The hospital room door opened quietly, a magical EKG pulses softly within the still air. The room is fairly bland: a bed, a side table, some medical equipment, and a single window. The sun is settling softly into the horizon; it was a dry day unlike the downpour from the day before. Twilight Sparkle lies flat on the bed, most of her body covered by a thin blanket. A bandage is wrapped around her head; a light smear of dried blood is the only indication that she was actually hurt. Her eyes are open somewhat and her mouth is slightly ajar.
Celestia and Luna walk through the door, with a nurse in tow. Luna looks back and gestures to the mare that they require privacy. She nods and turns around, closing the door behind her quietly.
“She looks so peaceful…” Luna says quietly. “Not at all like she was the other day.” Only hours ago, she was comforting Twilight during a horrible nightmare. A nightmare that leaked into Luna’s own dreamscape, causing her to relive a past trauma.
Celestia nods grimly. “Indeed sister. Though I must say, that was quite a fall she took.” She looks over Twilight with trembling eyes, equal parts horror and sorrow.
“Yes, I suppose we are made of tougher stuff than regular ponies.”
“Especially after what she just went through.” Celestia said knowingly.
Luna’s eyes widen, as she is shocked out of her melancholic mood. “What do you mean? You know why she fell out of a window from one of the tallest towers in the entire castle?” Luna’s voice escalates a little.
Celestia’s shoulders drop as she looks to the floor. “It was all my fault. When she went to Starswirl’s library, I lead her to a certain spell.” Gritting her teeth, she looks back up at her sister.
“Celestia! What were you thinking?” Luna whispers angrily.
“I’m afraid this event was...predetermined.” Celestia says with a glassy eyed stare.
“Hm, I see” Luna backed off, recalling her sister’s future sight. “This is all happening for a reason then. The door swings open once more as Cadance enters the room. A dim and uninterested look is painted on her face.
Celestia is surprised by the Princess of Love’s appearance. “Cadance! I didn’t realize you were in town.”
Cadance doesn’t even spare Celestia a glance, her gaze solely focused on Twilight. “Yes, I was here on other business. How is she doing?”
Luna, equally surprised by this turn of events, collects herself. “She is very much alive, but she is withdrawn. Her wounds are mental, it seems.”
“I know she’s been rather…distant these past few centuries.” Cadance comments. “But nothing I knew of that would lead her to do this.”
“She cast a spell on herself.” A wave of sorrow washes over Celestia, continuing to feel responsible for this tragedy. “I have no idea what it does, but I have a feeling it was something to ease her trauma.”
“Hmm, I see…” Cadance mumbles. She turns and looks at Celestia for the first time in about a half of a century. Her glance isn’t cold, but it may as well have been. ”Well, I would stay with you longer, but I have to go. I beg your pardon.” Cadance turns towards the door.
“Ah, Cadance.” Celestia says, Cadance cranes her neck to look in Celestia’s general direction. “Before you go, I hired a new advisor for you as requested. I’ll have him leave with you.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you for reminding me. Goodbye.” Cadance makes her way to the door.
“It was good seeing you again, dear sister. Please, visit us again soon.” Luna asks with a distinct hint of sadness in her voice.
“…I will.” She quietly opens the door and makes her way out.
“Absolutely frigid. It gets worse every decade.” Celestia grumbled.
“She’s changed so much. Her empire is almost completely foreign to us now. I don’t even see the crystal ponies’ dreams anymore.” This weighed heavily on Luna. “Has your foresight seen anything about this?”
Another wave crashes into Celestia, dissolving the aggression that held her attention. “After today it’s gone completely dark. I don’t know what will happen.” This level of uncertainty is troubling to Celestia. Her visions don’t always give a clear picture, but it’s never dark. ”Come Luna, Twilight has to get some rest, and we have some subjects to address.”
Celestia and Luna leave the room. The last bit of light escapes the horizon as the clouds resume their grip over Canterlot. The room is filled only with dim reflections of sunlight. A sound, hardly audible escapes Twilight’s lips: “Sisters…”
Twilight opens her eyes. Nothing. Pitch black. She looks around, and eventually looks down to find that her body is completely visible. “How odd.” Twilight thought. “There’s no light, but I can see myself.” She shakes her head, trying to snap out of this dream she imagined she was having, but to no avail. “Where am I?” Twilight thinks out loud. She hears her voice echo back to her, snapping her out of her sleepy haze.
The reverberations of her question give way to light. The dark peels away revealing a perfectly square room. A luxurious marble tile floor details the area, reminding Twilight of Canterlot’s castle. The walls are made of glossy white stone, with extremely detailed geometric patterns carved in with subtle gold inlays. The geometric patterns are symmetrical with the occasional symbol in the center. Upon further investigation, these symbols are familiar to Twilight. Her cutie mark is predominantly featured, with the cutie marks of other ponies that were important to her in her life. A grand majority of these ponies have passed long ago. Twilight braces for the impact of sorrow. A cold silence grips Twilight for a few seconds only to have no sad feelings pass through her. Twilight’s confusion is punctuated with a sense of claustrophobia. She was only a few feet from each wall, after all.
“Could it get any more cramped in here?” Immediately, the walls begin moving away from Twilight, growing the room. The pattern seems to expand outward, revealing even more cutie marks of distant memory. “What a strange place.” Twilight mutters.
“It sure is!” a voice echoes from seemingly nowhere. Twilight is surprised by the voice and looks around to see if anyone is in the room with her. No one. She looks up to the ceiling, nothing there, literally speaking. It’s completely white, as if the room just ends. Another peculiarity that Twilight realizes is the lack of a light source.
