[MLP:FiM] Duality (Twilight, Spike, Starlight Glimmer)


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Time travel magic can be tragic. Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer might never realise just how tragic.

Two parts to this. This post is the first part, second post will be the next part.
Snow fell from the heavens, dotting the sky with spots of white. The clouds had usurped the sun, whose rays failed to pierce the planet below. Even as the light of day was repelled, giving the impression of night, layers of snow and ice were beginning to build up around the peak of the mountaintop. That the mountain was host to an active caldera did little to repel the blistering cold. Only an ethereal green flame kept two creatures on the summit from freezing, one a pony and one a dragon.

“I’m not certain I can keep this up much longer, Twilight,” said Spike the dragon, his wings tucked in to preserve body heat. He had no internal body clock to tell him the passage of time as he had continued to use his fire breath to warm their tight bubble.

Twilight Sparkle, former Princess of Equestria, fretted at those words even as she clenched her jaw to prevent her teeth from chattering. The alicorn had hoped sitting next to a volcano could stave off the cold that was setting in, but the great freeze seemed to be making even the massive mountain go dormant. Shaking off the chill that was cutting to the bone, she attempted to make an optimistic estimate. “T-t-twenty m-more m-min-nutes,” Twilight guessed, looking back down to the sheet of paper she was drawing on, fluid ink long since sacrificed for her graphite pencil.

“If it’s that little, I can hold out for that long,” Spike said. Both understood the unspoken words.

Spike wondered where it had all gone wrong, but he knew the answer all too well. His best friend, the mare who was his big sister, had been friends with five other ponies. They had gone on many adventures across Equestria, sometimes adverting disaster, other times exploring the land for the thrill. Even as Twilight Sparkle became a Princess, they continued their journeys far and wide, with Twilight becoming the activist Princess, helping to bring justice to the smaller villages and towns of Equestria that hadn’t seen a Princess in centuries.

Undoing the toxic mentality of Our Town and eventually reforming the leader of Our Town had been one of Twilight’s proudest achievements. Yet it hadn’t been enough. Equestria had gone many centuries with only a few blips to its history. Yet in the span of a few years, the land had suffered from an Eternal Night that was cut short only after a twenty-four hour ordeal, the mad antics of a returned chaos god, and the magic-stealing destruction of an escaped prisoner of Tartarus.

Taken apart, the three national incidents, spaced together with several small-scale but still major emergencies had been remarkably brief and painless compared to what they could have been. Combined, however, there had been much festering trauma that Princess Luna had alerted the ponies of Equestria to a year ago, but had not been paid attention to in time.

The first sign had come from the North. The newly-returned Crystal Empire had enjoyed a cultural renaissance following its return, playing host to an Alicorn Princess, the Equestria Games, and the birth of the first recorded Alicorn infant in centuries. Yet Sombra’s reign and the loss of a millennia of history had left indelible scars on the psyches of the Crystal ponies. The Crystal Heart protected the Empire from the conditions of the North, so it was only when its power began to buckle that the Empire realised how cold it was truly beginning to get outside the protective dome.

Even then, Equestria could have potentially been saved. However, for every Our Town Twilight Sparkle and her friends had visited, there were a dozen more that they hadn’t, each with their own small problems. Predominantly populated with Earth ponies, the unexpected early winter and the bitter cold had left crops ruined, causing tempers to burst out into the open. When temperatures failed to warm up sufficiently with the scheduled Winter Wrap-Up Festival, the worst fears of everypony was confirmed: the Windigos had returned after years of hibernation.

“A-a-alm-m-most d-d-done,” Twilight said, interrupting Spike out of his thoughts. Even buried under several blankets and with her own natural resiliency to cold, Twilight still looked more blue than purple. Even the heat of Spike’s flame didn’t seem enough to keep her warmed up.

“Soon,” Spike grunted, feeling the first sensations of cold nibbling in at his scales. It would take an even greater cold than this to do him in, but he didn’t expect to see the end of the month. The sun and moon had long since vanished under the cloud cover generated by the Windigos, leaving only a perpetual twilight. He didn’t know what had happened to the Princess he considered his mother. Perhaps his last action would be sending a letter to her.

