The Star In Yellow

Written by Blueshift

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Twilight Sparkle Rainbow Dash Spike Princess Celestia Original Character Dark Description

Deep in the Royal Library is a book. A terrible book that is said to send whoever reads it mad. A book so dangerous that it has to be hidden away and secured with chains to prevent it from ever being opened.

A book which has just been accidently checked out by Spike on behalf of Twilight Sparkle.

The Star In Yellow is rising once more, and only Rainbow Dash and Spike can save Twilight before it's too late. Ideas live forever. Ponies do not.

This fic is loosely inspired by the 19th century story 'The King In Yellow'.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3 part 1Chapter 3 part 2
Author's Notes

Chapter 1

Spike grunted heavily as he pushed his cart piled high with books along the aisles of the Royal Library. The monthly pilgrimage to Canterlot to carry out Twilight Sparkle's every bibliographic whim was not something he particularly enjoyed; not only was there the hassle of paying all the inevitable fines or getting crushed by the tottering pile of books that these visits seemed to result in, but Twilight's requests were getting more and more bizarre.

"Goats and Griffons - socio-politics and cakes" Spike muttered to himself as he squinted suspiciously at the list he clutched in one little claw, and then at the shelf which was annoyingly devoid of any such volume. "It doesn't exist! I swear! Where does she get these titles?" Snatching the volumes 'The Sociology of Goats and Griffons' and 'Baking with Goats' from the shelf, he threw them into the cart with a sigh. "That'll have to do!"

Long ago he had decided that Twilight didn't have a clue what was actually in stock in the library, and just wrote down a list of things that she would like to think existed, and it was up to Spike to somehow provide a copy of whatever she had dreamt up. Carefully he started heaving the heavy cart along the ground again, scanning the list as he walked and shaking his head in exasperation. "The Geometry of Colours? The Six-Sided Circle? The Yellow Star? She's making them up! Where do I even start?"

The place to start, it seemed, was not at the librarian's desk. Rather unhelpfully it was deserted save for a small card across which was scrawled 'In special collections. BUSY. That means YOU'. Spike sighed heavily again - the royal librarian, an old unicorn called Saddle Stitch, was difficult to deal with at the best of times, constantly mumbling and groaning about every little scratch on the covers of the books Spike returned on behalf of Twilight. Wandering into the dusty Special Collections section to disturb him was the last thing that Spike wanted to do that day, but it was still better than returning to Twilight without at least an attempt at fulfilling her list of requested books. Leaving the cart next to the desk, Spike started to waddle down the long winding staircase that led to the lower levels of the library.

"Hello?" Spike stood at the bottom of the stairs, calling out into the dimly lit book-strewn room. He had only ventured down to this section a few times before, usually in search of rare or exotic tomes that had to be kept away from the prying eyes of the general public. He didn't remember it being this messy however - the huge wooden shelves were in disarray, with piles of books randomly stacked on top of each other. A workbench was set up on one corner of the room covered with books in various ill-states of repair and clouds of dust hung in the air, as if recently disturbed.

Spike tried to carefully navigate his way across the book-covered floor, peering into various dark archways as he did so. "Hello? I'm uh... I'm looking for a book...."

"Well a library would be the right place!" snapped a voice from behind Spike. Spike gave a manly shriek and clumsily spun around to face a rather annoyed looking unicorn, whose aged brown coat was matted with dust and glue. The unicorn glared down at Spike. "Did you not see the sign that said I was busy? That tends to be a clue, though perhaps the literacy levels of dragons aren't up to scratch..." He peered down at Spike, face falling into a resigned expression. "Oh. It's you."

Spike gave the widest grin he could and responded with a wave. "Hi Saddle Stitch! Nice place you've got down here..."

Saddle Stitch rolled his eyes. "It is quantifiably a mess, though once I have finished recataloguing, reordering and repairing; it will once more be one of the finest collections of literature in Equestria. Alas..." he shook his head. "My work was disrupted today when I received a rather shoddy pile of returns." With a twinkle of magic, one of the books on the workbench floated into the air and hovered accusingly in front of Spike, the cover tattered and torn, the spine hanging off by a thread.

"This was new Spike! It was new!" Saddle Stitch swung his head back dramatically and sighed. "Seriously, what does young Miss Sparkle do with her books? Does she spend all day smashing them against the wall?"

Spike rubbed his chin. It was true, Twilight's library did seem to take rather more punishment than most, with its contents more often than not littering the floor than the shelves. "Ah-heh!" he coughed, attempting forced joviality. "Well, books are meant to be read!"

Saddle Stitch scowled at the dragon. "A little more respect wouldn't go amiss! Books aren't just bits of paper with words stuck on you know, they are works of art! Masterpieces! Not - " with a sparkle of his horn another book floated off the desk and waved itself in Spike's face. "-Not diaries! Look! I mean, look!" He opened up the book to show the margins of the pages covered in an inky scrawl. "This bit, see? 'I have discovered a truly marvellous proof of the mathematical formula for friendship, which this margin is too narrow to contain.'" He pushed his face closer to Spike's. "Why Spike, why? Why write down that she was unable to write something down? What's the point? Is she mad?"

Saddle Stitch slunk across the room with a scowl. "I swear, does Ponyville not have any paper? Or is Miss Sparkle just trying my patience? Here!" A large sheath of paper floated off a shelf and fell heavily on top of an unsuspecting Spike. "Have some paper! Take it to her! Beg her to use it!"

Spike giddily extracted himself from the pile of paper and rubbed his head. "Hey..." Despite his earlier grumbling, he felt strangely protective towards Twilight and didn't feel comfortable to hear anyone but him moan about her. "Twilight says that writing in books helps her to think! Working documents and all that!"

Saddle Stitch either didn't hear Spike or chose to ignore him. Instead he raised one last book to show the little dragon. "But then I thought 'oh Saddle Stitch old chap, at least she returned this one! One of the oldest and most valuable in the library's myriad collections! Filled with ancient knowledge and stunning artwork.'" He then fell silent, gaze fixed on Spike.

Spike turned bright red as he saw the title on the cover. 'The Elements of Harmony - A Reference Guide.' "Oh yes..." he squeaked guiltily. "That one."

Saddle Stitch opened the book slowly. It had been hollowed out, each page having had a large rectangular chunk removed. "I mean, really! What am I supposed to do with this! If Miss Sparkle wasn't the Princess's favourite little vandal, then you can be assured she wouldn't be allowed within a thousand miles of this place!"

Spike rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Well... be fair, it wasn't Twilight who did that, it was an ancient chaos god..." He was met with a disbelieving tut from the librarian. "Anyway, Princess Celestia is happy to pay the fines from the palace funds..."

"Ah yes." Saddle Stitch smiled grimly. "There is that. Half the funding for this library comes from Twilight's little literary rampages. So take them all Spike, take them all!" He tossed his head in the air and headed back towards the dark alcove from which he'd emerged. "We have a very nice copy of Encyclopaedia Equestria which I spent years restoring, perhaps she might want to hack that to pieces with a blunt knife!"

Spike blinked as he was left alone. "Well... he muttered to himself. "That could have gone worse." Sure that he wouldn't be able to get any useful information from Saddle Stitch, he started to move towards the stairs.

He paused as something caught his eye.

In the far corner of the room, amidst the chaotic clutter stood a large wooden plinth upon which was a large white volume, wrapped in chains as if it were a dangerous animal. It wasn't this unusual archiving policy that caught Spike's eye however - on the cover was printed the image of a five pointed yellow star.

Spike made his way across the room towards the book, glancing at one of the last names on his list. The Yellow Star. Using a pile of manuscripts as a makeshift staircase, he clambered upwards to get a good look at the book. At once he could tell it was old - very old. It had the scent of something that had sat undisturbed for hundreds of years, if not more. And yet the book itself looked mostly unworn as if it had barely been read. Most intriguingly, above the large star that was pictured on the cover were the words 'The Star In Yellow'

"That's it!" Spike gasped, staring at his list again for confirmation. The title wasn't exactly the same, but then again, the occasions when Twilight got the title of a book right were few and far between. Spike hovered his claws over the book uncertainly. Chains ran in a cross shape, securing the volume to the plinth from top to bottom and left to right. It was obviously rare and valuable, but Saddle Stitch had said to take whatever he liked...

Deciding discretion was the better part of valour, Spike shouted across the room into the dark archway where Saddle Stitch was hard at work. "Hey, uh, can I take this one?"

Saddle Stitch didn't even bother to look back out as he responded in an exasperated drone. "I said, take them all Spike! Take everything that isn't nailed down! Take the stuff that's nailed down too! Just bring me back the pieces once Twilight's finished setting fire to them all or whatever it is she does!"

"Fine!" Spike looked back towards the book and cracked his knuckles. There was no obvious way of releasing the chains, but as a dragon he had options that others did not. Carefully, he breathed a gout of green fire over the book, causing it to shimmer and fade. Usually his magical breath was used to deliver letters, but with clever planning, it could be put to all number of uses.

The chains clattered onto the empty plinth as the book vanished. Then, with a loud hiccup, Spike burped out a plume of flame, and the book swirled back into existence again, this time in his claws.

"Spike..." he grinned to himself as there was no-one about to see how clever he'd been. "Sometimes you amaze even yourself! Twilight's gonna be so impressed!"


"Spike, I am not impressed!"

Spike slumped on the couch with a groan as Twilight began to sift through the pile of books he had brought back home from the library. "Hey, I did my best!" he whined, lying back and staring at the ceiling as a book sailed over his head and impacted with the wall.

"No no no!" Twilight shook her head in exasperation as she lifted another book with shimmering magic and stared at the cover. "I needed 'A Guide To Magical Rare Bits' not 'A Guide To Magical Rabbits!" She launched the book over her back as she continued to delve into the remains of the cart. "I'm behind on my studies as it is!"

"I really don't think you should be doing that!" Spike called, staring at the book as it bounced across the floor and rebounded against the wall. "The librarian gets really angry about stuff like that!"

Twilight sighed. "Books aren't art, Spike, they're just the containers for ideas, and you can't damage ideas! They're meant to be read and loved, not locked away! Now, where did I put my pen?"

Before the throbbing vein in Spike's head could explode in an aneurism, the front door burst open and in trotted a rather smug looking rainbow-maned pegasus.

"Yes yes, calm down!" Rainbow Dash grinned, her wings splayed out behind her as she cantered over to Twilight. "You are indeed in the presence of one of Equestria's greatest living writers!"

Together, Twilight and Spike peered behind Rainbow Dash. There was no-one there.

"Hey!" Rainbow Dash yelped in annoyance, glaring at her two friends. "I meant me! It's me! I've written a book!" She beamed proudly as she waved her wings, revealing the worryingly large volume resting on her back. "I never thought this writing thing was for me, but I got an idea, and blam, instant gold! Wanna see?" Without waiting for an answer, she expertly batted the book over her head to land on the floor between her and Twilight with a thump.

Twilight stared at the book suspiciously, cocking her head. "You... wrote a book..." she muttered disbelievingly, craning her head as she read the title, the implications sinking in. "The Amazing Adventures of Dainbow Rash."

Rainbow Dash gazed at her masterwork with wild-eyed glee as she flipped the book open with a hoof, turning to the first page. "Doesn't it sound amazing? I don't know where I get my ideas! Let me read it to you!" Dramatically clearing her throat, she began to read. "It was a beautiful sunny day in Ponyville and the best pony of all was busy being awesome..."

Spike groaned and tried to hide himself under the couch cushions. Rainbow Dash's book looked long. Impossibly long. In his mind he could visualise her standing there talking forever about herself.

Twilight was not one to give up as easily however. She placed one hoof over the page Rainbow Dash was reading and gave a smile. "Hey... I'd love to read your book Rainbow Dash, but I prefer to read things by myself in my own time."

Rainbow Dash slowly nodded, and then quickly flipped halfway through the hefty book. "Oh right, I gotcha. But check this out! 'Dainbow Rash used her laser eyes to blow up the evil griffon! Then the explosion exploded! Then Dainbow Rash did one hundred Sonic Rainbooms. "Thank you Dainbow Rash!" said Princess Celestia, "now I will make you the Princess for you are the best pony in all Equestria, and I will have the teacher who kicked you out of flight school publicly flogged!'" She paused expectantly, waiting for Twilight to burst into rapturous applause.

It never came. Twilight just shuffled awkwardly, not wanting to crush her friends' spirits. "Rainbow Dash, it's nice to see you exercise your creative muscles in such an...." she glanced at the enormous book "...enthusiastic way, but this is just a book about you, isn't it? That sort of thing is generally frowned upon in literary circles."

Rainbow Dash looked genuinely stunned. "What? No! Don't be silly Twilight, I don't have laser eyes! My name isn't Dainbow Rash! I mean sure, I took inspiration from myself, but that's only natural because I'm so inspiring!" She paused, thinking Twilight's words over. "Hey, do you think that if you wrote yourself into a story, you could live forever?"

Twilight shook her head. "That's not how it works Rainbow. Now, I'd love to read your book but not n-"

"Edit!" Rainbow grinned widely. "I don't want you to read it, I want you to edit it! My gift to you Twilight! I want you to edit the whole thing so I can publish it and be famous!"

The book seemed to grow larger and longer in Twilight's eyes. There was no way out, no way she could pretend that she'd read it. Rainbow Dash was expecting her to annotate the entire thing. She stifled a groan; ploughing through this would put her studying back even further. "Yes," she forced a smile. "That sounds lovely. I can't wait."

"Great!" Rainbow Dash chirped, turning a few more pages. "Now, this is my favourite bit! '"Oh Dainbow Rash!" cried Spotfire as the two ponies-'"

"I'm going to have to stop you there" Twilight blurted out suddenly.

"Oh?" Rainbow Dash stared at Twilight expectantly, as if waiting for a great revelation.

"No reason." Twilight slowly but firmly pushed the book shut with a heavy sigh. "I'm just going to have to stop you." She glanced over at Spike, who had started to extract himself from the couch cushions now the coast had become clear. "Spike, I want you to lock this away. Somewhere safe. Very safe."

Gratefully, Spike scampered off with Rainbow Dash's novel, eager to place it somewhere so safe that it might never see the light of day again.

Rainbow Dash flashed a smile at Twilight. "What a buzz eh? I never realised how great writing could be! And easy too, I can just churn pages out! I've got some amazing ideas that-"

"No!" Twilight yelped out again. As Rainbow Dash stared at her in confusion, Twilight raced to think of a good reason, any reason, to make her stop. "I... I don't think you should give up on your flying. You're so good; I can't believe the Wonderbolts haven't snapped you up yet."

Rainbow Dash considered this. "Yeah, I am pretty amazing I guess. Hey, want to come flying with me?" She leaned forwards, beaming.

Twilight furrowed her brow, looking at the pile of unloved books in the middle of the room. 'Going flying' was Rainbow Dash's code word for 'sitting in a field watching her fly' which generally started to get boring after five minutes of watching a pegasus perform cartwheels in the distance. But then again, she was a friend. "Sure, just let me get some stuff together!"

As Rainbow Dash excitedly raced outside, Twilight pottered about the room, slinging a saddle bag over her back. If she had to be stuck in a field all afternoon on her own, the least she could do was catch up on some reading. Gazing over Spike's cart, she chose the first book that caught her eye - a large white volume with a star emblazoned on the cover. Using her magic to lift it into her bag, she straightened herself up and wandered out the door after Rainbow Dash.


Twilight attempted to shade her eyes against the sun as the tiny blue speck that was Rainbow Dash whirled almost imperceptibly against the blue sky. Rainbow Dash had announced she wanted to show off her upper-atmosphere flying techniques, and immediately shot into the stratosphere where she darted and flitted around like a hyperactive mayfly.

Rolling her eyes, Twilight turned her attention to her saddlebag, deciding that she'd watched Rainbow Dash prance about enough, and could always pretend she had been watching for longer as to not hurt her friend's feelings. Carefully controlling her magic, she conjured a sparkling aura around the bag, extracting the book and placing it on the wet grass.

"Now!" Twilight smiled, rubbing her hooves together. "Time for some quality time studying astronom-" She froze mid-sentence as she stared at the cover, reading the title. The Star In Yellow. Once more that day, her face crumpled in annoyance. "Spike!" She hissed out, venting her frustrations at the empty field. "I wanted 'The Yellow Star!' A book about the sun! What's wrong with you?"

Scowling, Twilight looked up at the distant dot that was Rainbow Dash, and then down at the book. "I guess it can't hurt..." she muttered, examining it curiously. It had a heavy air of age about it, though it was in remarkably good condition. The cover was a smooth, expensive looking white material, with bronze and gold fittings lining the side. The title was inlaid in what seemed to be hoof-pressed gold, beneath which was a simple yet elegant five pointed yellow star.

Somehow Twilight felt drawn to the star, gently stroking a hoof across it as she opened the book. The pages smelled old, but they were crisp and only slightly yellowed; a lot of care had obviously been put into preserving it - she could tell that the bindings were a good few hundred years old at least. Twilight breathed in the old book smell and sighed happily. Despite her earlier words to Spike, there was still something pleasing and enrapturing about the physicality of a book, especially one with such a weight of history behind it. And for something so old to be so well looked after... Twilight flicked back to the cover again, staring at the star, before turning back, leafing through the first few blank pages to get to the book proper. Something like this had to be special.

"Oh." Twilight found herself loudly exclaiming as she reached the first page of text. It was not what she was expecting at all. She had been sure that such a lovingly bound and cared for book would have contained at least a great work of literature or science, but the first page was a mess of barely distinct scrawls. The page was smeared and scratched with ink as if the author hadn't seen a word before. Crude half-drawings of smiling pony faces dotted the page, some overlapping with no regard for form or layout. It was as if a small foal had scribbled all over it.

'Maybe that's it' Twilight thought. 'Maybe some foal messed up the first page of the book.' Curiously, she turned the page, wondering if she'd see more doodling. The next two pages were indeed covered in the same inky pen, but more distinct this time, forming words and sentences. Twilight stifled a laugh as she realised what it was. A story book! A story book written by a foal! She could imagine a little pony, pen in mouth, clumsily putting down its barely-formed thoughts onto the page. There were even cute little illustrations of happy ponies, barely more than stick figures, all smiling. With nothing better to do, Twilight scanned the opening lines.

