You may have noticed that in Chapter 7 of Reconnection, I did not show what Rarity got up to when left alone with Twilight. The following is what might have happened.
Rarity and Twilight were finally alone. Applejack was on her way back home with Rainbow Dash and Big Macintosh, to rest.
Rarity would finally get what she deserved.
She magically levitated the ball-peen hammer which she had dropped earlier, and turned to face Twilight, who still had the large bit in her mouth and couldn't speak. Twilight didn't look like she wanted to say anything. Rarity paused for a moment. She didn't give much thought to it really, but she decided she would remove the bit and let Twilight speak.
She walked over, expectantly, looking Twilight in the eyes. Twilight didn't meet her gaze, nor did she say anything.
Several moments passed, and Rarity grew annoyed. She was showing this pony a sense of mercy, a chance to get out some last words she hadn't already gotten out in their previous argument. Certainly there was something left unsaid?
Rarity gritted her teeth.
"Don't you have anything to say?" she asked, finally. Twilight turned her head, but kept her eyes looking to the side.
"Like what?" said Twilight, sounding very annoyed, and not at all concerned for her well-being. "Want me to beg? Sorry, that's not going to happen."
"That's disappointing, but not what I was thinking of."
"I don't care," said Twilight, turning her head away again.
Rarity slammed her hammer down on the table in anger, next to Twilight's knee.
"I am giving you the chance to say some final words. Because that's what decent ponies do. Anything you want to say? Come now, there must be something."
Twilight turned her head to face Rarity again, a look of calculation behind her eyes. She suddenly smiled, and Rarity found herself getting even more angry.
"I get it," said Twilight. "This isn't about me. This is about you. It couldn't be about me, what could I say that I didn't already say earlier? No, you want me to apologise to you directly. You want me to say how oh-so sorry I am for ruining your life, and killing your stupid friends. Well, you're not getting that. So just hurry up and kill me already. I have things to be doing."
Rarity's jaw dropped, before clamping down hard in anger. Why couldn't she have just keep Twilight gagged? Now she just wanted Twilight dead, and so lifted the hammer up magically once again, only to slam it down as hard as she possibly could on Twilight's skull.
Rarity blinked as drops of blood splattered on her face. The sickening sound of Twilight's skull caving in should have been music to her ears. But it just made her sick.
You may have noticed that in Chapter 7 of Reconnection, I did not show what Rarity got up to when left alone with Twilight. The following is what might have happened.
Warning: Semi-graphic Violence is in this one.
Rarity and Twilight were finally alone. Applejack was on her way back home with Rainbow Dash and Big Macintosh, to rest.
Rarity would finally get what she deserved.
She magically levitated the ball-peen hammer which she had dropped earlier, and turned to face Twilight, who still had the large bit in her mouth and couldn't speak. Twilight didn't look like she wanted to say anything. Rarity paused for a moment. She didn't give much thought to it really, but she decided she would not let Twilight say anything.
Quickly, she magically slammed the hammer down hard on Twilight's right hind knee. Following the sound of bone cracking, Twilight merely grunted loudly. Rarity smiled at her, pleased that her captive had enough fight in her to hold back screams. It'd be a lot more fun this way.
She wasted no time in slamming the hammer down again on the other hind knee. She hit it again, and again, each slam of the hammer accompanied by a corresponding crunch as bones splintered into ever smaller fragments.
Still, Twilight had made no attempt to scream, although tears were streaming down her face.
Her eyes filled with malice. She almost looked like she thought she was the victim here. Rarity didn't want to look at them anymore.
She had spent several hours making this room neat and tidy, putting everything she had bought in its proper place. And so she didn't have to look at all when she dropped the bloody hammer on the floor and magically picked up a set of sewing needles and a spool of thread
With a practiced motion she took out the smallest needle and threaded it. She took a deep breath while staring into Twilight's eyes, and grinned.
To Rarity's annoyance Twilight only fidgeted as Rarity sewed her eyelids shut. When finished, Rarity growled to herself before taking all the remaining sewing needles dividing them into groups of two, and jabbing them haphazardly into Twilight's closed eyes.
She left them there.
Still Twilight did not scream.
