Bone decided that it would be pointless to have his skeletons walk with him everywhere, not knowing if he would be staying in a single room for long. The two foals shared nervous glances as the Princess lead them past the throne room and through a new doorway protected by Royal Guard. The guards were obviously nervous from the fact that their armor was rattling from their shivering bodies.
"Is everypony going to be afraid of me all the time," Bone questioned, "I don't really want to be here if nopony wants me around. I could just go into the forest or something if that's easier."
Celestia hummed in thought as a reply, nodding to the guards and permitting them to leave their posts.
"Through this doorway is a test," the solar princess explained, "Three other Necromancers have been subjected to it, but you are the first to have a choice."
The young necromancer's brow furrowed, "What kind of test? Is it painful?"
She shook her head. "Not typically. I want to see how the Elements of Harmony react to you; to see if my fears are valid beyond a doubt."
"That doesn't sound good..."
The doors were pulled open by a bright yellow glow from Celestia's horn, revealing a large room with a pedestal at the far end holding six gemstones. White, Yellow, Purple, Orange, Blue and Pink.
Celestia pointed to each of the gemstones as the group approached, "Each of these elements; Generosity, Kindness, Magic, Honesty, Loyalty and Laughter will reveal parts of your personality. How you resonate with them will determine your fate."
Bone was becoming increasingly worried, "And If I don't 'resonate' with any of them?"
The sunny princess paused for a moment and turned to face Bone Marrow, her expression serious. "Then you will die."
"What!?" Scenic immediately shouted, "What is wrong with you! You're supposed to be kind and... and nice!"
Celestia's scornful gaze immediately silenced the pegasus, "I have far more to concern myself with than the life of a single necromancer. I hope for a time where violence and war are a distant memory, where skeletons remain in their graves and ponies are free to go where they please without bandits killing them for bits and leaving their bodies to rot in the grass. I will not rest until my ponies are safe from all threats, be it from bandits or my ponies themselves."
She pointed an armored hoof to the pedestal. "Approach, Necromancer."
Bone was glad he was wearing a hood that he could hide behind as his ears folded down. He cautiously approached, wondering what would happen to Scenic if none of the gems 'resonated', whatever that meant.
A few hoof-steps away, Bone turned. "What do I do; just touch them or..."
Celestia nodded, "Hold out your hoof towards the purple gem. The gems will glow if there is anything redeemable about you within."
The young necromancer did as instructed, now wishing he had brought his skeletons with him just for the sake of giving the armored princess something else to strike before him if something went wrong.
He waited, his hoof lingering inches away from the purple gem of magic. Nothing was happening and Bone Marrow clenched his jaw.
Then, just as Celestia was about to announce her findings and sentence Bone Marrow to an unpleasant end, the Element of Magic glowed brightly, followed by the Elements of Laughter, Loyalty and Generosity.
"Well... It seems I was wrong about you, Bone Marrow. You may lower your hoof."
The well dressed colt quickly snapped his hoof to his chest, worried that the gems might burn it off if he stayed too long. "That was it? Did I do well?"
Celestia shook her head, "That was simply a test. You're nowhere near the end of your stay here in Canterlot. Of the other three necromancers that have lived, none of them reacted to a single Element. You, however, reacted to four of them."
"W-what does that mean?" Bone stammered, still unsure if he was going to be incinerated in the next few moments.
"It tells me what to expect from you. Honesty and Kindness are not something the Elements would attribute to you, Necromancer. However, Magic and Laughter were the first to respond, followed by Loyalty and Generosity." Celestia pointed towards the room's entrance, "I have more questions for you, Bone Marrow. I need them answered."
Scenic and Bone found themselves in a large hall seated in chairs far too large for their small bodies. The princess had left the two under the timid eye of the Royal Guard and had gone off somewhere to 'gather opinions'.
"Do you think she's still going to kill me?"
Scenic shook her head, "Celestia hasn't done it so far, so maybe not? I'm not really sure what all the gem stuff was about, but it seemed important enough to decide what she should do."
Bone rested his head on a hoof, leaning into the table. "What if she's gathering a whole bunch of mages and they'll just cast some spell on me that takes away my special talent? Is that possible?"
