twilight stopped caring about not hurting the remaining Hellhounds. They had taken Rainbow, and right now her only priority in the world was getting her friend back. The remaining hellhounds seemed to sense her intentions, each of them standing in her way as if signaled to do so by some unforeseen command.

She tried flying overhead but the snapping jaws soon convinced her the only way out was through, not over. It took her a few minutes to clear out the room; the few hellhounds that survived would be out of commission for weeks, if not longer. At this moment it did not matter, only Rainbow mattered, as Twilight had a promise to keep.


Rainbow shut her eyes; once again she was faced with the prospect of becoming something’s living dinner, she had protected Twilight, that is what mattered. Whatever fate awaited her was worth the cost.


Before long, the hellhound dropped her off, assuming it wanted to feed and not wanting to watch herself become a meal for the beast, Rainbow kept her eyes tightly shut. The bite never came. After a few minutes, Rainbow dared open them. The sight before her was anything other than what she had expected. It was almost like waking up to a dream.

Rainbow was in a locker room; she had seen many during her time in the Wonderbolts. This one covered in posters of the Wonderbolt's flying through the air. Something was off about the pictures. Where most Wonderbolt posters had Spitfire in the center of the formation, these had Rainbow in her place. Walking around, Rainbow saw that one more thing that took her by surprise. At the one open locker in the room, a uniform was hanging up in it, emblazoned on it was the title of Wonderbolts Captain, with Rainbow’s cutie mark directly below it. This was her uniform; Rainbow Dash was Captain of the Wonderbolts. She could not help herself, Rainbow quickly put on the uniform. The feel of it was unlike anything else she had experienced before. It wore like a second skin.

"Wait… I can feel it!” Ecstatic, she decided to push her luck and try flying again. Like sliding into a pair of comfortable clothes, she easily took off, the locker room made a poor substitute for flying outside, but it felt like being wrapped in her mother's embrace when she was young. Rainbow would have stayed flying in that room for hours, she would have if not for the noise she heard coming from outside. It took a while for her to make out what the noise was chanting, but slowly she began to make out her name, rising in volume with each repeat. “Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash, Rainbow Dash….”

Intrigued, she followed the noise out the doors and down the hallway, it grew louder in volume the closer she got to the source. The light outside took a minute to get used too. As her vision returned she saw that she was in the middle of the biggest stadium she had ever seen. The stadium was fully packed, posters lined the walls, and fans held up signs. The vast majority of which featured Rainbow’s cutie mark.

The crowd cheered at the top of their lungs, all of them smiling and yelling at the cyan pegasus. Rainbow looked around, her face beaming a smile at all the attention. She noticed the cheerleaders off to the side, their captain, a very familiar pink mare leading her team through a series of impossible stunts. All the stunts ended up spelling out Dash’s name or making a symbol of her cutie mark.

On the other end of the field several booths were set up, the more popular ones belonging to an orange earth pony and a white unicorn. Both booths seemed filled to capacity; the orange pony was selling apple pies and Dash lost count of how many ponies were lining up to buy some. The unicorn sold clothing, tactful, but elegant. Dash approved, they would be the type of clothes Rainbow herself would not mind wearing.

A noise behind her got Rainbow’s attention, as she turned around a yellow pegasus with pink hair walked up. On her side, was an orange mare with purple hair, both wore Wonderbolt uniforms. The yellow pegasus spoke first, her voice sweet and innocent. “Captain, we're ready when you are.” The orange one spoke next, “C'mon, captain, the crowd demands a show, and since when do you keep your fans waiting.”

“Let's do this!” Rainbow shouted.

The air show was everything Rainbow dreamed it could be. Never before had she let loose like that. In all her previous performances, she had been a wing pony. Forced to follow the lead of her captain, but now, since she was captain, Rainbow let it all go. Her body followed her instructions perfectly. She did tricks that she did not even have names for. The crowd loved every minute of it. The team kept up with everything she did. Always on point, never stopping, slowing down, or holding her back. The spotlight was always on Rainbow and she loved every minute of it. Truly, she was the queen of the air. Rainbow Dash finally felt at peace.

After what Rainbow felt to be only a few minutes, but the clock stubbornly said to be two hours, Rainbow landed. Her teammates and fans immediately swarmed her.

“That was AMAZING!” The white unicorn shouted.

“No, that was awesome!” The yellow pegasus replied.

“Extreme is more like it!” The orange earth pony spoke.

“Super is more Rainbow Dash’s style” The pink earth pony said.

“How about Super Ultra-Extreme Awesome Amazing!” The orange pegasus yelled.

Rainbow laughed aloud as all her friends began lifting her in the air. The shouting doubled in volume, “RAINBOW DASH, RAINBOW DASH, RAINBOW DASH!!!”

Rainbow had never been happier in her life; all the fans loved her show, the feeling of flying, the cheering, and the adulation of the crowd. This was truly the happiest moment of her life. She felt like this could go on forever. The fact that her friends where here too…

‘Something's missing.’

The thought came to her like an intruder in the night. As much as she wanted too, as much as every fiber in her body told her to get rid of it, to simply ignore it, she could not. That lone thought, ‘something's missing', it seemed to ruin everything. Suddenly, the crowds did not seem to cheer that loud. The feeling of being hoisted in the air by her friends did not seem to matter. ‘Something's missing’, it may have well been a blade shoved in her back.

“It’s not right,” Rainbow whispered it, yet it seemed to get everypony's attention.

“What are you talking about, sugarcube?” The orange earth pony replied.

“Let me down,” the others let Rainbow get down. Her hooves planted on the earth, the first time she had done so since she found out she could fly again.

Rainbow turned and faced her friends, “I feel like something's missing, something vital.” The others just stared at her, not possibly comprehending what she was saying.

“UGH! If you girls won’t help me figure it out I’ll do it on my own!” Rainbow shouted, taking off down the corridor to the only place she knew, the locker room she originally found herself in.

Rainbow started panicking; she was looking for something, anything which might explain the feelings she was having. The more she thought about it, the more this all seemed unreal. She began tearing down the posters in the locker room, she was not captain, Spitfire was. Her team, her friends, what were their names? Why couldn’t she remember something as basic as the names of the ponies she flew with? Her friends, why couldn’t she name them? It was frustrating to the mare beyond all belief.

It was then that she saw it, off in one of the lockers was a hairbrush. Most likely from one of the other Wonderbolts. There was nothing particularly special about it, just a normal standard brush. It was well used by the looks of it. What caught Rainbow’s attention was the fact that it was purple.


The memories hit her like a mac truck; Applejack and Rarity were in Ponyville. Pinkie Pie ran a bakeshop; she was never a cheerleader, although it did suit her. Fluttershy was never a strong flyer; she would never qualify as a Wonderbolt. Scootaloo, her wings never grew, she could not fly at all. Twilight, she was counting on Rainbow's help. So much had happened, Twilight needed Rainbow with her.

Rainbow turned and looked in a mirror hanging on the wall. Her reflection stared back; it was a perfect representation of everything she wanted to be. No, it was a perfect representation of everything she HAD wanted to be. It did not surprise her when the mirror started talking.

“This can all be yours, you know. You have earned your peace.”

“I don’t want it.”

“But why? You deserve to be here, all the good you've done. Back in the real world you are trapped, a shadow of your former self. Here, you are with your friends, your family.”

“But it’s not real. I couldn’t even remember their names.”

“Does it matter? You knew they were happy, and when they pass on, you will remember their names and be able to interact with them. They will love being with you, and for you, well you won’t even see the difference.”

“Why wasn’t Twilight here?”

“Ahh, that. Immortals can’t be duplicated down here; but the rest were. They lived your dream with you, and you can have it back too, just step back out the door.”

Rainbow took a minute to consider her reflection's offer, staring at it, she could just make out a speck purple off in the distance of the reflection. Something that definitely was not in the locker room with her.

“Two things wrong with your comment. First, if Twilight and I don't succeed, none of my friends will be able to pass on. Second, without Twilight here, I could never enjoy it.”

Rainbow turned around to buck the mirror, the reflection tried once more to get her to stop, “She will outlive you, either now, or in a hundred years. You will spend eternity apart.”

Rainbow did not care; any amount of time spent with her friend would be worth it.

When her back hooves contacted the mirror it shattered. On the other side she could make out the alicorn. Twilight looked like she had fought her way through half of Hades to get there.

“Rainbow, I finally found you!” Twilight yelled as she jumped in the room and hugged the cyan pegasus.

Rainbow did not care about the contact; Twilight was back, Rainbow had her friend back. “What happened, Twi?”

“After the hellhound grabbed you, it ran off, and the others seemed intent on stopping me from rescuing you. The best I can tell is that sense you were not an evil soul, it took you to what it thought was your actual resting place. Your afterlife if you will. I was able to follow your aura, but I couldn’t get past that last gate, I guess it has to be broken from the inside.”

That made some sense to Rainbow; it explained everything that she had been through at least. Twilight let her go and started looking around. She was awe inspired at some of the posters that Rainbow had failed to rip down.

“Rainbow, are you the Captain of the Wonderbolts?”

“Yeah, I guess this place made me into that here.”

“Wow, is that… Scootaloo and Fluttershy flying with you?”

“Uh huh, Rarity, Applejack, and Pinkie are here too, not flying of course. They were all assisting with the performance. It was unlike any other I have ever been in, Twi.”

“Where was I?” Twilight asked.

“You aren’t here.”

Twilight was a little taken back by this; Rainbow’s perfect afterlife did not have her in it? The expression on her face must have tipped Rainbow off on how she felt at that knowledge.

“Apparently they can't duplicate immortals down here. I don’t really understand it, but hey, that’s what tipped me off that something was wrong.”

Twilight looked at Rainbow with a curious expression on her face before Rainbow continued, “After all, what sort of afterlife could I have without my best friend by my side?”

Twilight considered this; here in this place was Rainbow’s afterlife. Everything the cyan mare had ever wanted. What right did she have to ask Rainbow to give it up?

“You should stay, Rainbow.” Saying the words hurt her more than anything else had in her entire life.



“No buts, Twi. Don't ever ask me that again. I could never stay here and leave you to do this all on your own. I was happy here for a while, but the feeling something was missing radiated throughout this place. Even if I went back, even if I forgot everything again, it would just keep happening. I don't care if I only get another few days with you, or if I get a hundred more years. Any amount of time we get to spend together would be worth it. Besides; this is Rainbow Dash you're talking about, she keeps her promises.”

The two friends embraced for the second time in a few minutes. Twilight never wanted to let go. “Thank you Rainbow.” Twilight said, tears falling from her eyes. Truly, she had no idea what she would have done if Rainbow had stayed. The idea was too horrible to consider.

After what felt like hours they separated and the two turned and left the area through the broken mirror. In one of the bigger pieces of shards, Rainbow’s reflection watched them go. Smiling, it disappeared in a cloud of red smoke.

Define: Gehenna

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Chapter 11 Define: Gehenna


When Rainbow and Twilight stepped through the portal, Rainbow’s uniform vanished, as well as the portal. Dash was a little sad to see her uniform go but she would not trade Twilight for anything, even being Captain of the Wonderbolts. The two friends spent the time talking, mostly about nothing in particular. After a while, Rainbow could not help but think they were lost, even though Twilight seemed sure hooved the entire way; leading them deeper and deeper down the tunnels. Finally, Rainbow could not take it anymore.

“Twi, you have any idea where we're going?”


“Somehow I just knew you were going to say that.” Dash expected the answer but it was not the one she wanted.

Twilight led them down several more tunnels, Dash was amazed at how they didn't have to backtrack or look for another way. Wherever they were going, Twilight seemed to know the way. When they made it down the fiftieth tunnel, everything changed; almost like walking through a door. The new place was as different from the old as night is from day.

The variance between the two places startled Twilight, where before it was just normal cave walls, here was a version of hell personified. The fires were everywhere, radiating heat and the souls burning in them suffered untold agony.

The cavern was massive, easily dwarfing the size of most continents. Demonic beings flew overhead, leather wings keeping them in the air as they plucked up souls and dropped them into molten fire pits for their own amusement. All manner of creatures were chained to the wall, some impaled on spikes; those souls impaled in such a way were forced to look on in horror as their torturers took their pound of flesh in turn, literally, only for it to grow back and await the next torturer.

The smell, Twilight once again found herself envying Dash’s current state. Although they both could hear the screaming – while it was not as bad as what occurred at the lake – it would forever haunt their dreams.

Looking at the area on the magic plane hurt, a lot. The physical suffering of these damned souls was nothing compared to their spiritual suffering. Twilight mentally mapped out the path they needed to take and then did her best to limit her other sight. It was useless now anyway, the pain of these souls blinded her magic vision to anything else.

“Let’s keep moving, the sooner we get out of here the better.”

Rainbow could not agree more with that statement. The two made their way down the path. Twilight kept a lookout on the ground while Rainbow watched the sky. They were keeping an eye open for any demon that might eye them as potential victims.

“Twilight, have you seen any more hellhounds?” Rainbow asked as a realization crossed her mind.

Twilight looked away from her friend, a guilty expression on her face. “No,” she said meekly.

“I thought you said they were like the guards down here or something? Just how many did you fight?”

“I... I don’t know, I didn’t keep count or anything.”

“Twilight, how many?”

“A lot, all of them I think. They… they just kept coming and I had to get to you.”

Rainbow stared at Twilight in shock, ‘all of them’, the repercussions were not lost on her. This place just deteriorated from bad to worse, she knew she would have to stay on guard.

As they continued on, the heat grew more and more intense. Twilight was sweating profusely now, the heat was next to unbearable, and her shields were only just keeping it back. After five minutes it became too much for her and she would have collapsed if not for a pegasus that rushed to her side.

“You ok, Twi?”

“I will be, the heat it… it just got to me. Give me a minute to try and strengthen this shield.”

Twilight had not put much energy into protecting herself with the shield. She did not want to accidentally injure Rainbow Dash if it was too powerful, but with the heat radiating off these pits she did not see much choice in the matter. She concentrated, taking a fraction of her power, then a fraction of that just for safety. The shield around her grew in power ten-fold; she truly was scared of her own abilities at that moment.

“Alright Rainbow, I should be good to go.” The purple alicorn said. The shield was doing a wonderful job keeping away the heat and Twilight already felt much better.


The pegasus was nowhere around.



She heard it in the distance, several hundred feet up Rainbow screamed. She was being carried off by one of the demonic flyers while they had been distracted with Twilight's problems. Cursing herself, Twilight took off flying after the two.

The demon was faster than she was; Twilight had to open up her senses in order to insure she did not lose it. The suffering that assaulted her was almost too much to bear, but at that moment she closed herself off to it. Twilight focused only on the demon, the creature that had taken Rainbow. She was too far behind it to see with her normal sight, but she did not need it. Only the goal mattered. Until she saw something falling from its form, the demon had dropped its cargo.

Gasping, Twilight went into a nosedive. Flying faster than she ever had before but she was still too late. By the time Twilight arrived at the spot Rainbow fell. The pegasus was lying on the ground. Twilight considered it a blessing that the demon had not dropped Rainbow in a flame pit, but that was for another time. Right now, her friend needed her.

“Rainbow, are you alright?”

“Well, beyond being dead you mean?”

That was Rainbow all right.

“Hold still, I think you might have a few broken bones,” Rainbow tried to get up, but she instantly fell over a few times. After a quick healing spell, she was able to stand without issue.

“When did you get so good with those, Twi?”

“Well, not having to worry about causing pain it makes it a lot easier.”

Twilight looked around; she was not sure where they were at that moment. It scared her a little to think they might be lost.

“That damn thing grabbed me when I was distracted. Ugh, I’ll never drop my guard in this place again.”

“It’s my fault Rainbow; I was the one who couldn’t take the heat.”

“Let’s just get moving. The sooner we get out of here the better.”

Twilight could not agree more.


It took Twilight a while to find a new path, as the old one was too far away now. Every time she opened up her other senses, the pain was worse than before. She had to shut them down completely now just to stay on her feet. It was odd that Rainbow had not said anything for a while; the pegasus was unusually quiet, but before Twilight could question her, a noise stole her attention. A voice she never thought she would hear again.

“Well, well, and here I thought I was in hell, but fate has delivered me my revenge.” Queen Chrysalis spoke to the two.

The pair came to a dead stop as Twilight stared up in shock. Up above them, sitting on the edge of one of the flame pits, was the Queen of the Changelings. She was smiling down on the two with a condescending grin on her face.

“Well, at least you got put where you deserved to be,” Twilight remarked.

Chrysalis‘s grin wavered at that, Twilight took it as a minor victory. “That may be so, but when the hellhounds disappeared, I got free. Now we get to play all over again young Twilight Sparkle. First, I think I will have some lunch, care to join me?”

“What are you playing at?” Twilight asked.

“Tell me something Twilight, how do you like your pegasus wings? Rare I hope.”

One of Chrysalis's changelings flew up from behind her, carrying a pair of shish kabob cyan-blue pegasus wings.

Twilight stared on in shock, her mind barely accepted the scene that played out before her; those wings were too familiar. She had seen them too many times. Twilight had no doubt to which pegasus those wings belonged to: Rainbow Dash.

She stared at her friend standing by her side. It was not possible, Rainbow was right with her this whole time and she still had her wings. Daring a glance with her other sight, Twilight saw the truth. That was not Rainbow; it was a changeling.

The changeling by her side blew a raspberry at the alicorn before transforming back and flying beside its queen. ‘When had the switch occurred?’ The answer was obvious; the Rainbow she found was the changeling. They still had the real Rainbow.

“Breaking my dear child’s bones was a heavy price to pay.” Chrysalis commented as she stroked the changeling’s head. “But, to get my revenge on you I would happily do it a hundred more times.”

Twilight was livid; this creature had dared harm her friend AGAIN! She instantly went into an attack position, “WHERE IS RAINBOW?” There was no need for her to shout, as her voice carried all across the realm and echoed off the wall back to her, not losing any of its potency.

“Oh you want your friend back, why didn’t you say so?”

Across the cavern, Twilight made out eight different sets of changelings, each holding a bruised and battered pegasus with nothing but stumps for wings. Their changeling handlers held each one over a different flame pit.

“One of these is her, but dear me, I forgot which one.”

Twilight’s anger left her, Chrysalis had figured out the perfect hostage situation. If she attacked, the changelings would all let go at once. While Twilight had no doubt she could stop several of them from falling into the fire, their spacing and distance from each other would make rescuing all of them next to impossible. There was no guarantee that she would save the real one. The changelings began surrounding her.

‘This is my fault; I took out the hellhounds after warning Rainbow against that very course of action.’ Twilight felt defeated; once again, she caused suffering by not thinking ahead. ‘Celestia was right, I have so much more to learn.’ Chrysalis interrupted her thoughts before she could continue.

“I wonder if it’s true what they say about pegasus wings; do they taste like chicken?” Twilight gasped in horror as Chrysalis took a bite out of the wings and began chewing. “Never really had meat before now, to be honest not my thing.” Chrysalis spit the bite into the flame pits.

The rage in Twilight's mind hit critical mass; she was well beyond boiling point. Last time she faced Chrysalis, Twilight did not have full control of her actions, it was like watching someone else take control. This time though, she knew exactly what she was doing, and she was in FULL control.

Her wings flared out, each feather sending blades of magic extending out in the direction they pointed. Several hundred miles away on either side of the cavern, the energy trails from Twilight's wings left perfect cuts in the walls, slicing through everything from Twilight to the wall; like a hot knife through butter. The changelings near her vaporized in an instant, the only clue that they were even there was a death shriek that sounded exactly like the one Twilight heard when she stuck her hoof in the river.

“AGAIN YOU UNDERESTIMATE ME CHRYSALIS. AGAIN YOU ATTACK THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD NEVER TOUCH.” Twilight did not shout, there was no need, not a soul in Hades failed to hear her warning.

Chrysalis was scared; Twilight was right, the power she had felt back in the castle was only a fraction of what she wielded here. The death of her children’s souls, she did not think such a thing was possible. ‘Might as well get something out of this’, she thought. “Drop them.”

At once all eight Rainbows began falling into the flame pits.

Time seemed to slow down for Twilight; her mind ran a mile a minute playing out every scenario she could possibly consider. At best, her odds of saving the right Rainbow were sixty percent and quickly dropping. Her magic vision too blurred by the hate and destruction of this place to be of any assistance.

Only one thought seemed to stick in her mind: Rainbow had to fly, but it was impossible, the queen had cut her wings off. Even had that not been the case, the pegasus had no feelings in her wings; she could not fly. However, Rainbow had to fly. The thought would not leave her alone. It began to drown out every other idea that she had. ‘Rainbow had to fly’, ’Rainbow had to fly’, ’Rainbow, you must MUST FLY’. Desperation caused her to shout the last one, “RAINBOW, YOU MUST FLY!”


Rainbow fell; looking down the fire was coming up fast. The changeling queen had kidnaped her and used her as a hostage against Twilight. Her bones were broken from an earlier fall, there was no way she could not stop it. That had hurt her pride but when Chrysalis decided to cut her wings off… while she did not feel anything, much to Chrysalis loathing, it had hurt her in different ways. Like seeing your best friends leave you, knowing it was the last time you would ever see each other.

Chrysalis had her changelings clone Rainbow, as she figured out the perfect way to use her as a hostage. To make matters worse, Chrysalis ensured Rainbow had a completely unobstructed view of the whole thing. Rainbow watched as Twilight walked into the trap: She was forced to watch as Chrysalis revealed herself. She watched as Chrysalis’s changelings surrounded Twilight, she watched as Chrysalis ate part of her wings, and she watched in pride as Twilight finally had enough.

The energy that flew from her wings had impressed the pegasus; that Twilight was always impressive with magic was never in doubt, but this, this was on a very different scale. It did not come as a surprise when her handler dropped her.

Rainbow was too far away to yell for help. She accepted her fate and was glad Twilight would be ok after she was gone, it would hurt her of course, but nothing could harm her physically. For now, Rainbow would take that small victory.

“RAINBOW YOU MUST FLY!” those four words, Rainbow knew that it was impossible. She did not have wings; she did not have feeling in her appendages. Rainbow could not fly at all. She was not even a pegasus anymore; she was an earth pony. Dash did not know why, perhaps it was instinct, her body trying to save her, or perhaps she was simply trying to carry out the command of one of the Princess of Friendship. Rainbow tried flying anyway. After all, what did she have to lose in trying?


Twilight had commanded it, and the world had no choice but to obey.


Golden wings shot out of the pegasus’s stumps; they shone brighter than any of the gems in Rarity’s shop. Each wing was completely weightless, but stronger than steel. Made of pure magic energy, they responded not to the changes in wind pressure, gravity, or temperature, but to Rainbow's will. She willed herself to stop falling and she did. Rainbow willed herself up. She shot up faster than ever. Dash easily broke her previous speed records without even trying, she created a site never before seen in Hades and only once before in all of Equestria, the double sonic rainboom.

Twilight stared on in shock, the vision before her was unbelievable: A pegasus had shot out of one of the flame pits. Surrounded in a golden halo of energy and created not one, but two sonic rainbooms. Only one pegasus in all of Equestria had ever pulled that off before. She could not bring herself to believe it though; only by checking with her other vision did she come to accept the truth. It was easier now; the rainbooms seemed to have blown away all the interference around them.

Up in the sky was the unmistakable energy of Rainbow Dash, cloaked in a magic that Twilight had never seen before. It seemed as if the very world had given up some of its power to restore flight to the pegasus, with the added effect of healing her broken bones. Her wings… and what wings they were! Shining golden wings with pure magic feathers, the wingspan would put Celestia’s to shame; each feather as sharp as diamonds. Twilight had no doubt the damage they could do to somepony if Rainbow used them as weapons.

As it turned out, Twilight did not know the half of it.

Chrysalis was furious. Again, these two ponies had ruined her plans for the third time. ‘Not again’ she thought, the queen ordered her entire hive to attack.

Rainbow was in heaven. After the time she spent in the arena had given her a chance at flying again, she had made peace with herself that it was the last time. Rainbow was glad to have the memory and figured that would be it. Now? Now, she could fly for real. This was no gift that would be lost, no exchange made for her giving up something precious to her. These wings, they were hers, and it was not just the wings. She now had full control over her hooves again, the magic that radiated around her restoring her broken bones to normal.

No, better than normal, she could sense everything at an accelerated rate. Normally moving so fast would be impossible in a cavern like this. However, her senses were heightened to a degree she thought impossible. She could twist, turn, move, or fly at whatever speed she wanted with virtually no risk whatsoever of losing control. Rainbow soon noticed an entire hive of changelings coming up to attack her. They obviously thought Rainbow was the safer target of the two, the fools.

Rainbow dived straight through the center of the changeling horde; she checked her speed, as she did not want to go through them too quickly, not for what she had planned. Rainbow was a little jealous; Twilight had showed her a new trick, and she wanted to try it out. Flying through the changelings at near rainboom speeds, she barrel rolled. Her wings spread out fully. At first, nothing happened. However, just when she was about to speed off magic energy shot like blades out of her feathers, copying the stunt Twilight had pulled off earlier. While not as powerful, it was just as effective at this range. After Rainbow’s seventh barrel roll, HER skies were clear of changelings.

Chrysalis could no longer stomach watching the COMPLETE destruction of her children; she turned and looked at the alicorn. “Finish it.”

Twilight gave the queen her last wish. It was a mercy Chrysalis did not deserve, but the scream sounded like music to Twilight’s ears.

Twilight flew next to her friend, after all this time on the ground she figured Rainbow would not be landing any time soon. Before she could say anything, the golden wing pegasus flew over and hugged her. Twilight returned the hug with all the strength she could muster.

“Don’t you dare apologize, Twi.”

Twilight did not, she wanted to, but with the strength she had left, she just hugged Rainbow and started crying.


It took no time at all to find their destination, the fight with the changelings and subsequent sonic rainbooms had given every creature here cause to fear them. Twilight’s vision returned to normal and was easily able to pick up the path; to top it off flying was much quicker than walking. As they flew, Rainbow could not help but show off a little, Twilight did not begrudge the pegasus one bit. If she was impressive before, this new Rainbow put that one to shame.

Sooner than the pegasus would have liked, but not soon enough for Twilight they found the exit. It was hidden behind a faux wall; Twilight had learned her lesson though, instead of destroying the wall she simply made it temporally insubstantial so the two of them could pass through.

When they reached the other side, Twilight turned the wall back to normal. Rainbow had stopped in front of her, mouth agape at the sight that greeted her. Cerberus, Guardian of Tartarus.

“That... that is a big dog.”

“I forgot, you didn't see him when he came to Ponyville.”

“How do we get past him?”

Twilight thought about this, as the portal to Tartarus was sitting right behind a very sleepy three-headed dog. Even if Cerberus did remember her, she doubted the dog would be happy to be disturbed.

"If only we had a ball or something.” Rainbow said.

Twilight laughed, “What, you think Pinkie is just going to show up and give us one?”

“Hey girls, what’s up!”

Twilight and Rainbow nearly jumped out of their skin. There, as if she was sitting behind one of the rocks the entire time, was the pink mare they both knew. Pinkie had chosen that exact moment to jump out as if to scare them both to death. Had it been possible, Twilight suspected that is exactly what would have occurred.

The noise had awoken Cerberus; he stared at the intruders with a threatening glare in his three sets of eyes.

“Oh, that’s a big doggy! Who wants to play ball?” Pinkie reached behind a rock and pulled a ball out of thin air. Tossing the ball down the hallway Cerberus took off after it, joy written over all three of his faces at finally being able to play again.

“Pinkie… how… are… you... here?” Twilight knew she should not ask Pinkie how she did anything. It was the golden rule of Ponyville, never ask Pinkie how, but at this time, her mind decided it would not function anymore without at least some explanation.

“Oh that’s easy, my pinkie sense told me my friends needed a ball, so I opened a pocket dimension and came out behind that rock… Rainbow you got new wings!”

Pinkie ran up and began looking at Rainbow’s wings from every possible angle, all the while asking her a million questions all at once. To say Rainbow was uncomfortable was an understatement.

“Pinkie if you don't mind, we need to get going before Cerberus gets back,” Rainbow replied, yanking her new wings away from the excitable pink pony.

“Oh ok, but we'll catch up later, kay? Bye!” Just as when Pinkie arrived, the pink mare disappeared behind the rock she came out of.

Twilight glared at Rainbow, hoping she had some new insight into their crazy friend.

“Pinkie being Pinkie?”

Twilight sighed at that answer; true it was the fall back excuse the standard 'hell if I know' Ponyville answer, but something was different this time. What Pinkie said made sense. It was pure speculation, but according to string theory, you could open a pocket dimension and come out anywhere you want. ‘But how had she…’ it hurt too much to keep thinking about it.

“Pinkie being Pinkie.” Twilight went with the fallback excuse – it hurt less – as they both crossed the portal into Tartarus.

Define: Tartarus

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Chapter 12 Define: Tartarus


The true underworld was anything other than what they had expected; Tartarus was a realm of Gods. Doused in constant moonlight whose source they could only guess at. Rainbow and Twilight looked on in awe, as it was not a place of torture, there was no fire or brimstone, it was a prison. Run by the prisoners, they could do as they wished, and the only impossibility for them was leaving. This was due to the size of the prisoners kept here.

It took a while for Twilight to process what she was seeing; at first it looked just like a mountain, but objects that size do not move, this mountain was moving. Thinking there was something wrong with her eyes, she switched over to her other vision. There was an aura of death was coming off the mountain; it was alive, and it was indeed moving.

“Titans….” She spoke the word without intending.

“Whatans?” Rainbow questioned.

“Titans. These are deities of legend, a primeval race of powerful gods, descendants of Gaia. I never believed they actually existed though. Rainbow… we're in the presence of some of the oldest creatures on the planet. The possibilities here are endless.”

Rainbow stared at Twilight, here they were in the middle of Tartarus, and Twilight was bouncing around like a little filly that just got her cutie mark. “Twilight, you've got to be kidding me.”

Twilight stopped bouncing, for perhaps it was inappropriate to be celebrating this discovery just yet; after all, they were here to find the master of this place, not to study the inhabitants that lived here. ‘Maybe after all this is over.’ No, that was crazy, going through all that again just to study these beings was nuts. Then again, so was coming here solely on the word of a self-proclaimed Spirit of Chaos. So maybe they were both a little crazy.

In the end, she decided not to push the issue.

“You’re right, Rainbow. We have a job here and me acting excited like that is not going to get it done.” Her voice sounded dejected.

“C’mon Twilight, I didn’t mean it like that. I get this is a big deal, but I just want to get this job done; let’s face it, when you start an egghead pursuit it’s hard to get you off of it.” Rainbow gave Twilight her patented cocky grin.

Twilight hated that grin; it was too hard to disagree with anything Rainbow wanted when she looked at her like that. Twilight walked over and pushed Rainbow on her side with her hoof. “Jerk”

“You know you love it, Twi.”

Celestia help her, she really did love it.

The two friends kept moving; wherever this master was, they were sure he would not be by the entrance holding up a banner saying, ‘Looking for me? Here I am!’ Besides, when bucking mountains are walking around the last thing you want to do is stay in one place.

“You know Twi, this place is massive; I think it’s bigger than Equestria.”

“Most likely that portal transported us to a different plane of existence. I doubt we're even in Equestria anymore…. I wonder what sort of principles govern its operation? Can you imagine the practical benefits it would give us if we could figure it out!?”

Living with Twilight as a friend for the past few years, Rainbow had become adept at recognizing when her friend was (yet again) about to jump of the deep end. Thinking quickly, Rainbow said, “Yeah, yeah, enough of that egghead stuff. Hey, I bet with these new wings and all this room I could pull off some amazing moves!” Rainbow willed herself up as fast as she could go.

She went nowhere.

“Hey, what gives!?” Rainbow glared at Twilight after recognizing a familiar purple aura surrounding her tail, holding the cyan pegasus in place.

“Sorry Rainbow, but no flying; not unless you absolutely have to.”

“What? Why?”

“Rainbow, look at this place. Everything is shades of gray and dark; we are the brightest things here. Our only hope is to stay on the ground and remain hidden. Look at your wings; you normally stick out like a sore hoof in the sky with just your mane and tail. If you took off flying in this place with THOSE wings, every single creature here would spot you in no time.” Twilight and logic were quickly making up after their earlier fights.

“I guess you’re right, but still, after so long without flying it seems like I’m being grounded all over again.”

“I know Rainbow, and I’m sorry. Just keep on the ground for now and try not to show off unless you have to. I really don't want to attract anything's attention.”

Unfortunately for the two, it was much too late for that.

The Titans of old were the first creatures the Gods created. The Titans were their first attempt at creating a lesser race to rule the planet. However, they were granted too much power. There were twelve at first, but each wanted the favor of their parents and sought to be the only one they loved. As such, they began killing each other to prove who was the best. Eventually, Gaia and Tartarus locked the remaining three away to prevent the destruction of their beloved world. Cronus, Hyperion and Crius were the only three that survived.

The three considered themselves Gods, and as with all Gods, they sought worship. Not from one of the lesser beings, but from creatures that were worthy of worshiping them. Beings only they could create. So they did just that, they created creatures of shadow that formed the Cults of Hatred; each would prove their devotion to their god by seeking to destroy any that did not share their belief. These creatures flourished in Tartarus, with the natural shadows providing all the substance that they needed. When two ponies showed up unexpectedly, wars were waged between them to see which of the cults would be able to present the new arrivals to their masters. The Cult of Cronus won.

“Twilight, you never really did explain how you were able to lead us through Hades.”

“It’s these eyes. For some reason they let me see a different spectrum; it’s almost like I can see the ebbs and flow of magic.”

“So they gave you like, magic vision or something.”

“I suppose that’s one name for it.” Now that Twilight thought about it, the name was very accurate.

“What can you see now?” Rainbow asked.

“Let me check.” Twilight paused for a minute. There was a lot to take in, “From our current facing there is a HUGE power coming from the twelve o’clock position, another at the three o’clock position, and there is one more at the seven o’clock position. Fortunately, not one of them is near us. Hang on there’s one more. This one’s powerful, but I don’t think I can lock in on where it’s coming from. Wait… there’s something else, something much closer by. Rainbow, we’re surrounded.”

Rainbow flared out her wings, she moved her head side to side looking for threats.

From the shadows, a being walked forth. This creature was unlike anything the two had seen before; almost resembling King Sombra when he was turned to shadow. However, its face was not that of a pony. The cuts and scars crisscrossed its features, almost like they were self-inflicted. When it spoke, the voiced carried a masculine raspy quality that screamed its disgust at having to be used.

“Sooo… what are two ants doing in the realm of the master?”

Twilight assumed that the ‘master’ was whoever commanded the reaper pony. “We're here to see the master, I made a mistake and seek advice from him on how to fix it, and who may I ask am I addressing?”

The shadow began laughing, “Ha ha ha; you may call me Thanus, if you wish. You are here to seek audience with the master you say? Fools; you will never see Cronus, not until we present you to him as a gift that is.”

At that moment, several hundred shadow creatures revealed themselves all around the two ponies, both on the ground and in the air. Their ambush was a textbook maneuver that left the two with no options of escape.

“Now come quietly my little ponies. I don't want to damage his new playthings. Who knows, if he doesn’t eat you right away, he might just decide to keep you as a toy. Until he pulls you apart that is.”

Rainbow Dash spoke up next, “You know, I'm getting really sick of your shit!”

Twilight glared at her; an escalation of hostilities was hardly called for right now. Rainbow looked back at her. Their conversation took place all at once, without any need for words.

‘C’mon Twi, we can take them.’

‘We can’t afford a fight, Rainbow.’

‘We didn’t pick it, Twi.’

‘That doesn’t mean we need to participate.’

‘Participate? They didn’t give us much choice.’

‘Still, you’re just making it worse; a little diplomacy can do wonders.’

‘Diplomacy? Twi our options are fight, or let them take us as prisoners.’

‘Ok, but still, fighting here can be bad, and there’s no guarantee that we’d win.’

‘Twi, it’s time to own your power; in the past few days I’ve seen you do some amazing things. These fools don’t stand a chance.’

Twilight had decided that she was not going to fight logic anymore, as the two of them had finally made up. Just because she did not agree on this course of action did not mean it would not work, or that it was somehow wrong.

Rainbow looked into the air with that cock-sure smile she was so famous for. Dash glanced at Twilight; Twilight just nodded; Rainbow would take the air. The smile must have been infectious, as Twilight looked at the shadow creature they had been talking to with the same smile and spread her wings wide.

“So, who wants to go first?”


Rainbow took off, straight up; the shadow warriors had centuries of experience fighting each other, and each was a fully qualified veteran of countless wars. To a competent commander, just one of these beings would turn the tides of any war with their speed, knowledge, and capabilities. All of them looked on in shock at the golden winged pegasus that left them in the dust.

“Aw c’mon slowpoke. Is that all you got?” Rainbow jabbed at them, the freedom she felt right now was amazing. True she could not enjoy the wind in her face like she used to, but even without that, the knowledge that she was flying again! Her memories could fill in the rest.

“Get the blue one!”

Rainbow laughed at that; with her speed they did not have a hope in, well Tartarus, of catching her. Of course running would mean leaving Twilight behind, which was never an option. Rainbow twisted and turned through them; seeking to keep her would-be enemies off balance and mad at her; after all, angry enemies were prone to make mistakes. Right now, she needed them mad if her plan would work.

Spears and blades were launched her way, It was almost comical how slow they were going; this was Rainbow bucking Dash they were facing, the fastest flyer in all of Equestria, no the world, no multiple worlds if this place was included. They needed to at least give it some effort if they wanted to hit her! She took the time to poke the bear a little more, “You know, if you aren't going to try, I’ll just take my ball and go home.” That seemed to work, they were seriously pissed now.

Her golden wings shone brighter as she flew around the mob of attackers; they left a physical trail behind her, trapping the group in an impenetrable bubble of shining light. Rainbow had figured that beings made of shadow would be unable to cross a light source. She was half right. They were unable to cross the trail she left behind, but not because of the light. It was due to the magic energy radiating from her wings. Either way, it got the job done. With the bubble complete and holding for another few seconds, Rainbow flew straight into the middle, achieving the speeds necessary for a double sonic rainboom right in the center of the mass.

The effect was devastating; the magic light shockwave pushed the creatures to the edge of the bubble, as they were unable to break out, most were destroyed instantly.

When it was over, Rainbow paused to examine her work. The plan went off without a hitch. She did not yet know what to call this move, but she could not wait to show it off when they got back.

When the bubble finally faded, roughly two thirds of the shadow creatures were destroyed or taken out of the fight. “You guys are a little tougher then you look. Oh well, I'll just have to step it up another notch."


Twilight had to admit; they could easily take these guys. Twilight was concerned about fighting back, but watching Rainbow work quickly removed that doubt, with Twilight finally releasing a little of what she had spent so long holding back, the smile never left her face.

Twilight had given responsibility of the skies to Rainbow; roughly half of the shadow creatures had taken off after her. ‘That’s fine, after all this time I'm sure Rainbow has some excess energy to burn off.’ The group around Twilight approached cautiously, unsure as to why the alicorn did not also take flight. She sensed their hesitation and quickly figured out why. “C’mon you guys, I promise I’ll keep my wings behind my back the whole time.”

“Impotent whore!”

Twilight blasted the foul mouth swine from the face of existence, before realizing that she might have put just a little too much power into it. The beam continued on, forever.

“We can play guys, but I’d watch what you say. I can’t fully control this power yet.”

They seemed hesitant to continue; as if that one showing of power was unlike any other they had seen in their many lifetimes of battle.

Finally, Thanus gave them back their conviction. “She can’t possibly do such an attack again! Attack from all sides, and let us earn the favor of Cronus!

“For Cronus!” the group replied.

Twilight could not help but notice that even their leader had watched his tone. ‘At least they're quick learners.’ Twilight smiled as the group attacked as one.

