Hey all, I just wanted to let you all take a look at my new fanfiction, Demon Heart. This is essentially a retelling of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart Trilogy, but before you start damning this piece of writing, I ask that you check it out, and understand that I plan to not only follow the original story and style of Inkheart, but also add characters and situations that wouldn't have been possible in the original trilogy. I plan to post each chapter here on this thread after I complete it, but I also ask that you follow it on FIMFiction as well. Now without further adieu, here it is. Spoiler: 1 Stranger In The Night 1 A Stranger in the NightRain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Nyx had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny foals running across the window pane. A bolt of lightning illuminated the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned Nyx couldn’t get to sleep The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against the alicorn’s ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages. “I’m sure it must be comfortable sleeping with a large, hard, rectangular ting like that under your head,” her brother had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. “Go on, admit it, the book imparts its knowledge to you as you sleep.” “Sometimes, yes,” Nyx had said. “But it only works when you’re not trying to learn.” Which made Spike collapse in a heap, laughing his draconic voice hoarse until Twilight had to come see what all the fuss was about. Twilight and Spike. Nyx had never called them anything other than ‘mother’ and ‘brother’. That night – when so much began and so many things changed forever – Nyx had one of her favorite books under her pillow, and since the rain wouldn’t let her sleep she sat up, rubbed the drowsiness from her eyes, and took it out. Its pages rustled promisingly when she opened it. Nyx thought this first whisper sounded a little different from one book to another, depending on whether or not she already knew the story it was going to tell her. But she needed light. Her cat-like eyes only worked so well in the dark. It was times like these that made being an alicorn convenient, needing only to focus a bit of magic into her horn to illuminate the dark. Nyx loved to read books by horn-light, though Twilight had forbidden her from doing it. “Horn-light ruins your eyesight,” she always said, but Nyx was a ten year old filly, surely she could be trusted to keep the light dim enough to preserve her eyesight. She was just adjusting the light when she heard hoofsteps outside. She extinguished her light in alarm – oh, how she remembered it, even many years later – and knelt to look out the window, which was wet with rain. Then she saw him. The rain cast a kind of pallor on the darkness, and the stranger was little more than a shadow. Only his face gleamed white as he looked up at the library. His mane clung to his body. The rain was falling on him, but he ignored it. And he kept on staring at the library. ‘I need to go tell mom’ thought Nyx. But she stayed put, her heart thudding, and went on gazing out into the night as if the stranger’s stillness had infected her. Suddenly, he turned his head, and Nyx felt as if he were looking straight into her eyes. She shot off the bed so fast the open book fell to the floor, and she ran as fast as her little hooves would carry her out into the dark corridor. This was the end of May, but it was chilly in the organic library. There was still a light on in Twilight’s room. She often stayed up reading late into the night. Nyx had inherited her love of books from her the night she was born, through a spell that combined the remnants of Nightmare Moon, and the blood of her mother, Twilight Sparkle. When memories of the dark times that followed that spell haunted her, and she was taking refuge with Twilight, nothing could lull her to sleep better than Twilight’s calm breathing beside her and the sound of the pages turning. Nothing chased nightmares away faster than the rustle of printed paper. But the figure outside the library was no dream. The book Twilight was reading that night was bound in pale blue linen. Later, Nyx remembered that, too. What unimportant little details stick in the memory. “Mom, there’s someone watching the library!” Her mother raised her head and looked at Nyx with the usual absent expression she wore whenever she was interrupted like this. It always took her a few moments to find her way out of that other world, that labyrinth of printed letters. “Someone out watching the library? Really?” “Yes. He’s staring at the library.” Spike yawned from his basket next to Twilight’s bed. “And what were you reading before you went to bed? Sea Breeze and the Lightning Thief?” Nyx frowned. “Please, just come and look.” They didn’t believe her, but they went any way. Nyx tugged them along the corridor with her magic so impatiently that they