Termina's Final Twilight
Chapter 1: The Tower's Call
“I knew it was probably nothing to worry about...” thought Twilight as she trotted through the dense forest ahead. “Zecora said she heard strange noises coming from within the Everfree Forest, but I have yet to hear anything out of the ordinary.”
She remembered what Zecora had told her earlier that day. A soft melody drifted through the trees for the past few nights. Zecora described the song as mystical...and sad.
This had piqued the young unicorn's interest, so she decided to see if she could hear it herself. “What have I gotten myself into? I should have at least brought somepony with me...”
Twilight figured it was time to head home - if she could actually find her way back. It was well into the night, and she had set out into the forest around sunset.
She hated to admit it, but she was completely lost. The surroundings seemed so unfamiliar to her. The pony sighed, and started to turn around to head back the way she came. Her ears immediately shot upwards as a soft melody crept around her.
“This song...this must be what Zecora was hearing!” Twilight immediately continued on her path at a slow pace, trying to pinpoint what direction the music was coming from.
As Twilight crept through the forest, she noticed that the trees were becoming farther and farther apart. A faint green glow was drifting in the air, as sprites lazily floated about. “I don't remember seeing this part of the forest before. It seems so...magical.” thought Twilight.
The music steadily grew louder, yet she couldn't pinpoint the source. The instrument was also unfamiliar to the pony's ear. Feeling a bit uneasy with her surroundings, Twilight slowed her pace and kept herself low.
Suddenly, she heard a twig snap behind her. As the pony slowly turned around, she saw a horrifying face staring at her. With a shriek, Twilight fell backwards as the creature slowly approached her. The creature's glowing yellow eyes pierced the unicorn's very soul, and sent a continuous chill throughout her body. Twilight did her best to gasp for air as she felt herself losing consciousness.
“You have met a terrible fate, haven't you?”
These soft words caused Twilight to open her eyes. The creature that was pursuing her had a different face. A face that was a bit more recognizable to the well-read pony. “You...are you a human?”
The man standing it front of her had a warm smile on his face. It was quite pale, and he had short red hair. Twilight examined the rest of the strange man, and noticed him holding something. The man followed the pony's eyes, and held up his hand.
The chills that Twilight had previously felt returned, as she gazed at the horrifying purple mask that was previously on the human's face.
“This is my most treasured mask. An evil mask that was a product of a dark cult. It is called....Majora's Mask.” Twilight heard the words, but she didn't understand any of it. She was so transfixed by its design - the tribal markings that were painted on the front....the spikes that protruded from the sides....and the glowing yellow eyes that continued to pierce her body.
She quickly snapped back to reality, and looked at the strange man. “Who are you? What are you doing in the Everfree Forest? Are you really a human?” These were just a few of the many questions that perplexed her, but she was unable to find the words.
The man chuckled, and with a smile said, “I am but a traveling collector of masks. I am also known to be a salesman of sorts. I have traveled far and wide for rare and valuable masks. My travels have brought me to this forest, as they have one time before. I have never heard it called the Everfree Forest though...but that isn't very important to me.” Dropping the smile, the man asked, “May I ask what you are doing here, my little pony?”
Twilight got back on her feet and replied, “A friend of mine told me of strange melodies coming from the forest. I heard the song myself right before I bumped into you...were you the one playing it?”
The smile once again appeared on the salesman's face. “Ah, you must have heard ‘him’. He travels through this forest very frequently, looking for a lost friend. He plays that song hoping to get her attention.” The man turned around and started walking away.
He then turned his head and said, “But it looks like he summoned someone else this time.” With a chuckle, he started to walk away. Twilight looked behind her, and realized that the melody was louder than before.
The source must be close. As she turned her head to the front, she said, “Well, thank you. I....” She cut herself off after realizing the salesman was nowhere to be found.
She looked all around her, but the man had completely vanished. “What a strange man...and a haunting mask. I can't believe he was a real human! I think...he never did tell me.” Twilight sighed and continued deeper into the forest.
It didn't take long for Twilight to start humming the mystical tune to herself. Something about it was so calming...it left her in a trance as she galloped. She slowly closed her eyes and slowed her pace. The melody was intoxicating.
Images of her friends back in Ponyville flooded her mind. The party that Pinkie Pie had thrown for her on her first day in Ponyville...the fashion show that Rarity organized for all her friends...the falling of the leaves that Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and herself had entered...being saved by Fluttershy after being turned to stone....all these fond memories that Twilgiht had shared with her friends whirled around in her head.
Twilight smiled and opened her eyes, and finally found the source of the melody. She was on the edge of a clearing, with a lone stump in the center. A young boy was sitting on the stump, playing an instrument that Twilight was not familiar with.
She scanned the boy from head to toe, trying to figure out what he was wearing. He was dressed in green cloth, and his pointed hat was made with a similar style. He wore a skirt of some sort, with a pair of brown boots on his feet. On his back was a metallic shield with a ghostly face reflected on its pane. There seemed to be some sort of weapon behind it, but Twilight couldn’t see much of it.
The young pony sheepishly approached the strange boy. If what the salesman had told her was true, she didn't want to interrupt the boy's song. She stopped a few feet away from him, and continued to listen. He slowly opened his eyes, and stopped playing his instrument. He lowered the blue object, and stared at the unicorn.
A bit nervous, Twilight lowered her ears, and softly said, “Um...hello there. My name is Twilight Sparkle. I heard you playing your instrument and I was curious to see where it was coming from. I hope I didn't bother you...”
The boy tilted his head to the side, looking very confused. Twilight quickly dropped her head and started to blush before saying, “I'm really sorry if I'm being a bother...Um, do you understand what I'm saying?”
Not dropping the perplexed look on his face, the boy nodded. Twilight noticed the movement and raised her head once more. “Okay, good....what is your name?” Twilight was glad to notice a warm smile appear on the boy's face as he softly said,
Minutes had quickly turned into hours as Twilight laid in the grass listening to Link play his instrument. The calming sensation that swept through her body was mesmerizing, and she loved every second of it. She was unsuccessful in getting any more information out of the boy, so she allowed him to return to his music.
The somber notes drifted through the forest, and attracted quite a few animals to the grove. Twilight opened her eyes and smiled after realizing the audience that she was now a part of.
She looked back up at Link, who was completely oblivious to his audience. He continued to play his song without a care in the world. Twilight smiled, and closed her eyes. It didn't take much longer for her to slowly drift to sleep.
Rays of sunlight pierced through the treetops, shining down on Twilight's face. She lazily opened her eyes, only to close them again because of the sudden brightness. With a yawn, the little pony got up and stretched. Looking around, she noticed that she was alone in the clearing. Link was nowhere to be found.
Feeling nervous after realizing that she was alone, she tried to listen for any clues on where to go next.
The salesman she had talked to the previous night made a comment about her being in a different forest. If he told her the truth, then she had a lot of ground to cover. With a deep sigh, Twilight picked a direction to head in, and started on a long trek to find her way home.
Before she could make it out of the clearing, she heard a loud shout of pain. Startled, Twilight wheeled around and started galloping towards the source.
It didn't take long for her to reach her destination. As she approached the figure laying on the ground, she slowed her pace. A lanky man was laying on his stomach, and on his back was a huge backpack full of masks.
“Hello? Are you okay?” Twilight did her best to awaken the man, but to no avail. She bowed her head and tried to use her muzzle to turn the man, but he was far too heavy.
Pondering what to do next, Twilight realized she could just use her magic. Closing her eyes in concentration, she lowered her head and focused her magical abilities into her horn. With a slight jolt, she lifted the man up and slowly lowered him down into a sitting position.
The man was a bit heavier than Twilight had thought, but she managed to softly put him down. With a weak sigh, she raised her head and gasped at who she saw. The odd man she had encountered the night before was sitting in front of her, his eyes closed and his face shriveled with pain.
