“After a thousand years, to once again set foot in the royal bed chambers…” Kenbroth Gilspotten Heathspike spoke as he looked around the luxurious room. Twilight had been invited up here a few times herself by the Princess, but her friends were staring wide-eyed at every nook and cranny. Few ponies, let alone from Ponyville, had ever had the privilege to set foot in the rulers’ personal space. Kenbroth stared into one of the corners with a solemn look of nostalgia. “I see you threw out my old bed.”
“Forgive us, old friend, but we were certain you would never return to us,” said Luna.
“I understand, of course,” assured the earth dragon. “But I really did like that bed. Do they still make them?”
“It was custom made to begin with. I shall see if the blueprints are still in the archives.”
During the conversation, earth pony Rainbow Dash had approached one of the royal beds, feeling up the curtains. “Oh, darling! This is one of the softest pieces of cloth I’ve ever had the pleasure to touch.”
Rarity, previously held back by codes of courtesy of which Rainbow Dash seemed to be unaware, was quick to her side. “My, you’re right? Whatever sort of material is this, your Highness?”
“It was made from the coat of an Ursa Major,” shared the Princess, taking Twilight and her friend by surprise. “There was a time when they were lawful game for hunting, but extinguishing Ursa ended up causing… problems, so the practice was abandoned. Should you be lucky enough to find a piece such as this one, its price would reach beyond the worth of your whole boutique, to put it mildly.”
“Oh… too bad,” she said, letting go of the curtain, though not taking her eyes off of it, overflowing jealousy in her eyes. “I suppose I should expect nothing less from the two most powerful ponies in Equestria.”
“Personally, could not care less about what animal my bed curtain used to belong to,” said the Princess, “so if you truly desire it, I’m sure we could…” A loud, ear-splitting roar interrupted Luna, giving everypony in the room a fright. It was so loud, it was hard to determine where it came from or how far away it was; it persisted for a few moments, but even as silence fell, there were still rumblings. Rhythmic, powerful rumblings, as though a giant was walking across Equestria.
“W-what was that?!” called the filly Rarity, running up between her grown-up counterpart and Rainbow Dash. “Is there something out there?”
Luna didn’t reply, but instead ran over to the window and peered outside. She looked first to the right, then the left, and that’s when an expression of pure fright distorted her features. As she tore away from the window, she told the ponies, “Come! Follow me, quickly!”
The urgency in her voice left no room for back-talk, so they all followed her out the door, staying close behind as she led them through a couple of corridors, then up a stair case leading out onto a large balcony. On it, Princess Celestia awaited, gazing out over the Equestrian landscape, now occupied by the most frightening gestalt Twilight had ever seen.
Celestia wanted to doubt her eyes. She wanted to believe that the sleepless night had made her see illusions. But both her sister and her faithful students were wearing the same face of shock and disbelief on their faces. There was no denying reality.
A Mother Ursa once again walked the land of Equestria.
About thrice the size of an Ursa Major, the bear-like beast’s head reached up a ways over Canterlot’s highest top, an endless night sky visible within its blood-read coat. Images of a near-forgotten early chapter of the Princesses’ rule – a chapter of trampled cities and years of strife – surface as is loomed ever closer with brisk steps. Could this be the magic entity the ancients had sealed away? But there was no time to ponder; each thunderous step brought it ever closer, and it would be upon them momentarily. “Luna, get the Elements of Harmony! The rest of you stay here!” And with those orders, Celestia took off into the sky, speeding toward the colossal monster.
Acting purely on survival instinct, fed by the memories of the Princess’ last encounter with the Mother Ursa, Celestia gathered every bit of magic reserve in her body to create a force field around her, and with the highest speed her wings could muster, she rammed it into the beast in an explosion of magic. A thunder, like a mountain crashing down on its own weight, resounded across the hills and fields as the giant fell over, but it paled in comparison to the roar the monster let out. That dreadful, fear-inducing roar filled Celestia with adrenaline, intensifying her magic beyond her normal capacities as she prepared a second spell. Just as the gigantic Ursa was about to get up, its movements far too agile for a being of its size, the Princess let loose a beam of concentrated magic. Like a snake, it entwined itself around its limbs, pressing them against its body.