managed to trip on multiple piles of books, which was hardly surprising. There were always stacks of books after Twilight’s extended study periods. Stacks that Spike had to return to designated spots in the morning. “He’s just standing there!” whispered Nyx, leading Twilight and Spike into her room. “Has he got a hairy face?” asked Spike. “He could be a werewolf.” “Oh, stop it!” Nyx looked at the dragon sternly, although his jokes made her feel less scared. Already, she hardly believed anymore in the figure standing in the rain – until she knelt down again at the window. “There! Do you see him?” she whispered. Twilight and Spike gazed out through the raindrops running down the pane. They glanced at each other, a silent conversation going on between the two, before retuning their gaze to the figure. “Didn’t you promise burglars would never break into a library because there’s nothing to steal?” whispered Nyx. “He’s no burglar Nyx,” replied Twilight, but as she stepped back from the window her face was so grave that Nyx’s heart thudded faster than ever. “Go back to bed Nyx,” she said. “Make sure she stays there Spike. This visitor has come to see me.” She left the room before Nyx could ask what kind of visitor, for Celestia’s sake, turned up in the middle of the night? Spike left the room soon after, planting himself just outside the room to make sure she wouldn’t sneak out. Nyx was ready for this though. After the Nightmare Moon fiasco, Nyx’s magic had been drained, but since then, she had recovered enough to regain some of the Nightmare’s tricks. In particular, her mist disguise. Nyx dissolved into a turquoise mist and stealthily made her way past the great wall of Spike. She reformed a little ways past him, and continued to follow her mother anxiously. As she crept down the stairs leading to the library, and more importantly, the door, she heard Twilight taking the chain off the door, and when she reached the library she saw her standing in the open doorway. The night came in, dark and damp, and the rushing of rain sounded loud and threatening. “Dusk?” called Twilight into the darkness. “Dusk Shine! Is that you?” ‘Dusk Shine? Who would want a name similar to mom’s?’ Nyx couldn’t remember ever hearing it before, yet it sounded familiar, like a distant memory that wouldn’t take shape properly. At first, all seemed still outside except for the rain falling, murmuring as if the night had found its voice. But then hoofsteps approached the library, and the stallion emerged from the darkness of the square, his black cloak so wet with rain that it clung to his legs. For a split second, as the stranger stepped into the light spilling out of the library, Nyx thought she saw a small furry head by his flank, snuffling as it looked out of his saddlebag and then quickly disappearing into it. Dusk wiped his wet face with his sleeve before offering Twilight his hoof. “How are you, Silvertongue?” he asked. “It’s been a long time.” Hesitantly, Twilight took the outstretched hoof. “A very long time,” she said, looking past the visitor as if he expected to see another figure emerge from the night. “Come in, you’ll catch your death. Nyx says you’ve been standing out there for some time.” “Nyx? Ah yes, of course.” Dusk let Twilight lead him into the library. He scrutinized Nyx so thoroughly she felt quite embarrassed and didn’t know where to look. In the end she just stared back. “She’s grown.” “You remember her?” “Of course.” Nyx noticed that Twilight double-locked the door. “How old is she now?” Dusk smiled at her. It was a strange smile. Nyx couldn’t decide whether it was mocking, supercilious, or just awkward. She didn’t smile back. “Ten,” said Twilight. “Ten? My word!” Dusk pushed his dripping mane out of his eyes. Nyx wondered what color it was dry. While wet it looked almost black with streaks of color going through the middle, like the fur of the stray cat Nyx sometimes fed with a saucer of milk outside the door. “Ten,” he repeated. “Of course. She was…let’s see, she was three then, wasn’t she?” Twilight nodded. “Come on, I’ll get a fire going.” Impatiently, as if she were suddenly in a hurry to hide the stallion from Nyx, she led her visitor to her private library. “And, Nyx,” she said over her shoulder, “you go back to bed.” Then, without another word, she closed the door to the library. Nyx stood there rubbing her cold hooves together. Go back to bed. Sometimes, when they’d stayed up late yet again, Twilight would tickle her into exhaustion. Sometimes she chased her around the library after supper, creating quite the mess for a certain teenaged dragon to clean up, until Nyx escaped to her room, breathless with laughter. And sometimes Twilight was so tired she lay down on the sofa and Nyx made her a cup of tea before she went to bed. But Twilight had never ever sent her off to her room so brusquely. A foreboding, clammy and fearful, came into her heart as if, with the visitor whose name was