Marcus turned off the television and stretched out in his chair, shoving himself across the floor. He had gotten tired of the news broadcasts, always telling the same story over and over. He hopped out of his chair as it neared his bedroom door and stepped into the bathroom to clean himself up a bit.
He was a pretty tall guy at 6’1” and he wasn’t at all too light at 224 pounds. He ran his fingers through his hair smiling, the hazel brown strands falling into place just above his eyebrows the way he liked it. Perfect. He clapped his hands twice and strolled towards the front door, smiling as no one interrupted him.
He had just moved into a new city, several states away from anyone who knew him. It was in this town he had decided to start a new life, as he did every so often. He grabbed the brown jacket and the old fedora he had received many Christmases ago and stepped out the door for an evening stroll. It was January the 15th, 2011, and Marcus had decided to begin his life anew. As he strolled he reminisced, times back on the farm, a world away.
His father had pleaded, urgently and heartfelt, “Ya know son, if ye feel ye aren’t getting anywhere in yer life out here, ya can always move into the city. You’ve got money stashed away, I know ya do son.”
“Dad,” he’d replied, “I really want to go and make something of myself. I just don’t see myself being a farmer.” the admission had been painful. Marcus had shoved his hands into his pants pockets with finality. He’d been standing on the porch of the family ranch with his father, who was well into his 40’s. His entire family line for as far back as he could tell had been farmers, working on the same land for generations. Marcus just didn’t feel it was his place.
“Well son,” his father had said finally, “if’n ya don’t wanna be a farmer, yer gunna hafta find something yer good at. Ya always been skinny and weak, so I dun see blue collar work in yer future.”
His father had taken his old straw hat and tipped it slightly over his eyes. “I know what yer wantin’ tah do son. Yer an artist, just like yer mamma used tah be.”
Marcus had averted his eyes as he’d admitted it to himself. He had never truly felt like an artist, but it made him feel happy. He’d never admitted it, but he was quite good.
“Dad,” he’d said finally, “I know what you’re gonna say. It isn’t really right for me to end the line of farmers like this, but I have to find out for myself what I’m capable of doing with my life besides growing crops.”
“I understand ya boy, and I aint all too happy about it, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s ya gotta let folk live their own life. If’n ya feel that ya have something better waitin out there in the wide world we call a home, ya need tah go out and take it. Whatever ya do boy, you’ll always make me proud. You’ll always be a Dutrall.”
Marcus shook the thought of leaving his old man on the farm alone out of his head. His sisters had gone off to live their own lives and it pained him to think of his father living by himself in that big farmhouse, but he needed to live his own life. As he walked down the chilly streets of New York City, his thoughts went from his father to his own success, if you could call it that. He had sold several small pieces of art to ‘modern art collectors’ for a good amount of cash, but he wasn’t doing as well as he wanted to. He’d hit several blocks, coming to the point where he couldn’t even look at his workshop anymore. He’d tried to take inspiration from anywhere he could, but all points had failed him.
Marcus turned a corner, to find himself looking at a drug deal. He stopped in panic and spoke in a frightened voice as his eyes widened, “Um….I think I made a wrong turn. Carry on gentlemen.”
Marcus turned quickly and walked away, but not quickly enough.
“Ey boy, get back here!”
Marcus took off running, hearing several footsteps behind him. Marcus stopped dead in his tracks, a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down to see a small hole in his chest, and fell to his knees.
“Sorry fella. No witnesses.” The thug said as he put the gun to his head, pulling the trigger.
Marcus woke startled and drenched in sweat. He looked down at his chest, grabbing at where he had been shot. There was nothing there. He looked up to find himself floating in a large white area, “Where…where am I?”
“Who said that?”
“It is none of your concern. What concerns you now, is that you have been chosen. If you wish it, we can send you to a new world. You will be reborn, and you will have to find yourself in a new life.”
Marcus tapped his non-existent chin, “What’s the catch?”
“You will have no memory of your past life, or this encounter.”
“Can I keep my name?”
“Alright, I accept.”
“The deal has been sealed. You are being watched, Marcus Dutrall. Do not falter from your path.”
“Wait, I’m not actually being ‘reborn’ am I?”
“In a way, you will be.”
“Ah, great. So, can you tell me anything about this new world? And what you mean by my path?”
“There is no point in explaining. As we said, you are being watched Marcus. The deal has been made. Do not falter.”
Marcus looked around the void, noting his was body fading fast. He wanted to ask more questions, but his mind felt groggy and muddled. He fainted, falling into a deep sleep just as he faded from existence in the void.
“Do you think it wise to bring him here? His kind is well known for its hostility, constantly warring with itself. Consumed by greed and power. If anything he will destroy our world!”
“No, he will not. The fates have foretold of his coming, his existence as a human in his world, and the life he will lead in ours were planned many millennia ago.”
“Can we not interfere then? Force him to stay on his path?”
“No we cannot. We are here to simply watch the events unfold. Our interference would cause lasting effects on the world and its denizens. You should know this very well. We will watch him, for that is all we can do. Watch and wait, and let time pass to tell us of the events that transpired.”
A bolt of lightning struck the earth, tearing into the farmland. Something was odd about this peculiar bolt of lightning, Applejack thought to herself. This entire storm was just unnatural. It seemed to appear out of nowhere, the entire weather team worked effortlessly to push it away from Ponyville, but to no avail. But as soon as it started, it fell apart. The rain ended almost as quickly as it had started, ponies looking at each other in bewilderment.
“Well, that was weird.” The young cowpony admitted, stepping outside into the sunshine.
“Is that all you can say Big Mac?”
“Ugh. Well c’mon; let’s go see what the damage is. Applebloom, you stay here with Granny.”
The two ponies took off at a dash into the apple orchard, following the small cloud of smoke.
Marcus woke with a queasy feeling in his stomach and a massive headache. “Where…” He pulled himself up slowly, shaking his head. “What happened…?” He looked around to find himself in a crater, the edges still smoking from the landing.
“Damn, my head hurts.” He stood, stretching in the crater. “The hell am I? Let’s see... apple trees. Must be in an orchard or something. A park perhaps?” He began to claw his way out of the crater, to find himself eye to eye with an orange Pony.
“WHAT IN TARNATION!?” Applejack hollered as she jumped back, slamming into Big Mac.
Marcus let go of the edge of the crater, sliding back into the middle. “Did…did you just talk?”
“What d’ya mean, ‘did you just talk?’ If anything, I should be asking you what yer doin in there.” Applejack said, sternly staring at the creature in the crater. “And what in the hay are you supposed to be? Ya ever see a creature like that Mac?”
“Nope, can’t say I have sis.” Big Mac said, a calm look across his face.
“Well, can either of you help me out of this crater and tell me where I am?” Marcus asked, a small grin mixed with obvious irritability playing across his face.
“Well, you’re in a hole in the ground on our property mister.” Big mac said as he pulled a rope from his saddle and tossed an end into the hole.”
“How can you sit here and chit-chat with that…THING!? And why are you offerin ta help it? It could be evil, or some creature that eats ponies!” Applejack yelled, glaring Big Mac down. “We don’t know who or what he is, or why he’s in a crater on our farm! He could be some weird creature from the Everfree that we don’t know about.”
“Well, aren’t we friendly?” Marcus said as he pulled himself out of the hole, dusting himself off and sitting down. “Now, we can sit here yelling, or we can be peaceful and try to have a decent chat. Your call.”
Applejack let out a sigh, turning to her brother. “Keep an eye on him will ya? I’m gonna go rustle up the girls, see if any of them can explain this.” She said as she took off.
“So uh…I’m on your property?” Marcus asked as he watched the yellow pony take off.
“Found sitting in a hole.”
“And noone knows how I got here?”
Marcus scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Man of few words eh?”
“Well, this should be fun I suppose.” He said, leaning against a nearby apple tree with his hands behind his head.
Rarity stepped out of her boutique, making a “Tsk tsk” sound as she looked around. “No, this simply will not do. All of these broken limbs lying around makes a bad impression, and I will not allow a storm like that hamper my business.” She declared to nopony in particular as her horn began to glow, all of the debris around her lifting up and forming a small statue of two ponies nuzzling each other. “Ahh, Rarity you are a work of art, are you not?” She said with a large smile as she admired her work.
“RARITY!” Rarity snapped out of her stupor and turned to see Applejack running at her as if she had seen a ghost. “Rarity, I need- what is that thing?” She said as she pointed a hoof at the statue of limbs and leaves. “Never mind, I need you to help me round up the girls. Me ‘n Big Mac found a weird creature on our farm, and we need help pronto!”
