“Twi-Twilight! Your mane’s all gray, and your face has more wrinkles than Applejack’s granny, and—and—Twilight, what happened?”
“I… I don’t…”
The full force of age crashed over Twilight like a wave smashing into the stone cliffs of Vanhoover. Pure, unbridled age sucked the energy out of her. She gasped as her knees wobbled, her legs collapsing like toothpicks. Her side smacked against the metal floor with an ominous crack.
“Twilight!” Pinkie shrieked. Before Twilight could blink she was enveloped in Pinkie’s warm embrace, her face nuzzled repeatedly and dabbed with wet kisses.
Twilight blinked back tears of pain, having to blink more than a few times in an effort to see past the film that had clouded her sight. She still was able to spot Rainbow Dash reaching for the amulet. “Don’t touch it!” she croaked.
“If you touch it, it might kill you!”
Rainbow Dash leaped away from the pulsating artifact and in one smooth fluid motion was by Twilight’s side. “Then what do we do?!”
“I think she broke a rib!” Pinkie said.
Twilight bit back the bizarre urge to laugh. “Try several.” A fresh stab of pain sucked away her breath.
Rainbow Dash bit her lip. “Listen, I’ll go get help, all right?” She raced for the door.
“T-tell Pickaxe to contact Princess C-Cadance!” Twilight forced out.
“Right! Pickaxe!” Rainbow’s hoarse shout echoed until the sound of her charging hooves faded away.
“Twilight… ” Pinkie nuzzled her, staining her face with tears. “I’m sorry… It’s my fault.”
This time Twilight couldn’t restrain it; she let out a chuckle. “No, it’s mine. I was the one foolish enough to use that spell without more carefully researching the possible consequences.”
“I-I don’t understand.”
Hey look, it’s more DB/Kyro collab! This one is, well…
Let’s face it: if I wasn’t the creator of TMP, this story probably would’ve been bounced for not being stand-alone. I’M SORRY EVERYONE. I AM BAD.
Rainbow Dash had been waiting for this moment for a thousand years.
Granted, some of those years—okay, most of those years—weren’t years she’d actually had to live through. She’d only spent about two weeks total in the past, battling demonic monsters and time itself while desperately searching for her lost fillyfriend, but it had felt a lot longer. It’d felt like a whole lifetime. Maybe two.
But now she was back in her own time, and she and Twilight were standing in the rusted-out husk of an airship with an eerily silent and still Pinkie Pie sitting just a few scant feet away. A heavy pendant hung around her neck, with the dark gem in its center gently pulsing with a strange dark light. Rainbow Dash didn’t like the look of that gem. She wasn’t afraid of it, of course, because she was Rainbow Dash and Rainbow Dash wasn’t afraid of silly jewelry, but she didn’t like it.
“Rainbow … Rainbow, what if this didn’t work?” whispered Twilight, her eyes huge and glittering in the dark, as she leaned forward to take the necklace around Pinkie’s neck between her own hooves. “What if she doesn’t wake up when I take off the necklace?”
There was a note of doubt in Twilight’s voice that Dash didn’t like, in much the same way she didn’t like the amulet.
Oh, lest it be accidentally forgotten: DB’s latest entry to our collab ping-ponging is a really fantastic one. It added a new wrinkle to the mix.
Though Twilight Sparkle was not given to boasting, as a general rule, she could hardly ignore the fact that she was directly responsible for saving both Ponyville and the entirety of Equestria on more than a few occassions. Nightmare Moon? That had been her, with some very important assist from her friends. That ursa minor? Totally her. Discord? Mostly her. And so on and so forth.
Twilight Sparkle, in other words, was a hero. She was good at being a hero, as she’d had lots of practice, given her status as a bearer of one of the Elements of Harmony and now as a princess, and she was used to being a hero.
Which was why, she supposed, it was so hard for her right now that she wasn’t the hero.
Growling softly, Twilight glared down at the iron lockbox on the table before her. Inside the box laid an unassuming notebook with a plain brown cover, which contained the answer to all of her questions and all of her problems. An answer she hadn’t been able to understand, despite her years of studying and experience with magic.
She’d failed. She’d failed, just when Pinkie Pie had needed her most. She couldn’t understand, and she couldn’t reopen that blasted time portal which had stolen Pinkie away from her.
The next segment in our on-going story!
