Equestrian Darkness: Friendship's Requiem
Chapter 10: The Enigma of Fate
Fluttershy tried her best to ignore Applejack's and Pinkie's screams of pain, but the sight of them writhing on the ground sent shivers down her spine. Her body went numb as Twilight blasted Rarity's horn off. She stood in the corner of the chamber, watching her friends suffer. We're doomed. I can't help any pony. As her mind drifted on to what might be her last thoughts alive, she remembered when she first met Dr. Lionheart, a time that felt like days even though it had only been hours. She remembered asking her who could destroy Mantarok. The doctor responded by pointing to the purple rune: Mantarok was his own strength and weakness. As Fluttershy remembered this detail, her eyes drifted upon Twilight's staff, lying abandoned on the ground. She felt another shiver run down her spine as she remembered how the staff obliterated Mert into pieces...with Mantarok's power.
It hit her like a lightening bolt. All of a sudden, the reason why the pike did not hurt the heart became clear, and when her eyes drifted down to Twilight's staff again, she knew what she had to do. Pony-kind's last hope of survival was in her hooves.
She dashed toward the staff, flying by blind adrenaline. She grabbed Twilight's staff with her teeth, scrapping her hooves against the floor as she made a hard turn. She rocketed toward the heart, the staff clutched firmly in her teeth, her mind and focus on nothing else but the target. She was just about to hit the heart when...
"Ahhhh!" Fluttershy screamed in agony. She had been hit with a magical attack spell. Her strength waning, she struck the floor with a hard thud, her body covered in lacerations from the spell. Despite the hard landing, the staff did not leave the grip of her teeth. She could feel warm blood oozing off her. Through blurred vision, she watched in horror as another pillar came down, leaving one standing.
She could hear Twilight casting another incantation, but she was so weak, she could do nothing except wait for the inevitable. She screamed through the staff again as she felt another magical attack spell hit her. Her skin seemed to burn as her own friend brutally tortured her. She collapsed to the ground, but she would not relinquish the staff.
She waited for the final blast that would finish her off, but instead felt Twilight's telekinetic hold lift her off the ground. She was being carried away.
The final pillar received another blast from the spell. Its foundation was crumbling and weak. All it would take is one last casting and Mantarok would be free. However, by fortuitous timing, Rainbow regained consciousness and saw Twilight holding Fluttershy.
Twilight was so focused on Fluttershy, she did not notice Rainbow. Before she could react, she was tackled by the pegasus, knocking her to the ground.
Fluttershy could feel the hold of Twilight's magic lessen. It was small, but it was just enough for one determined pegasus.
With all the strength Fluttershy could manage, she thrust the staff forward.
The spell was interrupted in a flurry of sparks once the staff pierced cleanly through the heart. Fluttershy held onto the staff even as evil magic coursed through her body, causing her injuries to burn and bleed freely.
The heart exploded in a halo of purple light, violently tossing Fluttershy aside.
Without the Essence, Mantarok could no longer remain on the Material Plane. Its many mouths seemed to shout in rage and pain. Its whole body convulsed and shivered as it lost its material form. In an instant, white light filled the chamber. Before they were enveloped by the light, they caught a glimpse of Mantarok seemingly imploding on itself in its death throes. Once the light had vanished, the ponies opened their eyes, and saw that the Corpse God was gone, leaving a large crater where it once lay.
With a moan of pain, Pinkie and Applejack got onto their hooves. The rope had disappeared, but the cuts still remained in rows of bleeding puncture wounds.
Nearby, they could see Rainbow standing over Twilight's supine and unconscious body. Curious, Applejack, Pinkie, and Rarity cautiously approached Twilight as if she was a recently killed beast who could come to life at any moment. As they got in for a closer look, they caught a glance of Twilight's Cutie Mark and saw the familiar star-shaped symbol.
Twilight wearily opened her eyes and looked up at the relieved expressions of her friends. "What...happened...?"
"I think Mantarok is gone," said Applejack, her voice choked with emotion. "It's good to have ya back, Twi."