Twilight heard a soft gasp to her side, and turned her head to see the young boy from the night before. He too seemed to recognize the strange man, and bent down to take a better look at him. Twilight stepped out of the way and said, “Do you know this man?”
Without turning to her, Link nodded, and continued to examine the man. Twilight thought she noticed beads of sweat drip down Link's face as he rummaged through the man's backpack. Twilight moved closer to the man's face and started to nuzzle it, trying to see if she could open his eyes.
Before she had a chance, the man's eyes shot open with a devilish stare. Twilight shrieked and fell backwards as the man jumped up, knocking Link to the forest floor.
“THE MASK! MY MASK! WHERE IS IT? WHO TOOK IT?” The man was shouting at the heavens, screaming in a terrifying voice.
He turned to Link, then to Twilight. “WAS IT YOU? DID YOU STEAL MY MASK? GIVE IT BACK OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!”
Twilight was terrified - she couldn’t protect herself as the man lunged at her. She curled into a ball and hid her face from her crazed assailant. Opening one eye, she noticed Link shielding her from the salesman.
She noticed the grunts of anger slowly becoming sighs of pain. The salesman had shifted his gaze towards the treetops as he raised his arm to cover his brow.
In a dramatic voice, he preached, “To think misfortune could befall me twice! It is almost as if history has repeated itself! I was minding my own business when I was attacked by some unseen rogue!”
Twilight looked on in confusion as the man got down on both knees in an almost seamless transition. He lowered his head and cried, “My mask, Majora's Mask, is gone! To think that my unseen assailant has stolen it...who knows what could happen?”
What Twilight was watching could only be considered a drama. The man quickly alternated between various poses, holding each for a fraction of a second before switching to another.
Tilting her head in confusion, she glanced at Link. Not seeing the look she expected, she noticed Link's face moist with sweat, and his teeth clenched.
She jumped back upon seeing the salesman grab Link's shoulders. She was powerless to stop the crazed man from violently rocking the young boy back and forth. “YOU! YOU MUST FIND THE MASK AND RETURN IT TO ME! WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL CAN BEFALL THE LAND IF YOU DON'T RETRIEVE IT!” Link was struggling in holding his composure as the man began to choke him.
Twilight dug her hoof into the ground and charged at the salesman. Slamming into his side, the man sailed into a nearby tree with a yelp.
Link fell to the ground as Twilight rushed to his aid. Upon helping Link to his knees, they both glanced at the salesman. He was hunched over holding onto his side. His face was contorted with pain and sorrow.
He took one last look at the duo, and started to wobble away. Just as he had the night before with Twilight, the man stopped in his tracks and softly muttered:
“You DO know what this means...don't you boy? That mask...that evil mask that tried to destroy the world three years ago...there remains a power in it. Why else would that be the only mask to have been stolen? You are the only one that can stop it...or meet a terrible fate trying.”
With that, the man crept through the trees, disappearing completely from sight. Twilight noticed a shift in weight on her back as Link pounded the ground with his right fist. She noticed tears falling down the young boys face. Sadness swept through the confused pony's body as she used her head to wipe the boy's face.
Minutes passed before the boy returned to his feet. Twilight finally found the nerve to speak and asked, “What was he talking about? An evil mask that tried to destroy the world three years ago? How is that possible?” The boy looked at her, and started walking away.
Not having the answer she wanted, Twilight sighed and bowed her head. She looked up to see Link staring at her a few feet away. He beckoned to her with a wave of his hand.
Thinking that the boy wanted her to follow him, Twilight slowly approached. Link returned to his path, this time at a brisk pace. Twilight did her best to keep on his heels.
The forest soon became a pathway as the two ran towards their unknown destination. After passing through a giant hollowed out log, Link proceeded to climb up on a tree stump. He then continued his way among a series of platforms towards a tunnel in the distance.
Amazed at the boy's acrobatics, Twilight paused to admire him. As he reached the end of the path, Link looked behind him to see the pony watching him.
Probably realizing that it wasn’t an easy path for a horse, he started to go back.
To his surprise, Twilight jumped onto the first stump and proceeded to cross with ease. With a gasp, Link stepped out of the way as the pony reached his position.
“What? You didn't think I had it in me, huh? Well, for your information, I'm not as helpless as you may think!” boasted the unicorn. Smiling, she said, “Come on, we're going through that tunnel over there, right? We had better move!”
She continued jumping across and stopped at the entrance to the tunnel to wait for her new friend. With an impressive front flip, Link landed on the stump next to Twilight. He gave her a quick smirk, then walked deeper down the tunnel. Giggling softly to herself, Twilight followed.
The darkness of the tunnel frightened Twilight, but she could still see a pale green figure walking beside her. Feeling more comfortable knowing Link was near, she walked a bit closer to him.
The boy felt a soft touch on his leg, and turned to see the young pony leaning on him as she walked. Smiling, he continued down the tunnel, uncertain of what was waiting for them ahead.
Twilight noticed a faint light approaching them as they neared the end of the tunnel.
Suddenly, she felt a strong hand on the back of her neck. “Ah!” she yelled as she was pulled backwards. Shooting an annoyed look at Link, she yelled, “What's the big idea? Why did you grab me like that?”
Link continued to look through her to the ground in front of her. Still annoyed, Twilight looked down, and gasped.
Beneath her was a deep chasm, shrouded in darkness. Not being very fond of heights, Twilight stepped away from the edge and started to shiver.
She nervously said, “Th-th-thanks....I'm sorry for y-y-yelling.” Not getting any response from the boy, she looked up at Link, who was still looking down the hole.
With a sigh, he motioned for her to stand up. Nervously obliging, Twilight returned to all fours.
He pointed at him, then pointed at her. She nodded, then followed his finger as he pointed down the pit. “WHAT? You want us to JUMP down there?!”
Link nodded, and held out his hand.
“You're CRAZY if you think I'm jumping down there! Who knows what could be at the bottom? Spikes...or lava! Or...or...or...a monster that will eat us in one bite! Or...or...”
Twilight continued to contemplate the various scenarios that would play out. She didn't even realize that Link grabbed her hoof until she felt the ground leave her.
“LINK!? WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” But it was already too late. The sudden fall caused Twilight’s mane and tail stand straight on end.
She couldn't even utter a single scream as she completely lost consciousness.
Termina's Final Twilight
Chapter 2: The Song of Healing
“Twilight, you fell asleep in the library again! I thought we talked about you laying off the books late at night?”
Twilight kept her eyes closed as the familiar voice continued talking, “C'mon Twi, you need to get up! Don't you remember that the Princess is supposed to be visiting Ponyville today?”
With a jolt, Twilight jumped to her feet in a panic. “You're right Spike! I completely forgot that....” her voice faded along with the dream as the strange figure that had shook her awake retreated a short distance.
The realization dawned on her - she wasn’t in her library and Spike wasn’t lecturing her. A single tear escaped the young pony’s eye as she realized she was lost and alone. Almost alone. The figure that had woken her up was the youth she met in the forest - Link. She looked at him and was met with a puzzled expression.
“Oh...I'm sorry if I startled you...I thought you were a friend of mine from back home.” said Twilight.
Link watched as the pony took notice of her surroundings.
“Where are we anyway?” She looked around and noticed they were in a small room, the mossy floor illuminated by the two lanterns on opposite walls and the light shining down from above.
She was standing on what appeared to be a flower surrounded by a shallow pool of water. On the opposite side of the room a large wooden disc was embedded in the wall.
Link motioned for her to follow him, so she walked through the shallow pool to join him. Twilight inspected the large disc and noticed it was made of wood. As Link placed both hands on the face of the disc, she realized it was bigger than he was. With a grunt, he shifted his weight to the left, and it rolled into the wall.