“What is going on here? Who’s there?” Twilight shouts.
“Oh great, an amnesiac that has no idea where she is.” the voice echoes again. Twilight tries to discern the position of the voice, but finds that it’s coming from all directions. This voice sounds incredibly familiar to Twilight. “Ugh, fine, I suppose I’ll just have to show you where you really are.” The sound of fingers snapping echoes through the room. The walls begin melding into a plain, dull, wall. Twilight’s cutie mark warps and extrudes, eventually forming a regular 4 panel window, with long opaque curtains. The window now acts as a source of light for the room, illuminating dust particles in a hazy amber glow. A door appears to her right. She looks to her left and notices a rectangular extrusion extending from the ground. The extrusion snaps into place and is suddenly covered in a wooden texture, a number of creases and lines forming on its surface. It’s a nightstand. A bouquet of flowers wink into existence, with a vase to hold them phasing up from the nightstand below. To the right of the nightstand, a hospital bed rises from the now ugly tile below. The covers hang limply from the bed, but they start to fill out with the shape of a pony lying on their back. Twilight screams when her own face emerges from the pillow to complete the body lying on the bed. The bedridden Twilight appears to be asleep.
“This, is where you are Twilight.” the voice echoes.
“No...this is, impossible.” Twilight mutters. “How is any of this possible?”
The voice lets out an exasperated sigh, “What is the last thing you remember?” Twilight pauses, she hadn’t even tried to remember. She remembers feeling mentally clear, casting a spell, and fighting a disgusting creature that looked like her. Twilight then remembers falling out of her bedroom window and falling several stories. The memory of hitting the ground causes her to completely lose balance and fall over. The sunlight completely fades from the room, leaving only a cold illumination from the moon.
Twilight reels from the events of the past few centuries. A downward spiral began, and she felt as if she was falling into her sorrow once more. Once again, however, she stops just short of feeling anything. She opens her eyes and collects herself once again. Seeing her unconscious body like that was definitely alien, but she has some bearings now.
“Alright, fine, I get it.” Twilight shouts to the ceiling. The pure white has been replaced with plain ceiling with a fan. “I’m in a coma, and this is happening in my head. I get that this is a dream and you’re probably my subconscious or something.”
The voice interrupts Twilight “Your subconscious?!” the voice blows a raspberry. “As if I would be so low as to be somepony’s subconscious.”
“Then get out of my head.” Twilight says with gritting teeth.
“Fine, I’ll physically manifest myself if it suits you. Hmph. Princesses.” A serpentine ghost erupts from Twilight’s horn. The form is like liquid suspended in midair, but as the seconds go by the liquid splits off six limbs, and begins to solidify and define itself. A lion’s paw, a bird’s claw, a hoof, a lizard’s claw, and a wing of both pegasus and bat pony take shape. Two horns jut out of the serpent’s head, one of which, immediately branches off and becomes an antler. “Miss me?” he said to Twilight.
“Is...is that you?” Twilight cannot believe her own eyes. She saw him die five centuries ago during the Tartarus Event. The night sky erupts with thunder, rain begins clattering against the hospital window.
“Ah yes, I have miraculously escaped death for five hundred years, and I’ve been waiting for this grand moment to reappear to save the day!” Discord makes a grand gesture with his arms and legs. Twilight expected confetti and explosions like he usually would have, but nothing happened. Discord then slumps and lets out an emphatic “NOT!”
Twilight is happy to see her “friend” again, but still feels a distinct void in the current range of emotions she’s currently feeling. “So you’re not my subconscious, fine. This is still a dream, so it doesn’t really matter anyways.”
“Au contraire, my dear Twilight! This is most certainly not a dream!” A flash of lightning dramatically punctuates his sentence. “I am really here, as are you, and as are you.” He points to Twilight’s body lying on the bed.
“But you’re dead. If anything could kill you...that could. Did.” Twilight said angrily, trying to reason through this series of events.
“Correct! I am dead, at least, the Discord you know is dead. I am but a seed I planted in your head before you…” Discord pretends to hold back vomit “‘Reformed’ me. I had a failsafe in the event that you all managed to get back together and cram me into a statue again. That failed and so did the fail safe. I was placed here in your mind, but something happened to me that made me lose all my powers. All I can do is wander!”
Twilight, immediately feels skeptical “And how am I supposed to believe that?”
“Like this!” Discord throws a punch directly at Twilight’s nose, his lion’s paw flowing right through her. “Don’t get me wrong, your mind may not be completely chaotic, but it’s got plenty of little juicy bits. Remember that bit with Flash Sen-”
“Nope nope nope, stop right there with that.” Twilight says, blushing. “My privacy has completely and utterly been invaded.” she thinks to herself.
“It sure has!” Discord says. Twilight blinks, trying to think if she actually said it aloud. “Nope, I can hear your thoughts. I’m in your mind after all. Though I love it when you get all angry so feel free to shout at me, by all means!” Discord leans on the wall behind him.
“Alright, so you’re not really you, you’re who you were minus powers.” Twilight says
“This is all happening within my mind.”
“So I need to wake up.”
“Check, check, and check!” Discord shouts emphatically.
“So, what do I do?”
“Errr, I haven’t thought that far. Maybe you should look back on your memories, you’ve been in that dreadful fog for so many centuries it’s even been hard for me to get around.”
“Fog?” Twilight says.
“Celestia’s sakes Twilight, you’ve basically been locked in your room for the last few centuries spiraling into an infinitely recursive depression, do you seriously not remember?”
Twilight puts her hoof to her chin. Discord is right, there is a large gap in her memory.
