Rarity turned to Twilight, a confused look on her face. "Her? Why did you ask her to come here?"
"I just wanted to tell somepony that I would trust not to run off to Celestia because she had been in a similar situation before," said Twilight.
Rarity flinched back in her wheelchair as none other than the Princess of the Night slowly descended down the stairs. This was far from the same mare that they had cleansed with the Elements. She was far more regal and imposing than she had been before. She was nearly as tall as Celestia, and she had the same ethereal mane, though hers mirrored the night sky. Gone was the shivering filly, curled up on the floor. This pony carried herself like somepony radiating power. Now here she was, coming to find out her darkest secret.
Luna reached the bottom of the stairs and raised her eyebrow as she looked between Twilight and Rarity. "Twilight Sparkle, what is the meaning of this meeting thou hast called Us to?"
Twilight looked at Luna and then back to Rarity. "Well, I think that it is Rarity's place to tell you what is going on. However, you have to promise us that you will not tell Celestia, or indeed anypony, what Rarity has to tell you."
"We promise," said Luna with a nod.
"Pinkie Promise?" said Rarity.
Luna frowned and tilted her head. "Pinkie Promise? What is this 'Pinkie Promise' of which you speak?"
Twilight grinned despite herself. Even in a situation like this the antics of Pinkie Pie still managed to make her smile.
"It's basically an unbreakable promise. To break it means terrible things," said Twilight. "To make a Pinkie Promise, you just have to say 'cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye' and you do these motions."
Luna looked at the two of them like they were insane but nodded all the same. "Very well, Rarity, cross my heart and hope to fly stick a cupcake in my eye," she said while doing the motions. "Now, what is the issue that thou have called Us here to discuss?"
Rarity looked at the expectant Luna, her mind willing her to tell Luna what was wrong. Silence filled the room as Rarity began working up the nerve to tell a royal princess her deepest, darkest secret in the whole world, and that was something that she had always known would mean instant death for her.
A small sob escaped Rarity's throat and Luna took a step towards her. She smiled warmly at Rarity and put a comforting hoof on her shoulder. "Dearest Rarity, thou would do well to remember who thou art speaking to. We are a pony who tried to bring about eternal night. Nothing you can say to Us is worse than that."
I'm a serial killer," Rarity whispered.
Luna let out a small gasp and retracted her hoof. "What did you say?"
"I'm a serial killer!" Rarity repeated. "I murder ponies for fun!"
A look of unease crossed Luna's face, and she took a small step backwards. "Is this some sort of jest that the two of you have created for the purpose of 'fun'?" She shifted her eyes between the two ponies in front of her. "Because We do not find this very amusing, Twilight Sparkle."
"No, we aren't joking, Princess Luna," Rarity insisted. "I have been killing ponies ever since I was eight years old."
"Why... why do you tell Us these things?" asked Luna. Rarity and Twilight detected something strange in Luna. It almost seemed to them to be fear.
"I found out about it not long after her filly sister did. I had to tell somepony and I knew that Celestia would execute Rarity for it. We figured..."
"You figured that because We were Nightmare Moon that We would have a greater understanding for the situation than Tia would?" Luna guessed. Rarity nodded. "We see." Luna turned back to Twilight. "Why did thou not turn her in to Tia, Twilight Sparkle?"
Twilight gave a heavy sigh and looked at the floor. "Because whatever else she may be, Rarity is my friend, and I know that she would never do anything to hurt me or my other friends. She told me herself that she only kills these days to protect us, and I just..." Twilight shook her head. "I just didn't have the nerve to let Princess Celestia kill her."
Luna nodded. "It is true, dear Rarity, that We have fought internal darkness. We have brought death and destruction to ponies all over Equestria, and We know what it is like to see a pony die by our hooves. However, We are not sure what thou wishes for Us to do, Twilight Sparkle. Dost thou wish Us to try to heal the darkness inside of your friend? Dost thou wish for Us to plead her case to Tia? What was the purpose of this meeting?"
"Well, what do you think would be the best option?" asked Twilight.
"We tell thee the truth, Twilight Sparkle, We see no other way to do this than to tell Tia." Luna's expression turned grim. "Actions have consequences, dear Rarity, and if yours is death, then so be it."
Rarity squealed in fear and did her best to shrink away from Luna. "No! I don't want to die! Think of my friends; think of my family! Besides, I wield an Element of Harmony! What would that do?"
"It is true that thou does wield an Element of Harmony and that does complicate matters." Luna frowned and tapped her hoof on the floor. "We wielded the Elements at one time, and We know that they do not choose their holders lightly."
"So what do we do?" asked Twilight.
"If thou do not want to see the end of your friend, We think we have an idea. It may or may not come to fruition but it is something that we can try if thou want to."
"What is it?" asked Rarity.
"Well, We feel that if the Elements of Harmony were able to cleanse us of our inner demons, then perhaps they could also cleanse you of yours, dear Rarity," said Luna. "We could call the other wielders to Canterlot and have them use the Elements to take away the darkness that drives your actions."
"But who is going to wield the Element of Generosity?" asked Twilight.