Surprised, Twilight said, “Oh...so that was...a door? That's an interesting mechanism, but it seems to be quite impractical judging by how difficult it is to open. Why, only a small number of creatures would be able....”
Noticing that his equestrian friend was going off on a tangent, Link rolled his eyes and continued through the opening. Moving closer to the door, Twilight inspected the grooves along the side of it. She noticed that the door was built into a large log that had been hollowed out. She heard a faint click as the door quickly started to shut.
With a shriek, Twilight dove through the opening. Landing on her stomach, she chuckled to herself, “I wonder if Rainbow Dash would have found that little stunt funny?”
She stood up and started to walk away when she felt something tug on her tail. With a quick jerk she was yanked backwards and fell to her haunches. Turning her head she laughed meekly to herself, “Now what am I supposed to do?”
Link paced back and forth thinking to himself that the strange pony he met in the woods was even stranger than he first thought. Not only could she talk, she was also quite literate. She seemed very intelligent but was fascinated by the smallest things. Although he had never seen a talking horse before, he figured it had something to do with the fact that she was a unicorn. Despite all that, there were definitely other mysteries surrounding the little mare.
Getting quite annoyed at the young pony for taking so long, he turned around and walked back down the corridor to get her. As he got closer to the bend in the tunnel, he heard a soft grunt.
Turning the corner, he saw the purple unicorn tugging at her tail. A little bit of it seemed to have been caught between the frame and the door as it slammed shut. Link couldn't control his laughter as he saw the unfortunate pony struggling.
Noticing that she had attracted unwanted attention, Twilight gave Link a serious stare. “Hahaha, very funny! Now why don't you get over here and help open this door!? It's not very easy with hooves!”
Link walked over to her and placed both hands on the door like he did before. He shifted his body slightly, opening the door just enough for Twilight to pull her tail out of the way.
Having seen what the strain had done to her tail, Twilight started to feel tears well up in her eyes.
Her sadness quickly turned to anger when she heard laughter behind her once again. “You know, why don't you get YOUR tail stuck in a door? We'll see who's laughing THEN!”
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Link turned around and pointed at his backside.
Twilight stuttered, “I know you don’t have a tail! You know what I meant!” Link patted her on the head and gave her a cheerful smile. He then continued down the hallway once again. Realizing that she wasted more than enough time, she quickly followed.
“How are we supposed to get over there?” The corridor had opened up into a giant tree with a couple earthen pillars rising from the floor below. In front of both the boy and the pony was a pit with a door on the other side. Twilight noticed that it would be difficult to climb down and back up the ledge on the other side; jumping the distance wasn’t possible either. Twilight didn’t plan on jumping however.
Twilight started to imagine herself on the opposite side of the room as she felt magical power swell up in her horn. She closed her eyes when the room began to blur after finishing the spell. Opening her eyes again, she expected to see the door in front of her but was disappointed when she noticed it was only a few inches closer than before.
Twilight looked around in confusion as she realized her spell did not work. She repeated the spell a few more times but it had no effect. “This is very strange...my magic doesn’t seem to be working at all.”
Concerned about her magic, she tried to think of another way across. She looked at Link who was busy reaching behind his shield. He pulled out a brass tool, his hookshot, and showed it to her. She examined it, but the tool was foreign to her - much like everything else.
“I have never seen anything like that before...what is it?” asked Twilight. The boy pointed at her, and then tugged at his waist. “Is something wrong with my waist?” Twilight did her best to look behind her to see if something was wrong, finding it difficult to do so.
Link sighed, and grabbed her front hoof. He brought it to his waist, and then pointed at the other front hoof. “Oh, you want me to grab hold of you?” Link nodded, with a smile. Still as confused as ever, Twilight lifted herself onto her back legs and wrapped her front hooves around Link. “I still have no idea where you're go-OHHH!”
The sudden movement almost caused Twilight to lose her grip as she went soaring through the air. Squeezing Link's waist as hard as she could, she found herself screaming at the top of her lungs.
She felt a pat on her back as she continued to shriek. Opening her eyes, she noticed that they had touched ground. “Wh-wh-what just happened Link?”
Link brushed Twilight's hooves from his waist, and held out the brass tool again. He pointed it at the branch of a nearby tree and squeezed the handle. A loud ping rung through Twilight's ears as the pointed end of the tool shot out and hit the tree branch.
Link was immediately flung along the same exact path, until the tool reached the end of the chain. Link pulled himself up onto the tree branch, and looked back at Twilight. “Wow! Is that some kind of grappling hook?”
Link nodded, and released another shot onto a branch above Twilight this time. She backed away as Link detached the hook from the branch, and fell to the ground below.
“That is incredible! I have never seen anything like it before! The technology around here is fascinating...maybe I can borrow it and show the Princess? Ohhhh! We might even find a way to make something like this in Equestria!”
Link rolled his eyes as the pony expressed her fascination. He opened the door that was in front of him, expecting that the pony would notice the door opening and follow. He started to get frustrated as she was still lost in amazement. He got behind her and gave her a shove. Amazed that Twilight was not phased in the slightest, he pushed harder as she slowly began to walk.
Soaring through the air was pure bliss to Twilight. This hook-shot mechanism allowed her to feel the wind rush through her mane. “Is this how Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash feel as they glide through the sky?” she thought. “I wonder how hard it is to make? I must ask Link to borrow it sometime. Maybe I can disassemble it and try to figure out how it works...” She suddenly noticed a hand waving in her face.
As the hand moved out of view, she noticed a disgruntled Link staring at her. “Oh...sorry. I guess I got caught in the moment. Again.” She blushed as Link sighed.
He turned around and walked down the dark tunnel ahead. Wishing there were more pits to cross with the hook-shot, Twilight eagerly followed.
As the two walked through the dark tunnel, she decided to speak her mind. “Link, I've been meaning to ask. It seems pretty obvious to me by now but you don’t talk much. Is there a reason why you choose not to?” The boy glanced at the curious mare, and slowly shook his head.
Twilight lowered her ears, realizing that she probably shouldn't have asked. “Oh...I'm sorry for bringing it up.”
Link smiled softly before focusing on the path ahead. Hoping that he wasn’t bothered by her question, Twilight followed.
The sound of rushing water caught Twilight's attention. As she followed Link down the musty corridor, she felt disoriented as her vision became blurred.
The walls had a weak glow to them, and she heard a somber tune creep from the door ahead. She lost complete control of her body, yet she continued down the tunnel. It was almost as if her mind was being controlled by the chords.
She woke up from her trance after realizing that they had reached the end of the hallway. The door had tightly shut behind them.
“Uh...Link? How are we supposed to return now?” Twilight was starting to become more and more worried about her decision to follow the strange youth.
He patted her head, and with a confident smile, pounded his chest. The boy’s show of confidence had moved her. She shook her head and returned his gesture with a big grin. “Alright Link...I'll trust you.” Link returned her grin with one of his own.
Twilight chuckled to herself and started to examine the room. She saw a giant water wheel ahead of her, and saw a smooth stream of water flowing alongside of it. Realizing that the wheel was powering something, she became curious as to what it could be. She crossed the bridge that spanned the flowing water, and climbed up a ramp to the next floor.
Link was by her side, though he wasn't as intrigued as she was. It became obvious that Link had been there before, which made her slightly more confident.
The water wheel was connected to a spinning pole in the center of the room. As curious as ever, Twilight examined the pole, confused about its purpose.
Link motioned for her to follow him through the wooden doorway at the top of the stairs ahead. Twilight shot him a pleading look, but Link remained unaffected. Sighing with disappointment, Twilight took one last look at the pole before heading up the stairs. Link had already gone through the door, so Twilight quickly galloped up the stairway.