Twilight knew all she needed to do was put up a shield and these beings would never be able to touch her, but that would not solve the problem. If anything they would give up on her and go after Rainbow, which was completely unacceptable. As such, she chose instead to test herself on this. There was no real worry about losing, she was immortal, and one glance to the sky showed her that Rainbow was having fun with her half.

Twilight opened herself fully to the magic plane. Seeing with her other sight was like watching the whole thing in slow motion; their actions, emotions, and hate. All of it gave away every movement they would make. Twilight’s mind ran through all the calculations without effort. A spear at thirty six degrees, with a flame breath ten milliseconds after, then a claw reaching for her flank at fifty eight degrees. She instantly planned out every move she would make ten seconds before it had to be made.

Watching her was like watching a ballerina in action. Not knowing any better, a viewer would swear that the whole fight looked choreographed to ensure that Twilight was always right where she needed to be to so that absolutely no harm would come to her.

An energy blast here, a shield there, a riposte there, she moved effortlessly through the melee, never stopping, and never slowing down. None of her enemies could even touch her.

Thanus was infuriated; this little purple pony with white eyes was making his soldiers out to be fools! He had underestimated them, assuming these two ponies were just a random whim of fate that was delivered to his lap. No, these were worthy adversaries that deserved his respect.

It was not until the explosion lit up the sky that Thanus knew he needed the rest of his troops. Looking up, the blue one with the golden wings had corralled the rest of his troop in a bubble and detonated some kind of bomb in the center. It was unlike anything he had seen before. He needed to get away and assemble the full army for this pair. When these two were brought before Cronus, the glory would be all his. Fortunately, they were too busy defeating all his men to notice that their leader had escaped.

It did not take long for the battle to end; soon the bodies of the fallen littered the ground, and Rainbow rejoined Twilight.

“Was all that really necessary, Rainbow?”

“What, you wanted me to take care of the ones in the air so I did.”

“Yes, but like I said earlier, you stick out. I'm sure by now we have the attention of every being in eyesight of this location. However, ignoring everything else, that was an impressive sonic rainbomb.”

Rainbow was a little taken back at that, as much as she liked naming her own moves, The sonic rainbomb had a nice ring to it. Rainbow would thank Twilight later for the name; right now, they needed to get moving.

“Then quit yapping and let’s get moving.”

“No need to go anywhere little ponies, we're not through yet.”

They both turned to look at Thanus; he was up on the ridge with an army behind him, easily several thousand strong.

The two looked at each other. Rainbow spoke first.

“Ready for round two?”

Twilight thought about this before replying,

“Hmm… Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle vs. an army. Seems a little unfair, maybe you should sit this one out, Rainbow?”

“Nah… let’s make it a contest, whoever takes out the most wins!”

“You're on, featherbrain!”

“Oh, and Twilight, no holding back this time. I want to win but I want to win with you at your best!”

Twilight smiled at that; this time, she would not hold anything back. Purple energy surrounded her body as her wings spread out, each feather radiating magical light.

“You should be careful what you wish for Rainbow, ‘cause you’re about to get it.”

“Like I’m worried about losing to an egghead.”

The collateral damage Tartarus suffered would never heal; completely new caverns were formed, ones that made Ghastly Gorge looked like an ant trail. It was little wonder that the battle caught the attention of Cronus, who began the trek over to see what was occurring in his realm.

Define: Omnipotent

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Chapter 13 Define: Omnipotent


The battle was more of an endurance test for Twilight. She had the power to defeat multitudes of these enemies. The stamina? That was another story altogether. Fortunately, Rainbow had enough energy for the two of them. Using the trick she learned back in Ponyville, Twilight was able to siphon off the extra energy emanating from Rainbow.

Rainbow was enjoying herself unlike ever before. Every beat of her wings sent waves upon waves of these shadow creatures to their deaths. She had never flown as fast or as hard before in her life. With the added benefit of not suffering from fatigue, she was unstoppable. All too soon, the battle came to an end. After thirty minutes of hard fighting, their enemies were defeated. Those on the edge of the battle ran; those in the center died in droves, from either Rainbow's wings or Twilight's magic. Soon Rainbow and Twilight stood over the last of the shadow cult, their self-proclaimed leader, Thanus.

“Kill me then. I failed Cronus and accept my fate.”

“We don’t want to kill you Thanus. Like I said earlier, we seek an audience with Cronus. Not this violence, this was your doing,” Twilight answered.

Thanus just glared at her, “You can’t be serious. After all this, you do not seek my death?”

“No, you numbskull,” Dash said. “We’re here to find the master of the reaper, not to kill anyone. You idiots just gave us no choice.”

“Cronus does not command a reaper.”

“Wait, if your master Cronus doesn’t command the reaper, who does?”

Thanus never got a chance to answer. At that moment Twilight’s magic vision went haywire. One of the mountains had made it to their location. Both ponies too distracted by the battle to notice the huge creature approaching.

“The power… the power, it’s off the scale.”

Rainbow looked up at the newcomer in their midst. It was a living mountain in size, with forearms the thickness of buildings. Made completely from rock, its face had a look that said it was angry at the destruction in front of it.

With both Rainbow and Twilight distracted, Thanus made his escape. “You fool! You should have killed me when you had the chance! Now the living God Cronus will seek revenge for what you did to his most faithful servants!”

With a speed that should have been impossible for an object his size, Cronus stepped on him, ending the life of his ‘most faithful servant’, Thanus.

Twilight stared on in shock; she had not seen the foot come up, but in the blink of an eye, Thanus was gone and the mountain was several hundred feet closer.

Rainbow looked unimpressed. “He’s not that fast, leave him to me.” She took off after Cronus, her new speed allowing her to close the distance before Twilight processed what she had said.


It was too late; Rainbow engaged Cronus before Twilight's words left her mouth.

Rainbow flew fast; she was faster than Cronus, but only just. Flying around the creature, she drew on her Wonderbolt training. Every few months a dragon would come to Equestria and the Wonderbolts would be sent as the first (and hopefully last) line of defense. They trained in dealing with creatures this big at least once a week. The key was not to try to defeat it, but make it reconsider the effort. Their plan usually worked, once you annoy a dragon enough it would leave, seeking easier prey. This mountain, this Cronus, was much, much bigger than any dragon in Equestria; but Rainbow was faster than any pony in Equestria. The plan should work all the same.

Zooming around Cronus’s head for the seventh time, Rainbow could tell stage one of the plan was working like a champ. Cronus was definitely getting angry. She had the creature’s attention, good; on to stage two: Making it spend its energy.

Twilight could only look on in horror as Rainbow flew around the creature. She could only view Rainbow’s moments by the after image left behind during her fight. Such speed was impossible for her to track normally. Much to her anguish, Cronus was getting closer with each and every swing. She could not tell if it was due to Cronus increasing his speed or if Dash was getting slower. The latter should be impossible.

Dash had tried several times cutting the monster with her wings, but each time they barely made a scratch on his body. Twilight wanted to help, but at the speed the combat took place at; the risk was too great at hitting Rainbow.

It was not long before Cronus grew tired of this little cat and mouse game. This small gnat had dared attack the great and mighty Cronus! Unthinkable! She had to pay for daring to think herself a worthy enemy. He readied his breath, and blew with all his might.

Rainbow was surprised. The attack was completely unexpected. Most dragons had to inhale before using their flame breath, giving some sort of warning. This monster did not. The wind easily achieved one thousand two hundred plus wing power. Dash was able to avoid it, but only just. Sadly, Cronus had been expecting that and his fist slammed into her with all his might.

Twilight looked on in horror as a blue meteorite slammed into the ground near her.


Twilight screamed her name and ran as fast as she could to her friend. The crater she made on impact was still smoking from the heat of the energy released. In the center was Rainbow’s limp and damaged body. It did not take magic to know that every bone in her body was crushed. Her nose pushed in, leaving her face flat. Her eyes liquefied in her skull. Only her wings looked unharmed. The Two golden wings begin folding in upon themselves, wrapping their owner up in a cocoon.

Twilight looked down at what remained of her friend, too horrified to speak or even cry. She did not know if she would ever move from that spot, Rainbow almost certainly would not. It was not until she heard laughter that Twilight realized she could still move at all.

Cronus was laughing.


Twilight stared at the monster that had so damaged her friend. In front of her was a nightmare made manifest, a God of old, so dangerous that its creator imprisoned it in Tartarus. Yet, at that moment, Twilight despised the thing worse than she ever had Queen Chrysalis.


Cronus looked down; Twilight's voice was louder than his.


Twilight flew up, not fast like Rainbow Dash had, every beat of her wings was purposeful, each feather released magic energy that extended them several hundred times their normal size, until, at last, she was face to face with the Titan Cronus himself. Twilight’s wingspan put his bulk to shame.


Cronus was old when time was young, as the greatest of the Titans, he had unofficial rule of this place. Only by teaming up had the other two kept him in check. Such alliances never lasted longer than it took to stop any plans he might have had. As such, only twice in his existence had he known fear, true fear. The first time was when his creators came to lock him and his siblings in this place. The second was now, face to face with this little alicorn, the power she gave off. The size of her wings, all of it was oddly familiar, yet terrifying.

Twilight’s anger took her power to new depths. It mattered not that this creature thought he was some sort of God here. Twilight did not care how much power he had, how big his armies were. All that mattered to Alicorn Princess Twilight Sparkle at that minute was that this monster, this Cronus, he had hurt her friend.

Fear has long been known to drive smart ponies to do dumb things. There are many types of fear: Fear of the unknown, fear of those more powerful than you, fear of losing your power. Perhaps it was some or even all of these reasons that Cronus did what he did next. He tried to attack Twilight.

Twilight magic vision was as sharp as ever; with her full power radiating out, Cronus seemed insignificant in comparison. She easily saw the attack coming; Cronus’s right fist would be coming at her in three seconds. Forming her magic into a blade, she held it up in front of her. After all, what need is there to do the work herself when her enemy would do it for her?

Cronus attempted to punch Twilight with all his might, his right fist blazed out in front of him, aimed squarely for the purple alicorn in the center of those wings.

The screaming sounded for miles around.

Cronus looked at the remainder of his right arm. It had been cut in half, cleanly through his middle finger and down his arm, all the way through to his elbow, the two sides of his arm hung limply by his side. He stared up in shock at the alicorn in front of him. The blade she had made now clearly visible from the blood running down it.


Cronus wanted to scream his denial at that, he was no fool! He was Cronus, first of the Titans! A God! Yet this creature, this pony, she had made him into a fool. There was no known substance that could so effectively cut into the skin of a Titan. Even when they fought each other to the death, the battle would rage on for weeks as they beat each other into submission. For such a creature to so easily disarm a Titan was unheard of; for the first time in his life, Cronus was lost for words.


With that final proclamation, Twilight cut Cronus left arm off at the shoulder. The Titan's scream echoed throughout the land, a voice so ancient, but filled with pain unlike anything it had experienced before. Both other Titans turned and smiled, it seemed someone was finally dealing with their upstart brother, no need to get involved then. Shadow cults ran for their life, as fast as they could to get away from the sound. Whatever could make a God scream; they wanted no part in it. Several thousand miles away, a pony turned and looked in their direction. His coat was the color of blood, with a mane black as night. He frowned and disappeared with a puff of red smoke, someone was going to pay for disturbing his realm like this.

Cronus looked down at his missing limb, his left arm was lying at his side, and his right was cut in twain. The creature in front of him, this pony, there was no denying it: she was more powerful than him. As such, Cronus did the one thing he had never done in all his life. Cronus, first of the Titans, God of Tartarus… ran.

Twilight was momentarily taken back, as she had expected a lot. However, this was a completely unexpected turn of events. The Titan Cronus was running from her. She was about to give chase. However, a voice she heard below stopped her.


It was soft and weak, newborn kittens were louder than that sound. Nevertheless, only one pony ever called her Twi. Instantly her wingspan collapsed upon itself. Her anger forgotten, Twilight dive-bombed into the ground. Stopping inches from impact, she ran to Rainbow’s side, ecstatic that her friend was still there, yet horrified at what that might mean.

What she saw astounded her, the wings around Rainbow were healing her body, already Rainbow's face had been returned to its normal condition. As they did their work, more of Rainbow was being released from the cocoon.

“Dash!” Twilight jumped down the crater and wrapped her friend in her hooves. Twilight knew that Rainbow would not feel the hug, but it made Twilight feel better to do it.

“Did you win, egghead?”

“Yes featherbrain, I won.”

“I knew you could, sorry about worrying you, that bastard was tricky. Tell me, is he still alive?”

“Armless, but yes he is still alive. I was about to rectify that situation, but then I heard your voice.” Twilight started crying again, the realization that she might have never heard Rainbow speak again hit her hard.

“I’m glad you let him go.”

“But Dash!”

“No buts, Twi. Every time we do something here, there are repercussions. He seems important, who knows what would have happened if he died.”

Twilight was back to hating logic, again.

“Don't forget our mission Twi. You heard Thanus, Cronus commanded no reaper pony. He was not the God we are looking for.”

“When did you get so smart, Rainbow?”

“Too much time around you, I guess.”

Twilight laughed at that. She stayed with Rainbow while she healed, Twilight was impressed at the speed Rainbow’s wings were healing her; she estimated that Rainbow would be able to walk in about thirty minutes, and back to full in an hour after that. Unfortunately, they did not have thirty minutes; they did not have one.

Spaced evenly around the crater, six Death-Guards teleported into existence, each bearing a striking resemblance to the Grim Reaper that Twilight encountered back in Canterlot. Armed with magic spears, they pointed them at the two ponies in the center.

“Interlopers, prepare for extermination.”

Twilight was already sick of this place, she did not want to fight anymore, and she did not want to risk trying to move Dash. Twilight was too exhausted by her earlier fights to deal with these six and with Dash in her hooves, she would not risk drawing strength from the downed pegasus. These ponies would have to wait. She threw up a miniature shield spell around the crater.

The Death-Guards started attacking the shield, each blow would have been sufficient to give a Titan pause, and yet, they did not even scratch the shield. ‘Keep trying numbskulls, we're not going anywhere.’

After a few minutes, the lead guard stopped the attack with a wave of his hoof; he turned and looked at Twilight.

“Why are you here?”

Twilight just stared at him, “Really, the first thing you do upon arriving is tell me you want to kill us, then now that you finally figure out that ‘that’ isn’t going to happen, NOW you decide to talk?”


Twilight gaffed at this, “Maybe I don't feel like talking now.”

The guard just looked at her impassively, “You obviously do not belong here, yet you have power, real power. Whatever your goals are, I doubt spending forever beating up on Titans is amongst them. So I will ask again before leaving you and your marefriend to your fate, why are you here?”

Rainbow responded to that, “She's not my marefriend.”

“If you say so; just answer the question.”

It took Twilight a minute to form words; the blood she would normally use for such things as speaking and comprehending having ran to her face. As soon as she could, she managed to recant their story.

“We come seeking the master to this place. An ‘accident’ occurred in Equestria and the Grim Reaper was killed, I've come here with Rainbow to find the master and seek a way to restore balance to the natural order.”

“Oh, is that all? Why didn’t you just say so?”

“Because the first thing you did was try and kill us,” Rainbow replied.

“Details child, details. Wait here, I will go inform the master and see if he will meet with you.”

Like that, he was gone. The other five guards kept watch over the crater, not that Twilight felt any safer with them there. She refused to drop the shield, unwilling to trust them even a little. After a few minutes Twilight resigned herself to simply holding Dash. Wherever the lead guard went, he was in no hurry to get back or more likely, whoever this ‘master’ was, he was in no hurry to get here.

One thing he said really stuck with Twilight. He had called Rainbow her marefriend. Twilight had never thought of Rainbow that way, but what really was a marefriend? If she had to define it:

Marefriend n.) A mare who you are romantically involved with, a mare whom you have strong feeling towards.

Rainbow was her friend, so that got a check. She had strong feelings towards her, maybe more than she had towards any of her other friends, so that got a check. Romantic involvement? That box, she could not check. Romantic involvement was a two way street, and Rainbow already said that they were just friends. For the first time in her life, that seemed to hurt Twilight. She started squeezing Rainbow a little tighter.

Twenty minutes had passed; Rainbow wanted to get up but the death grip Twilight held her in refused to let go. “Ah, Twilight, you mind letting me up now?”

“Sorry Rainbow.”

“No problem.”

At that exact moment, the guards around the crater started chanting all at once. “The master is coming, the master is coming, the master is coming….”

The first guard teleported back to his spot, he looked at the two ponies in the center of the crater, “The master will see you now.”

The six guards spoke in union, “Presenting the Primordial Deity: TARTARUS!”

Several yards away a red earth pony teleported in, leaving a flash of red smoke; his mane was as black as night, and his eyes shone with hellfire. Slowly he made his way to the crater, his very presence collapsed Twilight's shield.

“So Gaia, what was so important that you rescue this one from her Elysium while breaking every pact we have?”

Define: Vis-à-Vis

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Chapter 14 Define: Vis-à-Vis


Twilight looked on, dumbstruck as a red earth pony walked over to them. He was taller than an alicorn, with muscles that would put Big Mac’s to shame; he had a presence that screamed power. Her magic vision was blinded by what she saw, trying to focus on him hurt more than when she stared at the sun with her telescope. It took a minute for her to collect her thoughts.

“I’ll ask again, Gaia, why are you here?”

That seemed to snap Twilight out of her thoughts. “Excuse me sir, but I’m not sure who Gaia is. My name is Twilight Sparkle, and we came here seeking the master of this place.”

He just looked at them with an inquisitive stare on his face. “Wait… you don’t know.” Whatever he was talking about, it seemed to cause him some distress as he began pacing back and forth.

He seemed to have Twilight’s habit of thinking aloud.

“She doesn’t know. Is this a joke?”

“The damage done…”

“She broke the pacts…”

“How could she gain access…”

“Eros… what did you do?”

Rainbow had enough, jumping face to face with this pony, she started in, “Hey buddy, how about you stop walking around and talk to us.”

Twilight wanted to facehoof at that, ‘Rainbow’s legendary tact, at work again!’ As with everypony that had been on the receiving end, this one did not seem to appreciate it.

“What did you say to me?”

Twilight was desperate; she needed to defuse this situation as soon as possible, she threw herself between the red pony and Rainbow. “Please forgive my friend, she has a habit of speaking before she thinks. If you could, we did just come here to talk. There has been a ‘situation’ in Equestria that requires knowledge we don’t have. We were told to come talk to you about it.”

“Why would I care about some situation in your, ‘Equestria’ is it?

“I, accidently, killed the reaper.”

That seemed to give him pause. He considered this for a minute before replying. “So it was you.... Well then, I guess we really do need to talk.”

In a blink of an eye the three of them were transported away from the crater, and Twilight was glad to see it go. Where they ended up, that seemed to be some take on Celesta’s Throne Room. Augmented to be sure; the normal drab was far too dark for her tastes, with macabre artwork and decorations all around which would have made Zecora’s hut look warm and inviting by comparison.

One of the first things Twilight noticed was how cold it was in here. It was a piercing cold that seemed to attack her bones. At this time, she was unable to throw up the simplest field to try to protect herself, far too exhausted by her earlier battles and the presence of this pony in their midst. A snowstorm was warmer by a long shot. Memories of that event brought a blush to Twilight's face.

“First things first. Twilight Sparkle, is it?” Twilight nodded at that, “And to ensure that I have it correct, your name is Rainbow Dash.” Rainbow just glared at him, nodding her head ever so slightly.

“They called you Tartarus, so can we presume that is your name?”

“That is correct, young one. Please, have a seat.” He gestured over to the couch at the side of the room. Rainbow and Twilight walked over to it and jumped on. It was then that Rainbow noticed how badly Twilight was shivering. She wrapped one of her golden wings around the freezing alicorn.

Twilight was eternally grateful to her friend, as the wing instantly warmed her. She shrunk into the comforting blanket as if it was a hot bath on a cold winter day. If Tartarus noticed, he paid it no mind.

“Before we begin I have two questions. First, who exactly told you to come see me?”

Rainbow fielded this question, “On Equestria, we have this draconequus. He calls himself Discord, the Spirit of Chaos. He’s the one that told us to come here and find you.”

“So, if I understand you correctly, you two traversed through Hades, into Tartarus, and made the Titan Cronus your bitch in order to find me. All on the word of a Spirit of Chaos?”

“It’s a long story, but when you put it like that,” Rainbow shrugged, it had been a far-fetched hope after all. Tartarus just nodded.

“Well it seems my older brother is still up to his tricks.” He said to no one in particular.

“Ok, now second question. Twilight Sparkle, why did you lie to me?”

Twilight jumped at that, “I didn’t lie.”

“Really, so this is an accident.”

Just then, the scene from before played out for all to see. Tartarus’s throne room morphed into an exact replica of Celestia’s. The three of them watched as the events of Twilight Sparkle killing the reaper played out on repeat, over and over, for all of them to see. Rainbow was flabbergasted; they told her what happened. However, The stories did not compare to the real thing. The tone of Twilight’s voice, the look of utter superiority as she spit on the natural order of things for her own desires. The look of horror on Celestia’s face as her student played this out, despite her warning against it.

Twilight hated these memories, being forced to watch them over and over; this was a new kind of hell. She shrunk back into Rainbow’s wings and hid her face. “Ok, stop please.” Her voice was timid.

The vision stopped as quickly as it began, he smiled at the two. “So let me ask again, Twilight Sparkle, why did you lie to me.”

Twilight could not take it anymore, watching herself commit this atrocity, repeatedly, it broke past every defense she had. “I was ashamed alright! I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t care! I wanted Rainbow back, I felt the power inside of me to do it, so I did! I’m sorry alright; I never imagined what the consequences were, or the suffering it would cause.” Twilight buried her head in Rainbow’s wing, crying out tears of sadness from her own stupidity.

Rainbow wanted to be mad; she wanted to yell at the alicorn by her side. Rainbow wanted to jump up and let her fend for herself. The sheer utter arrogance of it all, it appalled Rainbow. However, was she any better? She had done her own share of stupid things in her life. As such, she could not bring herself to do any of those things to Twilight. Regardless what Twilight had done, or how big of a mistake it had been, Twilight was her friend. No, she was more than that. How much more Rainbow could only speculate. As such, Rainbow did the only thing that felt right. The only thing her heart wanted her to do. She reached over and wrapped Twilight in her hooves, cradling the alicorn like a newborn foal.

“Is this what you wanted Tartarus?” Tartarus just nodded, he was satisfied at that answer. “Congratubuckinglations. You got your answer. Now I think it’s your turn to answer a few questions yourself.”

“Take your time, I have a few duties to attend to. I will return in an hour.” In a flash of red smoke, he was gone, leaving the crying alicorn and golden winged pegasus alone.

Rainbow hated this touchy feely crap. She was a mare of action; she loved solving problems head on. Ask her to buck a dragon in the face and she was there in a heartbeat. Ask her to face down a changeling horde head on; she was the first one into the melee. However, ask her to comfort some pony in need, or show her feelings; she would be the first one out the door, just flying in the other direction. The only thing she hated more than that touchy feely stuff was seeing a friend in such pain. As such, she did the only thing she could; she began rocking Twilight back and forth, cooing into her ear. The same way her mom used to comfort her after a bad day at school.

It took Twilight almost half an hour before the tears stopped. When she finally regained her vision, she looked up at the sight of a smiling blue pegasus holding her in her arms. At that moment, it was the most beautiful face she had ever seen. Twilight reach up and hugged the pegasus with all her might.

“You okay, egghead?”

“I will be Dash, thank you, thank you for everything. You… you don’t hate me do you?”

“No Twi, I could never hate you.” It was at that moment Rainbow realized she truly meant it.

When Twilight finally let Rainbow go she snuggled up in the cyan pegasus’s wings again and started to close her eyes, too tired from the day’s events and her crying fit to keep them open. “Dash, is it ok if I rest my eyes for a bit?”

“Yes Twi, go ahead.”

“Wake me when he gets back ok?”

“Ok Twi, have a good sleep.”

“It’ll just be a nap, thank yo-” As if someone had flipped a switch, Twilight was asleep, softly cuddling the blue mare at her side. Rainbow looked at the purple pony nestled in her wings. This mare, which had destroyed the natural order of the world, told off the ruler of Equestria, intimidated a living Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony, fought her way through the underworld on brute force alone, and made a Titan run for its life. She was the cutest object Rainbow had ever seen in her life, “Goodnight, Twi.” Rainbow wrapped Twilight tighter in her wings and kissed her friend on the forehead before settling in for a long wait.


Rainbow wanted to be mad; this ‘Tartarus’ had been gone for far, far longer than an hour. That pony seemed to have his own sense of time. ‘Maybe he does,’ she reasoned. After all, what is time to an immortal deity that rules over this place? It was hard to tell, but the best Rainbow could figure it had been a full day since he had left them in the room. However, every time Rainbow’s anger built up, a glance down at the still sleeping alicorn in her lap stopped it dead in its tracks. Sometime early in her sleep Twilight’s head made its way down to Rainbow’s lap. Dash quickly took up stroking the alicorn’s mane, as she did not want to disturb her, but sitting around doing nothing was against Dash’s very nature. Therefore, she decided to count how many times she would run her hoof through Twilight’s hair as a way to keep busy.

At ten thousand-five hundred, Twilight began to rouse.

“Welcome back sleepy-head.”

Twilight yawned, “Is he back yet?”

“No, he seems to have his own sense of time, it’s been way more than an hour.”

“Well he is a God after all,” Twilight’s vision began returning to her, taking in her current situation, her head was nestled on Rainbow’s lap, a puddle of drool had built up below her mouth, soaking the pegasus’s legs, “Ahh!” Twilight screamed and tried to remove herself from her friend’s wings. Dash would not let her go.

“WHAT IS IT?!” if anything Rainbow’s wing seemed to be getting tighter around the alicorn, realizing that Rainbow would not release her while she thought danger was nearby. Twilight began apologizing profusely while desperately trying to clean up her drool from Rainbow’s legs with her hoof. It was not working. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry….”

Rainbow looked down at what Twilight was attempting, ‘so that’s what the fuss was about’, Rainbow thought. “Don’t worry about it, Twi. It’s not like I can feel it or anything.”

Twilight paused and looked at her friend, the expression on Rainbow’s face, the ridiculousness of this whole situation, she did the only one thing her body allowed her to do. Twilight started laughing, it was not long before Rainbow joined in.

A loud rumble from Twilight’s stomach interrupted their laughter; she looked down, embarrassed at her body’s betrayal of the situation. “Hungry, Twi?”

“A little,” it had been a while since she last ate, and the day she had slept though did not help.

Rainbow looked around before it dawned on her that her pack was nowhere to be found. “Uh, Twi, I seemed to have misplaced my pack,” Twilight looked for hers, it was missing as well, “Tartarus must have left them behind.”

As if saying his name was enough to bring him to existence, Tartarus appeared. “Finally awake, I see; you must be hungry.”

A table appeared behind him, full of the most delectable food they had ever seen. Twilight stared on with a hungry look in her eyes. Rainbow simply chuckled with that; sometimes being dead had its advantages.

Twilight went to move, immediately regretting it as the temperature in the room stole the heat from her body. Wrapping herself back up in Rainbow’s wings she glanced at the pegasus, knowing it was unfair to ask her to stay by her side but not wanting to leave the warmth of her wings. Rainbow seemed to sense this as she nodded to Twilight and went to the table with her.

The two friends sat in silence; Twilight enjoyed the food and the comfort of snuggling in Rainbow’s wings, and Rainbow simply enjoyed being in Twilight’s company. Before long Twilight was stuffed, having eaten her fill, Tartarus patiently watched the two, amusement clearly written on his face.

Twilight was the first to break the silence, “So, what are you exactly?”

“Jumping right to it? Very well, I am Tartarus, Primordial Deity and the God of Death.”

“Another God huh? Sorry you’re not the first one down here to make such a claim.” Rainbow said.

“Rainbow, keep quiet.” Twilight really need her friend to shut up at this moment. Thankfully, Tartarus seemed to ignore Rainbow’s jab.

Twilight continued, “So were you named after this place or vice versa?”

“Wrong on both counts actually, this place is me, and I am this place. For you see my ‘children’ can be an unruly bunch. To keep them locked up, it took one of us to imprison them forever.”

“Why not just destroy them?”

“Could you so easily destroy your own children?”

Rainbow thought about it, “No, I guess not.”

“You said ‘one of us’, how many of you are there?”

“Me and three others, Gaia, Chaos, and Eros.”

“Why did you call me Gaia?”

“I cannot answer that.”

Twilight was anything but happy with that answer, but she could tell from the finality in his voice that regardless how much she pushed he would not answer.

“As you well know, the reaper was killed by… well me, this seems to have caused a disruption in the natural flow of life and death. How do I fix it?”

“Finally to the point, huh? Very well, but before I explain what needs to occur, let me ask a question. Have you ever heard of an Occulous?” Both Rainbow and Twilight shook their heads. “I did not imagine you had. Let me start at the beginning.”

Back before the world was created there were four beings that existed, Gaia, God of life and Magic, Chaos, God of Disorder and Change, Tartarus, God of death, and finally the youngest God, Eros, God of love. The four Gods wished to create something truly spectacular, as such; they combined their powers and created the world. For a time, all was well. Everything on the world was completely at peace. The animals all existed in harmony together.

Chaos grew bored; he had given his power to this creation, but was infinitely unhappy with it. Taking his grievances to the others, they decide that intelligent beings should be made to inhabit this world. As such, Gaia and Tartarus got together and created the Titans. There were twelve Titans at first. Each of the four Gods received admiration from three of the Titans. Chaos being chaos, decided that he wanted more for his ‘children’. Blessing them with power beyond the rest. So began a cycle that lead each of the Titans to seek greater and greater power, until at last they turned on each other and began destroying all that was created for them.

What happened next had to be done; Gaia and Tartarus locked the remaining Titans up in a prison created from Tartarus’s own form. That left the four with the original problem; they decided that lesser beings would rule over it all. To prevent the slow buildup of power the four would make unbreakable vows to each other:

Number one: No God can interfere with the natural order, everything would be born, and everything would eventually die.

Number two: No God will directly interfere with the life of mortals.

To maintain this order, Tartarus created the first Occulous. He created a scythe that would cut the souls free of mortals that lost their life. This Occulous would give its wielder access to half of Tartarus’s own power. Ensuring that its wielder would be exactly where he needed to be when he needed to be there. The only thing left to do was to find someone to wield it. Such a creature would be forever bound to the scythe and spend eternity transporting it from location to location, allowing it to do its work. Not just anypony could do such a thing. It was decided by the Gods that only a soul that escaped severance from its mortal coil could wield the scythe.

“It took several thousand years for me to find such a soul. Until then I carried the scythe from place to place. However, I am unable to do so with a suitable wielder in existence. The scythe will reject me if one exists.” Tartarus finished the tale with a slow grin appearing on his face as he looked at the two ponies in front of him. “To think that after all the time that took, another such soul would come walking up to me.” He was glaring at Rainbow with that comment.

Disbelief at such a tale was plainly written on Twilight face; however, when he said those last word she instinctively grabbed Dash and held her closer to her, much to Dash’s chagrin.

“So all we have to do to fix this is find your Occulous thingy and a new bearer?” Rainbow questioned, not getting who the new bearer would be.

“If only it was that simple. You see when young Twilight here killed the reaper; she broke the scythe into three separate pieces. You must reassemble the broken scythe and then find it a new ‘bearer’.

Twilight stared at him. “I don’t suppose you know where can find them?”

“The failsafe I put in would ensure that if anything happened to it, it would return to a God. It was to ensure that no mortal ever got ahold of such power.

“So you have the pieces?”

“Not quite young Rainbow; I have one. I believe my siblings have the other two. Your responsibility will be to recover them.”

Define: Sisyphus

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Chapter 15 Define: Sisyphus


“Wait, you have the first piece?!” Dash yelled.

“Yes, as I said, an Occulous is too powerful to fall into a mortals hands, such power would disrupt the natural order and allow its wielder to do just about anything. As such, I created a failsafe that would ensure it would return to one of us if anything should occur to its owner.”

“So why didn’t all three pieces return to you?” Twilight asked.

“Admittingly, I never suspected it would actually break, much less into three pieces.”

Rainbow and Twilight looked at each other, so it seemed even Gods could not foresee every eventuality. Rainbow spoke up next.

“So, can we have it?”

“Of course, follow me you two.”

Tartarus got up and led the two out of his Throne Room. Twilight kept her eyes on the red pony, not wanting to look at any of the artwork hanging on the walls. Rainbow, on the other hoof, could not get enough. She paused to admire many of the decadent pieces, forcing Twilight to stop and wait for her; otherwise, she would lose the warmth provided by Rainbow’s magical wings. As the three approached the end of the hallway, Tartarus opened the huge double doors. Revealing a round chamber with the hilt of a scythe held aloft in the center of the room.

Twilight had seen that hilt before. It was the hilt of the reaper's scythe. Rainbow looked like she was in seventh heaven. Rainbow forced the two closer. Admiring the malevolent details lining the base of the hilt, the runic writing that covered the shaft, even the broken top where the skull-head should have been attached. Twilight pulled them away.

“So, we can just take this?’

“Of course.”

As Twilight turned around to grab the hilt Tartarus stopped her, she had been expecting the other horseshoe to drop, and here it was.

“There is one more thing you need to know; only the dead may carry it.”

Twilight's eye started to twitch again, ‘of course’ she thought, that meant Rainbow had to carry it, which falls in line with ‘his’ plans perfectly. This was the last thing Twilight wanted to happen.

Rainbow looked happy, here was this radical object of immense power and it was hers! However, such things always had some cost. Hesitantly she looked over at Twilight. Twilight was smarter than she was and Rainbow's headstrong nature had gotten her in some trouble before. When dealing with object of this nature it was always better to get a second opinion.

Twilight simply nodded to her friend, ‘what choice did they have’ they had to collect the pieces of this Occulous and if Rainbow was the only one who could carry it, then, that was that.

Rainbow looked up at the hilt, she wants this, something about it seemed to start calling to her. She reached her right hoof up to grab the hilt. As soon as it made contact, she could actually feel it! In Rainbow’s hoof, she could feel the texture and weight of the object, the history, THE POWER! It was all there, all for her. Twilight stared on in shock; as soon as Rainbow grabbed the hilt, a dark glow surrounded the pegasus, encasing her body in a dark light. Twilight hated that light, she hated that hilt, she hated that scythe, but mostly, she hated herself for once again bringing such a burden to her friend.

When the light finally faded, Rainbow and Twilight were left mesmerized, the hilt had attached itself to Rainbow’s back. The after effect of such a binding was instantaneous, Rainbow’s coat, mane, and tail turned from its cyan-blue and rainbow coloring, to black as night. Luna would have stood out as a lighter object when compared to Rainbow. If it were not for her golden wings, and unchanged cutie mark, Twilight never would have known that the pegasus at her side was Rainbow Dash.

Twilight turned and looked at Tartarus, “Anything else you forgot to tell us?” Her tone conveyed the anger she felt at this turn of events.

“What, did you expect there to be no impact of such power on its carrier? Power changes everyone young pony.”

Twilight grimaced; true she never expected this to go easy, however, she swore that she would find another way. Celestia’s words haunted her still with a ringing of truth to them; they carried a certain finality that she just could not shake free. ‘No’, she vowed yet again to herself, ‘I WILL find a solution to this, one that doesn’t involve Rainbow being hurt’.

Twilight was snapped out of her brooding by Rainbow’s joyful scream “This. Is. Awesome!” She began admiring her new coloring, even the hilt itself, which seemed to respond to her mental commands. Rainbow spun it in the air, using it like a weapon; she soon discovered that she could cast a shield spell using it. Twilight stopped her from going further.

“Rainbow, it’s not a toy!”

“I know, I just want to see what it can do.”


“Fine, fine, I’ll stop.”

Rainbow reluctantly put up the hilt. It slid back to its spot on Rainbow's back.

Dash looked up at Tartarus. “So, with this I can command half of your power?”

“Not quite, as the Occulous was broken in three pieces, each piece took roughly a third of the power of the scythe, and of course, when it broke it was then unable to draw on any more of my power. I would estimate that you could now command, roughly one percent of the power I wield, as you find the other pieces that percentage will increase. Until then use it sparingly, like I said, it cannot draw on any more. Its reserves are limited.”

Rainbow looked dejected by that news, she assumed that between this and her wings, she might actually be on somewhat equal footing with Twilight and she would no longer simply be the mare who needed rescuing. Rainbow hoped that this might actually allow her to carry some of her own weight for once, instead of putting everything on Twilight’s shoulders. Twilight stared at her, not fully understand why Rainbow’s mood took such a turn for the worse, but wanting to cheer her up anyway. “C'mon Rainbow, one percent of a God’s power is still quite a lot.”

“Indeed.” Tartarus conformed.

“Besides, when we find the rest it will increase.”

Twilight hated saying this; she wanted nothing more than to carry this burden herself, not to put it on Rainbow’s shoulders. She knew she needed Rainbow to carry this; in fact, she had needed Rainbow to carry her throughout this mission. Twilight was too weak to do this by herself. She truly felt like she was putting the weight of everything on Rainbow, but what choice did she have?

This seemed to cheer Rainbow up a little; she looked around at the other two ponies in the room, her sly grin returning. Maybe they were right, all she had to do was find another piece and she could finally be – if not on the same level at Twilight – near enough to help her at least. “So where do we go from here?”

“You have to go find the other two pieces.”

Rainbow and Twilight both stared at Tartarus, unsure if he meant that as a joke or not. When his expression did not change they both sighed, even Twilight was not that dense, not since she made friends that is.

“What she meant Tartarus, is do you know where the other two pieces are?” Twilight added, staring at him.

“I'm afraid, I do not.”

They both stared at him in shock.

“However, after our earlier conversation, I did a little digging into my older brother Chaos. I believe he might have the second piece.”

“And we would find him, where?” Rainbow asked.

“In the Realm of Chaos.”

Twilight facehoofed. “Let’s try this again, how do we get to the Realm of Chaos to find your brother and retrieve the second piece.”

“Ah, I understand now, the portal to Chaos is located in your capital city; I believed you call it, Canterlot.”

Twilight and Rainbow both let out a sigh, in part relief due to this conversation having finally ended, and in part frustration at have to go back where they began.

“Please tell me there is some easier way to get there; I don't want to backtrack through Tartarus and Hades.” Rainbow added, a look of frustration on her face at the thought of having to do it all again in reverse.

“There will be no need for that, as neither of you are mortal I can teleport you to the city without violating the vow.”

Twilight looked at him, unsure if they should accept his help so easily, as such she sought clarification. “So you can send both Rainbow and I back to Canterlot, without any negative effects to the two of us?”


Her eye started to twitch again. “Fine, let’s get this over with.”

“Ok, head back to the throne room, its ‘easer’ to do it there.” As the two ponies turned to leave Tartarus called out, “Miss Sparkle, if you would hang back for a minute.”

Rainbow looked at Twilight; she did not want to leave her side. “It’s ok, Dash. Whatever he has to say I can deal with it, go ahead.” Rainbow wanted to say no, but this was not the same as in Canterlot, she turned and left for the Throne Room.

Twilight immediately felt the absence of her friend, and not just because the cold instantly assaulted her body. Twilight had grown used to having her friend’s wing wrapped around her. She started shivering badly before remembering the shield spell that had been so effective in Hades. Briefly, she wondered why she had not considered casting it after waking up. Twilight had more than the needed power and concentration to do so. The only answer she could come up with was that she… she did not want to. It was unfair, and selfish, but she enjoyed being that close to Rainbow.

Tartarus looked at her, “You know, when this is over, you will have to give it up.”

“Give up what?”

“Your friend, only she can carry the scythe, there is no soul else that can do it, believe me, I would know.”

Twilight stared at him; this WAS her conversation with Celestia all over again. Only this time, Twilight was not talking to her mentor and friend of so many years. She had intimidated Celestia (a fact she was ashamed of, despite Luna’s kind words after). True she had power, real power, but she did not need her magic vision to know that Tartarus did too. Maybe, just maybe Twilight might have more. However, Tartarus had the experience to back it up. Tartarus would not be intimidated by anything Twilight did.

