A Talk With the Tree of Harmony

by PoisonClaw

A Talk With the Tree of Harmony

The sound of the final bell rang through the halls of the School of Friendship as another day of learning came to an end. Of course, friendship was something in no way exclusive to the classrooms, so as all manner of creatures from ponies to hippogriffs, changelings, yaks, griffons, and even a few dragons stampeded towards the main gates, the sound of chatter filled the air as talk between friends about today’s lessons slowly morphed into plans for the rest of the day. Slowly, but surely, the students all filed out, soon followed by the teachers as they too set off to unwind from that day’s lessons. Before long, the school had completely emptied of all students and staff, save for one.

Twilight hummed to herself as she walked through the halls, quill and parchment held aloft in her magic as she checked off one item after another on her list. No one had ever said running a school was easy, but Twilight still took to it with the same fervor she showed at any task that offered the chance to teach others about the magic of friendship.

“And… done!” she said with a smile as she checked off the box at the bottom of her page before flipping quickly to the next page. “Now, time to check the…” Looking up from her list, Twilight paused as she came to a branching path in the hallway. Continuing straight ahead would lead to her current objective, while the other path…

“Hmmm… I wonder…” Teleporting her quill and parchment back to her office, Twilight turned and trotted down the adjacent hall, soon coming upon the school library. As much as Twilight enjoyed reading a good book or five from time to time, she had an entirely different goal in mind.

Walking past the rows of bookshelves, Twilight soon came upon a small grate-covered opening in the floor at the back of the room. Having been involved directly in the school’s construction, Twilight assumed she knew the school like the back of her hoof, but it seemed something had seen fit to add a little addition to her school. Popping open the grate, Twilight stepped through the opening, her hooves setting down onto a ramp formed out of crystal as she walked into the lower depths of the school.

“Wow…” Twilight looked on in awe at the spacious caverns around her, with roots made of pure, uncut crystal lining the walls. She had only heard about it after the fact from her students, but seeing it with her own eyes was an entirely different matter. “To think this has been beneath the school the whole time!” Reaching the bottom of the ramp, Twilight giggled with glee as she ventured further into the cavern, admiring the crystal structures the whole way.

Eventually, she found herself in another chamber, much larger than the previous one. Six towers of crystal stood at equal distances around the room, forming a wide ring around the chamber. Walking up to one of the towers, Twilight placed her hoof on the structure, noticing her reflection staring back at her in the polished crystal. This must be it, she thought. This must be where Sandbar and the others stopped Cozy Glow from draining away all the magic in Equestria.

“Cozy Glow…” Just thinking that name caused a knot to form in the pit of Twilight’s stomach, and she sighed loudly as she stared at her reflection in the crystal. “Where did I go wrong?” she wondered aloud, mystified as to how someone could ever develop such a corrupted view of friendship as Cozy Glow’s, seeing friendship as little more than a means to acquiring power, power the young filly had planned to use to rule over a magicless Equestria with an iron hoof.

Despite the encouraging words of her students, Twilight still couldn’t help but feel like she had failed in preventing Cozy’s plan from ever coming to fruition. “There must have been something I could have done, some way to show her the real power of friendship…”

“... Twi… light…”

Twilight froze, a chill shooting up her spine as her fur stood on end. “Wh-Who’s there?!” On shaky hooves, Twilight whirled around, a bead of magic poised at the tip of her horn as she scanned the cavern. “Show yourself!”

A sound like windchimes reached Twilight’s ears as a strange breeze swept through the cavern, blowing through her mane as motes of light began to rain down from above like tiny snowflakes. As the motes began to coalesce, the image of a very familiar figure began to emerge. Twilight could only look on in disbelief as the figure fully formed, causing her to rub at her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. “I… uh… what?”

Standing in the middle of the cavern was Twilight herself. Or, rather, a sparkling, translucent projection of Twilight that looked at her with strangely blank eyes and a small smile. “I welcome you to my roots, Bearer of Magic,” the projection said in Twilight’s voice, seemingly not one bit surprised to be talking to herself, unlike the real Twilight.