“You have met a terrible fate, haven't you?”
Those familiar words hit her almost as suddenly as they had before. She wheeled around to see the salesman sitting on a stool along the far wall. In front of him was a piano-like instrument.
He calmly pressed the keys, orchestrating the mesmerizing tune that Twilight had heard previously. She approached the man, and he turned his head to the side and chuckled.
“Do you like the song? It is a song about healing...redemption. Releasing one's troubles so the soul can rest. It is a magical piece that I have composed myself. Would you like to learn it?” The unicorn felt a chill course through her body as the man spoke. It wasn't a haunting chill, but a magical chill that she only felt while reading magic books.
Curious about what the man meant by a magical song, Twilight agreed. “But...I don't have an instrument. Or know how to play one!”
The salesman turned back to his instrument and laughed. “It doesn't matter - for you at least! You are special...different than others. Your magic comes from inside yourself, not from an instrument. Come closer, and listen carefully as I play.”
Twilight accepted his offer, and stood by his side. After playing a few chords, Twilight found herself humming the soothing song to herself. She rocked her head from side to side as the song engrossed her.
Day to night, dark to light,
Fall the sands of time.
Let the years like the gears,
Of a clock unwind.
In your mind walk through time,
Back to better days.
Memories, like a dream,
Wash tears away.
Like a star in the sky,
Darkness can't reach you.
Light the night, joy is light,
Till the new dawn.
Cast away your old face,
Let go your spite.
With this mask I'll ask,
To borrow your light. *
Twilight slowly opened her eyes, only to find herself staring at a wall. Looking around, she noticed that the man and his instrument had vanished. The only sound she heard was the water rushing beneath her.
“That song...those words...I have never heard them before. Yet...the words sounded so familiar. How is that possible?”
Before she could ponder her thoughts a little longer, the wooden door creaked open as Link walked back through. “Oh my goodness! Link! I'm so sorry...I got...distracted again.”
Link sighed and motioned for her to follow him. Twilight quickly ran to the door, and climbed up the steps. As she neared the door, she heard the notes play through her head once more. She turned around only to see a barren floor where he once stood.
“I have to focus. Something very wrong is going on around here. I need to do what I can to stop it.”
She swore to herself that she’d help Link on his quest and crossed through the threshold into daylight.
“Oh my...the sun! It feels like it's been so long since we've seen it Link!” The little pony was so excited to finally be out in the fresh air. She pranced around in glee as Link watched.
Chuckling to himself, he looked around for anything out of the ordinary. Everything in the town was exactly as he remembered it from the last time he was there three years ago; carpenters were bustling about the tower while children ran around in excitement.
Link quickly ran into the center of the plaza and looked up into the sky. Strangely enough, he mysteriously found nothing out of the ordinary.
Above the immense clock tower in front of him, all he saw was the morning sun shining brightly onto the town. Pondering what to do next, he noticed Twilight standing by a pool of water. Two children were standing in front of her, eyes wide with wonder.
“...il from the land of Equestria! It is very far away from your town!” The kids gasped and started to poke her side and horn. “H-hey! Stop that! It's very rude to...hey! Ouch, cut it out!”
Link saw the trouble his friend was in. He rushed to her side and picked up a child that had found a way onto her back. The little girl was tugging at the unicorn's horn, and refused to let go.
Twilight sent a soft jolt of magic through her horn, which pricked the child's hand long enough for her to escape.
The child wrestled with Link, and bit his arm. With a shout of pain, Link dropped the child to the ground, holding up his hand in agony.
“MOMMY MOMMY! THAT MEAN TALKING HORSE OVER THERE SHOCKED ME!” A young lady standing by a market stall looked up at her daughter. The child continued to shout and pointed towards Twilight's direction.
Agitated by the rude behavior, Twilight shouted, “For your information, I am NOT a HORSE, I'm a...MMMPPHHHH!” Link quickly slapped his hand over Twilight's mouth, and started to drag her out of sight.
Struggling to keep the aggravated pony's mouth closed, he lifted his hand after rounding a corner.
“What's the big idea? Why did you push me away? Ugh! That little kid was such a brat! Young fillies in Equestria NEVER pull on a unicorns horn like that...it's so degrading!” Link rolled his eyes as his four legged partner continued to vent.
After she took a deep breath, Link pointed at her, and then held up his index finger to his mouth.
“You want me to be quiet? What for? You can't talk here, so wouldn't it be helpful if I did the talking?”
Link slapped his forehead, and then clasped his hands together. He gave her an innocent look, almost as if he was begging. “Ugh...fine. If you think it's for the best, I'll keep quiet.”
Link smiled and gave her a pat on the head. Twilight raised her hoof and pushed it away. “For the record, I'm not a pet.” Link put his hand behind his head and laughed nervously.
Twilight rolled her eyes and said, “Where are we anyway? I've been following you because you seemed to know where we were going. However, I haven’t the slightest clue. Would you kindly find a way to explain?”
Link noticed the agitation in her voice, so he quickly looked around for a way to explain to the pony. Something caught his eye, and he motioned for Twilight to follow him.
“The annual Carnival of Time! Come join in the festivities as the races of Termina celebrate the harmony between nature and time!”
“The Carnival of Time? That sounds like a lot of fun! But...how is this important to us? I thought we came here because that odd salesman told us about an evil demon?” Link realized his partner was still confused, so he thought of a way to explain.
Looking at the poster, he pointed at the date printed on the corner. “That is in three days from today, isn't it?” Link nodded, then proceeded to scan the market.
He held out both of his hands, and pointed at the ground as he walked off. “Stay? Are you kidding me? Ugh...if he tells me to roll over, I swear I will make him regret it.”
Twilight observed the bustling crowd as they frantically prepared for the Carnival of Time. “This reminds me of the Summer Sun Celebration. A festival to honor the ruler of the land. The last Summer Sun Celebration marked the return of Nightmare Moon...and Link seems to be incredibly worried about the Carnival of Time...I wonder what happened before to make him so worried?”
Twilight saw Link approaching her with a book in his hand. Her eyes lit up to finally see something familiar in this foreign land. She grabbed the book and started to flip through the pages. Link blocked her sight with his hand, and motioned for her to follow him.
“But...but...don't you want me to read this? It looks really interesting and I would love to read some of it now!” Link tapped his wrist, then motioned for her once again. “Ugh...fine. I guess I can read it later...if I must.” Twilight let out an agitated sigh and followed the youth as he pressed through the crowd towards the back of the clock tower.
*Song of Healing lyrics written by ColdFlameZero
Termina's Final Twilight
Chapter 3: Back in the Saddle
The late morning sun shone down on the bustling crowd of villagers as they frantically prepared for the Carnival of Time. The scene was all too familiar to Link; it was exactly like he remembered it three years ago when he first visited Clock Town.
The nervous chatter that he remembered was replaced with excitement and glee...yet he couldn't shrug off the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
He glanced behind him to make sure his equine friend was still on his heels. Twilight was definitely transfixed on the design of the town. Link realized that the young pony was in an unfamiliar world, yet he wished she would realize just how important their quest was.
Majora's Mask was the reason Link had come to Clock Town before. Once again, the gears of time were turning.
The north district of Clock Town was a lot less populous in comparison to its southern counterpart. Being the scenic area of the town, there was a small park with a garden and a playground that was a hot spot for the local children. On the opposite side of the park was a cave at the top of a small ledge.
Link motioned for Twilight to follow him as he headed towards it, hoping that what lay within would give them some much needed insight as to what was really going on.
Twilight gasped as the tunnel opened into a large chamber, it’s floor almost entirely taken up by a pool filled with swirling water. Stone pillars rose from the edge of the pool, connected by elegant arches. A small stone pathway traced the inside edges of the pool, leading to an altar on the opposite side. The room glistened with crystals as water ran down the walls, reminiscent of some giant fountain while the water in the pool itself seemed to glow with a mystical light.