Once upon a time in Ponyville there was a happy pony called Yellowstar. She was great beauty and pony of white with hair lovely. Her favourite job was help others. She was so happy.

Twilight couldn't help but grin from ear to ear, clopping her hooves together happily. "How cute!" she squealed, marvelling in the earnestness of the broken language. There was a part of her that remembered when she was a little foal, scratching away at sheets of paper with a pen, sure that she was working on some great masterpiece. It was heart-warming to know that hundreds of years ago in Ponyville, ponies had done exactly the same thing.

Twilight continued to read, absorbing the tale thoroughly. As she turned the pages, the quality of the penmanship started to improve imperceptibly, as if the writer was slowly honing their skills. Slowly but surely the grammar and language improved; the crude stick figures became slightly better proportioned, though still obviously the work of a small foal.

As she'd expected, the story wasn't a complex story by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn't even as well written as Rainbow Dash's abortive attempt at literature, but what it lacked in skill, it made up for in a touching display of innocence and honesty. The book was about a little pony called Yellowstar and her adventures which generally tended to be rather inconsequential. The first few pages focussed on Yellowstar searching for a pen that her parents (charmingly called 'Yellowstar Mummy' and 'Yellowstar Daddy') had lost. Then it started to tell of Yellowstar's journey around Ponyville, helping every pony that lived there in their day to day lives.

As Twilight read, the plot started to get slightly more challenging, if still basic. One day Yellowstar had to find a pie that had been stolen by a naughty pony. The next, she had to find a way to protect a carrot patch from some hungry rabbits. As she turned the pages, Twilight noticed that the illustrations were getting even more competent, and she could recognise the repeated sketches of Yellowstar which now featured added colour: a small white Earth pony with roses adorning her long curly yellow hair, and the symbol of a star on her flank. She was smiling, she was always smiling. The story kept repeating again and again how happy Yellowstar was in her little world, how the days were always sunny and her friends were always kind.

It was not the sort of book Twilight would normally read, but she found herself unable to stop turning the pages despite - or perhaps because of - the rather crude expressionism on show. Soon she was reading about how Yellowstar had built a tree house, and went on a walk to see the butterflies, and then -


Twilight jerked upward suddenly, wide eyed as she realised she was being shaken rather violently by an annoyed looking Rainbow Dash. To her surprise the sun was starting to set, playing its soft orange light across the ground. She'd been so caught up in her reading she hadn't noticed how late it had been. "Oh... hi Rainbow... nice flying..." she grinned hopefully.

Rainbow Dash just glared at Twilight. "Pfft! You were totally caught up in that book, I was shaking you for ages! It's not even my book!" She took a step back in shock realisation. "You've been reading other books behind my back!"

Ignoring Rainbow Dash's outrage for the moment, Twilight carefully packed her book away into her saddle bag and begun to trot away, eager to pick up her reading in the warmth and comfort of her own home. "If I read too much of your book Rainbow, I might explode from its awesomeness."

This seemed to appease Rainbow Dash, who allowed herself a self-satisfied grin as she took to the air once more.


Twilight had the book out of her bag before she had even entered her home. Carefully using her magic to hover the open book a few inches from her face as she walked, she narrowly missed Spike, who was forced to dive for cover to avoid getting trampled.

"Hey Twilight!" Spike waved from the floor. "Where've you been? Dinner's getting cold!"

Twilight just grunted and sat back on the couch, settling down in front of her book. "I'll have it here, Spike!" she called almost absent-mindedly as she turned another page. It barely registered as Spike pushed a bowl into her hooves. She could hardly taste the food as she pushed it into her mouth. She scarcely reacted as Spike huffed and puffed about the house and finally loudly tramped upstairs to bed.

That evening, Twilight's entire world consisted solely of her book.

After every page the writing got neater, stronger, more assured. The illustrations became more than hastily coloured sketches - they were more and more detailed and dynamic. Soon each page featured a little scene, with backgrounds lovingly rendered first in inks, and later painted in watercolours. Every time Twilight read a bit more, the artistry in the book gained a fragment of maturity, until it barely resembled the infantile mess that was present on page one. If Twilight hadn't read each page in order and noted the gradual progression, she would have thought it to be the work of a completely different pony.

The book was no longer about just Yellowstar. At some point she had gained a friend, a much smaller pony named Silver Crescent. This had confused Twilight at first - the new character had just appeared in the middle of a sentence, though flicking back and forth she realised she hadn't missed anything, the author had just inserted her straight into the narrative as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Yellowstar and Silver Crescent did everything together. The sunny days seemed to last forever as they played hide and seek, gave each other presents, and went on walks in a scary wood. Twilight felt like she was there with those two little ponies, spending her days laughing and playing and being happy. And they were happy, so very happy.

With a small gasp, Twilight turned the page to reveal the legend 'End of Chapter One.' The break in the narrative snapped her suddenly out of the reading trance she had found herself in. Rubbing her head, she noticed that outside the house was pitch blackness - she had been reading for hours. As she placed the book down on the couch ready to go to bed, there was a clattering from the kitchen.

She was not alone.

"H-hello?" Twilight called nervously, craning her neck towards the dark room. She vaguely recalled that Spike had gone to bed - had he locked up? Could there be a strange pony in her house? Or worse - a monster?

"Pinkie, is that you?" Twilight slowly inched towards the pitch black doorway. "It's a bit late for a random party. And if it's not Pinkie, then you should know I'm one tough pony! They don't call me Twilight Smashle for nothing!" She lowered the pitch of her voice in an attempt to sound intimidating. It didn't work.

There was another clattering from the darkness. Twilight held her breath...

...And then relaxed as a figure walked through the open door. "Oh!" she sighed in relief, a great calm descending over her. "I thought somepony had broken in, or I'd gone mad! Thank goodness it's just you Yellowstar!"

A pair of bright red ruby eyes pierced the gloom as a white, yellow-haired pony trotted out of the kitchen, smiling serenely at Twilight. "Of course it's me!" she beamed. "You're my most faithful friend Twilight. Oh, what a happy life we lead!" Slowly, she made her way to the couch and sat down, indicating for Twilight to join her. "You should read more. Are you enjoying it?"

Twilight sat as instructed. As she lifted the book again, something in her head, some small, niggling voice started to scream that something was terribly wrong. But Yellowstar was with her, that was all that mattered. She pushed the errant thought out of her mind and opened the book. "Yeah... it started slow, and wasn't written well, but it got better. I don't know why, I just... really liked it..." The voice in her head started to get louder again, a strange, uncomfortable sense of panic welling in her stomach. Then she looked at Yellowstar's smiling face and wondered why on Equestria she felt so bad when she had such a good friend at her side.

"Why don't you keep on reading?" Yellowstar motioned, pointing towards the book. "It gets much better, I promise."

Twilight frowned and rubbed her head, trying to clear the strange fog from her head. She knew something was wrong but she couldn't put her hoof on it. She decided it didn't matter.

She turned to chapter two.

Chapter 2

Twilight smiled dreamily as she lounged on the smooth grass, splotches of green rubbing off onto her coat as she lay. Above her the sky was a pure, beautiful blue as it always was in Ponyville and the sun a perfect yellow, presiding on high over her wonderful village.

She stared at the sun, enraptured, for what felt like hours. At the back of her mind a voice was telling her that it should hurt, that staring at the sun could irreversibly damage her eyes. Twilight wasn't sure how this could be possible though; the sun wasn't bright, it was just a yellow circle of paint as it had always been, in the exact centre of that watercolour sky.

A small silver and blue pony cheekily leapt over her, eyes fixed on a butterfly that seemed to drift along on the breeze. Twilight gave a wry smile as Silver Crescent tripped and fell head-first into the ground, a look of surprise on her face as she became covered in the powdery green of the grass. The butterfly moved higher without even flapping its perfectly drawn wings, and flew into the far distance, to the mountains that were just barely formed scribbles and scratches of ink on the horizon. One day, Twilight was sure, she and her new friends would travel there and then the mountains would be drawn better and become just as detailed and real as Ponyville was.

She rolled onto her side to smile at the white pony that sat next to her, gazing down at the sleepy village of Ponyville in the distance. Yellowstar's bright white coat seemed to sparkle in the light, her yellow hair matching the colour of the sun and glowing with radiance. The roses entwined in her mane caught Twilight's attention especially; they were the most beautiful roses in all Equestria. Twilight felt safe when Yellowstar was around. She knew that Yellowstar was the best pony in Ponyville, in all of Equestria, and that she and Silver Crescent were lucky to be around her.

Yellowstar returned the smile, and it was the most wonderful and heart-warming smile that Twilight had ever seen. "Are you happy, Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight just nodded in contentment, stretching out on the grass. "Oh yes!" she replied. "I don't think I've ever been so happy in all my life!" She furrowed her brow slightly. She couldn't actually remember anything else about her life, apart from this one moment with Yellowstar. But that didn't matter. She wasn't important. "I only wish that I could be as good as you."

Yellowstar just laughed. "Oh Twilight Sparkle! But I am the best pony."

Twilight chuckled at her own stupidity. "I know. Sorry. Can we have another race again? I know you will beat us but it is fun to watch you win."

Silver Crescent darted her green-splotched face upwards at the two larger ponies. "I wanna chase butterflies again!" she squeaked at Yellowstar. "You can teach me how to catch butterflies because you are the best butterfly catcher in all Ponyville!"

Shaking her head, Yellowstar looked between her two best friends. "No!" she announced suddenly. "There is a monster on the loose in Ponyville which we must defeat!"

"A monster?" Twilight and Silver Crescent both squeaked out at once, clopping their hooves to their mouths in shock as one. Twilight felt a swell of dread build in her stomach. She had never met a monster before (part of her felt that this wasn't true, but she pushed the feeling to one side, it was wrong). Looking at Yellowstar and how brave that pony looked, all her fear melted away. "You'll save us won't you Yellowstar?"

Yellowstar just nodded firmly. "Of course Twilight Sparkle my most faithful friend. I always save the day."

At once the three ponies were in the centre of Ponyville, standing amongst the ink-lined houses. Twilight didn't remember walking there, but that didn't matter, it was time for Yellowstar to be a hero. That was all that was important.

Twilight's mouth gaped open as she saw the horror that had befallen Ponyville. Curled on top of the town well was a huge creature with the body of a snake but the head and wings of a dragon, staring down at the ponies crowded around it malevolently. Twilight had never seen or heard of a creature like this before, but she knew instantly that it was a Green Gruff Greckle and that only Yellowstar was brave and clever enough to stop it.

"The Green Gruff Greckle is an evil creature of evil!" Yellowstar helpfully announced. "It is making the ponies of Ponyville dance and this is turning them to stone. The only way to stop it is to do the special Green Gruff Greckle Stopping Dance which no pony knows. Luckily I know it."

Twilight wiped her brow with relief at her good fortune, as Yellowstar started to dance backwards, swaying from side to side as she danced her magical dance. Yellowstar nodded towards her friends. "Quick!" she cried. "You must dance too! Follow me!"

Hesitantly, Twilight and Silver Crescent tried to copy Yellowstar's magical dance, but they were slow and clumsy, and not as good as Yellowstar. Twilight stumbled and fell onto her rump with a thud. Yellowstar didn't miss a beat though, she danced the magic dance perfectly, step after step, and the Green Gruff Greckle slowly turned to stone until it was nothing more than a statue at the centre of Ponyville.

Twilight clopped her hooves together in delight as Yellowstar stood in front of the statue, smiling in triumph. "You did it Yellowstar! I knew you could! You're the best!"

The cheer was taken up by all the residents of Ponyville, who surrounded the beaming pony, whooping and hollering in joy

"Oh Yellowstar!" A pony larger than the rest approached Yellowstar. To Twilight's eyes she was almost as beautiful as Yellowstar, though that seemed scarcely possible. The larger pony started to nuzzle Yellowstar, lovingly. "Oh Yellowstar, you are the best pony" she said softly in a voice that was like soft velvet. "I'm so very very proud of you. I love you so much."

Yellowstar hugged the larger pony back. "I love you too mother, you are the best mother, forever and ever." They stayed hugging surrounded by all their friends in the middle of that beautiful village on that eternally blue and sunny day.


Twilight awoke with a sharp gasp as the visage of Yellowstar stared back at her. Overcoming the sudden shock, she slowly became aware of her surroundings, and peeled her face off the book which had served as her pillow. She had been sleeping on an intricately painted scene of Yellowstar and her mother, standing proudly in the middle of Ponyville. Behind them was a fearsome statue of a monster that seemed strangely familiar.

"Oh of course!" Twilight gasped out loud. It was the Green Gruff Greckle; she hazily recalled reading about that adventure last night. She wasn't sure how long she'd spent reading, but she must have fallen asleep mid-chapter. She could remember most of the story, but there was something fuzzy in her head, something that she couldn't quite remember that felt like it should be important. She dismissed it. She could always reread the bits she'd forgotten.

The morning light streamed into the room, and Twilight recoiled slightly at the harsh brightness of it as she slowly hopped off the couch to trot across the room so she could pull the curtain shut. There was something too painful about the sunlight; it wasn't as warm and inviting as it was in her book. Ponyville wasn't as interesting; even her precious library seemed to have lost its allure, just dull shelves full of lifeless books.

She cantered back to the couch and carefully picked up the book. It seemed to be so solid and real, perhaps the only real thing that even mattered. She slowly opened the cover again to carry on reading when a loud voice made her wince and lose her concentration.

"Morning sleepy head!" Spike sauntered out of the kitchen, wiping off a soot-covered face with a rag. "You'd never guess why the fire place was playing up! Seems Sweetie Belle's been writing letters to Princess Celestia and stuffing them up the chute! And here we thought she'd become interested in books, eh?" He gave a blackened grin.

Twilight just scowled back at the intrusive dragon, instinctively hugging her book to her chest protectively. "Spike! I'm in the middle of some important studying! Leave me and Yellowstar alone!"

Spike raised a quizzical eyebrow, peering round the room suspiciously. Finally his eyes alighted on the cover of the book and the large, yellow star proudly displayed there. "Oh right, I get it" he muttered. "Cute."

Twilight shook her head as she turned away from Spike and marched upstairs for some peace and quiet, tutting loudly so the dragon could hear her disapproval. "That Spike, I swear!" she announced loudly to herself, her voice echoing down from the stairwell. "It's like he's stuck in a world of his own sometimes!"

As Twilight left, Spike gave an exasperated sigh and sat on the couch, unfurling a copy of the daily paper. "It's going to be one of those weeks..." he muttered as he started to read, brushing off a single rose petal that had somehow found its way onto a cushion.


Twilight slammed the door to her private corner of the library, muttering to herself angrily at the injustice of being unable to get a moments peace and quiet with Spike clattering about with his chores. "He doesn't understand" she found herself whispering to her book almost conspiratorially. "But he will, I'm sure."

Trotting up the stairs that led to the desk which sat beside her bed, Twilight swept aside the collection of carefully arranged copybooks, scrolls and half-finished potions to give herself some proper reading space. The Star In Yellow sat in front of her invitingly as she opened the cover again, an automatic smile twitching at the corners of her mouth as she felt her earlier annoyance melt away and contentment return.

"Now, where was I..." Twilight murmured as she flicked her hooves through the pages. She vaguely remembered that Yellowstar had fought a dragon and rescued the king of the trees, and built a balloon that took her to the moon, and-

Twilight paused mid-turn, her hoof underneath the curl of the page which had suddenly taken on a weight as if made from the densest steel. She pulled away with a sudden gasp as what felt like cloying tendrils of fear began to play at her heart.

The book lay open as before, the pages definitely paper, the words warm and inviting, the illustrations as emotive and beautiful as they had been. She recognised the picture of Yellowstar and Silver Crescent riding a falcon to the sun for a picnic, she knew she had read this far, she had to turn the page.

And yet she didn't want to.

She couldn't. As she stared at the innocent looking tome, she found her chest begin to pound, a tightening and twisting in her stomach that gnawed at her soul, as if something awful had happened. Twilight reached out again and instantly recoiled, a sick, dizzy feeling rising like bile in her.

She slumped to the ground in front of the desk in confusion, biting her lip. "Come on Twilight, pull yourself together!" she snapped as she willed herself to stand again. It was just a funny turn; she'd probably picked up a cold from sleeping on the couch all night. Slowly, the burning desire to read overcame the inexplicable apprehension she felt. Stepping forwards, her legs strangely shaky, she grasped the page with both hooves, and with what felt like a monumental effort, lifted it.

The page softly turned, belying the effort Twilight had made, as the purple pony leapt backwards as if something terrible would leap from the pages. When nothing happened, she slowly crept forwards and furrowed her brow at what was revealed.

It was just another page of story. Yellowstar was off on another magical happy adventure, her trusty friend at her side, ready to explore more of the wonderful world in which she lived in and spread joy. She and Silver Crescent had carefully packed their satchels ready for a hard day's adventuring when...

The pen broke.

At least that's what it looked like to Twilight. The words stopped mid-sentence. There was a smear of ink across the page as if the book itself had suffered a wound, splattering black rivulets like a spray of blood across the pristine page. Twilight was acutely aware of the awful silence that filled her room as she stared at that unsightly black mark that marred the page. Was it an accident? Was it on purpose? Some higher artistic expression? She creased her brow in concentration. There was only one more sentence on the page, written in a slightly different shade of ink, the neat orderly writing slightly crooked as if the author had begun to shake. Twilight took in the meaning.

And then Yellowstar's lovely mother fell asleep.

That was it. That one line, and yet seeing it brought back that flurry of ice-cold terror to Twilight, and she quickly turned the page so that she wouldn't have to look at those awful words again. The next page was just a mess of frantic scrawl. Yellowstar flew on the back of a giant moth to the furthest star to get some magical starlight and used it to wake her mother up and they lived happily ever after again.

Only they didn't. In the next paragraph she was still asleep so Yellowstar journeyed to the deepest mine and found a magical crystal and saved her mother and they lived happily ever after forever and ever.