Discord rubs his eyes. “Well, I may as well be Virgil. Come along Twilight, I have much to show you.” Discord moves toward the wall opposite of the window, and draws a vertical line with his talon. The lines begin to appear, forming a grid, all dimly glowing white light. The squares are actually part of a cube, in which the cubes begin folding into one another, forming a door. Twilight can see that a long dark staircase made with the same cubes stretches downward into a black void.
Twilight is apprehensive, but this Discord has been stuck in her head for a long time. She’d just be fumbling through everything. “I might as well.” she thought to herself, Discord clearly hearing and acknowledging it. He leads the way down the path.
They come to a very ornate door, similar to the walls that decorated the small room she started in. Beautiful etchings detail this door as well, featuring triangular imprints and words in a language she’d never seen before.
“Ah, allow me to translate. It’s a very old and a very dead language.” Discord squints, and quietly mutters to himself. “Ah yes, just as I thought, “Memory Repository.”
“Why is the writing in a dead language?”
“Well it’s a little hard to explain, but I think it might be sufficient to say that living things were all created with magic, and magic needs a language to really work.”
“So this ‘language’ is everywhere but hidden from view?”
“Yep! Ponies were so close to discovering it once or twice, too. Tends to cause weaker ponies to go mad!” Discord said with a little too much joy. He reaches forward and opens the door. A tile pathway extends across a long white void. Discord steps in, and Twilight follows hesitantly. The door shuts behind them and promptly falls into the chasm.
“What the-” Twilight says.
“Oooh, well that’s never happened to me before. Now that is interesting.” A metal clunking noise emits from the bottom of the chasm. “I love this part! Here they come!” A series of black, glassy pyramids rise up from the void with the sound of chain link and machinery. They are aligned vertically, as if hanging from an invisible rope being moved via pulley. All of the pyramids have strange characters on them. “Before you ask, they are identification numbers.”
“So what, these represent my memories?” even more rise up, covering the horizon with more of them. Twilight now notices ones that are white and glowing. Twilight gets close to one of the black ones, and looks at her reflection.
“I guess so, I dunno.” Discord says “Try touching one and see what happens.”
As he was saying this, Twilight’s nose bumped into the tetrahedron. Twilight is paralyzed, and her body is moving on it’s own. She’s back at Celestia’s School For Gifted Unicorns, and she feels shorter. She hears an explosion, and suddenly, her magic triggers a nearby dragon egg to hatch. Twilight’s eyes open as she recoils from a magic shock from the pyramid. She inhales deeply, trying to catch her breath from that whirlwind.
“Alright so these black ones physically contain memories that I still have.” A surge of joy passes through her, Spike hatching was one of the happiest moments of her life. A massive smile erupts on her face.
“Please, spare me.” Discord says, “Try one of the white ones. Maybe those are missing.” Twilight shakes off the smile and walks a distance down the tile path to where she could reach a white tetrahedron. The object begins to shake violently on her approach, to which Twilight stops cautiously. The pyramid wrenches itself off of its invisible chain, and flies directly at Twilight. It hits her directly in the forehead. Much like the black ones, it forced her to relive a memory. This was the memory where Tirek destroys her library. She watches the whole thing from her perspective all over again. This is one of the more deeply sad memories she has, but yet, this doesn’t make her feel like the other one. Again, nothing. Devoid of all feeling. She snaps out of it, the pyramid had shattered, the shards dissolving into nothingness.
“Interesting!” Discord said. “How’d that one make you feel?”
“It didn’t” Twilight said.
“That...is probably not right.” Just then a rumbling noise erupts from the void, as all of the pyramids return to the depths. “That’s definitely not right.”
A new set of tetrahedrons rise from the bottom. All of these appear as the black ones did, glassy, but instead full of smoke. One by one, they come flying at Twilight. Twilight deflects as many as she can, dodging, and using what little magic she can in this world. To no avail however, the smoke explodes out of each tetrahedron, filling this seemingly endless room with a horrible burning smell. Discord disappears, in the ensuing chaos. Twilight eventually succumbs to the smoke and falls right off the side of the tile pathway.
Surrounded in smoke, Twilight seems to fall endlessly. The smoke completely blocks out all light from the once bright world around her. As the smoke enters her lungs she is given flashes of the Tartarus Incident. The ways in which she saw every single one of her friends die, the violence, the creature. All of her anger, her stress, her fear, but there was something missing. She sees the friends that she gained after the incident, she sees their funerals. The Princess of Friendship laid bare, the seemingly never ending tears streaming down her face seems like a distant and impossible memory. All of this sorrow is unnervingly missing. The symphony of emotions that she once had is missing a section, and everything sounds wrong.
She awakens floating in darkness as she did before. A window of light appears in front of her, a clear view of the events of the last two days. Luna freeing her from the recursive nightmare did not absolve Twilight of her grief. Twilight sought out magic to make her sorrow dissipate, so she consulted Starswirl’s Forbidden Library. The spell she was looking for was literally glowing. Twilight didn’t think anything of it at the time, but now she realizes, that was the aura of Celestia’s magic.
“Celestia...why?” She thought. “She’d never hurt me. I’m her sister.” This dark spiral continues further. Anger flares up, she feels deceived. “She must have a reason...she always has a reason.” Twilight cannot breathe, but not because of the smoke. Twilight continues her fall, the miasma following her descent. She remembers.
