by TGM

Chapter 2: Chapter 2 - Corruption

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Author's Notes:

Updated, and it only took three weeks.

That being said, I've decided to progress without an editor in order to better identify that mistakes I make as I write, or shortly after. If you notice any mistakes, grammatical, spelling, or otherwise, let me know. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy.

Fluttershy awoke from her sleep with a start, the faint memory of some dream fading from her mind as the light of Celestia’s sun struck her tired eyes. She rubbed at her pupils and let out a tired yawn, then collapsed back into bed and stared at the ceiling for a few moments. She could have sworn she heard some faint voice calling out her name, but it grew fainter and fainter as the seconds passed, until the silence was all that remained. The remnants of her dream, perhaps.

Eventually, she rolled herself out of bed with a groan.

Once she’d washed up, she descended her staircase to the steady thumping of an impatient Bunny’s foot. A smile was all she had to offer him before she pulled out his favorite lettuce. Carefully, she began the task of peeling lettuce from the head. Fluttershy was about halfway done before her eyelids began to feel heavy. The world slowly started to fade into blackness as her eyes steadily closed..

Her head felt heavy, and drooped forward. She was tired, and it felt as if the simple act of standing was suddenly one of the most tiring tasks in the world. It felt as if she could just lay on the kitchen floor right there and sleep, with not a care in the world. A low ringing noise built in her ears, quiet at first, but it slowly increased in volume. She didn’t give much thought as to what it was, because it drowned out her thoughts. One by one, her agenda for the day seemed less and less important. Just as she felt she was about to collapse, a loud thump made her jolt out of her trance.

“W-what?” Fluttershy shook her head rapidly before looking down at Angel. The bunny crossed his arms and frowned deeply before pointing at the lettuce again. “O-oh, I’m so sorry Angel Bunny, I didn’t sleep very well last night.” Fluttershy quickly finished Angel’s breakfast before tending to her other animals.

Once the animals were all taken care of, Fluttershy returned to her kitchen to read over her grocery list. This morning had certainly been strange, though she made sure to go to sleep early last night, she felt as if she hadn’t gotten any rest at all. The idea of laying down and snoozing her troubles away seemed more appealing by the second, but she had duties she needed to attend to.
Once she double checked her list, she grabbed her saddle bags and slung them over her backside before making her way to the door. Just as she placed her hoof on the knob, another tired spell hit her, hard this time.

She swayed in place, barely managing to remain standing as the door before her twisted and turned. If she looked at it any longer she was going to lose her balance, so she quickly tore her eyes away to look back into her cottage.

A pair of burning red eyes stared at her from across the room. Fluttershy shook her head and wiped at her own eyes, but the others remained. They bore into her with such intensity that she felt she could not move. Even the smallest twitch felt impossible under the baleful gaze, and she felt helpless as the room began to fill with thick, black smoke.

D-did I leave the stove on? Panic settled in, yet as panicked as she felt, she could not move. Fluttershy coughed, a cough that turned into a hack as she bent her head towards the ground. The smoke dissipated, until Fluttershy was left breathing heavily. The air, however, was tolerable. Was it just a dream? She lifted her head.

The piercing gaze was directly in front of her now, the wispy black smoke condensed around it. It formed a clawed, black hand and gripped her by the throat. Fluttershy’s building scream chocked off before she could even finish it, and she immediately tried to remove the hand from her throat. Her efforts were in vain, and was instead hoisted into the air, level with the eyes the smoke seemed to gather around. Every moment spent breathing in the smoke that leaked off the entity before her felt like knives into her stomach, she couldn’t breathe.

Just when she felt like she was going to pass out, a powerful, overwhelming voice spoke straight into her mind.

"You are mine."

Fluttershy opened her eyes, the familiar walls of the cottage a small comfort from the sudden terror that gripped at her heart. Trembling hooves carefully lifted her up from the floor, but stopped at a sharp stab of pain in her head. She carefully brought a hoof up to the pain to rub at a fresh bruise. I must have hit the ground harder than I thought… Fluttershy turned to gaze out of a nearby window. Celestia’s sun dipped just below the horizon in the distance, and gave the sky and clouds a golden glow that steadily washed over the land. Despite the beautiful sight, Fluttershy could not be rid of the feeling of dread that settled in her stomach.