The harsh wind howled at her uncovered ears, whipping them with snow. The pinpricks, like the stab of a thousand little daggers, made her tuck her ears into her scalp in an effort to ward off the cold. Though it wasn’t much help against the wind, it at least made it harder for her to hear the digging machinery chugging away at the dig site.
“Twilight,” she groaned, batting the alicorn in the side with one wing, “Why’re we even here?”
Twilight flinched but didn’t look up from the documents she carried. “I told you; we’re investigating an ancient airship dock.”
Rainbow snorted. “We have airships now. Why the heck do we care about old ones?”
Twilight let out a long, heaving sigh, stuffed the documents into her saddlebags, and turned to gaze at Rainbow. Her eyes bore deep into Rainbow’s. “This airship dock served the Crystal Empire at its height over a thousand years ago, before the Empire was sealed away by Sombra’s spell. We’re here hoping we can find anything and everything of archaeological value before the Empire refurbishes it into a new waystation for travel further north.”
Her eyes softened. “I know, it’s not exactly your normal area of interest. I usually bring Pinkie Pie with me on these expeditions; she loves digging through old things.”
“But Pinkie’s gone off on some long trip, I know, I know,” Rainbow waved a hoof dismissively. “Still don’t get why you asked me.”
Twilight wrapped a wing around Rainbow, making Rainbow’s pulse quicken. “Because I love you and I want to share the things I like with you just like I do with Pinkie.” Twilight’s muzzle stretched into a smile as she nuzzled Rainbow’s cheek. “Look at it this way: you’re doing what Daring Do does every day!”
Rainbow let out her own sigh and sank into the larger pony’s side, letting Twilight’s body heat flow through her. “Okay, okay, you win.”
“Princess! Princess Twilight!” came a sudden urgent shout. A stallion galloped up to them, his sides heaving from exertion.
I wrote a thing last night! Which is kind of saying something considering I wrote this after an eight hour work day. Writing takes a lot out of me, and my energy levels were already low.
Anyway I had a lot of fun with this idea. You can argue a Chrono Trigger inspiration from it. DB was asking if I was considering expanding it into something larger, and I just might!
“You know what you’ve done.”
Her eyes are soft, soft and so very blue, almost apologetic but not quite. “Yes,” she says, with a little nod, “but do you know what you’re doing?”
Twilight’s jaw tightens. “Pinkie, I’m being serious. This is no time for jokes or games. Maybe you don’t understand just what—”
The alicorn pauses. Frowns. “What?”
“Treason,” mumbles Pinkie, glancing down at her hooves and looking for all the world like a sullen foal. “That’s what you think I did. You think I’m big old traitor.”
“It’s … it’s what all the evidence suggests.” Twilight squares her shoulders, as though bracing to be tackled, even though Pinkie hasn’t moved an inch. “The strange shadows spreading around town. Ponies just up and disappearing in the middle of the night. The Cakes noticing you sneaking out of Sugarcube Corner late at night. This is clearly something to do with King Sombra, and he’s got somepony helping him!”
Pinkie doesn’t look up. She doesn’t look up, she doesn’t move and doesn’t flinch, and for all Twilight knows, the pink mare hasn’t heard a single word. As Twilight stands there and stares down her friend from across the small main room of the library, the seconds ticking away slowly and painfully like the timer on a bomb, she silently begs Pinkie to say something. To say anything.
To deny everything.
But Pinkie isn’t looking at her, and Pinkie isn’t speaking.
Aughsuhfugh you need to read this now. It is so good.
Celestia stared at her most faithful student. “Twilight, that idea is . . .”
“Ludicrous,” said Luna flatly.
Twilight smiled, the tiny lift of the corners of her mouth that meant she was one step ahead. “Until yesterday, it was ludicrous. But not anymore. I realized recently that I could combine my brother’s shield spell with the love magic he and Cadance performed to create a changeling-proof barrier.” Two purple-glowing pages of neatly-penned formulae slid across the table, one for each sister. They bent their heads to study them.
After a few moments of silence, Celestia looked up at Twilight. “This . . . would work, I think. But to do as you propose, to stretch such a barrier over the whole southern border . . .”
Luna shook her head, still staring at the formulae. “The power such a thing would require is beyond any of us. The plan is elegant, but impossible.”
I wrote a thing!
And it’s a great thing!