In her daze, Twilight was slow to letting the news sink in. She climbed to her hooves, her balance unsteady like a newborn foal taking her first steps. "Uhh, Mantarok's gone? How did it happen?"
"Well, we tried to distract ya when Fluttershy—" Applejack gasped. "Land sakes, what happened to Fluttershy?"
"She's..." Pinkie was on the verge of tears.
Near the pedestals where the heart once lay, there was a young pony seemingly asleep in a pool of blood.
With a heavy heart, the group slowly approached their fallen friend. Upon closer inspection, they could see no clear signs of life from Fluttershy.
Pinkie's hair was straight and hung loosely off her head. The normally overdramatic Rarity was subdued and restrained, tears gently sliding down her face.
"Wait," shouted Twilight, "where's the Tome?"
Before her friends could ask what she meant, Pinkie appeared with the Tome of Eternal Darkness clutched in her teeth.
Twilight telekinetically grabbed the Tome and suspended it aloft as she turned through the pages. She found the spell she was looking for, and could already feel herself wince in pain. She did not have enough energy to sustain a large spell, but she had to do her best. Her horn glowed as three red colored runes appeared around her.
In response to the spell, the injuries on Fluttershy faded a little. By the time the spell did its job, Fluttershy was left still covered in lacerations, but they looked shallow enough to be survivable. That is the way it seemed to them, but despite the spell, she still lay unmoving.
Twilight dropped the Tome as the last of her energy was spent. She fought to stay awake, needing to know if Fluttershy would live.
The five friends anxiously waited for any signs of life. The silence was deafening and oppressive as they anxiously waited but strangely comforting. It meant they were alone, without anything watching them.
Just when it seemed all hope was lost, Fluttershy opened her eyes. She slowly lifted her face out of the pool of her own blood and looked up at the relieved smiles of her friends. Her right eye was black and swollen, barely able to open. She glanced up at Twilight and smiled. "Twilight, you're...back to normal."
Twilight could not stop herself from crying (neither could anyone else for that matter) as she said, "Thanks to you."
As the group celebrated and cheered, Dr. Lionheart hovered nearby, happily getting one last look at them. Her eyes stayed on them as she slowly faded away. With her soul at peace, she quietly slipped into the spirit world.
When Celestia opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was the ceiling of her bedroom. The second thing she saw was her sister looking down upon her with a worried glance and her horn cut clean off. The third thing she saw was the Tome of Eternal Darkness lying open on the bed.
"Luna, what's going on?"
"Thou have been in a coma."
"Ugh, all I can remember since the fight with that green pegasus were these terrible nightmares. What time is it?"
"It is 2:30 AM."
"AM?" Celestia glanced at the sunlight glaring outside her window. "Oh no." She leaped out of bed, galloped to her balcony, and used her magic to lower the sun. Once the night came, she returned to Luna who stood by the bed with the Tome sitting next to her. "So, what happened? And what's that book?"
"It is the Tome of Eternal Darkness. Even without my horn, I was able to revive you with that book."
Celestia telekinetically lifted the book to her eyes and flipped through the pages. "If you can cast spells with this book, then how did you read the text?"
"I-I am afraid I," Luna hesitated, afraid to confess the truth, "have betrayed your trust."
Luna explained about how she came across the Tome of Eternal Darkness and how it led her to become Nightmare Moon. She then told her Twilight's recount of what had happened in the underground city. By the time her story was over, Luna was so emotionally distraught, she dropped all formality in her speech and spoke like an upset child. "I'm so sorry, sis. If I'd warned you about the Ancients, none of this would have happened."
Celestia hugged her with one hoof, her grip firm and affectionate. "Luna, you don't have to be afraid. What happened in the past no longer matters to me. I forgive you for what you did with the Ancients' magic and I forgive you for what happened yesterday."
Luna was unabashedly sobbing in front of her sister. "Thank you."
"What about Twilight and her friends?"
Luna wiped a tear from her eye. "They're recovering from their injuries in the Canterlot hospital."
"Then I wish to give them my thanks. Do you want to accompany me?"
The two princesses teleported, materializing outside of the Canterlot Hospital. Although visiting hours were long since over, the princesses were easily able to convince the staff to let them in.