Link approached the altar at the pool’s outer edge. Twilight followed but soon stopped in her tracks when a voice rung through her ears:
“The Hero of Time has returned, just as I expected!”
She whirled around trying to find the voice’s source. She ran up to the alter next to Link, even looking down into the pool to try and find it.
“Link, who just spoke?” Twilight asked. She didn't have to wait long for her answer. A shrill scream pierced the room as a large figure emerged from the center of the pool and the ring-like pathway. She looked down on her visitors with interest.
The strange being looked human - reminding Twilight of Link - only much larger. Her long golden hair billowed behind her as if there was a gentle breeze blowing. Ivy seemingly crept along her skin in a way that resembled clothing while her body emitted golden particles of magical energy.
Twilight was the first to speak, “Who are you?”
The magical being lazily floated towards her, and gently stroked her chin. With a chuckle, it spoke: “My child, I am the Great Fairy of Magic. Please don't be alarmed, I will not harm you.” Turning to Link, the fairy wrapped her hand around his waist and lifted him up. “My, my...you are far more handsome than I remember. You have grown into a fine young man, my little hero.” She giggled at herself, and put Link back down on the altar. Twilight snickered when she saw him blush.
After the short introduction, the Great Fairy's smile turned into a frown.
“I know why you are here Link, and your assumption is correct. Eternal darkness will once again befall Termina, unless you can stop it. It was a mistake to allow Majora's Mask to remain intact.
Unfortunately, destroying such an evil object will not be easy. To properly destroy and expel the evil soul that resides in the mask, you will need enchanted weapons. The mountains of Snowhead are known for carrying a wide assortment of gems and jewels. One gem in particular is hailed for having a dormant power that only a skilled craftsman can tap into. In ancient Termina, this jewel was commonly used because of its holy properties.”
Link reached behind his back and grabbed hold of the weapon stretching out from behind his shield. He unsheathed it to hold it out in front of himself.
Twilight immediately identified the object as a sword. She remembered reading about them in books as they were commonly used in human warfare. The sword that Link held was far more intricate than any she had seen; there were three golden markings along the polished steel blade. The sword gleamed beautifully in the soft light of the chamber, and Twilight couldn’t help but be impressed by the sword and whoever had forged it.
“Link, your blade may be sharp enough to cut through the fiercest foe, but it is not blessed with the strength to slay a demon. Go to the mountains of Snowhead and retrieve an Astralite crystal. Only then will you have a chance to destroy Majora's Mask once and for all!” the Great Fairy finished.
During the briefing, Twilight couldn't help but feel powerless facing the quest Link was tasked with. Ever since she had followed Link through the forest and into the world of Termina, she had been unable to cast even the simplest of spells. If she wasn’t able to use her magic, she wouldn’t be able to help Link out at all.
“My little pony, there is something troubling you, isn't there?”
Twilight looked up at the fairy to see her gentle eyes staring back at her, “Great Fairy of Magic...I have dedicated my studies to the elements of magic, yet I can't seem to use any of the spells I've learned in this new world.”
The Great Fairy gently floated closer to Twilight, almost as if she was inspecting her. She floated away again, returning to her original position, and started stroking her chin. “Oh my dear...you are a victim of a terrible curse! Such a powerful one too...I'm afraid I don't have the power to break it!”
Confused by what she had just heard, Twilight asked, “Did you say a curse? You can't be serious. There is no such thing as curses!”
The Great Fairy laughed softly. “No such thing as curses? My dear, of course there are such things as curses! Just as there is good magic in the world, there is evil magic to balance it.” She frowned once again, “And you have certainly run into a being that possesses truly evil magic.”
Twilight raced through what had happened to her recently: “I entered the Everfree Forest looking for the source of some music...and I noticed the forest changing. The music got louder, so I knew I was close but....Oh! The mask salesman! He was wearing Majora's Mask when I first saw him!”
Link gasped after hearing what Twilight said. She looked up at him to see a worried expression on his face. “Would the salesman really put a curse on me Link? He didn't seem like a bad man...and he was the one who lost the mask!”
The Great Fairy answered the question for her: “Whether it was the man or the mask itself, the spell is definitely potent enough to have come from the evil within the mask. I can use as much power as I have to chip away at some of the curse but if you want to free yourself you will have to seek out three other Great Fairies across Termina. I can't be certain, but the combined powers of four Great Fairies should be enough to break the curse completely. The dashing fellow next to you will be able to help you find the three other fountains. He is quite the adventurous type.”
Twilight laughed after noticing Link blushing again. The Great Fairy joined in with her own charming laugh. “Now...will my little pony please walk up to the altar?”
Link backed away as Twilight took his place. The magical fairy gave a soft laugh and used her hand as if to blow a kiss at Twilight.
A magical wind swirled around Twilight, lifting her into the air, as sparks of pure magical energy danced along her coat.
Twilight closed her eyes, allowing the magic to be absorbed into her body.
She felt her hooves touch the ground soon enough and opened her eyes. Curious to see if the process had worked, she turned towards Link and focused her new found energy into her horn. Link gave a startled gasp as he was lifted into the air. He barely rose four inches before falling backwards.
Link stood up and gave her a dirty glare. Twilight smiled cheerfully and turned to the Great Fairy: “Thank you so much! I promise to do all I can to help Link throughout his quest!”
The Great Fairy chuckled warmly. “You have a very virtuous heart my dear. I am positive that you are just as essential in ridding the world of Majora's Mask as Link is! I wish you both the best of luck!” With those final words, the mystical fairy laughed a piercing laugh and vanished back into the depths of the fountain.
Link and Twilight stepped out of the cave’s mouth and looked over the north district of Clock Town.
“So Link...if we’re going to do a lot of traveling, I should probably find a saddle bag to store some items in. Do you know where we might find one close by?”
Link crossed his arms and seemed to lose himself in thought. Twilight examined the field ahead of them while she waited for his answer.
The cavern that lead to the fountain-chamber was at the top of a sloped incline overlooking the rest of the area. A lone tree stood near the center of the park with a few newly planted saplings growing close by. There was a wall to Twilight’s left with a door leading out of the town.
She felt a tap on her head and turned to see Link smiling at her. He jumped off of the ledge they were on and walked towards the Clock Tower. Twilight leaped to the ground below and followed.
Twilight turned her head as a bright-yellow light flashed by her. The glowing object flew towards Link and disappeared under his hat. He stopped in his tracks as his hat floated up into the air.
He started chasing after it as it almost mockingly floated just out of his reach. With one last attempt, he leapt into the air to reach for it. Grabbing the brim, he pulled it down and looked inside.
A glowing yellow ball with wings flew out to playfully circle Link’s head.
“Link! I never thought I would see you again! I can't believe it's been three years already!” it said.
Twilight's eyes grew big as she recognized the all-too-familiar creature in front of her. “L-L-Link! Get away from it!” Twilight rushed at the boy to knock him aside. “Fly away Parasprite! There’s nothing here for you!”
The yellow sprite didn’t budge. “Uhh...Link? Did this horse just talk to me?” she asked.
Link tapped Twilight on the head and shook his own. Confused as to what was going on, Twilight asked: “What is a Parasprite doing here in Clock Town anyway? Are they native to Termina as well?”
The sprite rushed towards Twilight and bounced off her head. “Listen here you bug-eyed brat. I don't know what this ‘Parasprite’ you’re talking about is, but I'm a fairy. Name's Tatl, and I would appreciate it if that's what you called me!”
“Brat?! You’re the one with an attitude problem! My name is Twilight Sparkle, and I am not a horse!” she replied, almost angrily.