Minutes passed. Spike winced, holding in tears that threatened to drop lest they turn to ice within seconds. The bubble that Twilight Sparkle had cast around him and her was supposed to let heat in and retain heat, all while recycling respired air for fresh oxygen, but the power of the Windigos had grown so strong even the magic of Alicorns was insufficient. Had Twilight Sparkle lacked a horn, this would have been over already. Her mouth was chattering too much to hold a pencil, and her hooves were beginning to turn black. Magic manipulated by a horn had a finer grasp, and Twilight Sparkle was writing for the dear lives of the every being on the planet.

“Issover,” Twilight mumbled, pencil dropping with the lightest of tapping sounds, and she rolled up the scroll she had written. “J-just n-need to s-s-s-“

Spike brought a claw up to her lips. He didn’t want his last memories of Twilight alive to be of her weak and stuttering. Better to leave her some dignity in death. “Yes,” Spike said. “I’ve got it.”

Grabbing the scroll, Spike concentrated, changing the magical nature of his ethereal fire. Sucking in a deep breath, he let out a green flame. The scroll disappeared, not burned to ash, but off into a different point of space. If Twilight’s creation had worked – no, not it, it had to work – then it would be sent into a different point of time, too. It was the last letter Spike would ever deliver to his mom, and yet also his first.

Time Magic was a finicky thing, and only one pony alive had ever been able to really improve on the works left behind by Star Swirl the Bearded, the last true master of Time Magic. Sadly, that unicorn had died in the early days after passing along some of her knowledge on Chronomancy, but Twilight Sparkle held a belief that she was the key to fixing things. After all, while Twilight had become the Princess of Friendship for the brief time before things such as royal titles became irrelevant, she had come into power in an established system. The other had organised her own town. She hadn’t lacked for egomania at the time, and her concept of friendship had been twisted, but she had truly united a ragtag disparate group of ponies who had held together with common bonds even after she had been exposed for a fraud. Twilight had hoped that in a different timeline, she could heal the wounded psyches of the pony masses where Twilight had failed.

Spike thought it irrational. Then again, before this had all started, he would never have believed in something as cliché as the Elements of Magic, either. It had to work.

“I-it’s a-a-a-all up to you now,” Twilight stuttered, before her voice suddenly gained crystal clarity for the last words she ever spoke, “I hope you do a better job than I did, Starlight Glimmer.” With that, she slumped over into Spikes waiting arms.

It was unfair, Spike thought to himself. Twilight Sparkle had been the most brilliant of minds, and a unifier of ponies and other species alike. Her last words should have been something noble, a testament to a long life of success. Instead, she was dying here, on top of a remote volcano, her last words unrecorded and not even the chance for a burial, the ground already frozen solid. What was more, her very life from the day of the Sonic Rainboom was about to be erased.

“I hope you do it, Starlight,” Spike whispered to himself as he huddled his big sister, now smaller than him in close, attempting to keep her alive just a little bit longer. Guilt ate away at him over his selfishness, wishing to prolong the sound of her heartbeat even if it prolonged her pain. “You probably can’t hear me, but please. Please, do it.” As the protective bubble disappeared, he couldn’t tell if it was snow melting on his face or if tears were dripping down his cheeks.


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Interesting. Nobody every really uses the Windigos, aside from the one, literally one, mention of them in the time loops.

Let's see part two before too long, eh?


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sikle said:
Interesting. Nobody every really uses the Windigos, aside from the one, literally one, mention of them in the time loops.

Let's see part two before too long, eh?
There are a couple of fics that make notable use of Windigos. Chasing Winter has pursuing one as its main story plot, while The King is Dead, Long Live the Emperor has a villain Windigo, though it doesn't appear until deeper into the story.

Part two is done, just need to do a quick edit and it'll be up.


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Starlight Glimmer huffed, trying to get her panic under control. If there was one thing the year she had spent living in Griffonstone had taught her, it was how to override the natural instincts of a pony to curl up and hide when exposed to pressure. Now more than ever she needed that learned skill. Rapid breathing and a spiked heart rate were counterproductive, and she needed a calm state of mind.

