Chapter 17 Demons, Angels, and Alicorns
I couldn’t sleep. Discord had disappeared saying something about having preparations to make. For my part I didn’t know what could be done or even what would happen. What would worlds merging be like? There were too many options for me to really nail one down. Seeing no point in trying to dwell on it I left my room. Food sounded really nice right now and the kitchens were probably not completely closed yet.
The castle had changed. There were so many more guards than there had been before. Weirdly still each of them saluted me as I went by. I wasn’t aware why they would do that or what I had done to deserve that. It honestly a little creepy. The trip to the kitchen was a familiar route for me and I made it in no time. A wave of relief ran over me as I walked into the kitchen. First it was still running. Way way busier than I had thought it would be at this hour and that secondly there was nopony saluting me. That didn’t stop it from being slightly awkward though. Flaam Bay stood there with a tear in his eye and a stunned look on his face.
“You’re awake?” Flaam Bay said. He rushed over to me and scooped me up into a hug. It was a bit awkward as I wasn’t aware he cared this much. “It is so good to see you out of that dreary room down in the castle depths. That and it is so good to see our little hero.”
“Why would you call me a hero?” I asked. “I didn’t do anything heroic.”
“Nothing heroic? You fought a changeling queen to save all of Equestria and in doing so saved an entire race from her tyranny. That is quite heroic if you ask me. Everypony in Equestria owes you a debt,” Flaam Bay said.
I froze. Why had they told anyone about what I had done? How much did they know? I couldn’t shake off the panic that was building in me. Deeply ingrained, the guilt ate away at me. Flaam Bay noticed immediately that I had frozen up. He scooped me up and took me into the walk in pantry. The noise was noticeably lower and I was much better able to fight off my panic attack.
That is until the voice spoke again, “You are the monster that you think you are. No one will ever love you again.”
I shook my head trying to shake the voice from my head. It was working and I could hear its laugh rock through my head. But the voice was right. I was a monster but I wouldn’t let that stop me from helping those I loved. I held onto that thought and the laughter became pained and faded. But the thought did more than just banish my tormentor, it helped calm me.
“Are you feeling better?” asked Flaam Bay. I nodded. “I hope you don’t mind me picking you up like that. I know you like to act like an adult but you are just a filly after all. I can’t sit by and watch a foal in pain and not do something about it.”
“No it is fine,” I said. “Thanks for helping me get away from the noise. Can you get me something to eat? I can’t remember the last thing I ate.”
“One order of mac and cheese coming right up,” said Flaam Bay. “Do you want to stay here or go somewhere else? The pantry isn’t the most exciting place in the world. Even when you know where we hide the chocolate chips.”
“I’ll be in the dining room across the hall,” I said. “Thanks.”
I charged my horn. It came too quickly and with a loud pop I appeared inside the dining room that was just across the hall from the kitchens. I landed perfectly on the floor with not a strand of hair out of place. The chairs and tables near me however were blown around. I needed to ask Twilight how to better control that. There were a few guards grabbing food in the room but it was otherwise mostly empty.
Flaam Bay was not long with my food and I slowly ate the large dish of pasta. He had brought me a chocolate chip cookie with my food. The gesture was heartwarming. It was nice to be back in a place with familiar ponies round instead of the cold and collected ones of the Canterlot Castle. My mood soured for a while after that thought. How many of them had died that day?
As I was picking at the last bits of what had been way too much food for me, Luna entered the room. Immediately my guilt and anxiety ate me and I ducked under the table. It was sort of silly but it helped me from completely devolving into a panic attack. I could feel the voice laughter coming back. My hiding spot was not very good as Luna’s legs came to a spot right in front of me. She leaned her head down and looked at me. Her face was pained and it was apparent that she had been crying recently. She pulled me into a hug with her magic.
“I’m so sorry,” Luna said. Her voice was about to crack and I could see tears flowing once more. “You are not a monster. We love you very much. Enough pain has been created by Chrysalis’s actions and you are not a murderer. Self-defense and the defense of others is not murder. I shudder what would have happened to Equestria without your actions. Please believe me that you are the hero everypony thinks you are.”