"I wouldn't put it past her," the filly replied, "She does control the sun and the moon now."
He was curious now, "Do you think that gets really tiring? Maybe she's cranky because she can't sleep?"
Scenic shrugged. "Maybe? I can't really imagine what it would be like to never sleep and raise the sun and moon every day. Wouldn't you lose track of what time it was? It would be like the longest day ever because you never slept."
The two friends considered the implications for a moment before their minds wandered to other topics.
"Do you think she always eats with gold plates and spoons?" Scenic was holding a spoon in her mouth that was was reflective enough to mirror her face. "Like, who would even use a spoon when you can just slurp soup? It's a whole other step!"
It was Bone's turn to shrug now. "I dunno, maybe she thinks it's fancy?"
The filly dropped the spoon onto her shining golden plate. "Wait, do you think she went to the kitchen for opinions?"
That caught Bone off guard. "The kitchen? What, is she going to serve dinner or something? A moment ago she was going to kill me, and now you think she went to get us food?"
She scratched her chin in thought, "Maybe she's never had a necromancer stay in the guest room before? She said the other three were killed because they didn't react to the fancy gem things, so maybe this is like a dinner-date?"
"Eh..." Bone muttered uncomfortably, "Are you sure that's the phrase you want to use?"
Scenic scoffed, "You know what I mean, Bone. She's probably trying to get to know you!"
Everypony in the room, guards included, jumped with surprise when the doors opened next. The solar monarch had returned with a vast assembly of very fancy looking ponies, all dressed in suits or gowns that screamed excess wealth at the loudest metaphorical volume possible.
A few stopped in their tracks when they noticed the two young foals joined at the table as others took their seats as a matter of habit, muttering to each other about procedure and inconvenience.
"Um..." Bone blurted while looking to his friend, "What the hay?"
A noble mare seated next to the young colt shook a hoof at him. "It's impolite for a pony your age to swear. You should... know..."
Her eyes went wide as she realized who she was now scolding, pulling away in her chair to gain as much distance between the now recognized necromancer and herself.
"N-n-necro m-mancer!" The mare stammered loudly, pointing a hoof at Bone in horror. Loud gasps sounded from the other nobles attending as they scooted away in their seats.
Bone rested his head on the table and let out an exaggerated sigh of annoyance. "Can somepony please not freak out the moment they recognize me for once?"
Scenic giggled, patting her friend on his hooded head.
"Everypony," Celestia called to the room loudly, "Calm yourselves."
"B-but Princess!" A noble meekly protested before being silenced by the solar princess' stern gaze.
"This colt is none other than the Necromancer known as Bone Marrow," she continued calmly, pointing a hoof to Bone. "And he has passed the test of the Elements."
A general rabble of disbelief quickly rose among the gathered nobles of Canterlot before dying down to allow Celestia to continue.
"I have gathered you here to determine what should be done with him."
Bone shrunk in his chair, pulling his hood over his face. Come on!
"Kill him!" a noble blurted out before being smacked across the muzzle.
"Shut up you idiot, you're going to get us all killed! The necromancer is right there!"
Bone raised his hoof, "Do I have a say in this?"
The collective group of the wealthy were about to declare a definitive 'no' in response, but caught their tongues when their brains decided that staying alive was more important than their own opinions. The necromancer was entirely capable of killing the entire room, excepting the Princess, in a single moment.
"G-go ahead, Sir Necromancer."
The colt lifted his hood to reveal his face and glowing skull eyes, earning gasps from the already frightened nobility. "Can I just ask something to everypony here?"
"Why don't all of you just leave me alone?" Bone stood on his chair in order to place his hooves on the silver table. "Can't you just not hunt me every day of my life? I don't want to hurt anypony; I never have."
A fairly brave noble spoke up to counter Bone's argument,"But what of Scoria and Galloping Glades? Were you not responsible for their destruction?"
The young necromancer shook his head. "I was there to see both towns get destroyed, but I wasn't the pony that did it. I came from Scoria, it was my home. Why would I want to burn it to the ground? Why would I kill everypony that ever cared about me as soon as I got my cutie mark?"