But that didn't happen, because next Yellowstar had to swim to the deepest ocean and find a pearl that would wake her mother up so she could live happily ever after but in the next paragraph she was still asleep and...

Twilight recoiled bodily from the book as she realised what had happened, a cold sweat breaking across her forehead as she stared at the open book in shock. "T-that's not fair..." she whispered hoarsely, feeling the prick of an unwanted tear on her eye. "Why can't she live happily ever after? That's not fair!"

Staggering into a bookshelf, Twilight swept her hooves across the myriad books and arcane paraphernalia she had accumulated over the years, letting it all crash to the ground as she raged in frustration at the words of an invisible and unknowable author. "It's not fair!"

Twilight whirled around, staring at the open book with a mixture of fear and anger, tipping over an antique lamp which shattered as it hit the ground. "She's dead, isn't she?" Twilight cried accusingly at the book. "She's dead and you wouldn't let her come back! Why would you do that to Yellowstar, it's not fair!"

Leaning against the mostly empty shelf, Twilight caught her breath, feeling the frustration dissipate. It was just a story after all. It wasn't real.

From underneath the pile of fallen books, two little eyes blinked widely up at her.

"If Yellowstar is best pony..." squeaked a voice as Silver Crescent pushed her face out from the collection of discarded volumes "...then why can't she wake mummy up?"

The sounds of guttural, heartfelt sobbing drew Twilight to her bed. There was a shape under the quivering covers. Cautiously Twilight stepped closer, and in one moment, threw the sheets back to reveal a curled up white pony, her yellow mane wrapped around her like a comfort blanket, her eyes red-rimmed and trembling.

"Hey..." Twilight slowly climbed onto the bed beside Yellowstar, holding the pony tight to her. She felt the shaking resonate through her as she clutched that poor pony to her for what seemed like an eternity. Finally the sobbing abated and Yellowstar turned her tear-streaked face to Twilight sadly, a defeated expression etched onto her features. At once Twilight was struck by just how small Yellowstar seemed to be, stripped of all that earlier confidence and bubbliness.

"I'm not the best pony, am I?" Yellowstar sniffed, drying her eyes on her mane. "They all said I was but I'm not, I'm useless. "

Twilight just hugged Yellowstar again. It felt right, feeling her heart pounding away in her chest, the warmth of her body being strangely comforting. "It's okay Yellowstar..." Twilight whispered in her friend's ear. "It's not real, it's just a story."

Yellowstar shifted uncomfortably. "It's not a story, it's my life!" she squeaked back in despair.

"And what a poor life it is!" boomed a deep, rich voice from across the room. Twilight felt herself instinctively shrink back into her mattress as she saw a terrifyingly large stallion march towards her, looking down with utter contempt. "I am so disappointed in you Yellowstar! If you can't save everypony, then what use are you?" He turned his back on Yellowstar and began to walk slowly away.

Yellowstar leapt to her little hooves and stumbled her way clumsily across the mattress to chase after the larger pony, her face still stained with tears. "No no please, not you too! I did my best!"

The stallion just stood before Twilight's wardrobe, hanging his head sadly. "This is all your fault Yellowstar, never forget that. You couldn't be better than you were. Now I have to go away into the Smooze and it's all your fault."

He climbed into the wardrobe and shut the doors with a heavy slam. Yellowstar sprawled herself in front of it, banging her tangled mane against the wooden doors in frustration. "Please come back daddy" she whimpered. "I'm sorry I wasn't good enough." With that, she slowly sunk to the ground, a defeated tangle of limbs. "I don't want to be alone; I want to live happily ever after."

Twilight made her way over to Yellowstar and gently picked the pony up, rubbing her cheeks dry with the torn page of a book. The ink smeared over her face. Hesitantly, Twilight opened the wardrobe and peered inside. It was, of course, empty save for a few unloved robes.

"It's okay Yellowstar, it'll be okay." Twilight smiled down unconvincingly at Yellowstar. "I promise. This is just how stories work. You're taken to your lowest point and you have to deal with it and come out on top." She pulled Yellowstar close again.

Yellowstar just sniffled. "I don't want to be at my lowest point" she whispered back weakly. "I want to be happy like I was. When I was best pony. Why can't I be better?"

Twilight frowned and continued to just hold Yellowstar. The despair of the smaller pony was opening up what felt like a pit in her stomach, growing and growing until it threatened to devour her. There had to be something she could do. There had to be...

In an instant, Twilight had an idea. It was the best idea she had ever had. "Yellowstar," she spoke softly, gazing into her trusted friend's eyes. "Yellowstar, if you were a unicorn, if you had magic, then you would be a better pony, wouldn't you? You could help other ponies more, and be the best pony again."

Yellowstar didn't understand. She just sniffed and nodded. "But I'm not a unicorn, am I?" she mumbled back, eyes downcast.

Twilight's heart panged again at the hurt on Yellowstar's face. "But Yellowstar..." she began again. "What if you were a unicorn? What if I gave you my horn?"

Yellowstar looked at Twilight wide-eyed and confused, her mouth agape. "Y-you'd do that for me Twilight Sparkle? You surely are my most faithful friend!"

Twilight basked in the warmth of Yellowstar's words which sent a warm hug of comfort throughout her body. "Of course Yellowstar. You know I'd do anything for you." She placed her front hooves behind her horn and started to apply pressure, her eyes scrunched in concentration as she pulled harder and harder, a dull throbbing building in her skull as she tugged...

...Until finally with an almighty crack that echoed in her head and caused her to scream out, Twilight managed to break her horn off. She smiled triumphantly as Yellowstar took the horn and it dissolved into light, that same light curling around her head and sprouting a pure white horn from amongst her bright mane. Her complexion improved, regaining some of that earlier lost confidence as she smiled at Twilight.

"Thank you for your magic, Twilight Sparkle" she beamed, and that smile drove any doubts from Twilight's mind. Twilight touched a hoof to her forehead which was now perfectly smooth, without a tinge of pain. It was truly a wondrous thing.

In the corner of the room, the book began to crackle with purple light. Twilight did not notice.

"Twilight! Twilight!" The door to Twilight's room burst open and Spike leapt through, head twitching about wildly, a mop and bucket clutched offensively in his paws. "I heard a scream, what's wrong?" As the lack of any attackers, he looked about the room. Twilight's usually pristine quarters was a mess - the cover to her bed had been thrown off, treasured keepsakes and books were lying strewn across the floor, and he was sure that was Twilight's mother's lamp that lay smashed at Twilight's hooves. Twilight herself was just standing alone, her back to Spike, silent and unmoving.

Spike slowly stepped closer. "Uh, Twi..." he began nervously. "Is... is everything all right?"

"Don't panic Spike!" Twilight replied steadily. "I'm going to turn round and I don't want you to be upset at what you see. I've broken my horn off so I can give my magic to Yellowstar."

Spike took an involuntary step back at Twilight's words, at once confused and horrified, clapping his claws to his face. "But what... I... you..."He fell silent, even more confused as Twilight turned around to face him.

There, on her forehead, was her horn standing firm and proud as always.

Spike slowly waddled forwards, placing the cleaning utensils down on the ground and reached upwards to tap Twilight's horn. She didn't stop him. It was definitely real. "Are... are you feeling okay Twilight? It's right there!"

Shaking her head, Twilight trotted away from Spike, sorting through an open closet to pick out a hat. "Don't be silly Spike, I gave it to Yellowstar because she's my best friend and that's what best friends do. You wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Now, a hat will - "

Twilight never finished her sentence, because she received a bucket of water in the face.

Spike covered his mouth again as he raced over to the soaking and dazed Twilight. "Sorry Twilight, I shouldn't have let go of the handle!" he squeaked guilty, picking up the fallen bucket which had bounced off Twilight's face. "But you were acting pretty... mad. You were saying you didn't have a horn!"

Shaking off the water in confusion, Twilight brushed down her mane and glared at Spike, one hoof running over her horn to make sure it was there. "Of course I have a horn Spike!" she snapped. "Why would I say anything different, I've just..." she trailed off taking in the mess that her room had become, her face clouding in confusion. "I've just been a bit stressed, that's all. Tired."

Spike patted Twilight gingerly on the back. "Look Twilight, I'll clean up here, you go get some fresh air. Pinkie mentioned something about a party to me earlier; you should pop round and show your face, it'll do you good..."

Twilight slowly nodded. "You're right Spike. It'll do me good to spend time with my friends." She started trotting over to the door. Almost as an afterthought, she trotted backwards quickly to her desk to pick up the book and place it securely in her saddlebag.


Pinkie scrunched up her face in concentration. "Is it... cheese?"

"No!" Rainbow Dash giggled.

"Is it... hay?" Fluttershy ventured.


"Is it..." Pinkie Pie trailed off looking at her friends who were sprawled around Sugarcube Corner looking slightly mortified. It had been an hour and nopony had yet beaten Rainbow Dash in the 'Say what I am thinking, no questions allowed' game. "A... a cup of sugar?" Rainbow Dash just shook her head smugly.

"How about a cup of shut the hay up!" All eyes in the room swivelled at once to look on in shock at Twilight, who sat planted firmly behind her book in the corner of the room. Twilight stared at her friends before slowly sinking her head back amongst the pages.

It was Rainbow Dash who broke the uneasy silence that followed. "How did you know what I was thinking?" she squealed in annoyance, and then when no answer was forthcoming, marched over to the silent unicorn. "Hey! Twilight, stop reading and start socialising! What could possibly be better than us?"

Twilight lowered the book in annoyance. "If you must know Rainbow Dash" she snapped back "Yellowstar has just grown a magical horn and travelled to the upside-down land underneath Equestria where everything is backwards, so..." She trailed off and returned to reading, as if the truth of her statement was self-evident.

This wasn't enough for Rainbow Dash, who stormed forwards angrily. "Hey, Dainbow Rash grows a horn too, that book stole my ideas! Let's take a look!"

"No!" In a swirl of magic Twilight snapped the book shut and smacked it hard across Rainbow Dash's face. The blue pegasus flew backwards to crash heavily into a table laden with sweets and cakes. "You get away from my book!" She clasped the book to her chest, hugging it tight as if it was a small defenceless foal.

"Hey!" Pinkie bounded to Rainbow Dash's side, lifting the dazed pegasus. "That's not very friendly Twilight! What's got into you?"

"What's got into me? What's got into you?" Twilight looked over her friends accusingly. "You've all forgotten what's important, all of you! And what's important is Yellowstar!" She pounded the book to her chest proudly. "She's better than me at magic, and she's better than you Pinkie at parties, and she's better at loving animals than you Fluttershy, and..." she frowned at the fallen Rainbow Dash, who was struggling to her hooves, her face covered in trifle. "...And I'm sure she's better at flying than you even if she doesn't have wings! Now if you excuse me..." Twilight flung her head up and marched out of the door "...I'm going to spend quality time with my real friend!"

"...Now what the hay was that about?" Rainbow Dash mumbled, as Pinkie started to eat the trifle.


"I can't believe those girls, what's wrong with them?" Twilight continued to mutter as she stormed through the library doors. "They were looking at me like I was mad!"

"I know!" Yellowstar nodded back. "It was very unreasonable of them Twilight Sparkle, can't they see how much of a faithful friend you are?"

Twilight slumped into a couch. "I don't understand Yellowstar, what's wrong with them all, how can I make them realise?" She snapped her head up, and at the top of her lungs bellowed: "Spike! SPIKE!"

Her trusty companion bounded down the stairs two at a time, landing in a heap at Twilight's hooves. "I did my best Twilight, your room looks spick and span now, and..."

Twilight ignored him, pacing around the small dragon impatiently. "Spike, take a letter. 'Dear Princess Celestia, today I learnt that the friendship with my 'friends' pales in comparison with that of Yellowstar. Yellowstar is the best pony and-'"

Spike's claws shook as he hastily found a quill and parchment and began to scribble the words down. "Twilight, I don't think that's a good id-" He yelped as Twilight pushed her face right into his.

"I said, 'Yellowstar is the best pony and hopefully one day every pony will realise this.'" She placed a hoof heavily on Spike's shoulder until the little dragon had finished transcribing. "Now Spike, send that letter and..." Her eyes opened wide as if struck by a sudden burst of inspiration. "Letter, of course! Spike, send that letter, and fetch me as much paper as you can! It's going to be a long night!"

Spike groaned. At least things couldn't get much worse.


Saddle Stitch whistled merrily as he trotted along the pristine halls of the library's special collection, all lovingly restored. He stroked the neat shelves full of books and gazed proudly at the display cabinets in which he'd placed some of the more choice selections.

"Oh Saddle Stitch!" he purred to himself. "You are the finest librarian in all Equestria!" He passed a selection of antique pocket books that he had rescued from some foolish old mare who had ruined them from years of reading; now safely locked away in glass cabinets. "Princess Celestia will shower you in praises! You'll be famous, you'll be adored, you'll be..."

He turned the corner, coming face to face with a large plinth, empty save for the heavy chains which now lay draped uselessly along its front.

"...Sent to the moon!" he croaked, the colour draining from his face.

Feeling panic starting to bubble in his usually austere frame and sweat prick at his brow, the old pony darted around the room, frantically hoping against all hope that the book had simply slipped from its chains and fallen to the floor. Of course that was not possible; it was nowhere to be seen. "But who..." he paused in concentration, thinking back over the past few days. And then it hit him.



As the morning sun rose over Ponyville, a very tired young dragon pulled his rather battered cart back into the library. "I've done it Twilight!" he called up, rocking backwards and forwards. "All of them! All of your letters taken down to the Ponyville Post Office!"

There was no response from upstairs.

"I-it was very expensive!" Spike hinted. He was sure Twilight would reimburse him for the mountain of mail she had produced that night, but the longer he left it, the more likely she was to forget. Taking a much deserved seat, he began to relax.

Spike's calm was interrupted by a furious pounding on the door, which became more and more frantic until, with a series of several smashes, the wood around the lock splintered and the door flew open to reveal a familiar yet strangely worried pony.

"Spike, Spike!" Saddle Stitch announced as he marched through the broken door. "I hope you don't mind me letting myself in, but the door was unlocked." He fixed eyes with Spike as if daring him to say any different. "The most terrible thing has happened Spike, your mistress is in possession of one of the most awful books imaginable with the potential to destroy all of Equestria if it is read!"

Spike rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Oh that! Don't worry Saddle Stitch, nopony's going to read that thing, I locked it in Twilight's safe."

Saddle Stitch recoiled, his heart giving a flutter of joy. "W-what? Really? Oh Celestia be praised! Spike, I take back all the dreadful things I ever said about to you all of your peers behind your back! I'll just retrieve the book and we can pretend none of this ever happened, and you definitely don't tell the Princess and-"

"Hey, are you the royal librarian? I saw your cart outside!"

With an gibber, Saddle Stitch turned to see the pony who had arrived silently and unannounced, and who was standing a bit too close to him for comfort, her rainbow mane pushing into his face. Before he could respond though, Spike spoke up:

"Yeah, that's Saddle Stitch. He's here about your book, Rainbow Dash. He said it was awful and should be locked up forever."

"Hey!" Rainbow Dash pushed her face further into Saddle Stitch's who shrunk back. "You're just jealous of my genius, I bet Twilight's been working on you!"

"I no what where..." Saddle Stitch trailed off in confusion as he tried to regain his composure. "Who are you?"

Rainbow Dash straightened up and patted herself down as if presenting herself to royalty. "I'm Rainbow Dash, the famous author! I've already written one book, which Twilight is editing for me, and I'm working on many others!"

Saddle Stitch stared at Rainbow Dash suspiciously. "...If you've only written one book, and Ms Sparkle has the only copy, how are you a famous author?"

Giving a nonchalant shrug, Rainbow Dash sighed. "I don't know; isn't that how it works? You're the one who came here after my book! I was just passing to see if Twilight was all right after yesterday!"

Saddle Stitch attempted to move his mouth but no words came out. The three stood there in awkward silence. As they did so, a small white filly with a mound of curly purple hair trotted past them into the library clutching a letter in her mouth, and then trotted straight back out sans letter, her head caked in soot.

Clearing his throat, Saddle Stitch edged to the door. "Well. I think we need to start this again." He closed the front door, gave a polite knock, and then bounded in, as wide-eyed as he had started. "Spike, Spike!" he exclaimed. "The most terrible thing has happened Spike, your mistress is in possession of one of the most awful books imaginable with the potential to destroy all of Equestria if it is read!" He turned to an expectant Rainbow Dash. "And the book is called The Star In Yellow, which wasn't written by you!"

"Oh!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed. "You must mean that frankly suspicious looking book with the big yellow star on that Twilight's been clutching and stroking for the past few days!"

"Yes!" Saddle Stitch replied joyously, the simple act of being able to progress the conversation somehow being the happiest thing that had happened to him all week. It dawned on him at that moment why Twilight Sparkle was considered the most intelligent pony in Ponyville. There mustn't be that much competition.

"That book is evil, pure and simple." He looked between Spike and Rainbow Dash, a stern look on his face. "It has the power to drive any pony who reads it - even a few lines - completely mad. And if it is feeding off the magic of prodigious young Ms Sparkle, then I dread to think what will happen if she finishes it."

Spike clapped his claws to his mouth in wide-eyed shock. "She... she said she had given it her magic! I thought she was just being normal-mad though! She gets like that sometimes."

Saddle Stitch mulled this over in his mind. "We must get the book off her before it's too late. But the most important thing to remember is that this is all your fault Spike." He patted Spike on the shoulder like a kindly grandfather. "If Princess Celestia finds out what your actions which you took completely on your own have done, not even I can save you. Because this situation is all your fault. Not me, who is totally blameless in all this, the poor victim of your monstrous error."

Spike gulped, trembling as the old pony's words hit home. "There's no time to lose then!" he croaked. "She's upstairs in her room, we should just break in and take it!"

"Wait wait wait!" Rainbow Dash marched in between the two. "Twilight told us a bit about the book yesterday! It didn't sound evil, just some pony called Yellowstar having adventures. What's wrong with that?"