"What is wrong with you!?" Rarity demanded. "Why can't you scream for me?"
She grabbed a nearby candle she was saving, and magically lit it. She placed it on its side, so that the flame was kissing the side of Twilight's stomach. She could hear the singing of fur, before Twilight squirmed out of the way, knocking the candle over.
"Damn it," said Rarity. She was starting to get frustrated. Good thing she brought lighter fluid.
She didn't want Twilight to burst into flames, no, that could kill her. So she took care to only douse half of Twilight's midsection with the liquid, before picking up the fallen candle and re-lighting it. She placed the candle next to Twilight again, and watched the pony light up like a small, contained bonfire.
It was glorious. Or at least it was, only for a moment.
Rarity saw Twilight's mouth open, but it slammed shut with only a small squeak of pain. Twilight was biting her lip hard enough to draw blood in order to stop herself from screaming. Rarity had had enough. She hadn't even really started, but already this wasn't going like she had planned.
As Twilight's stomach continued to burn, Rarity grabbed her knife.
"Why won't you scream?" she said, before plunging the blade into Twilight's flank. No scream. Not even a gasp. "Why?" she shouted again, and again the knife entered Twilight's flesh. Blood began to pool under the table, making a mess.
"Why can't you just be like a normal pony?!" Her eyes were watering. She was crying. She didn't care. "Why?!"
She started to hack away mindlessly.
"Why couldn't you just be our friend?! Why did you have to do it?! Why can't you be sorry?!"
She let the knife drop as she slumped to the ground. She'd gone overboard. Twilight's intestines were slopping out of a large gash in her stomach, and the flames on the other side had begun to peter out, leaving an island of blackened flesh in its wake.
Twilight had died. She died without giving Rarity any satisfaction at all.
Rarity wondered why she couldn't have let Twilight talk first? Maybe then she would have gotten something out of this. Instead of the righteous vindication she was hoping for, she just felt sick.
This was spawned from a discussion with Phoe, in the comments section of Equestria Daily. She had the idea that Rainbow Dash should have pushed more insistently for Twilight to not be killed. And so I thought I’d go ahead and write out what I think would have happened if she had done that. What follows is probably not what Phoe had in mind, but hey, it’ll probably make some people happy.
"Now, on to business," said Rarity. She had turned to face them all as she levitated a ball-peen hammer into the air. "I wouldn't dream of intentionally taking away any of your righteous retribution, but it seems that only Rainbow Dash and myself are fit for this task."
“What are you talking about," said Rainbow Dash. "You're not thinking what I think you're thinking, are you?"
Rarity let the hammer fall. It contacted the ground with a light clink and took a small chip out of the concrete floor.
"Come again?" said Rarity. Applejack saw something in Rarity's eyes. She couldn't tell right off what it was, only that she didn't like it. It made it look like something was wrong with Rarity.
"I mean, we can't kill her," said Rainbow Dash. Applejack's head turned to her direction too fast, and she cringed at the pain in her muscles. Rarity's mouth hung open in shock, and even Pinkie Pie's eyes were half open, looking in Rainbow's direction.
Rarity closed her mouth and gave a very chilling smile.
"My dear, it must be difficult to understand from your perspective, after all, you died many years earlier than the rest of us. I understand that. But you simply must see that she is a danger to us all so long as she is alive."
Rainbow Dash looked concerned. "But she doesn't have a horn. What can she do to us now?"
"Who knows," said Pinkie Pie, lifting her head up for a moment. "She didn't need a horn to kill me." Pinkie's head went right back down.
"Nor I," said Rarity. She sighed, rubbing the side of her head with her hoof. "This point is non-negotiable. I personally will not stand idle while Twilight still lives."
Rainbow Dash looked at Twilight. Applejack couldn't guess what the pony was thinking, but she did see the acceptance on her face.
Rainbow Dash almost relented. But she took one look at the situation, and it hit her. Flashes of all these ponies, how they used to be in her memories, happy and idealistic, ponies who would have never thought of doing such a horrible thing, let alone to somepony who had been their friend. Rainbow Dash stamped her hoof, determination etched on her face.
"No," she said.