Twilight looked inward; she needed to find her resolve. What was it that caused her to do all of this? What was the one thing that always inspired her to push her limits, to believe that anything was possible? It did not take her long to find it, Rainbow Dash.

“No.” the word left Twilight’s lips with all the finality of a prison cell slamming shut.

“What was that?”

“I said no, I will always say no. I will tell you the same thing I always say, I WILL find another way.”

Tartarus started to chuckle. “Young one, I do not say that to be cruel. I can see the love you two share as easily as my sister Eros could. I seek only to prepare you for the finality of what has to happen. However, if you will not heed my warning, I can do no more for you.” With that, he led the way back to the throne room.

Twilight simply stared at him, that was not the first time somepony had made such a comment. Did such love exist between her and Rainbow Dash? She did not know how she felt, much less how Dash felt about it. However, now was not the time for such considerations. They had a mission to complete and a world to save. Twilight followed Tartarus back to the throne room and her waiting friend.

When they arrived, Dash immediately went to Twilight side, it had become second nature for the two. Twilight lowered her shield as soon as she realized what Dash was attempting to do. It had kept her warm well enough, but nothing matched the feeling of Rainbow’s wing.

Tartarus stared at the two, a small smile appeared on his lips, Twilight realized that maybe, just maybe, there might be something to his words. Not all them of course, she would move all of Equestria to save her friend, of that there was no doubt. However, maybe she did love Rainbow, and maybe, just maybe Rainbow loved her back?

“You should know Miss Dash; you are the first soul to ever leave their Elysium.” Dash just stared at him, unblinking. “What does tha-” In a puff of red smoke, the two were teleported out of Tartarus’s Throne Room. He stared at the spot that they used to inhabit. Looking around, he gave the answer to Dash’s unfinished question.

“I honestly don’t know what that means. It will be interesting to find out though.”


Outside Canterlot’s Main Gate

“-t mean?” Rainbow finished her sentence, before realizing that they were no longer in Tartarus.

“That bastard, he didn’t have to cut me off like that.”

Twilight just laughed at the black pegasus as she rubbed her coat against her, “C'mon, let’s go find the entrance.” The two friends walked side by side, it may have not been necessary for Twilight to stay under Rainbow’s wing (while it was cold out, relatively speaking it was a sauna compared to Tartarus), but right now, there was nowhere else she wanted to be. The two enjoyed the fresh snowfall that covered the land. While the path they traveled was relatively unused, as the majority of ponies used the train to enter Canterlot, it remained well kept. It was not until they reach the gates that Twilight noticed something wrong.

There were guards posted on the gates. This was not unusual; however, what was unusual was how many. At least three times what would normally be called for and the gates themselves were closed. Rainbow noticed this as well, as the two approached the guards pointed blades at them.

“Halt and identify yourself.”

Rainbow just looked at Twilight, an ‘is he serious’ look plastered on her face.

Twilight took a moment to analyze the situation, ‘a black pegasus with golden wings walking up on the front gates of Canterlot, with a pony hidden under one of her wings’. She could excuse the question. A nod to Rainbow caused her to withdraw her wing. Twilight instantly lamented the loss; however, the effect on the guards was instant. “Forgive us, your highness.”

“No problem sir, I have to ask though, why are the gates sealed, and why are so many of you stationed here?”

“She doesn't know?” One of the soldiers spoke out of turn; the officer immediately silenced him.

“Forgive me, princess, but I'm not the proper one to inform you what has happened. Allow us to escort you to the palace. The council ponies can explain the situation to you there.”

“Escort? In Canterlot? Since when do I need an escort for walking around Canterlot?”

“Since a week ago, your highness.”

Twilight's jaw dropped in shock, ‘but we have not been gone a week', she thought. It took Rainbow wrapping her back up in her wing to get Twilight to start moving again. Twilight gave Rainbow a look of eternal gratitude for that small action, as after the guards opened the gate, the sight that greeted her would have broken her heart otherwise.

Canterlot was deserted; there was not a pony on the street. Graffiti lined the walls and roads. Twilight had never seen it this bad in her life. Her nightmares never had it this bad. The lead guard looked at her with tears in his eyes as he started to explain. “At first ponies didn’t think anything of it, but after a few days the reports started to come in. We had to declare martial law after the first week, even still, we can’t stop all the vandalism. We do our best, only letting a small portion of the population on the street at any given time.” Twilight hid in Rainbow’s wings, focusing straight forward, not wanting to look at the writing on the wall.

Princess Luna eats your unborn children!

Celestia causes your kids to be born dead!

The royalty is to blame!

Down with the Tyrants!

After a few minutes, Twilight whispered in Rainbow's ear. “Do you feel like we are just pushing a boulder up a hill?”

“How do you mean?”

“I don’t know, this just reminds me of an old legend I read. It just feels like every time we get close to something we have to start over from scratch. Kind of like if we had to push a boulder up a hill, we either lose control and it rolls back down, or we get it to the top and it rolls down the other way.“ Rainbow nodded, she did kind of feel like that.

A newspaper stand nearby got her attention, she gestured to Rainbow to stop there. Rainbow complied, too shaken for words. Looking at the newspaper it had an unflattering picture of Celestia. With the headline ‘Yet another stillborn foal, bringing the total in Canterlot alone to thirty two, when will they tell us the truth?' that was not what had Twilight's attention, what caught her attention was the date. It had been over two weeks since they left Canterlot.

Twilight would have broken down at that moment; the guilt she felt over this all would have destroyed her, if it had not been for a black hoof and a soft whisper that wrapped her up in a hug and spoke kindly to her. “Not here, Twi.” Rainbow was right, she was a princess and it would do nopony any good for her to break down out here. She was able to draw on her friend’s strength and continue to the palace.

Define: Abeyance

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Chapter 16 Define: Abeyance

Princess Twilight Sparkle's Castle

“I'm so bored; ok maybe bored is the wrong word. There has to be something that is beyond bored. Ugg… Twilight would know this.” Spike paced around the castle yet again. He had already cleaned the floors for the third time that day. Dusted twice, and swept three times for the sake of finding something to do. The truth was that without Twilight here, constantly rearranging and reorganizing everything, there simply was not that much to do.

Spike found himself longing for the days when Rainbow Dash would come crashing into their library, knocking entire bookshelves on the floor. Sadly, those days had not been around for quite some time; not since the destruction of the library anyway. Spike paused and considered just calling it an early night, while the sun was not quite down it would be soon; the prospect of facing a new day without Twilight here was not appealing. Therefore, he kept pacing, ‘no need to rush into having to do it all over again'. Spike thought.

The knock on the door was a gift from Celestia. Spike dropped his broom and ran to the front door. Pinkie Pie was on the other side. Her demeanor had never been quite right, not after the death of Rainbow anyway.

“Hey Pinkie, you know you do not have to knock you're basically family after all.”

“I know, I... I just need your help.”

The pink mare seemed hesitant; something was bothering her; somepony in town was not smiling.

“Spike at your service, milady.” Spike bowed to Pinkie, leaning deep into it with all the gusto he normally reserved for his best friends.

“It’s Rarity.”


Nopony had seen Rarity in over a week. She had locked herself in the boutique after Twilight left, not wanting to be disturbed. Rarity had put on a brave face for all her friends, but Spike knew it was a lie; Rarity was hurting. Worse yet, she would not talk to anyone, not even her own sister.

He sighed; truly, he did not want to talk to Rarity. Rarity broke his heart when she married Rare Gem. Yes he was a changeling, yes Spike had been right. However, Spike could not hold any of that against Rarity. He still loved her after all and she was hurting. Spike knew he would have to talk to her eventually, and now was just as good a time as ever.

Spike told Pinkie he would handle it. He made his way to the one building in town that both made his day and broke his heart every time he looked at it; the antithetical nature of it would have been amusing, if he could bring himself to laugh.


Carousel Boutique

Rarity was broken; the events over the last few weeks did her in. She put on a brave face for her friends. However, when Rainbow and Twilight left, life had to return to some semblance of normal. The others all went back to their jobs and Rarity fell into her misery. She refused all contact with the outside, not even letting Sweetie Bell come see her. She did not want company, her grief provided more company than she ever needed, ‘at least it will never leave me’. Rarity thought.

Rarity did not notice the knock at the door. Even if she had, she did not care. The rest of the world could just buck-off as far as she was concerned. It was not the first pony she ignored at her door, not even the first one that day; however, it was the first one she ignored that had wings, and really wanted to talk to her. Rarity failed to remember that she had left her window open.


That sounded close, not unlike if somepony was in her room. However, that was not possible, nopony had come into her shop for a week, as she would not let anypony in.


There was that voice again, she knew that voice but thinking brought up memories and right now, she did not want to remember.


Ok now she could not ignore it, somepony was in her room. Rarity raised her head off her pillow and looked over to the window.

“Spike… You know it’s rude to come into a lady’s bedroom without being invited.”

“It’s rude to not answer your door.”

Ok, he had her there.

“What do you want, darling.”

“I want you to come outside. Nopony has seen you in over a week, your friends are worried about you, your family is worried about you, and I'm worried.”

“Just leave me be, Spike.”


Rarity shot daggers at him with her eyes; Spike did not even flinch, he had seen Rarity mad before. He needed to ask the right question.

“This is about Rare Gem isn’t it?”

That was the wrong question to ask. “What do you want to hear, Spike? That you were right? That I'm stupid? That I can’t be trusted to make decisions for myself?”


“Then WHAT?! What do I have to tell you to get you to leave me alone?”

“Tell me why you loved him,”

“I never loved that changeling.”

Spike did not look convinced; they both easily saw that for the lie it was.

“Changeling or no, why did you love him?”

Rarity sighed; there was no getting out of this then.

“Spike, it was never one thing, he wasn’t that smart, or funny, but he was that gorgeous.”

“Beyond the physical, Rarity.” Spike was blushing, Rarity giggled inside at his obvious discomfort.

“He was... he was loyal, devoted, kind, and so generous, he seemed to always put my needs above his own. Almost as if his whole world revolved around seeing me smile. He never lied to me, he was always so honest.” Tears started falling from her eyes. “Oh Spike, I’ll never find somepony like that again.”

She looked back at Spike. The expression on his face gave her pause, she had seen it before, it was Spike's ‘are you serious?’ face. A realization dawned on her; she had seen those qualities before. Only not in somepony, but somedragon, was it possible that she was looking for those qualities because she saw them in Spike?

Rarity had an epiphany, of course she had sought out those qualities. She had never known what she wanted in her special somepony. Prince Blueblood was an indication of that. From then on, she had been looking for Spike in pony form! Why did she just not accept the dragon in front of her? Why did she seek out a replacement? Yes he was younger than her but looking at him now you would never be able to tell. He had every bit the size and the fortitude of anypony in town. Based on this one conversation alone he was more than mature enough. Rarity started crying again.

“Spike, I don't deserve someone as wonderful as you, I'm a horrible pony. You should go and find someone who is worthy of your affections.”

Spike stared at her with an impassive look on his face. Turning around he looked out the window into the twilight of the day. Rarity watched Spike with tears in her eyes. She had spoken the truth, after all this time if she could not see how wonderful the dragon was, she truly did not believe she deserved him. Yet that did not make his impending departure any easier. However, the dragon did not fly out the window. He turned back to the mare lying on the bed and started to walk over to her.

“Spike what are-”

“Shut up, Rarity.”

First and foremost, Rarity was a lady. She never put up with any stallion treating her as anything but; she demanded the proper respect and dignity that any lady was due. However, when Spike said those words she could do nothing but obey. The conviction in his voice offered no room for argument. Spike grabbed Rarity’s hoof and picked her up in his arms. It was then she realized just how strong the dragon had become, she felt every bulge in his muscles as he lifted her. He walked her over to the window and Spike flew them both out into the sky.

The night air was exhilarating to Rarity; she had never flown before, at least not since the best young flyers completion all those years ago. Even that was only during the day. Day flying did not hold a candle to night flying. The cool air rushing through her fur and mane was unlike anything else she had experienced before. Before she wanted too they stopped, hovering in the air several hundred hoofs over Ponyville. Night had fallen in earnest.

“Rarity look around and tell me what you see.”

Rarity did as she was told; the view that night was breathtaking. The lights from Ponyville a stark contrast to the darkness of the night, and the stars, Luna had gone all out that night; they seemed brighter than ever before. The moon was the biggest she had ever seen, it hung in the night like a beacon of hope for all to see. The view quite literally, astounded her. It took her a minute before she realized that Spike was still waiting for her answer.

“It’s amazing, Spike. I never imagined it was so beautiful.”

It was then she realized that despite the view, Spike had never taken his eyes off her.

“That’s how I feel every time I look at you.”

“That’s just because of how I look.”

For the first time that night, Spike looked angry. Rarity bit her tongue, not wanting to upset the dragon holding her so far above the ground. Rarity never believed that Spike would actually drop her, but the prospect of upsetting the dragon scared her.

“Rarity, how long have I known you?”

“Over six years.”

“How long have I loved you?”

“Oh spike, it was just a crush.”

“C'mon Rarity, what crush lasts SIX YEARS? Do you truly believe all it was is a crush? If the only thing I like about you is the way you look, I would still be pining after you after six years?” He hugged her close to his breast. “Rarity I've seen you at your worst, I've seen you at your best. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone as gorgeous as you are, inside and out, not in all my life. You bring out the best in me and make me want to prove myself worthy of you for the rest of my life.”

“But Spike, even if we get together, you will outlive me, you will have to watch me die knowing there is nothing you can do about it. I cannot put you through that; it would break your heart.”

“Better a life spent in mourning of what was, then a life spent in regret at what could have been.”

Rarity began crying at that point. How she could have been so blind all this time? All these years of hunting for her prince and he was right here in front of her. She only had to open her eyes and see it. After a few minutes she pulled her head from Spike’s shoulders and looked him in the eye, truly looked at him for the first time in her life. The sight that greeted her was everything she had ever wanted. She leaned forward and kissed him. Not a peck on the cheek, not a sisterly kiss like all those times before, but a kiss given to a long lost lover, between two souls that were always meant to be together and just didn’t know it. Until now that is.

A lifetime later they finally broke apart, the two looked into each other’s eyes as if staring into one another’s soul. Spike was the first one to break the silence. “This is officially a perfect night.”

“Not quite yet dear, no first date is complete without a dance.”

“I'm afraid I'm not dressed for the occasion.”

That gave Rarity an idea, after the event of Los Pegasus she had a feeling that she had yet to try out. A subtle change in her magic energy had occurred and this was the perfect chance to test it. She lowered her horn between the two and concentrated. After a flash of white light they were both fully clothed in perfect, form fitting attire. Spike was in a three-piece suit that highlighted his physique in all the right ways, in any event he would have been the center of attention, attracting every eye in the house. That is, if Rarity had not been there. Rarity’s dress was stunning, easily better than anything she had ever designed before. It flowed off her in waves, emphasizing her grace, style, and curves in all the right ways.

This new magic, it would change everything for Rarity, she could design any outfit she thought of instantly. Rarity was now only limited by the power of her considerable imagination. It was a true game changer. However, at that moment, she did not give it another thought. The dragon in her hoofs was all she cared about.

Despite the dress, the suit, or the sudden use of new magic, Spike and Rarity’s eyes never left each other. They both stared into the others soul as if nothing else existed at that moment. For them, that might as well be the case, for, as of that moment, the world could have ended and the two would not have cared less. Standing on Spike's feet, Rarity let the dragon lead her in a waltz through the night sky.

Rarity softly whispered into Spike’s ear. “Now the night is perfect.”


Fluttershy’s Cottage

Applejack was mad at herself. She had made a vow that she would start helping ponies, and somehow she had overlooked one of her closest friends, Fluttershy. The yellow pegasus would never say anything; Fluttershy hated the spotlight, or any attention in general. However, it had never been this bad before. Nopony had seen her for a week. Still, it was inexcusable to Applejack, Fluttershy was her friend and she should have come first. It had taken a visit from Pinkie to remind her, she had seen the pink party pony in better times, no one had found the missing ponies after the incident, Mr. Cake, Filthy Rich, and the real Rare Gem were gone.

However, Pinkie being Pinkie, she pressed forward, doing what she could for Miss. Cake and the twins. Applejack wondered just how this town would survive without the pink pony around. She doubted it would last for long; that mare seemed to carry the weight of the town on her shoulders and she did it with a smile. Applejack’s reminiscing quickly came to a halt. She had arrived at Fluttershy’s Cottage.

Knocking on the door, Applejack was momentarily surprised that Angel did not answer, the little bunny had always been quick to help Fluttershy, then she remembered that Angel was no longer with her, he had died. Sighing, Applejack knocked again, still no answer.

“Fluttershy, it’s me”

There was no reply.

Applejack checked the door and found it unlocked. Walking in she expected a mess. There was nothing, no animals, no food, the entire cottage looked deserted. After inspecting each room in turn, she found that was the case. Nopony or critter lived here anymore. Applejack sighed and walked out. Pinkie had told her she could find Fluttershy here, Pinkie was never wrong about things like this.

‘Dagnabbit girl, where you at?’ Applejack asked herself the sixty-four million bit question.

After completing her third lap around the cottage, Applejack heard something on the wind, it sounded like, crying. She quickly followed it to it source. There, up on a cloud, was Fluttershy. The yellow pegasus could make being covered in mud look good, however, her friends could always tell when she was not taking care of herself. Even Applejack could tell she had been depressed for a while.

“Fluttershy, hey Fluttershy!”

There was no reply.

“C'mon girl I need to talk to you, come down.”


“What was that?”

“No." Fluttershy said softly.


“I said, no.”

Applejack had enough. She could not go up to Fluttershy, so Fluttershy would have to come down one way or another. Reaching into her pack she pulled out her trusty rope, whispering a quick apology she expertly spun it and lassoed the yellow pony, cloud and all.

Fluttershy did not even struggle. She knew AJ was stronger than she was; Fluttershy lowered her head and allowed her impromptu bed to be pulled to the ground.

“What the hey girl, why wouldn’t you come talk to me?”

“I can’t.”

“You can’t what?”

I can’t be around others.”

“Why not?”


“Because what?”

Fluttershy did not want to answer; she wanted out of this conversation, she did not want her friends to worry either. She decided to go with an excuse.

“Because of what I did.”

That was strange... she wanted to say an excuse, but for some reason she had told the truth instead.

“Look Fluttershy, I’m not leaving until I help you, so we can do this back and forth all day if you want, or you can just tell me.”

The truth started pouring from her like a fountain; she could no more stop it then trying to stop a waterfall. Tears where falling from her eyes while she spoke.

“I killed them ok, the changelings were the ones poisoning the water supply. I... I needed help. I was the one that made the dragon attack them. I was so mad, I wanted them to suffer, I… I wanted to hurt them for what happened… for Angel.”

She broke down at that. Not able to look at her friend anymore.

Applejack sit down, she let her friend cry without interruption. AJ suspected the story Fluttershy told was not the full truth, she had not exactly lied about what occurred. Although a lie of omission is still a lie. She had said nothing at the time.

“Fluttershy, I can’t imagine what that took from you. However, moving out of your house? Ignoring your friends, this isn’t healthy girl.”

“If it keeps me from hurting you girls.”

“That’s just it sunshine, it doesn’t, we're all friends. If you hurt yourself like this, it hurts all of us. If you’re hurting, let us help.”

Fluttershy thought about this for a while, she decided that maybe AJ had a point. She stood up and nodded to the farmer.

“Atta girl, tell you what, you gonna stay with me for a while. Now let’s go find the others, we been apart for far too long.”

Fluttershy nodded at that, she couldn’t agree more.

The two made their way to find their friends, not knowing what the future would bring, but safe in the knowledge that they would not have to face it alone. They had their friends with them.

Define: Catastrophe

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Chapter 17 Define: Catastrophe


Every step of the path hurt, it was not a physical pain, but a mental one, Twilight could barely look anywhere without being reminded of this horrible situation. Even looking forward, her peripheral vision would linger on the graffiti. She had not imagined that it would be this bad. Never had she considered that time might flow differently in Hades, or that she would be gone for over two weeks. What had they missed in all that time? How had this happened? If this... this was occurring here, what was happening elsewhere?

Twilight did not even notice when they had reached the palace, her mind was running a mile a minute with all the possibilities that played out before her. It was only Rainbow’s presence that allowed her to keep moving; sadly she could do nothing for Twilight’s mental state. That was a hell of her own making; she was the judge, jury, and prison guard. Her mind had no intention of letting her out with good behavior any time soon.

As the two walked into the palace, a gentle rub from Rainbow manage to snap Twilight out of her funk, it seemed her jailor would let her out for Rainbow. As she looked around everything looked normal. She did a double take, and then a triple; everything was normal inside. Somehow, that made Twilight feel worse, not better. Almost like those who lived here where isolating themselves from the reality of what was occurring outside. Almost as if they were sticking their heads in the ground not wanting to face the world. Hoping it would just go away on its own. The thought was ridiculous of course. Naturally the palace would still be well kept, no one would vandalize these walls. It was absurd to even think she might see something like that here. However, the conflicting nature of what was occurring outside and what the palace looked like on the inside still rubbed Twilight the wrong way.

To her credit Rainbow did not even flinch, truly Twilight did not know if this was due to her stubborn nature to simply not worry about things she could not control or if Rainbow simply did not understand the implications of what this all meant. As Rainbow walked on, squeezing Twilight tightly with her wing, Twilight chose to believe the former. Rainbow would not let something like this get her down, she was a mare of action and if she could do nothing about a situation then she would not worry about it.

Rainbow was VERY worried, if this was happening here, what about Cloudsdale? What about Ponyville? Were their friends alright? A million such questions ran around her head. She wanted to leap up and go check on them all. With her speed she could make it to both locations and back before Twilight got done with her meeting. One look at the alicorn under her wing was all she needed to immediately discount that idea. Twilight needed her here; She needed Rainbow by her side. Such things were never said out loud. Truly Rainbow doubted that Twilight even knew, however, that did not matter. Rainbow knew, and she would never leave her friend behind, she would never leave Twilight behind. As such, for Twilight’s sake, Rainbow adopted her usual persona; Rainbow would play the strong one. She would be Twilight’s pillar of strength. She may not be able to do much in this situation but she could do that for Twilight.

Before long their escorts stopped them in front of a large set of double doors leading to the council room. Twilight looked nervously at Rainbow, she simply nodded at Twilight, giving her the reassurance that whatever happened in there, however bad it might get, Rainbow would always be there for her, Twilight released a breath that she did not realize she was holding.

After a few minutes they were announced and could enter, this was the official Council of Canterlot after all; they would not disrespect a Princess of Equestria by failing to give her the proper respect that she deserved.

“Presenting her Royal Highness, Princess Twilight Sparkle!”

With that, the two made their way in the council room. As Twilight expected, it was just as chaotic as the last time she found her way her. She briefly thought, ‘maybe this is why Tartarus said we could find the entrance to the Realm of Chaos here.’ She dismissed that idea, while it was ironic. Twilight still did not quite believe that the entrance to the Realm of Chaos was located in the heart of harmony.

Between the two of them they made quite the spectacle. A pure black pegasus with golden wings walking side by side with the newest alicorn, one with pure white eyes. It would have been perfect for a stain-glass window, maybe for another time when this was all done. Fortunately, for her reputation Rainbow had removed her wing from around Twilight for this, Twilight was once again sad for its loss, but it would have sent the wrong message to these ponies. She needed to be a princess here. Not a scared pony hiding behind her friend. However much she might want too.

Twilight made her way to the center, there were four thrones set up, all unoccupied. One for each of the princesses, while it was true Cadance no longer ruled here, being an alicorn meant that she would always have such a place of respect in this room, one of the small privileges of royalty. Twilight walked right to her throne, the newest one in the room, but one she had gotten familiar with over the past few years. Without missing a beat, Rainbow walked to the right of Twilight’s throne and sit down on her flank. She was unsure what the protocol was for this; however, she could not give a buck less. Twilight needed her here, and she knew that nopony could dislodge her from that spot. Not if Rainbow did not want them to. Twilight just nodded gratefully to her friend. Yes it got a few stares from the other ponies in the room, but she did not care, she wanted her friend with her and as Luna said, being a princess had some perks.

“Fill me in on what has happened during my absence.” Twilight spoke to nopony in particular.

A stallion stepped forward, truthfully Twilight did not know his name, but it seemed to be his position to give such reports. “Yes your highness, after your departure fifteen days ago, Princess Luna left for our neighbors in the south. On a diplomatic mission to ensure that foreign relations do not deteriorate. As you well know our trade agreements with them are mutually beneficial to both nations,” he cleared his throat. “And with events how they are, our ‘mutual defense’ pacts could be in jeopardy”

Twilight knew what he meant, Celestia had spent a long time ensuring that Equestria’s relationship with their ‘southern’ neighbors were strong and healthy. In no small part due to their sizable military.

“Has there been any communication from her?”

“Not yet your highness, there has been no word. Although she did say that if something happened and she required ‘aid’ she would let us know by raising the moon in the west.”

That made sense; nopony would dare actually harm her, as the entire world needed the sisters to keep night and day going. As such, if they tried to kidnap her and use her as a hostage, they would still let her raise the moon. Twilight once again found herself remarking on how clever Luna could be at times.

“And what of Celestia?”

He paused, a little unnerved. “After hoof picking the ponies to run this council, Celestia has been making her way around Equestria, your highness. Trying her best to keep everypony calm. Its… Its not been easy.”

“Which leads us into what’s happening to her city.”

“Yes, that… that started shortly after you left. At first a few reports made their way to us. Celestia has always been watchful of the next generation, attempting to make things better for each, as such she left instructions at the hospitals to report in ANY problems that may arise. We believed she was always looking for any virus, contagions, or possible abuse. Well reports started arriving, at first one or two at a time but then the numbers grew. It seems that every foal from that point on was stillborn.” If it wasn’t for a black hoof that reached out and grabbed her own, Twilight would have broken down right then and there.

“We did our best to limit the access to this information. However, it was occurring everywhere, in all towns and cities across Equestria, and we can only guess but across the world too. It was not long until ponies began gathering in the streets. They wanted answers, and soon a peaceful demonstration became anything but. We were able to contain it without any serious injuries…” he seemed hesitant to go on.

“Please continue good sir, I cannot help if I don't know how bad it has gotten.”

“That was not the last riot, there were ten separate incidents afterwards. We, we have lost the trust of the people, your highness. I honestly cannot blame them. If we can't keep our children safe what good are we?” He started crying at that point.

Twilight waited for him to compose himself. She did not begrudge this stallion for his behavior; truthfully, several tears started falling from her eyes as well. She had an advantage he did not, one that came from her friend sitting by her side. After a few minutes he seemed to have composed himself enough to continue.

“Thank you good sir, I do need to know how it is elsewhere.”

“Like Cloudsdale, and Ponyville!” Rainbow interjected.

“Ponyville seems to have weathered this crisis well, all on the hoofs of a Miss. Pie? She seems to be keeping that town together all on her own.”

‘Of course’ Twilight thought, if there was one pony in all of Equestria who could keep everyone smiling through any emergency it was Pinkie. Still, even she had her limits.

“Cloudsdale is doing ok for now, that was Celestia's first stop. She knew the importance of keeping Cloudsdale operational for the weather; we cannot afford to lose an entire year worth of crops. The death toll would be astronomical afterwards. Other towns are in varying stages of panic. The best we can tell is that Celestia's influence is having the desired effect of calming nerves and temperatures in the towns she visits, but not even Celestia can be in every place at once.”

A unicorn mare walked up, “Your highness, we await your command, we've done what we could but this council has reached an impasse, we have ideas but too many and not one that is assured to work.”

Twilight thought about this for a minute, a world full of grieving adults, and dead children. This train of thought took her nowhere good, all she could see is her jailor opening up the prison in her mind, welcoming her back. A black hoof stopped her from entering. A glance at her friend told her everything she needed to know, ‘You can do this’.

“I applaud you all for your quick thinking during this crisis, Equestria has never known such an emergency and you have all done wonders for trying to keep everypony safe. However, it was a mistake to try and hide the truth. The populace was already suspicious of what has occurred and hiding the facts only confirmed their beliefs. When the guards came out, that verified it. The ponies must be told the truth. Not in a group though, such action would only breed mob mentality and more violence. As such, I decree the following provisions are in order:"

“One: each household will be briefed individually on the situation at hoof. Come up with a system that allows each one to be informed in less than a month time. Each will be briefed with a team of counselors, specialists, and only ONE guard. Just to ensure that nopony comes to any harm. Under no circumstance is this process to be rushed, do so under the knowledge that I will be VERY upset if one such report reaches me.” They all nodded at that, unsure what such a promise actually conveyed, but nopony was willing to risk making a princess angry.

“Two: Any such household that needs more time than practical will be ASKED to seek specialized counseling. Free of charge at the expense of the crown.”

"Three: Any family that have lost foals will be cared for at the full expense of the crown, ensure that they have priority above all others. They are victims in this and are to be treated as such.” It was not said but Twilight wanted to add the words 'of my own stupidity' to that statement.

“Seek to keep everypony helping their friends and neighbors. Enlist the Wonderbolts to help and any other celebrities we can, get the most inspirational ponies working to inspire the masses. Keep everypony focused on getting everyone through this crisis as one. We need friendship to prevail, not hatred. Also, ensure everypony knows that any crimes that did not harm anypony committed during this crisis are forgiven.”

“Your will is our command, princess. However, when they ask what do you want us to tell them about why this occurred?”

Twilight thought about this, this was her punishment for what happened, there was no point trying to hide from it. “Tell them… tell them the truth, the good, and the bad. Tell them what I did, tell everypony that I'm currently turning over the gates of Tartarus seeking to fix it, and will not rest until I do. Then tell them that when this over, anypony who wishes it of me, that I will spend the rest of my life ensuring that I EARN the forgiveness of those so drastically affected by my mistake.”

Twilight was staring at the black hoof that held hers; it squeezed her hoof tightly at that last remark. She looked up at Rainbow, the look told her everything. Rainbow would be there throughout it all. She would work with Twilight and set this right. No matter how long it took.

With that matter temporarily settled, the council went into other business. They set about creating committees to ensure that Twilight's commands were carried out in the most ‘politically efficient' way possible, or in other words the most least efficient way possible. But, that was politics, and trying to change that would disrupt the only system of government they had.

Rainbow quickly grew bored. She wished that she could just take a nap. Sadly that option was no longer open to her. Out of instinct she tried to preen her wings. Magic wings did not need preening. Yet another option cut off from her. Looking at Twilight she could tell the alicorn was not paying any attention either. With a pleading look in her eyes she whispered, “Can we go?”

Twilight simply stared at her, “it would be rude to leave in the middle of a meeting.”

“Do we really have time for this, Twi? The mission?”

Twilight eyes grew wide; they did still have to find the portal. “Oh!” she said that little louder than intended, gaining the attention of everypony in the room.

“If you gentleponies would excuse me, I have several more important events to get too.”

Several ponies just scoffed at that, it was against protocol for a princess to leave a meeting before it was over, but they all knew better than to try and stop her.

Rainbow wanted to facehoof. For Twilight sake she held back, ‘I can’t believe the egghead got so distracted by all this that… that she forgot'.

After the two left, Twilight forced open Rainbow’s wing and snuggled up underneath it. It had quickly become her home away from home and she did not care if anypony saw.

“So Twi, how long will all that work.”

“How long will all what work?”

“You know, princess. Your ‘decrees and junk', you think that will have any real impact?”

“I honestly don’t know Rainbow, a pony is smart and intelligent, however, in a group they are anything but. I've read several books on mob mentality. It seems like the longer we can put that off the better chance we all have.”

“So how much time do you think you bought us?”

“If I had to guess, a few weeks to a month, tops.”

“I thought it was brilliant to be honest with you.”


“No seriously, the worst thing for any pony in a time like this is the feeling that they have nothing they can do. Sitting around during such an emergency? We could never do something like that and you know it. Even if it is just busy work, by enlisting the average pony to help take care of their neighbors and friends, by giving them inspiration. That will give them all a purpose and direction. It will help them feel like they can actually do something that matters. Something that will help. What I'm trying to say Twi, you are one hell of a princess.”

Twilight was blushing as she looked at Rainbow. Those few words made all the difference in the world to the young alicorn. “Thanks Rainbow.”

“But…” Twilight stared at Rainbow, she had not been expecting the preverbal ‘but’ from her friend. “ If you even consider taking on all that responsibility by yourself after this is over I will never forgive you, we are all with you on this. DO NOT try and do it by yourself.”

Twilight looked taken aback by that, she did not want to put anymore of this on her friends then she already had.

“I mean it Twi, we will all be there for you when this ends, and none of us will be happy to hear about you trying to kill yourself fixing this when its all over.”

“Ok Rainbow, I promise”

“Not good enough and you know it, Twi.”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly stick a cupcake in my eye.”

That sealed it, nopony breaks a pinkie promise. Nopony that knew Pinkie that is.

Rainbow seemed satisfied with that, “Ok, lets get back to our mission, the entrance to the Realm of Chaos is not going to find it self.” Rainbow sighed inwardly, "There’s a phrase I never imagined saying.”

Define: Perplexing

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Chapter 18 Define: Perplexing


It was one thing to have a plan, quite another to implement it. It sounded good on paper. All the two of them had to do was find the portal to the Realm of Chaos; such a thing should be simple to find, especially in Canterlot of all places. Sadly, this was not the case. After a few hours of searching Twilight was getting mad. Nothing about this was easy. They had checked every location in the palace that seemed logical and it was easy to tell Rainbow was getting bored.

"Her coming out and saying "Twi, I'm bored!" every five minutes helped too."

“For the hundredth time Rainbow, I know alright.” Twilight felt the same but she had to keep looking. “C'mon lets go back to the kitchen, I had a feeling about that place.“

“How do we even know it's in the palace? For that matter, how do we know that Tartarus even told us the truth?”

“We don’t, however, he has no reason to lie to us. He told us it was in Canterlot and we have no choice but to believe him. You're right though, I do not know for sure if it is located in the palace.”

Twilight sighed, truthfully she did not want to go searching all of Canterlot for something that may or may not be there. No that was a lie, she did not want to go out and see what had happened to her home city. Yes, she now considered Ponyville her home, but that did stop her heart from breaking whenever she thought about Canterlot being the way it was. They need to find this portal and quickly.

“So this Realm of Chaos thingy… It would be magical wouldn’t it?”

“I suppose Rainbow, what's your point?”

“Can’t you find it with your magic vision or something, I mean its gotta be putting off some magic energy or something rig-”

Rainbow never got to finish that sentence as Twilight grabbed her in a hug and started yelling, “Rainbow you’re a genius! You're right, I should totally be able to find it with my other sight! I could kiss you right now!”

Rainbow blushed at that, as did Twilight after she realized what she said. Secretly, Rainbow would have given anything for Twilight to make good on that promise, however, she did not believe that Twilight actually meant it. It did make her feel good for Twilight to give her such a compliment. Rainbow never believed herself to be a genius, but hearing this mare, this REAL genius, call her such, gave her butterflies that she could not quite explain.

“No Twi, you’re the smart one, maybe a little too smart. That’s why I can see something so simple that you might have overlooked.”

Twilight rubbed the back of her head before saying. “No Rainbow, you're smart, smarter than you give yourself credit for. Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to do half of this without your help. Thank you.”

Rainbow figured Twilight was just being kind, however, she accepted the kind words with a simple thanks.

“Ok, let’s try this out.” Twilight started concentrating, redirecting her magic sight with all her will. It was second nature to her at this point. However, Canterlot had a large concentration of unicorns in it, as such she was finding it rather difficult to find their objective. After a few minutes of trying, she had to admit defeat. “AHH, I can't find it!”

“Seriously, you sent the Titan Cronus running for his life and you can’t find a portal?” Rainbow did not believe this turn of events for a second.

“It’s not the same Rainbow, Picture trying to find one specific tree in a forest. Even if it stood out in some way, all the other trees are blocking your vision.”

Rainbow thought about that for a minute before finally commenting. “I would just take flight and find it by looking from the sky.”

Twilight kissed her.

“Rainbow you ARE a genius. C'mon, lets go!”

Twilight immediately flew out the window, she was so distracted by this new development that she did not even consider what had just occurred. Rainbow, on the other hoof, could only do the opposite. Her mind replayed that kiss a million, no a billion times. The feel of Twilight's lips on hers, the rush of sensation that ran throughout her body, the sheer UNEXPECTEDNESS of it all, it was a good thing Rainbow did not have to breath because at that minute, she was not sure if her body would have been able to. Rainbow simply stared off into the hallway, forgetting their mission, and well, everything else. Including the fact that she actually felt that kiss, something that should have been impossible.

Twilight’s voice snapped Dash out of her reminiscing, “You coming, slowpoke?”

That was all it took for Rainbow, “Oh its on, egghead.” Although, even with her competitive spirit in full control, she still could not stop thinking about that kiss. ‘Did Twilight mean to do that? Surely it was just a spur of the moment thing, not something that Twilight meant to do. However, what if it was more, what if she felt something also?’ this train of thought was costing Rainbow the race, she quickly tried to dismiss it so she could focus purely on winning. That kiss was one memory that Rainbow Dash would never forget. Not as long as she could remember it.

Twilight glanced over and once again saw the look of pure joy on Rainbow’s face. She could not help cracking a smile herself. Twilight’s grin was ecstatic; this was the first time she flew for fun in a long time. Yes, they had a mission, yes, they had something important to find, and yes, they should not be wasting time like this. Twilight considered this a good use of time though. Rainbow and Twilight were flying together for the first time in months. They were having fun together. It was more than she could have hoped for and all she had wanted for her friend in what felt like forever.

It was not long before Rainbow caught up to Twilight, she could have done it sooner, but what would have been the fun in that? In addition, it was late at night; as such, she stayed below the subsonic levels of flight that she was more than capable of. The two friends soon started laughing in the night sky as they began an elegant night-sky dance with the other. Rainbow was showing off a little but with such a dance partner as Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Equestria, who could blame her?

For her part; Twilight simply copied Rainbow’s moves in the sky, she was cheating of course. However, Rainbow did not need to know that. Twilight had gotten so used to Rainbow’s magic signature that she did not need to even look at the pegasus to be able to read her. Reading Rainbow’s moves ahead of time she was able to pump extra magic energy into her wings and perform the inverse of the stunts Rainbow was pulling off.

To an outside observer it was a sight that would put any Wonderbolt’s performance to shame. Rainbow’s wings left a golden trail behind them, visible for miles around. Due to the magic energy Twilight was using, she left a purple trail that was just as bright. Before long, their ‘dance in the night' had the attention of half of Canterlot. Many ponies were inspired by it. Several new designs of clothing and fashion were created by that night. Entire ballads and operas inspired by that night soon played for sold out crowds all around Equestria. Many lovers who had simply not had the courage to admit it to their special somepony soon found themselves wrapped in each other arms. Other ponies simply cried. The sight was too emotional for words. Twilight had decreed that the Wonderbolts come to Canterlot to inspire the ponies to help each other through this crisis, they would not be needed for weeks after that night.

Twilight wanted to stay up there forever, sadly she did not have the stamina for that. She had copied Rainbow for as long as she could, but all good things must eventually end. Gasping for breath, she landed on a cloud. Her wing muscles screaming at her in protest, Twilight felt exhausted, utterly drained, however, she could not remember the last time she had that much fun or had a smile that big. Rainbow soon joined her, taking her permanent spot right next to the young princess. Rainbow’s golden wing wrapped around the purple mare; as far as Twilight was concerned, that wing could solve all the world’s problems.

“Twilight that was amazing! You kept up with every move I did!”

Twilight blushed at that, she did not have the heart to tell Rainbow ‘how’ she had kept up with her the entire time.

“Thanks Rainbow, you were amazing too.”

“Yes, but that just me, I am the epitome of awesome after all.”

“But not of modesty it seems.” Twilight playfully jabbed at Rainbow’s flank.

