I had no longer been in familiar territory, at least not too familiar. I found myself right in the same exact atmosphere Twilight had been in when she had transitioned into an Alicorn. However, instead of being with Celestia, I was accompanied by one the last ponies I wanted to see.
"What did you do?" I asked him, having no clue how he was even able to bring me here.
"You should thank me, you know." He ignored the question. No surprise there. "You're always asking for answers from that one mysterious enigma of a pony, but here I am about to show you."
"What?" I continued eyeing him as he rather carelessly walked on by.
"You don't need to be so tense. I'm not here to pick a fight."
"Yeah, then what are you here for?"
"For this." He stared off into the ethereal space that was filled was stars. Soon after, various images appeared on the walls of this invisible corridor. It was just like déjà vu, but this time, instead of seeing memories from Twilight's past, I found still images of different landscapes, possibly from different parts of Equestria. Finally, one of these images remained purely white on the wall, reminding me of a picture that was still in the middle of being developed.
Despite this, I still didn't understand. What exactly was he trying to do? "So, what does this have to do with me?"
"We're going to take a trip down memory lane." I could see a deviant smile form on the muzzle that poked out of his hooded head. He proceeded to point towards the undeveloped picture I had been wondering about. "Go on then."
"As if." I felt my hooves implant themselves on whatever flooring or ground we were on. "You expect me to just go on ahead? How do I know it's not just another trap of yours?"
"Oh, come on." He sounded like he was trying too hard to be friendly and a jokester at the same time. "I promise I'm not going to hurt you or anything."
"After everything we've been through, you want me to just trust you like that? I don't even know your name or who are you to begin with."
"And yet you still hang around that one called 'Spirit'. Huh. What a name, am I right?"
"In case you haven't noticed, she doesn't try to maliciously hurt me."
"Are you sure about that?" He spoke in a way as if he knew much more than I did. "Here's the thing. You're always complaining about never knowing enough about her, right? Well, maybe, just maybe, I'm trying to do you a favor and give you a little something to help you with that." After reading my untrusting frown, he ultimately sighed. "Alright, how about this, you go into that little memory there." He pointed towards the apparent blank doorway. "And I'll give you a name to call me."
After having thought about it for a while, I realized that I didn't really have a choice. It's not like I could have waltzed out of here whenever I wanted. He was definitely up to no good, but I still had no idea what it was. The only thing I could think of doing was just following his lead but keeping my guard extremely up to the max.
"Fine. Deal." I eventually agreed. I just hope I didn't make the wrong choice.
With a small but devious smirk, he gestured me to get a move on. "After you."
I approached the doorway but stopped right before stepping in. "Name?" I turned to him and asked bluntly.
With a small chuckle, he removed the hood off from his once obscured and darkened face. The front part of his large unlively gray mane covered the entirety of his right red eye. I couldn't help but notice the color of his coat. Simply put, it consisted of dark red color, but there was something about it that bothered me. It almost appeared as if his coat had been of one extremely different color before, but it had now been washed over by a dark red dye. "You can call me Red."
"You're hilarious." I sarcastically responded, seeing as the entire appearance of his face gave off the impression of red.
"It's true." Despite his mischievous grin, he sounded pretty serious about it. "You'll probably understand one day."
With a light sigh, I turned towards the doorway. "Whatever. I guess I'm going in." I was about to make a step until one last thing caught my attention. "Wait, what are you going to do?"
"Me? I'm just going to stand here and watch."
"Watch? Watch me do what?"
"Come on, you're ruining the surprise." He seemed pretty impatient for once. "Here's a tip for you. You're going to go on…well…you could say it's a new adventure. You're going to experience things that are completely strange and unfamiliar. Think of it as a dream, except you're completely conscious of it. I'm telling you right now, you're not going to understand anything that happens, so just go along with it." He proceeded to lean against the invisible wall and stretch out his cocky smirk. "You do what you think is best, and I promise I'll let you go after you're done."
"Oh, boy. A promise from someone's who's tried to have me obliterated in the past."
"I solemnly swear." He crossed his chest with his hoof. "Pinkie Pie Swear." My interest suddenly piqued when he knew about Pinkie Pie's unique promises, but before I could ask anything more, he urged me to move forward. "Come on. Time's wasting."
Of course, I can't trust anything this guy says, but as previously deducted, I really had no other choice. Having one last subtle glance as he casually leaned back, I took in a calm breath and proceeded to walk through.
My vision had been blinded by the light of the door, but soon I was greeted with immense darkness. It took a moment until I realized that I needed to open my eyes to see again. When I took a good look around, I noticed that I wasn't in that starry space anymore. I was actually back in Equestria, but it wasn't exactly a place I was expecting to be in. I had returned to the lesser populated area of Fillydelphia, my hometown.
Okay. What gives?
"Earth to Alex, you spacing out again?" I heard a quite familiar and warming voice.
I quickly turned in the direction of the voice and found a pony that I was extremely delighted to see. "Spirit! You're here!" There were little differences about her, such as the style of her mane and that small hairclip with a heart on it.
"Spirit?" She returned with a brief look of confusion. Nevertheless, she giggled out loud afterwards. "You've come up with another name for me? It's cool, I guess."
There was no way I was wrong. It was definitely her. Everything about her was practically the same, especially her distinctive eyes. As I closed myself in thought for a while, I remembered that 'Red' mentioned how I would be going through some kind of dream. He suggested I just "go along with it", so I guess that's what I have to do. But why am I here?
As I removed my attention from my inner thoughts, I realized that the mare in front of me had grown immeasurably close to me. Her eyes were staring right at mine, and it was only a matter of centimeters before our muzzles would be bump against each other.
"Ahh!" I jerked back from surprise. "Don't scare me like that!"
She laughed once again. "Don't blame me. You're the one who keeps zoning out." Before I could say anymore, she pulled out some kind of small package with a stick poking out. "Come on! We gotta hurry to the rooftop before it melts!"
"Ice cream…?" I realized and remembered something else.
Spirit loved having ice cream at the castle balcony. There was no doubt that this was her. Even though her name isn't supposed to be Spirit here, that's the only name I've ever known. I decided to keep calling her by that name, seeing as she didn't seem to mind at all.
"Uh, sure. Let's go." I played along.
If it wasn't for the ice cream, she probably would have dragged me along. Instead, she held the ice cream stick in her mouth and galloped gracefully through the town. Every now and then, she would glance at me as I walked behind her. She would signal me to hurry up, and as usual with Spirit, I felt compelled to.
We began passing the outdoor event center when she stopped for a moment to hold her ice cream with her hoof and speak to me. "School's not far off. Let's hurry it up!"
"School?" I repeated in question. You mean the school I used to go to here? Why would we ever go there? That would be the last place I'd be at!
All of a sudden, the ice cream she held had been forcefully removed from her hoof. It began floating away actually, and it took me a moment to realize it had been magic. "Hey!" She exclaimed after a light gasp, turning towards the pony responsible.
"Well, we do we have here?" Another pony spoke. "Running off with my prize, huh?"
