Echoing Silence

She was only trying to help.
In a flash of light following her biggest mistake, Twilight Sparkle is banished to the Dusklands, a vast amount of wasteland outside the borders of the kingdom of Equestria. Here, the only thing the sisters control is the time of day and Twilight is left to defend herself in the barren lands that her most trusted ally exiled her to. After finding a city in such lands, Twilight worked hard to make a place for herself within it's walls, but when her past comes to find her, she finds it difficult to look at it the same way she did all those years ago. With the threat of war on the horizon for Twilight's new home and an old enemy returning to destroy the harmony of Equestria, Twilight will have to choose where her loyalties lie.
But just how far is she willing to go in order to save the ones she loves the most?

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1. Prologue

Prologue

 

Amethyst eyes watched the scene before her as the rehearsal began. Princess Mi Amore Cadenza strutted through the ornate double doors lined with wood and etched with gold, and made her way up the red carpet towards the awaiting bridal party. To the pink mare’s left stood her closest friends, the five of them watching with huge smiles on their faces as the apparent princess made her way to her groom. She stood beside him as Celestia began the rehearsal. A searing pain gripped at her heart as she watched the scene play out, hardly able to stop it as her friends doted on the pink mare, hopping to attention whenever she asked. It made her stomach twist as her friends scrambled over one another to please this superficial princess. They were ecstatic to learn of their upgrade from vendors to bridesmaids and began to chatter adamantly as she watched from afar, barely able to contain the feeling that was rolling in the pit of her stomach.

This wasn’t right.

Twilight Sparkle was not sure what originally set her paranoia off, but she could tell that her intuition was determined to bother her as she watched Cadenza and her older brother, Shining Armor, make their way towards the balcony. It was becoming an incessant feeling that her stomach would make every time her eyes fell upon the bride and groom. She knew that her nerves were rattled that her own brother did not tell her himself of his upcoming marriage and even as she tried to push those feelings away, she found herself jealous and afraid. Something was wrong with this wedding and everything within Twilight screamed that it was the pink mare who stood beside her brother, glancing around without a care in the world. As the rehearsal ended, her friends made their way out of the room, following the couple out. Even her beloved mentor, Princess Celestia, departed with barely a glance at her faithful student who had simply been sitting in the back of the room, unsure as to what she could possibly do to prevent the wedding from beginning. It was not until she knew she was completely alone that Twilight laid upon the throne room floor and covered her face with her hooves and simply cried.

The next day was the wedding and she had nothing to show for it. She could not put her worries at ease and even felt as if she were seeing things that no one else did. Wiping at her face, she departed from the room, making her way down the corridors to exit the palace and enter into Canterlot. As she made her way there, the sound of humming caught her attention. Her ears twitched and Twilight Sparkle turned, meandering down another hall and following the sounds of humming until she reached the room where the pink princess was staying. Reviewing her time spent in Canterlot, she sighed, hoping to make amends and attempt to see past her internal instincts as they roared at her in warning. No guards were posted outside of the room and Twilight hesitated for a moment before reaching out, knocking on the door to the room where the sounds were coming from. The humming stopped and she bowed her head, kicking her hoof out as the door swung open.

“Oh…hello.” came the disinterested princess’ voice, “What do you want?”

She had to admit that Cadenza was civil enough to not yell at her after she blatantly made it clear that she was suspicious of her actions.  Deciding that her paranoia was probably for naught, and her mind reminding her that she had done nothing wrong, Twilight figured that it’d be best to apologize. Clearing her throat, the lavender mare managed to look up at the princess, “I wanted to apologize…”

“Apologize?” the pink mare deadpanned.

Twilight felt like shrinking into herself at that moment, “I wanted to apologize for acting like I did yesterday…I shouldn’t have called you evil…”

A scoff was her reply.

“Well,” came a more chipper tone, “I wouldn’t say that dear.”