“Who needs modesty when you got the skills to pay the bills!”

Twilight started laughing at that. Before long, Rainbow joined in, the two friends enjoying the giggling fit. Twilight was the first one to speak.

“Thank you Rainbow, I needed that, you truly are a good friend.”

Rainbow’s heart sank. ‘Friend’, the word was a dagger in her heart. ‘Friend’ that’s what Twilight thought she was, was she anything more? ‘Of course said I'm a friend. The kiss, what was that? A heat of the moment thing; nothing more, Twilight had not meant anything by it. It was nothing to her.'

“Rainbow, are you alright?”

Twilight’s words snapped Rainbow out of her funk. She looked over at the Alicorn nestled snugly under her wing. Twilight’s face was full of worry for her friend. Rainbow slightly cursed herself for getting distracted enough to worry her ‘friend’. “Oh I'm fine," Rainbow lied. "So, can you see the portal from here?”

Twilight was momentarily taken aback by that, Rainbow was anything but ‘fine’ at that moment, well physically maybe, but not mentally. Twilight gathered herself, putting aside the worry she had for Dash; they did have a job to do. “Ok, let me check,” she began scanning the town. Twilight noted pockets of energy all over the place. Canterlot truly did have a large population of unicorns, of course, it was a common misconception to say earth ponies and pegasus did not have their own magic power. From her viewpoint, Twilight could see the location of every pony in Canterlot. She noted with some distain that each group of ponies seemed to stick with their own kind. Indeed the earth ponies were all pocketed together at several different locations, the same could be said for the pegasus. However few of the two groups there might be.

It was when her gaze went back to the palace that Twilight finally saw it. In the far east corner of the palace was an energy source unlike any other, it was literally changing color as she looked at it, going from blue, pink, violet, orange, to some color that was both purple and orange at the same time, she could only call it plurange. It was as if the concept of staying one color was alien to it.

“Ah ha!” Twilight shouted, causing the black pegasus to fall of the cloud. “Dammit Twilight, don’t do that!”

“Sorry.” Twilight said sheepishly, “I found it though and I was right. It’s in the palace!”

“Ok egghead, you were right. So where exactly in the palace can we find the entrance to the Realm of Chaos?”

Twilight looked again, fixing the spot of the energy with her magic vision and then switching to her normal vision. “Son of a…” Twilight turned to Rainbow, a VERY annoyed look on her face. “Rainbow, it's in the library,” she said with a look of defeatism.

The two quickly arrived at the library, yes, Twilight’s sight had led them here, but it would not do them any good now. Whatever this energy was, it was radiating out, causing the entire area to light up with magic. Twilight turned off her magic vision with a sigh, “Well Rainbow, wherever it is, I cannot pinpoint it any further. It's somewhere in this area.”

She smirked at her friend, “Well, lets get started then.”

Rainbow began heading off to one end of the library when Twilight shouted, “Rainbow, wait!”

She turned around and looked at her friend, “Yes, what Twi?”

“That’s the non-fiction section.”


“Do you really think the entrance to the Realm of Chaos would be in non-fiction?”

Rainbow shrugged, truly, she had no idea about where it could be, but she knew better than to try to argue with Twilight, especially about library stuff. “Ok Twi, lets check the fiction section first then.”


Several hours later Rainbow could not help but feel she had been right about going to the non-fiction section first. They had searched through every book in the fiction section, the search made worse by Twilight’s initial instance that every book be returned to its proper place. Thankfully, Twilight gave up on that demand after the second hour. Soon the library was quite the mess, books strung out all over the place. None damaged, not even Twilight was willing to go that far, but still a mess. Rainbow chuckled to herself as Twilight attempted to justify her actions to nopony in particular.

“They need to be reorganized anyway. Too many books are out of order.”

That brought a smile to the pegasus, even being a Princess of Equestria, Twilight still could not, not, be a librarian. Dash thought about it ‘ Those quirks were one of the many things I love about her.... Wait, do I love Twilight?’ she paused in her work. This was big, bigger than big, bigger then when she joined the Wonderbolts. ‘Do I love Twilight? Like, love-love?’

Dash’s thoughts where soon interrupted by the familiar yell of frustration coming from Twilight. “UGH, it's not here!” Twilight had finished the fiction section of the library. “Dash! Where are you!”

Dash flew over to her friend’s side.

“C'mon, lets go check non-fiction, and no, I don’t want to hear it!”

Dash smirked a little, ‘regardless, that’s one dash and a million Twilight’ she would rub it in later, right now they had another side of the library to check over.

The non-fiction side proved to be a lot more fun; Dash loitered a bit in the Daring-do section recently changed from fiction to non-fiction once a journalist found out who A. K. Yearling actually was. Wonderbolts performances left little time for her to read up on what Daring had been up to lately. Admitting, she had hidden her passion for the novelist/adventurist around the other Wonderbolts. Not for any worry of ridicule, but simply due to the fact that she did not really have any free time to read. Rainbow pulled aside some books to read for later.


‘Uh oh, busted.’

Rainbow turned around to see her friend starting at her, surprisingly it was not a look of hatred but more one of understanding. “C'mon Dash, you know I have the whole collection, when we get done we can read them together, for now though I need your help.”

Rainbow smiled a little, partly at the thought of reading with Twilight again, and partly for feeling somewhat silly. “Ok Twilight, where did we leave off?”

“I will take the one-hundreds, philosophy section, why don’t you start with three-hundreds, social sciences.

Rainbow groaned a little on the inside, “Okay Twi.”

After some quick directions from Twilight on exactly where the three hundreds were, Rainbow quickly made her way there and started pulling books off the shelves, flipping through the pages, and dropping them unceremoniously on the ground. ‘Laws of quantum physics, no, laws of thermodynamics, no, laws of exponents, no, laws of foal care, no', Rainbow reached up for the next book. “OUCH!”


Twilight ran over, concerned for her friend.

“That book bit me!” Rainbow pointed at the next book in line.

Twilight stared in disbelief, “Rainbow, a book can't bite you, and even if one magically did, you wouldn’t be able to feel it.”

Rainbow held up her hoof. “Then explain this then!”

Twilight examined the extended appendage, there was indeed bite marks on Rainbow’s hoof, looking with her magic vision she ‘saw’ that the bite contained magic energy that was coursing up Rainbow’s arm to her brain. With a quick wave of her horn, the energy was gone. Rainbow rubbed her hoof, “Thanks Twi.”

“No problem, now what book bit you?”

Rainbow pointed back at the book that bit her. ‘Law 101, A Novice’s Guide to Celestia’s Rules.’

"I… I … there are no words.” Twilight said, dumbstruck.

Rainbow laughed at that, it took a lot for the egghead to be speechless.

Twilight levitated the book down, carefully setting it on one of the nearby tables, the book looked normal. The cover showed Celestia in a warm, yet stern pose. The title unimposing to any that looked at it. It even had a thin layer of dust spread upon the cover.

“Careful Twi, that book is nasty.”

Twilight simply sighed, she wouldn’t get close enough to let this book bite her. Opening the book with her magic she found....

Nothing, it was a normal book. She paused, that was the last thing she was expecting. “Rainbow, are you sure this is the book?”

“Oh yes, Twi,” Rainbow was eyeballing the book, not letting it out of her sight.

Twilight quickly scanned over the book, checking it cover to cover, it was nothing more than a normal book, nothing special about it.

“Rainbow this is just a norm- OW!” Twilight had put her hoof on the book.

Upon hearing her friend’s cry of pain Rainbow jumped into action, she bucked the offending book across the room. Twilight looked at her hoof, indeed those were the same bite marks that Rainbow had.

“Huh…” Twilight looked across the room with her magic vision. The book was radiating with magic power, examining it in detail, this WAS where all the power was originating.

“Rainbow, it seems to only respond to physical contact.”

Rainbow huffed; one of them would have to touch the book again. It would hurt, a lot. Twilight levitated the book back to the table.

“I'll open it.”

Rainbow’s heart sank, she did not want to touch that thing, nor did she want to be near that thing. Yet, Rainbow would not let Twilight hurt herself. At the last second Rainbow grabbed Twilight’s hoof.

“No, let me.”

Rainbow reached out and opened the book, preparing for the oncoming pain as it grew yet another mouth and tried to stop her from opening it.

Define: Pandemonium

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Chapter 19 Define: Pandemonium


Twilight woke up with a start, her vision blurred. She was laying on something, something soft. She liked this new bed; it was nice, comfortable, warm, and black. That was odd, she did not remember having a black bed. Though she could barely make out colors in her condition, her head hurt, trying to see hurt, everything hurt. So she decided to do the one logical thing left to her, Twilight tried going back to sleep.

Sadly, a voice originated beneath her bed. “Twi,” it said. Twilight wanted nothing to do with that voice right this second. Her head would not stop pounding and that voice was much too loud. It offended her by speaking. “Twi,” there it was again, that voice did the one thing in this situation that nothing should be doing to her right now, it spoke. What sort of voice comes out from below your bed anyway? It was rude, inconsiderate, and a little creepy for her tastes. “Twi,” that is it, Twilight had enough of that voice. It needed to stop talking and let her get some sleep.

“I will not ask what you're doing under my bed at this moment as I really don’t care, but I promise that if you keep talking I WILL banish you to the moon!”

“Somehow Twi, I don’t think you will.”

Ok that got her attention. Twilight attempted to open her eyes, there was the black, she did not really like black, she preferred purple, or blue. Ok, she finally started to make out some more colors, some brown, some pink, some plurange, some…. She was dreaming. That was the only logical explanation. If she was dreaming then she did not need to get back up. Twilight closed her eyes again. It hurt less to keep them closed then to try and open them.

“Twilight c'mon, we have to get moving.”

She finally recognized the voice, it belonged to Rainbow, which was nothing unusual; Twilight would often dream she was with her friends, nothing particularly bad or anything. It just seemed as if her brain wanted to spend more time with them. She tried fighting against these dreams at first, but after awhile, she quickly learned that whatever happened in the dream, it was best to simply go along with it. She took to enjoying this extra time with her friends; usually these dreams consisted of nothing more than hanging out together.

Rainbow was flustered; they had fallen a long way. She protected Twilight from the landing by maneuvering herself below the alicorn. It had been at least a few hours while Twilight was out cold and Rainbow’s wings healed her. Now that she was healed and Twilight was awake it was time to get moving, but Twilight would not get up. ‘Hmm, maybe if I screw with her she will get off me,’ Rainbow thought. In a sultry voice she spoke, “C'mon Twilight, we have to get going, or at the very least let me take a turn on top.”

That was new; Twilight never had a dream like this before. Her friends never went to that place in her dreams. Well it was just a dream, and Twilight had learned that it’s best just to go along with it, fighting her dreams tended to make them worse. As such, in her best sexy voice she replied, “But Rainbow, I like being on top.” She then proceeded to up the anti and kiss the mare passionately on the lips, allowing her tongue to play hide and seek with Rainbow’s.

‘Hmm… this is odd, pleasing but odd, her lips taste like cherry. Wait, she's never been black in my dream and... and you can’t feel pain in a dream and… and you can’t taste anything in a dream.”

Twilight opened her eyes, her normal vision still useless, she switched to her magic vision. There, right under her, was Rainbow Dash, her signature energy flowing around her body. Those beautiful, brilliant, golden wings sprawled out at her side. A large amount of energy was flowing from her mouth into the rest of her body, a mouth that was, right this second, connected to Twilight’s lips.

Twilight blew up, blushing with embarrassment she leaped fifty feet in the air and her magic exploded like a second sun. 'I just made out with Rainbow! I was kissing Rainbow! What have I done! The shame, the embarrassment, it's too much, I can't face her again. It was… it was… awesome, no… no… no… no time for thoughts like that I have to get away, I have to run, Rainbow can’t hate me if she can’t find me!’ Twilight tried to fly away, pushing her wings as hard as they could go. She went nowhere; she was stuck in something pink. Something she had seen before, she was stuck in cotton candy.

Rainbow’s brain tried to get her to stop this, it tried to stop the foreign tongue from entering her mouth, it tried to get her to force the alicorn off her. As such, Rainbow did the only logical thing she could. Rainbow’s mind was forcibly ejected out of the relationship, it was decided after several court sessions that the two of them should part ways, it wanted to think, it wanted to consider implications, and most damning of all, it wanted to put a stop to Twilight kissing her.

The divorce, finalized in an instant after that betrayal, the judge sided fully with Rainbow Dash, saying in a landmark decision for logic everywhere. “No brain in its right mind would ever try and put a stop to that! You are obviously insane and get NOTHING.” Her mind would get nothing and pay half of everything it had in support of Rainbow while she stayed to raise the kids. ‘Hmm… speaking of kids…’ she would have to bring that up later, but right now Twilight’s lips were enough, that kiss was NOT like earlier, earlier it had been a heat of the moment thing. Something that could be written off. THIS TIME, this time it was ANYTHING but, and the way she spoke before that. It sent shivers down Rainbow’s spine. Had she not so effectively removed her brain from the situation it might have dawned on Rainbow that she should not have been able to feel anything right now. However, as her brain was currently sitting out in the rain holding a boombox over its head playing Barry Stallow songs trying to win her back, it was just one more thing Rainbow would fail to notice.

As with all good things, it had to end. When Twilight broke the kiss Rainbow looked up in the white eyes of her friend, a look of pure shock was radiating on Twilight’s face. When she jumped in the air, Rainbow knew enough to close her eyes before the next part. Living with Twilight as a friend for so long gave Rainbow an in-depth knowledge of her eccentricities. Sure enough, as soon as her eyes were closed a bright blinding light shined over her, radiating out with pure magic energy. When she opened them the sight she viewed made her smile. The most powerful pony in existence, Princess Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, was stuck in a cotton candy cloud.

“Wow,” spoke Rainbow, loud enough to ensure that Twilight heard it, “I didn’t know I was such a good kisser.”

It took a minute for Twilight to realize that struggling only made her situation worse, every time she bucked, kicked, bite, or wiggled she only found herself that much further stuck. Right this second though, she had no other options, Twilight's head was so concerned with what she had done that she could not concentrate enough to do the simplest spell. Indeed the only reason she was able to calm down enough to figure that much out was due to the ever present laughter of one Rainbow Dash, who at that moment was rolling over on her side holding her hooves to her chest.

“Would you stop laughing and help me?!”

"I don’t know Twilight, I thought you liked being on top.” Rainbow’s laughter intensified as Twilight’s entire face turned red with embarrassment. She was stuck, there was no getting out of this one without Rainbow’s help, and right now, egging on the situation only made it worse. Twilight calmed her struggles and let her friend have her fun. When Rainbow was finally able to stand again Twilight looked down at her friend; she was mad, embarrassed, and a little flustered. Mad that Rainbow had left her in the cloud for all that time, embarrassed at what she had done, and flustered due to the fact, that she did not, exactly, not like it.

Rainbow took wing and flew up to her friend. Smiling the entire time as she very lazily made circles up to Twilight. When she finally reached Twilight’s level she simile with that cock-sure grin of hers. “So… we going to talk about the elephant in the room?”

Twilight did not want to talk about that elephant. She wanted to do anything but talk about it. Twilight wanted to find a gun, shoot that elephant, bury it a thousand feet underground, and build a castle over the location just to ensure that it would never be seen again. However, the black pegasus in front of her would not let her get off that easy, she sighed.

“I'm sorry, Rainbow.”

“Sorry?” Rainbow was momentarily taken aback with that. Had Twilight not meant it? No… no this was not a case of a heat of the moment thing, this was real, wasn’t it? Rainbow stared at her for a while.

“I, I thought I was dreaming. I wasn’t…” a black hoof reached out and covered her mouth, and though it hurt more then dying had, she let her friend keep her dignity.

“Don’t worry about it Twi, I know it didn’t mean anything, we all do crazy stuff in our dreams, and just 'cause you were dreaming of me… well who can blame you for that?! I am pretty awesome after all!” Rainbow put all she had into that, Twilight had to believe it, and for a quick moment she actually convinced herself that it did not mean anything to her either, but that moment did not last long. Fortunately, Twilight had bought it, and hugged the black mare before her face broke its mask.

“Thanks Rainbow, you're a good friend.”

Rainbow was beginning to hate that word.

It did not take long for Rainbow to release Twilight from her candy prison. She laughed as Twilight mane was stuck in the candy. Soon the two were back on the ground. Twilight looked around taking in the scenery for the first time since awakening. “So, what happened, and where are we?”

“You don’t remember?” Twilight shook her head. “Well, it started when I opened that book.”

Rainbow slowly opened the book, the pain in her hoof from the fresh bite told her to do anything but. She grimaced and fought through the pain, this was her burden, she would do this so Twilight did not have to, it was the least she could do for her friend.

The book opened, to nothing. Twilight stared in shock, she had not known what to expect, but nothing? This was the book! This was the entrance to the Realm of Chaos. She pushed Rainbow out of the way and looked at the offending object.

Law 101

‘Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting.’

“What the buck was that! Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting!” Twilight spat the words. "What does that mean? Who writes such garbage? That doesn't mean anything! This is the entrance. It's just a book!” Twilight began pacing back and forth. Tossing her hooves at a pony that was not there, one that seemed to be the target of her actions. “Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting, garbage, complete and utter garbage. After all we've been through! We get this crap! Rainbow, you, you died! I killed somepony! I defied my teacher, her sister, the rulers of Equestria! We tore open the gates of Hades and Tartarus! I stared down a Titan for Celestia’s sake! What the buck?!”

Rainbow tried and failed to suppress a smile. Twilight was having a fit, one that was sure to get the attention of every pony in a five block radius, and all Dash could manage to do was giggle under her breath. Yes the book made no sense, Rainbow could intellectually respect that such a thing would tick Twilight off to no end, however, seeing it in action was one of the funniest things she had ever seen. As Twilight began angrily picking up books and looked as if she was about to take it out on them, she stopped. Twilight placed the books back in their proper spot while continuing her rant. That was the last straw for Rainbow; even mad beyond compression Twilight still could not stop being a big nerd.

Twilight paused, momentarily taken aback as Rainbow began laughing out loud. Rainbow was laughing at her. Twilight turned and walked away, not wanting to deal with Dash right this second. As she began making her way out of the Library, she huffed the words one last time, "‘Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting', as if.”

A loud noise got the attention of the two ponies in the room, Twilight turned and looked behind her. A staircase was coming from the book, out of the book was more like it. It was an impossible feat, the book was on the table, and a staircase was flowing up and then down from the book. It logically made no sense. Twilight sighed, it seemed her and logic now had a love hate relationship, one she would have to come to accept before this was all over.

Rainbow was ecstatic, “That is so COOL!”

“Cool? Rainbow it’s a staircase.”

“One that came out of a book, Twi!”

“Exactly, it came out of a book! Books don’t have staircases in them Rainbow.”

“Whatever egghead, you coming or what?”

Rainbow walked over to the stairs and waited for her friend. Twilight sighed, this was what they were looking for, and there was no turning back now. She walked over and stood by Rainbow. As soon as they stepped on the first step the stairs started moving, taking the two up and then down into the book. Shrinking them as they went.

“What the buck?”

“Rainbow! Language!”

“Really Twi, after everything you're worried about a little bad language?”

“It’s the principle of the thing.”

“What about your little rant earlier?”

Twilight begin to blush, ok maybe she did not have any sort of high ground to stand on. However, she did need to do that. Too much had been building up in her and she needed that release. Her only regret was that rainbow had been there to hear it. After a minute she turned to her friend. “Sorry about that, Rainbow.”

“Hey don’t apologize to me, sometimes we all have to get a little off our chest.”

No more words passed between them as the two rubbed up against each other and took a minute to admire the trip. The staircase/escalator took them through a black tunnel, with quite the light show playing on each side of the wall. Staring at the lights would soon leave one with quite the headache as they purposely changed to the worst combination of colors imaginable to leave their viewer in a state of confusion. However, these two travelers had learned to only face forward. Their time on the River Styx having taught them that even something as harmless as a reflection was anything but. The lights seemed to mourn their passing, hoping that they could have at least played a little bit with these two new ponies.

Soon the tunnel ended, and the two found themselves rising ever higher into a brown and green sky, the night sky was lit up darkly by the blue sun in the north. One that was right now playing a card game with the mountain in the west, It was easy to tell the sun was losing, and badly. Nothing could be seen of the ground, a layer of pink cotton candy clouds obscured their view, the staircase was about to send them through a small cloud of them.

“Ugg, what the hell.” Rainbow hated this feeling; the clouds stuck to her skin worse than the ones Discord had made. Twilight looked at her covered in pink candy and started laughing.

“What so funny, Twi?”

“I just think you look good in pink, Rainbow.” Twilight jabbed at her friend, the look of indignation was comical on Rainbow’s normally stoic face.

“Hardly funny, Twilight! This stuff is too bucking sticky. Don’t glare at me, I'll say it if I want too.”

Twilight wanted to rebuke Rainbow for that, she had already told her once. Sadly, something else caught her eye, the end of the staircase. She could not bring herself to talk. The escalator just ended, they were about to go over. Twilight grabbed Rainbow, not caring that the combined cotton candy on the two would latch them together. She was planning on it, just as abruptly they went over the edge.

Rainbow’s eyes looked on in shock, she was so busy with the cotton candy she had not noticed the edge of the stairs, when Twilight grabbed her they fell. She tried to open her wings, but to no avail as the candy held her magic wings to her side, almost as if it were superglue.

Twilight knew her wings would be no good. Rainbow had been right; the cotton candy was sticky, too bucking sticky. She could still teleport them through. Gathering up her energy she stopped… The last time they teleported was in Hades, and that, that had not ended well for anypony. With the two in free fall, she could not concentrate enough to limit the amount of energy she would use. They could end up a thousand feet in the ground if she tried. So she took the only option available, she grabbed on to Rainbow as tight as she could, not wanting to ever let go.

“Twilight, teleport us!”

“I can't.”

“Oh buck me.”

They passed through several cotton candy clouds. If the two were not stuck together before, they were now. Rainbow did the only thing she could think of and maneuvered herself below the alicorn. ‘At least she will have something soft to break her fall.’

“And that’s what happened.”

Twilight stared at Rainbow, it made some sense, but she still had one question. “If we were stuck together, why didn’t I have that much cotton candy on me when I woke up?”

Rainbow stared down at her hooves, “I did my best to clean us up before you woke up.”

Twilight blushed at that, Rainbow really was a good friend. Twilight easily cleaned up the remaining cotton candy on both of them with her magic and gestured for the pegasus to follow her, “So where do we go now?” she asked of the black mare beside her.


They both jumped and turned in the air. Directly behind them was the draconequus that sent shivers down Twilight’s spine every time she heard him speak.

Together they both yelled, “DISCORD!”

Behind Discord was a huge carnival the likes of which Twilight, Rainbow, and Equestria had never seen in their lives.

Discord smiled at the two, “I never imagined you two would actually make it this far, allow me to introduce to you the greatest Carnival in several universes.” With a gesture of his claw, he directed their gaze to the sign above the entrance.

Welcome to Pandemonium, home of the greatest place you will never be.

Define: Veracity

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Chapter 20 Define: Veracity


Twilight looked around, everywhere she stared was another ride that defied reason, logic, physics, and any rational safety protocol such a place should have. To her left was the ‘Death Up’ a cruel twist of the death drop that LAUNCHED its riders up in the air. Flinging them to Celestia’ knows what fate. Next to that was some form of ferris wheel, whose riders seemed to go missing as soon as they got to the top, a merry-go-round where the riders were the horses. The entire place seemed to defy imagination. Yet the customers/victims all seemed too happy to get on, no two were alike, or even of the same species. Several she could identify from Equestria: griffons, lizards, dragons, ponies, and changelings just to name a few. Others were not from her world, or any world that Twilight knew of.

Rainbow turned back to Discord, “So… are you Chaos?”

Twilight thought about it, she supposed it was possible, but weren't all the gods bound by the two vows they swear too? Tartarus seemed insistent that he could not do anything that broke them. If Discord was Chaos, Twilight could name of a hundred violations of vow two, not to directly interfere with mortals.

“Rainbow, you are too kind, but no, I'm not Chaos.” Discord looked at the rainbow mare with a slight grin on his face. Rainbow seemed to accept this answer and turned away from the draconequus.

‘I sense a ‘but’ coming on,’ Twilight thought. Like the flying flanks that flew over his head were not a dead giveaway.


‘Called it.’

Rainbow turned and faced the draconequus, “but what?”

“I did just come from meeting with him.”

It was Twilight’s turn to talk, “Where is he?”

“Relax, dear princess, he knows why you are here and he is more than willing to give you what you want,”

‘Here comes another one.’

“But, he can’t meet with you two jussssttt yet. There are some matters that require his, shall we say, personal touch.” Discord slowly started petting a putty cat that magically appeared in his arms. “He didn’t want to leave you two without anything to do; as such he put on this carnival just for you!”

“How long will he be?” Rainbow asked.

“Oh he shouldn’t be more than,” Discord paused and examined a clock face on the side of a mountain several thousand miles in the distance, one that was missing any form of hands or numbers. “About an hour.”

Rainbow sighed, if Chaos was anything like Tartarus he would have his own sense of time, and hour would be a day. “Great. Well Twi, looks like we got a day to kill.”

“By all means friends, step up to the ticket booth.” Discord snapped his fingers, teleporting behind a brand new ticket booth that appeared next to the entrance of the carnival, “Hey there princess, step on up, step on up and have a wonderful time at Pandemonium, the greatest place you will never be.”

Twilight let out a very loud sigh, whatever was going on they really did not have a choice, Chaos would meet with them when he was ready. Ignoring his ‘gift’ or being rude would not speed the God up. If anything, he might take back his offer of help.

Rainbow was actually a little excited, she went over to Twilight and head-butted her on the flank, “C'mon Twi, it’s not like we've got anything better to do, and besides, some of these rides look like fun. The ones that are not suicidal that is.”

Twilight looked around, Rainbow did have a point, some of these rides did look like fun, it seemed for every ride that looked as if it would kill you, another looked enjoyable. “Alright Rainbow, let’s try it.”

“That’s the spirit ‘princess’, way to get in the mood.” Discord commented.

As the two ponies stepped up to the ticket booth, Discord handed them each a complementary ‘ticket’, one being a banana peel, the other a half-eaten tangerine. “Courtesy of your most generous host, don’t lose them, you will need them to leave.” As the two turned away and went to enter the park, Discord shouted out behind them, “Have fun on your DATE, you kids!”

Twilight and Rainbow both stopped dead and looked at each other, blushing heavily. Then as one, the two turned back to yell at Discord, “IT’S NOT A-” He was already gone. No sign remained of the Spirit of Chaos.

Fuming, Twilight turned back around and headed into the carnival, disappointed with herself for letting Discord ‘once again’ get under her fur. Rainbow stared at her mad friend, quickly realizing that Twilight was about to leave her behind, “Hey, wait up!” Rainbow took off, quickly catching up with the purple princess.

It took Rainbow a minute to calm Twilight down, but eventually, the two were soon able to enjoy themselves, taking in some of the rides (avoiding the suicidal ones) and even a few of the food stands. It seemed Discord was right about one thing, Chaos had indeed put this whole spectacle on just for them. Every ride they went to had no line, every food stall was the same, and none of them wanted the slightest bit of compensation. It was not long until Twilight actually found one that she wanted to go through, a ride called: “The House of Truths.”

“Good pick, my little ponies!” Discord appeared behind the two, causing them both to jump up in shock.

“Discord!” Twilight yelled.

“What? I just saw what a wonderful time you two were having and decided to say hi, isn’t that what 'friends' do?"

Twilight sighed, ‘He keeps trying to use friendship as a weapon, maybe I can turn the tables?’.

“Yes Discord, yes it is. However friends also tell each other the truth. Have you been truthful with us?” Twilight wanted to know if Chaos would actually give up his portion of the Occulous, what she got was something totally unexpected.

“Hmm… you ponies want the truth, huh? Well I tell you what, go into this funhouse and it will reveal to you three truths each.”

Twilight stared in disbelief at Discord. Her mind not comprehending this development.

“See aren’t I such a good 'friend', princess. Triple what you expected, huh?” at that three Discords appeared, each holding up three hands with three fingers on each hand.

“C'mon Twilight, lets try it out!” Rainbow pushed her friend to the door. Twilight sighed, ‘It seems I have no choice’, she started heading to the door with her friend.

“Ah, sorry Rainbow, the entrance for golden wing ponies is around back.” Discord appeared right in front of Dash, pointing a claw at a sign that had not been there before. One that specified golden wings ponies around back. At that, Rainbow looked like someone had just killed her tortoise.

It was Twilight’s turn to comfort her friend, “C'mon Rainbow, it'll be alright. I'll go with you.”

“Sorry princess, only golden wing ponies can enter that way, you enter this way.” Sure enough a new sign appeared above the other one, “Mandatory Entrance for Princesses of Equestria.”

“Oh wipe that look off your faces, you will meet in the middle, that’s the fun after all!”

Rainbow sighed, “You want to still do this, Twi?” After a moment though Twilight nodded, it was too golden an opportunity to pass up.

“Alight Twi, I'll see you inside.” She took off in a dash, running to the other entrance, seeking to reunite with her friend as soon as she could. ‘Lets see, the entrance should be around here somewhere. Looking up she saw a big neon sign with a figure pointed at a hole fifty feet up the wall. ‘How did I miss that?’

Rainbow flew up and in, the entrance disappearing before she knew it. Dash found herself in a fun house, mirrors off all shapes reflecting her image back to her. Not her current image, in almost all, she was her normal cyan-blue self, no sign of the hilt on her back. She paused and admired herself in each one. In this one she was Captain of the Wonderbolts, flying high and leading her team in another successful performance. In that one she was waving her foal off for its first day of school, crying next to her husband Soarin. ‘That's weird, I never thought of him like that before.’ The next one had her playing with all her Ponyville friends… no she was not playing. She was FIGHTING them… why? Why was she seeking to hurt her friends like that, she would never! Rainbow moved on quickly, barely pausing to look at any more of the mirrors, afraid of what she would see.

However, there was no way out of this room. Every twist and turn ended with more mirrors, in some she was with her friends, in some she had a family, in some she was a mother, a teacher, a baker, a lover, a stallion? That was slightly disturbing. Dash started panicking. Each mirror showing her something that never was, or something that could have been, or worse, things that might have been.

After her third trip around the room, she stopped. A realization hit her like ton of bricks. None of these mirrors had Twilight in them. Rainbow began losing it, no longer caring what the mirrors showed of her; she wanted to find one with her friend in it. "No that’s just me raising Scoots, no that’s me 'involved' with pinkie, no that’s me killing Celestia, no, no, no, no, no, no, WHAT THE BUCK!”

She paused, in the mirror down at the end of the hall, her reflection was missing and instead Applejack's was staring down at her. A vicious smile over her normally friendly face. “That’s not Applejack.”

“Of course it isn’t, dear Dashie.” Discord appeared in the mirror with the farmer, lazily floating around the orange mare. “But, who better to reveal the truth to you then the pony who was the bearer of the Element of Honesty.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“What’s wrong Dashie? I thought you liked it when your friend called you Dashie?”

“Discord get this through your skull, I'm not, nor have I ever been, your friend, you are a friend of Fluttershy and she is my friend. We have only EVER been acquaintances at best. You know it, I know it. Lets not insult each other by pretending otherwise.”

“He, he, and I reckoned’ I was the honest one.”

“Don’t let it talk, Discord.”

Discord looked at Rainbow with a smile all over his faces, which were just now coming from every mirror in the room. “Sorry Dash, I'm just the Spirit of Chaos after all, when the God of Chaos makes something happen, well there's nothing I can do about it.”

The AJ in the mirror continued grinning at her friend. “Well sugar, I reckon it's time for you to know a few truths.”

Dash’s world went black.

When Dash came too, she was back in Celestia’s Throne Room. She had seen this before, she had lived it before, Celestia and Luna were both in the room. The two were waiting for their guests to arrive. Right on schedule a huge set of double doors opened, allowing two ponies to walk into the room, a purple alicorn, and a cyan-blue pegasus. This was the start of the Princess Summit, Discord had teleported her back in time.

“Twilight, it’s a trap!” Rainbow yelled; it was no use, they could not hear her.

“Tisk tisk Rainbow, we can't change the past, now can we?” Discord appeared in the stained glass window to her right.

“Discord, why am I here?”

“To witness something.”

“I've seen it.”

“Oh not that, I have little doubt Tartarus would have made you witness Twilight's victory over his pet reaper, but that’s not what I want you to see. Something happens in a minute, something that no one noticed. Something you get to see."

Rainbow tried to relax; whatever Discord wanted her to see, it would happen soon. There was nothing she could do about it. She doubted that Discord lied about not being able to change the past. If he could, he would have stopped the princesses from ever defeating him in the first place.

So Rainbow watched and waited, she watched as Twilight and her old self greeted the princesses, she watched as one of the ‘guards’ came up and informed Celestia and Luna of an emergency. Distracting the two, Rainbow watched as Twilight asked Rainbow about her time in the Wonderbolts. She was forced to watch as her old self decided to show off a little of what she had learned. She watched as Chrysalis revealed herself by blasting a hole straight through her old self’s stomach. She did not want to watch the next part.

“Rainbow, this is why you are here. You have to watch this.”

Rainbow had a ringside seat as Twilight’s heart broke. Twilight collapsed next to Rainbow’s prone form. Her face was blank, a river of tears flowing down from Twilight's eyes. Rainbow watched as her pupils collapsed in on themselves, leaving only the white, Rainbow started crying. The hurt Twilight had suffered at that moment, it was worse than any pain Rainbow had ever experienced in her life, but she would not turn away. Even if it did nothing for Twilight, there might be a chance that by sharing this pain, it might be able to lessen what Twilight was going through. If there was even the slightest chance that was the case, Tartarus himself could not tear her from that spot.

“Look closely Rainbow, this is important.”

She saw it… she could not explain it; she doubted even Twilight would have been able to. In the physical plane, nothing happened. Rainbow’s vision had moved beyond the physical, she did not know if it was something Discord had done, or if it was a side effect of the trauma the alicorn in front of her was suffering. A bridge had formed, connecting two powers that were never meant to be connected. Twilight accessed a reservoir of power never meant for mortals. It was a power sealed away inside Twilight, it was never meant for her full use, she would have only been able to access the smallest fraction of that power, even as an alicorn. This power flooded the alicorn's body. Imbuing her with the full power of a God.

Rainbow awoke. She was back in the room of mirrors, save this time, there were no reflections staring back at her. This time Discord was floating over her.

“You saw it?”

“Yes… thank you for letting me know.”

Rainbow lashed out with her wings, slicing the draconequus in three sections.

“OWW! What the hell!” Discord put himself back together, glaring angry at the black pegasus that had actually managed to hurt him.

“WHERE WERE YOU?! Where were you in all that?! You saw what happened. The pain she went through. It broke her! You could have stopped it! So I ask one more time, where were you?” The anger coming of the mare was palpable.

Discord shrunk down, he felt as small as a mouse, and as such became the size of one. “I’m sorry, Rainbow.

“What was that?!” More anger radiated off Rainbow Dash, all of it sent to Discord.

“I said I'm sorry, I knew the bug queen was up to something but, when I finally figured it out, it was too late. She had activated those accursed magic dampeners. I tried to stop it, you may not believe it, but I did try.”

“Magic dampeners?” Rainbow was confused, nopony had told her about those.

“Cursed objects designed by the most annoying unicorn ever, Starswirl. He built ten of the things; they were his fallback plan to defeat me. Naturally the princesses finding the Tree of Harmony made them moot so he hid them. Chrysalis found them, I… I'm sorry.”

For the first time in her life, Rainbow believed Discord. She did not forgive him. After what she saw, after the pain Twilight had gone through, THAT could never happen. However, she did believe him. The emotion on his face was true, he really was sorry about letting it get that far. As a way of response, Rainbow lowered her wings, no longer threatening the draconequus.

“Now you know the truth, you know the power she has, with such power comes benefits, and drawbacks. Take some time Rainbow and really consider what those mean for her, and you.”

With a snap of his fingers, he was gone. Leaving the black mare alone; considering his words.

The mirror in front of her shattered, each piece evaporating in an instant before it hit the ground. ‘At least I can finally leave this room.’

The next room looked a lot like the first, however, instead of possible Dashes reflected at her, this one showed all of her friends. All of her POSSIBLE friends. There was Rarity, the lead fashion designer in Equestria, in the next, her face covered in cat scratches, and she had a heart brand over her chest. Pinkie, planning her fifth son's birthday, Pinkie, cooking Rainbow and making her into cupcakes. On and on it went, each of her friends revealed to her at their very best, and very worst. Possible and impossible… no, improbable alike. She stopped at one mirror, this one got Dash’s attention not because of what it showed, but what it didn’t show. There was nothing in it, not even her reflection.

“Ok Discord, what's this one going to show me?”

“How should I know?”

“Yeah right, c'mon I want to find Twilight.”

“Why?” Discord asked.

“Why what?”

“Why do you want to find Twilight so bad?”

“What are you talking about? She's my friend."

“Your friend huh? Like her?” at that Pinkie appeared in the mirror, her smiling face glaring at Rainbow. “Or her? Or her? Or her?” each of Rainbow friends took a turn in the mirror.

Rainbow did not get it. “Yes, they are all my friends.”

“But Rainbow, you have never gone to this length for ANY of the others. When was the last time you let Fluttershy cry on your shoulder.” With that several images of Fluttershy crying with Rainbow nearby flashed through the mirror. In each one the yellow pegasus had needed her comfort and in each one it was denied. “Now if that isn’t harsh I don’t know what is.”

“I don’t do the touchy feely thing and she knows it.”

“Really, lets keep looking.” The images changed to the events over the last few weeks. All the times Twilight had sought comfort from her, she had given it to her, willingly. “That’s different.” Rainbow said sheepishly.

“Really, why?”

“I couldn’t feel anything during it.” Rainbow knew that was a lie and Discord called her out on it.

“Now, now Rainbow, lets not insult each other by lying.” Discord said, mirroring a version of her own words back to her.

The rest of her friends began speeding through the mirror, each in a similar position to what Fluttershy had been in, and in each one Rainbow had refused to drop her guard. Unlike what she had done with Twilight.

“Twilight is special.”

“Oh you don’t have to explain it to me Rainbow, its someone else that you need to convince of the truth.”


The mirror flashed once more, revealing the pony that needed to be convinced of the truth.

Her reflection stared back at her, her true reflection, black coat and all.

The mirror shattered, leaving Dash alone with her thoughts yet again.

Rainbow did not hurry into the next room, she had a lot to consider. Mainly no longer hiding her feelings from herself. She expected another room full of mirrors, another room full of hard truths. There was only one. One mirror at the end of the room. This one made her happy. This one had Twilight in it.

“TWILIGHT!” forgetting herself, Rainbow ran up to the mirror. When she reached it, it dawned on her that this was yet another ‘trick’ from Discord. She enjoyed it anyway, taking this opportunity to look at her friend. Really look; she examined Twilight's coat, her white eyes, the unique cutie mark that adorned her flank. It all made sense in the context of what she had learned. No wonder Twilight had always been good with magic, what had she said earlier ‘even a fraction of a God's power is still a lot’.

“It's good to see you Twilight, even if it's not really you.” The events of before weighed heavily on Rainbow's heart. This mare, Princess Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, she had suffered, and more so than any other pony Rainbow knew of. Rainbow would gladly throw herself into the pits of Tartarus if it would stop Twilight from ever feeling that way again. The knowledge that Rainbow had indirectly caused that suffering, by leaving her friend like that, even if there had been nothing she could have done about it. It broke her heart.

“I promised you once Twilight, and I renew that promise now,” she crossed her heart and stuck a hoof in her eye. “I will never leave you again.”

“I love you, Rainbow.”

Rainbow stared up at Twilight's reflection; she knew it was not real. She knew that this was nothing more than a reflection of Twilight. At that moment, it did not matter. Hearing Twilight say those words, Rainbow was the happiest mare in the world.

“I love you, Twilight.”