But even the power to move the sun and the moon was no match for this monster of legend, and as much as her spirit had grown in the last millennia, it was all she could do to focus all her effort in pinning it down, hopefully long enough for Luna to return with the Elements of Harmony. If all went well, a sprint from the balcony to the Canterlot Tower and back would take no more than a couple of minutes at most… but every second was a strain standing alone against such unparalleled might.
The bind lasted no more than twenty seconds, and cost a considerable toll on Celestia’s body and soul. But there was no time to catch her breath, as the Mother Ursa was quickly getting back onto its feet. Fortunately, the gesture had been enough to divert its attention and halt its advance, shifting its focus to the Princess, much like a pony would if stung by a wasp. The monster responded by flailing its giant arm with alarming speed, in an attempt to swat the flying pest.
The Ursa was quick, but Celestia had millennia of flight experience behind her, and could easily predict where the arms were going to fly. But this became increasingly difficult as she was reminded of another one of the Mother Ursa’s terrifying traits: when provoked, its magical aura intensified, exposure to which could potentially result in psychological trauma. Thankfully the Princess had the proper knowledge and spells to compensate for this, but it came with the price of divided concentration and quicker draining of her energy reserves.
Celestia saw it coming, but could do naught to stop it. She took a direct hit by its mighty paw, and was flung like a meteor onto the mountain on which Canterlot rested. Her head was scrambled, her world thrown into chaos as she struggled to recover from the shock. The moment she could see clearly again, her blood iced as she saw the goliath take another step toward the castle. There was no time to come up with a plan; she flew up beside the Mother Ursa’s head – only a few paces away from the balcony – filled her hooves with whatever magic shielding she could, and pressed furiously against its head.
It at least seemed to take it off guard, enough so for it to start toppling off balance. Renewed resolve fueling her wings as the Princess flapped harder than anypony would performing a Sonic Rainboom, fatigue and shooting pain pushed back by sheer urgency. Her efforts were rewarded as the beast fell… but it was a short-lived victory, as it caught itself with an outstretched paw. She had bought them maybe ten seconds, but the magic it had cost her no longer made it possible to for her to deflect the crushing aura. There was nothing she could do to its full force from hitting her, and it blocked her brains’ functions, including the energy or will to keep the wings beating.
The Princess of the Sun fell, wholly depleted, sheer force of will the only thing that kept her eyes open to witness as the monster brought down the castle, her home, her life…
However, what she instead saw was a brilliant multicolored light extend from the balcony, freezing the creature as it surrounded it in a spiral. She also felt legs wrap around her body; she didn’t need to tear her eyes away from the light to feel Luna’s familiar presence.
Celestia stayed conscious just long enough to hear the Mother Ursa let out an agonizing roar, and see its body tear to pieces as it was swallowed by the light.
“So, let me get this straight,” Minty repeated to the fillies. “All my life I’ve been living inside an illusion, created by a spirit of chaos named Discord, a thousand years ago! And… and now that the spell is broken, there are now two Ponyvilles… and me and my friends look almost exactly like your big sister and her friends?”
“Pretty much,” replied Apple Bloom from the other side of the pillar. “Trust me, we don’t really get it either.”
“That’s quite a story,” said Braeburn. “I’d say you’ve got a lively imagination, but it does seem to add up.”
“But what did the Princess mean by ‘almost’ all of them were safe? Is Pinkie Pie still there? What about Rainbow Dash, o-or Wysteria?”
“No worries there,” told Scootaloo,” your Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie have both made our lives very confusing these past days. I heard some ponies never showed up, though; do you remember who, Apple Bloom?”
“Well Minty was one o’ them, obviously,” she pointed, “Wasn’t there a Rarity too?”
“Oh yeah,” agreed Sweetie Belle. “They said they were going off to find her, so she’s probably home by now.”
Minty was so relieved, she slumped down on the floor. Most of her friends were okay, it seemed, and the rest were being rounded up. She couldn’t wait to see them again. It hadn’t been more than a few days, but it felt like an eternity to her, especially after that nightmarish experience in the desert. The thought of going home after all that trauma was just about enough to burst her into tears, but she reminded herself that she just needed to hold on for a few more days.
