In the Darkness

by ThatOneWriter

First published

Twilight and friends sit in a cave and wait out the end of Equestria

My name is Twilight Sparkle. I'm the last living princess of Equestria. I've been hiding in a cave for a while now. Celestia, Luna, Cadence, even Shining... they're all dead. The Elements aren't working for some reason. I fear that there may be no hope for us.

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It’s dark and damp in this cave we’ve hidden in. At least there’s a small hole in the ceiling where sunlight shines in sometimes. As for the moisture, well, there’s not much relief there. The entire cave floor is wet. I was able to make a dry patch that’s just big enough for us all to lie down, but there’s not much more I can do without making too much noise. We have to stay quiet, or else they might find us.

So here we sit, huddled in the dry spot. Well, the others are huddled together. I’m here on the side, writing, because…

Huh. Why am I writing? Is there anypony alive to read this?

I honestly don’t know. But as long as there’s a chance, then this is an important document, and I must write it.

It has nothing to do with the fact that my only other options are sleep or wait to die. No, not at all.


So my friends sit huddled together, mouths set in a grim line. Fluttershy leans on Dash, her eyes staring at a small crack in the cave floor. Poor filly. She’s been quiet the entire time we’ve been here. I know she’s taking the loss of her animals hard, but this much silence is unnerving, even from her.

Rarity sighs and shifts the way she’s sitting. Applejack lays down and lets Rarity use her as a pillow. There’s been hardly a single jab from one to the other this whole time, despite their differences. I’ve never seen them get along this well. I guess the situation we’re in has caused a truce of sorts. Or maybe it’s brought out their true feelings. I guess I’ll never know until it’s over.

It’s silent for another minute or two before Pinkie starts humming a little tune. She’s been the only one who’s kept her spirits up this whole time. I don’t know where we’d be without her. We’d probably have given up hope already. Maybe the humming is an unnecessary risk. But none of us tells her to quiet down.

Only Dash remains perfectly still. Her eyes have been locked on the boulder I sealed the cave’s mouth with. Words cannot express what a relief it’s been to have her here, looking out for everypony. She’s been strong throughout this whole ordeal. Even stronger than I have. Maybe she’s the one who should have been the leader.

Then there’s me, I suppose. Sitting off in the corner, alone, while everyone sits together, both comforting and drawing strength from one another. Me, the leader, the princess, even! I stand as the last princess of Equestria, alone, apart, and above everypony. My friends accompany me, willing to lay down their lives for me.

Why? What makes me so special that I hold this place?

I honestly don’t know. I just wish Celestia was here. She’d know what to do. Maybe she could tell me why the Elements won’t work anymore.

I just can’t figure it out. We’re all here, and we have all the Elements with us. It gives me a headache every time I try to figure it out. I know I’ve got the answer. If I could just think, maybe I could piece together some sort of explanation.

Somepony yawns, and most of us follow suit. My eyelids feel heavy now that I think about what a toll this has put on us all. Maybe sleep is the best thing for us right now.

The light is fading now anyway. Now that Celestia is gone, the sun has returned to its normal cycle. That will take some getting used to.

I only dare to light my horn long enough to finish this entry. I can’t risk getting us all caught just so I can continue scribbling out every thought that comes to mind.

Goodnight, journal.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

I fly out of Canterlot as quickly as I can. I don’t dare to look back; I don’t know what’s chasing me, but I know I’ve got to run.

The girls are with me, running as fast as they can. My wings are burning from how fast I’m flapping them, but I don’t care. I have to keep going, keep flying…

Over my own heavy breaths, I can hear something akin to a series of loud growls behind us. Oh Tartarus. It’s them. They’ve come for us! We have to get out of here!

The growling quiets ever so slightly. There’s no panting noises, no sign of exhaustion from behind us, but the distance is slowly growing. We’re escaping!

I hear a small groan from beside me. Fluttershy tries to match me flap for flap, but she’s falling behind me. She grits her teeth as one of her wings locks up completely. I see her fall,



There’s a dull thud beneath me. I turn to face her. “Run, Fluttershy!” I yell.

Her legs buckle beneath her. She tries to flap her wings again, but screeches at an ear-splitting pitch. The one wing folds, but the other, the injured one, just hangs there at her side.

Another growl, louder now, rings out behind her. Then Fluttershy makes a critical mistake.

She turns around.

Her eyes widen and her legs go stiff as boards. A soft squeal leaves her open mouth.

