Far, far away
The Alicorn disguised as an Earth Pony waited until she was well out of sight of the village to shed her disguised appearance. Besides, if she wanted to teleport, she needed to do it in her "real" form. The thought brought a smirk to her lips, so long ago and she still hadn't really accepted that the Change had been irreversible. Oh, she knew it intellectually, but deep inside she still hoped against all hope that there would have been a way to turn back.
She sighed and made those thoughts go back to the recesses of her mind. This was not the time to dwell in lost chances and things that couldn't be helped. She closed her eyes and focused her mind in her inner sight, flying through the landscape until she found her destination, the castle in the midst of the Everfree Glade. She really didn't pay much attention to it beyond confirming that there not had been great changes into the lay of the land, so she teleported, appearing in the old throne room, and immediately collapsed, panting by the effort.
"Damn it! I'm too exhausted to do it again" she said once that she recovered her breath, and tried to get up in shaky legs.
Once she was up she looked around, and saw the sorry state that the castle had fallen. Outside the night was starting to fall. 'What has happened here? Why is everything in ruins?'
she wondered, looking around while trying to stifle the panic that was starting to rise in her. 'Quiet, missy, the capital was probably moved while you were asleep.'
"Celly? Lulu? Anybody?" she shouted, not caring if anybody heard her.
Nobody answered. She went to a half-fallen wall, to what once had been a glade of trees, and saw the dark and foreboding forest that lay beyond the horizon. She was really too exhausted to teleport again, or to disguise her appearance beyond shrinking to normal pony size. She closed her eyes and focused her mind, in finding the familiar aura of her daughters. 'Yes! I found them!
' she thought jubilantly as she found the auras of her daughters, and snorted when she noted the location. 'Typical, the old Fortress of Canterlot. Lulu always liked that old castle, and Celly found the pun quite funny.'
She sighed 'I wonder if Star Swirl's tomb is still there. I still miss you, my old friend, even if you were an infuriating little creep at times '
She closed her eyes and focused her mind into shrinking her size, despite her exhaustion. She managed to do so, with less effort that she thought and used the spare power to cloud her cutie mark. Now she picked a hat from one of her saddlebags and put her on her head to cover her horn. 'No way that I'm going to walk through that damned forest. Knowing my luck, I would run into a basilisk.'
She thought as she took flight in the direction of Canterlot. Canterlot
Luna had just ended the talk with the Griffin ambassador, assuring her that Celestia would be recovered in a few hours, and finding her a refreshing change from the honor-obsessed Griffin warriors that had warred with Equestria in the wake of Discord stoning more than a millennia ago. They were still quite a bunch of jerks, but not so annoying as in the old times.
"Your Highness" said a guard interrupting her train of thought
"Yes, Sunburst?" said Luna, commending herself in remembering the name of the guard.
"The flying carriage sent to retrieve Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, and her husband, Captain... err, Prince Shining Armor Sparkle have been sighted coming back, Your Highness."
"Finally!" said the Princess of the Night. "Get the honor guard for Cadence and Shining Armor orga..."
"Already done, Your Highness. They are waiting for you." Said the guard taking care on not sounding smug.
Luna harrumphed and without saying a word she trotted toward the guard and teleported both of them to the roof where the honor guard was already in formation, just in time as it happened, because the carriage was already approaching the castle, and with nary a sound, it landed. Its passengers, a pink Alicorn and a white Unicorn, stepped down a moment afterwards.
"Your Highness" said the Guard bowing to the pink Alicorn, then he turned and saluted to her husband "Captain." He then continued, discreetly pointing to the dark blue Alicorn in the other side of the courtyard "Princess Luna is waiting for you."
"And Celestia?" asked Cadence.
"Princess Celestia is... indisposed." Said the Guard "Princess Luna can give you more details."
"What happened, Sunburst?" asked Shining Armor to his former subordinate, sotto voce, as they neared the Princess of the Night.
