Attacks and destruction in Ponyville occur on top of Twilight's recent incidents of memory loss
The residents of Ponyville are unaccustomed to violence, but recent attacks are shaking up the normally peaceful town. On top of this, Twilight Sparkle has been experiencing short bouts of memory loss and is getting concerned with her own health. The truth in the situation may be harder to bear, however.
Twilight Sparkle opened her eyes slowly, taking in her surroundings. At first, she couldn’t figure out why her bed felt so hard this morning, but she quickly came to her senses as the smell of paper wafted into her snout. Twilight lifted her head and looked down to see the familiar sight of parchment and typography. With a small grimace, she wiped the drool off the page with her hoof. Her legs were sprawled out on the wooden floor of the library where many books were currently strewn about, creating a messy scene that ponies who visited were not normally accustomed to.
“I don’t remember reading this last night…” Twilight muttered, emitting a long and loud yawn before standing and stretching. “Oh well, probably not important.” She told herself. Her back was stiff from the uncomfortable sleep and her head felt heavy, but she was awake nonetheless.
“Twilight!” Spike called from the top of the stairs. He walked down and met Twilight at the floor.
“Good morning, Spike.”
“You want me to make you some coffee? You passed out on your book last night, so I’m sure you could use some.”
“That would be wonderful, Spike. Fancy vanilla, please!”
“Right away!” Spike called as he ran toward the kitchen. Twilight smiled. He’s always so eager to help. Twilight thought. She walked upstairs and found the bathroom, where there sat her morning essentials: a hairbrush, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
After completing the morning ritual, and her mane looking as it usually did, Twilight trotted back downstairs and relished in the sweet smell of Fancy vanilla coffee roast. She entered the kitchen, where the pot of coffee was almost full and Spike was busy cooking up some eggs for breakfast. The small purple dragon wore a white kitchen apron and chef’s hat, a simple gesture Twilight was sure Spike only did to boost his own ego while cooking.
“Hope you’re hungry for eggs, Twilight! I really wanted some, so I just figured they’d work because…”
“Eggs sound wonderful, Spike.” Twilight said, silencing the baby dragon before he convinced himself that Twilight needed a better breakfast, which she didn’t.
“Wonderful!” Spike said happily. Twilight sat at the table and closed her eyes. Seeing with magic, she looked past the kitchen wall and into the library, locating the book she had been sleeping on the night prior. She was curious as to what sort of literature she fell asleep to, for her memory was failing her. With a quick spell, the book disappeared from the ground and reappeared in front of Twilight with a quiet ‘pop.’
“Did you just teleport that book?” Spike asked, having paid attention almost the whole time.
“Yep! It’s a new trick I’ve been working on. Teleporting objects that I can’t see to me.”
“You’ve been learning an awful lot of new spells lately.” Spike observed, returning his gaze to the cooking eggs in front of him.
Twilight chuckled, “Well, I wouldn’t be the princess’s prized pupil if I were lazy!”
“I guess not.” Spike agreed. He flicked the stove control off and brought the pan over to Twilight. He grabbed a plate on his way over and plopped it down in front of the lavender unicorn. Spike then slid the eggs off the pan so that they were now both lying sunny-side up in front of Twilight, steam rolling off gently into Twilight’s nostrils.
“Mmm, thanks Spike!”
“No problem!” Spike said.
“But… what about your eggs?” Twilight asked, realizing that Spike had not made himself breakfast yet. “Didn’t you want any?”
“I’ll just make mine now.” Spike said, getting ready to crack two more eggs.
“No need!” Twilight said excitedly. “I have another new spell to try out!” She then narrowed her eyes and focused on the eggs. Quick as a flash, the cooked eggs shined brightly and two identical eggs appeared above them, and then fell on top of the originals with a little ‘slap’.
“Wow, a duplication spell!” Spike said excitedly, “That’s useful!”
“I know, the book said it was very difficult, but I don’t find it to be a challenge at all!”
“Well, you are the most talented pony in Ponyville!”
“Oh, stop it.” Twilight replied happily. The pair ate their breakfast together, chatting leisurely about the goings-on around town. Spike didn’t mention Rarity as much as he used to. He was getting bigger, after all, and a schoolboy crush was something that often gets lost as time passes. He still showed affection for the unicorn, but it was more of an appreciation than a crush.
Twilight had been spending a good amount of time with Rarity, however. Being unicorns, the two shared common ground and thus always at least had something to talk about. Not only that, but Rarity was a pony of a more civilized nature, which was generally refreshing considering the way most ponies in Ponyville acted on a daily basis. Company with Rarity had to be taken in stride, however, for the dramatic fashionista tended to be a bit… wearing on the mind from time to time.
When not with Rarity, however, Twilight usually found herself in the company of Fluttershy. Twilight enjoyed the quiet companionship of the shy pegasus, if only as a reading buddy. Fluttershy wasn’t much of a reader herself, but Twilight liked to read in the meadow by Fluttershy’s cottage, sometimes striking up a conversation with her while she tended to the animals nearby. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, especially because Spike was starting to take more enjoyment from being left in charge of the library from time to time.
Twilight didn’t spend as much time with Pinkie Pie or Applejack, but that didn’t make them any less her friends. While Twilight never grew tired of a Pinkie Pie party, the pink ball of energy was usually too much for Twilight’s generally easy-going lifestyle. Twilight greatly enjoyed the company of Applejack, but the earth pony was always working! If it wasn’t apples, it was corn. If it wasn’t corn, it was the carrot patch. If it wasn’t harvest time, there were repairs around the farm. Even when there wasn’t any farm work to do, she was in the market selling her apples. It was too much of a hassle to try and plan even a lunch with Applejack.
Rainbow Dash had recently gotten in the habit of dropping by the library for lunch or dinner, sometimes both. When Twilight was in town, she often ran into Rainbow Dash and talked to her for a long time. Twilight had never honestly enjoyed hanging out with Rainbow Dash that much. Rainbow Dash’s idea of fun was usually at another pony’s expense (when she wasn’t sleeping, that is). Twilight usually enjoyed a simple prank, but not enough to perform them with the frequency that Rainbow Dash did.
When Rainbow Dash wasn’t pranking or napping, however, she was practicing her moves for the Wonderbolts, who had yet to have a spot open up in their team. Whenever Rainbow Dash wanted to show off a new move to Twilight, it usually meant that Twilight would plant herself on the ground and stare at the sky for about an hour. Boring as that may sound, Twilight enjoyed every second of it. Rainbow Dash’s flying was fast and aggressive, but possessed a unique air of grace to it that was unmatched by any pegasus Twilight had ever seen.
When Rainbow Dash wasn’t quite so active, she was usually at the library, talking to Twilight. This in itself amazed Twilight the most, because she found herself actually enjoying talking to Rainbow Dash. They had a surprising amount of things in common now that the pegasus had begun to enjoy books more, one of Twilight’s greatest accomplishments in her mind.
“That was a wonderful breakfast, Spike.” Twilight said after finishing her eggs, “I really enjoyed-“
Knock knock knock
“I’ll get it!” Twilight immediately chimed, interrupting herself mid-sentence. Twilight hurried out the kitchen door and toward the front door of the library, where a familiar face was peering through the small window.
“Good morning, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said, greeting her friend with a smile. Her smile faded quickly, however, when she realized that Rainbow Dash didn’t seem to be quite so bright and cheery this morning.
“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash blurted out frantically.
“Rainbow, what’s wrong? You look…”
“It’s Applejack, something’s happened to the farm!” Rainbow Dash said worriedly.
“What? What happened?” Twilight asked, now quite concerned. “Is she hurt?”
“Nopony’s hurt, but… I need to show you, come on!” Rainbow Dash said, turning and flying away. Twilight leaned to follow, but quickly turned around and shouted at Spike, “Spike, I need you, let’s go!”
“What? I – “ Spike replied from the kitchen before suddenly being teleported onto Twilight’s back.
“Ack! Jeez, Twilight, what’s the rush? Wooah!” Spike cried as Twilight took off in a sprint behind Rainbow Dash, nearly tossing the purple dragon off her back. The three sprinted through town, disregarding all the ponies shouting at them to slow down, including protests from Spike.
“Twilight! What’s going on?!” Spike tried his best to shout despite the bouncing motions Twilight made with her strides
“Something’s happened at Sweet Apple Acres!” Twilight finally called back.
“What happened?!” Spike shouted back.
“I don’t know!” Twilight answered. This quieted Spike, if only due to his lack of ability to answer.
As quickly as possible, Twilight, Rainbow, and Spike ran out of Ponyville and all the way out to Sweet Apple Acres. The run was long and tiresome, but Twilight didn’t even consider it, her worry was so great. The trio finally crested a final hill and the farm came into view, that is, what was left of it.
Black piles of ash now stood where once there stood a barn, a house, and half an apple orchard. Almost the entire farm had been burned to the ground, leaving behind nothing but half an apple orchard of ash-covered trees and smoldering rubble. Twilight was in awe of what she was seeing. The barn that had been built only four years ago after the parasprites invasion was now reduced to ash, and what was worse was the Apple family home was likewise reduced to nothing but a few standing planks and a stone basement. The rubble was still hot and smoking, giving off a consuming smell of burnt wood.
In addition to the property damage, Twilight could tell that a good half of the apple trees and almost all the other crops were now charred, black twigs sticking out of the ground. Her heart sank as she feared for her friend, Applejack. This family made their living off of the farm, but now…
“Oh my goodness…” Twilight muttered, for lack of anything better to say. Rainbow Dash landed beside Twilight and simply allowed her friend to take in the sight. Ponyville hadn’t seen destruction like this since the invasion of the parasprites, and even that didn’t look so… grim. Twilight couldn’t help but wonder what had caused such an inferno. She wondered more so how Applejack was reacting to this.
Sure enough, the orange earth pony and her family were gathered at one end of the farm, trying their best to salvage what they could. Twilight and Rainbow Dash walked into the farm solemnly. As they passed under the sign greeting visitors to the farm, Twilight noticed that the entire back face of the sign was singed black, as if to symbolize what lie behind it. As they neared Applejack, she turned and faced Twilight as Rainbow Dash with a face that was nothing short of heartbroken. Her friends’ appearance did bring a smile to her face, however.
“Applejack… we’re so sorry…” Twilight spoke softly.
“Aw, there ain’t nothin’ y’all could’a done here.” Applejack muttered in reply, returning her gaze to the farm, “Ah’m just glad we’re all safe.”
“Twilight!” Apple Bloom took notice of Twilight’s presence. “Thanks fer comin’.”
“It’s no problem.” Twilight said. “Where are the others? Wouldn’t they want to be here?”
“Ah reckon they don’t even know what happened yet.” Applejack said. “Only reason you know is ‘cause of RD here.”
“I came and got you as quick as I could.” Rainbow said to Twilight. Twilight simply smiled in reply. There were hardly words to be said right now. They all failed her.
“Why Rainbow Dash was here ta help put the fire out.” Applejack said, “Thanks again.”
“Don’t mention it, Applejack. You’d do the same for me.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight felt inclined to use her voice again.
“How did the fire…”
“We don’t know.” Applejack said. “Far as Ah’m concerned, it was nothin’ but an accident.”
“You know where it started?”
“We think it was in the barn.” Big Macintosh spoke this time. All of their voices were saturated with sorrow, a stark contrast to the usually upbeat family. “Faulty wiring maybe.”
“That was a new barn though.” Twilight said, “Couldn’t have been four years old!”
“Well, who knows?” Applejack said, “All’s we know is that we’re safe, and the fire didn’t get close to Granny Smith.” Applejack and the family looked off into the distance together once Applejack said that.
Granny Smith had died the previous year, and they had buried her atop the highest hill, where the view of the sunrise and sunset was just about perfect. “I’m glad to hear that.” Twilight said, looking toward the aforementioned location.
“Now Ah don’t know how we’re gonna fix this place up, but we’ll have ta try.” Applejack said. “We’ll sell what’s left of the apples, but it’s gonna be tough.”
“Hang on, Applejack.” Twilight said. She looked at the land and at where the house and the barn once stood.
“What’s the matter, Twilight?”
“You think you can get everypony to remove the rubble and ash and completely clear out the land?” Twilight asked Applejack.
“Well, Ah don’t see why not.”
“I can rebuild your farm.” Twilight said confidently.
Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Spike all looked at Twilight with disbelief.
“That’s mighty kind of you to suggest, Twilight, but Ah don’t think…”
“No, really!” Twilight said, “I’ve been doing some reading on construction spells recently. As long as I know what I’m doing, I can completely rebuild your home and barn.”
“Well, that’d sure be wonderful, Twilight.” Applejack said, a new fire alight in the earth pony’s heart, “Alright! We need to gather everypony we can. Let’s clear out this mess!” *** ***
Twilight Sparkle gazed over Sweet Apple Acres from a distance with determination. The rubble and ash had now been completely cleared, leaving blackened dirt and two stone foundations alone. With a critical eye, she walked into the farm and examined the damage extensively. She walked around the foundation for the house a few times, studying every corner thoroughly. The cellar went into the ground quite a distance, which Twilight thought might cause her some problems, but as long as she keeps to her plan, things should go alright.
She then turned her attention to the barn. Luckily, the barn was recently built, so the actual designs remained for Twilight to examine. It was a decision by the Apple family that they needed the extra space to store their ever growing number of crops, so they added the barn shortly after Granny Smith’s passing. In the case of the house, she simply had to go off of pictures and descriptions, which Twilight felt to be enough. It also helped that the house looked like a barn as well.
With the help of many ponies around town, the rubble had been cleared away in record time.
“So, how’s this gonna work, anyhow?” Applejack asked Twilight as she was examining the stonework.
“Well, according to a book I found in the library, Advanced Construction Magic: Volume 3, as long as I have a good idea how the original structure once stood, it should be just a matter of conjuring up a duplicate of it. I think it’s just like a duplication spell, only without source material.”
“Uh… yea, sure.” Applejack said uneasily, “Sounds complicated.”
“It’s really not – “
“Well, don’t feel bad if ya can’t pull it off there, sugarcube. Point is yer tryin’.”
“I can do this, Applejack. Trust me.”
“I know she can!” Rainbow Dash suddenly said from behind. Twilight and Applejack turned around to see the pegasus landing behind them. “Twilight’s the most talented unicorn in Ponyville. She has this way under control!”
“Thanks, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said bashfully.
“Well, if yer confident, then Ah trust you.” Applejack said, “Just don’t hurt yerself, okay?”
“Don’t worry, Applejack.”
“Are we ready to start?” came the voice of Rarity from off to the side. She was standing with Fluttershy, Apple Bloom, and Big Macintosh a good distance from the three with ridiculously heavy-duty boots on, most likely to protect her coat from the ash and dirt. “I cannot wait to see Twilight perform such a marvelous act of magic.”
“I’m ready.” Twilight said.
“Let’s get to it, then!” Applejack said, walking off to join the other four.
“Be right there!” Twilight said, thinking she could use the moment to study one or two more places more closely. She was stopped by Rainbow Dash, however.
“You got this, Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked. Her confidence that was brimming earlier was now replaced with concern.
“Not you too!” Twilight complained.
“Well, this is pretty advanced stuff… I think. Just don’t overextend yourself.” Rainbow Dash said, pretending to know a thing about magic.
“I’ll take things nice and easy, Dash.” Twilight said, “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. I got your back!”
Twilight giggled and turned to walk toward the group of ponies gathered at the entrance to Sweet Apple Acres alongside Rainbow Dash.
“So, uh… Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Uh…” Rainbow Dash stalled, “Y-you, uh…”
“What is it?” Twilight asked.
“You show these ponies what’s up. Okay?” Rainbow said half-heartedly.
“Heh, okay!” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash looked away fiercely, as if she had said something wrong. Twilight didn’t think anything of it due to the daunting task before her. Though she was confident she could build the barn and the house, the complexity of the magic could not be denied. It was difficult magic, that much was true, and she would need all of her focus.
Twilight stood now about fifty feet from the site of the house and barn. Behind her were her friends: Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash. They were all still and silent, watching Twilight’s every move. Twilight flicked her tail once and closed her eyes. The five ponies stirred in response to the subtle movement, causing a little noise and making Twilight’s ear twitch.
“I need all the concentration I can get.” Twilight remarked.
The friends muttered quick apologies. Then, Twilight began.
Her horn glowed softly at first, a preliminary stage to simply get a feel for the magic necessary for the task in front of her. She began with the house. She felt the outline of it, the frame, the structure, its specific build. She envisioned the house standing upon the foundation, strong and sturdy. She quickly imagined where to place every single detail down to the decorations, so she increased her magic output and started the serious work.
Slowly but surely, the wood began to materialize from the basement foundation. The five ponies behind Twilight smiled together and looked on in awe. Twilight allowed the magic to flow freely, growing and growing ever more. The basic frame of the house started taking shape before the small audience’s eyes, emitting small gasps and jubilant comments all around.
Twilight, however, was realizing quickly that this task was requiring more magic than she had originally intended. This didn’t falter her, but did give her source for slight concern. She upped her magical output, causing her horn to glow ever brighter, a large ball of energy growing in front of her face.
Some finer details began to show on the house. Walls started to form, windows began to be placed, and some doors also popped up. Twilight began to grunt every few seconds from the effort, her face contorting in concentration. The magic coming off her horn was growing more and more intense, electrifying the air and making her friends’ coats stand up on end. Rarity began to freak out about her mane frizzing out, but remained silent so as not to disturb Twilight.
Before their very eyes, the finishing touches were applied to the house and Twilight began to cool down. A few more minutes passed, and Twilight’s horn had completely gone out. She stood, panting, as she recovered from the exhausting magical feat. The task was not devastatingly exhausting, but still took its toll on the young unicorn.
“Yee-haw! Will ya look at that!” Applejack cried out from behind Twilight. Twilight turned around and smiled. The ponies all started stomping their hooves and celebrating at Twilight’s work. Twilight blushed a little then turned and studied her work for the first time.
The house she had created was an exact replica of the house that previously stood in its place. Even the red paint was the same. Twilight felt her friends gather around her and hug her tightly.
“Thank ya, Twilight! Why, we have a home again!” Applejack cried happily.
“That was simply amazing!” Rarity exclaimed.
“Totally cool!” Rainbow Dash agreed.
“Astounding!” Fluttershy agreed.
“The coolest thing EVER!” Pinkie Pie declared exuberantly.
“Thanks girls, but I’m not done yet!” Twilight said. Her voice was raggedy and weak, though she still felt up to completing the next task.
“Are you crazy? You are wiped out! You couldn’t possibly hope to complete that barn now!” Rainbow Dash blurted out.
“Says you.” Twilight said. “I can do it, trust me.”
“Well, alright.” Applejack said, “Step back, everypony. Give her some space.”
“Oh, this is so exciting!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed as the ponies galloped back to their previous location near the entrance to the farm.
“Twilight…” Rainbow Dash said before walking away.
“I’m fine, Rainbow Dash, honestly.” Twilight said with a smile.
Rainbow Dash started to walk away a little apprehensively before conceding defeat and running back to join their friends.
Twilight then turned her attention to the space where the barn was soon to go. The house that now stood gave her confidence and her friends’ support gave her the strength. She closed her eyes and her horn glowed once again. Twilight felt the outline of the barn and quickly began work on creating the main support beams.
The heavier beams proved to be quite the mental challenge for Twilight, so she quickly upped her magic usage. The barn began to take shape, but it was taking much more effort this time around. The barn almost doubled the size of the house, meaning it was much more difficult to conjure up the material necessary to construct the building.
The ball of energy surrounding Twilight’s horn quickly reached that of her previous endeavor and grew from that point. The barn was taking shape, but Twilight was getting consumed in magic.
Then, Twilight reached a breaking point. She felt that she could no longer give any more magic than she currently was. She pushed and pushed, but the magic was at a constant pace, like a wall blocking her output. The barn was only half way done. If she was at her limit now, then there was no way she would be able to finish! Twilight pushed harder, emitting a short grunt every time she let out the extra effort.
Then, Twilight’s body began to glow, and Twilight broke beyond the magical barrier that was holding her back. Twilight became surrounded in a purple magical aura, lifting her body off the ground slightly. Her friends became concerned for her safety, but watched as the barn suddenly began to take shape very quickly. Twilight grew brighter and brighter, her eyes still clamped shut tightly. Twilight began to lose focus. She didn’t know whether the barn was done or not.
However, Twilight caught herself just in time and realized that she was going off the deep end. She backed off and tried to slow the magic that was pouring out of her. Twilight slowly fell back to the ground and she landed softly. Her body lost its glow and her horn remained the only thing giving off magic. It was then that she realized that the barn was nearing completion. She put some finishing touches on it and severed the magic completely.
Twilight’s horn stopped glowing and she collapsed on the ground.
“Twilight!” All of her friends shouted. Rainbow Dash zoomed forward and landed in front of Twilight’s face. Twilight opened her eyes and looked into Rainbow Dash’s magenta orbs as the rest of the ponies gathered around and looked down at her.
“Wha…” Twilight muttered.
“Y’all right there, sugarcube?” Applejack asked Twilight.
“I’m… fine…” Twilight said. With Rainbow Dash’s help, she stood and looked around. “What just… happened?”
“Whatever do you mean, darling?” Rarity asked.
“Where am I?” Twilight asked. She looked at the house and barn and her eyes opened wide. She could have sworn that there was nothing but piles of ash there previously.
“Where did THOSE come from?!” She exclaimed, pointing at the new structures.
“You made them, silly!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed happily. Twilight looked at Rainbow Dash, who gave her a quick nod and a nervous glance at the other ponies. Sudden realization swept over Twilight and she felt slightly sick to her stomach, but she had to make something up quickly.
“Oh… yea! I sure did!” Twilight said happily.
“Well Ah’ll be!” Applejack said, “That’s some mighty fine work there, Twilight!”
“It’s beautiful!” Fluttershy said, “However did you manage?”
“Oh, it wasn’t so bad.” Twilight said, blushing.
“Wasn’t so bad?” Rarity said in disbelief, “You gave us an awful fright there!”
“I think Twilight just needs some rest.” Rainbow Dash said, attempting to bring the questions to an end: something that Twilight was quite grateful for. “Am I right, Twi?”
“Yes! Rest!” Twilight said, smiling brightly and nodding fervently.
“Aw… but I was gonna throw Applejack a new barn party! There’s gonna be cake and goodies and a piñata and – “
“Well, I’ll be sure to stop by later, Pinkie.” Twilight said. “You wanna walk me home, Rainbow Dash?”
“Be glad to.” Rainbow Dash said. The pair walked away from Sweet Apple Acres with the remaining four looking at them with confused expressions.
“Thanks fer the help, Twilight!” Apple Bloom shouted.
Once they were far enough away, Twilight spoke up.
“It happened again, didn’t it?” She said softly. “I lost my memory.”
“I think so.” Rainbow Dash replied solemnly, “You don’t remember making those buildings at all?”
“Well, now that you girls jogged my memory, I sort of remember starting on the house, but… just barely.”
“Well, we were all worried when you were working on the barn. Your whole body got covered in magic!” Rainbow Dash said. “And you lifted off the ground.” She added extra emphasis by leaping into the air and hovering over Twilight with her front legs outstretched.
“Dash, I’m really starting to get worried about this. If I start losing substantial moments in my memory, then something could really be wrong with me. It could mean losing my position with the Princess. I can’t let that happen!”
“It won’t happen, Twilight. You’re the smartest pony I know. Celestia could never turn you away, no matter what happens.”
“Thanks, Dash.” Twilight said. They reached the library and stopped at the front door.
“Well, here we are.” Dash said.
“Yep.” Twilight agreed. “You, uh… wanna come in?” Twilight’s eyes were heavy and she was exhausted, but it would be impolite to not offer.
“Twilight, you need your rest.” Rainbow Dash said regretfully, “What you did back there… I don’t know a lot about magic and stuff, but I know it took a lot of effort, and you scared us a bit.”
“Yea, I guess you’re right.” Twilight said. She opened the door with magic and stepped toward it. “See you later, Dash.”
“I…” Rainbow Dash said, but stopped herself. Twilight turned and looked at Rainbow Dash.
“You say something?”
“N-no, I… see ya!” Rainbow Dash said quickly, flying away at top speed.
“Sometimes you are as random as Pinkie Pie.” Twilight said out loud, watching Rainbow Dash’s bright rainbow trail as it streaked across the sky. Twilight turned and walked inside the library.
“Spike!” Twilight called out. The sudden usage of air made her feel light-headed and she stumbled slightly. Once she righted herself, she put a hoof to her head and shook it. “Spike! Are you here?”
“Must have gotten hungry or something.” Twilight concluded. Drawing on that thought, she realized that she herself was quite hungry. Maybe a snack before my nap, she thought. She walked out of the library area and found the kitchen, where she began to aimlessly rummage through her snack cupboards.
With a box of leaf chips in her jowls, she suddenly heard a small commotion coming from the other side of the door in the library. Anticipating the noise to simply be Spike, Twilight ignored it and opted to set down the box on the table and begin eating.
Though the chewing clouded her hearing, she could make out the sound of somepony talking, and it wasn’t Spike. The voice she heard was a hushed female voice, mature sounding. Twilight recognized it, but she couldn’t quite put her hoof on whose it was. Her curiosity getting the better of her, Twilight walked out of the kitchen and into the library, absolutely stunned as to who she found.
“Princess Celestia! Princess Luna!” Twilight shouted, causing the two royal ponies to look up at Twilight. Twilight quickly composed herself, though she was filled with confusion and a little bit of surprise.
“Twilight Sparkle. How are you?” Celestia asked calmly. Twilight looked back and forth between the sisters, not believing that not a minute ago her living room had been empty, and now the two princesses of Equestria were standing on her area rug.
“Good.” Twilight said for lack of anything better to enlighten the princesses with at the time.
“That is good to hear.” Celestia said, “Now, I hope you have a few minutes. There is a serious matter we need to discuss.” Celestia said. Twilight gulped. That didn’t sound good.
“Am I in trouble?” Twilight asked, looking down.
“Fear not, you have done nothing wrong.” Luna said calmly. Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. Celestia smiled at Twilight.
“My most faithful student… I have noticed that your magic has become more advanced as of late. Would you care to elaborate?”
Twilight was unsure of what the princess was getting at, but spoke anyway, “Well, I have been recently studying different types of matter transportation and reproduction. I have found use of a spell that transports things from out of my sight to my current position.”
“A very advanced spell, indeed.” Celestia commented. Twilight blushed a little.
“Um… I’ve also been perfecting my duplication spell. Yesterday morning I used it on the breakfast Spike made so he wouldn’t have to make it again for himself.”
“Most remarkable.” Luna complimented Twilight. If she wasn’t truly blushing before, she was now.
“And, um, today I helped Applejack with some damages her farm received.” Twilight said. She didn’t exactly tell of what she had done for the barn and the house. If the princesses got excited over an advanced transportation spell, she didn’t want to know how they would react to the knowledge that Twilight successfully created two large buildings.
“Damages?” Luna asked.
“What misfortune has befallen Sweet Apple Acres?” Celestia asked.
“Their… barn and house burned down yesterday.” Twilight said, “A good amount of their crops are gone too.”
“That poor family…” Celestia said, “We shall have to send financial assistance to help them rebuild their properties.” A small amount of panic filled Twilight.
“There won’t be any need for that, princess.” Twilight said quickly.
“Whatever do you mean?” Princess Luna asked this time. “Do you not care for your friend’s wellbeing?”
“No! I mean, I… already, um, rebuilt their farm.” Twilight said sheepishly.
“You… constructed an entire house?” Celestia asked, awestruck.
“All by yourself?” Luna added.
“And… the barn.” Twilight said.
For a second, Twilight was afraid she had gone too far, for Celestia and Luna looked at each other with concerned faces. Twilight’s fear was turned to relief however as Celestia and Luna then put on smiles and looked back at Twilight, “You are indeed my most remarkable student, Twilight.”
“Your skill with magic is most impressive, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said.
“May I ask what started the fire? I am quite curious.” Celestia asked.
“They aren’t sure, but Applejack suspects it was some faulty wiring in the barn.” Twilight said.
“Shall I have a word with the Ponyville Construction Company?” Celestia asked.
“I hardly think that will be necessary, sister.” Luna commented.
“Um, if you don’t mind me asking, what is this issue you need to discuss?” Twilight asked.
“It’s nothing too much, Twilight.” Celestia replied, “I have simply come to inform you that I have asked Spike to stay in Canterlot castle with me for the next few weeks. I have some special training for him, something that all baby dragons hatched by the magic students must do.”
“Oh?” Twilight inquired, slightly taken aback, “He never mentioned this to me…”
“He wasn’t aware of it until today, Miss Sparkle.” Luna chimed in.
“So is that… all? You both came down to tell me about Spike… rather than just send a letter?” Twilight asked, her fatigue loosening her tongue.
“There is more, Twilight.” Celestia said, her mood once again turning serious, “It is because of your recent magical advances that my sister, Luna, and I would like to simply observe you from time to time.”
“Ideally, you will not notice our presence.” Luna said.
“In fact, we will most likely just keep a light watch from Canterlot Castle using magic mirrors.” Celestia assured Twilight, “Do not worry, for we will never interfere during times you deem as private.”
“Nor will we become overbearing.” Luna said, “We simply wish to keep watch for a short while and see how far you have grown.”
“I… guess there’s no problem.” Twilight said.
“Excellent!” Celestia exclaimed. She took a step back so that she was now shoulder to shoulder with Luna. “I suppose we should let you get back to your afternoon. You do look quite tired.”
“I am quite tired, Princess.” Twilight replied, “And thank you for informing me of your actions.”
“Until next time, Twilight Sparkle.” Celestia said. Luna likewise smiled and waved. The area where the sisters were standing lit up momentarily, and then they were gone: teleported all the way back to Canterlot. Twilight was still slightly confused… why would they need to observe her?
It’s not like I haven’t impressed the princess before. Twilight thought. Troubled, she ascended the stairs to her room and quickly fell asleep in her bed, the golden late-afternoon rays of sun still streaming in through a westward window.
*** *** “I fear the situation is worse than we had originally thought, sister.” Luna observed to Celestia. Celestia was standing on a balcony and staring at the distant glow of Ponyville.
“I agree.” Celestia said, not looking away, “I am scared for my young student.”
“And the dragon?” Luna asked.
“He must stay here in the castle until the situation is over.” Celestia said, “I cannot risk it.”
“If he stays indefinitely, Twilight Sparkle is sure to become suspicious.” Luna said, “How long do you expect this to last?”
“If what we are dealing with is anything like mother once warned me…” Celestia uttered weakly, paused, and continued with a shaky voice, “Then this may be Twilight Sparkle’s last summer in Ponyville.”
When Twilight awoke, there was an absence of light in her bedroom, indicating that it was nighttime. Twilight attempted multiple times to fall back asleep and put her sleep schedule back to normal, but try as she might, she was not going to sleep again anytime soon. Conceding defeat, Twilight decided to get up and try to calm herself with a midnight snack.
Even as she walked, she became insecure of herself. Luna could be watching her right now. She could be peering into Twilight's very home with a magical mirror… what was that, anyway? Twilight subconsciously brushed her mane with a hoof while she passed Spike's bed. A small feeling of sadness swept over Twilight as she realized that he wasn't there.
In the kitchen, Twilight poured herself a glass of milk and grabbed the leaf chips from before. After all this, she hadn't had her snack that she promised herself before. Chuckling slightly at this thought, Twilight indulged in her small snack, enjoying the organic taste of the salty chips. The smooth milk sent a shiver down her body but ultimately warmed her pleasantly.
As Twilight's mind began to wander, she started to speculate what this training was that Spike could be undergoing right now. She found it very unlikely that the princess would neglect to inform Twilight of any special training, but… then why did this happen? And what training could Spike even need? Spike had already learned his lesson about greed, Twilight made sure of that.
Twilight brought her milk glass over to the sink and was getting ready to wash it when she looked out the window and saw a bit of movement. Twilight squinted her eyes and saw Fluttershy walking down the streets of Ponyville with a small lantern in her mouth and bulging saddlebags on her back. Although Twilight knew she should probably leave Fluttershy to whatever she was up to, her curiosity got the better of her. Besides, she was much too awake to go back to sleep now.
Twilight stepped outside the library, taking note of how empty the streets were at this hour. The town was fast asleep, as Twilight should have been (something that she pushed to the back of her mind for the time being). Fluttershy was now a good distance from the library, but Twilight trotted toward her anyway.
"Fluttershy!" Twilight called. Fluttershy leapt in the air with a yelp and hid behind a nearby barrel, dropping the lantern.
"Relax, Fluttershy. It's just me." Twilight calmed her friend.
"Oh! Good evening, Twilight. What brings you out so late?"
"I was actually just coming over to ask you the same thing." Twilight said.
"Oh, I always walk through here at this time on Wednesdays. There are a couple families of raccoons on the other side of town that I bring fresh veggies every week."
"Wow, that's really nice of you, Fluttershy." Twilight commented. If it was one thing she could count on, it was Fluttershy going to any extent when it came to caring for the animals.
"I love the animals." Fluttershy said. "But you know that."
"Well, I'm wide awake right now. Do you mind if I come with you?" Twilight asked.
"Not at all, Twilight!" Fluttershy said. "These raccoons are very friendly, they'll love to meet you!"
Twilight wasn't too hot on the idea of entering the home of multiple families of raccoons, but if Fluttershy was there, she felt safer. Twilight did enough reading up on raccoons to know how hostile they tended to be. However, things in Ponyville tended to be more docile than usual. She hoped that the raccoons would be no exception.
"Forgive me for asking, but aren't Raccoons a little… dangerous?" Twilight asked for lack of a better word.
"Oh, yes." Fluttershy said calmly, which disturbed Twilight a little, "But," Fluttershy continued, "When you know what you're doing, they are quite nice."
"Maybe I shouldn't go…" Twilight decided nervously.
"Oh, it's really nothing to worry about Twilight." Fluttershy said, then felt she overstepped her boundaries and instantly retreated, "Um… well, unless you really feel like going home, then…"
"It's fine, Fluttershy." Twilight said, "Really, I'll be fine."
There was silence for a few seconds, then Twilight spoke, "How is it you always seem to know how to deal with these dangerous animals like raccoons, snakes, or even the manticore."
Fluttershy smiled, "Sometimes you need to look in a creature's heart to know if they are truly bad. The raccoons just want to protect their families, they aren't really mean, just protective." Fluttershy continued, "Snakes are really just a little paranoid, they don't mean to harm you. They're just scared of you. And the manticore, well I knew about manticores, and I know that they aren't hostile by nature."
"And the hydra?" Twilight asked. Fluttershy didn't have an answer right away. "Sorry, I was just…"
"N-no, there's nothing wrong, Twilight." Fluttershy said quickly, "It's just… some creatures' hearts are cold, too cold to help. The hydra is nothing but a cold-hearted killer. That's also why I fear dragons. You can't usually get through to a dragon. Its heart is too overcome with greed."
"But the heart is still there, that's why you were able to get through when we were up in the mountains that one time." Twilight said with wonder, like she did while she was a student directly under Celestia.
"Well, yes." Fluttershy said shyly. "I like to believe that every creature has a heart, and no creature's heart is too far gone to reach."
"I guess that's how you got your cutie mark, huh?"
"In a way, yes." Fluttershy smiled. Fluttershy continued walking at her gentle pace as always. Twilight enjoyed the silence for a short while, just listening to the sounds of their hoofsteps. She knew that it wasn't in Fluttershy's nature to make casual conversation as she went about her work, but even with this in mind, Twilight quickly grew tired of the silence and found herself aching to speak.
"So… how far out of Ponyville are these raccoons?" Twilight asked.
"Only a little ways," Fluttershy assured Twilight, "They're right on the river."
"Oh." Twilight replied. Well, that conversation didn't last long.
"I was actually wondering… if you don't mind me asking, why were you up so late?"
Wow, Fluttershy actually started a conversation? Twilight thought, "I was just so exhausted after what happened yesterday at Sweet Apple Acres that I fell asleep very early and woke up in the middle of the night."
"You mean with the house and the barn?" Fluttershy asked. Twilight nodded in reply. "That was amazing, Twilight." Fluttershy said complimentarily, looking off into the distance, as if recalling the sight, "But… you kinda scared us at the end there while you were making the barn."
"That's what Rainbow Dash said. Sorry about that, I really don't know what came over me…" Twilight said. Really, it was because she didn't remember what happened.
"It's alright, Twilight." Fluttershy said. "We were going to ask you about it back at the farm, but you took off with Rainbow Dash so fast we didn't get a chance."
"I was very tired." Twilight said honestly.
"I understand." Fluttershy said.
A small noise made Twilight's ear twitch.
"Did you hear that?" Twilight asked, turning around.
"Hear what?" Fluttershy replied calmly. "I didn't hear anything."
"Must have just been hearing things." Twilight reasoned skeptically.
"You might be more tired than you think, Twilight." Fluttershy said.
"Maybe." Twilight said. The two kept walking for a bit, but then Twilight heard a noise again, this time a little more prominent. She didn't say anything this time, for fear of frightening Fluttershy. She didn't even give notice to it other than heightening her hearing and keeping a critical ear. It sounded like hooves against a hard surface, but Twilight couldn't be sure.
There it was again. Twilight definitely heard it that time. She decided that she had had enough of the mystery and was going to use now as a time to test out a new spell she had been reading up on. She slowly tapped into the magic that flowed within her and her horn began to glow softly. Fluttershy noticed this, but didn't stop walking.
Twilight now began to see around her with magic. If there was a living thing in the vicinity, Twilight would know about it. Twilight had a difficult time trying to see both with her eyes and with her magic. It was difficult to stay focused. If she kept her focus in her magic for too long, she would most likely walk astray and run into Fluttershy, which would be hard to explain. Likewise, if she ignored her magical vision, she would most likely miss whatever was following them.
Sure enough, as it appeared in her magical vision as a pony-shaped blur on the roof of a nearby house, there was a follower. Twilight knew that if she raised the alarm to Fluttershy, the timid pegasus would become too paranoid to complete her task, so Twilight decided to fix this problem herself.
"Uh… you go on, Fluttershy. I think I am a bit too tired." Twilight said, faking a yawn. "Yep, I'm gonna go on back home."
"Okay, Twilight. Thanks for walking with me!" Fluttershy said, continuing on her path as Twilight walked the opposite direction. Twilight then took this opportunity to close her eyes and properly scope the area with magic. The stalker pony was much more defined this time. Twilight could see as it looked around the chimney of the house it was sitting on, looking at her.
What a creepy pony. Twilight thought.
"Alright, come out here." Twilight said, releasing her magical vision. There was no movement. "I know you're out there, now come out." Still no movement. Twilight sighed heavily and closed her eyes, feeling around for the mysterious pony again. It was now backed up against the chimney, trying its best not to be seen.
Twilight once again used the teleportation spell she had used two days previously and brought the mysterious pony to be seated right in front of Twilight. Twilight opened her eyes, saw who she had teleported in front of her, and took a step back in confusion.
"Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash suddenly began to feel the ground around her. Dash looked up at Twilight with fear and blushed heavily.
"What were you doing up there?" Twilight asked, "Why were you following us?"
"Uh…" Rainbow Dash stammered, "Same reason you were! Wondering where that Fluttershy was going, sneaking around Ponyville after dark like that. Suspicious, huh?"
"Feeding a family of raccoons?"
"Is that all? Well, mystery solved, better get back to bed!" Rainbow said, beginning to fly away.
"Oh no no no no." Twilight said, grabbing Rainbow's tail with her teeth and holding her down. Rainbow Dash tried to fly away, but only succeeded in lifting Twilight off the ground a few hooves. Defeated, she fell to the ground, careful to set Twilight down easily.
"Now what were you doing?" Twilight asked. Rainbow looked ashamed, but Twilight's look was not one of anger, but of confusion and misunderstanding. Rainbow Dash sat on her flank like a punished filly and looked at Twilight.
"I was… just…" Rainbow tried to talk. She was losing focus quickly, her eyes becoming blank.
"Rainbow Dash?" Twilight snapped her out of her daze.
"I… was just worried about you, okay?" Dash said, crossing her front legs and huffing, breaking the eye contact. Twilight retreated with bewilderment.
"Worried? But… I'm fine."
"Yea, well… I was." Rainbow Dash said, getting very defensive.
"You don't need to worry about me, Dash." Twilight said calmly. "I know I may be having this problem with my memory and all, but… I'm still here, I'm still healthy for the most part."
"You don't understand, Twilight." Rainbow Dash said, "There's no way you would understand."
"Don't worry about it." Rainbow Dash said, "It's you who needs to be worried about."
"I'm fine, Dash." Twilight said, "Why would following me around town help with your worry anyway?"
"Well, you never came to Pinkie's party, so of course Pinkie was worried about you, but Applejack and Rarity assured her that you were just tired."
"Well, I was asleep." Twilight said.
"That's what I thought, but I was still worried." Rainbow Dash said. "And since I'm usually out pretty late anyways, I decided to just… make sure you were alright."
"So you were spying on me?" Twilight asked, amused. First Celestia and Luna, and now Rainbow Dash. Am I really that interesting?
"No! I just checked up on you every now and then." Rainbow Dash said. "Then I saw you coming out to see Fluttershy and I decided to just see where you were going."
"Why didn't you just come down and join us?" Twilight asked.
"I… I don't know." Rainbow Dash said meekly.
"Oh Rainbow Dash, you can be so funny sometimes." Twilight said with a smile, "But that's alright, I appreciate your concern."
"Heh, thanks." Dash said nervously. She got up and stood in front of Twilight, looking at her with interest.
"What?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash shook her head. She looked happy, yet sad. Something was troubling her, Twilight was sure of it.
"You seem to use that answer a lot." Twilight said, "Is there something you're not telling me?"
"Uh… no." Rainbow Dash said. Despite the darkness, Twilight reasoned that Rainbow Dash was probably blushing. "I am tired, though, so I think I'll just be… going then."
"Alright, goodnight, Dash." Twilight said. Rainbow Dash took off into the night sky, leaving a confused Twilight below.
"I don't think I will ever fully understand anything in this town." Twilight said to herself. The library was still a short walk away: a walk that Twilight made with no haste whatsoever.
"I suppose I should try to sleep now." Twilight said once she reached her house.
Her head throbbed once, making her vision distort. Twilight rubbed her forehead with a hoof and felt a twinge of worry.
That's new. Twilight thought. And painful!
Another throb, this time more intense. Twilight sat down and held her head. Twilight became quite concerned now, wondering what the problem with her head was.
And before she could think anymore on the issue… blackness.
Twilight awoke in her bed like usual. The covers were neatly placed over her body and she felt well-rested.
That's good. Twilight thought. I needed my strength back after my magical endeavor with Applejack's farm.
Twilight Screamed and whipped around, throwing herself off the bed. As she fell, she caught a glimpse of Rainbow Dash standing a short distance from her bed, then she hit the floor with a thud. She knew such a stunt would usually make Rainbow Dash laugh her head off, but she remained quiet.
"Rainbow Dash!" Twilight scolded. "What are you doing here?"
"I… you…" Rainbow Dash stammered. Twilight looked at her confused expression and suddenly felt horror course through her body.
"What did I forget?"
"Not a whole lot, just… you remember last night, right?"
"Your walk with Fluttershy? Seeing me?"
"I walked with Fluttershy last night?" Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash didn't know what to say. How could Twilight forget an entire conversation with Fluttershy and her?
"You don't remember getting up last night?"
"I remember going to bed after talking to Princess Celestia." Twilight said. Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight, awe-struck.
"Uhm… well, you and I were talking last night." Rainbow Dash said, thankful at least that Twilight forgot about how Rainbow Dash had been spying on her, "And you went home, and this morning I found you passed out right by your front porch."
Twilight paused a bit, taking in the information, "Why would I have passed out on my front porch?"
"Beats me, but that's nothing compared to what else happened last night."
"It's… not?" Twilight asked hesitantly.
"You… seriously don't know?" Rainbow Dash asked in desperation.
"Well, I did just wake up."
"Oh, right." Rainbow said, then her expression turned to worry, "There's a reason why nopony else is here, waiting for you to wake up."
Disaster, catastrophe, disarray…
These were three of many words that could have been used to describe the scene before Twilight's eyes. Carousel Boutique had certainly seen better days.
The first thing that caught Twilight's attention when she first saw the mess was that the two large windows on either side of the purple door were shattered. The hoof-painted sign depicting an elegant pony model sporting a fashionable dress was now in pieces to the side of the door, obviously moved out of the way in order to allow the door to move. The sloped roof sported many jagged scrapes and holes, the bigger of which were easily the size of Twilight's head.
All of these damages were dwarfed, however, by the top of the building having been ripped completely off and now lay to the side where a trail of debris connected where it once stood to its new resting place. It appeared as though something grabbed it by the top and ripped it off, leaving no more than three hooves of wall past the first story of the building.
Unlike Applejack, Rarity was taking the damages much more seriously, and dramatically. Having been unable to calm herself down from her fit of hysterics, she was escorted by Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to Sugarcube Corner, where she was being tended to by her two friends and the Cakes.
This left Twilight, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash to tend to the damages and try to assess the situation. Who did this? Why? The fire at Sweet Apple Acres could be explained by faulty wiring, but faulty wiring can't rip a building in half. No, this was an attack.
"Now who in tarnation would wanna do a thing like this?" Applejack inquired, her brow furrowed, "Ain't nopony here in Ponyville got a thing against Rarity."
"I don't get it either." Twilight replied, "Even if somepony had a problem, why would they do this? Why didn't they ever bring it up with Rarity? It just doesn't make sense."
"When do you think this could have happened?" Rainbow Dash asked, "I mean, I know it was last night, but I crossed over Carousel Boutique at 2 in the morning and it was fine!"
"Rarity said it was real early in the mornin'." Applejack said, kicking a broken piece of sign, "'Fore the sun came up."
"And nopony heard it and came out to help?" Twilight asked.
"Yea, where was everypony?" Rainbow Dash accused nopony in particular.
"Well, RD, y'all were up in the clouds, Ah was out at the farm, so the closest pony was Twilight. Y'all were jus' down the road."
"I didn't hear anything." Twilight said, realizing that she almost incriminated herself.
"Exactly. There ain't nuthin we could'a done." Applejack concluded, "It is what it is. Now, what are we gonna do about all this mess?" Applejack asked, looking at the broken building.
"This isn't nearly as bad as your farm was, Applejack. I can handle this." Twilight said.
"If yer sure, Twilight." Applejack said.
"Hold up!" Rainbow Dash butted in. "Twilight, I don't think this is a good idea." Rainbow Dash said in hushed tones.
"Twilight, I just have a bad feeling about this." Rainbow Dash said.
"What's gotten into you, Rainbow Dash?" Twilight suddenly barked. Rainbow Dash recoiled, surprised at the sudden outburst. "You're usually the one egging me or anypony on to do dangerous stuff without any care for what happens to them. Why are you suddenly so worried about me?"
"I… I…" Rainbow Dash stuttered. "I… you're right, Twi, I… think I'll just go check on Rarity. You got this." Dash said slowly, walking away, toward Sugarcube Corner. Rainbow Dash's reaction surprised Twilight. If anything, she expected Rainbow Dash to defend herself to the ends of the world and never back down. It was something Twilight liked about her. If anything, it was Rainbow Dash who was a bit off right now. Twilight wanted to follow Dash to Sugarcube Corner to make sure she was alright, but knew that she had to help Rarity as she had done for Applejack.
"What… jus' happened?" Applejack asked, confused.
"I suggest we don't worry about it." Twilight said, sending Applejack a quick smile to assure her that it was nothing to worry about. Applejack screwed up her face skeptically and approached Twilight.
"Is there somethin' goin' on between you n' Dash?" Applejack asked suspiciously.
"Not… that I know of." Twilight replied innocently.
"Really?" Applejack asked, as if Twilight had just told her that the grass was blue, "Cuz yer all that filly talks about."
"What? No I'm not!"
"You better believe it, Twi." Applejack said, then drew back. "She is actin' different, I noticed mahself."
"I don't know what's gotten into her. She's been doing nothing but worry about me ever since I fixed your farm."
"Twi, we've all been worried about you." Applejack said, "'Tain't easy watchin yer friend lose control like that."
"If you're referring to what happened at your farm, I never lost control." Twilight lied, "But… I appreciate your concern."
"Thank ya, Twilight. Now, why don't we give Rarity's Boutique the ol' fix-er-oo?"
"Be glad to." Twilight said with a smile finally.
Twilight Sparkle and Applejack walked into Sugarcube Corner with joy in their hearts. Once again, a crisis was averted thanks to Twilight's magic. If anything would calm Rarity down, it was with the news that her Boutique had been completely restored. They would need the help, too. One look at Rarity and they could tell that she was in no fit state to even think about being happy.
Rarity's eyes were bloodshot and tear-stained. Twin trails of tears lined both edges of her snout and she sniffled softly, apparently having calmed down slightly from her earlier fit of hysterics, though still fairly despondent. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie were sitting at a round table with her. Pinkie Pie, though her expression was glum, would occasionally jump up happily and replace whatever sweet treat Rarity had recently devoured with a new one. Fluttershy, on the other hoof, simply stayed in the chair beside Rarity and rubbed her back.
"Twilight! Applejack!" Pinkie Pie shouted, jumping up from the chair with an amount of happiness that any normal pony would deem inappropriate for the time. Twilight reasoned that this was because Pinkie Pie had already assumed that Twilight had fixed Carousel Boutique.
"Rarity," Applejack said, making Rarity look up at the pair, "Ah think Twilight wants to show ya somethin'."
Rarity sniffed, "Y-you do?"
"Why don't you come next door to Carousel Boutique?" Twilight asked, smiling. Rarity's eyes lit up in a way that hadn't been seen all day and she walked over to Twilight with haste. Pushing past Applejack and Twilight, Rarity rushed out the door and stopped dead a few hooves outside the entrance to Sugarcube Corner. Her face was one of shock as she looked over Carousel Boutique's flawless recovery.
Twilight walked over to Rarity and stood next to her. "What do you think, Rar-OH!" Twilight was interrupted by Rarity pulling her into the absolute most zealous hug she had ever experienced. Rarity was crying again, but not of sadness, but of joy.
"Thank you Twilight, oh thank you!" Rarity sobbed into her friend's mane. Twilight felt slightly uncomfortable, but appreciated Rarity's thanks all the same. Twilight raised one of her front legs to hug Rarity back and patted her back.
"Don't worry about it, Rarity." Twilight said. "It was really no trouble."
"Twilight!" Rarity shouted, pulling out of the hug and looking Twilight in the eyes, "You are the single most generous pony in Ponyville. Why… it should be you with the element of generosity!"
"Now Rarity, you know you'd do the same for me."
"Of course, dear!" Rarity said, then let out another sob of joy and hugged Twilight again. This time, however, Twilight was the one to pull out of the hug when she realized that something was missing. Twilight looked around at the smiling ponies around her and suddenly realized something…
"Where's Rainbow Dash?" Twilight asked.
"What do you mean?" Fluttershy asked.
"We thought she was with you!" Pinkie Pie said.
"She…" Twilight said, looking over at Applejack, who shrugged. "…must have just had something important to do. I'm sure she's fine."
"I can go see if she's home if you want." Fluttershy suggested, lifting a few hooves off the ground and pointing toward Rainbow Dash's cloud home, which was barely visible in the distance.
"You don't have to, Fluttershy." Twilight said.
"Oh, that's alright. I think I will anyway. I am a little curious as well." Fluttershy said, appearing to try her best not to offend Twilight.
"Well, alright." Twilight smiled. Fluttershy returned the gesture and turned toward Rainbow Dash's house. Her gentle flapping carried her away from Carousel Boutique and into the sky, where she disappeared within minutes.
"Now, Rarity." Twilight said, turning her attention back to Rarity. "If you don't mind, can I ask you about what happened last night?"
"If you must, Twilight." Rarity said, her expression once again reverting to one of seriousness.
"Sorry, Rarity, but I really want to know what happened." Twilight tried to ease the situation.
"I understand, Twilight." Rarity said. She smiled, "Why don't we go inside?"
Entering the boutique, Twilight quickly discovered that just because the exterior was mended didn't mean the interior would be in any better condition. The shop floor was in complete disarray with mannequins overturned, fabric laying everywhere, scraps in places they shouldn't be, and a great number of dresses strewn about.
"Oh my, Rarity, let me-" Twilight was cut off.
"No, no, no, Twilight! You have done enough. This is a mess for me. Besides, I know where everything goes." Rarity said with a wide smile.
Twilight smiled back, "Alright, Rarity."
"Well…" Rarity said, using magic to pull two chairs to the middle of the room. The maneuver would have upset the order of the room on any normal occasion, but this was hardly a normal occasion. Plus, the room was already messy. "Shall I begin?"
"Please." Twilight said.