“I need to see someone about this right now.”

“Perfect! Row 2 alphabetized A-Z!” Spike hurriedly checked off the long list in his claws as Twilight happily bounced in place. “Only twenty more rows to go!”

Twilight’s number one assistant rolled his eyes. “and I’m sure once you’re done with that, you’ll find some other method of classification that you’ll insist on reorganizing the books by.”

Twilight giggled. “Don’t be ridiculous, Spike. It’s not like I’m super obsessed with organization or anything, alphabetical order is fine. I can just walk over here, and look under the S to find Starswirl’s magical theory on time travel…” She quickly darted over to the bookshelf in question as she spoke, pulled out the book, and rushed back to spike. “Time, time, what was the time?!”

The stopwatch already in spike’s claw gave a soft click as he pressed the button. “Four seconds.”

“Four seconds?! Ugh, that’s .2 seconds longer than last time! We have to do it again, maybe this time by the numerical association of the letter’s place in the alphabet…” Twilight mumbled to herself as she turned back to the bookshelf.

“Right, not obsessed at all.” Spike scribbled out the option he’d checked off.

A knock sounded from the door, but Twilight didn’t turn away from her books as she hurriedly replaced and reorganized them with her magic. “Spike, can you get that?”

Spike complied, though when he turned the knob, the guest on the other side pushed the door open themselves. Fluttershy stood in the doorway, though she looked much worse for the wear. The whites of her eyes were now a shade of red, and she barely held them open as she wavered dangerously from side to side.

“Fluttershy?” The small dragon slowly backed up as she stumbled in.

“S-Spike.” She tried to step toward him, but her foreleg buckled and she impacted the floor with a heavy thud. She closed her eyes and took a shuddering breath. “I-I need to see Twilight.” She cringed and quivered, then slowly curled inward, her face away from him.

“Fluttershy?!” Twilight shot from the bookshelf to her friend’s side like a bullet, a hoof on her friend’s side. “Fluttershy, what’s wrong?”

“Can’t think,” she coughed. “There’s something wrong with me, I tried to make it to the hospital, but I can’t-“ she erupted into another fit of coughing, then let out another pitiful moan before her eyes closed, and her body went still.

“Oh no. Hold on Fluttershy, I’ll get you some help!” Twilight quickly lifted her friend in her magic.

“I’ll get the others!” Spike ran towards the door, but bumped into a leg as someone familiar stepped into the library.

“That won’t be necessary.” Princess Luna regarded the scene with determined eyes.

“Princess Luna?” both Spike and Twilight spoke at once.

She didn’t respond, but instead quickly stepped up to Twilight. “Put her down so I can look at her, Twilight.”

Twilight’s eyes reflected uncertainty, but she obeyed and gently lowered Fluttershy down to the floor. Princess Luna immediately set to work, her own magic taking hold of the shy pony.

“Princess, what are you doing here?” Luna didn’t answer, her gaze fixated on her unconscious friend. She mumbled something under her breath, but Twilight couldn’t quite make it out.

Twilight sat in silence for but a moment, trying to glean some sense from Luna’s occasional mumble. Spike glanced between Twilight and the door again. Twilight nodded, but Luna spoke up first.

“No.” the door closed with an aura of blue magic.

“Princess Luna, I appreciate the help, but if Fluttershy’s sick, she needs medical attention. My friends and I can get her the help she needs if we—“

“Twilight, if this is anywhere near as serious as I think it is, your friends won’t be able to help. If anything, they will only make the situation worse.”

Twilight looked to the floor as Luna continued her work. Eventually, the blue magic faded from Fluttershy and Luna sighed.

“It is as I feared.”

“What? What is it?” Twilight trotted up next to Luna.

“Dearest Fluttershy has fallen victim to an ancient evil, Twilight.” Luna shook her head. “I shouldn’t have let it get away.”

