Chapter 1 - Intruder
I can't believe I'm actually doing this... Whether or not I decide to adopt this into my own mainstream fanon is still undecided so treat it as a separate story from my others for now. I'm still a relatively new fan of the show so I'm not too familiar with the canon and I'm sorry if I make blatant mistakes. Just note that is a story where the mane cast are eventually transformed into humans (Chapter 2) so you should just leave now if you're not into these types of stories...
Also, I normally don't do this because, personally, I feel it makes people look desperate for attention, but I am asking for reviews. Even a simple "This is the worst story I've ever read" or "This sucks" will do. Mainly looking for negative criticism because all the positiveness from my other stories doesn't give me anything I need to focus on fixing (or to just stop the story before it gets any worse). Anyway, enjoy!
A gentle knock on Ponyville's library door came about an hour before noon. The librarian unicorn, Twilight Sparkle, was still in the middle of her routine reorganization of the library's books which were still lying all over the place. Twilight quickly entrusted the stack of books held by her magic to her dragon companion, Spike (who was already stumbling around with his own stack), and quickly answered the door by the time a second round of knocking came.
"Rarity!" Twilight greeted her visitor. "Sorry about that!"
"Hello, Twilight. Are you ready to depart?"
Twilight stood there with a confused expression. She didn't recall making any recent plans with Rarity. "I'm sorry. What?"
"We're departing for Canterlot today, are we not?"
Twilight's eyes widened the moment Rarity mentioned the city. She stumbled back slightly as she rushed to check her calendar. "Oh no! Was that today!"
"Don't tell me you've forgotten! Pinkie Pie has been talking about it nonstop for days now! How could you have possibly let that slip your mind?"
"I-... I've been so preoccupied with my studies lately! I wanted to make sure that I impress Princess Celestia with my progress on these spells I've been working on! I must've been tuning out Pinkie thinking she was just doing her usual thing..."
"Twilight...you know what happened last we 'tuned Pinkie out'. Also, I don't have to remind you of how you act when you get too preoccupied, do I?"
"Don't worry about that!" Spike called out. "She's been getting plenty of sleep. I made sure of it!"
"Well, alright... But you better hurry, Twilight. Pinkie Pie's already waiting outside Ponyville. I don't know when the others will show up or if they already did, but you don't want to keep her waiting."
"Okay. Wait right here. I need to get something before we go."
Twilight quickly raced off to her room and soon came back with a green bag hanging around her neck. It appeared to be mostly filled with books and some other instruments. Twilight had intended to study overnight, but now she felt bringing her supplies along wouldn't hurt. After all, she would have quite some time before the Princess could meet with her. "Spike! Could you finish organizing the library for me? I promise I'll save you an extra pile of gemstones!"
"Got it!" Spike's muffled voice replied.
A large pile of books had suddenly collapsed on top of the poor dragon when Twilight's bag brushed against it. Rarity was quick to retrieve Spike's body with her magic and dust him off.
"Th-Thanks Rarity..." he mumbled while blushing.
"Just try not to bury yourself in an avalanche while we're gone."
"D-Don't worry! If I do have a problem, you'll probably see random books falling on top of the Princess' head! Hehe..."
"Sorry about that." Twilight apologized as she cleared the mess. "Make that two extra piles of gemstones."
"Sweet! And the party's not gonna be till tonight, right?"
"Party?" Rarity repeated. "Wait... Is the Princess is holding a gala tonight...? I thought it was just a simple ceremony! Nopony informed me about this affair!"
"No! It...was supposed to be a surprise..."
"I...thought all of you knew about it!" Spike reasoned. "Sorry..."
"It's not your fault. I should've told you beforehand. Anyway, Rarity. It's not supposed to be a formal event. Pretty much anypony is welcome to attend. Honestly, I thought Caramel would've spilled the beans to you by now... Rarity?"
Rarity zoned out as she stared into space, thinking about her recent designs. "Well, none of my newest couture are complete yet so it's a relief I don't have to reuse my previous designs..."
"Let's just keep this between you and me, alright? I don't want to ruin the surprise for the others..."
"Very well then. Shall we depart?"
Twilight galloped out the front door with Rarity soon following. Spike waved goodbye as he closed the door behind them and soon went back to organizing the library. Meanwhile, the ponies dashed through Ponyville, greeting their fellow citizens when given the chance. They eventually met up with Pinkie Pie at the bridge just outside the northern part of town. The pink-maned earth pony was joyfully hopping in place, waiting for their arrival.
"Are we late?" Twilight asked, panting heavily from exhaustion.
