A Second Chance

by Jay David

Chapter 1: Prologue

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When people dream, they never know where they might end up. One's imagination can conjure many amazing things, from far-off lands to exciting adventures. But then, there are the dreams that take us by surprise. The dreams that make no sense. The dreams that scare us. As Twilight Sparkle, personal protégé of Princess Celestia, slept soundly in her bed in her chambers at the Royal Palace Library, her mind was conjuring forth what her waking mind would describe as a most unusual scenario. There was no solid mass here to speak of, no floor upon which to walk. No walls and, for a time, nopony to speak to. All around there were many shades of purple, from dark to bright, shifting and swirling with every passing moment. And in the middle of it was Twilight herself, walking in this place in a wary manner. She was not the kind of mare to be frightened by mere strange images, for deep down, she knew this was a dream. But, even so, her presence in this place disturbed her greatly.

"Hello? Is anypony there?"

Her calls received no answer, and her mind raced with the possibilities of her being here. What is this place? A dream most likely. I remember going to sleep not long ago. That's it then, this is a dream. So there's nothing to worry about. However, regardless of what the more rational parts of her mind might had said, there was nevertheless a sense of foreboding in this place, made worse by the sudden arrival of a very distinct sound. Her ears perking up, Twilight realised immediately that the sound she was hearing was hoofsteps, and, more importantly, that they were getting closer. Looking around, she tried to see where it was coming from, but her surroundings were like fog, obscuring her sight greatly. However, as the sound grew louder still, something began to emerge from the gloom. Squinting her eyes, Twilight looked on to see a figure, clad in a dark cloak, approach her. It was doubtless a pony, though one somewhat taller than most, but it's face was obscured, shadowed by the hood of the cloak.

In time, the figure stopped waking towards the young unicorn, and for a while, there was silence between them. Twilight's nerves grew with every moment, but she nevertheless remained still, growing ever more curious about this new arrival. Her chance to make the first move was soon lost however, as the figure finally began to speak.

"It has been a long time since I have seen that face."

The voice was feminine and, more importantly, very familiar to Twilight's ears, though she could not put a hoof exactly where she'd heard it. Regardless, the new arrival had deigned to speak with her, and Twilight would offer her the same courtesy.

"Um...hello? My name is..."

"Twilight Sparkle."

Twilight stopped at the utterance of her name, looking on with some worry as the mysterious figure remained still before her.

"You...you know me?"

The hood lowered and rose, indicating a nod.

"I do...perhaps better than anypony."

Needless to say, a phrase like that can make a pony nervous. Twilight strained her eyes, trying to catch a glimpse of who or what was underneath that hood. But for now, the figure merely turned away, denying her that opportunity.

"You're frightened. Confused. You have every right to be. But know that I do not come here to harm you, or cause you grief. I merely come...with an offer."

Twilight raised an eyebrow at that. This whole thing seems like one of those fairy-tale stories Mothers tell their colts and fillies, she thought. Stories of mysterious figures coming to offer boons at a price, or something like that. Even a fool would be wary at all this. Narrowing her eyes slightly, Twilight took a single step forward.

"And, if I may ask...what kind of offer are you...er...offering?"

The figure chuckled at the young unicorn's attempt at sounding cautious, but nevertheless gave her an answer.

"Before I make this offer, I want you to know something very important, Twilight. What I am about to do might be the single most dangerous thing any user of magic has ever attempted before. If this fails...then I don't know what kind of damage could be caused."

Twilight felt a pang of fear after hearing that. If this person wants me to take them up to this deal, they’re doing a pretty lousy job of making it sound appealing. But, even with that thought on her mind, Twilight stayed silent, allowing the figure to continue speaking. But first, they let out a sigh.

"As I said, I know you. And as such...I know you will never make an agreement without knowing everything...including...who you are dealing with."

The young unicorn took a step back with those words, and watched with rapture as the figure raised a hoof, placing it on the side of her hood. With one motion, the hood was lowered, and when it did, Twilight stood aghast at what she saw. Or, rather, who she saw. The figure was a mare, with lavender fur and a long, dark-purple mane, with a single long horn protruding from her forehead. It...it can't be, Twilight kept telling herself. She's...she's...me?! Indeed, the mare that now stood apart from Twilight was very nearly a mirror duplicate of her. There were, however, distinct differences, most notably their proportions. This other Twilight was quite taller than her, almost by a full foot. Her mane was much longer, and flowed, even in the absence of wind. And then, there was her face. Though identical to Twilight's, it bore a look of both grace and age. The look of somepony who had seen much and knew even more. That...that's the same expression Princess Celestia has!

As her mind raced with this new knowledge, she tried her best to make sense of it all, tried figuring out if this was still a creation of her mind in it's sleeping state, or if this was indeed some other version of her. Eventually, one thought was brought forth in her mind. One thought that was able to make sense of everything she was seeing.

"You...you've travelled through time?"

The other Twilight though, merely shook her head.

"Not in the traditional sense. I am still where I was before, which, as I'm sure you've guessed, is in your future. But my mind...that I was able to send back."

The younger unicorn shook her head at that.

"And you entered my dreams too?"

A sly smile crept onto the face of her older self.

"One thing you'll come to learn, my little pony, is that entering a pony's dreams is not quite as unprecedented as you might think."

Twilight, still struggling to come to terms with all of this, was only able to get out one question.

"But...why? Why have you done this?"

The older Twilight looked away, as if not wishing her younger self to see her. For a brief moment, Twilight could have sworn that she saw a look of conflict upon the older mare's face. In time, the latter finally answered.