Beside her, a white hoof touch her on the shoulder, squeezing her gently. The body contact was good. It was a sensation Starlight could concentrate on. Focusing on the hoof and the stallion who it was attached to, basking in the warmth of familiarity, Starlight Glimmer managed to pace her breaths. Within minutes, she was able to calm herself down. Her heart still beat quickly, a product of the nervous energy that flowed through her, but now she could think.

“What’s the situation out there, Diamond?” She asked her fellow Element of Harmony and coltfriend, hoping he would never retract his grip.

“Not good,” Double Diamond said with a grim face upon his pale features. “I took a patrol outside just a few minutes ago, and I could barely see five hoof-lengths in front of me. Sunburst and Sugar Belle went out a few hours ago for a supply run and haven’t come back yet.” He hesitated, then added, “They were supposed to be back by now.”

Starlight chanced a glance out the nearby window. It wasn’t good. Dense thickets of fog prevented her from even seeing the sun. Her hooves turned to lead as Starlight got the feeling their mutual breakfast this morning was the last time she would ever see her childhood friend and his marefriend.

“Hey, listen up Starlight,” Double Diamond brought his other front limb up, pulling Starlight in for a hug, “You can do it, mmkay? I believe in you.”

Starlight felt secure in his grasp, even as the warm feelings his words gave her turned to ash. It was all her fault. Every community she had visited had boosted her spirits more and more, as the revitalisation efforts she had put in place had rejuvenated hollowed-out farming towns and given life to dying mining villages. Griffonstone had been restored to its seat as the home of the proud Griffon kingdom, and the Changelings had finally been reconciled with Equestria. The buffalo herd and Appleoosa were one of the fastest-growing communities in the land.

But Starlight had gotten arrogant following the reformation of Discord and the thawing of relations between the nations resulting in the Grand Accord. Night Glider and Starlight had both had poor childhoods, and they had both been too proud to seek psychological help. After that disastrous affair in the Crystal Empire with the door that had nearly cost them the Crystal Heart, Starlight and Night Glider had each withdrawn in on herself for several months. It was only careful coaxing by Double Diamond and Party Favor that had brought the two mares out of their shells, but the damage had been done. That was what had allowed Grogar, the Necromancer Goat King of several thousand years past, to return from the grave and possess Starlight.

Starlight wished to blame the Element of Magic for failing to protect her, but knew that would just be shifting the blame. She had attempted to appear strong even in front of Princess Celestia, her teacher, but hiding her weaknesses had caused the deaths of many. Only the timely intervention of six Canterlot unicorns had driven Grogar away from Starlight, but the consequences were already permanent: the mad necromancer was now able to easily exert his will over the living realm.

The six Element Bearers had attempted to use the Elements once more to defeat Grogar, only for them to fizzle. Most of the magical spells Starlight had invented over the years didn’t even lay a dent on the exertion of his will over the realm. Ever since then, it had all gone downhill. Discord was unable to stop him. The Princesses had been unable to stop him. The other countries had been unable to stop him. The fog that permeated the outdoors was a sign of his increasing presence in the world. It was sheer luck that Starlight Glimmer had made a breakthrough with a spell that slowed its growth, but even that was only a stopgap measure.

“Where are Night and Party?” Starlight asked as she slumped into Diamond’s hooves, feeling exhausted. Following the exorcism of Grogar from her own body, Starlight had had too many panic episodes to count. Only some of the mental training she had undergone in the past and trial and error with her episodes had prevented her from completely breaking down so far; that, and the presence of her friends. Being in the same room as two other Element Bearers was practically a security blanket for her. She needed to be able to think, and with more ponies around, she might be able to actualise the plan that had been fermenting in her head.

“We’re here,” Party Favor spoke aloud, gently escorting Night Glider into the room. The pegasus mare hadn’t been possessed like Starlight had been, but she was still suffering from the ordeal, her midnight blue fur colour having lost a few shades over the last week and her rib cage beginning to show. The relative remoteness of their location close to the Everfree Forest had prevented her depression from getting worse. Starlight Glimmer was at least able to look the victims of Grogar’s initial spree in the eye and stand. Night Glider was unable to even do that. The Bearers of the Elements of Harmony had been able to stop many a threat, but they had failed just once, and even that was eating away at her. “What did you need, Starlight?”