“My word, what kind of creature darling?” Rarity said, already disturbed at the thoughts of what it could be.
“I dunno, I’ve never seen anythin like it. Tall, skinny, walked on his hind legs like Spike does and awful chatty. You get Pinkie and Rainbow; I’ll get Twi and Fluttershy alright?”
“Of course darling, we’ll head right for your farm as soon as we can.” Rarity said, the two girls splitting off to gather their companions.
“C’mon Spike I need you to work with me here. This library isn’t gonna clean itself you know.” Twilight said in her normal bossy tone. “Besides, I asked you to do this yesterday when you got up, why didn’t you do it then?”
“I told you Twilight, I was busy.” Spike said, grabbing a handful of books. “Besides, you can clean up all these books easier then I can with your magic, why make me do all the manual labor?”
“I can pick them up, yes, but I can’t categorize them Spike.” She said rolling her eyes. “If I was to use my magic to put all these books onto the shelves, I would never be able to find anything in here because every one of them would be on the wrong shelf.”
“Bunch of excuses if you ask me.” Spike muttered under his breath as Applejack burst into the library.
“Twi! I need your help down at the farm, quickly!” She said, turning to run back out the door.
“Wait, Applejack! What’s wrong?” Twilight shouted as she sprinted after her friend.
“And of course, I’m left with all the work again. I got money that was planned.” Spike said as he began gathering the rest of the books from the floor.
“Ok, what’s all this about Applejack?” Twilight asked as the group ran down the road to Sweet Apple Acres. She had finally caught up to the cowpony to find Rarity, Rainbow, Pinkie and Fluttershy were right with her on the path.
“Yea, what’s going on AJ? I was getting ready for my post storm nap when Rarity yelled for me to come with her.” Rainbow Dash said, flying alongside the group. ‘The hay is all this about anyways?”
“There’s some weird creature down here, and I don’t know what to make of him. I figure at least one of ya’ll can tell me what he is.” AJ huffed, leaving the girls baffled.
“A s-s-strange creature? Oh my, it wasn’t hurt was it?” Fluttershy asked as she hovered along, trying to keep up with the fast moving ponies.
“He had a few light burns but it looked like he didn’t notice ‘em. If anything, he seemed polite but I’m not taking no chances here.” Applejack said as they turned off the road into the orchard itself.
The girls stopped abruptly at the crater, letting out various gasps of amazement and confusion.
“Big Mac, where the hay are ya?” Applejack hollered, looking around. “Don’t tell me he done went off and… Ugh, that stupid boy! C’mon, he might be back at the farmhouse.”
“Where did this hole come from AJ?” Twilight asked as she stepped up to the edge of the crater, looking down into it. “It’s not deep, but it’s very wide.”
“There was a large bolt of lightning that struck here. Me an’ Big Mac investigated it to find a strange creature crawling out of it.” Applejack stated as she turned to walk to the farmhouse.
“Hold up AJ, he just crawled out of the hole?” Rainbow said in disbelief.
“As unlikely as it sounds it’s what happened Rainbow. Now c’mon!” AJ yelled as she bolted for the farm.
Applejack burst through the door of the farmhouse to hear laughter coming from the kitchen.
“What in the hay?” She said aloud as she turned to see Applebloom, Big Mac, Granny Smith and the strange creature sitting at the table.
“APPLEJACK! This guy is so cool, where did he come from?” Applebloom shouted from her seat. Marcus looked up and smiled at the gaggle of ponies now standing in shock and awe.
“Hello there. I must say the rest of your family are a lot more hospitable when it comes to strangers lying in holes in the ground.”
“But how did-why did you bring him here Big Mac? I told you to wait by the crater!” Aj stammered out, turning her confusion into irritation.
“Well big sis…” Applebloom started as she looked down, “That’s cause I went out there to see what was takin so long.”
“She invited me in for brunch. Very hard to say no to something so cute.” Marcus said as he sat his fork down. “What? It’s true. I wanted to say no, but the eyes.”
Big Mac chuckled as he stood up to help Granny Smith clean up the dishes. “Mighty big fella you two found out there. I’ll tell ya now, he ain’t from the Everfree.” The elderly mare stated. “I been livin here all my life, and I ain’t never met something like him.”
Fluttershy stepped forward into the kitchen looking Marcus up and down. “I haven’t seen anything like you either. What are you?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t remember anything. Besides this of course.” Marcus said as he stepped over to help clean up.
“He seems nice.” Rarity interjected.
“To nice if you ask me.” Rainbow said, folding her front hooves.
“Now now girls, cool it.” Twilight said forcefully. “Was there anything else in the crater with you?”
“Dirt, some rainwater. Possibly an apple or two.” Marcus said as he sat back down at the table after Granny shooed him from the sink. “We can go check it out again. To be honest, when I was climbing out of there, the last thing on my mind was what may be down there with me.”
“Well, let’s go see what we can find. Hopefully some answers.” Twilight said nodding her head. “But first, I think we should introduce ourselves. My name is Twilight Sparkle. You already know the Apple family here. This is Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy and…where’s Pinkie Pie?”
“Probably ran off to set up a party as usual.” Rainbow said, causing a few chuckles to go around the room.
“Well anyhow, let’s go back outside to the crater. Hopefully we’ll learn something.” Twilight said beaming.
The group stopped at the edge of the crater, the five ponies cautiously eyeing the biped that walked behind them. Granny Smith and Applebloom seemed fine with him, but with unknown creatures you could never be too careful.
“Alright, I guess I’ll get digging.” Marcus stated as he cracked his knuckles.
“Not so fast. I will not stand by and let you all blindly dig for something that may or may not be here. Allow me.” Rarity said in an almost boastful tone as her horn began glowing.
“That’s kinda cool…what are you doing?” Marcus asked puzzled.
“Magic my dear, and there is nothing in this hole. Though there is something in your pocket. Feels like a ruby.” She said as her horn stopped glowing, a giant smile across her face.
“A ruby? Your horn must be busted.” Marcus said as he stuck his hand in his coat pocket to feel something cold. He pulled his hand from the pocket to hold up a small red ruby. “I take that back. Why a ruby though?”
“There’s something on it.” Twilight said as she grabbed it out of Marcus hand inspecting it herself. “It has a name on it. Must be yours I guess.”
“Well, what is it?” Marcus said impatiently.
Two weeks had passed since Marcus Dutrall learned his name by the crater that brought him to this world. For the first few days, he was the talk of Equestria, a strange tall creature that could speak, and from what everypony could tell, was not of their world. His first days in Ponyville had been a hectic rollercoaster of parties thrown by the sporadic Pinkie Pie to the constant scientific studies Twilight engulfed him with. He enjoyed every moment of it, as with each passing day, he learned more about the society he had become a part of. The novelty wore off however, as after seven tries of finding nothing wrong with his mind, Twilight had basically snapped.
“It’s just impossible! A being doesn’t appear out of nowhere! You have to be born, you have to grow. My readings tell me that your words are true, that you have no prior memories, but it’s just too illogical!” She shouted stomping her hooves as the eighth attempt at prodding Marcus’s mind proved fruitless.
“Maybe it’s like Pinkie said Twilight. Some things just can’t be explained.” Marcus declared as he removed the absurdly large helmet off of his head. “We can keep at this until we both grow old and die, but we’ll never get anywhere running the same tests over and over.”
“You have a point. I’ll send a message to the princess asking her for an audience. Maybe she can help us out with this issue.” Twilight said shutting down the various pieces of equipment. “If not, plan B.”
“Plan B? I’ve not heard of this, what’s plan B?” Marcus asked as the two began walking up the staircase to the library.
“Plan B is that we call it quits, give up on naming your species and move on.” Twilight said as she swung the door open, immediately using her magic to wrest four books from the shelves.
“I like plan B. Though I do wish everypony would stop calling me the ‘creature’ like they do.” He said as he skimmed the selection on the shelf in front of him. “They all say I’ve been accepted, but I hear them whispering when they thing I’m out of earshot.” He hung his head as he thought back to the words of two ponies, who had greeted him ever so cheerfully moments before they verbally assaulted him behind his back. “Think I’ll ever be able to actually join society here Twilight? Not just as a scientific experiment or an unknown creature, but as an actual citizen?”
Twilight frowned as she looked up from her book. She had apparently only caught the end of his question. “I don’t know Marcus. Spike is accepted around here, but he’s a dragon and dragons are a well-known race here. You on the other hand…” She stopped herself from continuing as Spike came in, a laughing Rainbow Dash behind him.
“Hey guys, Rainbow just worked out this new trick! It’s so cool!” Spike said as he leaped up smiling as wide as he little dragon face would allow.