“Golly, I hear crazy things happen in Ponyville all the time, but this has gotta take the cake,” commented Braeburn. “By the way, little filly, did you say your name was Apple Bloom?”
“Why I’ll be! It’s me, your big cousin Braeburn!” he announced. “Guess it’s no wonder you don’t know me; you were just a lil’ newborn cutie last time we met.”
Apple Bloom’s eyes shone up. “Oh, it’s you! Applejack n’ Big Mac talks about you a lot!”
“Then maybe its high time ah come down to Ponyville for a visit,” suggested Braeburn. “Ah still gotta deliver Mints here, and ah’ve been dyin’ to see the farm and the family—”
The sound of hooves against glass came reached their ears, and a dark blue pony appeared behind the fillies. Like Princess Celestia, her mane was ever-flowing, her back wearing a pair of wings and her forehead a long horn. “P-Princess Luna!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, falling into a bow.
“As you were, young fillies,” spoke the Princess. “I have come to lead you back.”
“Wait a second,” said Scootaloo, “Celestia said we weren’t supposed to leave this place until she told us herself that it’s safe!”
Luna only looked at them with a solemn expression. “Come with me, children,” she ordered softly. “I am here by my sister’s request; I shall take you to her. Braeburn, can I trust you to bring Minty to Canterlot?”
“No problem, your Highness,” the golden-hued pony replied, he too lowering into a bow.
“Thank you. I will send a chariot to meet you in Appleloosa. Do make haste; time may be of the essence.”
“No…!” whispered Twilight, staring frighteningly at the crippled husk that was her mentor. Luna had carried her to their chamber, and had asked the ponies to watch over her as she went to take care of a few things. Her faithful student was desperately trying to fight back the shock, the fear, the tears. Celestia looked as though she had aged hundreds of normal pony-years, her skin wrinkled and eyes soggy, bearing closer semblance to Granny Smith than the proud ruler of Equestria. “How is this happening…? She’s not gonna…!” She looked over to her friends as if looking for reassurance, but were met with nothing but looks of worry.
Earth pony Rainbow Dash was the first to offer a response. “Oh, darling… I never realized such frightening monsters even existed.”
“Neither did we,” replied Applejack. “An’ if not even the Princess can hold it down for long without having all life sucked right out o’ her—”
“Don’t say that!” shot Twilight. “She’s still alive! I know she is. Right, Pinkie? Doesn’t your left ear twitch or something.”
“Nothing,” told her pink friend. “And that would be both ears and right hind-leg for telling if somepony is barely alive or not.”
Turning around in frustration, Twilight initiated a spell; she was no expert in medical magic, but she had read enough books on the subject to perform a simple check up spell. She needed to prove to herself that her mentor wasn’t going to die, and do everything in her power to rescue her from the brink if needed. But before she was even done conjuring, she was taken aback as she saw the Princess’ eyes twitching. “Princess Celestia?!” she exclaimed. “Are you okay?!”
“Don’t worry, Twilight,” the bed-ridden pony spoke, her voice extremely hoarse and low. “I’m okay, thanks to you. Though I can barely move a muscle right now…”
“You don’t need to worry about anything,” promised Twilight. “We’ll make sure to bring you everything you need and nurse you back to health, won’t we, girls—oh, Luna!” The Princess of the Night walked through the door, “Look, Celestia came to!”
“Thank heavens!” she sighed in relief as she walked up to her sisters, followed by – for reasons lost to Twilight – the Cutie Mark Crusaders. “I have sent for an elite team of doctors; they should be here momentarily.”
“Thank you, sister,” whispered Celestia. “But please, listen to me, all of you.” Everypony, and Kenbroth, leaned closer. “I will be okay, though I may need a week or more to make a full recovery. But there are more important things to worry about: what I just fought was nothing less than the magic forces that the ancients had meant to seal away: a Mother Ursa!”
Twilight could not hold back a gasp. She had come across the name in a text book about mythical creatures, and it was listed as one of the most dangerous magical beings in Equestrian history. “As in, the spawn of all Ursa?” she asked incredulously. “The absolute embodiment of cosmic energies?”