"Nope~! Not at all! In fact, you two are the first to show up~!"
"What? But I thought-... Sigh, nevermind. I guess we'll just have to wait..."
"I agree." Rarity added. "Besides, Twilight, I think we need to do something about that hair."
"What are you-?" Twilight leaned her head over the bridge and stared at her reflection in the river below. Her mane was covered in dirt and, overall, a complete mess. During their haste, Twilight had accidentally tripped over a rock, but she didn't expect it to leave this much dirt on her. "Oh dear, I look terrible..."
"Come now." Rarity said as she nudged Twilight along. "I know a splendid spot nearby to freshen you up. Pinkie, we'll be right back!"
"Okey dokey lokey~!"
Pinkie kept herself occupied with various "Pinkie" activities while she continued waiting for her friends. Within fifteen minutes after Twilight and Rarity's departure, her pegasus friends, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash, came to a landing in front of her.
"Sorry for being late." Fluttershy apologized. "Rainbow Dash overslept..."
"Wow. Are we really the first ones here?" Rainbow asked.
"Actually, Twilight and Rarity got her first. Twilight was messy so Rarity went to help her clean up!"
"Oh... Well at least we beat Applejack here...right?"
"Why is Applejack late anyway?" Fluttershy wondered aloud. "I'm pretty sure she said that she doesn't have to work on her farm today."
"Why don'cha ask her yourself?" Rainbow remarked as she peered towards an approaching figure. "I think that's her over there!"
Fluttershy and Pinkie turned their heads toward Ponyville to see Applejack galloping towards them. By the time she arrived, she was even more breathless than Twilight had been. It seemed she came all the way from Sweet Apple Acres without stopping to rest. Fluttershy offered to help give her support. but Applejack insisted that the bridge was enough.
"Sorry, y'all. I had to take care of things with Applebloom and Big Mac, but I'm ready to go...! Hey, where're Twilight and Rarity?"
"Over there!" Pinkie exclaimed, pointing behind her.
Rarity and Twilight, now properly groomed, soon rejoined and completed the group.
"Sorry for keeping you girls waiting." Twilight apologized. "Are we ready to go?"
"Ready!" every other pony responded.
With that, the group departed Ponyville on the road towards Canterlot. It was still a little past noon so there was plenty of time to arrive in the city before evening. The ponies mainly chatted about their recent activities and achievements as well as share various stories they had heard to pass the time. Rainbow Dash took up the most time having to explain the full details of an important race she had just won.
"I'm telling ya! The guy almost had me! But I caught him by surprise and soared right past him and into the finish line!"
"Sounds like your making quite a name for yourself." Rarity remarked. "I mean, with all those competitions you've been winning. I've even had some customers offhandedly mention your name."
"Are you serious! At this rate, joining the Wonderbolts will be a piece of cake!"
As the ponies came closer to Canterlot, the number of ponies traveling the road began to accumulate in number. They were mainly grouped to the side of the road, but that soon became no longer the case. It got to the point where going further required asking the ponies to let them through.
"What in the world is going on?" Rarity wondered aloud. "I've never seen the road this crowded before..."
"I'll go ask about it." Twilight responded. She approached a male earth pony who just managed to pulled his merchant cart from the teeming crowds. "Sorry to bother you, sir, but do you know why there are so many ponies here?"
"I really don't know." he replied. "There are some royal guards up ahead, and they're blocking anyone from going forward. We've just been told to wait here or head to Ponyville until the issue is over. I was on my way to deliver a gift for my cousin, but I guess that'll have to wait. Anyway, most of the ponies are just here out of curiosity."
"I see... Well, thank you for your time."
Twilight headed back towards her friends and informed them of what the man had told her.
"What do y'all think happened if the Princess went through the trouble of settin' up a roadblock?" Applejack asked.
"Something must've happened... C'mon! Maybe we can find out more from the guards up ahead!"
Twilight took the lead as the group headed further down the road, maneuvering through the increasingly larger amount of ponies. Eventually after squeezing their way through, they came upon a wooden barricade set up to prevent further access of the road to Canterlot. Pegasus guards were flying overhead to keep an eye out for ponies attempting to bypass their defenses. Unicorn guards did the same by enchanting the area with detection spells.
Twilight stepped up to one of the guards standing by a watchtower to inquire about the situation.
"I'm sorry, miss." the guard said before she could even speak. "Entrance to the city has been temporarily suspended. I ask that you either wait until the matter is resolved or head back to Ponyville."
"But I'm Princess Celestia's student!" Twilight informed him. "I believe even I have a right to know what's happening to her!"
