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The Night that Never Ended p12

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The captain really didn't like magic. Perhaps it came from her dislike of Trixie, perhaps it was because it was something that she'd never be able to do, or perhaps it was just some innate pet peeve. Usually, it was just a general aversion that defied explanation. Today in particular, though, she could very firmly put her hoof on exactly why she didn't like magic.

Four Royal Guard ponies stood facing eachother, their hooves digging into the soft dirt. Their eyes were closed and their teeth were gritted as their horns shone brightly in the night. Standing in the middle of the diamond they formed, Trixie's eyes shown bright white as she gazed unseeingly forward.

Unsurprised, the captain figured out what was happening. She has a good portion of Nightmare Moon's power in her, but she's making them do all the work. Over a hundred ponies are being teleported a distance that I could fly in less than a day, and she's not even helping.

The Captain shifted her weight and was pushed harshly by the guard next to her. Once Trixie had stopped paying attention, she had convinced the guards to let her stand up at least, but they still watched her like hawks. She exercised what little freedom she had by turning her head around, taking in the sights around her.

She and her guards were standing off the side of the main host, nine rows by ten columns with change to spare. Every Royal Guard Pony wore the same black armor with spikes along the back, along with a helmet and matching hoofguards. Though their natural coats were not masked, everypony in the Royal Guard tended to look and act the same after they had been part of them long enough. It had made getting moles into Trixie's order very difficult for the captain.

Trixie's horn flashed, and a few nearby soldiers 'oohed' and 'ahhed' on cue. The captain made barfing motions, but nopony bothered to reprimand her. That's the third time she's done that. Celestia, she's been going on this for over twenty minutes now, who's she showing off for?

The captain was reminded of why she didn't like magic when Trixie's horn flashed yet again. Unicorns teleported all the time, she had seen it happen hundreds of times. But not the Great and Powerful Trixie! Oh no, she's far too powerful to arrive at her destination with a mere twinkle. Stupid showboating foal, you're not even doing anything.

The captain's frustration got the better of her, and she turned to the guard on her right. "You know they are just feeding her their power, right? I mean, I'm a pegasus and I can see that."

The guard looked down his snout at her. "Hmph. As if you have any appreciation for the power emanating from her. We are but flies in the presence of a divine flame, but you," he raised his nose even further, if that was possible, "are but dirt."

"Ok, a little creepy, but you're loyal, and we can see eye to eye on that." She smiled up at her captor, who eyed her warily. "Look, I can help her out, she's about to teleport the wrong direction. If you just unbind my feet I can go tell her."

The unicorn smirked and turned away from her. "Your last escape attempt was better. You must be getting desperate."

"I maintain that the warrant officer is an old friend and probably harbors loyalties to Ponyville. And I'm not desperate." The captain scoffed, but her captor had begun ignoring her again. Without anything else to do, she turned her gaze back to Trixie, the glow from her eyes now making her painful to look at. I'm not getting desperate…

________________________

Twilight entered the mayors building quickly. Her research had kept her up all day, and now she was late for her work in Rarity's office. As she made her way through the deserted hallway, her bloodshot eyes twitched to guide her up the stairs to Rarity's office.

She turned the handle with her magic and tried to walk through. It wasn't until she walked painfully into the door with a sharp Klonk that her tired mind registered that the handle had not turned. Regaining her composure and shaking her head to wake herself up, she tried the handle again to find that it was, in fact, locked.

The sound of hoofsteps came from inside, responding to Twilight's acidental knock. After a moment, the door was unlocked and opened slightly and from around the door a fraction of an orange face looked outward.

"Applejack? You're not Rarity…I mean, what's going on here?" Twilight shook herself awake again, but the lack of sleep kept crowding her mind. "Why is the door locked?"

Applejack's face relaxed at seeing Twilight. "Oh, it's you Twi, I completely forgot that you were coming in." Applejack stepped back and opened the door all the way, letting Twilight inside. Instead of entering, however, Twilight stood in the doorway in surprise.