"What do you mean 'no?'" asked Rarity. "No, is not an option. Twilight has to die."
"No she doesn't. She doesn't have a horn, we can take her on without her magic."
"Horns grow back you know," said Rarity through clenched teeth. She took a step towards Dash, but Dash didn't take a step back.
"Then we'll keep it filed down. But we can't kill her. We're supposed to be good ponies, it'd be wrong to kill her. I...I won't let you do it."
"I won't let you stop me," said Rarity. The previously floating hammer began to float once more, kept aloft with Rarity's magic. Rainbow Dash began to wonder if she had made the right decision.
"You can't...kill her," said Pinkie Pie. Her eyes were open again, her head up. She looked worried. "Dash hasn't done anything."
Rarity didn't glance in Pinkie's direction. "I'm not going to kill her. Just...disable her is all. Twilight must be taken care of, and no manner of keeping her alive will be sufficient."
"But Rarity...." said Dash. She was looking at the ground. She thought about her feelings, and gaining a sudden surge of strength, she lifted her head and looked Rarity in the eyes. What she saw was disconcerting, but she continued to keep her gaze locked.
"No, you can't do this," she began. "Just look at what it's done to you already! You're nothing like the Rarity I remember, and I think it's because you've been doing nothing but thinking about killing Twilight! It's not good for a pony to get swallowed up in such dark thoughts. And if just thinking about it so much has changed you, just think what would happen if you actually went through with it?"
"That's stupid," said Rarity. "I'm not going to speak to you about this any longer." She began to advance again, her hammer floating ominously next to her.
"Rarity, please," said Pinkie Pie. "Don't hurt Rainbow Dash...she's our friend...it's not worth it."
"But if I don't get rid of Rainbow Dash I can't get rid of Twilight!" screamed Rarity. She threw her hammer into the wall, knocking down assorted items from the shelves. "Fine!" she said, her eyes filled with hot tears. "I hope you're happy!"
She ran up the stairs and out of her own basement, leaving Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and a still-bound Twilight alone. Rainbow Dash took a few deep breaths, trying to figure out what to do now.
First, she decided, she'd help Applejack and Pinkie Pie back to their homes. Rainbow Dash could take Pinkie back by herself, but Rainbow needed help with Applejack, and so, after Pinkie was dropped off, got the assistance of Big Mac. Together, they took Applejack back to Sweet Apple Acres.
Then it was just Twilight and Rainbow Dash. Rainbow removed the bit that was preventing Twilight from speaking. Then she undid the bindings that kept Twilight strapped to the table. As Twilight got up, their eyes locked. Rainbow Dash stared for a moment, wondering if she'd done the right thing, or if Twilight was going to attack as soon as her hooves were stable on the ground. She stumbled getting off the table, but when she had steadied herself, she didn't move. They just looked at each other, and Rainbow Dash opened her mouth to speak.
"I didn't do it for you," she said. "It was the right thing to do."
Twilight didn't say anything as Rainbow Dash left.
The next several days were a mess. Applejack and Pinkie Pie's recoveries were slow going, and Rainbow Dash did everything she could to help. Rarity hadn't been seen since she stormed out of her basement, and Rainbow Dash also spent time trying to find her. And Rainbow also had to keep track of Twilight, to make sure she didn't disappear to allow her horn to grow back.
Then it happened. About a week after Rainbow let Twilight go, she awoke in the middle of the night to find Twilight had somehow not only made it up to her cloud home, but found a way to walk on the cloud floor. Rainbow Dash barely had time to blink before Twilight lunged forward, and Rainbow Dash felt the sharp pin-prick of a needle enter her flesh before her eyes closed and the darkness claimed her.
Waking up again, she found herself locked in a cage, in some sort of dungeon. Twilight was there, her horn somehow regrown. Rainbow Dash knew it was too soon for that. Only magic could have regrown that horn so quickly. Looking around the dark, musty old room, Rainbow Dash saw all her other friends locked in cages similar to her own, each with varying amounts of fear, hatred, and anger on their face, all except for Fluttershy who seemed to still be asleep. When Rainbow Dash caught sight of Rarity, her heart almost leaped out of her chest. Rarity was staring right at her. Not at Twilight, or any of the other ponies. But her, Rainbow Dash. Her eyes were cold, and hate-filled, and Rainbow Dash suddenly felt she deserved to be hated.