“I did the very thing you told me not to do,” I said. “I killed with the magic you told me not to. I ripped her soul out.”
“I know,” said Luna. “And I am glad you did so. If I had been in your position I would have done far worse than what you did. I am the one who holds any blame for what happened that day. Sis..Celestia and I are to blame.”
“Why are you glad I killed somepony?” I I shouted. “All life is precious and I snuffed one out.”
“When you have lived as long as I have, it becomes easier to see what is for the greater good. I can’t tell you what exactly the long term ramifications are but I can tell you what that single action has done in the last month. The changelings or at least the remnants of Chrysalis’s hive have become full citizens of Equestria and we are working towards a lasting peace between pony and changeling. You saved all of Equestria from falling into her hooves. From what traces of her magic that we could find in you, Chrysalis had enough magic to kill even me. Yes I can be killed. Chrysalis underestimated you to her detriment but she would not have done so to me or any of the other princesses. If she had time to suck all of the ponies in that meadow dry of all of their love then I don’t know if any of us could have stopped her. Oh and you saved Nympha’s life. Doesn’t she mean something to you?”
“What of course. I just…”
“No, no justs. There is no way to spin this that makes you into the monster. I know how hard that can be to accept it but you must. Not just for you but for everyone here. Your nightmares are causing demons to spawn. While I have up to this point prevented any from escaping, it is only a matter of time before one does. Their power is proportional to the strength of the wellspring of the pony that birthed them. That means that your nightmares create creatures of immense strength.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll just keep taking that sleeping draught.”
“That is but a temporary solution. Those potions cause addiction and after long time use will drain your life and mind away. You have at best a month before they cause permanent damage.”
“Is that why I have been hearing voices?”
“Yeah. It keeps calling me a monster. Telling me that people are lying about me.”
“I was afraid of that. One of the demons must have latched onto you. If we do not deal with that and soon, the demon will transform you into a nightmare similar to that of Nightmare Moon herself. You are much too powerful for us to let that happen.”
“What can we do?”
“There is a ritual. It is not pleasant but if successful it will purge you of the demon as well as it should help put to rest your nightmares more permanently.”
“Is it just painful?”
“No you risk your mind to this demon. The ritual will purge you or the demon. Only the one with the stronger will will survive.”
“Let’s do it. I don’t want to put anyone else at risk and if it doesn’t work then you can just keep it locked up.”
Luna paused for a moment. She had tears in her eyes again and a look of worry colessed on her face. If she was this hesitant then there was no way that Twilight would let me do this. I needed this. I needed to be free of that voice. Of that demon.
“Please,” I said. “I don’t want to be a walking time bomb.”
“Fine then we must be off and quickly. I do not want Twilight interrupting this. Brace yourself for teleportation.”
We popped into existence at the meadow where Luna was training me. It was weird being here in the middle of the night but the stars were beautiful and easy to see without the light pollution of the city. It was funny even Ponyville put off a bit too much light at night. Canterlot had been even worse. But here we could see so much of the night sky.
Luna had set to work the minute we got to the meadow. Her horn was a glow as she burned away the grasses in a large circle and flattened the ground. Runes and circles appeared at odd positions all over the meadow. The chilly Autumn air sent shivers down my back as I watched her work. The thought that something was living in my brain was making it hard for my panic to subside and the grim efficiency of Luna’s work was not helping the matter. It took her a good twenty minutes for Luna to finish placing all the magic circles. She walked over to me and calmly sat down next to me.
“When you are ready,” Luna said. “I must warn you that this is a fight that I will not be able to help you in. Remember your love of others it will be your greatest ally in this fight. Hmm a thought occurred to me. I do know someone who can help.”
Luna popped away and a some ten minutes later reappeared with a much taller Nympha. She was nearly the same size as Luna. She ran over to me and scooped me up into a hug. I could feel her pushing her love into me and it made the evening much more pleasant.
“I must make some adjustments to the circle if Nympha is to be of help,” said Luna. “It shall only be a moment yet.”
“Are you certain you want to do this?” asked Nympha. “Luna said that you were possessed by a demon and that she needed my help with freeing you. Said that the demon might gain control?”