“The very same,” confirmed Luna grimly. “Very little is known of the Ursa kind, but it is believed that when an Ursa perishes, its life force is returned to the cosmos, where it accumulates to form the Mother Ursa when the time is right, which in turns offers up its body through the course of centuries to create its spawns. We learned this the hard way eons ago.”
“Wait, are you saying there used to be another one?!” halted the pegasus Rainbow Dash.
“It nearly ended pony civilization,” Luna explained. “With no Elements of Harmony, it took our mages months of sacrifice to discover a way of fight back, and even then, it was nothing more than a spell to accelerate its natural spawn cycle, shortening it to merely a few years. Perhaps the most tasking years in all the history of Equestria. Never in my wildest imagination would I have guessed we would lay our eyes on another one…”
“But now we’ve dealt with it, right?” guessed Rainbow Dash. “Zapped it to kingdom come with Elements; all’s well that ends well, and all that.”
“Let us hope it is so,” spoke Celestia lowly in her distorted voice. “But I dare not assume. We still don’t if this was all that was sealed by the castles, and until we find out, I must urge all of you element bearers to stay here in Canterlot.”
“Uh, sure, but…” Applejack spoke, “how long do you reckon it’ll take, your Highness? With all due respect, I’ve been shirkin’ my responsibilities for too long as it is.”
“Your concern is duly noted, Applejack,” replied Luna. “But it is for everypony’s safety that the six of you stay together, should another such creature appear. We will make sure to alert your family, and send extra work forth should we require to hold you for an extended period.”
“What about us?” asked Apple Bloom. “Do we have to go back to Ponyville?”
“Yes, children, you must,” Luna ordered. “Recent event notwithstanding, you must not ignore your educational duties. Especially you, Scootaloo.” The orange filly responded with an embarrassed grin.
“Oh, what’s the harm in letting them stay another night?” vouched Kenbroth. “It’s not everyday you get to stay at the castle, is it?”
Luna looked upon the three fillies, who were looking back at her with the biggest puppy-dog eyes Twilight had ever seen them pull. “Very well,” the Princess gave in. “I’m sure we have an extra room. As for you three,” she addressed the other-village Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and Rarity, “we won’t force you, but it would be of great help if you would stay the night as well, to aid us in understanding the connection between you and the ancient castle.”
“But of course, darling!” Rainbow Dash agreed. “It’s the least we can do after your darling sacrifice to protect us. Besides, who wouldn’t want to stay at such a magnificent castle?”
“And if Rarity is staying, I’m staying,” added Cheerilee. “I am her guardian, after all.”
“Thank you. And perhaps as an extra incentive, I have some very fortunate news for you. Minty has been found, and she is being brought to Canterlot as we speak.”
Everypony’s faces shone up, but none more than Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. “Really, darling?! Oh thank goodness!”
“Is she okay?!” asked the other-village Pinkie Pie. “Where has she been?”
“Unfortunately,” said Celestia in he whisper-voice, “she has not been as lucky as you. It is a harsh truth, but one I cannot hide from you: Minty was thrown into the northern Equestrian wastelands, where she was almost lost to us.”
“That doesn’t sound too harsh,” said other-village Pinkie Pie. “Minty gets lost all the time. I’m sure she was fine. I’m just glad she found her way back.”
“No, Pinkie Pie, listen to me,” Celestia continued. “Remember the confusion you felt when you were first brought to Equestria. In such state, Minty wandered through the scorching wasteland alone, no water, no food, and no idea where her steps would take her. I’m sure death must seem like such a strange and foreign concept to you, but ponies usually do not survive such harsh conditions for as long as she did, and it was through a miracle’s intervention that she was found before she could pass on.”
“O-oh come on,” Pinkie tried, “it couldn’t have been that bad, could it? I-I mean, I’ve sure never heard of… a pony… in a…” her voice trailed off, the shifting in her face signaling that she was starting to understand. “Oh dear…”
“Your friend is fine now,” reminded Princess Luna. “We only tell you this so that you may understand the extent of her peril, and fully appreciate the preciousness of life. Death is a terrifying prospect, for those receiving it and those left behind, but a day must come for all of us that we must learn to accept it. Be thankful it was not this day.”