"I-I'm sorry," she said, trying to hold back tears. She didn't think this could have happened, at least not with so little warning. How could this be? Who could have helped Twilight regrow her horn so quickly? There was no way Twilight did this by herself.
"Don't apologise," said Twilight. "You did the right thing...for me. And as a reward, I'm going to kill you first."
"But you said you didn't need to kill us this time!" shouted Applejack. Twilight smiled. It was a terrible smile, thought Rainbow Dash had seen such an expression before. On Rarity.
"I wasn't going to kill you," said Twilight. "But now, since things have gotten so out of hoof, I'm just going to go back to the good ol' severing method I did last time, for each of you. Even the ones whose elements I've already taken. It'll be quick and easy, and since things have been so messed up for me, I don't think the subtle approach is possible anymore. So here we are."
Twilight advanced onto Rainbow Dash. Rainbow turned around, and kicked at the gate of her cage. It rattled and shook, but did not break. She kicked again, and again, but it would not break.
"Don't bother," said Twilight. "I sealed the cages magically. You're not getting out."
Rainbow Dash stopped kicking.
"How did you do this?" said Pinkie Pie suddenly. "Who's helping you?"
"Why would I tell you that?" said Twilight. "I know you're all going to get another chance after this. Giving you any knowledge about me or my plans will just make it easier for you to win next time. And I'm not going to make things even harder for...myself."
She took another step towards Rainbow Dash. Rainbow glared at Twilight, unafraid.
"For you Rainbow Dash, all I have to do is kill you right now. I've already betrayed you so thoroughly, your death now by my hoofs will give me what I need." Twilight smirked.
"Then get it over with," said Dash. She closed her eyes, and heard a loud cracking sound. She didn't even feel the bolt strike her back, burning through her flesh and stopping her heart.
Back in the blue mists, Rainbow Dash waited for her element to show up again. It didn't take long.
"Let me give you a piece of advice," said Loyalty, emerging from the fog. "You know, for next time." Rainbow Dash remained silent. She knew she messed up. She messed up bad. She didn't want to think about that now. She just wanted to get her chance to try again, so she could fix it. Hopefully her friends would forgive her. She hoped, very, very, very much her friends would forgive her for her mistake.
But Loyalty didn't seem to care about Rainbow Dash's feelings at the moment, as she continued to speak.
"Sometimes we have to do the wrong thing for the greater good, you know?"
Rainbow Dash didn't pay much attention to that. She didn't want to think about how much she messed up.
"So, when to this time?"
"I'll remember everything right?" she said finally.
Loyalty nodded. "Except for being here."
"Then just send me to the very beginning. As early as you can."
"Cool," said Loyalty. "You'll get it this time."
The first time, she had killed the holders of the Elements of Harmony in order to sever the Elements. She had failed. The one she saved for last had turned out to be stronger than anticipated, and that had been her ultimate undoing.
The second time, she changed tactics. Having learned that a proper severing required a different course of action, she had set out to gain them, this time, without killing their owners. Only because it wasn't required. She had failed again, when she didn't realise she wasn't the only one to get a second chance.
The third time, she was sure she would succeed. She would be alone this time. And even though she didn't have to, she'd kill the holders just to spite them. And she almost did succeed. But of course, circumstances had not allowed her to finish her task again, this time because a certain rainbow maned pegasus somehow got wise and stopped her.
The fourth time, she had forgone vengeance. But to her surprise, she was once again not alone, and so failed again.
"This doesn't make any sense!" shouted Twilight. Magic just smiled. "How could they have gone back, I took their elements! I mean I really took them! How could the magic affect them when they aren't holding their elements anymore?!"
"To be honest, I wasn't quite sure it'd happen myself. I suspected, but that's not the same as knowing."
"And of course you couldn't share this suspicion with me," said Twilight, rolling her eyes.