Starlight fidgeted under the attention of the other two and a half ponies in the room, but managed to rally herself, “I told you about my contingency plan before,” Starlight said, drawing wide eyes as all three realised instantly what she meant to do, “Do you think there’s any chance we can still win against Grogar?”

Diamond grimaced. Starlight’s plan was insane even if it was feasible. He had wanted to exhaust all other options possible, but even as he racked his brain for one last hope, he knew he was grasping for straws. “No,” He said, as honest as he had ever been. “Nothing except for your plan, to make it so the fight never even started.”

Starlight began to tear up, and Diamond felt as if his heart would fracture in two. “Hey,” Diamond said, pulling her in even tighter so blue eyes peered into purple, “I promise you, even in the next world, we’ll still meet and become friends once again.” Bending down, he kissed her.

The mare melted into the kiss. If she felt this warm and secure all the time then Grogar would have never stood a chance. She wished things had gone differently and that the six Element Bearers could have retired to live their own lives. Unfortunately, Equestria and the world at large’s ultimate fate depending on her being strong enough to finally break it off after seconds. Double Diamond’s firm blue eyes gave her the strength to go through with it.


Starlight stood at the table, a map which displayed all of Equestria. That it was a feature which updated in real-time had been disconcerting, as they could see towns being wiped out by the day since this had all began. Now, this same table was the last chance they had to stop this all from even happening.

She had had a keen eye for chronomancy as Princess Celestia’s student, the first unicorn since Star Swirl the Bearded to be able to truly understand time magic and create new spells. This, however, was something beyond anything she had ever done, and it was only desperation that was leading her to do this. Ironically, that same desperation was perhaps the only thing that would allow her to pull this off. Starlight’s study of the Elements of Harmony had yielded little headway, and she still had no idea if it was ‘destiny’ that had chosen the Element Bearers, or random chance. What she did believe was that her desperation would resonate with the Element of Magic to overcome the sheer audacity of her plan: to pass the mantle of the Elements off to another group of six ponies in a new timeline, using the ‘Cutie Map’ table as a catalyst.

The only question was who would become the new Element of Magic and Friendship. Starlight had narrowed it down to two potential candidates, the leaders of the band of six mares from Canterlot who had torn Grogar from her body and then fought him for seven days and seven nights before falling. The two leaders who had rallied their friends around them were both well-read unicorns. They had both been raised in loving, stable environments in Canterlot. Either of them would be able to rally their friends to stop the same threats Starlight Glimmer and her own cohort had faced, but also be able to stop Grogar.

In the end, there really was no question. One of them had been babysat by a Princess, and her brother had eventually wed that same Princess, while the other mare had lost a parent just under a year ago. Starlight Glimmer had no idea if those events would stay the same in a new timeline, but she wasn’t willing to risk it. If Moon Dancer’s father was to die at the same point in time, and Grogar came along a short time later, it was all too possible Moon Dancer might not have the strength of heart and will to repel him.

Her choice made up, Starlight unfurled the large scroll she had penned and modified, and cast her magic on the scroll. The table reacted in time with her magic, and her heart soared as she saw a vertex of time and space open above her. If the part of her theory about using the table to create a time rift had been correct, then hopefully the rest of the plan to change time would also work.

Starlight summoned the rest of her magic to feed the spell. Loose papers scattered everywhere from the pressure vacuum created by the vertex. Starlight held her hooves to the floor, attempting to wring every last drop of power possible from her horn even as the vertex greedily sucked it all up. She had been a broken mare, but in this, she determined that she would not fail.

Suddenly, the vertex closed. Papers floating in the air dropped to the ground at once. Starlight drooped against the floor, resting her head on the surface as she panted. It had worked. Just in time too, Starlight thought to herself as she looked out the window one last time. Dense fog threatened to bathe the world in absolute darkness, and it was beginning to seep indoors.

 “It’s all up to you now, Twilight Sparkle,” Starlight Glimmer whispered. 


Snow fell from the heavens, dotting the sky with spots of white. The clouds had usurped the sun, whose rays failed to pierce the planet below. Even as the light of day was repelled, giving the impression of night, layers of snow and ice were beginning to build up around the peak of the mountaintop. That the mountain was host to an active caldera did little to repel the blistering cold. Only an ethereal green flame kept two creatures on the summit from freezing, one a pony and one a dragon.