"Just how old are you, necromancer?" Celestia finally asked, her interest taking a new line of thought.
Bone paused for a moment to look at the ceiling in thought. "Uh... I got lost in the mines of Scoria for a long time, and then there were the three times I died..."
The colt waved the outburst away, "It's no big deal, death happens sometimes."
He continued to think, guessing how many days would have passed between his resurrections and his time wandering through the forest as well as the time spent in the mines.
"Well, I was the last pony in my town to get my cutie mark, so... maybe twelve years old?"
The room went silent with more than a few jaws dropping, including Princess Celestia's.
"You're twelve!?" The princess shouted in disbelief before covering her mouth, apologizing to the gathered nobles for the breach of etiquette.
Bone shrugged. "I guess? I haven't really had the time to consider how long it's been. I feel like I've been hunted my whole life, but just a few months ago I was eating garlic bread with my dad outside of Scoria's town bakery."
"So you were killed immediately after discovering your special talent was... was necromancy?"
He nodded at the questioning noble, "Yeah. I only found it out because I didn't want to touch a dead raven. It stole my dad's pocket watch and then ran into a building or something while I chased it. Next thing I knew after trying to pick up the watch with my magic was a skeletal bird staring back at me."
Princess Celestia was curious, "How was your town destroyed, then?"
Bone sniffed at the memory, "A bunch of really big things that called themselves Diamond Dogs fought griffons and other ponies for control of my town, and then they forced everypony to work in the mines to get gems for them. On the day I found out I was a necromancer, everypony went missing. I went looking for them with an army of skeletons I gathered from the other dead bandits that were laying in the street and found them all..." He paused, the memory suddenly becoming painful to recite. "They were all dead in a big pit."
The Princess and Nobles now looked between each other with guilty sympathy for having thought Bone was responsible for the destruction of Scoria.
"After I found them, the Royal Guard came for me. I guess they saw the smoke and went to find out what was wrong," Bone continued, emotionally detaching himself from the recollection as his face went blank. "They saw that I was a necromancer, and killed me on the spot."
A noble-mare cringed at that, "Idiots."
"What of Galloping Glades?" Celestia pressed.
"I can tell you about that one," Scenic interjected. "If Bone hadn't been there to save us, then everypony there would've been killed by bandits." She pointed to her friend with a smile, "My friend searched through the entire town for us while his skeletons went around killing bandits. He made three of them die on the spot when they were about to stab us with swords!"
Bone was grinning awkwardly, "Scenic? I'm not sure you're helping my case..."
Celestia's head tilted, "How would you describe the events, Bone Marrow?"
The necromancer scratched his muzzle, "Well, I was out in the forest looking for bandits when I learned they were going to raid my friend's town," He pointed to Scenic and continued, "I was worried for her and her mother and I searched through her burning house to find her. After most of my flesh burned off from the fire I fell down the steps leading outside and ran into a Bandit. He was going to kill me, so... I consumed him."
Nobles flinched at the word 'consume', their hearts skipping a beat.
"I did a lot worse to any other bandits I found. I was really angry; this was the second town that I was losing to bandits, the second town where everypony I knew was dying all around me and I couldn't do anything to bring back the ponies that were already dead. I didn't want to lose my only friend on top of all of that, too."
The princess pointed to Scenic, "And she is the friend you refer to, correct?"
Bone nodded, "I found Scenic in the town's crypt with her mother and the town's only guard cornered by three bandits... and I crushed the bandit's insides until they died."
"I can see why the Element of Kindness didn't resonate for you, then." Celestia mused, "Please, continue."
The colt scratched his head, "Well, after that we were lead by Obscenely Rich to his manor in the Everfree Forest--"
"Obscenely Rich?" A noble scoffed, "What was he doing there?"
Bone's eyes flicked to the side for a moment, "Um... he saw the fire and came to help everypony?"
Celestia was unimpressed. "And that would be the Element of Honesty making its retreat."
The necromancer tapped his hoof on the silver table, "I just don't want anypony else getting in trouble because of me, okay? Promise you won't do anything bad to Rich?"