Giving a quick shake of her head, Twilight was about to ask who this projection was when their words finally registered in her brain. “Wait… your roots?” Glancing around the room once more, Twilight gasped as the realization dawned on her. “Are… are you… the Tree of Harmony?” she asked, pointing a hoof at the projection before her.

The projection nodded its head.

Twilight’s face lit up like a Hearth’s Warming tree as she squealed with delight, her wings popping open at her sides as she danced on the tips of her hooves. “Oh, this is so exciting! I've always wanted to talk to you, but I never knew if you were truly conscious or not! Oh, I have so many questions I want to ask you! Paper! I need paper! And lots of quills! Spike!”

The projection actually chuckled at Twilight’s bubbling enthusiasm. “Be still, Twilight Sparkle, for there will come a time for questions. But for now…” Walking up to Twilight, the projection placed its hoof against Twilight’s chest, finally snapping the princess out of her excited state as she glanced down at the hoof. “I sensed a disquiet in your heart, one that has to do with the recent events surrounding the young pony known as ‘Cozy Glow’.”

Twilight’s previous excitement vanished in a blink as she looked away, her ears drooping against her head. “I… I should have noticed the signs. I was her teacher, it was my responsibility to teach her about the fundamentals of friendship, all while she was hatching this scheme with Tirek behind my back. There must have been something I could have done to change her mind and set her down the right path.”

“Do not despair, Twilight Sparkle. The blame for Cozy Glow’s actions does not rest upon your shoulders. The one called Cozy Glow is an…” The projection paused, as if trying to find the right word. “... an ‘anomaly’, one that I have not encountered before now. Though she sought out and was offered genuine friendship, her reasons for doing so were always in a selfish pursuit of power over others. I have come to find that harmony between creatures can never be achieved through oppression or violence, only by discussion and understanding one another can true harmony be achieved.”

Raising its hoof, the projection placed it on Twilight’s shoulder, finally getting her to look the mirror image of herself in the face where she could see its warm smile. “Know that you did all you could to provide her with the tools necessary for her to see friendship for what it truly is, it is not your fault if she chose to ignore it. If you need any further convincing, looking no further than the six.”

“The six?” Twilight asked, unsure of what the tree was referring to at first. “You mean Sandbar, Gallus, Yona, and the others?”

“Indeed. Though they all came from different walks of life, I was able to determine personally that they have taken what you and your friends have sought to teach them to heart and formed a bond that has the potential to become as strong as the one you share between your friends. It was because of this bond that Cozy Glow’s plan was ultimately foiled in the end.”

A smile gradually worked its way onto Twilight’s face as she remembered how the six had become such steadfast friends since they had started attending her school, even going as far to run away together when their budding friendship had been threatened. “You’re right, I’m proud they were able to become such close friends in such a short time. More than anything, they prove that anyone is capable of understanding friendship. I guess Silverstream had a point when she said I shouldn’t let one bad apple spoil what I have managed to accomplish with this school.”

Seemingly satisfied with that answer, the projection pulled away from Twilight. “The uncertainty in your heart has quieted, for now. Now… I believe you wished to ask some questions of me?”

“Oh!” Twilight instantly perked up, her academic enthusiasm returning in full force. “Yes! So many questions! Oh, where do I start? I—” Pausing in her desire for knowledge, Twilight noticed the projection staring at her, a blank and frankly scary look across its, or rather her, face. “Um… before we continue,” Twilight asked delicately, making small circles on the floor with her hoof, “is there any chance you could maybe take on a different form?” Scratching the back of her head, she added, “It feels kind of weird talking to myself, is all…”

The other Twilight tilted its head slightly, a look of uncertainty crossing its features. “While I do not understand why, I will do as you ask if it makes you feel more comfortable.” Closing its eyes, the projection’s form shifted and changed until it had taken on the appearance of Celestia. Opening its eyes, the Tree now asked with Celestia’s voice, “Is this form more to your liking?”