“Future sight!” Twilight feels the smoke lighten. “Celestia must have been acting out the future like she’s done so many times…” Her anger lightens, knowing that her mentor hadn’t truly hurt her, she was merely forced to do something; The consequences of which were unknown. Twilight turned her thoughts to another pony in her past: Starswirl The Bearded. A different feeling washes over Twilight, betrayal. She knew Starswirl to be a curmudgeonly pony, but with good intentions and a heart of gold. She knew he researched magic at all levels, nothing was taboo to him. He died like many of Twilight’s friends did: during the Incident. Starswirl was an inspiration to Twilight, his forbidden library being the brilliant and all-powerful mark of all of his achievements. Despite his reappearance, little is known about the texts there.
Twilight’s frustration peaked when she thought of how irresponsible it was to just leave a scroll like that lying around. “How could he do this to somepony!” The other Twilight returning to her mind, the black goop dripping from her eyes. She thought it was just her imagination, she thought it was a dream or some kind of nightmare. She burned it, she burned herself. Her fear of dark unbounded, she engulfed the other Twilight in flames. She had no idea what she had done. Was it a monster? A vision? The darkness exposed by this thought shines a light on the true sin of Starswirl. “No.” Twilight said. Her fall began lightly decelerating. Twilight began reorienting herself such that her hooves may hit the ground. She still could not see her surroundings, but the smoke that was smothering her only moments ago was beginning to thin out. “The other Twilight was a part of me.” The smoke evaporates around Twilight.
Twilight’s hooves click quietly on the ground below her; the smoke around her revealing a familiar, but new room. This room reminds Twilight of her old throne room. A large table and a single chair are carved from a similar white stone that the first room was made from. This table did not contain an ethereal version of Equestria, however it displayed what appeared to be a map. Or was it a tree root structure? Twilight looks down at the marble tiles below, and begins to panic. Her thoughts immediately externalize as she shouts frantically in this large room.
“No! But...I couldn’t have.” Twilight stutters. The realization that she destroyed a part of herself that night takes a considerable toll on her. “This doesn’t make sense! If I destroyed that creature...I mean me...then, what have I done!” Twilight begins shaking. Tears begin to collect in her eyes and her hind legs fold as she falls backwards. The tears feel cold, her shaking turns to shivers.
“I just...didn’t want to be sad anymore.” Twilight muttered. The room around her begins to darken. The once blinding brightness was now dimmed to the point where one could hardly see, not that Twilight cared too much. “I’m not even crying because I’m sad...I’m crying because I’m scared! I don’t miss my friends any more, I don’t even feel bad about it! This feels wrong!”
A bright light on the table on the table flickers into existence with the sound of shattering glass. Twilight gasps and springs to her hooves. Words begin appearing on the table in glowing text, it’s the dead language. Twilight walks to the other end of the table, and hops onto the tall throne to get a better angle on the table. She sees a beautiful display of light as the paths on the map highlight and interconnect like constellations overlaying each other. The words begin to pulsate and and shift. She squints, looking at one of the words and something comes to mind: “Knowing”.
“I don’t understand…” Twilight said to herself as the light crept down the path until reaching its eventual conclusion at the end of the table. The light then jumps from the table and onto the ground, where it radiates outwards and continues the map across the floor and up the walls of the room. It avoids the tall door on the opposite side of the room that Twilight neglected to notice in her distress. The more words that appear on the walls, the the more words enter Twilight’s head: “Decision”, “Empathy”, “Love”, “Beauty” to name a few. Alongside this, a chorus of bells echoes loudly in the room.
“What is happening?!” Twilight shouts over the bells. The words become intensely bright and begin moving to the opposite end of the table. This light converges and forms a pony-like shape that appears to be made of pure light. A ghostly mist erupts from the pony much like Celestia’s mane would, but from random places.
“Time goes by...like a whisper all across the space between me and you.” the creature says in a cacophony of voices.
“What?!” Twilight says. “What even are you?” Suddenly, the bells grow discordant, all the light from the map disperses. With a final glow, the pony of light dissipates into the walls. The room now looks as it did when Twilight first encountered it. She sits stunned in silence. She was conflicted before, but now she’s more confused than anything. A click echoes from across the room, the door begins to open. “Oh what now?” Twilight thinks.
“Indeed!” a voice grumbles from inside the doorway. Discord walks in from the darkness, clearly annoyed. “Do you have any idea what I had to go through? I had no idea the memory repository could be so violent! But then again, this is your mind.” Discord perks up. “Ahh! You found the map! It took me a long time to figure it out, but basically this is a roadmap to your noggin. Though, it seems incomplete.”
“Can you read the words inscribed here?” Twilight asks.
“Words? What words? All I see are dots and lines.” Discord says, legitimately puzzled about what Twilight says. She looks down and finds that the words have vanished from the carving. Discord stares briefly, but decides to look away. When he does, the words flicker back into existence.
“Hmph, maybe you are crazy.” Discord says. Twilight shakes her head.
“Maybe I am...Discord I think I know what’s wrong with me!” Twilight says in a nervous excitement.
“Ooooh do tell!” Discord says, leaning over as if to eat from a bag of popcorn that would materialize, but didn’t. A scowl crosses his face.
Twilight hesitates briefly to collect her thoughts. She explains that casting a spell from Starswirl’s forbidden library caused her sorrow and grief to manifest physically into a warped version of herself. She killed this creature by burning it, and in doing so actually excised the ability to feel sorrow. This caused such great exhaustion she stumbled out of her chamber window. The whole time she explains this, Discord is deep in thought. Near the end, he gets a glimmer in his eye.
“Are you absolutely sure you are now incapable of feeling such things?” he says in an extremely serious tone. The question and the way it was asked resonantes with Twilight. After a moment, she responds.