“Yea you guys should- Uhh…are we interrupting anything here?” Rainbow questioned as Marcus snapped out of his stupor. He had been leaning against the bookshelf lost in his own thought processes. He looked up to see Rainbow looking at him puzzled.
“Nah just lost in thought. I’d love to see it Rainbow.” He said smiling as he stepped forward, following the gleaming pegasus. He thought it was funny really. The only ponies that seemed to truly accept him were the ones that originally suspected him of being a monster. Whereas the rest of Ponyville seemed to fake kindness, the six girls he had learned were the holders of ‘the elements of harmony’ and the Apple family were the only ponies to actually accept him. He snapped himself out of his stupor just in time to see the cyan pegasus take off into the air leaving her trademark rainbow streak behind her.
“So Spike, what’s this trick called she’s doing here?” He inquired as the baby dragon began hopping.
“Just watch trust me.” Spike said as he stopped hopping, his eyes glued to Rainbow Dash.
It was then that she did it. Rainbow Dash flew straight up as if she was going into the sun itself, only to turn and begin descending at an alarmingly fast rate. Marcus watched as Rainbow Dash’s body seemed to stretch out, small sparks forming all over her body.
“A sonic rainboom? I thought she said it was a new trick.” Twilight said as she stepped outside the library.
“Shhh! Just watch you guys!” Spike hissed out just as Rainbow pulled it off. Instead of doing the sonic rainboom as it normally would have been done, she stopped right in the middle of the explosion and began to fly in a circle. The rainboom began to follow her pattern, turning the myriad of colors into a swirl of new ones that were constantly spinning like a tornado.
“That’s pretty cool actually. What’s she call it?” Marcus said as the lights died out, leaving Rainbow to cheer and dance in midair.
“She’s still working on a name. I suggested the ‘Rainbow Tornado’ but she said it sounded cliché.” Spike said as Rainbow zoomed in with a giant smile and sparkles in her eyes.
“Didja like it? Huh?” She said with much anticipation as the trio nodded in unison, sending her into a dance of cheers and cries of joy. “Oh man, just wait till I show this to the Wonderbolts! They’ll be so amazed they’ll have to let me join!”
“Well hope it goes good for you Rainbow. If you’ll excuse us, we got work to do. All three of us boys.” Twilight said, glaring down Spike and Marcus.
“Aw, c’mon Twi! You told me I could have the day off today.” Spike interjected, throwing on the most pathetically sad face he could.
“We’ve been working nonstop for the last few days, can’t we take a break?” Marcus said with his shoulders slumped over. “Besides, what more is there to do?”
“Plenty. Spike I need a letter send to Celestia. I guess you can take a bit of a break Marcus.” Twilight said as she walked inside the library with Spike following behind.
“Well that’s nice I suppose. Now what can I do around Ponyville exactly?” He asked himself as he turned to where Rainbow was, only to find himself alone. “Right. Well guess a light stroll won’t hurt all too much.”
Marcus sat down next to the creek running outside Ponyville. This had not been what he had first expected. He recalled the words of Applejack when they first approached Ponyville.
“Don’t you worry one bit here Marcus. Ponyville is filled with plenty a’ friendly folk. You’ll fit in just fine, promise.”
“Yea, we see how that turned out.” He muttered as he tossed a small pebble into the creek. “Why can’t I just fit in? Why did I come here? How did I come here? Why am I an outcast, a strange creature amongst ponies?” he slammed a fist into the ground as a gentle breeze passed through. He looked up as a light and gentle voice entered his mind, saying only a few words before vanishing on the winds.
“I can help you my friend.”
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” Marcus yelled standing up, ready to defend himself.
“I am noone. Much like you I once was. Follow my voice, and I can help you with all your problems.”
Marcus grabbed his stomach as he began to feel dizzy. His mind was yelling at him to follow the voice and his body rebelled against him when he tried to do anything but walk forward. After a few minutes of fruitless fighting he caved in and followed the voice.
“Good. Come to me child. Let me show you the path to your past.”
Marcus nodded as he followed the voice, deep into the Everfree forest. He regretted it the moment he stepped inside the dark forest.
Spike folded the letter and ran to the open window as Twilight stepped back over to the book she had been reading. The book itself had never been opened before (By her at least) and seemed to be centuries old. The title was “Unnatural Occurrences in Equestria” and the authors name had been faded beyond recognition. She had never thought of looking in there for an answer to anything, and had already kicked herself for several incidents that could have been resolved easily with the knowledge in this ancient tome. She had skipped far ahead into the book to the “Strange Creatures” section hoping to find something similar to Marcus. Instead she got a list of creatures and images of them, everything from the Cockatrice to something called the “Smooze” but nothing that looked like Marcus. One article caught her eye however, labeled simply as “Fate.”
“Well, this is odd. Fate isn’t a creature…” She stepped away to look out the window, the sun slowly falling on the horizon. “What does it mean?”
“He has strayed from the path. I told you this was a bad idea. This entire plan is going to fall apart.”
“No he has not.”
“You senile fool. If we do not intervene, Equestria will be lost. Your ‘chosen one’ has fallen to the dark side of magic.”
“No it will not. Equestria will survive this challenge. He is still on the path.”
“Fine! What’s your plan then? Sit back and watch the world burn and die? Not going to tell your brothers your secrets?”
“No. We wait. We watch. We listen.”
Twilight Sparkle slammed the book closed groaning in frustration. The book made less sense to her then anything she had ever read. Even the parts that seemed normal made no sense. She quickly stepped into the kitchen, grabbing a glass of tea and trotting back to the book.
“Alright. This is the fourth time I’ve read this. I hope it makes itself clearer…”
Marcus felt happy. He didn’t know why he felt this way, but he was truly happy. It wasn’t the facade he had forced onto himself whenever one of his friends spoke to him nor was it a simple mask he was trying to hide behind. The man was quite literally skipping through the Everfree as the soothing voice led him on a merry chase through the ancient wood. Something in his mind told him it was wrong and that something wasn’t right, but it was silenced by the new voice rather quickly. The voice led him to the ruins of the Pony sisters, the former home of the Elements of Harmony. He felt the happiness slip away from him and the voice went silent. He stood there in the silence of the forest for what felt like hours.
“Why? Why did you bring me here? Why won’t you talk to me anymore?” He called out as he spun around in the ancient ruin slowly returning to his previous state. He turned at the sound of a giggle, seeing a shadow flying up the stairs. “Oh, wanna play a game then? Ok I guess.” He ran to catch up with the shadowy figure. The first voice was back telling him to run. He ignored it as he reached the top of the stairs, looking at a vast room with a single broken throne in the distance. His eyes stopped on the shattered bits of metal laying near the throne, glimmering in the moonlight. He stepped forward cautiously, kneeling down to pick up a shard.
“You can look, but don’t touch.”
Twilight sighed as she reread the paragraph again thinking she had missed something.
“The fates have always been watchers over the universe keeping order between the worlds. They rarely intervene in the mortal worlds, only doing so when absolutely necessary..UGH! This seems as if it was only half printed or something. Why must EVERYTHING be difficult?” A soft breeze flew through the window turning the page, where a continuation of the previous page could be found. “Oh come on, seriously?” She facehoofed as she stepped away from the book. “I need a break. If I keep this up, I’m going to end up killing myself here.” She slowly stepped away from the book not noticing as the text began to glow slightly.
Marcus turned to see a small pony no larger than a filly sitting in the corner of the ruins. He couldn’t make out any features besides her dark green eyes.
“You have no idea what you’re getting into do you?” The girl asked unmoving.
“Yea…no actually I don’t. Do you know? I just followed the voices.” Marcus said pointing confusedly at the filly. “Who are…?”
“I have no name. Look, don’t listen to her lies. She can’t help you. She only wants to control you and use your desires as fuel for her magic.” The filly stated slowly stepping out of the shadow. Marcus stepped back as he noticed the scar riddled body of the young unicorn. “Please, you’re embarrassing yourself. You act as if you’ve never seen a fate before.” She said as she approached the tainted shards of armor kneeling down.
“You’re a…a fate? What the crap is a fate?” Marcus asked stepping forward to sit across from her.
“I’m not supposed to be here actually. Interference with mortals and such. Look whatever you do, don’t let her fool you. She only wants you to further her own powers. Notice how she led you out here? She silenced every negative thought you had about coming out here. She wants to use you Marcus.”
“How did you…never mind, I don’t really care. I’m here because someone promised me they could help, and now some creepy little girl is telling me not to listen to the voices?”
“If that is how you want to look at it, yes.”
