It was late in the morning at Twilight’s castle; one by one her friends had entered the throne room where she had placed the journal on a table in the center.
“Ok Twi,” said Applejack. “I got the gist that you think Sunset left this for ya, but we don’t even know how old this thing is. For all we know Discord could be playing another one of his pranks.”
“The magic that lead me and kept it was definitely Sunset Shimmer’s. When a unicorn uses a spell on something else she can’t help but leave a small trace magic like a signature on the object. No two are ever alike; it felt like the trace she left on my crown when she stole it. The journal’s the real thing.”
“So get to the end already so find where this baddie or whatever is so we can rainbow it and save Equestria again,” said Rainbow Dash.
“If we just know where or what we could be leaving ourselves open to whatever this thing could do. It is best if find out whatever we can about the nature of this threat before we rush in. For all we know it may not be a single force but an underlying problem that nopony noticed.”
“I’m just sad we have to keep this from Spike,” said Fluttershy. “I know we have to but, he’ll probably worry so much about us.”
“Speaking of which how are we going to keep this from him?” asked Twilight.
“Oh don’t worry,” said Rarity with a blush. “He has already found his own distraction.”
“What do you mean?”
The door to the throne room started to open and Spike walked in with another dragon about his size with orange scales, dark blue eyes and a purple crest, along with a tiny pair of purple wings.
“And this is the throne room,” said Spike. “I have my own right next to…Twilight! I didn’t think you’d all be here!”
“It’s quite ok Spike,” Twilight said with a smile. “So who is your new friend?”
“Oh yeah, everypony I’d like you to meet Whimsy Weatherbe.”
“Nice ta meet cha!” said the girl dragon. Then she caught herself and did a curtsey. “Oh, I mean it’s an honor, your majesty.”
“No need to be so formal with me,” said Twilight. “It is a pleasure to meet you too. What brings you to Ponyville?”
“I wanted ta learn more about you ponies so I came here ta find out what you were like."
“I bumped into her in park,” said Spike. “She was watching the crusaders playing hoofball and I guess neither of us was watching where we were going.”
“Oh, we need to throw a Welcome to Ponyville Party for Whimsy!” said Pinkie Pie. Then she saw Twilight motion back to the journal. “Uh you wouldn’t mind waiting until tonight Whimsy?”
“Not at all,” said Whimsy.
“Good,” said Twilight. “Spike why you should finish giving Whimsey her tour, I have some research to do.”
“Ok,” said Spike. “So Whimsy when do you think I’ll get my wings and can you teach me how to fly?”
“I only got them a week ago, so I’d say you’ll probably grow yours soon,” said Whimsy. “As for flying as small as they are for right now my wings are just for show…”
After the two baby dragons left Rarity gave an approving smile. “It’s so good that he made friends with another dragon his age and such a polite young lady at that.”
Rainbow Dash blew a lock of her mane up. “You aren’t trying to hoist his crush onto somedragon else are you?”
Rarity turned her nose up. “Why I never! I was just concerned for his sake, ponies don’t live as long as dragons do and he deserves to have more friends that will be with over the centuries. If he wants keep pining over me in his youth I see no harm in it.”
“Especially since you get some free labor out it,” Applejack said with a smirk.
Rarity huffed. “Let’s just start reading.”
“Very well,” said Twilight as she opened the journal. “Looks like she started soon after she first came to the past…”
The moment Sunset stepped through she felt the lightning course though herself as well as the portal, then she blacked out while she was still traversing the worlds. Just before she awoke she kept hearing these whispers.
A chosen one… the Rainbow of Light… a noble army… cleanse the heart…
As Sunset opened her eyes she saw an expansive blue sky before her. Getting up she found herself in a body that she had once thought she’d never have again, the one she was born with.
“This isn’t right,” Sunset thought to herself. “The mirror was supposed to be in a castle, so why am I outside?”
Sunset took a better look at her surroundings, no civilization as far as the eye could see. Finding a river in the distance she decided to head in that direction first, figuring that if she followed it she may find people of some sort eventually, and she would at least have fresh water.
As Sunset approached the river she found that a number of ponies were gathering near a grove of cherry trees next to it. She ran forward and when she started to get close she began to hear the ponies speaking.
“We came here first!” said a gruff Earth Pony with a cherry cutie mark. “We can tend to these trees and harvest their fruit. You’ll get your share as always!”