"Well, I was woken up by the sound of breaking glass." Rarity said. "And by the time I got downstairs and saw that the attacker had thrown a large stone through the window, a second one broke the other window!" Rarity narrated dramatically. Twilight listened intently. "I ran outside straight away, but I suddenly realized that whoever was attacking me was beginning to hurl balls of magical energy at the shop, and at me!"
That must have been where the holes in the roof came from. Twilight thought.
"I ran back inside the shop and ducked for cover. The brute tore many holes in the ceiling and destroyed half my merchandise." Rarity said, waving a hoof over the shop where Twilight noticed that the dresses on the floor were not intact in any way, but had large holes in them that appeared to have been singed there by magic.
"Then, there was this awful sound, like the whole building was going to collapse!" Rarity said. "I thought I was done for! But to my relief, he had only succeeded in ripping off the top of my bedroom."
There was a pause that Twilight used to take in everything and Rarity used to recover from recalling the traumatizing events. To Twilight, it seemed that Rarity was on the verge of tears once again, so she quickly hurried on with the analysis.
"Well we know the attacker was a unicorn. Did you see what color the magic was?" Twilight asked, levitating a dress toward her face so she could survey the damage a little more closely. Rarity failed to answer at first, merely stammering.
"It's okay if you can't remember, this is just clues to the puzzle." Twilight said, "If we know the color of the magic, we can narrow the search down."
"Th-that's just it, darling." Rarity said, "The magic was light purple, the same color as… yours."
Twilight released the dress and let it fall to the ground. The lavender-colored magical energy surrounding both her horn and the dress dissipated, leaving Twilight's surprised face.
"M-mine? You sure it wasn't darker or lighter?" Twilight asked.
"I am positive, Twilight." Rarity said. "I still remember it clearly."
"Rarity, I didn't-"
"Relax, Twilight, I don't believe that the pony that just saved my boutique was also the pony that destroyed it." Rarity said with a smile, "But," Twilight shuddered slightly, "I daresay if we get any police ponies involved, they will be harder to convince."
"Well, there are plenty of ponies in this world with the same color of magic. We just need to find them and bring them in. I've never seen a unicorn in Ponyville with purple magic, but I'm sure we can find them."
"Thank you, Twilight." Rarity said, "You really are a good friend."
"Thanks, Rarity." Twilight replied, blushing slightly. Twilight got down from her chair and walked toward the door, "I think I'll be getting home then. I want to do some reading on this destructive magic that was used on your house."
"Go on, Twilight!" Rarity said, "Oh, and Twilight?"
Twilight stopped halfway through the door, "Yes?"
"Do check on Rainbow Dash." Rarity said with a softer tone, "You two seem to be close and… well, I just think she's been a bit off lately."
"I think you may be right." Twilight replied glumly, although she was a little confused as to why Rarity of all ponies was concerned about Rainbow Dash's well-being.
With a quick glow of her horn, Twilight cast the spell she had used once previously to allow her friends and her to visit Cloudsdale. If she was going to visit Rainbow Dash, she would need to be able to walk on clouds, considering Rainbow's home was constructed with clouds. A sensation similar to dipping her hooves in warm water crawled up Twilight's legs, stopping mid-way up, slightly above her knees. She moved her legs a bit, testing the seals, and then prepared her second spell.
Above Twilight was Rainbow Dash's residence: a castle-like two-story home constructed completely out of clouds complete with pillars, arches, and decorative rainbows that Twilight swore were unnatural. The sight was really quite something and Twilight hoped that she would be able to see what it looked like inside.
With a dull flash and tingling sound, Twilight was gone. A second later, she reappeared on the edge of the cloud home that was previously above her. A rainbow pool lay to her right, spilling over the edge and dissipating in the air in such a way that Twilight made a mental note to read up on when she got the next available opportunity. In front of her was Rainbow Dash's front door, which Twilight approached and knocked on thrice without hesitation.
"Fluttershy, is that you already?" Twilight heard Rainbow Dash's voice on the other side of the door. The door opened and Rainbow Dash looked out, eyes widening in surprise.
"Twilight? But… how did you-"
"Magic." Twilight said, smirking.
"Oh, right, uh… well, come in I guess." She offered, letting Twilight in past her.
"I take it Fluttershy's coming back?" Twilight asked.
"She didn't say she was." Rainbow Dash said, closing the door. "I just assumed it was her because… well, she's the only other pony that visits me."
Twilight was busy taking in the sight of Rainbow Dash's cloud home, something she had never seen before. It was really different, odd almost, but incredible all the same. The stark white makeup of the floors and ceilings made for a very friendly atmosphere. All the surfaces were solid to the point that Twilight was almost confident that she could remove her cloud walk spell. Despite this, she decided against it.
What was more amazing was how the solid floors, walls, and ceilings seemed to swirl and flow. The house almost appeared to be alive, which is an odd realization to make considering Twilight's house literally was alive.
"Rainbow Dash, this house is incredible." Twilight said with wonder.
"Oh, thanks!" Dash replied, stepping beside Twilight and looking at the familiar surroundings with her.
"Did you build it?" Twilight asked.
"Helped." Rainbow Dash said, "I had a lot of help from some Cloudsdale construction pegasi."
"I've never seen anything like it." Twilight admired, walking forward and looking around as if she were in a dream.
"Heheh, so, uh… what brings you down?" Rainbow Dash asked, though she wasn't foalish enough to not be able to guess.
"I just wanted to talk." Twilight said. "I got some new information about the attack on Rarity's boutique." Twilight said.
"Oh yea?" Dash asked. Twilight relayed all the information she had gathered about the mysterious attack. She was hesitant when bringing up the detail about the attacker's magic matching her own, but she knew that of all the ponies, loyal Rainbow Dash would never suspect Twilight of such a crime. While Twilight talked, she couldn't help but notice that Rainbow Dash seemed distant, unfocused, seemingly not really listening to what Twilight was saying. It got to Twilight a little bit, but she didn't voice her concerns.
"And the part I'm most worried about is that if we get any police ponies involved, then I will become a suspect." Twilight said. Being the first time she had ever spoken those words in that way, their actual meaning actually began to sink in.
"Nopony would ever think that you did this!" Rainbow Dash said.
"But… it adds up." Twilight said.
"Well, think about it Dash." Twilight mused, "The attacker used magical attacks of a seemingly high degree of difficulty and had the same color of magic as me."
"So what? That's just two things. There are plenty of talented unicorns out there, and you said yourself that lots of unicorns share the same color of magic."
"Yes, but not in Ponyville."
"Twilight." Rainow Dash said. She put a hoof on Twilight's shoulders, making her turn and look. Twilight's eyes were overcome with worry, something that wasn't exactly foreign to the little bookworm.
"You overthink everything." Rainbow Dash said plainly, "Take a step back for a second. Did you attack Rarity's boutique?" She was being serious.
"No, of course not!" Twilight replied.
"Then what's to worry about?" Dash said, "As long as you know that you're telling the truth, you'll be fine."
"But what if-"
Rainbow Dash silenced her by taking her hoof off Twilight's shoulder and pressing it against her muzzle. Twilight scowled playfully and removed Rainbow Dash's hoof.
"Well, if it's a subject change you want," Twilight started. "I've been meaning to ask you, are… you okay?"
Rainbow Dash gave her a confused look, "Okay?"
"Yea, you seem a bit… off, is all."
"What makes you say that?"
"Well for starters, why did you leave the boutique and come back here without telling anypony?"
Rainbow Dash didn't answer. She just looked straight forward, away from Twilight.
"I just… wanted some time to think." Rainbow Dash said after some deliberation.
"Think?" Twilight asked incredulously, "Dash, I think. You don't think. You take action. I would normally be overjoyed by you slowing down for a moment, but recently you've just been acting different."
"Different how?" She replied, as if Twilight were accusing her of a crime.
"Like how you're constantly worried about me." Twilight said.
"Okay, everypony's worried about you, Twilight." Rainbow Dash said, "It's just that I also know about your recent memory loss problems, so I just worry a bit more."
That triggered something in Twilight's memory (ironically), and she quickly voiced it, "That reminds me, you told me that you found me passed out on the library front porch this morning, right?"
"I'm starting to remember last night… just a bit." Twilight said.
"You are? That's great! What do you remember?"
"I remember talking to you… but I can't remember what about." Twilight said, "Then I walked into my house and… a-after there I can't remember anything. So weird… It's like a dream, like something that didn't really happen, but… it did, didn't it?"
"Well, I know you talked to me." Rainbow Dash said, "But if you walked into your house, then why did I find you on the porch?"
"I don't know." Twilight said, "Maybe it really was a dream."
I would like to begin my letter by saying hello to Spike and my hoping that he will return soon. I miss him already! And, as much as I'd like this to be a letter of nothing but good tidings, I'm afraid that yet another unfortunate event has befallen Ponyville lately, as I'm sure you are aware. My friend Rarity's boutique was the victim of a vicious magical attack from an unknown unicorn with purple magic, apparently the same color as my own. The attack left major structural damage, but it was not a difficult fix. The point is not the damage, however, but trying to prevent it from happening again. The attacker is still at large, as we have yet to uncover any suspects. There are no other unicorns in Ponyville with purple magic besides myself, and I most certainly did not attack Carousel Boutique! I would like to request your help in the matter, but I am afraid that the royal guard will mark me as a suspect. I know you will have a solution. I have faith.
Your most faithful student,
"We cannot leave the situation unattended to." Luna commented once she rolled the message back up and placed it on the table.
"I am aware." Celestia agreed. She had brought the letter to Luna for her opinion, if only just to hear her confirm what Celestia was too afraid to do herself. Also, the letter was addressed to both Celestia and Luna.
"First Sweet Apple Acres, now Carousel Boutique… we've gotten lucky that there have been no injuries, but what's next? What has to happen for us to finally take action?" Luna demanded.
"I do not know!" Celestia shouted. Her voice was shaky and she felt weak. Twilight Sparkle was… her protégée, her student, her… friend. Now her safety was becoming an issue, and all Celestia could do was sit back and hope that everything got better.
"Sister, these are innocent ponies that are in danger." Luna reminded Celestia, almost pleading, "We cannot keep Twilight in the dark forever."
"No… it is impossible." Celestia agreed. She felt the sting of tears in her eyes, but did not cry, "Please, let us give her a little more time. If things do not get better… we will intervene. For now, let us simply lay low and hope this blows over like a terrible storm."
"For the sake of young Twilight…" Luna said, her voice becoming calmer and her demeanor changing to one of sadness, "I hope you are right."
Twilight Sparkle –
I am very sorry to hear of these grim events. Please tell Rarity that I will always have her best interests at heart and the perpetrator will be caught at all costs. Luna and I will be investigating with the help of our most trusted royal guard members. Do not fret, for you will not be a suspect, Twilight Sparkle. For now, I want everypony to be on their guard and to let me know if anything else happens. Be strong, my little ponies. We will get through this.
"There you go, Rarity." Twilight said after reading aloud the letter from the princess at Carousel Boutique. "The princess is on the case."
"Oh thank you, Twilight." Rarity said genuinely. "It means so much to me that you've gone through so much trouble to help me."
"It's no trouble, Rarity!" Twilight replied, dismissing the thought with a hoof, "Really."
"Nonsense, Twilight, you have put yourself through so much to help everypony."
"A few construction spells and a letter to Princess Celestia is not too much, I'm just doing what anypony else would do for me." Twilight said. She watched as Rarity got up from her comfy chair and walked to a walk-in closet.
"Well, at any rate…" Rarity spoke as she began to rummage through the items in the closet, muffling her voice slightly, "I wanted to show you how much I appreciate your help, so I threw together a little something for you."
Rarity walked out of the closet levitating a gorgeous dress of a deep, dark blue that reminded Twilight of the dress from the Grand Galloping Gala, only this one lacked the star pattern and possessed an air of simplicity about it that Twilight was quite fond of. The dress material was of a very high quality and would normally demand a price of nearly a hundred bits.
"Oh, Rarity!" Twilight said in adoration, "It's beautiful!"
"Do you think so?" Rarity responded excitedly, "I knew you'd love it. It's just so… you!"
"You certainly learned that the last time we were in Canterlot for my birthday." Twilight joked.
"And you will be happy to know that you can dance just as wildly in this dress too!" Rarity added happily. Twilight stood and took the dress with her magic, gently draping it over her back. "It's for any occasion, really. I wouldn't wear this one to the Grand Galloping Gala, but it is formal nonetheless."
"I'm sure I'll find a time to wear it, Rarity, it's gorgeous."
"Oh, I am ever so delighted you like it!" Rarity said excitedly, skipping in place for a few seconds before regaining her composure and clearing her throat, "Are you leaving?"
Twilight, who was beginning to turn toward the door and about to announce her leaving, simply smiled and nodded. "I need to get back to a book I was reading last night. It's… actually very important."
"Oh, well don't let me keep you, darling!" Rarity said casually, opening her door with magic and allowing Twilight to exit with the dress. "Do take care!"
"I will, Rarity. Have a good day!"
And with that, Twilight left Carousel Boutique and walked through town toward her tree home, proudly displaying the gorgeous blue dress lying on her back. Twilight was delighted to receive a few compliments on the garment before she finally made it home, wondering quickly whether it would be worth it to walk to the market in order to display the dress some more and get more compliments, but Twilight stopped herself on the grounds that it wouldn't be appropriate.
Once inside, Twilight carefully hung the dress up in her upstairs closet and trotted happily back downstairs to a desk that held the book she had been reading: Magical Illnesses and How to Treat Them. She had gone through all her tomes detailing naturally occurring illnesses that might involve short bouts of memory loss, but she could not find anything that included memory loss and nothing else.
She then figured that if not a natural illness, then perhaps she had a magical illness. She both doubted and feared the possibility because of her recent magical exploits. Shouldn't a magical illness weaken her magical powers? Yet she was able to conjure up an entire barn!
"Magical Excess." Twilight read aloud, "Symptoms include excessive magic usage, memory loss, paling of coat, and loss of horn…" She trailed off there, tentatively touching her horn out of instinct and mentally sighing with relief when she felt that it was still there, "Okay, it's not that."
Once again, she got through the entire book with absolutely no luck. There was a promising match in Scatterbrain's Syndrome, but it was absolutely insistent on the fact that Twilight's mane should have turned to a shade of putrid green by now. Frustrated, Twilight forcibly replaced the volume and began sifting through her shelves once again.
"I really hope there's nothing serious wrong with me." Twilight thought aloud, "I could ask Celestia, but she's no doctor, even if she is the princess."
Then, Twilight suddenly had a spark of inspiration and was out the door before she could have another thought.
"Zecora!" Twilight shouted while knocking on the wooden door of Zecora's forest hut. The chimney was spewing smoke and a pleasant aroma filled the air, something to be expected whenever Twilight visited the exotic zebra. She knocked a few more times before hearing a deep and booming voice from behind the door.
"I am coming, miss Twilight, your constant knocking is not so polite." Moments later, the black and white striped form of Zecora, smiling as she did whenever Twilight visited, which hadn't been for awhile. "Twilight Sparkle, you are looking well. Please, come in, settle for a spell."
"I wish I could say I was feeling well, Zecora. I need to see if you know what's wrong with me." Twilight said, "I really am quite worried."
"Why Twilight, what misfortune befalls you? You appear healthy through and through." Zecora recited, rhyming as she always did.
"Well, it's not that I feel bad, I've been suffering some memory loss lately, and none of my books were able to point me to anything that it might be." Twilight said as Zecora returned to the middle of her hut and stirred whatever was cooking in a medium-sized pot over the fire pit in the middle of the floor.
"Losing memory so you say? One would say it is the path to slow decay." Zecora said, sending a shiver of fear down Twilight's spine. Zecora kept very calm and continued, "But, many explanations can be pitched and tossed. Tell me, how exactly is your memory being lost?"
"It's short-term, mostly. Two nights ago, I apparently got up in the middle of the night and had a full conversation with two of my friends before passing out back at my home, and I don't remember the conversations at all. I remember returning to my home and passing out, but the conversations are gone."
"Losing the words of those you love… are there any other instances to be spoken of?" Zecora asked, putting a hoof to her chin in thought.
"Before that, I performed some magic on Applejack's farm and immediately afterwards I forgot that I had done it. I still don't remember actually performing the magic… I mean, some of it came back to me, but it's blurry and almost like a dream."
"Small holes left in your memory... this sounds very unusual to me." Zecora said. She walked over to Twilight and peered into her eyes as a doctor might, then walked back to her pot and dipped her hoof in, tasting the concoction. Twilight walked to the cauldron and looked inside with interest as it began to glow iridescently.
"Mm… 'tis a most unusual brew. The local fungi make such an excellent stew." Zecora commented happily before looking up at Twilight, "I do not want you to be filled with dread, but some may say there is a curse upon your head."
"A curse? B-but curses aren't real! I proved that already!" Twilight retorted at the absurd accusation. She watched Zecora smile in an almost laughing matter.
"I do not personally believe your situation is so bleak, that is why you should listen carefully to the words I speak." Zecora said calmly, "There are ponies throughout this land, in curses they do believe. For their help, large prices they demand, yet they are far more naïve."
"So… you're saying there isn't a curse on me?" Twilight asked.
"Fear not, Twilight, your soul remains bright." Zecora said, "Now, about your true condition I am unsure. I am unable to think of an answer, much less a cure."
Twilight sighed, "That's fine, Zecora. I appreciate you trying."
"Twilight, please do not feel so down, would you like my assistance when you get back to town?"
"Thank you Zecora, but I think I'll be fine. I have to send a letter to the princess soon anyway. I may as well address my concerns to her."
"Do what you wish, my friend. That very action would be something I would recommend." Zecora said with a smile. Twilight walked slowly toward the door. She felt bad just leaving after hardly even saying hello, but she was no longer in the mood for a friendly visit.
"I guess I'll head back to town then. Thanks anyway, Zecora." Twilight said with a weak smile.
"For you I am always glad to assist. Please visit again soon, I insist!" Zecora said happily.
"I will, Zecora. See you later!"
Twilight walked back through the dark cover of the Everfree Forest in worse spirits than before. If Zecora couldn't even figure out what was wrong, then how could Celestia know any better? Optimistically speaking, the princess was always full of surprises, so perhaps Twilight could get some information after all. Despite any negativity, Twilight had to try. In her next letter, she would make sure to bring up her issues with the princess.
Twilight then shook her head. Sometimes that rhyming is hard to listen to Twilight thought, then chuckled quietly and entered town with a small amount of hopefulness returning.
Twilight spent the rest of the day reading and re-reading her many medical books and volumes of medical anthologies and encyclopedias with the faint hope that she had missed something. Time and time again, she would find herself on the verge of a discovery and would later find that it was not to be. The constant worry about her health was tiresome and wearing on the spirit, but Twilight was determined.
Despite this, she had to take a break from all the medical reading at some point. She opened up a different book: one that was filed under 'Equestrian History.' It was a book on ancient war magic and offensive spells, aptly named Ancient Magical Arts: The Art of Battle. Twilight had originally wanted to learn about the offensive magic the Carousel Boutique attacker had used, and she was finally getting around to it.
"Art of Battle." Twilight remarked to herself, "As if something so brutal could be considered art."
But, as she delved into the vast knowledge of the book, she soon learned of the years of preparation a pony warrior would undergo in order to master their craft. Twilight learned about ancient weapons suited for all types of ponies: false metal horns used for charging for earth ponies, sharpened metal horn extensions for unicorns, and odd bladed wing extensions for pegasi.
The book was aimed more at the magic used by unicorns in ancient battles, and some of the spells astounded and shocked Twilight, even disturbing her from time to time. She was mortified when she began learning about spells that had no purpose other than to cause harm to another pony, some in absolutely horrible ways.
"What terrible times these must have been." Twilight commented as she read about a particular spell that placed randomly appearing gashes along the body of the victim. Twilight was very thankful that there were no illustrations for some of these more gruesome spells.
Finally, about halfway through the book, there was finally a paragraph detailing a spell that mirrored what was used against Rarity's boutique. Twilight was surprised to find out that the concept of forming a ball of pure concentrated energy wasn't exactly foreign to her. She figured that, had she wanted to, she could have probably figured out the spell on her own.
It was certainly one of the easiest spells in the book. Others, like creating magical, enchanted javelins to be thrown vast distances, were horribly complex. Twilight then knew why warrior unicorns trained for years learning their… 'art.'
Twilight blazed through that particular book and moved on to a different book. The war history books were fascinating to Twilight, so out of pure enjoyment alone, she went for another war book: this time one detailing the styles of ancient warrior pegasi. Twilight got very absorbed in the book and before she knew it, it was nighttime.
Once Twilight had sufficiently read most of the book, she closed it and levitated it back onto the shelf. Sighing contentedly, Twilight stretched out on the floor and then folded her legs back underneath her, sitting for a few seconds and allowing thoughts to fill her head.
Okay, so obviously the attacker had at least some knowledge of offensive magic. Twilight thought. It would be dangerous to try and pursue such a unicorn, especially on my own. I really should just leave tracking down the criminal to the princess. She can probably handle it.
Not much time passed and Rainbow Dash showed up for a surprise visit. The energetic pegasus was back to her normal self, not staying on her feet for more than a few minutes. Twilight loved when Rainbow Dash was like this. Rainbow Dash was fun, much a contrast to Twilight Sparkle: a fact that Twilight judged herself with all too often.
Listening to Rainbow Dash talking about her newest aerial stunt was like listening to an expert detail their latest discovery… only much more hyper .Twilight was always very impressed by Rainbow Dash's knowledge of flight. For a pony that seemed to care less about useful things like science, she knew a lot about the atmosphere, weather phenomena, and aerodynamics. It made Twilight very self-conscious, as if she should know just as much as Rainbow Dash, if not more. Twilight justified this by reasoning that Rainbow Dash had the advantage of flying her whole life.
The night slipped away quickly, and before long Twilight looked at a clock and discovered that it was ten o'clock, and Rainbow Dash was still there. By this time, however, she had calmed down slightly and now spent most of her time grounded and talking to Twilight. This was the point when the thick-headed pegasus opened up a little more and would actually talk about her feelings, albeit very sparsely and with little detail. Twilight found herself enjoying being in Rainbow Dash's company so much that she felt like she could just keep talking until Celestia brought the sun around to begin the next day.
Realizing that that wasn't the wisest of decisions, Twilight Sparkle regrettably bade Rainbow Dash goodnight and let her go. For a second, Twilight saw a look of sadness on Rainbow Dash's face when they parted, but passed it off as nothing but a misleading glance and went back into the library once Rainbow Dash had gone.
Rainbow Dash stayed on Twilight's mind even as she ascended the stairs and went to bed. She stayed on Twilight's mind even still after that, comforting her and helping her fall asleep. Twilight didn't know why she was thinking about her so much, but she didn't really care.
She's just a really good friend. Twilight thought before departing to dreamland.
Applejack pulled the covers over her little sister's small form and smiled down at her. She had gotten into the habit of putting Apple Bloom to bed after Granny Smith passed. She knew that Big Mac, being the kind-hearted spirit that he was, would be more than willing to do the same, but Applejack liked the way it made her sister happy.
"You have a good night now." Applejack whispered in her sister's ear before turning around and heading for the door.
"Applejack?" Apple Bloom asked. The older pony turned and smiled at her sister.
"D'ya think our house is safe now?" Apple Bloom asked. Applejack would have assumed that the question was simply out of curiosity, but thick as she was, even Applejack couldn't miss the evident tone of fear in little Apple Bloom's voice.
"Now don't you worry yer head, Apple Bloom." Applejack said calmly, "That fire was nuthin' but an accident. We had it double-checked by some electric-workin' ponies, and it is completely safe."
"But what if we get attacked like Rarity?" Apple Bloom whined. "Sweetie Belle says that her mom 'n dad are worried that they might be in danger!"
"We got nuthin' ta worry about." Applejack said, "The town loves us. We've never done anythin' ta upset anypony. We'll be fine."
"Okay, Applejack." Apple Bloom responded unconvincingly. Applejack smiled comfortingly down at the young filly.
"No matter what happens. Ol' Big Mac and I… we ain't gonna let anything bad happen ta you." Applejack said confidently, "Good night, Apple Bloom."
Applejack was down in the kitchen within minutes, joining Big Mac at the table. The now small household had been shaken deeply by the recent fire, and although Twilight's magic may have repaired the damages, it will take a lot more before the wounds are finally gone. Besides, the barn and house may be back, but half of their crops were gone.
"It's gonna be a miracle if we make it through next year." Big Mac commented as Applejack sat. He was looking at some papers on the table, most likely assessing the damages in depth. He always was better at that kind of management.
"Let's just be thankful we don't have ta build a new house and a new barn." Applejack said, "If that were the case… I don't wanna think about it."
"We lost most of our crops… we still have most of the apples, but we can't survive on apples alone."
"I'm aware of the situation, Mac."
"Y'know, we wouldn't even have to worry if we asked Twilight t'fix our crops." Big Mac suggested.
"Ferget about it, Mac. Twilight's done enough around here. Wouldn't be right." Applejack said sternly.
"I know, Applejack." Big Mac replied, "It was just an idea."
There was a pause in the conversation where the only noises made were the shuffling of papers on the table. Living out of town meant that no ambient noise ever reached the farm, and it oftentimes became eerily quiet. Applejack didn't mind, though. She was a simple pony, and she liked the quiet country setting.
"Apple Bloom's worried." Applejack finally said.
"That we might get attacked like Rarity." Applejack said. "She'll never hear me say it, but Ah honestly feel the same."
"Don't be silly now, Applejack."
"Well, there ain't never been an attack like this in Ponyville before, so who's to say this ain't some crazy killer pony on the loose?" Applejack whispered the last part, realizing that Apple Bloom hearing that Applejack was uneasy was most likely not the best thing that could happen.
"That's just crazy talk, Applejack." Big Mac assured her, "What happened with Rarity was a freak incident that'll never happen to a small farmin' family like us."
"I'm still uneasy, Mac. We can't afford to lose any more of these crops."
"Yer darn right about that." Mac mumbled.
Applejack took her eyes off Big Mac and tried to forget about the conversation. These sort of violent events just… didn't happen. Ponyville was a peaceful town. Nopony's ever had to worry about their safety before, but with Rarity's boutique getting destroyed, there was a new fear in the hearts of all the ponies. It was as if a black cloud had settled over each of their hearts, constantly reminding them that the possibility of mortal danger existed.
In her thinking, Applejack let her eyes fall on a rather small book on the counter. It was an old novel Twilight had recommended to Applejack entitled Of Mice and Ponies. It was a wonderful and short read, but Applejack had let it sit on that counter for far too long. She had had it for a week, and today was the time to return it. Applejack groaned.
"Mac, what time is it?"
"Clock's on the wall." Mac said, then saw his sister glare at him, "Uh… it's 10:14."
"Good, Twilight usually closes the library at 11. Last thing we need is a late fee." Applejack said, getting up from her chair. She walked over to some hooks on the wall and grabbed a pair of tan-colored saddlebags with embroidered apple designs decorating their exteriors.
"Ya have ta do that tonight?" Mac asked.
"If Ah don't, that's five bits. You got five bits on ya?"
"Not at the moment."
"Exactly. Ah'll be back soon."
"Why don't ya just ask Twilight ta give ya an extra day?" Big Mac suggested, "Yer friends, right?"
"Big Macintosh!" Applejack scolded, "Ah am not about to take advantage of our friend's generosity, have Ah not made that clear?"
"You have." Big Mac recoiled.
"Good. Now, Ah will be back soon. If Apple Bloom wakes up, just make sure she knows that we ain't gonna be attacked any minute."
"Even though y'don't believe that yerself."
"You hush." Applejack quieted the bigger colt.
"'Tain't smart goin' out after dark, AJ." Big Mac warned his sister. "Five bits ain't too bad, why don't ya just wait 'till tomorrow?"
"It's not just the late fee that Ah don't want." Applejack said, "Them late fees are there fer a reason. Twilight don't want her books late, 's just rude."
"Well, be careful." Big Mac said, knowing full well that Applejack was just a bit too headstrong to argue with.
"Ah'll be back soon."
Five minutes of walking and Applejack was a hundred feet from the nearest entrance to Ponyville. Applejack cursed herself for leaving the book return to the last second, but pressed on with the knowledge that if she didn't return the book now, they would be slapped with that late fee, and the family really couldn't afford any extra expenses at this time.
Sure, Applejack could have weaseled her way out of the late fee because she was good friends with Twilight, but that would be rude. Applejack was too honest a pony to slip behind the rules like that. She just wished that she didn't have to go out at night. The more she walked the more she wished she had asked Big Mac to come along, though that would have left Applebloom alone. She had been in Ponyville at night a few times, but she almost always had another pony with her. The walk she was currently taking was quite unsettling, bordering on frightening.
"Applejack?" Came the rough female voice of Rainbow Dash from far above. Applejack, startled at first, melted in relief at the sound of a familiar pony. Applejack smiled as Rainbow Dash flew down from where she was flying above.
"Why Rainbow Dash, what brings ya out here so late?" Applejack asked happily. Rainbow Dash landed and breathed a little, flapping her wings a few times before closing them.
"I was just visiting Twilight." Rainbow Dash said with a little grin. The way Rainbow Dash spoke so genuinely was a little unsettling to Applejack. Of all things, genuine was not a word to describe her friend Rainbow Dash.
"Y'all have been spendin' a lot o' time t'gether, y'know?" Applejack said.
"Yea, I… suppose we have." Rainbow Dash said, "What's it to ya?"
"Alrigh' sugarcube, spill. What's goin' on between you an' Twi?" Applejack demanded, "Ah know somethin's fishy here."
Dash was taken aback. "What's fishy about me and Twilight spending time together?" She asked, "In case I need to remind you, we are good friends."
"RD…" Applejack started, looking at her friend seriously, "Ah've known ya ever since ya moved here from Cloudsdale, Ah know you. Y'all have never spent so much time with a pony ever! Y'can't sit still long enough."
"I take that as a compliment."
"Point is, y'all have been actin' different is all." Applejack said. Rainbow Dash had heard that enough times.
"Psh." Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes, "Like I haven't heard that one before."
"Well, it's true." Applejack said.
"Look, I've been worried about Twilight just like any of us. Just so happens that I feel like visiting her from time to time, what's wrong with that?"
Realizing that she would not get an answer anytime soon, Applejack decided that this was a conversation for another time. Applejack sighed and shook her head, "Ah'm worried about Twilight too. Y'think she knows what happened back at the farm?"
"Uh… she's not really sure. Sometimes magic just… does that." Rainbow Dash lied, trying to make her limited knowledge of magic sound as believable as possible.
"Heh, ain't that the truth."
RD mentally sighed with relief. One thing was made clear to Rainbow Dash: do not let the other ponies know about Twilight's memory loss. Twilight was concerned enough about the issue without all the other ponies being worried too. Rainbow Dash knew Twilight's concerns. She was afraid that if her friends learned about her issue, then they would want to restrict her magic and not let her help them in times of need. Twilight wasn't usually so proud, but she held her magic dear.
"Well, I think I'll head home then, AJ." Rainbow Dash said, taking wing and hovering a few feet in the air. Applejack felt like stopping Rainbow Dash and asking her to accompany her to the library, but Rainbow Dash had just come from there, and Applejack wanted to ask Twilight the same thing she asked Rainbow Dash, though if anypony were more in the dark than Applejack was, it was probably Twilight.
"Alright, sugarcube." Applejack said, "Y'all have a good night."
Rainbow Dash smiled and took off, leaving Applejack behind in a cloud of dust. Applejack looked forward and noticed how dark the town had really gotten. With an audible gulp, Applejack pressed silently onward, finally crossing under the Ponyville sign.
Now that Rainbow Dash had gone, Applejack now felt very alone. Normally a strong earth pony such as Applejack would have no problem walking through Ponyville by herself, but something about the dark tonight felt… eerie and spooky. Things that had anything to do with the supernatural bothered Applejack and scared her, which is a reason why she was slightly hesitant letting Twilight fix up her farm.
Applejack's pace quickened when she heard a rustling noise from somewhere in the distance. She was quickly approaching the library, but still had a good five minutes of walking because it was on the other side of town. A short time passed and Applejack found herself in front of the large, circular town hall. In the daytime it was the crown jewel of Ponyville: a monument of great grandeur and poise, but in the night it looked like a great haunted house.
"Whuzzat? Who's there?" Applejack demanded after a particularly loud shuffling sound from behind her. Applejack whipped her head around when she swore she saw a shape rustling in the distance.
"Ah ain't messin' around here. Y'all best show yer face." Applejack spoke, wavering slightly.
A cold, demonic voice answered Applejack. "Why, Applejack. It's a bit late for a walk, don't you think?" The voice chilled Applejack to the very core and caused her eyes to open wide with fear. Applejack couldn't move; she was paralyzed with fright.
"Wh-whoever that is… jus' let me go, alright?" Applejack said, turning away from where she thought the voice had come from. No sooner had she turned did she find herself staring right at a dark figure surrounded by a consuming black aura. Applejack yelped and jumped backwards a few feet.
"Going so soon?" The figure asked in that same horrid voice, feigning innocence. "But I just wanted to play."
"Ah ain't in no mood ta play, now if ya excuse me, Ah need ta be somewhere." Applejack spoke, this time more confidently, though it didn't exactly show in her complexion.
"Hm…" The figure said, bringing a hoof to its chin. Applejack tried to get an identifying look at the pony in front of her to try to identify its coat color, mane, anything! But, the dark of night combined with the black aura obscured all but its outline. In fact, AJ believed that the figure itself was as black as the night they were both currently in. The only illumination coming from the pony was its two glowing white eyes.
"Nah." The pony said, then chuckled a little, "I think I'd like you to stick around." Then, the pony illuminated its horn with glowing, light purple magic. Applejack didn't need an explanation to know that the mysterious pony was a unicorn about ready to use some of its magic. Purple magic, though… this was the same pony that attacked Rarity's boutique!
AJ didn't think twice before turning and high-tailing it away from the dark pony, desperately trying to reach the library. Applejack got about ten feet before something horribly hot hit her flank, knocking her skidding to a halt on her side. Applejack howled in pain and looked down at her right side that was not firmly planted in the grass, the one that was hit by the magical attack. A burn was evident, and was searing in pain.
"What in the hay!" Applejack screamed, her voice cracking and a few tears falling from her eyes from the pain. The dark figure simply stared at Applejack with its glowing eyes. Applejack's vision was cloudy, but it did not stop her from getting up and trying to run again. Applejack winced as she tried to move her legs and run, the burn making the effort nearly impossible. Applejack cried out in agony, the pain from the magical burn too much to bear. The dark pony then suddenly appeared in front of Applejack's path, causing Applejack to stop suddenly, digging her hooves into the ground.
"Please! Ah didn't do nuthin!" Applejack pleaded, but was suddenly lifted up by a magical constraint around her neck. The attacking pony was holding tight to Applejack's neck, not letting her go. Applejack struggled for breath, but found that her throat was very firmly closed. She sputtered and coughed, but nothing helped her regain airflow. Applejack grasped at her throat to attempt to pry off whatever magical force bound her, but all she felt was the tightening power around her own neck.
"You're right, you didn't do anything." The dark unicorn said evilly, then threw Applejack back right as her vision began to fade. Applejack landed hard on the ground behind, her right flank skidding across the ground, agitating the fresh burn. Applejack screamed from the pain. The unicorn walked toward Applejack's crumpled form slowly, "I'm just doing this for fun."
Applejack could hardly think; the last attack had left her too weak. She tried to muster up the energy to get up and run, but even the idea made her feel like fainting. What resulted from her attempts to escape was a poor, injured earth pony pitifully crawling across the grass, trying to get away from the assaulting unicorn.
The unicorn then lifted Applejack with her magic again and, laughing, threw her a few feet in the air. Applejack crashed down again, landing hard on her left side, thankfully not disturbing the debilitating burn further. Applejack coughed and turned, trying even harder to get away, knowing full well that her efforts would prove fruitless.
Once again, the unicorn lifted Applejack and threw her even higher in the air, at least 20 feet. Applejack was now facing with her belly to the ground. She was too weak to move her body, so when she fell it was right on her left hind leg. A sickening crack sounded as she landed, signaling the terrible reality that Applejack's leg was now broken.
Applejack shouted once again, this time tears freely streaming down her face. She gritted her teeth and knew that soon her leg would be hurting even more than it currently did. She slowly turned her head and looked down and was horrified to see the bone protruding from her orange leg. She curled up and tried her best to comfort the broken appendage, but the attack was not over.
"Aww… pity. You're going to need that when you work." The voice spoke in that terrible, cold way. "Not like you'll ever be applebucking again." Applejack disregarded wondering why this pony even knew what Applejack did for a living. Applejack just shivered and waited for the pony to just finish the job. Applejack was broken, beaten, and at the end of her strength. The attacker would need to do very little more before Applejack was dead, and she knew that.
"Well, I'm glad we were able to have fun, Applejack." The evil pony said, "But it seems like you won't be able to resist much longer, and what fun is that?" The figure prepared another magical attack, this time Applejack knew it would be the end.
"Wh-who are you?" Applejack asked weakly with what little strength she had. The figure released the energy and paused for a second, as if contemplating telling her.
"Now why would I tell you that?" The dark pony asked, then laughed evilly, letting magic fill her horn once again. Applejack closed her eyes and waited for the sweet embrace of death…
Applejack heard a loud thud and the unicorn's magic fizzled out. She opened her eye and noticed that the unicorn was no longer in front of her, but was off to the side. And, on top of it was Rainbow Dash!
"What do you think you're doing?" Rainbow Dash hollered, pinning the mysterious pony to the ground intensely, its black aura flowing around Rainbow Dash's body and partly obscuring her figure as well.
The mysterious pony laughed and threw Rainbow Dash off of her with a quick magical attack. The unicorn rose and appeared to dust itself off. Rainbow Dash snapped back up and began to charge at the attacking unicorn, but was stopped with the unicorn's lavender magic.
"Sorry, but I'm in no mood for ponies that are actually going to fight back." The unicorn said, uninterested. She threw Rainbow Dash down again, this time the pegasus getting up a little more slowly. Rainbow Dash coughed a few times, then snarled at the attacker, getting ready to charge again.
"I must apologize, dear Applejack." The pony said with a false sincerity, "But our fun seems to have been interrupted by this rude pegasus… Rainbow Dash." The unicorn said with a bite.
"How do you know my name?"
"Looks like we'll just have to do this again sometime." The unicorn said, ignoring Rainbow Dash. Then, without another word, the unicorn vanished in a cloud of black smoke.
"Applejack!" Rainbow Dash screamed, running over to Applejack with panic in her heart. Applejack now lay only partially conscious with her eyelids only open a centimeter.
"Dash…" Applejack choked out weakly. Rainbow Dash took note of her injuries in what little light they had. The most obvious was the gruesome broken leg that had punctured the skin. Dash also took notice of a grizzly burn on the side of Applejack's body facing up, on her flank.
"I'm taking you to the hospital, AJ." Dash said, scooping up Applejack gently and flying off, toward Ponyville's hospital.
"D-dash…" Applejack muttered again while in Rainbow Dash's arms, then she passed into unconsciousness.
"Stay with me, Applejack!" Rainbow Dash shouted, but Applejack was out. Panicked and terrified, Rainbow Dash doubled her speed, making record time to the hospital where she only hoped Applejack's injuries were not severe enough to cause permanent damage or… death. Rainbow Dash shook the thought out of her head and focused on the task at hand: saving her friend.
“Well, she won’t be able to walk for quite some time,” A doctor explained to the small crowd of ponies gathered around Applejack’s hospital bed, “That much is obvious. We were able to put everything back in place, however, and there isn’t any permanent damage.” He moved his hoof from Applejack’s wrapped-up leg to her flank, where there were still bandages covering a large spot.
“The burn on her flank was quite serious, but not enough to require a graft. It will most likely scar, but damage will be minimal.”
Applejack was still unconscious. Big Mac was directly beside her bed with Apple Bloom next to him. Beside the pair were Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle. At the foot of the bed was Pinkie Pie, and on the side opposite Big Mac and Apple Bloom were Rarity, Fluttershy, and the doctor. They all wore worried and glum expressions for the condition of their friend.
“All in all, I believe she will make a full recovery as long as she takes it easy.”
“You don’t know mah sister.” Big Mac commented. “She don’t know the meanin’ of ‘take it easy.’”
“Well, if she wants to buck trees ever again, she should take my advice.” The doctor said flatly, “Now, I do have to tend to other patients. I would expect Applejack to be awake soon enough, but I won’t make any promises. If she does wake up, please call me and tell her to take care with her leg and don’t move it too much.”
“Will do, doc.” Mac said. The doctor nodded and walked past Pinkie Pie and out of the room.
“Ah told her it was dangerous ta go outside.” Big Mac said solemnly.
“Is she gonna be alright?” Apple Bloom asked softly, putting her front hooves on the edge of the hospital bed.
“Your sister’s gonna be just fine.” Rainbow Dash chimed in. “Applejack’s strong, I’m sure she’ll be back on her feet applebucking in no time!”
“Ya think?” Apple Bloom said happily.
“Twilight, you don’t think there’s anything you can do, is there?” Rarity asked across the bed. She looked down on Applejack with concern, “I really hate to see her like this.”
“I don’t know, Rarity… construction is one thing, but medical spells can go wrong very easily, and even the smallest mistake could have terrible results.” Twilight said with all seriousness. She had never tried a medical spell that was more difficult than healing a scratch on Spike’s knee. A broken bone was something different entirely.
“Are you absolutely sure, dear?” Rarity pleaded, placing her hooves beside Applejacks’ head and looking at her with despair.
“I don’t want to risk it, Rarity…”
“I think we should listen to Twilight, Rarity.” Fluttershy insisted.
Twilight’s head shot up and she looked around frantically. She could have sworn she just heard…
Twilight Sparkle, can you hear me?
She wasn’t imagining things. It was certainly Princess Celestia’s voice. Twilight looked at the other ponies, who were now looking at her curiously, apparently having not heard the same voice Twilight heard.
“Uh… I just need to step outside for a moment.” Twilight said, smiling innocently. She scooted out of the room, followed by Rainbow Dash.
Once out of the room, Twilight noticed Rainbow Dash standing behind her.
“Erm… can I help you?”
“I… just… I’ll go back in.” Rainbow Dash said.
“No, it’s fine, just…” Twilight glanced around quickly, “I just heard Princess Celestia trying to communicate with me.
“Like… in your head?” Rainbow Dash asked in awe.
“Cool! Tell her I said hi!”
“I don’t know if this is the time for casual conversation, Dash.”
Twilight Sparkle, please answer me.
“I’m here, Princess.” Twilight spoke aloud, getting an odd look from Rainbow Dash until she realized what had just happened and watched Twilight with interest.
You do not have to speak aloud. Just answer me with your thoughts.
Twilight Sparkle, I do not wish to disturb your visitation of your friend Applejack, but it is absolutely imperative that we meet in the library again.
Twilight was about to ask how the Princess knew that Twilight was at the hospital, but she remembered that the princesses were ‘watching over’ (aka ‘spying on’) her.
I will explain everything when you arrive. Please, I need you there in no more than five minutes. I will be waiting.
Twilight looked at Rainbow Dash with a worried expression. Princess Celestia usually only visited Ponyville when there was something very important, though she had begun to enjoy more casual visits. It was something that happened rarely, however, and did not appear to be the case with the urgency of Celestia’s voice. When Twilight was about to ask Rainbow Dash to come with her, she heard the Princess’s voice once again.
Please, come alone.
Twilight took a deep breath and entered the library, the place she called her home. She walked inside and saw Princess Celestia standing in the middle of the main floor. Celestia was a master at keeping a royal presence at all times, which included a firm and solid posture that demanded attention and asserted her power.
This time, however, Celestia looked a bit off. She stood straight, but did not command the presence she usually did. Her mane even seemed less shining as usual. She wore a frown rather than the usual friendly smile, and over all she just looked… miserable.
“Is something wrong, Princess?” Twilight asked once she had closed the door.
“As much as I would love to deny it, I’m afraid that yes, something is very wrong.”
“I’m guessing it has something to do with the attacks in Ponyville.” Twilight said. The princess nodded and sighed.
“Do you know who the evil pony is?” Twilight asked.
“We do.” The princess said grimly.
“Well… that’s great news!” Twilight said excitedly, “We can turn that horrid pony in and never let this happen again!” But, Celestia was shaking her head slowly and had closed her eyes. “Why are you shaking your head?”
“Twilight, you need to know something. When you have learned of the situation, you will know who the attacker is.”
“…Okay.” Twilight said, a little unsure of whether the Princess would be right in her assumption.
“Do you remember, Twilight, your lesson on artificial magic?”
“I do, very well Princess. I have also read many books on the subject.”
“D you remember what I said about curses?”
“That curses can’t exist because they do not come from within. Curses are but old mares’ tales and scare tactics.”
“Very good, Twilight Sparkle.” Celestia smiled for the first time, “You really are my most faithful student.”
Twilight blushed, “What do curses have to do with the situation?”
“Well, that lesson isn’t completely true.” Celestia said uneasily.
“What?” Twilight said incredulously. “You aren’t saying there are such things as curses, are you?”
“I’m saying… there are no artificial curses. Curses themselves… do exist.” Celestia said, closing her eyes and slowly shaking her head, “They are mostly out of our control and can happen at the most random of times to the most undeserving of ponies.”
“That’s impossible, Princess, none of my books have ever…”
“That’s because they are largely unknown and are thought to be, as I told you, nothing but a myth.”
“Okay, so…” Twilight recollected herself, “What does this have to do with anything?”
Celestia frowned and refused to look at Twilight, opting instead to look out one of the windows that faced Ponyville. She sighed and said, “Twilight Sparkle, you have been afflicted with a curse.”
It took a moment for the words to register before Twilight began to breathe quickly. She was immediately skeptical, but couldn’t help but think of her memory loss episodes of late and how she was unable to find any solution. Still, a curse? It couldn’t be possible.
“Twilight, why do you think my sister and I wished to observe you?”
“And why we took Spike?”
“You said he was just undergoing special training!”
“Twilight, I need your undivided attention.” Celestia said, “The curse that has befallen you is a dark curse that predates even Luna and I. The last known occurrence was hundreds of years before we came to power.”
“Then how do you know I have it?!”
“Please, Twilight.” Celestia put up a hoof. Twilight silenced herself and listened again.
“It was hundreds of years before our rule began. My mother and father were king and queen. My mother shared the story with me while I was training.” Celestia said sadly, “The curse affects a unicorn of high magical potential. The curse stays dormant for the first part of its life, but will come out as the unicorn matures and becomes stronger magically. The curse will initially make the unicorn stronger in magic, stronger than what should be considered possible… but at a price. The cursed becomes dark, committing terrible acts and losing itself to the darkness.”
“My mother’s best friend was a unicorn that was afflicted with this curse.” Celestia said, stopping Twilight, unable to listen to the student defend herself, “She had warned me of it… teaching me the signs… I had hoped that I would never have to see it in my life.”
“I’m not cursed, Princess!” Twilight finally yelled. The princess looked at Twilight and wished that she were telling the truth, but the princess knew that to think that would be folly.
“Tell me, Twilight. Have you yet learned why you have been losing your memory?”
“I… I haven’t.” Twilight said, still finding it odd how Celestia seemed to know these things, even if she were observing Twilight.
“And your magic has been getting stronger and stronger… you said yourself that you created a house and barn from nothing but an image in your head.”
“I… did, yes.” Twilight said hesitantly.
“Twilight… I am so sorry…” Celestia said. Twilight looked into Celestia’s eyes and saw absolute sadness and despair. The princess was tearing up! Twilight hadn’t thought it possible for the princess to cry… but those tears made the final pieces of the puzzle fit together in Twilight’s head.
“No…” Twilight muttered.
“I’m so sorry…” Celestia repeated.
“No, it can’t be!” Twilight hollered.
“I’m afraid… what you are thinking is correct, Twilight.”
Twilight was now beginning to cry. Celestia looked straight at Twilight this time.
“The pony that burned down Sweet Apple Acres… The pony that destroyed Carousel Boutique… the pony that attacked Applejack in the dead of night… was you, Twilight Sparkle.”
“No…” Twilight choked out. “I would never! I couldn’t have! This doesn’t make sense, Princess!”
“No, Princess! You’re accusing me of hospitalizing my friend!” Tears welled up behind Twilight’s eyes as she spat out the words. “It’s not true! I wouldn’t dare hurt Applejack!”
“But you know it’s true, Twilight, and as much as I truly hate to tell you, I do know it’s true.” Celestia said in her unwavering, calm voice.
“Wh-what?” Twilight stammered, “Th-there’s no proof, you can’t just… say it was me because of the magic! That’s what this is, right? Just a confusion because the attacker has the same magic color as mine!”
“I personally observed you destroy Carousel Boutique.” Celestia said with a pause between every other word.
Twilight almost stopped breathing. Though she had been denying it this whole time, she recalled once again that the princesses had been watching her. The princess must have been watching the attack on Carousel Boutique…
“Wait a second…” Twilight suddenly thought, “If you were watching, then why didn’t you stop the attack?!”
“By the time my sister and I realized what was going on, the attack was over. I’m so sorry, Twilight…”
“And what about Applejack?!” Twilight barked. Celestia now looked slightly angry. “Were you just going to see how far the attacker went before Applejack DIED?!”
“Twilight Sparkle!” Celestia returned with double force. Twilight backed up a step, but still wore a determined expression. Celestia’s face softened again, “If you must know, my sister and I did not witness that particular attack, though we cannot simply leave Canterlot whenever a pony is in danger.”
“So once again you’re just having other ponies do the dirty work for you!” Twilight yelled. She then widened her eyes in shock and stepped back, covering her mouth with a hoof. She hadn’t meant to say that, only think it! She would never speak to the princess like that! She looked up at the Princess’s face, which was simply one of disapproval. Twilight began to shake her head quickly.
“P-princess, I didn’t mean to say that, I swear!”
“I understand, Twilight.” Celestia replied calmly. Twilight felt weak and fell to her knees, her head starting to feel light. Celestia sat beside her student and draped a pure white leg around her compassionately. Twilight now began to sob lightly, the weight of the situation falling on her like a great tidal wave, drowning out all that once lived happily within her.
Rainbow Dash left the hospital and flew across town to the library. She had hoped that Twilight was done with Princess Celestia so she could come say hello to Applejack, who had woken up shortly after Twilight left.
Dash landed on the front porch of the library and opened the door.
“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called out, “You there, Twi?”
No response. Rainbow Dash walked in and glanced around. The place was empty, which was uncommon. Usually at least Spike was there, but with him gone for his special dragon training, the place was left unoccupied. Rainbow Dash rubbed her head with a hoof, wondering where Twilight could be, but then spotted in the middle of the ground a medium-sized folded piece of paper with a note scribbled inside.
Rainbow Dash picked up the letter and gazed over the neatly-written cursive upon the page. It was definitely from Twilight. Rainbow Dash did her best to make out all the words as she read aloud: To whomever finds this letter –
It is with my deepest regrets that I have to come to this. Princess Celestia has revealed truths to me that have changed who I think of myself to be. I do not wish to divulge any explicit details, but know this: there will no longer be any attacks on Ponyville. However, in order for this to remain true, I must leave Ponyville forever. I am sorry, but I must. Please, do not come after me. It is for the best. I will miss you all dearly. I wish Applejack a smooth recovery, and I ask that Rainbow Dash reveal all that she knows about my recent memory issues. Goodbye, everypony. Thank you for showing me the magic of friendship. I love you all.
Rainbow Dash read and re-read the note in her hoof, trying to process the information.
“Leave Ponyville?” Rainbow Dash said aloud. “Forever?”
“Leaving Ponyville?” Applejack asked quietly. All the ponies had gathered Applejack’s bed as she read the note to herself.
“It’s… Twilight.” Applejack said, confused. The ponies remained silent, a look of confusion spreading to their faces. Applejack shook her head, “But she can’t be serious, right?”
“I don’t know, Applejack…” Fluttershy said, “Twilight’s never been one for jokes.”
“And who would joke about something like this anyway?” Pinkie Pie added, “It’s so not funny!”
“Was this all there was, RD?” Applejack asked Rainbow Dash, who had been silent since she arrived with the letter.
“Oh, uh… yea.” Rainbow Dash said emptily, “The library was empty.”
“Whatever could that pony be trying to pull?” Rarity asked, “We must go find her.”
“Wish Ah could…” Applejack muttered, pointing at her back legs that were covered in a light blue blanket.
“You think she’s in Canterlot?” Fluttershy asked, the note having landed in her hooves at some point. She was now examining its contents with detail.
“Ah bet she’s at the castle with the princesses.” Applejack said.
“Well, if we catch a train soon, we can get there by tomorrow morning. There is simply no time to lose!” Rarity said.
“Wait a minute!” Rainbow Dash said. “Let me go get her.” Rainbow Dash said suddenly. The ponies gave her a strange look.
“Oh don’t be silly, you can’t expect to leave us behind.” Rarity defended.