“What kind of name is Twilight Sparkle? Either way, you sure look like a horse from what I can see. Except you have a dumb horn on your head.”
“What the...a-a dumb horn? You have no idea how special a horn is to a unicorn!”
“Calm down Sparky. Don't get your tail in a knot,” she teased.
“Ugh! Why is everyone in this place crazy? Demon children; a fairy with an attitude that would put Rainbow Dash to shame; and a mask salesman who has a few screws loose! I just can't take it anymore!” Twilight cried out desperately.
“Listen here, it's not my prob-....wait. Did you say 'mask salesman'? Link, she doesn't mean that creep from three years ago, does she?”
Link nervously grunted and nodded his head. Noticing the familiarity in the interaction between the two, Twilight asked, “I take it you two know each other?”
Noticing the agitation in the pony's voice was gone, Tatl responded. “Yeah, I met Link three years ago. Not sure how much you know about what happened then, but Link and I were together when the Majora's Mask incident happened.”
Twilight turned to Link and then back to the fairy. “I don't know much...Link isn't the talkative type it seems...but whatever the case may be, it seems like the mask is missing again and Link is here to find and destroy it.”
The fairy quickly flew towards Twilight, stopping inches from her face. “What!? The mask is loose again? I thought the salesman told us he was returning the mask!”
The fairy flew towards Link and continued her questioning. “Link! When you defeated Majora three years ago, didn't the mask salesman tell us that the evil in it was gone?”
He took a step backwards as the fairy drew closer to him. He quickly nodded.
“Then we have nothing to worry about...right?” Tatl asked.
“Actually...we just finished talking to the Great Fairy who lives in the cave nearby. From what she said...the mask is definitely dangerous. We have to find some Astralite in the mountains and reforge Link's sword with it so he can destroy the mask for good,” Twilight explained. She continued to fill Tatl in on everything that had happened in the past few hours.
Tatl floated away from Link, and hovered silently for a few seconds. She then slowly drifted towards Twiilght. “So...do we have any idea where the mask could be? Or who even stole it?”
Link and Twilight looked at each other, then turned to Tatl and shook their heads.
“Let me tell you a little story Sparky.” Tatl began. “Exactly three years ago today, I was in the Lost Woods with my brother and a friend of ours. Our friend got a hold of something evil. It was Majora's Mask. The mask feasted on the discontent in his heart and used it against him.
That particular day, we saw a boy on a horse exploring the forest. My friend, the Skull Kid, attacked the boy - our friend Link here - and stole his Ocarina and horse. Link pursued us and got cursed by the mask in the process.
Knowing that my brother and the Skull Kid were in danger, I decided to help Link just so I could save my friends. With Link cursed, there wasn't much he could do to save anyone, but we knew we had to get his Ocarina back first. At midnight, the night when the Carnival of Time was supposed to start...we found the Skull Kid on top of the Clock Tower.
Using the power of the mask, he brought down the moon to crush Clock Town.”
Twilight’s eyes opened wide. “He brought down the MOON!? How is that even possible? Wouldn't bringing down the moon have caused natural disasters as well?”
“Well, it wasn't the actual moon. I guess it was an artificial one the mask created to trick the townsfolk. It was about the size of the entire town though. When we were on the Clock Tower, it looked like it was only a few minutes away from impact. Link was able to retrieve his Ocarina and he used it to travel back in time to the first day we were in Clock Town.”
Twilight tried her best to wrap her mind around what the fairy was telling her. The idea of some kind of giant rock crashing into the town and time-travel were hard for her to fully comprehend. She started to open her mouth to speak, but Tatl continued.
“You don't need to worry about the details. What I'm getting at is that a lot of recent events are similar to what happened three years ago. I wonder if it’s more than a coincidence? Could Majora's Mask actually be planning it all?” she wondered aloud.
Finally getting a chance to speak, Twilight said, “I don't really understand what happened three years ago, but it sounds like you think the mask will be on top of the Clock Tower on the night the carnival starts, right?”
Tatl shot towards Twilight while making a chiming noise. “Yes! It's a long shot but I think the mask is intentionally trying to repeat what happened! I don't know why, but it doesn't matter! We have to stop it!” She then sped towards Link. “Link! What do you think of me tagging along for another adventure? This time, we'll do the job right!”
Link grinned and gave his old companion a thumbs up. He quickly turned to Twilight after hearing her cough.
“Hate to ruin the moment here, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do! If what Tatl says is true, then we don't have a lot of time! Link, the saddle bags? Would it take too long to get one?”
Link shook his head, but Tatl decided to speak for him. “Saddle bags? Romani Ranch might sell them. It's not a long walk from the southern gate. Is it really important for you to have a silly bag though?”
Walking past the fairy, Twilight said, “Well, I figure if I'm going to be traveling around this world, having a bag to carry anything I find would be helpful. Let's go Link! Lead the way!”
The scene laid in front of Twilight almost felt like it came out of a dream: a wide open pasture littered with livestock stretched out in all directions as far as she could see. At the top of a hill was a small ranch with a barn beside it. When she entered the farm, Twilight was welcomed by the familiar scent of hay as the crisp breeze blew through her mane.
Romani Ranch had a lot in common with Sweet Apple Acres. While it didn’t have an orchard, the scent of livestock hung in the air. Many different animals were out on the pasture, enjoying the cool day.
A young girl roughly the same age as Link stood near the barn. She had auburn hair that reached down to her waist and was wearing a long, light blue skirt with a white shirt. An orange kerchief was draped around her neck with the ends held together by a golden pendant. The girl was brushing a horse’s side, humming a gentle tune. Twilight stopped to listen to the song while Link approached the lass. She turned to face him, and a bright glimmer appeared in her eye.
“GRASSHOPPER! Oh it's been far too long!” The young girl leaped towards Link and wrapped her arms around him. A bit surprised at first, he returned the gesture.
“Looks like Link has himself a girlfriend!” Twilight smiled at seeing the two friends reunited. She glimpsed at Tatl, who seemed to be staring right at the two. “Tatl, you’re going to stare holes in them if you keep that up. You’re not jealous are you?”
The fairy quickly flew in front of Twilight, glowing a little brighter then before. “N-n-no! Of course not! I just wish the two lovebirds would hurry it up so we could get on with our quest! You know...stop an evil mask from destroying the world? It's not like it's a matter of life and death or anything.” Twilight couldn’t help but imagine that Tatl had gotten a little flustered. While she couldn’t see her cheeks through all the light, Twilight imagined that Tatl was blushing.
Hearing his companions, Link pushed himself away from the girl. Without dropping the enthusiasm in her voice, she said: “Romani has- I mean, I have missed you so much! I have been practicing with the bow a lot since you helped with ‘Them’. I was able to hold them off the next year, and I haven't seen them since! The cows are really happy too!”
Link smiled as Romani continued to catch him up on the latest news at the ranch. Getting annoyed at the seemingly endless chatter, Tatl flew towards Romani.
“Hey, we would love to play catch up all day, but we’re kind of on a tight schedule. We need a saddle bag for Sparky here, think you have one that’d fit her?”
Romani looked past the fairy and examined Twilight. Her eyes lit up once again and she dashed towards the pony.
“Wow! A purple horse! No, she's a unicorn, isn't she? She's beautiful, Grasshopper!”
Link approached the two, noticing the smile on Twilight's face as Romani admired her.
“Oh, I'm flatt- OW!” Twilight quickly turned to look at her flank after feeling something hit her. She only saw Link shaking his head. Confused, she turned back towards Romani to see the girl frozen in place.
“L-Link...did she just talk?”
Tatl flew herself in-between Twilight and Romani.