"N-now don't freak out! She's fine, or, uh, she will be fine…" Applejack looked nervously from Twilight to the unconscious figure of Rarity, who lay face down over her desk. "I know it looks bad, but I figure she just had a bit too much to drink was all."

"T-to drink?" Twilight tried to wrap her head around the scene in front of her. Rarity was clearly unconscious, her mouth drooling and her eyes open just slightly. Except for her flank rising with each breath, she might have been dead. "She went drinking? As if this town didn't have enough problems."

Applejack stepped back and recoiled defensively, "Hey now Twi, I ain't arguing with you there. I just got here myself, I didn't hear her come in at all last night. Before we go gettin' angry at anypony, we outta  move her to a bed and away from where anyone can walk in and see her like this."

Applejack moved over to Rarity's side and gave her an experimental prod. When she didn't respond, the orange earth pony tried to maneuver herself under the collapsed unicorn. Seeing her friend struggle with the awkward task snapped Twilight out of her thoughts, and she walked over to help her friend.

Twilight's horn flared. The dead weight of Rarity was lifted from her collapsed position on the chair and Applejack. Applejack smiled at her friend in appreciation and went to open the door to Rarity's bed room, where Twilight floated Rarity gently.

______________________________

The captain watched as the glow around Trixie's horn spread over her whole body. It had been building for nearly an hour, and the four unicorns around her looked exhausted. The streams of magic that had been pouring out of them and arching to Trixie's horn had diminished to thin lines, their strength obviously tapped. The aura creeped over the last few inches of her hooves, and Trixie's eyes flashed white again. This time, however, they stayed that way as she rose slowly into the air.

The captain wasn't sure whether she was worried or relieved. On the one hand, standing there and watching the ridiculous spectacle had been mind-numbingly boring. On the other hand, they were about to teleport and she still had no plan to escape. Maybe after we arrive, they will all be disoriented enough that I can slip away? She shook her head, knowing that it was a longshot. Yea right, ponies that teleport every day will be dizzy, but I'll come out of it fine. She sighed, knowing that there was nothing she could do for the moment. She was distracted by her own problems by a thunderous crack, and her head shot up to Trixie.

The magic filled mare had risen several feet off the ground, and now hovered with her front hooves to her side and gaze at the horizon. I may not be a unicorn, thought the captain, but I know that is far more magic than a teleportation spell needs. What is that foal trying to do? With a sinking realization, the captain noticed that Trixie was looking in the exact direction of Ponyville. The crowd began to cheer, but immediately went silent as Trixie began to speak.

Her voice echoed within the captain's mind, as she was sure it echoed in everypony else's. Soldiers of Her Royal Majesty! Today, we set out to right the wrongs of those who were too weak to do their duty. Today, you earn your title of Royal Guard. We go now to eradicate a rebel camp and end this threat to this kingdom's peace, once and for all!

As the mental booming faded from the captain's mind, the cheers of the ponies around her filled the void. Once the captain began to notice the strange pull in her chest, she knew the spell had begun.

______________________________

Rarity's bedroom was much plainer than Twilight had imagined. The bed was disappointingly normal, although the sheets were the same purple as Rarity's mane. Sparse furniture lay about the room, but very little flair or fashion was visible. Twilight let her friend fall softly on to the bed, then relaxed and gasped for breath.

Applejack shot her a questioning look when she noticed her friend gasping. "Twi, you alright? I've seen you lift far heavier loads than that little mare, sugarcube."

Twilight caught her breath and swallowed, standing up straight. "Huh, yea, I'm fine, I just, had a long night last night was all." She smiled nervously at the concerned earth pony, "Magic can take a lot out of you when you're tired."

Applejack nodded and walked out of the room with Twilight, closing the door softly behind her. "Well listen Twi, I'll stay up and wait for Rarity to recover, why don't you go get some sleep? I'm sure there's a spare cot somewhere in this building." She looked around the office, noticing the drool covered desk. Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be many new notices. "It doesn't look like there's much for you to do here anyway, but I'll come and wake you once Rarity gets up, then we can get this whole thing sorted out.

