by RealityCheck

Chapter 1: Prelude

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It really was a most unusual day in Ponyville.

Nyx had the feeling something was off from the first minute she woke up. Oh, breakfast was normal enough; in fact her mother seemed in a very cheerful mood, singing to herself as she bustled around getting ready for the day. "Morning sleepyhead!" she said as Nyx came into the kitchen. "Waffles for breakfast today; fill 'er up, kiddo!" She pushed a plate of syrupy goodness in front of Nyx. Twilight turned back to what she was doing-- which was apparently trotting back and forth between tending the stove, writing out her daily checklist, and eyeballing something bubbling in a beaker.

Nyx grinned and took a big bite of her waffles. It made Nyx happy to see Twilight happy.

Though as for that, lately happy little moments like this made Nyx have a funny little twinge of sadness. A thought that kept poking her in the back of her mind no matter how often she tried to forget it. Seeing Twilight trotting back and forth, humming and singing, she felt it again, that stupid thought intruding. Once again, Nyx scornfully pushed it away. It was a nice day, she shouldn't be spending it moping about things like that.

Still... there was something else nagging at her. She couldn't put her hoof on it, for some reason.

Once her plate was clean Nyx grabbed her saddlebags and bolted out the door. She stopped to give her mother a goodbye hug and then was off for school. She was halfway to the schoolhouse when the nagging feeling, that feeling that something was, well, off, came back. It probably had something to do with the snow that had started falling....


Nyx looked around in surprise. Indeed, there was snow falling, in a single block area. One block over it was sunny. The next block in the distance, it was raining. She looked up at the sky, only to find that the clouds were arranged in a checkerboard pattern clear to the horizon. Was Rainbow Dash pulling some sort of prank? Nyx didn't think so. At least she hoped she wasn't; ponies all around looked pretty mad.

The clouds shuffled around and Nyx found herself caught underneath a highly localized downpour. She squealed and ran for it. No sense in staying outside any longer than she needed to.

When she got to school, things were pretty churned up there, too. Colts and fillies were abuzz with stories of bizarre goings on all over town. Worse, none of the stories made any sense. Fluttershy was apparently running around Sugarcube Corner trying to play jokes, while there seemed to be some sort of animal riot going on at Rainbow Dash's.... cottage? But didn't Dash live in the cloud manor floating over town? And Applejack was making an absolute mess over at Carousel Boutique, hanging dresses that looked like burlap bags in the windows. And Applebloom was fit to be tied, because there was no way that Pinkie Pie would get the harvest in...

Nyx rubbed her aching head. Did she fall down a magic rabbit hole in the middle of the night?

Miss Cheerilee had a special event planned for that day. Several of the ponies from the old folk's rest home were visiting today, and telling the colts and fillies stories about when they were young and Ponyville was new. It was fascinating, hearing them talk about things from years ago in their soft, quavery voices.

But at the same time, it... hurt.

Nyx didn't know what was wrong with her. No, that wasn't honest. She knew what was wrong with her. That nagging thought that she hated so much. Most days she'd forget it entirely. Today though it seemed like everything was reminding her of it, dragging it to the front of her mind.

At lunch she managed to almost put it out of her mind completely. She had a daffodil sandwich and a thermos of celery soup, her favorite meal. All her friends-- the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Sweetiebelle, Scootaloo, Applebloom, Twist-- were all at the picnic table with her, eating their lunches and telling jokes and stories. Everything was all right.

Well. Mostly. The weather was still horribly wonky. At least the square of sky above the school was clear. Still, she felt better, she thought.

The others were chattering about the old ponies who'd talked that morning. "Mr. Wattle's stories were neat," Sweetiebelle said. "I never knew that there used to be a pin and button store where Sugarcube Corner is."

"I was more interested in his stories about patrolling the Gryphon border back when he was in the Guard," Scootaloo said. "Wow. Betcha he couldn't even pick up a helmet and sword today..."

"Yeah, it's kinda weird thinking of him bein' as young and big and strong as Big Macintosh, way back when," Applebloom mused. "Now he's so old and wrinkly and tired..."

"Yeah, well we're all gonna be like that someday, Mom keeps telling me," Scootaloo said.

"Boy, caintcha see us like that?" Applebloom chuckled. "All old and wrinkly like Granny Smith, takin' naps all the time..."

"Yeah," laughed Sweetiebelle. She hunched over, pantomiming like an old mare. "Shoot, you whippersnappers, where's my rocker, I wanna take a nap!"

"Eh, Applejack'll get that way first," Applebloom said. "She's already crabby. She'll be meaner'n an old goat when she and her friends get old..."

"Ugh, Rainbow Dash an old mare? Never," Scootaloo said.

"Don't tell Rarity. She'll freak," Sweetiebelle giggled. "Hey Nyx, what do you think-- Nyx? Nyx, what's wrong?"

Nyx was perfectly silent. She was still stoically eating her daffodil sandwich, chewing deliberately. But it tasted like wood. Fat tears were beading up in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks, soaking the bread. She choked down her mouthful and put the sandwich down, unfinished. "Nothing," she said. "It's nothing..." She got up and trotted away, fast, before her friends could follow.