The mirror shattered.

Define: Purgation

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Chapter 21 Define: Purgation


Twilight watched Rainbow run around the corner, momentarily taken aback as the pegasus left her. She was the one who told Dash to play along, so why did she feel like this? Twilight shook it off; if anything, it would give her more motivation to finish Discord’s little game that much sooner. In addition, there was a reward to look forward too, three truths, as he promised. ‘Assuming that wasn’t a lie.’ Twilight thought. If it were, she would make him regret it.

Twilight shrugged her shoulders, the sooner she got this over with the sooner they would be back together. ‘Let’s get this over with.’ She proceeded through ‘her’ entrance, or so the sign said. What she saw on the other side immediately dropped her jaw.

Books… lots and lots of books, an entire library worth of books, enough for a lifetime. ‘Is this a trick? Well obviously, it is Discord at work.’ She proceeded to grab the first one she found.

“Twilight Sparkle, age seven, Day two thousand six hundred eighty three.”

She dropped it. Picking up another, and another, and another, ‘every book in here is about me. Somepony chronicled my entire life. Every. Single. Day’. It was, confusing, on one hoof, she was flattered. As a princess, she has had several books written by ghost authors about her. However, this was not the same. She could not help but feel a sense of violation about this. Had somepony been following her around her entire life? On that hoof, it was a little creepy.

“Oh relax ‘princess’, no one followed you around.”

Discord… of course he would not wait outside. “Then what is all of this?”

“You mean you don’t like your own personal collection? I thought you would be excited to see yourself in so many books.”

“No, I mean, where did all these come from?”

“You of course. As soon as you walked through that door, these came into being from your own memories, some you remember, some you forgot. I particularly enjoy this chapter on how you suffered from bedwetting after moving into the castle.”

Twilight spun around. Discord was lying down on a pile of books with one in his lion paw, casually flipping through her life in book form. She ripped the book from him with her magic, glaring angrily at the draconequus.

“Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait for the movie to see how it plays out. Shame, the books always go into so much more detail.”

“What's the point of all this, Discord?”

“Fine, ruin my fun, oh well. The ‘point’ of all this, little miss ‘princess’ is that YOU forgot something, something important. Something that can only be taught to you, by you. Being that you so love a good book, what better way to remind you than with books?”

“Just come out with it! You know I don't have time to read an entire library’s worth of books.”

“You cannot be that dense, Twilight.” As if to test just how dense she was, Discord pulled out a slab of steel and hit her over the head with it, she felt nothing, but the metal broke in two. “I stand corrected, you are that dense.”

“I trust there was a good reason for that.” The anger in her eyes told the whole story about what Twilight felt in regards to that little display.

“Where do you think you are, my little princess? You are in the Realm of Chaos; you think my power was strong in Equestria? The only rule here is there are no rules. Even that rule gets broken every now and again on principle alone. Of course, we then break those rules, but I digress. What laws of time do you honestly think we follow?”

“So... I can study all I want and no time will pass.” Joy started to overtake Twilight at that little prospect.

Discord slapped a hand to his face, ‘if I didn't know her better I would say that was a joke, oh well, it should still work all the same’. “Yes Twilight, knock yourself out.” With a snap of his fingers, he was gone, leaving the alicorn alone with stacks upon stacks of books.

Contrary to her earlier thoughts, studying a book, about yourself, studying books, is in no way, shape, or form, interesting. She finished the current book, adding it to the pile of finished books in which she spent the majority of the day studying. After she had finished age three, Twilight started organizing the books she finished into two piles, those where she spent over fifty percent of her time awake studying, and those days she did something, anything else. The former pile had grown exponentially. It seemed that all she ever did was study. She had gone through over a decade worth of books, and ninety-nine percent of them had gone into that pile. She even added the first three years worth of books to the latter pile just to make herself feel better. It did not work.

Picking up another book, she stared happily at it, she remembered this day all too well, the Summer Sun Celebration that had brought her to Ponyville. She flew through the book faster than ever, moving on to the next, and the next, and the next. These times were the happiest in her life and she could not stop reading about them. Her time at the Best Young Flyer competition helping Rainbow, the Incident with Philomena, the Grand Galloping Gala, defeating Discord, rescuing her BBBFF, Helping the Crystal Empire, Becoming a Princess, finding the keys to the box. All these and more flew by in a flash, this was her opportunity to relive the happiest moments of her life, and Twilight loved every minute of it.

Then it started to become not so much fun. Her friends, the ones that made her so happy, they began drifting. It was slow and gradual, only by having lived through it had Twilight been able to see it at all. She began seeing the signs for what they were. It started with her, Celestia had given her a little more responsibility that befitted her role as princess and she took to it with her usual gusto. However, there is only so much time in the day, regardless of title.

Not wanting to disappoint her mentor, she began reorganizing how she spent her time. She still made time for her friends, just a little less than normal. Slowly, over a few years, that time grew less, and less. They started drifting apart. Rarity went first. Finding a special somepony, one that just happened to show up in her shop, their courtship would last for a year, a time in which Rarity would grow to rely more on him then her friends.

Pinkie went next. Yes, Mr. Cake had given her new responsibility, yes, she deserved it, however, she took it all on her own. The cause was clear as day with the evidence in front of Twilight's face. It was due to the fact her friends just were not around that much. When Twilight did not spend the sort of time with them that she used to, they found other ways to fill in the time, ways that quickly became more prominent in their lives.

Only with hindsight had Twilight been able to see it at all. Fluttershy’s withdrawing, Applejack's refusal to seek help after Granny Smith died. No wonder Rainbow took the offer to join the Wonderbolts. It made a certain kind of sense; one Twilight did not want to admit too. It all tied into each other, they were too kind, had one of them been selfish, had one of them sought out the help of the others. They all would have come running to help. In essence, their friendship had divided them. It was a cruel twist of fate, one that Twilight resolved again to break as soon as this mess was fixed.

“Ok Discord, I'm done.”

“Not yet, keep reading Twilight.”

Twilight looked over to the last pile of books on the floor. She picked up the one on top and began reading. This set of books dealt with her decisions as a princess and the consequences that came with those decisions. It seemed Discord had indeed lied about something, she did know about some of these. They could not have possibly come from her.

The situation was different in each book, the characters involved were different, but a constant theme was present. In each case she would have to make a choice, she would have to decide on some situation that presented itself. At first, it had been easy. If the decisions were hard, Twilight would seek out advice with her friends, her trusted ‘council’ if you would. She would then make a decision and the case would be solved. Yes, it was not always the right decision but between the six of them, they got it right a LOT more than wrong.

As time progressed, she lost that council. Well not lost per se but she was not able to make use of it as much as before. She rationalized it at the time as her becoming more comfortable with making such decisions on her own. With hindsight, and the evidence in front of her, Twilight saw that was not the case. She stopped using them because she did not want to bother them. She did not want to bother them because they had other responsibilities. They had other responsibilities because they did not hang out as they used to. They were not around as much because she had not wanted to bother them.

The cycle became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ponies of Equestria suffered for it. Not in any obvious way, she made the best decisions at the time with the information she had. However, she had not considered all the possibilities. What Twilight lacked was the different perspectives that the others brought. In one example, she granted approval for a special weather consideration, only to see crops flood at a neighboring town, Rainbow would have known better than to do that. In another, Twilight authorized a parade in town, only for it to fail miserably due to lack of planning, the pony in charge overwhelmed with the responsibility. Had Pinkie been involved that never would have been an issue.

Keeping track, it quickly became apparent that the amount she got ‘right’ on her own was overshadowed by the amount she got ‘wrong’. Nopony would blame her; it was only in hindsight of her decisions and the unintended consequences involved that Twilight was even able to see where she went wrong. Even if this entire Library worth of books was presented to a jury, she had no doubt they would acquit her of all charges. There was only one pony in the whole universe that would blame her, that pony was Twilight Sparkle.

“Ok Discord, I get it.”

“Really, what do you get Twilight?”

“What I mean to my friends, what they mean to me, and the impact of our friendship on all Equestria. They need me and each other, but, nowhere as much as I need them, it was selfish to be selfless.”

“By George, I think she’s got it.”

With that, one of the bookshelves in the room opened up, giving the princess a way of leaving. Twilight walked into the next room. It was a room that would have been right at home in Rarity’s Boutique, a room that was full of mannequins. Each one an exact replica of all her friends, well almost all her friends, there was no Rainbow Dash mannequin. Somehow, this left Twilight disappointed in a way she could not describe. For her it had been months since she last saw Dash. All the time spent in the library studying.

“What's the point of this room, Discord?”

“I'm just going to have to hold your hoof and walk you through everything, huh?”

“Just get on with it.”

Discord appeared relaxing on top of the Applejack mannequin, his legs resting on her head and his head on her flank. “Very well ‘princess’, the ‘point’ of this room, as you so elegantly put it, is for you to tell the truth.”

“What truth?”

“Sigh… let me put it another way, when we are around others we never say all we mean too. Even the best of us hide our true feelings. As such, these rooms give you a chance to admit to yourself what you truly feel. Think of this as a room of truths, you will pass through here once you finally admit to yourself what it is you TRULY think about each of your friends in turn. So let me ask, princess. What do you think of Pinkie Pie?” With that, he snapped his figures, disappearing from the room. The Pinkie mannequin came to life and bounced in front of Twilight. It became obvious that this was not the real Pinkie, as it did not say anything. It sit quietly in front of her, waiting for Twilight to say her peace. That alone was a little unnerving, seeing Pikie sat still for any amount of time, even in mannequin form, was simply wrong.

“This is stupid, Discord. That’s not Pinkie!”




Twilight tried to leave; there was no exit she could find, on the magic plane or otherwise. She sighed and walked back to the pink pony that waited patiently for her to finish. “Pinkie you are one of my best friends in the world.”

Nothing happened.

“Pinkie, you are one of the funniest ponies I have ever met.”

Still nothing.

Twilight considered her options: she could try teleporting, although that did not end well last time, scratch that off the list. She could blast her way out, but with her powers at her current level, it would cause untold destruction, and she could not see Rainbow’s location. Unacceptable, she would not risk it. That left the last option.

“Pinkie… you are one of the most annoying ponies I have ever met. You are loud, reckless, inconsiderate, thoughtless, and have no respect for other ponies’ personal space or property." She sighed deeply before continuing.

"However, you are so much fun to be around. Before I met you I would never go to parties, I would never seek to enjoy myself around others. You are one of my best friends in the world. I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything.”

The Pinkie mannequin smiled and jumped at Twilight, wrapping her in a big hug. It then returned to its former spot and resumed being an inanimate object again.

The Rarity mannequin woke up next, making its way towards Twilight with all the grace and dignity of the real Rarity.

“Rarity, you have the oddest sense of priorities I've ever seen. I've seen you fret over dresses when the world is at stake. You worry about the silliest things at the worst times and it drives most of us completely crazy." Twilight took a deep breath.

"Your generosity puts Celestia to shame; you are so kind and thoughtful, putting other ponies’ needs before your own, even when you should not, even when the cost to you is so high. You are always there for everypony, even when they don’t want it.” Twilight chuckled a little at that. “Truly, you are an inspiration for me, somepony I look at as an example to follow in my own life.”

The Rarity mannequin nodded at that and left, soon replaced by Fluttershy.

“Fluttershy, I… I'm sorry. You have one of the worst cases of social isolation that I've ever seen; you have real self-esteem issues and constantly worry about the opinion of others. I knew this when we first met. With us as your friends you were getting better, you even started singing in front of others near the end. However, when we started drifting, you relapsed. I should have known, I should have been there for you. More than any of the others; I failed you and I'm sorry for it.” The Fluttershy mannequin walked over and hugged Twilight. Wiping a tear from Twilight’s eye. Applejack took Fluttershy’s spot, waiting patiently for Twilight to purge some of the feelings she had built up over the years.

Twilight paused, what could she say about the farmer? Applejack was stubborn, honest, caring, and helpful. None of these things were new, everypony knew all that about AJ. That is when it dawned on her.

“Applejack you are your own worst enemy. Every trait you have works against you. You are honest, sometimes cruelly, but never with yourself. The only pony who you will not tell the truth too is you. You make decisions without all the facts. Even when somepony gives you evidence you are wrong, you stubbornly refuse to accept the truth. You seek to help others, even to your own detriment. Often leading you to unintentionally hurt those you sought to help." She paused to catch her breath.

"You are also the most dependable pony I know; I can rely on you to keep your word regardless of the circumstance. Indeed every quality that hurts you helps you.” Twilight began laughing. “You are quite the conundrum you know, and I wouldn't have you any other way.”

Applejack tilt her hat to the purple alicorn and walked back to her spot. Somehow, Discord was right, after this whole exercise Twilight felt a weight come of her shoulders, one that had been building slowly over the years. She had not even realized she was carrying it until it was removed.

“One room left Twilight, one more pony to tell the truth to.”

Twilight slowly exhaled, she knew this was coming; she just had no idea what to say.

She had expected another mannequin, one shaped like Rainbow in this last room, what she got was a mirror at the end of the room. Walking up, she looked into the mirror. Although, instead of her own reflection, Rainbow Dash’s reflection looked back at her.

“Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow… what can I say about you? You seem to exemplify all the bad qualities of the rest of our friends: You are as stubborn as AJ, as socially inept as Fluttershy. Admittingly in a different sort of way, you are as fickle as Rarity, and as reckless as Pinkie Pie.”

“Yet of all our friends, you’re the one I miss the most. You remind me so much of myself. We both strive to be the best at what we do; we both have impossible dreams that can never be reached. We both suffer from the impossible expectations set by others and worse, ourselves. So much was expected of us, as fillies we achieved impossible feats. Ones that would have been sufficient for adults; something most adults would retire after achieving, yet because of those we will forever face naysayers and be held to such impossible standards. They will test us, forever. If we fail, it proves them right, if we pass… it was too easy and they should have given us something harder.” Twilight wiped a tear from her eye.

“Is it little wonder I depend on you so much. Only you can know what I go through and only I can reciprocate that for you. Of all of them, you're my best friend, Rainbow.”

Twilight expected the room to open, nothing happened.

“Discord, what the hay? I did as you asked.”

“Twilight, stop hiding.”

“I'm not hiding.”

“Really, so those where your true feelings? That is TRULY all you have to say to Rainbow. Even after all this.”

Images began flashing through the mirror, the first time she saw Rainbow after arriving in Ponyville, Twilight wanting to comfort Rainbow when she thought Rainbow was mad at AJ, the incident with the Wonderbolts at the town of Rainbow Falls. On and on they went, little tidbits here and there. None of them meaning anything on their own, but when added together, they formed something greater than the sum of their parts. “These are being taken out of context,” she rationalized.

“That may be, but what about these?”

More images appeared, recent ones, her reaction after Rainbow’s death. The time spent in the hospital, the night in the tent. They kept speeding by, her kissing Rainbow, not once, but twice. Twilight could not hide from herself anymore. What she had seen, all of it, it only meant one thing.

She started crying. “What do you want me to say, Discord?’

“I want you to stop hiding from your true feelings.”

She could not say it, Rainbow Dash would never reciprocate such emotions, she would end up losing Rainbow over it, their friendship would suffer and end, Equestria would suffer. All because she could not keep her trap shut. Twilight laid down letting the tears flow freely.

“I can’t….”

The image in the mirror spoke, “I love you, Twilight”

She looked up, that was Rainbow’s voice, she would recognize it anywhere. Rainbow said it first, even if it was not the real Rainbow, she said it. That one act gave Twilight all the courage she needed.

“I love you, Rainbow.”

The mirror shattered.

Define: Love

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Chapter 22 Define: Love


Twilight and Rainbow stared at each other, unblinking and unmoving. No words passed between the two, each too afraid to say anything lest they be the cause of the lost friendship. While no words were spoken, their thoughts were traveling at the speed of light.

‘Did she hear what I said?’

‘Was that really her that said I love you?’

‘Will she hate me?’

‘Was it for real?’

‘This is a trick, I hope.’

In the end it was Twilight who first broke the silence, “Rainbow, I… I…”.

‘No, she can't be trying to backtrack again.’

“Rainbow, I don’t know what you heard.”

‘She’s trying to take it back, I can't go through that again.’

“Rainbow, Discord, he-"

“Shut up, Twilight.”

“Rainbow, it was-”

“TWILIGHT SPARKLE.” Rainbow did not scream, her voice carried the weight of her words to Twilight, with more force than any yelling could ever accomplish. “Shut up.”

Maybe it was the force of the order; maybe it was because for the first time she could remember, Rainbow had used her full name. Whatever reason, Twilight complied with the command. Too afraid to speak up lest she angered the black mare in front of her even more. Rainbow slowly, more slowly than she ever had before, got up. Dash began walking up to her friend. Slowly, ever so slowly, until she was a hare’s breath away.

“The time for talking between us is over.” that scared Twilight, Rainbow was mad at her, she was going to tell her to leave, they would not be friends anymore, she was about to lose her best friend in the world.

“Please don’t hate me.” She managed between tears falling from her eyes.

Rainbow kissed Twilight.

Twilight had been expecting to be yelled at, to be ousted, to be labeled a hundred different names, no self-respecting pony would ever want to be around her again. She had been expecting a lot. This was not on the list. Her mind triple-checked the checklist to make sure she had not missed it when she double-checked the checklist.

Kicked, punched, bitten, yelled at, screamed at, bullied, beaten, abandoned, tossed in lava, kidnaped by aliens, etc..., etc.… No kiss, nowhere had she ever planned on this. She thought her feelings where just that, hers and nopony else’s. Twilight’s mind gave up, this went against any planning it had ever done for this situation; there was only one logical course of action Twilight’s brain could think of. For the first time in her life, Twilight Sparkle let her heart take control.

For Rainbow, this was a game changer, the consequences could be dire, but she could not go through with letting Twilight off again, her heart would not let her. Rainbow’s mind went to interject. It tried to tell her not to do this, however, when she pulled out the court document identifying that if the issue that caused their earlier divorce ever came up again, her brain was to stay a thousand yards away at all times. Dash’s mind had no choice but to back off. Rainbow herself was tired of the act. Ever since that morning (She assumed it had been in the morning, but in this place?) that kiss was all she could think of. Rainbow had cursed herself for letting Twilight off, for giving her the ‘out’ that she had so craved. Not after this, that would not happen again. Twilight had said it first. She had.

The kiss was amazing. Not even her time in Elysium had felt this good, and that was supposed to be her heaven or something. ‘It doesn’t hold a candle to this.’ True, right now she might as well been kissing a mannequin, as Twilight was too shocked from this whole situation to do anything. Rainbow would not let that interfere with her enjoyment, If this was the end of their friendship, if Twilight wanted nothing more to do with her. So be it, she would have this memory for the rest of her days, while it was no substitute for actually being with Twilight, she would at least have this.

It was Twilight’s turn to surprise Rainbow. She began returning the kiss, with all the strength she could manage. Wrapping her hooves around the black mare, Rainbow fell over, the extra weight throwing off her balance. Twilight never let go, true to her earlier comment she ended up on top of the night-black pegasus. Their lips never left each other. Days of frustration and awkward moments were over. In this one single act the weight of all of it was lifted. While it may have been her first real kiss, if this was what all those books went on about it was well worth the wait.

Twilight’s mind returned from a bout of tutoring with her heart, freshly read up on the finer details of love, ‘It’s not the act, it’s the pony. It would not feel the same with just anypony, you know why it feels this good, say it’.

After an indescribable amount of time, Twilight finally broke the kiss, Twilight’s head pulled back from Rainbow’s lips, Rainbow lost herself in those pearl white eyes.

“I love you, Rainbow Dash.”

“I love you, Twilight Sparkle.”

Rainbow Dash had stolen that kiss; Twilight took the next two.


After an eternity, Twilight rested her head next to Rainbow's while still refusing to get off the pegasus. All they had done was kiss, but she had never felt so ‘satisfied’ in her life. This feeling, it was not excitement, happiness, joy, or anything else she could name for that matter. It was something better, something that took her mind off everything. She still had issues and it was not like they suddenly did not matter. No, it was more like, they did not matter right now. She could put them off for later. For the first time in her life Twilight Sparkle did not worry about anything, she was content. Yes that is the word. That is what Rainbow had given her right that second. Twilight was content.

Twilight noticed something about Rainbow she had not expected to see at that moment.

“Rainbow, are you crying?”

“So.” Rainbow did not care, at that moment she felt completely safe with this pony, if anyone dared say anything she would curb stomp them later. She was with Twilight, and for the first time since she was a filly, Rainbow Dash could not care less of what the world thought about her.

“No, I mean how are you crying? You shouldn't be able to cry.”

“Oh, you know, now that I think about it, it is not the first time I felt something like this.”

Twilight paused, silently listening to the mare she was currently laying on.

“You know Twi, the more I think about those times, I think I'm beginning to understand why.”

“Yes, Rainbow?”

Rainbow lifted her head to whisper it into Twilight’s ear.

“It’s you.”

Twilight jerked her head back, in shock at what she had heard. Her ‘marefriend’ (that romantic Involvement box just got a big bucking check) was staring up at her, that sly grin was back on her face. “That’s not possible, Rainbow.”

“Sorry Twilight, but I think you're wrong about that. Given; I can't explain it, but whenever I think back to when something odd happened, you were there. You either saved me, I saved you, or we were in some sort of awkward situation together.”

Twilight considered these words carefully. Briefly she remembered the time in the tent, the warmth she got from being under Rainbow’s magic wings, she was no longer convinced that is was just a side effect of those wings. She checked with her magic vision, if somehow being close to her friend caused ‘this,’ whatever this is, being this close should still count. What she saw confirmed her hypothesis.

Each living being had some sort of energy on the magic plane. Rainbow was no exception, even dead. On the magic plane Rainbow maintained some of her energy. Even heavily reduced, it was still there, like a unique signature identifying her to anyone who could see it ‘this is Rainbow Dash’, given, her wings augmented that a hundred, no, a thousand fold. On that plane of existence, they burned brighter than the sun. Twilight could look at those wings for hours and never grow bored. If Rainbow thought they were beautiful in the physical plane, she would have to redefine the word after seeing them in the magic plane. However, that was not what had Twilight attention. Her attention was directly on the mare below her. One that was right now, drawing Twilight’s excess magic energy into her. In much the same way she drew on Rainbow’s strength before.

“Rainbow… it seems as though you're drawing energy from me.”

Rainbow shot out from under the alicorn, pushing her to the side as she flew at full speed to the other end of the room, slamming into the opposite wall with enough force to shake the building, panic written all over her face.

“You… you mean, I'm hurting you!!!”

“No, nothing like that,” Twilight mentally facehoofed. ‘Remember she is a hot-head, you need to choose your words more carefully.’ “Trust me Rainbow, it doesn’t work like that.” For her part Rainbow seemed to relax a little after that, still a little shaken up but that could have been from the impact.

“It’s more of a symbioses,” after a confused look from Dash, Twilight figured she needed to elaborate. “How can I put this, you see on the magic plane emotions and well, magic, are energy. They all exist in everypony in turn. However, our bodies can only hold a limited amount of any, as such ponies like you, who have the endurance of ten ponies, you bleed off the rest. Not in any negative way, in fact it would probably harm you not to do so. Well ‘powerful’ magic users can draw on that extra energy and imbue it into themselves. I've done it a few time actually, it was the only way I was able to get through that fight in Tartarus.”

“So, I'm a powerful magic user?”

“No, it seems more like a connection if you will, when your emotions peak, when you feel a certain way. You form a bridge with my magic, allowing my excess magic to flow into you. It seems to be temporally restoring some of your feelings. This is all theory mind you… educated guess mind you. But it seems to explain everything that has happened.”

Rainbow thought about this, she did not doubt Twilight when it came to magic, but there was one more thing she wanted clarification on.

“One more question and be honest, when you say powerful magic users, who else can pull of such a stunt?”

Twilight looked sheepishly at her hooves, “well… actually… I'm the first one I know to do it, but I doubt I'm the only one EVER to do it.”

“Leave it to me to fall in love with the most powerful pony in existence.” Rainbow walked over and rubbed up against a now blushing Twilight.

For her part, Twilight simply closed her eyes and enjoyed the contact. Every brush of Dash’s fur on her's seemed to elicit a new emotion from the alicorn, every feeling taking on a new meaning. When it was over Twilight immediately missed it, unlike before it was not the warmth she missed, it was the closeness of her friend against her, her marefriend against her. She immediately walked behind rainbow and nuzzled her wing open to take her usual spot under it. A habit that Rainbow was more than happy to accommodate.


“More than you could ever know,” Twilight replied, kissing Rainbow on the cheek.

“Well isn’t this just a hallmark moment. I can’t wait to send out the Hearth's Warming Eve cards.”

“Discord, thank you.”

“Come again Twilight? I think I had something in my ear.” Discord pulled his ear off and began fishing out several items, including a safe, a bunny, a rat, a sky chariot, and several other objects of ridiculous size.

“Much better,” he put his ear back on and held a claw in front of it. “Now, what did you say?”

“I said, thank you Discord. This place, making us come here, it was your idea, wasn't it?”

“Wow, Twilight Sparkle, thanking me? This calls for another parade! Or maybe not.”

The death glare Twilight gave him made him reconsider.

“Anyway, as much as I would love to take the credit, sadly it wasn’t me, Chaos wanted you two to enjoy yourself. Lets face facts, the sexual tension between you two, I could have cut it with a butter knife. There was no way you would really enjoy yourselves with that hanging over your heads.”

“Anyway that’s not why I'm here, I'm here to tell you to he’s ready.”

“Who's ready?” Twilight asked.

“C'mon Twi, you cannot be that dense.”

“Oh she is, I have the broken piece of steel to prove it.”

Rainbow wanted to laugh, and then Discord actually pulled out the broken piece of steel. Her mood went from happy to pissed in point-ten seconds flat.

“You hit Twilight with that!” Rainbow’s wings flared out angrily.

“Oh look at the knight in shining armor, come to rescue the princess in distress.”

Discord paid for that remark, he knew he would but it had been too good to pass up. After finding the seventeen pieces of himself and putting them back together for the second time that day, it seemed to lighten the mood.

“Well now that ‘that’s’ out of the way, shall we get going ladies?”

Twilight and Rainbow nodded at each other then followed the trickster out of the funhouse. The three of them made their way through the carnival, it was different this time, not in any physical way, yet it seemed that everything… everything important had changed. Somehow, knowing that Twilight cared for her, it's as if that one thing had made everything better. There was no pressure anymore; Rainbow did not have to worry about anypony's expectations. This mare, Twilight Sparkle, she had seen the very worst Rainbow had to offer; yet she loved her not in spite of those qualities, but because of those qualities. For the first time in her life, Dash felt no pressure to succeed. At that point, it did not matter if she was the best at anything. All that mattered was that she was herself, because that is all Twilight wanted her to be.

It would not last, the pressure would return. When this was all done, when they got back to Ponyville, it would be there. A constant reminder of the expectation everypony placed on her to be the best. However, that was future Dash’s problem, even then, she would have Twilight with her, she would be able to draw on that pillar of strength. So, right this second, Rainbow did not worry about it, she could simply enjoy the company of the mare she loved.

Rainbow rubbed her muzzle into Twilight's. The purple alicorn looked lovingly into her eyes. They spoke no words, yet in that one glance Rainbow knew with one-hundred percent certainty that Twilight felt the exact same about her.

They both ran into Discord at that moment, he had stopped without any warning. “Well some pony is feeling frisky.” Rainbow stared daggers into the draconequus.

“Oh relax, I thought you would be more fun when you finally loosened up a little.”

Rainbow’s wings extended, ready to give her reply to ‘that’ comment.

“Sigh, well before I have to pick myself up yet again, there are two things you need to know.”

“Which are?” Twilight asked.

“Well the first one is that to get to see Chaos you have to... go through a ride.”

“What ride?” Dash asked.

“This one.”

Discord snapped his fingers and vanished, not wanting to face the wrath of princess’s new ‘protector’ or worse, the princess herself. For the two ponies, they were left picking their jaws off the floor. The ‘ride’ Discord mentioned directly in front of them. It was a normal carnival ride. It did not look suicidal like some of the others, indeed most ponies would have been perfectly happy to go on it. Especially ponies in their position. However, Twilight and Rainbow were not like most ponies, they both stared at each other, blushing uncontrollably, for there, right in front of them, was the one ride they would normally not be caught dead on: The Tunnel of Love.

“Twi I… I don’t know if I can do this.” The pegasus looked frightened, somehow this ride, it scared the pony next to her, so much so that she started backing up. It looked as if Rainbow’s ‘flight’ instinct in her fight or flight response had won, she was ready to get out of here at her top speed. If that happened, Twilight would be on her own, she would never catch the black mare. A thought formed in Twilight’s head, one that she would normally never consider. True, she needed Rainbow with her, in more ways then one. Therefore, if she could overpower Dash’s ‘flight’ instinct with a ‘fight’ instinct she could cut if off before it became an issue. However, what could cause such a response? She looked at her hooves; an object was lying on the ground. One that Discord had left behind, the piece of steel he broke over her head. Twilight remembered the reaction Rainbow had when Discord showed it to her. Rainbow attacked Discord for doing that to Twilight.

Wiggling her way out of Rainbow’s wings (not something she wanted to do). Twilight wrapped her tail around her legs, flattened her ears, and stared down at the ground with sad puppy dog eyes. “I understand Rainbow, I can’t ask you to do this for me, you've already done so much. It would not be fair to ask you to help me with my mistake anymore. I'll take it from here. Thank you for everything, and don't worry, it was just a silly promise, whatever may come, I won't hold it against you. ”


The general sat back in his command chair and lamented for the thousandth time that day his lot in life. ‘How did this all happen?’ of course he knew the answer, it was all because of ‘her’. His forces had ruled for countless generations, these other countries were never a threat he took seriously. Maybe that is why it occurred? They… he underestimated his opponents. Over the past six years, his neighbor in the north had gathered her strength in secret. He had assumed that the offensive she had launched weeks ago was it.

The general won, that was his job, but the cost had been high. Foolishly, he had believed his analysts, that they had exhausted their strength in one last vain attempt to be relevant. How wrong they were, how wrong he was. Over the past few weeks, she had proven to be anything but exhausted. He knew the truth now, that offensive he won against; it was just a test, a small fraction of her true power.

They spent the past few days surrounded on all sides, slowly being cut off from any source of reinforcements or resupply. Her maneuvers were textbook; he would have been impressed if he had not been on the receiving end. The general knew he could not win, no commander could, so he sought to delay, to find his opponents weaknesses, and turn them against her. Guerrilla tactics, although to be successful he would need to save as many of his forces as he could. Reinforcements would eventually come, and then he could take back the kingdom.

The plan had been perfect, designed and executed by the finest minds they had. They waited for the right time to strike and then jumped at the opportunity when it presented itself. A small break had appeared in the enemy lines, a slight weakness. The general had thrown everything he had at it. Committing all his forces at the enemies’ greatest flaw.

It worked.

He would save the majority of his army, they would flee the battlefield, and when ready, return with everything he needed to crush this upstart and reclaim the land. He was about to break out the Apple Family Cider to celebrate, when new reports had arrived that ruined any possible joy he might have had. His enemy was being reinforced.

The accursed neighbors to the east had arrived and counterattacked at the worst possible time. His forces were in full rout. Worse yet, his enemies would be here soon. He had lost everything.

It was not long before the shelling was felt in the command bunker. Bombs were falling very nearby. Enemy howitzer rounds were landing, decimating his troops, there were no options left.

“Captain, order a full scale surrender.”

“General, are you sure?”

He glared at his captain, “Are you questioning my orders?”

“Sir, no Sir.”

That was it, it was over, he had lost. They had gotten so comfortable in rule that his enemies had effectively outplayed his every move. ‘Best get ready, I'll have company soon. Time to break out the cider for a much different reason.'


“General, I told you I would see you again.”


The two enemy commanders were pointing weapons at him; their troops had cleared the command bunker with a speed and skill he could admire. He respected a show of force like this, not even the weapons bothered him. Besides, it showed they at least took him seriously.

“You know this isn’t the end, right? You cannot get rid of me forever.”

“We know, but the times have changed general. Sure, you will eventually come back. Who knows, we might actually have need of you down the line. However, it will never be as it was before. We have ‘her’ now, we don’t need or want you to be in charge anymore.”

He poured three more glasses of his precious cider and passed one to each of his two enemies, even if he had lost, he could respect their might if not the ponies. Raising his own glass he gave each a small toast, first to the new arrival, then to the one who had caused all of this.

“Protection: Ruler of the east, Love: Ruler of the north, well played ladies. I look forward to our next battle.”

“Until next time, Ego.”

They let him finish his drink before ending the rule of Ego in Rainbow’s psyche for all time.


“Of course I'll go with you Twi. Sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”

Define: Remorseful Suffering

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Chapter 23 Define: Remorseful Suffering

Tunnel of Love

Never in a million years did Twilight ever think she would be on a love ride with a marefriend… Rainbow Dash of all ponies. Had somepony told her that morning this would happen; she would have ordered the guards to drag him to the psychiatric ward for immediate treatment. Yet, here she was, in a heart shaped boat, snuggling up with the former cyan pegasus. It was everything she had ever dreamed of, but better. For this was not a dream, the two were together, sitting together, simply enjoying each others company with the most cliché music and images going by them. Although, Twilight did enjoy one song, she would have to remember it for later.

‘Can you feel the love tonight’

“Hey, Rainbow?”

‘You needn't look too far’

Rainbow stared into her marefriend’s eyes, “Yes, Twilight?”

‘Stealing through the night's uncertainties’

“Thank you, for everything I mean. I cannot begin to repay you for everything you've done for me. Although I promise, I'll spend the rest of my life trying.”

‘Love is where they are’

“Twi, you are the smartest pony I've ever met, but you are also the dumbest. Don't look at me like that. Listen, my life was going nowhere, the Wonderbolt thing, that was a joke, a silly dream by a silly filly. Before you moved to town, my only real friend was a shy pegasus that was afraid of heights. I was loud, obnoxious, and annoying. I know I still have some of that to work on, I probably always will. My point is, you rescued me from the one pony that was truly killing me, myself.” Brushing a rogue hair out of Twilight’s face, Rainbow whispered, “Twilight you make me want to be a better pony, you make me want to put aside those juvenile expectations that I set for myself. All for the chance to see you smile. You've already repaid me for everything and more, it is I who cannot repay you enough.”

Twilight was blushing, those words that Rainbow spoke, she knew that each one of them had been from the heart. Something fundamental had changed in the black pegasus, something that had caused her to put her ego aside and think only of Twilight. Truly, Twilight was honored beyond words. She renewed her vow to live only for Rainbow, whatever that may lead to.

“Discord showed me Twi, he showed me what happened the day of the attack. I saw the pain you went through, the suffering my death caused you. When I made that pinkie promise; I didn't know, but looking back on it, it was the most important vow I have ever made, and I renew it now. Twilight Sparkle, in order that you never feel that sort of sadness again, that you never lose yourself to the grief of me leaving you, for any reason. I pinkie promise to always stay by your side. From now, until forever.”

Twilight lost herself in those words, she snuggled up to the black pegasus even tighter, enjoying the warmth and company she would forever have. Rainbow knew that Twilight did not take those words literally; Twilight knew she was immortal, Rainbow was not, and even if... if they found someway to return everything to normal, Rainbow would eventually die. Twilight would be left alone. Rainbow would break her promise.

Rainbow did take the vow literally, if Twilight could become immortal so could she. They would be together, whatever the cost, Twilight would never feel the way she had on that dreadful day ever again.

Before either realized it, the ride was over. It had not ended back where it began. It ended at a docking station somewhere inside the ride itself. Twilight crawled out of her rainbow cocoon and left the boat, Rainbow soon followed, missing the warmth that Twilight brought her.

“Hey Twi, when this is over, and we get back… the next fair that comes to town… do you want to do it again?”

“Dashie, I would love to.”

They embraced one more time, enjoying the feeling of each others body pressed against their own, their tongues found the other's, engaging in an intricate dance with each other.

After five minutes, they broke apart. Missing the warmth of each other but they did have a mission to complete. There was only one set of doors leading out of there, opening it with her magic, Twilight was not surprised by who waited on the other side for them.

In union they both spoke at the same time, “So Discord you did lie to us, or should we call you Chaos.”

“Hey. After all we've been through, I still haven't earned your trust?”


Discord thought, ‘It's cute how they speak in stereo like that’.

“Very well, don’t believe me, but I didn't lie.”

“You said we would meet Chaos here and you said you aren't Chaos. You are the only one here, if you are Chaos that is a lie, if you are not Chaos that is a lie. Either which way you slice it, you lied.”

“Unless there is a third option, Twilight Sparkle.”

“What third option could there possibly be? You either are, or you are not, Chaos. That doesn't even make sense.”

“Once again I need to remind you where you are, HELLO. You're not in Equestria anymore my dear princess. You're in the Realm of Chaos. The only thing that doesn't make sense here, is making sense.”

Rainbow recognized that eye twitch Twilight now had, she needed to interject and quickly. “So you both are, and are not Chaos. Does… does this have something to do with the Occulous?”

Bells and whistles started going off everywhere, “DING. DING. DING. We have a winner folks, Johnny tell the lovely mare with the golden wings just what she has won.”

A second Discord appeared, taking the form of a game show announcer. “Well Discord, Miss Rainbow Dash has just won a meeting with the first of the Primordial deities: Chaos!”

Both Discords merged back together in a flash of light, one so bright Rainbow had to shield her eyes before being blinded. When her vision cleared the strangest pony she had ever seen was standing in front of her.

The Chaos pony lived up to every meaning of his name. His coat seemed to have more colors than Rainbow’s mane, each vying for supremacy over every spot of his body. His cutie mark was a big question mark that did not seem content staying on his flank. Right now it was enjoying some afternoon tea with his left and right leg. His mane and tail seemed to be a perverse mixture of Celestia’s and Luna’s, never quite settling between one or the other. In fact, the only constant one could nail down about this pony was there was no constant. He went from pegasus to earth pony, to alicorn, To unicorn, and back to earth pony. Sometimes being multiple of the four without ever being one or the other. If it had not been so unsettling, Rainbow would have been impressed. Twilight soon interrupted her train of thought.

“Hang on, it cannot possibly have anything to do with the Occulous, Discord has been around for at least a thousand years. Tartarus’s Occulous has only recently been broken!” Twilight seemed pleased with herself, ‘Ha, explain that one!’

“I never said it involved my dear brother's Occulous.” When Chaos spoke it was in a singsong voice, one that seemed to be a perverse mixture of all voices at the same time, yet somehow sounded sweet and innocent.

“Then what?”

“I'm sure you know most of the story, but when Tartarus figured out how to create an Occulous, do you really believe the rest of us did not also?”

“Wait… so Discord is your Occulous?”

“You really are smarter then you let on Rainbow Dash, Yes I figured out a few tweaks to the spell, my Occulous is unique, he is me and vica versa.”


“Twilight Sparkle, I know you already know the answer to that question.”

“...Vow two.”

“There you go, you see that was such an annoying vow, I am the God of Chaos after all, not being allowed to play with such amusing toys, it was a crime. As such I found a ‘loophole’ if you will. If I cannot directly interfere with mortals, I can indirectly interfere with them, as long as I don’t break vow one that is.”

“But Discord was trapped in stone for a thousand years.”

“I'm afraid I got a little carried away. As you already know the Occulous grant their user phenomenal godlike power, but when you go the route I chose, it is not quite as powerful, my sister's Occulous was much, much stronger than my own. I paid for that; that is part of the reason I let Fluttershy reform me. Don’t get me wrong her friendship is well worth it, but being trapped in stone, it is so boring.”

“So the Element’s of Harmony are the Occulous of one of your sisters. Who? Eros?”

“Oh so close Rainbow, and you were on such a roll too. Remember the Elements came from something else, and wrong sister by the way, although she does have the last piece of Tartarus’s Occulous.”

Twilight spoke up, “So the Tree of Harmony is Gaia’s Occulous?”

