For over 1,000 years I have ruled this empire.
Generals and would be kings bow to my command.
But a darkness comes.
Pony blood will be spilled.
This is the closing of our era of peace.
And what could be the final days of my life.
Gather your strength, and close shut the jaws of Oblivion
“Thanks again for helping me out Applejack,” said Twilight, rereading a thick book making absolutely sure she had the spell down.
Twilight, and Applejack stood in one of the upper rooms of the Ponyville Library. The two fillies had arranged a get together at the purple unicorn’s request. The room had been scattered with various books on magic, a good number of them being very thick. Twilight had wanted to test out a new spell and no other pony, sans Applejack, had been all that available. “Well shoot after all you have done fer me, it’s the least I can do,” said the yellow maned filly, “Ya mind runnin’ by me what exactly yer tryin’ ta do again?”
“Mass Teleportation.” came the reply from behind the book. “I have personal teleportation down, but I think it would be very handy to be able to move multiple ponies rather than just myself.”
“Believe me she needs all the practice she can get,” came the sarcastic remark from Spike as he busied himself placing a few more books back.
“Yes, well the last time I attempted a mass teleportation Spike got singed. Still not sure how that happened.”
“A dragon gettin’ burned? Musta been some mistake.”
“You’re telling me, especially since Twilight escaped without a scratch,” his voice betrayed his obvious disappointment at the event.
“Again I have had some practice protecting myself from the aftereffects of a teleport, though I am more curious about another property it had.”
“You mean the time dilation?” asked Spike thinking back to that day.
“Time Dilation. Normally my teleports are near instantaneous, but the mass teleport that Spike and I did, took far longer. It was even nighttime when we arrived in the library.”
“We were kinda wonderin’ where you had gone an disappeared too.”
Twilight twitched a bit remembering that her friends had waited in her treehouse to further antagonise her into giving one of them the only two tickets to the gala “Well I think I have that little bug worked out. So you ready Applejack?”
“Sure as shootin’ sugarcube. Why ain’t Spike joining us if ya don’t mind me askin’?”
“I’ve had my fill of Twilight’s teleports, thank you very much,” remarked Spike taking a spot on the far end of the room.
“Besides, I already have enough information from the first one that Spike and I did. Dragons tend to respond differently to the effects of magic, so the information I received really helped to iron out the kinks in the spell. Alright then, if you are ready could you stand over here please?” she requested, motioning next to herself.
“Ya mean right here?” came the reply as Applejack sat next to Twilight.
“Perfect, now give me a sec. I am just going to try and move us outside of the Library. No sense in trying to go too far - not yet anyway.” With that her horn began to take on the familiar purple color as Twilight concentrated.
Applejack could feel the magical energies build up around them as the glow from her friend’s horn began to grow. It was making the hair on the country pony stand on end. She had never been one to know much about magic, and it was slightly unsettling to her. Applejack could have sworn she felt the room getting warmer, and found it odd that the spell was taking so long to cast. Though, she did not say anything to prevent Twilight from losing her concentration. Then everything seemed to go wrong.
Applejack found herself thrown across the room, as an unknown force erupted from Twilight’s horn. The unicorn was suddenly yanked up into the air by her horn, another glow overlapping the first. Bursts of magical flame erupted from this new glow, spreading out and around the room setting the whole place ablaze. Applejack nearly passed out from the sudden increase in heat but felt herself being drawn back by something pulling at her and shaking her. It was Spike, the baby dragon was able to handle the intense heat far better than the simple Earth pony could and was doing his best to get Applejack moving again. “Come on, we‘ve got to get out of here!”
“But what about Twi?!” cried Applejack looking back toward the center of the conflagration.
She could not be sure but the orange pony could swear she could still see Twilight’s outline in the maelstrom. “If we die here we won’t be able to help her at all,” Spike shouted over the fire still doing his best to get Applejack to move.
While the orange filly was against just leaving her friend there, she knew that she could not hope to get any closer to Twilight. Her fur had already begun to singe, and her skin beneath beginning to blister. Applejack forced herself to her hooves, the air already becoming filled with smoke as the flames spread further. The pair made a run for it, Applejack stumbling a bit as the heat and smoke began to overwhelm her senses. Luckily Spike was right by her side, egging her on to keep her going.
The two threw themselves out the front door at long last. Applejack coughed and sputtered as fresh air filled her lungs. Her body began to ache as she realized that she had developed slight burns from being so close to the fire, she silently thanked Celestia that her hat had not combusted. Spike was having some difficulty but his dragon constitution was allowing him to fare much better. “Twi!” shouted Applejack, attempting to right herself so that she may get a better look at the burning treehome.
She could only stand there and watch as the fire spread further and further. Soon it would compromise the integrity of the structure, the sky turning dark from the smoke. Wait, Applejack looked up only now realizing that the darkness was not from smoke but from what seemed like a gathering storm cloud. “What?” she tried to sputter out, no storm had been scheduled so what this cloud was eluded her.
“Magical Fire Suppression,” came Spike’s voice, it was filled with an impossible mixture of exhaustion, hope, and sadness as he looked at his former home. “Twilight made sure to have it installed after we moved in. It’s a spell that gathers up any loose clouds, then it makes sure that the rain goes through the building so it can put out all the fires. Most Canterlot buildings have them.”