Run, I want to cry out, but I can’t seem to form the word. My mouth is dryer than cotton. There’s a burning in my chest, and I find that I’ve been holding my breath.

A blue blur crosses my peripheral vision, and suddenly Rainbow Dash is flying toward Fluttershy.

“C’mon!” she shouts as she wraps her front legs around Fluttershy’s barrel, flapping desperately. “We’ve got to go!”

Still Fluttershy continues to stare straight back, not moving so much as an inch. The squeal rises a few decibels.

Like a fool, I follow her gaze.

Something like a shadow closes in on the pair. I see a giant maw, gaping wide enough to swallow them both whole—

“No!” I dive straight for them. I’m too late, I can’t save them, they’re goners…

But I have to try. I owe them that much.

“Sorry,” I whisper. My wings fold against my side. I turn my head, and my body rams into the side of both of them.

The impact jars Dash back into action. She runs back toward Fluttershy, who’s still frozen.

“Run,” I plead. But I already know it’s too late. Fluttershy is as good as gone now. I do the only thing I can do.

I wrap my legs around Dash and take to the skies.

“Let me go! We’ve gotta save Fluttershy!” The battering of her hooves against my side is almost enough to down us both. Her teeth sink into my shoulder, and I roar in pain. My vision goes red for a moment, but my wings keep flapping. They have to, or we’re both dead.

There’s a loud roar down below that mingles with the animalistic shriek that’s right in my ear. I don’t have the heart to turn and look below me, but my mind paints a picture of it anyway. I notice that the squealing has stopped.

Her hooves stop pounding against my side.

Dash and I fly onward in silence for at least five minutes. “We could have saved her, you know,” she eventually growls. “She didn’t have to die!”

I jolt awake. Sunlight shines down from the hole now, lighting up the cave enough to see the entire “room” we are in.

Dash’s voice echoes in my mind, and the dream replays in my mind.

I sit up and look at the others, who are still sleeping.

Fluttershy is missing.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

Applejack is the first to awaken, as I probably should have expected.

She opens her eyes with a groan and slowly turns to face the hole in the ceiling. A smirk creases the corner of her mouth. “Shoot, ‘s nearly noon. I never slept in like this on the farm!” Her quip fails to even get a smile out of me.

“Fluttershy…” I croak. I guess the dry mouth wasn’t part of the dream.

She pauses in the middle of sitting up. Nodding slowly, she lowers her hat to her chest. “A cryin’ shame what happened to her,” she says softly. Her brow creases. “How’re you holding up?”

I ignore the question altogether, shaking my head. My vision starts to swim, and Applejack suddenly looks blurry. “S-she… she’s really—”

“I know, Twi.” It’s still a blur, but I think I see her eyes meet mine. I see a flash of green, at any rate.

We sit in silence then. I watch the small beam of sunlight slowly trace a path across the cave floor to pass the time. Fluttershy’s dead. How could this have happened? Sure, I’d had dreams where a friend died before, but I’d never woken to find that that had actually happened before. On top of the terrible weight in my gut, I had another depressing realization. Now we’ll never make the Elements work.

The quiet lasts until Rarity awakes. Her mane is messy for once, and

She stretches like a cat—fitting, I suppose, since she owns one. “Good morning.” She yawns. “I don’t know about the two of you, but I had simply the most awful night of sleep. Applejack snorts at that.

I step closer. “Is it because of Fluttershy?”

“Shush!” she hisses. Her head jerks toward Dash, then back to me. “Not in front of Dash.”

I look over at Dash. She’s still laying on her side, a scowl on her face. Her eyes are still closed, and her chest rises and falls slowly. “She’s still sleeping, Rarity.”

“Yes, but—” Sighing, she waves me closer. “Dash has been taking what happened… er, not very well. It may be best to not bring that up.”

“One of our friends just died! I think that’s an important thing to deal with, Ra—”

Pinkie yawns, cutting me off. “Wowie zowie! I slept in really late!” She blushes a little as she sits up. “Of course, I also was the last to sleep.”

“Hi, Pinkie.” I turn and give her a curt nod.

Frowning, she walks toward me. “Aw, what’s wrong, Twilight?”

I sigh. “Rarity doesn’t want to talk about Fluttershy.” Out of the corner of my eye, I see Rarity glaring at me, but I pointedly keep my eyes on Pinkie. “That’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?”