“Yeah,” agreed Pinkie. She afforded a smile. “I guess we still have a lot to learn about Equestria… don’t we, Rainbow Dash.”
“I don’t think she can hear ya, hun,” said Applejack, holding up the wobbly form of the wingless cerulean pony.
“No… I’m fine, darlings,” she breathed. “But my word, poor darling! I-I think I need to sit down for a minute.”
“Feel free to use my bed,” offered Luna. “Kenbroth, can I count on to start researching the crystal chamber post-haste?”
“Of course, your majesty,” acknowledged Kenbroth. “And can I count on you, Pinkie Pies,” he turned to address the two identical pink mares, “to come up with a delightful welcome party for our poor traveler?”
“Oh, you bet!” replied the curly-maned one, breaking into a huge grin. “Let’s make this even bigger than the last one! Let’s invite all of Canterlot!”
“Or, a simple tea party would suffice,” pointed Kenbroth.
“Then let’s make it the world’s biggest tea party!”
“I like the sound of that,” concurred her counterpart. “Just don’t forget to bring the tea. Trust me.”
“Just make sure not to expend too much of our resources,” Luna reminded. “Now that Celestia is bed-ridden, I shall have to oversee the national budget myself. On that note, there is much that needs my attention.”
“Princess, wait!” halted the grown-up Rarity. “About those bed-curtains we talked about earlier; you said something about parting with them?”
“Rarity, I am surprised!” Luna gave her an odd look. “How can you be thinking of such thing at a time like this?”
“Oh, nononono, please don’t misunderstand; I was thinking that for Minty’s home-coming celebration, she might appreciate a little gift.”
Wysteria gazed upon the window paintings, whose depictions she could only try to decipher. There was little else she could do; after hearing that frightening roar, Dr. Hoofenstein and the purple baby dragon – an extraordinary little creature, she might add – had taken the population of her village to what appeared to be the audience hall of Canterlot Castle. As soon as the mysterious beast-like roar had quieted down, instructions were given to wait for one of the Princesses to make an appearance. Anxiety was still thick in the air, and it was all anyone could do to pass the time to talk to each other or having a look around.
She heard a familiar buzzing sound around her, and looked around to see three of her Breezie friends hover beside her. The doctor had asked them to remain out-of-sight while they walked through the town – something about the Princess wanting to formally introduce them to society – but in here they were free to flutter about. “Hello, girls,” Wysteria greeted. “Are you okay? Those noises gave me quite a scare.”
“Yeah, we’re fine,” replied Zipzee, the yellow one with orange mane and tail. “I’m just happy to be flying again; this castle is so huge! Have you seen the chandeliers?”
“Yeah, and look at these windows!” added Tralala, the light-pink Breezie. “I wonder what they’re supposed to be.”
“I don’t know what that big thing is,” Tiddly Wink, the purple Breezie, answered, “but those things on the bottom kinda look like ponies to me.”
“That’s what I was thinking too,” said Wysteria. “And look at that one, with the rainbow tail, and the pink one in the corner: could these be the Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie from the other village?”
“Yup, that’s right,” a voice came from beside her, where the small purple baby dragon had appeared. “Those are all my pony friends, and the thing they’re shooting with the pink glow,” the playfulness in his voice dropped a bit, “that’s Discord.”
“That’s Discord?” asked Wysteria. The glass paining depicted his image as rather jagged, but she could still make out the strange tail, and the mismatching horns, legs and wings.
“You wouldn’t believe it unless you see it, but he’s pretty scary in person,” said Spike. “I was hoping we could take you to see his statue after we were through with the castle, but I guess that’ll have to wait until we figure out what’s going on out there. Judging from Celestia’s message,” Spike held up a piece of parchment for Wysteria and the Breezies to see, “it sounded pretty urgent.” All it said was, ‘Spike, take the villagers to the Audience Chamber and await instructions,’ the writing seemingly scribbled down in haste.
“Isn’t that the thing you were spewing out earlier?” asked Zipzee. “How can it be from the Princess when it came from your stomach?”
“We share a magic connection that allows us to send stuff back and forth,” replied the dragon, her face shining up as the Breezies circled around him. “Wow, you guys really are fairy ponies. Neat.”