This pony had obviously been a unicorn, but there was something about him. I didn't know him, for sure, but even then, he still looked somewhat familiar like if I've seen him at least once or twice in my life. However, what shocked me the most was the mare standing next to him. It was a little hard at first, but with the color of her coat and the mane styled over her right eye, it didn't take long to piece together her identity. If I was correct, this appeared to be a younger Starlight.
"Alex won it fair and square! Give it back!" Spirit demanded.
"More like he cheated, if you ask me."
You do what you think is best.
I wasn't sure if anything I did in this "dream" would matter, but even in my dreams, I'd definitely stick up for the ones I loved.
"I don't know what the hay you're talking about, but that ice cream's hers." I believed.
"And what are you going to do about it?" This bully tried his hoof at intimidation. "You know what? I got an idea. How 'bout you get on your knees and beg? Maybe, I'll give it back."
"As if!" I exclaimed back, finding that idea utterly ridiculous. I was just about to use my own magic to tear the ice cream back away from him, but it was just at that moment where I realized something that was way too important to miss.
I had no magic. I tried to feel the top of my head for my horn, but it wasn't there. And as I looked at the sides of my body, there were no wings either. I had been turned back into an Earth Pony! This better be because of the dream!
He laughed at my reaction. "What are you freaking out about over there? Come on and beg, squirt!"
No way was I begging. Just because I didn't have magic didn't mean I couldn't fight. Before resulting to that, I attempting in recovering the ice cream with my own hooves. However, I should have known that trying would have made him hover the ice cream just above my reach.
"Give it back now." I ordered.
"Or what?" He returned with a cocky smirk, shoving me with his hoof.
"Alex! It's okay! I don't need the ice cream!" I heard behind me.
Oh no. This guy deserves a good whack.
I took a notice at his horn and came up with an idea. Having had a share of experience with bullies myself, I know they usually feel so powerful that they don't bother keeping up with a good defense. If I could hit it just right, I might just be able to momentarily stun him and get this ice cream back for Spirit.
I narrowed my eyes at him for a silent moment, and then, as fast as I could, I swung forcefully. It wasn't at his head, but at his horn obviously.
"Ah!" He grunted as he jerked back, holding his horn with his hooves.
The magic on the captive ice cream faded away, and it soon dropped onto my hooves. Before he could have a chance in grabbing at it again, I quickly took it towards Spirit. "Come on, let's get out of here." I suggested.
There were a multitude of reasons why I wanted to leave without finishing this guy off. One of them was that the ice cream had already gone long enough without being eaten and would probably melt at any second. Plus, if I can avoid an unnecessary dream fight, then I will. I'll be more satisfied seeing Spirit eat this ice cream than kicking this random unicorn's flank.
"…you…get back here!" He continued holding his horn in a painful stance.
"No thanks!" I casually answered back before encouraging Spirit to move forward.
Spirit and I managed to make it to the school rooftop without any trouble. It was there where she finally opened the plastic wrapper around the ice cream. She took a little look around and slightly frowned.
"Aww. It's already a little watery…"
"Sorry…" I apologized sincerely after taking a look at that face.
She quickly regained her smile and shook her head. "Don't be! I wasn't sure if you'd be able to get this back. Shredder's a unicorn, after all."
Shredder? That was his name? Why does that sound so familiar?
"Besides…" She began licking off the beads of ice cream that had already been falling off. "I can't ever thank you enough for this…" Despite how much she was enjoying the ice cream, she looked somewhat serious, but she still retained her soft smile. "You're the only pony in my life to love me so much. To go so far to entering that competition and winning me this prize. I just can't believe you were planning to give it to me the whole time…"
Seeing as I didn't remember or see what she had been talking about, I only returned a general answer. "Of course. You're important to me, you know?" Especially after what happened the night before, I felt the need to tell her that. "…even if you might not think so…you mean a lot to me."
The smile on her lips stretched as she lightly wiped her hooves against her eyes. "If it wasn't for this ice cream, I'd hug you so bad right now. It's a brand spanking new flavor, and a limited one at that." She focused her eyes on the ice cream. "I'm the first one in Fillydelphia, maybe even in Equestria, to have it, but it should be the two of us instead of just me."
She held what had been left towards me, which was about half. Recognizing her sweet gesture, I accepted it and took a bite. As I absorbed the flavor onto my tongue, I suddenly realized something about it.
"This flavor…!" It was the exact flavor Spirit and I would have every time at the castle balcony.
"Sweet Caramel Delight." She reminded me. "It's amazing, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is…" I responded as I turned towards the familiar sunset in front of us. The nostalgia of meeting Spirit for the first time was pretty real. "You know, I never thought of ever coming up here."
"Good thing I came up with the idea, huh?" She stated with a smug yet adorable grin. "I'm glad Miss Cadence let us come up here. It's nice to get away from everypony else."
"Miss Cadence?!" I almost chocked on a piece of ice cream.
"Yeah. Our teacher? Duh?"
Right… I had forgotten that Cadence had been a teacher in Fillydelphia, but I never got to really know before I left.
She placed a hoof over her mouth and giggled. "You can be so weird sometimes, you know? But that's another thing I love about you." She turned towards the sunset and slightly lowered her eyelids. "'As long as we're together, I feel like nothing can stop us.'."
"Huh?" I turned back towards her.
"That's what you said." She explained. "I feel the same way."
With one last chuckle, we both stared off into the sunset.
However, before I knew it, everything faded to white and ended the rather satisfying dream. It wasn't long until I returned back to my rather unpleasant situation.
"So, what'd you think?" I heard him ask.
"What was that?" I countered with another question.
"That's for you to find out." He answered vaguely. "I'm just here to give you the pieces. You still have to put them together."
"I think it's more like you're giving me a brand-new puzzle to work with."
He merely laughed in response. "Whatever you say. Ready for the next one?" He pointed to the same wall I had emerge from. However, there was a noticeable difference. The door I had just gone through had finally developed and formed an image of the school rooftop. Another door formed and repeated its blank slate.
"Another one?" I questioned a bit suspiciously.
"You've been through the first door, haven't you? Was it really that bad?" I guess he had a point, but I still didn't trust him at all. "Better hurry before she drowns."
"She?! You mean…?!" When he mentioned that, I suddenly felt alarmed. I remembered Spirit saying she didn't like water for some reason.
"Why don't you go on ahead and find out?" He treated the situation in an unserious way.
It ticked me off, but it worked in getting me to move on. Without sparing another word, I stepped through the passageway to see what awaited me next.
What once was a sunny and slightly breezy afternoon was now occupied by howling winds and drenching rain. Like your usual thunderstorm, claps of thunder and flashes of lightning accompanied this sight. Although my coat and mane had been becoming soaked, there was one thought I had to go over in my mind.
Better hurry before she drowns.
I gasped sharply and noted my surroundings. I had been outside around the shops, but I couldn't quite piece together what exactly was dangerous. Sure, it was raining, but we were nowhere near a river or some kind of pool of water that would ever bring up the idea of drowning in the first place…
I took shelter near one of the shops with a large enough cover to keep rain out of the front. It was dark out already with only streetlamps to light up certain parts of the area, but it must have been extremely late for the shops to already be closed up. I continued thinking to myself about what Red had told me over and over. I knew I couldn't trust him, but I couldn't shake off the feeling that he wasn't lying about somepony drowning. Maybe it was just because the idea of it was scary enough to not brush off so easily.
