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?


3. Two

“Ahm tellin’ y’all. Ah don’t think she’s out here.”

Her southern drawl echoed in the silence surrounding the five ponies as they made their way through the wastelands. Celestia’s sun bore down upon them mercilessly without a single speck of shade before them. She wiped the sweat from her forehead with her hoof before fixing her trademark Stetson on her head, tucking her blond hair beneath the hat as she frowned.

“There ain’t nothin’ out here but rock an’ dirt.”

“We probably haven’t gone far enough, Applejack.” replied the sole unicorn of the group, “We’ve looked everywhere else and I highly doubt that she would have gone to the north where she would have frozen to death.”

“Ah know, Rarity,” Applejack replied, “but it don’t look like anythin’ can live out here.”

“Applejack is right.” A pale yellow pegasus interjected timidly, hiding her face behind her unkempt, pink matted mane, “There’s no signs of plants or animals…”

“Or water…” the other pegasus replied, pushing her rainbow bangs from her face.

“Here, darling,” Rarity said, giving the cyan pegasus a canteen, “I have plenty of water left.”

“Ah still say we should go home. Ah gotta take care of mah farm since Big Mac’s hurt again. Ah hafta buck apples mahself.”

“And what about Twilight?” Rarity sneered, “It’s our fault she’s been out there alone all this time!”

“Yeah. We can’t just give up.”

Rarity nodded at the cyan pegasus with the rainbow mane as she took the canteen back and took a swig, “Thank you Rainbow Dash. At least someone understands.”

“Ahm not givin’ up!” Applejack growled, stomping her hoof, “But we’ve been out here for months searchin’ and I gotta take care of mah family for the upcoming spring. And what about Sweetie Belle? Or Scootaloo? Y’all can’t tell me ya’ ain’t worried about them!”

“My parents are looking after Sweetie Belle and Spike while we’re looking for Twilight. I simply cannot return without news again. I nearly broke Spike’s heart last time.”

“I’m with Rarity.” Rainbow Dash spoke up, flapping her wings and hovering above her friends, “We walked out on Twilight twice and she was right the whole time! And Scoot keeps asking if we found her and….and…”

Rainbow Dash faltered, squeezing her eyes shut. The tears she had held back since the day they learned of the truth threatened to fall once more. She shook her head and recomposed herself.

“…I can’t keep telling her we didn’t.”

“Ah don’t know about y’all but Ah think she went back to Equestria. Twilight wouldn’t have stayed out here.”

“And if she didn’t?” Rarity pressed with a scowl, “What if she’s merely another day away?”

“Oh! Oh! I LOVE GUESSING GAMES!” the pink pony chirped, bouncing around her four friends.

“It’s not a guessing game, Pinkie.” Rainbow Dash said, rolling her magenta eyes.

“Still…uh…” The farmer stammered.

“Exactly.” The fashionista said, trotting forward. “I won’t go back, yet. We’re close. I can feel it!”

“But Rarity…” the yellow pegasus said, “I have to check in with the animals soon. Spring is coming and I have to make sure all of my critters are taken care of since Discord left to help the war front.”

“Yes, well, I wouldn’t trust that brute a mile away. He only broke free because the elements no longer held him in place. I doubt that he’d be roaming around free if that weren’t the case, Fluttershy.”

“Now, Rarity, I know you don’t like Discord, but—”


The scream came from behind a large crag. The ponies stopped, giving each other a glance before galloping around the pike. The five came across a grey coated stallion who was sprawled out on the ground, blood pooling under him from various wounds. He groaned, struggling to stand when a shadow fell upon the group. Looking up, Applejack paled. The orange mare grabbed the stallion and with Rainbow Dash’s assistance, they pulled the dazed stallion up as the large dark mass came towards them. Turning, the apple farmer gave her friends a panicked glance.

“We gotta get outta here! C’mon everypony! This way!”




“-and then she ran around screaming about a checklist or somethin’.” Cedar chortled, giving Diadem a grin.

Her cheeks flared in chagrin, “It was the first time I participated in anything like that since I came here. Of course I wanted to do everything right.”

Her companions laughed. Cedar Evergreen shook his head at the mare as Steel Forge grinned.

“Over do it, eh?” Steel Forge asked her, nudging her with a tusk, “Seems like yer over that, though.”

“Still…It is embarrassing to talk about.”

They laughed again. They had the day off and were on the surface, soaking in the intense heat and bright sun rays as the city bustled with life. The peaceful city was preparing for the harvest which would begin tomorrow and Diadem smiled. Her crops were going to be great this year. She had put all of the care she could in raising the perfect harvest for her and the others that the crops should last them a good while. Emerald’s laughter cut short as his ear twitched and he looked up and around. Turning, he tensed as he watched something. In seconds, the dragon was tumbling on the ground, landing on his back with his sister in his arms. The blue dragoness panted heavily, trying to scramble to her feet.