 

*

 

As she emerged from the darkness, Twilight groaned and covered her face with her hoof. It was too bright; the lights caused her eyes to burn with the onslaught of brilliance they created even as she shook her head to relieve herself of the dizziness that slammed into her upon moving. Nausea twisted in her gut, forcing her to be gentle with her movements as she blinked, finding herself on her back and staring up at the ceiling. She flipped, pushing herself to her hooves before she regained her bearings, looking around. She was in Cadenza’s room, the princess nowhere to be found, but there was something about it that was amiss. The corners of her vision were blurred, her sight fading into darkness such that it seemed like she were looking through binoculars. She shook her head to relieve herself of the blur only to realize that every time she closed her eyes, the black blurs grew and stretched, attempting to take her vision from her. Panic slammed into the lavender mare and she darted to the vanity the princess had in her room. A gasp escaped her. Upon first glance, her eyes did not look any different but when inspected further, the faint tint of green on the edges of her sclera caught her attention. She thought back to her confrontation with the princess and her ears flattened against her head. Her suspicions, her accusations and paranoia; they were all right. She remembered the cackle the princess gave before striking her with magic that was not its usual sky blue, but rather a menacing neon green that strangely matched the faded green encroaching upon her eyes.

Realization struck Twilight as her memory recalled merely nights ago when she went to speak to Shining Armor about her suspicions of Cadenza, only to witness her brother succumb to her with the same tint of green in his eyes. Her heart hammered against her chest as her mind raced with possibilities. Was Cadenza attempting to put her under a spell similar to the one she had placed on Shining Armor, or worse? Fear enveloped her as she thought about it, turning and galloping from the room towards the Royal Archives. Access was always permitted to the personal student of Celestia and as she galloped towards the Star Swirl the Bearded wing, her eyes scanned the shelves for something-; anything that would tell her what was going on. Her magenta magic shot from her horn as a title caught her attention. She pulled the book from its spot upon the shelf and began to leaf through it. Magenta magic flipped the pages in a hurry as her eyes scanned the pages, looking for a hint of what was going on. When her search yielded no results, she placed the book back in its spot before searching the shelves once more.

She continued in this fashion until her eyes fell upon a leather bound book that seemed to be older than the book on the history of Equestria. Magenta magic encased it, bringing it down to sift through. Carefully she opened the book, pages flipping methodically as she scanned it. Her eyes burned with each second that passed, refusing to blink as long as she could. She was desperately attempting to find the spell and counter it before it took away her sight for good. In all of her trials, Twilight Sparkle never believed that fighting off a blinding spell would be one she had to deal with. As she scanned the book, her eyes caught sight of a drawing. It showed a pair of eyes with green in the sclera and she stopped, reading the passage beside it. Her mouth moved as she silently read the passage to herself, only a gasp escaping her as she reached the end. She felt her chest constrict with this new information, quickly scanning for the counter spell. It was simple enough, so she placed the book down and began to use it. She closed her eyes in concentration, and cast the spell onto herself. She opened her eyes, the world blurry for a few moments as she blinked to clear her sight. The dark edges were gone and as she rejoiced in her freedom, a realization struck her. Her brother, Shining Armor, had a green tinge to his eyes when she saw that spell hit him. His apparent headache wasn’t from an actual headache but a spell that would, in time, take control of his mind. A feeling crept into her chest and she glared, flipping the page to find what kind of creature could create such a spell, only to find another spell. She had no idea who her enemy was, but she knew that it must be the apparent attack on Canterlot. It was in that moment that her mind made the connections. Her brother was being used because he controlled the barrier keeping out whatever this Cadenza wanted to unleash on the city. This also meant that she was right.

A pain shot through her at the realization that her friends and family turned away from her because of the princess’ lies. Her anger bubbled, frothing beneath the surface of her coat as tears made her eyes glassy. No one would listen to her now, especially since there was no proof to her claims. Regardless, the fact still remained that the threat to Canterlot was within its famous castle walls. With this knowledge, she closed the book and returned it to its spot before turning from the shelves and darting from the archives. Her anger propelled her forward as she galloped through the castle towards the throne room.