I had been staring at the moist pavement for quite some time until my eyes wandered over to what looked like a schoolbag. Out of curiosity, I immediately but carefully picked it up with my hooves, seeing as I still didn't have any magic to use. I knew it wasn't exactly right to look into someone else's things, but I wanted to see if I could find who this belonged to. Was it supposed to be Spirit's?
There had been a few things that weren't all that interesting. Mostly just school stuff obviously. However, one thing caught my attention the second I laid my eyes on it. I brought it out and found that it was a spool of thread. Rainbow thread to be exact.
"Wait…" I thought out loud. "I've seen this before… It's…!"
I immediately turned to the source of this unexpected and sudden cry. I turned all over to find the one responsible but the area had been completely deserted. Just where had it come from?
As soon as I eyed the grate that led towards the thin passageway system which prevented the buildup of water in one area, I felt the connection instantly click in my head. I galloped towards the gate and found that it had been broken. I wasn't sure if it was due to some rusted metal, but there had been a hole just large enough for a pony to fall through. To my surprise, the pony trapped inside this claustrophobic enclosed area was not who I had been expecting at first.
She had been desperately trying to keep her distance from the slowly but surely rising water. In fact, the water level already appeared to have reached halfway at her legs. "Alex! I'm stuck! Get me out of here, please!" She pleaded.
"Hang on!" I pressed my body against the floor and attempted to reach out towards her. "Give me your hoof!"
She tried to stretch out her hoof as far as she could, but the solid floor at the end of this grate had been just deep enough to have us unable to reach each other. Her hoof was not too far from mine. If my leg was any longer, I might have been able to easily grab ahold of her.
At that point, I decided to risk it for the biscuit. I continued to slide inwards towards the grate in order to bring my hoof closer. It was extremely dangerous, seeing as I could slip and fall inside at any time, but the more I saw my hoof being brought closer to hers, the more I didn't care. Even if I did end up falling inside, I could probably give her a boost out of this deathtrap. The only issue after that would be how I would get out myself.
"Alex, you're going to fall!" Coco exclaimed through what sounded like a breaking voice.
"Don't worry about me! I almost got you!" The tips of our hooves were now touching. All I needed to do was lean in a little more. However, I believed I got too much ahead of myself and lurched forward. Just as quickly as I felt myself slipping right in, I then felt something pressing against my hindlegs behind me.
"It's okay, Alex! I got you!"
"Grab on!" I instructed Coco, holding firm trust into the one watching over me in the back.
She placed her hoof on mine and tugged at it tightly. With all the strength I could muster, I began bringing her up. I felt somepony pull my body from behind, providing a big help in the process. When Coco was free enough, she wrapped her forelegs around my neck until she was finally out of the forsaken hole in the ground.
Taking a short moment to regain our breath, I was immediately tackled by Coco as she almost sobbed onto my shoulder. "Alex! Thank you! You saved my life! I was so scared! I thought I wasn't going to make it!"
"Hey…hey…" I gently patted her back, finding her to be extremely shaken up and terrified.
I could feel her shaking head brush against my completely drenched coat. "I thought I was a goner…" She repeated softly.
"Coco…what were you doing out here in the first place?" I couldn't help but ask.
She pulled her head away and looked at me. "I was coming over to see you…like always. But then it started raining all of a sudden."
"See me…?" I repeated in confusion. As I turned my head around, I noticed another pony right by us, staring silently at the scene we made. It had been Spirit, and I had been so unaware that I didn't even see her or realize that she had been the one that helped me pull Coco up. She was quiet, but she didn't appear to be upset or agitated. In fact, she was softly smiling at the two of us. Nevertheless, I had to give credit where it was due.
"If it wasn't for Spirit, I probably would have fallen in with you." I mentioned.
"Spirit…?" Coco questioned after having calmed down a bit.
Spirit lightly giggled. "I see that name has stuck with you, huh? It's okay, I don't mind. You always give me the coolest nicknames anyway."
Coco immediately turned towards her when she heard her voice. As soon as she realized that Spirit had been observing the two of us, she quickly pulled away in embarrassment. However, I attempted to keep a careful hold of her, seeing as if she was to move the wrong way, she might fall back into the water pit.
Nevertheless, Spirit formed a serious look on her face. "Coco, we should get you back home. Your parents are going to freak if they find out that you snuck out."
"With how wet as I am right now…" She looked over herself sadly. "I think they're bound to find out if they haven't already… If they do, then I might not be able to see Alex anymore. I probably won't even be able to be friends with him."
"Hm…" Spirit thought for a moment before coming to a conclusion. "Alright then. I'll come with you and come up with an excuse. Worst case scenario, I'll take the full blame for it." She stepped towards the shelter that Coco's bag had been in and made sure it was shut before she brought it over here. "I'll tell them I accidentally kept your bag and you had to come over to get it because there was something important you needed."
"You'd really go so far for me?"
"Of course." Spirit cheerfully answered. "You're one of my best friends. I'm willing to pretty much do anything to see you smile. After all, anything your parents do can't possibly be any worse than what our parents do to us." With that last statement, Spirit glanced over to me.
After a brief moment of silence, Coco nodded softly. "Okay…"
"Come on." Spirit gently held a hoof over Coco's back.
I was about to follow them until Spirit objected for some reason.
"What? Why?" I was shocked to find her preventing me from going along, almost as if I had been the one that hurt Coco.
"Are you crazy? If her parents see you with her, they'll flip! They'll think you're the one to blame, no matter what I say."
Despite having no grounds to understand any context of the matter, I decided to leave it to her. "Alright. Whatever you say then…"
She shared a cheery bright grin before continuing to accompany Coco on the way back home. "I'll see you back at home, okay?"
For a moment, Coco glanced over to me. "See you tomorrow, Alex…"
I simply nodded as I continued seeing them off on my own. It was only a matter of time before this sequence ended, and I'd soon be back at the "lane of memories".
"I don't get it." I mentioned after I found my way back. The door behind me transformed into an image of the rainy scene. "Why are you showing me this? What's this got to do with me?"
"Oh, it has a lot to do with you." Red returned as if he had some kind of omniscient grasp of the reality around us. "You and me both."
"You?" I inquired. "I don't see how any of this has to do with you."
"Tell me about it." He said as he seemed to stare off into space. "Story of my life." After a small break between us, he continued. "Listen, I don't know how much time we have left, but you better get moving. There's a lot more I would've liked showing you, but I'm afraid that last one will have to do." He pointed towards the third glowing and luminescent door. "Once you're done with that, I promise you'll be free to go."
"I still don't trust you." I made sure to voice. "I know you wouldn't just 'let me go' without putting up some kind of fight."
"Trust me or don't." He responded. "It's what I'm doing. Now, hurry it up. I don't want to be here all day."
Remembering that I didn't really have a choice, I drew out a heavy sigh before proceeding on forwards. "Let's see if I'll get any actual answers this time."
"Oh, you will." He stated somewhat sinisterly, almost as if he had been planning to rat out someone.
Despite his last words, I finally walked on and through the apparently last doorway.