"A strong magical pulse, it knocked down most of the unicorns in the Guard for a few minutes. Apparently the Princess was more strongly affected." Said Sunburst, equally in a low voice
"So that was what we felt." Said Cadence, who had been hearing them, also in a low voice, and barely moving her lips "We felt it all the way to Prance. Come on, Shiney, don't make Auntie Luna wait."
They trotted toward the dark blue Alicorn, who was waiting for them at the end of the line of guards.
"Your Majesty" said Cadence, bowing to Princess Luna.
"Your Highness" said Luna.
They looked to each other, all prim and proper, looking like a scene in a tapestry until it was ruined by Cadence's giggle, which prompted a glare from Luna, which provoked even more giggles.
"Can't you ever behave as befit your condition, Cadence?" said Luna, mildly miffed at the merry mare.
"Aunt Luna, protocol is quite more relaxed than a millennia ago." Said Cadence, having finally got a control over her giggles. 'All prim and proper, you'll never change, Lulu.'
"So, what..." started to say Cadence when every magic-user present in the city felt the gentle tug of the magical alarm.
"It never rains, but it pours, damn it." mumbled Shining Armor, before starting to give orders to the Guard.
Old Wolf reached the trapdoor that gave him access to one of the pantries in Canterlot. An old one, barely used anymore, and the one that he like to use to enter the Castle to report to the Princesses. He chuckled. No matter how the world had changed, it was unavoidable to find this kind of dark, narrow places. He stepped out and saw that dust and cobwebs covered the pantry. Suddenly the door opened and he got into attack position.
"Be calm, Old Friend. It's only me, Luna... and half of Canterlot Guard" Said the Princess of the Night. "After the incident with the Changelings we put alarms in all those secret passages under the Castle, and you tripped one. You gave us a scare"
He arched an eyebrow, and rolled up his eyes 'Figures'
he thought, as Luna looked back and said in the Royal Canterlot Voice
"EVERYPONY, OUT!" and then added in a more normal tone "Cadence, Captain Sparkle, stay here."
When he judged that every guard was gone, he got out, and saw a pink Alicorn and a white Unicorn that he assumed were Cadence and Shining Armor. A better look at Cadence confirmed her identity. She had a great resemblance to her ancestor, the daughter of her old friend.
"Cadence, Armor, this is Old Wolf, one of the last Grey Wolves and an old family friend."
"Charmed." Said Cadence, with a radiant smile.
"The same." Said Shining Armor with a neutral expression.
"Now that we have made the presentations, what was so important, that you risked abandoning your post?" said Luna "Although given that pulse, I think that you won't come back, anyway."
"Dark Wolves in the old castle." Said Old Wolf "Using crystals that went from clear to black."
Luna looked at him for a moment, as if not believing what she had just heard.
"Those... those... bloody curs! They have no idea of the kind of forces that they are playing with!" finally shouted Luna. "It can be a disaster, exactly what the thirteenth prophecy told... damn it, the Darkness, maybe is the Overlord returning, or even worse, no, that can't be, he was banished forever from this realm." She rambled for a moment before regaining her composure. "Come with me to my quarters, a corridor is not the proper place to discuss so grave matters." Inside a dark cave in the Whitetail forest
By now the five Sleepers had awakened and were examining their transformed bodies. After a few minutes of silence, Faith, now a white, black-haired Pegasus with the Scythe over a moon and stars cutie mark, screamed what was in the mind of every one of them.
"Why the fuck have we become fucking living My Little Pony dolls?"
"Err, actually we have become Ponies who resemble My Little Pony dolls" tried to correct Willow, now a cream-colored, red maned unicorn with a rose and thorns cutie mark.
"I don't fucking care!" said the Dark Slayer "How in Hell could Andrew screw the spell so much?"
"Well, remember that one of the things that he had to abandon when we had to escape from Cleveland was his collection of My Little Pony dolls." said Willow "And he always complained about that."