 

*

 

The crowd looked on with wide smiles. Everypony was excited for the matrimony that Celestia was going to bestow upon her niece and the Captain of the Royal Guard. However, Celestia glanced around the room for her student who had gone missing after yesterday’s rehearsal, but the purple unicorn was nowhere to be found and she inwardly sighed. Twilight was like a daughter to her and Princess Celestia could not fathom why the unicorn would refuse to come, despite the issues that arose with the planning and rehearsals. She returned her attention to the couple before her, though, and smiled. Although Cadence seemed disinterested, from her nerves no doubt, Shining Armor and Cadence looked perfect together. She pushed the thought of her student from her mind and cleared her throat as she began, starting the ceremony. It was mere moments until the two would be wed and as she went through the lines, she could not help but to smile.

“It is with great honor that I pronounce you—”

Her words were cut short as the ornate double doors crashed open. Dust and smoke billowed into the throne room, bits of the wood catching fire under the force used to open them, and as ash seemed to rise into the air, patrons began to panic, shrinking away from the doors in fear. As the smoke began to clear near the center, Celestia saw a sight that made her chest constrict. Among the wreckage stood her most faithful student, panting heavily as though she had just run a long way. Cadence turned and stared at Twilight with wide eyes, her mouth agape in shock. Celestia’s veins turned to ice as Twilight caught sight of them and glared, her face contorting into a menacing snarl as she growled.

Cadenza!” she bellowed, “Step away from my brother!”

The crowd of ponies began to mutter, stepping away from the aisle as the lavender mare jumped from the embers and debris and stalked forward.

“Twilight…” Celestia gasped, words finally finding her, “What is the meaning of this?”

When her student looked up and caught her eye, Celestia could feel a dark emotion pulsating from the mare, rolling off of her in waves. She was angry and for a moment, Celestia could almost picture the same nightmare that had manipulated her younger sister Luna seizing hold of Twilight and her heart thrummed in her chest like a caged bird. Twilight continued to glare, her violet eyes smoldering with anger.

“You wouldn’t listen to me.” She growled, digging her hooves into the carpet below, “All you had to do was believe me.”

As she tried to find the words to explain to Celestia what she was feeling, Twilight noticed that Cadenza had turned, watching her with a smug look gracing her features. She smirked: a dare to attack her outright with all these witnesses, including the sun monarch. A rainbow mane caught her eye before familiar fuchsia eyes filled her sight.

“What’s your PROBLEM?!”

Her voice echoed in the room, but instead of an answer, she was tossed aside. Magenta magic had gripped her, encasing her body and tossing her towards the group Twilight had originally believed to be her friends. Her rainbow maned friend landed in the group beside the princesses.

“Rainbow!”

Her friends called out to the pegasus she had tossed aside, rushing to help her up, checking her over for any sort of injury or wounds. For a moment, Twilight was saddened. She regretted doing that to Rainbow Dash, but the feeling did not linger as her anger brought forth the betrayal she felt. Rainbow Dash was supposed to represent the Element of Loyalty, yet the whole time they were here, she was anything but loyal. All of them, she recalled, turned their backs on her, writing her off as “paranoid” and “overprotective” of Shining Armor before rushing off to Cadenza’s side to tend and dote on her some more. Her chest ached again, but she ripped her gaze from her friends and returned it to Cadenza who stood by a stock still Shining Armor. From where she stood, Twilight could barely see the green clouding his vision and she bared her teeth in a growl.

“Get away from my brother you imposter!”

Gasps surrounded her as Cadenza’s eyes widened in alarm. She did not show it but Twilight was also surprised at herself. She had no idea as to why the words had left her lips, but the moment she said it, it felt right. She felt like the truth had finally been spoken. Something sparked beneath the anger and it balled in her stomach, giving her a sense that her accusation had been absolutely correct.

“Twilight!” came a voice from the crowd.

A familiar mare gaped at her. From where she had been standing, watching her son’s wedding in the crowd before her daughter had come in destroying it, Twilight Velvet stood there, staring at her daughter, completely mortified. The lavender mare recognized the voice but did not tear her eyes away from Cadenza.

“Move.” She growled, seething at the imposter, “Now.”