“There you go. I knew you would get it, eventually.”

“So I know Tartarus and Gaia did not do as you did, but does Eros exist as an Occulous?”

“No, my dear sister the ‘Goddess of Love’, did create an Occulous mind you, but she also created something else, something better. Something she has only shared with Gaia, she learned how to create an Avatar.” There was a hint of annoyance in his voice at that revelation.

“What's an Avatar?”

“Ah the million bit question. I could answer that, but it would be meaningless without knowing why it is so important. You see, or rather you will not see Rainbow, Twilight will in a few hundred thousand years. Once you are immortal, things get boring, quickly. How many times can you see the same ‘friendship problem’ play out? A hundred, a thousand? You know the answer to any problem ever, simply because you've seen it a million times before. You've looked at it from every conceivable and inconceivable angle. It's boring. I'm ashamed to say Eros figured it out and I have not. She figured out how to enjoy things again, at a level beyond simply causing chaos for the sake of chaos. That is where her invention, the Avatar came into play. Using this, she can ‘forget’ everything she knows, she merges herself with a living soul and lives out a normal everyday life, from birth to death. The side effect being an almost complete loss of power and self for the duration, but to feel such satisfaction again.” He stared off into the distance, a dreamy look in his eye.

“Why didn’t she share how to do it with you?”

“Oh she’s still mad about the whole 'Titan' incident. Maybe one day she'll let it go, I can be patient, After all, what else is there to do?”

“So where can we find Eros, her Avatar I mean?”

“Yes. That, well I'm afraid that I cannot tell you exactly who she is, a side effect of the Avatar, it makes you seem like a normal mortal to other gods. But, I can tell you, approximately, where she is.”

“And that is where, exactly?”

“Right now, she is somewhere near Equestria’s northern border, I believe you call it, The Crystal Empire.”

Rainbow’s impatience got the better of her and interrupted Twilight's concentration, “That’s nice and all but ‘you’ said you'd give us your part of the scythe, you still have it right?”

“Of course I do, the damn thing wont shut up.”

“Then fork it over already!”

“If you insist.” With that, he transformed himself back to Discord, the draconequus proceeded to take off his head and toss it to the other end of the room. After a new head regrew on his body, he directed their attention to the first head, one that was reforming itself as a skull with a broken hilt coming out of the bottom. Discord stretched his neck over to Rainbow and whispered into her ear.

“Remember what I told you earlier, Rainbow. Such power comes with benefits and drawbacks. You know Twilight has such power and I think you finally appreciate what that means.”

Rainbow simply nodded, what Discord/Chaos had said was not wrong, she just was not sure how that was relevant at this time. Rainbow walked up to the second piece of the Occulous, ready to add it to the first.

Hello, my new bearer.’ That was odd, the voice in her head was not her own.

Yes, you are a fine specimen, we shall be quite happy together.’

‘Who are you?’

Why bearer, I'm hurt, you have been carrying around a piece of me this entire time, and you don’t recognize me when I'm right in front of your face.’

Rainbow stared at the skull hilt floating in front of her, ‘so that’s what he meant by wont shut up'.

Yes, Chaos was never much of a conversationalist, at least not with me.’

‘Why did you call me your bearer? I'm not the one who will wield you.’

Laughter sounded through her skull, ‘Yes you are, you just don't realize it yet. You see, I'm the answer you seek, your marefriend over there, the one that broke me. I know what she is, as you are learning. Did you not make a vow just a few minutes ago? A vow that you would never leave her side, never cause her such pain as she experienced before. Allow me to let you in on a secret, there is no way to become immortal, I reap everyone, eventually, I reaped Celestia and Luna’s parents. I will reap the sisters one day, although not for a few thousand years more, and I will reap you. Only four beings have no fear of me and you are not one of them.

‘If only four beings do not fear you, how can you help me fulfill my vow?’

As my bearer, you have no fear of me; you will be around forever, with her. Is that not what you wanted? Is that not what you promised her?

‘Ha, I bet your last wielder was fed the same line of BS. Besides why would I want to go around looking like a sack of bones?’

No, he was not. When he first picked me up, I showed him when he would die. He knew that was his fate, he was happy to go. Yes that is an eventual side effect but the process takes millions of years to get that far. Tell you what, I will show you your fate with me if you wish to see it.

Rainbow thought about this for a while before answering, ‘Show me’.

Visions played out before Rainbow, millions of years played out in the blink of an eye. Visions of her resisting the options set before her, they could fight this future, but it changed nothing. Fighting it was pointless, the result was always the same, she saw that much. Every possibility played out before her. including visions of her playing the role of reaper, she would reap everyone, she saw herself reaping: Celestia, Luna, Applejack, Cadance, Pinkie, all of them… But never Twilight.

However, she did see Twilight, every few years she would return to the immortal alicorn; they would not embrace, they would not speak, it was pointless. Rainbow could not speak if she wanted to. But they would be together, after a fashion, forever.

In all those years, not once did Twilight look happy, not once did Twilight smile, however, she never went through the pain of losing Rainbow. Not once did she cry as she had the day Rainbow died. It would hurt her; Rainbow saw that clear as day, Twilight would never fully get over it. However, that pain was nothing compared to the loss she felt on that dreadful day. Or the loss she would feel when Rainbow passed on.

The choice is yours Rainbow Dash, I cannot force you to accept me, my wielder must be willing. So I ask, what suffering will you inflict on the one you love, an eternity without you there, or an eternity with us by her side?

‘Shut up.’

As a single tear fell from her eye Rainbow glanced back to Twilight and sent two words into the wind, soft enough that they should have never made it to their intended target, yet against all reason, Twilight heard them anyway.

Twilight watched as Rainbow started to walk towards the Occulous. ‘Only one more piece to go’, her happiness at being this close to finishing soon turned into confusion. Rainbow paused halfway there. It seemed as if she was having a debate with herself about something. It only lasted an instant before she turned and glanced back over to Twilight. A single tear fell from Rainbow's eye.


I’m sorry.” The voice on the wind hurt worse than her heart being ripped out.

It was barely a whisper; Fluttershy could not hope to be that quiet, yet, when she heard the words it chilled Twilight’s very bones. “No.” it was too late, by the time her brain processed what it had heard, went through the checklist and gave the appropriate response, Rainbow had grabbed the Occulous. Twilight was too stunned to do anything but watch what occurred next.

When Rainbow reached out and grabbed the Occulous she was instantly taken in by its power. Dark energy wrapped around the mare tightly, eliminating the final physical traces of Rainbow Dash, her cutie mark vanished before Twilight’s eyes. The skull head connected with the piece on Rainbow’s back, transforming itself into a staff, one that floated around the black mare. 'Tisk… tisk… whatever shall we do about these wings? They simply will not do for my new wielder, now will they?'

With that, more black energy floated out of the staff head, surrounding Rainbow, the energy squeezed the wings on Rainbow's body, until… with a sickening pop… they were gone. The magic pressure put on them too great for even those beautiful wings to withstand. It broke Twilight’s heart; she had spent countless hours under those wings. It had been like a gift to Rainbow, something that they both shared and now, with a sickening finality, they were gone. Never again would they share that bond.

Twilight collapsed on the ground, tears flooding from her eyes. She did not want to watch anymore of this. So many had warned her that this would occur. Yet seeing it in real life, seeing it actually happen and so soon after they had finally found each other. Twilight would have rather spent the rest of her days in Tartarus then have this for a memory. It was a hell unlike any she could have ever known.

The darkness finally receded enough for Rainbow to see again. The second transformation was over; she had access to more power than ever before. ‘Is this how Twilight feels?’ Thinking about the alicorn caused Rainbow to glance over to her marefriend. Twilight was distraught, lying on the ground weeping like a newborn filly. Rainbow saw all of this, yet she saw their future too, both the current one they were on and possible ones, none of them had Twilight suffering less than their current path. The pain Twilight was feeling now was nothing compared to what she would otherwise go through. Callously, Rainbow dismissed the fallen alicorn, she would have to sever these bonds, do anything else, and it only hurt Twilight more later. Looking around she noticed that her wings were gone. Not even the stumps remained.

My wielder must look the part after all.’

She did not care, but she did notice that her cutie mark was also gone.

‘So when do I get my new one?’

As soon as I'm complete, and your destiny is fixed.

‘Then we should get moving.’


Rainbow walked over to the God of Chaos and spoke to him in a dry voice, one devoid of any real sign of life.

“Chaos, we're ready to acquire the last piece, open the portal.”

“As you command, master.” Discord gave a VERY sarcastic bow and reply.

Twilight stood up, something in her would not let this be the last of it. She knew that Rainbow would be able to finish it from here, but this was her quest. She would finish it and she would rescue Dash in the process.

She did not exactly believe that last bit anymore.

“I'm coming too.” She knew that Rainbow was not referring to her when she said ‘we', however; she was not going to be left behind in this endeavor.

For a fraction of a second a smile appeared on Discord’s face, it was gone just as quickly but Twilight was sure she had seen it.

“Do you have the tickets?”

Twilight blinked away her confusion, “The garbage you gave us?”

“Yes those, I said you would need them to leave.”

“Hang on.” Twilight reached out and teleported the objects to her, she figured something like this would happen and did not want to risk losing them. As such, she had stored the two pieces of trash in a magic portal, one easy enough to withdraw from, if you knew where it was that is.

The two pieces of trash appeared in front of Discord, a banana peel and a half-eaten tangerine. Grabbing the banana peel with his hands, Discord pulled and stretched it into a banana boat. Flipping it upside down he picked up the tangerine and squeezed several gallons of juices on the bottom of the boat. With a snap of his claw, the wall opened up, revealing a tunnel, one whose floor was covered with a substance that reminded Twilight of wax.

Discord picked up the boat and deposited it in the entrance of the tunnel, with a gesture of his claw the two ponies got in the boat.

“Careful you two, the path forward is a bit, waxy.” He pushed the boat forward, causing them to speed off down the tunnel.

On the way out, Discord’s voice spoke to Twilight one last time. "Remember; the universe IS chaotic in nature, I should know, I built it that way. I don't know how, but you can still find a way."

Twilight started crying again, this time, she did not know if she would ever stop.

"Thank you."

Define: Persevering

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Chapter 24 Define: Persevering

Sweet Apple Acres

Almost a month had passed since their friends left for Celestia knows where. Almost a month since Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash left to fix ‘the mistake’. Truly, none of them fully understood the ramifications of what had occurred, they did not need to; whatever had happened, Twilight and Rainbow had said they would fix it. That was more than good enough for their friends.

How did that old saying go, ‘Never explain, your friends don’t need it and your enemies will not believe it’?

Applejack did not need an explanation; she just needed her friends back. She was still grieving over Granny Smith, however, that was not a free pass from all her other responsibilities. At times like this, she was her own worst enemy. Applejack took on too much responsibility and left no time for her own personal demons. ‘Buck-em’ she snarled, it never helped her to consider her own problems, almost half a year had went by, and they never got better, they never would. She knew that from when her parents died, the only thing that made her feel better was to help others. So if she did not get her chores done, so what? Helping others made her feel better, and when this was over and everypony was home again, they would help her. That is what friends were for after all, helping others in their time of need. None of her friends needed more help then Fluttershy right now.

Fluttershy was a wreck; ever since Applejack found her living on a cloud, the yellow pegasus was never the same. She sent all her critter friends away, no longer trusting herself to take care of them. Applejack did not truly understand that decision, what she did to stop the changelings had been rather... unorthodox, but Applejack did not begrudge her one bit. Applejack would have done the same; in fact, the only thing Applejack wished she could change was the after effect, as Fluttershy was now scared of herself because of what she did. It hurt to see her friend carrying so much pain in her.

Applejack sighed as she once again replaced an uneaten breakfast with a lunch that she was sure would go uneaten in front of the guest bedroom. It seemed Fluttershy was only eating once a day. It had been an improvement, when she first arrived, Fluttershy did not eat at all for three days straight. After a lot of coaching from Pinkie, Fluttershy was finally coaxed into eating again but only just. Applejack did not know how, but Pinkie was everywhere she needed to be lately, if there was anypony in Ponyville with any need of the pink pony she was there, with whatever she needed to cheer them up. However, Applejack could tell that even Pinkie Pie was reaching her limit. When that happened… well, it was best not to dwell on it.

“Fluttershy, your lunch is out here.”

“C'mon Fluttershy, you have to eat more than once a day, girl!”

Applejack paused for a minute, hoping, praying that Fluttershy might come to the door. When nothing happened she sighed, just another normal day of living with this new Fluttershy. Applejack hated this new Fluttershy, she wanted the old one back. When she turned to walk away, a noise behind her froze Applejack in her tracks. Turning around, she saw Fluttershy’s yellow hoof poking out of the room. It grabbed the lunch and quickly closed the door behind it.

‘She is getting better, baby steps,’ Applejack thought with a smile.

A hard day’s work normally left Applejack feeling better, normally. Lately, her mind was on other things. They did not really need the money, after the whole ‘Filthy Rich’ incident, she still had all the bits that he prepaid for a large quantity of cider that went undelivered. There was nopony to deliver it too. The demand had always been constant for Apple Family Cider, and with such a large amount of it, they were well off. So much so, that Applejack actually donated a large amount to Pinkie in order to rebuild Sugarcube Corner.

It was little wonder the pink pony seemed to be everywhere and nowhere these days. She had nothing else to do, there was no shop to work at, and the Cake twins were in school. All Pinkie had ever wanted from others was a smile; to that end, she threw herself into ensuring that all of Ponyville would be happy. Based on the rumors that were coming in from other towns, Ponyville was lucky to have her. Applejack did not put much stock in rumors, as they were too much hearsay. However, she also knew that nothing traveled faster than bad news.

Stillborn foals, the thought made her shudder; there could be no worse news. Well, that was not exactly true, even that was not as bad as the news in the letters she had to send all those weeks ago.

True to their word; Pinkie, Rarity, and Spike were all making weekly visits to the farm. At first, they had tried Rarity’s, but it was just too cramped. With Sugarcube Corner out of commission and using the castle felt wrong without Twilight there, that only left the farm. These get-togethers truly helped Fluttershy out, she would actually come out of her room, and Applejack swears Fluttershy actually smiled at one joke passed between Rarity and Spike. No one else saw it, but nopony who knew her would never question if Applejack told the truth.

Rarity and Spike, now that was a love for the ages. It seemed as if Rarity had finally accepted the not-so-little Spike for who he was. Applejack had never seen Rarity so happy in all her life. Even during Rarity's courtship of Rare Gem, her smile had never been so big. There was a glow around the white unicorn now. It was at one such event that things started truly looking up.

“So… em. Have you thought about what you will tell Twilight when she gets back?”

Applejack, Rarity, and Spike’s jaw all hit the floor at the same time. Fluttershy had just asked a question for the first time in... forever. Thankfully, Rarity came to her senses and drew the attention away from the blushing pegasus.

“Well darling, now that you mention it we have been discussing our relationship at length. We'll tell Twilight and Rainbow Dash together when they get back, As well as some, ‘other’ news.”

Spike could not keep it in anymore.

“She asked me to move in with her!”

“Spike! We agreed to hold off on that until they got back. Oh well, cats out of the bag now.” Rarity said with a smile.

“I even gave her a housewarming gift!”

Rarity used her magic and reached into a pouch on her bag, pulling out two ten carat red diamond earrings treated in dragon’s fire. The gem sparkled with magical light that lit up the room with red and purple energy.

Pinkie jumped up into the air and blew up, spreading confetti all over the room, immediately after, another Pinkie jumped down on the two from the ceiling, grabbing both Spike and Rarity in a death hug. “YESSS!!!! I have been holding that back for so long!!!! Now we can finally celebrate!”

“Doesn’t it seem kind of quick? And what about Twilight?”

Rarity just smiled at the shy pegasus, “I thought so at first, but we've known each other for so long already, what benefit will waiting do? I can honestly say I've never been happier in all my life. In addition, my litt- big Spiky over here, well he has been dating me for over six years; it was I who needed to understand that. With that taken into consideration, seems like we are moving a little slow actually. Spike will still work with Twilight, after all where would she be without her number one assistant? Pinkie, we will not have a party till the others get back though, we both agreed to that.”

Pinkie seemed to momentarily deflate until Spike chimed in, “That doesn't mean you can't go ahead and plan it though.”

“Oh, oh, I can’t wait! I got to plan a welcome home party, a congrats on saving the world party, a congratulations on living together party, a congratulations Rainbow on the golden wings party, and soon it’s going to be Cloud Kicker’s Birthday! I get to do that too. Oh and don't worry about Twilight, she will be so happy too, and she'll want the privacy!” Pinkie squealed at the top of her lungs, “There's sooo much to do!!!” Pinkie ran out the door, then stopped.

“Pinkie?” all four voices spoke at the same time. The pink mare turned her head back and looked at her friends with a sad expression on her face. “Scratch that, no need for the golden wings party.” She went out the door with her head hung low.

Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and Spike all stared at each other; “golden wings?” there was an awkward silence that passed between the four until, at last, Spike gave the go to excuse for everything the pink mare did, “Pinkie being Pinkie?” They all laughed at that, although Applejack was not so sure and why would Twilight suddenly want privacy. Applejack was able to put those thoughts aside and enjoy the time she spent with her friends. The rest of the evening went off without issue, they broke out the hard cider and were able to enjoy the night, almost as if nothing had happened. Just as they used too all those years ago.

After that night, or perhaps because of it, Fluttershy slowly started coming around again; she even offered to take Winona off Applejack’s hooves while she was working the field. This pleased Applejack more than she could say, Winona was getting up there in years and with everything going on Applejack did not have the time to spend with her. The true blessing was that Fluttershy was offering to take care of an animal again, even if it was just temporary.

Fluttershy not taking care of animals anymore, it felt wrong.

It was good to see Fluttershy enjoying herself again, Applejack snuck away from the fields several times that day. She just sit and watched Fluttershy and Winona playing together. It was such a simple act, yet its purity made all three of them happy.

Later that night Applejack had two unexpected visitors in her sleep. Winona came and jumped up on her bed, awaking the farmer in the middle of her slumber.

“Huh? Hey Winona, I thought you were sleeping with Fluttershy tonight.”

“Oh, she is… but she missed you and wanted to see if we… I mean she, could sleep in here tonight.”

“Of course you can girl. C'mon and get comfy’”

Winona made her way down to the bottom of Applejack’s bed and then barked twice at the farmer.

“Keep it down Winona; you don’t want to wake up every pony.”

“Oh… she was hoping that I could stay in here too … just for tonight. If you don’t mind that is.”

Applejack smiled at her friend, “Sure Fluttershy, you tell Winona that it’s fine with me if you want to sleep with us tonight.”

Squealing with glee Fluttershy crawled under the sheets and cuddled up under the blankets, Winona soon joined the two mares, finding a nice comfortable spot between them and passed out.


“Yes, Fluttershy.”

“Thank you.”

“No problem, good night.”







"I miss them.”


“Rainbow, Twilight… Angel.”

“Oh, I do too girl, but staying up late ain't’ gonna bring them home sooner.”

“They will come home, right?”

“Of course, Twilight is the best at magic, and what could ever stop RD from coming back to us?”

“Yeah, you're right.”





“What is this really about, Fluttershy?”

“Oh, it’s nothing….”


“Ah, Winona saw something spooky, I… we didn't want to sleep alone tonight.”

“What did my little doggy see?” Applejack began scratching Winona behind the ears causing her leg to start lifting up.

“Oh, it’s probably nothing….”


“She said she saw the moon rise from the west.”

“The west huh? That’s odd... well goodnight.”

“Night Applejack.”

It was three nights later before they learned what that meant.


Carousel Boutique

Spike could not believe his luck; he had finally landed the mare of his dreams. True, he still needed to let Twilight know, but how could she be anything but happy for him? Until that day comes, he was living his dream, literally, he dreamed of times like this.

“Hey honey, what would you like for dinner?”

“Whatever you make will be fine, Spike!”

He laughed at that, she was always so easy to please when it came to the small stuff, ‘hmm, maybe a nice simple hay sandwich? No, she deserves better’. Spike was just about to dip into his repertoire of culinary masterpieces, when a loud streak outside grabbed his attention. “What the hay was that?”

He ran outside and was soon followed by Rarity; they both stared up into the sky as a meteorite crashed down in the direction of Sweet Apple Acres. “Applejack, Fluttershy!" Spike shouted out his friends names, concerned for their safety. "Quick Rarity, let’s go!” Rarity did not have time to reply before Spike picked her up and flew the two of them at top speed towards Sweet Apple Acres and whatever fate had befallen their friends.

Applejack, Fluttershy, and Winona all woke from the loud crash. Their sleeping arrangements should have only been for one night, however, it turned out that Winona had been right. Every night since then the moon had risen in the west.

“What was that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Bark, bark…”

“The barn?”

“What about the barn?”

“Winona says it came from the barn.”

“I’ll go check it out, wait here.”

“If you insist.”

Applejack took off down the stairs at full gallop, she threw open the doors heading outside her house to find smoke rising from a hole in the top of the barn.

“What in tarnation?”


“Spike, Rarity, over here.”

Spike and Rarity landed near the farmer, relieved that their friend was all right. “How's Fluttershy?”

“She’s fine Rare. She’s inside looking after Winona.”

“What about Apple Bloom?”

“Apple Bloom is with Scoots,”

“What a relief.”

“Not yet you two, we still gotten find out what crashed into my barn. Spike you ready, sugar?”

Spike just nodded, even as a baby he was always strong for his age, easily able to lift several times his weight. His strength had only increased exponentially since then, he was easily stronger than any pony in Ponyville. His extra strength had made him very useful. As such, he was used to joining his friend's adventures. Providing the muscle if they needed it. Although very few beings were actually willing to face down a dragon.

Spike and Applejack ran to the barn, pulling open the front doors, what they found on the inside caused them both to pause in their tracks. In the center of the barn, with steam rising up from the heat of her crash, was Princess Luna.

Luna looked as if she had been through a war. Scars covered fifty percent of her flank; her normal hair was torn and frayed. It had lost most of its ethereal quality along with her tail, instead, taking on the blue that they had only seen after her restoration from Nightmare Moon.

“Spike, send a letter to Celestia.”

"I don’t have an….”

“Here you go!”

“Pinkie? No, you know what, I do not even care. Give me the quill and paper.”

As Spike started scribbling down the letter, Applejack turned to Pinkie.

“Pinkie, Fluttershy is inside, run an’ grab her. She’s better at healin’ then I will ever be.”

Pinkie zoomed out of the barn in flash, leaving a pink after image that made it look like she had yet to leave. Applejack dismissed it, turning to check on the fallen Princess Luna. “You ok there, princess?”

“We will be, just give us a minute.”

“Shouldn’t your guards be with you or something?”

A solemn look from Luna told Applejack all she needed to know about what happened to Luna’s guards.

“Applejack I've got the letter ready, anything else you want me to add?”

Princess Luna interrupted Applejack's reply, “Yes, tell our sister the griffins are invading. They will be here within the hour.”


Celestia was exhausted; this was her first night back to the capital city in a month. She had spent the better part of the last thirty days flying from city to city in her realm. Her little ponies were hurting in one of the worst possible ways. She could not truly blame them, the losses were tragic, when put into such context their reactions were quite subdued.

Her true surprise came from Canterlot itself. None of the cities she had yet visited were unaffected by this disaster, even after she had visited one, when she left the deterioration process would begin anew. All her hopes rested on Twilight finding someway to fix this mess. None of her ponies would get through this unscathed. In truth, she had put off returning to Canterlot, Celestia had heard the rumors of what had happen after she left. She just did not want to believe that the ponies in her capital city would ever go to such extremes. When she could delay no longer, Celestia returned, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. What she saw defied all expectations.

Canterlot had never looked better, it seemed as if everypony was helping each other. A level of unity and harmony the city had never known existed. Ponies were sweeping the streets, cleaning buildings, mowing the grass. The Wonderbolts were doing daily performances for everypony. Even the upper class ponies were out helping – given they were not actually doing any real work themselves – but for them it was quite the turnaround. When she got back to the palace, Celestia demanded an immediate update. Only to learn it was all because of the actions of one Princess Twilight Sparkle.

Celestia had been left speechless, the last she heard of her student was that she had left for Tartarus, Now, not only was Twilight safe – as of two weeks ago – she had made Celestia proud and saved her city. She immediately ordered Twilight’s instructions be implemented throughout the land. If it could work in Canterlot, it could work anywhere. Only one pony had dared question it, he had the gall to ask how it would be paid for. After a quick glance to the moon, Celestia commented, “How much would we save if some ponies started living on the moon I wonder?” His withdrawal was quick and nopony else dared question Celestia’s orders.

Finally, back in her room Celestia stared at her bed as if it was a gift from above. Before she could give into the slumber she so desperately needed and get a good night rest, green flame appeared in front of her. Her hopes rose for news from Twilight; they were soon dashed as news of her sister reached her.


Soon a pair of royal guard pegasi appeared in her room. “Yes, princess?”

“Ready as many pegasi as available, send the fastest flyer we have to cloudsdale, gather all our flying forces and proceed to Ponyville posthaste. We are now at war.” As the guards complied with her order, showing all the professionalism and dedication they were known for, Celestia sighed at the loss of quality time with her bed. “I get the feeling I will not see you again for a while.”

Define: Safeguard

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Chapter 25 Define: Safeguard


With a one hour preparation time the five friends quickly got to work, Fluttershy spent most her time attaching bandages to a very stubborn Princess of the Night. Only after an application of ‘The Stare’ was Fluttershy actually able to get her to lie still. When questioned, Luna revealed that the diplomatic mission she went on in the south did not go over too well. Griffins were incredibly stubborn creatures, they had a fierce pride in them that bordered on egotistical. Pinkie and Fluttershy could only nod in agreement, as each had a run in with a certain griffon all those years ago.

Well as it turns out, the only thing a griffon loves more than its pride, is its family. The mission was already off to a rocky start when Princess Luna arrived. After a few days of intense discussion with the Griffon Emperor; Siros, it seemed as if things would finally work out for the best. Except, in a rather unfortunate turn of events, one of the guards overheard the more ‘delicate’ topics of conversation and quickly leaked it to the citizens of the empire that a Princess of Equestria was responsible for the dead children.

With a convenient target to blame even if it was the wrong one, the citizens took up arms, demanding that Luna be held accountable, the topic of which princess was responsible failed to matter. They wanted vengeance, not justice. Siros was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He knew Luna had nothing to do with it personally. He also knew that Luna could not be killed, lest they lose the night and wish to declare war against Equestria (as well as royally piss of another alicorn sister).

Ever the diplomat, he proceeded to walk a very fine line. He put on a show of arresting Princess Luna, calming the fears of his people and giving them a relief for their anger. He would then release Luna later, after this tragedy was over and calmer heads could prevail. His plan almost worked; however, Emperor Siros was quickly caught up in speeches and press releases. He never had the opportunity to inform Princess Luna of his plans in full; he never had the opportunity to go see her. The next night, the moon rose from the west.

This was Luna’s signal that she was in trouble, her night guard arrived the next moonrise. A squadron of ten bat ponies swooped into the city. They had trained hard in stealth, evasion, and night fighting. Making them the perfect operatives for busting out their princess. As usual, no plan survives contact with the enemy. They succeeded in freeing Luna, but on her way out of the country, every single one of her guards was lost. They gave their lives in order that their Princess of the Night would escape.

Siros was stuck; he had gambled everything and lost. When the inevitable reports hit the streets, his citizens would demand blood. The war criminal had escaped, countless guards were slain in her breakout. Siros had no choice but to order a full-scale assault to bring her back to justice. Siros knew Luna was not responsible, he knew that this would solve nothing, but his citizen’s demanded blood and knew that if he did not give it to them they would take his in return. Siros’s gambit had effectively declared war on Equestria.

It was only after pausing to rest in a pre-designated safe zone that Luna learned the truth. A single scout was sent ahead of the griffon forces with a letter addressed to the princess. Siros did not want this war; he knew it would cause untold suffering and accomplish nothing. He just had no choice in the matter. If he did not follow the will of his citizens they would find someone else who would. He told Luna not to turn around, after previous night's events his citizens would try to kill her on sight.

Luna considered this, she would not let herself be taken prisoner as it would accomplish nothing. Her only option was to warn her sister and all of Equestria. Ponyville was closer than Canterlot, as such Spike was the quickest way to do that. In her condition, she would not make it to Canterlot anyway.

Applejack sighed when she heard the story. Like it or not, she supposed that Luna had made the right call. She quickly took lead, the griffins would be here soon and they needed to be prepared. Fortunately, after several years living with the Heros of Equestria, Ponyville had a rather unique disaster preparation program. It had been implemented and designed by Princess Twilight herself, as no town could survive so many attacks from every threat ranging from an out of control alicorn to full on dragon attacks without such a system.

“Pinkie go tell the mayor we have a code 11-b, then do what you can to keep everypony calm.”

“Ma’am, yes ma’am!” Pinkie saluted her ‘commander’ and took off. Within seconds, sirens blazed in the distance making a very particular screeching noise that every Ponyville resident would immediately recognize and respond too. Weekly drills ran by a Twilight had paid off a hundred fold over the years.

The stricken alicorn princess asked, “Code 11-b?”

“An emergency signal pre-programmed by Twilight. It's an indication that a spell has caused at least one building to come alive and start eating things. Anypony who hears it should immediately seek out a designated shelter and stay put until the all clear single is given.” Fluttershy said, wrapping another gauze strip around the princess's cut leg.

Princess Luna scoffed at that, “Such an event is absurd! That cannot possibly have happened enough times to require its own signal!”

Fluttershy and Applejack simply looked at each other.

“Oh.” That one glance told Luna all she needed to know about how many times ‘that’ had occurred.

“Ponyville is a strange place dear.” Rarity spoke, matter-of-factly.

“Will the shelters be enough?”

“Oh yes, Twilight designed them herself. Even she was unable to break into one.” Spike replied.

Luna considered the implications of that for awhile, ‘If they could keep an alicorn of Twilight's level out.’

Applejack soon interrupted her thoughts. “Rarity, when Fluttershy finishes with Princess Luna, take her to one of the shelters. Stay there until the all clear single is given.”

“What about you and Spike?”

“Me and Applejack are staying, this is our town, when Twilight gets back I will make sure that it's still here for her.” Spike stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Rarity.

“Then I'm staying too.”

"Me too… if you don't mind that is.”

Spike replied calmly, “No, to both of you.”


“No buts Rarity, nopony is as reliable as Applejack when it comes to a fight and I'm a dragon. If those griffons think they can just walk in here and take our friends, our town away, I will teach them the error of their ways.”

“I want to hel-”

“No, if I was worried about you the whole time. It would put us in too much danger. I can only do this if I know that you are safe.”

“He's right Rarity, I'm almost finished here and we should get going.” Fluttershy accepted this turn of events and tried to comfort her friend.

“But I will be worried about your safety. Pinkie promise you will come home to me.” Rarity looked into Spike's eyes with tears coating her fur.

“As long as I have you to come home to, there is nothing they could do to stop me.” Spike picked her up in his arms and kissed her. After a few minutes, they broke apart.

“Are you finished, Fluttershy?”

“Yes, we can go now.”

Rarity sighed and made her way out of the door. She paused and looked back at the dragon she so loved, the friend she was leaving in danger, and the princess she helped save.

“Fine, but if I can’t fight, I'll make sure my friends are safe from harm.” A book came back to Rarity's mind, an old book about the fashions of old she had borrowed from Twilight. It did not give her the designs she had hoped for, but it did have one thing in it that she was sure would come in useful now.

Rarity readied her spell and shot all three of them with her new magic. The results were beyond any pony's expectations.


Emperor Siros was not happy, he hoped that Luna would make it all the way back to Canterlot; he hoped that his army would arrive at a fortified city. Had that been the case, he could calm every griffon down. Siros could negotiate, he could have saved face and turn his army around before any life was lost. Once again, Princess Luna had failed to live up to his plans. In truth, he could not blame her; it was not her fault he was so wrapped up in the press of the events that Siros did not make it to her cell. It was not her fault his forces caught wind of her jailbreak at the worst possible time. It was not Luna’s fault that she crashed in this small abandoned town within eyesight of Canterlot. Scratch that, this ‘freshly’ abandoned town within eyesight of Canterlot.

He was quite impressed with the report he received from his scouts. In a matter of minutes after crashing in a barn near the outskirts of town, Luna managed to evacuate an entire town's worth of ponies into shelters. It was a little odd that they had such an effective evacuation system in place. If there were some way to resolve this situation peacefully, he would seek to learn how they did it and how they designed such an effective shelter system. It would be useful to protect his citizens from the constant dragon threat they faced. Right this second, that was a pipe dream. He had Luna surrounded in the same barn she crashed in and he had to play his role.

“To the criminal Princess Luna of Equestria, for crimes against the citizens of the Griffin Empire, including, but not limited to, escaping arrest, murder of your guards, and the murder of innocent children. I, Emperor Siros, by the authority of our treaties, hereby order you to surrender yourself to my forces.” It sounded good on paper, something for the history books to remember, He knew it was all a lie. Luna had not commented any of those acts, not unjustifiably at least.

Their response left him speechless. Within seconds of giving his ultimatum, the barn doors burst open. Out stepped a sight he never imagined he would see, a pony and a dragon. The pony was obviously a mare; she had long blond mane and an orange coat. Although he could only guess at her cutie mark as this pony was in full orange battle armor. He assumed it was three apples as that design was engraved over the shoulder guards at each of her four legs and her breastplate. The armor itself shown with a flair that only one that was interested in fashion could hope to achieve, however, its effectiveness was not in doubt.

He had seen metal like that before only in history books. It was Dragon Steel Armor. Steel forged in dragon’s flame and treated with the hardest gems around. The net effect was a substance that would block almost any attack thrown against it; it was the rarest form of metal possible. Having only heard about it in books and legends, Siros could only assume that the dragon next to her had spent his whole life making their suits.

If the pony had been impressive, the dragon overshadowed her in every way. This dragon was an adolescent; he could only assume it had hatched in the last decade. He was still taller than any griffon Siros commanded. His Dragon Steel Armor protected him from tail to head. There were a few joints a well-placed blade could slip through. Based on his very impressive wingspan those would not be easy to hit. However, unlike the ponies’ armor that matched her coat. This dragons armor was white, with three diamonds decorating his shoulder guards and chest plate.

Siros could only hope that these were the best of the best, an advance strike team sent by Canterlot to protect their princess. If that was not the case, if Equestria had more forces like this, his entire army would be decimated.

The pony spoke first “We heard’ ya, and let me give ya’ a counter offer, go home, nothing has happened yet that can’t be forgotten.”

Siros had a reply to that, he was going to go off on a tirade against the princess, he was going to declare her ‘crimes against all griffon kind’ such a moral travesty that this was his only option. What came from his beak was something very different. “I… cannot, my citizens’ demand her brought back. I'm their leader; I have to follow their will.”

‘That was odd, why did I tell her that?’

“Why are we listening to this? There are only two of them!”

Siros made a mental note that if that soldier survived he would receive a public flogging.

The dragon gave their reply, stretching out his claws in a manner that left no doubt as to what would happen next.

The barn exploded with raw magical energy, inside was the Princess of the Night, armored in full night-black Dragon Steel, her moon cutie mark engraved on her shoulders and breastplate.

“If this is what’s to occur, we shall join the battle as well!”

The moon went dark and the battle began in earnest.


Spike shot through the griffon battalion, his speed and size made him a very big threat to them. Griffons were fast and deadly. Their beaks are as strong as steel, their claws sharp enough to cut through rock. None of that was a threat to Dragon Steel. Rarity’s parting gift was worth several times its weight in gold. In truth he did not know what it was. He was touched by the gift and very grateful to his love for it. It was only after she left that Luna had informed them all of the truth of their new armor. This armor was the rarest in the world. Even in Luna’s time it had been a legend, How Rarity had created it? How she even knew of it? Those were questions for another time.

His plan worked, over half the forces followed him into the sky, his sky. Griffons were fast, he even remembered about one called Gilda, apparently she had been able to keep up with Rainbow Dash of all ponies. However, his wingspan made Spike faster. His armor seemed to increase his speed. ‘Maybe it's a property of the Dragon Steel?’ That made sense; if dragons originally designed this steel, it seemed logical that it would enhance their abilities as well. with the moon obscured as it was, only those with night vision, or wearing a Dragon Steel helmet could effectively see. Of course, he had one more advantage they did not, dragon fire.

Luna and Applejack raced along the ground, they would split the remainder of the enemy forces between them, keep them evenly divided between earth and sky. It would leave Spike alone with the bulk of the forces, but he insisted. Luna was too weak to fly and fight even with the armor, she would serve best in support of Applejack. Luna had taken on the form of Nightmare Moon, she hated this form, but in war as in theater, theatrics could change the tides.


For Rarity, every minute that went by was an eternity of worry and suffering, so far she had lived through ten such eternities. Rarity had seen a fair share of violence in her life, well beyond her fair share. Those times, she had been there with her friends, with Twilight. It never occurred to her before how much she trusted the alicorn. As long as Twilight was there, as long as the most powerful unicorn turned alicorn was by their side, Rarity never doubted they would make it through. She was never that concerned for their safety. This time, this time was different, Twilight was off doing Celestia knows what, Celestia knows where. This time Rarity and all of Ponyville had to fend for themselves. This time she had someone to lose.

“Rarity, we should be in a shelter.”

“Nonsense, you can’t see anything from those things, what if Spike needs me?”


Fluttershy could see Rarity’s face from the reflection of the window. She had been watching the fight for ten minutes ever since it started, never turning away from the window in her bedroom. This event would leave wrinkles on Rarity’s face that no amount of spa time would ever fix. Rarity went from worried to relieved, back to worry every time the fire in the pitch-black sky lit up. Fluttershy had never seen Rarity like this before; she truly loved that dragon. Fluttershy had been confused on why they did not go to the shelter; Rarity would not be talked out of it. She went home and led them both to her window. At first Rarity had insisted that Fluttershy continue on, her reply still rang around Rarity’s head

“I go where you go.”

Few ponies knew just how strong Fluttershy could be, she did not want to lose any of her friends, not again. Rarity was one such pony who knew of Fluttershy’s more ‘assertive’ side. Yes the mare was the kindest she would ever know. The Elements of Harmony had chosen well. Yet, when her friends were at stake, when lives were on the line; Fluttershy could and has frightened fully-grown dragons. There would be no convincing her to leave Rarity’s side at a time like this.

Suddenly Rarity shattered the window she was looking out with her hoof. “NOOO!” She teleported out of her boutique. Fluttershy caught the end of what Rarity had seen before following her friend.

There, in the distance, she could make out the green dragon fire sputtering and dying out as its source fell from the sky.


Spike fell, ‘Thats odd, I don’t remember getting hit,’ he thought. That did not change the fact that he was falling. His wings were flapping, yet he was not rising. A cursory glance over told him that his wings were what had been hit. The enemy had put a large gash down the membrane of his wings. ‘Hmm, guess I can’t feel it, wish I could say the same about the ground.’ He did his best to shield his head from the impact, but the ground would not be denied. They collided together with a loud ‘thud’.

Rarity had never run so fast in her life. She pinkie promised herself right then and there that as soon as Rainbow Dash got back she would ask the mare for endurance training. Rarity knew it would be hell, the cyan pegasus would use that opportunity as payback for every time Rarity had her try on a dress. Yet, at that moment, she did not care. This was worse than any pain ‘exercising’ could give. Along the way she failed to notice a yellow pegasus following her through the air. Rarity’s only concern was the dragon that she loved, the one that just collided with the ground and even now had a squad of griffons charging after him. They were ready to pin her Spiky-Wikey to the ground with their spears.

Against all odds, Rarity got there first.


‘Wow that hurt. How does Rainbow always manage to get back up so easy after such a fall?’ Spike tried to stand, he knew flying was impossible right now, given time, his wings might heal, but time was a luxury he did not have. Trying to stand informed Spike of a slight limitation of the armor, yes there was no better armor in existence, yes it had saved his life tonight more than he cared to count. However, no armor could save his legs from breaking when he fell from several hundred feet up.

