Continuing on from my last posting [link]
of my Equestria dreamscape, we had just reached the point where Paynes Gray and Sunrise's attempts to assist Celestia with Nightmare Moon had backfired with catastrophic results. Sunrise had been pulling into the Kingdom of Shadows as a Permanent Guest, and Paynes had been transformed into a creature of shadow by the Lord of Shadows and then banished from his Kingdom.
As Celestia, Luna, Twilight, Spike, and Petina sat with me in the garden, they listened as Paynes speaking through me told his story of his banishment and how I came to arrive as a pony in Equestria.
At first Paynes traveled the desolate wasteland that made up border between the Kingdom of Shadow and the real world. For months he searched desperately hoping to find a passage back to Equestria, but every path led to failure and a growing sense of depression. This was compounded by visions he had of Sunrise trapped in Lord's realm. In a forlorn attempt to break the spell and free Sunrise, Paynes tried to kill himself. Unfortunately the Lord of Shadows had not been lying when he said that so long as he lived to maintain the spell so would Paynes remain a prisoner in limbo.
Eventually Paynes suffered a complete psychological breakdown from his ordeal. for untold years fell into a feverish delirium. Fading in and out of consciousness. Even this did not provide an escape from his torment. Without reason, need, want or hope he slowly traversed gray shadowy wasteland of his prison. Time had no meaning and decades turned into centuries. Still he continued his shambling travels.
Paynes does not remember when he first noticed it but one day his eyes were drawn to a small floating globe of pale light. He'd seen them countless time. Appearing out of nowhere for a while then fading out. He'd just assumed they were other damned souls like him or some local organism or effect of the wasteland.
However as he watched one float past his muzzle as it vanished he could see a small hole like gap in a loose weave fabric. For a tiny fraction of an instant he saw what had to be the outside world! It was through that gap that the glowing globe passed through and then vanished. For the first time in hundreds of years a tiny ember of hope ignited in him. If they could escape so could he. But how?
First he had to determine what the globes were. He soon discovered that just as they passed out the limbo that was his prison so they entered. In fact he eventually became positive that none of globes ever originated in the wasteland. They always came from somewhere else. But how could he use this to his advantage?
His studies shifted from passive observation to direct sampling. He was capable of casting magic but was unable to perform any of his art magic. However he was able restrain and control the glowing globes with his horn. He even started to identify certain distinctive types globes which he started calling magi-orbs.
As the years went on Paynes studied the magi-orbs in greater and greater detail. This led to several important discoveries. One magi-orbs did not always enter and exit into the same realm. Sometimes they seemed to traverse between worlds with practice and trial and error he even learned how to send them to specific worlds. Second the magi-orbs were not only something he could capture, but something he could grow, nourish and manipulate like soft clay. Third and most important was the discovery that the magi-orbs were actually living organisms or at least connected to them. An extension of a beings existence somewhere else. He could feel their emotions and on occasion brief glimpses of their thoughts. Images and sounds often without context or meaning to Paynes.
He never came across a magi-orb entering from Equestria but he did learn how to send one through to his world. However just pushing glowing globes into different worlds would not solve his problem. He needed to gain access to a world even if remotely. Also he needed to find a way to pass things more substantial than willo-wisps.
As more years went by Paynes learned how to not only grow and nuture the magi-orbs he started sculpting them into the shape of living organisms like himself. As he formed them he discovered he could weave spells into these phantom creations. The more he poured his magic into them the more tangible they became. Less phantom illusions and more solid beings. It was then that he started planning his masterpiece. All he needed was the right raw material. Finally after years of searching he found what he was looking for.
The orb did not belong to a pony in Equestria that much he determine; however it did belong to someone, or something, that did recognize him as one. Perfect. With the greatest care and patience he grew and shaped this orb into a unicorn pony like himself. As he did this wove a magical link between him and his creation that would allow him to see, hear, communicate and to a limited extent control with his creation in Equestria. Finally he sacrificed his ability to draw creations into life and gave it to what he was beginning to refer to as his foal.
His plan was this. Insert his foal through the veil-like barrier into Equestria. Then he would guide the foal to help him write a new story involving the Lord of Shadows in which the Lord is killed and his kingdom destroyed. Paynes desperate hope was that if his pony was able to bring that final scene to live the Lord of Shadows could be killed and upon his demise the spell would be broken. Freeing both him and Sunrise.
Unfortunately there were two immediate snags. One Paynes had never attempted to pass such a large and tangible object through the veil. The end result produced some rather turbulent atmospheric conditions in Equestria on its arrival which to his horror resulted in his pony being injured. Second he was unable to give the pony a cutie mark. after numerous attempts he just gave up. Unfortunately by that time he'd tried so many times that the pony flanks were scarred. And so one evening I emerged through the veil and into a roaring storm not far from Ponyville.
All this time I had listening to myself talk but it had this detached quality; like listening to a person talking on the radio. It had this surreal feeling of disconnection. Suddenly I was mentally snapped back by the awareness that Paynes had stopped talking and everyone was very still. Also I quickly became aware that I was resting across someones arms/ front legs. Looking up I found myself staring into Luna's eyes.
I just stared up at her and she just looked down at me with eyes as deep as space. Eyes that were filled with terrible sadness. Terrible dread. Terrible guilt. And slowly a realization dawned on me. In many ways my presence and Paynes story were like some old wound being torn open again within her. She had expected to hear tales and reports of Nightmare Moon but she'd never imagined she'd be directly confronted by a living victim of her actions beside her sister.
For many seconds silence filled the garden. Then she swallowed and tried to speak to me only to stop. She tried again but once again words failed her. Finally with a shiver and in a tiny whisper she said. "Please believe me. I am sorry. So sorry." All could think of saying was "We believe you and we forgive you."