“I’m not buying it.” Marcus grabbed up a shard of the armor, the tainted shards began to lift off the ground letting off an eerie glow.
“YOU FOOL!” The filly yelled as she jumped back taking a combat stance. The shards began to swirl around Marcus like a tornado until they had taken form. He gently landed on the ground laughing.
“Really? You waited way too long to attempt to stop this. Company policy to be late I assume?” He said inspecting his hands. “Such a strange body this one is.”
“Nightmare…it’s been a long time since we’ve fought.” The filly said, her eyes glowing with magical power.
“Oh dear me, that was what? Two thousand years ago? Last I recall it took all seven of you to take me down in some of the most ferocious forms you could take, and even then you couldn’t kill me! Now you expect that you can defeat me alone? Now who is embarrassing themselves?”
Nightmare flicked his wrist, a large string of dark magic flying from his fingers. “This land will be mine and none of you can stop me!”
“Maybe so…” The filly lifted off the ground, her form glowing. “But I can delay you.” The form took the shape of a Cerberus, the three heads snapping hungrily at Nightmare.
Nightmare burst out laughing. “Come then doggy. Let us play.”
Twilight looked out on the balcony towards the Everfree forest. She had gone to go to bed but realized Marcus hadn’t come back yet. She had told him he could go off for a while, but she hadn’t expected him to be gone all day. Something in her heart began to pull at her as she looked at the forest, writhing twisted roots and gnarling trees, monstrous creatures and deadly flora littered the forest, making even going near it dangerous.
He needs you
Twilight jumped up screaming as the thought entered her mind in a voice not her own.
He needs you now
Twilight ran upstairs and swiveled the telescope out towards the Everfree looking for the Ruin of the ancient pony sisters. She let out a gasp of fear as she found it, the ruin encased in light.
“This is bad. This is very bad.” She ran downstairs to her room, shoving Spike out of his bed. “Spike wake up! I need a letter sent to the princess immediately!” She then began rummaging in her closet, grabbing her saddlebags.
“Jeez Twilight, what is so important at this time of night?” Spike said as he began rubbing his head looking at his bed.
“I dunno, something is going on at the ruin where we defeated Nightmare Moon. I heard a voice calling for help and then saw the place was lit up! I’m going to try and rouse the girls and see what the hay is going on.” She said as she magically fastened her saddlebags and ran out the door. “Just tell her we need help right now!”
The Cerberus fell to the ground breathing heavily. It was failing to do anything against Nightmare.
“You see now? Alone, you are WORTHLESS!” Nightmare swung his hand in a slicing arc, sending the Cerberus flying across the room. “And now you will pay for your insolence. You will die.”
“What was that? Still defiant are we?” Nightmare began to chuckle as the beaten dog attempted to stand.
“You will not succeed. We will end you Nightmare, once and for all.” The Cerberus began to glow a bright white and turned into a wisp of smoke and flew out the nearby window, vanishing.
“Filthy coward. Leave it to a fate to retreat.” Nightmare said as he began to inspect his new body. “Marcus was it? I believe we are going to have an amazing friendship.”
Marcus sat up in a bed in a tiny room. He looked around to see that the room was very tiny, the bed being the only furnishing. “Where am I?”
The door swung open as an armored version of him stepped in, leaning against the wall. “Your mind of course you idiot.”
“Getting really tired of that name today. Who are you? What happened?” Marcus said as he went to stand, only to be pushed back down by Nightmare.
“Now now, calm down. I only want to help.” Nightmare grinned as he changed his voice to the serene voice that led Marcus to the ruin. “Besides, you’ve believed me this far haven’t you?”
Nightmare laughed as Marcus turned pale. “You…you tricked me? Why?”
“I wanted your body of course. Probably the worst I’ve ever occupied. So frail, thin. Tiny in certain places where it matters.” Nightmare grinned menacingly.
“Alright, shut up ok? What do you want with me?” Marcus said as he tried to stand again, only to be magically pushed back down again.
Nightmare turned to the door. “Come with me. I’ll show you.” He stepped out of the door vanishing. Marcus cocked an eyebrow and stood, stepping out the door. The blackness began to swirl as a grand ballroom unfolded before him, Nightmare standing atop the staircase. “This is my mind. The doors are locked so no peeking. That little room you were in? Your mind. You have so few thoughts and memories; it’s hard to tell what cards I should play in this situation.” He began to walk down the stairs staring Marcus in the eye. “The truth of the matter is that I live off of your thoughts. Your desires. Your memories. You’re really not giving me much to work with here my friend. The only strong desire I can feed off is-“
“SHUT UP, OK? JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!” Marcus yelled grabbing Nightmare by the shoulders.
“Do not interrupt me. Ever. Again.” Nightmare said as he shoved Marcus off of him. “You have only two desires I can feed off of. Both involve love. What is it with you all and love? Doctor orebeck wanted to be loved by his community. Luna wanted the ponies to love her nights. And you? You want the love of those around you. The filthy ponies of Ponyville. What is it with that backwater town that makes it so popular?” Nightmare stepped over to a table, grabbing a bottle of wine. “Thirsty? No? Alright.” He began to pour himself a glass.
“What does my desire to be loved have to do with anything?” Marcus asked, glaring his double down.
“Everything. I have to act on your petty desires. Follow me.” He turned to a door and pushed it open, vanishing once again. Marcus followed him to find himself in a massive library. “This is my private study. I am going to loan you a book to read so that you can understand the situation you have landed yourself in. In the meantime…” He sat his empty wineglass on a table and snapped his fingers, a tiny paperback notebook appearing in his hand. “I’ve got business to attend.”
“What have you done?”
“I tried to stop it before it began”
“You interfered. I told you not to interfere.”
“We will have to now. If we wish to slay the beast we will need to interfere and assist the six and one.”
“Do you have to say it like that?’
“It makes me sound mysterious.”
“To who? Were the only ones here you old fool.”
“The seven of us will have to work with the six and one in order to defeat the Nightmare once and for all.”
“I really hate you sometimes.
Twilight stopped her descent as she noticed the glowing book laying on her desk. She ran up to it and jumped up to read the glowing words.
“The fates have interfered once before in Equestrian history, leaving their mark on the land in the form of six relics.”
She thought for a second placing her hoof on her chin. “What? When? Why does this book only give me partial details!?” She stormed out the door to gather her friends if she could. She would need them.
Marcus sat down on the bed in his cell. He had begun to view it as a dungeon cell of sorts barring him from the outside world. He could hear Nightmare talking through the wall, their minds conjoined when he took over his body. His words made little sense to Marcus as he flipped through the book he gave him. It was a diary of sorts and if it was any other time he would have respected the privacy of the owner and left it shut, but this case was different. He opened it to a random page and began reading.
“Finally opened it eh?” Marcus jumped and looked around. The room was still empty.
“The book you idiot. It’s a collection of memories. Basically the book is talking. Get used to it.”
“Why did you seal your memories in a book? Also why did you give me a book of your memories?” Marcus asked staring confusedly at the book as Nightmare appeared from a mist at the doorway.
“Who said MY memories? These are the memories of my former hosts. Some of them anyways. I’m not making anything easy for you.” Marcus opened the book and began reading the last page.
“You really love spoilers don’t you? Or are you just too lazy to actually read? I made it easier for you as it is and you’re just being lazy.” Nightmare said inspecting his fingers. “Start from the beginning. Maybe then I will let you in on the big picture.” He turned and vanished from the room.
Nightmare inspected his body, shaking himself. “This is so strange. A thousand years of being a female and I’m suddenly a male of…some sentient ape-man? No matter. This is my time to shine in the night, and this time it will work.”
Nightmare folded his arms and closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. From his shoulders a pair of dark wings took form, long black feathers shining brightly in the dawning sun. “I think it’s time for a new title. Nightmare Lust? Nightmare….oh screw it. Nightmare works. Titles are over-rated anyhow.” He looked up and flapped his mighty wings, taking to the skies.
Twilight Sparkle ran down the empty streets of Ponyville. She had failed to wake any of her friends so far, and the letter to Princess Celestia had been sent to Princess Luna instead but she had agreed to assist her immediately. Twilight looked towards Canterlot to see the chariot take off, followed by a small squad of Pegasi. She turned to the Everfree, the flashing lights had stopped almost an hour ago. Who or whatever had caused it seemed to have taken a break. She turned to run to the library to await Princess Luna when she saw it. From the Everfree flew a beast of darkness, that just looking at it gave her chills. Her eyes widened as the creature approached Ponyville, the outline looking both familiar and strange. It had an aura about it she had not seen in a long time. Nightmare Moon, the monster her and her friends had defeated using the Elements of Harmony, was flying into town in the middle of the night.