Pinkie bites her lip. Her gaze falls to the floor. “Oh,” she says quietly. “Yeah, that’s really, really sad.” Looking up, she forces a smile. “B-but we’ve got each other, right? No need to be sad.”

“Pinkie, we’ve all got to talk this out. We can’t just pretend like nothing happened.”

Another voice chimes in from the floor. “We could’ve saved her,” Dash growls.

“Rainbow Dash!” Rarity gasps. “There is no need to be so hostile to Twilight. It’s nopony’s fault that—”

“That Fluttershy died?” Dash glares at Rarity, who, despite her best effort to stay calm, still averts her eyes. “Yeah, I guess it doesn’t matter that there were two ponies right there!”

Everypony falls silent for a minute.

“Dash—” Applejack begins, putting her hoof on Dash’s withers.

Dash shakes off the hoof. “No, you know what, forget it.” Pointing to the boulder, she says, “Let me out.”

I look at her, eye to eye. “No.”

She snorts, smiling sarcastically. Her jaw drops. “No? Who the hay died and gave you the right to tell me I can’t do something?”

Grimacing, I close my eyes. “Princess Celestia did, actually.”

I open my eyes again. Dash’s expression hasn’t changed, but at least she’s staying quiet long enough to let me speak.

Taking a deep breath, I think through what I’m going to say next. “You’re the Element of Loyalty, Dash. If anyone should stay, it’d be you.”

She lowers her head. “I just don’t want to see anypony else die.” She shakes her head. “Not for a long, long time.”

“Twilight doesn’t, either,” Applejack says.

Rarity steps forward. “Nor do any of us.”

“We all want to go back to the good times.” Pinkie flashes a smile briefly. She rests her hoof on Dash’s shoulder. “But Twilight is the only one who can lead us out of this.”

Dash bites her lip. There’s a long pause before she says, “Okay. I’ll stay.”

Now that the argument is over, I see that the sun has dipped kind of low. By now it’s probably dinner time, although it’s hard to tell for sure. My stomach growls, and it echoes off the walls.

“Heh. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten.” Nervous laughter does little to distract any of us from our hunger, though. Soon, everypony’s stomach is growling.

Rarity clears her throat. “Should one or two of us try to find some food?”

My hoof taps against my chin. I can see the benefits of that plan. That way, at least three of us would be safe. Statistically speaking, that would probably get us the most reward for the least risk.

On the other hoof, that calculation doesn’t factor in the already-tense atmosphere. Splitting up can only make that worse. And it’s not like we can’t go a full day without eating, although it would help.

What was it that Cadence said? “If you can’t figure things out with your head, go with your gut,” I think. My gut tells me that it’s still too dangerous.

“It’ll be uncomfortable, but I think waiting is our best option. Hopefully we can wait things out.”

Dash groans, and none of the others look too happy, but nopony speaks up to complain.

It’s getting harder to see everypony’s faces in the fading light. “It’s getting late,” I say. “We should probably get some sleep.”

Nopony so much as shifts. I must admit, I’m tempted to just light my horn through the night, regardless of the consequences. My heart sinks at the thought that I might have another dream like the one last night. Could I handle that? And what if I wake up to find another of my friends is missing?

No, I can’t do this. My horn lights up, illuminating the haggard faces of my friends. Dash’s eyes move from the cave wall to meet mine. Her eyes widen, then narrow. “Turn off your horn, Twi,” she hisses. “You’re gonna get us caught!”

Slowly shaking my head, I keep my horn lit. “I’m not going to lose any more of you.”

Applejack gives me a small, sad smile. “Twi, we’ll be alright. Just turn off your horn.”

After a moment’s hesitation, I cancel the illumination spell. My breath hitches in my throat as the darkness encroaches and surrounds me. It chokes me, leaves me no room to breathe…

I trot over to the corner of the cave, not really bothering to quiet my splashing. Here, at least, the soft glow that I write by should be safe. I can’t see my friends, but if I keep stationed here, I should be able to see anything that attacks my friends and kill it.

I will not lose another friend.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

I don’t know if I can keep this up. My eyelids feel as if they’re made of lead, and it hurts to keep them open.

But I have to. I can’t sleep.

My eyes burn. Maybe I haven’t blinked enough. Maybe it’s the light, or the stress. I don’t know.

All I know is that I must keep my eyes open.

A massive yawn racks my body. How long has it been since I’ve slept? Twenty four hours? Thirty? More? It’s hard to say.

… Have my hooves always been prone to shaking?