“But what about..” Applejack was interrupted by a familiar sound and a white light.
Turning she saw Twilight sprawled on the grass, seemingly unharmed. Then she started seizing.
The pounding of Luna’s hooves echoed through the halls of the castle of Canterlot. The Princess of the moon having been woken from her day slumber by the most unnerving sensation. She knew all too well this feeling, she only hoped she was wrong about its source. “SISTER!” she shouted barging into the throne room.
The Princess of the sun was not sitting on her throne as usual, instead Luna caught the older sibling staring out into the horizon off of one of the nearby balconies. “Sister,” this time Luna’s voice was calmer but still carried with it a slight twinge of apprehension as the midnight blue Alicorn approached Celestia.
Celestia barely moved her gaze transfixed on a distant red glow. “It really is happening isn’t it?” asked Luna, focusing her eyes on the spot.
“Unfortunately,” Celestia’s voice was heavy, carrying a sadness that it has not used in some time, “I have already dispatched a unit of Elite Guard Ponies. We must leave immediately, if we are to make it in time.”
“Can we not just teleport ourselves there?”
The sun Princess shook her head, the unnatural waving of her mane barely disturbed by the action. “It would be far too dangerous, you know this.”
Luna only nodded, the full gravity of the situation beginning to settle on her. With that acknowledgement the two sisters took to the air. Their powerful wings allowing them to rapidly catch up with the Guard. Both prayed that they would not be too late.
Applejack was a wreck, both emotionally and physically. She had grabbed Twilight once the first bout of tremors had subsided and rushed off to Ponyville Hospital. In retrospect that may have not been the best of ideas, as carrying the other pony had only served to cause her burns to increase in pain. It did not help that Spike had grabbed hold of Applejack’s tail in order to not be separated from Twilight. To make matters even worse Nurse Tenderheart was certain that Applejack had inhaled a bit of smoke, the earth pony believed it too seeing how out of breath she had been from the run. Still the stubborn mare could not help but fidget in nervousness and apprehension as she wondered if her friend was alright.
The nurse had brought Applejack and Spike into one of the exam rooms to hopefully help calm them both down. It had helped somewhat but, not much. While Applejack was concerned for Twilight, she was growing more worried at Spike. He had seemed rather listless, and was mostly sitting quietly on the exam bed. The previous bout of determination she had seen in him within the fire having faded now that neither of their lives were in immediate danger. Applejack started to say something, but winced in pain as Nurse Tenderheart slathered some burn ointment on her wounds.
“Please Ms. Applejack, I need to treat these burns before they become infected,” said Nurse Tenderheart as she tried to keep the orange mare still.
Applejack tried to comply, but the mixture of clean white walls, the gentle hum of the lights, and the silence only served to make her more fidgety. “What is takin’ that dern Nurse Redheart so long?” she cried out in frustration, her voice carrying a bit of a wheeze as her lungs attempted to compensate for the soot that had settled in it.
“These things take time, Nurse Redheart will do everything she can to help. If she rushes she might miss something which will only make things worse.”
“I know that,” said Applejack, looking over at Spike again. The baby dragon had practically been raised by Twilight, she did not know what would happen to the little guy if something happened to the unicorn.
Again Applejack was about to say something when Nurse Redheart walked in, her expression bleak. Spike instantly shot to attention. “How is she? Is she going to be alright? How bad is it?” he asked so quickly it would have made Pinkie seem slow.
“She is alive for now,” said the nurse pony solemnly, “but we just don’t have the tools to treat this kind of magical affliction. I just don’t know what to do.”
“You mean, she’s going to die?” Spike asked, unable to hide the pain in his voice as tears began welling up in his eyes.
“I... I’m sorry but we don’t even have any unicorns on staff. The only other place that might have the tools and equipment we need are in Canterlot or Manehatten. It would take several hours to contact one of those hospitals and get transport down here. I am not sure if we can keep her going with what we have without risking possible brain damage, and attempting to make the hour or so trip back would be just as bad. I wish I could do more but there are no options available.”
“What do ya mean ya can’t do anythin’?” roared Applejack causing both Nurses to visibly flinch, “There are always options if ya’ll are willin’ to look for ‘em. There has ta be somethin’, there just has ta be...” Applejack’s voice trailed off as she sunk down, the news slowly taking hold.
“Celestia!” said Spike suddenly, his voice carrying some measure of hope. “If anypony can help Twilight it’s her. I can send a message to her instantly, surely she would take the time to help her faithful student.”
“Spike that is mighty brilliant of ya,” Applejack was beaming at the prospect of a possible rescue for Twilight, and then another idea struck the earth pony. “What if we can get her to Canterlot, too?”
“But the problem of getting Ms. Sparkle to Canterlot in time is still there.”
“Spike you get on that letter. Y'all seem to have forgotten that Ponyville is home to Equestia’s fastest flier,” before any of the nurses could move to stop her Applejack was off, forcing her battered body onward to find Rainbow Dash.
