Full Summary:

Spike the dragon, now being eighteen years old and his best friend, Twilight Sparkle have been together through out every moment of their lives, they have fought creatures never meant for mortals and have triumphed.

But as of late and in the form of a mysterious letter they are forced to travel to the Crystal Empire on request of Princess Celestia, being tricked into opening a legendary bridge that connects Tartarus with the living world known as the Nightmare Realm, or King Sombra's door.

They have no aid but each other and despite the horrors that surround them, they fight as one. But even through the midst of tragedy and strife they understand the one thing they had never imagined before….that they love one another.

Darkness dwells in this forgotten tale but through it all, there is no evil that can stand between such a passionate romance, not even Death itself.

Co-written by the legendary writer DaNumbahZero, with original ideas by the both of us, it will be a very dark tale yes, but very much worth a read, and edited by the amazing editor, Miss Dark Angel.

The current cover art will be used until our artist is able to complete the picture we thought of, enjoy.

Morning came quickly for the town at the edge of the Everfree Forest as rays of sunlight had begun blanketing the quaint town. The warmth of the sun started to pierce the veil of darkness that hung in a crisp, fall air, chasing away the light carpeting the evening fog.

The roosters called out their daily crowing, rising the inhabitants of the little town. A large tree stood tall and firm in the heart of the rural village. The insides were carved hollow and smooth, etched to perfection by a seamless blend of tediousness and magic, born anew as the hub of literature and knowledge of the village in both the figurative and literal sense.

The living library served as residence to one of the most intellectual ponies in the great land of Equestria, Twilight Sparkle. The young, lavender mare, and living protégé to the Goddess of the Sun, was simply waking from a night of little sleep.

Her endeavors from the night before had kept her mind jogging into the early hours of the morning. Her studies on enchanting bonds amongst friends had been particularly exhausting as of late. The Princess had her working double time. It was all that the little pony could do to keep her mind from dragging her into an abstract of madness. Alongside the brilliant young mare, lived her companion, and without a shred of doubt, her number-one assistant, a dragon named Spike. While the mare prepared herself for the new day, the purple-scaled assistant was making breakfast for the two of them.

Pancakes. That was what her scaly companion had on the menu for that morning, seasoned with fresh daisies—with a generous sprinkling of precious gems for him. They were battered, flipped, and browned to perfection, served with a helping of hay bacon. Twilight would be pleased.

The sweet aroma of batter frying filled Twilight's nostrils. She inhaled deeply, relishing in the swirling mishmash of flavorful scents entering her lungs. She brushed out her mane and tail and washed up. The splash of water was cool and refreshing, washing away her grogginess from her nil night of sleep. She smiled to herself. Spike was preparing her favorite meal. How sweet, she thought and made her way down the spiraling staircase into the kitchen.

Spike was just finishing up their meal, placing the sweet delicacies onto a pair of porcelain plates in the shape of flowers, garnishing them with a dash of powdered sugar. As the dragon brought their breakfast to the table, a blur of red and orange flashed ahead of him, nearly causing him to stumble. He skillfully regained his balance and slid the precious cargo onto the table with near perfect precision.

"Ohh, I don't think so, Peewee!" Spike called playfully to the swooping phoenix, who now perched on a nearby chair, appearing innocent.

Twilight giggled as she watched her assistant banter with the fire bird as it seemed to argue its case back to Spike. "You two are always going at it, aren't you?" Twilight asked teasingly. She made her way to her seat, grabbing the blackberry maple syrup firmly in a bubble of her purple, incandescent spell. "I got the syrup, Spike."

"Morning, Twilight! Did you sleep well?" Spike asked, taking his own seat.

Twilight laughed with a hint of lunacy. "Sleep? Oh, yeah, I got tons after being up all night," she stated sarcastically, pouring a glass of ice-cold milk for the both of them.

"Haha! I suppose the Princess still has you going through the ringer with your current assignment, huh?"

She sighed. "Yeah. It's all that I can do anymore to keep up with things lately, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, the mountain of stuff I have to get done continues to get bigger."

"Aww, you'll have it under your hooves in no time, Twi," Spike said reassuringly, reaching out a clawed hand to comfort her. "You always do.'