so strange yet somehow familiar, some menace had slipped into her life. And she wished – so hard it frightened her – that she had never gone to get Twilight and Dusk Shine had stayed outside until the rain washed him away. When the door to the library opened again she jumped. “Still there, I see,” said Twilight. “Go to bed Nyx. Please.” Her mane was sticking up in random spots, the way it did when something was really bothering her, and she seemed to look straight through Nyx as if her thoughts were somewhere else entirely. The foreboding in Nyx’s heart grew, extending black talons. “Send him away, mom!” she said as Twilight gently propelled her towards the stairs. “Please! Send him away. I don’t like him.” Twilight leaned in the doorway between the library and residence. “He’ll be gone when you get up in the morning. Word of honor.” “Word of honor – no crossed hooves?” Nyx looked at her straight in the eye. She could always tell when Twilight was lying, however hard she tried to hide it from her. “No crossed hooves,” she said, moving herself to a spot where Nyx could easily see the rest of her. The Twilight turned around and went back to her private library. Nyx stood stock still, listening. She could here the clink of china. So the strange stallion was getting a nice cup of tea to warm him up. ‘I hope he catches pneumonia,’ thought Nyx ‘…though he needn’t necessarily die of it.’ Nyx heard the kettle whistling in the kitchen and Twilight carrying a tray of clattering crockery back to her library. When the door closed she forced herself to wait a few seconds, just to be on the safe side. Then she silently crept her way back to the library. There was a sign hanging on the door of Twilight’s private library, a small metal plaque. Nyx knew the words on it by heart. When she was still settling into the library, before the Nightmare Moon fiasco, she had often practiced reading the old-fashioned, spindly lettering: Some books should be tasted Some devoured But only a few Should be chewed and digested thoroughly. Back then she had thought the chewing and digesting were meant literally and wondered, horrified, why Twilight had hung on the library door the words of somepony who vandalized books. Spike had eventually explained to her what the plaque really meant, but tonight, she wasn’t interested in written words. Spoken words were what she wanted to hear, the words being exchanged by the mare and the stallion on the other side of the door. “Don’t underestimate her!” she heard Dusk say. His voice was so different from Twilight’s. No one else in the world had a voice like her mother’s. Twilight could paint pictures in the empty air with her voice alone. “She’d do anything to get hold of it.” That was Dusk again. “And when I say ‘anything’, I can assure you I mean anything.” “I’ll never let her have it.” That was Twilight. “She’ll still get her hooves on it, one way or another! I tell you, they’re on your trail.” “It wouldn’t be the first time. I’ve always managed to leave a false trail before.” “Oh yes? And for how much longer, do you think? What about your daughter? Are you telling me she hasn’t gotten suspicious when you go and disappear for large chunks of time? Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.” It was so quiet behind the door that Nyx scarcely dared breathe in case the two unicorns heard her. Finally, her mother spoke again, hesitantly, as if her tongue found it difficult to form the words. “Then what do you think I ought to do?” “Come with me. I’ll take you to them.” A cup clinked. The sound of a spoon against china. How loud small noises sound in a silence. “You know how much Blackfire thinks of your talents. She’d be glad if you took it to her of your own free well, I’m sure she would. The mare she found to replace you is useless.” Blackfire. Another peculiar name. Dusk had uttered it as if the mere sound might scorch his tongue. Nyx shifted her chilly hooves and wrinkled her cold muzzle. She didn’t understand much of what the two unicorns were saying, but she tried to memorized every single word of it. It was quiet again in the workshop. “Oh, I don’t know,” said Twilight at last. She sounded so weary it tore at Nyx’s heart. “I’ll have to think about it. When do you think her stallions will get here?” “Soon!” The word dropped like a stone into the silence. “Soon,” repeated Twilight. “Very well. I’ll have made up my mind by tomorrow. Do you have somewhere to sleep?” “Oh, I can always find a place,” replied Dusk. “I’m managing quite well these days, although it’s still all much too fast for me.” His laugh was not a happy one. “But I’d like to know what you decide. May I come back tomorrow? About midday?” “Yes, of course. I’ll be picking Nyx up from school at one-thirty. Come after that.” Nyx heard a chair being pushed back and quickly dissolved into mist again. When the door of the library opened she was already back in her room. Pulling the covers up to her