Twilight smiled at her friend, "Thanks, Applejack. I don't think I slept last night either, and my body clock is not working as well as it should be. Make sure you come wake me when Rarity gets up, though." With a last smile, Twilight turned and walked out of the office, leaving Applejack alone.

__________________________

The sky around the captain grew darker, and she noticed belatedly that she was now looking at trees. Her entire world swam around her, and she kept her eyes locked straight ahead in fear of what she might see. She felt weightless for a terrifying moment, but then the strange tug that seemed to pull in every direction reined her in harshly. Just as it vanished, she stumbled onto the ground and began heaving violently, what little food she had eaten that day coming back up.

With the teleportation spell ended, she looked desperately around her between retches. She could still feel the invisible bonds of magic hold her wings in place, but she knew from her stumbling that she could still run. Come on Dash, find an opening and slip through. You've been here before; you know this area better than them.

As Dash rose unsteadily to her feet, she saw the ground below her become brighter as her own shadow became sharper. Puzzled, she turned around to find that the light source was Trixie, who stood shining like a star in the middle of the disheveled group. Though the captain tried to tear her eyes away and run, she found herself enraptured by the sight.

Trixie rose a few feet into the air and stared through the tree line, and the captain knew instinctively that she was looking towards the heart of the mountain that housed New Ponyville. Trixie's eyes closed as the aura around her dimmed, the air humming with tension.

For a few moments, nothing happened. The only sounds came from the wind as is whistled through the scant branches that still stood. The Everfree forest stood still around the invasion force, waiting for Trixie's next move. The wind whipped up for a brief second, and the glow around Trixie vanished.

The white light engulfing Trixie's pupils faded instantly, and with a soft exhalation she began to fall to the ground. Her breath floated through the air, over the wind that was whipping-

Wait, what happened to the wind?

The captain became aware of her surroundings in an instant. All sound except for the drawn out gasp from Trixie had vanished. The soft sound floated past the captain and was gone, her ears ringing painfully in the din of the ensuing silence. Trixie seemed to fall to the ground in slow motion as the captain's mind scrambled to find out what was happening. It wasn't until she looked to the unicorns next to her that she figured it out.

The captain's mind was functioning much faster than her body was, and although her head barely obeyed her command to turn to the side, she was able to see the face of the unicorns near Trixie. As one, their eyes were black as day, and with horror the captain realized that their pupils had expanded to fill the entirety of their eyes. It's…that shouldn't even be possible. Celestia, what has she done?

As fast as it had come, the strange time and silence effect vanished. Trixie hit the ground with a loud THUMP, and the sound shook everypony from the trance that had held them. The captain stood shaking while other the soldiers rushed to her side, not registering the ropes that had been thrown over her until several seconds after her winds and hooves had been securely tied.

As Trixie rose unsteadily from the center of the crowd, shaking slightly, the captain looked down at herself and at the ponies around her. Already, the eyes of the unicorns had mostly returned to normal, with a few exceptions rapidly shrinking before her. The unicorns seemed unaffected now, but the captain felt…

Fine. Her mind ran, checking every part of her body and mind over and over, trying to find anything that felt different. I feel fine. Nothing has changed at all.

Unable to resist the temptation, the captain laughed. Trixie's head whipped around at the sound, and the captain felt herself hoisted to her feet by the guards next to her. Trixie tried to advance menacingly on the captain, but stumbled quickly. Purposefully mustering as much dignity as she could, she motioned for the captain to be brought to her.

Already hoisted by her captors, the captain was dragged through the muck to the center of the circle of unicorns before being dropped in the black rot before Trixie. Though her own hooves and flank were covered in the goop from her fall, the haughty unicorn managed to look condescendingly on the bound  form below her. "What, my dear captain, is so funny about your impending death?"

The captain smiled, her heart soaring at the failed spectacle. "Nothing, Trixie, nothing! Certainly not the spell that did…oh, right." She frowned and made a mocking baby voice. "It's ok wittle Twixie, it's a learning expewiance."