“Well… if she’s in Canterlot, then I can probably fly there and make it by nighttime.” Rainbow Dash explained, “And besides, it’s easier to sneak one pony into Canterlot castle than four.”
“Not at all. We simply must travel together to bring back Twilight.” Rarity concluded. “It wouldn’t be right if we weren’t all there.”
“A-hem.” Applejack grunted.
“All that… can make it, anyway.” Rarity clarified with a little grin.
“We can’t just wait around!” Rainbow Dash argued, “We need to get her back.”
“Must you be in such a hurry all the time!?” Rarity demanded.
“Maybe Twilight just wants to clear her head…” Fluttershy suggested.
“Yea! Who wants to be cramped up in this tiny hospital room anyway?” Pinkie Pie added.
Applejack huffed and crossed her arms.
“Well…” Rainbow Dash groaned, “Fine.”
“Thank you, Rainbow Dash.” Rarity said, happy to have avoided conflict.
“But,” Rainbow Dash quickly interjected, “I can’t sit around this hospital room all day. I need to get some air.” Rainbow Dash lifted off the ground and started heading for the open window.
“Hold up, sugarcube!” Applejack stopped the energetic pegasus. Rainbow Dash stopped and lowered back to the ground. “Aren’t ya fergettin’ something?”
Rainbow Dash shrugged.
“Says here that y’all have some things ta tell us ‘bout Twilight.” Applejack said, pointing to the note by her back hooves.
“Oh, that.” Rainbow Dash said.
“What could Twilight have told Rainbow Dash that she can’t tell us?” Pinkie Pie asked cluelessly.
“She just didn’t want you guys to worry about her.” Rainbow Dash said, “But… she was having some problems with her memory.”
“Problems with her memory?” Fluttershy repeated, “Oh, that’s not good at all.”
“When was this happenin’?” Applejack asked. “Ah don’t remember Twi ever fergettin’ anythin’.”
“Actually, you do.” Rainbow Dash said. All ponies gave her a confused look. Rainbow Dash nodded and continued, “When Twilight fixed your farm, Applejack.”
“She seemed fine.” Applejack pointed out.
“Maybe at first, but right before she left, don’t you think she looked a little confused?” Rainbow Dash asked Applejack.
“Well, now that you mention it, she did look a little off.” Fluttershy chimed in.
“And I remember her asking where the barn had come from.” Rarity said.
“Exactly. She forgot that she had done those spells completely.” Rainbow Dash explained.
“Tha’s amazing.” Applejack commented.
“And scary.” Pinkie Pie added.
“The poor dear, what was she thinking?” Rarity worried, “She should not have been doing magic of that level with such problems!”
“That’s exactly why she wanted to keep it a secret.” Rainbow Dash said flatly.
“And what were you thinking?!” Rarity suddenly turned on Rainbow Dash, “Did you once think that maybe Twilight’s actions could be harming her?”
“Wh-what? No, I, she just…”
“Of all the foolish things!” Rarity continued, “What if Twilight had hurt herself?!”
“I was just trying to make her feel better, okay?!” Rainbow Dash shouted. Rarity glared at her intensely for a few seconds. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie glanced back and forth at each other nervously a couple times before Applejack finally spoke up.
“Fightin’ ain’t gonna get us anywhere, girls.” Applejack said, “Nopony’s to blame here. If Twilight really thought we had somethin’ ta worry about she’d tell us.”
“No, she’d tell Rainbow Dash…” Rarity muttered.
“That’s enough!” Applejack scolded. Rarity ground her teeth between closed lips and turned away from Rainbow Dash with a huff.
“Is that all there was ta know?” Applejack asked Rainbow Dash calmly.
“Yep.” She replied.
“Good.” Applejack said.
A doctor then entered the room with a smile and greeted the ponies. “Afternoon, I hope all is well.” The friends all answered affirmatively, to which the doctor nodded, “Good, good.” The doctor seemed almost nervous, most likely because he had heard the commotion from outside the room.
“Well, I hate to break up the party, but I’m afraid Applejack needs to get some rest. You can all come back tomorrow morning.”
“Sure thing, doc.” Applejack agreed. “Thanks fer bein’ here, girls.”
“No problem at all, dear.” Rarity said.
“Hope you get better soon.” Fluttershy added.
“We’ll have to throw a ‘get well soon’ party!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, “There’ll be games like wheelchair races and a piñata that’s shaped like a pill and…”
As Pinkie Pie rambled, Rainbow Dash was already sneaking out the window. “Hold on there, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack called. The group became silent and Rainbow Dash stopped in her tracks.
“Y’all can leave, but Ah need to talk to Rainbow Dash fer a few minutes.” Applejack said to the girls. Rainbow Dash gulped. Something about Applejack’s tone didn’t ease her. The friends agreed and left the room together. All except for Rainbow Dash, who was left alone in the room with Applejack and the doctor.
“You mind?” Applejack asked the caramel-colored doctor.
“Only a few minutes, please.” The doctor said, then walked out the door and closed it. The room fell silent and Applejack looked at Rainbow Dash, who was looking away nonchalantly.
“So how long have ya had that little crush on Twilight?” Applejack asked casually.
“Crush on Twilight?! You can’t be serious… you…” Rainbow Dash stammered, but figured that if she was going to tell anypony, it would be Applejack, “Is it obvious?”
“Well, wasn’t until you told me right now.” Applejack said with a grin.
Realization suddenly sunk in and Rainbow Dash realized that she just fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book, “Shoot!” She shouted, kicking the ground.
“So how long?” Applejack asked with a twinge of pride in her voice. Rainbow Dash seemed to mull over the answer, then replied.
“Since I started reading.” Rainbow Dash said. “Started spending time with her in the library, getting new books to read and learning about stuff… she just grew on me, I guess.”
“And that’s why y’all have been so different around her. Oh, Celestia, it makes sense!” Applejack cried out happily, “Well no wonder ya don’t wanna wait ta go get her!”
“She can’t leave! I can’t have my heart broken again, I mean I’ve never even had feelings for anypony else except y-” Rainbow Dash stopped dead and clamped her mouth shut. Her eyes widened as the error of her word choice sunk in.
“What did you just say?” Applejack asked slowly, a little amusement in her voice.
“Nothing!” Rainbow Dash said quickly.
“You had a crush on me?” Applejack asked incredulously.
“I never said that!”
“You never really did like helping me on the farm, did you?” Applejack accused Rainbow Dash.
“Gah!” Rainbow Dash shouted, “Fine! After the iron pony competition, I was totally head over hooves. I liked you so much that I put aside my training just to spend time with you on the farm.”
“Aw, shucks, sugarcube, that’s sweet.” Applejack said with a little chuckle.
“But you started telling me about some of your crushes around town… I knew you weren’t into mares, but…” Rainbow Dash shook her head, “It was stupid.”
“Now, don’t say that sugarcube, I’m flattered. But yer right, I reckon I’m as straight as an arrow.” Applejack admitted.
“And Twilight probably is too.” Rainbow Dash said.
“Ya don’t know that, RD, just have faith. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work out.”
“Yea… maybe.” Rainbow Dash said. She hopped up to the window again. “Hey, thanks Applejack.”
“Don’t mention it, sugarcube.” Applejack replied. Rainbow Dash smiled and took off into the late afternoon light.
“You can live here during your stay, Twilight Sparkle.” Celestia said as they entered a room down a corridor that Twilight was very familiar with. It was the same corridor that led to Celestia’s private chambers, but Twilight knew it for a different reason. The room was done up beautifully with burgundy curtains and furniture with gold trimming all around. The floor was hard wood with a beautiful area rug on the end opposite the bed. Yes, Twilight was very familiar with this room.
“This was where I first stayed as your student, isn’t it?” Twilight asked. “Before I started living in the library.”
“Indeed it is, Twilight.” Celestia said with a small smile. “It has been barely used since you last occupied it.” Twilight took a few steps forward and nodded in reply, so Celestia continued, “Should you ever need anything, I will not hesitate to help.”
“And Luna?” Twilight asked.
“She sleeps during the day and rules at night. You may not have as much luck finding her, however. She often likes to leave the castle.” Celestia said with a roll of her eyes, “I sometimes disapprove of such behavior, but she is as much a princess as I am, and as such, I have little say in what she does with her time.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Twilight said distantly. She had not smiled since the Princess told her the news of her condition. How could she? Twilight was directly responsible for the destruction of property of two of her closest friends and the hospitalization of the first. If Applejack could never buck apples again, Twilight wouldn’t be able to forgive herself.
“Twilight, I know things may seem dark.” Celestia said kindly, switching out of princess mode and taking on a more motherly, caring demeanor. “But I must ask you to always think positively and find the light in whatever way you can. It is absolutely imperative.”
“I will… try, Princess.” Twilight said.
“Thank you.” Celestia said. She raised herself up proudly once more and continued, “Now, I am truly sorry, but I will be stationing two pegasus guards at your chamber door at night. I… hope you understand.”
“I do, Princess. Don’t worry.” Twilight assured the princess, though she didn’t like it. She didn’t like knowing that it was, indeed, necessary.
“Good. You will be able to leave at night. Don’t worry, the guards will know whether you are… in your right mind.”
“Thank you, Princess.” Twilight said glumly.
“Well, I think I’ll let you get settled in.” The princess said, turning around. “Oh, and I have a little something that might make you feel better. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” With that, the princess left.
Twilight didn’t feel like being cheered up right now. She just wanted to be left alone, but that wasn’t going to make Twilight stop the princess from helping. She was very grateful that Celestia was so eager to make Twilight feel better in such dire circumstances.
Twilight sighed and walked over to her chamber window. She pushed it open gently and rested her front hooves on the pane, looking at the landscape beyond. Twilight found it almost a cruel joke that she could see Ponyville far below. She could even barely make out Rainbow Dash’s beautiful cloud home, just hovering over the outskirts of the town. For a moment, she wished that she would see Rainbow Dash flying toward her, telling her that she can come back to Ponyville.
Twilight already missed Rainbow Dash. They had grown so close over the past few months, but now it looked as though they wouldn’t see each other again for a long time, if at all. Twilight sniffed once and quickly stopped herself from crying. She had been getting too emotional about the loss of her friend, Twilight thought. It was as if Rainbow Dash were her marefriend or something.
“Now apparently I’m cursed and a lesbian.” Twilight muttered as a joke, though it hadn’t sounded funny to her at all. If anything, it simply instigated thought in Twilight’s head that she had never had before, and now wasn’t exactly the time to think about it. Was she a lesbian?
“Twilight!” Came a small excited voice from behind Twilight. It was a voice that made Twilight’s heart begin to beat with joy, and as she turned she forgot all about the emotions running deep inside her and instead focused on who was now running at her: her faithful assistant and friend, Spike.
“Spike!” Twilight greeted jovially, smiling for the first time since the terrible revelation of her curse. Spike jumped up and hugged Twilight’s neck lovingly.
“I missed you so much!” Spike said happily.
“Missed you too, Spike!” Twilight said. Maybe things weren’t all bad. At least she had Spike. Celestia walked into the room, smiling warmly. “Thank you, Princess.” Twilight said when Spike released his hold on Twilight’s neck.
“Although Spike will still be sleeping in his own private room, you two are free to visit as often and as much as you like.” Celestia said. She then turned to leave the room, “Twilight, could I ask you to come to my private chambers at nightfall?”
“Of course, Princess.”
“Then I will see you tonight.” Celestia said before leaving the room.
For the rest of the day, Twilight and Spike caught up with each other after having been apart for a few days. Twilight truly enjoyed the company of the small dragon and was grateful that she could at least have him around. It was like old times, before she ever moved to Ponyville.
But then she realized that before Ponyville, her only friend was Spike. She realized that she didn’t ever want to go back to the way things were before she met her friends, because that’s where she was truly happy. It made her all the more unhappy about her current predicament. Spike was just as unhappy, if not more so. The thought of never seeing Rarity again almost made even Twilight’s heart break as she saw the poor baby dragon’s face contort in sadness.
Spike told Twilight about how Celestia had told him about Twilight’s condition. Twilight was slightly upset at this, but was happy that she did not have to tell Spike herself. She didn’t think that she could bring herself to speaking the terrible events that she had caused. For this reason, they avoided the topic altogether.
Too soon, nighttime fell on Equestria. Twilight bade Spike goodnight and walked down the corridor to Celestia’s quarters. As she walked, her head buzzed with questions that she had for the princess. What happens now? How is she going to be cured? Is there even a cure? She readied them as she put a hoof to the door and knocked thrice.
“Come in.” Celestia’s voice was heard faintly behind the ornately decorated wood door. Twilight pushed the door open and found Celestia sitting on a circular padded rug in front of a fireplace. Twilight quickly closed the door behind her and joined Celestia on the rug.
“I have answered your friendship reports from this very spot since you first began sending them, Twilight.” Celestia said. “And I have kept them in that drawer over there.” Celestia pointed with her horn off to the right, where a desk stood, and one of the drawers opened up and then closed with a faint glow.
“Well, looks like that won’t be happening again, will it?” Twilight said sadly.
“You can never tell what the future brings, not exactly.” Celestia said. “There is a small amount of magic that can foretell very simple outcomes, but they are dangerous indeed, and not very practical.”
“I would like to learn those spells.” Twilight said.
“I thought you might.” Celestia said with a chuckle. Twilight couldn’t help but laugh a little as well. Being with Spike had improved her mood greatly, so she allowed herself to try to be happy.
“Now, I have brought you here to discuss the finer details about your situation.” Celestia said. “I’m sure my sister will wish to discuss it further, but for now, let us just keep this between us.”
“Of course, princess.” Twilight said. She was more comfortable around Celestia, anyway.
“I will start with your living situation. I expect you are wondering how long you will have to be here, and… the answer is indefinitely.” Celestia said.
“I was afraid of that…” Twilight muttered.
“You must understand that…”
“I’m a dangerous pony. Don’t worry, I understand.” Twilight said. Celestia just gave Twilight a warm and comforting, yet sad smile and looked away.
“Does that mean that… whatever this is… doesn’t have a cure?” Twilight asked cautiously, afraid of the answer.
Celestia sighed, “If there is one, we have not yet found it.”
Twilight gulped audibly. She looked down at her own hooves and shuffled them on the rug a bit. “Will it get any worse?”
“According to the first-hand accounts of my mother, yes.” Celestia said. “In time, it will get worse.”
“How much worse?”
“Twilight… I do not wish to frighten you or make you upset.” Celestia said.
“Don’t worry about that, Princess.” Twilight said. “I want to understand my situation.”
“My mother’s friend… was completely lost. He was fully evil with no hope of returning.”
“Well then we’ll have to find that cure before that happens.” Twilight said quickly. She blinked her eyes and felt tears sting, but she’d done her crying and hadn’t the desire to cry any more. Celestia was visibly skeptical. Twilight knew that if Celestia were nervous, then Twilight had every reason to be terrified.
“I admire your confidence, Twilight Sparkle.” Princess Celestia said. “You would make a fine princess.”
Not certain what the Princess meant by this, Twilight chose not to respond to the comment and instead allowed it to fill her with whatever happiness it could bring.
“Now, I’m afraid there’s something else I need you to know…” Celestia said solemnly.
“I am very aware that at some point your friends will arrive. I’m unsure when, but I think it’s inevitable.”
“You think?” Twilight said, not particularly excited by the idea, partly due to her abandonment of Ponyville with a very brief goodbye.
“I need to ask that they do not visit for long, if they do visit. If anything, do not let them sleep overnight.”
“I’ll… remember that, Princess.” Twilight said, all too aware of the reasoning behind Celestia’s concerns. Twilight couldn’t bear the thought of injuring another friend. A silence fell between the two ponies. The fireplace crackled and danced with orange flames, captivating the two pair of eyes. Celestia’s multicolored and sparkling mane shined with a soft luminous glow, illuminating what corners of the room were not reachable by the firelight.
“I do not want you to resent me for this, Twilight.” Celestia finally said after a long break.
“Why would I do that, Princess?”
“I have taken you from your friends… your home. I have forced you to leave behind the place that I originally sent you, and for that I am sorry.”
“Princess, I cannot pretend to be ignorant in the issue. I now know that I am a danger to my friends…” Twilight said. As the words left her mouth, she let out a small sob. Celestia draped a leg over Twilight’s shoulders, comforting her. “Why did this have to happen?”
“Because life is a cruel prankster that loves to see terrible things happen to good ponies.” Celestia muttered.
“My life was so good, Princess… I had friends, I had a beautiful home, I had all the magical power I could ever ask for…” Twilight spoke through her tears. “But there was so much I didn’t get to do…”
Celestia rubbed Twilight’s shoulders comfortingly, motherly. She pulled Twilight close and remained silent, sure that her words would be ineffective right now.
“I never even had a marefriend…” Twilight muttered.
“Marefriend, you say?” Celestia said, interested. Twilight suddenly realized what she had said.
Marefriend?! Twilight thought, but I’m not… I… oh horsefeathers, who am I kidding?
“I have never once found a stallion attractive.” Twilight said, still with tears in her eyes, “And while I’m usually focused on my studies, my mind… tends to wander.”
“Of course, Twilight.” The Princess said.
“Still…” Twilight said, sniffing then rubbing her snout, “It doesn’t matter now.”
“Now, don’t say that, Twilight.” Celestia said. “Once this storm blows over, you’ll have your opportunity. You’ll see.”
“I hope so…” Twilight said, then broke down once again, ignoring her mental protests to crying any more.
Later that night, Twilight had just returned to her room. Celestia had long since gone to sleep and the moon was high. Twilight contemplated visiting Luna, but decided instead to get some sleep. Twilight pulled the covers back and prepared to get in bed, but was disturbed by a light tapping sound from somewhere behind her. Thinking it was the door, she first approached the door and opened it. The two guards outside her room tensed up and looked at her nervously, but sighed with relief when they noticed Twilight in her normal state.
“Evening, gentlecolts. Did anypony knock on the door?”
“No, ma’am.” The guard on the right muttered.
“Oh… okay then, thanks.” Twilight said, ducking back into her room and walking back to her bed. She didn’t get far before she heard the knock again. Frustrated, Twilight looked all around and finally noticed a shape behind her window. Slightly startled, Twilight walked over to the window and opened the hatch, only to suddenly be tackled and immediately pulled into a bone-crushing hug from Rainbow Dash.
“What? Rainbow Dash!” Twilight shouted in reply, pushing Rainbow Dash off of her. Dash was breathing heavily and looked absolutely flustered. Her eyes bore evidence of crying, but it was so uncharacteristic of Rainbow Dash that Twilight simply dismissed it. “How did you fly all the way to Canterlot that fast?!”
“What were you thinking, Twilight?!” Rainbow Dash shouted, completely ignoring her question.
“What do you mean, ‘what was I thinking’?” Twilight retorted.
“You just left us! Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”
“I left you a note,” Twilight said calmly, “And I did ask you to not go looking for me.”
“That’s NOT why I’m upset, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash shouted. She choked on a sob, but quickly shook her head and kept her composure, an action that surprised Twilight. She had never seen Rainbow Dash cry before, never even a tear.
“You’re one of my best friends, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash said forcefully. “How can you expect to just leave and not expect me to be upset?!”
“I hoped that you would be mature about this.” Twilight scolded.
“Mature?” Rainbow Dash said with disbelief. She scoffed and looked away.
“Yes! Friends come and go. I’m trying to protect Ponyville, so the least you can do is forget about me and continue with your life.” Twilight said calmly, though the words hurt her. “I wasn’t even in Ponyville that long.”
“That doesn’t matter, you aren’t just a friend, Twilight. You’re more than that. You can’t just go! You’re coming back with me!”
“No, Rainbow Dash! I can’t!”
Twilight let out a loud exasperated groan in frustration and stamped her hooves on the ground, “I can’t tell you!”
“Of course you can’t!” Rainbow Dash shouted back, then turned to leave.
“R-Rainbow Dash… where are you going?” Twilight asked cautiously.
“I’m leaving!” Rainbow Dash shouted, “You obviously have everything all figured out… what would you need me for?”
“No, Rainbow Dash, please!” Twilight said, “We can talk about this, just… don’t leave me here!”
Rainbow Dash hopped up to the window sill and looked out toward the small glow in the distance that was Ponyville. She sniffed again, hesitating her takeoff. She didn’t want to leave, or at least it didn’t look like it. She had a contemplative and concentrated stare, fixed on her home many miles away.
“You don’t understand, Twilight… I thought I lost you…” Rainbow Dash muttered, finally beginning to cry, “…guess I was right.” Rainbow Dash then began to take off into the night. Twilight had lost too much… she was not going to lose her best friend, too! Twilight reached out with her magic and grabbed Rainbow Dash’s tail.
Dash stopped dead in her flight. She struggled and struggled to free herself from the magical hold, but it was in vain. Twilight reeled Rainbow Dash back into her room and flipped her onto her back, pinning her down with her front hooves.
“What did you do that for?!” Rainbow Dash shouted, struggling unsuccessfully to remove herself from Twilight’s grip. Twilight was using magic to help her hold Rainbow Dash down, though. Dash had no chance.
“LISTEN TO ME!” Twilight screamed. Rainbow Dash immediately fell silent, but was still breathing heavily and looked absolutely livid.
“You think you have it rough?” Twilight said, “You think I don’t understand?!”
Dash didn’t answer, averting her gaze from Twilight’s face.
“I have just lost EVERYTHING!” Twilight shouted in Rainbow Dash’s face, “I just left all the friends I have ever had, my beautiful home, my great job, and everything else that I thought I knew about life!”
Dash remained silent, her front legs still pinned underneath Twilight’s hooves. Her gaze was still fixed anywhere besides Twilight’s face.
“Don’t you dare pretend like I wanted this.” Twilight said, “If it weren’t for me being here… who knows? The library could have burned down! Sugarcube corner could be nothing but rubble! Your beautiful home might have been cast out of the sky!”
“Why do you keep saying that?” Rainbow Dash said, eager to change the subject. Twilight then threw herself off of Rainbow Dash and walked over to her bed, flopping herself down on her back on the covers and covering her eyes with her hooves. She groaned and shook her head.
“If I could tell you, I would.” Twilight said, “I just can’t.”
“Why not?” Dash asked, getting up and walking over to Twilight.
“You’d hate me.”
“I could never hate you, Twilight.”
“You would, trust me.”
“Try me.” Dash fell beside Twilight on the bed, both ponies’ emotions finally simmering down. Twilight contemplated telling Rainbow Dash everything about the attacks, about her curse, about how Rainbow Dash was probably in danger as they spoke. But, she couldn’t. After all, Applejack was still Rainbow Dash’s best friend, and Twilight was the reason she was in the hospital.
“You need to trust me on this one, Dash.” Twilight said, and no sooner had she said that she felt a sudden, short burst of pain in her head. Twilight’s heart began to race. She couldn’t remember having a pain like that before, yet somehow it struck a familiar chord in her brain. The only thing that Twilight could think was that something terrible was about to happen.
“Dash, I think you need to leave now.”
“What?!” Rainbow Dash retorted, sitting up suddenly. Twilight grasped her skull and squeezed as a second throb rattled her head, sending waves of pain through her body, all starting from the center of her brain. Twilight scrunched her eyes shut tight and focused on the throbbing that was now racking her head.
“Uh… you okay, Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked, concerned.
Twilight didn’t hear Dash. The pain in her head was too intense. Her vision was clouding and tears were falling down the sides of her face. Twilight whimpered once and mustered enough energy sit up, but she immediately fell on her face.
“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash shouted, grabbing Twilight. She attempted to lift her up but was suddenly pushed back by force of dark energy that exploded from Twilight’s body and even pushed the bed a little bit. Rainbow Dash fell on the floor away from Twilight, completely taken by surprise. “Twilight what did… you…” She lost her words when she regained her focus.
Twilight slowly stood, a thick black aura obscuring her features. Rainbow Dash’s eyes popped open in horror. Rainbow Dash recognized this pony… this was the pony that attacked Applejack! But… no… Twilight would never attack Applejack! Nor would Twilight attack Rainbow Dash!
When the pony spoke however, it was not Twilight’s voice, but a twisted, raspy, demented version of her voice that seemed to reverberate all around. “Rainbow Dash… I must say this visit has been heartbreaking.” Twilight mocked. She then forced the black aura to vanish with a rush of air, fully exposing her body. She stood now, looking as she normally did, except her features were somewhat darker and her eyes glowed a bright white.
“I doubt I will be able to get very far in this castle with Celestia right around the corner…” Twilight said in her disgusting voice. “But at least I have somepony to have fun with for the time being.” A sadistic smile spread across Twilight’s face. Twilight’s voice chilled Rainbow dash to the very core. It was unnatural and eerie among many things, none of which were anything but dark. Rainbow Dash’s heart began to race as Twilight slowly began to walk toward her.
“Wh-who are you, and where’s Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked, back crawling away. She was entirely convinced now that she had been talking to an imposter the entire time. There’s no way that this monster could be Twilight Sparkle.
“Why, I am Twilight, you silly pony.” Twilight replied maliciously. “I would think of all ponies, you would recognize me, Rainbow Dash. After all, you don’t do a very good job of hiding your little crush on me.”
“Wh-what? Who, I-“ Rainbow Dash stammered, eyes darting back and forth.
“Look at you… Oh, how fun this will be…” Twilight said slowly as Rainbow Dash hit her head on the wall behind her. Dash’s heart rate quickened to a dangerous pace and she looked around for somewhere to go. Quickly, she attempted to run to the side, but Twilight caught her with magic and held her in place against the wall. Twilight pressed her against the stone wall and drew very close, squeezing tightly.
“YOU MONSTER!” Rainbow Dash screamed, “YOU’RE NOT TWILIGHT! STOP!”
“Jeez, Applejack didn’t even scream this much…” Twilight fake complained. Rainbow Dash grimaced in disgust, thinking back to Applejack’s condition after she had been attacked. Twilight then grinned and held up a hoof.
“You see this hoof here?” Twilight said. Her horn began to glow, and as Rainbow Dash watched, her hoof began to glow red. Dash didn’t want to know what this meant, but the waves of heat coming off it gave her an idea. “I think it would look really good on your stomach.”
“T-Twilight…” Rainbow Dash muttered. Twilight giggled with mirth and squinted, staring right into Rainbow Dash’s eyes. From behind the glow, Dash could see Twilight’s purple irises… they were faded, but they were there, gazing into Rainbow Dash’s very core. “Why?” Rainbow Dash whimpered.
Twilight was about to press the red-hot hoof to Rainbow Dash’s exposed stomach, but a loud explosion stopped Twilight immediately. Bright light flooded into the room from where the door had been blown off its hinges and now lay in splinters all over the floor.
“That is enough!” Came the powerful voice of, not Princess Celestia, but Princess Luna. Luna strode into the room with the pair of pegasus guards at her side, trembling with fear. Luna, however, looked calm and collected, ready to deal with the trouble Twilight was causing.
“Ah, the forgotten Princess.” Twilight said with a smile. Her hoof stopped glowing and she let Rainbow Dash go. Dash fell to the floor and did nothing but stare up at Twilight with horror, shocked at what had just been about to happen.
“You will cease this violence immediately, wretched creature.” Luna commanded in the majestic, yet terrifying royal Canterlot voice.
“I’d like to see you try and stop me.” Twilight sneered. As the last word left her mouth, Twilight was thrown back and slammed into a wall in a similar fashion to what Twilight had done to Rainbow Dash, only with at least double the force. Luna held tightly to Twilight, tighter than Twilight had done to Rainbow Dash, refusing to let her go even for a second. Twilight squirmed and writhed, but it was to no avail.
“You may be powerful, demon.” Luna warned, “But I am still far more powerful.”
“Not for much longer, oh Princess of the Ni-!” Luna suddenly tightened her magical grip around Twilight’s throat. Luna growled and glared into Twilight’s eyes as she struggled to breathe. Rainbow Dash watched with growing anticipation. Something inside her said that this was still an imposter and not the real Twilight Sparkle, but it still ate at Rainbow Dash to see her friend in such a situation.
“Don’t hurt her!” Rainbow Dash finally shouted. Luna then turned and looked at Rainbow Dash curiously. She sighed and looked back at Twilight sympathetically, loosening her grip on the throat. Twilight began to cough and wheeze, then glared at Luna with malice.
“This is not over, I assure you of that.” Twilight growled one last time in her horribly cold, raspy voice. She spat in Luna’s face and then closed her eyes. For a second, Twilight was still, then Luna lowered her to the ground gently.
Rainbow Dash was up in a heartbeat, running over to Twilight’s side. “So that really was Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Unfortunately, yes.” Luna said solemnly, reaching a hoof up to her face to wipe the spittle from it. “What a disgusting creature.”
“So… she’ll be alright, won’t she?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“She will be fine.” Luna said softly.
“What was that? Why was Twilight acting all… evil?” Rainbow Dash asked. Luna sighed and lifted Twilight once again, this time with care. She laid Twilight down on top of the covers of her bed tenderly, then turned to the two guards that were still standing paralyzed at the door.
“Wake my sister. Inform her that Twilight has suffered another attack and…” Luna turned to Rainbow Dash and looked to be contemplating something, “…that we should expect visitors tomorrow.”
“Y-yes, your majesty.” The guards both said before bowing and rushing out of the room.
“You are not to speak a word of what happened tonight to your friends.” Luna instructed Rainbow Dash.
“However,” Luna cut Rainbow Dash off forcefully, “Once you return to Ponyville, you will gather Twilight’s closest friends and bring them to the castle. There is much explaining to do. I believe you are entitled to know of your friend’s condition.”
Rainbow Dash did not have any objections. She simply nodded and stepped forward to be beside Twilight in her bed. Twilight now slept peacefully, as if she had not moved from that spot all night and Luna and Rainbow Dash were disturbing her.
Princess Celestia came galloping into the room at full speed and stopped dead in her tracks at the sight in front of her. Princess Luna and Rainbow Dash stood beside Twilight’s sleeping form, and the broken remains of the door were scattered all over the ground.
“P-Princess!” Rainbow Dash blurted out, then immediately bowed her head. Princess Luna huffed at the special treatment her sister received, to which Celestia merely rolled her eyes and continued forward.
“Now is not the time for formalities, Rainbow Dash.” Princess Celestia said, quickly joining the two at the bedside. Rainbow Dash straightened awkwardly as the Princess surveyed Twilight’s unconscious form. “What happened?”
“W-well, I came to… visit… Twilight, and… well, she just turned all evil all of the sudden!” Rainbow Dash said.
“Did she hurt you?” Celestia asked, now looking carefully at Rainbow Dash.
“Just a few small scrapes on my back, Princess.”
Princess Celestia sighed with relief and looked down at Twilight sadly. She then looked at Luna, who returned the gaze with sorrow in her eyes.
“You should not have come, Rainbow Dash.” Celestia informed Rainbow Dash.
“What, you’re saying I did this?!” Rainbow Dash suddenly shouted defensively, rising to the air with her wings.
“Not at all, Rainbow Dash.” Celestia said. Rainbow Dash then slowly fell back to the ground, “But if you recall, Twilight did insist upon not being followed.”
Rainbow Dash’s head was buzzing with questions, but she kept them in reserve with promises of answers come tomorrow. “Yes, Princess.” Rainbow Dash said.
“You should go home, Rainbow Dash.” Celestia said to Rainbow Dash.
“Remember what I requested of you. Do not hesitate.” Luna added.
“Princess… can I stay with Twilight tonight?” Rainbow Dash asked, reaching a hoof up to touch Twilight’s. She gripped Twilight’s hoof with her own in a way that somehow comforted Rainbow Dash, yet she despaired when she could still feel heat from earlier, a grim reminder of the events that had just transpired.
“Oh, I don’t think that’s such a good idea…” Celestia said.
“What’s she gonna do, turn evil in her sleep?” Rainbow Dash demanded. Though she did not know what the circumstance was truly, something told Dash that she didn’t have to worry anymore, not tonight.
“She… will be fine for now.” Celestia said admittedly, “But tonight only.”
“Thank you, Princess.” Rainbow Dash said. Luna looked at Rainbow Dash with another curious stare, but followed Celestia out what was once a door. Rainbow Dash got in the bed and laid down beside Twilight, rubbing her back slowly.
“Everything’ll be alright, Twilight…” Rainbow Dash whispered, “Whatever this is… we’ll make it through. I swear.”
Twilight awoke wondering why she was on top of the covers. She quickly thought back to last night. She recalled Rainbow Dash’s flustered face and remembered most of their conversation. Twilight grimaced when she remembered that it had not been a pleasant one. She then remembered falling on the bed with Rainbow Dash beside her, but didn’t remember past then.
Twilight then closed her eyes again and turned around. When she opened them again, she was not even an inch from Rainbow Dash’s face.
“AH!” Twilight screamed, startled.
“AAH!” Rainbow Dash screamed and jumped off the bed, catching herself in mid-air with her wings, while Twilight landed in a heap on the floor with a loud ‘THUD!’.
“Oops! Sorry, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash quickly apologized, zooming through the air to help Twilight up, though she couldn’t help laughing.
“Rainbow Dash? Wha-“ Twilight said groggily. Rainbow Dash pulled Twilight up to her hooves and landed, blushing fiercely. Twilight rubbed her forehead then shook her head, clearing the sleep out of her eyes.
“You spent the night?” Twilight asked. “Oh no… I wasn’t supposed to let ponies spend the night.”
“I-it’s alright, Celestia gave me permission.” Rainbow Dash somewhat lied.
“Oh, I don’t remember that… though I don’t remember most of last night, to be honest.” Twilight said. She shrugged and walked to the foot of the bed. “I don’t mind you spending the night … I’m really glad you did, actually,” Twilight said, catching a glimpse of the open doorway.
“Didn’t there used to be a door there?” Twilight asked, seeing that there was indeed no door on the frame.
“I, uh… guess so?” Dash said carefully. She didn’t want anything to trigger Twilight’s memory from last night on the chance that it could make her go crazy again. Luckily, some ponies had come into the room and cleared out all the pieces of the door and the debris during the night. There was still no door, though.
“Hm… oh now look here!” Twilight said with interest. She walked over to where there was a small, splintery piece of the old door on the ground. She picked it up and held it in her hoof, “This looks like it came from the door.”
“It could have come from anywhere…” Rainbow Dash said.
“No… this is definitely cherry…” Twilight said, examining the splinter closely.
“Well, Princess Luna actually asked me to bring the girls here to the castle for a… for a visit.” Rainbow Dash lied. “And I need to do that now.”
“You’re leaving?” Twilight said, then drooped her ears and pouted her lips.
“I’ll be back!” Rainbow Dash said, chuckling.
“But you won’t be able to stay…” Twilight said sadly.
“Hey,” Rainbow Dash said, “They can’t keep me away.”
“You don’t know the royal guards.”
“But they know me!” Rainbow Dash boasted. Twilight laughed and shook her head. “Go ahead, Rainbow Dash. I’ll see you later.”
“Later, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called. She flew over to the window and re-opened it. She stood in the sill for a second and turned around once again, looking at Twilight. She smiled once, making Twilight giggle, then took off. As Rainbow Dash took off, Twilight couldn’t help but notice a multitude of scrapes on Rainbow Dash’s back that she hadn’t seen before. It normally wouldn’t bother her, but with her being unable to remember anything from last night…
Twilight let the thought go and turned around to see Princess Luna standing in her doorway. Somewhat surprised to see the night princess while it was clearly daytime, Twilight quickly cleared her throat, “Good morning, princess.” Twilight said. She smiled and bowed respectfully.
“There is no need, Twilight. You and I are friends.” Luna said reassuringly. Twilight blushed slightly and lifted her head back up.
“I gather your friend Rainbow Dash has left?” Luna asked.
“She… did.” Twilight replied with little enthusiasm in her words, a moment’s hesitation to consider how Luna had remembered Rainbow Dash’s name.
“That is good. She has an important message to deliver.” Luna said.
“Bringing my friends to Canterlot?” Twilight asked, recalling Rainbow Dash’s reason for leaving.
“Indeed, Twilight. I also need your approval for why I have summoned them.” Luna said.
“Approval? My approval? For what?”
“I think it acceptable that your closest friends know of your condition. It will put their minds at ease as well as yours.” Luna said. Twilight’s face paled and she shook her head.
“Tell them?! I could never tell them! I…” Twilight stammered. She fought to find words as Luna simply frowned and listened, “How would I tell Applejack that not only did I burn down her farm, but I was the one that sent her to the hospital?!”
“Your friends will understand, Twilight.” Luna suggested, “They will understand.”
Giving her trust to the princess, Twilight nodded and allowed silence to fill the room. She knew that the truth would have to come out eventually. She just didn’t want it to. What she really wanted was a change of subject, something to put her mind at ease. She had just woken up, after all.
“Luna?” Twilight asked.
“What, um… what do you think of Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked.
“What do I think?” Luna asked, surprised. She looked as if she were contemplating her answer, then spoke, “I haven’t known her well, but from what I’ve measured, she is spunky and energetic, if not a little big-headed, perhaps annoyingly so at times…” Luna mused, recalling that fateful Nightmare Night, when her only encounters with the pegasus were Rainbow Dash’s pranks. “But, she embodies one of the elements of harmony. She is strong-willed and courageous, and a more loyal friend, there is none.”
“I agree.” Twilight said. Luna’s poetic speech somehow put Twilight’s mind at ease, and she simply nodded and continued staring out the window, where Rainbow Dash was now hardly even a dot on the early morning landscape.
“I must be off, Twilight. The day is here, and I must enter the void of slumber until my night returns. I shall see you this evening.” Luna left Twilight at the window, still staring off into the distance.
“Princess!” Twilight then called, whipping around suddenly. Luna stopped in the open doorway and shot Twilight a look. “L-Luna, I mean…”
Luna smiled and nodded.
“Thanks.” *** ***
Come evening, Celestia had retired to her quarters and allowed Luna to take Twilight into the throne room once Luna had woken up and raised the moon. Rainbow Dash had brought Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity to the throne room to wait as Luna retrieved Twilight. Celestia was unhappy with the idea of telling Twilight’s friends about her condition. The sun princess believed that it would be unwise to concern them with the unhappy news, but could not argue that keeping them in the dark was fair at all.
So, in accordance with Luna’s promise to Rainbow Dash, Twilight and Luna emerged into the throne room to a jubilant greeting from her friends. Each expressed their worry for Twilight’s well-being and their distaste at Twilight leaving Ponyville. Applejack had been outfitted with a thick cast around her hind leg which, despite the doctor’s warnings, allowed her to walk somewhat, if not a little sluggishly. In addition, she wore a large bandage on her flank where the magical burn was.
Every time one of her friends told her how much they missed her, Twilight swelled with happiness. She had truly grown from the filly she was while living in Canterlot. She now had all these great friends that truly cared about her, and it was a great comfort in such a dark time. The brief distraction was enough to keep Twilight’s mood positive, despite the grave news she and Luna were soon to deliver.
After the greeting, Luna asked the gathering of ponies to move into a more secluded area of the castle, for privacy. This was a sign to the ponies that the dealings at hand were serious matters. All but Pinkie Pie seemed to display this on their faces. Pinkie Pie just bounced along as always, continuing to lighten Twilight’s heart with her carefree nature.
Through large corridors and winding halls the group travelled. The distance they covered was massive. Not even Twilight had seen this part of the castle. Twilight didn’t even know the castle was so large! A good number of minutes passed before they were nestled soundly within the bowels of Canterlot Castle. A great wooden door stood open before the ponies, revealing a large room meant for the royal assembly in days of old, when all business was conducted in private.
The stone room had a fifteen foot ceiling, very tall for a world of four-foot equines. A large, polished wooden table took up most of the room, with chairs situated all around it and two at the head, presumably for Celestia and Luna. The walls were decorated with the ancient flags of the pony tribes. The earth pony flag hung above the door, the unicorn and pegasi flags were to the left and right, and the equestrian flag hung above the head of the table.
“This room was the first part of Canterlot Castle to be built.” Luna said, walking around the room and toward her place at the head of the table with interest, “It is never used now, but in the time millennia before my banishment, it was where all royal business was conducted.”
“It’s so grand!” Rarity exclaimed, “I feel as though I’m walking in the footsteps of our ancestors!” Rarity admired one of the chairs, running her hoof along the elaborate carvings. “And the intricacy of the furniture is simply divine!”
“If memory serves, it was in that very seat that Princess Platinum served after her father’s passing.” Luna said. She put a hoof to her chin, “Though at that point, she was known as Queen Platinum, I suppose.”
“Amazing!” Rarity exclaimed, now hovering over the chair with extreme interest, letting her eyes take in every detail. Rainbow Dash had flown up to the flag of the Pegasus tribe and was admiring it in all its glory. Fluttershy soon joined her, and for a moment the two pegasi enjoyed a moment of togetherness with pride for their kind.
“It’s lovely.” Fluttershy said. She flew in for a very close look and admired the intricate stitching of the flag, “Such detail…”
“Princess Luna?” Twilight asked Luna in a hushed tone as her friends admired the room. She spoke to the princess, but her eyes were focused on a spot on the ground. She seemed distracted, distant, like she would rather be anywhere but here right now. Luna understood Twilight’s concerns all too well, but asked anyway.
“What is the matter, Twilight?” Luna asked comfortingly.
“Luna… I don’t think I can do this…” Twilight said quietly, her voice wavering.
“Do not be afraid, Twilight.” Luna said, “Besides, I have already agreed to do most of the speaking.
“So what is this serious news you need to tell us?” Rarity asked. In her typical fashion, Rarity was not one to wait around. Luna and Twilight looked forward to see the group of ponies had now gathered around where they stood, right by the head of the table. They looked at each other nervously and gave Twilight scattered worried glances.
The five visiting ponies formed an arc in front of Luna and Twilight, who were side-by-side. Twilight’s heart raced. Her face must have shown her fear, because the ponies each looked more worried by the second.
“First of all, I have brought you down here to ensure that we are completely alone.” Luna started. “It was the wish of my sister that no chances be taken concerning the issue at hand. Royal guards are stationed all over the castle, but their patrol does not extend down here for most of the day. My sister is correct about the need for secrecy. The safety of Equestria is concerned.”
I am a threat to Equestria… Twilight thought. She gulped and looked down sadly, which didn’t go unnoticed by the friends. Their moods took another small hit at Twilight’s little display of unease.
“What’s wrong?” Applejack finally asked.
“Your friend Twilight Sparkle is unwell.” Luna said. Twilight internally approved of Luna’s word choice, “She has been afflicted with a condition of a most unfortunate kind.” Luna began. Twilight’s heart rate quickened.
Here we go. Twilight thought. She kept her gaze fixed on the ground. Her friends were trying to digest this information.
“She’s sick?” Pinkie asked innocently, though it was obvious that even she wasn’t quite as happy as she was before.
“Not… exactly.” Luna replied. Pinkie gave her a quizzical look, so Luna continued. Her tone shifted slightly. “It is widely believed that curses are nothing but pony lore and mare’s tales, but Twilight indeed has found herself the unfortunate bearer of a curse.”
“A curse?!” The chorus of ponies shouted in unison, their eyes growing wide. Twilight expected that the friends would be surprised, but she knew for sure that the girls had no idea what Luna was implying by telling them that she had a curse.
“What kind o’ curse?” Applejack asked. Before Luna could answer, she was cut off.
“Twilight said that there are no such things as curses!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, then to the group, “Remember?”
“Yes, of course.” Rarity agreed, “When we were all frightened that Zecora had cursed us!”
“The kind of curse Twilight has,” Luna said, addressing Applejack’s question first, “I will get to. And, Twilight was right. There is no such thing as an artificial curse. One cannot lay a curse upon another’s head, but one may find themselves afflicted with a curse through natural causes.”
Twilight grimaced, still not allowing her gaze to rise to the ponies in front of her. Of the ponies, Rainbow Dash was the only one that seemed to understand what was going on. She found it hard to look away from Twilight.
“Now, before I go into detail about Twilight’s condition, I must assure you that nothing is Twilight’s fault. This curse upon her has done terrible things, but none could have been prevented.”
“What are you saying, Princess?” Rarity asked. Luna looked down at Twilight once before turning her attention back to the five ponies. As she opened her mouth to speak, Twilight suddenly interrupted.
“Luna, I…” Twilight said, then her words got caught in her throat. The ponies all looked at her and Luna looked down with interest.
“Yes, Twilight?” Luna asked.
“I think I can like to continue from here.” Twilight said, holding her head up and looking at her friends with a sudden burst of confidence. Luna bowed her head in respect for Twilight’s courage.
“As you wish, Twilight.” Luna said, taking a step back. Twilight sighed and looked into the eyes of her best and only friends. The reality of the situation began to sink in, and as it did, Twilight became less afraid. Everything Luna had said was true, they were just concerned for her safety. All they wanted was answers, and Twilight knew that now. Still, as she looked at the cast that covered Applejack’s leg, she couldn’t help but hesitate.
“Within the past month, Sweet Apple Acres has burned down, Carousel Boutique has been attacked, and Applejack has been hospitalized.” Twilight spoke solemnly. The ponies listening all looked downtrodden at the mention of the dismal events. Twilight paused in order to find her words. Her heart hammered against her chest.
“All of these, even the fire, were done by a mysterious attacker.” Twilight said, ready for Applejack’s retort.
“But Ah thought…” Applejack said.
“The fire was no accident.” Twilight quickly said. She closed her eyes and allowed the weight of the words to sink in. “Arson. It was another attack.”
The ponies gasped quietly. Twilight felt like she was going to cry. She didn’t want to tell her friends the truth, she really didn’t, but she had already gone this far. There was no way to go back, and lying was not an option.
“And… we didn’t know who the attacker was.” Twilight said, her voice wavering and her breathing became ragged. She reached up to her face and wiped away a tear that was ready to fall. “We were frantic for answers, to know who the culprit was.”
Twilight sniffed and shook her head, “But now I know.”
“Twilight…” Rainbow Dash muttered, shaking her head. Rainbow Dash now knew exactly what was going on.
“It was me.” Twilight said, the last word caught in her throat. Her friends gasped again, this time taking a step back collectively. Twilight continued, a little more urgently, “All the attacks! They were me…”
“T-Twilight?” Applejack asked. “N-no… no, yer lyin’… the pony that attacked me was black as the night… I saw it!”
“Twilight, you would never do anything like that.” Fluttershy said.
“No, I wouldn’t.” Twilight said. “But… when I’m under this curse I would.”
Silence enveloped the great hall. Looks of confusion were spread across the ponies faces, but they slowly began to understand. Rainbow Dash looked at the ground solemnly, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy were horrified, Rarity looked as if she were going to be sick, and Applejack still stared at Twilight with a look of pure disbelief.
“So… this curse o’ yers turns ya evil?” Applejack asked, trying to understand. Twilight gulped and nodded.
“Why… how could you keep this from us, Twilight?!” Applejack suddenly shouted.
“What?” Twilight asked fearfully.
“If y’all knew you had burned down mah farm, why didn’t ya say somethin’ before ya sent me to the hospital!?”
“Wha… I…” Twilight stammered, more tears beginning to form.
“And what about my boutique?” Rarity asked, “Couldn’t you have prevented that?”
“What if more ponies got hurt, Twilight?” Applejack demanded. “When would enough be enough?!”
“I’m sorry, girls, I…” Twilight choked out, tears streaming down her face. Twilight fell to her knees and buried her face in her hooves. The friends were now talking over each other, their noise filling up the space and driving Twilight farther and farther into her hooves, trying to separate herself from her friends.
“Enough!” Luna shouted forcefully. All the ponies silenced immediately and looked at Luna with fear in their eyes. For long seconds, the only sounds that were heard throughout the giant room were the echoed cries of Twilight Sparkle. Luna calmed down and bent down to Twilight, “Come now, Twilight, please get up.”
Twilight nodded and stood again, wiping away more tears with a hoof.
“Now, the reason why Twilight didn’t inform you of her actions was because she didn’t know.” Luna said.
“How in the hay could she not know!?” Applejack demanded. Luna’s patience was running thin with the stubborn farm pony, but thankfully Rainbow Dash chimed in.
“Her memory loss.” Rainbow Dash brought up. The four other ponies looked at her, surprised, but did recall that detail.
“Exactly.” Luna said as Twilight nodded. “She is not herself when the curse overtakes her body. She has no recollection of the events.”
“Is that true, darling?” Rarity asked.
“Of course!” Twilight said pleadingly, “Why would I keep something so important from my best friends?”
“Ah suppose you’re right, Twilight.” Applejack said, “Ah’m sorry fer yellin’ at ya.”
“And… Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said, turning her attention to the pegasus, “Last night… I had no memory of it. The door to my room was missing and I found a piece of it on the floor… and your back…”
Rainbow Dash had completely forgotten about the scrapes that had covered her back from her short scuffle with Twilight the night prior. Pinkie Pie peered over to Rainbow Dash’s back and looked at the small injuries.
“Where’d you get the scratches, Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked innocently.
“Oh no…” Twilight muttered, taking two steps back, “No… no…”
“Twilight, I’m not hurt, it’s okay.” Rainbow Dash said calmly.
“Twilight, you must calm down.” Luna said. Twilight breathed heavily and buried her head in one of her hooves. Luna continued, “It will comfort you to know that it was Rainbow Dash’s decision to stay by your side last night, even after the attack.”
“I still attacked you…” Twilight said to Rainbow Dash. “Everypony… I can’t begin to express how sorry I am…”
“Don’t you worry yourself, Twilight, we understand.” Rarity said.
“All’s fergiven, Twi.” Applejack said happily.
“Besides,” Pinkie Pie chimed in, “You went through the trouble of fixing everything up!”
“That’s right, you fixed everything!” Rainbow Dash echoed, “So what’s there to worry about?”
“Thank you so much, girls…” Twilight said. “It means a lot that I’ll know that you won’t hate me while I live here in Canterlot.”
“We could never hate you, Twilight.” Fluttershy said sweetly.
“Wait, live in Canterlot?” Rainbow Dash asked. “She still has to stay here?!”
Twilight looked down sadly, “As long as I have this curse, I’m a danger to everypony.” Twilight sniffed, “And… so far, no cure has been found.”
“Do not fear, for you will be able to visit her as much as you like.” Luna said, “But for the safety of others, we have decided to keep her here, at the castle.”
“Oh Twilight!” Pinkie Pie shouted in despair, leaping forward to hug Twilight around the neck. Fluttershy and Rarity soon joined, followed by Rainbow Dash, and finally Applejack, the wheelchair making the maneuver more difficult. For a long time, the six friends remained in that hug, unwilling to part. And, for the next few minutes, an eerie silence crept into the great chamber, almost as a reminder of the dark times soon to come.
Shortly after, Luna led the ponies out of the great meeting hall and back into the main part of the castle. Rainbow Dash walked next to Twilight the entire way back to the throne room. She had flown with the group the entire way to the great meeting hall, but this time she walked. In fact, she wasn’t the only one who was down, the entire group had lost its happiness and levity. The casual joy that was present when they first arrived was now gone.
“You mind if I hang back for awhile?” Rainbow Dash whispered to Twilight, noticing that they had drifted behind the group a little bit. Twilight was pulled out of her thought and hadn’t quite heard Rainbow Dash.
“Hm?” Twilight replied.
“Can I stay here for a bit?” Rainbow Dash asked again, a little louder, “Keep you company?”
“Sure, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said, smiling, “I’d like that.”
“Oh, Twilight!” Rarity suddenly called back.
“Wherever is my little Spikey-wikey? It has been ages since I last saw him!” Rarity asked.
“Yeah, where is Spike?” Applejack asked.
“Oh, he’s around.” Twilight said, “I didn’t want to have to drag him into all this unpleasantness.”
“Oh dear, you have told him, haven’t you?” Rarity said with a slight edge of worry.
“The princesses took care of that one.” Twilight said, looking at Luna.
“’Twas mine sister, Twilight.” Luna said. “It was upon her insistence that I agreed to tell Spike.”
“Well it’s not fair! I didn’t get to say hello.” Rarity pouted.
“I’ll make sure you get to see him if you visit again.” Twilight said. They had reached the throne room now and the group was separating. Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Luna stayed put while the rest of the ponies began to leave.
“We most certainly will!” Rarity said, “But ta-ta for now!”
“G’bye, Twilight!” Applejack said.
“Bye!” Fluttershy waved.
“Goodbye, Twilight! Goodbye, Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie Pie said enthusiastically, “Wait, why is Rainbow Dash staying?”
Rainbow Dash stopped waving and winced. She had hoped they wouldn’t notice, but knew it was unrealistic to have that hope. They would have definitely noticed that she was gone when they had gotten to the train.
“She’ll just be here for a bit, girls.” Twilight said.
“Well, we’ll see ya back in Ponyville then.” Applejack said, “Bye, girls!”
And they were gone. Twilight sighed and turned to Rainbow Dash. “So now you know.”
“Know what?” Rainbow Dash replied.
“About everything! About the curse, about the memory loss… and you still want to be here with me?”
“Twilight, it wasn’t you that attacked me!” Rainbow Dash said, “I knew that even then. You didn’t even sound like yourself.”
“But I’m… dangerous.” Twilight said uneasily.