Twilight smiled brightly. Somehow, her number-one assistant always knew exactly what to do in order to make her feel better. Was that why it has taken her until now to notice a certain bit of wrapped tobacco tucked in the crook of the dragon's left ear fin? Perhaps, with her abrupt change in mood, her keen eye had been suddenly drawn to it when he comforted her. Either way, she instinctively mentioned it.

"Spike, is that another cigarette you have behind your ear?" she questioned interrogatively, her eyes closing in on the target of her accusation.

The dragon sighed. "Oh, c'mon, Twilight. You and I both know that smoking doesn't have the same effect on dragons like it does with ponies. All those carcino...carcin-a-gons...carci—"


"Right, those!" Spike agreed, a bit annoyed that he couldn't remember the key element in his argument. "I mean, come on, I breathe fire. Can't get any worse than that, right? I just enjoy the taste, and it relieve a bit of anxi...anxious-ness-ity."

"You mean anxiety." She smirked.

"Would you stop that?" he growled through a mouthful of pancakes and gems.

Twilight giggled. She very well knew the little dragon wasn't so little anymore. He was eighteen now, and not the baby he used to be. Oh, how time does fly...

Twilight retreated to the desk by the window, hoping the beautiful day outside would keep her hopes high and her worries... well, at a minimum. They certainly weren't what one would call "low," by any means. All of her studying was beginning to take a toll on her. Her, of all ponies! Between the magic of friendship and the recent addition to her academics assigned by the princess on the history surrounding little-known events and cataclysms in the Crystal Empire, Twilight just felt like tearing her mane out.

She would have to be careful not to let the stress get the best of her, though. She sure didn't fancy the idea of being "that mare, who studied too hard and went completely batshit crazy;" at least, not again. Last time it happened, it was over something so silly, she could hardly believe it nowadays that she succumbed to such childish superstition. As if Princess Celestia would have really punished her for being a bit tardy with one assignment. It made her burst aloud with laughter recollecting the ridiculous memory.

As she continued her research, jotting down notes here and there, Twilight noticed Spike outside, leaning against the library's mailbox, plucking his stash from behind his ear fin.

She grimaced a bit, watching him wisp a puff of green flame to ignite the cancerous indulgence he held up to his lips. She didn't necessarily like that he had picked up the habit of smoking, but she couldn't deny that he made a valid point. After all, dragons naturally produced smoke, fire, and in some cases, a number of other carcinogenic hazards that would cause harm to most creatures.

Still, though, it was just odd, seeing her lifelong friend taking up an act that, under most circumstances, she simply would not agree with. She had to admit, though, he did look kind of awesome when he took a drag, puffing out thick rings of smoke when he exhaled. She might even say he looked pretty damn sexy when he did—whoa, whoa whoa! Pull it, together, Twilight! You do NOT think Spike is attractive. And you sure as hay don't think he's SEXY!

Twilight shook her head clear of the thought, staring blankly at the open books and notes that lay before her.

Beyond the wood-framed window, Spike continued to take another hit of the potent Diseased Stallion cigarette, thoroughly enjoying the taste of the tobacco as it burned. He choked when he went int to exhale, and a flash of green embers erupted from his throat with a puff of thick, black smoke.

Twilight chuckled to herself as she watched him out of the corner of her eyes. It wasn't until she looked up and focused that she noticed he was holding a charred bit of parchment between his outstretched arms. He wore a look of confusion melded with terror. He quickly made a dash inside, his precious tobacco wrap falling to the ground with a whisper, embers still growing hot at the tip.

Spike burst through the door and slammed it shut, practically hyperventilating as he charged headlong to the desk Twilight was working at.

"Jeez, Spike, what's the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost or something?" She laughed hesitantly, taking note of her friend's erratic behavior.

"It's... the princess. She needs..." The dragon began, through his shortened breath. HE extended the fire-crisped scroll to Twilight. She quickly took the message in her magical grasp, bringing it closer to read. Her eyes became saucers as they traced each line of the princess's royal script.

It had only taken the friends a few hasty minutes to pack for the emergency trip to the Crystal Empire. The letter from the princess had been startlingly urgent, requesting that both Twilight and Spike meet Cadence and Shining Armor there. Some sort of inter-dimensional rift had opened to the Nightmare Realm, threatening to devour the kingdom if it wasn't sealed shut soon.