Trixie glared daggers at the captain, but after a moment her mouth curved up in a smile. "Heh. Hehehe, hahahaHAHAHA!" The laughter subsided as quickly as it came, but an arrogant smile still played around Trixie's lips as she began to speak, "For a moment there, I forgot that you have no idea what you're talking about." She straightened her back and looked down condescendingly at the captain. "Thanks to your information on their location, I've just effectively removed the strongest defenses of New Ponyville, as well as their leadership." She waved a hoof dismissively as she turned away, striding into the ranks of her followers. "You couldn't possibly understand the shell of a pony left when a unicorn loses her magic."

The captain was grabbed by another set of hooves and hauled from the ground. The very physical ropes around her hooves chafed more than her magical manacles had, and as she was dragged away Trixie continued to taunt her.

"Don't worry captain, with us being so close to the epicenter, we'll be able to have you in more comfortable bindings soon enough." Her horn glowed dimly as proof, and she smiled as the rot-covered pegasus, "But a few miles away, as the unfettered magic has had time to destabilize…oh dear, New Ponyville may be out of commission for quite some time, I'm afraid. By the way, if you were looking for your chance to escape, that was it."
Trixie laughed to herself as she turned and strode away, her strength returned.  The ponies around her were a bit sluggish, but she knew that they would return to full strength in time. "Warrant Officer!"

A pony appeared at her side, saluting. Ignoring his punctuality, Trixie surveyed her troops. "Status report," she barked out.

"Ma'm," he began, "All troops present and accounted for. 80% magical efficiency and rising. All twelve anchor ponies recovered and debriefed. We will be ready to march within the hour, Ma'm.

"Give the order, we leave in ten minutes. We don't need 100% efficiency to trek a few miles to the rebel base." Trixie moved on to a dryer piece of dirt, brushing her hooves absentmindedly. "Double the levitation squadron for the supplies to make up for weakened strength and let's move. I want to be there to hear the screams."

_____________________________

Applejack watched the door close behind her friend and sighed. She looked back at the door to Rarity's room and, after a moment of thought, headed back towards it. Entering the room, she looked down at her unconscious friend and shook her head.

You're so close, sugarcube, she thought while looking at her friend, Don't run away now, just hold out a bit longer and you can get through this.

She moved to the bedside and sat own lightly, looking at the peaceful face of her 'fearless leader'. Catching the smell of her breath, Applejack smiled. "Well, at least you're drinking the good stuff," she said out loud as she recognized the scent of her brother's favorite drink, "and I guess that answers the question of how ya got this way. I guess I gotta wait till you wake up to tell me why, though."

Applejack smiled absently, but as if on cue, Rarity's eyes snapped open. Applejack's surprise at the sudden change turned to relief when the eye focused hers, but she hesitated before speaking as Rarity's face grew from one of peaceful sleep to incredible pain.

Before Applejack could say anything, a deep gurgle began in Rarity's throat. Her eyes widened as the noise grew, and within moments t had blossomed into a full on scream. Her eyes continued to widen until her pupils reached impossibly dilated proportions, but Applejack couldn't focus with all the noise from her screaming.

Clapping her hooves over her ears, the earth pony tried to shush her friend. When Rarity began to thrash around, Applejack instinctively tried to pin her down. While she wrestled for control of her limbs, the screaming continued long past what Applejack would have expected from a painful hangover.

"Rarity, please! Calm down, sugarcube!" But Rarity just stared at her friend wide eyed, screeching at the top of her lungs. Applejack flung her hooves over the unicorn's mouth in desperation, her screams muffled to more tolerable levels.

"Rarity, listen to me, you've got to calm down." Applejack looked into her friend's eyes, but suddenly felt unnerved by the purely black eyes. What the hay is going on here? "Rarity, can you hear me at all? Rarity!?"