"Oh! Yes, yes. You're Twilight Sparkle, correct? My apologies. Her Highness informed us about your arrival. It's just that this many travelers made it difficult determine which group was the correct one. Please tell your companions to follow me."
Twilight did as she was told and the guards opened the barricade for the group. They were quickly placed into an escort heading directly to Canterlot from there.
"Pardon me," Fluttershy quietly said to the escort, "but what's happened to Canterlot?"
"I'm afraid I've been instructed to remain silent on the matter."
"I just hope the Princess is all right." Twilight said to herself.
"Don't worry!" Pinkie exclaimed. "I'm sure she's fine! She is the Princess after all~!"
The group soon came to the entrance of the city. As they entered, they found it completely deserted. Doors and windows were left wide open, swaying with the wind and knocking against solid walls. The sheer amount of empty streets and buildings made the city seemed like a ghost town. Twilight was questioning if this was really her old home. Was her family safe from harm? Did something happen to them? She wanted to dash home, but the royal guards would surely stop her even with her teleportation magic.
"What happened here?" Rainbow asked as she peered inside an abandoned clothing store. "Why's everyone...gone?"
"It's a little scary..." Fluttershy muttered.
"Princess Celestia had ordered the evacuation of the entire city to another location." the escort replied. "Don't worry. They only ponies left in the city are the royal guards and Princess Celestia."
"What? Did a monster get loose or something?" Rainbow questioned.
"I think it would be best to hold your questions until we arrive at the castle..."
The group ascended the hillside where the castle's entrance awaited them. Two guards waiting outside opened the main doors and granted passage to them. The escort immediately took the girls to the audience chamber. Inside, Princess Celestia was anxiously awaiting them. She had been gazing outside one of the windows when the guards announced the group's arrival.
"I'm glad you could make it, my little ponies."
"Princess," Twilight began, "why did you order the evacuation of the city? Did something terrible happen?"
"I...can't say for sure... But I know it can't be a good omen." Celestia motioned the girls to the windows which overlooked the royal gardens. "Look."
"...All I see are the flowers, statues, and hedge maze, Princess."
"Look closer. Specifically the hedge maze."
They all squinted their eyes and immediately noticed a large, green, swirling vortex within the center of the maze. It was already sucking in the air and loose leaves around it.
"W-What is that!" Rarity exclaimed.
"It appeared last night," the Princess replied, "though it was a little bit smaller then. One of my guards was doing his rounds when he supposedly heard a suspicious noise within the hedge maze. He gathered a group to investigate, but they didn't find anyone. Instead, they came across this vortex that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere."
"You would evacuate an entire city for that measly thing?" Rainbow asked. "It's barely even close from getting outside the castle!"
"You're right. Normally I wouldn't, but something is just not right about this phenomenon. My sister and I have both tried to close it with our most powerful magic and got no results. We also felt an evil presence emanating from that vortex... I know it might sound careless of me to ask this, but may I ask that you use the Elements of Harmony to possibly close that vortex? It may be possible if we utilize them."
"Absolutely, Princess!" Twilight assured here. "Leave it to us!"
Princess Celestia happily nodded and showed the group to the storage vault where the Elements were kept. She handed each pony their respective necklace and Twilight's crown. Once prepared, they headed off to the royal gardens where a guard was standing by a fountain for their arrival. He immediately pointed to the entrance of the maze.
"There is still a spell placed that prevents pegasi and unicorns from flying or levitating across hedges. I would remove it, but if somepony is running around in there, we can at least contain him. Simply follow the chain of guards I set up. You'll easily reach the center in no time."
Twilight nodded and bid a short farewell to her teacher as she galloped into the maze with the others. Navigating their way through the maze thanks to the guidance of the royal guards, Twilight and her friends reached the center of the maze in record timing. Rainbow Dash felt like they had set a record, a record done through cheating, but a record nonetheless. The vortex lied before them next to a large oak tree. The tree itself would've fallen already had it not been for its extremely strong roots.
"Alright girls," Twilight said, "get ready!"
Everypony took their positions just like the previous time they used the Elements as Twilight walked closer to the vortex. Its influence on her seemed to grow stronger now, but it wasn't powerful enough to forcefully pull her inside. Twilight lowered her head to focus her magic, but suddenly a lightning bolt shot out of the vortex and struck her directly. It didn't electrocute her or do much bodily harm, but it did send Twilight flying back and crashing into Rarity.
"Ow! Rarity! Are you okay?"
"I think so." she replied wiping the dirt off her cutie mark. "Ugh, now I'm the one who's dirty..."