"So, you think that we have become ponies, because Andrew collected dolls?" said Xander, now a coffee-colored, dark maned Earth Pony with a hammer and gear cutie mark. "That's lame, even for our standards"
"Said the guy who got duplicated in a junkyard, possessed by a hyena spirit, his almost-wife was a thousand-years-old ex-vengeance demon, his other ex ascended and later descended to warn us, dated a mummy... shall I continue" said Faith, now a bit more like herself
"It's not that, Xander" said Willow, ignoring the antics of the Dark Slayer "The spell that the demons were casting, and he had to redirect, was tricky. If his attention wandered in the critical moment..."
"As he was prone to do..." interjected Xander "Ok, ok, I get the point"
"Just when I thought that he couldn't screw it worse" groaned Dawn, now a light green, brown maned unicorn with a key over a sun cutie mark "And why are you smirking Faith?" said noticing that Faith had stopped scowling and was smirking, looking at Xander with undisguised interest.
"Oh, nothing, just looking at Xander here" said a smirking Faith "What can I say? He is even more a stallion than before, if you catch my drift." Dawn groaned for the lame pun
"Faith, always with the head in the gutter." Said Buffy, resigned to her light-yellow blonde-maned current appearance, and a Scythe over a sun Cutie Mark. "And what we do now? Look for the nearest ponies and ask them 'take me to your leader'?" Whitetail Forest
As the moon was starting to rise over the horizon, the small pack of Dark Wolves, which had been sent to investigate the magical pulse, was entering the forest. Loup-Garou's number two, Wolfgang, had been hearing the mutters of the other wolves, and finally built up the courage of bringing it up to their leader.
"Boss, the boys are talking between themselves, and not precisely to sing praises about you." Said Wolfgang
"Oh?" said Loup-Garou, not surprised, Dark Wolves were a quite fractious lot, and pack-leaders had been often killed for an argument about absolute nonsense "And what are they saying?"
"They are mostly complaining that we got out before we could eat and that we are hungry." Answered Wolfgang, "I'll follow you through the Wastelands if necessary, but most of the boys greatest loyalty is to their stomach."
"Hmmm... Well, we got out a bit too quick, certainly." Said Loup-Garou, thoughtfully. He looked around and saw the railroad tracks, causing him to smile viciously. "Remember that little trick that we did, a decade ago, in the road to Baltimare?"
"Of course, boss." He then noticed where his boss was looking and his smile nearly matched Loup-Garou's in viciousness "Oooooh, I like it."
Loup Garou chuckled and then turned toward the rest of the pack and shouted to them.
"Hey, boys! I know that you are hungry! Well, there is train full of tasty ponies coming here. And they'll be all ours if we block the tracks!"
The wolves howled in delight hearing the news and started to work.
Trixie looked through the window as they crossed the forest, without really seeing anything. She really needed the money from her shows, but these months had made her realize that something was missing in her life. The life of a travelling showmare was by necessity a lonely one. At first she had loved it, no overbearing father looking ready to criticize her every act, no vapid would-be-noblemares forcing her to conform to what society expected through peer pressure, only the road ahead and the wind on her mane. But now... she shook her head, no, this is the life that I have chosen... but it doesn't have to be a lonely one, she should take an assistant to help her with the more complex tricks, and to rein in her when she got a bit too carried away in the persona of the Great and Powerful Trixie.
Suddenly the train stopped, throwing her toward the front wall of her caravan. 'What the hay?'
she thought, a she got up, and looked through the window...
...Only to see the shapes of several wolves against the night sky. She muffled her scream by putting her hooves in her mouth. 'Dark Wolves, just like what happened with mom'
She felt her fear receding and a cold, dangerous anger, taking its place. 'No, I can't allow it to happen again. Those Dark Wolves are going to fear the day that they angered the Great and Powerful Trixie!' TO BE CONTINUED...