“This land and the trees here we promised to us by the Queen,” said a snobbish sounding unicorn. “We can use the lumber to make a mill powered by the river which in turn can provide even more food than a simple orchard.” He had a white coat, brown eyes, a brown mane and tail and a cutie mark of a mace on the end of a chain.
Sunset took a good look at how they some of the ponies were dressed and noticed how old fashioned they were. She also recognized the landscape now; this river was feed by Neighagra Falls and to the south see could see Canterhorn Mountain.
“This is the past,” she thought to herself. “Before the three tribes were united! Ok try to figure out a spell to get you back home and try not to interact with anyone…anypony. First thing I learned from those sci-fi movies Pinkie made me watch you mess with the past you end up with monkeys ruling the future.”
The other ponies continued to argue while Sunset began to sneak away. “This is getting us nowhere,” said a light blue unicorn with green eyes, a black mane and tail and a pair of emeralds as a cutie mark. “We need an outside opinion.” The unicorn looked around. “Excuse me ma’am, could help settle an argument?”
Sunset froze as she turned to the ponies. “Who me?”
“Yes ma’am, I am Lady Emerald Gaze. You see Queen Electrum had charged Duke Morning Star here to develop this land, but the Cherry family has been living her for a week beforehand. While this family supplies cherries to the noble families the queen has ordered more grain be produced to feed the masses. Which do you think takes precedence?”
Sunset quickly ran the options though her head with the goal of getting herself out of this situation without messing up the timeline. The fact that the unicorns had a queen told her that it was a considerable time before the events of Hearth’s Warming, leading her to say something that would make them think she was just crazy enough to leave her alone.
“Why don’t you share the land? The Cherries could tend the grove and you bring in wood to build the mill and plant the grain on the other side of the river. We can’t let stupid things like tribe and position stop us from becoming friends. I believe that all ponies can be friends, me, the Cherries, the nobles, those ponies on the hill over there…” Sunset added as she noted some figures coming over a hilltop.
“I don’t think those are ponies,” said Morning Star.
“When we become friends nothing is impossible.”
Now away from Sunset’s attention the figures starting running closer, the creatures resembled centaurs but without skin, clawed hands, a mouth full of sharp teeth and a single red eye in their foreheads.
“Nuckleavee, Dreadborn!” said Emerald Gaze.
“So I know that together we can…”
“RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!” shouted one of the Cherries.
As sunset looked around shocked the Nuckleavee seemed to be reshaping their claws into spearlike spikes. Most of the other ponies started to run in the opposite direction.
Morning Star drew a sword out using levitation, and Emerald Gaze did the same to draw crystals from the earth. “Cover the Cherries and the servants!” said Morning Star.
Emerald then threw the crystals points first into the swarm of Nuckleavee, after a number of them took enough damage they burst into a red and black mist that blew back south.
Morning Star’s sword had also dispatched those Nuckleavee got close to him. One got close to Sunset; she ducked just as its spear arm pierced a tree. As the thing pulled its arm free the tree began to wither and the ground it was rooted to was becoming dry and barren. The effect was also spreading to the other trees in the grove. Morning Star dispatched the Nuckleavee with a well-aimed thrust, but in doing had left himself open to one behind him. Sunset on instinct used her magic to stop levitate the creature before it could strike then using all the magic she could did the same to the rest of the Nuckleavee.
Emerald Gaze used the opportunity to call more crystals and threw them all at the creatures. They had dissipated into the mist that turned south leaving the three unicorns alone in the now dying . “Thank you madam,” said Morning Star. “You have truly won us a great victory this day.”
“But the grove is ruined and the river is looking sickly…” said Sunset.
“Yes, nothing will grow here for a hundred years if it is ever reclaimed,” said Emerald. “But everypony has survived. Most of encounters with the Dreadborn are not without casualties. We are just lucky that it was only Nuckleavee, if they were accompanied by Bunyips from the river there would have been no avoiding loss and if Strydons flew in none of us would have survived.
“Um, I sorry I can’t remember much other some spells and my name,” Sunset lied. “Just what are the Dreadborn?”
“The queen can explain it better than we could. You better come with us to the castle.”
“And quickly,” said Morning Star. “If it was only Nuckleavee they were probably scouts.
Even if their nearest help is far away miasma will start coming in in minutes."
“Miasama?” asked Sunset.
“The mist that the Dreadborn seem to come from,” said Emerald. “Nocreature that has ever gone into it has ever been seen or heard from again.”
“I would rather be heard from so let’s go,” Sunset said. “Lead the way!”
And so the three unicorns left the grove and started towards the castle of the queen.