I’m sorry, I completely lost my train of thought there. Something about sleep.

Yes, sleep. That would be nice… My eyes close and I feel myself drift forward.

I snap awake. No, I can’t let another of those nightmares happen. I don’t know if that will happen, but I can’t take that chance.

Just gotta… stay a w a k e

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

We’re sitting in a cave now, a different one. The five of us are panting. I’m pretty sure we’re safe for now. It’ll be a while before they show up.

Pinkie clutches her stomach as it growls loudly. “Ugh, so hungry!” She sighs. “I miss having food everywhere. I could just grab a snack whenever I wanted.”

“I’m pretty famished myself, Twi. Do you think we should start looking for food?” As soon as Applejack speaks, every eye falls on me.

My lip is already red and raw, and it hurts when I bite it. I immediately stop. “Um…”

We’ve built up some space. It’s now or never, Twilight.

“Yes, that would probably be good. Let’s go.”

“I could take care of it, Twilight,” Rarity says. She flips her mane. “It’s no big deal.”

“I don’t know, Rarity…” I bite my l—

Ow, no. I have got to find a new way to deal with nerves.

“I’m not sure it’s safe for just one pony to go, even now.”

Applejack steps forward. “I’ll go too.” She looks at Rarity, then back at me. “Between the two of us, I’m sure we can handle anything that comes up. Plus it’ll be quicker, what with two ponies foraging.”

I shift uncomfortably on my hooves. “I suppose that’d be fine.” I lower my voice. “Be careful. Please.”

“You have my word, Twi.” Applejack’s mouth is just a straight line as she nods to me.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

Not much happens while they’re gone, but I spring to my hooves as soon as I see them in the distance.

“Rarity, Applejack! I’m so glad you’re—” My cry is cut off when I see them galloping toward us.

“Run!” they shout in unison.

“Come on, girls,” I call to Pinkie and Dash. “We need to go.”

We’re trapped, with the cave wall on the left and the shadows on the right, forming a wall that’s slowly closing in on us. The only way out is forward, hoping we can get around the cave before the shadows pin us.

Dash and I fly, carrying Pinkie with us. Dash is doing more of the work, but the adrenaline allows me to stay fairly close. We keep our eyes straight ahead.

The edge of the cave is getting closer. Twenty strides away now.

The shadows start to fade from my peripheral vision. Ten strides.
“One last push!” I call. I can feel the draft her wings are creating, and it’s all I can do to keep my wings straight. One final flap, and… cleared it!

There’s a roar behind me, much further away than I’d have expected.

Applejack and Rarity aren’t so lucky. Three of the shadows have swarmed around them, with the rest following. One lunges for Rarity, and Applejack turns and bucks it in the face! It bites down, grabbing her leg mid-swing.

She gapes as it swings her, helpless, by the leg. Up and down she goes, until there’s a sickening pop. She lands, blood pouring from where her leg once was.

“M-my leg…”

Rarity’s horn lights. There’s a flash that makes me shield my eyes, but the shadows are still there. I see the glint of teeth and I turn away.

Behind me is Rainbow Dash.

“So another two friends die, huh?” she spits. Shaking her head, she turns away.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

I open my eyes to find Dash and Pinkie leaning over me.

“Applejack and Rarity too?”

Pinkie’s smile fades as she nods. “B—But we still have each other, right?”

I close my eyes and just lay there.

A hoof prods my side. “Cheer up, Twilight. We’ll get through this! After all, we still have the magic of friend—”

“Go, Pinkie.”

Frowning, she tilts her head. “Huh?”

“I mean it. Go. Leave. You don’t want to be here.” I roll over.

“B-but…” Pinkie leans over me, and her nose briefly touches my own. Part of her mane brushes against my shoulder, causing me to recoil. “Twilight, of course I want to be with you! You and Dash are like my bestest friends ever.”

A lump forms in my throat, choking off any response I could have made. I hear her sigh. My ear twitches at the sound.

“I just… want to see you happy again, Twilight.”

Is she sobbing? Horseapples, why does this have to be so hard? I swallow the lump the best that I can, my throat making an audible click.

“Then the best thing you could do,” I rasp, “is to take Dash and leave.”

Something warm and wet falls on my face. It’s then that I make the mistake of opening my eyes.