“And you’re really small and chubby,” said Tralala. “Are you a dragon? Are there many dragons? Do you live here? What’s your favorite color?”
“Well, I’ve always been partial to—” but Spike was distracted as ponies around him were starting to gasp and murmur, and had to turn around to find the source. The door to the chamber had opened, and through it walked Princess Luna, followed by a group of ponies.
Wysteria broke into a smile as she saw who they were, cantering over, the dragon and the Breezies in tow. “Rainbow Dash!” she called, as ponies flocked around them. “Pinkie Pie! Where have you been?” But it was likely drowned by the ponies giving them similar questions.
“It’s a long story, darlings,” answered Rainbow Dash, quieting the crowd down. “And I think Princess Luna here is more fit to tell it than us.”
“Indeed!” boomed the dark Princess, taking to the air to gain an overview of the crowd. “We ask that thy giveth us… that you give me… your attention… please?” Within seconds, the room was dead silent. “Thank you. Now, as I’m sure you are all wondering, the roars you heard only moments ago were those of an ancient evil that was released on account of an old magic seal being broken. Know however that there is the danger has been averted, but it came with a price: our Princess of the Sun has been heavily wounded in the battle, and will not return to us for at least seven days.”
There were gasps and murmurs, as well as questions thrown into the air in hope that Princess Luna would give them answers. Especially Spike seemed incredibly shocked by the news, his expression a mixture of surprise and horror. The Princess continued, “As such, I shall send you back to your village, and advise you to stay there, as there is no guarantee there weren’t other magical beasts hidden beneath the broken seal.”
“Send us home?” came Sunny Daze’s disappointed voice. “As in, right now? Tour’s over?”
“No,” the Princess gave as reply. “There is one more place I wish for you to see. Spike, I believe we have not yet give permission to see the Canterlot Sculpture Gardens?”
“Well, no,” said the dragon. “I was going to ask, but then all this happened.”
“Then we shall give it now,” announced Luna. “These ponies have the right to see the
creature that sealed their fate.”
“…but then Princess Luna appeared and fashioned Twilight Sparkle and her friends with these charming accessories, and suddenly their eyes started glowing with magic! And out came the most fabulous rainbow I have ever seen, darlings! It wrapped itself around the monster, and just like that, it was gone, leaving behind a beautiful spectrum of colors! Oh darlings, I do wish you could have been there to see it!”
The crowd of ponies was moving through the outer gardens of Canterlot Castle, following Princess Luna’s lead, and every pony within earshot of Rainbow Dash was eagerly listening to her account of the battle. Wysteria, who was among the closest, giggled. “It sounds like your kind of magic. I do feel sorry for Princess Celestia though.”
“Luna said she’d be fine,” Sunny Daze pointed. “But I gotta say, things sure have taken a turn for the weird. Magic seals setting free ancient monsters? This just happens to happen around the time we’re visiting the castle?”
“Actually,” said their fellow villager Pinkie Pie, “the seal was broken when I used my Squink. Not sure how it happened, but I guess you could say it’s my fault…”
“Of course not, darling!” assured Rainbow Dash. “You only wanted to help find our friends; no one could have guessed all this would happen.”
“Besides,” added Sunny Daze. “Unless there are any more magic seals thingies, you can use your Squink as many times as you want to find Minty, Kimono and Star Catcher!”
Rainbow Dash’s face lit up as she remembered the news. “Oh, that reminds me, darlings! Minty has already been found! And she’s coming here!”
“Rock on!” exclaimed Sunny. “Did you hear that everypony? They found Minty!” A joyful cheer erupted from the crowd.
“Thank goodness!” sighed Wysteria. “I was so worried something awful might have happened to her.”
Rainbow Dash exchanged looks with Pinkie Pie, and mutually agreed that this was not the right time to tell then what awful things had happened to her. Instead, Pinkie said, “Hey, here’s a Squink for ya: we should all stay for her big welcome tea party!”
“Duh, we have to!” Sunny agreed. “Yo, Luna!” The group came to a halt, as did the Princess. “Can’t we stay here a little longer? Y’know, for Minty?”