Glancing up, he sighed. ‘Sorry Rarity, least I tried to protect you from all this,’ a dozen griffons were coming straight at him, spears pointed down. He knew most would be blocked by his armor. However, some would get through. Spike cried, not at his impending death, but at all that he would leave behind.

Seconds before the spears landed a white figured jumped on top of the stricken dragon, followed closely by a yellow pegasus. Spike shut his eyes before the spears impacted; his last sight was of a crying unicorn laying over him and shimmering yellow wings.

Define: Impasse

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Chapter 26 Define: Impasse


The sound of twelve spears shattering woke Spike up to the fact he was still alive. Opening his eyes, the sight he saw made him curse his weakness and his last minute thoughts of giving in. Lying over him was the mare of his dreams; Rarity was covering him with her own body. Crying into his chest with a river of tears flowing from her eyes, as shocking as that was; it was not what had his attention. Lying on top of Rarity was Fluttershy, her wings spread out protectively over her two friends. A magic shield was emanating from her wings, protecting all three of them from harm.

The enemy had no idea what had just happened, all twelve griffons looked down at the two ponies lying on the fallen dragon. They glanced at each other with a puzzled look on their faces. When the yellow pegasus looked up with a very particular stare, they all took off, heading home at top speed.

“Nopony or griffon hurts my friends.”

Fluttershy lowered her wings, causing the shield to sputter and die.

As if the sound of Fluttershy’s voice was enough to snap her out of it, Rarity stopped crying and glanced at the pegasus. “Fluttershy? What happened?”

“I think I know,” Spike replied. “Twilight, when she lost it over Rainbow’s Death, when she rid Equestria of the changelings. It left us all with a gift. I grew wings; Rainbow seemed to come back from the dead. Rarity, you can now create any clothes or armor you like. Applejack, well, has anypony tried lying in front of her, I think it's impossible now. Pinkie, well she is now everywhere, if she was bad before this is a completely new level.” Rarity tried not to laugh at that, but she could not fully help herself, the pink mare was indeed bad before, defying logic and reason on an almost constant basis. Lately it seemed like she now knew how she was doing it and was taking full advantage of it.

“Fluttershy, it looks like you can now shield others, protecting them from harm.”

“Ho- Why did we get these gifts,” Rarity was about to ask ‘how’ but thought better of it, with friends like Twilight and Pinkie you stopped asking ‘how’ or you went insane.

“I think they were our strongest emotions at the time, Rainbow wanted to live, she came back, after a fashion. I wanted to join Twilight at the Summit; I got wings so I could fly there. Applejack wanted to know the truth from the ‘Filthy Rich’ changeling, now nopony can lie to her. Fluttershy wanted to protect her critters, now she can, literally. Pinkie, I can only guess at, who can really tell what's going on through that pony's head. If I took a shot at it, I would think her pinkie sense just told her about Rainbow and even though she was buried under all that rubble her only thought was ‘how can I make everypony smile now'. Rarity, I'm not sure about you… what were you feeling at the time?"

Rarity blushed at that, Spike had never asked about that time and she had never talked about it with anypony. “When it hit I… I… I was about to have sex with it. Spike I'm so sorry.”

Spike reached out with his left arm, the only one that was not broken, and began wiping the tears from her eyes. “Shush, you were married Rarity, you have nothing to be sorry about.” Rarity continued crying as a thought occupied her mind.

“I was thinking how good he would look in a new suit.”

Despite himself, Spike began laughing.

“It’s uncouth to laugh at a lady, Spike.” Despite that comment Rarity could not help but join in, even Fluttershy started giggling a little.


Luna began to reflect that maybe, just maybe, she was a little out of shape. Back before her banishment, she trained three times a week. Afterwards, not so much. This new Equestria was a little too peaceful at times. In a thousand years her sister had managed to crush every real threat to Equestria. As such, after she was restored the most entertainment Luna got was from the odd monster that went on a rampage at night. The big threats that did require more attention were handled by Twilight. Therefore, this was quite the workout indeed.

Dogging another blow for her flank, Luna blasted the Griffon that had attacked her; she kept her attacks to non-lethal force. They had discussed that little handicap at great length. They all knew the fate of those who died; it was a new hell to imagine being stuck in ones own body, forever. Even Spike made sure to keep his dragon fire down to a survivable level. Luna was in no doubt that, some of these griffons would not survive the night. In a combat like this there were bound to be some casualties. She just hoped that they would all be on the griffon’s side. She did not relish a conversation with Twilight in which she would have to inform the super-powerful alicorn princess that one of her friends had died on her watch. That was something she would go out of her way to avoid.

To that end, Applejack and she worked as a team, each going out of their way to protect the other. The griffons were fast, of that there was no doubt, however, what Applejack lacked in speed she made up for in strength. For her part, Luna’s Nightmare Moon persona kept many of the griffons at bay, she was again thankful for her sister keeping the legend alive for all these years. Few enemies were willing to face the object they feared so much as children.

Two things soon happen that made Luna’s heart sink, a yell from above alerted her to Spike's fall. He was too far away to help without leaving Applejack surrounded. Luna could only pray that he was not seriously injured. The second was a horn sound that she knew very well from back in the day. It was the horn armies would blow in order to sound for a regroup, one they would use when they needed to regroup because their reinforcements had arrived. One used exclusively by the Griffon Empire.

The break in combat was a blessing and a curse, Luna and Applejack could finally catch their breath, but they both knew it would soon be over. Looking over the enemy formations, they could see another two battalions landing. The first one was in complete disarray, with less than a tenth of their original number still standing. That did not matter; with Spike missing in action and the two of them completely exhausted, what they had would be complete overkill.

“Applejack, we fear that this will be the end.”

“Yeah, I'm getting that feeling too, princess.”

“Please, call us Luna.”

“Ha ha, whatever you say, Luna.”

“We could just surrender to them; there is no need for you to die as well.”

“Princess, it's times like these that test your mettle, yes, I reckon you’re right, you could just walk over there and let them take you, They would probably leave everypony else alone. However, there is one pony that could not live with herself if you did that. A pony who considers you a dear friend. Luna I'm proud to be your friend. Moreover, I will stand with you until the end."

“We… I'm proud to have you as a friend too, Applejack.”

Before Applejack had a chance to reply, Siros interrupted.

“It’s over Princess Luna, you fought well tonight. Surrender and no one else needs to get hurt.”

“Ha! We have not yet begun to fight!”

“We both know that’s not true.”

“Oh, I think she might be right.”

All eyes turned up at the new voice that came from the sky. Luna would recognize that voice anywhere, it brought a huge smile to her face. She wanted everypony else to see just who it was, as such Luna brought the moon's light back to the battlefield so everyone could see who had just joined in. There, flying above the battlefield was Princess Celestia, flanked by three battalions of pegasi. Celestia landed next to her sister and Applejack, but she never took her eyes off Emperor Siros.

“This does not have to happen Emperor Siros, no one has yet died from the mistake, I'm willing to overlook this incursion if you will call it off now.”

“You honestly believe that we can? It's gone too far Princess Celestia. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I never wanted this. The Gods dealt our hands for us, we have no choice but to play what cards we are given.”

“When the Gods play, mortals lose. Siros, you know that.”

“Indeed princess, truer words have never been spoken. However, it changes nothing, griffons attack!”

Applejack and Luna both looked away from the battle as it unfolded, too tired to join in and too depressed over the implications to watch. Celestia was just about to help her troops when a pink mare jumped in front of the three.

“Pinkie, you should be helping the others.”

“I was Applejack, but then I felt something amazing!”

“What's that, my little pony?”

“Celestia, Twilight is coming home!”

“Twilight is coming back? How could you poss-”

Applejack lassoed Celestia's lips shut before she could finish that question.

“Sorry Celestia, it’s better for everyone if you don’t ask how.”

Celestia nodded as Applejack removed the lasso from around her muzzle.

“I almost forgot that rule Applejack, thank you. So Pinkie, when will Twilight be back?”

“Sorry, what was that? I got something in my ear.” Scratching her right ear with her hind leg, Pinkie dislodged an object stuck in there. One that looked a lot like a banana peel shaped into a boat. Which soon grew into a full-sized boat with a black earth pony and a lavender alicorn in it.

“What in all Equestria?”


Twilight looked around her, they had both made it back to Ponyville, and one look behind her showed her exactly where the exit had lead out. All of a sudden, Discord’s ‘waxy’ comment made a little more sense.

“Please please please, tell me that the Realm of Chaos is not in Pinkie's head. Actually, wait, that’s the only thing about all this that does make sense, so yeah, I'm going to stick with that.”

For her part, Pinkie just smiled at them. When a griffon fell next to Twilight, dangerously close, it brought her back to her surroundings.

“Celestia, what's going on?”

“We are at war with the griffons.”

‘Over…” Twilight could not quite finish that sentence. She did not need to, Celestia just nodded at her student. They both knew why it had occurred without having to be told.

“Oh I don’t bucking think so, this shit stops now.”

Twilight had been holding back for quite some time, the last time she used her magic to its full potential was against the Titan Cronus. Compared to that, trapping a few thousand combatants in purple energy spheres and forcing them out of the sky was foal's play. Just to ensure she had everyone’s attention Twilight let each combatant bounce once off the ground. Not enough to hurt anyone, but enough to ensure that any who still had fight in them would soon regret it.


Twilight's voice dropped several octaves; she had the attention of everyone in a five-mile radius. For her part, Luna pulled out a quill and paper and began taking notes, she was glad she remembered them this time.

To Emperors Siros's credit, he did not flinch from answering that question. Yes, he was more of a politician than an actual general. He had generals, good ones, but his pride would not allow them to step forward. If he was anything, he was a leader of his people.

“I am Emperor Siros of the Griffon Empire, I am here to arrest the criminal, Princess Luna of Equestria.”

Twilight glanced over in the direction that voice had come from. Soon, all the ponies and griffons were moved out of the way. Leaving only Griffon Emperor Siros. His ‘cage’ soon floated over to the young princess.

“Emperor Siros of the Griffon Empire, I am Princess Twilight Sparkle of Equestria. What crime is she guilty of that you bring several thousand soldiers into Equestria to arrest one of its leaders?”

“Princess Luna is guilty of resisting arrest, escaping from her cell, several counts of murder in the escape, murdering chil-”


Applejack soon ran over to the two, Twilight took stock of her new getup. It was a VERY impressive suit of what looked like Dragon Steel Armor, form fitted to match her body to a tee. Anypony who knew anything about Rarity would be able to see her particular style written all of the armor that Applejack wore. Yet another mystery Twilight added to her checklist, one more item that Twilight did not know if she would ever complete, well she supposed being immortal, she did not exactly have a time limit for figuring this stuff out.

“Is this true Siros? Did you lie to me about that?”

“Yes, she is not guilty of any of that.”

Twilight glared at him, unsure why a neighboring leader would suddenly admit the truth like that, “So, why are you here?”

He preceded to admit the whole truth to the alicorn, his gambit to simply hold Luna for a few days, the escape attempt, him being stuck with no real choice. All of it, even the letter he had sent Luna, warning her about not turning around.

Celestia and Twilight both listened intently, only interrupting when further clarification was required, or they needed some new explanation of a particular event. When it was over, Twilight's mind reeled with the new facts.

“Once again, good souls are forced into horrible choices.”

“Come again, princess?”

“Nothing Applejack, it's my problem to worry about.” She quickly turned to face the emperor, “ Siros, it seems we are at an impasse, we cannot let you leave with Princess Luna, however, you cannot return to your citizens without something to calm their fears. Instead of a faux target for their blame, how about the real deal?”

“What are you saying, Twilight?”

“Celestia, I told you before this is my problem, leave it to me to fix.”

“I'm listening, princess.”

“Here are the terms I'm offering, you will end hostilities against Equestria and Princess Luna. You will return home and tell your people that one of two events will occur over the next week, this travesty against every living soul on this world will come to an end. Children will once more be born, or I will personally escort the one responsible to your doorstep. They will face the consequences of failing to end this and willingly admit to their crimes. Submitting themselves to any punishment your citizens deem appropriate.”

Emperor Siros considered this, normally he would have balked at such a deal, as it put all the risk on him to convince his griffons to act against their nature. However, if the fact that this young mare had effectively ended all hostilities that night in the time it took to blink an eye, and was(or seemed) barely even phased by the effort, was a sign of her power, she could easily kill them all in the time it took for him to draw his next breath. It was a mark of her pure heart that not only had she sought to end this without loss of life, but she also respected his position and even gave him a way to save face with his citizens.

“I will acquiesce to your demands, Princess Twilight Sparkle, under one condition. I wish to know who is trying to fix this and how you can guarantee that if they fail, they will be brought to me to face justice.”

Princess Twilight Sparkle looked back at the emperor, a solemn look on her face. He realized something, ever since he had first laid eyes on her she had been crying, and from the looks of the bags under her eyes, that had been occurring for a while. “Because, Emperor Siros, I'm the one who is trying to fix it and I'm the one responsible.”


It was several hours before the final griffon left for their homeland; many had to be carried home. Only four would not be returning home to their families, ‘Only four… four more souls to add to my tally'. Twilight’s solemn mood quickly took hold, those four dead griffons combined with the three dead Equestrians, those where her doing. Another seven souls, along with countless others that she would forever lay at her own hooves, ones that would never pass on, never be able to leave their rotting corpses.

It had become second nature to her to look for Rainbow Dash at a time like this, it was instinctual, you touch something hot and you let it go. A foal is crying and you come running. You blame yourself for the death of ponies and griffons who did not deserve to die and you seek out the aid of the one who loves you the most.

Glancing over at the black mare, she immediately hated herself for having such a moment of weakness. It made her mood worse, not better. As of that moment Rainbow was standing over the corpse of one of the slain pegasus, the staff on her back was swinging back and forth over the corpse. Almost as if she was testing what the actual act would be like. Twilight's heart caught in her throat.

Before she could give in to her melancholy, a report reached her ears. “Your highness, we found Spike.”

When she arrived at the crash site, Spike was a mess, he was bandaged from head to tail, Fluttershy had been busy. Although it was Rarity that had Twilight's attention, the mare was by his side, it looked like she had been there for quite some time in fact. Twilight smiled at this new development, she had seen the look Rarity had on her face before, it was the same one she had seen on Rainbow’s face several times during their recent events. Rarity had finally fallen for her little Spike. She expected to feel sad about that, Spike was growing up; however, all she could feel was a sense of pride in her number one assistant. His perseverance and dedication had finally won him the mare of his dreams. By being persistent, his love won out.

Maybe there was a lesson there?

Her sad smile told Spike that she knew everything and was happy for him, yet it was hiding something, something important.

“Hey, Twilight.”

“Hey yourself.”

“Sorry if I don’t get up, everything kind of hurts right now.”

“Don’t worry about it, just get yourself better. How is the castle?”

Spike laughed about that, it hurt, but it proved that whatever happened, this was still his Twilight.

“Its fine Twilight, how is Rai-”

His question was soon interrupted by a loud burp. Green flame spewed from his mouth that preceded a scroll.

'Whom could that be from? Celestia and Luna are both here.'

Twilight picked up the scroll and read who sent it. “Who's it from, Twilight?”

“It’s a letter from the Crystal Empire, Fluttershy.”

Twilight read the letter, once, twice, then three times just to ensure that she fully understood what it had said. “Fluttershy, Rarity, Spike, I have to get to the Crystal Empire, now!” Twilight took off at full gallop towards the train station, followed closely by Fluttershy.

Rarity and Spike both looked at each other. Rarity picked up the letter and noted several tear stains, both old and new. Rarity read the letter out loud to Spike.

Dear Spike,

The doctors say Cadance's foal will be born any day now, as every foal born in the last month was a stillbirth, we have been magically delaying this as long as possible in hopes that a solution will be found before it was too late. However, they cannot delay it any longer without risking Cadance’s health. Please gather up your friends and come to the Crystal Empire as soon as you are able. She will need all your support over the next coming days.

Your uncle and friend,

Shining Armor

Define: Dire Straits

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Chapter 27 Define: Dire Straits


Twilight ran as fast as her legs could carry her. The news she received, it was something she had never considered. Her brother's kid, she never imagined. So much had happen since this had started. She needed time. She needed to be able to stop and consider. She also needed to pay attention to where she was running. Sadly, she was not able to do any of those things.

Running into Celestia face first hurt, a lot. Picking herself off the ground, Twilight looked at the alicorn in front of her. She must have been running fast as even Celestia was knocked off her hooves.

“Twilight, my dear, what's the rush?”

“Princess.” Twilight wanted to break down; she wanted to sob right then and there in Celestias hooves. She wanted to, but she could not. Twilight had taken this responsibility on her own, she made her vows that she would fix this herself. “I'm sorry Princess Celestia, but I have to get to the train station as soon as possible, a letter has just arrived from my brother. Cadance is about to have her foal, she has asked us all to be there for her.”

“Very well Twilight, but would it not be faster to simply fly there?”

Twilight facehoofed, literally. She had been born a unicorn and even after all these years of being an alicorn her natural instincts were to run, not fly. “Yes Celestia, thank you.”

As Twilight went to take off into the air Celestia stopped her, “Twilight, I know you said you would handle this on your own, but would you like my support in this?”

Twilight smiled for the first time in what felt like forever. “Celestia, it means the world to me that you would still offer your support, I thank you for that. However, I said I would handle this on my own and I meant it.” Gesturing around to the many ponies that still required Celestia’s help, “Besides, I believe you will do more good here then anywhere else.”

Celestia simply nodded at her student and let her leave. ‘It seems as if Luna was right, she no longer needs me holding her hoof. I have never been this proud of her before.’ She turned and walked towards Pinkie and Applejack. ‘Even if she does not need me around, I'm sure she will still want her friends with her.’

Twilight made one stop on her way to the train station; she had to pick up one of her friends before heading out. Sadly, it was the one friend she did not want to see at that moment, but they had started this together and would end this together. Twilight swooped down and grabbed Rainbow Dash.

“You still with me, Rainbow?”

In a deadpan voice Rainbow replied. “I can walk, Twilight Sparkle.”

No, she was not still with her.

They made it to the train station without incident; Twilight felt a little silly when she found out that the train would not be arriving for another hour. There was only so fast the train could go and no amount of coercion – even by a Princess of Equestria – could cause it to arrive any sooner. She sighed, with such company as this ‘new’ Rainbow Dash, it would be a long hour. The fact that Twilight could not even look at her without feeling the deep hurt in her heart only made it worse.

Fortunately, the two of them would not be there alone for long. Fluttershy never was the best flyer but after a few minutes she was the first one to arrive. Followed closely by Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity. Rarity would not be boarding the train with the rest, as after several minutes of coaching by Twilight and the others, they convinced her to stay behind with Spike. Twilight’s number one assistant needed her more than Twilight did. Besides, it helped her to know that Spike would not be left all on his own and after herself, Twilight could not think of anypony else she would want to look after the stricken dragon. Soon after Rarity gave her heartfelt thanks and left for Ponyville hospital, the conversation turned tense.

“So sugar, what happened on your adventure?”

“If it’s all the same with you Applejack, I'm not ready to talk about it.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, where is Rain-” Fluttershy was not able to finish that sentence; a gag had appeared over her mouth, silencing her mid question.

Twilight was staring intently at her hooves, she had been expecting this question, it was one she could not ignore, but not one she could answer without being reminded of her overwhelming failure to save Rainbow Dash, her marefriend. As such, she did not notice when Pinkie Pie attached muzzles on all her friends.

Pinkie had prevented any of her friends from speaking, even muzzling herself from being able to talk. She gave each of them, including herself, a six hundred-page contract to sign. Fortunately, she had a summary page attached to the front of each contract.

By signing the attached six-hundred page contract, I hereby super duper pinkie promise that I, the named pony below, will NEVER bring up, mention in the company, talk about, reference, or any other way shape or form remind or engage Princess Alicorn Twilight Sparkle about the Wonderbolt pegasus Rainbow Dash, Under penalty of breaking said super duper pinkie promise. Until such time as this pinkie promise in null in-void by Miss Pinkie Pie herself. Failure to sign this contract will result in my muzzle staying gagged for the length of the current journey. Breaking this super duper pinkie promise will result in the TERMINATION of the friendship between said pony and Miss Pinkie Pie.

I hereby agree to the terms and conditions listed in this contract and accept the consequences for breaking it as spelled out above.


As a show of good faith Pinkie signed her contract first, then passed the hoof quill to each of her friends in turn. It took awhile for them to read over the contract, each in turn glancing at Pinkie to ensure that she was serious about this. The look on her face told them all she was VERY serious about this. There was no doubt she would hold them all to this contract.

It took a minute for each of them to figure out how to sign the contract without their mouths, but every one of her friends eventually signed the super duper pinkie promise and handed them to Pinkie. She reviewed each contract in turn verifying all the paperwork was in order. Pinkie then proceeded to take the documents over to a local notary who reviewed each one of them, sighing his own name to ensure that each contract was official. Satisfied, Pinkie bounced back to her friends and preceded to remove each of their gags in turn. Removing her own last. An uncomfortable silence permeated over the group, it did not last long before the train horn sounded in the distance. Twilight finally looked up, grateful beyond words that the line of interrogation had ended before she had to answer any questions about Rainbow.

The train ride was uneventful. Applejack and Pinkie both accompanied Twilight to one of the sleeper cabins, the alicorn looked exhausted, they hoped she would get some sleep, they might as well been hoping to turn back time. The strange black mare with the macabre staff boarded as well. Applejack hid her suspicion over who that was. As if somehow saying it outloud would cause it to be true. The black earth pony stayed close beside Twilight the entire time. She never spoke, her very presence seemed to cause Twilight pain. However, when they tried to coax the mare into a different compartment, it caused Twilight to breakdown in a crying fit. As such, against her better judgment, Applejack left the mare with Twilight. It was the lesser of two evils.

When Pinkie and Applejack made it back to the others, they went around ensuring their car was empty, completely locked, and soundproof. Once those facets were triple verified, Applejack turned to Pinkie.

“Ok Pinkie, what was that about?”

“Sorry girls, but the look on Twilight's face, if I had let you finish that question Fluttershy, I think… I think it would have destroyed her.”

“Do you know what happened to Rainbow Dash?” Fluttershy asked.

“I don’t know any details but I think it's something bad. If we brought up that question, Twilight might never smile again. I… I… I couldn't live with that.”

Applejack and Fluttershy both hugged Pinkie, their friend would go to any length to see other ponies smile; it was all she ever wanted.

The rest of the train ride went without incident. It took awhile but eventually the three of them were able to spend their time enjoying the impromptu trip. With the sound of the train whistle it was time to gather up their other friend. As she expected, Twilight and the black pony had not moved an inch, it was obvious that they had not slept any either.

“Will you be ok, Twilight?”

Twilight stared up at the yellow pegasus, a sad expression plastered over her face. ‘I may never be ok again.’ She would not say it out loud but she could not help but think it.

As the five of them left the train the mood of the Crystal Empire reflected Twilight's to a tee. As Celestia told Twilight all those years ago: 'If hope and love are there, these things are reflected all across Equestria, if hate and fear take hold…', it seemed the same was true for despair and sadness.

None of the crystal ponies were unaffected by this. Each of them looked to be in the same state as when the empire first came back after a thousand years being gone. Several were openly weeping in the street.

Twilight and company pressed on. Only the black mare seemed to look around, the rest kept their eyes firmly on the path ahead, heading straight to the Crystal Palace. In Twilight’s opinion the empire seemed to be the place where hope goes to die. If she still had any, Twilight was sure her tears would be falling. It seemed that dehydration had finally caused her to stop crying. She knew it was bad for her. She needed something to drink, but Twilight Sparkle was so tired of crying that she refused any water that was offered to her, even by her friends.

Without much street traffic they soon arrived at the Crystal Palace. For the first time Twilight could remember guards were posted at each of the four entrances. They looked as well as any of the other ponies she had seen. The only thing that seemed to resemble any sort of normality was the Crystal Heart. The legendary relic seemed unaffected by the aura of sadness that permeated the whole empire. It kept spinning in place, as if nothing was wrong in the world.

Approaching one of the guards, Twilight presented him the letter that Rarity had handed back to her before departing the for the hospital.

“I'm Princess Twilight Sparkle, these are my friends, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy, and we're here to see my brother and my step-sister, Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor.

He examined the documents and looked over the ponies in front of him, nopony who worked at the palace would fail to spot any of the Princesses of Equestria in a line up. However, such was their discipline that even the princesses were stopped and their identity verified before being allowed to enter. The changeling invasion during the wedding had changed much about the security in the Crystal Empire. They loved their princess, more than anything.

After a quick verification spell the five were allowed in. The black mare was given several glances by nervous guards. Twilight would not allow her to be stopped and questioned, a quick spell caused those who saw her to ‘not notice’. Twilight was not ready to have that conversation. It was unfair to her friends and a little selfish, but she did not know if she would ever be ready to have ‘that’ conversation.

When they arrived at the throne room, Twilight’s brother Shining Armor was having a meeting with several of his advisers. As soon as they made eye contact he knocked all the other ponies out of the way and went to embrace his sister in a big hug. She felt his ‘liquid pride’ fall on her coat. She started crying in turn. ‘It seems I do still have some tears to shed.’

“Thank you Twily, thank you for coming. I didn’t think you were back already.”

“I got back just a few hours before your letter arrived brother. How could I do anything but come?”

He increased the strength of his hug, causing Twilight to squeak a little as she adjusted to the increased pressure that was becoming a little crushing.

They broke apart, each grateful for the others presence more than they cared to say. Twilight was the first to speak.

“Where is she?”

They both knew whom she was talking about.

“Cadance is in our room, she hasn’t been able to leave for days. It is going to happen soon. I don’t suppose you had any luck?”

It crushed Twilight too look at that small ray of hope on her BBBFF’s face, the one she soon stomped over with a small shake of her head.

“We're close Shiny, just one more object to gather and it will be fixed. I have reason to believe it's in the Crystal Empire. But first, I want to see her.”

“Of course Twilight, I know she'll want to see you too.”

Twilight turned back to her friends, three of them were moved to tears, only Rainbow seemed unaffected by what had just occurred.

“Will you girls stay here? I need to see her alone.”

“Of course Twilight. We'll be here for you when you get back.”

“Thank you Fluttershy, thank you everyone. You girls are the best friends I could ever have.”

Before turning to leave, Twilight poked a hoof over to the black mare, “Watch her for me, will you?”

Three heads nodded back to Twilight, nopony asked any questions, but they all knew that this was important to her. Twilight turned and made her way to the royal bedchambers, grateful once again to have such good friends.

As Twilight made her way to Cadance, Shining Armor finally noticed that two of Twilight's friends were not present, “Where's Rarity? And Rai-”

Before he could finish that sentence he found a gag around his mouth and a contract shoved into his hooves.

Every step seemed to suck the energy from Twilight's hooves. In retrospect, she thought it was probably due to how long it had been since she had last eaten. That was a minor concern right now, in truth she did not trust in her ability to hold anything down right this second. After what felt like a million such steps she arrived at the entrance to the royal bedchambers. In the past few weeks Twilight Sparkle had faced down threats ranging from: A changeling queen, hellhounds, demon flyers, shadow armies, the dead, a Titan, and even Discord. Yet those double doors scared her more than all those combined.

She gritted her teeth and summoned up as much courage as she could. Even going as far as to try and draw extra from other ponies in the magic plane. Her first instinct was to seek out Rainbow and draw from her. That pony radiated courage, endurance, and stamina. Yet Rainbow was missing, despite Twilight’s best effort she could not locate Rainbow on that plane. It was almost as if she was hidden from anypony trying to find her.

She was able to draw on others. Applejack had almost as much as Rainbow did; however, it felt different to Twilight. It almost felt like a violation, or betrayal to be drawing on somepony other than Rainbow, but right now she did not have any choice. After she was done, Twilight finally had the strength to open the doors and face her foal sitter/step sister/friend.

The view Twilight was greeted with stole away her filly hood; Twilight’s foal sitter had always been a pillar of strength in her youth. Cadance was a source of happiness and an inspiration to the young mare. Now? Now she was anything but. Cadance was lying on her bed, her stomach was fully distended, her breathing shallow. She could not even raise her head to look at Twilight. That did not stop her from trying however.

“Don’t move Cadance, save your energy.”

“Would that I had any to save, Twilight.”

“Cadance I'm so, so, sorry about all this.”

“It’s not your fault, Twilight.”

To that Twilight could only cry, this was her fault. She had always assumed that she would end up paying for this in the end. This, seeing those she loved pay the bill instead. It hurt her more than she could imagine. Twilight wished she could take all this pain on herself. It would be easier. Sadly, the greatest pain one could suffer is not physical.

“Hey Twilight, don’t cry on my account, I'll be alright.”

Twilight knew that was not true. After this had occurred nothing would be all right ever again. The look on Cadance’s face, it was one Twilight had seen before. Back in the Realm of Chaos, Rainbow had given her that look when they had finally found each other. That gave Twilight an idea.

“Cadance, maybe there is something I can do for you.”

“Twilight…” Cadance considered Twilight’s words carefully. At first she did not want Twilight to try anything that might cause her undue stress. When she put herself in her hooves, she realized that the stress of not doing anything would be worse than letting her try, even if it was in failure. “Twilight, I would welcome anything you could do.”

Twilight focused her vision in the magic plane and concentrated, she was radiating off raw magic power, and it was a little distracting for what she needed. Looking forward she saw the Princess of Love's power. Even so exhausted it was easy to tell the power of an alicorn from just about any other source.

It was weak, weaker than she had ever seen any pony's power before. Cadance was lacking for almost all sources of strength. Nothing was coming from her, it seemed as if her body was keeping everything it could for itself. Twilight’s plan was simple, if she could draw excess power from others into herself, then the reverse should also be doable. She would send her extra magic into Cadance.

Unfortunately, going in reverse was not the same as going forward. There seemed to be a missing connection. She needed a bridge to send the power down. Briefly she recalled the connection she had with Rainbow again, the bridge that connected them, one of pure love. While she did not love Cadance like she did Rainbow they still had such a connection. Finding it did not prove to be that difficult. It seemed as if just acknowledging such a connection should exist caused one to appear before her.

Twilight peered down the bridge, now it would be easy to direct the power to her step sister. She directed the power down the connection, as much as she felt was safe. However, when she did, Twilight felt a strong pull. Something she did not expect to feel during all of this. There was something else, something down there that seemed very familiar. Twilight looked down the tunnel, trying to get a glimpse of, whatever that power was.

Before Twilight could react, the power had ensnared her mind and pulled her essence down to it, trapping the alicorn.

Define: Belated

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Chapter 28 Define: Belated

The Magic Plane

As Twilight slowly opened her eyes; a soft warm light that seemed to come from everywhere blinded her. Quickly closing them she tried another approach and reached out with her other senses. The first thing Twilight noticed was the smell. The scent of lavender and rose petals filled her nostrils. She could almost taste the sweetness in the area. It relaxed her immediately.

She made out sounds next, the soft gentle running of a stream, a small hummingbird buzzed in the distance. The soft caress of the breeze as it blew past her fur. Softly flowing past every hair on her back, massaging and relaxing her at the same time.

“Relax young one, you are safe here.”

The voice was soft and smooth, it was a mother’s voice comforting her young. Twilight tried again to open her eyes; she wanted to see who could possibly make such a sweet gentle voice.

“Don't open your eyes too quickly, the light takes a bit to get used to. Relax, let it happen naturally.”

Twilight relaxed herself, lying down in the softest grass she had ever felt. It took a few minutes but she was finally able to regain her magic vision.

The sight she took in was breathtaking, lush green fields as far as the eye could see. A stunning lake in the distance that reflected the beauty of the mountain range, Twilight had never seen the sun with such a soft warm glow. It enhanced the splendor of the landscape. Gasping in surprise, Twilight saw that while the sun's light highlighted everything it touched in its warm glow, the stars were still visibly shining brightly in the sky. The elegance of the whole landscape would have caused artists to strive their entire life in a futile attempt to capture the smallest section of its resplendence. However, all of it was completely overshadowed by the pony above her.

The true allure was just now standing over Twilight Sparkle. She was a pony unlike any other Twilight had ever seen before. She had grace that would have given Rarity a run for her bits. A kindness to her that was only matched by Fluttershy, an aura of nobility that Twilight had only seen from Celestia, this pony had all of those features and more. One could easily be forgiven for losing themselves just from looking at her for too long. As Twilight stared up at the Goddess, she could not help herself as her mind went blank. She had been in the presence of two Gods to date. Tartarus and Chaos. Tartarus had left her with a level of shock and a little fear. He seemed to command the forces of death itself. Chaos just left her confused. She supposed that was the response he was going for.

Eros just left her in wonder. This pony, this God, she was everything the books said a God should be. Eros took the form of an alicorn, one that would make Celestia seem small in comparison, her pink coat, purple and yellow mane reminded Twilight of Princess Cadance. Given what she suspected, that seemed appropriate.

“Are you better now, young one?”

“Yes, thank you. What is this place and who are you?” Twilight figured it was best not to assume anything.

“Well dear one, this is my, shall we say, resting area. It's where I come to when I'm not quite myself.”

“When you have an Avatar you mean.” It was not a question.

The pony just smiled at Twilight, that one act was almost enough for Twilight to forget all her worries, almost. “It seems my older brother has already filled you in on that, as for who I am, I'm certain you already know that too.”


“That is correct little one, I suppose you have already figured out the truth of who you are too.”

“I think… I think I'm Gaia, her Avatar I mean.”

“It seems as if my dear brother left out a few small details. Twilight, you are indeed Gaia’s Avatar. However, you are Twilight Sparkle. Never forget that.”

“That doesn't make sense and don't tell me I'm in the Realm of Chaos, I know for a fact we're not in Pinkie's head.”

Eros just chuckled, “Indeed my little pony, that place can drive me crazy at times, it is a testament to your strength of will that you survived such a place without going mad.”

“I had help…”

“I know, but we will get to that soon, for now your question. You see when I create an Avatar, I do not stop being me, it is more of a conjunction of souls. The soul I join and myself are both completely different, we simply share the experience. For a God it is a very unique occurrence, we forget ourselves and cohabit a body with another soul, each party lives the life. The process is usually flawless. When the body dies the soul moves on to its place of rest, and the God returns to theirs, until they decide to do it again that is.”

“Normally flawless?”

“Understand young one, something like this has never happen before. When you lost the one you so loved, for those few moments you lost everything inside of you that made you, you. All your emotions and strength left you in that moment. Let me try and simplify this, when you look upon the realm below, the one you can see with your… magic vision, I believe is what she called it?” Twilight nodded.

“Yes I thought that is what she said, anyway I digress, when you look upon it, you can see other ponies and their natural strengths and weakness. Such is life that any soul that exists has such. When you lost her, every single bit of energy left you at that moment. A rare event to be sure, made infinitely rarer by the fact that there was one thing you could not lose, my dear sister, Gaia. Her strength is infinite. As an empty vessel you instinctually grabbed onto that power, you formed a bridge with Gaia. In essence, at that moment, you became a living incarnation of Gaia, something that I foolishly thought to be impossible.” A sad expression covered Eros’s face.

“Is she still in me.”

“Again you miss the concept, she is you, and you are her. It is… complicated for a mortal to understand.”

Twilight considered this for a minute, provided Eros was telling the truth and out of all of Gods she had met Twilight had no reason to believe Eros was not. Twilight was a God, and a God was Twilight. It was too big, too much for her to take in alone. She needed somepony else’s opinion on this. What had Rainbow told her all those days ago?

‘You are the smartest pony I know, maybe a little too smart, that is why I can see something simple that you might overlook.’

Thinking about Rainbow turned out to be a huge mistake, all of a sudden none of this mattered to Twilight. The flora, the fauna, the sun, the stars, and even the God that was talking to her. These things were happy, they were things that tried to make her happy, Twilight could not be happy, not without Rainbow.

“You truly do love her, don’t you?”

“…Yes.” Tears began falling from Twilight.

“Your love, she loves you too, always remember that.”

“No she doesn’t.” Twilight sobbed the words out. She did not believe them but she could not stop herself from saying them anyway.

“Oh, what makes you say that, Twilight?”

“You don't hurt the one you love. If she loved me, she wouldn’t have left me and hurt me so much.” Twilight began weeping uncontrollably now. Eros scooped up the young alicorn in her hooves, allowing her to cry onto her shoulder.

“Twilight, I can promise you one thing, A love as strong as the one you and her share, it could never end.”

“….” Twilight wanted to disagree, but every time she opened her mouth all she could manage was sobs.

“I can prove it if you want.”

That got Twilight attention in a big way, “How? Every time I look for her she's hidden from me.”

“Indeed she might be, my brothers Occulous is quite effective at hiding its user, even from other Gods. However, there are many ways of finding somepony, I know of one such way. One that I have shared with no one else.”


“How did you find me?”

“The bridge!”

“Indeed Twilight, although that is only a fraction of what is possible, you see when two souls love each other a bond is formed. One that only true betrayal can ever shatter, that bridge as you called it; that was only part of the connection that existed between you and my Avatar, Cadance. The love she has for you and you for her. It exists on multiple planes. Including one that only I can see. If you want, I can show you how to see it too.”

“Please… I have to know.” Twilight sobbed out the last words.

Eros held the purple alicorn in her hooves and kissed her horn.

The effect was instantaneous, as if a light switch was flipped her mind. Twilight could now see the bonds of love that connected every soul together. Eros had million of them coming from her, as the Goddess of love Twilight expected no less. What shocked Twilight was the number that was coming from her own chest.

“I don’t love this many ponies.”

“Dear one, love exists in all shapes and sizes, bond exists like this between almost everypony that meets. You have love for your friends, love for your family, and even love for your townsfolk. What is the true mark is the size of the bonds.”

Twilight looked down, Eros was right, while she had many bonds, only a few were of any real size. Of that group, six of those were bigger than the rest. Touching one, she was instantly aware of Rarity, the mare was currently laying by the bedside of Spike, happy talking to him about her latest fashion design she wanted to try out on him. Another led her to Applejack, who seemed to fret over Shining Armor's health as he turned down yet another apple treat. Twilight suspected that Shiny would not have been able to keep anything down anyway, his concern for his wife evident on his face. Of all the connections, one of them dwarfed the size of all of the rest combined. Twilight could not help but touch this one.

The journey down this one was different, when she touched the others she was simply there, time and distance having no meaning. On this one, she seemed to be traveling along, as she reached the end the truth as to why became self evident, this was her connection to Rainbow Dash. The staff around dash was emanating an aura. It was trying to delay this connection, but try as it might, even an object as powerful as an Occulous could not stop it. Twilight soon arrived in Dash’s thoughts.

‘I have to move on, I made a promise. Make her hate me, it will hurt her less.’ Twilight's vision was soon flooded with Dash’s memories, the pain Twilight suffered on that dreadful day, the promise Dash made not once, but three separate times. All of it, even Rainbow’s conversation with the Occulous itself, it all came to Twilight in an instant. She felt weak at the knees, not only did Dash love her, she loved her enough to sacrifice everything she was to fix Twilight’s mistake, and to prevent her from ever going through the pain of losing Rainbow again. Rainbow Dash blamed herself for the pain Twilight went through on that day and would do whatever it took to prevent it from happening again.

Her vision returned to Eros holding her tightly in her hooves. Twilight started crying again, although for the first time she could remember, she did not believe that these were tears of pain, but tears of joy.

"Always remember dear one, the true magic in this world is what the love that exists between two souls can create."

After several minutes the tears finally stopped flowing. As Eros let her go she sit back and looked at the God in front of her. A grateful expression on her face, “Thank you for that. It means more to me then you could possibly know.”

Eros beamed a smile at her sister, such thanks were not needed.

“I do want to ask, you implied that this is not the first time you created an Avatar, is the same true for me… I mean Gaia.”