Pinkie’s eyes fill with tears. Her loud snort echoes through the cave as she wipes her nose with her hoof. She shakes her head. “No. No, no, I can’t. I can’t, Twilight.” Her words devolve into incoherent babbling as her shoulders begin to shake. All the while, her head still swings back and forth like a metronome.

I avert my eyes, but too late. I feel nauseous. The lump in my throat has climbed halfway into my mouth now. It’s all I can do to choke it down when I see a familiar shadow pass over me and walk toward Pinkie.

I risk looking up, and Dash’s eyes meet mine in the most vicious death glare I’ve ever received. The blood in my veins turns to ice. I shiver, wrapping my legs around myself. I could die right now, and I would absolutely deserve it.

Apologize! Explain yourself! Do whatever it takes! Just make this go away, a voice in my head says.

“C’mon, Pinkie,” Dash mutters. “True friends need to stick together. Anypony else is a waste of our time.”

Pinkie continues to sob.

There’s a scraping sound, followed by a grunt. “Come on. Cooperate, Pinkie,” Dash hisses.

“No.” I hear hoofsteps approach me. “Can’t leave Twilight.”

Something thuds, and Dash grunts about two steps from my ear. “We’re going. Now.”

Pinkie screams. It slowly fades, though, accompanied by more scraping noises.

I sigh and close my eyes. I’m sorry, girls. It’s for your own good.

Suddenly, the screaming stops. Hoofsteps grow nearer and nearer.

There’s a snort. “I need you to move the rock.”

I turn. Dash stands over me. She avoids my gaze, choosing instead to face the back wall. Her hoof is clasped over Pinkie’s face, which is reddening and swelling like a balloon.

Numb, I nod. My horn lights, and a purple glow surrounds the boulder. It begins to rise and—

“How do you live with it?”

The boulder drops instantly. I turn to see Dash staring at me. “What?”

“How do you live with the knowledge that you got your friends killed? That you could have saved them?”

I lower my head. You can still save them! Just one more lie, Twilight. I take a deep breath, look up, and prepare to end my last two friendships.

The words die on my tongue as soon as I see Pinkie’s face. Her eyes are wide and watery. Her lower lip trembles. Please, Twilight, she mouths.

“I…” Tartarus, Pinkie, why don’t you understand? A knife plunges into my heart. Coughing, I try again. “I did what was—” I shake my head. “Girls, I know I feathered up big time. Our friends are dead! I can never make up for that.” I sigh. “But I can try.” My vision blurs, and I feel a tear trail down my cheek. “Please,” I rasp. “Please, leave. For your sakes.”

Dash snorts and walks away. I lower my head, but suddenly I feel something wrap around my barrel. Pinkie buries her face in my shoulder, making a snotty, runny mess of my coat. Stunned, I put a trembling hoof on her withers.

“I won’t leave you, Twilight,” she mumbles into my coat. “Never, never, never, ever.” Her entire body shakes and gasps as she sobs again.

Dash stands over us, frowning. Her hoof darts toward Pinkie’s shoulder, reaching to rip her away, but… she stops. She sighs and just stands there until Pinkie loosens her iron grip on me to stretch her leg toward Dash. Biting her lip, Dash quickly leaps in between us, nearly knocking us over.

We huddle there for a while, a big mass of commiseration and comfort, until the light fades again. Pinkie yawns and breaks out of the huddle to lay down. Dash and I hug awkwardly, then she also lays down.

I sit there a while, looking up at the hole in the ceiling. The light is slowly fading.

“Good night, Twilight!”

Pinkie’s voice breaks me from my thoughts. As I see the smile on her face, I feel some of my worry melt away. I even manage a small smile of my own.

“Good night, Pinkie,” I whisper.

It may have been a trick of the light (or lack thereof), but as darkness overtakes the cave, it looks like her smile vanishes.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

This time we’re in a field. We’re clearly nowhere near where Applejack and Rarity died. I don’t see any sign of the… things that killed them.

What does it matter? We’re dead anyway.

“Aw, cheer up, Twilight!” Pinkie smiles at me. It’s not as wide of a smile as normal, and she’s not nearly as bouncy as she normally is. There are bags under her eyes. If she looks this rough, I shudder to think of what I look like.

“We’ve still got each other, right?” She wraps a leg around Dash and I, smiling all the while.

Dash and I look at each other. She tries to glare, but it doesn’t look very intimidating in her current state.

I sit down. “Just leave me, girls.”

“What?” Pinkie’s smile fades. “We can’t do that, Twilight.”

