Nothing is true...
(contrast picture of grey)
(dust particles in the air)
(smell of burnt ash)
Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria...
WARNING!!! CONTAINMENT BREACH DETECTED IN SECTOR 4 DISTRICT B24D7! INITIATING CONTAINMENT PROTOCOLS.........WARNING!!! CONTAINMENT UNSUCCESSFUL! REROUTING POWER TO *ZZZZBBZZZZTTTT* FATAL ERROR 161 *ZZZZBBTTT* CONTAI9457586JJ3HNNGKWA///RNI995H%^&@GKKDKF;JGDKLF
Twilight Sparkle brushed through her books inside the library of her newly established Crystal Castle. She pondered over her seemingly endless piles of research-worthy reading material just to feel sane. Her friends, on the other hoof, sat idly by in the dining room, minding their own business and sitting in chairs marked with their respective Cutie Mark. After all, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash only cared to see that their friend was alive, healthy and most importantly, herself. Sometimes they would reminisce about the good times, like how they first met and their spectacular victories against dastardly foes like Tirek and Discord.
These trials had strengthened their bond and even sharpened their teamwork skills for when such desperate times would emerge in the future.
Spike emerged with a fresh plate hay fries and set it on the table in front of him. "'Bout time! I'm starving!" exclaimed Applejack as a hunger pang struck.
"Well, you're in for a treat, 'cause I added my little extra spice that I picked from Zecora's!"
"YUMMY!" Pinkie Pie placed a heap of hay fries on her plate. Knowing her, she'd probably drench it with whipped cream or sprinkle it heavily with chocolate chips. Either way, it didn't stop Rarity from cringing a little bit.
"Seriously, Pinkie, sometimes you need to lay off with the sugar content of your...diet," she remarked with half-hidden disgust.
"WHAAAT?! I'm hungry!" Pinkie gobbled down a huge bite of fries.
"Say, has anypony seen Twilight? She hasn't been here since this morning." Fluttershy said, concerned by her friend's unusual tardiness.
"Probably still stuck and lost in the vast, imaginary world of dictionaries!"
"Rainbow Dash, darling! Please give Twilight a break," Rarity replied.
"Just sayin'. Besides, she's really missin' a lot with these hay fries."
"Yep. She really is." Spike said in a worried tone. He then decided to reserve Twilight a portion and bring it to the library.
Drowsily drooling and with her face on the book, Twilight had just finished volumes VI and VII of Equestrian History: Revised Edition after having read The Pony in the High Castle. Knowledge had always been her pursuit in life, like many of Princess Celestia's advisers, especially the great and wise Star Swirl the Bearded. She didn't seem to care much about self-control when it came to grabbing a good book, or anything readable, really, and relishing on the world of literature. The Cutie Mark Crusaders definitely would reconsider having another "Twilight Time" (If that were to ever happen again, well, let's just say that Twilight has already another lesson plan waiting for them) and learn more about their special talents if Twilight herself would've allowed time for it.
Still, having to absorb so many historical references while interpreting the different ideologies of a fictional Brave New World truly exhausted this egghead of all eggheads.
Spike knocked on the door. "Twilight? You here?" Spike emerged from the downstairs doorway, holding a plate of hay fries for Twilight.
"HUH?! In the 12th century, the Siege of Mas-hay-yaf began when the noble Templar Knights fought valiantly..." Twilight gasped with the sudden spark of her newly obtained knowledge from her history book. "Against the...." She yawned. "Invading...forces of...Damarescus...and..." Twilight quickly resumed her face-on-book sleeping position, snoring raucously.
Spike sighed. "Sometimes I worry about her," he thought to himself. Spike lay down her plate next to her and shook her shoulder hard enough to wake her up [gently enough to not startle her again]. "Twilight! You've been stuck to those dusty old books all day! Can you at least [stop to] get a breather?" [Although Spike knew Twilight would never bore herself from reading, Spike nonetheless felt concern.
"Oh, sorry Spike. I guess I may have read a little too much." Twilight chuckled a little in embarrassment and then began to recollect her previous reading session, replace "in which case" with "manifested by" the plethora of books stacked up next to her plate of hay fries. "OMIGOSH! I read all this?!" Twilight rubbed her eyes "What time is it?"
