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Ghost in the Shadows (WIP)

By ReggieSomething
Created: 25th June 2022 07:47:52 AM
26th June 2022 07:40:44 PM

  1. >What's happening!?
  2. >Where am I?
  3. >The more pressing issue, rather, is how you got here. If you could call this... this... "setting" a place, what with the annulus of rainbow light rushing around you. Likewise that sound- akin to a steam engine whistling past you at impossible speed, with a heavy pinch of something that sounds way too much like children screaming- the noise is as distracting as it is offensive.
  4. >Regardless, you were just... here. As if there was nothing before this moment of self-awareness. How, though? That can't be you were just... just...
  5. >JUST
  6. >Just where the hell were you before you went a-slip-sliding through the rainbow tunnel of existential horrors? The more you think about the day so far, the um... past week? No, that can't be right, you couldn't have possibly-
  7. >Why can't you remember anything about yourself? And why can't you feel your hands? Funny, as fast as you seem to be blasting through space or whatever the hell this is, there's an eerie lack of any sensation from the wind, or stimulus from a hitherto-unknown ethereal current for that matter.
  8. >You're dreaming. This has to be a dream. Gotta wake up!
  9. >Slapping your own face doesn't work, but not for a lack of trying.
  10. >There's no physical reaction to discovering you can't see your hands. Or arms. Or any part of your body for that matter. No body-jolting surge of adrenaline that would accompany such a shocking revelation. Only the omnipresent, smothering feeling of dread.
  11. >It doesn't immediately register- how you can't hear your own panicked screams, yet you hurtle through space all the same.
  12. >How long you tried to scream, to kick, to flail like a wounded animal in its death throes, it's uncertain. For all you know, you could have just as easily been in your state of terror for five minutes as you could have for eternity. Whatever the case, in some immeasurable time, all semblance of distinct emotion erodes like a once-proud marble statue left out to weather the elements; alone and forgotten.
  13. >Only curiosity remains. Curiosity that defeats any potential emotional contender for control of your awareness. For once, you can see through the prismatic annulus you rocket through. It seems to fade away the longer you stare through, until there's naught but the feeling of your velocity relative to new reference points- stars.
  14. >Likewise, the pained screams that once permeated the tunnel grow quieter the further you travel, until you can almost hear a faint breeze if you focus long enough.
  15. >Soon, the concept of motion fades as well. How do you explain moving in every direction at once to someone who's only ever moved in straight lines, from one point to another? How can you hope to explain omnipresence when you can barely comprehend it yourself?
  16. >The question collapses your perception down to one point, moving through space, Point A to Point B, as you're used to thinking.
  17. >'Pity. And you were doing so well.'
  18. >Huh?
  19. >There's no voice, nevertheless you perceive the words, knowing they're foreign.
  20. 'Who's there?' you manage to think to the star-speckled void.
  21. >'It doesn't matter who I am. What matters is my plan.' the external voice seems to chuckle into your consciousness. There's something familiar about that phrase, though for the life of you, you couldn't remember what was familiar about it if your life depended on it. If you even were alive, that is.
  22. >'Ha! Is this- this tsunami of sensations not more than you've ever experienced in the entirety of your life!? Do you not FEEL alive?'
  23. >It can read your thoughts?
  24. >'Oh, he's finally getting it. Only took two hundred light years, but it's progress!'
  25. >There's a masculine quality to this "voice"-
  26. >Hang, on... light years?
  27. >It's an unfathomable distance, of that you're certain, but how? How do you know that if you can't remember how you got here? Come to think of it, you can't remember of the past day, week, or even month for that matter.
  28. >You can't even remember your own name.
  29. >'For where we are, for where you're going, you have no use for names." the voice interjects before you can panic again. 'You are in fact, anonymous.'
  30. 'Where are we?'
  31. >'Doesn't matter. We won't be here much longer.'
  32. 'But where am I going?'
  33. >'I have a general idea, but where exactly? Who knows? I've never been one for plans, you see. Nasty things, those.'
  34. 'What am I supposed to do?'
  35. >'As you will, dear boy! As you will!'
  36. >That's not very reassuring, jackass.
  37. >Wait, did you think that aloud?
  38. >Cackling laughter drowns out what you thought was your inner monologue, and for the briefest moment, you think you see a pair of eyes glowing above a sparkling smile.
  39.  
  40. ...
  41.  
  42. >It's much too quiet, save for your hoofsteps, which are much too loud, only adding to the anxiety that seemed to weigh your hooves down. Then there's Sister, who is as composed, confident, and perfect as ever, her measured steps saturated with grace; steps mouse-quiet.
  43. >Her head turns to offer you a small smile; attempting to be optimistic, to hide her own misgivings. "Today was an improvement over the last visit."