Like the previous door, there had been clear differences and subtle differences. It was currently nighttime, but instead of Fillydelphia, I had been on a path surrounded by trees. This immediately came across to me as strange, seeing as there weren't exactly any forests in Fillydelphia, maybe outside where I've never been.
Taking a good look in front of me, what I saw allowed me to immediately distinguish the forest I had been in. This was the Everfree Forest, and the Castle of the Two Sisters laid right in front me. Feelings of déjà vu overwhelmed me. It was like I'd been here thousands of times already.
"Who are you? And what are you doing here?" I heard behind me.
The voice was way too familiar that I couldn't keep myself from ecstatically turning around. "Twilight!"
She was actually right there in front of me. It had been a while since I had seen her, but she didn't appear to be the same way with me. In fact, she looked rather confused and unsettled. "How do you know my name?"
Shoot. This must be the "dream" Twilight.
"You're Princess Celestia's pupil, aren't you?" I saved myself from having to provide a hefty explanation I'd rather not provide to an apparent figment of my imagination. "I've heard about you."
"Yes, I am." Twilight's eyes perked open. "Can I ask what you're doing here?"
I wanted to know that myself, so I had to wing out an answer that popped into my head at the time. "I'm looking for someone." I turned towards the castle and came up with something else to add to that. "I think she's in that castle."
"If that's the case…" Twilight lifted a hoof as she pondered over the situation. "I'm afraid she might be in danger…"
"Huh? What do you mean?" I instinctively leaned in.
"My mentor, Princess Celestia, received reports of suspicious activity in these woods." She explained. "She sent me to find this castle while she gave a quick look around the forest. What is the pony you're looking for doing here in the first place?"
"…I don't know…" I mentioned honestly.
"Hm…" Twilight eyed me for a moment. "What's your name?"
"Alex." I responded.
I doubt I could tell her I was Princess Luna's son here. Who knows what she'd do.
"Princess Celestia told me to wait out here for her, but for everypony's sake, we should get her and bring you and her out of the forest as soon as possible. What's her name?"
"Okay, Alex." Twilight said with a nod. "Let's find Spirit. If we're lucky, maybe she just got spooked and ran into this castle to hide."
She accompanied me inside, allowing me to lead while keeping a watchful eye out from behind. I genuinely wondered about the whole business of "suspicious activity" taking place in the forest, but I didn't seem to find anything wrong inside the castle. The only thing that bothered me was the eerie silence and army of cobwebs lying all over the place.
As I walked, I went over what I had just told Twilight.
Was Spirit actually in here? I had just said that off the top of my mind, but then again, Red sent me for a reason. A reason I still needed to figure out. Whatever it was, it was a pretty good guess that I'd be finding that reason in this castle. We searched various places in the castle, but we seemed to find no sigh of Spirit or anypony.
"It doesn't look like anypony's here…" I mentioned, faintly giving up the search.
Twilight roamed her head around once more until we suddenly heard a spine-shivering noise. What sounded like the keys of an organ protruded faintly throughout the castle. If keys were being played, then obviously there had to be somepony there playing them. Was it supposed to be Spirit? I, for one, know she always likes to mess with things that might not necessarily belong to her.
"What's that?" Twilight asked in a calm alarm.
"That's the organ." I remembered from our first real exploration of the Castle of the Two Sisters. "I know where that is."
I began trotting towards the lower levels where I last remember the organ being. The lower levels were a maze of their own, but thankfully the erratic and spacious sounds of the keys gave us something to follow. It was only a matter of time before we finally arrived at the doorway to the grand room. I slowly took a cautious peek around the corner from the hallway. It was there where I received a familiar sight of a shrouded pony with their back turned against us at the organ. However, the figure of this pony looked a lot larger than I had anticipated. I sent a glance over to Twilight before I decided to step in and begin to approach this pony.
"Spirit, is that you?" I asked.
"It's about time you got here." A voice that definitely did not belong to the pony I had been looking for responded. This pony turned towards me and removed the cloak that she had been wearing to reveal herself. "I was starting to think you weren't coming."
"Queen Chrysalis?!" I exclaimed from shocking surprise. It had been practically forever since I last saw her. "What are you doing here?!"
"Did a timberwolf strike your head on the way over here?" She questioned without care. "You and I both know why we're here. However," She slightly leaned to look past me. "I believe I made it clear that you come alone, so why is it that we have this little unicorn with us, hm?"
"What's going on?" Twilight asked, having had to be confused out of her wits.
Chrysalis chuckled at her reaction. "I do not know why you brought this one along with you, but I'm afraid it's not too much of a problem to warrant a punishment. In fact, I believe you may have just brought me a satisfying side dish for the dinner I will be having tonight. After all…" She took in a great waft of air in front of her and closed her eyes to most likely to absorb whatever "flavor" she must have tasted. "I sense a great deal of love for her. Could this be another friend of yours? My, oh my, we wouldn't want your precious sister to be jealous now, would we? She waiting all by herself in a cold isolated room for you to rescue her, after all."
"What?! What do you mean?" I demanded. Obviously, she had somepony important to me held captive, but was it really Spirit? Having no prior knowledge of what led up to this scenario bugged the heck out of me!
"Enough talk." Chrysalis ordered. "I've been starving myself for just the occasion. The three of you will be all for me tonight." A glow began emitting from her horn, and soon enough, any exits leading to the outside were sealed off by a sea of green flames. "Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Personally, I'd rather you just give up now, but then again, a game of cat and mouse doesn't sound too bad right now. After all, sometimes I love to play with my food." She concluded her attempt at intimidating us with a lick of her lips.
Personally, I wasn't so afraid, seeing as I've dealt with her before. However, I wasn't sure about what the Twilight here felt. She had looked prepared for battle, but I got the feeling that she didn't know exactly what to do. I actually felt bad, seeing as I brought her into this situation. However, it was completely unintentional as I had no clue what I was getting myself into to begin with.
"What's wrong? Cat got your tongue?" Chrysalis mocked, noticing our silence easily.
Remembering that I had no wings or magic to use, it was like the Canterlot wedding all over again. If I wanted to defeat Chrysalis, I'd need to get those back. I needed to become an Alicorn. However, it had been so long since I was an Earth Pony that I never even thought about how I would just do that. Spirit said that she had been my light and the reason I had become an Alicorn in the first place.
But that just raises more questions.
If Spirit was my light, how was she trapped in here? Couldn't she just escape by returning to me? If she's not with me, then how was I supposed to get my power back to fight against Chrysalis?!
"Alex, watch out!" I heard a warning and came back to my senses when I noticed a green beam deflected right in front of me by another purple one.
"I was only trying to wake him up." Chrysalis mentioned in a faux tone of innocence. "But, I suppose you did it for me anyway."
"Alex, see if you can find a way to get out of here, I'll try to keep her busy!" Twilight suggested.
Chrysalis merely cackled at that idea. "There's no way out. You're trapped here with me, and the only way you're getting out of here is in an empty husk!"
"I can't leave her all to you." I stated honestly. "We're a team after all."
"Team…?" Twilight returned unknowingly.