"It's half past 5." Spike said bluntly. Do you even remember what you read?
"Oh no...Are they still downstairs?"
"Yeah, waiting for you"
Twilight sighed and rubbed her face. "I guess I got carried away. It’s just so fascinating, that's all".
"I'm sure you've heard of the adage 'History repeats itself,' how one's actions can actually affect the entire system, even if he or she does not see it. Well, that's just it! I've been reading this book here." Twilight flipped open the exact page number where she left and planted it on Spike's face.
"The Secret Crusade?" Spike blurted.
"Yes! And it also says here the Knights Templar even have tie-ins with the knight's oath of the royal guards in Canterlot! To think that my brother could become a member of this valiant order!" There were times when even Twilight would find herself lucky with what she already had: the countless blessings and now responsibilities she had as a protege to Princess Celestia and as a princess can be quite overwhelming for a young alicorn.
Spike had mostly speed-read the section up to where Twilight stopped. "'But the Secret Crusade became the stuff of controversy when the people of Mas-hay-yaf started revolting against the kingdom as different religions began to clash, thus ending it with a great upheaval....' I don't know, Twilight, maybe this whole history thing you're reading can be a bunch of brouhaha. They sound like they're sending a wrong message."
"Well, at least it's food for thought, right?"
"Yeah, sure. Anyway, you REALLY need to take a break. I left you some hay fries..."
"No, Spike. I'd better go down to see you all..."Twilight dropped her head a moment and sighed. "Yeah, I really need to stop reading once in a while." Twilight rubbed her forehead, feeling a spike. She HAD been reading a lot and it HAD been a long afternoon. With every book she finished, a series of flashes would usually blind her vision for a while, like staring at a blinking strobe light. I guess that happens when an egghead has a keen eye for words so deep that even a dictionary gets a headache from explaining it.
"Blah blah blah" was all Twilight could hear before she opened the dining hall doors.
"Well, look who decided to show up!" Applejack teased.
"Ehehe...sorry I took so long. Been uuh...a bit busy," Twilight said.
"Ah'm just kiddin', Twi! We were just talkin' about you!"
"Like, why hasn't Twilight taken a bath yet?" Rainbow Dash joked, muffling her laughter at the sight of her frazzled friend.
"Well, Princess Celestia never runs out of books to give away" Twilight retorted.
"What do you mean?" asked Fluttershy.
"The Canterlot library is being renovated. While the workers were demolishing some of the old bookshelves, they found an old stock of book copies that were apparently ordered by several customers," Twilight started explained eagerly, "they didn't know what to do with them, so Celestia decided to ship them to me."
"Exactly how many books are you receiving?" Rarity asked.
"Depends. Sometimes only one, other times a box or two."
"I just hope you get to find time to spend with us, darling." Rarity said, a little worried that Twilight might go book-crazy with all the new books she was receiving.
"YEAH! What if, like, there's a party, and we're all there, but you're not! You'll miss out on all the fun!"
"Don't worry, Pinkie! I promise I won't spend too much time with those books..."
Spike suddenly belched out a scroll.
"Oh, a letter! 'Dear Twilight,'" Spike read. "'I have already sent to you another package of books for you to...'"
"OOOH!" Twilight snatched the letter with her glowing horn.
"You see what I have to deal with!" Spike whispered to the Mane 5.
Twilight began mumbling as she read the letter. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed surprised and worried looks all mashed up, followed by awkward silence. Twilight chuckled nervously.
"Um, Twilight..." Fluttershy slowly took the letter from her, and gently pushed her toward the table.
"Ehehe...sorry" Twilight knew for a fact that too much reading can lead to less time with friends, but the very prospect of a new book had proven irresistible to her. She was not particularly proud of this, for it reminded her of her past self, of when she had been very skeptical about the magic of friendship. Well, at least she had ponies whom she cared about and who cared for her, which is more than enough for her, to say the least.
A few hours later...
"Oh dear! It's getting late. I'd better go home and check on Angel." Fluttershy said.
"Yeah..." Rainbow Dash said, yawning, "I'm gonna hit the hay myself."