“How is this possible? What did…how?” She turned and made for the library, seeing the chariot landing in the distance.
Nightmare stopped on the outskirts of Ponyville smirking. He saw the chariot, but could not tell which of the royal Alicorn sisters were riding it. It was only when the chariot landed that he recognized the aura of his former host. He smiled a devilish grin and chuckled lightly at the thought of facing down his former cellmate, the girl he shared a mind with for almost a thousand years. He landed softly on the grass and dematerialized into a black mist that snaked its way into town, sticking to the shadows.
Princess Luna stepped from her chariot flanked by nine armored Pegasi guards. She turned her head to see Twilight running towards her and stepped forward smiling.
“I am sorry Miss Sparkle, but Celestia was asleep. I thought it would be best if I took this one.” She said as the unicorn approached.
“It’s quite alright Princess. It’s probably better for you to go back though. Nightmare Moon is here.”
“What?! How could Nightmare Moon be here? You and your friends vanquished her in the Everfree!” Luna said, her eyes bulging with a mixture of fear and anger.
Twilight stepped back, turning her head away. “Nightmare took a new body somehow. I saw flashing lights in the ruins and sent the letter. They died down earlier and just a few moments ago I felt Nightmares dark presence. I then…saw him flying out of the Everfree.”
“Then that means he could very well be here, hiding in the shadows around us. Men, get ready.” Luna said to her troops who in turn nodded and surrounded the two ponies facing outwards. “I think we’ll be fine gentlemen, just be on your guard. I fear the nine of you won’t be of much use against Nightmare.”
“Indeed they won’t love. Miss me so much you had to pay a visit just as I decided to return to this little town?”
The group of ponies turned to see the creature they had feared would come. Nightmare. Twilight backed away, her eyes wide and mouth agape as she recognized the shadow of Marcus standing just out of view, a dark aura flowing from his form.
“You. BECAUSE OF YOU I HAD TO SUFFER A THOUSAND YEARS OF SILENCE.” Luna shrieked, awakening the ponies in the surrounding homes. “BECAUSE OF YOU THE PONIES HATE ME. THEY FEAR ME BECAUSE OF YOU.”
“Now now Luna, you are the one that pushed me away. After our deal went sour you shut me out. If anything my return was mostly to get me away from you. To find someone more interesting and open. Like the poor love-struck fool who gave me his body.” He turned to Twilight smiling. “Quite willingly to be honest. He didn’t even attempt to fight me off.”
Twilight blinked. “Love-struck? Marcus isn’t in love with anypony. You tricked him into becoming your slave, just like you did with Princess Luna.”
“Oh, but he is. And you won’t guess who he’s in love with! My, he just gets so furious at the very thought of me mentioning it. Why he’s already-“ Nightmare was cut off as a bolt of lightning shot through his chest, staggering him. “Really Luna? After all this time you’re going to-“ Princess Luna shot him with another bolt of lightning. “Ok, that’s it. Now I’m angry!”
“You men get Twilight away from here, as well as all the ponies you can. I have a score to settle.” Luna shouted as she continued throwing bolts of lightning at Nightmare, who in turn was lobbing black balls of shadow at Luna.
“Princess, I can help! I have an Element of Harmony! We can take him on!” Twilight said as the guards-ponies began pushing her back. “Wait! Let go of me, I can help!”
Luna turned and smiled at Twilight. “I’ll be fine I promise.” She turned back to Nightmare. “You on the other hand, will not be fine. I am going to do what I should’ve done long ago when I found you.” Her entire body began to glow, sparks of electricity surrounding her. Nightmare grinned devilishly as he turned into a tornado of mist and slammed into Luna, destroying the spell she was attempting and sending her flying. She caught herself in midair and shook her head.
“She’s going to lose this battle you know.”
“Then what will happen?”
“I do not know. Someone altered the future by interfering.”
“Oh come on. If you guys had come we could’ve postponed this for another thousand years until the true chosen one comes along.”
“I told you already. The chosen one is here. We ripped him from his life and placed him in his new one, once again altered by someone’s interference.”
“Ok I’m sorry. Look, the plan can still work. We just need to give our players a little push in the right direction.”
“…Fine. Just enough to win this battle and that is IT. You know what happened last time we interfered on a large scale.”
“Yes, we left a part of ourselves in the mortal universe. Six stayed in Equestria, the seventh vanished into the universe. I know this story; it’s my fault it even exists.”
“Go get the others. All seven of us will have to work together in order to right these wrongs.”
Twilight had almost given up on helping Luna. All she could think of at the moment was evacuating the citizens of Ponyville as they woke to the battle. The two were still fighting, both of them high in the skies above the town. There was nothing she could do from down here unless she somehow learned to fly, and that wasn’t happening any time soon. She looked up to see Luna lob a large spell at Nightmare, who deflected it and sent it towards the ground. The powerful spell struck the ground in front of Twilight, sending her flying into an applecart.
“Oh this is bad. This is very bad. Nightmare is taking everything she throws at him. We need help. She needs help.” She closed her eyes and focused her magic on her element, summoning the tiara of magic. She levitated herself onto the roof of a nearby building and began to focus her magic on the most powerful spell she knew and aimed it at Nightmare.
“LUNA, MOVE!” She yelled as the spell discharged, the bright blue beam of pure energy charging towards them. Luna looked up to see the beam and flew upwards, dodging the beam entirely. The beam connected with Nightmare who was sent flying towards the ground in the explosion of magical energies.
“Did you do that?”
“Not too shabby old man. Normally that beam would’ve just stunned the bastard.”
“Shut up, and play your part.”
“I swear an eternity of watching the mortal races hasn’t changed your attitude a bit.”
Twilight looked in awe of her handiwork. She knew the spell didn’t have that much power in it, but she felt fine. She jumped off the roof and ran up to Luna who was standing over the downed Nightmare.
“Ready to die you monster?” Luna stated as her eyes turned dark with malice.
“Not quite love. See, I didn’t want to do this but…” He waved his hand, a few specks of what looked like glitter falling onto the faces of Luna and Twilight. “Now…sleep.
And do not wake up.”
Writers note: This chapter is a bit Grimdark. Why? It’s a nightmare scene. No butterflies and rainbows here folks. Sorry.
Twilight came to in a dark room with a single flickering light above her. She groggily looked around the room and tried to pull herself up. She couldn’t move. She lifted her head up to find herself chained to a table, her torso flayed open for all to see. She screamed and closed her eyes; pain shooting into her as the realization that somepony had cut into her like this hit her.
“Ah, good to see you’re awake. Enjoy my work?”
She cocked her head to see a tall figure standing by the door, smiling menacingly. “M-Marcus? Why would you…” She tried to stifle her cries of pain as the man approached her, picking a scalpel off a nearby shelf.
“When I found myself in your world with no memories I was terrified. Truly, I had no friends no relatives. No home to call my own, I had nothing. I knew nothing about myself but my name. The ponies of Ponyville hated me; they avoided me every time they’d get the chance to. But you were different to a point. You wanted me around to conduct experiments on me as if I was just a test subject. We were never equals. You and all the others looked at me like I was a monster.” Marcus said as he laid the scalpel down and picked up a kitchen knife.
“We never hated you. We were afraid of you Marcus, but we grew close. We became friends over the short period of time we were together and-“ She stopped short to scream in pain as the knife was jabbed into her stomach.
“FRIENDS? Face it Sparkle the only thing I was to you was a test subject. Day in and day out you wanted to do experiments to find out what I am. Who cares what I am? All that matters now is-“
The room was encased in a bright light and Twilight was lifted up, the pain gone. She fell asleep as she heard a lullaby she hadn’t heard in years…
Princess Luna awoke in a daze, confused as to what had transpired. She looked up and squinted her eyes at something round in the distance, trying to focus her vision. She was taken aback as her vision cleared and she saw a sight she thought she would never see again. The world she had grown up on, the land of Equestria was floating in the distance, once again out of reach.
“Nightmare! This isn’t funny one bit! Now you get me off this cursed rock right now or I’ll-“ She stopped herself and closed her eyes, holding back tears. She was once again imprisoned on the moon. The only difference was she was truly alone this time. She fell to the ground slamming her head into the surface sobbing.
My little star in the night
Shining ever so bright
In the dark of the night
You will forge a light
And all will be right in the world
Twilight sat up in a cold sweat, slamming her hooves into her chest. She began checking herself for cuts and lacerations, but found none. She looked around the room to have a flood of memories slam into her. She was at home with her parents as a filly. She looked and noticed she had no cutie mark as the light outside the door turned on.