"Aww." Chrysalis ridiculed. "Now, you're just teasing me, aren't you? Enough talking! I get snappy when I'm hungry!" Just as she was about open fire once more, a ball of light suddenly appeared before us. Witnessing this familiar sight, the three of us could only stand and observe in shock and awe. "What?!"
An extremely tall and long-winged pony emerged from this light, and a glow proceeded to radiate from the tip of her horn. "I'm afraid your reign of terror ends here, changeling."
"Impossible! How'd you—?" Chrysalis's once boasting grin had been broken into a fearful frown. She cautiously stepped back as the flames keeping us inside seemed to die down. "I have one of your earthly subjects imprisoned, and if you so much make another mo—" Several walls of magical barriers trapped her inside the very area she stood on, and no matter how much she struggled with her own hooves and her magic, she wasn't able to break her way out. "No! How can this be!? You weren't supposed to be here!"
Princess Celestia, having trapped Chrysalis in a transparent cage, stood closely on the other side. "I assume you pursued your selfish desires over careful planning. Had you not been so focusing on sucking every ounce of your target's love for yourself, you would have at least had your army here to protect you."
At this assumption, Chrysalis angrily growled. "You…!"
In a graceful manner, Celestia turned and faced towards us.
"Princess Celestia…!" Twilight returned in awe.
"That was quite a bold move entering the castle on your own with someone you didn't know." Celestia mentioned. "He could have been a changeling, for all you know."
Twilight lowered her head in shame. "I know, but… I couldn't just leave him."
Despite her student having made a dangerous choice, she smiled and chuckled warmly. "I'm proud."
"Huh?!" Twilight lurched her head forward from surprise. "Why?! I ignored your orders to stay put outside the castle!"
"That may be…" Celestia placed her hoof over Twilight's head, lightly pressing it against her mane. "But it appears to me that you've finally taken the first step towards friendship."
"Huh?!" Twilight was deeply confused. "Friendship?! Really?! What does that have to do with this?!"
"In time, you'll know." Celestia removed the warm smile off her face and replaced it with a serious one. "I'll keep a watch over her." She glanced over her shoulder towards Chrysalis. "Help your new friend with what he's looking for."
"You'll never find her!" Chrysalis exclaimed within her prison. "I made sure to keep her somewhere none of you could ever find!"
After a few seconds of silence, Celestia merely looked at us and offered us a certain direction. "Go to the library. There will be a chair you need to move, and you'll find yourself a secret room."
"What?! How did you…?!" Chrysalis appeared to be on the verge of having her jaw drop open.
Once more, Celestia chuckled and turned towards us. "Go on then. Hurry."
Twilight nodded and turned towards me. "Come on, Alex."
I followed Twilight closely behind, never really having had much to say. This was all new to me, and there was information I was obviously missing out on what had been going on during and before this situation. However, I, at the very least, knew the room Celestia had directed us to find. It was the secret room that Twilight and I had found during our first thorough visit of the castle. The room that was home to the Journal of the Two Sisters.
"Move a chair and we'll find a secret room…?" Twilight repeated her instructions once we were at the library. "There's a bunch of chairs here. How are we supposed to know which one to move?"
"I know." I responded and took the lead. I brought us towards the long table in front of the slightly out of place bookshelves. If I hadn't known about this before, I wouldn't have noticed that the bookshelves didn't exactly align with the rest. Grabbing hold of the chair on the right side of the table, I yanked it back. It only tilted backwards like a lever, and the two bookshelves began spreading away from each other, providing a new doorway for us to enter.
"Whoa. How did you know?" Twilight asked, turning to me in genuine interest.
"I guess you can say this isn't my first time in here…" I tried to admit without having to go into the whole story.
Twilight and I walked in, and inside, we found a mare that had been sitting still in anticipation. An open book laid by her, but all her attention had been on who had arrived.
"Spirit? Are you okay?" I asked somewhat casually.
"Alex?!" She immediately pushed herself up and threw herself against me. "H-how?!" She began tearing up as she pummeled me with questions. "I-It was all a trap…! How did you make it past her and find me?!"
"I had a lot of help." I smiled gently and turned towards Twilight. "Twilight and I confronted Chrysalis together, and eventually Princess Celestia came to our rescue and stopped the Changeling queen. I don't think you have to worry about her anymore."
"Princess…Celestia…?" Spirit mentioned with wide eyes. "She…?"
Twilight nodded. "Yes. Are you hurt? Princess Celestia and I can make sure you get back home safely. Your parents must be absolutely worried."
Spirit remained deathly silent for a moment. "I don't want to go back home… I hate it there…"
"Your home? Why?" Twilight asked.
"Our parents aren't exactly fond of Alex and me…" Spirit admitted. "In fact, I'm pretty sure we're…"
"Adopted?" I finished.
"Was it that obvious to you too?" Spirit questioned with a hint of shock and surprise.
I merely shrugged as my answer.
Twilight turned to us both and pondered for a moment. "If being at home is really that bad, then maybe I can talk to Princess Celestia. After all, I don't know exactly what happened, but Chrysalis seemed to be really interested with the both of you. There might be a reason for that that we don't know about, so maybe Princess Celestia will take you in for your safety. At least until we get some answers."
"Would we really be safe with her?" Spirit asked.
Twilight nodded. "With Princess Celestia and her Royal Guard, I'd say that's the safest place you could be."
Spirit finally released a huge sigh, but I wasn't sure if it was relief. "I was so worried, Alex… Even if you did manage to find me, I was worried that she'd still hunt us down, so I was ready to…" She paused and seemed to stop herself from talking.
"Ready to what?" I gently probed.
She shook her head and brushed it off. "Nothing. I'm just glad you're here."
With a warm grin, Twilight turned towards the direction back to the library. "Come on. We should get back to Princess Celestia."
Spirit and I followed her, but once we were outside the room, I began feeling the strangest feeling. Something definitely didn't sit right with this, no matter how heartwarming the reunion was supposed to be. Both my head and heart began to throb, and the intensity of these throbs slowly began to grow.
"Alex, are you okay?" Spirit worriedly asked.
"I…I don't know." I honestly believed.
Unexpectedly, I began hearing an immensely distant voice calling out for me. The voice was extremely muffled, and it sounded as if someone was trying to wake me up out of sleep.
"We should get you to bed." Spirit approached me with her hoof stretched out. "You must be tired after everything from tonight…"
Just before she could touch me, there was a loud cry.
Everything froze in my sight, including Spirit.
"Spirit?!" I exclaimed out in fear.
"That's not me…" I heard behind me.
I immediately turned around and noticed the same pony trying to hold back sobs. It was Spirit, but this time, she looked just like the way I remembered. What was going on?!
"Spirit? Is that you? What's going on here?!" I almost demanded, seeing as I had been utterly confused from the start.
"I didn't want it to come to this…but I had to…" She stated through tears dangling at the base of her chin. "He… He wanted to change the past. He forced me to do this."
"What?" I repeated. I was at the point of almost blowing a fuse in order to just get some answers.