“Yeah that is the jist of it and yes I am certain. I can’t put anyone else in danger. Not after watching what inaction about demons does to somepony,” I said. “I don’t know how you are going to help though.”
“I am a master of mind magic now,” Nympha said. “Mother spent a lot of time working on that and I think I have a way to buffer your mind from this demon.”
I looked away from her. Guilt kept eating at me and I saw images of Nympha crying over the dead body of her mother. I could hear the demon laughing as it started to alter my dreams. It was weird watching what it shoved in front of me knowing that it was the demon’s doing. Still it didn’t stop the images from hurting. Watching myself kill everyone I loved was not something I was happy about. Nympha’s love poured into me and it chased the visions away. I knew what Luna was thinking now. Love was the antithesis of demons and Nympha’s magic was love taking magical form.
“It makes me feel safer you being here. Thanks,” I said. “I can feel that you will make a difference here.”
“Good,” Nympha said. “I don’t want to loose my sister to a demon.”
“I am ready,” Luna said. “Lilac please go lay down in the center of the circle. It is marked by a star. When I cast the spell you will be taken into a dream space. There the demon will be waiting. You must slay the beast before he does the same to you. It is a dream world so do not stick to only that which you know. Use whatever you can imagine. Your foe will do the same. Hopefully though you will have help. Nympha sit in the square next to the star. When the spell has started push your love into Lilac. That should hopefully handicap the demon. If you have spells or other abilities that will let you lend a hand they shouldn’t disrupt the ritual. I would join you Lilac in the dream realm but I must maintain the spell and I am the only one who knows it. Good luck.”
I nodded and took my spot on the star. I looked inward and focused on my magic. I used it to occupy my mind. Channeling it through me was pointless but didn’t do anything other than take concentration. It wasn’t long before the spell hit me and I found myself falling into a void. It wasn’t like falling asleep though and the journey disturbed me a bit. There was an unnaturalness to it all that put me on edge.
I landed in the dark. The very air was crushing me and I could feel a fiery presence that was somewhere out of sight. It was hard to follow what was happening as the world was shifting as if made of smoke. I concentrated and drew on my magic and it poured forth in an unlimited torrent. In a dream I could do anything and this thought powered my dream magic.
I pushed away the smoke and smog of the demon’s creation. The demon was a large winged monstrosity who stood on two human like legs and carried a massive axe that was easily four times my height. The demon lunged at me and crossed an impossible distance in a second. His axe came falling down towards my back. I was quick though and a bubble of my hope blocked the blow. THere was a loud bang as our two wills clashed and the demon struggled to break through my shield. Slowly cracks started to form as the axe made its way through my shield. I jumped to the side as the axe came crashing down where I had been standing. The ground shook with the blow but I wasn’t even close to where it had been.
I blasted him with my dream magic. Despite washing over him it seems to do little to phase him. He was on me in another second. A second later the axe hit where I had been again and once more I was some thirty meters away. I conjured chains of light with my mind and wrapped them around him. It slowed him down for a second is all and once again he was on me. I managed to escape once more but it wasn’t looking like I was going to win this fight.
A pair of claws formed out of nowhere made of shadow and smoke. They grabbed at me and tried to hold me down. The demon was quick and he was on me in an instant and swung the axe at my head. I popped out of existence and reappeared some thirty meters away. I called on protective layers of shields and surrounded myself in as many layers as I could. I needed help and creating it was my speciality. It would just take a bit of time is all.
Calling on my magic was difficult in this dream realm. My wellspring seemed distant and far off but it still glowed like a star even from such far distances. I wonder what I could do with all this magic and it was time to find out. I poured all of it that I could into my horn. It was again weird trying to do things at arm's length but I seemed to have a decent connection to my mana nonetheless. I needed a protector but not just anyone who could protect even my dreams. I wasn’t the best at multicasting but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I grabbed all of the dream energy that I could which seemed endless and I compressed it into my dream horn. WIth all my might I merged my dreamself and my body. It was unstable but it only needed to hold for a moment. The dream magic and my magic began to mix. Only a few more moments and my plan would be in motion.