"Of course it sounds nice! It's a trap!" Saddle Stitch hissed back at Rainbow Dash. "Of course it's something everypony would want to read! Of course it will sound lovely and want to be your best friend! That's how it lures you in! The banality and innocence of the beginning only allows the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect! It has been entrusted to the royal librarians for generations, it is our sacred duty to the Princess to protect it and ensure it never falls into the wrong hooves!"

"Which it did," Rainbow Dash helpfully added.

"Yes, for which Spike is completely to blame." Saddle Stitch took the opportunity to guilt-trip Spike with another glare, the dragon shrinking back under his gaze. "Nopony knows who wrote it or why. Maybe it was an evil sorcerer, maybe a witch, maybe even a demon. But it shouldn't have been removed from the safety of Canterlot." He gazed upwards to the dark stairwell which led to Twilight's room. "This will be extremely dangerous. Spike, you're going first."


From the top of the stairwell, three ponies had been listening intently to the conversation below, none of them daring to speak a word in case they were overheard. Finally, Yellowstar turned to Twilight and Silver Crescent, her white face somehow drained and pale from what she'd overheard. "It's not true Twilight, none of it!" she pleaded to her friend. "I'm not evil! You've got to believe me!"

Twilight just smiled warmly and placed her hooves around her friend's neck. "Of course I trust you Yellowstar. How could you of all ponies be evil, you're warm and kind and generous, you're so much better than any other pony! They'll all see soon, it's just a matter of time!" She started to trot to her room, motioning for the others to quickly follow.

Once everypony was inside, Twilight quietly bolted the door and turned to her two best friends. "We can do this!" she hissed encouragingly. "We just have to hold out until my plan works, that's all. If we work together we can-"


Yellowstar and Twilight turned as one to look at the little form of Silver Crescent, who was usually so meek and silent. The small pony straightened and glared upwards at Yellowstar, bottom lip trembling. "No! I'm not helping you! Why do you get to be best pony? You weren't best pony when it mattered, were you Yellowstar? We're all alone and it's your fault. Why can't I be best pony!"

"This is not the time!" Twilight started forwards, but Silver Crescent had already scurried over to the window, awkwardly clambering through the frame with just one glare back as she vanished from view.

Yellowstar slumped against the closed door, eyes wide and staring ahead blankly as Twilight called futilely after the departing filly. "Leave her Twilight" she sighed in resignation. "I'm all alone again, I just wasn't good enough. When they come for me you should just let them take the book, lock it away again forever in a dungeon. Where I belong."

"Don't be like that!" Twilight slowly sunk against the door beside Yellowstar, half listening out for any hoofsteps outside. "We can do this Yellowstar, just you and me, together against the world! You don't need Silver Crescent if you've got me! You know what a silver crescent is? It's the blade of a knife, stabbing you in the back! Two friends falling out is just another literary trope, something that has to happen to the hero, I've got loads of books about it." She waved a hoof, pointing to a shelf on the far side of the room. "Gorwen and Charn, Theta and Koschei, even Celestia and Luna! It's just a familiar tale, a cheap and easy way to get a good reaction from the readers."

Somehow Yellowstar shrugged her shoulders even further as she hung her head, turning her neck to look at Twilight with large, watering eyes. "Is that all I am Twilight Sparkle? A bad story? Is that how it's supposed to work? A writer creates a happy land full of happy ponies and then just tears it down, spoiling it with horrible stuff just to see what happens?" She pressed her front hooves together, her voice lowered slightly. "Writers are evil. Writing the wrongs of the world. If I wrote stories, I'd write happy stories where the sun always shone and nopony was ever sad."

Twilight took this in, slowly nodding her head in agreement. She was about to reply when a soft knocking at the door caused her to leap into the air with a scream and skid across the room to the other side.

"Hey, Twi, are you in there?" Spike's voice drifted through the thick door. "I hope you're doing okay, the royal librarian's here for some overdue books, we can just pop in and out, you won't even know we're here..."

Twilight ignored the little dragon's voice, and motioned frantically for Yellowstar to join her. The white pony scooted across the room to her friend, and they sat huddled at the far end, staring at the door.

"That stuff with your parents" Twilight whispered. "What really happened? I mean, I saw stuff happen, and it was in the book, but it was like there were chunks of motivation and plot missing. Like the author assumed the reader knew, or didn't want to write about it. And what's Smooze, that wasn't in the book at all!"

"I don't know" Yellowstar sighed back. "I don't think that's how it actually happened, but that's how it felt." She looked up, haunted eyes locking with Twilight's. "I can't explain, but I still remember the Smooze, outside the castle walls. It was terrible." She rested a hoof on Twilight's, heavily. "The singing was the worst part, you know. That constant melody burbling up from its grey depths. But that's not in the story. How can I know that?"

The knocking on the door became heavier, this time it was the slightly bolder voice of Rainbow Dash that came through. "Hey Twilight, it's me, Dash. I thought we could swap books, you know? You have mine, perhaps I could have yours? Book club style? Hello?"

"Give me a moment!" Twilight called out as she gave Yellowstar a reassuring pat and slowly spread out the book in front of her.

Yellowstar sniffled, drying her eyes again. "I didn't tell you what happens when you finish the book, did I Twilight Sparkle? I become real. But I don't want to be real." She exhaled, pleading with her friend. "I want to go back to how it all was, when I was happy. Turn the pages back, it's over. Please. I can't touch the book, it's up to you."

"No!" Twilight slowly pulled Yellowstar to her feet. "You're a good pony Yellowstar, I know it; you deserve to be real like me! Life's full of bad things, they can define us, but you don't let them dominate you. You're better than this." With that, Twilight placed both her hooves on the book's cover, and grasping all the pages in her mouth, tore them out with a grunt.

This time there as a more frantic hammering on the door, and rather than the familiar tones of her friends, the low voice of an unfamiliar stallion swam through in another attempt to sweet-talk Twilight into seeing the error of her ways.



Spike rolled his eyes as Saddle Stitch smashed his hooves against the door for all he was worth, to no effect. It was a particularly good door. "You said you were going to use guile and charm!" he complained to the old pony.

Saddle Stitch just shook his head. "Obviously Ms Sparkle is way past that stage Spike. We must be prepared for whatever deceit and trickery she has in store. Rest assured she won't give up the book without a fight to the death. We may not all survive but the fate of Equestria hangs in the balance."

"Fate hanging in the balance is my middle name!" Rainbow Dash smirked as she revved up her wings in the cramped corridor, before charging at full pelt at the sturdy door. The moment before impact, the door swung open to reveal Twilight's smiling face. Rainbow Dash just had time to turn a sharp ninety degrees and crash into the wall instead of barrelling into Twilight.

"Oh hi, I didn't hear you there" Twilight smiled sweetly as Rainbow Dash peeled herself from the wall. "Did you want this? I've finished with it now, it got boring. See you!" Twilight threw a battered white book at the feet of the assembled onlookers, and closed the door once more, solidly bolting it.

The three started down in dumbfounded amazement at the book that lay on the floor. The white binding and bright yellow star were unmistakable. It was The Star In Yellow.

"Well, that was anticlimactic!" Rainbow Dash sighed, reaching down to open the book. "What was it all about then?"

"No!" Saddle Stitch shot out a hoof to knock Rainbow Dash away. "Weren't you listening? Reading just a few sentences could send you mad! This books needs to stay shut!"

"I'll tell you what it needs! Spike, give me some proper fire!" Not giving the dragon time to answer, Rainbow Dash hoisted Spike into the air, and yanking on his tail caused a gout of flame to spurt out, engulfing the book in a blaze.

Saddle Stitch gaped as the book burnt to a crisp in front of him, frantically trying to put out the flames with his hooves. But it was to no avail as only a thin coating of charcoal was left. "Nononono!" he wailed. "You idiot!"

Rainbow Dash was too busy looking smug to be insulted. "I think I just saved all of Equestria!" she smirked. "And it was an evil book!"

"Of course, but you don't burn books!" Saddle Stitch cried. "It was supposed to be kept under guard, now the Princess will know that I - SPIKE - let it out!"

Spike twiddled his thumbs, sinking back against the wall as he let out a groan. "T-the Princess will forgive me, right? I mean, it didn't do Twilight much harm. Sure she's a bit crazy, but when isn't she? She got bored of the book fast enough, she even spent last night writing letters to every pony in Ponyville instead of reading it! So it's hardly that bad!"

Saddle Stitch had moved from anguish to frozen horror at Spike's words, his eyes boggling as he took in the implications of what he had said. "No, she wouldn't give it up that easily... Spike, what was in those letters?" He twirled to face the dragon, shaking him bodily. "Spike!"

"I - I don't' know!" Spike's eyes jiggled up and down as he was shaken. "I - it was light reading or something, she said!"

Saddle Stitch dropped Spike, ashen faced. "I really hope that doesn't mean what I think it does..."

The door creaked open again and Twilight's face peered out. She was smiling. "Oh, it's just something for all the ponies to read. Some of my favourite parts of the book, so they'll all get to love Yellowstar just as much as I do and realise that she is best pony." Her smile became wider. "And I believe the post gets delivered round about now. Won't be long!"

As Rainbow Dash lunged for Twilight, the door slammed again with the sound of a heavy bolt being drawn. Rainbow Dash began to pound on the door. "Twilight, this is crazy, what's going on? This isn't you; you wouldn't put ponies in danger!"

"I told you, whatever it is, it's pure evil." Saddle Stitch slowly pulled Rainbow Dash from the door. "It's sent Twilight mad. Everything she's doing seems right and logical to her, but it might just cause the end of everything. I don't even know what will happen if all the Ponies from Ponyville read from the book, it could be worse than even I feared." He glared down at Spike again. "We'll board up Twilight's room from the outside so she can't get out, she's probably not in the right frame of mind to use her magic to teleport. We can deal with her later. You - " He pointed at Rainbow Dash. "You have to intercept the mail. Not one letter can get through, understand?"

Rainbow Dash understood. She was already racing down the stairs, tumbling down the steps and outside into the morning light where without hesitation, she took to the sky in a multi-coloured streak. In the distance was the sight of a familiar grey mailmare clutching a large postbag. There was still time.


"I did it!" Twilight grinned widely as she made sure the door was sealed tight, turning back towards Yellowstar proudly. "I tricked them! I beat them all! Now they'll leave me alone and I can finish reading the story! I'm nearly at the last chapter!"

In front of Twilight lay a large blue book. Whilst the cover read 'The Adventures of Dainbow Rash', the hastily torn out spine betrayed the fact that the contents were from a different work entirely. She stroked the pages, looking up at Yellowstar. "It's a shame we had to lose the cover, but it's the contents that are important, right?"

Yellowstar gave a weak smile back at Twilight. "Please Twilight Sparkle, you can still turn the pages back, make me happy again, like I was." She pawed at the book, but her hooves just passed through the pages as if they were not there. "I can't, it has to be you!"

"I meant what I said Yellowstar." Twilight smiled back earnestly. "You're so much better than anything else in Equestria, you deserve to be real. I mean, not even Princess Celestia can hold a candle to you..." she trailed off, a thought striking her. "You know, when her test came, when she had to fight her sister who turned against her, she banished her to the moon! For a thousand years! How can anypony do something like that and still be Princess? You should be Princess!" The treasonous words came out of Twilight's mouth easily, and they just felt so right and true to Twilight.

Yellowstar trembled slightly at Twilight's words. "That's awful" she whispered hoarsely. "How could she do something like that? I never would, doing something so terrible would destroy me!" She raised her head, throwing back her mane. "You are right Twilight Sparkle, I should be the Princess, I would rule fairly and forever, and only have good things happen to ponies. The sun would always shine and nopony would ever be sad. Turn the page, Twilight Sparkle, let me fulfil my destiny!"

Twilight eagerly turned the page, the book sparking with purple light which engulfed her horn as the leaf of paper slowly but surely flipped over. Yellowstar herself began to shimmer, cast in an incandescent glow as her body began to grow before Twilight's eyes. Wings erupted from her back flapping powerfully, her mane burst into a plume of brilliant yellow star fire that billowed and whipped as if caught in an intangible gale. The roses that garnered her mane twisted and bloomed into an ornate tiara, a perfect medley of red and gold which sparkled in the magical light of her hair. Around Yellowstar and the book shone a maelstrom of power and energy the like of which Twilight had never seen before as she clutched onto the tome for dear life as if any moment she would be snatched up by the invisible forces raging in her bedroom.

As quickly as it had arisen, the supernatural tempest abated.

The new Princess of Equestria towered over Twilight, bathing her in the light that shone from her pure white coat, her eyes pools of infinite bright energy. "Oh Twilight, my most faithful friend" she proclaimed. "It is time. The yellow star rises once more."

"The final chapter has begun."

Chapter 3 part 1

The grey and yellow streak climbed higher into the morning sky, blurring slightly into the low-lying cloud cover. Rainbow Dash gritted her teeth and put her head down, flapping her wings for all they were worth as she rocketed into the air towards her goal.

As she climbed closer, the grey streak resolved itself into the familiar form of Derpy, Ponyville’s reliable mailmare, her less-than-graceful flight weighed down further by the worryingly large bag of letters she was hauling on her back.

“Derpy, Derpy!” Rainbow Dash may not have been blessed with subtlety, but she did have speed on her side. With a final flick of her wings, she caught up with Derpy and did a neat mid-air somersault, to come to a stop directly in front of her fellow pegasus. Derpy stopped, blinking in confusion.

“Derpy!” Rainbow Dash paused, panting, her breath coalescing into mist at the high altitude. Her mind raced – she had to somehow convince Derpy to hand over all the post without a fuss. She would have to use all her persuasiveness and charm, especially if she wanted to keep Twilight’s name out of this whole sorry affair. Finally deciding on a course of action, she thrust out her hooves at the confused pony.

“Give me that postbag!” she demanded loudly.

Derpy twitched in confusion, automatically hugging her bag close to her, and then her brow furrowed in annoyance. “No!” She suddenly snapped. “I’m the mailmare Rainbow Dash, not you! Try doing your own job for once, you... you...”

With a shake of her head, Derpy leapt higher into the sky, speeding away faster and faster. Rainbow Dash’s jaw fell open. “I was sure that’d work!” she squeaked to herself in disbelief, before stretching her wings and letting loose with her own burst of speed. “Derpy, come back!” she yelled, though the force of the wind as she flew was so strong she couldn’t be sure that her words were reaching anywhere. “They’re not just letters you’ve got, they’re evil letters! You can’t deliver them!”

Her quarry vanished into the thick cloudbank that loomed ahead, rolling along heavily in the morning sky. Without hesitation, Rainbow Dash dived in, swiping her hooves about to clear the dense cloudstuff from her vision. “Derpy?” she called, a bit more hesitantly. “Derpy, this isn’t funny, I’m serious!”

“When are you ever serious?” Derpy’s voice echoed from somewhere in the cloudbank. Rainbow Dash whirled round and round but all she could see was whiteness, stretching to infinity. “The mail always gets through! It’s my duty!”

“Oh for the love of...” Rainbow Dash scowled and with a quick burst of speed darted forwards to grasp at a slightly darker patch of cloud. The cloud dissipated to nothing, but a quick flurry of motion told her that Derpy was close. Then the impact of a postbag on her head told her that Derpy was closer.

“Hnn!” Rainbow Dash winced out, biting down hard as she tumbled out of control. Thankfully the fall through layer after layer of cloud soon slowed her descent, and she came to a stop upside down, sprawled in the light, cotton-like cloud mass. “That’s it!” she snapped, looking around for a sign of her nemesis. “Derpy, if those letters get to Ponyville there’s going to be trouble! I don’t care about your job, I’m going to take every one of those letters and burn them, you got that?” Her wings roared into life, fanning the clinging clouds from her. “So...” she cleared her throat, attempting to make her voice sound slightly more intimidating. “So you’d better give them up now. I’m the best junior flier in all Equestria, you’ve not got a chance!”

The answer came in another kick to the back of Rainbow Dash’s head. “Maybe, but...” A pained Rainbow Dash turned around to see Derpy, determination fixed on her face as she hugged her mailbag to her. “...I’m the best mailmare in all Ponyville!” Derpy leapt away again, even higher, quickly vanishing into the clouds.

“This is ridiculous!” Rainbow Dash cried in despair. “You’re the only mailmare in Ponyville!” She started to follow Derpy higher and higher, breaking through the top of the cloudbank, the air moving from softly chilly to an almost biting cold as the two pegasi continued their chase, two tiny specks in the vast lonely upper atmosphere.

Each beat of her wings now caused Rainbow Dash pain. The air here was thinner and colder, and tiny ice crystals were starting to form on her hooves. But still she pushed herself, watching as Derpy continued to gain distance. She had thought that catching Derpy would be an easy job, but somehow being the best flier didn’t count for much when pitted against a pony who was determined to do her job. Still, there was a chance...

Rainbow Dash saw exactly what she needed. In a bolt of blue she darted not upwards, but horizontally, giving Derpy more time to escape. She kept Derpy in view out of the corner of her eye, but her goal was a lonely grey cloud laden with rain which had been happily bobbing along. Catching up with it, Rainbow Dash grabbed the cloud, hefting it slightly as she judged the weight. Derpy’s postbag might give her an advantage in dogged willpower, but it could also be used against her. With a heft, Rainbow Dash pushed the cloud aloft as hard as she could, watching it sail upwards. Then she sped off horizontally again, a new burst of resolve on her face.

Derpy continued to hug her postbag to her chest as if it were a small filly, huffing and panting as she flew for all she was worth higher and higher. Her wings screamed in protest at being forced to fly in the thin, freezing air and every breath she took felt like being forced to gargle with pins. She paused, struggling to hover in the air to regain her strength, wildly looking about for Rainbow Dash. She rankled at the thought of that show-off pony, out to tease her or steal her job no doubt. Ponyville’s number one prankster wouldn’t beat her though; she had an important job to do! She-

“Hey! Over here!”

Derpy’s thoughts were interrupted by a cry from below her, to the left. Rainbow Dash was back, slowly climbing higher though the fatigue was showing. “You’re persistent!” Derpy called back, glaring down at Dash as she started to flap her wings harder. “But you’re not going to catch me!”