“Care to put it to the test?”
Discord leans up, and extends his paw to the map. “Here, where you started. I don’t know what that room is called, but clearly you can shape it to your will.”
“My will? But you-”
“No, you. You turned the room into your own hospital room. I told you, I have no powers here.” Discord says bitterly. “Now, if you’ll accompany me.”
Twilight concedes and follows him out the door. A series of winding paths made of floating white blocks lies before them. They walked for what felt like an hour to Twilight before she found herself once again in the white room with ornate walls.
“Alright, we’re here. Now what?”
“I want you to think really hard about the event that killed me. What have you been calling it…’The Tartarus Incident’? A bland name for such an exciting event including an Eldritch Horror if you ask me.”
“‘Eldritch Horror’? What are you-? Nevermind. Why? Why do you want me to think about that?”
“If you truly lost your ability for grief, then watching it all over again wouldn’t really bother you that much would it?” Discord said, almost reveling in it.
Twilight saw his point, but was still quite anxious about it. “Alright...stand back. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Twilight closes her eyes and concentrates very deeply. She recalls that day: The Summer Sun Celebration. Every creature was there. Her sisters. Her parents and her brother. The other former “Elements of Harmony”. Graduated and currently attending classes of her friendship school. Starswirl and friends. Foreign dignitaries. Everyone of note in Equestria really. It was a beautiful day.
Twilight opens her eyes and sees the festivities. Food and merriment abound, as everything is occurring at a strange pace. Time is dilating and contracting in this recollection, no doubt from the mental scars associated. Key figures like the Cutie Mark Crusaders are having the times of their young lives. An expedition to the South has given the trio an important discovery: three archaic weapons. These are dated far before any previous pony artifacts. Twilight suddenly notices an aura around them, a green haze emits from everyone, with notable strength surrounding and the past version of herself and her five friends.
“What is that?” Twilight mutters. She feels a longing for these ponies, but still no sadness. Soon, dark clouds and a fog gather from the horizon as the event begins to unfold. The clouds were there before the pegasi could do anything, and moments later that terrible roar booms from the distance. The beast emerges from the fog: a fetid amalgamation of stone, fire, and teeth breaths toxic gas as it begins tearing through every living thing it can see with its seemingly infinite eyes. Everyone springs into action, with time slowing down every time Twilight sees someone die. She tries to look away, but can’t as the world forces her to see the view she originally saw. Seemingly infinite tentacles extend from the creature bearing a new set of eyes and teeth each time. It was then Twilight notices a different aura emits from this creature, not even the miasma could cloak the red glow it gave off.
Twilight sees each of her friends cut down brutally and feels...something. Fear, primarily, the horror of the event giving way to the anger she felt towards the creature. She happened to notice Flurry Heart enter the fray, leading the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They charged at the beast with violent fervor. Flurry deflects the tentacles repeatedly to give them an opening; unfortunately for her, this proved to be fatal. One of the many jaws of the creature finds its way to Flurry Heart and clamps down. Twilight noticed a strange reaction: the aura of the creature flickered yellow. The Crusaders do not waste time in this moment; all three strike the beast using the artifacts in a hole in the creature’s stony armor. The creature stops suddenly, and a groaning noise is made as the magic courses through it. After a few seconds creature explodes. It was almost like those specific events weren’t supposed to happen, but these perfect conditions did and the thing was slain. The explosion wasn’t just for show however, it leveled the entire town and all the creatures in it. The only survivors were the 4 princesses and Shining Armor. He only survived because Cadence shielded him at the last second. The impact however left him covered in scars, the loss of an eye, and with a terrible limp. A tear begins to form in Twilight’s eye, she feels a brief glint of total and utter grief, but it was gone almost immediately. Twilight collapses under the weight of her other emotions. A flood of tears of distress cover her cheeks. She knows that she’ll never be normal again.
Twilight fades from the nightmare into a dream. This is unlike any dream she has ever had, however: the events are out of order and blur past quickly. The events make sense but also do not, and Twilight cannot help but feel that all of this will come to pass. Figures are familiar but are warped beyond recognition almost as if to obscure the direct truth. This vision gives a disjointed tale of love fading into bottomless hunger, the futility and eventual convergence of good and evil, and the birth of a deity. Light guides Twilight through this, but shadow guides her out.
A sky darkened by a plague of insects, shards of a shattered crystal, and vacant throne flash by. She feels freezing cold, but suddenly feels warm again. The moon is out, and there is a tiara on the floor. It’s day again, and she hears a sickening crunch sound. Everything is now enveloped in light, and monsters all around the world are burnt. A catharsis washes over Twilight along with an ethereal warmth. A pony stands up on their hind legs as they ascend to the heavens. The sun no longer rotates the planet, quite the opposite is happening. Canterlot’s waterfall runs red. In a dark moonlit room, a collection of teeth clatter onto a tile floor. Cloudsdale is now nothing but partially consumed pegasus carcases. A castle is covered in nests, it is purged with righteous fire. The graveyard that is Ponyville falls into great disrepair, time eventually completely erasing its existence. Ponies go blind from the sheer brightness of a god. A red horn sits atop a fine pillow, a slight mist of smoke erupting from its tip. An underground temple is exposed to the elements. A great battle plays out between Canterlot’s army and an invasive enemy. The enemy is ruthless. A pegasus sheds her feathers. There is hope down beneath the mountain. Magic is scarce. A dawn casts a new kind of light on the world. Grand stories of good triumphing over evil and evil subverting good are now much different in scale. Twilight’s blood runs cold as the day she lost her friends. A servant of a princess is hopelessly infatuated. Skin falls off, revealing a carapace. “Accetach uei fae’deq.” is a phrase that echoes in Twilight’s mind. Twilight feels teeth sink into her foreleg. The pain burns her, but she’s better than this. If the cycle is not broken, then goodness will take five centuries to resurface. If the cycle is broken, then good will never again have power like it does now. An image of Starswirl fades into view along with a grandfather clock. The clock’s gears click and grind, causing this vision to come to a screeching halt. Starswirl winks at twilight, and in doing so his eye turns pitch black. Two straps come to create an eyepatch on Starswirl, and he fades into the pure black backdrop behind him.