“Are you alright Twilight darling?”
“I…I’m fine mom. I’m going back to bed now.”
“Ok Twilight dear. Sweet dreams.” The light outside turned off as Twilight laid her head back down and went to sleep.
Twilight woke to the roll of thunder and a scream. She dashed out the door and down the hall to her parents room. She pushed the door open to find the room empty.
“Mom? Dad?” Twilight looked around the room and turned to the window. A storm was forming outside, and it was a big one. She turned and ran to check the other rooms and found the front door to the house open. She stepped outside and screamed as she saw her parents in flames, turned to burning corpses by stray lightning. She screamed at the top of her lungs as her horn began to glow. Her body began to lift off the ground as the dream began to collapse around her, her scream continuing as her horn began to glow brighter and brighter.
Nightmare stood and brushed himself off, stepping over the sleeping ponies. He laughed as the small unicorn began to tremble and shake, his nightmare obviously taking a large effect on her. He began to walk away as he saw something falling from the sky, a twinkle at first, but then it grew larger like a comet, raging and roaring as it began to descend quickly from the heavens.
“What the…oh, I see. This should be fun.” He extended his wings and took to the skies charging the comet. “COME THEN, LET US DO BATTLE.”
Twilight floated through a dark void, the rage bubbling inside her as she continued to channel her magic, her horn glowing brighter than it ever had before. Her mind snapped under the pressure and she fell out of the void, landing in a white room.
“Welcome. It’s about time you got here.”
“Who are you? Another trick of Nightmares to terrify me?”
“No trust me on this one. I am not working with that…thing. I friend of mine is actually attacking him now as we speak.”
“Who are you?”
“I suppose introductions are in order. You know me as Magic miss Sparkle. I am, in a manner of speaking, your Element of Harmony.”
“How am I…what is…huh?” Twilight cocked an eyebrow in confusion as the voice chuckled.
“I thought this would be your reaction child. Fear not, we will take care of this issue. But after this, you are on your own. We cannot interfere too much. Now, do me a favor and wake up. Wake up and fight this battle.”
Nightmare collided with the comet as it exploded, causing him to fly backwards. “Your friend tried this once already foal! My victory will be sealed this day!”
“No, it will not. This ends here Nightmare.” The flames dissipated as the silver coated Pegasus glared his opponent down.
“You know if you keep this up you may cause another rift in the universe. Remember last time you all did this?” Nightmare said grinning mischievously.
“You think I came alone? No Nightmare…” The Pegasus began to glow as he extended his wings. “We will defeat you today. That is a fact.” The Pegasus exploded in flame as a Phoenix flew directly into Nightmare, catching him off guard. Nightmare attempted a counter move but failed as the phoenix slammed into him, causing him to rocket into the ground below.
Twilight woke with a stir and jumped up. She was actually awake this time! She smiled with glee as she noted the building of Ponyville, the giant phoenix in the air, the…wait. Giant phoenix? She shook her head and looked back to see the magnificent bird flying down at an angle towards the outskirts of Ponyville. “What the hay is going on here?”
“We are righting the wrongs we have committed.”
“We are dealing as much damage to Nightmare as possible. I need you to cooperate and unleash all of your magic.”
“I can try. What are you planning?”
“Remember your entrance exam to Canterlot University? We need you to do that again.”
“What lose control of my magic? What will that do?”
“It will separate Nightmare from your friend. He will become mortal.”
Twilight watched as the Phoenix was thrown into the air by a black beam that seemed like a sludge of some sorts as Nightmare flew back up.
“Release it all. Show us your true power!”
Twilight began to levitate as her body became incased in a magical shell. She gathered all of the magic she had inside of her and concentrated it on one super spell before she began to slip, her legs threatening to give out.
“Now…let us show him the forbidden powers of the Fates.”
Twilights eyes glowed a pure white as magic began to flow freely from her body that hung limp in the air. The phoenix ducked down and slammed into Nightmare, flying him directly into the path of the megaspell.
“What….WHAT IS THIS? YOU CANNOT DEFEAT ME, I AM NIGHTMARE! YOU WILL ALL RUE THE DAY YOU DARED TO-“ He was cut off as the spell began to disintegrate the armor that encased him. He felt his mind pulling away from Marcus’s as the spell exploded, sending Nightmare flying from the explosion. Nightmare felt fear. He was feeling things he had not felt in so long…his heart was beating fast. A sweat began to break as his breathing picked up. “I’m mortal…no! No no no no no no no this cannot be!” He stood unsteadily and ran into a back alley, morphing into a black mist and vanishing.
The phoenix landed and morphed back into the silver Pegasus and snatched Twilight as her spell wore off and she began to fall to the ground. “Don’t you worry now girly, we got ya.” He turned his head to the unmoving body of Marcus, left from the megaspell. “And you are now on the correct path.” He looked to the skies and took off as the sun rose high above Equestria.
Twilight woke up with a groan and pulled herself out of bed. “What a nightmare…” She muttered as she went the usual route to her bathroom, only to walk right into a wall. “What…where am I?” She shook the weariness from her head and looked around to recognize her old room in the Canterlot royal library.
“How did I get…was it all real?” She racked her brain on the events of the previous night, her dreams whilst under Nightmares spell, the voice gently pushing her to fight, Marcus in the form of Nightmare staring menacingly at the world. She thought for a moment if he was alright, and if he was even alive anymore.
“Admit it Sparkle. I was just a test subject to you. We were never friends.”
The words rang loudly in her ears as she closed her eyes, telling herself it was all Nightmares doing. “Is that how he felt? He never seemed bothered by our experiments…” Her train of thought broke as she heard a knock at the door which swung open as Princess Celestia walked in.
“Ah my faithful student Twilight. I am glad to see you are awake.” The Princess said as she knelt down and nuzzled the unicorn. “I was beginning to worry. You’ve been out for three days.”
Twilight broke away from the Princess with a startled look. “Three days? What happened that knocked me out for three days?”
“You drained your body of almost all its magic. You needed time to recover from the massive loss from that spell of yours.” The Princess stepped over to the window looking out to the city of Ponyville in the distance. “Your friends have been writing me asking for updates on your health. They’ll be pleased to see you when they get here later.”
“Three days…was that your phoenix I saw the other night? The one that was fighting Nightmare?” Twilight asked as she joined her teacher by the window.
“Philomena? No, she has been in the castle. Quite a few ponies declared seeing a massive phoenix fighting Nightmare. Some of them say a silver coated pegasus turned into it. Strange stories are being told about this. Nightmares return has sparked a lot of fear and gossip.”
“Does Nightmare still have Marcus?” Twilight asked as she stepped back over to the bed, hopping up and sitting down.
“No, he is here in the castle. He woke up a few hours after we brought the three of you back here. Hasn’t said a word since.” Celestia said with a slightly mournful face. “Princess Luna woke up as soon as we reached Canterlot. She told me she was forced into a dream where she was trapped on the moon all alone. She’s been trying to talk to Marcus, but it’s like Nightmare took his voice. Maybe you could try to talk to him?”
“I can try Princess. Which room is he in?” Twilight said as she jumped off the bed and walked to the door.
“Right across the hall actually. The way I see it he thinks this is all his fault. You need to let him know he is innocent in all this. He has done nothing wrong. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my duties.” Twilight bowed as Celestia walked past her out of the room.
“We were never equals. You and all the others looked at me like I was a monster.”
Twilight nudged the door open a bit and peaked inside. The room was laid out much like her own but the furniture was bigger. She stepped inside and closed the door behind her.
“Marcus are you alright?”
Her call was met with silence.
“Marcus, I know you’re in here. I just want to talk.”
Still silent. Her eyes shifted to the window. “Marcus please. This wasn’t your fault.”
Her ears perked as she heard a sound from across the room. She stepped over and smiled as she found Marcus sitting against the bookshelf. “What did Nightmare do to you? Celestia told me you haven’t said a word since you woke up.”
“Please, just say anything! Hello, go away, anything!”
Marcus sighed and looked away from Twilight. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry. This was all my fault. Nightmare tempted me and I fell for it. I’m such an idiot.” He said as he hung his head.
“Marcus it’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong.” Twilight said as she tried to reassure him.
“Not my fault? You wanna know something? Nightmare told me shortly after he took over that he had to act on my desires. He then went off and began attacking you and Princess Luna. I caused this. It all stemmed from me and my petty emotions.” Marcus stood and stepped away from Twilight. “He then cast the both of you into a nightmare and forced me to watch as he tore you apart.”
“The things you said in the dream…the things Nightmare told me…is that how you felt? That you were just a test subject and not my friend?” Twilight asked.