chin, she lay there listening as her mother bid Dusk goodnight. “And thank you for the warning anyway,” she heard her add as Dusk’s hoofsteps moved away, slowly and uncertainly, as if he were reluctant to leave, as if he hadn’t said everything he’d wanted to say. But at least he was gone, and only the rain kept drumming its wet hooves on Nyx’s window. When Twilight opened the door of her room she quickly closed her eyes and tried to breathe as slowly as you do in a deep, innocent sleep. But Twilight wasn’t stupid. In fact, she was sometimes terribly clever. “Nyx, show me your tail,” she told her. Reluctantly, Nyx pulled the covers up till her purple tail was visible. It was now a magical cloud of stars. “I knew it!” she said. You’ve been spying. Can’t you use your magic to do as I tell you, just for once?” sighing she pulled Nyx’s covers back down over the end of the bed. Then she sat down on her bed, passed her hooves over her tired face and looked out of the window. Her mane was as dark a purple as the pre-dawn twilight she was named for. Nyx had a light purple mane, like Princess Luna when she was younger. “You should be glad you’re so much like her,” Twilight had always said. “My face wouldn’t look good at all on your head.” But Nyx wished she did look more like her. There wasn’t a face in the world she loved more. “I didn’t hear what you were saying anyway,” she murmured. “Good.” Twilight stared out of the window as if Dusk were still standing in the square. Then she rose and went to the door. “Try to get some sleep,” she said. But Nyx didn’t want to sleep. “Dusk Shine! What sort of name is that?” she asked. “And why does he call you Silvertongue?” Twilight didn’t reply. “And this pony who’s looking for you – I heard what Dusk called her. Blackfire. Who is she?” “No one you want to meet.” Her mother didn’t turn around. “I thought you didn’t hear anything. Good night, Nyx.” She left the door open. The light from the hallway fell on her bed, mingling with the darkness of the night that seeped in through the window, and Nyx lay there waiting for the dark to disappear and take her fear of some evil menace away with it. Only later did she understand that the evil had not appeared for the first time that night. It had just slunk back in. Spoiler: 2 Secrets 2 SecretsIt was early dawn when Nyx woke up. Night was fading over the rooftops of Ponyville as if the rain had washed the darkness out of the hem of its garment. The alarm clock said just before five, and Nyx was going to turn over and go back to sleep when she suddenly sensed someone else in the room. Startled, she sat up and saw Twilight standing by her open closet door. “Hello,” she said, putting Nyx’s vest in a saddlebag. “I’m sorry, I know it’s very early, but we have to leave. Spike’s down in the kitchen making breakfast.” Still drowsy with sleep, Nyx nodded. Outside, the birds were twittering loudly as if they’d been awake for hours. Twilight packed another vest and a pair of glasses in her saddlebag, closed it, and carried it to the door. “Wear your vest and glasses today,” she said. “We don’t want to draw any attention to us.” “Where are we going?” asked Nyx, but Twilight had already disappeared. She looked out of the window, feeling confused. She almost expected to see Dusk Shine, but there was only a blackbird in the square hopping along the edge of the fountain, which was wet from both the rain and the fountain and the fountain itself. Nyx put on her vest, careful to tuck her wings inside, grabbed her glasses and stumbled into the kitchen. A set of saddlebags, a travel bag, and what seemed like a small mountain of books stood out in the hall. Spike was standing in front of the stove, making pancakes and cocoa for breakfast, while her mother sat at the kitchen table making sandwiches for the journey. When Nyx came into the kitchen Twilight looked up briefly and smiled at her, but Nyx could see she was worried about something. “Mom, we can’t go away now!” she said. “The school holidays don’t start for another week!” “Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had to go away on business during the school term.” She was right about that. In fact, Twilight went away quite often, whenever an antique dealer, a book collector, or a library needed their books re-shelved, re-catalogued or restored and commissioned Twilight to restore their library, freeing them of clutter and dust or restoring books to pristine condition. Nyx didn’t think the word librarian described Twilight’s work well, and a few years ago she had made her a sign to hang on the door of her private library saying TWILIGHT SPARKLE, BOOK KEEPER. And the book keeper never left the library without making sure her daughter was in good hooves, or rather, good claws, going so far as to pull Nyx out of school whenever she left on business. They had always done that and they always would, never mind what Cheerilee said. At least until today… “How about cutie