Twilight opens her eyes, she’s on the floor in the original room. She collects herself off the ground and brushes herself off.
“Good morning sleepy head! I trust you slept well?” Discord coos, leaning against one of the walls behind Twilight. “Did you feel anything?”
“Yes!” Twilight perked up. “Uh...well...kind of.” She slumped back down and sighs. “Basically nothing.”
“Bah, who needs sympathy anyways? That stuff is for the birds! I would know, I’m part bird!” Discord’s feigned attempt at humor fell flatter than the color scheme of the room. Discord’s smile deflated “Well, now what? You can’t feel sad and you’re traumatized, what else is new? How are you going to get out of here? It’s very boring not being able to see you out in the world doing...whatever.”
Twilight’s mind was consumed with other thoughts. Why Starswirl? Why did a clock stop this strange dream? Why the eyepatch?
“Eyepatch?” Discord attempted to hear her thoughts, but was totally and completely lost. “What does an eyepatch have to do with anything?”
“Wait!” Twilight said excitedly. She closes her eyes to focus, and immediately the room shifts into being the hospital room.
“Here again? What could you possibly learn from here?” A nurse pony trots right through Discord and over to her patient. Twilight notices that the bedridden version of her no longer has any bandages on her head. She also has considerably longer hair than she usually keeps it.
Discord smacks his ear. “There has to be something going on in that head of yours...why can’t I hear it?”
“Time!” Twilight shouts, the room blooms back into its former state.
“Uh. Say again?” Discord asks.
“Time, Discord! Time!” Twilight says, beaming. “Time isn’t working here like it does out there.”
“Eh, perhaps I missed that part of my magic courses?” Discord says.
Twilight groans in frustration. “Ugh, nevermind. So does the Memory Repository store spells or?”
“Oh heavens no, you’re far too pragmatic for that. Come on, I’ll show you another room.” Discord leads Twilight out of the room once again, this time leading through a completely different path. The in-between pathways have no landmarks, and nothing beside a white path hanging in an empty void. After a few minutes, Twilight’s curiosity gets to her.
“How do you find your way around here anyways?” Twilight says.
“How do you?” Discord says dismissively. A few more silent moments pass and they have arrived at another grand door.
“What does this one say?” Twilight says.
“There really isn’t a translation. I once said the word out loud at a party and everyone in the room went deaf! Blood coming out of their ears and everything!” Discord chuckles. “Good times. Anyways, I usually think of this room as “The Library”. He pushes open the door and walks in. The room is a mess: books scattered about everywhere, loose leaf papers float about, and there are bookcases warping and cracking under immense pressure. The lighting was dim and the air was dusty. One could likely audibly hear Twilight’s eyelid twitching.
“Yes, this room has seen better days.” Discord mutters, scratching his chin.
“Looks like we got our work cut out for us. This is a spell I saw maybe 3 times before burning the scroll. Who knows, it just might be in here?” Twilight says.
“Kill me now.” Discord mumbles under his breath. The next few hours are spent combing the library for the right book or paper. Twilight does what she always does when trying to find something: organize. Despite the complete disarray from before, the library is now completely sorted, but no sign of the spell.
“All that work for nothing! If I had pores I’d be sweating like a Yak.” Discord complains. Twilight is sitting at a reading table they uncovered while working. She has her head down, and is repeatedly bumping it on the surface. She leans her chair back and falls over to the ground in frustration. In doing so she finally gets a good look at the ceiling and notices a series of gold inlays in the dark wood texture. They glisten in the light of the room just enough for her to be able to see it. It’s that dead language. Twilight happens to see a word, and absentmindedly mutters “Tor’anin”. The gold shimmers and glows as the room brightens.
“What did you just say?!” Discord yells.
“I don’t know I just said it!” Twilight exclaims, feeling the onset of panic. A beam of light engulfs her as she’s ripped from the library.
Twilight wakes up in yet another black void. “This again?” she thinks to herself. Her impatience was cut short however from a sight laid out in front of her. Little dots of light begin dotting the space. Tens of them, then hundreds, then thousands.
“Stars?” she says, but nothing comes out. A certain breathlessness comes over her. She looks around further but only more and more stars appear. Twilight was waiting for the hypoxia to set in, only to find that it would never come. More light fills the space around her as galaxies twinkle into existence in the distance. Finally, a large galaxy appears before her.
Twilight was awestruck. She had never seen any sight as beautiful as this. Only a glimpse into the night sky, or a passing look at Luna’s mane would even remotely hint that such a thing would exist.
“I never…” Twilight thinks of the vision she saw about a heliocentric Equestria. “I always knew the Sun was a star, but I never thought about what the other stars in the universe did. Do they revolve around their own Equestrias?” she thought to herself. “No...that makes no sense.”
Twilight struggled with this thought. The sun, moon, and their respective princesses were the key to the world working. Without them, the world would be in frozen chaos. Right?
“Perhaps we were doomed from the start, and magic helped us adapt?” This line of thinking was painful. Facts of the world that she never considered until stepping outside.