“Whoa there, Saph. What’s wrong?”

Sapphire looked up at her brother, gasping for breath as she found herself in the company of her squad, “Dia! Nereus….Infirmary!”


The others tensed at Diadem’s inquiry, her voice a dark growl.

“Nereus is in the infirmary.” Sapphire replied, getting to her feet, “And—Hey! Wait! Dia!”

Diadem was galloping away as Cedar, Steel and Emerald got to their feet. Sapphire went to give chase when her brother grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Sapphire, what happened?”

“There was an ambush!” she cried, pulling herself from his grip, “We need to stop her! I have to explain!”



Diadem galloped through the streets of the surface until she reached the top quarters of the infirmary. She was met with some confused faces before trotting towards the tunnels to the heart of the city beneath ground. Her hooves beat on the path as she threw herself into another gallop through the dimly lit corridors. She ran as fast as her hooves could take her until a set of double doors came before her. She threw herself at them, forcing them to swing open as she skidded to a halt in the lobby. Her eyes widened.

“Father..?” she huffed, trying to catch her breath.

“Diadem,” Nereus greeted, solemn, “it seems that there has been another ambush.”

Her ears flattened against her head and she gasped, “Oh no! Are there a lot of injuries?”

He shook his head, “Not many were injured, but they are being cared for now. It seems we are not the only target of these attacks.”

A shiver ran through her body and the pony frowned, making her way to the Ki’rin leader. She leaned into him as he reached out to her, dwarfing her. She felt safe when he held her, like a child with their parent, and she sighed.

“Who was hurt?” she asked.

“That, we will see. Come. Dr. Fennel is tending to some of the foreigners who were caught in the attack, so he told me where Lavender was tending to one of our own.”

Diadem nodded as they made their way through the corridors of the underground infirmary. There were many rooms where patients were held, depending on their situation and it took a few minutes before they entered one. Before them sat a lilac scaled ki’rin who wore a sash of white silk indicating she was a nurse, tending to a patient in the cot in front of her.

“Tartarus! That hurts, Lav!”

The growl did not deter the Ki’rin from continuing, “You’re a piece of work. You nearly die out there and still find time to complain about medical treatment?”

“Not –OW!– complaining. It just –gah!– hurts!”


Her voice was like a gentle breeze as she forced his name from her lips, her breath caught in her throat. The Ki’rin stepped aside, revealing her brash patient to both Diadem and Nereus. She bowed to them.

“Forgive me, Lord Nereus and Lady Diadem.” She greeted, “I apologize. I did not notice you behind me over his rampant complaints.”

“Hey! I’m not—”

“Please be at ease, Lavender. We know better than anyone how much his ‘rampant complaints’ distract those around him.” Nereus replied with a fanged grin. “It is good to see you again, my son. You’ve worried us.”

“Heh, yeah. I wasn’t planning on being gone for so long. You look good old man.”

The pony upon the cot was a light charcoal grey pegasus. His bright lemon yellow eyes sparkled as he grinned at the elder ki’rin, rubbing the back of his head with his hoof. His mane was matted and dirty, but the crimson hue streaked, black mane was signature to him in the city. His tail matched his mane and although he was bandaged up pretty well, there were still some cuts and bruises that he still sported that have yet to be handled. Lavender smiled at the two, enjoying their outburst of name calling, but frowned as her eyes fell upon the unicorn. She stood stock still beside her father, eyes as wide as saucers. Her mouth was slightly parted in shock as she stared at the stallion upon the cot.

“Where have you been?”

“Well, I went to check in with the other cities, each visit taking longer than normal because of the apprehension.” Astral replied.

“Apprehension of us?”

“No,” he answered, “Of everyone. It seems that we’re not the only ones being targeted in these ambushes. Both Elkisa and Burrow have had some casualties as well as Saccryli Hive. I went to discuss possible ambushes with the other Hives in the Wastes.”

“And the results?”

“Not good. It seems the ambushes are plaguing everyone.”

Nereus frowned, “And yet there has been no communication to us?”

“There was.” Astral replied, “But they haven’t been making it. It seems the territories are not safe. Queen Atynis welcomed me with open hooves and discussed her concerns with me. I hope she’s okay.”

“What do you mean? What happened to the Queen?” Nereus asked, alarmed.

“I was starting to return home when I was ambushed myself. I fought the best I could, but eight flyers against one, each with talons as sharp as knives? I was outmatched. I fell and they left me for dead. I went to get up and screamed, which attracted some foreigners who tried to help me…”


“But the ones who ambushed me attacked Atynis’ Hive. The swarm practically trampled us in an attempt to escape.”