"I never thought I would say this...but you'll understand when you're older. You come to look back on all the things you've done in your life, and wonder if they were the best choices. You'll come to regret missed opportunities, missed chances to say and do the things that truly mattered."

Turning again, the older Twilight looked straight into the eyes of her younger counterpart.

"And that is why I'm here...to make that offer."

Twilight took a step back, her mind finally putting all the pieces together.

"You...you want to change history? Are you crazy?! It completely...!"

But she didn’t have the chance to finish, as the older mare raised a hoof, much like how Celestia might do to make herself heard. And, much like with her beloved mentor, Twilight instinctively sopped talking, and simply listened.

"I know. Like I said, it's a risk. It goes against every law of what we know of time travel. But you need to trust me when I say that it's important that this be done."

Twilight, still unsure about all this, cleared her throat a little before speaking.

"So...what is it you want to do, exactly?"

Seeing that her younger self was beginning to open up to the proposal, the older Twilight let out another sigh before speaking.

"A spell. One very complicated and very powerful. A spell that, at you current level, you could not even hope to cast yourself. A spell that, when finished...will let you know everything I know. And I do mean everything, Twilight."

The young unicorn let out a gasp at hearing that.

"Everything?! You...you mean...?"

The older Twilight gave a serious nod.

"Yes. You will be granted complete foreknowledge of everything that is going to happen between now and the time you grow to be my age. As you've probably guessed, this will also allow you to learn all of the magical tricks I've picked up over the years."

Upon hearing that latter part of the offer, Twilight's inner student practically leaped in joy. The chance to gain potentially decades of magical knowledge in an instant? How could I say no to that? However, the more serious parts of her mind quickly shouted down the more enthusiastic. But...I have to think about the potential consequences! I'd be made privy to everything that's going to happen to me in future, and possibly everypony else close to me too! I can understand why she seemed so worried about this, it could change everything! But then...if she is me...then she wouldn't be doing something this risky unless she...I...we...unless we were absolutely sure it was the right thing to do. At least, I hope I wouldn't. The older Twilight stayed silent, watching her younger counterpart mentally wrestle with the enormous opportunity that had been offered to her on a silver plate. Sensing the worry and hesitation, the elder mare cleared her throat, gaining the younger's attention. The former gave a small but reassuring smile as she began to speak in a calm, almost motherly tone.

"Twilight...if you say no to this, I will understand. What I'm asking of you is no small thing, and it will no doubt completely change the course of your life, though I cannot say how much. I will not force you to do this if you truly don't want to. All I ask...is that you trust me."

The way she'd said those words, it made Twilight feel like a little filly again. A little filly who was worried about something, only for Princess Celestia to come in and help her in whatever way she needed. It did much to alleviate her fears and concerns, and as such, Twilight was left largely with the earlier excitement at getting the chance to learn so much in so little time. Besides, she told herself, if I say no, I’ll probably come to really regret it once I get to being her age. Looking up, Twilight looked deep into her counterpart’s eyes, trying to see any hint of deception, of malice, or perhaps even trickery there. But, after a time, she was content that there was none, and so let out a sigh. Putting on a small smile, Twilight gave a single nod to her elder self, to which the latter smiled even wider than before, as well as letting out a sigh of relief. Wow, Twilight thought, she was really hoping I would do this. Staying still, Twilight watched as the older Twilight began to step forward.

"If you accept, then I'll begin the spell. We need only touch her horns for my knowledge to pass to you."

The young Twilight nodded at that, starting to walk forward also. Eventually, the two were just a few feet away from each other, and the elder lowered her head to bring it to the younger. Taking a deep breath, the young Twilight tried calming herself, readying herself for what was about to happen. A glow began to form around the elder's horn, and Twilight immediately felt a tingle from it. The aura was most familiar to her, as she had felt it many times before. Definitely mine, she noted. If ever there was doubt as to who this elder mare was, they were now gone. So, calmly, Twilight stayed still as her elder version concentrated hard, her magic glowing brighter and brighter with the passing moments. In time, Twilight began to feel something in her mind. Images, faces she didn't recognise, which was undoubtedly the new knowledge that was being offered. As time passed, the images came faster, and more intensely, and it was here that something else happened. The elder Twilight raised a hoof and unclasped her cloak, letting it fall to the ground. The young Twilight opened her eyes, which then widened with shock as she saw, to her amazement, that her elder counterpart now stretched out a par of magnificent wings. Utterly awe-struck by the sight, Twilight did not have the words to say.

"You...I'm...you mean we...?"

The elder, seeing the amazement of the younger, merely smiled.

"Be calm, Twilight Sparkle...for your second chance...begins today."

And with that, there was a blinding flash of light, causing Twilight to shield her eyes. But, rather than the light dying down, Twilight instead woke up from her dream, immediately sitting upright in her bed with a cold sweat running down her face. Snapping her head around, she saw that she was once more in the safety and familiarity of her sleeping chambers in the Canterlot Royal Library. She looked around, seeing all of her books and furniture, and, more importantly, her travel bags, all packed and ready for her journey tomorrow. A loud snoring to her left caused her to turn, seeing the still-sleeping form of her number one assistant, Spike, laying peacefully in his basket. But, Twilight knew things were different now. Her mind was flooded with new thoughts, new ideas. Memories of things that had yet to happen. Faces of ponies she hadn't met yet, but now felt as if she'd known them her entire life. She felt it all. Excitement, relief, confusion, and so many other feelings that came with this great change. An entire lifetime had been given to her. A lifetime that she now had the power to change, for the better. Looking down at her assistant, she began to smile in a truly affectionate manner.

"I...I know what I need to do."

Next Chapter: The Morning After Estimated time remaining: 20 Hours, 21 Minutes
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