“Y-Yeah… that’s better,” Twilight said after a moment, thankful at least that she wasn’t literally talking to herself anymore. “Alright, questions! Which one, which one? Oh, there must be centuries worth of Equestrian history and knowledge I could learn from you!”

The Tree of Harmony shook its head. “Sadly, I can not fulfill that wish to its fullest. In the long history of my existence, this sense of self-awareness is still very new to me. Up until recently, I merely existed, unconsciously carrying out the mission given to me by my creators.”

“You mean the Pillars, correct? Oh, imagine Starswirl’s face if he knew I was talking to… wait… Did you say you only recently became self-aware? Do you know what the trigger was?”

“For that…” The Tree began, smiling at Twilight, “I have you and the other Bearers to thank.”

“Us?” Twilight asked, more than a little bit confused. “What did we do?”

More than you know. When my existence was threatened by the vines planted by the chaotic one, you willingly returned the Elements to me to ensure my survival. By doing so, I was granted a momentary link between the Bearers and the Elements, flooding my form with feelings and sensations I had no prior knowledge of. In that instance, you not only saved my life but also imbued me with a new understanding.” With those words, the projection bowed its head before Twilight. “For that, I offer you my thanks.”

“Uh… it was nothing?” Twilight replied, unsure of how to respond to having granted consciousness to something as ancient as the Tree of Harmony. “We couldn’t just stand by and let you die, even if it meant giving up the Elements.”

Raising its head, the projection continued by saying, “And for that, my first conscious act was to reward you for your sacrifice, as well as create a means for me to better understand these new sensations within me.”

“The box,” Twilight surmised.

“Indeed, though the item I created served a third purpose as well, for I sensed a darkness growing on the horizon, one even I was unsure of the cause of at the time as I am not omnipotent. Thus, knowing that you could not remove the Elements from my branches without threatening my existence once more, I sought to provide you with an alternative means of defending yourselves for when this darkness chose to reveal itself. I knew that you and your friends would be able to find the keys to unlock it when the time came.”

“Just in the nick of time, too,” Twilight replied. “Without your help, I don’t know if we would have been able to stop Tirek in the end.”

“But you did, and by doing so, you also granted me further understanding of my newfound awareness. At the moment you unlocked the box, you and your friends became connected to my essence for but an instance, allowing you to make use of my power as your own for a time. I learned many things about my new state from that connection, both good and bad.” A frown crossed the projection’s face. “Though your heart was strengthened by your resolve to stop the force called Tirek, I was still able to sense palpable sadness within you, one born of having lost something most precious to you. As such, I saw fit to remedy this sadness by providing you with what I hoped would be a suitable replacement.”

“That would explain why the box suddenly grew into a new castle,” Twilight muttered.

“In addition, I sought to better assist you in your effort to spread harmony across the land. Thus, using my power, I forged a tool capable of seeing to the task.” Stepping back, a ring of light began to encircle the center of the room, rising up as it began to take shape. Within moments, a crystal table displaying a three-dimensional rendering of Equestria across its surface and surrounded by seven crystal thrones appeared, a different cutie mark emblazoned on each throne.

“The Map!” Running up to the table, Twilight placed her front hooves against its edge as she cast her gaze across its surface. “But… but this is supposed to be back in the castle! Did you teleport it all the way here?”

“No, nothing like that. This is merely a replica I constructed for the purpose of this conversation.” Hopping onto one of the thrones, the Tree of Harmony pointed towards the throne displaying Twilight’s cutie mark. “Do have a seat, Twilight Sparkle.”

Glancing at the throne, Twilight did just that. After a moment to make herself comfortable, she looked over the map of Equestria once more. “So… how does The Map work, exactly? Obviously, it detects friendship problems and then sends the ideal ponies to go solve it, but I’ve always wondered exactly how it does that. Also, how does it determine who is best suited to each problem? Do you follow some kind of formula that quantifies which problems are the more pressing and then produces—”

Before Twilight could inquire any further, the projection seated opposite her began to shift and bend, like a marked frame on an old roll of film. “Wh-what’s happening?!” Twilight shouted, her voice filled with worry as she braced herself against The Map. “Is something wrong? You’re not—”

Be calm, Twilight Sparkle,” The Tree said, seemingly unconcerned as its form continued to flicker. “You have nothing to worry about, this is merely an aftereffect of this form I am using to converse with you.” Closing its eyes, the projection stabilized after a brief moment. “Though some may believe my power to be infinite, my strength does indeed have its limits. I have only so much power to extend to my various functions, while still possessing enough magic in reserves should the need arise. As such, my time in this form is limited.”

