|From the Shadows|
|Published:||February 22, 2017 (#51)|
March 22, 2017 (#52)
May 3, 2017 (#53)
|Credits • Gallery • Allusions|
Friendship is Magic #54
From the Shadows is the eighteenth story arc of IDW Publishing's comic series, spanning issues #51-53. In this story, a mysterious new villain named Shadow Lock steals and erases Equestria's most important historical records.
A trio of events in Gameloft's mobile game, titled "Nightmare Night at the Museum", "Rarity's Retro Revolution", and "Freedom of the Press", serve as sequels to the arc.
The story begins with the Mane Six walking home after seeing The Bridle of Frankenstag in theater; Spike is so frightened by the play that he hides in Twilight Sparkle's mane. Upon returning to the Castle of Friendship, Twilight and Spike find the front doors wide open. With Starlight Glimmer away in Canterlot, they fear an unwanted intruder is inside. Twilight and Spike discover a cloaked unicorn with a scar on his face ransacking the library. His presence detected, the unicorn makes his getaway, taking several books with him.
A short while later, Twilight calls her friends to the library for added security, and they reorganize the library before having a slumber party. Twilight is a little concerned about the books that were stolen, but she tells her friends that they were merely history books with no spells to exploit. The next morning, during breakfast, the ponies discuss the scarred unicorn's break-in the previous evening and wonder if stealing history books was just the first step in a much larger, diabolical plan.
Using a locator spell, Twilight and her friends track the mysterious unicorn to a distant village, but they lose his trail soon after they arrive. Spike finds the history books that the unicorn stole, but all the text inside them has been erased. The ponies decide to split up and see if the unicorn is still somewhere nearby. Applejack and Fluttershy go to the local saloon, Twilight and Rarity visit Cauldron Bubbles' magic shop, and Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie visit the nearest candy store. Through their respective investigations, the ponies learn the scarred unicorn is named Shadow Lock and that he has the power to erase the contents of books and remove knowledge in those books from ponies' memories.
Twilight and her friends eventually track Shadow Lock to the village's library, where he uses another pony's library card to acquire more books. Realizing he has been followed, Shadow Lock fends the ponies off by summoning various monsters from the library's vast collection of fantasy texts.
Picking up where the previous issue left off, Shadow Lock attacks Twilight and her friends with various creatures summoned from the pages of books. As the library becomes a battlefield, Shadow Lock continues to erase text from books. When Twilight asks why he is doing this, Shadow Lock explains that there is something very dangerous in Equestria's history that could bring destruction if it reemerges, and he is attempting to erase any and all records of its existence. Without explaining himself further, Shadow Lock summons more creatures from books to hold off Twilight and her friends while he escapes.
Realizing Shadow Lock's magic is causing the books' stories to play out in the real world, Twilight uses her magic to fast-forward the stories to their endings and send the monsters back to the books they came from. Now that Twilight knows what Shadow Lock is trying to do, she knows the locations that they need to protect.
The ponies split up into three groups: Fluttershy and Applejack are sent back to Ponyville to protect the history books in Cheerilee's class, Rarity and Pinkie Pie are sent to Canterlot to protect old newspaper archives, and Twilight and Rainbow Dash go to Colonial Whinniesburg, the most historically accurate period reenactment in Equestria. However, Shadow Lock intercepts the ponies at every turn and manages to erase more history. Back at Twilight's castle, the ponies regroup for Twilight's backup plan: a trap at the Canterlot Museum.
With the permission of the museum director, Twilight and her friends set a trap to lure Shadow Lock in. While waiting for Shadow Lock to arrive, the friends camp out in the museum's archives wing. After the ponies have fallen asleep, Shadow Lock arrives, and he places a spell on Twilight's friends. However, when he enters the archives with intent to erase everything in there, he finds Twilight waiting for him. Shadow Lock prepares to summon more book monsters to fend off Twilight, but she says she wants to declare a truce, believing his intentions to be good.
Even if Twilight is unable to convince Shadow Lock, she is certain that she and her friends have him outnumbered—unaware that his magic has trapped her friends in the worlds of the museum exhibits.
In the Canterlot Museum archives, Twilight speaks with Shadow Lock and offers to hear his story instead of oppose him. Meanwhile, Twilight's friends find themselves trapped in the museum exhibits themselves: Applejack and Pinkie Pie in the prehistoric era exhibit, Rainbow Dash and Rarity in the exhibit of Cleopatrot and the ancient pyramids, and Fluttershy and Spike in the exhibit of medieval knights. In each exhibit, the ponies face dangers themed after the time periods that they are based on—including pony neanderthals, mummies, and a dragon—and are unable to escape.
Shadow Lock explains to Twilight that, up until the previous spring, he'd lived alone in a castle belonging to his family. While cleaning out his attic, he discovered a secret piece of his family history—he is descended from a great and terrible evil that once nearly destroyed all of Equestria. Ever since Shadow Lock read about this monster, it started popping up in every other book he read, and he started to fear it would come for him and turn him into a monster as well. In an effort to combat it, Shadow Lock studied the magic of words and decided to erase all historical records that mention the monster so that it would stay gone and forgotten. Shadow Lock has been erasing books for so long that his mission has started to create gaps in his memories.
Back in the worlds of the museum exhibits, Rarity and Rainbow Dash soon face Queen Cleopatrot herself, and Applejack and Pinkie discover that the prehistoric world they're trapped in loops continuously on itself, preventing them from escaping. However, Rarity and Rainbow realize they aren't trapped in the real past—only a small recreation of it—and figure out how to escape by "rewriting history". Rarity and Rainbow teach Cleopatrot and her jackal guards about modern fashions, Fluttershy and Spike make peace between the knights and the dragon, and Applejack and Pinkie introduce the caveponies to party games. Upon doing this, they are transported back to the museum.