Although her composure was firm, Celestia felt her heart ache as she gazed upon Twilight and her friends. They were all placed in a single room and were lying in beds sound asleep. She walked passed each of them, feeling the deepest gratitude and remorse of the suffering they all had to endure.
Rarity had few injuries, but her horn had to be trimmed and smoothed out so it would grow back properly.
Pinkie and Applejack both had blood soaked bandages wrapped around their midsection where Twilight's rope bound them. They also had bandages tied elsewhere around their bodies, hiding all bite marks and claw marks.
Rainbow was sleeping on her belly, her wings out stretched. She too had cuts and bruising, most noticeably on her back, as well as a large bandage wrapped around her forehead.
Out of all of them, Fluttershy was the worst off. Although Twilight's spell saved her life, she still had a number of injuries as indicated by the cast on her right front leg and the bandages around her head and right eye.
Finally, Celestia came to Twilight who lay on her bed, staring up at the moon, the only one awake. Her back was toward the princesses, seemingly unaware of their presence.
"Twilight," said Celestia.
Her student rolled over onto her back to see her mentor. When she spoke, her voice was low and somber. "Yes, Princess."
"How are you feeling?"
"To be honest...I'm ashamed. The others told me what I did when I was cursed...including what I did to Fluttershy...and to Applejack and Pinkie...and Rarity." Twilight put a hoof over her face in a futile attempt to hide her tears. "I nearly killed my own friends. I will never forgive myself."
"But does they forgive you?" asked Luna, once again dropping royal speech due to the emotions welling up in her heart.
"The others said they knew that I wasn't in control of myself, but that doesn't change the fact that I killed three ponies and nearly murdered one of my best friends."
"I know how it feels when you have no control over yourself. I've done terrible things when I was Nightmare Moon," she gave a passing glance to her sister, "but if those who love you can forgive you, then you have nothing to worry about." She smiled as if passing on that bit of wisdom finally sunk in for her, warming her heart. "Your actions tonight only saved your friends and all of Equestria."
Twilight finally smiled, a meek one, but an appreciative smile. "I know, but Fluttershy is the real hero."
"And when you all recover, you'll be heralded as heroes." Celestia telekinetically tucked Twilight into bed like a loving mother. With her horn hovering over Twilight's head, she used a sleeping spell on Twilight. As the unicorn drifted off into the void of dreams, Celestia said, "Sleep, my faithful student. I promise there will be no more nightmares haunting your dreams tonight."
By the time the two princesses returned to their bedroom, Luna soon realized something was amiss. "Sis, hath thou seen where the Tome be?" She was standing over her bed, right where she had left the Tome of Eternal Darkness.
"I haven't seen it since we left. Are you sure that the book was there?"
"Positive. I left it here. Where could it be?"
The two regal sisters searched the bedroom, asked every cleaning maid in the castle if they had taken it, but the Tome was nowhere to be found.
That was because the Tome was not bound by one material plane. In fact, it often traveled throughout the multiverse, winding up in the hands of other helpless souls. With the Ancients' influence over Equestria gone, the Tome disappeared and reappeared in a new world.
Centuries had gone by in the universe the Tome wound up in, being passed down throughout the generations until it wound up in the hands of a young college student named Alexandra Roivas. She was investigating the mysterious murder of her grandfather when she found the book lying in a hidden room. Alex spent days reading through the book, learning about the history of those who battled the Eternal Darkness. However, one chapter in particular stood out, a chapter she could have sworn was never there until that day. She read through the chapter with enthralled fascination as well as perplexity.
When she was done, she closed the book and said out loud, "Am I hallucinating or did I just read a story about talking ponies?"
Author's Note: Thank you for reading my story, and since you got to the end, I'll let you in on a little secret. In the game, all spells use at least three runes: the first indicates magical effect, the second indicates the target, and the third determines alignment. Since the first two determine what spell is cast, I decided to have a little fun by creating my own spells with combinations not seen in the game. Narokath and Aretak is a healing spell for others. Antorbok and Aretak is an attack spell that focuses on one target. Tier and Magormor is the summon item spell.