“Ancient evil?” Twilight’s ears went flat. “I thought she was just sick! What happened?”

“Last night, as I was monitoring the dreamscape, something happened.” Luna turned and gave Twilight a serious look. “A being of darkness broke into it and started causing nightmares for all of its residents. I fought it off, but it escaped from me.”

“But what does that have to do with Fluttershy’s sudden sickness?” Twilight asked. “She’s coughing and sweating…dreams can’t cause physical illness, can they?”

“Maybe not dreams…but…” Luna stood. “Twilight, are you aware of the existence of demons?”

“I’ve only seen them vaguely mentioned in some of the books and scrolls I read,” Twilight answered, her gaze following Princess Luna as she trotted past. “They’re forces of evil who cause destruction wherever they go, right?”

“More than just destruction.” Luna began to write on a scroll. “Demons are old, ancient beings, older than time itself. They exist in their own realms, but the only way they sustain themselves is through the pain they inflict on others. Both physical and mental. One would hope that they stay to their own realms, but they destroyed their own worlds long ago, and are constantly seeking new ones. New victims, new powers. The more destruction, agony, and turmoil they cause, the more powerful they themselves become.”

“So, you’re saying the thing that escaped from you last night was...”

Luna nodded, then the scroll she wrote on dissipated with a flash. “A demon, yes. It escaped from me, right into the mind of dear Fluttershy, who awoke before I could drive it out.”

Twilight’s eyes widened, and she fell backwards onto her rear. Her gaze fixated on the floor. “Princess Luna, how do we even fight something like that?”

“It certainly will not be the easiest task,” Luna said as she regarded the new princess. “But it can be done. I assume you are familiar with how my dream magic works?”

“You submerge yourself into the pony’s subconscious to drive out nightmares, right?”

Luna nodded. “Twilight, I do not know Fluttershy well. Navigating her subconscious to root out an entity that has already been causing damage to it for quite some time will be difficult, but with help from a friend that knows her mind better than I…”

“You could find it faster and possibly save her.” Twilight’s eyes brightened. “Princess, that’s perfect! But why can’t I get my friends to help? Rainbow knows Fluttershy much better than I do.”

“I fear what numerous presences in Fluttershy’s mind may do to her subconscious.” Luna sighed. “Honestly, I am unsure that bringing only you with me may not cause damage, but the alternative is that I fail to force the demon out, and then…”

“a-and then?” Spike spoke up.

“Fluttershy will lose her mind to the demon, and will be lost to us forever. It will control her completely, and likely use her as a vessel for doing more damage in the physical realm.” Luna closed her eyes and sighed. “It would not be unlike myself when I became Nightmare Moon.”

Twilight and Spike gasped.

“So you can see the severity of what it is we’re up against. I understand if you don’t want to help—“

“Are you kidding?!” Twilight spoke, then immediately jumped forward. “Of course I’ll help! I don’t want Fluttershy to fall victim to a demon! But I have to tell my friends! Even if they can’t come with us, they deserve to know!”

Luna closed her eyes. “Very well. However, we can’t afford to wait for them. Twilight, if you are going to come, we must depart immediately. I’m afraid to imagine the damage it has already done since last night.”

Twilight nodded. “Spike, go get our friends. Tell them that they need to come to the library right away, and explain the situation as best as you can. If we don’t pull this off, well..we’ll need them on standby.” Spike nodded and rushed out the door.

“Princess Twilight Sparkle.” Princess Luna spread her wings. A dark blue aura slowly spread across her body, and an ethereal breeze ruffled her feathers, and made her mane billow behind her. Her eyes glowed pure white, and when she spoke, she spoke with the Royal Canterlot Voice. “Are you prepared to enter the dreamscape?”

Twilight gulped at the display, but nodded. Luna raised her head higher, her horn glowing even brighter before she suddenly wrapped her wings around Twilight. The two melded into a luminous, blue light that grew smaller and smaller with each passing second, until it vanished in a brilliant white flash. The only thing that remained were a few glittering specks that slowly drifted down onto the slumbering Fluttershy.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3 - Degeneration Estimated time remaining: 15 Minutes
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