Cadenza’s smirk fell away. All eyes were upon her and Twilight now and as a Princess of Equestria, she knew that everyone would expect her to defend herself should she need it. However, her magic would give her away if she used it and instead she began sniffling. Twilight exhaled sharply, her violet eyes narrowing at the crocodile tears the princess tried to pass off, and she dipped her front low, ready to gallop towards Cadenza.

“I said…”

Her horn began to light with her magic.

“Move away from…”

She reared back and slammed her hooves down.

“My brother!”

Her magic shot forth from her horn, shooting towards Cadenza. Knowing that the shot would be deflected, Twilight sprang forth and galloped towards her. It was as Celestia interfered and blocked the shot that Twilight ducked, sliding under the sun princess. She slammed into Cadenza, knocking her backwards and they both collided with the ground. She growled, glaring down at her, but was bucked off. She hit the ground with an unpleasant thud and groaned. An emotionless Shining Armor turned towards her as she tried to get up, seething with rage at the circumstances.

“That is enough!”

Celestia’s voice rang out through the room and made her subjects cringe. Cadenza stood with no help from anyone, hiding behind the stoic Guard Captain as Twilight whipped around to glare at her mentor. She opened her mouth to retort, but her mind blanked. This mare before her was like a second mother to her. She idolized the alabaster princess like one would a singer, placing her high upon a pedestal. She did not want to believe that even Celestia was blinded to the truth, but she knew. Somewhere in the back of her mind, past the denial she still held to, Twilight knew that Cadenza had even fooled Celestia into believing her lies. Twilight knew that she was becoming desperate. Having such a huge crowd staring at her in disbelief, she was finding it hard to spit the truth out repeatedly.

“She’s not the real Cadence, but no one wants to see past her attitude because she carries the title of ‘Princess’.” she said, her voice low.

The change in Twilight’s tone caught Celestia off guard for a moment. The alicorn took a step, ready to comfort the emotionally distraught mare, but she was surprised when Twilight turned away from her, horn lit. Magic shot from her horn and hit the couple, sending Shining Armor back and onto his bride. Twilight watched with a sob caught in her throat. No one would believe her, no matter what she did. She was alone in this knowledge and with everything she had inside of her, she leapt over Shining Armor and bucked Cadenza away from him. The pink mare hit the ground, tumbling down the few steps that lined their altar, and stumbled to get on her feet. Although physically she was perfectly fine, Cadenza feigned injury, crying. She was going to play the victim and make everyone believe her.

“I won’t let you use him anymore.” Twilight said, voice thick as she tried to keep the sob contained, “You have to get rid of me first.”

Celestia could bare it no longer. Her horn glowed, a bright lemon and she lifted her student off of the ground as she called forth the guards. They galloped forward, spears trained on her student as she released her hold on her and turning to the patrons, Celestia apologized.

“We shall hold the ceremony tomorrow. For now, please return home safely.”

They were too eager to leave. The crowd shuffled from the room, some pushing their way to the doors, and as the room was left with everypony she was quite familiar with, Celestia turned towards the bride and her groom who stood behind the Royal Guard.

“Please, enjoy the rest of your day.” She said to them, turning to address her apprentice’s parents and friends, “I would like to speak to Twilight. Alone.”

Her tone was grave and low. No pony would argue with her and they all left without a second glance.

“Please guard the…”

Celestia trailed off, unsure of what to say. She was going to tell her guards to guard the door while she spoke to her student, but there were no doors to guard. She cleared her throat.

“Please guard the entrance.”

Their spears lowered and the guards moved, leaving the room and standing guard outside of it.

“Twilight Sparkle what in Equestria did you think you were doing?”

Twilight turned from her mentor, “Telling the truth.”

Celestia was taken aback by her answer. She knew that Twilight’s claims were unfounded, especially after the spectacle she had made herself out to be and for a moment, she wondered if her student had become insane. She had burst through the doors, determined to stop Cadence from doing whatever it was she thought she was going to do. Celestia felt tears in her eyes as she watched Twilight turn, attempting to make a dash for the door. Using her magic, Celestia stopped the unicorn from going much further, cutting her exit off with her magic.

“Twilight, please. Stop this—”

“Stop what? Trying to get you to see the truth?”