Her gasp broke the duo from their talk. Diadem covered her mouth with her hooves. Despite harboring a bias against the Hives in general, she could not help but to balk at the news.

“A hive doesn’t scatter,” she said, shaking her head, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Atynis came to help me but the foreigners flipped out. One of them carrying me bucked her.”

“Someone bucked Queen Atynis?” Nereus asked, eyes wide.

Diadem shook herself from her disbelief and quickly trotted to Astral’s cot, reaching a hoof over to hug him. Nereus mulled over the information as Lavender returned to tending to Astral’s wounds.

“You say foreigners.” Nereus quiried, “What kind?”

“Ponies. All of ‘em.”




The harsh winds of the frozen north whipped through the mountains like a cobra’s strike, lashing at everything in its path. The long abandoned train station was buried beneath years of snow and ice, long forgotten in the frozen wastes. The snow danced in the angry gale, a dark cold waltz of a warmth destroyed eons ago, each flake adding another drop of ice to the cold. A single light flickered in the bleak gray of the icy wind, beckoning anyone in the blizzard forth. The glinting light was a deep crimson tinged with dark hues of violet and green and behind it was a black dome of swirling magic, crackling with raw power and pulsing with crimson. Within the dome was a once beautiful land now tainted with dark magic, reducing the once lush green fields to a barren waste of wilted foliage and rock leading to the kingdom inside. The black crystal castle stood high and proud, towering over the city like a giant.

The King stood tall upon the castle balcony overlooking the city with a triumphant smirk. His long awaited return was met with a small, weak resistance and the sisters’ failure made him virtually untouchable. The crystal empire was now his again; a protected land of crystal slaves governed with a power perfected over a thousand years. He chucked wickedly as the green and purple aura swirling around his horn summoned the source of his amplified powers. The once brilliant heart of crystal was now chipped and darkened with his magic and it harbored the most malicious thoughts and feelings of his slaves.

He smirked as he began to drain the dark emotions from the black heart. The magic he drained pulsed within him as he looked out at his kingdom again. With the amount of fear he consumed on a daily basis, he was slowly becoming the most powerful being in all of Equestria. He would bide his time until he could easily dispose of the Royal sisters and take his place upon their throne.

But first, he had to find her.

From the darkness in his dreams one night, a small, fragile voice called out to him. The voice was undoubtedly female and raw, but belied great, undiluted power. He had sensed untapped potential on the precipice of their connection since the first night she had called out to him and soon, he would find her and use her powers to defeat the Sisters once and for all. He grinned, placing the black heart back in its prison to collect more of his slaves’ dark feelings as he returned to his quarters, preparing for the evening, hoping to hear from the voice once more.




“Are you sure about this?”

Astral nuzzled Diadem with concern. After his briefing, Nereus had gone off to discuss the situation with Dr. Fennel about the foreigners and the duo had finally caught up to him. They stood outside of the room they were contained in and Diadem watched the covered doorway warily. Faint sounds of an argument could be heard and she hesitated. Since her arrival, there had only ever been two ponies in all of the Den. Ponies were rare out here, Astral and her, as the only ones, proved that. The mere thought of seeing another pony, let alone a group of them, after all these years terrified her. With a shaky hoof, she pushed the curtain aside, cringing at the shouting within.

“No…” she whispered, “But they saved you. They…can’t be all bad, right?”

“But they’re looking for someone.” Astral replied, “What if they’re–”

Diadem stepped away from him. This was not the time for memory lane, “They didn’t come for me before. Why would they show up now?”

“I…don’t know.”

She frowned. Her words felt hollow, but the same question arose every time they spoke of foreigners. She had begun to harbor distain for her once closest allies ever since she arrived at the Den a year after her exile.

“Look,” she said, “we’re the only ponies in the Den. I doubt they will be cooperative with Father and the others. They probably don’t even know what a Ki’rin is. We have to keep them from attacking our family.”

Family. Her only family it seemed.

“Yeah.” Astral agreed, stepping through the doorway, “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Diadem frowned, “Pain is part of my job, isn’t it?”

Her companion did not reply. Instead, he frowned and continued in the infirmary room, catching sight of some of the patients still in bed. Diadem pushed past him towards the beds where one of the ponies lay unconscious and she gasped. Memories assaulted her in painful waves and she turned away from the bed as another string of screams and shouts echoed off the stone walls behind another curtain. She gulped as Astral placed a hoof on her shoulder.

“Just who the buck do you think you are?!”

A flash of cyan in her vision made her blood run cold as the screaming voices began to muddle together incoherently. Her stomach churned as her memories slammed into her. Smiling faces, boisterous laughter, and activities that she cursed for so long crashing into her like a tidal wave, attempting to drown her. Her breaths came in short gasps as she tried to contain herself, eyes flickering towards the exit. She went to take a step when a small, strained voice made her freeze in her retreat.




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