Chapter I: The Awakening
"The Elements of Harmony."
It was a simple subject, really. She had gone over everything about a million times, but nothing in the book could satisfy the burning curiosity that was roiling in her head.
"Elements of Harmony... Elements of Harmony," she mumbled, crushing the pages under her hooves to flip them faster than her magic would allow. At this hour, after all, she was growing too tired to use magic quickly enough for her liking.
There was nothing there. Nothing in the wretched book could explain what she was looking for.
Twilight Sparkle groaned in frustration, her nose slamming against the rumpled pages of her book. She recoiled right after, rubbing her injured nose with a hoof before returning her focus to reading the encyclopedia.
There had to be some reasonable explanation to this!
It was like going over Pinkie's unexplainable ability to predict things in the near future, but Twilight wasn't going to give up this time. Pinkie was Pinkie, but this was entirely different. This had to be explained.
It was like a gaping plot hole in an otherwise impeccable story, only much more serious than that could have ever been. It was Equestrian history. Something was missing. Something was awry. Something was not right in this tale.
The lavender unicorn wiped a tear from a burning eye and sighed in exasperation.
"...but as time went on, the younger sister became resentful," she whispered. She let out a great yawn before mumbling a bit more words from the book, blinking out the sleep from her eyes.
She paused in her reading and sniffed, shaking her head slightly and leaning back on her haunches.
"Doesn't make sense," she mumbled in protest to her sleepy mind. "How could Princess Luna... how could she turn into Nightmare Moon just by jealousy? There's something else. Something must have
Her head nodded downwards towards the pages of her book, and her eyelids slowly began to droop.
what kind of magic could possess an alicorn? Only the darkest of magic could do that
but that kind of magic hasn't been in Equestria since..."
Her head tipped forward, but she didn't notice.
"It's not possible... it d-doesn't... make..."
She was asleep before her cheek even touched the book.
A golden pony was born.
His eyes were blue and his mane was blond. He was tall yet short and strong yet nimble, even though every time he tried to walk, he immediately fell over. It was strange to him that he had no knowledge of being able to walk.
Nonetheless, he got to his hooves once more and found that he was able to stand.
One hesitant hoof came after the other and the pony eased himself into a small walk. Only then did it come to him to take a look at his surroundings.
He was in a clearing of an oval shape and the night sky was bright and clear. He blinked at the stars in surprise, which glowed as a brighter blue and white than he ever could have imagined. The night cast a silver aura among the evergreen trees that surrounded him, making them take on a ghostly appearance.
He took a deep breath and stumbled forward.
As he walked and fell and walked again, he began to think. He discovered that he remembered almost nothing other than three things: his age, a name that wasn't his, and...
Two smiling faces peered through his memories and tickled his mind, spraying a variety of golden-brown hues across his vision. Their faces were flat and furless, but they still had manes- one of a silky black and one of a spiky red.
He frowned and sniffed. His slow walk was quickly developing into a brisk trot.
So he was somebody... somepony. Which was it? In any case, he had an identity, but he still did not remember who he was as a person... pony...
The golden colt gasped in surprise as bright lights disrupted the ambient scenery as well as his thoughts. He had to blink a few times before his vision was regained, but when it did come back, it was met by wooden cottages. Sun-like light filtered from their windows, chasing away the spiritual light that coveted the trees behind him.
He was tempted to turn back to the quiet of the forest, but something drew him to civilization. Maybe someone... somepony... was there? Someone that knew him?
He lowered his head in his discomfort, but went on.
As he trekked through the streets, he found himself becoming frightened by the houses around him, and each step challenged his will. His mind was begging him to return to the safety of the forest, to avoid confrontation... maybe he could just-
He stopped in his tracks and looked carefully up at the gigantic tree in front of him. It looked like a house... but it was tree... so maybe it meant safety.
He knocked on the door he had stopped in front of, but it simply swung open. He looked at it in mute surprise before peeking his head inside.
He could see another pony there- a lavender unicorn, he guessed- sleeping on a book. Two candles were burning on the edges of the desk her head lay on, and she was drooling slightly.
He looked around at the neatly assorted books on their shelves before slowly creeping inside. He turned and swung the door shut, making it emit slight clicks as he closed and locked it.
His blue eyes swept across the circular room before resting on the unicorn again. He wondered for a moment if he could move her, but she seemed pretty tired, and he didn't want to wake her up.
The golden pony crept up to her and took the book between his hooves, pulling it slowly from underneath the unicorn's hair. It came out neatly, but he found that she was drooling on her mane now...
He placed the slightly wet book on the floor and slipped his hoof in between the mare's neck and her mane. The hair slid from underneath her cheek to safety from her saliva.
The colt looked down at her, satisfied with his good deed. Hopefully she wouldn't be too upset to find her book a little soggy... but it wasn't his fault anyways, was it?
His ears folded against the back of his head, their tips tickling the slight fur that covered his body. He rubbed the disturbed areas with his hooves before standing erect once more.