“Pinkie, those things are just going to continue to chase us. Maybe if I go, they’ll be… sated.” I shrug halfheartedly. “At the very least, it’ll buy us some time. And maybe it’ll make up for everything else.”

Pinkie shakes her head. Her mane, though caked with grime and less poofy than it used to be, still sways with her movements. “We aren’t gonna do that.”

Dash looks away.

“Dash, please!” Pinkie looks at her, eyes watering. “Tell her we won’t leave her!”

Dash says nothing.

The next thing I know, there are a pair of pink legs wrapped around my neck. “I won’t leave you, Twilight,” she whispers. I hear a sniff. “Never, ever, ever.”

Dash looks on. She opens her mouth, then snaps it shut. She clenches her jaw. “C’mon, Pinkie. We’ve got to go.”

Pinkie just presses her snout against my withers. Something warm and wet pools up there. I don’t care at this point.

I see Dash’s hooves wrap around her, pulling her away. She only holds me tighter. “We can’t leave her, Dash!”

Gently, I push her away. “It’s okay, Pinkie.”

“No, it’s not!” Tears glisten in her eyes. “Dash, you’ve got to protect your friends.” She sniffs. “All your friends.”

She scoffs. “Well, look how well that’s turned out so far.”

Something catches my eye on the horizon. Dash sees it too. “Aw, horseapples.”

Dash turns to Pinkie. “C’mon, we’ve gotta move!”

Pinkie clutches my hoof. “Not without Twilight.”

Dash groans. “Just get a move on. Both of you!”

We gallop away. Dash flies ahead, still the fastest, even under the circumstances. Pinkie stays with me, stride for stride. She doesn’t seem nearly as tired as she looks. But myself, on the other hoof… I’m panting heavily. My side burns. My legs ache and scream with each stride I take. But I have to go on, at least for Pinkie’s sake.

I make the mistake of looking back. They’re closing in. While my head is turned, I fail to see a rock and stumble over it. Dash continues on, unaware, but Pinkie turns back for me.

The shadow creatures are gaining fast. There’s no way both of us can survive if she doesn’t run.

“Go! Save yourself!”

Pinkie shakes her head as she runs. “I told you, I won’t leave you.” She wraps me up in a tight hug, standing between me and the shadows.

The shadows are almost upon us. There’s only one way to save her.


She hovers, confused. Then she sees us and races toward us.

Both her and the shadows close in on us. It’s going to be close. Who will reach us first?

This is easily the highest-stakes race Dash has ever been involved in.

Dash is almost there when I feel Pinkie get ripped off of me. I scream, but nothing I say could ever dissuade beings who only exist to consume. Tears blur my vision, thankfully. I don’t have to see what happens. There’s a crunching noise, and then a warm mist hits my face.

The shadows then turn toward me. I close my eyes and accept my fate.

I’m snatched up by something, but oddly enough, I’m moving. I look down, and the ground is just a blur beneath. The winds whips my mane against my face. Looking up, I see a familiar face.


She’s wheezing, straining for every breath. “Had to… go back. Couldn’t… save… Pinkie.”

I rub her side. “I know, Dash. I’m sorry.” I sigh. “You’re a better friend than me.”

She somehow manages to look down and laugh. “You’re still… pretty good, Twi.” She pauses, then says, “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“You tried. You still… tried to save us.” Dash flashes a small smile. “You tried. We just… couldn’t, y’know?”

I slowly nod and sigh. “I know.”

We’re silent for a long time. Eventually, the grass gives way to pure rock. I hazard a look back. The shadows are gone. I tap her side and point back. “I think we’re clear. You can rest now.”

“Finally!” She lands, slowing just enough to avoid hurting me. She collapses on the ground. “My wings are killing me.”

The sky is getting dark. “We’d better find some shelter soon.”

Dash groans. “Ugh. Fine.”

As we set off again, I close my eyes and pray that the worst of it is over.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

The cave’s natural gloom is amplified with Pinkie gone. Dash and I sit in relative silence, the only noise being the growling of our stomachs. It’s been a while since we’ve eaten, and there’s no way we’re risking getting supplies after what happened to Rarity and Applejack. We’ll have to go eventually, but I’d like to wait as long as possible. I don’t want to lose the only friend I have left.

“It should have been me,” I say after a while.

“Hm?” Dash turns to me.

“I should have been the one that died. Not Pinkie.”