The muffled screams of the unicorn began to taper off, finally coming to a stop. With relief, Applejack took her hooves off of her friend's mouth, but seized up in horror almost immediately. Rarity's face was still tensed, her eyes wide open and unblinking. She hadn't stopped screaming, she had just run out of air to scream with.

"RARITY! Come on girl, talk to me! What's happening?!" Applejack was desperate, watching helplessly as the white face of her friend quickly became increasingly purple. "Breathe, you stupid foal! If you can hear me at all Rarity, you've got to breath!"

Rarity lay unresponsive beneath Applejack, her limbs still spasming weakly under the earth pony's weight. Applejack could only look on helplessly as her twitches became weaker and weaker, her white face darkening from lack of air. Applejack's calm broke as she watched Rarity's unnatural eyes slowly close, her hooves feeling her friend's panicked pulse as they rested on her face. "No no no NO NO NO NO! RARITY!"

Rarity's eyes closed and her body stopped moving. All at once, her body relaxed, the tension in her limbs and neck releasing. Applejack fell forward onto the pillow next to her friend's body. I couldn't help her, she thought. A sob escaped her throat, and she didn't bother to lift herself off of her friend. I couldn't help her. I couldn't save her. I couldn't do anything.

Her own thoughts consumed her shocked mind as a force pulled her upwards. It happened too fast. How did it happen? Rarity, why didn't you listen? Distantly, Applejack felt herself sink slightly as another sob shook her, and after another moment she was crying wordlessly into the pillow, draped over the white unicorn.

The slow rise and fall rocked Applejack gently, calming her down quicker than she would have normally. She belatedly noticed the motion as she propped herself up on an elbow, wiping a tear away from her face. As soon as she gave it any thought, she identified the source of it instantly. Breath. Rarity is breathing!

Scrambling off the bed, Applejack nearly fell to the floor. As she regained her balance, she moved back to her friend's side. The body beneath her was limp, but Rarity's chest could clearly be seen rising and falling with the breath of deep sleep. Applejack sobbed again, this time with happiness, as the rollercoaster of emotions finally came to a stop. She must have fallen unconscious from lack of oxygen, her rational mind reasoned as it returned, and started breathing naturally. She was never in any danger, you little filly.

As Applejack finally began to relax, she remembered the screaming. There wasn't anything normal about that, now, she thought to herself, and those eyes…what the hay happened there?

The screams floated to Applejack's ears again, and she shuddered at their muted memory. Her mind had no words to describe it, but just hearing it made Applejack feel severe pain and loss. As the screams ran through her head, she remembered watching her barn burn down as Big Mac pulled her away, her own screams just barely drowning out those of Granny Smith who was still trapped inside.

As the memory faded, the screams did not. Applejack's ears perked, and her stomach dropped as the rollercoaster took off again. She rushed to the door and opened it, and her suspicions were confirmed as their volume grew. It sounded like it came through the wall, her mind struggled as her body raced across the office, like they were coming from everywhere at once. She opened the door as the screams reached a crescendo, pausing briefly before resuming, like they were coming from above and below you. Applejack surged down the stairs to the bottom, already knowing what she would find. She tripped on the last few steps and hit the ground hard, but was back up almost instantly and kneeling next to the source of the noise.

Beneath her, Twilight's black eyes stared unseeingly as she poured her lungs out to the world

____________________

Twilight sat alone in a field. All around her, ankle-high mushrooms glowed for as far as she could see. She looked down at the ground beneath her, but the mushrooms were so thick she couldn't see the dirt beneath them. She wrenched her eyes away painfully, the intense light given off from so many of the mushrooms hurting her eyes.

She tried turning her gaze towards the horizon, but saw only more of the mushrooms. Instead of eventually fading into the darkness from above, the fungi disappeared from view as the glow from the millions, no, billions of them flooded Twilight's senses. The only change in scenery came from a few blackened patches behind her, spread out like long hoofsteps. Desperately she looked straight up at the sky, but whether it was night or day was hidden by the same glow, reflected back at her by the untold masses of light-giving shrooms around her.