“No!” Dash called back. “I’m not!”

At that moment, a distracted Derpy was hit full-on by a sopping wet cloud which had hurtled upwards from her bottom right. Derpy wheeled about, attempting to regain control as the cloud spilled its watery contents over her before spinning off into the ether.

Derpy shook her head in annoyance, her mane now soaking and hanging down over her face. She hugged her wet mailbag closer to her defensively as she flew higher, away from the approaching Rainbow Dash. “All mailmares make a promise to Princess Celestia that the mail will always get through!” The water made the air even colder now; she felt an ice-cold prickling arcing across her body. “You can’t hurt the post while-” She broke off, her teeth chattering, her wings twitching. Something was wrong. “W-while...”

Rainbow Dash was getting closer. To Derpy’s horror, she found that she couldn’t move her wings anymore. She couldn’t move anything anymore. She was frozen solid, and the soaking wet mailbag had become a heavy ball of ice.

She hung in the air for what felt like an eternity as Rainbow Dash continued to climb higher to meet her, though dimly she knew it could only have been a fraction of a second because soon she would be tumbling helplessly downwards through the iron grip of gravity.

The last thing she saw was Rainbow Dash’s brightly coloured mane, which seemed even brighter against the cold, barren, upper atmosphere, and those warm round red eyes of hers. And then she felt two strong hooves wrap around her, and a voice whisper into her ear: “Trust me”.

And then they both fell.


If Twilight heard the clattering and banging as Spike and Saddle Stitch boarded up the door to her room, she did not make any indication. Nor did she attempt to curiously peer out of the window as Rainbow Dash made her desperate flight into the sky.

Instead she was lost in a flurry of fiction, the pages of the book seemingly embracing her as she turned them, warm inviting words pulling her in until it felt like the only thing that existed in the entire world, the only thing that mattered, was her book.

Her heart pounded in her chest as she turned each page, enraptured by the adventures those perfect words sent her on, each page inlaid with the most beautiful illustrations which seemed like they must belong in a gallery; a far cry from the childlike scrawlings she had been reading just a day earlier.

She and Yellowstar had flown across Equestria at faster than the speed of thought. They had fetched stars from the sky to light the land that was forever dark. They had dived into the dreams of an enraged dragon to rescue the one perfect happy memory it still cradled. Though the book contained more and more danger, more monsters, Twilight felt safe with Yellowstar next to her.

She smiled happily, looking up from the book at the regal pony that paced up and down the room as she read. Yellowstar was looking more magnificent than ever: her hair draped over her face in perfect curls as she stared out of the window curiously at the rising morning sun. Her newly grown wings flapped slightly, stretching in the light, casting a flickering shadow over Twilight. From a distance, Twilight thought, it might be possible to mistake her for Celestia or Luna. She was almost like a real Princess. Almost real.

But not quite.

“Twilight Sparkle.” Yellowstar turned her head towards Twilight, her voice soft and gentle, yet tinged with a strange worry. “Why are you not reading? You said you would read the book, only when it is finished I can be free.”

Twilight realised her mistake, and glanced down at the pages again, unsure of whether to address Yellowstar directly or continue to read. She bobbed her head up and down in an attempt to do both. “I’m sorry!” she yelped out. “I didn’t mean it, I was just thinking about how you would make such a wonderful Princess...”

Yellowstar trotted closer to Twilight, nuzzling her slightly, sending a joyful burst of fuzz throughout Twilight’s body that made the small pony instantly relax, her mind racing back to her foalhood, of happy evenings curled by the fireside with her mother.

“Are you not happy Twilight Sparkle?” Yellowstar smiled warmly, her horn glowing as she soothed Twilight. “I can make you happy.” She turned her head to look out of the window again. “When I am made real, I will use my magic to make every pony happy, all the time. Every pony will live happily ever after, because there will be no sadness, no cruelty, no loss. I will not allow it; I will be the perfect Princess. The sky will always be blue and the birds will always sing and, and nothing bad will ever happen.”

There was a deep feeling of wrongness bubbling in Twilight’s stomach, but it was instantly submerged as another wave of euphoria swept over her and she found herself gently stroking the book. “I can’t wait” she simply replied, her heart longing for the perfection that Yellowstar had promised. “I’m sure my friends will love it.”

“All ponies will be your friends” Yellowstar began pacing again, almost impatiently. “Everypony will be friends with everypony else, there will be love and trust and nopony will ever be alone again.” She fixed Twilight with a gaze, her eyes pulsing suddenly with a raw energy again. “But Twilight Sparkle, you must hurry, you must read faster, no matter how much it hurts. I feel danger coming. You must reach the end before it is too late.” Then, slightly softer. “Please. For me.”

Twilight beamed back as she turned the page. “Of course Yellowstar. I couldn’t think of anything better.”


As the morning sun continued to rise, more and more ponies slowly awoke to greet the day. The town square was full of excitable chatter, of the clattering of carts and ponies starting to go about their daily business...

...And of a strange whistling drone that began quietly and distant at first, and then grew steadily in pitch until every pony outside was standing puzzled, craning their necks skyward in an attempt to work out the source of this peculiar noise.

They did not need to wait long. The question was answered in the form of a rainbow-coloured streak that hurtled vertically downwards from the heavens, to impact in the town fountain with an enormous splash that managed to completely drench any unfortunate onlookers who had not been fast enough to flee in time. A haggard Rainbow Dash hauled herself out of the fountain, clutching a sodden mailbag triumphantly in her mouth, and using her hooves to pull out Derpy who was doing her best impression of an icicle.

“I... was aiming for the mattress shop!” Rainbow Dash gasped apologetically in the direction of Derpy, before rubbing the lump on her head with a pained expression. “That fountain... was not as deep as I thought!”

Pushing past a gaggle of bemused and slightly shocked bystanders, Rainbow Dash half-collapsed in a fit of panting, eyes wild and mane soaked and ragged, but gleaming with victory. “Did it!” she choked out.

“And about time too!” A stern, authoritative voice cut through the air and caused Dash to twitch slightly in annoyance. An old, brown unicorn with a nervous dragon in tow marched towards her, shaking his head as one would towards a naughty filly.

“Spike here told me you were supposed to be a good flier or something!” Saddle Stitch tutted haughtily at the exhausted and bedraggled Rainbow Dash. “Though frankly I can quite imagine Ponyville’s standards are quite low if today’s events are anything to go by!” He gave the mailbag a kick, letting the contents spill out over the town square.

Spike stared down at the letters wide-eyed, and immediately dived in, his little arms scurrying about as he started to pick out the envelopes that looked like they were written by Twilight. Without warning, he felt himself hoisted into the air with a yank of magic, and found himself eye to eye with Saddle Stitch.

“Spike!” Saddle Stitch exclaimed haughtily, shaking his head again. “Spike, have you lost your mind? What are you doing?”

Spike felt his face flush red. “I... I’m looking for the letters Twilight wrote, you know, the ones that have the story that drives you mad in them...” He trailed off as Saddle Stitch continued to stare.

“Spike.” It was his name, but coming from Saddle Stitch it felt to Spike like an insult. “Spike, if you make one mistake, somepony will get their letter from Twilight, read it, go mad, and then you, yes you, will be sent to jail by Princess Celestia for causing this sorry mess. You don’t want that, do you?” Spike shook his head mutely. “No. Good. You must burn the evidence, it will be as if this disaster never happened and I can go back to my nice cosy library and pretend I never met you or Ms Sparkle.”

With a flash, the magic holding Spike in the air vanished, and the little dragon landed heavily on the ground. Spike rubbed his behind in pain, and looked at the pile of letters again. “But... they’re not all from Twilight!” he protested.

This time it was Rainbow Dash who replied, having by this point regained most of her lost composure. “He’s right Spike, we can’t risk it. Besides, the sooner we sort this out, the sooner we can make sure Twilight is okay.”

Scrunching up his eyes, Spike opened his mouth and let loose a gout of flame, real flame, which danced around the mailbag slowly reducing its contents to burning cinders. As they stood around the makeshift fire ensuring that every scrap of paper was burnt to ashes, Rainbow Dash planted the frozen Derpy next to the flames to thaw the poor pony out.

“Well...” Spike sighed heavily. “I guess that was the right thing to do. There can’t have been anything too important in there...”

In a house not too far from the impromptu bonfire, a tiny foal stood expectantly by the front door. “Do you think I’ll get lots of birthday cards in the post?” little Pipsqueak asked his auntie as he stared excitedly at the mailbox. “I hope I get a letter from mummy and daddy! And maybe Princess Luna...” His bottom lip started to quiver slightly. “Or... anyone...”

He settled down to wait.


“The mail! The mail!” Rainbow Dash and Spike struggled to restrain Derpy who was attempting to throw herself into the fire. The grey pegasus had unexpectedly burst quickly free from her icy imprisonment, and seemed to be ever so slightly upset at the loss of her precious postbag. “I can scoop up the ashes and deliver them!” Derpy wailed, making another lunge towards the flames.

“No! Derpy! Calm!” Rainbow Dash cried out, but it wasn’t having much effect; as she had discovered, Derpy was like a force of nature where the post was concerned. She tried another tactic, pointing a hoof at Saddle Stitch, who was making no motion to help them stop Derpy from incinerating herself. “Derpy, I’m not making this up, this isn’t a stupid prank, you’ve gotta believe me! Those letters were evil and dangerous! Look, that’s Saddle Stitch, he’s the royal librarian in the service of the Princess, he’s an important pony, he’ll tell you!”

Derpy seemed to respond to this, slowing her struggles slightly as she looked almost quizzically towards Saddle Stitch.

The old unicorn just shrugged and rolled his eyes at Rainbow Dash. “I’ve got no idea what she’s talking about!” he snorted. “Evil letters indeed! I was just in Ponyville for... a stroll in this lovely town.”

Derpy wailed out at this revelation and leapt towards the remains of the fire again, only a sharp tug from Spike on her tail stopping her from becoming charbroiled. “Come on Derpy!” Spike cried in desperation. “You’re causing a scene!”

Indeed she was, Saddle Stitch realised. She was causing a shouting, crying, flaming scene, which was slowly gathering a crowd of ponies who were starting to murmur amongst themselves. Soon one of them would gather up the courage to intercede and find out what was going on, and questions would be asked.

“Ahem.” He leaned in closer to Derpy, placing a hoof around her neck in a friendly gesture. Derpy ceased her struggling to blink in confusion at the old unicorn. “Look... Doopy, is it? I do indeed work for Princess Celestia, and I’m here in Ponyville on a secret mission for her.” He looked around and lowered his voice. “It is so secret that you don’t need to tell the Princess about it if you ever see her, because she already knows. Now, these letters...” he waved a hoof at the burning pile. “These were evil letters, and if any pony had read one then there would have been terrible consequences. So burning them was the right thing to do.” He smiled warmly. “So, we can forget this all happened, right?”

Derpy calmed down finally, looking between Rainbow Dash, Spike and Saddle Stitch, and then forlornly at the burning paperwork. Finally she spoke, her voice trembling. “Fine, but... I already delivered some letters this morning!”

Saddle Stitch’s smug smile turned into a choke. Today was not a good day.


Twilight snapped her neck up in alarm as a wailing, sobbing cry suddenly broke the serenity of the room. Yellowstar had toppled over, collapsed in a pile of limbs on the floor. Her beautiful tiara and necklace slipped out of place as she stared at Twilight through terrified eyes which were no longer pools of power, but large, watery and red. At that moment she looked more like a little filly trying to play dress-up than an actual princess.

Twilight gave a gasp as she saw small flickers of flames licking hungrily around Yellowstar’s mane, as the larger pony cried out with a panicked mewling, frozen in fear. Leaving the book, she dashed over and started frantically using her hooves to beat out the small but growing fire.

As quickly as it had started it was over. Twilight gave a slight wince as realised that she’d singed her own hooves, and then stood back to allow Yellowstar to stand up.

She didn’t. Yellowstar just pressed herself into the corner of the room, shaking slightly, a perfect tear falling down a perfect cheek, cutting a perfect path through the daubs of soot that lightly dusted her face. “They burnt me,” she whispered to Twilight, her voice trembling. “They burnt those lovely letters you wrote with the words of my story. I do not want to die before I am real.” She wiped away a tangled strand of singed hair that had fallen over her face as she tried to compose herself, the only sound in the room being that of her ragged, terrified breathing.

“That is a bad way to go,” she finally said, standing upright to her full height as she once more towered over Twilight, readjusting her tiara and fixing the smaller pony with a kindly yet stern gaze. “Twilight Sparkle my faithful friend, you must keep reading. Finish the book before they realise our deception and return for me.” Her eyes regained their luminescence, and yet there was still a watery tremble within their depths. “Don’t let them burn me, Twilight Sparkle. Please.”

Twilight nodded, biting her bottom lip slightly at the state Yellowstar was in. “I’d never let anypony hurt you Yellowstar, I promise,” she whispered back, returning to the book. As she sat hunched over its pages she felt that blissful contentment wash over her again and she smiled, turning the page.

The room went black.

It was like a curtain that swept across the walls, ignoring the sun that poured through the window until the entire room was swathed in an inky night, the only light being the energy that gleamed from Yellowstar and a faint purple glow that emanated from the book. Twilight jerked her head up in alarm, mouth gaping open. “What’s that?” she mouthed quietly towards Yellowstar as she took a step back.

“This is the end of the story approaching, can you not feel it?” Yellowstar swept a wing around Twilight, her bright eyes sweeping around the darkened room. “I will protect you Twilight Sparkle, do not worry.”

All Twilight could feel was a cold icy dread like a crackling coldness across her chest as she gazed out into the infinite blackness, comforted slightly by the warm glow of Yellowstar. “I know” was all she could whisper back.

“Stupid, stupid Yellowstar.” The voice came out of nowhere, echoing around the small room as if it were a voluminous cave, the blackness stretching into infinity as mocking laughter pealed out. “Stupid little selfish Yellowstar.”

Yellowstar didn’t respond; Twilight could hear her rapid breathing again as she glanced about the room looking for the source of the voice. “Who are you?” she called out hesitantly into the darkness. “Yellowstar’s not stupid, she’s the best pony, how dare you say that!” She slowly stepped forwards defiantly, placing herself between Yellowstar and wherever that strange voice was coming from. “You don’t know anything! She’s the hero of the story!”

“Oh, she is, is she?” A face leered out of the darkness catching Twilight by surprise as she felt herself leap back. A large silver alicorn stepped from the shadows, beating her wings softly as she stalked forwards. She could almost have been a mirror image of Yellowstar, but her face was twisted into an angry sneer.

“Silver Crescent.” Yellowstar’s voice was low and accusatory as she stared at the newcomer, her front hooves pawing at the floorboards. “You wicked pony. Be gone from here. This should be a happy place, it is not for you.”

At the mention of that name, Twilight squinted at the large pony that towered over her. It looked like Yellowstar’s small filly companion, but she had been so small just a day before and now she was rivalling Yellowstar in stature. A part of Twilight’s mind thought that such a change didn’t seem particularly realistic, but she quickly pushed such doubts from her mind. Every story needed a villain, after all.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Silver Crescent started to circle Yellowstar, who turned to keep pace with her. “You’d like me to be utterly evil!” Her voice changed into a jeering tone. “Is that the only reason anypony would have for hating perfect little Yellowstar? The dumb little filly still trying to play dress up and princesses?” She darted her head forwards, and to Twilight’s horror, Yellowstar recoiled slightly. “I hate you Yellowstar because you’re not the best pony. You’re a fraud, a failure, and you’re alone because that’s what you deserve!”

The accusation hung in the air until with a short, sharp snap, Yellowstar replied. “Go away” she intoned icily. “Go away and do not come back. I am the best pony and I will be the best princess this land has ever had and I will make every pony happy forever and ever and ever.”

“Fine!” Silver Crescent turned into the blackness and stepped away. She gave one last look towards Yellowstar and smiled a sickly smile. “Because that is all you can conceive of me, I will be evil. I will be the most evil pony you’ve ever met Yellowstar, and then we will meet one last time.” The darkness swallowed her and then she was gone.

Twilight turned the page. The curtain of night dropped instantly from the room, and the soft sound of birds tweeting their morning chorus filtered into the room as if nothing had happened.

Yellowstar continued to stand stock still, her tiara slightly askew, staring sadly down at the floor. Twilight moved over to her and gave her a reassuring nudge. “It’s okay” she soothed. “There has to be a villain. In the finale you have to fight her and beat her and then you’ve won, and then the story can be over and you can be free! That’s how stories work.”

Yellowstar considered this for a moment and then slowly whispered one word. “No.” She turned to Twilight and gave a warm yet slightly shaky smile. “I am Yellowstar, Twilight Sparkle. I am better than that. My story will end without a fight, I will find a way. I will live happily ever after, and so will everypony else. I promise.”

Twilight smiled back and settled back down to read, a new look of determination on her face. There wasn’t much time left before those nasty ponies who wanted to stop her and Yellowstar would come back. She had to read quickly. The future of Equestria depended on it.


Saddle Stitch eyed the sweet shop suspiciously. The outside had been vulgar enough, but inside sat a myriad of sickly treats, each one enough to turn his stomach. For him, a good meal was a boiled turnip which he would often enjoy while appreciating a classic work of literature in his private room in the library. He stifled a sneer at a plate of cream éclairs: it was the food of the ignorant masses, who were content to stuff their faces with sweets instead of savouring the more intellectual pursuits.

He had felt extremely uncomfortable letting Spike and Rainbow Dash loose on their own around Ponyville, but splitting up to recover the letters was a far faster way of recovering them before they were read. He shivered inwardly – trying to cover up what had happened to Twilight would be hard enough but there was no telling what would happen if more ponies became afflicted with the madness the book possessed. It wasn’t worth thinking about. He had carefully instructed his companions to keep their mission low key as not to ‘sully Twilight’s good name’; hopefully this whole business could be over with before breakfast...

