Sneak Preview · 9:17pm
Maybe I'll start using this to post story snippets and little things that don't need to be full stories.
Today though I think I will post a preview of what will be coming after Scholar's Mate.
Two Thousand Years Ago
It didn't start here, and it wouldn't end here. Not in the empty, forgotten chamber lying buried in ruins so old that earth and time had swallowed them whole, where the only thing that moved was the dust falling from above in an ephemeral rain. This place was merely a quiet interlude between acts.
Ever so quietly, as if from a great distance, there were the sound of hoofsteps in the empty chamber. They circled the room slowly, like the unseen, unheard source was pacing.
On the broken floor, the dust gathered, slowly building up. One mote at a time, not exactly guided by an unseen force, its path diverted a fraction by chance or destiny or supreme force of will from something watching intently from beyond a final curtain.
Centuries passed, and if somepony were to look into the chamber - though none living knew it existed and only two would even think to look in the barren wasteland where it was interred - they would see the dust settling like snow, falling onto a prone form with a suggestion of splayed wings and with legs curled tightly to its chest. Just a pattern in the dust, nothing more.
Nothing yet, but becoming.
"Flim I daresay this is either the best idea you've ever had or the worst." Flam looked up at the Tree of Harmony. It was still largely unguarded, though lately there were a few tourists here and there to see it. It was like any historical artifact - of great important and significance and almost forgotten a week after it was exhumed except by textbooks and archeologists.
"It's the best, of course!" Flim said. "Just think of what we could do with a cutting from the Tree of Harmony! Why we might be able to grow our own ancient magical tree!"
"Or at least sell the branch for a decent profit," Flam noted. The two looked at each other and smiled at the mention of making money. Truly there was no force in Equestria more powerful than greed. It could drive ponies to create and destroy, the flow of bits creating a river that drove society forwards.
That's what the brothers told themselves, anyway. The truth was that they were only concerned about where that river of bits would take them, and didn't care if it happened to drown less fortunate ponies in its current.
Flam levitated a pair of garden shears up to a likely-looking branch, one thick with leaves and not too obvious if it went missing. With a quick snip, it was freed from the tree. There was no bright burst of light, no shower of sparks. The earth didn't split and swallow them up in a maw of gnashing stone teeth.
Overall, in other words, it was going better than their other plans had lately, even if all they had to show for it so far was a stick.
"I think it's time to make good our escape, brother," Flim noted, packing the branch away. Flam turned to leave and stopped after taking a step.
"We might have a problem there," Flam said, paling. Flim followed his gaze to the exit, where a dark shape loomed like a black void against the night. It was tall and thin, twice the size of the unicorn brothers, with fuzzy, indistinct edges.
"Excuse me, sir, we were just on our way!" Flim said, swallowing nervousness and trying to get a patter going to help talk his way out of things. "We were just visiting the Tree of Harmony, quite an interesting historical artifact this is, isn't it? Why you can see the Elements of Harmony there nestled in the branches like fruits!" He motioned to them while trying to step around the huge figure, hoping it was following where he pointed instead of looking at him.
"Y-yes, we were just here to visit and what do we see but a broken branch?" Flam added. "Why being such good citizens as we are, we couldn't help but want to assist, and as my brother and I know more than a few things about trees, the only thing to do with a broken branch is to trim it!"
"Indeed it is, brother! But I'm sure our tall new friend here merely wishes to have some time alone with the tree. We'll just leave him to it, shall we?"
"I think we-" Flam stopped as the head turned to look at him, and he found himself looking into eyes like black pits, only a glimmer deep within them glowing with an almost ultraviolet light. A horn made of shadows and dust glowed with a sputtering light, and feathery gray wings spread, their edges fading like smoke.
It sounded like something dead, as dry and fossilized as stone and absolute as the night between the stars.
Flim and Flam collapsed, the breath stolen from their lungs.
The gaunt figure looked up at the Tree of Harmony, stepping past the fallen brothers. Every hoofstep echoed in a void of unnatural stillness around it, as if it stood at the center of the world.
For Flim and Flam, the world ended there, on the floor of that cavern, bathed in a burning un-light that consumed their lives and burned their flesh. For the rest of Equestria, the end of the world had only just begun.