Sighing, she turned her gaze back down. Looking directly at the ground, only a few dozen of the mushrooms shone in her face. It was far from pleasant, but the light wasn't completely blinding at least. With the most immediate problem taken care of, Twilight shifted on her haunches and began to think. Where the hay am I, she began. She risked a glance back upwards and immediately regretted it as she was painfully blinded again. Closing her eyes tightly, she dropped her face back toward the ground. Ok, ok, I can't see where I am, so let's think. Last thing I remember, I was walking into Rarity's office. No, wait, I remember…Rarity. She was hurt? No, unconscious, and Applejack was there. She had been drinking, and I helped put her to bed, and then left.

Try as she might, Twilight couldn't remember anything past that point. She strained mentally, and felt something creep back up in the back of her mind. She reached towards it desperately, and she finally recalled a few more moments.

I walked down the stairs. I reached the last step and I missed it. Only I didn't miss it, because I felt it. Then I looked down and I knew I hadn't missed it because I was standing on it. I just hadn't heard it over the sound of…
The memory hit her like a carriage, and Twilight's stomach dropped. The silence. She shrunk into herself, suddenly acutely aware of the lack of any noise in the mushroom field. She didn't know why, exactly, but what had been a peaceful detail to this place suddenly seemed ominous and threatening. No, not this place, she corrected herself, I heard it then too, before I came here.

When did I come here? Her mind wanted to branch to ten tangents at once, and she struggled to pursue the most important questions first. Where am I? I was in Rarity's office, then I was on the stairs, then I heard, or didn't hear, something, and then I was here. The answer floated to her mind, and she lifted her hoof to her face as she chastised herself.

Oh, duh, I'm dreaming. A surge of relief flew through her as the obvious answer presented itself. I'm dreaming and I'm apparently quite lucid. Perhaps I did miss that step after all and fell down the stairs. A pang of worry flew through her, but she reassured herself, I'm sure I'm alright, otherwise I wouldn't even be dreaming. The worry continued to nag at her despite her logical thoughts.

Absentmindedly, she lowered her arm. With her arm taken away from her eyes, the glow easily pierced through her closed eyelids and blinded her again. Grimacing, she covered them again with her hoof. I don't know what kind of dream this is, she thought to herself, but I might as well try to wake myself up. Wincing in pain from the light as she put her hoof down, Twilight immediately noticed two more things.

Firstly, as soon as her hoof touched the mushrooms on the ground beside her, the light coming from them vanished. The blinding glow all around Twilight softened almost imperceptibly, but To Twilight's pained eyes it was a welcome respite.  Secondly, as her hoof squished the mushroom and sank into the soft ground beneath it, the silence remained unbroken.

The edges of panic began to set in around Twilight's mind, but she held them at bay. Struggling to keep her irrational fears in check, she froze as she began to think. Ok, ok, relax Twilight. So there's still no sound, but that's ok, because this is just a dream. You can figure that part out when you wake up, so just relax. Twilight knew she was breathing hard, but she couldn't hear the desperate gasps coming from her own throat. She felt the light increasing around her again, and she knew she had to make a decision quickly. I can't solve the silence, but at least I can keep that light in check.

She moved her hoof over another mushroom, which abruptly became dark, then another and another. Each time, she was rewarded with the light dropping down to more manageable levels. At least now I can think around the pain, she mused to herself, and all I have to do is put out a few lights.

The light continued to rise steadily and she brought her hoof down again. After a few moments, another stomp was needed. She lifted her gaze to the horizon again, and immediately dropped it and began stamping furiously as her eyes screamed in silent pain. Silence, her mind cried out, everything is silent. Everything is blinding. Everything is painful! The light was still increasing, and Twilight was stomping on mushrooms as fast as she could to keep it from blinding her completely.

Though she knew that only a brush was needed to put out the light, Twilight hammered away at the ground, her flank heaving with the exertion. Her eyes were closed tight as she began to whimper noiselessly, the light increasing faster than she could kill the life around her. I need it to stop, I need to think, but this light! This silence!
"…!" Twilight cried in desperation. She summoned the magic within her horn to explode outward, a pure wave of force to eradicate all the mushrooms around her. But the familiar swell of power didn't come. "….?" She exclaimed, trying again, but no magic came to her call.