“Miss... Pie?” At once Saddle Stitch dropped his air of aloofness at the ravishing beauty that propped up the counter before him. With a cough, he brushed back his mane and sauntered up to the counter, putting on his best approximation of a smile. “I was just admiring your fine line of pastries, we don’t see their like up in Canterlot you know. In the castle. Where I work. In my very important job.” He wriggled his eyebrows for extra emphasis.

The pony behind the counter looked at him quizzically. “Is there something wrong with your face dear?” she gasped, peering at his wiggling eyebrows. Then she pulled back. “I’m Mrs Cake, if it’s Pinkie Pie you’re after, she’s in the back. Do you want me to get her for you?”

Saddle Stitch inwardly cursed himself for his forwardness. “Ah, my apologies madam, forgive this old fool” he smiled. “I was told a talented young baker lived here, and I just assumed...”

“Oh my!” Mrs Cake giggled, putting a hoof to her blushing cheeks. “Oh you scoundrel!”

Saddle Stitch pushed the offensive; he was sure that he was allowed a small diversion before he had to save the day. “You know, it does get rather lonely up in that big castle. I have a special reading spot just made for two, where you could read the most romantic works of literature ever published. If you ever fancy a break. All on me, of course.” He winked again. “If you know what I mean.”

“Oooh” Mrs Cake clapped her hooves together. “That sounds lovely! Did you hear that Mr Cake? We’re going to Canterlot Castle!”

To Saddle Stitches’ disgust, a strange yellow lanky pony trotted down from a stairwell and smiled a strange droopy smile at him. “Well that sounds lovely sir, just what me and the missus need!”

“Mr Cake. Of course.” Saddle Stitch retorted slowly as the elation of his previous success turned to ashes. “As I was saying to your lovely... wife...” He trailed off, thinking desperately of a way to salvage the situation. “I’m the royal plumber and you are free to stay in the Canterlot sewage pipe whenever you want.”

“Oh” Mrs Cake’s face dropped into disappointment. “Oh. I must have misheard. That doesn’t sound fun at all.”

“No it doesn’t does it” Saddle Stitch muttered as he trotted to the kitchen door that Mrs Cake had previously indicated. “Now, I have an appointment with Miss Pie. Palace business. Palace sewage business.”

As he grumpily threw open the door he was met by a cacophony of sound and a plume of icing sugar that exploded out into the main shop. To his horror, he could see a strange pink pony bouncing up and down on the floor and (somehow) walls, her eyes rolling about as she let out a strange warbling.

“Woo! Woo! Woooooo!” trilled Pinkie Pie as she rebounded off every surface available, throwing out streamers and balloons and globs of chocolate icing around the kitchen, seemingly unaware that she was being watched.

Saddle Stitch felt the clutches of despair engulf him as he slumped to the ground, cradling his head in his hooves. “Oh Celestia save me, it’s too late! She’s read the letter and become consumed by madness! Everypony will find out and I’ll be ruined! Ruined!”

“Oh that letter!” Pinkie Pie’s face suddenly loomed a bit too closely to Saddle Stitch’s, and he recoiled slightly. “No, that’s on the table, I’ve not read it yet! Woo woo woo!” She started hopping about the kitchen again as if completely oblivious to his presence.

With a scowl, Saddle Stitch stood and trotted over to the table, staring at the crazy pink bundle of pony. “Yes. It is Ponyville. I should have known” he dryly snapped as he moved to take the letter. “I’ll just take this and you can get on with... whatever it is you’re doing.”

Pinkie Pie stopped in mid-bounce, staring at Saddle Stitch sternly as her face collapsed into a frown. “That’s my letter, you’re not allowed to take other pony’s mail!”

“Yes but...” Saddle Stitch raised an eyebrow as he looked directly behind Pinkie, his mouth open in shock. “Oh no, look, a dragon!”

Pinkie Pie didn’t respond. She kept her gaze firmly fixed on the interloper. “Seen one, seen them all.”

Saddle Stitch grimaced. Then without missing a beat, he added “I mean, it’s a gigantic flying donut from space which is shooting chocolate sprinkles and stealing all the trees!”

Pinkie Pie’s expression did not change. “Seen one, seen them all,” she repeated.

Saddle Stitch thought for a bit. “A... butterfly?” he offered, having run out of ideas.

“What? WHERE!” Pinkie Pie’s entire demeanour changed as she whirled around looking for the mysterious butterfly, enthusiastically peering out of the window.

Sighing in contempt, Saddle Stitch used the distraction to reach down and snatch the letter from the table. To his annoyance, he could not find anywhere that he could quickly hide it – no pockets, no bin, not even a handy office paper shredder. There was only one thing to do.

As Pinkie continued to peer excitedly out of the window, Saddle Stitch ate the letter.

The day was not going well.


“Fluttershy! Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash raced across Ponyville in a rainbow streak, darting from shop to alleyway to park in a desperate search for her friend. Her house had been empty, the post already collected, and Rainbow Dash knew it was only a matter of time before she opened the envelope and read the contents. And then it would be too late.

“Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash breathed a sigh of relief as she skidded to a halt. There in front of her sitting on a bench was Fluttershy, juice box in one hoof, open letter in the other.

Open letter.

“Oh hi Dashie!” Fluttershy smiled, looking up from the letter. “I got this from Twilight, she said she’s sent me a bit of a story to read and that I’ll really like it!” Her wide, watery eyes looked towards Rainbow Dash in happiness. “Isn’t it wonderful to have such a lovely friend!”

“Yeah, whatever. Give it here!” Rainbow Dash made to snatch at the note, but Fluttershy pulled it out of her reach in a rare act of defiance.

“That’s very rude Dash!” She admonished sternly. “You can have it later, but Twilight sent it to me and I will respect the wishes of my friend that I should read it!”

“Yes, but...” Rainbow Dash quickly thought over the options; she had hoped that Fluttershy would instantly give in. Saddle Stitch had been very clear that she wasn’t to mention that there was a madness inducing fiction in Ponyville, because it would destroy Twilight’s reputation or something, and get Spike sent to jail. She hadn’t known that Spike had so many friends in Canterlot looking out for him, that was a nice surprise. “But... it’s my story!” She exclaimed finally. “You know Fluttershy, that one I wrote! Twilight wanted to share it, but I was thinking about it more and it’s awful so give it back!”

Fluttershy considered this, looking down at the note in her hooves. Then she looked up at Rainbow Dash and sweetly smiled again. “Don’t worry Rainbow Dash, if it’s written by you I’m sure I’ll love it anyway, even if I don’t love it. It’ll be the best thing ever because you’re my friend.”

Rainbow Dash scowled. “No Fluttershy, you won’t like it because....” She looked around and her eyes alighted on a cute rabbit hopping past. “Because it’s full of exploding rabbits. Oh boy do those rabbits explode! Blood and guts everywhere, there’s not a page where somepony’s not exploding.”

Fluttershy almost dropped the letter in horror, giving a squeal, her mouth agape. “Dashie!” she wailed. “How could you!”

Rainbow Dash took the letter, approximating the best apologetic look she could think of on her face. “I know, I guess there’s something wrong with me, I’ll go and get some rest and then we can pretend it never happened!”

“Oh boy I LOVE stories like that!” Rainbow Dash recoiled as the precious paper was torn from her hooves by a rather excitable little Snips. The young colt gleefully clutched it to his chest. “I love violent stories, thank you Rainbow Dash.”

“Did I say it was violent? I meant it was a love story. Yeah. Lots of soppy love and kissing and stuff.” Rainbow Dash pulled a face, inwardly smiling as Snips looked crushed dropping the letter to his hooves. Then as Fluttershy gave a squeak, she turned back to her friend. “But it’s really violent soppy love, don’t forget!”

“I could go for a bit of grim dark love!” came the voice of Mr Breezy as he picked up the letter before Rainbow Dash had the chance to take it. “In a purely ironic manner, of course” he added with a shifty cough.

Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes. “Yes. Of course” she hissed. “But did I mention it was also... a light-hearted comedy!” Mr Breezy considered this, and was about to pass it back when it was intercepted by a lemon coloured pegasus pony who swooped down from the sky to grab it in her mouth.

“Violent romantic comedies are the best” Lemon Dreams mumbled through the wodge of paper stuffed into her mouth, hovering just too far above the slowly gathering crowd for Rainbow Dash to easily grab her.

“Yes but it has a weird creepy hairless ape thing!” Rainbow Dash cried in triumph as Lemon Dream’s face crumpled. “It wanders into Ponyville and everypony becomes its friend, but it has weird hooves with lots of fingers and looks ugly.”

A squeal of joy emanated from behind the bench as Lyra leapt out. “I adore stories about weird hairless ape things!” she cried, making a dive for the letter.

Slowly but surely the amount of ponies crowding around Rainbow Dash increased, and the more she tried to dissuade them that the letter contained the worst story ever, the more excited they seemed to get. “What the hay is wrong with these ponies?” she cursed to herself as Caramel leapt into the fray after she claimed that the story contained a rapping apple. “Is there nothing these ponies don’t like?”

Trying to snatch the letter back into her hooves, she cast her head desperately about for more inspiration. Through the throng of ponies, she saw a little orange and purple filly playing alone on the street. “Got it!” she whispered. And then louder. “SCOOTALOO! Of course! The main character is Scootaloo!”

At once the babble of excitable voiced ceased and all the ponies surrounding Rainbow Dash suddenly moved away, muttering and shaking their heads in disappointment. A turquoise pony threw the letter down at Rainbow Dash’s hooves. “Scootaloo? How could you!” she admonished, slowly walking away.

Scootaloo jerked her head up in excitement at the mention of her name. She put down the twig she had been playing with and started to race happily towards Rainbow Dash. Had she heard right? Had her greatest hero really written a story about her? Her heart leapt with glee and she gave a little laugh, her eyes twinkling with happiness.

She skidded to a stop as Rainbow Dash set upon the story with barely restrained ferocity, stamping and tearing it until there was nothing left. “Trust me kid” Rainbow Dash looked down with a knowing smile. “You’ll thank me for this one day.”


“Now where could it be?” Spike whipped about Rarity’s house in a hair-tearing frenzy (or would have, if he had hair). Upon hearing that the last letter Derpy had delivered was to Rarity, he had begged – pleaded – to be allowed to be the one to rescue her. Thankfully his search was unimpeded since Rarity was nowhere to be found - but neither was the letter.

“I’ve failed her!” Spike slumped against a chest of drawers in despair. “It was all down to me and I messed it up!” He carefully closed the chest, putting Rarity’s clothes back as he had found them. Usually it would be uncouth for him to be going through a lady’s private possessions, but this was an emergency!


Spike almost jumped out of his skin, recovering slightly as he realised that the voice was not that of Rarity catching him in the act, but of Rainbow Dash. Her head was bobbing outside the window, with a rather stern looking Saddle Stitch staring on.

“I can’t do it!” Spike wailed, pressing his nose up against the glass. “I can’t find the letter! Rarity’s doomed and it’s all my fault!” He could see Saddle Stitch nodding vigorously at this comment.

“Hold on, we’re coming!” Rainbow Dash winked, and half dragged a protesting Saddle Stitch out of view. Moments later they were inside the room with Spike, Rainbow Dash already zipping about the room in a blur of activity.

“I’ve already looked everywhere!” Spike sighed. “It’s no use, it can’t be here. She must have taken it with her, wherever she’s gone. She’ll be reading it and going mad and it’s all because of me!”

“Indeed!” Saddle Stitch glared haughtily at Spike, trotting over to Rarity’s en suite bathroom and waving a hoof over the sud-laden bathtub. “She can’t have been gone too long, this water’s still hot. We should cut our losses here and search Ponyville for her. I can’t imagine what would happen if a pony of my standing was found routing around in somepony else’s house! It would be a scandal!”

As if to answer him, all three froze as the front door slammed and Rarity’s distinctive trilling hum filled the house.

Spike looked at Rainbow Dash in horror. “She can’t find us here!” he squeaked out, tugging in desperation at the locked window frame. “What’ll she think!” His head spun around as all three raced about the room looking for a way of escape as Rarity’s hoofsteps became louder and louder.

“Don’t worry!” Rainbow Dash suddenly announced. “I’ve got another brilliant idea!”


Rarity sung happily to herself as she stepped into her room. It was another lovely day in Ponyville, and what better way to start the day than to have a lovely bath and read a lovely letter from her lovely friend.

She daintily dipped her front hoof into the bathwater and smiled. It had been too hot earlier, so she had taken a brisk constitutional walk to give it time to cool down. Wrapping a towel around her mane to keep it neat, she slid gracefully into the soapy bathtub and sighed in contentment, breathing in the delightful aroma of the scented water. “I wonder what Twilight sent me?” she pondered out loud, using her magic to gently lift the letter, hovering it over her relaxing bath. “I bet it’s something – yeargh!”

This last comment was directed at two little purple arms that suddenly rose from the bubbles and grabbed the letter, screwing it up and tearing it until it was illegible. “I did it!” Spike cried happily as his head bobbed up from under the water. “I saved you!”

“Ew! SPIKE!” Rarity screamed, scooting in horror towards the edge of the bath as she attempted to shield herself from the little dragon. “What in Celestia’s name are you doing in my bath?”

Before Spike could respond, Saddle Stitch’s head broke through the suds and he gasped for breath, wild-eyed. “P-palace business!” he grunted out, trying to catch his breath. “Sorry.”

“Ew! A creepy old pony!” Rarity cried in shock, shuffling even further back and clutching the walls of her bath for dear life.

A soaking rainbow mane burst through the water as Rainbow Dash coughed out, looking sheepishly at Rarity.

Rarity just scowled, glaring back. “Oh,” she sighed. “Rainbow Dash. I should have known.”

The four sat awkwardly in the bath together for a while. Finally, Rainbow Dash spoke. “This is a dream Rarity. Just go back to sleep.”

Chapter 3 part 2

A short while later, three quite damp figures dragged themselves back into the library. “Who knew saving Equestria would be so awkward!” Spike lamented, slumping himself down onto the couch, not caring that his wet frame was leaving a damp patch. “If only Twilight-” he looked up in alarm. “Twilight! Saddle Stitch, do you think Twilight will be all better now that we’ve destroyed everything to do with that book?”

“I don’t know” Saddle Stitch muttered coldly as he started up the stairs. “It may do, but I think the best we can hope for is that Ms Sparkle will be reduced to a quiet, easily manageable gibbering wreck for the rest of her life. With any luck, the Princess won’t even notice the difference.”

“Why you!” Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes and stormed up the stairs after the self-centred unicorn. “That’s my friend you’re talking about!”

“Quite.” Saddle Stitch paused by Twilight’s door which was now covered in wooden boards to seal it shut. He was about to knock, but thought better of it and instead pressed his ear to the door. Twilight was talking. He concentrated hard although he couldn’t make out exactly what she was saying: it sounded like a one sided conversation, with a pause every so often to make room for an imaginary reply. ‘That poor pony’ he thought to himself grimly, letting a degree of self-reflection break through for a moment. ‘At least it’s over now.’

He stiffened as another noise cut through the door, softer than even Twilight’s voice, but still as clear and distinctive to his trained ear.

It was the unmistakable sound of a page turning.

“She’s got the book!” he gasped out, all pretence at stealth lost as he turned on Rainbow Dash, shaking the surprised pony wildly. “She’s still got the book!”

Rainbow Dash let herself be wobbled back and forth before regaining her senses and snapping herself away from him. “That’s ridiculous!” she retorted, pointing at the pile of ashes which still marred the floor outside Twilight’s room. “We burnt it!”

“Or something like it...” Saddle Stitch trailed off, inwardly cursing himself. He had been tricked – and by a pony he’d held in such low regard as well! He leaned towards the door, calling out softly: “Twilight... oh Twilight...”

“I can hear you!”

Saddle Stitch and Rainbow Dash both leapt back from the door at the volume of Twilight’s voice, which sounded as if Twilight was pressed right up against the other side. Slowly, Rainbow Dash moved forwards and gave a sheepish smile, even though it would not be visible to Twilight. “Say Twi... are you okay?”

“Oh I’m more than okay!” Twilight’s voice came soothingly out. “I know you burnt the letters but that’s okay. I’m sure the good citizens of Ponyville will read about Yellowstar soon.” There was a short silence as Rainbow Dash and Saddle Stitch exchanged quizzical glances, and then Twilight spoke again. “Say, the day’s getting on. I guess all the ponies will be coming to get books out of the library...”

Saddle Stitch furrowed his brow for a moment and then without a word to Rainbow Dash, raced downstairs, stumbling down the steps as he clattered down to the main library. “Spike!” he yelled, and this time it wasn’t in a disparaging manner. “Spike, Twilight’s still got the book! Could she have come down here last night, when you weren’t about?”

Spike looked up dazedly from the couch where he had been trying to catch a sneaky nap. “I... guess?” he mumbled back in confusion. “But why?”

“The margins!” Saddle Stitch looked about wildly at the array of shelves that littered the room, each haphazardly piled high with books. “She writes in the margins, Spike! She could have written in any one of these books. Or all of them!”

“And we can’t check them because that would mean reading the words which would then send us mad...” Rainbow Dash slowly mulled this over as she followed Saddle Stitch downstairs at a more leisurely pace. “I guess that means only one thing.”

Saddle Stitch nodded grimly. Spike looked between the two, uncomprehending. “What? What? What does that mean?”

“It means Spike” Saddle Stitch intoned regretfully, “that we have to burn them all.”


“Why did you tell them Twilight Sparkle?” Yellowstar looked on at Twilight, her eyes trembling with betrayal as she sadly drooped her head. “They will hurt me again with fire.” She slowly raised her head to make eye contact with the smaller pony. “You cannot let them. I do not wish to die.”

Twilight just smiled and lifted the book into a saddlebag. “Don’t worry Yellowstar!” she confided in a conspiratorial whisper. “I didn’t write anything in those books! It’s just a distraction. I needed to get them out of the way so we could escape and finish the book in peace! Watch!”

Trotting over to the window, Twilight saw a large pile of books forming outside the library as Spike and Rainbow Dash clumsily waddled back and forth carrying stack after stack to throw them unceremoniously in a heap. Centuries of accumulated pony literature was in that pile, but Twilight didn’t feel a pang of regret – she had the only book that mattered in her possession.