The solar princess nodded, her interest taking hold.
"I saw him in the forest in his fancy golden armor antagonizing bandits," Bone reluctantly explained, "I thought he was their leader, but he just turned out to be having fun annoying criminals in the woods. I was in the middle of bringing the whole camp and Rich back to the town when one of the bandits mentioned the town was being raided and I saw smoke coming from the distance."
Bone took a breath, "When I saw him next, my skeletons had him pressed into the ground because his armor wouldn't let them harm him without paying him money in return. He said he was gathering the survivors of the town, and offered a place to stay at his manor for me sparing his life both in the forest and in the town."
Celestia was still curious, as were the rest of the noblity. "What of Pure Intent's report of having your eyes cut out?"
A few hadn't been expecting that question, soon covering their mouths with hoofkerchiefs.
"Rich wanted to send a message to his manor in advance that he was bringing ponies to stay for a while," Bone explained, leaning back down into his chair for a more comfortable story-telling experience. "I offered to send my skeletal bird, that I call Toothpick, to deliver the message. That was when Pure Intent was searching the manor for necromancers and intercepted the message."
The princess smirked for only a moment at the mentioning of Toothpick's name before nodding.
"I was worried that everypony was going to go to prison or get killed because of me and I knew It wouldn't be long before I died again if I went into the forest on my own, so Rich called in a pony that was good with illusions to disguise me."
A noble in the room coughed suspiciously at that, shifty eyes flickering between Scenic and Bone.
"She found out that her magic wouldn't work with the skulls in my eyes," Bone emphasized this by pulling down on his right eyelid, "So... she said that they needed to be cut out."
"You still have your eyes, though." A noble pointed out.
Bone blinked, "I got better."
"This is a very interesting story Necromancer," A mustachioed noble pointed out, "But how do we know you're not lying?"
Scenic raised her hoof, "I think if Bone was the bad kind of necromancer, everypony would be dead by now."
The mustached noble then scrunched his nose, "Ah. That is... most correct."
"I just want to be left alone, in peace," Bone explained, "I want to be able to live life without hurting anypony. Do I think having an army of skeletons is super cool? Of course. Would I use that army to go hurt other ponies? Not unless they came to me looking for trouble like the Knights of the Sun or the Bright Moon do."
A noble decorated with various medals was next to question the young necromancer, "What of Equestria, Bone Marrow? What would you do if the land were to come under siege by rebels or foreign powers?"
Bone squinted, "What are you talking about?"
"Well," The noble continued, "You mentioned the Bright Moon. Would you assist Equestria in ridding itself of these rebels?"
He was suspicious now, sensing that the ponies were thinking up ways to use him, just like the Bright Moon had tried to do. "I'm not going to be a weapon for you, if that's what you mean."
"But think of all the lives you'd save, being such a generous necromancer!" The pony pressed, ignoring the warnings of his nearby colleagues. "With a skeletal army under your command, none loyal to Equestria's true ruler would be harmed! No royal guard would lose their lives, no towns would be pillaged for supplies!"
The room was beginning to grow colder as Bone Marrow became more annoyed. The necromancer's breath was becoming visible as his contempt for the pony grew.
"You could be the savior of Equestria, a great hero that united the land against the agents of Nightmare Moon instead of a monster, hunted for the rest of your days!"
Bone could feel the void growing inside of him as the pony continued onward. Glass began to frost; heartbeats quickened. The void was almost begging for the death of the noble. A simple word, and the pony would be gone...
"There would be statues of you, Necromancer. The first necromancer to aid their fellow ponies rather than kill them! Think of all the glory!"
"Everypony," Celestia announced after noticing the growing threat, "We are done for today. Thank you all for attending; I will summon you again should I need your council."
Bone stared daggers at the decorated noble, watching his hasty retreat from the room ahead of the others as Celestia marshaled the group away.
"Hey," Scenic whispered, holding her friend's hoof, "Don't worry, alright? You're still alive, and I think that this all went pretty well, considering everything that happened."
The cold eyes shifted to Scenic, sending a chill down her spine. "I'm not a monster, am I?"