"It's going to take a great deal of magic to close a portal like this," Twilight stated, her muzzle pressed against the cold glass as the train, heading for the empire, chugged along.

"Yeah, no kidding. But Princess Celestia would never have asked something like this of you unless she knew you could do it, Twi," Spike said reassuringly.

The gravity of the task at hoof hung over her, threatening to drag her under if she let it get the best of her. Her number-one assistant had decided, from the moment he read the princess's letter, that he would never allow his best friend to lose control under pressure. They were going to make this happen, one way or another.

Twilight smiled blearily; it wasn't a real smile, though. It was a gesture to appease Spike, a simple facade. It wasn't like Spike was going to be the one to seal the rift shut. While she appreciated the support and reassurance, it was nowhere near enough to bring her out of this newfound state of unrest she found herself in.

"I mean it, Twilight. I believe in you. So does the princess. You're the most powerful unicorn in all of Equestria, protégé to the princess herself." Twilight began to pay mind to the kind words of confidence that Spike was pumping into her. "And most of all, you're the Element of Magic! If anypony can do this, it's you! And I'm not just sayin' all this just to make you feel better, Twi. You really are somepony who's truly special. You're going to find a way to close that blasted portal." He beamed at her, a twinkle in his eyes and a warm, clawed hand on her shoulder.

"Thank you, Spike." Her feigned smile gave way to a bashful grin. She could feel her cheeks warm up with modest pride. She could always count on that adorable dragon to make her feel better, even in the worst of times. Wait...

Did she really find Spike to be adorable?

She pondered this thought as they smiled at one another. He had become quite tall over the years. His scales shimmered with an iridescent glow now. His jaw, although still lined with dagger-like teeth, drew a strong line, and his once adorable, chubby body had become more proportionate to his height. He was fit and trim, not an ounce of fat on him. He was becoming a real dragon—minus the normal, dragon-like attitude they had seen from the teenage dragons they countered years ago. He was really becoming his own dragon now, and something about it, something Twilight couldn't quite put her hoof on, had been catching her eyes recently.

Just as the unicorn started to decipher that slowly awakening notion in the back of her mind, the conductor's voice boomed over the loudspeaker, effectively ending her train of thought as fast as the train itself as it pulled into the station.

"Arrive now in the Crystal Empire! Please watch yourself as you exit the train. We hope to see you again soon!"

That's odd, Twilight mused. Does the conductor even know what horrible things are going on in the kingdom right now? It isn't exactly the type of thing that would have ponies in a happy-go-lucky mood, that's for sure!

As she let the thought pass through her mind, she took notice of other ponies proceeding to exit the train alongside her. They all seemed perfectly content. There were even a couple families get off, all wearing bright and gleaming smiles. What the hay is going on here? Don't they know it's dangerous to be here right now?!

"Hey, Spike." Twilight motioned for her companion to come close. "Don't you find it a bit odd that ther are ponies willingly traveling to the Crystal Empire with us? Don't they know it's not safe to be here right now, with the Nightmare Realm threatening the kingdom?"

"Yeah, that is weird. Hmm... you'd think that the princess would've thought to stop all the traffic in the city and arranged a special train for us like she's done in the past. It's strange. And they all look so... happy. It's like none of them know what is going on here at all!" Spike agreed, rubbing his chin.

A call from beyond the torrent of ponies moseying about the station caught their attention. "Twily!" it called.

"Did you hear that, Twilight?" Spike nudged Twilight in her side, pointing into the blurs of motion in the direction of the voice.

She nodded. "Uh huh. It sounded like..."

"Hey, it's your big brother, Twilight!" Spike cut her off.

Sure enough, a little ways beyond the hustle and bustle stood Twilight's older sibling, in all of his noble glory, Prince Shining Armor. The two friends ran into the frenzy of the crowd to see him.

"Twily, how are you, little sis?" Shining Armor beamed, embracing his sister in a heartfelt hug.