pox? Have I used that excuse already?” “Yeah, last time,” Spike said, placing a large stack of pancakes and a piping hot mug of cocoa in front of Nyx. “When you had to go reorganize the Princesses’ library.” Nyx scrutinized her mother’s face. “Mom. Is it…is it because of last night we have to go?” For a moment she thought Twilight was going to tell her everything – Whatever there was to tell. But then she shook her head. “No, of course not,” she said, putting the sandwiches she had made into a paper bag. “The Princesses and I have a friend called the Doctor. We visited him once, you were very young. He’s been wanting me to come put his library in order for a long time. He lives beside a lake on the border of the Crystal Empire, I always forget which lake, but it’s a lovely place, a day’s journey by train.” Twilight didn’t look at Nyx as she spoke. Nyx wanted to ask: ‘But why do we have to go now?’ But she didn’t. Nor did she ask if she had forgotten that she was meeting someone at midday. She was too afraid of the answers – and she didn’t want Twilight to lie to her again. “Is this friend as crazy as some of your other friends?” was all she said. Twilight’s friends and fellow bearers of the Elements of Harmony had long since went their separate ways, with only Applejack and Fluttershy still living in Ponyville. Rainbow Dash, after finally achieving her dream of becoming captain of the Wonderbolts, now lived up at the Wonderbolts Academy, training new recruits, and doing stunt shows. Rarity, on the other hoof, was now a successful and extremely popular fashion designer with boutiques all across Equestria. As for Pinkie Pie, no one really knew where or what she was doing, since she kept popping up in the most random places. ===================================================================================== “That’s right!” Gah! Pinkie, don’t sneak up on me like that! Can’t you see I’m trying to write Nyx’s story here?!? “Oh D, don’t be silly” giggled Pinkie. “Pen Stroke already wrote Nyx’s story!” It’s a continuation. Now get back in that computer where you belong! “Fine, but you’ll be seeing me again soon!” said Pinkie, jumping back into the computer screen Sorry about that readers. Now back to the story! ===================================================================================== Twilight smiled. “Oh, yes. Though crazy is a bit of an understatement for him. But you’ll get along just fine with him.” “So how long are we going to be away?” “It could be quite some time.” Nyx took a sip of her cocoa. It was so hot she burned her lips and had to quickly press the cold blade of a butter knife to her mouth. Twilight pushed her chair back. “I have to pack a few more things in my library,” she said. “It won’t take long. You must be very tired, but you can sleep once we’re on the train.” Nyx just nodded and looked out of the kitchen window. It was a grey morning. Mist drifted through the empty streets of Ponyville, and Nyx felt as if the shadows of the night were still hiding in the alleyways. “Pack up the food and take plenty to read!” Twilight called from downstairs. As if she didn’t always! Years ago Twilight had had Big Macintosh make a box to hold Nyx’s favorite books whenever they went on trips, short and long, near and far. “It’s a good idea to have your own books with you in a strange place,” Twilight always said. She herself always took at least half her library with her, using an undetectable extension spell on her saddlebags to get them all to fit. Nyx had painted the box red. Red, like the capes the Cutie Mark Crusaders always wore. She had decorated the lid with a yellow filly rearing on her back hooves, against a blue shield shape. The Cutie Mark Crusaders emblem. The box was lined with shiny black taffeta, but you could hardly see any fabric because Nyx had a great many favorite books, and she always added another whenever they went to visit her grandparents. “If you take a book with you on a journey,” Twilight had said when she put the first one in her, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the cupcakes you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper – memories cling to the printed page better than anything else. She was probably right, but there was another reason Nyx took her books whenever they went away. They were her home when she was somewhere strange, which was almost every time she visited her grandparents, since they moved around a lot. Her books were familiar voices, friends that never quarreled with her, clever, powerful friends – daring and knowledgeable, tried and tested adventurers who had traveled far and wide. Her books cheered her up when she was sad and kept her from being bored while Twilight organized and re-catalogued, restored and renewed what countless hooves leafed through on a daily basis. Some of her books always went away with Nyx. Others were left at home because they weren’t right for where she was going or to make room for new, unknown stories she hadn’t yet read. Nyx stroked their curved spines. Which books should she take this time? Which stories would help to drive away the fear that had crept into the house last night? ‘I know,’ thought Nyx, ‘why not a story about telling lies?’ Twilight told her lies. She told terrible lies, even though she knew that every time she told one Nyx looked hard at her muzzle. ‘Pinocchio’ thought Nyx. ‘No, too sinister. And too sad.’ But she wanted something exciting, a story to drive all other thoughts out of her head, even the darkest. Eragon, yes. She’d take the dragon riding colt who battled evil – and Hearts of Harmony, with the heartless, and the many fantastic worlds with all sorts of creatures, great and small. Her journey could hardly be more than the heroin’s, could it? On the left-hoof side of the box there were two picture books that Nyx had used when she taught herself to read – a single day old, she’d been, and you could still see where her tiny hooves had moved across the pages – and right at the bottom, hidden under all the others, was the book Nyx had written herself. She had spent countless weeks reminiscing and interviewing, all in an attempt to write a detailed account of her birth, and the time she spent as Nightmare Moon, entitled Past Sins. Twilight had sent it off to get published, of course, but only under the name of ‘Pen Stroke’. Nopony needs the celebrity attention at the age of four. But Twilight had never read it aloud to her. Not once. She had tossed Nyx up in the air, she had carried her on her back to school, she had taught her how to make a book mark of a blackbird’s feathers. But she had never read aloud to her. Never once, not a single word, however often she put books in front of her. Nyx straightened up. There was still a little room in the box. Perhaps Twilight had a new book she could take, an especially big, fat, wonderful book… The door to Twilight’s library was closed. “Mom?” Nyx pressed the handle down with her magic. The huge shelves where Twilight kept her extensive collection of books had been completely emptied, with not a book nor a pamphlet in sight. Twilight had packed everything. Had she been lying after all? Nyx went into the library and looked around. The door to the Vault was open. The Vault was really just a storage room, but Nyx had given the little cubby hole that name because it was where her mother stored her most dangerous magical items: combat spell books, the Alicorn Amulet, just about anything dangerous that she came across went in there. Nyx put her head around the open door and saw Twilight encasing a book in some of the most complex protective spells Nyx had ever seen. It was not a particularly large book and not especially fat. The green linen binding looked worn, but that was all Nyx could see because Twilight quickly hid the book as soon as she noticed her. “What are you doing here?” she snapped. “I-“ For a moment Nyx was speechless with shock, Twilight’s face was so dark. “I only wanted to ask if you had a new book for me. I’ve read all the ones in my room, and…” Twilight passed a hoof over her face. “Yes, of course. I’m sure I can find something,” she said, but her eyes were saying: ‘Go away, go away Nyx’. “I’ll be with you in a moment,” she said. “I have a few more things I need to pack. OK?” A little later Twilight brought her three books, but the one she had been wrapping in spells wasn’t one of them. *** An hour later, Nyx and Twilight were making their way to the train station. Nyx shivered when she stepped outside. It was chilly after the night’s rain, and the sun hung in the sky like a pale coin lost by someone high up in the clouds. “Sweet Celestia, what did you pack in her? Rocks?” asked Twilight as she carried Nyx’s book box to the train station. “You’re the one who says books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them,” said Nyx, making Twilight laugh for the first time that morning. The train, standing in the station, prepping for departure, was almost a second home for Nyx, on account of how often she visited her grandparents. Years ago, Princess Celestia had bought out one of the passenger cars for the Elements of Harmony, allowing the Bearers free travel across Equestria. Nyx was fond of the train, but this morning she hesitated to board. When Twilight teleported back to the library to make sure Spike would be OK, she suddenly felt they would never come back here, that this journey was going to be different than any other, that they would travel farther and farther away, in flight from something that had no name. Or at least none that Twilight was about to tell her. “All right then, off we go north,” was all she said as she popped back next to Nyx. And so they climbed the stairs to the train, without saying goodbye to anyone, on a morning that still seemed much too early and smelled of rain. But Dusk Shine was waiting for them, leaning against the train.