Moments later, Spike belched forth a plume of flame and the entire pile was consumed, the heat spiralling up to hit Twilight in the face. She winced slightly as the hot air blew over her, and then smiled, taking a deep breath as she shouted across Ponyville:



Across Ponyville, a flurry of manes flicked around as every pony in earshot turned to stare at the library. Saddle Stitch tutted up in annoyance as he saw Twilight’s head bob out of the window from above, doing his best to keep a respectable distance from Rainbow Dash, Spike and the fire.

Soon the denizens of Ponyville began to make their way towards the library to see what the fuss was about, muttering and stamping their hooves in dismay. “I can’t believe it!” one maroon pony stammered in shock out as the crowd formed around the fire. “All those books! That’s monstrous!”

“An’ she burned the post too!” A little white and brown foal pushed his way through the gathered ponies towards Rainbow Dash, pointing a hoof accusingly, tears forming in the corner of his eyes. “She’s the worst pony ever!”

Spike looked around the gathering throng of ponies with a gulp. Ponyville was usually a nice quiet town, but even he had to admit that from an outsider’s perspective, their actions today had been slightly inflammatory. “Dash!” he whispered urgently, moving slightly closer to the rainbow pegasus for protection. “I think this might get ugly.”

“Leave it to me Spike!” Rainbow Dash confidently stepped forwards, puffing out her chest. “Citizens of Ponyville!” she announced. “You may sleep safely in your beds tonight because I have burnt all the evil books!” With a slight bow, she awaited the acclaim of the crowd for this revelation.

It didn’t come. The murmurs of discontentment got louder. Half a carrot hit Rainbow Dash straight between the eyes. “You expect us to believe that!” squeaked an angry green pony who waved a worryingly large rolling pin. “Where will your crusade of ignorance go next? Maybe you want to burn the school down too!” There was a wave of agreement as all eyes turned furiously towards Rainbow Dash. Several pegasus ponies took to the air to prevent the book burner making an aerial escape.

Saddle Stitch attempted to sidestep into the crowd, but found himself roughly shoved back towards Rainbow Dash and Spike. “Now, ah!” he coughed nervously. “I am just a passing librarian who has never met Rainbow Dash or Spike before or even know their names...” he trailed off as his words fell on deaf ears. “Come on!” he called out. “I have a much better library in Canterlot! If you think about it, Ponyville doesn’t even need a library!”

There were just further rumblings of dissent, and Saddle Stitch grimaced at Rainbow Dash. “This couldn’t get much worse!” he hissed at her. “We need to stop Twilight finishing that book, who knows what disaster that could unleash! At least we’ve got her trapped. There’s no way she’s getting through that door, not in the state her magic will be in!”

“Unless she climbs out of the window,” Spike added looking up.

“Yes, well, unless she climbs out of the...” Saddle Stitch glanced upwards in disbelief at the sight of a familiar purple pony with a saddlebag slung over her back leaping out of the upstairs window, onto a waiting tree branch and bounding away into the distance. “No!” he cried, desperately trying to push through the throng of angered ponies. “No! Stop her! Somepony stop her!”

It was to no avail. There were just too many furious ponies crowding around the burning pyre of books, and Twilight soon vanished from view into the distance. “There’s just one way out of this!” Rainbow Dash suddenly exclaimed, reaching a hoof to grab Spike for the second time that day. “Spike, you ready?”

“No!” Spike exclaimed as he felt Rainbow Dash lift him up and yank on his tail hard. A blast of green ethereal fire leapt from his mouth and consumed a chunk of the crowd. With a frenzied popping noise, the gathered ponies vanished, leaving the ones left behind to gape with astonishment.

“Yeah, that’s right!” Rainbow Dash waved Spike at the remaining ponies. “You don’t mess with the Dash!”

“Rainbow Dash!” Mrs Cake chided, stepping forwards. “You... you just... you are history’s greatest monster! Give yourself up right now or they’ll be tro-” She did not finish her statement as another burst of flame was let loose from Spike.

Apart from Rainbow Dash, Saddle Stitch and Spike, the street was empty. Rainbow Dash dropped Spike by the burning books and rubbed the back of her mane. “Uh, Spike, that was the magical teleporting fire right? Not the burning kind?”

Spike looked extremely worried for a moment, before giving a little burp. “I think so!” he exclaimed. “It was all so fast. I guess they went to the last place I sent some mail...”

Saddle Stitch shook his head. “I sincerely hope for your sake that is what happened Spike!” he snapped out dispassionately. “Now we need to find Twilight and get that book back before the Princess finds out what’s been going on!”

Spike’s brow crinkled in concentration as he continued his previous sentence, ignoring the older unicorn. “...but I just can’t remember where that was...”


Princess Celestia sighed happily as she sunk into the warm water of her bath, the bubbles gently caressing her body and the flickering candles at the sides of the large bathroom adding a pleasant ambiance. What was less relaxing was the royal orderly who was currently standing by her bath, hooves covering his eyes (in some strange approximation of modestly) as he yammered on about various protocol and tax problems.

“Braxiatail! Braxiatail!” she called out in mock despair. “It’s been a long week, and even a Princess deserves a little break now and again, don’t you agree?”

The pony blushed and stammered, his hooves still over his eyes. “O-of course your majesty, but you must admit that the trade of dandelion leaves to Zebraria is extremely...” He faltered and stepped backwards. “I-I will be here should you change your mind, ma’am.”

Celestia flashed a warm smile back “I’m sure I won’t” she said kindly as with a sparkle of magic she lifted up a nearby scroll. What better time to read the latest letter from her favourite student than when she was relaxing in her favourite place. It had arrived the day before, but with the daily hubbub of the palace, she hadn’t found the chance to read it. Now with Braxiatail suitably silenced, there was nothing to distract her.


With a flash of green light, a surprised looking cream pony appeared in the air above Celestia’s bath, pedalled her legs furiously, and then dropped with a heavy splash into the water. Celestia had lived a long time and not much surprised her any more, but this was at the very least unexpected. And what was more, as the pony raised a drenched, sheepish head, Celestia realised that she recognised her.

“Mayor Mare!” she cried out in disbelief as Ponyville’s mayor trod water in her bath. “I would have expected this sort of behaviour from Rainbow Dash, but you?”

A cacophony of pops drowned out any apology the Mayor may have had as pony after pony appeared in the air, tumbling one after another into the Princess’s bath. Celestia shielded herself from the splashes as almost the entirety of Ponyville invaded her bathroom, her ears full of the babble of a multitude of confused ponies.

“What is the meaning of this!” she cried out in an attempt to regain some dignity, trailing off as something caught her eye. A falling pony had knocked into her scroll, causing it to fall open on the floor. One word in particular stood out amongst all the others. And at once with a sinking feeling of horror, she understood.



“This is nice, isn’t it Yellowstar?” Twilight snuggled herself down in the comfy warm hay and opened the book: there were still a good few pages to go before the end, but it wouldn’t be long now. She hadn’t looked back once on her mad dash from Ponyville as she willed her legs to keep running, hoping that her former friends would be distracted long enough to make her escape. Finally she had come to an old barn on the outskirts of Sweet Apple Acres. It was obviously used to store hay and the lack of any hoof prints outside indicated that it wasn’t visited often – the perfect hiding place.

Perched high on one of the multi-storey wooden levels upon which bale after bale was stacked, Twilight peered at the pages. The book was still softly glowing, though there wasn’t nearly enough light to read by. She attempted to ignite her horn, but then realised her mistake – she had given her magic to Yellowstar; it wasn’t for her to use anymore. “Hey, Yellowstar, would you mind giving me some light?” she called out.

Yellowstar didn’t respond. The tall regal pony was simply pacing back and forth, her head swinging from side to side muttering to herself. “We would play together in the fields” she murmured. “We were happy then, why did it have to change. Why did we have to develop and get complex and wrong? “She looked up at Twilight, her eyes now blazing with inner energy and determination. “When I am made real, when I am Princess of all Equestria, ponies will not change. I will rid this broken world of unhappiness. But first...”

Her face crumpled and her back slumped. “But first Twilight Sparkle, you must finish the story. That means I have to face...” she paused, unable to say the name, all defiance in her voice lost “...her again. I do not know what to do Twilight Sparkle. If she beats me then I lose, but if I fight her then I still lose. I do not know what would be left of me.” There was a long silence in that dark barn, and then Yellowstar spoke again, very softly this time. “I would not mind, Twilight Sparkle, if you read the book just a little slower. Just so I would not have to face that as soon.”

“No!” Twilight unhitched an old rusty lamp that was hanging on the wall and lit it, casting an eerie, pallid glow across the room. She carefully balanced it on a haystack and smiled at her friend. “Princess Yellowstar, you can’t be scared, you’re the best pony. The other ponies think I’m crazy and that you’re evil, but I know that’s not true. You’re a good pony, you have a good heart that’s just been hurt by bad things happening to you. And that’s not your fault, that’s the fault of whoever wrote this story. You deserve a chance to live your own life and be free, and that’s what I’ll make happen.” She turned to the next page. “We’ll do it together!”

Yellowstar smiled down. “Together.”


“No, we are not in this together; I give up - I’m getting the hay out of here! I did my best!” Saddle Stitch puffed his cheeks out in exasperation as he marched around the library leaving a flustered Rainbow Dash and Spike in his wake.

“But we’ve got to find Twilight!” Spike wailed, hurt at the betrayal and wringing his little hands together in helpless despair.

“She’s not anywhere in Ponyville!” Rainbow Dash half-wheezed, her wings still sore from her earlier frantic search of the now mostly-deserted town. “But she can’t have gone far; we just need to mount a bigger search. She’s our friend and she needs our help!”

“No, she needs your help!” Saddle Stitch whirled to point at his two accomplices. “It’s too late, she’ll finish the book before we can reach her and then who knows what will happen! The best I can hope is to get over the border to Goatlandia before Princess Celestia finds out!” He flung open the front door and marched outside.

“Before Princess Celestia finds out what?”

Saddle Stitch immediately found himself scurrying backwards indoors like a frightened filly before the imposing figure that stood in the entrance. “Ah, P-P-Princess Celestia!” he gulped out, frantically combing back his mane to regain a degree of composure. “How lovely to see you, I was just taking a morning stroll in my favourite village and...”

Celestia was known for many things – above all else her kindness, her wisdom and her affection towards all others. But there was no warmth in her voice this time as she cut Saddle Stitch off, stalking into the room followed by a plethora of royal guards, staring down at the trembling elderly unicorn with a cold, steely expression. “Saddle Stitch. Where is Twilight Sparkle? Where is The Star In Yellow?”

Saddle Stitch started to feel himself hyperventilate as his worst fears came true, an icy clammy feeling clutching around his heart as the Princess displayed her full contempt towards him. “F-funny story...” he spluttered out, picking up Spike and placing the baby dragon between himself and the Princess as a makeshift shield. “Spike here has done something absolutely terrible and I’m sure he’d love to confess!”

Spike instantly withered before the Princess, throwing his little arms in front of his face as if that would protect him from her wrath. “It’s true!” he cried out. “It’s true, all of it! It’s my fault, everything! I got out the book and gave it to Twilight and now she’s run away and we can’t find her and Saddle Stitch says something awful is going to happen!” He prostrated himself in front of Celestia, warbling away into incoherence.

“No Princess, don’t blame Spike, blame me!” Rainbow Dash bravely stepped in front of the blubbering dragon, flaring up her wings to protect him from view as she looked up at the ruler of Equestria. “I should have... I mean I...” She paused, thinking. “Actually, when all’s said and done, I think I did a rather bang-up job!” A smug grin crossed her face, but then she recovered her modestly. “...but Twilight’s still missing with that terrible book so I guess I could have done more.”

Celestia’s face regained some of its tenderness as she looked down towards the two. “Oh, I don’t blame you” she smiled soothingly.

“...You don’t? That’s great, I’ll be off then.” Saddle Stitch attempted to slip around the Princess and escape, only to be blocked by two stony-faced guards.

“No” Celestia turned on Saddle Stitch, her eyes narrowing into slits as she stepped towards the nervous unicorn. “I blame you! You were the royal librarian! My royal librarian! I trusted you! You had a duty and you squandered it and now I find you here trying to cover up your mistakes rather than doing everything in your power to make things right!”

She looked across at one of the guards, a slight tremble creeping into her tone. “The magic of the book is equal to my own; it has hidden itself from me. Search Ponyville. Search the surrounding countryside. Search everywhere and do not stop until you find Twilight Sparkle. And Saddle Stitch.” She grimaced as she glared back at the librarian. “If even one hair on her head has been harmed because of this, then you’ll have more to worry about than losing your job, I promise.”


There were voices below in the barn. Twilight did not recognise them, but it was obvious that they were after her. From her vantage point in the hay loft she could see the glint of two shiny metal helmets searching the barn. As quickly and quietly as she could, she threw some loose hay over the book and lamp before diving under it herself and staying as quiet as a mouse. They didn’t check the upper level.

Before long, the voices moved off, and Twilight gave a sigh of relief as she pulled the book out of the hay, rubbing it against her cheek. “Don’t worry Yellowstar” she exhaled happily. “We did it! We’re safe!”

Almost as an afterthought, Twilight noticed that the lamp had set fire to the dry hay that she had spread on top of it, which swiftly crackled and hissed as it burst into flame. Any thoughts for her own safety were pushed to the back of her fuzzy mind as she stared at the fire for a short while with disinterest before heaving the burning pile off the ledge and onto the barn floor below. As the smoke spiralled up and the fire started to spread, Twilight’s only thought was that it made it easier to read the book. The immediate threat of the fire was dealt with. After all, she was nearly finished, and finishing the story quickly was the only thing that was important now.

In a blink of the eye, she was no longer in the barn. She was sitting on a pristine beach with Yellowstar, the perfect white sand warm beneath her hooves as they stared out across the sea together. Twilight tilted her head back happily to breath in the cool salty air.

“There’s a storm coming” Yellowstar quietly remarked, and Twilight could see that she was right. Beyond the sea, the sky had turned black, with an occasional flash of lighting to illuminating the approaching broiling mass. “It is the end of the story. I can see it, mere pages away, where I must confront my destiny. But I must be brave, I must, for then I will be free.” She wrapped a wing tightly around Twilight. “Twilight Sparkle, tell me. What is it like to be real?”

Twilight rested her weary head against Yellowstar’s soft side. It was warm and comfy and it helped to diminish the awful growing pounding in her head. “I guess...” She thought hard about this. She had found it harder and harder to come up with her own thoughts these past few days. “I guess in a story there are certain things you have to do. You start in one place and finish in another, learning things along the way, and everything that happens builds up towards the ending. In real life, things just sort of happen and most of the time you’re just sitting on the sidelines. There’s no guarantee that anything you do will have any meaning or add towards any goal, but that’s because you have the choice to do anything.”

Yellowstar considered this. “When I am Princess, Twilight Sparkle, I will fix that. Every pony will have a happy life, and they will be the star of their own story which will be full of meaning. There will be no suffering for the entertainment of others, no cruel authors making us dance like puppets as they twist and torture us and take away our love for their amusement.” Her eyes watered slightly, and her gaze fixed to beyond the distance. “When I was young, Twilight Sparkle, everything was so right, so perfect. I want that back.”

Twilight nodded. “I know Yellowstar, I know you can make it bett – ouch!” She yelped and leapt into the air slightly. The sand was burning her hooves. She blew on them but it only seemed to be getting hotter –

With a start, she realised she was back in the barn again, and the heat that she felt was the fire that spread out across the dry flooring beneath her to form a sea of flame. The beam that held up the loft crackled and burned and with a sickening crunch, Twilight fell through the floor.

“Yellowstar!” Twilight’s first thoughts were not of herself as her body was scratched and scorched by the burning wood. It was of her best friend in the entire world. Her vision span hard as she impacted hard on the ground, finding herself in a small oasis of untouched hay, the fire quickly lapping up towards her. “Yellowstar!” Out of the corner of her eye she saw the book, still lying open and unmarred. It had fallen some distance away, and the fire had not yet touched it, but she knew it wouldn’t be long.

“Yellowstar!” Twilight cried out again and then the air was knocked from her lungs as a heavy burning beam topped onto her, pinning her to the floor in its crushing embrace as she reached out her hoof in the direction of the book in desperation, feeling the heat slowly creeping up her body. “Help me!”

“Twilight Sparkle you must save the book. Do not let me burn!” Yellowstar stood above the flames as if standing on an invisible floor, looking down at the struggling Twilight, urging the young pony on. “I cannot touch the book, you know this. You must finish the story before it is too late!”

As the acrid, billowing smoke started to fill her lungs, Twilight coughed violently, struggling to hear Yellowstar over the crackling of the fire as she strained against the beam that had her trapped. Agonizing inch after inch, she tried to pull her body free, feeling every scratch and scrape. All she could see though was the book, lying tantalisingly out of reach. “I... I can do it!” she panted.

“I know you can.” Yellowstar smiled softly now, tilting her head as if a loving mother towards their child, her own body casting an ethereal, pallid light. “You are my best friend Twilight Sparkle, and I wish we could have had more time together.” Her horn sparkled with a pure yellow light, and Twilight felt the heavy beam lift slightly, allowing her to slowly and painfully pull herself forwards.

Twilight willed herself towards the book. She had lost feeling in several of her legs, but was able to keep dragging her body with one of her front hooves, wincing out as loose splinters dug into her belly, the heat all around her becoming ever more oppressive. She was still fixated on the book in front of her, but she could see Yellowstar’s hooves as they hovered over the dancing flames.

“I would have made you a gala dress, Twilight Sparkle, it would have been the prettiest dress in the world next to mine” Yellowstar dipped her head, her voice soft with an almost sing-song tone as she watched Twilight’s body become wracked by a coughing fit as more smoke filled her lungs. “We would have played together forever under those blue skies, and your life would have been perfect and happy.”

Twilight could only cough in response as the smoke got too thick, pulling herself through a flaming patch of hay to get closer to the book which sat there invitingly. As the smell of burning hair met her nostrils, Twilight hazily became aware that her tail was on fire. She didn’t mind, her purpose was nearly at an end.