No magic, no sound, only light. Blinding, terrible light, stop stop stop stop! Eyes closed as tightly as she could get them, Twilight began to run. She galloped blindly ahead, her hoof falls making no difference to her ears. Her lungs began burning through air almost immediately, but Twilight found that she couldn't breathe. She belatedly came to the realization that she was screaming, her panicked body expelling the air in a desperate cry for help, but between her thunderous gallops and her screeching cries, the only sound was the quiet absence of them both in the deafening silence.

She ran until she couldn't run anymore, the horror of the blinding light and roaring silence being forced from her mind by sheer exhaustion. She ran until she couldn't remember anything other than her fear and panic, and after a fashion collapsed into the mushrooms. She could no longer tell the difference between having her eyes opened or closed, and her head screamed in pain from the brightness.

After a fashion the light began to clear, and Twilight sat up. Confused, she looked around her.

Twilight sat alone in a field. All around her, ankle-high mushrooms glowed for as far as she could see. She looked down at the ground beneath her, but the mushrooms were so thick she couldn't see the dirt beneath them. She wrenched her eyes away painfully, the intense light given off from so many of the mushrooms hurting her eyes. Where the hay am I, she began…

______________

Rainbow Dash's own dreams were interrupted by a distant noise. She rubbed her eyes sleepily with one hoof, her other still locked in suspension above her. Despite barely being awake, her mind spared some thought power to devote to annoyance towards the damn sling.

Quickly, though, her attention returned to the noise that had awakened her. Somepony was screaming outside her house. Dash recognized it as a scream of abject terror, not of mere surprise, and the volume and power behind it spoke of real danger.

Rainbow Dash instantly sat to attention, her ears perked for any further sound. The scream died away for a moment, but the silence behind it was filled with more voices, fainter in the distance.

Knowing hat it wasn't just one pony, Rainbow Dash tried to leap out of bed. She was pulled back, however, by the infuriating contraption holding her arm in place. As she fell back on the bed, she glared at it. Not anymore, you damn piece of cloth, she began tensing her arm, I finally have an excuse to break out of here.

Rainbow Dash jerked her arm back, but the sling held. Pulling with all her might, Rainbow Dash felt the bed beneath her move as the contraption pulled at the side. You're just a damn piece of cloth! You have no right to be so damn resilient!

With a crack and sparks of magic, the sling around her arm finally ripped. As the purple sparks dissipated in the air, Dash recovered herself on her bed. Magic. Twilight was trying to keep me locked up, huh? She grinned, not sure whether to feel betrayed or proud of her friend. Well, it was clever nonetheless.

Another scream from outside reminded her of why she broke free in the first place, and she leapt into the air. Despite being bedridden for three days, she easily flew to and out the window, maneuvering skillfully into the open air.

Rainbow Dash looked down at the town square beneath her and almost fell out of the sky. Ponies were randomly strewn across the ground screaming their lungs out, and Dash could tell form some of the closer ones that something was wrong with their eyes. Other ponies ran back and forth between them and Dash was about to fly down and help when a thought froze her.

They're all unicorns, she realized. As far as she could see through the town, every unicorn was on the ground while earth ponies and pegasus ponies ran in panic. Twilight, Dash's mind suggested.

Before she knew what she was doing, Dash was flying to the mayor's office. She knew Twilight would be there this time of night, and it was closer than Twlight's home. Barreling towards the door, Dash only had time to hope it was unlocked as she smashed through it.

Rainbow Dash hit the ground hard, momentarily dazed. The screams of a familiar voice brought her back to her senses, however, and she hopped into the air. Near the bottom of the stairwell, Applejack was holding Twilight's head in her lap and looking up at the pegasus in surprise, but Rainbow Dash didn't bother to explain as she leapt to Twilight's side.