With wide eyes and large pupils, he surveyed the dark room for a resting place. Would the unicorn mind him staying here? Maybe, if she did, he could tell her about how he helped her and she'd forgive him. In any case, he was tired and he felt safer in the warm, candle-lit tree than in the bright and cold streets.
The golden pony eyed the staircase and trotted over there without a second thought. Slowly, he lowered himself to the wooden floor, shifting his legs here and there to get comfortable. When he was satisfied, he leaned his head against the side of the stairs, dragging it down to his forelegs and fitting his muzzle in between his ankles.
Letting out a deep sigh, he closed his eyes and slept.
The golden colt blearily opened his eyes. A haze of lavender blurred his vision, and he had to blink a few times in order to see clearly.
Why was that pony upside down...?
He then realized that he was still lying on the floor and that his head was in between the other pony's front hooves.
Startled, he scooted out from under the other pony's head and bumped the top of his head against the bookshelves behind him. This caused the shelves to shake precariously, but no books fell out.
The pony stared at him with wide, surprised eyes as he stumbled upright. He took the moment to really observe her.
As was obvious by her general appearance and the shape of her body, she was a purple, female unicorn. Her eyes were darker than her body, but her mane and tail were darkest of all, with two bright pinkish streaks as highlights. He also couldn't help but notice a marking on her flank- a magenta starburst on both sides, of which were identical to each other- but he then saw that a light blush was decorated on her face.
Did he stare too long? Did ponies even mind that? He was a pony, though. Shouldn't he already know that?
He looked away, mirroring her embarrassment.
"I'm, uh..." He placed a hoof to his chest uncertainly, but this threatened his balance and made him put it down again. "I'm sorry, I've... I don't know where this is, and I was wondering what that marking on your, um..."
"My cutie mark?" she said, giving him a quizzical look. "But... all ponies have a cutie mark, unless they're foals."
"T-they do?" the golden pony stuttered before immediately twisting his head to examine his own flank. There was black key printed on his back leg, which he stretched out to look at more clearly. He found it was difficult while standing up on his uneasy legs, so he sat down to give it a better look.
It was a key, but it was... different. It wasn't a regular key- he could tell that. It was simple, but there was a strange bar in the hollowed space that would be its handle, like it was oversized and meant to be held... or maybe he was just overthinking things. Behind it was a perfectly shaped white heart.
The purple pony cleared her throat, and the colt jumped up in surprise. His next reaction was to blush; the female pony was giving him a slightly unamused but mostly uneasy expression.
"I'm so confused," he told her. It was very true.
"Well, um..." The look of unease on the unicorn's face became almost panicky. "Huh... okay, why don't you have a seat?"
The yellow-colored colt looked around for a chair in confusion before the unicorn's horn began to glow. A pair of chairs floated down the staircase, knocking against the floor a few times before settling next to the two ponies.
"Sorry, I'm still kind of tired after last night's study session," the purple pony admitted before she made her way to one of the chairs. The colt watched how she seated herself and copied her motions, managing to comfortably sit down on his own chair.
"My name is Twilight Sparkle," she said pleasantly, extending a hoof. He recognized the motion and reached out with his own, and they shook hooves for a moment before pulling away.
"I'm... well... I don't know," he admitted rather quietly.
Twilight Sparkle looked surprised for a moment, but then her expression turned somewhat grave. "I've never met a pony with amnesia so serious that he couldn't remember his own name..."
"A partial or total loss of memory. In your case, it seems to be total," Twilight said apologetically.
The colt's ears folded against his head subconsciously. "But I still remember how to talk. And I still remember how old I am... and I still remember these two other people..."
Twilight raised an eyebrow at the word 'people'. "Don't you mean ponies?"
"Well, hmm." The lavender pony twiddled with the fabric of the cushion of her chair unsurely before continuing. "Why don't you tell me everything you can remember?"
The colt frowned at her slightly before shutting his eyes in concentration. "Two peo- ponies. I remember, one was older than me, he had spiky red hair... mane. The other was my age. She had a short black mane. But their faces were weird."
"What do you mean?" Twilight leaned forward in curiosity.
"They were... flat, and they were this peach color. I can't really explain it," said the colt. He rubbed his head with a hoof in response to a headache threatening to afflict him.
"Sounds to me like you were dreaming of an old mythological creature, but I can't be sure," the lavender pony said after a moment of thought. "Your dreaming of a myth... maybe that's what your cutie mark means? A key, a heart... unlocking secrets of myths? Or..."
"What were the creatures called?" the young stallion inquired.
"Oh, they have many names. Too many to count," Twilight Sparkle said, waving her hoof dismissively. "Besides, they're almost never mentioned anymore, even in the oldest Equestrian literature. Anyways, what else do you remember?"
"Well... I know I'm somewhere in age between a colt and a stallion," the male pony offered, holding up a hoof in a shrug to punctuate his lack of sureness.
"It's usually only used technically nowadays, but- you mean a teenager, right?"
The colt nodded enthusiastically, happy at finally saying something that made sense.
"Anything else?" Twilight pressed, cocking her head with wide purple eyes.
"There's a name," he told her, leaning forward like her.