Dash hesitates, then puts a hoof on my shoulder. “None of us should have died, Twi. You did the best you could.” She laughs bitterly. “Hay, you probably did better than I would have. If we’d have gone back for everypony, we all would’ve been dead by now.”

“You saved me,” I say quietly.

She takes a deep breath. “You wanna know something?” I tilt my head. “I didn’t actually think I’d pull that off. When they got Pinkie, I thought it was all over. But then they reached for you, and I just…” She sighs. “I had to save at least one of you. What kind of Element of Loyalty can’t even save her friends?”

I smile slightly. “Dash, even just trying to go back, you’ve demonstrated loyalty. You did your best.” I look into her eyes. “There just wasn’t any way to save them, was there?”

Dash shakes her head. “I don’t think so, Twi. I really don’t think so anymore.” She shuffles her hoof. “I’m sorry, Twi. It wasn’t your fault.”


She stares solemnly at me. “It wasn’t your fault. Remember that.”

I look back at her. Slowly, I nod. “Okay.”

We say nothing further. When sundown hits, I simply stare at Dash until there’s no light left to see her with. I try to touch her hoof, just to reassure myself that she’s there, but I can’t find her.

I lay down, dejected, and await the final dream.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

We finally find a cave—the cave. We sleep apart to occupy more space, but the emptiness of the cave still looms over us. There would have been enough room for all of us, had we made it.

When I awaken the next morning, Dash is already up. She’s facing the mouth of the cave.

“Well, we made it this far, Twi.”

“Yeah, we did.”

Dash turns to me. “I don’t think we’re going to last much longer, though.” She looks out on the horizon. “They’re coming. I just know it. They’ve followed us everywhere.”

I look at her, wide-eyed. “So we’ll keep moving, Dash. We’ll keep going and—”

“And then what?” Her eyes are bloodshot, and I realize I never saw her even close her eyes the night before. “We just keep going till we die?” She takes a step toward me. “Twi, I’m tired of running. We can’t escape them.”

I’m not liking where this is going. “So what do you propose?”

She licks her dry, cracked lips. “I’ll be bait. I’ll fly till I can’t fly anymore.”


She holds up a hoof. “You take one of the big boulders outside here and block off the cave. Maybe use your magic to make it harder to move. I don’t know.” She puts her hooves on my shoulders. “But you have to stay here. I have to save you for as long as I can.”

My eyes burn, but there are no tears left to shed. “What about you, Dash?”

She looks away. “The way I figure, I’m done either way.” She flashes a smile as she turns back. “At least this way, you’ve got a chance. Even if it’s slim.” A bitter laugh escapes her. “Saving one out of five isn’t too bad, is it?”

I put on the best smile I can manage. It feels very fake, though. “No, Dash, I suppose not.”

We hug one last time, a bit, long, tight, hug. We pour everything into it. Then we pull away. She looks at me, and I swear I see a tear glisten in her eye. She blinks and it’s gone.

“Well.” She takes a deep breath. “Here I go.”

She flies off. I watch her silhouette slowly shrink away until she’s completely out of my line of sight. I take a nearby boulder, roll it with my magic, and seal the cave.

I never see another sign of Dash after that.

✶ ✶ ✶
✶ ✶

My name is Twilight Sparkle. As far as I know, I am the last surviving Equestrian citizen. My friends are dead, and it’s all my fault. I couldn’t even save one of them.

Stupid, stupid… I have been so foolish in this entire ordeal.

At least it’s nearly over. I hear noises outside. They haven’t found me yet, but it won’t be long now. I have accepted my fate. Soon I will die for my mistake.

The waiting is killing me! I feel lightheaded. My heart is beating so fast that I wonder if arrhythmia will claim me before they get here. Perhaps that’d be a kinder fate.

I don’t want to die.

I don’t know what awaits me on the other side. I’ve heard all the theories— an eternal field to frolic in, rebirth, dwelling with our Maker, just a void…


I hope I get to see them all just one more time. I need to tell them I’m sorry. For everything.

Would they accept my apology? Could things really just go back to the way they were, just like that?

I don’t know.

The noises are getting louder. I hear scratching on the boulder. I’m running out of time.

If by some chance somepony is reading this, I’m sorry. I can’t fix any of the mistakes I’ve made, but please… learn from them. After all, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

They’re pounding into the boulder now. It won’t be long.

This is the end. This is how the last princess dies.

Goodbye, Equestria.

Now I will close my eyes, face my end…

And hope that my friends greet me in the hereafter.