"I'm good, Shiny... well, actually, I'm really stressed right now, but—wait, where's Cadence? And why are you so surprised to see me?" Twilight's mind was firing on all cylinders, and still, all of this was not adding up. Was Princess Celestia not able to get a letter to her brother and sister-in-law? And for that matter, if Shining and Cadence weren't here because of the dimensional bridge, then what were they here for? None of this made any lick of sense.

"Um, maybe because I had no idea you were coming to visit," he said, chuckling. "And Cadence is in the castle, preparing for a visit from a few very important guests from out of town. That's why I'm here. I'm supposed to pick them up and bring them all back to the castle. So, what's eating you, sis?"

She just stared, dumbfounded, at her brother. He laughed again. "Twily, are you going to talk or just look at me like I've grown a second horn?" Shining Armor asked, taking his little sister under his foreleg.

"So you have no idea what's happening right now, either? But Princess Celestia said... ugh, this doesn't make any sense!" Twilight thundered, stripping herself from her brother's embrace.

"What are you talking about, Twilight?" The white stallion was now concerned with Twilight's seemingly erratic behavior.

Instead of trying to explain what she was going through, Twilight forced the script from the princess to float in front of her brother's face.

Shining Armor glanced from the parchment to his little sister and back again, his worry growing by the second. "Umm, Twily, as great as I think it is to tote around blank bits of parchment, I have no idea what you're trying to prove."

Twilight stared, mouth agape, retrieving the parchment again. Her eyes scanned it front and back and back and front. It was entirely blank. At first, Twilight thought she had accidentally placed a blank piece of the rich paper in her saddlebag instead of the princess's message. The charred edges, however, were proof that this wasn't the case.

"I-I don't understand," she murmured in shock.

Spike quickly tore the paper from in front of her and gave it a thorough look over as well. Still, no trace of the princess's fine letter was found.

"Listen. Apparently, the party I am here for didn't make this train, and will likely be on the next. It should arrive a little over an hour. How about I walk you both to the castle? You can explain everything along the way. Maybe Cadence will know something I don't know about this whole situation, okay?" He hugged his sister again and then beckoned her and Spike to follow him.

Shining led the two into the crystal castle. Every inch glistened in a crystalline fashion, showering the citizens in auras of iridescent light. They proceeded through the cavernous foyer and up several flights of stairs into the throne room.

Princess Cadence was addressing a butler as the group made their way inside.

"Oh, there are you, Shining." She paused with a look of confusion as she noticed the two purple figures accompanying him. "And Twilight... and Spike! What are you two doing here?"

"They came here in a hurry. They said they were here for something really important for the Princess. Do you know anything about it, Cadence?" Shining asked for the both of them.

"Why, no, I haven't heard anything from the princess about a visit from either of them. What is this about, Twilight?"

Twilight stood in awe. Her mouth fell slack, but she couldn't form words. All of this was so perplexing. How was it possible that the princess had sent her on some dire assignment to the Crystal Empire, but neither Shining Armor nor Cadence knew nothing about it. And what boggled her mind even more was how the letter from Princess Celestia had become blank when she tried to show her brother what she meant. This just continued to make things even more complicated to understand.

The duo greeted Princess Cadence and told her in great detail about the letter Spike received and the mission it informed them off. Twilight couldn't find any way to explain how the note suddenly had gone blank, however. It was driving her insane.

Shining and Cadence gave one another a worried look, full of confusion. "That's very odd, Twilight, I have to admit. I promise you, though, we haven't received any word from the Princess, and we certainly haven't seen any signs of any inter-dimensional rifts or signs of the Nightmare Realm being unleashed," Cadence said, flipping the blackened parchment over as she scanned for traces of writing.

"Are you sure you aren't just a little overworked, Twily? I mean, maybe you imagined it or something?" Shining Armor hesitated, not wanting to accuse that his little sister was going slightly cuckoo.

Twilight stood in shock at that. "Shining, I'm not crazy! I swear, I know what I saw! I know what I read! This... seemingly blank parchment is the letter Princess Celestia sent me this morning. I read it and reread it a dozen times on the way here!"

"It's true! Not only that, but I can vouch for it. I read it as soon as it burst from my mouth, Spike added.