“A little curse isn’t going to keep me away from you.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight smiled and went to walk up to her chambers with Rainbow Dash beside her. Luna remained in the throne room, which actually caught Twilight’s attention.
“Not coming upstairs, Luna?” Twilight asked.
“First of all, my chambers are that way.” Luna said, then pointed in the opposite direction, “Up those stairs. Also, I have not spent my time in this throne room in too long. I think I’ll actually do what I am supposed to tonight.”
Twilight giggled and led Rainbow Dash up and into the castle. As they walked, Rainbow Dash moved closer to Twilight, only a few inches away. Twilight noticed this. Had she been Rarity, the small gesture probably would have caused a scene, but since Twilight was completely indifferent to Rainbow Dash’s spatial relationship to herself, she didn’t pay it any more mind.
“So where is Spike?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Probably in his room.” Twilight said.
“Spike gets his own room too?!” Rainbow Dash asked in disbelief.
“Well, the castle really isn’t used much like it used to be.” Twilight said, “The princesses, a few scholars, and some of the royal guard live here, but that’s it. There are dozens of empty rooms.”
“But to live so close to the princesses…” Rainbow Dash continued.
“Spike and I grew up with Celestia.” Twilight said, “She’s more of a friend to us. Of course, I still see her as my princess first and foremost, but… she’s also more than that.”
“Kinda like a big sister?” Rainbow Dash suggested.
“Yeah, kinda like a big sister.” Twilight agreed.
Silence crept between the friends again. Twilight’s door came into view as they rounded a corner. Twilight let Rainbow Dash in then followed her. It was night, so the room was pitch black. Twilight did a quick spell and all of the candles in the room erupted in flame. The soft light illuminated Rainbow Dash’s form as she explored the room a second time.
“So what now?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Uh… well, we can sit on the rug, and I can have somepony get us some hot chocolate or something…”
“That’s not what I meant.” Rainbow Dash said, then laughed, “I mean what now, what now? Like, what happens next?”
“Oh!” Twilight replied, then blushed a bit at her mistake, “I’m going to help the princesses research my condition in the archives. We’re gonna dig through scrolls, historical accounts, anything that can help.”
“You’re just gonna have a blast, aren’t you?” Rainbow Dash asked, “Heh, whaddya need me for?”
“Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said in a condescending tone, as if she were about to lecture her friend, “I need you for every reason. Even after you’ve been gone for five minutes, I miss you. I’m so glad that you like visiting me, because I really like it when you visit. I need it…” Twilight trailed and blushed fiercely. Rainbow Dash walked right over to Twilight with an easy smile on her face.
Rainbow gave Twilight a little peck on the cheek, then walked over to the carpeted rug and curled up on it. Twilight was stunned. The place where Rainbow Dash’s lips met her cheek tingled. Twilight resisted the urge to lift a hoof to her face and touch it.
Rainbow Dash nervously cleared her throat, “You said something about hot chocolate?”
Twilight looked up and smiled, her heart now beating quickly, “Coming right up!”
Twilight had been staring out her bedroom window for the past few hours. Rainbow Dash had left now, leaving her alone in the dark. The place where Rainbow Dash had kissed Twilight’s cheek was still tingling, driving Twilight crazy with assumptions as to the meaning of what should have been a simple gesture. She wished that Rainbow Dash could have stayed the night again. She could use the company. It wasn’t until she got to see her friends again that she realized how lonely her room was.
As if it were an answer to her plea, there came a knock on her bedroom door. Without waiting for consent, it then opened and Princess Luna stepped in.
“Good evening, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna greeted “I see your door has been replaced.”
Twilight cringed a little at the reminder of her struggle with Rainbow Dash the night prior. “Evening, Luna.” she replied. She turned to see the princess of night standing in the middle of her room, admiring its contents. After a few seconds of silence, the night princess spoke.
“I must apologize, it was I who destroyed your door… it was in the way, you see, and-“
“I’d… rather not talk about it.” Twilight said quietly. Luna nodded and continued her observations, quickly thinking of a subject change.
“Are you satisfied by how tonight’s events unfolded?” Luna asked tentatively.
“I am.” Twilight said, then actually smiled. She looked back out into the night, “You were right, they did accept the truth for what it was. I am so lucky to have friends like them.”
“So you are not upset that I asked you to tell them?” Luna wondered a little hesitantly. Twilight chuckled on the inside at the display of insecurity coming from one of the most powerful beings in Equestria.
“Of course not.” Twilight assured the princess. Luna smiled and joined Twilight by the window. It was just big enough for the two mares to comfortably stand beside each other and admire the night. “The night is beautiful, Luna… “
“I’m glad you think so.” Luna replied.
“The ponies of old don’t know what they were missing.” Twilight mused, “I’ve always loved the night… the stars have a serene beauty about them unmatched by none but the moon.” Twilight recited poetically. Luna smiled and swelled with a small amount of pride. The sounds of crickets and cicadas filled the air. Indeed, this was a beautiful summer night.
“You are a very brave pony, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said. Twilight didn’t answer right away. She didn’t think of herself as brave. She wasn’t Rainbow Dash. Luna continued with a slight downcast tone, “You are braver than I ever was.”
“Now, Luna, you know that’s not true.” Twilight said, “I could never run an entire land.”
“I think you don’t give yourself enough credit, Twilight.” Luna said. “When Nightmare Moon threatened to take over my soul, like a coward I turned and allowed her to have her way.” Twilight now had her full attention on the princess. She had never heard Luna speak so openly about her time as Nightmare Moon before.
“You bravely tackle this predicament in a way that I truly admire.” Luna observed. “And in that way, I am envious of your spirit.”
“Luna, if you don’t think I’m afraid then you would be very wrong.” Twilight pointed out.
“I would believe you to be a fool if you weren’t afraid, Twilight.” Luna said lightly. Twilight simply grimaced and turned her attention back to the landscape. Luna sighed and looked out the window again.
“Had you been in my shoes…” Luna said dolefully, “You would have fought back the anger… the jealousy… Nightmare Moon would not have stood a chance.”
“Luna…” Twilight stopped her. She looked over at the princess. Luna’s eyes were drooping and she looked out on the darkened landscape with a sulky demeanor. Twilight sighed, “Nightmare Moon was in the past, and that is where she will stay.”
“You are right, young Twilight.” Luna said, straightening herself up, “Dwelling on the past only hinders one’s progression toward the future.” Luna chuckled once, “I find it silly that I have to be reminded of that.”
“Princess or not, we’re all ponies, and ponies aren’t perfect.” Twilight said. She found that she would have never said something like that to Celestia, but Luna truly was more of a friend than a mentor, even if she were the Princess.
“’Tis true.” Luna added. “Now, I remember that I really had a reason for visiting you at this hour.”
“Celestia and I have been researching this curse of yours for about a month now, and we will need your help.” Luna said. “Whatever the cure is, we need to find it.”
“Assuming there is a cure…” Twilight said flatly.
“Thinking optimistically is all we have right now.” Luna told Twilight, “If we lose our confidence, then we can forget about finding a cure.”
“You’re right.” Twilight agreed.
“Do you remember how to find the castle library?” Luna asked. Twilight perked up a little and just laughed.
The ponies returning from Canterlot arrived home that day with heavy hearts and lowered spirits. A small crowd of ponies had awaited the five friends’ return at the train station, awaiting the return of their beloved unicorn friend. When they discovered that Twilight wouldn’t be returning, however, the mood turned from jubilant to somber immediately.
Ponyville somehow darkened when Twilight left. One would think that the unicorn’s impact on the town was meager at best, but you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Although Twilight’s stay was short, she had become an integral part of the community, always active and present whenever a helping hoof was requested. Being librarian was only a portion of what Twilight did for Ponyville.
The library had become desolate and empty. Cheerilee was doing a fine job filling in the position of librarian, but Twilight and Spike somehow breathed life into the building with their presence. Twilight’s love for books seemed to nurture the very wood of the tree the library rested within. Every visit brought something new, whether it was something you learned or perhaps a nice conversation with the intelligent unicorn. Without her and Spike, ponies just lost whatever little interest they had gained.
“Looks like we need t’ just return t’ how things were before.” Applejack told their group before separating upon their return. Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie left the station and headed into town while Applejack began to walk back to her farm. Applejack looked up at Canterlot Castle off in the distance. For some reason, it seemed like Twilight was within walking distance, just there waiting for them.
This was not true, however. Twilight was far from them in multiple ways. Not only did the train ride take most of a day to reach Canterlot, but her soul was in a dark place that was miles from normal. Applejack shuddered at the thought, that their friend Twilight could snap at any moment and become a monster capable of ending all their lives.
“Y’sure know how ta pick ‘em, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack commented aloud, then chuckled at her own joke. Sweet Apple Acres came into view and Applejack sighed. She looked down at the cast that wrapped her leg and kept it from being useful. She’ll have to make sure Big Mac gets seconds at dinner whenever he wants, because he will really have to pick up her slack. Applejack smiled at the thought of a nice dinner with her family.
“That’s what Ah need right about now.” Applejack said, then smiled despite the circumstances and slowly made her way into the farm. *** ***
“I can’t find anything!!!” Twilight shouted somewhere within the archives. Celestia had just entered the large room to find the entire place torn apart. Celestia’s jaw dropped and the princess knew certainly Twilight hadn’t been able to read all of these scrolls and books in the few hours she had been left alone. Piles and piles of parchment and books were scattered all over the archives, obscuring Celestia’s view so she could see no more than a few feet.
“You sure have been busy.” Celestia said, taking interest in a stack of discarded books near the door, each of which was about the Dragon-Pony War. “And you have been reading an interesting array of topics!”
“You never know what you’ll find in an old book, Princess!” Twilight said, “I don’t want to miss anything!”
“Of course, Twilight, I believe I was the one that taught you that.” Princess Celestia reminded Twilight with a grin.
“…Oh, right.” Twilight replied quickly. Celestia looked around for the source of Twilight’s voice, but could not locate the unicorn in the piles of books. Celestia walked through the piles, but Twilight just didn’t seem to be reading on the floor anywhere.
“Twilight, where is Spike? He was here when I left.”
“I sent him off to take a break. He was working himself to death!” Twilight called out.
“How very thoughtful of you.” Celestia commented. She looked back and forth, but still couldn’t see the unicorn anywhere.
“Um…” Celestia began, about to ask where Twilight was, but suddenly a purple shape off to her right stirred and caused the princess to jump slightly with a start.
“Oh, sorry to startle you Princess!” Twilight said. She was on top of a stack of books, about five feet in the air. Twilight’s hooves were at Celestia’s eye level.
“You never cease to amaze me, Twilight.” Celestia commented.
Twilight ignored the comment, “Here, when was this written?” Twilight asked, pushing a scroll in Celestia’s face. Celestia studied it quickly, then answered.
“This is a first-hoof account during the great unicorn migration… easily four thousand years ago.” Celestia said.
“Interesting…” Twilight said, then her horn quickly lit up and levitated the scroll over to a stack of similar-looking scrolls. Twilight gingerly set the scroll down and continued her search.
“You say you have been unsuccessful in your research?” Celestia asked.
“Unfortunately.” Twilight replied flatly.
Celestia just hummed in reply and moved to search a different section of the archives. A silence enveloped the room, in which the only sound that could be heard was the shuffling of papers and the occasional sigh or yawn from either of the ponies.
“Oh?” Twilight said curiously. Celestia was on the other side of the library, but she turned and looked in Twilight’s direction with interest. Twilight jumped down from her perch atop the books, creating a dull thud that sounded much louder than it actually was. She walked around the mountain of books and pulled a book from the bottom shelf.
“Now how did I miss this?” Twilight asked nopony in particular. She held the book in front of her face with magic and brought it over to a table. She laid it down carefully. The book was rather large, huge in fact, square in shape, and very old. The pages were aged, dark, and fragile, so Twilight didn’t even come into physical contact with it. The cover was green and had gold lettering that read, A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.
“Was Queen Terra your mother?” Twilight asked Celestia. Celestia perked up and whipped her head around to face Twilight.
“I beg your pardon?” Celestia asked.
“Queen Terra.” Twilight said, then pointed at the book, “Was she your mother?”
“Yes, she was. How have you…?”
“A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.” Twilight recited. She opened the cover and looked at the opening pages, but yellow magic suddenly covered the book and closed it. Twilight jumped back in surprise and saw that Celestia was smiling nervously, taking the book from Twilight with her magic.
“Um… Princess? What are you doing?” Twilight asked.
“I’m so sorry, Twilight, but all books written by my mother I must keep in my personal library.” Celestia said with a serious face. “I don’t know how this got in here…”
“What? But… this could truly hold the answers we seek!” Twilight complained.
“I will be certain to look over it when I get the chance.” Celestia said, then walked over to the door with the book. Twilight scowled and watched Celestia walk out of the room.
“I’m sure there’s something in here.” Celestia said. “Have faith, my student.”
Twilight groaned as the princess left. She was frustrated to the point of kicking a desk, which only resulted in causing her pain in her hoof. Twilight walked over to the pile she had made previously and picked up a book that she had been resting on. She scanned the cover: Pony Sicknesses and Plagues of the Dark Ages.
“I really needed to see that book.” Twilight said out loud. She casually opened the cover of the book she had picked up and flipped through some pages. She had already thoroughly scanned this volume, but arbitrarily flipping pages and looking at the diagrams seemed to provoke thought in Twilight.
“What if the Princess is hiding something from me?” Twilight continued the conversation with herself. “What if there’s something in that book that she doesn’t want me to know?”
“No, Twilight.” Twilight lectured herself, “You need to trust the Princess. She must just want the book to stay safe. It is very old, after all.” Twilight said, “Still… if any book will hold answers, it would be that one.”
“I’m back, Twilight!” Came the small voice of Spike from the door to the archives. “Woah! Did it get messier in here?”
“Spike!” Twilight said happily, “I’m back here!”
Spike strolled through the library and found Twilight sitting in the back holding a contemplative hoof to her chin while staring at a book. Spike walked over to the book and looked at it, then cocked his head in confusion. He lifted the cover off the surface of the table just enough to see the title, which confirmed his suspicions.
“Uh… Twilight? You were looking at this book when I left.” Spike said. Twilight was taken out of her thought when Spike brought that fact up. She laughed lightly and closed the book with her magic. Spike still looked at Twilight with confusion.
“Spike, I need you to do something with me tonight.” Twilight said.
“Sure, Twilight!” Spike said, then looked at Twilight’s serious face, “What is it?”
“Celestia’s been my mentor for over twenty years. I have never questioned her judgment before. I trusted that she knew what was best.” Twilight said, pacing away from Spike. She spoke as if Spike were taking a note, as if this were some discovery of hers. Spike glanced around nervously, wondering if he should actually be taking this down.
“But now, I know that I need to start taking matters into my own hooves.” Twilight recited. “The Princess is keeping something from me, I know it. I need to see that book!”
“What book?” Spike asked.
“A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.” Twilight said. She was running her hoof along the edge of a shelf, studying the way it carved patterns into the thin layer of dust that had accumulated.
“How will that help you?” Spike asked. “And who’s Queen Terra?”
“Queen Terra was Celestia and Luna’s mother. Celestia told me that the last known pony to have the same curse that I have was a close friend of Terra’s. I know that if this truly is a matter that concerns the safety of Equestria, the Queen would have written about it.”
“So… where is it?” Spike asked. Twilight frowned and looked at Spike seriously. “What?” Spike asked.
“We need to break into Celestia’s study.” *** ***
Twilight watched the sun on its journey through the sky with great interest. Once it crossed the horizon and night fell, she began to prepare. She and Spike had been entertaining each other for hours in Twilight’s room, though most of the time was spent thinking of a way to get into Celestia’s private study.
Finally, they had thought of a plan, which Twilight thought to be brilliant (considering she thought of most of it). Nighttime signaled the beginning of it, so as planned, she turned to Spike and nodded.
“Sun is down. Begin phase one!” Twilight commanded.
“Yeah, yeah...” Spike said, not taking Twilight seriously with her tone. Spike walked over to Twilight’s bed, lifted up the overhanging covers and slid underneath it. Twilight walked around and flattened out the blankets that had been disturbed, then checked to make sure Spike couldn’t be seen.
“You alright under there?” Twilight asked.
“Just wonderful.” Spike grumbled.
“You won’t be under there long, I promise!” Twilight said, then she walked over to the window and stared out it until the next signal came. From this window, Twilight could see Celestia’s chambers. The windows were illuminated with a soft yellow glow, and from within Twilight could occasionally see Celestia’s form as she paced about the room.
Celestia’s study was connected to her chambers, and unfortunately the study was connected to the room by an open archway that could easily be seen through from the bed. Twilight had to be absolutely sure that Celestia was asleep.
There was a knock on the door. Twilight got up and walked across the room. As Twilight had planned, there stood two royal guards when she opened the door. The guard on the left was a gray unicorn and the one on the right a white pegasus.
“Evening, Twilight.” The unicorn on the left greeted.
“Good evening, sirs.” Twilight said casually.
“Just checking up on ya. We’re beginning our watch now.” The pegasus said.
“Thank you, I am here. Safe and sound.” Twilight replied.
“Yep. Goodnight Ms. Sparkle.” The first guard said, then Twilight closed the door. Twilight heard Spike sneeze from underneath the bed.
“Can I come out now?” Spike asked impatiently.
“No, Spike!” Twilight whispered. She walked back to the window and resumed her watch of Celestia’s chambers. The tower was a few stories above Twilight’s room, though still connected by the same hallway. Twilight sighed as she waited. Her eyes began to wander. Since the castle was built into a mountain, Twilight had a magnificent view of the landscape. It was nighttime, so things weren’t quite as visible as usual, but it was peaceful.
Twilight’s eyes fell on a faint glow off in the distance: Ponyville. An aching filled her heart just by looking at the town she previously called her home. The all too real possibility of never being able to return crept into Twilight’s mind as she studied the minute details of the tiny town. It truly hurt her spirit.
Twilight then thought of Rainbow Dash, how she was probably at home being lazy right about now, settling in for the night. She wondered if Rainbow Dash ever looked out her window at Canterlot and thought of her, thought about what she was doing. She wondered how Rainbow Dash would react if she knew that Twilight was about to sneak into Celestia’s private study to steal a book. Would Rainbow Dash think Twilight as brave? Twilight hoped so. Twilight felt like she was being outright insane.
Something caught Twilight’s eye. Celestia’s light went out. Twilight turned away from the window and walked over to her dresser. She opened a drawer with her magic and pulled out a set of dark-colored socks. She slipped them on her hooves quickly and walked over to the door. As she hoped, the socks muffled the sounds of her hoofsteps to nearly inaudible thuds.
Twilight opened the door once she reached it. The guards looked at her curiously. Twilight returned the look with an innocent grin.
“Um... I’m sorry to ask, but could I trouble you gentlemen with a favor?” Twilight asked sweetly.
“Sure, Twilight, what’s up?” The guard on the left said.
“I really, really need Spike for something right now. Could you two go to his room and bring him here?” Twilight asked.
“You want us both to go?” The guard on the right asked, cocking an eyebrow.
“If you don’t mind.” Twilight said with another wide smile.
“Well, we’ll be back then.” The same guard said. The two guards began walking away, “Don’t tell the Princess that we left our post, alright?” The guard asked.
“It’ll be our secret.” Twilight replied. Once the two guards were out of view down the hall, Twilight turned to her bed.
“Okay, Spike, you can come out now.” Twilight said. Spike quickly emerged from underneath the bed and joined Twilight by her bedroom door.
“Nice socks.” Spike commented with a chuckle.
Twilight grimaced, “C’mon, we don’t have much time.” Twilight said. She led Spike out of the room and up the long, curved hallway leading to Celestia’s room. Twilight padded quietly in front of Spike, the small dragon trailing behind her with haste. Ahead of them was a large, double door with fancy carvings and strangely iridescent colors highlighting the patterns.
Once they reached the intricately decorated door, Twilight’s horn illuminated. Twilight tried the handle on the right and found it to be unlocked. With expert care and precision, Twilight turned the handle and released the latch without a sound. The door began to open and squeaked. Twilight and Spike both winced and Twilight stopped instantly.
With a quick modification to the spell, Twilight cast a magical field around the hinges of the door, soundproofing it completely. The door opened just enough for Twilight and Spike to squeeze through.
Once inside, they were immediately in Celestia’s study. Twilight remembered the space from when she was in there talking to Celestia the other night. The magical instruments and trinkets were dark and lifeless in the study, which was only illuminated by the light of the moon streaming through a window on one side.
The fireplace had long since been extinguished, but some of the coals were still red. Twilight turned to and fro, checking the space. She looked toward Celestia’s chambers. As expected, she could see her bed through the wide archway connecting the two rooms. Celestia’s sleeping form was present beneath the covers. Twilight then bent over to whisper in Spike’s ear.
“Okay, look for a really, really big green book with gold letters.” Twilight whispered to Spike.
Spike held up a thumbs-up and began looking through the shelves. Twilight began to do the same. Twilight carefully walked over to the desk on the chance that perhaps Celestia just set the book there when she brought it back with her. Twilight had no such luck. There was some parchment on the desk with a writing quill, but no book.
Twilight opened the drawers of the desk, but there was nothing. She moved her interest to a bookshelf behind her. Twilight created a small orb of light that she used to scan the higher shelves. She studied the multicolored spines of the books above her. There were some amazing tomes that Twilight would normally have been drooling over, but none were A History of Equestria by Queen Terra.
“Twilight!” Spike whispered. Twilight whipped her head around and looked at the baby dragon, who was currently extracting a large, dark-green book from the shelf.
“Spike, you did it!” Twilight whispered back. She walked over to the shelf to help Spike. She and Spike pulled the book out and set it on the ground. Twilight frowned. This wasn’t the right book.
“Oh… sorry, this isn’t it, is it?” Spike asked.
“No, this is a photo album.” Twilight said, taking note of the picture on the front depicting a framed photo.
“A photo album of… Celestia’s family?” Spike asked. Twilight looked at the book with interest. She had to admit, she was growing ever curious about this Queen Terra. Also, the thought of seeing Celestia and Luna as fillies seemed ridiculous to Twilight.
“Maybe a quick peek.” Twilight whispered, then opened the book with her magic. The first photo was a full-page picture of Celestia and Luna with their mother. Luna looked as she did when she was first released from Nightmare’s hold, with a light blue mane that swirled about her face magnificently. Celestia’s mane was a light pink and looked similar to Luna’s in shape, if not a bit longer.
Queen Terra, their mother, stood behind them with a regal grace unlike any Twilight had ever seen before. Terra was very light blue in color, almost white. Her mane swirled and shimmered a combination of light and forest green, a similar shape to what Celestia and Luna now possessed.
“She’s beautiful…” Spike commented quietly. He hadn’t clarified who he had been speaking about, but Twilight knew it was Queen Terra. It was true, she was radiant. She was certainly one of the most beautiful ponies Twilight had ever seen. What intrigued Twilight, though, was the fact that she had no cutie mark. Even Celestia and Luna had cute marks, why didn’t their mother?
A noise made Twilight’s heart jump. It was the sound of Celestia’s bed creaking. Twilight and Spike held completely still, Twilight killing the light in her horn. When the pair was certain that Celestia had not woken, Twilight lifted the book with her magic and replaced it on the shelf.
“We need to get out of here.” Spike said nervously.
“I agree.” Twilight said. “Let’s find that book.”
Twilight left Spike at the bookshelf again and began walking away when she noticed something, through the arch to Celestia’s room. Twilight looked through the darkness into Celestia’s chambers and saw with horror that the book she was seeking was placed on a small table across the bedroom from where she was currently standing. Twilight gulped audibly and turned to Spike.
“Spike… I found it.” She whispered.
“That’s great!” Spike replied in an excited hushed tone. He joined Twilight under the arch and felt his stomach drop as well.
“What are we gonna do?” Spike asked.
“I’m gonna get that book.” Twilight replied. Spike nodded slowly and Twilight snuck forward, watching Celestia’s bed the entire way. Twilight had never seen Celestia asleep before. She found it very odd how her mane didn’t shimmer and glow like it did while awake. It was as if the princess’s entire being entered a state of rest. She looked peaceful.
On the other side of the room, Twilight reached the book and lifted it with her magic. She turned to Spike, who gave her a quick thumbs-up and a nervous glance at Celestia’s bed. Twilight began to walk back toward Spike, but she stopped in fear when a glow appeared to her right. Celestia’s mane!
“Mph…” Celestia muttered, rolling over in the bed. “Wha… who…”
Twilight bared her teeth in panic and whipped her head around, looking for a way out. She quickly dove in front of Celestia’s foot board. She hoped that Celestia would just fall back asleep and she could walk out of there, but Twilight had no such luck.
“Is there anypony there?” Celestia asked the room. Twilight held her breath and didn’t dare exhale. She saw underneath the bed that Celestia’s hooves had touched the ground. Twilight’s heart raced and she looked back. Spike had disappeared from view under the arch, which relieved her a little bit, but the sound of hoofsteps brought her panic back.
Twilight thought quickly and hid under the bed. From underneath the bed, she watched Celestia’s hooves move across the floor and move to the arch. Twilight looked down at the book that she was now clutching to her chest and felt a new surge of fear course through her body. If Celestia sees that her book is missing, she’ll know somepony’s been in her room!
Celestia walked out of the bedroom and into the study. Twilight feared that Spike would be discovered, but she didn’t have time to worry about that. Once Celestia was out of view, Twilight quickly left the cover of the bed and darted over to the table where she found the book. She replaced the book carefully and turned to jump under the bed again, but froze.
“Hello?” Celestia asked from the study. Twilight saw that the glow from Celestia’s mane was approaching the arch again. Celestia was returning to her room. Twilight panicked. She didn’t have time to get under the bed again! What could she do? What could she…
Twilight’s eyes widened as she realized that there was something that she could potentially do. She felt silly for not thinking about it before, but it was a risky move. Twilight moved over to a shadowy part of the room quickly and her horn lit up.
I hope I do this right… Twilight thought, then she quickly cast a spell. The feeling of being submerged in warm water swept over her body and Twilight looked down to see that her body had completely disappeared. Twilight smiled and admired her work. Even the black socks had disappeared!
Ah, the invisibility spell. Twilight thought with relief. The corner she had stepped into was right beside the table that the book sat on. She looked up just in time to see Celestia reentering her bedroom. Celestia didn’t immediately return to bed, though. The princess walked straight over to the table where Twilight had returned the book. Celestia rested a hoof on the cover of the book and traced a circle on it. Her tired eyes looked troubled as she gazed upon the book that Twilight sought after so badly.
“Thank goodness.” Celestia said. “I was fearful that Twilight was making an attempt to take this book.”
Twilight’s eyes opened wide as she listened, mere feet from Celestia’s body. Was Celestia confirming the suspicions she had? Celestia stepped away from the table and returned to her bed. She tucked herself back in, turning her head away from Twilight and the book. She dared not make a movement until she was sure that the princess was asleep.
Minutes passed with Twilight standing in the corner watching Celestia fall asleep. Celestia’s mane became dimmer and dimmer until the ethereal mane had darkened completely. Twilight finally managed an exhale before turning to the book and looking down at it. If Celestia really didn’t want her to see it that badly… should she really take it?
Twilight stared at the book contemplatively for another minute before making up her mind. She lifted the book off the table and set the book down on her back.
I’m sorry, Princess. Twilight thought, but this is just too important.
Twilight, book in tow, went into the study and closed her eyes. Using her magic to scan the area, she saw the outline of Spike huddled underneath the writing desk. Twilight walked over to the desk and peeked underneath it.
“Let’s go.” Twilight whispered.
“Is it safe?” Spike asked shakily.
“No, I just decided to tell Celestia that I’m sneaking around her bedroom after dark and stealing her book.” Twilight said sarcastically. “So she’s kicking us out.”
“You what?” Spike asked, surprised.
“Just get up, Spike.” Twilight commanded. Spike frowned and crawled out from beneath the desk. He saw the book on Twilight’s back and smiled. Twilight smiled back and the two left Celestia’s study together.
They hastened down the hall and made it back to Twilight’s room before the guards returned. Twilight entered first. Spike glanced down the hall and followed her into the room. Twilight went over to the carpeted rug and set the book down on it. She laid down next to it and ran a hoof along its cover.
“Two questions.” Spike said.
“Shoot.” Twilight replied.
“One: why did you send the guards away?” Spike asked, “It’s not like they would stop you from leaving your room.”
“No, but I didn’t want them to know that I had left.” Twilight said.
“Uh huh…” Spike replied with little understanding.
Twilight sighed, “If they knew that I was gone, Celestia could have told them in the morning that she suspected I was in her room, then they could have told her that I was out after dark, and Celestia would know everything!” Twilight said with increasing vigor.
“Okay, okay!” Spike said. “Next question! How are you gonna put that book back?” Spike asked, “We don’t have to go back, do we?”
“No, no. Now that I’ve seen where the book was, I can just teleport it there when I’m done with it. The distance is pretty short, too. It won’t make any noise.”
Twilight opened the cover of the book. Spike walked over to sit beside Twilight and likewise studied the pages. Twilight found the preface a few pages in and began to read out loud.
“From the desk of Queen Terra, ruler of Equestria and guardian of Earth.” Twilight read, “In my time as Queen, I have traveled far and met many diverse inhabitants of this magnificent land. Equestria is an incredible place with a rich history that spans millennia. The history is so rich that I have decided to document all that I can in my time remaining as Queen. In this collection, I will recount what I have viewed as the most important events that have happened in Equestrian history to the best of my memory, and in the years to come, I will continue to record these events until the day of my death. It is my hope that in this book the history of Equestria will be preserved and cherished for all to study and learn from."
Twilight looked at Spike and breathed deeply. Spike returned the look and encouraged Twilight to open farther into the book. Twilight was about to proceed when a knock was heard. Twilight looked up at the door in fear, but remembered who it would be. Twilight quickly cast a spell and the book disappeared. Spike looked at the spot in the floor where the book used to be and dropped his jaw. Twilight opened the door and smiled at the two royal guards that stood behind it.
“Good evening.” Twilight greeted.
“Miss Twilight, I’m sorry, but we couldn’t find Spike anywhere.” The unicorn spoke.
“Yeah, he wasn’t in his room or anywhere!” The other guard said.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, boys.” Twilight said with false sincerity, “Spike showed up all on his own shortly after you left!”
“He did?” The pegasus guard asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yep! See? He’s right in here.” Twilight said, then opened the door wider to reveal Spike, who was now feeling the spot on the carpet where the book had been.
“I guess you’re right.” The same guard said. “Well, I guess we’ll just resume our post then.”
“Thank you so much, gentlecolts. I’m sorry to put you through that.” Twilight said, this time actually sorry for making them go on a wild dragon chase.
“’S no problem, Twilight.” The unicorn said, “We usually need things to do anyway.”
Twilight smiled at the guards and went back into her room. Spike looked up at Twilight, begging for an explanation. Twilight sighed and illuminated her horn again, casting the same spell and returning the book to where it was.
“I just hid it in my dresser.” Twilight explained quickly.
“Oh… right.” Spike said, scratching his head.
“Anyway… let’s find some answers.” Twilight said with determination. She flipped open the cover and began to scan over pages with her magic. She recited aloud what she came across as she went, occasionally stopping at an entry to see if it held any answers.
“Pony Plague, no… Dragon-Pony War, no… Banishment of the Changelings, no…” Twilight continued, flipping pages faster than Spike was even able to register.
“Is this how you read all the time?” Spike asked, but did not receive an answer.
“The Conquest of Orion Teering… The great migration… Patsy Feathers’ first sonic Rainboom…” Twilight groaned, seeing that she was almost through the book, “There has to be something in here!”
“The two year drought… The Cu-“ Twilight stopped immediately, her words catching in her throat.
“The what? What did you find?” Spike asked.
“The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession.” Twilight said. “The entry is short.”
“Well, read it! See what it is!” Spike said.
“Okay…” Twilight said, “Here goes…” The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession I have dealt with all sorts of maladies, some more gruesome than others. I have seen ponies wither and die from the most debilitating plagues, and yet none prepared me for this. On a cool spring evening, I was startled when my dearest friend tried to kill me. This, of course, disturbed me greatly, as he returned to normal before the night was up. This pony was named Blue Streak, and he was afflicted with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession. This curse is more different than any illness because unlike an illness that will eat away at a pony’s body until they are deceased, the Curse of Mallumo’s Possession makes a pony stronger. Since I have only witnessed this in one pony, and it was a unicorn, I do know that it increases magical output and growth greatly. When possessed, he became unreachably evil. His soul was dark and is intentions darker. It only became worse over time. He would become this darker version of himself more often and grew more powerful. Blue Streak had reached a point of no turning back when he and I discovered what was necessary. All medicinal or magical remedies are useless. No amount of spiritual guidance can rid the cursed pony of the darkness that overtakes it. It is with regret that the only way to deal with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession is…
Twilight stopped reading. Spike dropped his hands to the ground, then opened his jaw. He made a few hand motions to try to get Twilight to spill, but she just stared dumbfounded at the page.
“Twilight, what is it?!” Spike asked fearfully. Twilight gulped loudly and read the last sentence again. It is with regret that the only way to deal with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession is that the cursed pony be put to death.
Silence filled the room. Twilight quietly closed the book, but stared forward blankly. Spike looked horrified. Had he heard correctly? No, he couldn’t have.
“I’m going to be put to death.” Twilight said weakly.
“No! Twilight, don’t say that, there’s another way!”
“I’m going to die…” Twilight continued, even quieter.
“What’s so hard to understand, Spike?!” Twilight suddenly barked, “I am a danger to Equestria and all its inhabitants! Why didn’t I see this solution before? It’s so obvious!” Twilight said hysterically.
“No, Twilight, you can’t!” Spike said, now in tears.
“But it’s the only way, Spike!” Twilight said forcefully. “Weren’t you listening?”
“I was, there has to be another way!” Spike sobbed once, “You can’t die! I love you!”
Spike ran forward and hugged Twilight around the neck. Twilight was now tearing up herself. She looked down at Spike, who was now heavily crying into Twilight’s neck. Twilight sniffed and hugged him back.
And for a minute, neither of them spoke.
“Spike, I…” Twilight started, but stopped when a sudden burst of pain flowed through her head.
“…aargh!” Twilight groaned in pain. “What the heck?”
“What is it, Twilight?” Spike asked. Twilight felt another rush of pain and stepped back, away from Spike.
“Twilight, are you okay?” Spike asked nervously. Twilight rubbed her forehead a few times and looked up at Spike with worry.
“Spike, I think something bad’s going to hap-AGH!” Twilight fell to the ground as an indescribably painful flash rocked through her head.
“Twilight!” Spike shouted, then ran forward. He reached down to help Twilight up, but was suddenly blown back by a magical force that originated from Twilight’s body.
“AAH!” Twilight screamed now, suddenly on her feet. Spike went tumbling away, just missing the bed that would have surely injured him. When he collected himself, he looked up to see Twilight’s eyes beginning to glow and her body gaining a black aura that moved and danced like fire.
Twilight then reached her head back and bellowed a high-pitched screech that pierced the walls and sent shivers down Spike’s spine. The baby dragon covered his ears and looked away, too scared. When he looked back up again, Twilight was breathing heavily, her head hung low between her front legs.
“T-Twilight?” Spike asked.
“I’m sorry, you seem to be looking for the wrong pony.” Twilight said in cold, sinister voice that seemed to drain life out of everything that heard it. Then, Twilight lifted her head and revealed a bright red scar that opened over her right eye, still allowing the eye to open fine, but extending for an inch or two in both directions above and below it. The scar was bright red and pulsed like a heartbeat.
“Twilight just doesn’t seem to be here right now!” Twilight jeered, when the door opened and both of the guards entered.
“Twilight!” One of the guards shouted. “What’s going on here?”
Twilight’s head snapped toward the door so fast, the ponies in the room could have sworn Twilight had just broken her neck. She stared right at the first guard to enter the room, the gray unicorn clad in the golden armor that signified that he was a part of Celestia’s own royal guard. The stallion went rigid with fright and began to sweat. Twilight snarled and darted toward, catching him by surprise and pinning him against a wall with force.
The stallion struggled for air as Twilight held him there by the neck with a strong hoof. The guard on any normal circumstance would have easily been able to throw Twilight off of him, but some magical force was making Twilight stronger than usual.
“Shouldn’t you be at your post?” Twilight growled at the guard. He bore his teeth and struggled with Twilight, almost succeeding in pulling her hoof off his neck. At this sudden display of strength, Twilight pulled him off the wall and threw him away, forcing him to go tumbling across the room. He lay still, recovering from the attack, while Twilight turned her attention back to the other two occupants of the room.
Spike was crying and holding his knees, pressed up against a corner of the room. The other guard was standing paralyzed by the door. When Twilight’s eyes fell on his, he suddenly darted out the door and up the hall. Twilight clicked her tongue and shook her head.
“You royal guards aren’t so tough, are you?” Twilight insulted. She walked up to Spike casually. Spike’s breathing increased and he squeezed his eyes shut in fear.
“T-Twilight, what’s gotten into you?” Spike asked shakily.
“Oh shh, shh Spike, don’t be scared.” Twilight cooed softly, insincerely. She put a hoof on Spike’s cheek and began to stroke it softly.
Spike opened his eyes and looked up at Twilight, who had pulled his face up to meet her gaze.
“You wanna know why you’re my number one assistant?” Twilight asked in her disgustingly cold and raspy voice. Spike didn’t answer. He blinked hard and continued to shake in fear.
“You just know how to make me happier.” Twilight answered her own question, “I can have FUN with you!” Twilight’s horn lit up to attack, but before she could do anything, she was tackled to the ground by a headfirst charge from the guard she tried to incapacitate. Twilight fell to her side and grunted.
“Spike, run!” The guard said frantically to Spike. Twilight quickly got to her feet and turned to face the guard with rage in her face. Spike was frozen in fear.
“Now, Spike! You have to get out of here!” The guard yelled. Spike suddenly snapped out of his trance and jumped up from where he was. Twilight began to prepare a spell that would bind Spike in a magical embrace, but the guard locked horns with Twilight and began to fight with her. Spike ran out of the room and away from there as fast as his little legs could carry him.
Twilight screamed in frustration and sent a spark through the grey unicorn’s horn. He reeled back in pain and was rocked with a back-hoofed slap to the muzzle. His face was pushed to the side with the force. Blood began to trickle down his snout and into his mouth. He looked up to see Twilight’s livid face. Her glowing eyes sent a chill down his spine. They looked so empty… so soulless.
“You know… I really hate it when ponies try to stop me from having fun.” Twilight said irritably. She lit up her horn and lifted him off the ground. The blood from his nose dripped onto the floor, leaving little crimson dots on the wooden floor. Twilight threw him across the room. As he hit the floor, his metal armor made loud clanging sounds and he coughed loudly.
Twilight ran over to him and whipped him around so that he was on his back facing upwards. With a quick movement from Twilight, his armor flew off in all directions, exposing his body and a sky blue mane. She stamped a hoof down on his ribs. The force was assisted by magic and broke a few of his ribs. He let out a pained grunt and coughed some more, a little bit of blood in the coughs. Twilight prepared a magical attack, then unleashed a little boomerang-shaped burst of lavender energy.
“AH!” The guard cried out as the magic sliced open his front right leg and right side. More blood poured from his wounds, staining the floor and creating a pool beneath him. Twilight rubbed her hoof in the wound on his side, making him wince in pain. She brought the hoof to her face and licked it, tasting the blood.
The armor-clad guard breathed in as best he could, then quickly cast a spell that pushed Twilight off him, if a bit weakly. He scrambled to his hooves and ran to the door, but Twilight was too fast. Twilight caught his tail with a magical hold and yanked him back into the room. The force on his tail hurt him, but he thought quickly before Twilight was able to pull him all the way over to her. Once he was within range, he bucked his legs back and scored a hit right on Twilight’s muzzle.
Twilight staggered back and let out a cry of pain. The guard then made another run for the door. He was almost out the doorway when Twilight teleported in front of him and swung her hoof at his face again, this time hitting him in the jaw. There was an audible crack as his jaw broke. He fell back and brought his left front hoof up to nurse the injury, but Twilight wasted no more time.
“You know what? I respect you.” Twilight said a little frantically. She grabbed him with magic and slammed him back down on his back, forcing out another cough that brought with it some more blood.
“You have put up the biggest fight so far. I can actually have fun with YOU!” Twilight shouted, then swiftly kicked him in the side, forcing him to groan in agony and clutch his stomach. “And I will be happy to make you my first kill.”
The grey pony’s eyes widened in terror. Twilight pressed her hoof down on his neck lightly. She bent over close to his face and grinned. Her nose was still bleeding from his kick, coating her snout, and as she spoke, she spat it on his face.
“Any last words, you pathetic pony?” Twilight growled out.
“Ce… lestia…” The guard murmured.
“HA! Your princess cannot protect you now!” Twilight laughed maniacally.
Twilight looked up to see princess Celestia standing there. Her brow was furrowed, her eyes narrowed and her face displaying a fierce scowl. Behind her stood the guard that previously ran away. Celestia let out a powerful, “ha!” and used her superior magic to pull Twilight off the guard and pin her to the wall opposite them.
“We are here for you, don’t worry” Celestia said to the guard. He smiled and nodded, then let his head slump to the side as he recovered. Twilight, firmly attached to the wall with Celestia’s magic, pulled her head back and let out an earth-shattering scream. Celestia winced at the sound, then was horrified to feel her hold on Twilight breaking.
“I am sick of you princesses interfering in EVERYTHING!!!” Twilight hollered. She then broke free from Celestia’s grip and disappeared.
“Wh-where did she go?” The guard standing beside Celestia asked fearfully, looking around the room.
“Be on your guard.” Celestia warned the two. “She could be anywhere.”
“I could be anywhere, couldn’t I?” Twilight’s sinister voice echoed through the room, as if coming from everywhere. She let out an evil laugh and then continued, “It’s like a game!”
“Twilight, I know you are there, the real you! You must stop this madness. Take control!” Celestia shouted.
“You fool!” Twilight’s voice echoed, full of malice. “You think Twilight has any choice in this matter? I will soon be all she knows, and all she will ever know. We will be eternal!”
“Not if I have anything to do with it!” Celestia said fiercely.
“Oh, I’m so scared! Look at you, you can’t even protect your guards!” Twilight jeered.
“Wiley, look out!” The grey guard on the floor screamed. The guard next to Celestia looked to his left in horror just in time to see Twilight launching a magical spear into his chest. The white pegasus guard named Wiley let out a pained groan and fell to his knees. The lavender spear lodged itself in his body for a few seconds before disappearing and letting out a torrent of crimson blood.
“WILEY, NO!!!” The grey guard on the ground screamed, followed by a coughing fit.
“No!” Celestia said, horrified. She swooped down gracefully and caught the falling pony with a front hoof. She carefully laid him down, and with a wave of her horn, his armor disappeared, exposing a white body and a royal blue mane. Blood poured out of the wound in his chest, pooling on the ground.
“Did I do that?” Twilight asked innocently. Celestia lashed out and cast a bright pink magic-blocking bubble around Twilight, binding her to the ground. It took Twilight a few seconds to realize that the barrier was blocking her magic, and her angry cries were muffled by the barrier, allowing Celestia to tend to the guard at her side. The grey unicorn guard struggled to drag himself over to his friend.
Wiley’s breathing was ragged and Celestia and the other guard could definitely tell that he did not have much time left.
“Hey… Stern…” Wiley said to the grey unicorn guard through his breaths. Stern blinked a tear from his eye and nodded. Wiley looked into Stern’s eyes with a blank expression, “Tell… Melodia… and the… kids… I love ‘em…”
“Wiley, don’t talk like that, come on, you can make it out of here.” Stern said. Twilight’s screams could still be heard, though they were indistinguishable. Celestia lowered her horn to Wiley’s injuries and it lit up. The skin closed and the blood stopped flowing from it. Stern looked at Celestia with hopeful eyes, but Celestia shook her head
“His injuries are too deep. I cannot save him, even with magic.” She said solemnly. Stern’s lips began to quiver and he nodded.
“You’re a brave guy, you know that?” Stern said to Wiley, tapping him on the chest.
“Yea… sure I am…” Wiley replied weakly with a little smile. He was going fast.
“You go kick the afterlife’s ass, alright?” Stern said.
“With… a vengeance…” Wiley said, then his eyes became blank and he breathed his last.
“No…” Stern muttered, sinking his muzzle into his friend’s chest. Celestia stood and walked to Twilight. Twilight huffed from beneath the barrier a few times, her stance lowered threateningly. She then closed her eyes and composed herself.
“You release Twilight from your hold now, foul creature.” Celestia demanded.
“Save it, princess.” Twilight barked from beneath the shield. “Your Twilight is returning. My work here is done anyway… for now.”
Celestia breathed a sigh of relief and watched as Twilight’s eyes began to lose their white glow. The new scar over her eye became less bright, the pulsing becoming less and less. Unlike the other signs of Twilight’s corruption, however, this remained. The dark magic that burned from Twilight’s body dissipated and soon Twilight had returned.
Celestia released the magic barrier and rushed forward to catch Twilight when she almost fainted. Twilight sniffed and Celestia looked down to see tears forming in her eyes.
“Princess…” Twilight said hesitantly.
“I’m here, Twilight. I’ll always be here.” Celestia assured Twilight.
“I remember… everything…” Twilight choked out. She sniffed again, “Celestia, I just killed a stallion!”
“No, no, no, Twilight, you did not.” Celestia comforted Twilight. “This curse you bear has caused this terrible tragedy, but you did not.”
“Celestia, I was there! I was in myself, I felt every hit, knew when I was about to attack, even t-tasted the blo-“ Twilight gagged once, then sobbed again and allowed herself to fall against Celestia’s body. Twilight turned to look at the two guard ponies, but Celestia stopped her head.
“No, Twilight. Don’t look.” Celestia said, “Save yourself the trauma.”
“I remember…” Twilight muttered again. “I’m a monster… and Spike… Spike!” Twilight suddenly shouted. “Where is he? Is he alright??”
“I wasn’t aware that he was even here.” Celestia said, a little worried, “Do you think he is hurt?” Twilight knew that Celestia was just asking if Spike had been attacked.
“No… I didn’t hurt him.” Twilight said. “I would never…”
“Celestia, I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” Twilight said solemnly. She walked over to her bed and collapsed on it.
“Do not be sorry for anything, Twilight, for you are not at fault.” Celestia said.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Twilight wailed into her covers, ignoring the princess. Celestia placed a hoof on Twilight’s back and rubbed it affectionately. Celestia turned to see Stern staring at them.
“Twilight Sparkle.” Stern said seriously. “I do not blame you for this. You are forgiven in my eyes, and I’m sure you would have been forgiven in Wiley’s as well.”
Twilight sniffed and looked at Stern finally. “Thank you.” She said softly. One look at the deceased pegasus drove her head back into her hooves again and she cried.
The moon was full that night. The glow it cast upon the landscape somehow reflected the night’s dismal events. Still, one had to admit. If any night were to be a pony’s last, this one was beautiful.
Rainbow Dash watched the moon from Ponyville. Somehow, she could sense that something was wrong. Something had happened only a few hours prior in Ponyville that warned her that something had happened with Twilight. Rainbow Dash turned and looked back at the library, where she had just left from. Then, with a strong wing beat, she took off into the night toward Canterlot.
*** *** Note: Mallumo is the Esperanto word for 'darkness.' A cookie to anypony who knows what Esperanto is.
The world was bathed in a sea of red. Everything seemed to be obscured by a bloody crimson light filter. All movement was blurry and distant, as if Twilight were watching a movie rather than seeing out her own eyes. She was in her room, walking around it invisibly. There were three other ponies in the room with her.
The first she noticed was Princess Celestia. Celestia was staring, dumbfounded, at an area of wall behind Twilight. The Princess looked startled, frightened even. She looked away from the spot in the wall. Her head created an afterimage as Twilight watched. Twilight still walked around the room.
The next pony Twilight noticed was one she knew as Stern, but he did not look well. His nose was bleeding badly. He clutched his ribs in pain. Twilight didn’t know how, but something told her that his ribs were broken.
“Wh-where did she go?” The last pony asked. Twilight knew who that was. That was Stern’s partner, Wiley. He looked petrified. Why did everypony look so frightened? What was wrong?
Him. Echoed a sinister voice inside Twilight’s head. It’s going to be him.
“What was that? Who’s there?” Twilight asked. Oddly, Twilight didn’t feel her vocal chords move when she spoke. Must have just been akin to the blurred vision and red environment, she reasoned.
Twilight! How wonderful of you to join me finally. The voice said.
“Be on your guard! She could be anywhere.” The Princess said.
“I could be anywhere, couldn’t I?” Twilight said. She hadn’t meant to. The source of the voice she was hearing was driving her to move, talk, and function in general. Twilight had no control over herself. “It’s like a game!”
“Who are you? What are you doing to my body?” Twilight asked. Again, she wasn’t heard by the occupants of the room, only herself.
“Twilight, I know you are there, the real you! You must stop this madness. Take control!” Celestia shouted. Twilight took notice of the Princess’s call and attempted to will herself back into reality, but she was unable.
“I’m trying, Princess!!” Twilight shouted.
“You fool!” The voice shouted out loud. It turned its attention back to Celestia, Twilight could tell. “You think Twilight has any choice in this matter? I will soon be all she knows, and all she will ever know. We will be eternal!”
“Why are you doing this?” Twilight asked.
“Not if I have anything to do with it!” Celestia said threateningly.
“Oh I’m so scared!” The voice said, ignoring Twilight’s plea. “Look at you, you can’t even protect your guards!”
You’re about to learn how powerful you really are, Twilight. The voice echoed inside Twilight’s head. This is the new you. This is what you will forever be.
Twilight reappeared on the other side of the room, beside Wiley. As she let go of her invisibility, she saw Stern’s head whip up to look at her.
“Wiley, look out!”
“NO!” Twilight screamed.
Wiley looked to the side in horror, his eyes becoming wide and his jaw dropping. Twilight prepared a magical spear. She couldn’t control herself. Twilight fought back with as much force as possible, but no matter how much she put into fighting off this evil, it would not work.
She threw the spear. Wiley’s eyes shut forcefully as the lavender object pierced his chest… *** ***
Twilight awoke in a panicked, nervous sweat. She panted heavily and felt her head pounding. She shook her head in an attempt to diffuse the pain, but it only resulted in hurting more. She felt a particularly strong twinge of pain coming from the new scar over her right eye. Twilight sniffed and held back the tears that were threatening to pour out of her eyes.
I killed somepony… Twilight thought. I ended their life…
Twilight looked across the room at the carpet and suddenly realized that the book was no longer there. Great. Twilight thought, and Celestia knows that I’ve broken into her study. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has no problems condemning me to death.
Twilight felt numb. The weight of the situation was just too much for her to bear. What purpose was there for her to be alive anymore? All she was was a menace. Twilight could no longer contribute to pony society. She was like a prisoner on death row, slowly awaiting their demise.
“I’ve always admired your thirst for knowledge, Twilight.” Celestia said.
Twilight looked over to her right side to see that Princess Celestia had been sitting on her stomach beside her bed the whole time. Twilight swallowed with her dry mouth and looked at the Princess flatly, waiting for her to continue.
“And I now know what lengths you will go to obtain it.” Celestia said. She patted an object in front of her, which was the forest green book that Twilight had broken into Celestia’s room to obtain.
“Sorry.” Twilight said plainly, honestly not caring now whether the Princess was upset or not.
“You are at no fault, Twilight.” Celestia said.
“It was me who took the book, Celestia, not… her.” Twilight said, referring to her evil self with a shake of her head.
“I am aware of this, Twilight.” Celestia said, “No, if anypony is to be sorry, it is me. I was hiding the truth from you, and I do apologize.”
Twilight nodded and buried her face in her hooves. She let out a heavy sigh and fell back onto her pillow.
“Princess… this is terrible.” Twilight said, “Everything is.”
“Indeed, Twilight.” Celestia replied weightily.
“Oh, Princess!” A pegasus guard said from Twilight’s open door. Celestia looked up at the guard and nodded.
“We haven’t had any luck finding the baby dragon, but we’re going to keep looking.” The guard said.
“This just keeps getting better.” Twilight said sarcastically.
“Do keep looking, Horace.” Celestia said. The guard nodded with a determined face and ran away, down the way he came.
“Does Wiley’s family know? Does the public know?” Twilight asked Celestia, lowering her hooves to her side.
“Stern agreed to abide by a false account. The two were attacked by a Manticore while on a mission to the Everfree Forest. Only Stern escaped with his life.”
“It’s vague.” Twilight pointed out.
“But it works.” Celestia said. “Ponies don’t go into the Everfree forest. They will believe it.”
“I don’t like this. I don’t like lying. I don’t like living with the knowledge that I am the reason that pony cannot return home to his family. I just… want this to be over.” Twilight said distantly.
“We all do, Twilight.” Celestia said.
