I'm so, so sorry for the massive inactivity. Coming back from Vegas caused chaos on my productivity.
I'm aiming to get the new chapter out today between 6pm-11.59pm CST, however, I want to draw a second picture for the chapter, and am yet to start it. I may just proofread the chapter and publish it with just this illustration though, because it has been nearly a month since the last chapter release, and that is unacceptable.
I took my time with this piece, trying out a bunch of different things with the setting and additional characters, before dedicating myself to shading multiple light sources onto Fluttershy. I reckon it worked out nicely, but it could do with being more dramatic and complicated for it to be impressive. But overall, I'm pleased with what I ended up with.
Continue below for the chapter excerpt!
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“What a touching sentiment.” said a voice.
My eyes nearly popped out of my skull. I leapt onto my hooves and spun around in shock, searching for the owner. I was surrounded by a dark, purple smoke, with barely enough light to see my hoof in front of my face.
“Too bad it won’t change anything; you’ll still be alone.” The voice was near, and constantly changing from male to female and back again. My ears twitched and jerked at every sound, while prickles ran up my spine. I started to back away, keeping my eyes wide open and alert for the anything lurking in the purple fog. I knew this place from somewhere, and it meant terrifying things, but everywhere I looked was an endless mass of purple fog. I had nowhere to run.
“Imagine you found all of your precious Elements, hmm? Better yet, let’s act out a little play!” The voice laughed as six puffs of smoke separated from the endless mass and rapidly transformed into an exact copy of the Elements of Harmony. Before I could react, the Element of Kindness flew over to me and attached itself around my neck, while the others began to float around me. The voice continued, becoming deeper and deeper with each breath. “So you’ve got your Elements of Harmony, now what do you do? Put them aside somewhere and carry out the rest of your life alone? Hope they somehow vanquish the evil in the world? Don’t tell me you think you can bring everypony back from their eternal prison!”
“W-who are you?!” I stuttered, cowering where I stood.
There was a pause, and suddenly a shadowy mass rose up in front of me, taking on the silhouette of a floating Dragon head. It looked down at me with a wide grin. “I am your nightmare, Fluttershy.”
I shrieked and turned flee, galloping away from the hysterical laughter of the ghastly figure. The Elements circling around followed me, and began to glow – including my own.
A serpent-like shadow flew up from the ground, levelling its hollow gaze with mine. I backpedaled with a scream, much to the joy of the shadow. It looked just like Discord.
“What’s the matter?” A distant voice chided. “Can’t take a little prank? Well you will never have to deal with this creature again!” The Discord shadow burst into nothingness and reappeared behind me, this time with a forlorn expression on his face.
The voice didn’t stop its taunts, and summoned the silhouettes of Princess Celestia and Luna to join Discord. “These huffy and puffy sisters are also out of the picture! Now you’ll never be told what to do ever again!” The smoke started to shape up a small form, and a ghostly image of Angel Bunny looking mortified appeared.
“No!” I whimpered.
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!” the shadow voice sang in joy. “This little scamp won’t be throwing tantrums near you for a long time. Sooner or later, he’ll probably become some creature’s dinner too!”
“Angel…” I sniffled. My hoof passed through the form like it weren’t there. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, but the nightmare was far from over. Seconds later, an outline of Spike reaching out for something materialized and filled itself in.
“There isn’t any room for wimpy ‘Dragons’ like this one, it’s either grow up or get crushed – and let me say that this softie’s chances are not looking good.”
I stared down at the floor, trying to stop myself from shaking. “And last of all,” the voice gagged, ‘Your super special friends are never, ever coming back!” The Elements began to crack, and in a rapid chain, they all shattered and broke, quickly disintegrating into smoke, taking the ghostly silhouettes with them.
Laughter ran in my ears, cementing my hooves where they were. Fearfully, I lifted my head up, coming face to face with a pair of empty eye sockets and a bloodthirsty grin. “So, by all means chase after those useless pieces of jewellery. I give you about a month before you become a Dragon’s breakfast. In the meantime…” the shadow floated over to my ear, and could barely contain itself as it whispered. “Sweet dreams, Fluttershy.”