"I never said you were crazy, Twilight, but think about it. Why wouldn't the Princess tell us, and on top of that, you said the Princes sent you here to close a portal to the Nightmare Realm. Clearly, there isn't one. It's not that we think you're crazy. Honestly, it isn't, but look at the facts, sis. None of this adds up."

She pondered this. Nothing the Princess's letter described was happening at all. Could this really all be just a figment of their imagination?

No! I KNOW what Spike and I read? Something just isn't right. Something is missing... but what?

Then something struck her. "Wait! Maybe the Princess cast some sort of concealing spell on the letter, in case it fell into the wrong hooves, by some chance," she exclaimed, taking back the scroll from her brother. Her horn lit up brilliantly, and she pressed it onto the letter.

It worked. Magic coursed through the blank paper in ebbing shockwaves, revealing bits of script with every pass. As waves rippled through the paper, and the blank ink was reappearing, though, the ink began to run, pouring towards the epicenter of the pulsations. The ink bubbled and crawled outward again, and black and blue sparks danced along the page, becoming more malevolent in the rushing seconds. The three ponies and dragon stood awestruck as the light show unfolded.

A stray bolt stretched out, striking a nearby wall, breaking it, and causing a shower of razor sharp, needle pointed shards to rain down. Shining Armor threw himself over Cadence as Spike tackled Twilight to the ground, out of harm's way.

The room was spinning. Twilight could see the concerned look in Spike's eyes and his lips moving, but all she heard was a loud ringing in her head. The explosion shot close and had left her slightly shell-shocked. She shook her head slowly, trying to regain her awareness.

"Twilight... Twilight! Are you alright?" Spike asked worryingly, looking over her for any injuries.

"I-I'm fine. How are Cadence and my brother?"

Spike helped her onto her hooves and let her get her thoughts under control. They rushed into the dust to find Cadence and Shining Armor. What they found left them horrified.

Shining had cast himself over Cadence to protect her from the descending debris. They had been much closer to the spot where the lightning struck and could not avoid the razor-edged shards. Cadence was unscathed, from the look of things, thanks to Shining Armor's intervention.

However, he had no come out so fortunate. Two long shards of crystal pierced his hind leg, one just beneath his Cutie Mark, the other through his calf, effectively nailing him to the ground. Blood pooled quickly on the ground where he lay.

"SHINING!" Twilight cried, rushing to his side.

He let out a harsh grunt of agony. The pain was excruciating and throbbed with every beat of his racing heart. The bleeding was rapid. It was very possible that an artery had been severed.

"Oh, Shining Armor! I'm so sorry. I-I never thought... I mean, I never meant..." Twilight trailed off, tears trickling down her cheeks.

"I'm... I'm fine. I'll be alright," he said blearily. He tried to pry himself up to free Cadence from under him.

"Oh, Shining! Darling, you're hurt badly!" Cadence cried, hurrying out from under her love.

"It's nothing." He chuckled morbidly. "Just a flesh wound. Are you alright, my love?"

"Yes, yes, I'm fine. Twilight, help me. We need to remove these crystals quickly," she ordered, enveloping the crystal near his Cutie Mark in a blue glow.

"But it we pull them out, he'll bleed faster. I don't think-"

"I can close the wounds, Twilight, but we have to get the shards out first. Please, we have to hurry," Cadence interrupted, regaining some of her demure composure.


Twilight took the other shard, and together, the two gently coaxed the blades from his flesh, tossing the bloodied spears into the rest of the rubble. Cadence quickly went to work, sealing the wounds with a spell. Luckily, she knew a great deal about healing spells and enchantments and was able to do so nearly flawlessly, leaving only the thinnest traces of scarring.

"I-I don't know what happened. That spell should've only revealed hidden text, not... this! I don't understand," Twilight cried, trying desperately to wipe the tears from her face. A familiar, clawed hand brushed across her face, dabbing away any remaining tears. She smiled. "Are you okay, Shining?"

Shining Armor smiled roughly through the dull ache still pulsing in his leg. "Yeah, I'll be just fine, sis. Don't worry. Thanks to you and Cadence, I'm sure I'll make a full recovery," he added, trying to cheer the guilt-stricken mare up.

"That letter you received was obviously tainted with powerful, dark magic, Twilight. You couldn't possible have known anything like this would ever happen. There's no need to beat yourself up about it. We're all okay now," Cadence said reassuringly. She embraced the petrified unicorn in a warm hug.