  44. "That noblemare fainted at the sight of Us, Sister. And We have yet to regain Our old form! We might as well be a little filly to Our previous uncorrupted form!"
  45. >Celestia tuts. "She didn't scream this time! That qualifies as an improvement." She nods, but more for her sake than yours, you think.
  46. "Her incontinence negates the lack of shrieking, Sister."
  47. >Sister laughs at your deadpan delivery. "Oh, Lulu. You must understand, my lit-" she clears her throat and continues, "*ahem!* OUR little ponies are much more..."
  48. "Cowardly? Soft? Pathetic?"
  49. >"I was going to say, 'sheltered'. They're more 'sheltered' nowadays. Equestria is much safer than it was a millennium ago."
  50. >What a perfect, diplomatic response.
  51. >Of course she was always diplomatic, always... perfect! Worse than she was before. Not that she was like this for any nefarious reasons, this is just who Celestia is, who she always was. Who she was always meant to be, who she always will be- a brilliant beacon lighting the world until nothing remains but dust and memories.
  52. >If only you'd understood that sooner.
  53. >Celestia was admired. Celestia was adored. Celestia got showered with praise. You were just there to scrounge up her scraps, to the horror of her fearful, insolent little ponies-
  54. >No. You mustn't start down this mental path again.
  55. >"Luna?"
  56. >Your confused eyes answer for your paralyzed mouth.
  57. >"I asked if you wanted to have lunch?"
  58. "Oh. Forgive Us. We were lost in thought."
  59. >"Luna, you're still using the 'Royal We'..."
  60. "Can you blame Us?" you say with a snort. "Time did not pass for Us and it did for Thee, Sister! We watched Thee pass Us by countless times, remaining oblivious to every occurrence, every development, every defining moment... all whilst being tortured by the presence of the Nightmare!
  61. >A large white wing drapes over your back, hesitating a moment before resting with an unnatural, light touch on your withers. "Luna, I'm only trying to help."
  62. >Familiar moon-themed double doors appear after rounding this last corner, thank goodness.
  63. "Yes, Sister, We understand. Please excuse Us. It is far too late in the morning for Us to be still be awake, and We have lost Our appetite after being reminded of Our obsolescence."
  64. >Celestia's primaries slide off your back as you walk through your tower threshold.
  65. >"Luna, please-"
  66. >You hand your head and sigh.
  67. "Forgive Our bitterness, Sister. We-" you stop and make an attempt to placate your sister. "We mean- um, *I* mean, it's..."
  68. >Another sigh.
  69. "This is harder than I thought it would be."
  70. >Saying that aloud feels like admitting defeat. Your head droops further.
  71. >Celestia, for once, is at a loss for words.
  72. "Good day, Sister. I love you."
  73. >Cornflower-blue ethereal light shrouds the door after some focus and, with a nontrivial amount of effort, shuts the heavy oak partition behind you.
  74. >A muffled, "Love you too, Lulu," penetrates the door, as does the rythmic clip-clopping of Sister's retreating hooves.
  75. >Leaden hooves carry you up the spiraling staircase to your chambers. Another focused effort bids your magic to open and close your bedroom door in due time, though you're embarrassed to admit it's taken a bit out of you.
  76. >At last! Bed awaits you a few short meters away. You kick off your slippers and-
  77. >*WHOOSH*
  78. >Cold rushes through you, freezing your veins in its wake. An invisible force wrinkles your blankets, shaking the mattress as it does.
  79.  
  80. ..
  81.  
  82. >That definitely is a mischievous smile.
  83. >"Oh, would you look at that! This is your exit."
  84. >Though you have no corporeal form to speak of, you feel the distinct sensation of being pushed to the side. Then you fall, spiraling through a nebula, around a nova, past countless stars, always feeling like you're falling down despite lacking a reference to drop from.
  85. >The inky blackness of space gives way to a soft whitish-blue light. An unknown planet looms ahead, growing ever-larger thanks to your incredible velocity. Within seconds you enter the atmosphere at a shallow angle, streaking high above the clouds.
  86. >Strange green continents and unfamiliar oceans pass below you. While you're still moving quite fast, it's clear that you're decelerating.
  87. >'I'll be watching you.' the "voice" from before speaks into your psyche. "Do as you will, but remember- the bill always comes due."
  88. >That's all the guidance you get before dipping into clouds you can't feel. You emerge below the massive poofy white canopy to find the strangest-looking structure you've ever seen hanging off the side of a lone mountain. While your original trajectory had you moving past this castle, it seems your attention altered your course to the point that you're set to collide with it. You notice several waterfalls spilling off the side of the mountain, between different sections of the castle just as you brace for impact with one of the castle towers.