"Nope. You know I don't like what you're doing. But for somepony as clever as you, I'm surprised you didn't suspect anything yourself. Our magic clearly works without temporal limits, outside of here anyway. Certainly it's not too big a stretch to assume the others could save their hosts after their deaths?"
"It is too big a stretch! I don't think it makes any sense." She sighed. "But I guess it doesn't really matter. I'll try again. I'll forget about vengeance, that just makes them mad and that causes too many problems. Not to mention pain."
"Whatever you like," said Magic.
And the fifth time, Twilight thought she was getting somewhere. What could go wrong? She wouldn't kill them, they'd survive and she'd get the job done. Until Rarity died accidently, her body being unable to withstand the sudden loss of her element. Somehow the one death got the others suspicious, and she was caught and killed.
"This next one's a lost cause," said Twilight. "Rarity will be here, I'm sure of it." Magic nodded.
"There's something I'm curious about."
"I can't say I'll answer any question you have."
"This will be the third time a Rarity has gone back. She won't remember all the other Rarity's. But does her element remember?"
Magic smiled. "I'll ask next time I see her."
Twilight assumed victory was impossible, and so the sixth time she just vented out her frustrations by killing random ponies. She only successfully took Rarity's element, only because she wanted Magic to answer her question. Rarity stopped her again. The same thing happened as before, and Twilight found herself once again in Magic's presence.
"So?" Twilight asked.
"She knew," said Magic. "Might have something to do with that non-temporal thing. I don't know, this is getting too complicated even for me. I'll think about it more, maybe I'll figure it out." She smiled again, that smile that Twilight couldn't stand the sight of. "You're bringing me a lot of interesting puzzles, Twilight. I hope you solve yours eventually."
The seventh time, something odd happened. Celestia demanded Twilight use the heterodox method of severing elements. It meant Twilight would have to kill ponies, angering them, and endangering the plan. But still, the princess was the princess, and Twilight tried again, avoiding all the pitfalls of the previous rotations.
But it wasn't enough. New pitfalls grew where there used to be none. Spike found out again. Pinkie Pie had believed him, and together they stopped her. She hadn't even gotten four of them.
"Why did Celestia act differently?" said Twilight. "She'd never refused my suggestion before."
"I noticed," said Magic. "Not exactly the way you noticed, but I noticed. It's very strange. Another interesting puzzle. I think a few more circles will solve the problem."
"Circles?" asked Twilight.
"What else would you call them? You're doing the same things over and over, the same things keep happening. The slight differences don't matter. It keeps happening, you go back, you end up back here, and on and on it goes."
"There haven't been that many go arounds," said Twilight, annoyed.
"Give it time," said Magic. "Something tells me this will continue."
The next time was a throw away. Twilight didn't do anything this time. But they came for her, and she found herself back in that purple misty fog, with Magic.
"Shut up," said Twilight as soon as she caught sight of Magic. Magic only smiled that hated smile.
It kept happening. No matter what Twilight did, she could no longer convince the princess to try the new severing method, which meant Twilight kept making enemies of the ponies, which meant her returns to the past kept being punctuated with impossible reiterations where success could not happen.
The only thing that changed were the details. Sometimes it was Fluttershy, like the first. Other times, Pinkie Pie stopped her. Still others, Applejack and Rainbow Dash would show up together, or individually. Rarity had her fair share of "successes" as well.
That was, until Twilight started to pay more attention to the details of the worlds around her. Magic had eluded to it before. Things were the same, but things were changing. It was a puzzle.
"I think I figured it out," said Magic. Twilight had lost count how many times she'd shown up here, ready for another try.
"Figured what out?"
"Those small changes. The changes are much more obvious, compared to where we started."
"What is it then?" said Twilight. She was tired of talking to this thing. Not just for the moment, but in general. Talking to Magic meant she had failed again. She was starting to think her task was impossible.
"I think our magic is a bit flawed," said Magic. "We're not quite sending you back to the past. We're sending you to another universe entirely. One that's very similar, but not quite the same as, the one before. And these changes are piling up."
"That's nice," said Twilight, eager to get back to the real world.
"It really changes the whole view of this situation. But it doesn't look like you're too interested, so I'll just let you get back to your life."