“Twilight Sparkle.” Yellowstar soothed as she continued to pace slowly beside the struggling Twilight, her pure white form contrasting the grimy, battered purple pony. “I have led you to this place and you have not failed me. You know how important this is to me and you have been so very valiant in your efforts, but now your task is at an end.” Yellowstar’s eyes pricked with tears as she saw Twilight get nearer and nearer to the book, wheezing and spluttering though the fire as her mane started to singe.

Twilight could barely keep her sore eyes open as she battled onwards, gritting her teeth hard in determination, her vision constantly swimming. Her remaining good hoof stretched out and brushed against the cover of the book. She was so nearly there.

Dimly, she heard a loud cracking like thunder as the fire spread upwards, splitting the struts holding the heavy roof in place. At that moment, she realised that she wasn’t going to make it. But that didn’t matter. As long as she could finish the book.

“Goodbye Twilight Sparkle.” Yellowstar said sadly, her voice a slight tremble. “You are, and forever will be, my most faithful friend.”


The mood in the library was sombre as one after another, Celestia’s guards entered to convey just a curt shake of the head before departing. Princess Celestia stood over a large map of Ponyville and the surrounding areas which now dominated the mostly empty room, with Spike scurrying over it, pen in hand to cross off the areas which had been searched.

Saddle Stitch sat glumly in a corner of the room with plenty of time to imagine his impending fate and more and more areas of the map were crossed off. Still, he comforted himself, at least there’s some dignity in exile. Celestia wouldn’t have a worse fate in mind...

He was shaken from his thoughts by a gasp from Spike. Turning in hope, his heart just as quickly sunk as a downtrodden Rainbow Dash slowly entered, head held low.

“We’ve combed all the Everfree Forest!” she said softly, head downcast as she avoided eye contact with anyone in the room, too distraught at her failure. “Nothing! Nada! It’s like she’s vanished!” Rainbow Dash gulped. “Or worse!”

Celestia just shook her head, a faint motherly smile on her mouth as she comforted Rainbow Dash. “You have done your best, as have all my loyal ponies. We must hope that one of the searchers will prevail and-”

She abruptly stopped speaking as the door was heavily flung open and a large red stallion stomped into the library, an annoyed expression etched onto his face. It wasn’t his appearance that elicited a reaction from the room however, but what he had on his back.

“Ah do believe this here’s Twilight” he drawled, gently placing a ragged, soot covered unconscious pony on the ground, before giving a slight bow to Celestia. “Ma’am. Big Mac at your service.”

“Twilight!” Spike and Rainbow Dash leapt onto the sleeping pony with tears of joy as Saddle Stitch wiped his brow in relief. Twilight’s breathing was a short sharp wheezing and her body was covered in scratches and scorch marks, but otherwise she was unharmed.

“You have my eternal thanks” Celestia gave an uncharacteristic sigh of relief as she looked upon the prone form of Twilight, before fixing the farmer with a more serious gaze. “But tell me, what happened? Where did you find her?”

Big Mac raised an eyebrow quizzically. “You were there Princess” he gruffly huffed. “Ah saw you as clear as day – at least ah assume it was you an’ not your sister, she’s a different colour, right? By the old south barn. It had caught fire and you were dragging this here Twilight out to safety. All cryin’ and wailin’ you were like you was in pain, though there weren’t a mark on you; if I may say it was very unladylike, had me real surprised. Then as ah ran over an’ the barn collapsed, you just vanished with a fancy flicker of magic.” He chewed a strand of straw thoughtfully. “Gotta say Princess, you could’a at least made sure Twi here was okay before leavin’.” Then he quickly added: “ma’am.”

Celestia froze, taking in Big Mac’s words. It was Saddle Stitch who broke the silence, stepping forwards excitedly, his eyes shining and wide. “So...” he exclaimed, gesticulating with a hoof. “You saw this... ‘Celestia’ disappear like... like...”

Big Mac considered slowly. “Like when you throw a bit o’ paper in the fire, an’ it lights up an’ crinkles ‘til there’s nothin’ left. Of course ah know that’s just fancy magic ‘cos ponies ain’t made of paper, an’ I guess you had your reasons for showin’ off Princess.” He gave another stiff, awkward bow. “Now if ya’ll excuse me, ah’ve got to sort out the damage.”

“Thank you. You will of course be compensated for the barn.” Celestia returned Big Mac’s bow with a graceful one of her own. As the farmer turned to leave, she called out “Oh, and Big Macintosh? You will have a particularly good harvest this year.”

Big Mac just gave a grateful nod towards the sun goddess as he left. “Much appreciated ma’am. Much appreciated.”

As the red stallion left, Saddle Stitch punched the air in an uncharacteristic show of joy. “Yes! Oh yes!” He swept back his mane, beaming with relief at the Princess. “You realise what this means Princess? The book burnt – properly this time! Equestria’s not doomed, Ms Sparkle is safe and I can go back to my library and put this whole beastly business behind us...” He trailed off as he realised Celestia was not sharing his enthusiasm for the resolution. Instead she was staring forlornly at the floor. “Princess?” he queried, slightly nervously. “Princess, isn’t that good?”

“Good?” Celestia just slumped her shoulders, before rising to her full height before Saddle Stitch. “No. The book was dangerous, but the destruction of anything is never good, or I would have done that a long time ago.” She shook her head. “You have lost touch with what is truly important Saddle Stitch and if you paid a bit more attention to what your job really meant then this may have been avoided. I am sorry but...”

“Princess, I will accept any punishment you deem fit” Saddle Stich bowed his head in defeat. “Be that exile on some exotic island, imprisonment – “

“I will be taking Twilight back to Canterlot to recuperate.” Celestia cut across him. “It may take some weeks for her to fully recover, and in that time Ponyville will need a librarian.”

“No!” Saddle Stitch threw himself at Celestia’s hooves, shaking in terror. “No please, not that! I’m an academic, a distinguished pony of learning! With degrees in literature! I can’t be seen to work in a common little place like this, I have a reputation to uphold!” He looked around at the empty shelves. “Besides, I burnt all the books!”

“Then you will have to get new books” Celestia looked down sternly. “Books that every pony can enjoy, not just the classics. I hear one ‘Larry Otter’ is popular. I shall return soon, and in that time, if there is not a delightful section for foals full of books about hungry caterpillars and naughty magpies then there will be trouble, do you understand me?”

This was met by a squeal from Saddle Stitch as if he had been stabbed through the heart by Celestia’s horn. He nodded pathetically. “Y-you are most merciful your majesty.”

“Yes, now” Celestia turned towards Spike and Rainbow Dash who were still comforting the unconscious Twilight. “Leave me. All of you. I would be alone with my pupil.”


Twilight slowly and painfully opened her eyes in confusion. They were sore, so sore. Her body ached with a strange throbbing and as she became more and more lucid, the sensations of pain and scratches and burn marks increased. She touched her horn in puzzlement, feeling it safe on her head. A familiar smiling face looked down on her through her blurry vision.


“No Twilight” Celestia gently pulled a blanket over Twilight’s battered form and propped a pillow under her head. “Yellowstar is gone forever now. I am sorry that you were brought into this.”

“There was a fire!” Twilight gave a slight jerk of surprise, staring at one of her soot-covered hooves. “And... and I nearly had the book Princess! It was burning and I nearly had the book and then she pulled me away.” She looked up at Celestia with watery eyes. “I don’t understand. She was so scared and she wanted to be free so badly, and I wouldn’t have minded...”

“Hush Twilight.” Celestia gave her a soft motherly nuzzle. “The book was old, full of powerful, unrestrained magic. It overwhelmed you, but you will be better soon. Do not shed tears for Yellowstar, my pupil, she was not real.”

“You’re wrong Princess” Twilight quietly replied. “She was real in the end, when it mattered. She chose her own ending.” She rubbed her muggy head, feeling the soft cotton wool fuzz in her mind start to fall away. “Would it have been so bad though Princess, if she was free? She just wanted every pony to have a happy ending. I heard Saddle Stitch say she was evil, but... how would he know?”

Celestia just shook her head. “Twilight Sparkle, you know that the real world doesn’t have happy endings, because nothing ever ends. She was not evil, but she was dangerous. She would have pulled down Equestria with all the wisdom of a scared little filly who just wanted the world to be as happy as she remembered it.” Her face drifted into a strange, far-away expression. “When the sky was always blue and the birds always sang and nothing bad ever happened.”

“How did you kn-“ Twilight started, and then frowned. Her mind was working properly again, thinking clearly for the first time in days, and it was obvious. So obvious. She knew how the story ended. Her eyes fixed on Celestia’s Cutie Mark. The sun. The yellow star. “Princess Celestia...” she asked gently, “why did you write the book?”

“Oh Twilight.” Celestia slowly sat down beside Twilight, holding her close with her wing. “If I ever thought that any pony, especially you, could have been hurt by the book...” she trailed off. "I was young and naive and what does one write about when they are young but themselves? I would look out of the castle and invent magical adventures for myself. I put all my happiness in there, all my love and compassion. And then as I grew older, I wrote about my sadness and grief and pain until it became full of my heartbreak.”

“The story was not how things were, but how they felt,” Twilight echoed backwards, recalling the earlier words of Yellowstar.

“Yes and –” Celestia closed her eyes momentarily. “Twilight, you must believe me. When I realised that my youthful raw, untrained magic had brought those feelings to life, it was too late to undo it. But I could not bring myself to destroy it. So I had it locked in the royal archives where its dangerous power could not harm anypony and it would be safe.”

“And now it’s gone.” Twilight simply replied.


“Princess?” Twilight raised her head to look hopefully towards Celestia. “If you wrote it once, could you write it again? Yellowstar, she... she wasn’t a bad pony. She deserved a happy ending.” She weakly placed booth hooves before Celestia in a heartfelt plea. “Please. For me?”

Celestia just wordlessly stood and kissed Twilight’s head. “No” she gently replied. “Even if I wanted to, I could not. The power of the book lay in that first impassioned act of writing and the emotion poured into it. I no longer feel that way. Now that the book is destroyed, its magic is broken and not even a thousand copies could make her live again. Rest now Twilight, I will take care of you.”

Twilight slowly sunk her head to the floor and closed her eyes. “I see” she whispered hoarsely.

As Twilight fell into a peaceful sleep, the like of which she had not known for several nights, Celestia stood over her quietly, keeping watch. “You are, and forever will be, my most faithful student.”

For the rest of the day, the sky was a perfect blue.


One week later, in a room atop the highest spire of the highest tower of the grandest part of Canterlot Castle, sat Twilight Sparkle. The room around her was covered in tomes and parchments and ink pots but the desk in front was bare, save for a simple gilt-lined book that lay open. Her brow furrowed, Twilight slowly and carefully used her magic to raise the quill from the page without blotting it with ink. She knew what Celestia had told her was the truth, that Yellowstar was gone. But yet there was still the need for closure even if it was just a token gesture. A final act of friendship.

For a while she stared blankly at what she had written, a frown of disappointment creasing upon her face. “Is that it?” she muttered bitterly to herself, sighing. “Is that the best you could do Twilight?”

The words stared back at her.

Once upon a time there was lovely little pony called Yellowstar who lived with her sister and mother and father in the happiest village ever. The sky was always blue and the birds always sang and nothing bad ever happened to her.

It wasn’t very good. Twilight’s critical facilities nagged at her as she stewed over what she had written. Finally, with a smile, she lowered the quill once more and scribbled down some final words. “There,” she whispered. “Perfect.”

And they all lived happily ever after, forever and ever and ever.

The end.

Author's Notes

This is probably the story of mine which most needs author notes appended to the end by way of "what were you thinking of Blueshift?" so here we go!

There are some obvious influences, and less obvious ones. The story as a whole is based on the 19th century book 'The King In Yellow' by Robert Chambers. This is generally referred to as a proto-Lovecraftian tale, and inspired a lot of the later Lovecraft mythos. That's not to say this is a horror story of course, far from it! It is very much 'The King In Yellow' though a pony filter, meaning it's much more lighter. I can't help but think I disappointed some people by not making the story horror, but then I don't feel that outright horror has much place in Pony.

The King In Yellow is actually a quite odd book, and I'd urge anyone who hasn't read it yet to do so. It's not an outright horror as we know it - there are no monsters, exploding heads, gore, any of that. Instead the horror comes from the fear of the unknown and strange unsettling events that are designed to unnerve the reader. Part of The King In Yellow revolves around a book that drives you mad if you read it, and it is that at the most basic level that I homaged for this story, though there's also an attempt to replicate the 'unsettling' atmosphere, albeit in a different manner to the original.

The other big inspiration is of course, Yellowstar. This story is about fanfiction, our reactions to it and more importantly, where the drive to write it comes from. Not in a snide, mocking way, or a gushing hugbox way, but a genuine attempt to explore how we respond to the world and other fictional works through writing. As such I really wanted to use an actual 'original character' and thankfully Mast88 was kind enough to both allow me to use her, and happy for me to use her in the way I had planned.

As a story about fiction, it was really an attempt at exploring our relationship with fanfiction, something that really interests me. It could almost have the alternate title of "How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Mary-Sue". What drives us to write? What is the real role of the author and the reader? Is the act of writing one of catharsis or creation, intellectual or emotional? Are we trying to explain reality or bridge the gap between our expectations and reality? And of course in the end, Twilight deals with the events of the story by writing her own fan fiction. You are completely free to ignore all this though, I do like to have lots of themes floating in the background, but they're not integral to enjoying the story, which is a narrative of its own.

Yellowstar is a strange case in herself. She was created by Mast88 (check out his Deviantart page here: ) and soon became infamous for a series of comics written in broken English in which Yellowstar wanders about Ponyville being the most blatant Mary-Sue possible. She teaches Rainbow Dash how to fly, she lectures Fluttershy on how to look after animals, she flabbergasts Rarity with how stylish she is, and so on. Oh yes, also she's the seventh Element of Harmony (solidarity). This should sound awful, but at the same time it's very charming and a lot of artists have picked up the baton and drawn a lot of fantastic art about her. In my mind, she's pretty much the ambassador for Mary-Sues, though of course in this story her origin is far different.

Yellowstar in this story IS fanfiction. She is a Mary-Sue who is trying to break into the 'real' world, the world of the show. She can't, of course. Despite all her good intentions, the Mary-Sue can't exist side by side with reality since it would tear down the narrative framework. The tragedy is that she wants to be real without wanting the baggage of reality that comes with such a feat, and so instead reinterpret reality as dragging Equestria into the equivalent of a children's storybook. Interestingly enough, that sort of simplistic, conflict-free environment was pretty much what G3 was. Is it dramatically better? No. Is it morally better? I'm actually not sure.

I actually found myself liking Yellowstar the more I wrote the story. In the early conception stages she was going to be more obviously a villain - some malevolent force that attempts to trick Twilight or destroy the world though her general Mary-Sueness. But that's the easy way out. No-one is ever really motivated by just being evil; Yellowstar genuinely wanted to help others and felt trapped by her fictional existence. The results of her actions would have been bad, but she was in no way 'evil'. There's a bit of a bait and switch here for the audience too - by the conventions of the genre, the reader is sure that the book is evil (we are even told this explicitly by one of the characters) and so Yellowstar must be evil and must be trying to trick Twilight. Only she's not. I like to think that there is added value in being able to go back over the story and read it again once you know what it is about and gaining a completely different appreciation of events.

While it wasn't a huge inspiration, I always had in mind a poem by Lucy Clifford from the cult 1882 book 'Anyhow Stories.' This is a really weird children’s book with some of the most unsettling stories written for children you'll ever read. The whole text is here:

In the poem 'The Paper Ship', the writer sails away to sea in a paper ship and comes to a strange land made out of card and paint and meets the dolls that live there:

"What shall we do to be real?" they cried, "What shall we do to be real? We none of us feel, though we look so nice, And talk of the vague ideal." And all of them seemed to know so much, But none of them laughed or sang; And none of the fires had ever a blaze, And none of the bells e'er rang.

And people walked and talked of life, And all of them looked so grave; Yet none of them ever had life, my dear, Or ever a soul to save.

Not sure about you, but I get the chills.

Another big influence that crept in is Grant Morrison's Animal Man comics. For those of you who aren't huge nerds, in the 80s Grant Morrison wrote a comic for DC about the obscure 60s hero Animal Man. It starts out bizarre and gets even more and more stranger as Animal Man slowly discovers that he is a fictional character, and that the job of the author is not to make a character happy, but have bad things happen to them for the amusement of the reader. It ends with Animal Man confronting Morrison, who apologies for not being a better writer and being unable to find a way around pandering to the baser instincts of humanity with shocks and violence. It's amazing and I urge you to pick up the trades today!

Finally the songs by Pink Floyd 'Two Suns In The Sunset' and 'The Gunner's Dream' factored heavily in the writing!

Why does the story end like it does? A few people have mentioned that they felt the ending was strange. That's very, very deliberate on my part. That was the plan from the beginning, and if you go back to chapter 1, you'll find plenty of clues there. The true victory is that Yellowstar spends the tale attempting one way to break free from her narrative and become 'real' and eventually does so by prematurely ending the story of which she is the main character, causing the entire narrative to break. There's no final confrontation and the main 'finale' takes place unseen, relayed as a story within a story. It's supposed to be unsatisfying, in a strange satisfying way - there's a lack of catharsis, a gap which has to be filled by the act of writing. The ending with Twilight caps this off, saying 'yes, I know, now what?' I'm very interested in stories where there is an uncomfortable disconnect between the reader and the text at some point. Sometimes it works, sometimes people don't like it, but it is always on purpose.

Of course, if the authorial voice has no control over the interpretation of the story, does that change the ending where so much of the explanation of what has happened hinges on the correct authorial interpretation by the writer of the book? (In my mind, for the record, what is said is what has happened).

I'm sorry if I've waffled on a bit, but this is a story I really enjoyed writing, and it fills me with delight whenever I see any feedback on it, so please let me know what you think if you've not already!

Lastly, let's have some art!

"The Star In Yellow" by CSIMadmax

"Yellowstar Is Best Pony" by C-Puff

"Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle" by me!