“So… do you want to end this?” Twilight asked, turning to Celestia.
“What… do you mean?” Celestia replied.
“I mean.” Twilight said quickly, “What the book says.” Twilight gulped and blinked once, “You need to kill me, Celestia.”
“Twilight, don’t you suggest a thing like that!” Celestia shouted, standing up.
“It’s the only way.” Twilight continued, quietly and calmly, “I’m ready.”
“No, you’re not!” Celestia shouted. “You have too much to live for; I will not give up like this!”
Twilight jumped out of her bed, “And I am not going to allow one more pony to get hurt because of me!”
“Luna and I have already found a solution to that.” Celestia said excitedly. “You need to trust us.”
“Oh? And what is this?” Twilight asked skeptically.
“Luna is actually on her way now. If you’ll just wait a moment…”
“I’m here, sister!” Luna said with a yawn. She walked into the room with something black and cloth-like draped over her back. She finished her yawn as she arrived at the bed. “Good morning, Twilight.” Luna said casually.
“Thank you so much, Luna.” Celestia said appreciatively.
“Yeah, well it took me almost all night to fly to Alcoltraz and back.” Luna said. “It’s a mile off the coast of the western sea, you know.” She yawned again and levitated what appeared to be a black garment of some sort off her back and onto the bed. “Hope I didn’t miss anything last night. Would you like me to stay for a few minutes?”
“You are tired. Go rest, my sister. I shall see you in the evening.” Celestia said.
“Oh-kay.” Luna said, in the middle of yet another yawn. “Goodnight, girls.”
Luna walked out of the room, accidentally bumping her rump against the frame of the door, letting out a little ‘oof!’ as she did so.
“One of the things I pride myself in is my ability to stay up past my bedtime.” Celestia said with a little smile. For the first time, Twilight actually snorted out a little laugh.
“Alcoltraz, huh?” Twilight said, eyeballing the strange garment on the foot of her bed, “And that is…?”
“Equestria’s highest security prison.” Celestia said a little darkly. “It’s on an island in the middle of the ocean. Equestria’s greatest threats are kept there.” Twilight’s heart sank. She looked down at the garment and added up the situation quickly.
“P-princess, I…” Twilight began, backing away from the bed.
“Don’t fear, Twilight, we’re not sending you to prison.” Celestia said. Twilight felt a little bit of relief, but was still worried. She’d rather die than be stuck in some prison.
“So… what’s with the suit then?” Twilight asked.
“This is the uniform all the unicorn inmates are required to wear.” Celestia said. “It is magical, as you might imagine.”
“The uniform cannot be removed by the wearer. It must be removed by a designated pony, say, me. The wearer will find that it is quite impossible to remove.” Celestia said proudly. Twilight figured that this was an invention of hers.
“Okay, so I can’t take it off.” Twilight acknowledged, “What’s so special about it?”
“It completely blocks all magical output.” Celestia said. Twilight’s heart sank again. She looked down at the garment with terror. She then subconsciously moved a hoof up to her head and felt her horn. She gave a little spark, as if to remind herself what it feels like to have magic.
“Oh my…” Twilight said.
“’Tis only temporary, until we find a solution.” Celestia assured Twilight. The unicorn still stared at the sinister granite-black suit that lay out on her bed with disgust.
“I know, Twilight.” Celestia said. “Especially for you, I’m sure the thought of being without magic must be unbearable.”
“But the alternative is…” Twilight said, looking at the book that still sat on the floor next to Celestia. Twilight gulped and decided that as long as she was alive, she could live without magic.
“I’ll do it.”
“Thank you, Twilight. If you ever need any help, please let me know.”
“I will just miss my magic greatly.” Twilight said. She lit up her horn and brought the garment over to her.
“I will have to put it on.” Celestia said. She and Twilight walked to the foot of the bed and met in the middle. Twilight handed over the uniform. Celestia took hold of it with her magic. She spread the garment out on the floor where the four leg holes were spread out just right.
“Go ahead.” Celestia encouraged. Twilight took a deep breath and stepped into the leg holes. Already, she could feel a strange presence emanating from the fabric, like an encompassing heat wave rising from the floor. She feared how it would feel when the whole thing was on her.
Celestia pulled the garment up and over Twilight’s body. Her tail got caught for a moment, but a quick adjustment pushed it through the hole on the backside. Immediately, Twilight felt like she had been cut off from the world. The uniform was suffocating. The suit had a magical seal on top that Celestia closed and could only be opened by her. Twilight quickly tried to cast a simple spell. She tried to pick up the green book that was close by. There was no reaction. Her horn gave absolutely no indication that magic existed within it.
“Well… this sucks.” Twilight commented.
“I’m sorry, Twilight.” Celestia said. “Does it work?”
“Yeah, it certainly works.” Twilight said. She screwed up her face in concentration, but absolutely no magic came from her horn. The more she tried, the more she lost her grasp on the feeling of magic inside her. It was completely blocked.
“Well, I won’t be hurting anypony with magic anymore.” Twilight said.
“And that will help.” Celestia said. “Good. Well, I must now resume my rule. I will be in the throne room if you need anything.”
“Okay, Princess.” She said, “Thank you.”
Celestia smiled, “No problem.”
Twilight watched the Princess leave and jumped back on her bed again. She sat on her stomach and studied the uniform she now wore. She couldn’t ignore the constant block that almost numbed her horn, like it didn’t even exist anymore. One thing she noticed was that there was a blank spot that had evidence of a patch originally being there. She reasoned that it was where the prisoner’s number would have been.
That’s good. Twilight thought. At least average ponies won’t know that I look like a prisoner right now.
“Why are you wearing a prisoner’s uniform?”
Twilight snapped her head up and saw Rainbow Dash standing at her door with a confused face.
“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight said excitedly. She jumped off the bed and ran over to embrace her friend. “Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to see you.”
“Me too, Twi!” Rainbow Dash said. “I left Ponyville last night. So yeah, why do you look like a prisoner?”
“Aw, rats.” Twilight said, frustrated, “I hoped normal ponies wouldn’t know that this is a prisoner’s uniform.”
“Well, I have an uncle in Alcoltraz.” Rainbow Dash said. “Visited him a few times.”
“Your uncle’s a unicorn?” Twilight asked.
“Yeah. Only one in the family. Turned out to be a real jerk.” Rainbow Dash said.
“Apparently.” Twilight laughed. “So you don’t think other ponies will notice?”
“Nah. It looks good on you.” Rainbow Dash said. “Looks like a spy outfit or something! And what’s with the scar on your eye?” Rainbow Dash asked, “It’s wicked awesome!”
“Oh, it’s… nothing.” Twilight said, prodding her eye with a hoof.
“Okay, then.” Rainbow Dash chuckled, “So why are you wearing the uniform?” Rainbow Dash asked for the third time.
“Oh, these suits are designed to block out magic.” Twilight said.
Rainbow Dash gave her a confused look. “Why would you wanna do that?”
“Um…” Twilight said uncomfortably.
“Is this because of that stupid curse thing?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Yeah.” Twilight said.
“Is Celestia making you wear it?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“No… well, yeah, it was her idea, but… I decided to wear it.” Twilight said. “I, um…”
Twilight walked over to her bed and sat down on it. Rainbow Dash quickly followed her and sat down beside her. Twilight hated to recount the dismal events of the previous night, but having Rainbow Dash next to her somehow made her more comfortable.
“I really am glad you’re here, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight began.
“Me too, Twilight.”
“Last night… was the worst night of my life.” Twilight said.
Rainbow Dash listened intently, looking at Twilight as Twilight looked at the bed covers. Twilight continued.
“I… well, rather, the evil me… attacked my guards last night.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash remained quiet, listening. “And… one of them didn’t make it… out.” Twilight said. She shook her head and wiped away a tear that had formed. She did not cry.
Rainbow Dash draped a hoof over Twilight’s shoulders comfortingly. Twilight rested her head against Rainbow Dash’s. “I killed somepony, Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said weakly.
“Hey, it’s alright.” Rainbow Dash replied softly, her voice cracking a little the way it does.
“But it’s not… Rainbow Dash, he had a family. He had a wife and kids, a family that has just lost a father.”
“Hey, I grew up with just my dad, and I’m fine.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight let out a weak hum in agreement.
“That’s not all that happened last night, though.” Twilight said.
“Oh yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“You see the book sitting on the ground over there?” Twilight asked, using her left hoof to point at the ground on the right side of the bed.
“Yeah, the green one?”
“Celestia’s mother wrote that.”
“She has a mom!?”
“Of course she does!” Twilight reacted.
“Well then… who’s their mom’s mom?” Rainbow Dash asked, putting a hoof to her chin and looking at the ceiling.
“Wha- I don’t know! Dash, we’re getting off track.” Twilight scolded.
“Sorry.” Rainbow Dash said.
“It’s fine. Anyway, she wrote an account of the last pony to have my curse.” Twilight told. Rainbow Dash nodded.
“She knew how to deal with it, but… it’s not good news.”
“Yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked nervously.
“The last pony to have my curse was… put to death.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash was silent. Twilight moved her head to look up at Rainbow Dash’s, but Dash looked absolutely blank. Twilight looked forward again and sighed, but was suddenly pulled into a hug from Rainbow Dash.
“Twilight…” Rainbow Dash said, her voice wavering. She sniffed, “It’s not true… tell me it’s not true…”
Twilight was in awe. Rainbow Dash was… crying? Twilight suspected Rainbow Dash was crying the last time she visited her house, but now she was here, the tears were falling, and Twilight would have joined her had it not been for the huge number of tears she had already cried during this whole ordeal. Twilight hugged back fiercely.
“I wish it weren’t…” Twilight replied.
“I don’t want you to die, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash wailed into Twilight’s ear. “You can’t!”
Twilight didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know how to comfort Rainbow Dash. She wished she could tell her that everything would be alright, that she and the Princesses had a plan to stop this curse before it got worse, but she would be lying. They had no idea what to do. They may have bought themselves some time with this prison uniform, but in the end, Twilight would be taken over by this darkness, and there was nothing they could do to stop it, unless they just kill Twilight now while they still have the chance.
“Listen, Rainbow Dash…” Twilight said. “This uniform has bought us some time. I’d say we already know as much as there is to know about this curse. The only direction we can go is forward. We’ll learn more and who knows? Maybe there’s still hope.” Twilight said.
Rainbow Dash sniffed and laughed. Twilight gave Rainbow Dash an inquisitive glance. “What’s funny?”
“Twilight, I’m supposed to be the one cheering you up.” Rainbow Dash said. She shook her head and wiped a tear away, “Look at me, crying like a filly…”
“I think a little role reversal is healthy.” Twilight said with a little grin, “It can only help to think positive now anyway.”
“Twilight, you amaze me.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight blushed and looked down. Rainbow Dash moved her right hoof back down to the bed, the left one remaining around Twilight’s shoulders. She gave Twilight a little squeeze to fill the silence that was quickly forming.
“Hey.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight looked up again, meeting Rainbow face-to-face. Rainbow Dash smiled that wonderfully cocky sideways smile, “No matter what happens, I won’t leave. Ever. Remember that.”
“I will.” Twilight said. Three seconds passed. Twilight didn’t even realize that her head was moving forwards. Their kiss was brief and light, but meaningful. Rainbow Dash then rubbed her nose against Twilight’s and rested her forehead against the base of Twilight’s horn. They still looked into each others’ eyes, their hooves intertwining on the covers.
For a glorious few minutes, Twilight and Rainbow Dash forgot about the dark times they were currently in. There was just the two of them, apart from the world.
“That was my first kiss.” Twilight said softly to Rainbow Dash, petting her hoof.
“Yeah?” Rainbow Dash asked a little lazily.
“I’m glad it was with you.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash giggled and rubbed her cheek against Twilight’s affectionately.
“That was the first kiss that I didn’t think twice about.” Rainbow Dash said, “And the first one I didn’t regret.” Twilight smiled wide, pride filling her entire being. She didn’t know how, but somehow she had managed to get Rainbow Dash to fall for her.
And she didn’t know how, but somehow she had managed to fall for Rainbow Dash.
“Twilight, there was something I needed to ask you.” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Hm?” Twilight asked.
“Did something happen between you and Spike or something?” Rainbow Dash asked. Twilight pulled her head away from Dash’s and looked at her seriously.
“Where is he?” Twilight asked.
“He showed up in Ponyville on the Friendship Express this morning.” Rainbow Dash said. “Then he shut himself in the library bedroom and hasn’t come out since.”
“Oh no…” Twilight moaned.
“What happened?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“I attacked him. It must have scared him half to death.” Twilight said. “Gah, I’m so stupid!”
“Twilight, relax. We’ll go to Ponyville and get him back. Sound good? It’ll be nice to see everypony again anyway.” Rainbow Dash said. She ran a hoof through Twilight’s mane casually, as if this were just some throwaway conversation between friends.
“I doubt Celestia would let me leave Canterlot.” Twilight said.
“But it’s worth a shot, don’t ya think?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Yeah, I supposed you’re right.” Twilight said, “But I wouldn’t bet my bits on her allowing me to leave.” *** ***
“Yes, I do believe that would be fine.” Celestia said calmly.
“Excuse me?” Twilight asked. Celestia was nodding her head from where she sat on the throne. The Princess giggled at Twilight’s response and stunned reaction.
“You heard me correctly, Twilight.” Celestia said, “If it makes you feel any better, I will keep a close eye on you while you are away, and if anything goes wrong, I will provide assistance. I am very confident that this magical uniform will provide enough protection, though.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Twilight said, “But Rainbow Dash,” Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash beside her, “If anything does happen… if I succumb to darkness, you must fly. I won’t be able to hurt you if you’re in the air. Understand?”
“Got it, boss!” Dash replied confidently.
“Then… let’s to go Ponyville, then.” Twilight said, “To get Spike back!” *** ***
“I’ve never ridden in one of these things before.” Rainbow Dash commented. She and Twilight were sharing a white chariot trimmed in gold and pulled by two royal guard members. Twilight nodded and looked at Rainbow Dash, who was looking over the edge of the chariot, examining the landscape.
“I mean, I fly all the time, but it’s kind of nice to fly without concentrating on flying.” Rainbow Dash said, then looked up contemplatively, “If that makes sense.”
Twilight laughed, “It makes plenty of sense, Rainbow Dash.”
Ponyville was getting ever closer. Twilight started seeing finer details, like ponies walking around town square. She could see the top of the library and felt a pang of sadness. Not only was she looking at her old home, but inside was one of her oldest friends, hiding from her.
“I was always fascinated by these chariots.” Twilight said. She had to speak loudly because of the wind rushing past them. Rainbow Dash looked back to Twilight and listened.
“I mean, according to the laws of physics, they shouldn’t work,” Twilight said, “I mean, there’s nothing to support them behind the pullers, we should be dangling below them and falling to our deaths!”
“You know I’d catch you.” Rainbow Dash said.
Twilight chuckled, “My hero.” She said flatly.
“I believe you told me once that it’s magic, you don’t have to explain anything!” Rainbow Dash said.
“Well, that’s true.” Twilight said, “And I’m sure these are enchanted chariots.”
“They are!” One of the pegasi pulling the chariot called back to Twilight.
“Oh, thank you!” Twilight shouted back.
The guard whinnied in reply and continued pulling the chariot closer to Ponyville. Twilight scooted over to Rainbow Dash and leaned against her. Rainbow Dash wrapped her leg around Twilight’s shoulders and squeezed her affectionately.
“You think we should tell ponies?” Twilight asked Rainbow Dash.
“About us?” Rainbow Dash asked. She felt Twilight nod in reply. “Why not?”
“I don’t know… it just seems like now, with all that’s going on… they may not think that it’s the right time.”
“Who cares what others think?” Rainbow Dash asked.
Twilight let out a little laugh, “I guess you’re right.”
She and Rainbow Dash intertwined their hooves and remained silent for the rest of the trip. From that point, there was about another ten minutes of travel, during which time Twilight grew more and more nervous. Spike trusted her, and she turned on him… he must feel betrayed. Now he was all alone, he must feel lonely too.
“Were here, ladies.” One of the pegasi pulling the chariot piped up. The wheels touched ground smoothly and they coasted to a stop in the middle of town.
“I always wonder why it makes more sense to land in the middle of town.” Twilight commented as she was helped out of the carriage by Rainbow Dash.
“To make an entrance.” Rainbow Dash assumed.
“Right you are, ma’am.” The other pegasus in front of the chariot commented. He snorted to his partner and the two set off for Canterlot. It took all of three seconds for Ponyville to realize who had just landed.
“Hey, everypony! Twilight’s back!” Came a stray voice from somewhere in town. A multitude of cheers sounded and a group of ponies came up to Twilight to welcome her back. With quick greetings and a little help from Rainbow Dash, Twilight managed to escape the ponies that were trying to steal her attention. This also helped her avoid telling everypony that she wasn’t here to stay.
They ran through town, avoiding everything and everypony as best they could until they got to the library. There would be time to socialize after Twilight made things up to Spike. The wooden door of the library approached and Twilight let go of all her anxiety. She was going to make Spike feel better. It was only right. Spike had done so much for her.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash burst through the door hurriedly and scared the life out of Cheerilee, who was reading a romance novel in a corner of the library. Cheerilee composed herself quickly and smiled at the pair, appearing overjoyed that Twilight had returned.
“Twilight!” Cheerilee greeted, “It’s so wonderful to see you!”
“I’m sorry, Cheerilee, it’s wonderful to see you too, but I need to find Spike.” Twilight said.
“Oh… he’s upstairs.” Cheerilee said, a little crestfallen. “Best of luck, we haven’t been able to get him to talk.”
“Thank you!” Twilight said obliviously. Rainbow Dash eyed Cheerilee curiously and walked right beside Twilight as they ascended the stairs, even making the effort to quickly intertwine their tails for a few seconds.
Twilight arrived at her old bedroom door and stopped in front of it. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a second. Rainbow Dash stood right beside Twilight, with her every step of the way.
“Um…” Twilight whispered to Rainbow Dash. The cyan pegasus fluffed her wings and listened.
“Rainbow Dash, I’m very glad you want to help, but I think I need to do this.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash’s ears drooped.
“Alright, Twi. I’ll meet you downstairs.” Rainbow Dash said.
“Thanks.” Twilight said. Once Rainbow Dash was downstairs, she took another breath and knocked three times upon the door. There was no answer.
“Spike! It’s me, Twili-“
“NO! GET AWAY!” Spike’s small voice cried out from behind the door. Twilight almost heard her heart snap in two.
“Spike, I’m sorry. You know it wasn’t me that attacked you!” Twilight attempted to reason.
“Twilight, I c-can’t-“ Spike sniffed. Twilight pressed her ear against the door, “I’m afraid…”
“I’m sorry, Spike! I would never hurt you!” Twilight said.
“You say that now, but you’ll kill me in a heartbeat if you turn evil!” Spike called back. Every word the dragon said made Twilight sink lower and lower into a pit of sadness and guilt.
“Okay, Spike…” Twilight whimpered, “I see you just want to be left alone…”
“I love you, Spike.” Twilight said. She turned and faced the stairs, ready to walk down them, when the door behind her clicked. Her ears perked up and she turned around hopefully.
Rainbow Dash sat across the room from Cheerilee. The magenta pony hadn’t picked her book back up and just looked around the room, sometimes looking at Rainbow Dash, but breaking the eye contact when Rainbow Dash noticed this. The silence was horrible.
“So…” Cheerilee finally said. Rainbow Dash stopped picking wax out of her ear and looked at Cheerilee.
“You and Twilight.” Cheerilee said, “Are you…”
“We’re together, yes.” Rainbow Dash said assuredly and confidently. Cheerilee nodded and mouthed the word ‘okay’ then focused on her hooves. Rainbow Dash did some quick addition in her head during the silence that followed.
“You, uh… had a thing for Twilight, didn’t you?”
“A bit, yeah…”
“Oh…” Rainbow Dash said. She didn’t know what to say. Cheerilee must feel terrible. “Uh… no hard feelings?”
“Of course not.” Cheerilee assured, but her tone was uncertain and Rainbow Dash still felt bad. She was happy to have Twilight over Cheerilee, but she still wished that this moment hadn’t happened. Rainbow Dash sat in the palpable awkwardness and resumed excavating her ear canal.
“Spike?” Twilight asked when she entered the room. The room was dark, the shades pulled down, and Spike took it upon himself to occupy Twilight’s bed. Twilight watched as he took the last few steps to the bed and jumped onto it. He sunk his head into the pillow and curled up into a ball, facing away from the door, away from Twilight.
“Spike… are you alright?” Twilight asked. What a stupid question. Twilight told herself, of course he’s not alright.
“Mmph.” Spike replied. Twilight walked over to the bed and climbed on it, next to Spike. When she did so, she saw his body tense up. If it was possible to break your heart twice, it had just happened.
“Spike… you have no idea how sorry I am.” Twilight said. She carefully extended a hoof to his body and rubbed his back soothingly.
“Twilight, why did this have to happen?” Spike asked quietly.
“I don’t know, Spike…” Twilight said. She remembered Celestia’s answer when she asked the same thing: “Because life is a cruel prankster that loves to see terrible things happen to good ponies.”
“Promise me… this will be over soon?” Spike asked. He still hadn’t turned over. He refused to look at Twilight.
She knew it would be a lie. She knew that Spike wouldn’t believe her, but… sometimes the realistic answer isn’t always the best answer.
“I promise, Spike.” Twilight said, “This will be over soon.” She continued to rub his back in a motherly fashion. There was a silence in the room. It was unlike the silence that was enveloping the two females downstairs in that this silence was not empty. It was filled with emotions between the two shaken spirits.
“Twilight…” Spike said, then to Twilight’s relief, he turned around. He looked up at Twilight with his big green eyes and blinked once. Twilight smiled down at him as nicely as she could.
“I’m sorry, but… can I stay in Ponyville… until this is over?” Spike asked.
Twilight was afraid he would ask that… as if he needed her permission. Twilight’s heart sank lower as she thought that about how she would no longer have his company around the castle, but realized that asking him to return would make him uncomfortable.
“Of course, Spike.” Twilight said sweetly.
“Thanks.” Spike said. He reached up and hugged Twilight around the neck, “I love you, Twilight.”
“Love you too, Spike.” Twilight said. *** ***
“Oh it is just marvelous to see you again, Twilight!” Rarity said over her tea.
“Thanks, Rarity. It’s nice to visit.” Twilight said, then she scratched her side. The uniform she wore tended to itch.
“I love your spy suit, Twilight!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, “It’s so mysterious!”
“Thanks, Pinkie. It’s a prison uniform, actually.” Twilight said. The four clueless ponies looked at her incredulously. Rainbow Dash snickered and sipped some of her chocolate milkshake from a striped straw.
“I had a feeling you’d react that way.” Twilight said, “Celestia’s only having me wear this so I can’t use magic.”
“Oh you poor dear, that must be awful.” Rarity said.
“It’s giving me a bit of a headache, yes, and I find it a little difficult to do things, but it’s not too bad.”
“Well, as long as it’s lettin’ ya come down here, I’m glad yer wearin’ it.” Applejack said. She had a cup of apple juice. Fluttershy sipped her tea quietly and nodded.
“And it’s great to see my wittowe Spikey-wikey again!” Rarity cooed to Spike, who sat beside her. He grimaced and accepted Rarity’s patronization with distaste. Twilight giggled and smiled at Spike, who grinned back in reply.
“Nice to see you again too, Rainbow Dash.” Applejack said a little sarcastically, “’Course you must not be so happy ta see us, seein’ as how yer always flyin’ out ta Canterlot to see yer fillyfriend.” Applejack laughed and went to take a sip of her apple juice.
“I SWEAR I DIDN’T TELL!” Rainbow Dash suddenly shouted at Twilight, who’s eyes widened and she blushed madly. All the ponies and Spike froze. Fluttershy’s teacup clattered onto its saucer, and Pinkie’s jaw was hanging open in shock.
“What?” Rainbow Dash asked, clueless.
“Well, you just told us, Rainbow Dash.” Fluttershy said with a giggle.
“…oops.” Rainbow Dash said to Twilight, who giggled and took the opportunity to pull Rainbow Dash’s chair closer to her.
“You two are fillyfriends?” Rarity asked in disbelief.
“Yeah, we are.” Twilight said happily. As soon as Rainbow Dash had sat down again, Twilight pecked her on the cheek, as if to prove that she was telling the truth.
“Well, Ah’ll be.” Applejack commented, sitting back on her haunches.
“YAY! We have to have a congratulations party!” Pinkie shouted.
“I told you, Pinkie, no parties this time!” Rarity scolded. “But this is splendid news, Twilight, we are very happy for you two!”
“Thanks, girls.” Twilight said.
“Yeah, thanks.” Rainbow Dash agreed. She turned to Twilight, “Sorry… I kinda walked into that one.”
“You did.” Twilight said happily, “But that’s alright.”
The table erupted into happy talk about Twilight and Rainbow Dash. Twilight was thrilled to share the story of how Rainbow dash and she fell for each other over time. Rainbow Dash wasn’t good at talking about mushy stuff like that, so she let Twilight do most of the talking. They were in it together the whole time, though, and Twilight took great comfort in that fact.
“So, how have things been here since I moved to Canterlot?” Twilight asked, too caught up in her euphoria to be downtrodden by her leaving of Ponyville.
“Oh, dreadful, Twilight.” Rarity said.
“They have, truly.” Fluttershy agreed.
“Really? How?” Twilight asked, surprised.
“It’s just not the same without you.” Pinkie said.
“Ya really were the final piece of the puzzle, Twilight.” Applejack said.
“What do you mean?” Twilight asked.
“Before y’all showed up here, we hardly ever saw each other.” Applejack explained, “Ah mean, we were friends, yeah, but not hardly the friends we were after ya moved in.”
“Really?” Twilight asked, touched.
“Totally!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly, “Remember how you, Rarity, and I would have lunch together because our houses are so close?”
“Well, I never saw Rarity so much before that!” Pinkie Pie said, “And we hang out now more than ever!”
“It’s true, darling, Pinkie and I have become very close friends.” Rarity said. “But our lunches are so drab without you.”
“I don’t know what to sa-“ Twilight tried to say.
“And if it weren’t fer yer idea of havin’ pony pet playdates, Ah would have hardly ever spoken to Fluttershy!” Applejack said, “An’ we’re real close now.”
“We are.” Fluttershy said, “Angel misses Owloysius, too. They used to get along so well together.”
“Wow, girls… I had no idea I had done so much for you…” Twilight said, “I’m touched.”
“And don’t even get me started on the Library.” Rarity said, waving a hoof with a dissatisfied expression on her face.
“What’s wrong? Isn’t Cheerilee doing a good job?” Twilight asked.
“She’s doing a fine job, but she’s not you.” Rarity explained.
“We miss you, Twilight.” Pinkie said sadly.
“I miss you girls, too.” Twilight replied. “So much…”
She felt her eye twitch, followed by a small burning sensation. She causally reached her hoof up and scratched it, but winced when she touched her scar. It felt very sensitive.
“Ya never did tell us where ya got that nasty scar.” Applejack mentioned.
“It just… appeared. During an attack.” Twilight said. Her eye burned again, a little more aggressively this time. She rubbed her face and grimaced.
“It’s very fierce.” Rarity commented.
“I wish it were gone, but I wasn’t able to get rid of it, even with magic.” Twilight explained.
“How mysterious.” Fluttershy commented. Twilight’s eye burned again, this time sending a jolt of pain into Twilight’s skull. She grunted and put a hoof to her head.
“You alright?” Rainbow Dash asked, concerned.
“I’m… fine… let’s step outside for a second.” Twilight said. She knew what was happening this time. She feared it. The ponies watched the pair leave Sugarcube Corner with worry in their faces.
“Your scar is glowing, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said, pointing at the pulsing scar.
“Rainbow Dash, agh…” Twilight felt a throb in her head, this one not so powerful, but painful nonetheless. “… I feel an attack coming on. I am gonna make a run for it, but you have to get the girls somewhere safe.”
“Anywhere! Remember, I can’t use magic.” Twilight said. “I have to go, I’ll come back when the attack ends!” Twilight shouted. She ran away through town as fast as she could, dodging ponies as she went.
Rainbow Dash darted back into Sugarcube Corner and looked at the ponies with worry.
“What’s wrong?” Pinkie asked.
“Twilight felt an attack coming on. She ran away to try to get away from us, but that won’t stop her.” Rainbow Dash quickly explained. Spike looked up in horror, “She’s not as much of a threat without her magic, but she asked me to get you somewhere safe.”
“We could go back to mah farm.” Applejack said, “Tha’s pretty far away, an’ we can lock ourselves in the barn.”
“I guess it’s worth a shot.” Rainbow Dash said. “Okay, let’s get over to Sweet Apple Acres!”
Twilight made it to the edge of town right when a powerful stab of pain rocked her skull, almost tripping her. She continued to run regardless, trying her best to block out the pain, but it was no use. She knew that soon she would fall to the power of Mallumo’s Possession. The best she could do now was get away from everypony.
Then, her vision clouded completely and she felt herself stop running. It felt as though she was lifted from her body, but she was still within herself, trapped. She lost control of her body and all of its functions. Her head had stopped hurting, but it was replaced with a terrible feeling of uselessness.
Did you miss me? The cold, lifeless voice echoed in Twilight’s head.
Her vision restored, forming the red-tinted landscape she remembered from the last attack. Everfree forest was in front of her. With this filter over her vision, it looked even more sinister than usual. Twilight stood still, a blank look on her face. Her eyes glowed as they usually did when she suffered an attack.
“You are not welcome here.” Twilight told the voice.
Oh darn, and I was getting so comfortable, too!
“How is it I can talk to you now!?” Twilight barked, “And why do I remember these attacks?!”
We are becoming closer, Twilight. Soon, we will be but one entity, and you will feel as I feel.
“Never! I will not succumb to your ways!” Twilight shouted.
Oh, but you already have. The voice replied, Now, let’s go visit your friends back at that confectionary. I really miss that baby dragon…
Twilight felt the entity behind the voice attempt to cast a teleportation spell, but failed. Twilight smiled and felt a surge of frustration spread through what she pictured to be the body belonging to the voice she heard. It attempted to cast another spell, then another, each one failing, and each time increasing her frustration.
WHAT IS THIS??? The voice screamed, causing Twilight to flinch.
“Good luck with your magic. It’s blocked completely!” Twilight said proudly.
You… you will pay for this! All of you ponies will pay for this! The voice shouted, then Twilight felt herself lurch forward and began running back into town. Twilight knew that she was still stronger than usual, even without magic. Had she wanted to, she could seriously injure some of the ponies in town. She hoped that the evil inside her didn’t feel like doing that, because that would be hard to explain.
They galloped with great speed for about a minute before Twilight looked up and skidded to a stop. Flying toward town from Sweet Apple Acres was Rainbow Dash! Twilight felt her heart skip a beat at the sight of the pegasus and she felt the urge to call her name. Twilight opened her mouth to shout and suddenly felt an adrenaline-like surge behind her voice, strengthening it.
“RAINBOW DASH!” Twilight shouted. It came out of her own mouth, in her own voice! But, as quickly as it happened, she receded and found herself thrown back into the void of her own mind. Rainbow Dash looked down at Twilight and began to fly toward her.
What just happened?! The voice cried out in frustration. I am going to kill her!
“Rainbow! Fly away!” Twilight screamed, but this time it remained unheard by the world.
“Come and play, Rainbow Dash. I haven’t had fun with you in awhile!” Twilight shouted at Rainbow Dash. Her voice was the high, raspy voice of her evil self this time, though, and Rainbow Dash came to a halt in midair about twenty feet from Twilight.
“I gotta say, you’ve seen better days, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash said jokingly. “Your eyes are a little blank.”
“Oh, is this REALLY the time to joke?” Twilight asked within her mind. Her body glared at Rainbow Dash intensely, then walked away, not into Ponyville as planned, but in a different direction.
“Ha! You’re not so tough without your magic, are you?” Rainbow Dash jeered.
“Careful, Dash.” Twilight warned silently.
Twilight turned to Rainbow Dash and gave her an evil smile before breaking into a sprint toward Sweet Apple Acres.
Rainbow Dash felt her stomach drop and she flew in front of Twilight. Rainbow Dash landed a good distance in front of Twilight as she sprinted toward her.
“You should stop.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight continued to run, not stopping. Rainbow Dash held out her hooves to stop Twilight, but Twilight charged straight into Rainbow Dash, taking the pegasus by surprise with her strength. Rainbow Dash staggered to the side and fell.
“No!” Twilight shouted inside her head. She wanted to look back to check on Rainbow Dash, but her body would not let her. Instead, she was trained on the spot where Twilight reasoned her friends were hiding.
“Hey, stop!” Rainbow Dash screamed. Twilight internally sighed with relief to hear Rainbow Dash’s voice. Then, Twilight felt hooves on her flanks as Rainbow Dash tried to pull Twilight the ground.
“Oh no, not smart, Rainbow Dash.” Twilight said, worried.
“GET OFF ME!” Evil Twilight screamed. Twilight winced as she felt her legs buck back, hitting Rainbow Dash square in the jaw. Rainbow Dash’s hooves fell off Twilight and she crashed to the ground. Twilight looked back this time, watching how the pegasus crumbled on the ground, moaning in pain.
“RAINBOW DASH!!!” Twilight screamed, but it went unheard again. Her head was jerked away from looking at Dash’s body and they continued on, sprinting at full speed toward Sweet Apple Acres.
“RAINBOW DASH, SAY SOMETHING!” Twilight begged. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if anything happened to Rainbow Dash. She heard nothing from the pegasus, though, and the farther they got from her, the more hopeless Twilight became. Her heart sank even lower when the red barn of Sweet Apple Acres came into view.
“Alright, everypony just stay calm. We’ll be fine if we stay here.” Applejack said to everypony that was gathered in her barn: Pinkie, Rarity, and a terrified Spike being comforted by a slightly less terrified Fluttershy.
“I hope she doesn’t know to come out here.” Rarity said, “I am afraid of what she would do to your barn.”
“She already burned it down once.” Applejack said flatly.
BAM! All the ponies jumped and looked at the door. They were silent. For a few seconds, the only thing that filled the room was the sights of dust dancing in the late afternoon sunbeams. Applejack dared to move, but jumped again when another loud BAM was heard and the door shook.
“She’s here!” Spike whimpered.
“Shh, Spike…” Fluttershy calmed him.
“What’s the matter, girls?” Twilight’s evil voice pierced through the barn door. Its cold and lifeless sound sent a chill through the ponies’ spines. “Aren’t I invited to your party?”
“We’re not having a party!” Pinkie shouted.
“SHH! Pinkie!” Rarity whispered.
“Oh, that’s alright, I just like SEEING you girls!” Twilight screamed with another loud slam against the door. Spike began to cry and Fluttershy was close to doing the same.
Suddenly, the door was busted down and Twilight stood there, eyes glowing brightly and red scar shining like a ruby. Upon laying eyes on the black prisoner’s uniform and noticing that her horn was dull, the ponies all felt a bit of relief, but considering she was strong enough to break down a door, a new worry crept into them.
“You ponies are so predictable!” Twilight shouted. “I AM GOING TO CRUSH YO-!”
Twilight fell to her side, unconscious. A pair of red legs retracted from where they had bucked Twilight in the head.
“BIG MACINTOSH!” Applejack screamed, “What in the hay didja do that for?!” Applejack hollered at her brother.
“Well you sure as sugar weren’t doin’ anything!” Big Mac said.
“Ya could’ve seriously hurt the poor gal!” Applejack shouted, running forward to examine Twilight. Her scar was still glowing, but it was weaker. Twilight was breathing, so Applejack knew that Mac had only knocked her out. One thing, though, was the welt that was quickly forming on the side of Twilight’s head.
“Well, Ah’m sure the princess can take care of that.” Applejack muttered. Her friends gathered around and looked at Twilight with concern.
“TWILIGHT!!!” They heard Rainbow Dash scream from a distance away. Applejack was pushed to the side and the cyan pegasus fell on Twilight’s body, nose bleeding heavily.
“Twilight! Twilight, are you alright?! What happened? What happened?!” She asked frantically. “Where did this welt on her face come from??”
“Ah’m sorry, Miss Dash.” Big Macintosh said. “That was mah doin’.”
“You WHAT?” Rainbow Dash hollered, jumping to her feet and facing Big Macintosh with a fury.
“She was gonna hurt mah sis an yer friends.” Big Mac said, “Far as Ah’m concerned, Ah did the right thing.”
“You listen here, Mac.” Rainbow Dash spat, “You’d better hope that Celestia can fix that welt on Twilight’s head, or I’ll do what Twilight was about to do to you!”
“Rainbow Dash!” Applejack shouted. Rainbow Dash suddenly stopped and realized that she was hovering in the air, a foot above Big Mac’s head. His expression was hardened and unchanging. He was not going to back down from this.
“Now Ah know you didn’t jus’ threaten mah brother fer two reasons.” Applejack said angrily. “First bein’ that he’s twice yer size, second bein that he’s mah brother, an’ you know better than to get ta me.”
“And what if he had killed her?!” Rainbow Dash shouted back, “What then, huh?”
“What if she’d killed us, Rainbow Dash?” Applejack demanded, “Ya don’t seem ta acknowledge that much.”
Rainbow Dash was silent. She lowered herself to the ground and stared daggers at Applejack.
“Ah’m goin’ back out to the fields.” Big Mac said nonchalantly. “Got lots o’ buckin’ ta do.”
“Ah wish Ah could help you.” Applejack said, still not looking away from Rainbow Dash. “Ah really do.”
Rainbow Dash finally looked away from Applejack and fell to her knees beside Twilight. Rainbow Dash sighed heavily and curled up next to the unconscious unicorn, petting her as she did so. Blood continued to ooze out her nose from where Twilight kicked her. Applejack shook her head and turned around to see Rarity, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy staring in horror at what had just unfolded in front of them. Aside from Rarity somewhat, none of them had ever seen Twilight like this, and Rarity had only seen her silhouette in front of her house.
“Well, now ya know.” Applejack said, “What it’s like.”
“I think I’m gonna go home.” Fluttershy said weakly, then took wing as fast as she could, escaping the situation.
“I believe I will do the same.” Rarity replied uncomfortably, “Care to join me, Pinkie?”
Pinkie nodded with watery eyes and followed Rarity as they walked out of the farm. Spike followed the girls with a shaky body and petrified expression. Applejack watched them leave before turning back to Rainbow Dash and Twilight. She walked over to the pair and sat down on the other side of Twilight’s body.
“Sorry…” Rainbow Dash muttered.
“It’s alright, sugarcube.” Applejack replied. She patted Rainbow Dash on the head and smiled. Rainbow Dash sat up and looked down at Twilight’s unconscious body with worry and sadness in her eyes. She prodded her nose and winced as she did so.
“We need ta get that cleaned up.” Applejack said, lifting Dash’s chin to see the extent of the damage, “Luckily, Ah don’t think it’s broken.”
Rainbow Dash pushed Applejack’s hoof away and shook her head.
“This… isn’t very fair.” Rainbow Dash said.
“What makes you say that?” Applejack asked, merely just to keep Rainbow Dash talking.
“The first filly to fall for me… and this happens.” Rainbow Dash grumbled.
“Ah’m sorry.” Applejack said sincerely, “Ah wish Ah knew how you felt, but… honestly, Ah’ve never had a colt fall for me.”
Rainbow Dash eyed Applejack.
“Ah said colt.” Applejack said with a little grin.
Rainbow Dash chuckled and brushed Twilight’s mane with her hoof. Rainbow Dash took the time to really admire Twilight. Sans the welt that was forming on her head beneath her mane, Twilight just appeared to be sleeping peacefully. “She’s so beautiful, Applejack…”
“Ain’t many fillies like her.” Applejack said.
“No, there aren’t.” Rainbow Dash said. “Twilight truly is something special, and I am going to make sure she gets out of this alive, no matter what.”
“You were in press conference?!” Twilight barked at the Princess. “A press conference?!”
“I am sorry that I could not come to your aid, Twilight.” Celestia said softly, “But had I not gone to defend you, then the truth about your condition could have been revealed to the public.”
“My friends almost died, Princess.” Twilight said incredulously.
“I am sorry, Twilight. All I can do is ask your forgiveness.” Celestia said.
Twilight huffed one more time and closed her eyes. Try as she might, she could not stay mad at the princess. It could be her motherly-like presence in Twilight’s life or the fact that she rarely ever gave reason to be angry, but Twilight simply fizzled out whenever she got into situations like this, even since her childhood.
“I don’t think I’m going to go back to Ponyville.” Twilight said. “It’s too risky.”
“I am sorry. I should not have let you go.” The Princess admitted.
“Lesson learned.” Twilight replied. “I am going to return to my room.”
Celestia watched Twilight walk out of the throne room with a heavy heart. She left the throne room in the other direction and found a window to watch the sunset from. As the sun descended, she could feel the pull on her magic. After performing the task of raising and lowering the sun for millennia, she hardly had to put any effort into it, to the point that she really did it without thinking.
“Good morning, sister.” Luna called as she descended from her room.
“It is evening, Luna.” Celestia replied.
“Not in a joking mood tonight, Celestia?” Luna asked lightly.
“Hardly.” Celestia replied.
“Pray, what consumeth thy thoughts upon this eve?” Luna asked, switching back into her old manner of speaking for a sentence.
“Well, presently, it is deciphering that dialect you insist on using around me sometimes.” Celestia said, continuing to watch the sun.
“It is Twilight, yes?” Luna asked, dropping the ancient manner of speaking, “I am going to assume we are no closer to fixing the situation.”
“And I am going to assume you already know the answer to that.” Celestia replied flatly.
“You are truly not your usual self, sister.” Luna observed, “This curse of Twilight’s has completely overtaken you.”
“Twilight has always been more than just a student, Luna.” Celestia recited. “This has affected me more than you know… perhaps more than you can possibly realize.”
“Twilight is a wonderful pony.” Luna said, “’Tis only sensible that you should have taken a liking to her.”
“It’s so much more than that, though.” Celestia replied. “Before your return, Twilight lived here in the castle. She was my protégée, but you have heard this before.”
“Do continue, sister.” Luna said, “It will do your mind service to speak without restraint.”
“Very well.” Celestia agreed. She took a moment to gather herself, during which time Luna joined her at the large open window.
“When Twilight was only a filly, I recall she had applied to the school of gifted unicorns. However, she had a little trouble on the entrance exam. We have kept the same entrance exam for… hundreds of years.”
“Give the student one minute to craft a spell that will save them from certain death?” Luna asked casually.
“My goodness, you were gone for a long time.” Celestia observed. Luna shrugged.
“No, the exam is much more… humane now. We ask the student to hatch a dragon egg.” Celestia said.
“That makes much more sense!” Luna exclaimed.
“Twilight could not do it, and as I was told, she was about to fail the exam, but the most miraculous event occurred!” Celestia recalled, then changed her tone slightly, “I was taking a stroll through town when a sonic rainboom tore through the sky above. As you know, sonic rainbooms not only create a dazzling light, but it can have strange effects on the landscape, magic, and even ponies themselves.”
“Not to mention they’re loud.” Luna commented.
“Yes, I’m sure they function as very effective alarm clocks.” Celestia said, then chuckled. “Well, to Twilight, the sonic rainboom managed to trigger her magical potential, and she went out of control. She transformed everypony in the room into various objects, including her parents!”
“Did the egg hatch?”
“Not only did it hatch, but the dragon inside grew exponentially and broke through the roof of the building. The dragon is who we now know as Spike.” Celestia told, “I recognized her potential immediately. From that point on, she was my personal student. She lived in the castle and studied hard every day.”
“You mentioned her thirst for knowledge.” Luna commented.
“Insatiable.” Celestia agreed, “I rarely found her without a book in her hooves.”
“Doesn’t she read with her magic?” Luna interrupted.
“When Twilight reads… it is with magic, not her hooves.” Luna observed.
Celestia sighed, “’Tis an expression, dear sister.”
“I have had many a student undergo magical training under my wing, but never has a student also been my friend.” Celestia said, then corrected herself, “No… she is more than that… she is like a daughter to me.”
“Oh… Celestia, this makes so much sense!” Luna suddenly proclaimed.
“I… should hope so.” Celestia said. “It is not a complicated story.”
“Celestia, you were so hesitant to bring Twilight to the castle.” Luna explained, “You were just having trouble accepting Twilight’s fate. The mere thought of taking Twilight from her home sickened you to the point of endangering others… Celestia, I understand now.”
“She is the closest I will ever come to having a daughter, Luna…” Celestia lamented, “Considering we… cannot bear our own.”
“Do not speak of it, sister.” Luna stopped her. “We accept our fates regardless of what hardships we may bear in response.”
“And I do, Luna.” Celestia said, “Nothing will ever keep me from my responsibilities to this land.”
“I have learned my lesson about loyalty. If you feel it necessary, I could try sending you to the sun for a thousand years.” Luna said with a little smile. “Maybe you’ll learn something.”
“That would just kill me.”
“No, really?” Luna replied.
“I’m not sure how I feel about you learning sarcasm from Spike.” Celestia finally commented, smirking.
“He just makes it seem so fun!” Luna said happily.
“Of all things to develop in the last thousand years, the manner of speech is possibly the most drastic… if not the least welcome.” Celestia said.
“It has been quite the adjustment.” Luna admitted.
“Your highness?” A male voice called from behind the princesses. They both turned away from the window they were standing at and looked at their visitor.
“Ah, very nice to see you.” Celestia greeted. “I assume you’re looking for Twilight?”
“I am, yes.” The pony replied.
“Well, she’s down the opposite hall, second to last door on the right.” Celestia said, pointing behind the pony.
“Thank you, your majesty.” The pony said, then walked away, his armor clanging against the magically polished floor of the throne room.
“He is quite handsome.” Luna said, nodding her head.
“Indeed.” Celestia agreed, “I must retire to my chambers. I wish you well on your guard of the night. I will see you in the morning.”
“Rest easy, my sister.” *** ***
The Great Goatsby: A classic tale of bits, high class, and murder. Twilight flipped the pages every half minute or so, reading quickly. She had already read this novel about fifteen times, but the bookshelf in her room had a limited array of titles to choose from, and she was in the mood for some light reading.
I wonder if Rarity’s read this. Twilight thought, I think she would like it.
Twilight continued reading casually, not really absorbing all the information. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand… Twilight chuckled and shook her head, this book may be a little over her head.
The sound of a hoof knocking on her door forced Twilight to look up from her book. She quickly creased the corner of the page for lack of a proper bookmark and walked over to the door. When she opened it, her heart skipped a beat in excitement and she let out a happy gasp.
“Shining Armor!” Twilight shouted in surprise and hugged the larger stallion. Her brother chuckled and hugged back a little more laid back. He was fully clad in his royal guard armor, helmet and all.
“It’s good to see you, Twiley.” Shining said, “How are you?”
“I’ve been better.” Twilight replied, chuckling at the mere thought of being able to sum up her entire predicament in that one phrase.
“So I’ve heard.” Shining said, “And you were mad at me when I didn’t tell you about my wedding.”
“Heh…” Twilight laughed nervously, giving a cheeky smile, “Speaking of, where is Cadence?”
“Oh, she’s… not feeling well… yeah.” Shining said, smiling to cover up the unusual answer.
“That’s too bad, I’d like to see her.” Twilight pouted.
“We’ll have to have you over sometime.” Shining said, “Now that you’re in Canterlot.”
Twilight just smiled and shook her head, then turned to face her room again. “Come on in, there’s not much to see, but we can visit for a little bit.”
“The Great Goatsby, huh?” Shining asked, noticing the book on the floor, “Didn’t you read that when you were eleven?”
“It’s one of my favorites.” Twilight admitted, “I thought that I’d read it again as long as I’m here.”
“Makes sense.” Shining said, removing his helmet and letting out his blue mane.
“Why are you in full armor?” Twilight asked, “I thought you only needed to wear it when you were on duty.”
“I just got back from a soldier’s funeral.” Shining said.
Twilight’s ears drooped and she looked down guiltily.
“A young stallion named Wiley. Seems he and his partner were assigned a mission in the Everfree forest, and they had a bad run-in with a manticore.” Shining Armor shook his head, “Poor colt.”
“Twilight.” Shining said flatly. Twilight looked at her brother with big eyes and read his expression. Like the books she so dearly loved, he displayed all emotions up front, and Twilight knew that Shining wasn’t buying her innocence at all.
“I am captain of the royal guard and you are my sister. You really think Celestia would keep this from me?” Shining asked.
“I would have hoped she would have…” Twilight muttered.
“Besides, I knew Wiley was top of his class when it came to care of hostile creatures.” Shining added.
“Oh… that may make things problematic for Celestia’s story…” Twilight said. “Look, Shining, it really wasn’t my fault, and I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” Twilight pleaded.
“It doesn’t matter now, Twilight. I don’t blame you for Wiley’s death. I just don’t want it to happen again.”
“Me neither, Shining.” Twilight said. She sniffed and leaned forward to hug her brother tightly, making sure the embrace carried through what she was feeling: remorse, gratitude for her brother’s understanding, and hopelessness. She felt a lot of hopelessness.
“Is that why you are dressed as a prisoner?” Shining asked.
“You are familiar?” Twilight asked, letting him go and pulling a bit on the thick fabric that covered her body.
“I invented the suit.” Shining said.
“You did?!” Twilight asked incredulously, “I could have sworn Celestia did.”
“No, and it is not one of my prouder accomplishments, but she is quite fond of them.” Shining said, “Sometimes I get the feeling she thinks she owns our family.”
“We’d better warn mom and dad.” Twilight joked.
“I invented these suits to keep the most dangerous unicorns in Equestria locked down.” Shining said, “I never anticipated to see my own sister wearing one.”
“At least I am not in Alcoltraz.” Twilight said.
“Let’s be thankful for that.” Shining said, “Do you have a plan?”
“A plan?” Twilight asked.
“A way to end this… a cure… anything?” Shining asked.
“Shining, I hardly understand what this curse is, much less a way to cure it.”
“Well that’s no good…” Shining sighed.
“Well… I don’t know… something happened while I was in Ponyville. It may be a solution, but I’m not sure.” Twilight suddenly recalled.
“Oh? And what is this?”
“When I was… out of myself... something happened when I saw Rainbow Dash. A spark sort of went off, and I returned to the world for a split second.”
“This is good!” Shining said hopefully.
“But, it was so fleeting… so random. I don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate it.”
“But it’s a start.” Shining said, “And who is this Rainbow Dash?”
Twilight suddenly felt silly for not having told her own brother about being in a relationship. She could no longer give him crap for the wedding, that’s for sure.
“My, uh… marefriend.” Twilight said quickly. Shining barked out a laugh, making Twilight turn and glare at him.
“You think maybe we’re just bad communicators?” Shining asked his sister.
“I think that’s accurate.” Twilight agreed. The siblings shared in a laugh together and enjoyed the short distraction from dismal times. Shining then smiled at Twilight and rubbed the back of his head with a hoof.
“How about we go for lunch tomorrow in Canterlot? My treat.” Shining asked.
Through the castle the pair walked the next day until they were out the front doors and into the streets. There were many different restaurants around town, but most of them were five-star quality establishments that had reservations of up to a month. There were only a few café-style lunch places, one of which Twilight and Shining sat down and ordered some appetizers.
“So, tell me about this Rainbow Dash.” Shining said, “I need to know if she meets my expectations.”
“Shining!” Twilight scolded, “She’s fantastic. She’s very athletic, very energetic… so motivated. I’ve never met a pony so dedicated.”
“Athletic? How are you two together?” Shining asked with a chuckle.
“You tell me.” Twilight replied, “I’m the luckiest mare in the world.”
“Sounds like it. So, earth pony?” Shining asked.
“Nope. Pegasus.” Twilight said, then added for the wow factor, “And future Wonderbolt.”
“Is that right?” Shining asked, “The Wonderbolts are pretty exclusive.”
“Dash has lived her whole life training for the Wonderbolts. She’s definitely good enough to be one of them.”
“And she knows about your situation?” Shining asked.
“She knew before anypony else.” Twilight replied.
“She seems like somepony really special, Twilight.” Shining said.
“Yeah, she really is.” Twilight said happily.
“Well, as far as relationships go, I have a bit of news about Cadence and I.” Shining said.
“Oh? What is this?” Twilight asked curiously.
“Well… Cadence is pregnant. We’re going to have a foal!” Shining said happily. Twilight’s face lit up upon hearing this and she gasped.
“Shining!!!” Twilight said giddily. “That’s fantastic! Congratulations!”
“Thanks, Twiley.” Shining replied humbly.
“How do you feel about that?” Twilight asked, “Happy?”
“Scared.” Shining replied uneasily.
“The captain of the royal guard is scared?” Twilight joked.
“Hey, I was scared on my wedding day too.” Shining replied.
“Oh, you stallions!” Twilight said exasperatedly, “That’s why I prefer mares. Rainbow Dash isn’t scared of anything.”