Twilight failed again. It didn't matter how anymore. No matter what she did, something would happen that would lead to her downfall.
She began just going through the motions. Princess Celestia would ask her to sever elements. She'd say yes. She'd get as far as she could, and then back to see Magic she'd go. And it'd all start over again. She didn't even change tactics when it was an iteration where she wasn't alone. It just didn't matter, it'd happen again.
"I don't see why you can't just refuse," said Magic.
"You don't refuse the Princess. She'll kill me."
"She probably wouldn't snap your horn. You wouldn't end up back here."
"I don't want to die."
Twilight never tried to outright ignore the princess. But maybe there was another way.
"You say elements choose their holders?"
"Could they all choose me?" Twilight used to think that was an impossible goal, to get all the elements to choose her. But it looked like she had a lot of time now. And her current course wasn't leading anywhere.
"Theoretically," said Magic. "As long as you exemplify the element better than any other pony. But really, do you think you could manage to get the other elements to choose you? I don't know if you know this, but you're kind of a psychopath."
Twilight didn't even get angry at the insult.
"Could you imagine?" continued Magic. "You being so kind, that you put that poor pony Fluttershy to shame? Or so loyal that Loyalty chooses you instead of Rainbow Dash?" She laughed. Twilight hardly ever heard Magic laugh.
"It's a plan."
And so Twilight tried. She focused on a single element each round. The first time, it was Honesty. That seemed to be easy. Until it came time to lie to a pony, in order to sever an element the old fashioned way. Rarity thought she was joking. But Twilight continued to be honest, that yes, it was her that stole everything from Rarity, and she was going to kill Rarity and take her element. And she did. And she didn't lie when the others asked about it. And she found herself back in front of Magic.
Kindness was difficult to pull off. But she had to admit that she rarely gave any thought to her "friend's" well being when she took their elements. She said it was all business, not personal, but that wasn't really true. She liked it. So she tried to not like it so much, to be more merciful to her victims, to make things as easy for them as possible. Twilight didn't think she was going to get that element any time soon.
The third time it was Laughter. She tried to keep a positive outlook. She didn't think it was working. She certainly didn't feel like laughing when she failed again. Thinking about it, she wasn't any more virtuous, it just made her actions even more awful.
Twilight didn't really know how she could be Generous. She tried to be generous to her friends when they weren't her current targets, but that didn't really make up for what she ultimately had to do.
Loyalty.... She couldn't even try to take the other elements and remain loyal to her friends. But she could try to take them and be loyal to Celestia...of course, she'd been loyal to Celestia all these countless iterations! By that reasoning, she'd been the most loyal pony ever! And it had gotten her nothing. So instead, she tried being loyal to her friends. It was the first time she ever did it. It was a completely new experience.
When Celestia asked her to sever elements, she smiled and said yes. And then immediately went to her friends and told them what was going on. They were shocked and didn't believe her at first. But Twilight had proof, and they eventually accepted the truth. And together, they tried to stop Celestia. It was stupid, and they were doomed to failure.
A stroke of luck, Celestia snapped Twilight's horn off before killing her. And so back to Magic she went. Twilight was the first to die. She didn't know if her friends had succeeded.
"It's not so bad, not being a crazy pony bent on killing your friends, is it?" asked Magic. Twilight just shrugged. She didn't know what to think anymore.
At the beginning of the next iteration, Twilight decided it'd be easier to coax the Elements of Harmony towards her if she wasn't trying to kill their holders. And so again, she agreed to sever the elements to Celestia's face, but then turned around and told her friends. They failed again, and again Twilight's horn snapped.
"This is stretching probability," said Twilight. "There's no strong motivation for the princess to snap my horn. Yet she keeps doing it."
"Maybe someone's pushing things in that direction?" asked Magic, with a wry smile. Twilight didn't think Magic could do that. But then again, she didn't want to die, so she wasn't going to press the matter.
Again and again, she gathered her friends and went up against Celestia. And again and again, she failed.
She had run out of ideas. She was going to do this forever.
The worlds she was going back to were monumentally different from the one she started from. Ponies were popping in and out of existence. She couldn't remember the last time she saw Peanut Rush in Ponyville. Heck, the Everfree Fields didn't seem to exist anymore.