The sparkling paper suddenly burst into green flames, descending into the puddle of blood as ash. As the ashes became saturated, they began to swirl, forming letters and random words. The swiling subsided, and the room went dark. The light peering through the windows was blotted out by dark clouds filling the sky. Thunder rolled, shaking the castle in waves of trembling tremors. Lightning cracked and danced through the sky, illuminating the blackened blood on the ground. With every flash, the pool shifted and changed. The four friends gathered close, holding each other as they watched the horror before them unfold.

The darkened blood bubbled like boggy swamp water, releasing exasperated hisses into the air in a sinister matter. A disembodied laugh echoed in the corridors, chilling their blood in icy waves. The entire castle shook violently.

"Thank you so much for delivering my letter and releasing me from my captivity. You have done well, my little ponies. Mwahaha!"

The voice was unmistakable. It's darkness emanated with crystal clarity in the confines of the room.

"I just needed a little royal blood to complete my resurrection. Thank you for your generous 'donation', Prince."

The blood began to morph and contort, growing taller with every flash of light flooding the hallowed room. It slowly took shape, the shape of a great and powerful figure in the darkness.

An eerie glow illuminated the room from the center crystal above the royal throne. The room went completely black, creepily silent for a few moments. The gang trembled and looked on it terror into the abyssal dark that surrounded them.

Spike could feel Twilight shivering uncontrollably with fear. He wrapped his arms protectively around her, glaring into the darkness with keen eyes, trying to make out something in the darkness.

The crystal lit up again, much brighter than before. A malevolent, magical eye looked down upon them from atop the throne. Its vertical pupil quivered as it focused on each of them. There, standing in front of them, the ash and blood transformation had its cycle. A tall, powerful unicorn, black as the night, stood before them, chuckling maniacally. His eyes shot open, revealing blood red irises.

The might King Sombra.

Every inch of the glistening castle turned black, resuming it darkest state from when the evil king had ruled over a thousand years ago. All hope and happiness had been sapped from the room. A cold chill filled the air, and a crackling screech of ice formed rapidly over the windows and doors.

"King Sombra!" Shining cried threateningly, charging an attack in his horn.

The king glared at him, egging him on with a conceited smirk. Shining Armor let loose his spell on the king, with with just a nonchalant nod of his head, the attack was redirected into the darkness. King Sombra chuckled.

Shining was becoming frantic. His loss of blood was weakening him. He couldn't tell if he was blacking out, or if it was just the darkness of room anymore

"A valiant effort, my little prince, but you are no match for me. Celestia herself cannot rival my powers," Sombra stated coldly. His horn flickered again, and a powerful wave of energy met with Shining Armor, casting him into the air. He collided on the floor with a malicious force. Blood trickled down his forehead as he lay unconscious.

"Shining!" Cadence called, turning on a dime to make sure her prince was alright.

"So eager to join your love at his deathbed, my dear, precious Cadence? So be it?"

Another powerful blast echoed, and Cadence slammed into the wall. She landed beside her lover in the same state.

"Hey! What'cha do that for?!" Spike cried, anger poisoning his tone. "She didn't do anything to you! She just wanted to make sure he was okay."

The king merely smiled sinisterly.

"You bucking monster!"

Twilight was paralyzed with fear and hopelessness. "Th-this can't be real. This... is a nightmare..."

The sinister sound of his voice made her spine shiver. "Oh, I promise you, it is all very real. But the nightmare," he said, taking a pause, "has only just begun."

A portal ripped open behind her, and she was pulled into the Never, her faithful assistant along with her.

Author's Note: Very, very special thanks to the legendary author DaNumbahZero on Fimfic, he's the only one with such perfect skill that clearly puts mine to shame. What, you thought I could create such words? Shit, I would kill to write like that, and you think I'm joking. Funny.

But on a serious note this fic will NOT be sunshine and rainbows (it's a Spilight and a story written half way by me, you seriously expect anything else?) but it will be long and now I shall go for a smoke and then write chapter two, check out my author brother's stories, they are SO worth the read, no joke. Give your thoughts on the first chapter please and be honest, peace.