“Is Equestria truly meant to be the center of all this?” This question broke her sense of place in the universe. Equestria was only the center of its own system, all of the other solar systems out there functioned in a completely different way.
“Are we truly insignificant?” Twilight floated in silence, the arms of the galaxy seeming to pulsate as time went on. She tried not to think about Equestria and where it was, for the notion now upset her.
“Why did we never try to explore space?” this thought didn’t sound quite right. “Why did I never try to explore space?” She was a scientist, an explorer in all things physical and magical. Did she not look up to the sky a single time and wonder what was out there? All she could think about was the moon and the mare contained within. All other celestial bodies were known, but not interesting. She feels a week twinge of regret. Suddenly, the stars begin winking out. Thousands, then hundreds, then tens.
“No...please, don’t go.” Twilight said, a shiver climbs her back as she feels a presence approaching. Gravity begins to take effect once more, her hooves touch some ground and a figure emerges.
A white void appears to replace the blackness surrounding Twilight. “Ah, there you are. I apparently no longer have the luxury of underestimating you.” Discord says with a hint of remorse. “Tor’anin, or, ‘Return’. You only had to say one word of the inscription to activate it. I never thought you had the potential for reading it honestly.”
“I don’t know what came over me, I just knew it said that and I said it. I had no idea what it meant!” Twilight said, flustered. “What do you even mean ‘potential’?”
“Potential for power. Power and chaos. And all you had to do was sacrifice your sorrows. Touching, really.” Discord says idly.
“Chaos? Are you serious?”
“I am deadly serious.” Discord’s talon extends downward, a black electricity radiates from it.
“I thought you said you didn’t have any powers here…”
“I lied.” He raises the claw up in the air, causing a bolt to strike the ground. From this spot arose a shape. A pony made of nothing but black goo. The goo recedes back into the pony’s eyes and mouth, revealing the other Twilight from before.
“Oh yes. You still feel, and we can’t have that. You must destroy her Twilight. Drop the moral high ground nonsense. You’ll never be the same again. You’ll only hurt those you love, and alienate everyone further.” The creature begins weakly shambling towards Twilight, softly groaning and occasionally spewing a familiar black ooze.
Twilight is terrified. She takes a step back and whimpers. “This can’t be happening again.” The creature continues to limp towards her, almost falling on every other step. The more Twilight looked at it, the less scary it became however. This thing is falling apart: it’s weak, it’s shriveled, and can barely keep itself up. She felt sorry for this pony, but if she killed it, it would mean she could experience life without regretting the sorrow she had lost.
Twilight shakily took a few steps towards the other. Discord rubbed his hands together expectantly. “He’s getting something out of this” Twilight thought to herself “I absolutely can’t trust him.” Twilight straightened her posture and got in close. The creature reeked of death and sweat. This wasn’t the exact monster she had encountered before, but it was close enough to give her pause. She held her breath, and hugged the other Twilight.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Discord states in disbelief. “I hate ponies.” The creature disperses in fine particles of light, working their way into Twilight, making her feel more whole.
Twilight’s eyes begin to glow pure white. She looks over at Discord with a fury stronger than she ever has. She takes a step forward, and her hooves ignite in flames made of pure light.
“A fight? Really?” Discord asks nonchalantly.
“I’m sick of games, what do you really want from me?” Twilight growls.
“FINE. If you would’ve killed her, then you would’ve been my ticket out of here, and I would’ve taken your body for my own purposes. But now since you’ve botched that plan, I suppose I’ll just have to wipe you from your own conscious. The plus side is that you’ll be dead no matter what, the minus side is I might not make it out. The plusses are oh so sweet.”
Twilight sent a beam of light straight at Discord, but using his serpentine body he easily dodged it. Twilight sent about ten or fifteen more beams before Discord chimed in.
“I’m bored. Try this on for size!” Discord extends his lion arm and points his fingers at Twilight. His claws suddenly extend and impale Twilight. Twilight gasps as blood runs out of her mouth. “And it’s just that easy.” He retracts his claws and she crumples to the ground.
Twilight sees the stars appear in her field of view once more. Her dying thoughts drifting towards Luna and her mane. She thought about all of the strange, poetic, and enigmatic things her sister would say. She closes her eyes to think of the things she would do in her subject’s dreamscapes.
“Oh.” Twilight thought.
The holes in her neck and torso previously spouting blood are now glowing brightly, sealing the wounds. Twilight begins to float, effortlessly reorienting herself to stand against her enemy.
“Ooooh, resurrection. Fancy! What other tricks do you have in store?”
A witty response came to Twilight’s mind, but a whisper of a word found itself in Twilight’s vocabulary instead. The word became louder and louder and soon, Twilight could no longer resist saying it: “Dwema’ght.”
Discord immediately recognized the word. “Magic.” The stars immediately return to the sky. Lines begin to connect the stars, crawling from point to point until constellations were formed. Patterns would emerge and glow brightly, as if to enhance the jaw dropping magical presence emanating from Twilight.
Twilight’s horn begins amassing a blinding gold aura, concluding in a thin beam of magical energy directed at Discord. He attempts to dodge, but to no avail: The beam disassembled him particle by particle. After all these years, Discord is finally gone.
The ground from underneath Twilight dissipates, leaving her floating amongst the stars once again. She stares at the constellations that surround her.