"The truth is…" Spirit bit her lower lip and stared directly at my eyes with water brimming in hers. "Alex…I…" She then closed her eyes and proceeded to exclaim out the rest of her response. "Everything you remember now was never supposed to happen!" I remained silent and practically emotionless. I stood there and waited for her to finish. "You see…I…I…I changed everything because I wanted to protect you. This life you're living now wasn't ever supposed to be to begin with. Princess Celestia didn't take you in when you were a kid. You stayed here in Fillydelphia with me because you weren't alone like you think you were. When I told you that you were my twin brother, Alex, I wasn't lying. You are legitimately my twin brother and I'm your twin sister. We may look nothing alike, but we were born together on the same day. I never wanted to tell you any of this because I knew you wouldn't ever believe me. I'm sure even now you still don't, but I had to do this because if I didn't, he would have taken you away from me!"
"But isn't that what you've always wanted?" I heard on the other side where the other Spirit once stood. It was Red, and it seemed he had been directing that towards the real Spirit. "Weren't you always the one who complained about how you wished things were still the way they were before? This was your chance. You could have finally had your old 'twin brother' again."
"No!" Spirit shouted, shaking her head violently and spraying any tears she had off her face. "I may miss the old days…back when he still treated me like a real sister, but there's no way I could take that all away for my sake. I wanted to support him, even if he still forgot all about me, but I couldn't take it anymore. I let it get to my head, and I let my emotions get the better of me yet again." She paused for a moment because of her sniffles. "I'm such a mess, and everything I touch turns into a mess. All I ever want to do is protect you, Alex, but I always even mess that up." She wiped the tears away from her face and formed a serious expression. "But don't worry. The least I can do is fix this mess."
"You sure you want to do that?" Red asked. "You might not see your brother ever again."
Spirit shook her head. "I'll see him. He may never be the same pony he once was to me, but I'm the only one to blame for that. So, it's only right that I reap what I sow." A glow radiated from within her chest as she closed her eyes to focus. Soon enough, my vision soon became distorted and eventually every color faded.
"Oh, Nene. You should know that I already won."
The next moment after, I remember waking up with an eyeful of the castle ceiling. There didn't appear to be anything strange or tampered with as far as I was concerned. It was as if everything I had experienced was just a dream. To be honest, I could feel my memory slipping away as if it was dream. No way. Did I really just dream all that up?
"You're awake…" I felt a hoof caringly brush against my forehead. The motion caused me to expect it to be Fluttershy, but it was actually a completely different pony. It was Spirit, and she had been wearing sort of a half-frown half-smile look to her face.
It appeared I had been in my room alone with her. I sat up and lightly shook my head. "Spirit? What happened?" As I remembered Twilight, Starlight Glimmer, and even Red, I felt myself brimming with more questions. "Twilight! Is she okay? What about Starlight Glimmer?"
Spirit shook her head. "They're fine. Everything's fine. I guess Twilight was able to talk Starlight Glimmer out of messing with the past and utterly ruining our future. Not that it would have mattered if he got his way anyway."
Already knowing the exact pony she meant by that last statement, I inquired about his whereabouts. "And what happened to him?"
"I don't know. He's gone. Disappeared. Haven't seen a trace of him since." Spirit responded, looking rather worried and concerned.
Lastly, I asked how she had been holding up. "What about you? Are you okay?"
She observed herself and shrugged. "Physically, I'm fine. But…am I really okay? I don't know." I didn't know what else to say that pertained to her, so the both of us remained quiet for a moment before she lifted her head up from staring at the floor. "I already hurt you so much, and that's because I tried keeping so much from you. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to tell you everything. No more secrets. Even if you decide to hate me for it."
"Hate you?" I repeated, unable to understand how she could think I'd hate her for anything.
Spirit slowly slid her hoof into mine and began leading me out of the room. "Let's go to the balcony."
During the way, Spirit recapped over what I had missed. After a heart-to-heart kind of talk with Starlight Glimmer, Twilight had managed to turn her way of thinking around. And just like countless others, she became reformed. She wanted to learn more about friendship, so it seemed Twilight had begun taking her under her wing. One of the first things Twilight suggested was going back to her old village and apologizing for what she had done to the others. However, before all that, when she had come back from her apparent wacky time travel, she immediately tried to look for me, only to find me in Spirit's care. I couldn't really straight-up believe that Starlight had been turned over to the good side. Not until I saw her for myself anyway.
"This has been the strangest Hearth's Warming ever." I commented as I rested my hooves onto the balcony railing and observed snow fall lightly towards the ground.
"Yeah…" Spirit returned despondently. "It's hard to believe one pony could screw so much up."
I turned to her as soon as she said that. "You think that, but why? What's the worst thing you've ever done?"
"Giving you a life you should have never had." She answered. "You would think having a power like this would be the most awesome thing ever, but it really isn't. Being able to manipulate time sucks."
"Hold on…!" I almost staggered back. "You can mess with time?! What?!"
"Yes, and it's because I can that everything is not the way it should be. Remember when I was said that we knew each other when we were kids? I wasn't exaggerating or anything. We did. Those moments you went through in Fillydelphia not too long ago. That happened too. Except…he wanted to change them for some reason. And if I hadn't intervened the way I did, you would have faded away from existence. Technically, you would have still existed, but it wouldn't be you. Everything would be different. In fact, it'd be the closest as to how life used to be for us."
I was getting bits and pieces of what Spirit was trying to say, but I still couldn't fully grasp everything as I seemed to have been missing the base information in the first place. "Spirit. What's going on? I want to know. I want to know the things you've been keeping from me."
"Right." Spirit began hanging her head low. "For the sake of time, gosh I hate that word, I'm going to give it to you as short and sweet as I possibly can. To try to make things clear, I'm going to say that that the timeline we live in right now is Timeline Two. The two of us? We perfectly knew each other in the old timeline. Timeline One. You weren't taken in by Princess Celestia in Timeline One because you didn't run away. And you didn't run away because you had me, that is, until that fateful night.
The two of us grew up together in Fillydelphia. We still lived with our foster family, and yes, they were still jerks. But because we had each other, our hearts stayed strong. Besides Coco Pommel, we were still pretty friendless at school, but hey, it was no big deal. To be honest, Coco and you were the only friends I ever needed, along with Miss Cadence, our teacher. When we'd have breaks during class, like recess, the two of us would make our way onto the rooftop and just enjoy the time we had together alone. On especially good days, we'd manage to save up some bits to get ice cream.
We had planned to enjoy our summer vacation, and I especially had plans of my own about you and Coco, but unfortunately, certain things happened. The two of you drifted apart and we ended up moving to Ponyville. It was here where things grew even worse. At this point, I had no idea that I could manipulate time until one day when our foster father tried to hurt me. As if my very emotions were in control of these powers I hadn't known about for so long, time literally stopped when I begged for it to stop. I freaked out, and it wasn't until I got to see you again when everything unfroze.
But that wasn't it. Chrysalis… Apparently, the 'scent' of our love for each other had invited her into our lives, and she kidnapped me. She could have easily sucked the love out of me the very moment she laid her hooves on me, but she wanted to test your love. In fact, she selfishly wanted that love to expand even more than it had already been by forcing you to come find me at the Castle of the Two Sisters. Seeing everything you did for me on her stupid crystal ball, it began to satisfy and make her even more hungry at the same time.