“A horse talk? Of course not, do you know how stupid that sounds? Trust me, if horses could talk, we would be in a lot of trouble!” She then floated over to Twilight's ear and whispered, “Listen Sparky, animals here don't talk. Opening your mouth around the locals will only attract unwanted attention. I still find it odd that you can speak, but getting the Terminans in a panic will only slow us down. So, make like a horse and neigh!”
Twilight sighed, and did her best to imitate what she thought a local horse would sound like. She didn’t like it, and they would most definitely be having a long conversation about it later, but Tatl was right.
Still seeming a bit skeptical, Romani approached the pony and examined her. She then turned to Link with a frown on her face.
“Well, I would say that we had plenty of saddle bags that fit her, but we don't have any on hand. My sister found out this morning that our entire stock was stolen! She's pretty sure it was those thieving Gorman Brothers down the road, but she hasn't come back yet. I'm guessing she's having trouble with them...as usual.”
Romani started pacing back and forth, seemingly lost in thought. Twilight walked up to Tatl and gave the fairy a light nudge. “Tatl, who are the Gorman Brothers?” she whispered.
“They're no good thieves, that's what. They’ve been stealing from the ranch for years; mostly their milk. Last time Link was in Termina, he stopped them from raiding a wagon that was delivering milk. Both of them are dirt.”
Link walked up to Romani and patted her back. He gave her a warm smile as she turned to him and her own smile once again returned to her face.
“Grasshopper, I knew you would go get those bags back for us!” She wrapped her arms around Link once more. Surprised by Link's action, Tatl shot towards the boy and smacked him on the head.
“Link! We don't have time for this! We shouldn't have even bothered with the stupid bag in the first place! We need to get to Snowhead fast! Unless you forgot, that lazy smith loves to take his sweet time with his work. We have a lot to do!”
Link swatted Tatl out of the way and started running towards the entrance to the ranch. Twilight quickly galloped down the path behind him.
“UGH! Why did I even bother getting myself into this mess again?”
The aggravated fairy dashed off to try and catch her partners.
“Come on, anyone can tell you took your own label and put it over ours! You clearly stole our merchandise, so give it back!
“Sorry Miss Cremia, I'm afraid ya'll are mistaken. These saddle bags are property of us Gorman Brothers. Terribly sorry to hear of you misplacing your merchandise, but we can't help ya there.”
“That's a load of bull, and you know it! Are you going to stand here and lie to my face about never stealing any of the goods from the ranch?”
“My dear, I thought we were having this conversation to remedy your lost saddle bags? You never mentioned anything that you might have lost before.”
“Don't play stupid with me! I'm not leaving until I get those bags back!”
The frustrated young lady continued to argue with the man, but was having no luck. She was Romani’s older sister Cremia - practically identical in appearance except for the obvious differences in their ages. If it wasn’t for that though, they could easily pass for twins. Cremia was wearing an outfit similar to Romani's except that her shirt was purple.
“Howdy ya'll! How may I help you?”
Twilight and Link turned around to see a man that was identical to the one that Cremia was still talking to. He was very awkward looking; bald, thick eyebrows, an impressive mustache, bright orange overalls, and a daunting gleam in his eye.
Cremia heard the greeting, and whirled around. When she saw Link, she dashed over to him and wrapped her arms around him just as her sister had earlier.
“Oh Link! It's so good to see you again! Romani has been talking about you nonstop since you left! You can't believe how annoying she can get!” Cremia released the boy, and Twilight noticed he was blushing yet again. “What brings you to this dump? I would assume you wouldn't come here unless it was important.”
Tatl flew out from Link's hat to hover in front of her.
“We're on a tight schedule, but the little hero heard you were having some trouble with these crooks again.”
“You must have already talked to Romani then. These no good thieves stole our shipment of saddle bags, I just know it! Link, is there anything you could do?”
The brother in the orange overalls spoke first.
“This is all a simple misunderstanding ma'am. We just got our own shipment in a few days ago. You see, it's simply a coincidence that we got ours the same time you did. Now...if you are interested in buying one of them fine bags, we would be happy to help.”
Cremia put her hands on her hips and leaned towards the man. “BUY them? There is no way we're buying anything that was stolen from us in the first place!”
The man that was speaking with Cremia before - the brother in blue overalls - stepped forward.
“How ‘bout if we make a deal then, hm? We'll trade our entire stock of saddle bags for that fancy purple horse over yonder.”
Everyone turned towards Twilight. She looked around, hoping that by some chance there was another ‘fancy purple horse’ nearby.
Tatl quickly darted in front of Link. “Done!”
Link gasped and swatted the fairy out of the air.
Noticing the interest in the unicorn, Cremia decided to strike a little wager with the brothers as a counter-offer.
“How about we settle this with a horse race? Whoever wins gets to take home both the unicorn and the saddlebags?”
The two brothers chuckled loudly at her suggestion.
“Miss Cremia, you’re kidding right? You know Gorman-bred horses are the best in all of Termina! Why, when was the last time a horse raised at your ranch won the annual horse derby here at the track? It must have been before you took over the ownership of the ranch if I'm not mistaken!”
Cremia stomped her foot into the dirt. “We consider those fightin’ words in these parts Gorman! If you weren't too busy cheatin', perhaps our horses would win a race! Link and I will be racing you and your brother there. Whoever wins gets the entire pot! Or are you scared?”
Twilight dashed to Link's side and whispered in his ear, “Uh, Link? Are you even going to jump in and let them know that I am not up for grabs, or are you fine with me being sold to the highest bidder here?”
Link nodded and tapped Cremia on her shoulder. She turned to him and saw him shaking his head while pointing at Twilight.
“Don't worry Link, I didn't expect you to be the victor here. I can tell your horse ain't no race horse, I'm not stupid! But if you were to enter the race with her, then you could act as a distraction so I could pull ahead!”
Tatl floated towards Cremia and rested on her head. “But Cremia, wouldn't that be...cheating? I thought you were against all that jazz!”
Cremia looked up to say: “Oh come on Tatl, you gotta fight fire with fire round these parts! You actually think those sniveling brothers will play fair? We gotta beat them at their own game! I'm sure Link here can give us the winning edge!”
She walked over to Link and placed her hands on his shoulders. “So what do you say Link? You're in, right? I'll be glad to give you a saddle bag for free when we win!”
Link nervously nodded before feeling a nip at his side. Twilight grabbed his shirt with her teeth and pulled him towards her so she could whisper without being heard.
“Link! How can you even agree to this? I'm not an Earth Pony...there is no way I can do well in a race like this! Besides, do you actually expect me to let you ride me?”
Tatl flew over to Twilight and rested on her nose. “Aww, is Sparky afraid that she'll break a hoof? C'mon sister, it's time for you to ‘pony up’ and actually do something here! Or are all the ponies where you come from useless?”
Twilight furiously shook her head, knocking the fairy off her nose. She’d completely lost herself in her frustration.
“UGH! I'll show you! I'm far from useless - you'll see! Come on Link, saddle me up so we can put on a show for those Gorman Brothers!”
“Alright ya'll, here are the rules. Whoever crosses the finish line after one lap ‘round this track is the winner! The prize is the shipment of saddle bags and the purple unicorn. May the best man win!”
“Of course Cremia, or woman. Everyone get into place, and we'll start the countdown.”
Cremia hopped onto her horse and guided it on to the racetrack. Link had crouched down to place a saddle that one of the Gorman Brothers lent him on Twilight. He took the strap and wrapped it around her midsection before tightening it.
“Hey! Can't you be a bit more gentle?” She was grimacing.
He looked up to see Twilight glaring at him. He stood up and placed his hands on her back. He lifted himself up and swung one of his legs to the other side, gripping the saddle for support. Once he was seated properly, Twilight started to trot towards the starting line.