“Oh, I’m sure she’s scared of at least one thing.” Shining said with a matter-of-fact tone.
“And what could that possibly be?” Twilight asked. “I have seen her kick a manticore and a full-grown dragon in the face.”
“She’s probably scared of losing you.” Shining said. Twilight felt her heart sink and instantly felt guilty. Instead of having a nice, stable relationship with a beautiful mare, Rainbow Dash was stuck in this predicament with… Twilight.
“Yeah… I bet she is.” Twilight admitted.
“Hey, now. Don’t be sad.” Shining said, “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. I’ve had these same discussions with myself so many times, it’s become tiresome.”
“I tell you what, this just tells you that Rainbow Dash really likes you.” Shining said, “Maybe even loves you.”
“You think?” Twilight asked.
“Oh no…” Twilight suddenly said. Shining’s face dropped and he looked at Twilight with concern. Twilight put a hoof to her forehead and closed her eyes, “not now…”
“It’s her. The evil me. She’s coming.” Twilight said quickly, “I need to get back to the castle!”
Twilight took off running, and Shining got up to follow her.
“HEY!” A waiter shouted.
“I’ll come back and pay later! This is an emergency!” Shining shouted back. “Twilight! Wait!”
Twilight continued to barrel through town, each throb of her head becoming more and more intense. She could feel her legs beginning to get numb. She wasn’t going to make it. The castle was another few minutes’ run away!
“Twilight!” Shining shouted again.
“Stay away!” Twilight shouted back at her brother. Her head was getting cloudy, she felt as if she were about to pass out.
Twilight made it to the last shop on the edge of Canterlot before the castle before she lost control over her body. As soon as her control was relinquished, she felt her body grind to a halt and turn around.
“No!” Twilight shouted, but it was not heard. Her eyes glowed white and she began to excrete a dark aura around her body. The red scar on her eye pulsed brightly, shining terribly. Shining Armor skidded to a stop a few feet in front of Twilight. Already, a crowd of bystanders was gathering around the scene.
“Get away, ponies!” Twilight shouted, but again it went unheard. “Please!”
“So, this is Canterlot?” Twilight’s evil voice spoke out. Even as she did so, Twilight saw her brother wince and take a step back in fright.
Twilight continued, “I see I’m still wearing this binding jacket. What a bother!” Twilight spoke. Her voice pierced the midday air like a knife pierced butter. All at once, the civilians seemed to stop what they were doing and pay attention.
“Oh well,” Twilight said, walking toward Shining Armor, “That doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun, does it?”
Shining spoke in a warning tone, “Twilight, I don’t know what you’re planning, bu-OOF!” Twilight turned and bucked Shining in the chest, sending him flying back and into an innocent bystander. The two fell to the ground in a heap before Shining leapt up and ran after his sister, who was about to kick a table into a group of ponies.
“STOP!” Shining shouted, grabbing the table with magic and using it to pin Twilight to the ground. Twilight laughed evilly and glared at Shining with blank eyes and a cocky smile.
“Oh no, whatever shall I do?” Twilight pretended to whine, then she smiled and kicked up the table so hard it forced Shining to release the spell. Twilight used Shining’s temporary distraction to land a hard punch right in his face.
“Shining Armor!!!” Twilight shouted from within.
Shining staggered back and almost recovered, but Twilight was too fast. She zipped over to his side and kicked him in the stomach, hard. Shining collapsed to the ground clutching his stomach and writhing in pain.
“Hey! Stop that!” A civilian shouted from one side of the circle of ponies watching the fight.
“Did you… just tell me to stop?” Twilight asked out loud. She looked down at the ground and caught a glimpse of a serrated knife that had fallen off the table. She casually walked over to the knife and placed a hoof over it. This went unnoticed by the crowd.
“Yeah! What did he do to you?!” The stallion shouted.
“Oh, I’d say the same thing you’re doing right now,” Twilight said, gripping the knife with her hoof, “…existing.”
With a quick motion, Twilight sent the knife flying at the stallion, catching him in the chest. He doubled over and clutched his chest while a mare beside him screamed and caught him.
“NO!” The real Twilight screamed. She tried to will herself back to reality, but was having absolutely no luck.
Twilight kicked her hooves back and kicked another stallion in the face, forcing him to fall to the ground.
“Oops. Didn’t see you there.” Twilight said in her nasty voice. “Oh, I missed this senseless destruction!”
Twilight then ran over to a tent and bucked a support beam, breaking it in half. The tent fell to one side and collapsed, heavy wooden posts falling over and hitting civilians. Twilight then laughed and ran through town, civilians screaming as she did so. The town was in panic, absolutely horrified. The real Twilight sat inside herself and tried to overcome this evil.
Then, Twilight thought she’d try something. She thought about Rainbow Dash. She thought about how Rainbow Dash would be here trying to stop Twilight from causing any more damage. She thought about how Rainbow Dash would comfort Twilight when this is all over. Twilight let the image of Rainbow Dash fill her entire being and a warmth fell over her heart.
Twilight suddenly stopped moving and winced. For a split second, the real Twilight began to show herself. For that brief moment, her eyes faded, her scar stopped pulsing, and she looked normal, but it was so short that it could have easily been mistaken for a glare from the sun.
“GAH!” Twilight shouted in despair. Inside her body, the real Twilight was pushed back from any type of recovery with a mighty force. Evil Twilight snarled and looked around at the crowd. Twilight watched the horrified ponies tremble in a paralyzed fear.
You’re clever. The evil voice said to Twilight. But not clever enough.
Twilight walked over to another tent that was still standing and found where a lantern was hung up on one side. Turning a knob, Twilight lit the lantern and tossed it inside the tent. The fabric caught and within a few seconds, the place was ablaze. Twilight took a few steps back and watched in a terrible mirth as the red-and-white tent went up in flames.
Ponies scrambled around trying to douse the fire, but it was no use. The tent was going to keep burning until it was nothing but smoldering rubble.
Remind you of anything, Twilight? Evil Twilight muttered internally. Twilight watched in horror as the evil continued, you should, considering you did it last time.
“Get out!!!” Twilight screamed.
“Hahaha!” Evil Twilight laughed maniacally. “I am here to stay!”
“No! I will not let you!!!” Twilight screamed from within her head. She then doubled her efforts at conjuring images of Rainbow Dash. She could almost hear Rainbow Dash’s rough voice saying things to her, as if she were right next to her. Twilight thought about Rainbow Dash’s beautiful, vibrant mane. She thought about Rainbow Dash’s magenta eyes, how they were the perfect contrast to her sky blue coat.
No matter what happens, I won’t leave. Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed inside Twilight’s head.
Twilight remembered sitting next to Rainbow Dash on her bed, only seconds before they kissed for the first time. Twilight could remember how her heart raced, how she wanted nothing more than to be with Rainbow Dash, even if she hadn’t yet realized it. She felt that now, too. It was stronger.
I won’t leave. Ever. A wash of warmth enveloped Twilight’s heart, and she felt a brightness that she had not yet felt while under darkness’s influence.
“What the-AAH!” Twilight suddenly screamed out loud. She took a few steps back and grabbed her head in pain, then shook it and looked around at the crowd, her eyes still glowing brightly. From within, Twilight enjoyed a small moment of hope at realizing that this curse did, indeed, have a weakness, and she found it!
I will be back, Twilight. The evil voice spat inside Twilight’s head. And next time, it won’t be so easy for you to weaken me. I am growing stronger by the hour, and soon, I will be unstoppable.
Twilight began to feel feeling returning to her legs and the rest of her body, and after a few seconds of agonizing confusion, Twilight had returned to the world. Her scar had stopped glowing, her eyes were normal again, and there was no dark aura around her.
“Get her!!” A female pony screamed from the crowd.
“What?” Twilight suddenly shouted. She noticed the crowd advancing on her quickly, and she panicked, “Wait, no!”
“Twilight!” Shining Armor suddenly appeared and scooped Twilight up, throwing her on his back. The crowd wasn’t sure whether Shining was taking Twilight or arresting her, so only a small portion of the crowd pursued him.
“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” Twilight cried as Shining carried her away.
“Don’t be sorry, Twilight!” Shining shouted back, “But we can worry about that later, right now we need to get you back to the castle!”
“Hey, you’re not taking her to the police!!!” A civilian shouted.
“You don’t say…” Shining muttered as he ran.
“Is your stomach alright?” Twilight shouted in Shining’s ear.
“I’ll be fine. It’s the other citizens we need to worry about!”
Twilight felt dread creep into her body as they ran, the crowd behind them neither gaining nor losing any ground. The castle was now right in front of them.
“I can’t believe this happened…” Twilight muttered.
Shining took Twilight into the castle and quickly entered the throne room, using magic to slam the door behind him. At once, the ponies in pursuit began to slam their hooves against the enormous double doors in anger, wanting to see the crazy pony put to justice.
“What has happened?” Celestia asked from her throne. Shining and Twilight looked up and gulped. “Did you… did Twilight…?”
“Yes, princess.” Shining said, “And at the worst possible time, too.”
“This is not good.” Celestia said. “The general public cannot comprehend the complexity of this situation.”
“Celestia, I’m so sorry… I tried to get back to the castle, I tried!” Twilight shouted, shaking her head rapidly.
“Shh, shh, Twilight, do not apologize.” Celestia said, descending her throne and walking over to where Twilight laid down on the floor.
“Celestia, there are injuries. I need to tend to them.” Shining Armor said.
“Go, Shining, and try your best to diffuse the situation.” Celestia said.
Shining Armor leaned down and nuzzled Twilight’s mane, “Be strong, Twiley.”
Then, he teleported out of the throne room and left Celestia and Twilight alone.
“I wish Rainbow Dash was here…” Twilight muttered.
“I know, Twilight…” Celestia comforted.
“But… Celestia, I think I may have found our solution finally.” Twilight said, and raised her head up to look Celestia in the eyes.
“Well… I’m not sure what it is exactly…” Twilight said, getting up to her hooves. She began to pace as she spoke, “But the evil entity seems to get weaker whenever I think of Rainbow Dash. The feeling I get in my heart whenever I hear her voice, whenever we’re together… it seems to affect the curse as well.”
“This is wonderful news, Twilight!” Celestia exclaimed. “This may be the answer to our problems!”
“I just wish Queen Terra was still around so I could ask her about this theory…” Twilight said thoughtfully.
“Twilight, my mother is not dead.” Celestia replied, a little surprised that Twilight even had that idea.
“My mother is alive and well, just as Luna and I are alive. She is very old, but she is well.”
“How is this… I… what? Why have I never seen her??” Twilight asked incredulously.
“She does not reveal herself to the general public. She lives in a humble residence far away, up in the mountains of the western sea.” Celestia said, walking over to a west-facing window. “Keeping to herself and living in peace.”
“Princess Celestia… I don’t want to seem rude, but how could you have not brought this up before??” Twilight asked demandingly, “She could be a huge help in this problem!”
“We… are not on speaking terms.” Celestia muttered, “We never were.”
“That’s a little petty for this, Princess.” Twilight scolded.
“Twilight Sparkle!” Celestia replied, taken aback.
“Princess, I’m sorry, but you have to look past any bad relations with your mother for this one moment!” Twilight said, “We need to visit your mother.”
“You have gotten bolder, Twilight.” Celestia said sternly, “Very well. We will visit the western sea tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Princess.”
“But.” Celestia said, then sighed, “You must hear me out on this. If I ask us to leave, we must leave. You have to trust me. I know my mother.”
“That is fine.” Twilight agreed. “Now… exactly how far is the western sea?”
“If we were to travel by air… most likely 10 hours of flight.” Celestia said.
“Luna made it there and back in a night.” Twilight pointed out.
“Yes, but she was flying much faster than you and I would be travelling,” Celestia said, “Luna does not demonstrate it much, but she is an extremely talented flier.”
“I will have to tell Rainbow Dash that.” Twilight said.
“Anyway, I believe the best way to get to the sea will be to travel by teleportation.” Celestia concluded.
“But, Celestia, even for my brother, something as much as teleporting from here to Ponyville takes a toll on the body. How do you expect me to be able to teleport hundreds of miles in one go?”
“Well you see, Twilight, I am an immortal alicorn with the power of the sun at my disposal.” Celestia said lightly, “But if you feel that the task of teleporting two ponies two thousand miles is too much, we can fly.”
Twilight slapped a hoof on her face and felt a little silly.
“I admit, we will have to teleport in strides, but it will not be a difficult journey.” Celestia said, then darkened her tone, “It is what happens when we get there that I am worried about” *** ***
Twilight and Celestia stood on Celestia’s balcony early the next morning. The pair had just woken up and were committed to making this a productive trip. Twilight looked down at her hooves with unease and sighed.
“Something troubles you.” Celestia pointed out, “What is it?”
“I keep thinking about yesterday… I don’t know how many ponies got hurt because of me. And that one stallion… I got him in the chest with a knife…”
“We shall make sure everything is okay upon our return.” Celestia said, “For now, we must focus on the task at hand.”
“Twilight, being teleported by another is a much different sensation than teleporting yourself. If you feel sick at any of our stops, please let me know.” Celestia warned.
“I’ve never had any troubles with teleporting before, Celestia.” Twilight said confidently.
Celestia smirked, “Very well, then. Let’s be on our way!”
And with that, the pair was gone in the blink of an eye. *** ***
Celestia and Twilight appeared in the middle of a vast field of wild grains.
“Welcome to the great Equestrian Plains.” Celestia said, panting slightly. Off to her side, she heard Twilight vomit into the grass.
“I told you.”
“Shut up.” *** ***
Celestia and Twilight teleported next to the base of the Shear Mountains, where they collected themselves and then travelled to the opposite side of the mountains. Twilight vomited for the second time when they arrived at this location. Their last rest stop was along the edge of the Horseback Canyon, then they teleported to the base of the Western Mountains.
Celestia panted and Twilight laid herself out on the ground, trying to keep herself from getting sick again.
“You certainly weren’t kidding when you said that being teleported was a different sensation…” Twilight muttered.
“It’s okay, we are here now.” Celestia said. “Well… not quite.”
“What do you mean?”
“You see, my mother does not want to be discovered by common ponies, so she has created a powerful field around her house in these mountains that prevents even me from teleporting in.” Celestia said with a twinge of annoyance.
“Are you kidding me?” Twilight exclaimed. “We have to walk up a mountain?”
“That’s right.” Celestia confirmed.
Twilight looked ahead at the path that led up and nodded, “Alright, let’s do this.”
Celestia and Twilight walked for a few minutes in silence, then Twilight started the conversation.
“So, why are you and your mother not on speaking terms?” Twilight asked. Celestia sighed and looked forward with determination.
“My mother was a good queen, but… not a good mom.” Celestia said, “Well… I even doubted her abilities as queen at times.”
“What makes you say that?” Twilight asked.
“My mother is usually fair, but harsh. She is not a pleasant mare.” Celestia said, “She often mistreated Luna and I when she felt the well-being of the populace was at stake.”
“Let us simply say there are things that a filly like me should not have seen at my age.” Celestia said, “And Luna was even younger.”
“Goodness… I suppose I just assumed that your mother would have been this great Alicorn with a wealth of knowledge and kindness.”
“So did I.” Celestia agreed. “But I could not see past the way she dealt with her day-to-day business. It is because of her that I strive to be as just and peaceful as possible.”
“You say she was harsh… in what way?”
“Well… let us talk about this… Curse of Mallumo’s Possession.” Celestia said, “I was far too young to remember, but I am almost certain that my mother did not waste much time before putting Blue Streak to death.”
“She was very harsh with her punishments. Prisons were horrible, torturous places. The population feared her.” Celestia said, “Yet she was respected.”
“I understand.” Twilight said.
“This is why I am saying we may need to leave before things heat up. I fear my mother may try to take things into her own hooves.”
“You really think she would kill me?”
“I wouldn’t put it past her.” Celestia said.
Twilight audibly gulped and the two made the rest of the trip in silence. The trail was fairly smooth and did not give the ponies much trouble. Twilight was not used to walking the long distances and was getting very tired, but trucked along with the promise of answers ahead of her.
After a good hour of walking, Twilight and Celestia came upon a small house that seemed to have grown out of the cliff side. Trees completely obscured the house from prying eyes, and one could easily just mistake it as a formation in the trees. A closer examination revealed the true nature of the home, however. The wood was carved beautifully and seemed to flow with the same elegance that the ocean below did.
Celestia approached the house and knocked on the door three times. Twilight was just behind her, very nervous as to what would unfold in the minutes to come.
The door opened, and Twilight was amazed to see the alicorn from the picture looking almost as youthful as she did in the photograph. Queen Terra was glowing with a radiance only comparable to Celestia’s. Terra even stood a good foot taller than Celestia, which intimidated Twilight to some extent. Her green mane flowed as lively as Celestia’s and her coat was a bright white with the smallest hint of blue.
The main difference Twilight noticed that she did not see in the photograph was that Queen Terra’s face was hardened and flat, whereas Celestia’s was bursting with life and joy, even with her serious expression. Twilight could already tell that she would not enjoy this alicorn.
“Celestia.” Queen Terra spoke. Her voice was very low, comparable to Zecora. She addressed her daughter as she would a business acquaintance. “It is good to see you.”
“Hello mother.” Celestia replied in an equally unenthusiastic tone. “This is Twilight Sparkle, a student and dear friend of mine.”
Twilight swelled with pride at being addressed as the princess’s dear friend, but bowed and respectfully spoke to the mare, “It is an honor, Queen Terra.”
“I am no longer queen of this land.” Queen Terra replied, “But I appreciate the sentiment. Please, simply call me Terra.”
“Yes, Terra.” Twilight replied.
“Why is it you have come?” Terra asked.
“I need your help.” Twilight spoke, “I trust you remember the Curse of Mallumo’s Possession?”
Terra’s face showed a hint of distaste at the mention of the curse, “I do, yes.”
“I just have a few questions about… Blue Streak.” Twilight said, trying to remember the name.
“You have read my History of Equestria.” Terra observed.
“I have, yes.” Twilight replied. “A-at least, that section. I wanted to read all of it, but I… lost possession of the book.”
Celestia sniffed once and cleared her throat.
Queen Terra nodded and moved to uncover the doorway, “Please, come in. We can talk in here.”
“Thank you.” Twilight said. She and Celestia filed into the home and waited for Terra to take a seat before continuing. Terra spoke first.
“Blue Streak was a very dear friend of mine.” Terra explained, “His loss was… devastating.”
“I am very sorry.” Twilight said.
“Do not interrupt me.” Terra quickly replied. Twilight stiffened with nervousness and nodded.
“Anyway, what is it you wanted to ask me?” Terra asked. Twilight swallowed and quickly gathered her words.
“Um… did Blue Streak have a significant other? A wife or husband, perhaps?” Twilight asked.
“Do not shame Blue Streak’s name!” Terra exclaimed harshly. Twilight backed up fearfully and looked at Celestia with confusion.
“Times were different then, Twilight.” Celestia said, then turned to her mother, “Mother, it is perfectly fine for a stallion to marry another stallion.”
“Hmph.” Terra huffed, “Such behavior… I say things have gone downhill since you and your sister took the throne.”
“Oh-okay, so wife. Did he have a wife?” Twilight asked quickly to recover the situation.
“He did not.” Terra said, “He found romance to be illogical, and I agree.”
“Yes, well, Celestia and I think that it may have something to do with the cure for Mallumo’s Possession.”
“Ha!” Terra barked, “Mallumo’s possession has no cure, especially something as trivial as petty emotion. What makes you think otherwise?”
“Well, I have been afflicted with The Curse of Mallumo’s Possession.” Twilight said. As the revelation left her lips, she could see Terra’s eyes widen in fear. “And I have made a few discoveries.”
“How long have you been having attacks?” Terra asked, almost desperately.
“A… month?” Twilight said, looking to Celestia for approval.
“Roughly.” Celestia added.
“You are a danger to us all!” Terra exclaimed, then continued darkly, “You have read my book. You know what must be done.”
“I am… trying to avoid that as much as possible.” Twilight said, her heart now beating even faster than it was already.
“Celestia, I expected better of you.” Terra turned to her daughter. “You know the reality of this threat, yet you allow this pony to walk freely!”
“Mother, Twilight does not deserve to die. She is far too much of an asset to Equestria.” Celestia defended.
“You think Blue Streak deserved to die?!” Terra exclaimed, “No pony is above Mallumo’s Possession, not you, not I, and especially not you.” Terra growled, jabbing a hoof in Twilight’s direction.
“M-mother, please, do not do anything drastic.” Celestia said fearfully, moving closer to Twilight’s side.
“And what is that ridiculous outfit you are wearing?” Terra suddenly said accusatively.
“This garment is preventing all of my magic. It was Celestia’s idea.” Twilight said, trying to defend Celestia as much as possible.
“That is useful, but it will not be enough when the curse reaches its full power.” Terra warned, “Your evil self will have magical ability far surpassing any artificial means of protection.”
“Well, then we will have to cure it before then, won’t we?” Twilight said.
“No.” Terra replied darkly.
“Excuse me?” Celestia asked.
“I am guardian of this planet, and I will not allow you to walk freely if it means endangering the ponies that call this their home!” Terra exclaimed. Her horn glowed brightly and Twilight gasped in horror.
“Twilight, run!” Celestia screamed, then ran forward. Terra unleashed a powerful beam of energy in Twilight’s direction, which Celestia intercepted and reduced to nothing with the use of her own magic. Twilight moved to the door and watched as Terra grimaced at Celestia.
“Do not be a fool, Celestia.” Terra spat, “The unicorn must die!”
“But we’ve found the cure!” Twilight pleaded as Terra turned her attention back to her.
“There is no cure!!” Terra screamed, letting loose another beam of energy. Celestia stepped in and took the blow once again, this time struggling a little more with reducing its power. Once the beam had diffused, Celestia bucked Twilight out the front door and ran out.
Twilight felt herself being scooped up and carried away by Celestia, who had opened her wings and taken flight. Twilight’s stomach dropped as they ascended, only hanging on by Celestia’s front hooves.
“YOU ARE A FOOL, CELESTIA!” Terra’s deep voice echoed through the mountainous forest. “YOU KNOW WHAT MUST BE DONE!”
“I’m sorry, Celestia…” Twilight called out as they flew. Celestia only nodded and continued to remove Twilight from the reach of her mother. Once they had gone far enough away from the mountain, Celestia and Twilight teleported away. *** ***
A few stops later, and Celestia and Twilight reached Celestia’s balcony once again. Twilight and Celestia took a few minutes to recover from the journey, during which time Twilight recovered from the slight queasiness and Celestia recovered her energy.
“I… didn’t realize how bad of an idea that was.” Twilight admitted.
“It is okay, Twilight” Celestia replied, “I did not even foresee how terribly that went.”
“I feel kind of bad for her, though.” Twilight said.
“Do explain.” Celestia said flatly, “I’d love to hear it.”
“Well, think about it.” Twilight said, “Blue Streak was a very dear friend to your mother, probably like you are to me. If she found out that all along there was a cure to this madness, then she would know that her friend had died in vain.”
“I… did not think of it that way.” Celestia admitted. “I believe I concur with your fillyfriend, Rainbow Dash. You amaze me.” Celestia said with a smirk.
Twilight digested what Celestia said for a moment.
Day Rider. Earth Pony. Male. Age 36. Died of a knife stabbing in the chest. Fern Nelly. Unicorn. Female. Age 25. Crushed by a falling support beam. Sudsy Loft. Unicorn. Male. Age 47. Died of severe burns. Stormkicker. Pegasus. Male. Age 29. Died of severe burns. Beauty. Unicorn. Female. Age 11. Died of severe burns.
Twilight lay perfectly still on her bed. The sunset bathed the room in an orange glow. It would have been beautiful had it not been for the tragic news Twilight had received. Where tears had fallen consistently for the past 9 hours had left permanent streaks under her eyes. She had stopped crying only a half hour ago, the reason she assumed had been because she had simply run out of tears to cry.
Five ponies dead.
And one was eleven years old.
Only a filly. Twilight repeated to herself.
The tragedy had spread all over Canterlot, and when Celestia and Twilight had returned from Terra’s home on the Western Sea, they discovered that Twilight had become Canterlot’s most wanted almost overnight. Twilight was already wearing the prison uniform, now all she needed to do was sew on her number and she would be shipped away to Alcoltraz.
Celestia assured Twilight that she would remain safe in the castle: a truth that Twilight trusted would remain so. However, she could no longer leave the castle. She was trapped in her room. She was basically a prisoner already, just with nicer bed sheets.
As soon as news of the attack spread to Ponyville, Celestia received a letter from Spike informing her that Twilight’s friends were taking the train to Canterlot. Twilight didn’t want to face them right now. She didn’t want to face anypony right now. She just wanted to be alone to wallow in the knowledge that she was knowingly responsible for the death of now six ponies.
Shining Armor had visited his sister at around 2 in the afternoon. They didn’t speak much, but his presence seemed to affirm Twilight that she was not totally alone in this battle. Being captain of the royal guard, Twilight was sure her brother would be harder to convince that she wasn’t truly corrupted by evil, but he trusted his sister, and it showed.
Celestia addressed the public on Twilight’s condition without giving explicit details and assured her subjects that no more ponies would get hurt under her watch. This, of course, didn’t go over too well when she also mentioned that Twilight would continue to live in the castle under her watch. Twilight could hear the protesters from her bedroom.
Twilight had entered a new realm of despair. She felt so guilty… so guilty that the very notion of leaving her bed sounded like condemning the world to death. She was nothing but a menace now. She contemplated from time to time if killing herself truly was the best option at this point, but forced herself to think other thoughts.
Twilight’s chin began to itch from lying against the bed sheets for so long, but she didn’t dare move to scratch it. She didn’t even deserve to be relieved of the irritation. If anything, the small itch that crept into her lower jaw was just further punishment for her crimes against pony kind. She didn’t deserve to be living like an honored guest of the Princess. She deserved to be rotting in a cell in Alcoltraz, where the other cold-blooded killers were.
It was Rainbow Dash’s voice. Twilight didn’t even turn around. She lacked the energy or motivation. After a few moments of silence, she heard hoofsteps followed by a sinking in her mattress that told her that Rainbow Dash had climbed onto the bed. Rainbow Dash set herself down so that she was leaning against Twilight and interlocked their hooves. Rainbow Dash pulled Twilight’s face toward her and kissed her on the lips sweetly.
Upon separation, Twilight blinked her eyes once, clearing them of any extra tears that had been there previously. Rainbow Dash gave Twilight the most sympathetic look she could muster and cleared her throat.
“I, um… sorry about yesterday.” Rainbow Dash muttered.
Twilight snorted a small chuckle. Rainbow Dash was terrible at sympathy.
“Look, I know what happened was bad, and a lot of ponies are mad at you, but… I’m not.” Rainbow Dash said with a little grin. “Sorry, I’m bad at this whole cheering up thing.”
“Heh, thanks.” Rainbow Dash replied uneasily, “Look, I don’t care how bad things get. I don’t care if you become an evil war lord who ravages the land and destroys all of pony kind. All I care is that we’re together, and nothing will change that.”
“Becoming an evil war lord may change that, dear.” Twilight replied flatly.
“Well, maybe for you.” Rainbow Dash said, “But I will be there no matter what.”
Twilight smiled and nuzzled her cheek against Rainbow Dash’s cheek. Dash reached out and nibbled Twilight’s ear as she passed, causing Twilight to giggle a little in reply. The two shared in the moment for as long as it would last before Twilight spoke.
“How in Equestria did I get so lucky?” Twilight whispered in Rainbow Dash’s ear.
“I ask myself the same thing every day.” Rainbow Dash replied.
“You lucky?” Twilight asked, pulling her head back, “I can’t believe you would feel lucky…”
“Why do you say that?” Rainbow Dash asked, a little taken aback.
“Because I’m just… a nerdy bookworm with a curse that could end our peaceful lives as we know them.” Twilight said with a shake of her head, “I’m just a burden.”
“Twilight… you have it all wrong!” Rainbow Dash replied.
“No? How many mares can say that they are lucky to have a marefriend that has tried to kill them?” Twilight asked. “Twice.”
“Listen to me now, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash said, putting a hoof on Twilight’s lips. Just feeling Rainbow Dash’s hoof made Twilight’s heart flutter, but Rainbow Dash had a serious face on. She stared right into Twilight’s eyes, right into Twilight’s very center.
“You are the single most important thing in my life.” Rainbow Dash said. “What you are forgetting is that my feelings for you are just as strong as your feelings for me. You are a gifted unicorn with magical abilities that continue to impress the Princess. You are one of the best friends a pony could have, and you just started being social when you moved to Ponyville!”
“Not only do you have the best personality of any mare in Equestria, but you are beautiful, and I cannot comprehend why you would ever think otherwise. Whenever I look in your eyes…” Rainbow Dash paused, “I’m not good with words like you are, Twilight. All I can say is that I get lost. I’m just some dumb pegasus from Cloudsdale. I’m dating Princess Celestia’s hoof-picked protégée. You say you’re the lucky one?”
Twilight attacked Rainbow Dash with another kiss, this one much more fervent than the last. Rainbow Dash rolled onto her back and allowed Twilight to hold control. Twilight was filled with so much gratitude that she just could not express it strongly enough. Twilight… loved Rainbow Dash! She did!
The mares separated and looked into each others’ eyes again, smiling.
“Rainbow Dash… I…”
The door opened.
“Twilight? Ah… uh…” Applejack said as she and the other ponies including Spike entered, suddenly turning a brighter red than the apples she bucked.
“Oh my, Twilight, I see who wears the saddle in this relationship!” Rarity cooed.
“Excuse me?!” Rainbow Dash barked.
“Okay! Let’s get out! Give ‘em some privacy! Sorry sugarcube, we’ll, uh… be around.” Applejack said, shutting the door behind her as she left.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash stared at the door for another minute or two before Twilight collapsed on Rainbow Dash and let out an exasperated sigh.
“What were you gonna say, Twi?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Huh? Oh, it was nothing…” Twilight replied.
“Hm… alright.” Rainbow Dash replied.
“I am going to assume you flew here while the others took the train?” Twilight asked.
“Correct.” Rainbow Dash replied.
Twilight sighed happily and wrapped her hooves around Dash’s body, “Well good. I needed this.”
“Listen, let’s just go downstairs and meet with everypony for awhile and forget about everything. Sound good?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“That sounds fantastic.” Twilight replied. As she got up, she pecked Rainbow Dash on the cheek. Rainbow Dash didn’t let her get far before tackling her to the ground again in another kiss.
The Canterlot Gardens are a fantastic place to visit if you are lucky enough to gain access to them. The outdoor wonder is usually exclusive to very prestigious ponies, royal guests, and the occasional school field trip. For Twilight, it was the one place where the sounds of the protesters outside the castle could not be heard.
The seven friends walked through the gardens to find a spot where they could sit down and spend some time together. The sun had completely set by now, and the garden was beautifully illuminated by elaborate magical lamps placed in inconspicuous locations. The vine-like lampposts seemed to just blend in with the shrubbery.
“And to think that without Twilight, the lot of us would have never seen these gardens once in our lives!” Rarity said appreciatively. “And we’ve all been here four times at least!”
“It’s what I’m here for.” Twilight replied sarcastically.
“An’ yer jus’ livin’ every day like this, ain’t ya?” Applejack asked.
“Yeah… I spend most of my time in my room.” Twilight said, pointing up at the castle. Her room was on the other side of the castle, but the ponies got the idea.
“Hey, is that Princess Luna with your brother and Cadence?” Fluttershy asked from behind Pinkie Pie. The ponies looked to where Fluttershy was pointing them and, sure enough, there was Shining Armor with his wife, Cadence, and Princess Luna. They appeared to be just on a leisurely stroll through the gardens, just talking business.
The three ponies looked up and smiled at the group, and waved. Twilight ran toward the trio, shortly followed by the rest of her friends. Shining, Cadence, and Luna stopped walking and waited for them to arrive.
“It’s great to see you again, Cadence!” Twilight greeted.
“It’s great to see you too, Twilight!”
“And it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you, Luna.” Twilight said. “Good evening.”
“Good morning.” Luna replied, then she snickered, “It is indeed a fine evening.”
“Nice to see ya again.” Rainbow Dash said to Cadence, “I’m Rainbow Dash, remember?”
“Yeah! You were one of my bridesmaids!” Cadence said, “You are Twilight’s friend?”
“Oh much more than friends.” Rainbow Dash said, then chuckled and nudged Twilight with a shoulder.
“This is the pony I was telling you about, dear.” Shining said to Cadence, “Twilight’s new marefriend!”
“Is that right?” Cadence asked happily. “Oh, Twilight, that’s wonderful!”
“That is wonderful!” Luna added.
“It’s nice to see you again, Rainbow Dash.” Shining said, reaching out a hoof to shake. Dash returned the gesture and smiled proudly. “I do remember you from the wedding. When Twilight told me about you, I couldn’t remember which one you were, but now I remember.”
“How many other ponies do you know with a rainbow mane?!” Twilight demanded.
“Well… good point.” Shining said, then chuckled.
“By the way, girls.” Twilight said, turning around to face her friends, “Shining and Cadence are having a foal!”
A collective gasp was heard from all of the ponies, followed by a chorus of congratulatory phrases and giddy enthusiasm, especially from Pinkie Pie who had already half-planned a baby shower in the thirty seconds that she knew the news.
“And we have news regarding the baby, too!” Shining Armor declared. The group silenced and listened intently, “First of all, it’s a filly.”
“Aww!” The group said in unison.
“And,” Cadence continued, “Much to our surprise, she’s going to be a pegasus!”
“AW YEAH!” Rainbow Dash cheered, followed by more cheers of congrats and happiness.
“Have you decided on a name yet?” Rarity asked.
“Well, I’ve only been pregnant for a few months.” Cadence said, “We haven’t really discussed it too much!”
“I think something classy, like Radiance!” Rarity suggested.
“No way!” Rainbow Dash argued, “She’s going to be a pegasus! Gotta give her something tough, like Striker Blast!”
“Oh, you have GOT to be kidding!” Rarity scoffed, “This is a Canterlot pegasus, not a Cloudsdale pegasus!”
“I don’t see the difference!” Rainbow Dash replied.
“We’ll think of something eventually, hehe…” Cadence said nervously to try to stop the quarreling ponies.
“For some reason, the name Bubbles is popping in my head…” Twilight said curiously, “Don’t know why…”
“I-it’s not important now, anyway.” Shining said, ending the topic, “What is important is the situation right now.”
“What situation?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“The ponies that have gathered in front of the castle,” Luna said, “They are disturbing the peace and demanding that Twilight be sent to prison for her so-called ‘crime’.”
“Well, it was a crime…” Twilight said, “A terrible crime…”
“But it was not your fault.” Luna said, “And you must never blame yourself.”
“Why can’t you just ignore them?” Spike asked with a shrug.
“Well, we tried that.” Luna said, then narrowed her eyes, “but they kept waking me up.”
“We were actually just talking about this before you found us. What would happen if Twilight herself addressed the crowd?” Cadence said. “Perhaps it would get them to calm down to know that Twilight is just a normal pony with a bad curse.”
“A normal pony that has saved all of Equestria three times!” Pinkie Pie declared.
“Technically they saved Equestria the last time,” Twilight said, pointing to her brother and Cadence.
“I would think that twice is enough.” Rainbow Dash said with a roll of her eyes.
“Cadence, I just don’t know…” Twilight said, “Don’t you think that putting me in front of the protesters is just further provoking them? ‘Look at me! I don’t have to go to prison, and here I am standing right in front of you being protected by Celestia, and there’s nothing you can do about it!’” Twilight mocked, then stuck her tongue out and made a face. The ponies all laughed.
“Perhaps you are right,” Cadence said.
“I still think it’s a good idea.” Luna said.
“I do too.” Shining Armor said.
“You do?” Twilight asked.
“Twilight, facing these protesters shows that you have the strength to admit that there is a problem here, and you’re trying to fix it.” Shining Armor said, “Will the message sink in to everypony? No. But, there will be ponies that will be settled by you speaking to them, and those ponies will spread the message.”
“And there will be extremist ponies that try to kill me in my sleep.” Twilight said flatly.
“That’s what we have the royal guard for.” Shining Armor said with a smile.
“Ooh, Twilight being under the protection of the royal guard!” Rarity said in a fascinated voice.
“It’s not as amazing as it sounds…” Twilight muttered in reply.
“So. Tomorrow, you and I will find my sister and we will schedule a speech to be given in front of the castle. You will address the agitated ponies, and we will go from there.” Luna said.
“B-but… don’t I get some time to prepare at least?!” Twilight asked.
“Yeah, come on now!” Rainbow Dash argued, “You can’t just throw her in front of that crowd, they’ll eat her alive!”
“I have my full confidence in Twilight.” Luna said.
“Ah think she’ll do jus’ fine.” Applejack said.
“She’s addressed the entire town during Winter Wrap-Up plenty of times!” Fluttershy also chimed in.
“Yeah, Twilight, you got this!” Pinkie Pie added.
“Well… if you girls think so.” Twilight said nervously, then looked at her brother imploringly.
“Twiley… if you can save the world three times, you can talk to a small crowd of ponies.” Shining Armor said with a smile.
“Two times.” Twilight corrected.
“Cadence and I didn’t even leave the castle. It was you and your friends that went out and fought the changelings.” Shining said.
“And we lost.” Twilight shrugged.
“We’re getting off topic.” Shining said.
“Perfect! I’ll talk to my sister in the morning, and we’ll get this done at midday.” Luna said, “I am going off to fly over Canterlot a few times, maybe resolve a few local conflicts.”
“Tis the life of a princess.” Cadence remarked.
“Tis indeed.” Luna replied, spreading her wings to take off.
“Wait, princess!” Twilight said. Luna folded her wings back in and looked at Twilight curiously.
“Can we talk for a little bit before you take off?” Twilight asked, “Alone?”
“Absolutely.” Luna replied, “Shall we?”
The two ponies walked away, leaving seven ponies and a baby dragon behind. They watched Twilight and Luna walk away, then Rainbow Dash was surprised when Shining Armor started looking at her curiously.
“Um…” Rainbow Dash said. “Can I help you?”
“I am just… confused.” Shining Armor said.
“Don’t take any offense to this… I just… when Twilight told me that you were her marefriend…” Shining Armor said.
“You were like, ‘oh, that dumb pegasus pony?’” Rainbow Dash finished flatly.
“Not at all!” Shining said defensively. “But I was surprised. I mean… first of all, I didn’t expect Twilight to be into mares at all. Then she tells me that of all ponies, the mare that has caught her eye is not some nerdy unicorn, but a fast-talking and energetic pegasus.”
“Heh, I know. Weird, huh?” Rainbow Dash said a little uncomfortably.
“What exactly do you see in Twilight?” Shining asked. Rainbow Dash looked at him curiously. What brought this on? He looked so… suspicious of Rainbow Dash. Like Rainbow Dash was doing something wrong. Then, it dawned on her.
“Oh, I know what’s going on here.” Rainbow Dash said. “You’re making sure that I’m gonna treat Twilight right.”
Shining Armor chuckled, “Well, she is my little sister.”
“Well... I dunno. It’s weird, like I said.” Rainbow Dash said, “I’m not good with words like she is… she’s so smart. She’s smarter than I ever will be. And her magic! She’s the most talented unicorn I’ve ever seen!” Rainbow Dash said, looking up at the sky.
“But… I mean, other than the fact that she’s way more talented than me, I mean… just look at her! My goodness, she’s so gorgeous! And… her coat. That… shade of purple is just so…”
“…Lavender?” Shining finished.
“Is that what it is?” Rainbow Dash asked, “I had no idea. But it’s nothing compared to her eyes. They’re so deep… so inviting. It’s like… I feel warm inside whenever I see them, like I’m looking at a sunset… or something.” Rainbow Dash said, “Sorry… like I said, I’m not good with words.”
“That’s okay, Dash. You seem like you have your heart in the right place.” Shining said.
“That was beautiful, Rainbow Dash.” Rarity wept from off to the side. Rainbow Dash blushed madly and turned to see all of the ponies looking at her with wide eyes. She had forgotten that they were standing right beside her.
“I’ve lived with Twilight my whole life.” Spike said, “And I have never thought any of those things.”
All the ponies laughed, especially Rainbow Dash. Having Shining Armor’s approval meant a lot. She really liked him, but he seemed a little protective of his sister.
“Beautiful night…” Twilight remarked as they walked away from the small gathering of ponies.
“You say that every time we are together.” Luna replied.
“And it’s always true.” Twilight said.
“Hm.” Luna said contentedly, “I agree.”
“Luna… this has to end. Now.” Twilight said.
“What does, Twilight?”
“This. This curse.” Twilight said. “It can’t go on any longer.”
“Twilight, we are all trying our best to help you find a cure.” Luna defended.
“But six ponies, Luna. Six ponies have lost their lives thanks to me!” Twilight said forcefully, “That’s enough to classify me a serial killer, you know that?”
“But you are not killing ponies, Twilight. You are not. How often must we remind you of that?” Luna asked.
“It doesn’t matter, Luna.” Twilight said, “Ponies have died, and it was by my hoof. Whether I wanted it to happen or not, it happened, and if we don’t do something, it’ll happen again.”
“If you stay in the castle, it won’t!” Luna replied quickly.
“Damn it, Luna, don’t you get it?!” Twilight yelled. Luna took a step away from Twilight and looked at her with worry
“Luna… this so-called ‘cure’ I have found… it will take far too long before I find a way to actually use it effectively. We have no idea how to utilize it, and we are out of time. Terra warned me that soon this evil entity will become so powerful that the suit will be powerless to stop it.”
“My mother is a piece of work.” Luna said.
“I know.” Twilight replied darkly.
“She was probably just upset that you found a way to stifle the curse before she did. I have absolute faith in this uniform you wear. All we can do is have faith.” Luna said.
“And I have faith that the only way this will end is if we just end it.” Twilight said.
“And how do you propose to do that? You know we are not letting you take your own life.”
“It is the only way!”
“Twilight!” Luna said forcefully, “I am sorry, but I will not even consider the option.”
Twilight sighed and looked at the ground sadly. Luna ruffled her wings and nuzzled her face against Twilight’s. Twilight sniffed and let out another shaky sigh.
“You brave, brave pony…” Luna whispered. “I am so sorry that this all has happened to you…”
Twilight nodded her head and stood up straight again. Luna opened her wings and gave Twilight one last sympathetic smile before taking off into the night. Her navy blue coat blended perfectly with the night sky so that she was almost invisible against it. Twilight nodded again and turned to rejoin her friends in the middle of the gardens.
When she got back, she noticed that it was only Rainbow Dash sitting by herself. Twilight smiled and thanked Celestia for this moment, but was still curious as to where her friends went off to.
“Where is everypony?” Twilight asked Rainbow Dash.
“They went back to their rooms for the night.” Rainbow Dash said.
“You girls are staying here?” Twilight asked happily.
“Yep. Celestia offered.” Rainbow Dash said. “Ponyville can be without us for a few days.”
“I don’t know about that.” Twilight snickered. She and Rainbow Dash lay down on the soft grass together. They were side-by-side, as usual. They interlocked their hooves and just watched the way lavender met cyan for a few seconds before Rainbow Dash spoke again.
“I actually, um… wondered if maybe I could stay… just a bit longer?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“You want to stay with me here?” Twilight replied emotionally, “Oh Rainbow Dash, I… I don’t know…”
“I-if you don’t want me to, that’s fine.” Rainbow Dash said.
“No, Dash, that’s not it at all!” Twilight said, “I’m just worried… what if I hurt you?”
“You can’t hurt me, come on.” Rainbow Dash joked, “But really… I’ll be okay. You always give me fair warning before you go all nutzo.”
“What about your weather patrol duty?” Twilight asked.
“I’m a supervisor now, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said, “I hardly do any work anyway.”
“Oh Dash… if you could stay with me, I would love it so much…” Twilight said, nuzzling her head against Rainbow Dash’s.
“Then it’s settled. I will.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight flung her front hooves around Rainbow Dash’s neck and planted a big, wet kiss on her cheek. Rainbow Dash turned her head in time to catch the second kiss on her lips. The two ponies smiled at each other and cuddled for a bit longer before getting up and walking back to the castle.
“So, Dash. What have you been reading lately?” Twilight asked.
“Heh… not enough.” Rainbow Dash replied.
“Well, I’ll have to fix that.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash chuckled in reply.
“Celestia, I don’t know…” Twilight said to the princess. The front castle doors weren’t even open and Twilight could hear the shouting of the crowd on the other side. There had to be dozens of ponies there, waiting for Twilight to address them and, Twilight assumed, to make a few attempts at capturing or even killing her.
“You have nothing to worry about, Twilight.” Celestia said calmly. “There is an invisible magical force field in place before the podium as a precaution. Nopony can hurt you.”
“But… I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve had attacks fairly consistently every night for awhile now, and I didn’t have one last night. What if the evil me is just waiting to strike when I am in front of all these ponies?” Twilight said worriedly.
“We must hope that that will not happen.” Celestia said, “However, should that be the case, you can always excuse yourself and run back into the castle. You will not hurt anypony in the throne room.”
“I’m afraid, Princess…” Twilight said softly.
“Have strength, my student.” Celestia said, leaning down to nuzzle Twilight’s neck, “You will be fine.”
The castle doors opened off to the side and a royal guard pony stepped in. He looked side to side and spotted Celestia and Twilight standing off to the side.
“Ready to start, Princess?” The guard asked.
“Yes, Slim, I am.” The Princess replied. The guard nodded and stepped back out, leaving the door open for the Princess.
“How are you able to memorize all the guards’ names?” Twilight asked, “There are hundreds!”
“Well, I have not memorized all of them.” Celestia said, “But I have had a few millennia of practice.”
“You wait here, and I shall bring you out when it is time for you to speak.” Celestia said. She stepped in front of the door, and the shouts of the angry ponies suddenly became louder. Twilight gulped and nodded, then Celestia walked out and to the podium. From inside the castle, Twilight simply had to visualize the Princess raising a hoof as the crowd got quieter.
“My faithful subjects.” Celestia said, her voice magically amplified, “I would first like to offer my sincerest condolences to the families of the victims. The loss of a loved one is of the hardest burdens to bear. No pony should have to endure that suffering. I know that you demand an explanation. You wonder why the pony responsible is living here in the castle. Well, I agree that you deserve to know. I, however, will not be telling you.”
The audience roared in protest. Twilight’s heart raced as she imagined herself in front of that crowd. The crowd grew silent again as Twilight pictured Celestia raising her hoof again.
“I will not be telling you, but you will hear it from the pony herself.” No response, “Her name is Twilight Sparkle, and she is not a bad pony. On the contrary, she is a very good pony. She has been a faithful student of mine for years, and she deserves this chance to explain herself.”
“Throw her in the slammer!!” A male voice screamed out, followed by a chorus of agreement. Twilight’s heart sank. This was not going to be easy at all.
“I will not tolerate that kind of behavior while Twilight is speaking.” Celestia said sternly. The audience fell completely silent. They never heard Celestia raise her voice, especially to her subjects. “Twilight Sparkle is a very dear friend of mine. If I hear any of that while she is speaking, I will personally have you removed.”
The audience was silent with fear. Twilight’s heart was racing even faster now. She had hoped that Celestia’s confidence would carry through and keep the crowd silent, but knowing the nature of crowds, that could not be guaranteed. Celestia appeared through the door and nodded to Twilight, who walked forward silently.
Twilight approached the podium and looked out at the audience. Her stomach dropped when she realized that there were a lot more than a couple dozen ponies out here. It seemed like half of Canterlot had gathered in front of the castle to hear Celestia’s speech. Twilight was even more petrified now. She cleared her throat and heard it carry out to the audience, amplified by magic.
Twilight turned back and saw both Celestia and Luna standing behind her, giving her strength and encouragement. Twilight gulped and turned back to face the audience. Almost immediately, a bright, piercing magical spell shot out and was stopped by the force field. Twilight jumped back in surprise. Had that force field not been there, her head would have been a shish kabob.
It took all of three seconds for Celestia to use her magic to lift the pony out of the crowd that had shot the spell. She pulled him up to the front and placed him with a few royal guard members, who carried the shouting pony away. Twilight took another deep breath and looked out at the audience fearfully.
“Thank you for coming out.” Twilight started. The audience remained eerily silent. “I would like to start out by offering my condolences to the families of the ponies whose lives were lost in yesterday’s tragedy.” Twilight sounded weak and nervous, but she continued nonetheless.
“Princess Celestia and Princess Luna asked me to address you, the citizens of Canterlot, directly. They told me to tell you why you saw me committing these heinous crimes, and that is it. Well… I believe you deserve to know more. You deserve to know exactly what is going on here. I want you, the ponies of Canterlot, to understand my situation, and know that I would never hurt another pony or cause such senseless destruction.” Twilight said. She turned around to Celestia and Luna, who looked surprised at Twilight’s declaration, but nodded for her to continue.
“About a month ago, I began to experience these… attacks.” Twilight began, “At first, I was unaware that they were happening, for I lost memory of them. Later, I became conscious of them, and this scar appeared.” Twilight said, pointing at her face.
“During one of these episodes, I am not myself. I am forced to retreat into my subconscious and a mysterious entity takes control of my body. This is known as the Curse of Mallumo’s Possession. My eyes become white, a dark aura covers my body, and my scar pulses with light. I cannot control my own actions, I cannot control my voice, and all I can do is try to will myself back to reality.”
“Yesterday, my brother, Shining Armor, captain of the royal guard, and I were just having some lunch in Canterlot when I felt the attack coming. I tried to reach the castle in time, but I failed, and I am sorry. I am so sorry, citizens of Canterlot…” Twilight said, “I am here to tell you that we are trying our best to fix this situation, and until it is resolved, I will not leave the castle.”
“She still belongs in a prison!!!” A male pony shouted. Celestia lifted him up with her magic, when another voice rang out.
“She’s a danger to us all!”
“Why does she get special rights?!”
“The Princess is just playing favorites!”
“She should be dead!!”
The audience erupted in an uproar. Twilight bowed her head in shame and stepped down from the podium, tears beginning to fill her eyes. She turned and began to leave the stage when a navy blue hoof covered in a crystal slipper stopped her. The roar of the crowd got louder and louder. Twilight looked up at Luna, who nodded to Twilight, asking her to stay for a little longer. Then, Luna took wing and landed on top of the podium.
“SILENCE!!!” Luna shouted in the Royal Canterlot voice. She was livid. The ponies silenced immediately. The Princess looked down at the ponies with disappointment. Twilight and Celestia looked at each other a little nervously.
“YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.” Luna bellowed. The audience was obviously frightened by the sudden display. Not only was Luna using the loudest voice she could muster, but it was still being magically amplified. Her eyes were pushed down into a fierce scowl.
“HOW DARE YOU TREAT YOUNG TWILIGHT IN SUCH A WAY!” Luna continued, “SHE IS BRAVER THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE. YOU CANNOT BEGIN TO COMPREHEND THE BURDEN SHE BEARS.”
Luna stared down the audience a moment longer, then calmed down and jumped down from the podium, standing behind it instead. She cleared her throat and looked out at the ponies sternly. They all looked up at her with horror struck on their faces.
“Twilight Sparkle deserves every chance to live a normal life once again.” Luna said, “What happened yesterday was a tragedy that nopony could have predicted, and no amount of protest and anger will change that.”
“Twilight is not only my sister’s friend, but mine as well. In fact, she was the first friend I had upon my return.” Luna said, “She is smart, talented, kind, and every bit deserving of your patience and sympathy. That is all.”
Luna stepped away from the podium and walked away, into the castle. As she passed Twilight and Celestia, she muttered, “I’m going to bed.”
Twilight and Celestia looked at each other again and nodded their heads. Celestia approached the podium again. “Thank you for your understanding, my faithful subjects.” Celestia said, a little shaken by Luna’s outburst, “This is a challenge my sister, Twilight, and I are overcoming together, and we will overcome it. No more ponies will be hurt.”
Celestia and Twilight walked back into the castle, and the doors shut. The audience remained silent until they all wandered away. For the first time in two days, the front of the castle was completely quiet.
The door to one of the many castle sitting rooms opened and Twilight walked in. Inside the room, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Spike all looked at her as she entered. Twilight sighed heavily and shook her head.
“How’d it go?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Awful.” Twilight replied flatly. All the occupants of the room sighed sadly at the news. Twilight walked straight over to the couch that Rainbow Dash occupied and sat down beside her. She kissed Dash on the lips quickly and snuggled up against her for comfort.
“Oh, that’s just terrible to hear, darling.” Rarity commented.
“Why was it so awful, sugarcube?” Applejack asked.
“The audience didn’t believe a word I said, I could tell.” Twilight said quietly.
“I’m so sorry.” Fluttershy commented.
“They’re just a bunch of mean-meanie-pantses.” Pinkie Pie said, “We believe you, Twilight, and that’s all that matters!”
“Tha’s right.” Applejack agreed, “Ya still have us, Twi.”