Celestia tossed her head causing the beam of magical energy to rend the abominable structure asunder. She nearly collapsed from the strain, the princess could already feel her magical energy draining away. It sickened her that even her great power has been so decreased from proximity to just one of these foul constructs. Yet she was glad that she had enough power still to seal it, even if it was a temporary fix.
The city of Fillydelphia had been almost completely leveled. Many buildings still burned, and Luna was doing her best to put out the fires to prevent them from spreading to any remaining buildings. Celestia was still shocked that such a small group of these creatures had been able to cause such destruction so quickly. She thanked the elements that they seemed more intent in sowing terror and chaos than taking lives, as pony casualties had been minimal. There would be little point in covering up something like this, especially considering an entire city had bore witness to it. That would be a whole new concern once things had calmed down.
Celestia was about to begin to aid the guards when a familiar patch of green tinted smoke formed before her, poofing an unsealed scroll onto the ground. Curious as to what her star pupil had to say she levitated the scroll needing to barely unwrap it to read the contents. She did find it odd that the letter seemed hastily written though, then her eyes began to grow wide as the Princess read over Spike’s message. “LUNA!” called Celestia dropping the letter as she ran to her sister.
“What, did they reopen the gate?” came Luna’s slightly fearful reply.
“No, but I am leaving things here to you. Something important just came up regarding Twilight, and I must leave immediately. Meet me back in Canterlot Castle when you get the fires under control.”
“But Sister,” Luna attempted to object but Celestia had already taken to the sky in seconds becoming no more than a speck in the distance.
“WHERE IS SHE?!” shouted Celestia bursting in through the front door of the Canterlot Emergency Room, promptly causing everyone within to jump in fight and possibly cause a few heart attacks.
“Princess please calm down. Who are you talking about?” asked one of the nurses who had stepped forward to see what the commotion was about. She was shaking slightly as it was unusual to see Princess Celestia angry.
“Twilight Sparkle, a unicorn she should have been admitted not too long ago. Now where is she?”
“Princess Celestia?” came a familiar voice.
The ruler of Equestria turned to see Rainbow Dash standing down one of the hallways. “Dash, is she...”
“I think the doc will explain it better than I could. She’s this way.”
Celestia turned back to the nurse, apologizing for her outburst before quickly following the rainbow maned pegasus down the hall. The Princess had to admit to herself that she was rather unnerved by being in a hospital. She had never needed to be within one before, and she knew that through each of these doors a sick pony lay. Yet everything seemed too sterile and quiet than it had any real right to be. Dash soon lead her into a room near the end of the hall, gently nudging open the door and stepping to the side to let Celestia in first.
Twilight seemed to be resting peacefully on her cot, it was somewhat difficult to tell due to the various wires and machines circled around her. Her ever faithful assistant Spike sat in a small chair next to the purple unicorn. He said nothing as the pair walked in, the full gravity of what happened to Twilight had finally begun to sink in. Celestia had not bothered to learn all that much about modern medicine practice, but did not dwell on it much as Twilight’s Doctor approached her. He was a mostly brown unicorn though his mane was as white as the walls of the building. His cutie mark was a pole, two snakes twisting around it with a pair of wings jutting from the rod. “How is she?” asked Celestia, her voice filled with concern.
“Poor,” began the unicorn, his face grim, “it seems that whatever she was doing sapped practically all of her magic. When that happened her body began to shut down as whatever it was began to draw off her life energy as well. It’s a miracle that she has made it this long, you must thank Ms. Dash for being able to get Ms. Sparkle to us so quickly. If the two had arrived later, Ms. Sparkle may have ended up suffering brain damage. Unfortunately she has slipped into a coma. I believe that we have managed to set up the proper spells and treatments to fix the physical damage as well as to begin to restore her lost magic. Yet I do not know how long the coma will last.”
Celestia sat down next to Twilight’s bed. The soft beeping of her heart monitor being the only reminder that that she was truly still alive. “Princess,” said Dash walking up to the sister of the sun, “can’t you just, ya know, magic her better?”
Celestia sighed and turned to her pupil’s friend. “I wish it were that simple Rainbow Dash. For now I must ask that you return to Ponyville, tell all of the other Element Bearers to prepare to be brought to Canterlot. I will send for chariots to bring all of you shortly.”
“Is something going on?”
“Yes, but it will have to wait until I can speak to all of the Element Bearers. Please Rainbow Dash, trust me on this.” Celestia said, her voice carrying an usual air of sadness.
Dash sat there for a moment, looking up at the Princess finding it odd to see somepony so powerful being so broken up. She then puffed out her chest trying to sound and look as impressive as possible “Hey your talking to the fastest flier in all Equestria. I could get everyone back here way faster than some stupid chariot.” her voice than sank a bit when she could see Celestia had turned back to look at Twilight, tears beginning to form in her eyes, “but if you need some time with Twilight then I will be happy to take my time and tell our friends that you want to meet with them.”
Celestia merely nodded and with that Dash took off, flying right out the hospital doors barely being bothered by the cramped halls. Thank you Rainbow Dash, Celestia thought to herself, this may the be one of the last times I can spend with my pupil in peace.