"Uh, girls." Applejack called out. "We have a problem..."
Twilight looked up to see Pinkie and Fluttershy slowly backing away from a figure rising from the center of the vortex. It was a creature Twilight, despite her vast knowledge, had never seen or heard of before. It was humanoid in shape and its skin was a deep black. It wore a dark, collared cape that was bright green on the inside. Composing its chest was a plethora of bare skulls, the sight of which frightened or disturbed some of the ponies. Another distinguishing feature was that its eyes, mouth, and hair seemed to be entirely made out of green fire or a similar substance. Upon noticing the ponies and fully examining them, it only grinned menacingly causing Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie to retreat and cower behind the others.
"Ah! Are you this world's main inhabitants?" it asked in a high-pitched voice. Twilight could at least assume he was male.
"What kind of question is that...? Who are you and what are you doing in Canterlot?"
"Canterlot? Hm...not my taste, but I'll admit it sounds nice!"
"Answer her questions!" Rainbow exclaimed.
"Why should I bother answering questions for weaklings like you?"
"What did you say!"
"Look at you! The pink and yellow ones are already cowering before me!"
"Augh! C'mon, guys! Let's beat this bozo!"
The ponies stepped back a few feet and regained their original formation. A mystical energy began to surround the group as they each began to levitate. The being looked on in amusement as he detached one of the skulls from his chest.
"I'm still tired from my last trip so I'll just leave it to this guy."
The creature tossed the skull in front of the girls and burst immediately, releasing an expanding green smoke. Before it even subsided, a barrage of large crystal shards suddenly shot out and knocked down every pony thus disabling their magic. Applejack was the first to recover. She stood up to see another strange creature emerge from the smoke. It also had a humanoid body and its was made of hard purple rock and light green diamond. It stood taller than its master as it slowly began approaching the ponies with his right arm morphed into a sharpened blade.
Trying to buy time for the girls to escape, Applejack grabbed her rope (which she luckily brought along) and attempted to lasso the creature. She managed to wrap the rope around the creature's body and pull him back a few feet, but the massive weight was too much for her to handle. The creature was able to easily break free once Applejack collapsed from exhaustion. The caped figure, still spectating from afar, clapped his hands and mockingly congratulated Applejack for her attempt.
The other ponies were standing on their hooves again and rushed to their friend's side. Twilight urged Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie to take Applejack to safety. Fluttershy nodded back as she assisted Pinkie Pie in carrying their unconscious friend and hurried towards the exit. Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow were the only ponies left now.
"What are we going to do?" Rarity asked. "I don't think I could take on this behemoth!"
"You know some offensive magic, right?" Twilight asked in response.
"I...I do remember how to conjure a simple fireball from my younger days, but I haven't performed it in years!"
"You at least know the basic self-defense spells, right?"
"Well yes, of course. But how will-?"
Twilight never had much practice in using combat magic proficiently. Seeing as she most of her ferocious and menacing obstacles were solved by levitation, teleportation, or the Elements of Harmony, it was expected. But curiosity had at least allowed her to acquire a basic understanding. Twilight even impressed herself with how much she was able to learn without a teacher present and anything going horribly wrong. Despite this, there was also Rarity's inexperience and Rainbow being handicapped by the maze's spell. Twilight was a little worried that her plan might fail due to these drawbacks.
Once the diamond creature began approaching, she had no choice. Twilight used an intermediate level binding spell. A bright light radiated from her horn as it was surrounded by a yellow, magic aura. The creature paid no mind to Twilight's action as it continued walking towards her. In a moment, it was suddenly halted when a floating, yellow ring immediately wrapped around its body. Unlike before with Applejack rope, trying to physically cut itself out of this bondage was useless.
"Rarity! Bring up a shield!"
Rarity hesitated for a moment upon seeing the creature actually being held back. "Oh! R-Right!" Rarity followed Twilight's command and used a novice defense spell. The magic aura that enveloped her horn began to pour out like expanding gas. After a few seconds, it finally turned into large floating barrier that protected her front side. "Now what?"
"Urgh...! Bash him until he falls into the vortex! Rainbow, help Rarity by providing extra strength! Make that thing doesn't escape! Hurry!"
Rarity stepped forward and, with all her might, slammed her shield into the creature's chest. Being restricted due to Twilight's spell and having no sense of balance now, the creature stumbled back a few feet closer to the vortex. Rarity continued repeating this with her remaining strength while Rainbow provided support by slamming into her target. The creature eventually fell back into the vortex, disappearing in a puff of smoke when one of the strange lightning bolts struck him. Rarity was tired having to conquer the creature's weight. Rainbow was also panting in exhaustion. She felt she had done more harm to herself than the creature. Though tired, they were still able to make it back to Twilight's side. It seemed she was the only one left who could fight.