A thought finally occurred to Twilight.
"You know how every new world is slightly different from the one before it?"
"Do you think you could try and put me in a world with a specific difference?"
Magic put a hoof to her chin in thought. "I could try. I've learned a lot about this process. You wouldn't believe how many times I've had to send you back."
"Don't tell me," said Twilight. She figured the number would just depress her. There was a pause.
"Do you think you could try and send me to a world where Princess Celestia doesn't ask me to sever elements?"
"Finally having a change of heart?" Magic positively glowed in happiness as she clopped her hooves together. "That's wonderful news." She said it as if she already knew said news.
"I had a change of heart a long time ago."
It was Twilight's only hope now. That one day she'd show up, and never be sent on that stupid self-destructive path. She didn't want to live forever, going on the same fruitless quest over and over. Neither did she want to die. She just wanted a normal life, free from struggle. She hoped she'd get it.
She started to chronicle the changes of the world in her mind. Relationships changed. Buildings in Ponyville popped in and out of existence. Finally, a glimmer of progress
Princess Celestia seemed generously surprised when Twilight suggested another coup by Princess Luna. It gave Twilight hope that Magic really was directing her towards a world where Celestia herself was different.
"What are you going to do if you end up in such a world?" asked Magic. "Do you really think you can just go and live a normal life? You've lived for thousands of years. I'm almost surprised you're still sane."
"I told you a long time ago I didn't want a number," said Twilight. "But I have a solution to that problem."
"Oh? I'd be interested in hearing it. You know I like puzzles. And solutions to puzzles."
"You'll see when I get there. Think of it as motivation to put me in that world."
Magic smiled. Twilight found she didn't hate that smile as much as she used to.
Again and again she went, around and around, watching the changes of the world around her. She was shocked when the changes started affecting her own personal history. But they weren't what she was hoping for, so she simply acknowledged them and moved on.
She was lonely. The only person who really knew her now was Magic, and from her perspective, she only got to see the Element sporadically.
One iteration, about a month after telling the other ponies Celestia's request, she made a decision. She'd tell them her story. The whole story.
They were incredulous. But she relentlessly pushed the truth upon them. And what they did surprised her. They forgave her. Now, more than ever she wanted to just live a normal life with them, to be able to really be their friend.
It would be a long, long time before then. But eventually, it happened. The date when Celestia sent her on her journey to sever elements never changed. Not once in all the constant repeats of her life. But this time, it did. It passed, and nothing happened.
Twilight waited a week. She didn't want to get her hopes up, but she didn't want to wait too long if it turned out this was the one. The world she was waiting for.
She requested an audience with the Princess. She tiptoed around the issue. Celestia gave no hint that she knew what Twilight was talking about. Finally Twilight directly asked if Celestia was going to send her on some fool's errand to collect the other elements. Celestia looked genuinely shocked, almost offended, that Twilight would suggest such a thing. Relief washed over Twilight's face, and for the first time in a very long time she cried. This time was different though. These were tears of joy.
After asking the Princess to never bring up that audience ever again, Twilight teleported back home. This was where she'd live a normal life. Spike was asleep in his cot. She'd be a real friend to him. She'd be a real friend to all of them. She'd be a good pony. She wouldn't live forever. But she had already lived close to that, so it was no big loss. Now, she would enjoy a new experience.
Concentrating, Twilight worked hard to erase her own memories, starting from the beginning. She'd start this life with a clean slate. Just enough to know her own history, enough to continue on in this life. But nothing of all the struggles she'd gone through before, of all the pain and torment she had caused, both to the other ponies and to herself.
When she was almost done, she had forgotten why she was doing it. But she trusted herself, and assuming she had a good reason, she continued. The last thing to go was the knowledge of the memory altering spell itself.
Twilight looked around. She didn't know what she was doing up at this hour. She must have lost track of time studying, although there wasn't a book in front of her. Maybe she had put it up already? She mentally shrugged. She should really get to bed. Applejack wanted to hang out the next day, so she should probably get some rest. You never knew what kind of physically exhausting things you'd get up to hanging out with Applejack.