Twilight explains to Shadow Lock that terrible dangers will always exist to threaten Equestria and that it's important to learn from the past instead of outright erasing it. In fact, Shadow Lock has spent so much time and effort destroying every trace of his evil ancestor's existence that he has forgotten how he was originally defeated. Just then, Twilight's friends storm into the archive room to confront Shadow Lock, but he assures them that he has taken Twilight's words to heart and apologizes for everything he's done.
Shadow Lock decides to keep traveling in search of any remaining records of his evil ancestor and find out how to stop him if he reappears. However, he is now confident that if this great evil does resurface, Twilight and her friends can defeat it. As the ponies and Shadow Lock part ways, Twilight realizes that Shadow Lock never told her the name of this great evil. Meanwhile, in an antiques shop, an old historical text falls out of a barrel and opens up to a picture of Shadow Lock's ancestor: a terrifying creature with tattered wings and a curved horn...
- Twilight Sparkle: Okay, whoever you are—Princess Twilight has returned with her dragon! So I hope you have a good reason for—
- Spike: There's nopony here.
- Twilight Sparkle: Yeah. I see that now.
- Spike: Hey! But on the bright side—that was a great show down voice!
- Twilight Sparkle: Thanks!
- Fluttershy: Is something wrong?
- Twilight Sparkle: Oh, not with this, Fluttershy. It's the books he got away with...
- Rainbow Dash: What were they? Dangerous spell books?! Should we go after him?!
- Twilight Sparkle: No... That's just it. They weren't spell books. They were just... histories.
- Rarity: If that mystery unicorn was willing to break in and steal from the Princess of Friendship—who knows what else he might do?
- Spike: Books! After all this time with you, I'd know that smell anywhere!
- Pinkie Pie: I call the candy store!
- Applejack: Why would a magical thief be in a candy store?
- Pinkie Pie: Sorry! Can't stop to think! Gotta find a thief!
- Applejack: Everypony! Hurry up! Our book thief was headed for the library!
- Spike: Oh... I maybe should have noticed that earlier, huh?
- Twilight Sparkle: All right, Mister Mysterious—we know you're in here! Surrender and explain yourself or my friends and I will—
- Librarian: Shhushh! This. Is. A. Library, youngpony!
- Shadow Lock: You?! You brought friends? Well, you won't be able to stop me—when I can call any monster from these pages to fight back!
- Rainbow Dash: Ooo-kay. Next time let's not confront a pony with book magic inside a library?
- Rainbow Dash: Pinkie Pie! You might wanna stay back. I never read any of these Lovecart stories, but I know in them, anypony who connects with his monsters is driven crazy!
- Pinkie Pie: Ooooh! Really?! Me next! Me next! Because if you like crazy? I can show you crazy!
- Shadow Lock: There is something... too dangerous in Equestria's history to even speak of! A darkness that would stampede its way back if it could! I have to erase any record of it—any memory!
- Twilight Sparkle: That's not the answer. Don't you know the saying—"those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it"?
- Shadow Lock: If this history repeats himself—doomed is definitely the right word. For what it's worth—I'm sorry, princess.
- Twist: Will this be on the test?
- Diamond Tiara: What does this have to do with history?
- Rarity: Gracious. I never considered it before, but it truly is impressive how much work goes into making a newspaper every day! Reporting the latest events in Equestria, weather forecasts, cartoons, a crop report... Though, admittedly, I usually only the style section.
- Twilight Sparkle: Oh no! I should have gotten some pickled radishes and stick dolls for everypony!
- Rainbow Dash: I assure you, nopony will be mad you didn't.
- Rarity: Shadow Lock's magic only interacts with stories, not ancient, cursed ponies from beyond the grave. ...Right?
- Museum Director: Of course, as museum director, when Princess Twilight requested we gamble the safety and preservation of all these precious and irreplaceable historical artifacts to catch a destroyer of said history... how could I say "no"?
- Twilight Sparkle: Equestria is more than ponies. It's our history, our lessons, our relationships! You may think you're protecting us—but you're erasing a past and memories that make Equestria what it is.
- Applejack: Pinkie Pie! I said you're not dreamin'! An' if you think you are—you're supposed to pinch yerself!
- Pinkie Pie: Oh, I know. I was just seeing if we can still get hurt in this story.
- Spike: Guys! Make up your minds—are you mad that I'm here or that I wanna leave?!
- Applejack: Hold—the—whatnow?! How did takin' off that way land us right back?!
- Pinkie Pie: There must be a glitch in the matrix.
- Rarity: These looks are the high fashion of our era!
- Rainbow Dash: Which is to say, a few millennia ahead of your time.
- Rarity: And if you ask me, there's nothing quite like a new look to give you—a break from your past!
- Twilight Sparkle: Do you know why I love history? Why I love museums like this? We can see how things went in the past! It can teach us to spot those same troubles now—before we make the same mistakes! Or—when a problem does come again—it reminds us that we're not alone!
- Shadow Lock: I let myself get so scared of the darkness that I didn't even see the damage I was causing now.
- Applejack: Well... apology accepted, I guess. We all get more scared than smart some times.
- Rainbow Dash: Especially Spike.
- Spike: Yeah... Hey!
- Rainbow Dash: Who's up for pancakes!?
- Pinkie Pie: I'm banned for life from the "unlimited" toppings place near here—but—I—have—disguises!
- The Illustrious Q (2017-01-26). INTERVIEW: MLP Comic Editor Bobby Curnow on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #50 and Beyond!. Equestria Daily. Retrieved on 2017 January 27.