“Twilight,” Celestia pleaded, “please.”

“No…” she said, before turning and looking up at Celestia, “No, I won’t stop. I will make you see the truth, no matter what it—”

“You want me to see the truth about Cadence being evil when you’re attacking innocent ponies yourself?”

Twilight stopped. Her expression changed and Celestia almost apologized for saying it.

“Twilight, you’re going down a road that I cannot support.”

“What will you do? Banish me?”

Celestia gasped. The words stung deep, the jab about her mistake with her sister obvious, and even Twilight cringed when she realized what she said, but it was there, lingering in the air like a ghost.

“She needs to be stopped. Since no one else will do it, I will.” Twilight said, turning from her mentor once more and charging up her horn.

A flash of magenta and her student was gone.

 

*

 

Twilight appeared in her old room, surrounded by the books she once held dear. She knew that Celestia was probably sending her guards out to find her and she had to act fast. If she did not, then she had no hopes in saving her brother from Cadenza’s mind control. She was on her own and she hurried over to the large window, looking out. Across the way, a few floors down, she saw Cadenza on the balcony. Shining Armor was out in the gardens, strengthening his barrier once more and Twilight charged her horn again. This was it.

This was her only chance.

She used her teleportation spell and appeared behind Cadenza, startling the pink pony. Cadenza whipped around and gasped, trying to figure out where the unicorn had come from.

“Why are you here?” she hissed.

“To stop you.” Twilight said, pawing at the ground.

She was prepared to stop this evil before it consumed her brother and she lost him forever, but she needed to ask.

“What’s your angle? Why my brother?” she finally asked.

Cadenza laughed, “It was the role I fell into.”

Her laughter echoed around the room, mocking Twilight. A growl came forth, rumbling in her throat as magic began to wrap around her horn with every intent to stop Cadenza’s influence. With a stomp of her hoof, Twilight fired. The laughter stopped, cut off by a scream as the princess was thrown back into the railings of the balcony.

“Why?” Twilight demanded, “Why are you using my brother?”

A cough came from the pink mare as she stood on shaky legs.

“Shining Armor loves you and all you’re doing is using him!” Twilight cried, tears blurring her vision. “He’s not a tool!”

Turning to face Twilight, Cadenza seemed virtually unharmed. For a moment Twilight was baffled. She should at least have looked injured, yet she seemed perfectly fine. Staring at the princess, Twilight lit her horn once more with magic. She readied herself when Cadenza began to laugh.

“Boy, you’re stubborn.” The pink mare chortled, “You would think that after your loving mentor turned away from you that you’d finally relent, but no. You are foolish and above all else, foalish.”

Twilight grit her teeth.

“I mean, what kind of sister are you? Ruining your brother’s wedding with no proof of your claims?”

She pawed at the ground, wanting to charge.

“And you escape from Celestia’s hold just to come and attack a princess yet again?”

Cadenza cackled.

“Shut up!”

Twilight went to hit Cadenza again but she found herself hesitant. Did she hate herself for ruining a wedding that her brother looked forward to? Of course. Was it unnecessary? Not at all.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.” She pressed on, “My brother would thank me if he knew about your spells. You’re not Cadence, Miss Cadenza. I don’t know who you are but you are not welcomed here.”

“Oh, I am very much welcomed here.” Cadenza shot back.

“Where…where is the real Cadence?”

Cadenza fell silent. She was not going to divulge that sort of information, but Twilight figured she might as well try. She grit her teeth, standing her ground when she heard Celestia’s voice. Two things happened at the sound of Celestia’s voice; Cadenza smirked and began to cry out begging her auntie to come save her, and her body began to change before Twilight’s eyes. Her pink coat across her left flank and chest began to grown dark and red, burns and cuts from an attack that never happened. Twilight was stunned. This thing was able to change its form at will and she was unable to make anyone see that. Something inside of her popped.

Defeat. For the first time, Twilight felt utterly defeated.