She found Cheerilee over by the schoolhouse door, watching over the playground. "Miss Cheerilee? I don't feel good. Can I go home?"

Cheerilee looked at her, concerned. "Are you sure, Nyx?" Nyx nodded. Cheerilee looked at her tear-streaked face and relented. "All right. You go straight home. You think you can make it on your own?" Nyx nodded again. "Good, you go straight home. I'll have one of the girls bring you any homework we have. Okay?"

That was fine with Nyx. Nyx didn't care. She turned around and started on the long walk home.

When she got home, nopony was there. She went straight up to her room, crawled into bed, and cried her heart out. Here, in her room, she finally let herself think that awful thought that she couldn't keep away, no matter how hard she tried:

They were all going to die.

They all were. All of her friends and loved ones... her grandparents, her parents, her 'aunties,' her friends... they would grow old, and grow sick, and finally die. Even Spike. Dragons lived thousands of years, but someday even Spike would grow old and pass away.

Nyx wouldn't. She was an alicorn; alicorns were immortal. That meant she would live forever... and she'd watch all of her friends die.

She'd watch Twilight die, someday.

That thought nearly stopped her heart. She couldn't bear it. It was too much to bear.

She'd known this for a long time. There were nights where she'd wished on just about every star in the sky that there was some way to change that; but even she knew wishes were just that-- wishes. In time she'd quit wishing. She'd simply given up hope.

Something light and downy and warm alighted on the tear soaked pillow, next to her head. Peewee nuzzled her wet cheek with his beak, cooing. Nyx put her forelegs around the phoenix chick, cradling him in a delicate almost-hug. "At least you'll be here," she said sadly. Peewee chirped and brushed her cheek with a wingtip. At least it was something. Exhausted from her crying, she drifted off to sleep.

She was awoken, it felt like almost immediately, by an enormous flash of light. She bolted up in bed even as the light blazing through her doorway flickered out, rubbing her sticky eyes. She looked out the window: to her surprise the sun had already set. She could hear voices downstairs, shouting in panic... What were Mom's friends doing here?

And why were they shouting her name?

A sudden terrible premonition seized Nyx. She jumped out of bed and galloped down the stairs. Twilight's friends were all there, wearing their elements, and staring in horror at a black scorch mark, shaped like a six pointed star, on the floor.

They turned when they heard her on the stairs. Their expressions when they saw it was her made Nyx's heart freeze. Fluttershy was the first to speak:

"Oh, Nyx--!"

That was all it took for Nyx to piece everything together. She nearly fell down the last of the stairs and scrambled for the burn mark on the floor. "TWILIGHT!! NOOO!!" She pawed at the black stain with her hooves, as if she would rub the mark away and find her mother hidden behind it.

There was a noise and a ruckus and suddenly the others were pressed close around her. The room reeled in a circle...

"Nyx? Nyx! Wake up, child."

Luna's voice, surprisingly gentle in her ear, shocked her to wakefulness. She jolted awake, finding herself between Luna's forehooves. "MOMMY!" she cried out.

"Easy, easy, little one. Your mother is fine," the Princess of the Night said, lifting her up.

Nyx got to her hooves, her heart pounding. "What happened??" she said, wheeling to face Luna.

The joy sparkling in Princess Luna's eyes made Nyx's breath catch in bewilderment. "Something wonderful," Luna said with a smile. "Quick, go outside or you'll miss it!" She gave Nyx an eager nudge.

Nyx needed no further encouragement. She galloped out the open front door.

She was out in the street with the Spike and Peewee and the Bearers just in time to see a lavender globe of light descend from the starry sky. It settled to the ground in the middle of the astonished ponies, lighting gently as a feather. It faded, then winked out, revealing a kneeling pony...

"Mom!" Nyx started forward, then froze, anguished and uncertain. She watched as Twilight rose to her feet and lifted her head... and spread her beautiful wings.

It couldn't be...

Twilight opened her eyes and took a breath. "Homina," she said, staggering a little.

Her friends crowded around her, crowing with delight. But they had to make way an instant later for a tiny fourlegged missile. Nyx hit her mother at a dead run, bowling her clean over.

"Ack!" Twilight hit the ground with a loud thump, wings splayed everywhere.

"YesyesyesyesyesyesYES!!" Nyx squealed, wrapping her forelimbs around Twilight's neck in a strangling hug, tears-- this time of pure joy-- rolling down her face. "My wish came true! YesyesyesyesYES!!"

Princess Celestia alighted in the street just as her sister came strolling out of the library. She watched with amusement as the overjoyed little filly hugged her newly ascended mother. "Should we let them know we're here?" she said.

Luna chuckled, eyes sparkling. "Give them a minute..."


Yes, it really was a most unusual day in Ponyville. But then, it's the best place in Equestria to have one.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2 Estimated time remaining: 7 Hours, 14 Minutes
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