"Twilight! Can you hear me? It's me, Rainbow Dash!" Twilight just stared at…well, everything, as she screamed hoarsely. "Twilight, please!" Turning to her friend in desperation, Rainbow Dash tried to hold back tears. "Applejack, what do I do? How do I help her?"

Applejack was taken aback. Rainbow Dash had always been the last pony for help, but here Applejack was seeing her on the edge of panic. Her own eyes were wide and tears shimmered in the corners of them, and when Dash spoke her voice was strung with tension. "I…I don't know. It happened to Rarity too, only she…Dash! Hit her in the head!"

For a moment, confusion overtook Dash's panic. "Hit he- what?!"

Applejack stood and ran across the room, knocking over tables and desks looking for something sturdy. "Rarity screamed until she passed out, but then was fine afterwards. If you can knock her out, I think she'll go back to normal!"

Dash struggled to hear Applejack over the screams of her friends and the ponies outside. I don't know, she thought looking down at her friend, but if it can help… Dash tried to look into Twilight's eyes for permission, but the screams of terror and torture were all she needed. Dash looked to Applejack, her mind decided, "AJ! Smash a leg off one of the tables!"

"Good thinking, Dash!" Applejack head butted a wooden table and kicked out at a leg, snapping it off. It skittered across the floor to Rainbow Dash's, who grabbed it and raised it above her head. She hesitated, not sure how to proceed with knocking out her friend without killing her. Here goes nothing, she grimaced as she took the swing.

____________________

"…!" Twilight cried in desperation. She summoned the magic within her horn to explode outward, a pure wave of force to eradicate all the mushrooms around her. But the familiar swell of power didn't come. "….?" She exclaimed, trying again, but no magic came to her call.

Twilight began to run as her mind raced, panic setting in as her last plan failed. Her hoofsteps left a path of death behind her, and Twilight knew she would kill a thousand mushrooms to end her pain; she'd bathe the world in blessed darkness if she could just hear one sound-

And the sound came, a sickening crack that shattered Twilight's world. Twilight's head couldn't possibly be in more pain after the blinding light, but she was dimly aware that a hot, sticky wetness was traveling down the back of her neck. She groaned and tried to sit up-

I groaned, she froze, and I heard it. Her eyes snapping open, Twilight looked up above her. The field of mushrooms was gone, her world was filled with sounds, and the face of her pegasus friend gazed back down at her. As Twilight's vision began to blur again, she tried to thank Rainbow Dash, but her mouth didn't want to obey her commands. She sank into blessed darkness before she registered that beneath the sounds of other ponies screaming, the soft din of the silence had not yet left.
Google Docs Link: [link]

As a new author, there's a lot of things that I have to learn as I go. Though this is something that I deal with every chapter, there's particular element that crops up here that has presented a real challenge. And that challenge is magic.

In a world like MLP where the limits of magic have yet to be defined, introducing a character like Trixie is tough. She is a master of magic, which is limitlessly powerful, and so the character by design is infinitely strong. Especially when you consider that she has an undefined amount of Nightmare Moon's own power inside of her. If I just wrote her the way I envisioned her, she would literally be a god.

The challenge becomes twofold. One, I have to somehow draw a limit on the strength of magic, otherwise the defeat of any unicorn would seem unrealistic. Two, I need to make a distinction between different levels of magic. For example, Trixie needs to siphon power from her underlings in order to cast her attack spell on New Ponyville, because that spell is absurdly strong. On the other hand, Twilight's less-than-peak physical condition causes her to suffer through simply levitating Rarity. Magic has to seem like it takes a lot out of anypony that pushes it to the extremes, or else it becomes either absurdly powerful or totally useless. A tricky balance to find.
© 2011 - 2022 BronyCray
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RadiantVoid's avatar
Weird coincidence, probably just me:

Swallowed up by the sound of my screaming,
Cannot cease for the fear of silent night.
Oh how I long for the deep-sleep dreaming,
The goddess of imaginary light.

These lyrics from "Imaginary" fit pretty well, no?