“I didn’t think this place could get any more beautiful.” She thought. The longer she looked, however, patterns began emerging. A distinct set of symbols began appearing, and in this set of symbols she recognized some of Starswirl’s magic. She tried to make sense of it all: why here and not The Library? She put the library back together, but those books barely contained anything but cursory information about magic and how to use it. None of the deep magical theory that she knew and loved. Amongst the constellations, more shapes began flickering into view. More words of the dead language.
“I really wish Discord would’ve told me the name of this language before he turned on me.” Twilight grumbled. The symbols continued to appear on top of one another, causing a congealed mess. This place was just as disorganized as The Library.
“Wait, that’s it!” She thought. “This isn’t a different place, I’m still technically in The Library! Saying that word allowed me to enter my own inner sanctum.” Twilight focuses for a moment, and the galaxy in front of her begins to unwind. The stars that were forming shapes and symbols are now moving away from each other, forming an organized wall around her. She sees patterns that are associated from spells as simple as conjuring sparks, to ones that are more complicated like teleportation.
She notices a very complicated symbol that consists of several concentric symbols, with an ancient word denoting it. That was the spell she used to remove her sorrow. She thinks back to embracing the other Twilight. Her fear is gone, and she is free. Though she can’t feel what she used to feel, she can still experience empathy. Empathy may not be sympathy, but it still will let her remain close to those she cares for. She thinks of her three sisters and how she has been distant with all of them.
“I need to make this right. I need to get back to the waking world and see them again.” She thinks to herself. She scans the horizon for the time travel spell she used hundreds of years ago. A spell that she convinced herself that she would forget after destroying the scroll. She remembers her student: Starlight Glimmer. A brief pang of regret stings, but knows that it has to be here somewhere.
A dim symbol appears in the distance: Equilateral triangles link together within circles surrounded by the ancient words. She can hear the grandfather clock chime. She ushers the symbol forward and focuses on it. The the constellations swirl in a carousel of lights, blurring out of focus as the void surrounding twilight turns into a shade of blue.
Twilight arrives in a place that is familiar to her, the place where her fate was forever changed. This is the place where Celestia granted Twilight royalty, the place where Twilight became an alicorn. She remembers a time before her responsibilities as princess. She remembers how simple it was, just being a unicorn of minor significance. How much less complicated her life was. She thinks forward to her time as The Princess of Friendship, and all the hardship she has endured.
“I’m glad she made me what I am.” Twilight says, the words echoing in this empty space. Soft white and purple particles float around the room. As she recalls these things, windows into the past showing the events appear as they did when she was here last. Twilight stares into the screens. Her heart is filled with many mixed emotions, the events shown are of varying emotional connotation. Moments of light mixed with dark. The pain of some of these memories is great, but Twilight now realizes she wouldn’t be the pony she was if she hadn’t experienced and overcome all of these things. A passing thought occurs to her.
“If things hadn’t turned out like this, I wonder if I would be walking a student of my own down this very hallway.” Twilight ponders. This place means so many things to her. Unfortunately, it also serves a cruel reminder of the tragedy of immortality, and how living forever is a form of Tartarus in itself.
“I need to get out of here.” Twilight says. A magical pulse erupts from her horn, spreading magic sparks akin to fireworks. These purple and blue sparks seek out all of the windows floating about the area. When they collide, a brilliant cascade of magic ensues, with the images tracing to neon outlines of the events. These outlines then weave in and out to become glowing tetrahedrons. The tetrahedrons float towards twilight and begin to orbit around her. Her hooves lift off the ground as the shapes propel her upwards. A gorgeous choir sounds in glory as Twilight ascends the space. The shapes below now form a spire below her. A smile breaks out on Twilight’s face.
“Everything is going to be just fine!” she shouts, a phrase she uttered hundreds of years ago. Believing it now, and believing it again. An extremely bright light appears before Twilight, a hole in the firmament of this realm. It is surrounded by a mass of words in the ancient tongue. The tetrahedrons below start to disintegrate into light, and phase into Twilight’s body. Tears erupt from her face as the hole in the sky bears the weight. The words swirling around the portal now twist and arc to enter her mouth. Twilight’s vocal chords numb as she reaches the portal and is embraced by the light within.
A gentle breeze crosses Twilight’s face, carrying the sweet smell of summer. Twilight’s eyes once again open, this time to be greeted with a bland ceiling and a fan instead of voids of light and dark. Twilight sits up in her modest but comfortable hospital bed. The window to her left is open, with the afternoon sun’s rays warming the tears streaming down her face. Her muscles feel weak.
“How long have I been out?” she thinks, trying to recall the time of her accident. She remembers continuous rain, cool temperatures, and changing foliage. She touches her mane and sees that it was just past her torso. By her estimations it’s been two months, a season had passed.
She reflects on this entire ordeal, and how she felt good again for the first time in a long time. Accepting her past has always been relatively simple for Twilight, this level of trauma was too much to bear for so long. She has now embraced her demons, and can live once again. She may not be the same ruler she once was, but she will be good and just. She knows that her sisters will love her no matter who she is now. Twilight can return to what she does best: Making friends. A click sounds from across the room and the door begins to open, startling her.
A unicorn with a teal coat and a platinum blonde mane enters the room looking at a clipboard and holding a variety of medical testing equipment in her telekinetic grasp.
“Alright Princess, I’m gonna need a minute of your time, gotta do our routine okay?” She mutters, she takes a step or two forward and says “Alright let’s go ahead an-HUH?” Looking up from her clipboard she notices Twilight sitting up. The clipboard and medical tray clatters to the ground as she rushes to the door scrambles out. Muffled through the walls she hears her shout “Doctor! Doctor! She’s awake!”
Twilight giggles, and turns her attention to the window once more. “Finally, a clear sky.”