“Link, are you sure about all this? It's not too late for me to just turn around and leave. What if we lose? This whole race would have been for nothing, and we've wasted enough time already! Besides, I’d rather we not have to fight our way out of here if those Gorman Brothers think they’ve ‘won’ me.”
Link stroked her mane and smiled. Tatl flew out from under Link's hat and perched herself on Twilight's head.
“You worry too much Sparky. Just use some of your magic to help Cremia win. They won't know what hit them!”
“But that's the thing, I don't know how much magic I can really use right now, with me being cursed and all. I can try, but I have no idea what will happen!” Twilight tried to calm herself, but she was far too nervous.
She stopped under an archway that was serving as the starting line for the race. She looked to her right and saw the horses the Gorman Brothers were on. They were large stallions, reminding her of some of the stronger Earth Ponies back home. It was clear to her that she was at a big disadvantage in terms of speed. She gulped.
“Oh...what have I gotten myself into?” she whispered to herself.
“Alright ya'll, on my mark!” One of the Gormans started counting:
“See ya'll later!”
The two Gorman Brothers bolted ahead, leaving Link and Cremia surprised.
“No! Those cheaters! Come on girl, let's get 'em!” Cremia knocked her foot against the side of her horse and started to chase after the brothers, with Twilight hot on her heels.
With the Gorman Brothers holding a good lead, Twilight put all her effort into catching up with them.
“Sparky, don't overexert yourself! If you waste all your energy now, you'll be too exhausted to finish!”
“But if I’m too far behind, I won't ever be able to catch up!”
Twilight quickened her pace even more and started to close the gap on her competitors.
Cremia was just a few feet behind the brothers when Twilight caught up. “Link! Head towards the right and try to cut that brother off! I'll do the same on the left!” she called out.
Link nodded and leaned to the right. Twilight felt the shift in his weight and steered herself towards the gap between the brother on the right and the side of the racetrack.
Cremia followed the same routine, and successfully pulled ahead of the Gorman on the left. This caught the attention of the opposite brother, who turned his head just in time to see Twilight approaching his side.
“Not today laddie!” The brother quickly pulled ahead and cut off Twilight's advance. She turned to her side in a panic, but was unable to keep her balance. She rolled over into the dirt throwing Link a few feet to the side.
Cringing from the pain in her side, Twilight got back on her feet. “Link! Get up! We need to catch up with them before they try to knock Cremia down too!”
Link quickly stood up and lifted himself back into the saddle. Twilight took off towards the straightway that was littered with trees. She could see the other three racers navigating around the trunks.
Knowing that they were too far behind to catch up by normal means, Twilight started to prepare a teleportation spell. “Link! Hold on tight, this could get a little bumpy!” She closed her eyes, and visualized a pathway free of trees. With a quick jolt, Twilight felt her horn pulsate with magic.
She opened her eyes to see the two Gorman Brothers just a few feet ahead. Creima was still ahead but she was in danger of being overtaken by the duo.
A panicked chime rang through Twilight's ears. “Link! Link! Your hat! It's on fire!”
Link quickly grabbed his hat with his right hand. Noticing that the tip had a small flame on it, he blew it out. Without putting his hat back on, he leaned to the right, directing Twilight towards the inside corner of the curve.
With the finish line in sight, Twilight pushed herself to use whatever energy she had left. A series of fences were lined up on one side of the track, while a line of mud pits were on the opposite side.
Cremia positioned herself in the center of the track, which was free of both obstacles. Before she had a chance to pass the first set of obstacles though, one of the brothers dashed ahead and cut her off. In an attempt to avoid the fence to her side, Cremia directed her horse into the mud pit which only slowed her down.
“See ya'll at the finish line! It'll be mighty fine having that purple horse at our track!” The two brothers burst into laughter as they rode down the center lane.
“Quick Sparky! Think of something!”
Twilight turned towards the line of fences, and started a spell. “Ohh...I sure hope this works!”
Her horn glowed with a light blue aura as she felt herself picking up speed. She could already feel the strain on her body as the spell came close to its limit. She felt Link's boot tap her side, and she leapt into the air, clearing the first fence easily.
She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, tapping into her final reserves of magic. Another tap from Link’s boot and she jumped into the air. She was completely out of breath, but she knew it was her only chance to win.
She opened her eyes for a second, just to see the final fence ahead of her. Focusing all of her might into one last spell, she imagined herself on the opposite side, dashing towards the finish line. She felt her head throbbing with pain as the spell enveloped her. A second later, she opened her eyes to see a clear path ahead.
Twilight strained to keep herself upright. The overuse of magic was taxing, and her vision was already severely blurred. She heard multiple shouts behind her as she fell into nothingness. The last thing she felt was a warm hand on her mane.
“Twilight? Twilight? Can you hear me girl? You're okay now! ... Wake up Twilight!”
The gentle words sounded so inviting as Twilight slowly opened her eyes. The face of a young woman greeted her. A smile slowly appeared on her face.
“Link! She's awake!”
Twilight looked around and saw Link off to one side. He ran towards her and got down on his knees. He patted her head and smiled. Tatl flew out from behind him and hovered in front of her face.
“You somehow managed to pull it off Sparky! You won the race!”
Twilight's eyes glistened with happiness at the news. She tried to stand up, but a sharp pain shot through her body.
“Easy girl, you'll be sore for a bit. You sure took a beating during that race, I'm so sorry for volunteering you and Link when I knew you weren't up for racing.”
She looked at Cremia, whose bright face was now sullen. Twilight walked closer to her and nudged her face with her muzzle. Cremia laughed and patted her on the head.
“I can't believe we lost to such a ragtime group of misfits!” the brothers said together.
Twilight and Link turned around to see the two brothers arguing amongst themselves.
“This is all your fault! You should have paid more attention when that girl passed you!”
“MY fault?! You're the one who let that purple horse slip by!”
Cremia walked towards the brothers, with Link and Twilight right behind her.
“Boys, I'm afraid you have a shipment of saddle bags with my name on it. I'll ignore the fact that the saddles originally had it on them to begin with if you cooperate.”
The Gorman's stormed off, mumbling under their breath. Twilight turned to Link and gave him a playful nudge. “Link! I can't believe I actually won! I never would have thought that I could beat a bunch of Earth Ponies!”
Link tilted his head in confusion.
“I mean...a bunch of ‘full grown horses’!”
“Link! Catch!” Cremia shouted.
Link yelled in surprise as a pair of saddle bags flew towards him. He flailed his arms in an attempt to catch them, but was knocked down by the impact. He got back to his feet and held them above his head triumphantly. Twilight looked at her friend as he stood in place for a few moments. “Uh, Tatl? Does he always do this?”
“All the time.”
“I'll swing by the racetrack with my wagon later on to pick up the crate. I don't think those thieves will be a problem for a while. You and Twilight sure put a dent in their ego!”
Cremia stepped towards Link and wrapped her arms around him.
“Thank you so much! You've done so much for me and my sister, I only wish we could somehow repay you. Remember, you’re always welcome at Romani Ranch!”
She stepped away from Link and walked towards Twilight after picking up the saddle bags that she had given him.
“These bags are very durable, so you shouldn’t worry about losing anything inside Link.” She turned to look at Twilight before continuing. “I put a good amount of hay in one of the bags for you Twilight. You look like you could use a bite to eat!”
Cremia reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of hay. Twilight happily opened her mouth as Cremia fed it to her.
“You two take care now, you hear? Romani would be devastated if anything ever happened to you Link! You’d better come back to visit us soon!”
Link nodded, and climbed on to Twilight's back. She turned around and started to gallop towards Clock Town. Link turned around to see Cremia waving in the distance.
“Just so you know Link, I don't mind you riding on my back, but you’d better think twice before you start treating me like your horse.”
Link laughed at his friend as they headed towards the mountains of Snowpeak.