“…Kind of. But that’s not the point Twilight. The point is that I almost got you hurt. I almost plunged the world into an eternal nightmare. But no biggie right, he’s gone and all can go back to normal right?” He said in a sarcastic tone. “Whatever defeated him didn’t finish the job. It tore him out of me and he ran off. Nightmare is out there somewhere wreaking havoc, and it’s all my fault.” He punched the wall and sat down.
Twilight tried to find a way to relate to the situation and failed. “I…I’m sorry Marcus. I don’t know what to say here besides your wrong. We’ve been friends since you said hello to us back at Sweet Apple Acres. Since we helped you learn who you are. We’ve been friends this entire time Marcus. Now if Nightmare is still on the loose, we need to go stop him before he hurts somepony. We can right these wrongs.”
“What did you say?”
“We can right these wrongs Marcus. We can stop Nightmare if we all work together and take him on. We can…” She trailed off as she heard hoofsteps coming up behind her. She turned to see that both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had been watching from the door, and the two eavesdropping princesses smiled as they entered.
“She’s right you know.” Princess Luna stated. “You can’t run from the past forever. You have to face it and defeat it before it consumes you. I fought my past three nights ago. Now it’s your turn.”
“My sister is correct Marcus. You can’t stay here mopping about like this. You need to go out and face Nightmare for what he has done.” Celestia turned to the window, the sun still barely above the mountains in the distance. “If you agree to do this, we will do everything in our power to make sure you are prepared for the journey to find and defeat him. He must be stopped permanently.”
Marcus stood and looked over at Princess Celestia. “If it means I redeem myself and ponies stop looking at me like I’m going to eat them, I’ll do it.” Marcus cracked a small smile and turned to Twilight. “Besides, I’ll have a few friends along right?”
Twilight walked down the nearly empty halls of Canterlot lost in thought.
‘Nightmare shouldn’t be too hard to defeat right? According to Celestia he’s mortal now and should have no magic. We’ve got the Elements of Harmony on our side so it can’t be too difficult… right?’ Twilight stopped herself as she looked where he subconscious had led her. She was standing in the library she had spent so many of her years in under Celestias wing.
“Guess I really wanted to be alone. Either that or I just wanted a book.” Twilight chuckled as she walked down the aisles of bookshelves noting every book she had read, which was almost all of them. “I can’t believe I spent so much time in this place. All of those years spent studying and reading.” She looked up to a tapestry of Princess Celestia sitting at her throne smiling. “Wish I could’ve met my friends earlier. But I guess we were always together weren’t we?” She looked at her cutie mark smiling. “I hope this all works out well for us. All the dangers we’ve faced down so far, this should be nothing…right?”
Marcus stood at the window looking out over Canterlot. He had an amazing view but cared little for it. He was watching one group of ponies in particular. Celestia had sent for all of Twilights friends to be brought to Canterlot to visit their friend now that she had finally woke up. He wondered how they felt about him as he watched them walk down the crowded street towards the castle. The Princesses and Twilight had left him alone after his agreement to hunt Nightmare, like he had a choice in the matter. He knew from the start he would have to end what he started but a thought constantly pecked at the back of his mind. He thought back to the diary Nightmare gave him to flip through in the mind-mansion. It was mostly gibberish, but one part stood out in the mess of scribbles. It was only one line but it was enough.
“He can be killed. We just don’t know how.”
He stuck his hands in his pockets and walked back towards the door. He wasn’t ready to go outside. He wanted to stay inside that room forever but knew he couldn’t. He had a job to do now.
Princess Luna looked at her bed contemplating sleep. It was nearing noon but she wasn’t tired. The last few days had been hell on earth for her, but it had its perks. Ponies had been greeting her nicely the last few days instead of shirking to the opposite side of the hallway when she passed by. She had even received a few gifts from a few ponies from Canterlot and Ponyville for stopping Nightmare. A smile played across her face as she heard the voices of Twilights friends out in the hallway. She turned to the window to see a dragon almost as large as herself standing there with his arms folded.
“How much longer do we have to keep this a secret?”
“Not much longer old friend.”
“You know I hate keeping secrets. You should’ve just told Celly.”
“We needed both Alicorns to assist us. It will take all of this for this battle. You know this.”
“I know fully of the situation. We’ll get him this time. I swear it.”
The dragon nodded and snapped his fingers turning into a mist and vanishing. Luna let out a sigh of relief as she laid down.
“This is gonna be hard.”
“Hey Rainbow mind walkin instead of flyin? I don’t like the looks were getting from the guards here.” Applejack said as her rainbow maned friend did a loop-de-loop over her head, coming mere inches from knocking over a vase.
“Sorry Applejack I’m just excited. Twilights been out for days and she’s finally awake! This is her room right?” Rainbow said as she landed in front of one of the many doors in the long hallway.
Fluttershy stepped up and nudged it open, slowly glancing about. “She’s not in here girls. Must of went for a walk.”
“Oh well that’s no fun! Now she’ll have to wait for my super awesome gift longer!” Pinkie pouted jokingly as she bounced into the room.
“Pinkie please, you’ve been bouncing the entire time we’ve been here.” Rarity said with a whining tone. “Would you please just walk? Your making me too tired to be enthusiastic about this visit.”
Marcus opened the door to his room to see the group of ponies entering Twilights room. “She’s gone off to the library girls.”
Rainbow turned at the noise sneering. “Go figures. She wakes up and goes straight to the library. Surprised to see you here Marcus. No room left in the dungeons or something?”
“Now there ain’t no reason for that Rainbow. It’s not his fault Nightmare possessed him. It could’a happened to anypony and you know it.” Applejack stated confidently as she glared at Rainbow. “Thank you for telling us where Twilight is. Wanna tag along?”
“Rainbow looked down sheepishly as Marcus smiled calmly. “Sure. I need to get out of this room anyhow. I think I’ll let Twilight fill you in when we find her.”
“Oooh, what’s going on Marcus? We throwing a party?” Pinkie asked as she bounced around.
“Were going to defeat Nightmare once and for all.”
Twilight looked up from a book she had found as her friends ran up to her from across the library. She sat it down and ran to meet them halfway smiling. “Hey girls, glad you could make it. Guess I’ve been out of it the last few days huh? Hehe…”
The girls grabbed Twilight in a large group hug as they told her their own variations of how happy they were to see her ok. Marcus leaned against the wall nearby staring blankly into space.
“I told them the gist of the plan Twilight. I figured you could tell them the full story.” He said as he turned away from the group.
“Well…alright then. Marcus and I are going after Nightmare. Any of you who want to come along can. This is gonna be a lot more dangerous than anything we have ever done girls.”
Rainbow sat down and tapped her chin. “Dangerous huh? Well, I’m in.” Fluttershy nodded in approval.
Applejack smiled and patted Twilight on the back. “I’m in to. Ain’t gonna let no friend of mine go out into the wide world of Equestria chasin some monster alone like this.”
“I agree with Applejack.” Rarity declared as she turned to Marcus. “Are you sure you want us all tagging along? We did insult you earlier and it’s very clear you’ve not forgiven us.”
Marcus shifted a bit against the wall and turned his head to view Rarity. “I’ll never be over it to be honest. The things Nightmare did will haunt me till I die.” He turned back to the wall. “If you all really want to come along I’m fine with it.”
“Marcus, we can put the past behind us you know that right? You did nothing wrong in all this and you know it. Now please stop putting yourself down and be happy before we let Pinkie throw you a party.” Rarity said playfully as Pinkie grinned with glee at the thought of throwing a party.
“C’mon turn that frown upside down and be happy!” Pinkie said as she jumped up somehow standing on the side of a bookcase. “So, where’s Nightmare at? I got a lot of pranks I can pull on him!”
“Pinkie this isn’t the time for party gags. This is serious business girls.” Twilight said as she stood up and shelved the book she had been reading. “Let’s go back to my room and plan this out. We got a lot of work to do.”
Princess Celestia sighed as the final pony left her throne room. It had been a surprisingly busy day for her, one of the many she wished Luna would finish her training for. She stepped off her throne and motioned for her guards to step outside. The guards nodded and left, closing the door behind them. She let out a sigh and looked at the throne.
“How long have you been back there?”
The silver pegasus stepped out from the shadows, his fiery red mane and eyes shining brightly. “Just arrived actually. Are we prepared?”
“No were not. Your ‘Chosen One’ is the gloomiest creature I’ve ever seen. What did you say he was again?”
“He’s a human, but that won’t matter for much longer.”
“Yes, more of your twisted tales you refuse to tell me. It’s very hard to work with you when you keep everything a secret.”