"Aw, come on. This next bit I've read talks about how a secret society has expanded its order throughout Equestria over the past century! They say they're considered 'ghosts,' while others believe that they can be right under our noses!" Twilight, still blabbering and intrigued about her readings, started losing confidence as she noticed that no one was listening or too tired to listen.
"No offense, Twilight, but even I think the topic's getting a little old," Pinkie said.
"Don't worry, sugarcube, we'll be back tomorrow. Just try not to do any late night reading."
"...Okay." Twilight said; she was already getting tired herself.
"I'm sure she'll be fine, dear." Rarity said between her and Applejack. "She just wanted to uh...share her interest with us, that's all".
"To be honest, I think this whole deal with historical references can be a lil' exaggerated."
Unknown to Applejack, Twilight had overheard her. She thought to herself, "Maybe Spike is right, history can sometimes send a message. I guess I really am reading too much."
Twilight went up to her room. Spike, already sleeping soundly, with Owlowlicious gazing out the window into the midnight sky. "Hey, Owlowlicious. Sorry, but I'm too tired now." Looking at her newly arrived package of books. "Get some rest".
The young owl hooted in reply.
Twilight washed her face, went to bed, and covered herself with blankets. It didn't take long for her to sleep.
"TWILIGHT! Breakfast is ready"! Spike bellowed, anxious that their food would get cold. Twilight didn't reply, so Spike ascended the stairs to her sleeping quarters.
Twilight felt very stiff as he gently nudged her to wake her; it didn't seem like she had slept well. Spike introspected and realized: a sleeping dragon is what one would expect: loud snoring and coughing out black smoke (not to mention morning breath!). With one last snort, the dragon stretched, rolled Twilight over, and...
"WAAAAH! Ow!" Twilight had landed head first beside her bed. Rubbing her head in frustration, she drowsily stalked to the bathroom to freshen up.
"Mm! These are good, Spike!" Twilight munched on her dandelion sandwich.
"Thanks, Twi! The dandelions are blossoming right now, so they're just right. That reminds me, we're all out of oats."
"Oh. Already? Well, I guess we really need to restock the pantry, especially after Pinkie used up all the flour for pancakes." Twilight marched to her room, took out her bit purse, and placed it in a small traveling pouch.
"Thanks, Twilight. I'll be back soon!" Spike took the pouch and left the castle, making his way to the Ponyville market.
Twilight sighed in relief from Spike's friendly, albeit distracting, company. Finally. Some peace and quiet. Twilight was eager to read her newest addition, Equestrian History: Revised Edition, Volume VIII, to her new pile of books.
"The Age of Enlightenment was the epoch of the sciences, arts, culture, and technology. Ponies during this time began to think and rethink different ideas and concepts, blossoming into new perspectives about how our world works." Twilight, although she read the book aloud with unbelievable rapidity], actually took down mind notes about every detail. "Wow! If I were alive during that time, I would spend a lifetime doing research." Twilight began imagining herself living in the time as she read . She then turned the page, and the daydream ceased.
"Huh? That's weird. Page 203 and now page 303?" Twilight began inspecting the book, at first glancingly and then thoroughly. The book spine had no dents. Pages showed no tears or folds. The book was overall well-bounded and neat. The book, though old stock, appeared practically untouched. "This must be a defect, most likely a misprinted issue..."
Suddenly there was knocking at the castle door, and the sound echoed throughout the long, empty hallways of the castle. "Oh! Who could that be? Probably Spike."
Twilight trotted her way to the door and opened it, but neither groceries nor a baby dragon returned her gaze. "Um, can I help you"?
A pegasus pony stood before her. He had an azure coat with a bark-brown mane and tail that looked neatly combed. He wore glasses with black frames, and Twilight noted that they were most likely for reading. He bore a Cutie Mark of a microchip on top of a silver wrench.
"Princess Twilight Sparkle," the blue pegasus greeted in a well-to-do accent. He bowed while clutching a several brown envelopes.
"Oh, please. 'Twilight' will do." Twilight blushed slightly. She would have to get used to all the formal greetings.
The pegasus pony cleared his throat. "Very well, then. Miss Twilight, my name is Nimbus, and I am here as a representative for Alicorn Enterprises."