"Bravo." the caped man congratulated. "You bested one of my finest warriors! I can see you're more competent than I thought! Looks can be deceiving!"
"All that's left is you..." Rainbow replied.
The being began speaking in a sarcastic and dramatic fashion. "Yes! I'm all alone now and defenseless! My only protection had been eliminated by measly ponies! No matter..." He then exposed the numerous skulls on his chest. "I still have thousands of others at my disposal! Ahahahahaha!"
"T-Twilight!" Rarity exclaimed. "We cannot possibly win like this! And with Applejack gone-!"
"No, we're done..."
"Have you gone nuts!" Rainbow questioned. "What do you mean 'we're done'?"
"I mean that we've bought enough time. They should be here soon."
"Oh!" the caped figure reacted. "Calling reinforcements, are you?"
"Don't act all so full of yourself." Twilight replied. "The Royal Guard of Canterlot is one, if not, the best group of enforcers in all of Equestria. And best of all is the Princess at its head!"
"Oh, that's right! I forgot... This is a castle, is it not? Hm...never thought she would hide it in open space..."
"Are you even paying attention?"
"Hm? Oh yes, the guard... They don't frighten me. For all I care, I'll turn this entire place into a war zone if I have too!"
"Is that so?" a booming voice questioned.
Princess Celestia had appeared from above, being able to bypass her own spell on the maze, and descended to the ground to confront the caped being. A line of royal guards soon came rushing in from the nearby exits and took up a surrounding formation. Two of the pegasus guards quickly picked up and carried Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow outside without a word.
"So you're the one who's been causing trouble." Celestia remarked. "Who are you and what are you after?"
"Ah...I assume you are the ruler of this land?"
"Co-ruler, mind you."
"Forgive me, your Highness~." he said in a proper but also mocking tone. "As for my name... You're much more powerful than those...ponies I had the pleasure of dealing with..."
"You'd best answer me right now."
"Fine, fine... I'm Demongo, the Soul Collector! As for my mission, well...I'm here to retrieve something for my master..."
"What could you possibly desire so much that you're willing to intrude on royal grounds?"
Demongo grinned with excitement. "Confusion! Dissonance! Strife!"
"What in Equestria are you reciting?"
Demongo continued laughing. "Does the word 'discord' mean anything to you~?"
Celestia's eyes immediately widened. "How did you-...! It doesn't matter! You'll never have enough time to find him with me around!"
"Which is why I don't plan on searching!"
Demongo drew a strange gemstone hidden within his cape and tossed it into the vortex. "I'll just take this entire city with me!"
Almost immediately the earth began to shake with tremendous force as large cracks started to form. Princess Celestia quickly ordered the guards to subdue Demongo, but the creature responded my summoning more of his strange, skull-produced minions to hold them off. Demongo continued to joyfully laugh at what he called Celestia's "foolish attempt" and dove directly into the vortex as it began to grow at an exponential rate. Being an alicorn, Celestia and the pegasi were able avoid being sucked inside for now, but the unicorns didn't have such luck as they, one by one, began to be picked off by the strange lightning which suddenly gained the ability physically grab hold of their bodies and reel them in. Celestia quickly order those remaining to retreat and escape through whatever means possible, even destroy maze itself. She had already dispelled the maze's enchantment and brought the unicorns safe distance away for them to manage themselves. She soon hurried back to the castle in hopes that the situation wouldn't worsen. Arriving back in the throne room, she was met by Twilight and the others who had been observing the confrontation from the window.
"Princess! What's happening?"
"I...don't know. I've honestly never seen or heard anything like happening before. The best we do is gather everyone together and hope for the best."
"Are we...abandoning Canterlot?" Twilight asked.
"Don't be ridiculous! No matter what happens, I'm staying to defend my people!"
The earthquake continued to increase in magnitude as the interior of the entire castle began to slowly fall apart. Windows shattered, statues crashed into the ground, and furnishings toppled over. The ornamental chandelier that hung above the girls soon unhooked from its hinges and came plummeting down towards them. As they all began go scream, Princess Celestia immediately formed a protective barrier around them.
"Get down! Now!"
The chandelier was destroyed upon impact, but the gravitational force was strong enough to render the floor unstable. It soon broke apart and the girls were sent plummeting into the vortex. It had already grown to gargantuan sizes in such short time and was almost finished consuming the few remaining structures in Canterlot...