“It’s for the best Celestia. You remember what happened last time we interfered.”
“Love that word don’t you? Yes I remember it well. I had to rewrite the entire legend myself as well as pull off a memory spell on several ponies because of it.” Celestia said as she turned to a knock at the door.
“I’ll be off then. Give him your boon and send them on their way. We need to act now or all will be lost.”
The group piled into the spacious room Twilight had been given for her stay in Canterlot chatting amongst themselves about the days ahead. They all knew it would be dangerous but they were used to danger now. After the manticores and dragons and hydras they had dealt with in the past, not to mention the baby Ursa, they felt they would be fine following their friends into the unknown. As they all piled around a map Twilight had laid out the Princess walked in with her casual grin and kneeled down next to her student.
“I’m not going to lie to you all. This will be the hardest thing you ever do. My student Twilight is lucky to have such faithful friends as you all.” She turned to Marcus, who looked away to pretend to be looking at a painting. “As for you, I need you to go out and redeem yourself. I’ve been suggested to give you something but I don’t know if you’ll be able to use it.”
Marcus turned with perked curiosity to look the Princess in the eye. “What is it? I’m sure I can use whatever you can spare to give me right now.”
The princess turned and nodded to the door. “I have put a bit of my magic into the ruby you were found with. For every letter on the ruby, you can cast a spell that will hopefully assist you.” At this a large blue stallion stepped into the room with a pillow on his back, the ruby glistening atop it. “After the six spells are used, that’s it. It is all I can give you right now, besides the currency you all will dearly need for this journey.”
Rainbow Dash hovered over grinning mischievously as Marcus picked up the ruby, clenching it in his fist. “How far away did Nightmare go exactly?”
Celestia turned with a grim frown. “He’s gone into no-ponies land…the far reaches. The land I have no control over, nor any records of. Very few scouts have returned from there all telling tales that make our Everfree forest sound tame. I’m sorry if I have unnerved any of you with this news, but you deserve the truth.” She stepped over to the window as her voice rang loudly in her mind. ‘Or at least as much as I can tell you…’
Nightmare Spat in disgust at the dead manticore that had attacked him. The ignorant beast had taken him for an injured creature and died instantly for its incompetence. He looked up as two pegasus ponies flew fast overhead, neither seeming to notice him. “Looking for me all the way out here eh? Guess it’s time to go home after all.” He shoved his hands deep in his pockets. He was really loving the clothes Marcus had on when they split. As a pony he rarely wore clothing, and when he did it was usually armor. He chuckled as he thought back to his former self, snapping himself out of a flashback before it could happen. He didn’t want to be caught off guard here. He snapped his fingers turning into his mist form, flying up through the trees. He was nearing the borders of Equestria and the long forgotten lands of Aiyleisia, the place where he was born. The place where, over two thousand years before, all of the denizens had died for the dreams and wishes of one pony. He soared over the mountain range splitting the two countries one side green and lush, the other bleak and dark. He heard the howls of several creatures as he flew over the treetops of the ancient land at neck-break speeds. He landed on a hilltop and merged back into his normal (For now at least) form and smiled at the sight of the overgrown ruins of his old home.
“It’s time to start a revolution, and this land is a perfect fit for the job.”
It took three days for the girls to prepare. Marcus had chosen to remain in Canterlot after the princess offered to let him train with her royal guards. He wasn’t a pegasus, but he was a quick thinker. Upon their arrival in Ponyville Twilight was bombarded with praise and claims of thankfulness, as well as many “Glad you ok’s”. She had spent the time preparing a map for their journey as well as figuring out a few helpful spells to learn and books to bring along. Rarity had spent her time wrapping up last minute orders and preparing her own outfit, as well as a request from Marcus. He had asked her in private so none of them knew what it was he had asked for. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash practiced their flying and hunted down a house sitter for Fluttershy, finally deciding on Bon-Bon and Lyra. Pinkie Pie surprised everypony by not gathering hundreds of sweets, but actually procuring healthy and sustaining foodstuffs. Applejack had helped her along the way with various suggestions and assisted with weight distribution. Princess Celestia had promised them a healthy sum of a thousand bits for their trip to procure food and other supplies. The night of the third day the girls all turned and writhed in their beds, unable to sleep at the thoughts of the coming day.
Marcus threw a kick at the target planting his bare foot into its midsection, causing it to rock heavily on its post. The pegasi instructing him nodded in approval as Marcus sent another set of forceful kicks at the dummy.
“That should be fine for the night Marcus. Don’t want to over exert yourself when in combat. You want to find a good medium of using your own energy and making your enemy use theirs.” The pegasi nodded and turned to a group of younger guardsmen sparring. “You two stop for a second.” He turned back to Marcus, who had been slipping his slightly torn shoes back on. “Don’t put those on right yet. I want you to spar with these two for the rest of the evening. You two fine with that?”
“Yes sir.” The duo said in unison, nodding.
“Good. Show him the ropes of ground combat and how to deal with an air-bound enemy when you can’t fly yourself.” The pegasi turned and stepped out of the training hall leaving the three to themselves. Marcus studied his adversaries, one younger earth pony mare with a green coat and butter yellow mane and a slightly older looking red pegasi stallion with a black mane. The mare finally decided to break the silence of the trio by coughing and nudging her sparring partner.
‘Huh? Alright I’ll start. My name is Silverbore. The lass here is named Truebolt. Guess we’re sparring with you now eh?”
“Marcus put his hands on the back of his head. “Guess so. Might as well get started right? According to your captain I need a lot of work.”
The mare giggled a bit and raised her hoof to her mouth. “Yea, no offense but we both chuckled when you couldn’t kick the dummy off its stand. No offense meant of course, you don’t buck like a pony you kind of just…throw your back leg out there.” She looked at Marcus’ feet and looked back up confused. “What uh….what are you anyways?”
“Truebolt that’s not a very nice question to be asking here.” Silverbore interjected. “Sorry if she insulted you friend, she’s not very good with questions.” Truebolt stomped on Silverbores hoof
“It’s fine. Honestly I don’t even know what I am.” Marcus said as he sat down on the floor.
“How do you not know what you are?” Silverbore asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
Marcus stood dusting his hands off. “And that’s my story. Woke up in a hole, lived in Ponyville, got possessed by Nightmare, ended up training here to fight him.” He looked at the two ponies who were staring at him in disbelief, their jaws hanging agape.
“IF that’s all true, I have to say wow. If it’s fake, that’d make a damn fine book.” Silverbore stated looking out the window. It was almost dusk and they hadn’t trained at all.
“Crap. We are gonna get in so much trouble.” Truebolt said as her eyes widened with worry.
“Calm down, I got an idea here…” Marcus said smiling. “Got an obstacle course around here?”
The guard captain walked into the training room and looked around, not seeing his new trainee or his sparring partners. He frowned slightly as he stepped through the room, his hoovesteps echoing off the walls. As he approached the end of the room he heard the sound of arrows whizzing through the air. He galloped towards the end of the room and turned to the obstacle course to see all three of them standing at the end of it panting heavily.
“You ran the obstacle course? All three of you?”
The trio nodded in unison.
“If that is true, astounding work. If not I’ll have all three of you scrubbing floors for the next month.” He whistled as a unicorn can bustling into the room wearing a lab coat of sorts. “Check to see if they ran the course.”
The unicorn ran into the obstacle course purposefully setting off all of the traps to find none of them active. He ran a tracking spell to check for hoofprints, and in the case of Marcus, footprints to find they had truly ran the track.
“They did it sir. All traps were disabled or activated and their tracks run through the entire course.” The captain smiled with glee as he stomped his forehooves into the ground.
“It’s settled then. The three of you get the rest of the night to yourselves. Enjoy it.” The captain and lab-coat pony walked out leaving the trio smiling at each other.
“I can’t believe that worked!” Truebolt muttered smiling at Marcus who pulled his ruby from his pants pocket. The S had faded off. He smiled and turned to his two new friends.
“So, what are you two up for tonight? I can’t use anymore of the magic in this thing but I’m up for anything you two can throw at me.”
Truebolt and Silverbore looked at each other for a moment and smiled in unison turning back to Marcus. “I think we have a good idea. Come on, we’ll surprise you.”
The trio stepped out of the training hall and ran off laughing outside of the building. It was the first time Marcus had truly laughed since he woke up in Ponyville. This was the most fun he could remember having. He would miss his two new friends when he left in the morning, but that wasn’t on his mind. Tonight he was going to have fun with his new friends. Celestia watched the trio running down from the castle to Canterlot proper smiling. Marcus had finally learned of the values of friendship. He was finally ready.