THe demon had not been still as I worked on my spellcraft. If anything it seemed to spur him on even more. He had broken through all but a few of the layers of my shields and would soon be upon me. I redoubled my efforts but it left me blind to most of the dream realm. I could hear though the shattering of shields and I could feel him grow close. I knew that he would get to me before I could complete my spell. He was on my last shield banging away at my last hope. The cracks were far quicker to show than I had hoped.
My final shield cracked and I braced for his strike. It never came though as a wave of love rushed through me and started radiating the area. The demon who was in my vision now recoiled in pain. Nympha had come to my rescue and hopefully gave me the time to finish my spell work. The demon had backed away from me and looked like he was trying to cleanse himself of Nympha’s love as a dark aura surrounded him. He came rushing at me and the dark aura protected him from the love. But this time he was too late.
I released my spell. Time seemed to stop in the dream realm and for a moment it looked like my spell had disrupted Luna’s ritual. But I didn’t leave the dream realm and so Luna’s spell must have held. I couldn’t see my work but I felt her. She was reaching into this dream realm and soon entered.
Before me stood my creation greater than any I had done before. A pair of alabaster wings stretched out in front of me attached to a lithe human girl. Her hair was the same white as her wings and her skin only a shade more pink than that. She wore a black dress that had spots of light that flickered on and off as if they were the stars themselves. The dress was relatively short and only went to just above her knees. In her arms was a spear that shone like moonlight.
Seemingly without moving she appeared in front of the demon her spear piercing him through. The demon had a pained look on his face and he started to fade into smoke. It took but a few moments but the demon was gone and from what I could tell forever. The angel looked at me and in that instant her face tugged at my heart. It was Melody. Or at least sort of. There were small details off. Her eyes were a different color and her face a bit more chiseled. The angel rushed over to me and scooped my dreamself into a hug. I was pretty certain it was a hug in both dream and reality.
Magic started to pour out of my wellspring. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I had felt drain after making the angel but now I was filling up with magic. It was more than I could handle but instead of hurting it seemed to spill out of me. I was no longer in the dream realm but I wasn’t back in the meadow. The area was almost featureless. The ground had this glow to it that sort of looked like magic. I slowly floated down to this magical bridge of sorts and tried to get a sense of where I was. It was impossible.
A familiar indigo blue approached from far off. I must have been in some sort of strange dream for Luna to be here but it didn’t feel like a dream. I reached out to my magic and found it near and brighter than ever. Still overflowing with mana I had to turn my thoughts away from it. Luna was quick to cover the distance between us and she looked at me with pride in her eyes.
“Where are we?” I asked. “This isn’t the dream realm.”
“No we are somewhere much more special. As far as I know this is a realm of pure magic. You are one of but a handful to ever set hoof here. I am so proud of you,” said Luna. “We are waiting for one more to appear. She should be in but a moment.”
“Who?” I asked.
It was as if the universe answered my question as Twilight popped into existence next to us. She had a look of wonder and confusion on her face. It only seemed to deepen when she looked at me. Scooped up into a hug I felt her pride and love flow into me. The very world we were in seemed to projecting our strong emotions out into it where they seemed to almost become tangible.
“I had my suspicions but I still can’t believe it,” said Twilight. “I am so proud of you.”
“Destiny awaits,” said Luna. “Let us met it head on.”
The two of them burst into song and the very world accompanied them. It was inspiring to hear but it still just added to my confusion. Twilight wasn’t much for singing and while I had no idea with Luna it still felt out of place. The song was quick and generally was about life and how precious it was. At the end of their song the mana that had been pouring out of me started to coalesce around me and I was lifted into the air. The world faded to white.
I woke or something again in the meadow. Nympha had been shielding her eyes from something and her foreleg was held at just the right angle to break her view of me. When she lowered her foot she paused with surprise on her face. It quickly faded to joy. Nympha rushed towards me and I could feel a hug coming. Nympha however wasn’t the first to scoop me up into a hug. The arms felt different than what I was used to and it took a moment to realize that it was the angel who was hugging me. I could feel her breathing as her chest moved in and out slightly against my back and something else. There was new sensations coming from my back ones that had never been there before. They wiggled and twitched. It didn’t take long to put two and two together. I had wings.