“But we do not know when she will arrive,” argued the dark-blue Princess. “And I’m not sure we have the resources to accommodate all of you.”
“I don’t think they’re expecting a first-class suite for everypony,” pointed Kenbroth, who was riding on Luna’s back. “I don’t see the harm in it; in fact, I dare say they’re safer under our own roof.”
“I could pull a few strings a get them a place,” offered the other Spike, the baby dragon on Twilight’s back. “And it shouldn’t be too hard to scour a hundred ponies’ worth of tea when you’re in Canterlot.”
“I like the way you think, my young dragon friend,” commended Kenbroth. “And I think Minty would appreciate the support from her fellow kinsponies.”
Luna sighed. “Very well, Kenbroth, I will leave it in your capable claws, then,” she turned around and resumed walking.
“Neato!” the curly-maned Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she popped out from between her counterpart and earth pony Rainbow Dash. “Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, we’re gonna have to put all our heads together for this one. And you too Wysteria; I can see it the way you did your mane today that you’re good at organizing and decorating and stuff.”
“I-it will be my pleasure to help,” she replied, seemingly somewhat taken aback to be addressed by the more spirited of the Pinkie Pies. “But to tell you the truth, I didn’t really have time to do my–”
“Here it is!” said Luna, putting on her royal announcer voice to grab their attention. “The Canterlot Sculpture Garden.”
Rainbow Dash could not help but watch in awe as they passed along the statues, sculptured in the exact likeness of ponies of Equestria. One was depicted as a mare in a cape, holding a spire, while another showed three little ponies jumping happily about. Each one of these, if painted right, could easily have passed for real ponies, and Rainbow Dash was eager to know more about the artist that made these. But Luna offered no explanation as they cantered by, just leading the group on as she rounded a hedge.
The Princess stopped before one particular statue, one that did not resemble a pony in any shape or form. “This, fillies and gentlecolts, is Discord.”
From all the horrible things she had heard, Rainbow Dash has imagined something more frightful, like the image of a dragon or something: this creature looked rather funny, actually, with its disproportioned horns and mismatching legs and paws. Though it clashed rather disturbingly with the look of terror on its face. “He is a Draconequus, the head of a pony and a marriage of a myriad of other animals. The only one if his kind, as far as we know, and the embodiment of chaos and disharmony. Unlike the other statues, this is not sculpture: what you see before you is Discord in his petrified flesh.”
Gasps and murmurs of disbelief came from the crowd. Rainbow Dash felt her initial curiosity turn to fright: they had told her that Discord was turned to stone, but she never imagined they would be keeping his petrified form within the castle walls. Luna answered her unspoken question, “We keep it here so that we may never forget the notorious things he did to our land, and so that should he break free, we can act without delay. Although it did us little good last time…”
Rainbow Dash hardly evened heard her last words; she was so enthralled with the figure. It looked so frightened, having been turned to stone suddenly and unexpectedly. She could just imagine the fear he must have gone through, knowing that the next moment, everything would be lost… everything he worked so hard to accomplish… a cruel, undeserving fate…
“…ie Pie? Rainbow Dash?” came a voice from somewhere outside of Rainbow Dash’s mind. “Are you alright!”
“What!!” she snapped at the source of the voice, determined to give whoever spoke a piece of her mind, of this raging indignity… when a moment later, she herself snapped out of her stupor. Luna was looking back at her with a perplexed expression, and everyone around her was giving her worried looks. “I-I’m so sorry, darling!” she tried to apologize, panic seeping into her voice. “I don’t know what… I must’ve…” but she found herself unable to form a coherent sentence, because despite her awareness, she still felt the urge to lash out at everyone around her bottling up inside. She looked around in rising panic, trying to figure out what was happening to her, hen her eyes again came upon the statue, and she immediately understood. “I… I need to get away from here…”
“Why, what’s the matter–”
“Just move it!” she roared at the speaker, not even registering to whom. The crowd thankfully dispersed as she ran through, and when it didn’t do so fast enough, she pushed her friends to the side with a tackle. All she could think about was running away; it didn’t matter where, as long as it was far away from Discord.
Special thanks to Tess Tesseract for help with editing.