“Oh…” Sighing with relief, Twilight slumped back in her seat and placed a hoof to her chest. “That’s good to know. I would hate for anything to happen to you again.”

“Your concern is greatly appreciated,” The Tree stated before turning its attention back towards The Map. “To answer your questions from before, The Map acts as a physical medium for me to extend my senses throughout the land, as my roots can only reach so far.” Tapping the toe of its hoof against the map, the surface of the table seemed to move like water, ripples cascading across the map. As it passed, dots of light in a myriad of colors began to appear in areas of the map, few at first before growing into almost a starfield of lights across the entirety of Equestria.

“In but a day, countless friendship problems arise across all corners of the land. Most of these are inconsequential and will inevitably solve themselves without outside help.” As the projection said this, more than a third of the dots suddenly blinked out, with more and more appearing and disappearing with every passing moment. “You and your friends have encountered many such trials, and your friendship has only been made stronger because of it.”

“That makes sense. I suppose something like a short spat between friends isn’t something that requires any kind of intervention,” Twilight remarked. I mean, if The Map responded to every little disagreement or minor problem, we would be running around Equestria all day and night without end.

“Indeed. As such, I focus more on the bigger friendship problems, problems that carry the potential to spiral out of control and threaten the harmony of Equestria as a whole.” Again, a large chunk of the dots vanished from the map’s surface, leaving only a half dozen or so scattered across Equestria remaining. “Even still, those problems also have the potential to resolve themselves if given enough time. As such, I focus my senses further on those I consider the most pressing of friendship disputes, those that may degrade further if left unchecked much longer.” More dots vanished until only one remained hovering over Sire’s Hollow. “Such as your protégé’s recent venture to the place of her birth.”

Twilight winced at the mention of Starlight. “Yeah… I hope you’re not mad at Starlight for disrupting The Map for a while. She’s really sorry, I promise!”

The Tree chuckled. “Worry not, I bear no ill will towards Starlight Glimmer. She has done well in setting herself back onto the right path thanks to your guidance. Seeing as both her and her friend would benefit from resolving this matter, it was a simple task as to who should be sent on this mission. Choosing the right beings to go on each mission is a critical decision that could mean the difference between success or failure.”

Images of cutie marks began to materialize and float above the map, including Twilight’s and her friends’ marks, Starlight and Sunburst’s, the CMC’s and even Celestia, Luna and Cadance’s cutie marks. “Numerous factors go into picking the right candidates, factors such as the individual personality traits of each creature, how well they work together and what traits are necessary to deal with the problem as a whole, just to name a few. It is not a decision I make lightly once a friendship problem becomes known to me.”

“So… no chance of maybe convincing you to send me on more map missions then?” Twilight asked, beaming at the projection with pleading eyes.

“Patience, Twilight Sparkle,” The Tree replied, giving Twilight a teasing look that was far too at home on Celestia’s face. “Your time will come when you are needed, and not a moment sooner.”

“Fine…” Twilight grumbled for a moment before tapping her hoof against her chin in thought. “You know, something’s been bugging me ever since I heard about what happened from Sandbar and the others. This is where Cozy Glow tried to drain away all of Equestria’s magic, right?”


“Then… why didn’t you stop her sooner? You must have known what she was trying to accomplish, so why did you only intervene when my students got involved?”

The Tree became oddly silent, hanging its head as if in shame. Feeling like she had prodded too far, Twilight quickly tried to backpedal by saying, “Sorry, that was a rude thing for me to—”

“I was… conflicted,” The Tree finally responded, still refusing to meet Twilight’s eye. “You are correct in your assumptions, I could have, no, should have stopped her sooner than I did, but I became overwhelmed by a new sensation, one that prevented me from carrying out my duty.”