She sat back on her haunches and just stared at Cadenza as Twilight’s eyes watered. The fake princess fell to the floor screaming and the doors to the room burst open as guards flooded in along with Shining Armor and Princess Celestia. The rest was a blur as Twilight hung her head in defeat and was taken from the room as doctors were called in to check on the princess. Held by the guards, Twilight could only watch as Cadenza sobbed, spreading more lies about how she was in so much pain. Celestia had her removed from ear shot and to the throne room once more. Twilight did not struggle. She willingly made her way to the throne room and once inside, she sat back onto her haunches, staring at the made up altar. She thought about how Celestia had refused to look at her as she ordered her away to the throne room, tending to Cadenza like a child. She knew that Celestia would not be able to continue teaching her, but if Celestia was able to turn her back on Twilight so easily, then was she really losing anything? The pang in her chest reminded her that yes, she was losing something. She was losing her mentor who acted like a surrogate mother to her for years. She was losing her brother to something that was not a pony. Her friends would not look at her the same when the word gets out that Cadenza was attacked by her soon-to-be sister in law, Twilight Sparkle, the personal protégé of Celestia. She blinked, pushing the tears away as Celestia walked through the doorway with a grave look upon her face. She wanted to say something to her, but Celestia walked right past her to stare up at the same altar that she had looked upon. She knew that she would be punished for harming the fake princess, but she was not prepared for it. Not in the least.

“Twilight Sparkle.”

Her name had come out of Celestia’s mouth with a strangely reserved tone that was normally used with the nobles she did not care to hold court with, like Blueblood and the likes of him. Twilight felt the tears burn at her eyes, but she held them back. Instead of a sob, she managed to look at the back of her mentor’s head, at the familiar mane that flowed like water and resembled the aurora borealis at night.

“Princess.” She replied, tone soft.  

“You have committed a great offense today,” Celestia said, turning towards her student, “You have attacked a member of the Royal family in front of many ponies. You not only attacked Princess Cadence once, but continued to attack her until finally apprehended a second time. Twilight, explain yourself.”

She shook her head at Celestia. At this point, it was useless. Celestia did not seem to want to believe her. To listen.

“There’s nothing to explain to someone unwilling to listen.”

Celestia’s stern scowl softened, “I have run into that problem a few times, myself. However, I am not here to fight with you, but to give you the news that I must.”

“That you refuse to be my teacher anymore?”

Celestia cringed. The sound of Twilight’s voice made her frown and nearly broke her heart.

“No, Twilight. I am afraid that your actions have warranted a greater punishment. One that I believe will stop these actions from happening ever again.”

Celestia spread her wings, looking down upon her student with a mixture of disappointment and sadness.

“Twilight Sparkle, it is with great pain that I banish you from Equestria.”

She heard a gasp and realized that it had come from her.

“W-what?” she managed.

“I cannot, in good faith, let you continue to act this way. Especially under my care as my student. What you have done today has only destroyed the harmony that you have represented through your friendships. It has only begun to cause chaos.”

Her words stung Twilight like a slap in the face.

“I am sorry, my student, but it must be done.”

“No…no…”

Twilight began to mutter to herself in denial as she got to her hooves, stepping back and away from Celestia as the sun monarch’s horn began to glow. Her eyes watered, blurring her vision as she stepped back and away from Celestia. Banish? She truly was being banished for trying to help? She went to plead with her mentor once more when a light blinded her. She gasped, covering her eyes with her hooves. The light burned and she felt as though she were also being lifted. It took seconds, but it felt like hours when Twilight was finally able to open her eyes to the light of Celestia’s sun only to see a land of only dirt and rocks before her. She gasped at the sight. She was in a barren wasteland. Her thoughts were cut short as she was unceremoniously dropped onto the rough terrain. A groan escaped her as she forced herself to her haunches, rubbing at her sore limbs before looking up. The flicker of hope she had that it was a dream died as she examined the lands before her and she dipped her chin, ear flattening against her head, as tears streaming down her face.

Twilight Sparkle, once a faithful student of Celestia and citizen of Equestria.

Exiled.

 

Author's Note:

Thank you to my wonderful proofreaders Slateblu1 & Rest for helping me iron out the mechanics. This chapter alone would not have made it out had they not have helped me out!

 
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