At that point, I couldn't bear to see you sacrifice yourself just to try to save me. I didn't know how, but even when you found me in that secret room inside the Castle of the Two Sisters, I couldn't see any sign of hope anymore. Even though we were able to be together again, so much about us had changed for the worse. You got yourself kicked out of our home, and even if you were to evade Chrysalis once, there was no doubt that she would be coming after us again. She had been attracted to us because of the strong bond we had, and I'm sure you would agree that she wouldn't let something like that go.
And so, I knew, or at least I thought I knew, that I had to change everything so that you'd be safe. During Timeline One, you had done so much for me, and you had to suffer so much because of me. I knew it was going to hurt for the both of us, but I had to do it to keep you safe. So…I went back in time and stopped myself from being born. Remember when I told you that you came from light? I was also a part of that light, obviously, and I managed to find a way to merge with you instead of become separate from you. Thus, I became your light and protector.
Ironically, I wanted to erase my own memories of what happened, so I could be ignorant of my own past mistakes. However, I couldn't do it. The bare thought of forgetting everything about you and ultimately becoming just a total stranger scared me to death. I guess maybe I should have just done it, seeing how things turned out now. Even then, looking back on the things you've had to go through, I can't really say I've done a good job protecting you. No… Your friends here in Timeline Two do a better job protecting you than I ever did. I guess you can't expect a girl, who's sole purpose in life is screwing things up, to try to fix things in her own way."
She finally sighed out through her nose as she rested her head over the balcony railing. I believe I was given the option to respond.
"So, what you're pretty much saying is that I…had a different life? A life where I had been with you since the moment we were born? But…because you changed time and made it to where you technically didn't exist except inside of me, that's why things are the way they are now?"
"You got it. I guess." Spirit mentioned unlively.
"Wow…" I didn't know what to say, so I only observed the scenery before us in silence.
Spirit seemed to sigh heavily by my reaction. "There were two main reasons why I didn't want to tell you this. You would either completely despise me because I stripped you of the life you could have had, or you'd realize the life you're living now is a lie. That, or, you wouldn't believe me and think I'm some kind of delusional filly that's madly in love with you or something. Either way, I didn't really see anything good coming out of it, and some things are just left better not knowing, you know? But after what happened today, I had to spill it. That and because of what I said last night, but it sucks. Because I really do love you, you know? Believe it or not, when we were reunited in this timeline, my only intention had been to be your moral support. To be there when you had no one else. But I got attached to you all over again, and then I began remembering and missing how things used to be when it was just the two of us." She scoffed and groaned as she held a hoof to her seemingly aching head. "I just… I just don't know what to do! I just want my brother back! But at the same time…" She revealed her clenched teeth as tears began escaping from her eyes. "I don't want to tear you away from the friends here you've already made… I just…I just don't know what to do… That's why…I sometimes feel…like I don't want to exist anymore…"
I couldn't lie. I couldn't understand what Spirit had been going through because, as she put it, I was completely oblivious to it at all. This past life she mentioned the two of us having experienced, it was like a dream I don't remember having. Even though I couldn't magically begin seeing herself as I did in that past life, I still wanted to be there for her. In fact, if it helped, I wanted to learn to start seeing her the way I did before. Even if it wasn't possible, I wanted to make the effort.
I carefully brought Spirit in for a firm and tight embrace. I couldn't express the kind of love I had for her back in our past life, but even so, I felt this tiny part of my heart wanting so. It was as if my mind was unaware, but my heart possibly still had a lingering touch of this past life Spirit talked about.
"Spirit, I'm so sorry."
Over my shoulder, I could feel her shaking her head. "There's nothing you need to be sorry about. I couldn't expect you to remember anything about us, but I couldn't help but just lose myself. I wanted something that I knew I couldn't get, like a fairytale. I'm…just a kid who doesn't want to grow up."
"That's just it…" I mentioned. "I can't imagine how much pain you must feel. The fact that I can't attribute to what you speak of because I'm so unaware of it. Yet, in my heart, I feel a kind of sorrow. It's like if my heart knows something I don't, and because I don't, I can't help but feel guilty." Pausing for a moment, I slightly pulled away so I could look Spirit dead in the eyes. "Spirit, I want you to tell me everything about the life we had. If there's any chance that I can give you the same kind of love that I did back then, then I want to take it. After all…" For a moment there, I began feeling tears well up in my own eyes. "If you're really my twin sister, then I want to be a real twin brother to you."
She stared back at me in a moment of silence as droplets noticeably passed downwards through her cheeks. "You really think…there's a chance?"
"I'd say it's worth trying."
Running through her sniffles a bit, she rested her head on my shoulder. "Okay."
Back inside the castle, we were extremely surprised to see everyone gathered in the throne room. By everyone, I mean everyone that had missed all that happened this very Hearth's Warming while they were off with their families.
"What's going on here...?" I asked out of curiosity.
Everypony sitting around the table turned to look at me, but one particular pony's ears perked up. At the sight of me, she immediately jumped off her seat and rushed towards me. I was pushed back as if a bag of flour had been thrown at me and struggled to regain my balance. "Whoa, Twilight…!"
"I'm just so glad you're okay! You won't believe what Spike and I went through!" She returned.
"You won't either…" I nearly mumbled as I glanced over to Spirit with a subtle smirk.
Despite the fact Twilight and I were hugging, Spirit didn't look bothered by it, which was a great sign. She only sent back a warm and genuine grin.
"We'll have to teach each other all about it later, but for right now, I think we just came to a conclusion about Starlight Glimmer." Twilight brought up.
Twilight then nodded over to Spike, and he scurried on over to the grand doors of the room. Once he returned back in, another pony followed. It was Starlight Glimmer, and she obviously no longer carried a grudge or any kind of resentment in her eyes. In actuality, she appeared to be burdened with guilt.
"I know there's no excuse for what I did, but I want you all to know that I'm ready for whatever punishment you think is fair."
I've been thinking a lot about how badly Equestria fared without just one group of friends." Twilight replied, sitting back on her throne. "Because even when one friendship dies, the results can be disastrous."
"I know first-hoof how true that can be." She mentioned oddly, sending me the hint that I definitely missed out on information Twilight must had gained in my absence.
"And that's why I've asked you here." Twilight lifted Starlight's drooping head. "If you're willing to learn, I'm willing to teach you what I know. You'll have the power to make Equestria an even better place."
"How do I start?" Starlight asked in a hushed tone.
"Starting is easy!" Twilight placed a hoof over her shoulder and looked over us. "All you have to do is make a friend! And you've got nine of them right here."
Almost like I had completely forgotten everything that she had maliciously did, I approached Starlight and extended out an inviting hoof. "So, Starlight Glimmer, it's nice to meet you."
"Huh?" She returned in confusion, and it wasn't until she noticed Twilight's guiding gestures that she followed my lead. "I mean, yes, it's nice to meet you too. I hope we can, um, be good friends!"
"Any friend of Alex is a friend of mine!" Spirit jumped in, willing to partake in this restart of a friendship.
After shaking Spirit's hoof, the rest of the others surrounded her, and she was immediately greeted with love and acceptance. "Thank you! Thank you all!"
"I never thought that I would find a place" Starlight began to sing.