"Your name?" the unicorn asked somewhat excitedly.
"No, it's a girl's name," he said, eyes as wide as the pony in the opposite chair. "It's... it's, uh..."
Twilight frowned as the colt leaned back in his chair, pressing his hooves to his face in frustration. "Ugh... it's on the tip of my tongue. I just..."
The lavender pony placed a comforting hoof on his tense shoulder. "Don't push yourself. After all, you can't remember that much, and I think that an amnesia victim-"
"There's another name!" the male pony suddenly blurted out. Twilight jumped back as his hooves slammed into the base of his chair.
"Y-yes?" she asked, startled.
"Accccssss..." the colt said, but his blue eyes began to cloud over in confusion. "I can't..."
"It's... okay," Twilight said breathlessly, this time placing both her hooves on the young stallion's shoulders- perhaps to steady herself as much as him. The colt stopped himself and looked at her, suddenly noticing the bags under her eyes and how tired she seemed to be. Didn't she mention something about a late-night study session...?
"It's only just after dawn, and I bet you need some rest. You are an amnesiac after all," she said, sounding almost motherly, or as if she was letting him down. It was fairly obvious she had used that tone of voice for someone else in the past.
In any case, she actually was letting him down a little. "But I'm not really that tired- and I just got up, I want to learn about everything here-"
"Twilight? What are you-"
The pair of ponies froze in place, their eyes slowly shifting towards the staircase. There stood a small, lizard-like dragon, with purple scales and green cat-slit eyes. Said eyes were wide in surprise as he stared at the equines.
"Well I'll just leave you two alone now!" he eeped out before stiffly walking back up the stairs.
It was a few moments before Twilight drew away from the colt, making sure to avoid eye contact.
The golden pony tilted his head in confusion. What was so embarrassing? He was more wondering about why there was a dragon in the house... tree... library.
"I'm... going to go take care of him," Twilight said awkwardly, springing to her feet. Her words gradually began to spill out more quickly. "And then I'll get some sleep. You sleep too. Then we can work on your memories more when we get up. Get an expert. And- you don't know how to fly, do you? Well if you don't, maybe Rainbow Dash or Fluttershy can teach you-"
Twilight pointed at his sides before she made her way over to the stairs. The golden colt looked over himself and discovered that he had a pair of wings folded against his back and sides. Experimentally, he stretched them out and flapped them.
It felt right, but so unfamiliar at the same time...
He looked back up at Twilight, whose tail was the only thing visible at the top of the stairs.
"Twilight... Sparkle, um, but I-"
She turned around a moment. "Sorry, I really need to get to Spike before he gets the wrong idea," she said before rushing up the stairs.
"Spike?" the colt thought out loud, tilting his head in curiosity. "Is that the dragon's name?"
He then realized what the rest of Twilight's words implied, and he turned a brilliant shade of red.
Pale blue hoof guards clapped against the tile floor as the princess strolled through the halls of Canterlot's castle. She always liked wandering through its vast chambers after a long study session. After all, there was much to learn about the new Equestria, and so much to take in could really make a pony's head hurt.
Princess Luna blinked slowly, filtering the sunlight away from her dark eyes. Her ears were perked and her mane swirled gracefully behind her, even without an actual breeze.
Grace was in her namesake after all, but she was by no means fragile. Her power was great. There were few things that could rival her nighttime magic.
The Heartless were one of them.
Heartless. Creatures not of the night, but of pure, solidified darkness. Creatures that stole the hearts of any innocent creature their claws were set upon, feeding off darkness and ripping the light to shreds.
But then again, she thought to herself, she had been under the burning influence of jealousy. The Heartless had fed that jealousy and offered her their darkness, and she had consumed that darkness unknowingly to the point where she had lost her heart.
Luna could now reflect upon her alter ego with only minimal pain, though. Celestia had helped her recuperate and regain her magic after the Elements of Harmony had returned her heart.
Yes, there were few things that could rival her nighttime magic. Luna couldn't imagine the Elements of Harmony turning to darkness- they were denizens of peace, after all- but they could have waged a war against her powers alone. Then there was Discord- only she and Celestia's powers combined could defeat him. Few things indeed
But no matter how much she healed from her time as Nightmare Moon and no matter how much magic she had already regained, she already knew that there was one force that she would eternally fear. She could only hope that they would never touch her heart again, and never again tempt the darkness that lay within her forever
She hoped she would never have to encounter a Heartless again.
But then again, how could she ever hope for that when she was destined to live so long
Princess Luna had unknowingly broken into a brisk trot during her distressing thoughts. Her heart beating like the drumrolls of war, she nearly ran through the halls, her sense of calm abandoned if only to bring her back to the safety of her sister.
After all, Celestia was full of so much light... so devoid of petty fears
But as she ran from her memories, the darkness of her harrowing fear sprang from her hoof steps like the sparks of newborn magic.
The inevitable happened long after she had fled. From Luna's darkness, a Shadow, the first of the Heartless, formed in Equestria for the first time in a thousand years.
Roxas...? Is that you?