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Potentially the darkest thing I'll ever write. I think this is original. I might have had a case of cryptomnesia and inadvertently stole this idea from somewhere, but of course I wouldn't know unless someone else points out it out

Cheat Notes for those who didn't understand what just happened, as well as going in a little more in-depth:

Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer are continuously looping 'Timeline A > Timeline B > Timeline A'. Twilight changes time so Starlight Glimmer becomes the Element of Magic, but then Starlight Glimmer changes time so Twilight Sparkle becomes the Element of Magic. Neither of them realises the timeline is cycling back and forth without ever progressing.

In Timeline A, which is the canon timeline, the Windigos cause a great freeze to the entire planet. Twilight and Spike take shelter next to a volcano to stay warm as long as possible, and Twilight uses knowledge she learned from Starlight Glimmer to create a scroll that Spike could send to Princess Celestia that not only travels through physical space but also time. The exact contents of the scroll aren't revealed but it basically alters the timeline so that Starlight becomes Princess Celestia's student with a new Element Bearers cast. This timeline is far enough along in the future that Spike has grown wings and grown larger than Twilight.

In Timeline B, the Windigos never come because Starlight does an excellent job at healing the more deep, subtle, unconscious bitterness of the population. However, Starlight suffers from a fragile psyche dating back to childhood, which was further damaged by the door in the Crystal Empire (the same one that shows Twilight a vision of Celestia scolding her for 'failing'). This allows Grogar to possess her. Twilight Sparkle, Moon Dancer and the Canterlot 6 drive Grogar away but they are unable to seal him completely, so while he no longer possesses Starlight he can still act on the world at large. Starlight suffers from major depression and believes she is incapable of truly stopping Grogar, and so devises a plan to change time. In doing so, however, she decides to pass the mantle of the Element of Magic to Twilight Sparkle, which reverts time back to the canon timeline. She had the choice between Moon Dancer and Twilight Sparkle. However, one of Moon Dancer's parents died a few months earlier in Timeline B. Twilight Sparkle was babysat by Cadance and her brother Shining Armor eventually marries Cadance. Starlight Glimmer doesn't know if those dynamics will play out the same in the new timeline, but isn't willing to risk the new Element of Magic being heartbroken by any event by the time Grogar comes out to play. Starlight also expects the new Elements will be the Canterlot Six (Twilight, Moon Dancer, Twinkleshine, Lemon Hearts, Minuette and Lyra), but obviously she's wrong. She doesn't realise it'll cause Twilight to become Celestia's student instead either. This was a little bit trickier for me, since originally wanted Starlight to somehow set up the Sonic Rainboom, and couldn't really think of a feasible way to do it. Instead, you can assume that Twilight is thus 'destined' to be the Element of Magic, and events fill in the rest of the bearers through the Sonic Rainboom

In both timelines, the protagonist has been utterly broken by the events that have happened by the villain of each timeline that they don't believe simply changing time while she remains the Element of Magic will work, and that they need a new set of Element Bearers to save the day. In Starlight's case, she's also somewhat bitter at the life she's been forced to live in saving Equestria over and over again. The letter Twilight sends overwrites the effect of Starlight's magical spell on the Elements, and Starlight's magical spell overwrites Twilight's letter, so the two don't collide and create a tertiary timeline

I had a little bit of fun with the second chapter, if only because the show-runners seem to adore creating groups of six ponies (Canterlot Six, Humane Six, Shadowbolt Six, Equal Five + Sunburst, the Background Six of Slice of Life) for us fanfic writers to potentially play around with. The Equal Five + Sunburst is unique in that it presents an even gender mix so I decided to pair them up.

Word of God:
Eventually Discord will become aware of this duality, and break the cycle of time and allow time to continue on again in a happy-ish ending. It might take just a few cycles. It might take a few million. It's still a Tragedy


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I track the stickiness of my stories on FIMfiction (how many views each chapter gets), and surprisingly enough, this story has pretty much perfect stickiness - it looks like everyone who read Chapter 1 (the first post here) also read the second half. Not bad!