“Always will.” Rainbow Dash added. She pecked Twilight on the forehead, “But you know that already, don’t you?”
“Thanks, girls.” Twilight said with a little smirk. “And… thanks for coming out and supporting me. I really don’t know how I would be able to get through this without you.”
“Well, we miss you too, Twilight.” Fluttershy said.
“She’s right, we do miss you terribly.” Rarity agreed.
“I feel so bad about all this…” Twilight muttered. For a few moments, nopony spoke, then Spike spoke.
“Hey, Twilight?” Spike asked.
“What is it, Spike?”
“I’m… sorry I left you.” He said. “I shouldn’t have.”
“Spike, it’s okay, really.” Twilight smiled, “If you felt more comfortable in Ponyville, I’m not going to stop you.”
“Okay.” Spike replied, “It’s just really lonely in that tree.”
“Don’t you have Cheerilee to keep you company?” Twilight asked.
“Well, she has class during the day.” Spike said, “And when she is at the library, she just reads all the time.”
“Spike, that’s exactly what I did too.” Twilight said flatly.
“But… it’s just not the same.” Spike said.
“Why didn’t you girls invite Cheerilee along?” Twilight asked, “I’d like to see her too.”
“We did!” Pinkie said.
“Yes, but when Pinkie and I invited her, she insisted that she stay.” Rarity said, making a motion with her hoof, “She said something about how Rainbow Dash would keep her company or something to that effect. Really, what is that about?”
“She had the hots for Twilight.” Rainbow Dash replied flatly.
“I had no idea!” Twilight said, opening her eyes widely.
“Yeah, she told me while you were with Spike.” Rainbow Dash said, “She can’t compare to the Dash, though!”
“That is correct!” Twilight replied, poking Rainbow Dash on the nose, “I would like to hear what kind of books she’s into, though.”
“Heh…” Rainbow Dash replied a little uneasily.
“Don’t worry, she still can’t compare to you, dear.” Twilight said, “Which reminds me, Rarity?”
“Have you ever read The Great Goatsby?”
“Why yes, I have.” Rarity said, “Fantastic read, is it not?”
“It’s one of my favorites. I just read it again the other day. I thought it seemed like your kind of book.”
“Ah didn’t like it much.” Applejack said.
“Oh, Applejack, that does not surprise me in the least.” Rarity said flippantly.
“What exactly is that supposed ta mean?” Applejack shot back.
“I liked it!” Fluttershy said quickly, “But it’s not my favorite.”
“Now, Of Mice and Ponies is more mah style.” Applejack said. “Love that book.”
“Well of course it is! It’s only a hundred pages long!” Rarity laughed.
“Ah don’t like the way that sounded.” Applejack said defensively.
“Oh relax, Applejack, at least you do read.” Rarity said, cocking an eyebrow at Rainbow Dash.
“Hey, I read!” Rainbow Dash said. All the ponies looked at her skeptically, “…sometimes.”
“Rainbow Dash will be staying with me in the castle,” Twilight said, “Don’t worry, I’ll have her reading.”
“You’re staying in the castle with Twilight?!” Pinkie Pie asked excitedly, “It’ll be a nonstop slumber party! Can I come over sometime?!”
“Oh, I want to see everypony as much as possible.” Twilight said. “You’re the only thing keeping me sane.”
“As sane as you can be, anyway.” Rainbow Dash joked. Twilight laughed and nodded her head.
“My, you two are serious!” Rarity observed. “Moving in already?”
“Well, we have a bit of a special circumstance.” Twilight replied nonchalantly.
“And you’ll be sharing a bed?” Rarity asked, blinking her eyes innocently.
“Rarity, yer mind’s farther in the gutter than what’s good fer ya.” Applejack said directly.
“I agree…” Twilight and Fluttershy both said. They both looked at each other and chuckled.
“Oh you ponies are such fun killers.” Rarity complained.
“That actually did remind me, though, hey Dash, could you come with me to check on something in my room?” Twilight asked, looking above her head at Rainbow Dash’s face.
“Sure thing.” Dash replied. The two ponies hopped up from the couch and left the sitting room, leaving the ponies and Spike behind.
“Why couldn’t she have just asked to talk to Rainbow Dash alone?” Spike asked.
“For as smart as she is, Twilight can be a bit naïve.” Rarity commented, “But it doesn’t matter. She more than makes up for it.”
“Ah just hope they ain’t goin up there ta make out.” Applejack said.
“Oh, and my mind is in the gutter…” Rarity muttered, making Applejack shoot another glare at her.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash walked away from the sitting room and stopped in front of a stain glass panel in one of the walls. The daylight streamed through it, illuminating the multitude of colors and shapes pieced together by a true artist. If it was one thing Twilight never got tired of, it was the attention to detail in the castle. It was much different than her slightly rugged tree house.
“Aren’t we going up to your room?” Rainbow Dash asked. Twilight chuckled and shook her head.
“Oh, Rainbow Dash…” Twilight sighed. “No… I just wanted to talk to you.”
“About what?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Well… what Rarity said.” Twilight said.
“About sharing a bed? Honestly, Twilight, if it’s that big of a deal, I can stay in a guest room.” Rainbow Dash said with a shake of her head.
“No, that’s not it.” Twilight said, “I’m more than happy to share my bed with you.”
“Then… what is it?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“I just wonder if… maybe we’re taking this too fast?” Twilight asked. Rainbow Dash looked surprised, prompting Twilight to continue, “I-I’ve never been in a relationship before, so I wouldn’t know, but… don’t most ponies wait a bit before living together?”
“I… I guess so.” Rainbow Dash replied sadly.
“We don’t have to change anything, I’m just worried.” Twilight said, then put on a smile, “Don’t worry, I do want you to stay here in the castle.”
“I guess… I felt like I had to act now before it was… too late.” Rainbow Dash said, struggling for words.
“Too late?” Twilight asked, a littlesurprised.
“Twilight, I don’t know much about this… curse of Whatshisface’s Precision, but…”
“Mallumo’s Possession.” Twilight corrected.
“That’s it.” Rainbow Dash replied, “But, in case… I don’t know… I’m just scared. I’m scared that I might… lose you.”
Twilight immediately thought back to the conversation she and her brother had previously had on this subject matter. That son of a gun was right; she was scared of losing me!
“Oh, Rainbow…” Twilight said, pulling Rainbow Dash in for a hug. They held the embrace for an extended time and let go. To Twilight’s utter surprise, Rainbow Dash almost looked like she was going to cry again.
“My goodness, Dash, I have never seen you cry so many times before!” Twilight observed.
“Oh… I don’t usually.” Rainbow Dash sniffed and wiped some of the growing tears away. “I don’t know what’s up with me.”
“Hm.” Twilight hummed, “Maybe I just bring out your emotions.” Twilight said with a smirk.
“Probably right.” Rainbow Dash agreed.
“Well.” Twilight said, “I won’t worry about this anymore. I’ll be happy to have you with me in the castle.”
“Good.” Rainbow Dash said, smiling. “You think we should go back to the group?”
“Yeah, it’s probably a good idea.” Twilight said.
The sitting room was only a few dozen feet from where they were talking, so their walk back was short. Before they reached the door, however, Rainbow Dash stopped Twilight and smiled at her.
“What is it?” Twilight asked.
“I don’t think you understand how happy I am that I get to be with you.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight blushed and giggled.
“For all it’s worth,” Twilight said, drawing very close to Rainbow Dash, “I feel the same.”
Twilight pecked Rainbow Dash on the lips, then opened the sitting room door with her hoof and followed Rainbow Dash back into the room. To their pleasant surprise, Luna had joined the group in the time that they were gone.
“Luna!” Twilight said happily, “Why are you still awake?”
“I tried to sleep.” Luna said, “Really, but I just got too worked up this morning. Sleep would not come.”
“You were quite angry.” Twilight agreed.
“How was ‘your room,’ Twilight?” Rarity asked.
“Did you guys get all kissy-kissy?” Pinkie Pie asked, “Because Applejack was saying how she hoped you weren’t just leaving so you could go lick each others’ faces, which I don’t see why you would anyway, because it probably doesn’t taste too good, I mean-“
“SO!” Applejack said, covering Pinkie’s mouth with her hoof. “Luna! Good ta see ya!”
The entire room busted out laughing while Rainbow and Twilight reclaimed their couch. Applejack had turned beet red and was nervously laughing along with everypony else while shooting the occasional glare at Pinkie, who shrugged in reply.
“I must say it has been an absolute pleasure to have you ponies in the castle.” Luna said. “Especially to keep Twilight company.” Luna yawned deeply and smiled.
“You can go to bed if you want,” Fluttershy offered, “ we don’t want to keep you up.”
“Oh, I will be fine.” Luna said, “I have had much practice with keeping myself awake.”
“AAARGH!!!” Twilight suddenly shouted in agony. She flew off the couch and fell to her knees on the ground. All the ponies looked at her with concern, especially Rainbow Dash. Twilight gripped her head tightly and writhed on the ground.
“MY HEAD!” Twilight cried out. She had always experienced head throbs before an attack, but this was multiple times worse than all the attacks she had memory of. Splitting pain shot through her skull, sending waves upon waves of torment through her head and down into the upper part of her body.
“Twilight!” Rainbow Dash called, “Are you okay? Do you need me to help you?!”
“The… pain…” Twilight choked out, her teeth clenching so hard it was difficult to talk. She could hardly move, and she knew that this meant an attack was coming. “G-get… me… out of… here…” Twilight said.
“On it!” Rainbow Dash said, grabbing her under the front legs, but just as she was about to pick her up, Twilight let out a painful scream and became still.
In Twilight’s mind, she quickly was overcome by the evil power. It was stronger. It was darker. In every possible way, it was worse, and she was in the middle of a room with all of her friends. Twilight immediately began to panic, worrying that something bad was going to happen to them. Luckily, Luna was with them, but what if Twilight injured Luna?
Rainbow Dash seemed to pick up on Twilight’s fear, “Everypony! Get out!”
The ponies scrambled for the door to the sitting room when Twilight suddenly writhed around and kicked Rainbow Dash off of her. As Dash fell, Twilight sprinted to the door and barred the exit. Her eyes were glowing even more intensely than usual, and the scar pulsed with a horrible blood red light that sent shivers down the ponies’ bodies.
The dark aura that surrounded Twilight suddenly grew and grew, then Twilight let out a shrieking roar. The ponies all clapped hooves over their ears while they watched in horror as the black prison suit began to tear at the neck. In one bright pulse, the suit came off completely and was sent in all directions, in pieces. All the ponies gasped in horror.
Twilight breathed a few times as she felt her lavender magic fill up her being again. When the uniform broke and Twilight regained her magic, the real Twilight suddenly realized that she could not communicate, even by thought, to her dark self. She was pushed completely back into her own subconscious. All she could do now was watch as the horrible events unfolded. She felt completely useless.
“Good afternoon, my little ponies.” Twilight spoke in her horrible voice that reeked of decay and death. She breathed a few more ragged, horrible breaths.
All the ponies in the room were paralyzed in fear, even Luna. They could feel the magic coming off of Twilight. It was the same feeling from when Twilight used an immense amount of magic to fix Applejack’s home. It made the fur on their coats stand up on end and began to frizz their hair. Even Rarity wasn’t fussing about it, because that magic could very well be used to kill every last one of them.
“Did you miss me?” Twilight said, then prepared a spell with her newly recovered magic. Her horn flared violently, illuminating in the eyes of all Twilight’s friends as they cowered.
“Good afternoon, my little ponies.” Twilight spoke in her horrible voice that reeked of decay and death. She breathed a few more ragged, horrible breaths.
All the ponies in the room were paralyzed in fear, even Luna. They could feel the magic coming off of Twilight. It was the same feeling from when Twilight used an immense amount of magic to fix Applejack’s home. It made the fur on their coats stand up on end and began to frizz their hair. Even Rarity wasn’t fussing about it, because that magic could very well be used to kill every last one of them.
“Did you miss me?” Twilight said, then prepared a spell with her newly recovered magic. Her horn flared violently, illuminating in the eyes of all Twilight’s friends as they cowered.
“Because I missed you.”
Rainbow Dash and Princess Luna reacted quickly and jumped in the air as Twilight unleashed a blast that spread out around her. The ponies closed their eyes and shielded themselves from the oncoming terror, fearing the worst. Rainbow Dash and Luna made a break for the door.
The spell hit all the other ponies and Spike. The blast knocked them all back a few feet, then slowly their skin began to turn grey and they were turned to stone. Twilight growled and whipped her head around at the door where Rainbow Dash and Luna escaped. Twilight made a mental note to pursue them and turned her attention to the petrified ponies.
“Don’t you worry.” Twilight said, walking over to the closest pony, which was Rarity. She tapped her on the snout and laughed, “I’ll come back for all of you. First, I have some business to attend to.”
Twilight then bolted out of the room and looked side to side, catching absolutely no sign of Rainbow Dash or Luna.
I’ll have to take extra care to make that Rainbow Dash suffer. Twilight thought. When there was no response from the real Twilight, she chuckled and walked forward happily, it is much nicer now that Twilight is out of the picture. She can still see what I’m doing and hear my every thought, but she isn’t driving me crazy with her incessant nagging for me to stop.
With that thought completed, Twilight broke out into a gallop down the corridor in search of her targets.
“Luna, we have to go back!” Rainbow Dash yelled as they flew down the corridor.
“No, Rainbow Dash!” Luna shouted back, “If we can save your friends, we will after we warn my sister!”
Rainbow nodded and continued on with a determined expression. They wove through hallways and passages until they reached the entrance to the throne room. Luckily, there were currently no visitors in the room, so Luna used her magic to slam the doors shut and lock them in place with a wooden beam.
“Keep her in the castle, we don’t want any ponies getting hurt.” Celestia commanded.
“That is not the problem.” Luna said, walking beside Rainbow Dash to the throne to join Celestia.
“What are you talking about?” Celestia asked.
“The suit has failed. She has broken out of it.” Luna relayed. Celestia’s eyes widened with fear and she glanced back and forth at Luna and Rainbow Dash. Luna continued, “And she is more powerful than ever.”
“This is not good at all…” Celestia muttered. “Where are the others?”
“We got out before Twilight attacked them.” Rainbow Dash said.
“Oh no!” Celestia said with despair. She closed her eyes and exhaled deeply, “We must remain hopeful. I’m going to assume she is looking for the both of you now.”
“I would assume the same.” Luna agreed.
Celestia nodded, “Then who knows how long we have before-“
With a loud crash, the throne room’s door burst open. Tendrils of dark energy extended in and quickly dissipated as Twilight Sparkle casually walked in. The darkness emanating from her small frame burned like blackened hell fires. Twilight’s eyes shone brightly through the aura, staring into the very souls of the two princesses standing in front of the solitary throne. Rainbow Dash shook beside Luna’s hooves, fearful for her life.
Twilight’s hoofsteps echoed as she walked into the grand hall. Her gaze never faltered, never moved away. She wore a sickening smirk with the knowledge that she was now truly unstoppable. Nopony spoke.
The silent seconds dragged as Twilight walked. Once she was about half way to the throne, she stopped and did not move. Her gaze remained unwaveringly fixed on the princesses. Rainbow Dash looked up at Luna, her breathing quick and frantic.
“Sister.” Celestia said darkly. It was a serious tone that meant that Celestia knew something bad was going to happen, and she was going to act. “Take Rainbow Dash and flee. I shall hold her off.”
“Celestia, she will kill you!” Luna warned imploringly, “We don’t have to fight her; we can subdue her and put her in a new suit!”
“She is too powerful, Luna.” Celestia said. Twilight still remained planted to the spot, her smile growing ever wider, “You are a witness to this fact. No longer will the magical uniforms be able to restrain her.”
“But what if she is victorious?” Luna asked, “I don’t want to think about her loose in Canterlot… in Equestria!”
“No… this must end now.” Celestia replied softly.
“P-princess…” Rainbow Dash finally spoke. Celestia looked down at her sorrowfully and she continued, “Y-you’re not gonna… you won’t…”
“Rainbow Dash, your trust in Twilight is astounding.” Celestia acknowledged, “But your marefriend Twilight will soon be gone, and if she is lost, there will be no hope for Equestria. As much as I do not want to agree with my mother… I must do what needs to be done.”
“No…” Rainbow Dash whimpered.
“Now, go!” Celestia commanded. Luna looked at Celestia reproachfully before taking Rainbow Dash and quickly escorting her out of the throne room. Once the pair had departed, Celestia turned her attention back to Twilight. It felt like hours passed before either spoke, when in reality it was only a few seconds.
“You cannot protect them, Celestia.” Twilight finally said in her cold, soulless voice.
“You will not touch my sister or your marefriend.” Celestia replied angrily.
“You will stop me?” Twilight asked with amusement. She threw her head back and laughed with mirth. “You do not know how powerful I’ve become, Princess.”
“Your power is of no importance.” Celestia held herself high as she stared down at the evil Twilight.
“I have a feeling you’ll change your mind.” Twilight countered. In a second, power flared around her body as it normally would her horn. The power was lavender and white in color and danced about her like fire. The door to the throne room slammed shut and was sealed by a steel beam that Twilight quickly conjured.
“I do not wish to fight you.” Celestia said calmly.
“You’re a fool, Celestia.” Twilight jeered, “All your power and you would rather let me destroy your kingdom than be forced to kill your student.” Twilight clicked her tongue and shook her head, the flaming energy still rippling off her and charging the air. “Pity.”
Twilight Snarled and prepared a ball of white-hot magical energy the size of a grapefruit. Celestia’s face didn’t change from the determined one she had been wearing since Twilight arrived.
“Twilight Sparkle…” Celestia pleaded.
Twilight grunted and sent the energy ball flying at Celestia like a bullet. The magic flew straight at Celestia’s chest, surely to be a fatal blow, but at the last possible moment, Celestia disappeared with a flash of magical energy. The energy ball sailed into the wall behind the thrones and blasted a giant hole in the red velvet throne and the wall behind it.
A few seconds later, the shining princess reappeared in the same spot with a bright flash of magical energy. She turned and surveyed the damage closely. She turned her head back to Twilight in just enough time to duck away from another blast of magical energy. This one missed the throne and went into the wall behind it again. Celestia furrowed her brow and glared at Twilight even as she prepared another blast.
“This throne has existed for millennia.” Celestia remarked. “My mother used it before my sister and I…”
“Aww…” Twilight stopped her attack and pretended to be sad, “Did my attack hurt the special chair? I’m so sowwy…” Twilight said mockingly. Celestia simply grunted angrily and glared harder at the uncaring unicorn.
“Here, I’ll make it up to you.” Twilight said. Her horn glowed again and suddenly the throne burst into flames. Celestia gasped in horror and took a few steps back. “All better!” Twilight said happily.
“You monster!” Celestia hollered.
“Please, you’re flattering me-oof!” Twilight was suddenly thrown back a few meters and was pinned to the floor with Celestia’s magic. Celestia was quickly upon Twilight with her brightly glowing horn. Twilight struggled to free herself from the binding hold. Celestia’s powerful magic was giving Twilight some difficulty, but even Celestia knew that Twilight would be able to get out.
“Twilight, I know you’re in there!” Celestia shouted in Twilight’s face, looking directly into her fierce white eyes. “You have to break free! You have to! Think of Rainbow Dash like before!”
“Twilight is gone!” Twilight shouted in Celestia’s face. With a raging shout, Twilight blasted Celestia off of her. Celestia stumbled back in surprise while keeping her footing as Twilight hopped back to her feet and took a few steps back herself. “It will not be long before I have full control.”
“So she is not gone…” Celestia observed aloud, a spark of hope still remaining within her.
“There is no hope for you!” Twilight shouted. Hardly moving a muscle, Twilight emitted a powerful burst of magical energy that emanated from her body like a great dome, quickly filling the space and taking the sun princess completely off guard. Celestia was now blown completely off her hooves and landed hard on the ground no less than ten feet behind where she previously stood.
Not a moment later, Twilight teleported herself beside Celestia and kicked her in the gut, hard. Celestia let out a grunt and quickly mustered up the energy to make herself disappear again. Twilight shouted in frustration and whipped her head around, searching for the princess.
Celestia reappeared beside the still blazing throne and quickly doused it with magic. The smoldering remains were but a ghostly shadow of the proud throne that had stood within the castle for thousands of years. Celestia wanted so badly to avenge the loss of one of her family’s most prized heirlooms, but doing so would put Twilight in harm, and that’s something that Princess Celestia just could not presently bring herself to do.
“Hiding behind the ashes of your special lawn chair, are you?” Twilight jeered. Celestia ignored the rage that threatened to boil over in her head and decided instead to attempt to bind Twilight once again.
Twilight flashed and was gone. Celestia let out a breath and glanced around cautiously, ready for Twilight to appear anywhere around her. A few seconds passed, then Celestia heard a quiet ‘pop’ sound above her, and before she had time to look up, Twilight landed hard on her back. Twilight drove her hooves into Celestia’s spine right between her wings, making the princess gasp and buckle her knees, falling to the floor in a heap.
Twilight landed gracefully beside Celestia, and without looking levitated the princess a few feet off the ground.
“Hm… I remember Applejack enjoying this.” Twilight said demonically. Twilight then strained her muscles for a second before sending the princess flying into the air. Celestia recovered quickly, though. She fanned her wings out once she was in the air and began to glide around the throne room. Twilight gasped in shock at the Princess’s evasion of her move.
“Applejack didn’t have wings.” Celestia commented. Twilight scowled and began to send a barrage of magical orbs sailing at the princess, each one the size of a baseball and flying as fast as a bullet. Celestia put up a magical barrier in front of her, absorbing the attacks. It didn’t hold. Twilight’s magic was too strong and Celestia was already tiring from the beating she was receiving.
When the shield broke, Celestia quickly disappeared again and reappeared a moment later on the other side of the room.
“Is that all you can do?!” Twilight shouted. Celestia smirked. If she was getting on Twilight’s nerves then that meant that Twilight was having trouble keeping the upper hoof. Celestia dove toward the ground, preparing her horn to send a powerful binding spell toward Twilight. Twilight took a firm stance and quickly began to fire the burning orbs at Celestia again.
Celestia nimbly dodged each attack and swooped low enough to catch Twilight in a bright white ring that quickly held her firmly to the floor. Twilight struggled and struggled, but this attempt was much stronger, and Celestia was not giving up. Despite Twilight’s fighting, she could not free herself from Celestia’s grasp. Even her horn didn’t seem to be working properly. Celestia smirked and swooped back down to where Twilight lay bound to the floor.
Rainbow Dash and Luna barreled down the hall at record speed. Rainbow Dash sniffed multiple times, the tears threatening to pour out of her. Luna noticed this, but continued on determinedly. If they were going to save their friends, they would have to do it now. However, Rainbow Dash’s eyes were becoming blurry from the tears welling up and she wasn’t able to see well.
With a crash, Rainbow Dash ran into a pony knight armor statue that was along the wall. Rainbow dash tumbled to the floor and laid there, finally letting out all the tears. She sobbed and sobbed freely, letting out every emotion that she had held back after all these years. Luna stopped and landed beside her, rubbing a hoof on her back and ‘shh’-ing softly.
“This isn’t fair!” Rainbow cried.
“I know it’s not, Rainbow Dash.” Luna replied.
“Why does Twilight have to die?!” Rainbow Dash hollered, “She doesn’t deserve any of this!”
“Twilight does not deserve this, you are right.” Luna said, “But knowing my sister, I say her chances of survival are very high.”
“Whaddya mean?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“I do not think Celestia will be able to kill Twilight.” Luna said, “She would have as much luck as you would.”
“Really?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Yes. I only hope that Twilight is not completely gone this time. If she truly is permanently trapped within her body like she claims, this may be the end of our peaceful rule as we know it.”
Rainbow Dash sniffed and tried to digest the implications of that statement. Could Twilight really overthrow all of Equestria? It really seemed like it.
“Come now. Let us save your friends.” Luna said, helping Rainbow Dash up. Rainbow Dash sniffed one more time and flew with Luna down the corridor until they had reached the sitting room that they had been in previously. The door was opened.
The pair walked inside and found all five ponies and Spike completely turned to stone. Rainbow Dash gasped and looked around in fear. She remembered seeing Discord get turned to stone and thinking how horrible it must be. Now her friends had met the same fate.
“A petrification spell…” Luna muttered as she studied the stone figures, “We are lucky.”
“Lucky?!” Rainbow Dash barked back, “My friends are statues!”
“Be happy they are not dead.” Luna replied. Rainbow Dash nodded and looked at Applejack. She just looked so lifeless… She could see the grooves of the stone and wondered how in the world a live pony once stood there. Her face was frozen in a state of fear. Her hooves were raised over her face as if to protect herself and her eyes were screwed shut.
“Can you put ‘em back?” Rainbow Dash asked. When Luna didn’t answer right away, she turned and saw the Night Princess examining Pinkie Pie closely. Her horn glowed faintly and her eyes were closed. When Luna had finished, she cleared her throat and nodded her head.
“I can return them.” Luna said, “Twilight’s spell was not too advanced, just very powerful.”
“That’s great!” Rainbow Dash said. Luna nodded and closed her eyes again. Her horn glowed more brightly this time and cast an aura around them that spread to all the ponies and seemed to be absorbed into the stone. As this happened, the stone began to glow and crack like an egg. The cracks spread over the stone and became more numerous, splitting them up.
Applejack burst out of her stone prison first, shaking her head. Pinkie Pie came second, followed by Rarity. Spike broke out next, then Pinkie had to break Fluttershy out of her stone shell. Fluttershy was free for about five seconds before her eyes rolled up and she fainted. Pinkie quickly rushed down and tended to Fluttershy while the rest of the ponies recovered.
“What… happened?” Applejack asked hesitantly.
“You were turned to stone.” Rainbow Dash said, “Luna just saved you.”
“Thank you, Princess!” Rarity said appreciatively.
“Where is Twilight?” Spike asked, joining the two ponies.
“She found Celestia.” Luna said, “They are currently in the throne room.”
“What’s gonna happen to them?” Spike asked fearfully.
“If Celestia follows through with her word…” Luna started, looking at the friends sadly, “She will kill Twilight.”
Twilight struggled against Celestia’ s magical restraints one more time, then finally settled down and watched Celestia land beside her and walk over casually. Celestia bent low over Twilight’s face once again. Twilight hissed at Celestia and breathed heavily. The princess took a moment to look over Twilight’s rage-filled face.
“My most faithful student…” Celestia said sweetly. Twilight reeled back and spat right in Celestia’s face. The princess blocked the spittle with magic quickly and let it fall to the floor. Twilight smirked and Celestia continued.
“I know things are dark, but you must fight.” Celestia spoke fiercely, right into Twilight’s shining eyes.
“Twilight is mine!” The dark Twilight screamed.
“Twilight, listen!” Celestia continued, ignoring what the evil within Twilight had to say, “You are strong, and I know you can overcome this!”
“Do not try, sun princess. Your efforts are fruitless!”
“Twilight!” Celestia screamed again. For a split second, Celestia could have sworn she saw Twilight’s eyes return to normal, but it was so brief that it seemed nonexistent the moment after. Twilight seemed to notice this too, for a new fire lit up in her and she began to laugh. She laughed long and she laughed loud, letting out evil cackles of malice and absolute mirth.
Celestia backed up as Twilight continued her hysterical laughing fit. Twilight ceased laughing after half a minute and suddenly became engulfed in flames. Celestia yelped in surprise and jumped back, the heat of the flames forcing her to look away. Celestia’s concentration broke and Twilight was released from the bind.
“Twilight. Is. MINE!!!!” Twilight Sparkle screamed. Her voice reverberated around the throne room and caused Celestia to take another step back in shock. The flames around Twilight burned with an intensity unlike any Celestia had ever seen before, and the royal alicorn was forced to look away.
Twilight Sparkle then sent two brightly glowing rings flying at Celestia in a similar manner to what the princess had already done to Twilight twice. Celestia looked up just in time to see the rings reach her. Before she could react, they caught her and pinned her to the ground. Celestia screamed in pain as she realized that unlike her binding magic, these rings were burning hot, scalding her flesh.
“I’m a fast learner, but you know that, don’t you?” Twilight Sparkle said smugly, “I made a few adjustments to this spell of yours, though. Thought it would make a better impression, if you catch my drift.”
“Twilight…” Celestia finally forced out. The burning rings were making it hard to concentrate. She winced in pain, but tried her best to ignore it and confront her attacker. “Twilight, come back! You have to come back!”
“Sadly, I must say that you are correct, Princess.” Twilight said, letting the flames around her disappear completely. Celestia whimpered as the searing hot rings continued to burn her, “I feel Twilight has yet to succumb completely. She will return soon, and what better timing than this?”
“Twilight…” Celestia now spoke directly to Twilight, through the demon façade that covered her. Twilight walked toward Celestia, covering the ten feet that had been created between them. Celestia feared the worst, but remained strong and didn’t break.
“Twilight, if I don’t make it out of here… you have to remain strong…” Celestia spoke rapidly and frantically. Twilight reached Celestia and placed a hoof on her chest forcefully. Celestia continued as if nothing happened.
“Twilight, you are the first real friend I have had in centuries, and I thank you for the happiness you have given me…” Celestia said. Twilight growled and lowered hoof back to the princess’s side, but the princess continued.
“Never lose hope, Twilight. Your friends have not lost faith in you. You cannot lose faith in yourself.”
“I am going to enjoy this.” Twilight snarled, igniting her horn. A magical spear began to form around it.
“Stay strong, Twilight!” Celestia shouted, “You have to stay str-urk!”
Twilight had driven the spear through Celestia’s chest. The princess let out a sickening groan as she looked at the damage. Twilight’s horn was an inch from Celestia’s body, and the magical spear had been driven firmly into Celestia’s heart. Twilight let the magic go and lifted her head and crimson blood began to pour from the wound.
“I mentioned that Twilight’s return was well-timed.” Twilight said, smiling. Celestia snarled once and coughed, a little blood coming out of her mouth. “Because I wouldn’t want her to miss this.”
“No…” Celestia choked out. Twilight’s magical grip on Celestia disappeared and the deep burns were revealed around her torso and shoulders, right below her neck. Celestia tried to intake a deep breath, but began to cough again, more blood pooling onto the ground. When she opened her eyes again, she looked at Twilight and saw the bright white fade from her eyes and the violet orbs revealed beneath. The red scar stopped pulsing and Twilight had returned.
Twilight gasped and lurched forward, placing her hooves on Celestia’s chest, wary of the burns.
“Princess, no!” Twilight screamed.
“Twilight… you are back…” Celestia said happily, a small smile appearing. Her white face seemed to accentuate where blood was streaming out of her mouth. Twilight looked over Celestia’s body frantically. Twilight looked at the grievous injury in Celestia’s chest and grimaced, but began working a spell anyway.
“Twilight… it is useless.”
“No! This is not it! I am not going to let you DIE!” Twilight screamed, frantically casting her healing spell.
“Twilight, please…” Celestia pleaded. Twilight concentrated as hard as she could and began weaving the spell into Celestia’s injuries. Within seconds, the skin had closed and Twilight made all the blood disappear from Celestia’s chest. At first glance, it would appear that Celestia’s chest was healed.
“There! You’re all better!” Twilight said, lightening a bit. Celestia coughed again, more blood coming out.
“The damage is internal and permanent, Twilight.” Celestia said calmly, a smile present on her face, “There is nothing anypony can do.”
“I can get a doctor!” Twilight shouted, “Help! HELP! Somepony, please!” Twilight began to scream.
“Twilight, I beg you, you must listen.” Celestia said weakly. “I do not have much time left…”
“Celestia, I can save you! You are not going to leave me!” Twilight begged.
“Twilight…” Celestia pleaded. Twilight finally silenced. The princess’s breathing was horribly labored and raspy now, and she was beginning to lose the bright glow that constantly emanated from her. Twilight’s lip quivered and she felt she was about to cry.
“Do not cry, listen.” Celestia commanded. Twilight sniffed and nodded, trying her best to blink out the tears. Celestia smiled softly and coughed again. Twilight sniffed and wiped some of the blood off the Princess’s face. The normally powerful alicorn looked weak and defenseless, completely exposed and vulnerable.
“Twilight…” Celestia said weakly, “You have to promise me that you will not lose faith in yourself or your friends.”
“Okay.” Twilight replied shakily, her face contorted into a frown as she tried her best to hold back the tears.
“Even in the darkest times, you can find the light.” Celestia paused, catching her breath, “That is why you are my most faithful student, and will always be…” Celestia coughed again, more violently, “…my dearest friend.”
Twilight heaved a sob and nodded, leaning in to hug the princess around the neck. Celestia tried to hug back, but her body did not respond. Twilight hugged Celestia tightly and pulled back, looking the princess in her eyes.
“Goodbye… Twilight Sparkle…” Celestia murmured. Her head slowly slumped to the side and her stare became blank.
“P-princess?” Twilight asked hesitantly. There was no answer. Celestia’s chest no longer moved and she was still.
“Princess??” Twilight called a little more urgently. When the princess didn’t respond a second time, Twilight lost it. She let out a heavy sob and let the tears flow freely.
“NO! Celestia, NO!” Twilight screamed, “NO! NO! NO! NO!” She hammered her hooves against the ground and fell on Celestia’s chest, sobbing wildly.
“I’m sorry!” Twilight screamed, “I’m so sorry!!!”
Her cries were heavy and her tears created a spot on Celestia’s chest. Twilight couldn’t live with herself. Her terrible curse had not only brought pain and suffering to those around her, but had now ended the life of her mentor and friend, Celestia, princess of Equestria.
Twilight’s head shot up and whipped around. Luna had returned alone, and her face was one of fear and hesitance. Twilight stood and stepped away from Celestia’s body, shaking her head.
“Luna… I’m so sorry, I can’t… I didn’t!” Twilight stammered.
“Oh my sister…” Luna said mournfully as she reached her sister’s body. She bent and nuzzled Celestia’s face as Twilight continued to back away. Twilight collapsed a good distance from the scene and stared at the two. A steady trail of tears traced down Twilight’s cheeks, but she wasn’t sobbing anymore, just in shock. Luna continued to nuzzle Celestia’s face. “Oh my dear, loving sister…”
“You will be missed, Celestia.” Luna said with a shaky voice. “By the ponies of Equestria, by your friends… by myself.” Luna raised herself back up again and looked up and down the immaculate white alicorn and lowered her head. With a soft indigo glow, Luna’s horn lit up and she traced it across Celestia’s shoulders. The burns once present there faded and appeared once again as an untarnished white coat. Luna repeated the action lower down at Celestia’s abdomen.
Twilight sniffed and the sound carried through the cavernous room. The throne was still smoldering. There were large areas of walls that had been damaged by Twilight’s magical energy attacks. A puddle of blood surrounded the princess’s frame and stained the bottom portion of her pure white coat, but Luna forced all the blood to vanish with a flick of her horn and cleaned up Celestia’s body with a second. In her last motion, Luna swooped down and closed Celestia’s lavender eyes.
“Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said. Her tone was not angry or stern, it was calm. It was soothing. The night princess turned and faced Twilight Sparkle, who had now looked up to face Luna. Luna’s face remained downturned as she walked to meet Twilight.
“Luna, I…” Twilight started.
Luna silenced her with a raised hoof. “All is forgiven, young Twilight.” Luna said. She helped Twilight to her hooves and urged her to follow over to Celestia’s body.
“My dear sister loved you and cared for you deeply.” Luna said, “She would not have allowed this to happen otherwise.”
“Why didn’t she kill me?” Twilight asked. She didn’t care anymore. She knew Luna didn’t want to hear the possibility, but at this point, she was all too accepting of it.
“Because Celestia loved you too much.” Luna said, “Even in the hour of her demise she could not harm you.”
Twilight sniffed and wiped her nose, eyes not leaving Celestia’s face. She appeared to be sleeping and nothing more. Twilight expected her to get up and tell her that everything was alright, that she should stop worrying all the time. She expected it, but it did not come.
“My sister and I have been alive for millennia. We have collectively known thousands of ponies, and I know that she has never had a friend like you.” Luna said.
Twilight shook her head, “That’s nice of you to say, but…”
“I do not lie, Twilight.” Luna said, “Celestia rarely took a student under her wing, and though she had hundreds of private students throughout the years, all of them have been no more than acquaintances. With you, that was different.”
“What about you, Luna? She has to have been better friends with you than I; the two of you live together!”
“It would seem, but we do not see each other as often as you would imagine.”
Twilight was silent.
“Besides, we have never been as close as you and she are.” Luna said, “That is why I am glad to call you my friend as well.”
Twilight nodded and sighed a shaky, painful sigh. Twilight cautiously reached out her hoof and stroked Celestia cheek one last time before breaking down and crying into Luna’s chest.
It seemed like half of Equestria had somehow managed to travel to Canterlot in the span of a night. Thousands upon thousands of ponies were lined up all throughout the city streets, lining the sidewalks and crowding the city to pay their respects for their fallen Princess. The air held a heavy weight on the hearts of the citizens as an immortal being had fallen. It was surreal.
The morning after Celestia was killed, Canterlot’s best pony architects magically erected a monument in the Canterlot gardens that would serve as Celestia’s tomb. The monument was easily twenty feet tall and of a beautiful snow-white granite that reflected in the sun as Celestia would have liked.
Now, a beautiful stone casket was laid out in front of Canterlot Castle. Within it was Princess Celestia. As any pony will tell you, it only looked as if she were only sleeping, recovering from a long day of serving her ponies. Celestia’s influence was so vast and so respected that nopony could actually believe that she was gone.
The line of ponies eventually cleared and filed into the Canterlot gardens, where Luna was conducting a funeral service. Twilight and her friends were the first to enter the gardens. Normally, when there was extra time to spend, the friends would enjoy each others’ company and have fun, but on this somber occasion, the six ponies and Spike sat in silence.
Once the ponies had occupied the Canterlot gardens, a procession of royal guard ponies led by Shining Armor brought Celestia’s casket to a place in front of the beautifully sculpted tomb. Luna stepped atop a platform designed for her and looked over the crowd that had not uttered a word since entering the gardens. Twilight and her friends were in the front row.
“Citizens of Equestria.” Luna began, her voice magically amplified so that all could hear. “I thank you for coming to pay your respects to your Princess. It would have made her happy to know that her citizens love her as much as she loved you.”
A few birds chirped in the distance, remaining the only sound that was heard across the vast sea of teary-eyed ponies. Luna blinked her eyes and sighed. She was holding back tears, it was obvious. Luna looked down at Twilight Sparkle to check on her. Twilight was looking straight at the ground solemnly.
This is all my fault… Twilight thought. She looked up to see Luna giving her a sympathetic look from the podium.
Do not blame yourself, Twilight. Luna’s voice echoed inside Twilight’s head. Twilight perked up a little and gave the princess an interested look.
Did you think my sister was the only one who could communicate through thought? Luna asked. Twilight gave Luna a little smile, but did not reply. Luna nodded and turned her attention back to the audience. She took a deep breath and mentally prepared herself to deliver the eulogy without crying.
“Every life begins and ends with the sun. When a foal first enters this world, the sun is what opens its eyes and shows it what this beautiful land has to offer. As a pony grows, the sun drives it through a lifetime of working toward its goals, accomplishments, and efforts to make its impression on the lives of others. When a grown pony reaches the point in its life where the great sky sanctuary calls, the sun sets and it closes its eyes for the last time.”
“Princess Celestia was much more than the guiding force of the sun. Princess Celestia was the sun. She was the light in our hearts, constantly reminding us that our lives are not quite as grim as we may sometimes make them out to be. Not only was Princess Celestia the most radiant force in our land, but she was the kindest soul to walk the Earth. Any pony could approach her without fear. No war has ravaged this land in the last 2000 years. Indeed, Celestia was the picture of a perfect leader.”
“As my sister has said in the past, ‘Life is a cruel prankster that likes to see terrible things happen to good ponies.’ No more true could this statement be than now, in the darkest day that Equestria has ever seen. I would like to take us now to a time long before the present, when Canterlot was but a thriving gathering of traders and merchants and not the magnificent city that it is today…”
Twilight was nudged to the side by an earthly brown unicorn with a forest green mane. Her emerald irises almost looked familiar to Twilight, but Twilight concluded that it must be a coincidence. The unicorn looked at Twilight curiously and simply grunted an apology and nodded once. Twilight shook herself out of her mini-trance and focused back on Luna.
“This kingdom was in shambles. The great dragon-pony war had just ended, and the horizon was bright, but the journey would be difficult. On the eve of our first pilgrimage to spread the news of our peace treaty, Celestia and I sat in her study together and enjoyed a much-deserved moment of peace. It was at this time that she told me this: ‘A candle is bright in the darkest cave, but pales before a fire, yet they can both be extinguished with a little water.’”
“What I believe my sister was trying to elaborate is that nopony is immortal. We must not take for granted what life we have, for in the blink of an eye, it could be gone. Princess Celestia was a teacher, always giving us lessons about each other, about friendship, about magic, about togetherness… so now with her death, she is teaching us about life.”
Twilight noticed that the unicorn that had bumped into her was now giving Twilight occasional glances and scowls. Twilight got a little nervous. Was this pony an assassin? Twilight had made a good number of enemies in Canterlot, this could be one of them. Twilight turned and looked at Rainbow Dash. Even at this time, the pegasus somehow managed to put a happy thought or two in her head.
“So now, we wish Princess Celestia safe passage to the afterlife. Although she is gone, she will forever remain in our hearts. Her influence on this world was great and vast, and she will be dearly missed by everypony. Thank you.” Luna stepped down from the podium to a chorus of solemn applause from the ponies gathered in the gardens.
Twilight and her friends walked forward to meet Luna as the ponies that traveled to pay their respects began to file out of the gardens. Luna sighed and allowed a tear to fall as she walked over to Celestia’s casket. Twilight and her friends met her there and they silently watched as Shining Armor and the small team of guard ponies magically placed Celestia’s pure white casket in its final resting place within the monument.
Something tapped Twilight’s shoulder. Twilight turned and saw the same brown unicorn from earlier. Twilight looked at the unicorn with interest, “Can I help you?”
“Twilight Sparkle.” The unicorn said. Her voice was deep and her tone was serious.
“H-how do you know my name?”
“May we speak in the throne room?” The unicorn asked, ignoring Twilight’s question.
“I…” Twilight said, looking up at Luna. Luna looked down at her and nodded. “…I guess so.”
The unicorn nodded and turned, prompting Twilight to follow her. The pair walked to the right of the crowd, avoiding it, and walked into a side entrance of the castle. The unicorn then led Twilight through the corridors and hallways until they had reached the room where Twilight had earlier slain the princess. The throne had been replaced and all the walls and windows repaired, but Twilight could not forget the sight of Celestia lying dead upon the floor.
“Who are you?” Twilight asked, pulling herself out of her lamentation.
The unicorn nodded and was enveloped in a bright light. The shape began to grow to a size much larger than Twilight. Only a few seconds later, the light vanished and Queen Terra stood where the unicorn was.
“Terra!” Twilight said fearfully, turning to run.
“Do not fear, Twilight.” Terra said calmly in her deep voice, “I shall not harm you.”
“I am so sorry about your daughter…” Twilight replied sorrowfully.
“’Tis a great loss. My heart is heavy, and my demeanor is saddened, but I shall live on. Thank you for your sympathies.” Terra said, “Indeed, in addition to seeing my daughter put to rest, I have come to offer my apologies. While I still believe that my actions were just, I do think you should be allowed a chance to cure yourself.”
“Thanks…” Twilight said softly.
“It is in this land’s best interest that you do find something quickly, however.” Terra said.
“I am aware.” Twilight replied.
“Good.” Terra said, “Celestia thought very highly of you. You should be proud to call yourself the Princess’s friend.”
“I am thankful for it every day.” Twilight said.
Terra nodded and glowed brightly, soon resuming her innocent-looking unicorn form. “Do take care, Twilight Sparkle. I trust that you will do what is right.” Terra said, turning to leave the throne room. Twilight watched the former Queen of Equestria leave with a new appreciation for the rough ruler.
It was now night.
Rainbow Dash had fallen asleep beside Twilight in her bed. Twilight, however, was not asleep. She lay there stroking Rainbow’s mane lovingly, weighing the situation in her mind. Rainbow Dash looked so peaceful… so beautiful. The moonlight perfectly illuminated her face and the way her exhales pushed a few stray strands of her mane out of her face. Twilight hated to get up and disturb Rainbow’s sleep, but she had to.
Twilight eased herself out of the bed and walked silently out of the room, using her regained magic to muffle the door. Twilight walked down the hall, her hoofsteps echoing down the expanse of the stone corridor. The moonbeams shone through the windows on one side of the walkway, illuminating the space just enough to keep Twilight moving in the right direction, whatever it was.
Twilight walked for a few minutes until she had made it to the throne room. She walked in and looked at the throne, surprised to find that Luna was not present there. Twilight then walked down the enormous room, admiring the way the moon lit up the stained glass panels on one side.
Twilight exited the throne room and walked down a wide staircase that led into the grand ballroom. Unlike usual, the room was dark and lifeless. The room was filled with tables that were still covered in silky white tablecloths from the funeral. The silence was calming to Twilight as she continued her walk. Twilight glanced out the windows and saw through them to the gardens.
The newly built monument to Celestia stood proudly in the center of the garden, and to Twilight’s relief, she found Luna at the bottom of it, sitting by herself. Twilight walked through the front doors and made it to the gardens after a few seconds. As she neared the princess, she began to hear the soft sounds of Luna’s sobs.
Twilight stopped and hesitated moving into the grieving princess. Luna’s cries were sorrowful and long. Twilight decided that it would be appropriate for her to approach Luna now. Twilight walked forward and made an effort to make a little noise as she stepped on the grass so as to alert the princess of her presence.
“Is that you, Twilight?” Luna asked with a shaky voice.
“Yes.” Twilight replied softly. She sat down beside Luna and rubbed Luna’s back comfortingly. Luna sniffed and tried to stifle her cries to form a coherent sentence.
“Celestia and I have lived by each others’ side for almost ten thousand years.” Luna said to Twilight. Twilight tried to comprehend that amount of time, but she could not wrap her mind around it. “It is hard for me to… imagine life without her.”
Luna then turned and full-out hugged Twilight. The embrace lasted much longer than any normal hug. This time, both ponies needed the comfort. Both ponies were mourning the greatest loss either had ever experienced.
“Luna…” Twilight finally muttered. Luna and Twilight separated and Luna looked into Twilight’s eyes.
Twilight blinked her teary eyes and looked at Celestia quickly, as if it would give her confidence. Twilight looked at Luna again and nodded.
“Twilight… what is it?” Luna asked sadly.
“Luna… this ends tonight.” Twilight said softly. Luna’s face screwed up again, ready to cry.
“Oh… Twilight!” Luna sobbed, throwing her front legs around Twilight again in another hug.
Once Twilight left the gardens, she walked back into the castle and found her way back up into her bedroom. She saw Rainbow Dash still sleeping there, curled up into a ball on one side of the bed. Twilight walked forward and opened her desk. She pulled out a piece of paper and began sculpting a note with a quill held with her magic. A few teardrops fell on the paper, but she ignored them and finished writing.
Twilight left the note on the bed next to Rainbow Dash. Twilight leaned down and planted a tender kiss on Dash’s forehead before turning away and walking out her bedroom door for the last time.
Had she been walking for five minutes or five hours?
The throne room wasn’t this far the last time she walked there…
Twilight walked down the corridor leading to the throne room. Her face showed no emotion. She felt numb. What happened to the happiness she felt… it was so long ago now. What did it mean to be happy? The concept sounded completely foreign.
But Twilight was not the opposite of happy. She was not sad. She was not heartbroken. She was not stuck in an emotional pit of despair. She was simply… numb. There were no emotions. She could not comprehend any emotion to display. The only thing that echoed through her mind a thousand times over was the last thing she said to Princess Luna.
“This ends tonight.”
And indeed, this nightmare would end tonight. Twilight entered the throne room finally and looked at the repaired throne that stood proudly at the helm of the cavernous space. Twilight could only think fondly back to a time where things were much more simple, back before Celestia’s life had been taken away, when everything and everypony was happy.
Twilight remembered the first time she entered this room. It was with her brother as he had completed his Royal Guard preparatory school. The graduation ceremony had been held in the throne room. It was the first time Twilight had ever seen the space, and it took her breath away. The majesty… the beauty… the stained glass that shined down and covered the floor with its spectrum of colors… it was all a grand display of power.
Celestia presided over the event, giving her heartfelt congratulations to the students. Shining Armor had been the valedictorian, so he got the special privilege of shaking hooves with the princess and speaking to the whole ceremony. Twilight remembered how inspired she was… how she wanted so badly to meet the princess.
Only a few months later did Twilight witness her first summer sun celebration. Princess Celestia captured the awe and respect of an entire land of ponies with her power to raise and lower the sun.
A power that now solely rests in the hooves of Princess Luna… Twilight thought.
Then, Twilight remembered the happiness she experienced when Celestia first welcomed her into the castle. Twilight not only got to meet the princess, but for the rest of her young life, she would be a personal student of the princess.
Twilight suddenly realized that her whole life was lived under the care, direction, and inspiration of Princess Celestia. The Princess instilled within Twilight the first aspiration she ever experienced and to this day, always played a part in the goals that Twilight had set for herself.
Without her… what life did Twilight have?
Twilight walked to the center of the throne room. She turned and faced the empty throne. By some strange power, she felt a tear begin to form under her eye.
Like I said… Twilight thought. …this ends tonight.
Twilight then illuminated her horn and began to form in front of her a blade made out of pure magic. It was not a spear like the one used to kill Wiley or Celestia, but more of a dagger, deadly sharp on both edges.
Twilight took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Rainbow Dash rolled over and smacked her lips a few times. She was awakened when she realized that Twilight was no longer in the bed with her. She sat up, curious, and looked around for a few seconds before she noticed a small note left on the bed covers next to her. Rainbow Dash hesitantly reached for the note and opened it. The light was dim, but the moon was bright enough to allow her to read it.
As Rainbow Dash read, her heart began to beat faster and faster. Rainbow Dash –
I know that we have been trying to find a solution to this catastrophe, but it seems I have been left with no choice. With Princess Celestia’s death, it has been made apparent that I will no longer be able to attempt to cure myself. Too many ponies could get hurt. Please, be strong, Dash. You must know that you have been the biggest driving force for me in the recent past. I truly hope you forgive me. I will be taking my own life before this night is over. Please, say goodbye to the girls and Spike for me. I love them all, and I love you, Rainbow Dash.
Twilight Sparkle P.S. I will be in the throne room.
Rainbow Dash dropped the note and bolted out of the room as fast as her wings could carry her.
Twilight moved the magical blade to a point where it made contact with the skin of her neck. She could feel it. She could feel the sharpness as it threaten to drive itself into her. Twilight took one last deep breath and tensed her muscles, ready to pull it.
NO!!! The evil voice screamed in Twilight’s head.
Suddenly, Twilight felt the blade leave her neck and dissipate into the air. Twilight quickly began to form another magical dagger, this one pointing directly at her neck. She tried to repeat the same action, but the evil force would put a block on her mind right as she got close. Twilight frantically looked around and saw a pony knight armor set up on one side of the room.
Twilight quickly ran over to the armor and broke off the tip of a lance with her magic. With the tip in tow, she resumed her place in the middle of the throne room.
“You will not hurt any more ponies.” Twilight said darkly. She quickly performed a spell that sharpened the tip and picked it up with her hoof.
You will not win this fight, Twilight! The voice echoed. She could feel the darkness slowly fighting to gain control.
Twilight grasped the point with her hoof and drove it toward her chest, attempting to stab it through her heart. Twilight gasped as she felt her hoof simply stop moving when the point was no more than an inch from her body. Twilight pushed as hard as she could, trying to finally defeat this enemy, but no matter how hard she tried, she would not budge.
You think I would just let you kill us? The voice said maliciously, you truly are a fool, Twilight…
Twilight felt the spear get ripped out of her hoof as she was tackled to the ground. All at once, Twilight lost the influence of evil upon her as she and Rainbow Dash skidded across the smooth tile ground to a stop. Rainbow Dash breathed heavily on Twilight’s neck. For a moment, Twilight lied unmoving upon the ground, Rainbow Dash collecting herself on top of her. Then, Rainbow Dash sat up and looked at Twilight with her tear-streaked face. Twilight looked away, ashamed.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again!” Rainbow Dash shouted. She leaned forward and pressed her muzzle against Twilight’s. Twilight’s mind began to race. Was this really the right thing to do? Of course it was! This had to end, now! Rainbow Dash pulled back and looked into Twilight’s troubled eyes. She quickly thought of something to say.
“Twi, I know… this seems like the only way.” She said, “You don’t understand… we need you here, Twilight!”
“Dash… I wish you were right, but this is over.” Twilight tried to reason, “Too many ponies have gotten hurt because of me.”
“No, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash shouted in reply, looking serious, “You can’t give up! I won’t let you!”