“What kind of sensation?” Twilight asked, wondering what could have prevented something as ancient as the Tree of Harmony from carrying out its purpose.

The projection shook its head. “Sadly, even now I do not know. All I know is that I was unable to act until your students intervened, filling me with yet another new sensation that managed to counteract the first one and allow me to stop Cozy Glow’s plans from succeeding. I have spent the time since then combing through all my knowledge, and the answer still eludes me.”

Twilight hummed in thought for a moment. “Could you describe the sensation for me? Maybe I could help you figure out what happened?”

Finally lifting its head, the projection glanced up at the crystal roots lining the ceiling for a moment. “It was… cold, like a winter chill spreading through my very being. My trunk shook, my branches shivered, even the Elements seemed to weaken in the face of this sensation. Despite knowing full well that Cozy Glow must be stopped, I was still unable to act, as if held back by this new sensation.”

Twilight listened intently as the Tree described its plight, her eyes widening as an idea came to her. “Maybe…” She shook her head, as if trying to dispel such a silly notion. “No, that couldn’t be it…”

“What?” The Tree inquired, looking to Twilight with pleading eyes. “If you know something that could explain the phenomenon that I experienced, I implore you to tell me so I may remedy this fault posthaste.”

Twilight held her tongue at first, not sure if she was right or not. Even still, she could tell that the Tree was troubled by what had happened. “Could it be that you were… afraid?”

“A...Afraid?” The projection of the Tree repeated the word to itself, sounding it off like it was the first time it had ever heard of such a word. “Afraid…” The projection’s eyes grew hazy and distant, as if deep in thought. “Afraid… I was… afraid. Yes, I feared for my existence, afraid that Cozy Glow’s ritual may in some way affect me in turn and threaten my continued state of awareness. Fear, such a strange and conflicting emotion…”

“Fear isn’t always a bad thing,” Twilight interjected into the Tree’s musings. “Sometimes fear can be a good thing by warning you about potential dangers to yourself and others. Celestia knows how much I’ve feared for my friends’ safety, or how I feared what would happen to the school in my absence. The trick is to not let fear overwhelm you into preventing you from doing what’s right.”

The Tree was silent as it considered Twilight’s words. “It would appear that I still have much to learn about myself.”

“I could help with that, if you’d like,” Twilight offered with a smile. “I’m always happy to help out a friend, after all!”

“Fr...friend?” The Tree muttered, visibly taken aback. “I am… your friend?”

“Of course! I mean, only if you want to be, that is. I won’t force you, but I’d love to get to know you more after everything we’ve been through together.”

“... Friend…” A warm smile spread across the projection’s face. “Yes, I believe I would like that very much, Twilight Sparkle.” The smile suddenly vanished as the projection’s form began to flicker and fade once more. “Sadly, our time together has come to an end.”

“W-wait!” Jumping from her throne, Twilight ran around the map table until she was standing next to the projection. “But we’ve only just begun to understand each other! I still have so many questions for you! Will I ever get to see you again?”

The Tree smiled down at Twilight, taking her hooves in its own as it said, “Fear not, Twilight Sparkle. There will come a time when we will get the chance to speak once more. This is merely a temporary goodbye, with the promise of more to come in the future.” As the projection faded away, it never lost its smile as it said, “Until next we meet… friend.”

With that, both the projector and the replica map vanished, leaving Twilight alone in the cavern once more. As the tiny specks of light faded from sight, Twilight walked up to the nearest crystal pillar and placed her hoof on it. “Until next time…”


Twilight’s ears perked up at the sound of her name, turning around in time to spot Spike flying up to her. “There you are!” He said as he settled down onto the ground. “I’ve been looking all over for you.” Glancing around the cavern when he realized it was just him and Twilight there, he asked, “Uh, who were you talking to?”

Glancing up at the ceiling, a smile spread across Twilight’s lips. “Oh, just a new friend...”