  89. >Time slows. White bricks rush forward to greet you, but there's no pain. Instead, you phase right through a couple of walls, and into a blurry blue mass before coming to a sudden halt.
  90. >"Who's there?"
  91. >That definitely was a voice, not words perceived by your consciousness alone. Though you're still without a body, you get the feeling that you're lying on a bed. Well, you're existing on it. Or something. Your mind has yet to fully process and cope with this slew of changes.
  92. >"Reveal thy self at once!" a woman commands in a stern voice.
  93. >At least, you thought it was a woman until you looked in her direction.
  94.  
  95. ..
  96.  
  97. "Who's there?"
  98. >No response. Likewise, nothing disturbs your bed any further.
  99. >Given your difficulties readjusting to life back in Equestria, Sister would know better than to play a prank on you, despite her affinity for such behavior in the old days. No, this was something else entirely. The sudden influx of cold, your bed shifting without any apparent prime mover... You stifle a gasp at the implications- a potential intruder?
  100. "Reveal thy self at once!" Your horn flickers to life, though it's more for show at this point than anything else.
  101. >With your mana reserves still pitifully low, you can't cast the spell to counter illusory magic. Your heartbeat pounds in your ears as you consider your options.
  102. "Do not be deceived by Our atrophied form, intruder," you warn with narrowed eyes as you adopt an aggressive pose. "Contrary to any rumors thou might be privy to, Our magic is as potent as ever!"
  103. >Of course your magic would falter the moment you said that.
  104.  
  105. ..
  106.  
  107. >The horned pegagus/winged unicorn just grabbed a hairbrush with her wing, holding it as one would wield a knife. Normally, you'd be more shocked to see a cornflower-blue English-speaking horsey, but the interstellar trip you've taken and your persistent lack of a body has expanded your suspension of disbelief. Might as well see how this plays out before exploring further.
  108.  
  109. ..
  110.  
  111. >This is ridiculous.
  112. "Yes, We shall defeat Our foes with Our legendary hairbrush! Crafted from the bones of ancient foes!"
  113. >You cast a forlorn glance at the hairbrush clutched in your primaries then look away with a defeated chuckle.
  114. >Nevertheless, your wing continues to grip the brush for dear life as cautious steps carry you throughout your expansive (and empty) chambers. Convinced that nopony was lurking in the shadows for an opportunity to strike you down, you flop onto your bed with an exasperated groan.
  115. >You contemplate the events that led to you getting scared in the first place- the draft, the sheets moving...
  116. "Oh great. Our room must be haunted." You roll onto your stomach and look around. "Do not trifle with Us, Ghost, for We are mighty..."
  117. >The words die in your mouth, and you shake your head; unable to maintain the act. A sheepish smile replaces your once-stern look.
  118. "But if Thou felt inclined to brush and braid Our mane, We would not object." you offer to the silent, cavernous room.
  119. >Nothing.
  120. "Perhaps just a brushing, then?"
  121. >No response.
  122. "We- um... I don't bite! Verily, I no longer possess fangs!"
  123. >The feeling of being watched persists, but the presence gives no reply.
  124. "I would settle for a hug..."
  125. >Even your clock seems to tick quieter. Your vision becomes blurry. Fortunately your magic regenerated enough for you to float a pillow over your head.
  126. >At least you remembered to drop the Royal We.
  127.  
  128. ..
  129.  
  130. >Blue horsey girl cries into her pillow and you can't even give her a reassuring pat on the back, let alone speak to her.
  131. >Notwithstanding the loss of your memories, you can't imagine being more useless than you are at this moment. Yeah, you can't do anything for her... might as well float on and see what else this world has to offer.
  132. >Focusing on leaving this archaic castle room, you "float" towards the window.
  133. >"Wait!"
  134. >Blue looks in your general direction, tears running down her face.
  135. >"Please don't go!"
  136. >Intrigued, you bring your consciousness, your presence, closer to the pony with the crescent moon on her rear.
  137. >"Please, I..." Blue continues to look towards the window. "I'm tired of being alone."
  138. "How do you know that I'm here?"
  139. >She doesn't react.
  140. "Hello?"
  141. >Yup, still no voice; just the thoughts in your mind. All you can do is float next to the girl, sulking in your frustration.
  142. >There's got to be a way interact!
  143. >"Thank you for staying with me, Ghost." Blue whispers after several quiet minutes. "I'm Luna."
  144. "I'm-"
  145. >It feels silly, trying to speak with a voice that she can't hear, and it feels sillier still, tying to be of help when you don't even know who you are anymore. What did that voice in the cosmos say about this? 'For where we are, for where you're going, you have no use for names. You are in fact-'
  146. "Anonymous. I'm Anonymous."
  147.  
  148. ...

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