“No dear sister, you see Gaia had never created one before, while I have done this many times in the past. Gaia was always too concerned with our dear brother to drop her guard in such a way. In the end it was with a little pushing by me that convinced her to try it. I did not know that Chaos would be released while she was you.” Eros’s face took a guilty expression at that, Gaia’s greatest concern was that Chaos would return while she was away, Eros herself had made the argument that he had been locked up for over a thousand years. What were the chances in the next lifespan he would be come back? She suspected some foul play by her brother on that one, the timing had been a little too perfect.

“How is it that Cadance or you, became my foalsitter? That seemed a little unlikely to be a coincidence.”

“Consider the following Twilight, Cadance is very gifted with love, and when she became an alicorn it only increased tenfold. Naturally, she would begin to see the connections, even if she did not fully understand them. Over time she would see the one I share with my sister, with you. Is it little wonder she would find herself so enamored with you?”

Twilight stared up to Eros, “Tell me one last thing, Chaos said that the universe is chaotic in nature, that there might yet be a way for me to save her. Do you know how I can… save Rainbow, I mean?”

Eros smiled at the alicorn, it was a smile that seemed to convey sympathy, love, and hope all at once. Before she could give Twilight a reply her face twisted into one of pain. “Twiiillligght… it's commminngg.”

Concern crossed Twilight’s face. “What coming? What's wrong? Eros…” Twilight’s world flew by; it felt almost like something was expelling her from this world. Pushing Twilight back into the waking world. Again she found herself unable to see.

As Twilight opened her eyes, the sight before her caused her whole body to shudder, Cadance was in lying on her bed, Convolutions racked her body. Her face spoke of the large amount of pain she was in. Twilight reacted as quickly as she could. Using her magic, she blew the double doors down the hallway. Startling the guards that were appointed outside.


The two began moving immediately, the level of magic energy flowing from Twilight at that moment caused them to react without thinking. They could not disobey that order even if their own lives were in danger.

Twilight turned back to Cadance. “Don’t worry Cadance, I'm here, I'm not going anywhere.” She began petting Cadance's mane, cooing softly to her as Cadance struggled with the next contraction. Twilight was doing her best to try and make the alicorn as comfortable as possible. It was not helping.

“Twilight!!!!” Cadance screamed as another contraction hit. This one lasted for over ten seconds, it quickly turned into one long scream, the sounds of souls being annihilated in Tartarus did not sound that bad. All Twilight could do was hold onto Cadance and cry. An eternity later the sound stopped, at first Twilight had assumed Cadance had passed out, but her eyes were still open, the pain had finally passed without knocking the alicorn out. Twilight’s foalsitter simply lay there, her breathing broken and slow. Blood leaking out onto the bed.

Twilight swore that if the doctors did not get there in the next minute them and those guards would find themselves living on the moon when this was over.

Fifty three seconds later the doctors arrived, they unceremoniously pushed the purple alicorn out of the way and went to work on Cadance. They all seemed really worried and while Twilight had an above average understanding of medical procedures, her mind could not comprehend the finer details. All she caught was something about needing blood.

Feeling around with her hooves for something, anything to grab on too. Twilight found a pillow that had been knocked off the bed. She grabbed it and squeezed with all her might. As if the more pressure she put on the pillow the less pain Cadance would be in. Twilight’s current state of mind was not processing information the way it normally would. As such she did not notice when white energy surrounded her body and took her out of the room. She did not notice when she was brought out into the hallway. However, she did notice when a white set of hooves began hugging her. Her mind finally registered what had occurred, Shining Armor had taken Twilight out of the way and was now hugging her for all he was worth.


“Brother… I… am… so… sorry…” it took Twilight almost five minutes to say that one sentence.

“Twilight, listen to me, we don't blame you for this. We both love you unconditionally, and neither of us would ever hold you accountable for this. We love you more then anything Twilight. Always remember that, regardless of what happens today.”

“How can you, after all this. After all I have done, after all that has happened, I hate me. Why don’t you?”

“Don't say that Twilight, never say that. I could never hate you, Cadance could never hate you, and you should never hate you either. What happened happened. We cannot change the past; all we can do is decide for ourselves what our own actions going forward will be. Come what may, my actions will be to love my sister, forever. I know for a fact that Cadance feels the same. We forgive any crime you may think you have committed against us. However, you must forgive yourself too.”

“I don't know if I can…”

“Then don't do it for yourself. Do it for others, do it for me, Cadance, and all your friends. One of the greatest lessons I can hope to teach you is that the hardest thing to do is to live life for yourself, fortunately, the easiest thing to do is to live life for others.”

“When did you get so smart, BBBFF?”

“You cannot be married to a princess and have another as a sister and not pick up on a few things.” He playfully rubbed Twilight's head, messing up her mane in the process.

One of the doctors soon interrupted the two, “Prince Shining Armor. I'm sorry, the foal is almost here.”

After a nod from Twilight, Shining left his sister and ran to his wife. Twilight looked around. ‘It's too late… I was going to be an aunt… I needed more time… I needed just a few more hours… I need everything to stop…’ “Everything needs to stop!!” While not intending to, Twilight screamed that last part.

Define: Divulge Crux

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Chapter 29 Define: Divulge Crux

The Crystal Empire

“Everything needs to stop.” It was a simple phrase, one shouted out by a mare who was on the verge of breaking down, one who was losing everything. In no way was her situation even unique, over the past few weeks several families went through very similar circumstances. Each wished they had some way of making the world stop, of delaying the disaster that was occurring just one more second. Sadly, not one of them was able. Each family had to deal with it in the same way as all the ones who came before and after. For there was nothing special about their scenario, they were normal ponies and as horrible as the situation was, it too was a normal part of life.

Twilight Sparkle was not a normal pony; she was not ‘normal’ in any meaning of the world. Even before these events she had a record of accomplishment that would make most adults question just what they had done with their own lives. Twilight was noticed early on and taken as a protégé by Princess Celestia herself, she came to fame by defeating the Mare in the Moon, Nightmare Moon, and restoring her to Princess Luna. She saved Equestria several times from threats ranging from King Sombra, Discord, and even several changeling invasions.

Yet all of these events where the effect of her being special, not the cause, what truly made her special was the fact that in addition to all these, Twilight Sparkle was the first Avatar to Gaia, God of Life and Magic. While there had been a hoof full of Avatars in the past, Twilight was the first one who tapped into the power of the God residing in her. So, when Twilight Sparkle shouted for everything to stop, the world obeyed, what choice did it have?

Several minutes after her impromptu shout it finally occurred to Twilight that something was wrong. Lost in her thoughts as she was, it was only after her sobbing died down that she noticed it. Her first warning was the complete and utter silence that assaulted her. Everything was quiet, ‘That’s not right, the doctors should be doing something’.

She lifted her head from her hooves and stared into the royal bedchambers. Twilight was able to see in the room easy enough, the doctors were still in there, as was her brother. Something was off though, something was fundamentally wrong. Twilight tried to stand, she was a little shaky on her hooves, but eventually she managed it all the same. She proceeded slowly back into the room.

Everypony was indeed very busy, several of the doctors looked to be attaching lines into Cadance, others were readying tools and blood vials for the ones actually working. Shining Armor was sitting next to his wife, out of the way but refusing to leave her side for an instant. Cadance, Twilight could not bring herself to look at her, there was just too much blood. None of this was what was wrong, well a lot of it was wrong on many different levels, but the thing that was fundamentally wrong was that nopony was moving. It was not just the ponies that seemed frozen, the liquid and various tools were all stuck in place. Gravity should have pulled them to the ground, yet nothing moved. It was almost as if someone was watching this and just hit the pause button.

Glancing out the window, Twilight saw that this was not the only room affected. Other ponies out in the empire just stopped, unmoving. A leaf was caught in the breeze, just hovering in the air. It was a little unnerving. Twilight reached out with her magic and forced the leaf to her. ‘It seems as if everything is frozen or more accurately, everything stopped. However, it seems I can still affect things.’

Twilight began wandering around the room, noting with disdain just how bad the situation was, while she had never practiced medicine before, Twilight knew enough to know that some of that bleeding needed to be stopped. Even worse case pregnancies should not have been this bad. Twilight paused and concentrated her magic on her sister, she could not stop the event from occurring when the flow of time started up again but she could make the doctor’s job easier. Focusing on her foal sitter, Twilight clotted several different internal bleeds. A task made infinitely easier by the fact that nothing could move; she doubted that she would have been able to do it otherwise. ‘Whatever occurs, at least Cadance will be alright. Although ‘alright’ might be subjective’. That last thought left her with a deep sense of melancholy.

Twilight left the room, whatever would happen there was beyond any knowledge she had to fix. Whatever paused the world, and she had a deep suspicion that it was her fault; she would try to use it to her advantage. If she could help Cadance, maybe she could help other ponies before this wore off? Assuming this wore off.

Her wanderings took her all over the palace, from bedroom to bedroom. Every scenario played out the same; she was the only thing that was not frozen. Even objects she picked up and dropped stayed where she let them go, ‘I bet Rainbow would have a lot of fun in this situation’. The thought came unheeded and unwanted. However, she could not take it back. It made Twilight long for the former pegasus. Their time together was the happiest in her life, but short, oh so short.

She blamed these Gods for this. Had Eros never created these Avatars. Had Gaia never become one, had Discord never made them go into that stupid funhouse. No, that was not true, even with all this pain, even with the loss of the mare she so loved, she would not trade their short time together for the world, those memories were too important, too precious. Between the pain of loss, and the pain of never loving at all, perhaps the pain of loss was not the greater of the two? Yes, had she never fallen for the mare she never would have suffered, but the fact she is suffering so, it was only because she had truly loved.

Her musings found her in the throne room, inside were all her friends, Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow. The former three seemed to be grouped up. Fluttershy was caught stealing a glance at the black mare. Applejack seemed to be whispering something to Pinkie. Not one of them looked happy. Twilight sighed, she would have to explain something to them soon, as they did deserve to know. She was eternally grateful that not one of them had brought up the conversation before she was ready to talk about it. However, they deserved an explanation. Rainbow was their friend too after all.

Twilight glanced at Rainbow; the black mare was as frozen as the rest. She had the same gloss eyed look on her face she had ever since picking up that damn second piece of the Occulous. Almost as if she was seeing something that the rest of them could not. There was something particularly odd though. The staff was moving.

The Occulous was floating around the black mare, it seemed unsure of what to do. As such, it resolved to simply protect its new master from whatever would occur. Twilight wanted to smash the damn thing in a million pieces and bury each piece a thousand feet under the ground at different points all around the planet. For good measure, she would send a few up to the moon. She wanted too and she could, she did have the power, yet she knew that would be the most counterproductive thing she could possibly do at this moment. Therefore, she let it be.

She needed someone to talk to. Applejack had always been a voice of reason, and she trusted that pony to always be honest, even if she was a little blunt about it. As such, Twilight walked over the orange mare and tried a few spells out to see if she could get her moving.

Nothing happened.

After her tenth attempt she stopped, there were a few ‘other’ spells she could try, but they had some nasty side effects if they did not work. The risk was too great. Yes, she needed somepony to talk to, yes she did not want to go through all this alone, but she would not endanger her friends for her own benefit. Twilight loved them too much to put them in unnecessary danger for her sake, she moved on.

More rooms went by, more frozen ponies and objects. In one room she checked, Twilight quickly blushed and shut the door, she just saw first hoof what the term ‘nooner’ meant. After ‘that’ event, she stopped checking every room one at a time and resolved to simply examine each with her magic vision from the safety of outside the doors.

The flow of magic had stopped. Everywhere she looked, every direction she looked, it was frozen, it seemed as if the energy of this realm was just as frozen as the physical properties of the real world. Looking around, Twilight saw two exceptions. The first was up and to the left. She could see the absence of energy moving around. Twilight assumed that was the staff flying around Rainbow, as that was the direction of the throne room. One other movement caught her eye. Down below, an object was spinning, this one was not the blackness of the staff, as this one gave off magic in waves.

Twilight blinked her normal vision back and ran, she had a distinct impression of what it was, but she wanted to make sure. Running past several frozen guards Twilight soon found one of the staircases going outside. She took the stairs three at time, jumping down to the landings separating the stairwells. Before long, she was outside.

As she expected, the Crystal Heart was still active. It was the legendary relic that she had seen moving. The Crystal Heart was still giving off magic. She sighed and walked closer to it. “This is Eros’s Occulous.” It was not a question; Twilight knew with a hundred percent certainty that the Crystal Heart belonged to Eros. The energy was too similar for it to be anything but.

She approached the Heart. The warmth it gave off was welcoming. Moving slowly up to it, least her very presence stop it from moving, she raised a hoof and went to touch it. Logically it should do nothing, yet Twilight and logic had a falling out as of late, and she did not trust logic all that much anymore.

When she reached up a hoof to the Crystal Heart two things occurred: One, it stopped spinning. This made Twilight gasp; it was the one event she did not want to happen. The second was a blade began coming forth from the heart. Twilight recognized it immediately; the blade to the scythe was sticking halfway out of the Crystal Heart.

She had finally found the last piece: Now they could restore the scythe, let all the poor souls that have died pass on, allow new foals to be born, allow her future niece or nephew to be born, and she would forever lose Rainbow Dash.

That last part made her collapse on the ground as she buried her face in her hooves, ‘I will forever lose Rainbow dash’. A knife stuck in her back would not have hurt so much. The warmth from the sun, the energy from the heart, none of it mattered at that moment. Her misery would not let her enjoy any of it. It was true what they say; misery loves company, not somepony or something trying to cheer it up.

Twilight’s resolve instantly took hold. "Fine if misery wants company, I will give it company!"

“Eros! Come down here! Join your sister!”

Twilight phrased the command with all the power she could manage, she did not know if it was even possible, but she had the power of a God, she stopped time for Celestia’s sake, something as simple as forcing another being out of its Avatar should not be that much more difficult.

After almost five minutes, Twilight was ready to admit defeat. 'Perhaps Gods cannot do everything?' Then, she was basked in the warm glow from earlier. Looking up, Twilight saw the heavenly energy of Eros, God of Love.

“So, you have accepted who you are.” It was not a question.

“Yes, I'm the Avatar of Gaia; no, more than that, I have become the living incarnation of Gaia.”

Eros just smiled at Twilight, “I see you have found the last piece, I'm sorry I was unable to tell you where it was before our conversation was ‘interrupted'. Thank you for saving my Avatar by the way. I have to admit, Princess Cadance has fast become my favorite, easily replacing the Crystal Princess. Her love of Shining Armor is one for the ages.

“Speaking of that, what happened? You seemed to have been in a quite a lot of pain.”

“As I told you Twilight, the God shares in all the experience of the Avatar, both the good, and the bad.” Her expression turned sober at that, as if remembering old pain from earlier lives.

“So what do I…”

A flash of bright white light interrupted her words.

“Now Twilight my dear, you go and do something like STOP TIME and you don’t invite me? I thought we were friends.”


“Hello, brother.”

“Hello to you too, dear sister. I see our little Twily has finally found the last piece of the puzzle. Moreover, she also coxed our dear sister out of hiding as well. It truly is a time of miracles.”

“You see me as hiding? Are you not the one who seeks out my method of performing such hiding? Are you not the one who comes asking for such magic yourself?”

“Leave your logic out of my argument.”

“Dear bro-”

“ENOUGH! I get that there is a family dispute going on here, but I think we can all agree that there is something slightly more important to deal with.”

Discord and Eros just stared at each other, both knowing that the little pony had just upstaged two Gods but neither willing to make the first move to apologize.

Twilight turned and looked at the draconequus, a single tear fell from her eye. “Discord, Chaos, whatever the bucking hell you want to call yourself, I just have one question. Why did you do it, why did you force our love to the forefront like that?”

Discord looked down at the ground, then at his sister. Both of them glared back menacingly at the draconequus. They told him to answer the little fillies question, knowing what he knew, why did he break her heart?

“I didn't have a choice, I'm bound by vow one.”

“What does that have to do wit-”

“Now dear brother, I think the time for conversation is over, don’t you?”

A red flash appeared, cutting of Discord’s response to Twilight's comment. Tartarus had appeared at the edge of the impromptu circle the four had formed.

Discord hated what he had to do and he hated that Tartarus had forced his hoof. Discord transformed into Chaos, he ran up to the red pony and stared daggers into his eyes.

“I do not like this Tartarus, I do not like this one bit!”

“Brother, you do not have to like this, but you agreed to it, all of us did. We all have our parts to play in order to make sure such events, as ‘Titans’ never happen again. Or did YOU forget that?”

That seemed to get to Chaos, the pony backed of his brother with a hurt look in his eyes.

“Yes, that mistake is mine, yet that does not condone this brother. We are no longer playing with mortals, she is our own sister.”

“My sister is the Goddess of Life and Magic. That is not my sister.”

"Did you not call her Gaia when you first met?" Eros asked.

"Only because I did not realize Twilight had taken Gaia's power as her own," Tartarus replied.

“Then you truly do not understand Tartarus, would that you were not so ignorant.”

“Quite Eros, this is not for you to interfere with.”

“You play around with love, Tartarus, and you say it is not for me to interfere with?”

“Would one of you shut up and explain what the buck is going on!” Twilight had enough of the family bickering. The back and forth was getting them nowhere and if she was a part of this family like they claimed her to be, she had every right to know just what the hay was going on.

“She has the right to know Chaos, go ahead and tell her.”

“I suppose you are right Eros. Twilight, my brother’s Occulous has a few rules to it. The prominent one is that its bearer must be one who has escaped death,” Twilight nodded her head; she knew that rule. “The other rule is that its bearer must be willing, for Rainbow Dash to become the new reaper, she had to do it willingly.”

“I already knew that.”

Both Chaos and Tartarus mouth dropped, neither had expected that answer. Eros just looked on with a calm expression on her face.

“My question was why did YOU force our love to the forefront, not why it had to be done. I thought you were our friend.”

“I was bound by the first vow, everything that lives must die. My actions or inactions cannot break that vow. The only way Rainbow would allow herself to become the reaper is if she did it for somepony she loved. She loved you and you her, you just needed to admit it to each other. She would only sacrifice herself for the one she loved. I… I'm sorry”

Eros stared menacingly at her older brother, “You used their love against each other?!”

Chaos has been around since the beginning, as the first of the Primordial Deities, he was the one who created the universe that souls now inhabit, everything that exists has some touch of him to it. As the first God he had seen and heard everything, but this feeling was something new, ‘another first’. Chaos had never felt so scared in his life, the strength of love could cause mortals to perform superpony feats, and in a God, this was amplified millions of times over. Few knew of the true strength of the God of Love, the true fury she could deliver when one plays with her dominion, and to see it turned towards him. As a God he was immortal, but he never really put it to the test before, if he were ever going to die, this would be the moment.

“Calm down Eros. He was bound to it, he had no choice.”

“There were other ways Tartarus. He knew what he was doing, no one plays with hearts while I'm around.”

“Really, name one.”


“That’s what I thought, he was just the one who drew the preverbal ‘short straw’ it could have been any of us in that position. Anyway I think we've delayed here long enough, it is time to bring down the pony of the hour.”

With a blinding red flash, Rainbow Dash was teleported down; freshly animated, she looked around at the four Gods surrounding her. Her gaze finally settled on the Crystal Heart, or more precisely, the Occulous's blade sticking halfway out of it.

Tears began falling anew from Twilight's face, “Rainbow…”

Define: Choice

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Chapter 30 Define: Choice

The Crystal Empire

Twilight looked over at the black mare, her heart leapt into her throat. “Rainbow.”

As far as Rainbow was concerned, all that existed to her was the Crystal Heart, or more precisely, the blade sticking out of it.

“I believe it is time for this to end, don’t you?”

“Tartarus, there is no need to be cruel.”

“Eros, you were always such a softy.”

“Don’t do this.”

Twilight squeaked out the last words, she had always assumed there was another way. She had been so sure of it, now, with the reality of the situation right in front of her, she realized just how naïve she had been.

“Begging now, Twilight?”

With a force of magic that Twilight had only seen when she killed the reaper, Eros blasted Tartarus off his feet. He slammed into the wall with such force that Twilight was worried the Crystal Palace would be in danger of toppling over. Glaring angrily, Eros approached her brother with a murderous look in her eyes.

“Right in front of me, you… you DARE!!! I should end you!”

Chaos teleported in between his siblings, it was the last place he wanted to be, but if they truly started in on each other than the entire world would be forever scarred, assuming it even survived.

“Calm down Eros, he's just trying to push your buttons.”

For his part, Tartarus started laughing, “Besides, you hit like a girl.”

Chaos turned around, “Tartarus, unless you want to take us both on right this second, you will shut the hell up.”

The last time Tartarus decided to challenge his bigger brother entire worlds were lost. The fight lasted well over a decade and as much as he hated to admit it, he had not won. Now? Now he was facing a two on one scenario with that very same God, and a pissed off sister. Contrary to his earlier statement, that hit caused him more pain than he ever experienced before. As such, he followed the only logical course of action available to him at that moment. He shut up.

Three Gods were practically going for each other’s throats right next to Twilight; however, at that moment, she could not care less. All her attention was on the black mare staring at the Crystal Heart. She loved that mare more than her own life. Yet she knew, as soon as Rainbow touched that blade it would be over, she would be forever lost to Twilight. ‘What will I do without you?’ the thought seemed as alien to Twilight as growing gills; she would always remember this mare, the one that had stolen her heart. Yes, she would live forever. However, it would be empty life. An eternal life spent in regret, longing for what might have been.

‘What are you waiting for Rainbow? Grab the blade and make me complete. Fulfill your destiny.’

‘Shut up.’

‘This has already been decided, there is nothing left to talk over. There is nothing left to discuss and we both know you will do it. Why drag it out? Is it because of her? Don’t you know you are only hurting her more by delaying?’

‘Shut up.’

Rainbow had been having this debate ever since Tartarus brought her down from the tower. It was right in front of her, the last piece and the scythe would be complete. Nothing has changed, her future is still the same, and consequences of action and inaction are still the same. She knew that she would grab it. Why was she waiting? Maybe it was just to piss off the other voice in her head. Maybe it was because of the tears her love was crying. Maybe a mixture of the two? She honestly could not put her hoof on it. Yet here she was, her objective right in front of her, all she had to do was walk forward a few steps and claim it. However, she delayed. Why?

Twilight noted that the arguing had died down, the three gods slowly returned to their spots around the heart. She noticed with some satisfaction a huge black bruise on Tartarus’s left flank, ‘He deserves more than that'. None of them truly looked happy about the situation. When they got back to their spots, Twilight broke the uncomfortable silence that permeated between the groups.

“So, when this is over, will time start back up?”

Chaos filled this question, “That will take some work on our part. In truth, we never expected you to be able to cast something quite that powerful this early on. As the God of Life and Magic itself, Gaia was always able to perform spectacular feats well beyond anything any one of us could match. Not to say we don’t all have our own special talents.” With a flick of his hoof, a small galaxy appeared in front of him. One he immediately extinguished. Eros noticed the look of horror on Twilight’s face.

“Don’t worry little one, it wasn't inhabited.”

Relief flooded Twilight as she struggled to comprehend the awfulness of what she had seen. For his part Chaos just shrugged, “Life, that was never my specialty. That always was your dominion, Gaia.”

Twilight stared down at her hooves. Her life was about to take a very different turn. No longer would she be Princess Twilight Sparkle, no longer would her life be about books, studying, friendship, and Equestria. She was now and would forever be, Twilight Sparkle, the living incarnation of Gaia, God of Life and Magic. She was sure that life would have its own unique set of duties, duties that would take her beyond her friends. It was too much for her, she could not do it, not by herself, and certainly not like this. Twilight was grateful she had not eaten in a while, she was certain that if she had, it would be coming back up now. However, that lead to another problem altogether, she was weak, weaker than she ever remembered being before. Her eyes felt heavy, her knees were shaking, and before she was aware of what was occurring, Twilight Sparkle passed out.


‘Just grab it; there is no point in delaying any longer.’

Rainbow reflected that Discord, Chaos, whatever the bucking hell she should call him, he was right. This thing would never shut the hell up. She had stopped replying to its jabs a while ago. Yes, it was correct, she would eventually complete the Occulous and claim her new destiny, and she would do this for Twilight. Somehow, delaying those events made it all the sweeter. She did not know why, but it really pissed this thing off and that made her happy. It was petty revenge, but Rainbow cherished every minute of it.

While her eyes never moved from the Occulous, her peripheral vision was on Twilight. Rainbow knew the pain she was in, it was her fault. However, she could see all too clearly the pain Twilight would be in if she did anything else. This pain was nothing compared to that pain.

Justifying it to herself and seeing the results of it were two very different things. She would have given her wings ten times over to be able to go over to the purple alicorn and hug her one last time. She could not, that way lead to even more pain. She briefly remembered the comment that led her to this decision. ‘Show me', that one phase led to more trouble than Rainbow had ever imagined. She hated the future she saw, or more accurately, she hated that she could see the future at all.

Suddenly Twilight began swaying back and forth. She looked as if she was about to fall on her side. The ‘Gods’ were back to arguing, they seemed to be bickering so much Rainbow could not help but think they actually enjoyed it. They truly were a family, as only families argued that much. None of them would stop Twilight from falling.

‘Just let her fall.’

That settled it, Rainbow hated that damn voice, she never should have taken its advice before and she sure as hell was not going to take it now.


Twilight awoke; she was laying on something soft. Something she had been on before, and to top it off, it was black. She did not like black; she preferred blue. However, it was nice, soft, and familiar. Twilight decided she could forgive it for being black, this time.

“You ok, egghead?”

That got her attention.


Twilight glanced up, she remembered being on her hooves, and she remembered a fight, that was about it. Yet here she was, lying on Rainbow’s body, and yet again, she was on top. This time she did not blush. She never thought she would be this close to Rainbow again. Twilight concentrated on the feeling of Rainbow's fur. If this was going to be their last time together, she wanted to remember this for all eternity. Despite her best attempts, she could not stop the tears falling down her eyes, or the sobbing in her voice, “Thank you for being by my side.”

“I will always be by your side, even if I may look different.”

“Don't do this… please.”

“I have to, you know that. If I don't, the world will come to an end. The fighting we saw back in Ponyville, it will only get worse until everyone dies.”

Twilight knew Rainbow was right, she KNEW that this had to be done. However, her heart was in control now and refused to let her brain take the wheel, a little thing like logic was not going to get in its way. “I know all that, I do, but... but I don’t want you too.”

Rainbow smiled warmly at Twilight. “Yes you do, just not right now.” She slowly started standing again, forcing the alicorn to move off her. She looked back at Twilight with that natural cocky grin of hers, “For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry how I've been acting. I thought that if I cut myself off from the world after getting that last piece it would cause you less pain to let me go. All I managed to do was waste what little time we had left and hurt you more. So for that I apologize, but this, this is something I have to do. Please tell the others I love them and I will miss them.”

She slowly started to make her way to the Crystal Heart. “And besides, Rainbow Dash always keeps her promises.” She turned her head back to look at Twilight one final time. “I promised you I would never leave your side didn't I? This is the only way we can stay together, forever. You will never die, and this way, neither will I.” A single tear fell from her eye “I've seen both heaven and hell, and if I will be around for an eternity, I want it to be one with you actually in it.” she turned back, reaching out a hoof to grab the blade from the Crystal Heart.

Tears flew in a steady steam from Twilight’s eyes, Rainbow was almost at the last piece of the Occulous, once she reached out and touched it, the transformation would be complete. Rainbow would be gone and a new reaper would be born. Rainbow would sacrifice herself, giving up everything that made her Rainbow Dash for all eternity to fix Twilight’s mistake and to prevent her from ever being alone.

“No....” Twilight’s mind could not think of anything, what was happening, she could not let it happen. However, her mind was torn as this needed to happen. There was no other way.

Twilight ran forward, her body moving of its own volition. Her heart took command and willed her to move fast. The staff tried to stop her; it got in her way and produced several shields. Twilight broke all of them with ease, with a casual dismissal with her horn, the staff was flung to the side and left imbedded in the wall; Twilight had a race to win.

For the second time in her life, Twilight beat Rainbow in a race. She bowled over the black pony and pressed their lips together.

Rainbow was about to give everything for Twilight, so she would do the same. Using her magic, Twilight poured everything she had into that kiss. Her hopes, her dreams, her very being, she gave it all to Rainbow at that moment, all the power and magic she had. In the magic plane, she saw the connection Eros had told her of. Recent events has warped and stretched it but it was not broken, not yet anyway. With this outpouring, it strengthened a hundred fold, the love the two shared transformed the bridge between them into a connection that death itself could never hope to break. Twilight’s energy flowed through that bridge into the black mare, flooding her with all the love, courage, dedication, friendship, knowledge, and everything else Twilight could give her. At that moment, their two souls were truly joined as one.

When she had given up everything, when all the layers were pulled back. Twilight found one last thing to give; it was hidden under everything else; her connection to Gaia’s power. The connection that never should have existed, it was the bridge from Avatar to God. Twilight severed it, connecting the severed end to the bridge between her and Rainbow; Twilight sent that power into her as well.

The energy rushed into Rainbow, a cacophony of sensation and feelings flooded the mare, the wind in her hair and the ground under her hooves. It was such a simple thing, yet the implications of all this and more were lost to her at that moment. As Twilight’s kiss became her whole world.

Twilight was giving too much, Rainbow began feeding some back to the alicorn, two more bridges formed out of nowhere, Rainbow took advantage of them to send more power back to Twilight.

The three gods watched as the magic released by this simple act of pure love washed over the two mares. The energy flooded over them, surrounding Rainbow and restoring her coat to its original cyan-blue coloring, her mane took back its rainbow hue, and her cutie mark reappeared on her flank. The magic flooded around the area where her wings used to be, a new set of huge shining golden wings shot from her side, wrapping around the two lovers. Despite all these changes, there was still way too much for any one pony to take in. Twilight’s body was created to hold Gaia and Twilight severed her connection with the source, it could no longer return to Gaia. Rainbow’s body was a mortals’, it took what it could, but it had its limits. Having no place to go, it sought to equalize between the two ponies. This proved near impossible as more power continued to flood in.

The magic of a God, especially the God of Life and Magic was too much for the two. Right now, it was flowing full stream straight into Rainbow. There was no way to reverse that flow. Instinctually Twilight severed the connection from Gaia to Rainbow, cutting them both off forevermore from that wellspring of power.

Even after all the changes wrought upon Rainbow it was still too much, she still had too much of Gaia’s power in her, it needed somewhere to go. It needed somewhere it could exhaust itself. Twilight was not an option, subconsciously Rainbow refused to let that much leave; she would never let Twilight get hurt. It eventually found a place it could exhaust itself, deep inside Rainbow Dash.

All this was consciously lost on the two. While subconsciously, their bodies reacted swiftly to this chain of events in order to save themselves. Physically, they never looked around, each had their eyes closed and concentrated on the one feeling that meant more than anything else did in the entire world. The kiss they shared.

Eros smiled; truly, this was a glorious day. She was so happy for her sister.

Chaos could not contain his excitement, jumping up and down he screamed, “I can't believe you did it! You expert magic loving purple hair pony, I love it, you managed to defy the will of the Gods and found a way to win!”

Tartarus started moving in on the two; he would put a stop to this himself. Chaos teleported in his way. “Now now Tartarus, vow two, remember? We cannot directly interfere with the lives of mortals. You know better than that.” Chaos was smirking, as much as his brother loved to toss those rules in his face, this vengeance was sweet.

Tartarus snarled at Chaos, “They are not mortals and you know it!”

“Really? Look again, dear brother.”

One glance over told Tartarus that Chaos was right; the immoral life energy of Twilight flowed through to Rainbow restoring her own life force. A balance formed between the two, the immortal life energy of one balanced out the absence of life in the other. Twilight had made her choice, the two were now, once again, part of the realm of mortals. They would each hold a lifespan that would put an alicorn's to shame, but they would, eventually, die. Tartarus could not interfere and more importantly, Rainbow no longer qualified as a candidate who could carry the scythe.

“They may be mortals now but they will outlive any pony that ever came before or will ever come after. Even I cannot see when they will pass on. Are you ok with this turn of events, Eros?”

“Are you kidding? Had I known this was possible I would have made my dear sister do it years ago! I'm not worried; she will, one day depart from Twilight’s soul and return to us. The tales she will have…” Eros lost herself, staring dreamily at the two mares on the ground before them. “Anyway, she made her choice and I cannot be more proud.”

Tartarus laughed at this development, he had forced this turn of events the best he could. However, he had failed. One look over at his dear brother’s smug face told him that he had played a hoof in this development, perhaps, in the end; it had been Chaos who outplayed him. “So it seems I have no choice, bound by vow one and with no current candidate, I will carry the scythe for the time being. Come dear brother, let us leave these mortals in peace.”

Tartarus vanished in a puff of red smoke, taking the staff and blade with him. Chaos reverted to his Occulous and took one more look at the two lovebirds in the center of the group. He noticed something there, something inside Rainbow that caused him to smile. ‘Just think what fun we can have now, I knew forcing the scythe in three different directions was the right move', with a snap of his fingers and a bright white light, he was gone.

Eros’s smile never left her face. She reflected on this lesson provided by Rainbow and Twilight, that even with the odds stacked against them love could find a way. ‘Perhaps, maybe, another finally deserves to know such pleasure.’ With a puff of pink smoke, she was gone, returned to her Avatar, ready to welcome her new foal into the world. A world where the type of pure magic and love existed just like what Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash shared.

After an eternity, Twilight and Rainbow broke apart. Their stamina spent, each felt more exhausted then they had in their entire lives, Rainbow looked up, she noticed that once again, Twilight was on top. With a supreme force of will, she raised a hoof and gently moved a stray hair from Twilight’s mane out of her eyes. As Twilight opened her eyes to look at Rainbow, Rainbow lost herself in Twilight's eyes.

“You always did have the most beautiful purple eyes, Twi.”

Twilight smiled. “Did I ever tell you blue is my favorite color?”

By itself, their love was enough to supercharge the Crystal Heart; it released the power into the sky, restarting the flow of time and spreading light and love all across the world.

Define: Consummation

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Epilogue Define: Consummation

The Crystal Empire

A new unicorn prince was born in the Crystal Empire, ponies the world over celebrated his birth, as little Radiant Star was a new hope for everyone. Other little fillies and colts soon accompanied him into the world. Although, most would never know, those who died were finally able to pass on to the afterlife. A huge party was thrown, spearheaded the world over by every party pony alive. The party lasted for a full month and covered many different cities. As there was much, much to celebrate.

The guest of honor were of course, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash. However, Twilight felt drained as the day’s events were far too taxing for her to be able to attend a party. She would probably sleep for a week straight. Not even Rainbow was up for it. The cyan pegasus had been through just as much if not more than the princess had; even if that were not the case, she would never attend an event with Twilight in such a state.

Thankfully, Celestia saw this, even after a few hours in the hospital where they were pronounced fit, but subscribed bed rest. The nobles demanded their attendance. Celestia’s influence was all that kept them from having to attend. She made their excuses for them and sent them to their room. No one questioned when they both went into the same room. Twilight and Rainbow would never be apart again. It did not take the Alicorn of Love to see how attached these two had become.

It had been a long journey, but now the two could finally rest. Laying on an alicorn-sized bed in the Crystal Empire, Twilight snuggled up to Rainbow; her eyes could barely stay open after the day’s events. Rainbow yawned, sleepy for the first time in a very long time.

“Goodnight, Twilight.”

“Goodnight, Rainbow.”

As one, the two shut their eyes, Rainbow softly stroking Twilight’s mane, Twilight fell asleep as her head rested on Dash’s stomach, all the while listening to her new favorite sound in the world, Rainbow’s heartbeat. A few seconds later they were both fast asleep, dreaming of each other.

It was a shame, for if Twilight had stayed awake a few minutes longer she would have heard two additional heartbeats, beating for the first time after the magic and love she poured into Rainbow created something new in Dash’s womb.


In the next twelve months, many miracles happened, some big, and some small. It took six months but Twilight kept her word. She and Rainbow visited every single family that had been affected by this. Most of them refused to hear her apology, the respect and admiration they had for the princess not allowing them to blame her. Three of them actually apologized to her, grateful to know the truth of what had occurred, and sorry that Twilight had to suffer so much because of it.

In the end, they all forgave Twilight, and in another miracle, Twilight was able to forgive herself.

Three months later, the couple married. Much to Rainbow’s chagrin, they ended up having three separate ceremonies. Two of which were completely packed for miles, the real one occurred in Ponyville. With only friends and family invited, suffice to say, all of Ponyville was there. The other two occurred in Canterlot and the Crystal Empire. Rainbow said it was ridiculous; however, Twilight informed her that as the newest princess, Rainbow had to put on a show for the citizens. Although, even Twilight was surprised when Siros showed up for the Canterlot wedding. However, she was very happy when Discord failed to show at any of them. Nopony had seen the draconequus in months.

After their honeymoon another surprise was in store for Twilight, Spike and Rarity were getting married. Thanks to a little spell Twilight had cast on the dragon, Rarity would soon be a mother herself. Twilight told Spike that while the spell would give him the form of a pony, he would still have the lifespan of a dragon; he would still BE a dragon. He told her that was okay by him, if it brought him closer to Rarity for the short time they had, that was all he wanted. So she had agreed. Upon hearing that news, and the news of their baby, Twilight was glad he had convinced her to do it. It would be interesting to see what they would give birth too. As far as Twilight was aware, there had never been a dragon-pony offspring before. It already surprised her by having a slightly faster gestation rate, as Rarity would give birth a month before Rainbow.

Three months after that, a third miracle occurred; Equestria welcomed two new members of royalty to the fold. Rainbow Dash gave birth to two very healthy foals. A handsome unicorn prince with a purple coat and a rainbow mane, named Dayspring Gleam. Who would surpass Twilight with his love of learning, and a little pegasus princess with dark blue fur and a distinctive purple, blue, and orange mane, named Aurora Flash, whom would drive Rainbow crazy with her rambunctious nature. They would both surpass their parents in the amount of trouble they would cause.

Gaia, you are the God of Life and Magic; however, the true magic in this world is what the love that exists between two souls can create.
~ Eros

Six years later....


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• Act 1

o Impossible: Not possible, unable to be, exist, happen.

o Bittersweet: Both pleasant and painful or regretful.

o Necessary: Being essential, indispensable, requisite.

o Pyrrhic Victory: A victory or goal achieved at too great a cost.

o Prophecy: To predict with assurance or on the basis of mystic knowledge.

o Cost: The price paid to acquire, produce, accomplish, or maintain something.

o Home: The place or region where something is native or most common.

• Transition 1

o Peregrination: Travel from one place to another, especially on foot.

• Act 2

o Repugnance: A strong distaste, aversion, or objection, antipathy

o Elysium: The abode of the blessed after death, a place or state of perfect happiness.

o Gehenna: Any place of extreme torment or suffering.

o Tartarus: A sunless abyss, below Hades

o Omnipotent: Almighty or infinite in power, as God.

o Vis-à-Vis: Face to face

o Sisyphus: Son of Aeolus punished forever by having to roll a stone to the top of a hill.

• Transition 2

o Abeyance: Temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension

• Act 3

o Catastrophe: Sudden and widespread disaster.

o Perplexing: To cause to be puzzled or bewilder over what is not understood or certain.

o Pandemonium: A place or scene of notorious uproar or utter chaos.

o Veracity: Truth.

o Purgation: The act of purging.

o Love: A profoundly tender, passionate, affection for another.

o Remorseful Suffering: A sense of deep regret and guilt for agony, torment and pain.

• Act 4

o Persevering: To persist in an undertaking, maintain purpose in spite of difficulty.

o Safeguard: Something that serves as a protection or defenses or that ensures safety.

o Impasse: A position or situation from which there is no escape, a deadlock.

o Dire Straits: A state of extreme distress.

o Belated: Late, delayed, or detained.

o Divulge Crux: Disclose or reveal a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point.

o Choice: Selecting from several alternatives, picking by personal preference.

• Epilogue

o Consummation: The ultimate end, finish.