Twilight got up and pushed Rainbow Dash off of her. Rainbow Dash watched with a warning stare as Twilight walked over to where the spear head had fallen. She picked it up and walked back over to Rainbow Dash.
“The evil inside me won’t let me kill myself anyway.” Twilight said, “And as I recall reading, the cursed pony had to be put to death.”
Rainbow Dash didn’t reply. Twilight looked at Rainbow Dash longingly, then held her hoof out with the spear.
“I want you to do it.”
“What? No way!” Rainbow Dash said, backing away from the sharpened object.
“Rainbow Dash, listen to me!”
“No, you listen to me!” Rainbow Dash barked back. Twilight was slightly taken aback and she raised her eyebrows with interest.
“Why would you even try to ask me to do something so terrible?” Rainbow Dash asked. She walked closer to Twilight, “How could I possibly k-kill…” Rainbow Dash’s words caught in her throat. She sniffed and wiped her eyes.
“Twilight, I love you… how could I possibly kill you?” Rainbow Dash asked softly.
Twilight suddenly felt a wave of guilt wash over her, followed by the feeling of warmth covering her heart to hear those words leave Rainbow Dash’s mouth.
“You… love me, Dash?” Twilight asked.
Rainbow Dash nodded sadly and took in a deep breath, “Since long before we were together.”
Twilight’s eyes widened in awe and she reached forward to hug Rainbow Dash tightly. Twilight’s heart beat quickly and although she knew what needed to be done, she was grateful to Dash for saving her and giving her this chance.
“I love you too.” Twilight replied. She and Dash separated, “But…”
“But?” Rainbow Dash asked, worried.
“I’m afraid… I will have to die.” Twilight finally said.
“I will not kill myself if at all possible.” Twilight said. Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight with worry as she spoke, “But… if this gets bad… somepony will have to kill me.”
“And it will not be me.” Rainbow Dash said sternly.
“I wouldn’t expect you to.” Twilight said. She smiled sadly and went in for another kiss, this time really letting it last. She and Rainbow Dash stayed locked in romantic embrace for a long time, the longest kiss they’ve ever shared. Perhaps it was the realization that this may be their last moment of peace before things really get bad.
“Rainbow Dash?” Twilight asked, separating the kiss. Dash smiled and nodded.
“Why don’t you go back to bed? I have some things to sort out before I do.” Rainbow Dash gave her a concerned look, to which Twilight sighed and said, “I promise I won’t try anything drastic tonight.”
“Okay, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said, “I believe you.”
“Good.” Twilight replied, gave Rainbow Dash another quick kiss, then said, “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said. Twilight then walked out of the throne room in the opposite direction of her room, leaving Rainbow Dash. Twilight didn’t turn to look, but she knew that Rainbow Dash stayed planted to the spot and watched Twilight leave.
Twilight then walked back out to the gardens, where she had hoped Luna was, but she had gone. Twilight turned to walk away, but suddenly felt inclined to walk over to Celestia’s memorial. Twilight looked up at the statue. It depicted Princess Celestia standing with her head facing down, smiling at three nameless ponies at her hooves. It was a statement that carried the message that Celestia was always looking out for her subjects.
“Don’t worry, Princess.” Twilight said to Celestia, her voice showing the first signs of confidence she had shown in a long while, “This is not over. I will not give in.”
Twilight then reentered the castle and walked back into the throne room, hoping by some miracle that Luna had taken her seat at the throne in the time that Twilight had left. Alas, this was not the case. The throne room remained empty. Twilight looked at the floor and noticed the broken lance tip that she had sharpened into a spear. With a quick spell, Twilight bent the metal in half and threw it to the side.
Twilight looked to the right, where she would normally go to either go back to her bedroom or go to Celestia’s room, but she turned and looked in the left hallway. This hallway was the one her friends and she had taken much earlier to get to the grand council room, where Twilight first revealed the nature of her condition. At the end of this hallway would be Luna’s room.
Twilight gathered herself and walked down the hallway. She hoped beyond hope that Luna was in her room, because otherwise Twilight would most likely not be able to locate her. As Celestia told Twilight on a different occasion, Luna often had a habit of taking off and flying around during her nights.
Twilight walked down the hall, which thankfully mirrored the hallway to Celestia’s room, making the trip easy. When Twilight found Luna’s door, she found that it shared the same swirling patterns and light glow of Celestia’s door. This castle was certainly built for two princesses. Twilight raised her hoof and knocked.
“Luna!” Twilight said, “It’s me, Twilight!”
Twilight heard shuffling from behind the door, followed by the door opening and Luna appearing there, to Twilight’s relief. Luna looked absolutely surprised to see Twilight standing before her.
“Twilight!” Luna said happily, “You are alive!”
“There’s been a change of plans.” Twilight said. Luna nodded her head and turned to invite Twilight in.
“Would you like to talk?” Luna asked.
“Sure.” Twilight said, entering Luna’s room. Twilight had never seen Luna’s study or her chambers before. One major difference Twilight noticed was the absence of all the magical and scientific instruments like the ones present in Celestia’s study. Instead, Twilight noticed an abundance of art, a good number depicting sunsets and nightscapes.
“These paintings are beautiful, Luna.” Twilight said, “I had no idea you had an appreciation for art.”
“I’m glad you like them.” Luna said. “A lot of them are mine.”
“You paint?!” Twilight asked, surprised.
“Well, you pick up certain skills when you’ve been alive as long as me.” Luna said, “Celestia never could paint, though.”
Twilight chuckled despite the slight pain from hearing Celestia’s name. She then walked into Luna’s sleeping chambers. She looked beside the fireplace on the side of the room opposite the bed, and beside it stood an elliptical mirror that was a little taller than Luna. When Twilight walked over to it, she looked into it and the surface seemed to waver before conjuring up an image of Rainbow Dash sleeping peacefully in Twilight’s bed.
Twilight looked over at Luna with interest, then back down at the mirror. Luna stood beside Twilight and smiled.
“It appears as though Rainbow Dash is on your mind right now.” Luna said.
“That she is.” Twilight said. “Is this your magic mirror?”
“Yes, this is where Celestia and I kept an eye on you from time to time.” Luna said, “All one has to do is step in front and think of a pony, then the mirror conjures an image of that pony.”
“That… is wrong on so many levels.” Twilight said.
“That it is.” Luna agreed. “Luckily, there is only one in existence.”
“Yeah…” Twilight agreed. She walked away from the mirror and took a look off Luna’s balcony. The view from this balcony was much different from Celestia’s. From Celestia’s balcony, one could see Ponyville. Luna could observe most of Canterlot and the lands to the East: somewhere Twilight had never travelled.
A bright light distracted Twilight, and she looked to her right to see the mirror shining brightly. Twilight walked slowly over to Luna and looked into the mirror with her. Luna’s face appeared as if she’d just seen a ghost. Twilight looked into the mirror, her eyes almost being forced shut from the bright light.
“What’s happening, Luna?” Twilight asked.
“I… thought of my sister.” Luna said quietly. Twilight’s heart skipped a beat when she realized the implications of what Luna just said. The bright light that Twilight saw was… beyond. Twilight and Luna were looking into what could possibly be the afterlife. It was a surreal moment.
Just faintly, Twilight swore she saw Celestia’s figure flash into view. As far as Twilight could se, she was smiling. As soon as this image disappeared, the mirror grew dim once again and the mirror became just a regular mirror again. Twilight looked at Luna with awe, and Luna returned the gesture.
“Did you see her?” Twilight asked.
“I think I did.” Luna replied.
“That was… amazing.” Twilight remarked, poking the surface of the mirror with her hoof, as if by some strange occurrence it would allow her passage to a place where she could see Celestia again.
“It was.” Luna agreed distantly. She and Twilight left the mirror together and walked back into Luna’s study. “Now… we need to discuss what is going to happen now.”
“Luna… I kind of already know what I want to happen.” Twilight said. Luna’s eyes looked saddened as Twilight said that.
“I have a feeling I know what you are going to ask of me.” Luna said.
“Luna, please. When the time comes and the evil takes over me again, I need you to finish me off. I will have time to say goodbye to everypony now. It’s alright.”
“Twilight… I don’t know if I could…” Luna said softly.
“But… you must know that this would happen eventually.” Twilight said, “This is the way it has to be. When I attempted to end my own life, the evil within me kept me from carrying the task out. Rainbow Dash has already refused to harm me. Luna, you must!”
“Twilight, do try to understand.” Luna said. “I have just lost my own sister. I could not bring myself to kill my only other friend in the world. I may not have had the privilege of growing as close to you as Celestia did, but you are still my friend. At least… you are my friend, right?”
“Of course, Luna!” Twilight said, “And I will always be your friend, even when I’m gone.”
“Don’t say that, Twilight, I do not want to think of it…”
“Well, we have to think of it!” Twilight said. Luna looked taken aback by Twilight’s sudden harshness. Twilight simmered down slightly and looked at Luna with compassion, “Luna, I could kill you. I could kill all my friends, I could kill Spike! I could possibly overthrow the throne and take over Equestria. What happens then?”
“I don’t know…” Luna said quietly.
“Luna, I am sorry that I am asking so much of you.” Twilight said, “But if you do not kill me, Equestria is doomed.”
Luna looked teary-eyed at Twilight, then nodded.
“Thank you.” Twilight said. With that, she knew that she had just sealed her own death sentence.
“When the time is right,” Luna said solemnly, “When there is no hope of recovery, I shall do as you say.”
Twilight nodded and leaned forward to hug the princess. Luna sniffed, indicating that she was about to cry. Twilight patted Luna’s back a few times for reassurance and released her. Twilight smiled, trying her best to convey the message that everything was alright.
“I did wonder something.” Twilight said, trying for a subject change.
“Yes?” Luna asked, wiping her eye.
“Have you been in Celestia’s room since…” Twilight trailed off, not wanting to say it.
“I have not been in my sister’s room in months.” Luna said.
“I was planning on visiting it tonight before going to bed.” Twilight said, “Maybe I will find something interesting. I’m inviting you to come with if you wish.”
“I’ll ask that you go without me.” Luna said, “It would be too painful.”
“I understand.” Twilight said. She walked to Luna’s door and used her magic to open it. “In that case, I will see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, Twilight.” Luna said.
“Good morning.” Twilight replied. Luna chuckled lightly and watched Twilight leave her room. Twilight walked back down Luna’s tower and back down into the throne room, not paying much attention to it as she passed. She ascended Celestia’s tower hallway, stopping by her room to poke her head in and see Rainbow Dash.
Twilight reached Celestia’s door and opened it, this time not caring how much noise it made. Twilight stepped in and took a deep breath. This would be difficult, but if this was going to be her last night on this planet, she didn’t want to leave anything on her to-do list.
Twilight walked over to Celestia’s writing desk and checked it out. A History of Equestria by Queen Terra was sitting on the desk, displaying its golden text to the world. Twilight huffed once and realized that now she had gotten to know Terra, she wasn’t quite so fond of her history of Equestria. Twilight moved away from the desk and studied Celestia’s bookcases.
Twilight looked at all the spines with interest. There were so many old novels and nonfiction books that Twilight salivated at. But, Twilight would have to do without delving into the worlds of information they would offer her. A shining object caught Twilight’s eye, and it wasn’t one of Celestia’s many odd trinkets lying about.
One of Celestia’s books was metallic. As in, it was made of metal. Twilight looked at the spine of this particular book with interest. She lit up her horn and looked at it interestingly. It didn’t have a title or an author on the spine. Twilight’s curiosity got the better of her and she pulled on the book to free it from the shelf. The book pulled and came to a stop. Twilight could not pull it any farther, but a portion of the bookcase began to move.
To Twilight’s amazement, a two-foot by two-foot section of the bookcase came loose and swung forward like a door, revealing a single book hidden behind. Twilight looked in amazement at her find, wondering what in the world such a book could be… and how Spike missed this while they were searching for A History of Equestria!
Celestia’s cutie mark was depicted on the front cover of this book. It was beautifully bound, a bright lavender in color, and had the word Diary written in fancy cursive lettering on the front. Twilight gasped and smiled.
Celestia kept a diary??Twilight thought incredulously.
Twilight brought the diary over to the writing desk and opened it. Twilight lit a candle with magic and looked at the front page. Celestia’s writing was neat and beautiful as always. Looking at it sent a shiver of guilt and sorrow through Twilight, but she pressed forward.
As with the diaries before this, I will begin by reminding myself that the rest of my diaries are kept in my personal safe near the peak of Mt. Buck along with the rest of my most precious possessions.
Twilight was amazed. Celestia had a personal safe that she didn’t even know about! Twilight flipped through the pages haphazardly. Upon quick inspection of the dates she was seeing, Twilight concluded that the entries of this diary went back about two years. Twilight skipped most of them in favor of reading Celestia’s entries as of late. When Twilight found that the entries had stopped, she went and read three entries before the end. Twilight is getting worse. To my great regret and sorrow, today her curse was unleashed upon the defenseless citizens of Canterlot. As if to make things better, Twilight insisted on visiting mother tomorrow morning. The last time I visited mother was over fifty years ago, and it ended (as always) in a shouting match. I know tomorrow is not going to go well, but I must keep my head held high and protect Twilight at all costs. She must not be harmed. I am fearful for the welfare of my kingdom. If this does not get solved in the near future, it could mean the end of our peaceful times as we know them.
Twilight found it interesting that Celestia would make a point of saying that Twilight must not be harmed, considering she knew that in the end she would have to be killed. Twilight read on to the next entry in the diary.
As I expected, the visit to my mother’s home ended in disaster. It was much more than a shouting match this time. Mother had attempted to kill Twilight. I had to save her. I cannot say I am surprised, but I am certainly disappointed in my mother. On top of this, I have received the grim news that five ponies have suffered the ultimate loss as a result of Twilight’s recent attack on Canterlot. A great sadness fills my heart at this, but I must carry on. Tomorrow, Twilight will speak to the ponies of Canterlot. I have scheduled this because I feel that the ponies will respect her more if she addresses them directly. Twilight is so brave. She truly tackles these terrible times with her head held high. She shows strength that is not present in most of today’s ponies. However, I fear that today’s revelations may drive her to drastic measures. I can only hope that Twilight never feels the urge to take her own life. As much as my mother thinks it is the only way to end this conflict, I know that Twilight will make it through this alive. I believe in her. Not only this, but Equestria needs her to live on. I need her to live on. She is my closest friend.
Twilight gulped when she realized that the day of Twilight’s speech was also the day of Celestia’s death. To Twilight’s surprise, Celestia had left an entry on that day.
The press conference went over well. I was approached by many ponies afterwards telling me that they were sorry that they doubted me and my judgment. My citizens never fail to impress me. I worry about Twilight, however. Her mind is not in a stable place. I fear the worst. I fear that this whole conflict may cost me my life, but I will gladly give it to protect Twilight. I don’t know why I wrote this entry in the middle of the day, but I must resume my position at my throne. Here’s to hoping that life gets better!
The rest of the pages were blank.
Twilight closed the diary and placed it back in its space behind the bookshelf. She closed the secret hatch and walked down the hall, away from Celestia’s room. She had seen enough. It did provide her with some comfort to see Celestia’s writing, but it was still painful. Twilight entered her room and paused when she saw Rainbow Dash sleeping.
Twilight sighed and smiled when she saw Rainbow Dash, here, waiting for Twilight to return to bed. Rainbow Dash had always waited for Twilight. She waited for Twilight to take the first step in this relationship, now she’s waiting for her to take the last. Twilight shook her head and wondered how Dash could be so patient. Twilight snuck into bed and noticed that Rainbow Dash didn’t appear to be sleeping.
“Mmhmm.” Dash muttered, opening her eyes just barely.
“You know… this may be our last night together.” Twilight said cautiously. Rainbow Dash moved her front legs so that they were wrapped around Twilight’s body. Twilight wanted to return the gesture, but Dash had trapped her arms at her side. Twilight smiled at the warmth of Dash’s hug.
“No.” Rainbow Dash said, “No matter where you are, we will be together. Every night, we will be together, even if you’re gone.”
Twilight profoundly looked at Rainbow Dash. This was the first time that Dash acknowledged the fact that Twilight will most likely not survive her next attack. Twilight exhaled deeply and nuzzled the top of Rainbow Dash’s head.
“I love you, Rainbow Dash.”
“Love you too, Twilight.”
“…so I have asked Princess Luna to finish me off when I am under the influence of my next attack.” Twilight solemnly told her friends the next day.
They all looked at Twilight with horror-struck faces, but knew in their hearts that this was the only way. The friends were gathered in the same sitting room as last time, right before Twilight faded to evil and went after Celestia.
“Twilight…” Pinkie Pie said, teary-eyed, voice wavering, “We don’t want you to die…”
“I know, Pinkie, but… there’s no other way.” Twilight said sadly.
“But…” Rarity chimed in, “What about your love for Rainbow Dash? Didn’t you find a cure?”
“I thought so.” Twilight replied, “But it was too little, too late.”
“Ah know that y’all’d only do this if it was the las’ resort.” Applejack said darkly, “So Ah gotta say Ah’m impressed by yer bravery.”
“Thank you, Applejack.”
A chill went up Twilight’s spine. She was afraid that this was it; this was going to be the attack. It was so early, though! Twilight frantically looked around, which Rainbow Dash picked up on.
“Is it time?” Dash asked fearfully.
“I… I…” Twilight stammered.
You can’t protect them, Twilight Sparkle…
The chilling voice rattled through Twilight’s bones and affected her to her very core, but as soon as it went away, the sensation stopped, and Twilight was returned to normal. Twilight looked around at her friends once the voice had faded; they were all looking at her with concern or fear, one of the two.
“It’s okay… it’s gone.” Twilight assured her friends.
“What happened?” Pinkie asked.
“Yeah, you looked like you just saw a ghost!” Fluttershy added as she cradled Spike for comfort.
“I don’t know what that was…” Twilight said, “But it’s gone. That’s what matters.”
“Well, what happens now?” Applejack asked.
“Now.” Twilight said, “I am sending you girls home on the train. I don’t want you anywhere near me when that thing comes back.”
“Now how do ya expect us ta do that?” Applejack asked, “We’ve stuck by ya to the very end fer everything!”
“She’s right, there is no way we’re leaving you.” Rarity said.
“I knew you’d say that.” Twilight said, a little smile forming on her lips, “Unfortunately, I can’t let you, not if your lives are in danger.”
All the ponies nodded, even Spike, who Twilight thought even looked a little relieved to hear that he would be leaving Canterlot.
Twilight and her friends walked through the castle and stopped by the throne room to say goodbye to a very tired Princess Luna. It was apparent that the regal alicorn had not slept the entire night, and how could she? She was being asked to kill her friend within the next day or two, and she hadn’t slept through night for the past thousands of years.
Once they had bidden farewell to the princess, Twilight walked her friends out to the train station. Rainbow Dash stayed by Twilight’s side the entire time. When they arrived, a train had yet to get to the station, so Twilight decided to take the opportunity for a little time to say goodbye.
“Applejack…” Twilight started. Applejack looked at Twilight sadly, but Twilight continued, “You were the first pony I met when I arrived in Ponyville. You and your family made me feel welcome and already part of the town, even before I had seen my house! You are the most honest friend a girl could have, and I am honored to have gotten to know you, but now I need to say goodbye.”
“Bye, Twilight.” Applejack said, on the verge of tears. Rarity, on the other hand, was not holding back her tears, as she was already bawling. Twilight placed a hoof on Rarity’s shoulder to get her to stop for one second.
“Rarity…” Twilight continued. Rarity sniffed and tried to collect herself so that she could listen, “Your charm is something I look forward to every day. I know that you will find a way to make me feel better, no matter what misfortune has befallen me. Your generous spirit has never ceased to show, even in the most dire times. I’m saddened to say that I never did get an occasion to wear the last dress you made me.”
“Oh… it wasn’t my greatest work anyway…” Rarity fussed.
“All of your works are great.” Twilight said, “And I will miss them greatly wherever it is that I’m going. Goodbye, Rarity.”
“Goodbye… Twilight…” Rarity said before busting out into her torrent of tears once again. Twilight moved down the line to Pinkie, who was obviously holding back her tears. Twilight opened her mouth to speak, but Pinkie jumped forward and clamped her hooves around Twilight’s neck in a loving embrace.
“Oh, Twilight!” Pinkie said despairingly. Twilight rubbed Pinkie’s back and pulled her off, smiling. Twilight even let out a little chuckle.
“Pinkie…” Twilight started, “You have never ceased to make me laugh. And… although sometimes I only wanted some peace and quiet, I never grew tired of your craziness. You’re fun and lively in a time that is covered in darkness and anguish, and I thank you for making these days bright. On my first day in Ponyville, you threw me a party and I didn’t even know you! What other pony can claim that from their friends?” Twilight said. “I hope you stay just as crazy as ever… goodbye.”
“Bye, Twi… heh, that rhymed.” Pinkie said, smiling, “Bye, Twi.”
Twilight chuckled and moved on to Fluttershy. Fluttershy was remaining extremely strong. Of all her friends, she had expected Fluttershy to be crying the most, but she remained collected and composed for as far as Twilight could tell.
“Fluttershy…” Twilight said, “When I first met you, you were to afraid to even say your name, but you opened right up to Spike. You have always been kind to Spike and I throughout my time in Ponyville, and in these past few traumatizing days, you have been by Spike’s side the entire time. I can’t thank you enough for that. Fluttershy, I have to say that I’ve spent some lovely afternoons reading in the park with you. Your tastes in literature are wonderful, and I’m so glad that you’ve opened up to me and allowed me to call you my friend. Goodbye, Fluttershy.”
“Goodbye, Twilight.” Fluttershy said softly. Fluttershy sniffed, and Twilight moved on to Spike. Twilight just took a moment to look at Spike sadly, a moment that the small dragon returned with watery eyes and his claws held behind his back. Twilight reached down and hugged Spike. Spike embraced Twilight’s neck and held on tightly, remembering the feeling of Twilight’s hooves around his body. Twilight backed up and looked at Spike sadly.
“We’ve been through a lot, my number one assistant.” Twilight started, “Spike… you have been by my side since I was a filly… and…” Twilight was beginning to lose her composure, “I’m so sorry that I have put you through all this. I’m so sorry.”
Spike spoke up, “Twilight, it’s okay.” He said, “You’ve given me this opportunity to live in Ponyville… with friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world. If you weren’t in my life, I’d have grown up to be one of those terrible dragons… and I don’t wanna think about how that would be.”
“And without you, I most likely would have never met the Princess.” Twilight said, “We’ve been together for so long.”
“And that will never end.” Spike finished.
Twilight nodded and embraced Spike one last time, “Goodbye, Spike.”
Twilight let him go and turned to Rainbow Dash, who cocked an eyebrow at Twilight. Twilight let out a breath and smiled at Rainbow Dash.
“I know that even if I got you on the train, you’d just fly right back here.” Twilight said flatly.
“Yep.” Rainbow Dash agreed. Twilight sighed and leaned forward to kiss Rainbow Dash on the lips. They held their heads together for a second before Twilight separated.
“As long as you’re safe, that’s fine with me.” Twilight said.
“No problem, boss.” Rainbow Dash replied.
The train arrived in the station, and all of Twilight’s friends pulled her in for a final group hug.
“We’ll miss ya, Twi.” Applejack said.
“So much…” Fluttershy added.
The hug ended, and the friends boarded the train. Twilight watched the train roll back to Ponyville with a heavy heart. Twilight looked up at the overcast sky and shook her head sadly.
“You think she’s up there, now?” Twilight asked Rainbow Dash.
“Princess Celestia.” Twilight said, “You think she’s watching us now?”
“I think it’s a possibility.” Dash agreed.
“You think she’d be proud of us? You think she’d believe that we are doing the right thing?” Twilight asked.
“I think that she would be proud of everything you did.” Rainbow Dash said, “At least that’s how it seems.”
“I hope you’re right…” Twilight said. As if to painfully remind Twilight about the direness of her situation, she suddenly felt another chill creep up her spine, paralyzing her to the spot. Twilight began to shake and her bones rattled.
When I return… they will all die…
The chill went away, and Twilight was returned to normal. Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight with concern.
“She’s speaking to me… the evil me…” Twilight said to Rainbow Dash.
“What’s she saying?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“You don’t want to know.” Twilight replied. “We should go back to the throne room. I want to visit Luna.”
Twilight and Rainbow Dash left the train station and returned to the castle. They didn’t speak a word until they had reached the castle’s front entrance, at which point Twilight turned her head to look at Rainbow Dash and sighed.
“I need you to be careful, Rainbow.” Twilight said.
“What’s this now?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“The moment you realize that I am changing… you must leave. I cannot take any chances.” Twilight said.
“Twi, relax.” Rainbow Dash said, “I’ll be clear out of there in time. Besides, you can’t even fly.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Twilight admitted, “I am so worried.”
“I am too.” Rainbow Dash replied softly.
They pushed open the castle doors and proceeded into the grand ballroom, which led them into the throne room. The throne room had numerous ponies of various high statures talking to the princess, most likely preparing her to take on her role as the single princess of Equestria. Luna looked completely flustered. Luna noticed Twilight and Rainbow Dash as they walked in and seemed to sigh with relief.
“Okay, this is enough for now, everypony.” Luna called to the ponies that surrounded her. “Do give me some time alone with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash.”
The ponies all turned and looked, showing Twilight and Rainbow their aged and uptight faces. They turned and began to collectively advise the Princess against this, but Luna disregarded them and sent them away. Many ponies scowled at Twilight as they left, while others gave her sympathetic looks. When the throne room doors closed behind them, Luna let out a frustrated sigh and rubbed her temples with her front hooves.
“Do those ponies know?” Twilight asked, “You know, how Celestia died?”
“Fortunately, no.” Luna said, “To their current knowledge it was but a lone, nameless assassin.”
“Well, I would be all for buying that cover-up, except for the fact that everypony loves the princess.” Twilight said.
“Yeah, who would want to kill Celestia?” Rainbow Dash added.
“Any royalty earns enemies.” Luna told Twilight and Rainbow Dash as she descended the throne, “And any enemy can rise up against a power, no matter how great.”
“Hm.” Twilight said, “Suddenly your story seems much more believable.”
“Why were all those stuck-up ponies in here?” Rainbow Dash asked. “They didn’t look so friendly.”
“You would be right. They are not friendly.” Luna said flatly, “Those were some of the self-appointed royal advisors. Celestia allowed them to believe that they held legitimate power so as to avoid hurting their feelings, but they are ever so arrogant.”
“And why were they here?” Rainbow Dash reiterated.
“They believed that I would not be up to the task of running this land on my own.” Luna said with a hint of annoyance, “As if I hadn’t spent the entire rest of my lifetime running this land beside my sister.”
“They’ll warm up to you.” Twilight assured the princess, “You’re every bit as wonderful as your sister.”
“I hope so, Twilight.” Luna said, “And you are here, I assume, because you wish to wait until you are transformed into your dark self?”
“That is the plan.” Twilight said.
Luna nodded solemnly. Twilight looked at Luna sympathetically.
“Are you ready, Princess?” Twilight asked.
“I will do what I must.” Luna said.
“Thank you.” Twilight said softly.
Luna paced over to one of the stained glass windows. She closed her eyes and lit up her horn. Twilight watched as the sun moved across the sky. Luna let out a gasp of air and panted slightly.
“Are you alright, Princess?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“The sun is more massive than the moon.” Luna commented. “It will take some practice before the spell becomes easy.”
“Makes sense.” Rainbow Dash remarked.
“I still find it so amazing how you are able to move the sun and moon.” Twilight said.
“Well, my sister and I are two of very few ponies in existence that possess enough power to move them. In ancient times, before Equestria was founded, groups of unicorns would combine their power to move the sun and moon.” Luna said.
“Oh, wow…” Rainbow Dash muttered.
“Dash, they tell that story on Hearth’s Warming Eve every single year!” Twilight reacted.
“Well, yeah, but I didn’t think it was true!” Rainbow Dash replied.
“In fact, Twilight, I would believe you to have enough power to move the sun.” Luna said.
“Do you think?” Twilight asked with amazement.
“Twilight, move the sun?” Rainbow Dash said with awe.
“Princess, that’s flattering, but I doubt that I… that I…”
Twilight felt a throb of pain shoot through her head. Her heart dropped through her chest and she realized that she was about to change.
“It’s time… Rainbow Dash, get out of here!” Twilight suddenly shouted.
“Whuh? Oh!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. Twilight rubbed her head as another throb hit her. Rainbow Dash swooped forward and planted a big, wet kiss on Twilight’s muzzle. Twilight kissed back fervently and pushed Dash off her.
“Dash, go!” Twilight commanded.
“I love you, Twilight!” Rainbow Dash shouted before turning and flying out. From what Twilight could tell, it seemed Rainbow Dash was already beginning to cry. Twilight felt more pain surge through her head and looked as the light coming from her scar reflected off her hoof.
“Luna… are you ready?” Twilight asked.
“Are you ready, Twilight?” Luna replied.
“I am ready.” Twilight said, “Let us end this, once and for all.”
“Then it has been an absolute pleasure to know you.” Luna said, “Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle.”
“Goodbye… hrgg… Luna!” Twilight grunted out as she lost the feeling in her legs. Luna watched as Twilight’s eyes began to shine, her scar pulsed brightly, and the powerful dark aura enveloped her body. As with last time, Twilight was sucked into her subconscious, unable to interject her thoughts, only watch as the events unfolded.
Luna took a deep breath and prepared a magical spear to throw at Twilight once the transformation was complete. Twilight looked at the ground and breathed heavily a few times before looking up at Luna with her shining eyes.
“Hello, Princess.” The cold voice greeted.
“YOU!” Luna shouted, then grunted as she threw the spear. As if flicking a toothpick out of her way, Twilight batted the spear aside with the lavender magic of her own. Twilight smiled at the Princess as the royal alicorn backed up a little and prepared another spear. Twilight then let out a little chuckle and shook her head.
With a mighty scream, Twilight’s magic suddenly blazed to life, sending wisps of lavender mist encircling her body. The wisps collected on Twilight’s back and began to form into shapes. The shapes stemmed from Twilight’s shoulder blades and extended outward until they began to resemble wings. Twilight’s spell ended when Twilight finally had a pair of fully-developed magical wings on her back.
Then, without another word, Twilight turned on her hooves and took flight away from Luna. Luna gasped and pursued her. Twilight soared high and headed straight for a circular stained glass window near the top of one end of the throne room. With another loud grunt, Twilight smashed right through it.
“Stop!” Luna commanded. Twilight ignored the Princess and continued to fly, changing direction toward Ponyville.
“No…” Luna muttered, then prepared a ball of magical energy. With as much strength as she could muster, she hurled it at Twilight. The unicorn performed a roll to miss the attack at the last second, then continued to fly.
“I am supposed to fight you, you coward!!!” Luna barked at Twilight. The Princess prepared yet another spear and threw it, just barely missing Twilight’s head. “This will end!!!”
Twilight performed a dive and Luna followed. Every chance Luna got, she would fire an attack of some sort at Twilight, each one missing and dissipating into the air. Luna was getting more and more frustrated as she followed Twilight through the air.
“Fight back, you weakling!!!” Luna shouted in an attempt to provoke the evil spirit.
Twilight suddenly took a sharp turn upwards and began to ascend at an alarmingly fast rate. Luna barely had time to think before Twilight turned and fired a purple lightning bolt at the Princess. The powerful bolt went straight for Luna and hit her, sending shockwaves through her body. Luna screamed in agony and plummeted.
Luna fell many, many hundreds of feet before gaining enough awareness to cast a spell to soften her landing. While she slowed down substantially, she crumpled into a heap when she hit the ground. Luna let out a groan and attempted to rise before blacking out and collapsing on the ground.
“Hm.” Twilight said haughtily, “That was easy.”
Twilight then turned and rocketed away, using her magical vision to catch any signs of movement ahead of her. Twilight flew back and forth with bloodthirst in her heart, looking for a very specific pony. It only took her two minutes to locate who she was looking for: Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash was flying at a leisurely quick pace away from Canterlot, tears streaming down her eyes. Twilight silently flew toward Rainbow Dash and ascended to place above her.
Twilight then looped in the air and drove herself with her front hooves extended outward into Rainbow Dash’s back. Rainbow Dash screamed in pain and fell. Rainbow Dash spun and spun in the air, trying to recover. As she fell, Twilight soared down and took a position near the ground where she would be able to intercept Rainbow Dash’s fall.
Rainbow Dash fell right in front of Twilight, and the magically flying unicorn kicked out, sending Rainbow Dash flying in a more horizontal direction toward the ground. Rainbow Dash fell to the ground and tucked her wings in, causing her to roll across the ground violently before coming to a stop. Twilight moved to attack Rainbow Dash, but flinched slightly and shook her head.
Rainbow Dash bounced up as if she hadn’t been touched and glared forward to find her attacker, then widened her eyes when she saw that it was Twilight.
“You’re alive!” Rainbow Dash said half with fear, half with happiness.
“And you soon will not be.” Twilight countered.
“We’ll see about that!” Rainbow Dash replied, soaring into the air. Twilight took off after her, but Rainbow Dash was certainly faster and more agile. Twilight sent magical attacks toward the pegasus, but Dash was able to fly out of the way faster than a bullet. Twilight grunted a few times as she sent multiple orbs of energy flying at Rainbow Dash, but she seemed to dodge each and every attack with ease.
Twilight screamed in frustration and sent a flurry of attacks at Rainbow Dash, who took the opportunity to dive down and cause every last one to miss. Twilight growled and took off after Dash again, this time just trying to out-fly the pegasus. Rainbow Dash smiled as Twilight pursued her, which infuriated the evil pony. Rainbow Dash took Twilight through loops, corkscrews, and death-defying dives before ascending up through the grey skies, above the cloud layer. Rainbow Dash landed with ease on a cloud while Twilight was forced to cast a spell to allow her to set foot on the cloud. Twilight panted heavily and glared daggers at Rainbow Dash.
“I like the wings, Twi.” Rainbow Dash said, “They look good on you.”
“Shut it, pegasus.” Twilight spat out with as much hatred as she could muster.
“Y’know, I’ve had these babies my whole life. I’m impressed you’re even able to fly with those things, but you’re keeping up!” Rainbow Dash said.
Twilight lashed out and sent an arc-like cutting spell at Rainbow Dash, who jumped off the cloud and did a flip to avoid it with ease. Twilight supplemented this attack with a multitude of smaller, linear magical bursts, each one being avoided with ease.
“Just face it, you’re useless in my natural environment!” Rainbow Dash said happily, then she dove down through the clouds again. Twilight snarled and let her spell go, nose-diving through the cloud layer to follow Rainbow Dash. Dash led Twilight all the way to the ground, where they scraped across the tips of a vast grassland. Dash did a barrel roll to avoid a magical spear thrown at her, then flew up once again.
“You cannot evade me forever!!” Twilight hollered. As much as Rainbow Dash wanted to counter that statement, she knew that she was beginning to feel tired, and if she continued to dodge Twilight’s attacks like this, she would be hurt. All she had to do was last until Twilight changed back!
“I can sure try!” Rainbow Dash shouted back.
“Try evading THIS!” Twilight sent a lightning bolt at Rainbow Dash, but unlike Luna, Rainbow Dash rolled out of the way just in time. Twilight gasped.
Twilight sent another bolt of lightning at Dash, this time just barely missing her. Rainbow Dash rocketed back up into the sky and hovered in the air for a second as Twilight landed and stared angrily up at her.
“Tired already?!” Rainbow Dash called down to Twilight.
Twilight smiled and sent another lightning bolt at Rainbow Dash. The pegasus moved out of the way right in time, but did not expect to move right in the path of another lightning bolt, this one hitting her in the chest. Rainbow Dash felt her heart skip a beat or two as electricity rocked her body. She fell to the ground, thankfully not that far, but it still knocked the wind out of her.
Twilight let out a triumphant bark of laughter and leapt into the air, gliding over to where Rainbow Dash lay on the ground, fighting to recover before Twilight managed to reach her. The effort was futile. With a quick spell, Twilight’s wings vanished, and she was able to fully concentrate on her newly captured prey.
“Oh, I am going to enjoy this!” Twilight said maliciously. Rainbow Dash coughed and looked at Twilight with horror, backing away quickly. Twilight reached out with magic and grabbed Rainbow Dash around the neck. As if getting the wind knocked out of her wasn’t enough, now Rainbow Dash was really starting to see stars.
“You really had fun trying to avoid me, didn’t you?” Twilight said evilly, her chilling voice reaching all the way into Dash’s soul, tickling it with decay. Twilight pursed her lips in false sympathy and rubbed her hoof lightly against Rainbow Dash’s face. “Too bad that didn’t last.”
With spite, Twilight tossed Rainbow Dash through the air, making her land hard on the ground. As she did this, Twilight felt another twitch and shook her head in annoyance. Twilight snarled and teleported so that she was now right next to Rainbow Dash. She lifted her front hoof and brought it down hard on Rainbow Dash’s chest. Rainbow Dash coughed violently.
“You have been a thorn in my side this entire time!” Twilight screamed in Rainbow Dash’s face, “You will die, now!”
Twilight held Rainbow Dash in place with a magical spell while simultaneously gathering her magic above Rainbow Dash’s body to form a large spike that was slightly over a foot in diameter at the top and tapered to a very sharp point at the bottom that was now pointing directly at the pegasus’s heart.
Rainbow Dash struggled against Twilight’s magic while Twilight gathered the spell. Twilight laughed at Dash’s efforts and glared at Rainbow Dash with her glowing, sinister eyes. Twilight then grunted with delight through her smiling teeth, deciding to send a burning pain through Rainbow Dash’s body. Rainbow Dash screamed in anguish as the sensation filled her body, burning her insides. Twilight twitched again. She ignored it this time and glared at Rainbow Dash again.
“I know it’s cliché, but since I am soon to become the next ruler of Equestria, it seems only fair that I ask you…” Twilight said maliciously, “Any last words?”
Rainbow Dash turned her head slightly, taking deep, painful breaths. She ignored the deadly spike now dangling precariously over her chest, the spike that she knew would soon end her life. She looked right into this shell of Twilight’s eyes, looking directly into her core, or at least what she thought was Twilight’s core. Rainbow Dash, surprisingly, smiled.
“I don’t care about any of this.” Rainbow Dash said to her assailant, “I love you, and will always love you.”
“Oh, snore!” Twilight groaned, “You are so damn weak! You cower like a baby and hide behind your emotions. Love… bah! You will die, and your love will die with you!” Twilight raised herself up on her back hooves and glared down at Rainbow Dash.
“Say goodbye, Rainbow Dash!” Twilight screamed. Rainbow screwed her eyes shut as Twilight slammed her hooves to the ground, and the enormous spike dropped. Twilight closed her eyes and smiled, waiting to hear Rainbow Dash’s choked scream of anguish.
…but it didn’t come.
Twilight looked up curiously and opened her eyes in shock and horror and what she saw in front of her. The spike had stopped no more than a millimeter above Rainbow Dash’s chest. Twilight focused again and attempted to drive the spike down, but it would not budge. Rainbow Dash opened her eyes and saw this, her heart beginning to beat faster.
Twilight’s voice… her real voice.
“T-Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked hesitantly.
“WHAT IS THIS?!” The dark Twilight screamed.
“You will not win this.” Twilight’s voice was heard again. It did not come from Twilight’s mouth, but from within her, only it echoed through the grassy plain that Twilight and Rainbow Dash currently shared. The sound was mystical and angelic, filling Rainbow Dash’s spirit with some indescribable, good feeling.
“I have finally figured out what you are.” Twilight’s voice echoed again. Her body looked around frantically, trying her best to find the source of the sound. She tried again to drive the deadly spike down into Rainbow Dash’s body, but it instead dissolved into thin air, as well as the magical field keeping Rainbow Dash glued to the ground. Dash sprang up and backed away from Twilight.
“You are the embodiment of anguish, of sorrow… you are but the epitome of all things dark, and you thrive on sadness and hatred.” Twilight spoke from within. Her evil self finally gave up trying to locate the sound and listened fearfully.
“But what you don’t realize is that hatred and misery is not what drives ponies. Hatred is not the dominant force in this universe. You have so much consuming hate that you were able to fully gain control of my body and force me to do inexcusably dastardly and heinous crimes that drove me to near insanity.”
“I was foolish to believe that I had found the cure. I believed that my love for Rainbow Dash would be enough to stop you. I was wrong.”
Rainbow Dash had no idea what Twilight meant by this. Evil Twilight quickly tried to take another shot at shooting an attack at Rainbow Dash. Her attack this time took the form of three deadly sharp spears. Rainbow raised a hoof to her face and winced, but the spears disappeared before they could touch her.
“THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!” Evil Twilight screamed.
“Love is a powerful force, but it is not all that drives this world. What if a pony never finds love? Does that not make them happy? No, love is not the answer, but it is a key to the answer.”
“Enough of this!” The dark Twilight barked, raising her hooves to cover her ears.
“You see, while you are abundant in all things to make a pony unhappy, I am abundant in all the opposite things. I have friends that care for me enough to put their own lives in danger by visiting me and making sure I am happy. My dragon friend, Spike, was able to put his fears aside just because he loved me. I have a loving brother and sister-in-law who are soon to have their first child, the birth of whom I am absolutely committed to seeing.”
“Then there’s Princess Celestia. While I was away from my own home, she gave me the care and protection equal to that of the greatest mother in existence. Celestia is the brightest light in the world, and the kindest pony I have ever known. By killing her, you have just strengthened these feelings I have for her. Princess Celestia will forever live on, and her death will not have been in vain.”
“Finally, I have Rainbow Dash’s love. I love Rainbow Dash to the point that my heart fills with warmth just by looking at her. And, do you want to know the amazing thing? She loves me too!”
Rainbow Dash swelled with pride as she heard Twilight say this, thinking to herself, you bet I do, Twilight. The dark Twilight snarled as she listened.
“You call Rainbow Dash the weak one? You couldn’t be more wrong. Rainbow Dash is stronger than you could ever imagine.” Twilight said
“AND SO AM I!”
Twilight’s voice boomed through the landscape, and suddenly her evil self screamed in agony. Twilight grabbed her head with her hooves, squeezing it tightly. Her eyes glowed brighter and brighter, her scar shining like a ruby in the sun.
“WHAT IS HAPPENING?! WHAT IS THIS?!” She screamed. Rainbow Dash backed up in fear as the dark aura around Twilight seemed to get even darker, as if she was producing more of it. Twilight screamed one last time, and the darkness poured out of her like smoke leaving a fire. Twilight’s hooves left the ground and she hovered a few feet in the air, her mouth hanging open and her eyes shining almost too brightly to look at.
With a sickening, sizzling sound, the dark aura collected in front of Twilight and began to take shape. In front of Rainbow Dash’s eyes, she saw the dark aura condense and form into a body, four hooves, and a head. It had wings, no horn, just the body. The creature was Twilight’s size, if even a bit smaller. What chilled Rainbow Dash about the figure was that it seemed to be made of a sort of bubbling, tar-like material. On top of this, it had no face, only two brightly-shining eyes.
“You have expelled me from your body!!” The evil voice spoke, yet there was no mouth. Twilight lowered back to the ground and opened her eyes. To Rainbow Dash’s surprise, they were still shining.
“You will pay for this!!!” The evil shouted, but it quickly found that without the horn, it could not perform any magic.
Twilight then smiled and cast out a spell that threw the creature to the ground and held it in place. Twilight then gathered the energy to create the same death spike that had almost killed Rainbow Dash.
“You burned down Applejack’s farm, destroyed my Rarity’s boutique, hospitalized Applejack, killed six innocent ponies, and murdered our beloved Princess Celestia.” Twilight said darkly, her voice somehow magically amplified. The dark creature struggled against Twilight’s hold without success.
“And now you will know their pain!” Twilight shouted.
“NO!” The creature screamed before Twilight slammed the spike down and drove it into the creature’s chest.
“AARRGGHH!!!!” The creature screamed, its agonizing cries echoing throughout the grassy plain. Twilight kept pressing the spear down, widening the hole it was creating in the disgusting creature’s chest. It continued to scream in agony, its eyes widening in absolute terror.
Then, with one final bone-chilling scream, the creature exploded, sending dark matter flying in all directions. Rainbow Dash shielded her eyes from the blast, which created a loud bang that echoed through the landscape violently. The blast forced Rainbow Dash to take a few steps back in caution.
When Rainbow Dash opened her eyes again, she saw Twilight still hovering a foot in the air. Her lavender magic rippled over her body like fire. Twilight’s eyes shined brightly for a second before Twilight closed them. Twilight slowly lowered back down to the ground and the magic faded from her body. She opened her eyes again, revealing her beautiful, violet orbs. Twilight suddenly felt faint and began to fall.
Rainbow Dash quickly swooped forward and caught Twilight, allowing her to fall carefully to the ground. Twilight breathed heavily, the weight of the situation still sinking in.
“Twilight… you did it!” Rainbow Dash said excitedly, yet softly.
“Yeah… I guess I did…” Twilight replied happily, albeit a little weakly.
“But… how did you know what to do? We had never even thought of it before!” Rainbow Dash said with wonder.
“Well, every time she hurt you… I felt a surge of power rush through me, and I got close to returning to the surface, yet it wasn’t enough.” Twilight explained, still breathing heavily, “Then… I’m not sure how, but I suddenly realized that it wasn’t just your love that made me strong. It was everypony close to me… all my friends, my brother, my soon-to-be niece… they all work together to give me strength: strength that this curse just didn’t possess.”
“That’s right, Twi. We’re here for ya.” Rainbow Dash said happily, “To the end.”
“And it was the knowledge that you would stand beside me to the very end that finally pushed me through. When I saw her try to kill you… it empowered me to finally break the barrier that held me back. So… really, it was all you. Thanks.” Twilight said.
“No problem.” Rainbow Dash replied, then she felt tears sting her eyes. Rainbow Dash shook the tears out of her eyes and exclaimed, “Twilight, it’s over! We won!!”
“We did!” Twilight said happily in reply. Rainbow Dash leaned forward and kissed Twilight happily on the lips, her smile stretching from ear to ear. Rainbow Dash then pulled back again and looked right into Twilight’s eyes.
“And in case it wasn’t clear,” Rainbow Dash said, “I love you.”
“Love you too, Dash.” Twilight replied before wrapping her legs around Rainbow Dash’s neck and kissing her again, happy that she no longer felt that this was one kiss closer to her last. For the first time in weeks, Twilight felt her days open up in front of her. She had a future now, with Rainbow Dash, and nopony is ever going to take that away from her.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash returned to the castle to find Luna recovering in her bed. Upon hearing the news, the Princess wept tears of pure joy. She was bandaged pretty badly, but she suffered no major injuries. No matter how many times Twilight apologized to Luna, the princess wouldn’t accept them. She was just happy that this was all over.
At the first possible free moment, Twilight had Luna send a letter to Spike. The only thing that it said was: Spike –
This battle is over, and we won! Tell the girls to come back to Canterlot, and ask Pinkie if she’d like to throw a party!
Twilight wasn’t sure how, but Pinkie had managed to get the entire group on a train and to Canterlot by the next morning. She assured Twilight not to worry about preparing the grand ballroom, for she had her party cannon at the ready.
To say that Twilight’s friends were overjoyed at Twilight’s victory would be a gross understatement. Even with her injured leg, Twilight could have sworn she saw Applejack run from the train at top speed. Pinkie was speaking at a mile a minute, Rarity was crying from pure happiness, and Twilight could actually hear Fluttershy’s excitement. Spike’s reaction is what truly made the moment, though. He just simply yelled happily and hugged Twilight as tightly as he could muster. Twilight was on cloud nine. Nothing could make her happier.
At one point, Twilight looked over and caught Rainbow Dash’s eyes. In that one confident look from her beautiful marefriend, Twilight finally concluded that this was, indeed, over. She had all of her friends here celebrating her victory, she loved Rainbow Dash, and Rainbow Dash loved her. Things were finally on the right track. Twilight’s life was finally normal again, and she was ready to go back to Ponyville.
Twilight sat outside the castle facing the towering monument of Princess Celestia. It was sunny, not too warm, calm, a beautiful day. All the parties celebrating her victory had passed and she was about to return to Ponyville to resume her life as it was before this fiasco. Twilight let out a sigh and looked up at Celestia’s smiling face as it stared down at the three ponies around her hooves. Twilight then looked at the inscription at the base of the statue.
Princess Celestia A friend to most A leader to all Forever in our hearts
Twilight’s eyes turned sad and she let out another sigh. She heard hoofsteps behind her and turned to see Princess Luna approaching her. Twilight smiled and waited for the Princess to join her at the monument. Luna stopped just a few feet behind Twilight and exhaled.
“Your friends are waiting at the train station, you know.” Luna informed Twilight.
“Yeah, I know.” Twilight replied. Luna let out a little hum and sat beside Twilight in the grass. For a second, neither spoke, but only admired the beautiful depiction of their dearly departed Princess. Overhead, a number of birds let out their lively cries. Twilight almost envied their carefree existence and made a mental note to live the rest of her life in a similar manner.
“You know, Celestia and I had always known that we would pass in time.” Luna told Twilight, “We are both in dangerous positions. As a place of royalty, it only makes sense that one of use would be killed at some point.”
“If you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not exactly working…” Twilight said flatly.
“Do let me finish, Twilight.” Luna said lightly. Twilight smiled and nodded. Luna looked up at Celestia’s form again and continued, “Celestia urged that she never want to have this kingdom run by a single ruler again.”
“Well, if one of you dies, how can you avoid that?” Twilight asked.
“Twilight… Celestia wanted you to take her place.” Luna revealed. Twilight’s eyes shot open and she looked at Luna with awe.
“L-Luna… I couldn’t run a country…” Twilight said, “I can barely run a library.”
“I know you would be up to the task, Twilight.” Luna said, “And Celestia personally chose you.”
“And did you choose somepony?” Twilight asked, “Maybe there’s another suitor.”
“I actually suggested, and my sister agreed, that Shining Armor be considered.” Luna said.
“My brother?!” Twilight asked incredulously.
“He is already captain of the royal guard.” Luna said.
“It… makes sense.” Twilight said. “But he would hold that over me until the end of time…”
“So what do you say?” Luna asked Twilight in all seriousness.
“What do I say?” Twilight repeated. Twilight chuckled a little bit. “I say… I want to go home.”
Luna smiled at hearing that.
“Very wise, Twilight.” Luna said, “But I will ask you again in the future.”
“I look forward to it.” Twilight said with a smirk. Twilight stood and faced away from Celestia’s monument. Luna stood with her and accompanied Twilight as they walked out of the gardens. Despite what felt like leaving Celestia behind, Twilight was happy. She hadn’t had the luxury of saying she was happy in a long time, but now she finally felt it.
“Rainbow Dash is moving in with me, by the way.” Twilight commented as they walked.
“You two make an excellent couple.” Luna observed.
“I’m glad you think so.” Twilight said. The ponies had left the gardens and were now taking a shortcut through the castle to the train station on the other side. Their conversation had long breaks, yet it was nice. It was peaceful.
“You know… I’m remembering something your friend Fluttershy said to you while my sister and I were observing you through our mirror.” Luna said.
“And what is that?” Twilight asked.
“As I recall, she told you that she believed that no creature’s heart is too far gone to reach.” Luna said.
“I have just begun to remember that conversation again…” Twilight said, “It was in the middle of the night, right before I attacked Carousel Boutique.”
“Indeed.” Luna agreed.
“Why have you just remembered it now?” Twilight asked.
“Because it describes the condition you were in.” Luna said, “And that you were never too far gone to reach. Every creature has a heart, and every heart has a light, no matter how dark.”
“Hm…” Twilight said happily, “You know what? You’re right.”
“Of course I am.” Luna said lightly.
The pair had arrived at the opposite end of the castle. Before them was the train station. Twilight could see the train coming down the track toward them. That beautifully whimsical train would carry Twilight home, to Ponyville, to her friends.
“Thanks, Luna, for everything.” Twilight said to the princess.
“Don’t be a stranger. I’ll be awake in the day from now on, you know!” Luna said to Twilight.
“We’ll be in touch.” Twilight replied happily. She spied Rainbow Dash, who waved at her energetically, then pointed at the ever-approaching train.
“I’d better go, don’t wanna miss the train!” Twilight said.
“Stay safe, Twilight Sparkle.” Luna said. Twilight ran over to the train station in just enough time to hop on board with Rainbow Dash. She took her seat beside the mare of her dreams and intertwined their hooves.
“Where’d you disappear to?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Oh… just saying goodbye to a friend.” Twilight replied lightly.
Rainbow Dash hummed happily in response. The train lurched forward and took off, away from Canterlot and onward to Ponyville. Twilight Sparkle looked at her reflection in the window and saw for the first time that the red scar that had served as a reminder of her grim condition was now gone. Twilight smiled and placed her head against Rainbow Dash’s shoulder, ready to take on whatever the rest of her life had to offer.
And this time, she knew that she would live long enough to see it through.