"To step right in and start again
I never thought that I could just begin
Right where I left off and make a friend" Though they were her words, I couldn't help but feel as if they could relatedly describe the situation between Spirit and me.
"Don't ever think that it might be too late" Twilight continued, leading her and the rest of us out the castle doors.
:You don't have to wait, there's no mistakes with the friends you make
A friendship's only made of what you bring
And if you do it right, you can do anything"
Making an example of Twilight, I turned my attention over to Spirit and proceeded to stick close by her, willing to restart what had been originally been lost between us.
"Just use your eyes" We all chanted in unison, following the road into town.
"This time, no lies
Just don't disguise
Who you are inside" I grabbed a hold of Spirit's hooves with my own and twirled her onto the air, creating a link between our eyes and deeply meaning every word I expressed. For that short moment, I could see a sparkle form in those eyes, and without a doubt, I knew there was no covered guilt behind them.
"Because your friends are always there for you" Starlight began partaking in activities between each of the other girls, but I made sure to dedicate this time for Spirit meanwhile. I even went as far as getting Spirit accustomed to the water, having known about her phobia. She had to wear floaties on each one of her legs while holding on to me in a small pool of water in the bathtub, but it was a great start nonetheless.
"You don't have to be the same for friendship to be true
Because your friends are always there for you
Around the world, it's still the same
Together you have more to gain
There's nothing that a friend won't do"
In town, almost just like the Cutie Mark Crusaders, we had acknowledged our circle of friends and their impact.
"Everywhere you go
Friendship there will grow
When you find it, it's the key
Friends can change the world, you see
Everywhere you go
Friendship there will grow
When you find it, it's the key"
Again, like magic, as many of the other ponies, whom had a part in our lives, big or small, from town gathered around, I found Octavia popping beside me as she watched me with half-lidded eyes. Derpy drooped downwards from the air above, and Vinyl playfully semi-climbed onto me.
"Friends can change the world
Friends can change the world
Friends can change the world, you see~!" Noticing everyone gathered around, I realized that nothing in Fillydelphia could have been worth any amount of what had been expressed here today. I essentially looked towards Spirit and caught her attention. At that moment, I wanted to express how thankful I was, and if I was able to put it in words, I wanted to show her just how much love she had created because of her actions.
Starlight Glimmer ended up moving into the castle, seeing as she surprisingly had now become a pupil under Twilight. The castle was extremely spacious, so it definitely wouldn't pose a problem. As she settled in, we learned of each other's Hearth Warming Eve. Applejack and Pinkie Pie apparently had an issue with their own families and were close to leaving early, but they managed find a solution together. Even so, I'd say that Twilight and I had the strangest and most dangerous Hearth Warming ever, but I suppose the end result was worth it.
In fact, before we were going to get ready for bed, Twilight, Spirit, and I spent some time in my room going over the details of our bizarre journey through time. It wasn't until Twilight gave us a grand yawn when she decided she would be taking her leave.
"Well, I guess I'm off. Night, everypony!"
"Oh, wait! Twilight!" Spirit called out, lifting up her hoof.
"Hm?" Twilight's eyes met with Spirit's as they faced each other.
"Um…" Spirit timidly glanced downwards for a moment. "I just want to say…I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you so uncomfortable. And I don't want you to feel bad about your close relationship with Alex. I just hope you can…I don't know…maybe make some room for me…?" She grinned adorably as she expressed a light blush of embarrassment.
A smile stretched out on Twilight's lips and she approached Spirit before wrapping her hooves around her neck. "You know it! After all, we're sisters, right?" She exaggerated a wink to her newly implemented sibling.
With a somewhat shy nod from Spirit, Twilight retracted her hoof and waved us goodbyes before she left us to ourselves.
"I still can't believe it though." I mentioned in the middle of the brief silence between us. "How is it that you can turn time?"
"I don't know." Spirit returned as she glanced back at me with a playful expression on her face. "How is it that you're able to work with light into becoming an Alicorn all of a sudden?"
"Touché." I merely slowly applauded her answer.
She giggled. "To answer your question seriously, I really don't know. I didn't ask for this, and as you already know, I'd kind of prefer not to have it. I've been able to sort of ignore it ever since the start of your new life, but I accidentally let it out of control once or twice. That was only because I had been bottling up my feelings and emotions though!"
"I understand." I stated with a nod. "I'd figure time's not something to be taken lightly with, you know?"
"Believe me, I know." Spirit shared with enthusiasm as she plopped down beside me. "We're a couple of oddballs, aren't we?"
"Yep." I dragged out neutrally, unsure if I should see that as a good thing or not.
A heavy sigh bellowed out from Spirit, causing me to look at her in concern. "I just…still kind of wish you could at least see the things we've done in our old life. Just hearing me talk about it, it's like all you have to go on is your faith on my words."
I placed a hoof on my chin and thought about it for a moment. "Hm… You want to show me things we've done back then?"
"Yes!" Spirit exaggerated. "So much!"
Something almost immediately clicked in my head, and I quickly searched through my things to find a specific item. As soon as I found it, I brought it over to Spirit and asked her a question. "You like to draw, right?"
"Oh, yeah…!" Spirit remembered one of her pleasures. "In fact, back then, I was more of the artist instead of you."
Guess that explains my interest in art…I think.
I shook off that thought and presented her a familiar sketchbook. "I know you're an amazing drawer, so here. You want to show me things that we've done in the past? Why don't you draw them on here? That way, as you're telling me stories from the past, you've got something to show me. It's almost like an illustrated book."
She gasped as she observed my gift. "Really? Isn't this the sketchbook Twilight got you from Rainbow Falls? Would it really be okay to…?"
I nodded. "I haven't really touched it to tell you the truth, but I think you'd use it more than me. Either way, I'm sure Twilight would love to tune in to hear what you have to say to. She is your sister, after all." I smirked.
Spirit carefully accepted it and took a gentle look through it. "Okay… I'll do it then. After all," She looked back up at me and smiled in a teasing kind of manner. "It'll give me something to do while I'm giving you space to be with your friends."
"You don't think you're still a burden, do you?" I asked in concern.
She shook her head. "No. But I can't cling to you all the time, you know? It's time for me to start growing up…but that doesn't mean you're off from my hook so easily!"
Spirit lurched forward as if wanting to make her message clear.
"Alright, alright, I got it." I assured her.
She rummaged through my stuff for a while in order to find a pencil. When she did, she immediately began sketching out something on the first blank page of the sketchbook. "I'll call my story 'Summer Days'." She stated when she placed down her creative tool.
"Can't wait to see it." I genuinely returned before looking downwards and pondering a bit about my 'new life'. "Call it a lie all you want, Spirit, but I'd say this new life is a blessing for me. In fact, it was one of the most amazing things you could have ever done for me. That's why, hopefully speaking from my old self, would you join me in this new life?" I asked as I stretched out my hoof towards her.
Closing her sketchbook with one hoof, she began to reach out with the other. "Athena." She mentioned, surprising me. "My name is Athena."
Immediately recognizing similarities between both of our names, it was getting harder by the second to disprove the real twin aspect of our bond. As she grabbed ahold of my hoof, I nodded and revealed a bright and partially excited grin.
"Got it. Love you, Athena."