"While the hold that my sister and I have over the Elements of Harmony is diminishing, it is not completely gone yet. We can still wield them on some level and We think that we can do this. However, we must hurry, lest Tia finds out about our deeds. We do not wish to discover the consequences that our actions may bring upon us."
Twilight and Rarity nodded and within a few minutes they were off to collect their friends.
* * * *
Applejack was fast asleep in her home, dreaming about apple bucking her way through the orchards of Red Delicious apples (a common dream for her) and recharging from the long day of doing just that and a Pinkie Pie party. She found herself just about to knock the apples off of her second favorite tree, Ambrosia, when a trio of loud knocks on the door pulled out of dreamland.
"Whozzere?" she muttered sleepily, trying to will her exhausted body out of bed.
"It's me: Twilight," said the voice behind her bedroom door.
"Twilight?" Applejack groaned and pushed herself up with her tired forelegs. She rolled out of bed and went towards the door. "What 'r you doin' here?" She opened the door and saw a sight that instantly sapped all fatigue from her body. Standing in front of here were Twilight, Rarity, and Princess Luna. Applejack gave a yelp at the last one and backed away slowly into her room.
"Applejack, we need your help!" said Twilight. "Something terrible has happened and we need to get to the Elements of Harmony right away!"
Applejack stopped backing away and looked at Twilight worriedly. "Uh, the Elements of Harmony?" Applejack motioned to Luna. "Does it have anythin' to do with her?"
Twilight shook her head. "No, in fact, it was her idea. We have to get to Canterlot as soon as possible!"
"Would you mind explainin' why in the hay we need to go to Canterlot in the middle of the night to wield the Elements of Harmony?" asked Applejack.
Twilight and Rarity exchanged nervous looks and Rarity shook her head. "I'm afraid that we cannot tell you the details," said Rarity. "All I can say is that something terrible is happening to me and we think that only the Elements of Harmony can heal me."
Applejack's expression softened and she stopped backing away from the door.. "That bad huh?" she said. Rarity nodded prompting a sigh from Applejack. "Alright then, if you don't feel that you can tell me then Ah'll trust that you have a good reason and that you'd never withhold information just to hurt me. Of course Ah'll go with you."
Rarity face broke out into a wide grin and she would have wrapped Applejack in a large hug were it not for her injuries. "Thank you Applejack, you have no idea what this means to me."
* * * *
Collecting the rest of their friends was even easier than Applejack. True to form, Pinkie Pie had gotten really excited at the prospect of hanging out with her good friends and to her the fact that they would be sneaking around Canterlot at night just made the whole thing even more fun for her.
Rainbow Dash was also very easy to convince. She had been awake when they had arrived, and once Rarity told her that she needed her help, Rainbow didn't ask any more questions after Rarity told her to simply trust that they knew what was going on.
Fluttershy also was easy to convince. She was clearly frightened when Rarity and Twilight told her what was going on, not to mention the fact that Princess Luna was there, but she went with them all the same. So, the six friends boarded a train to Canterlot while Princess Luna went back in her chariot.
Nopony said much in the beginning of the train ride, Twilight and Rarity because they were worried about taking the Elements of Harmony without Princess Celestia knowing and the others because of the unknown nature of their quest. Finally though, Applejack could stand the silence no longer.
"Now, would somepony explain what is goin' on here? Why in the hay did you two and Princess Luna wake me up to go get the Elements?"
"Applejack, I know that you hate feeling out of the loop," said Twilight. "But you have to trust us. All we can tell you is that we need to use the Elements to heal Rarity from a bad thing inside of her." Applejack frowned but decided against pressing the issue any further.
"Well, I guess that Twilight knows what she is doing," said Rainbow Dash. "But I gotta admit it is a little frustrating not knowing what is going on."
"A little?" Applejack grumbled.
"Girls, I know that I am asking you to place a lot of trust in Twilight and I, but we cannot tell you what our mission is about," said Rarity. "However..." She took a deep breath. "I promise you will find out someday when the time is right."
Twilight's jaw dropped and she looked incredulously at her friend. "They will?"
"Yes," said Rarity. "As horrible as it will be for them, it is unfair not to tell them someday."
Rather than being mollified with this answer, Applejack grumbled once more. "Ah wish that Ah could trade Elements with one of y'all right now so that one of you could give me the honest truth about what's goin' on here!"
"Do you trust us?" asked Twilight.
Applejack's glare softened slightly. "Of course Ah do, Twilight, but that still don't mean that this secrecy ain't annoyin'."
Rarity gave Applejack her best smile. "As long as you trust us in the end, I can ask for nothing more."
* * * *
Within a few more hours, the six of them arrived in Canterlot. They were met at the train station by Princess Luna and a pair of Lunar Guards who led the six friends toward the hall that housed the Elements. Twilight used her magic to move Rarity's wheelchair.
The streets of Canterlot were silent in the dead of night. It was socially unacceptable for ponies of any status at all to be seen wandering the streets at night, so everypony was secure in their beds. Every now and again they would run into more Lunar Guards, but seeing Princess Luna with the six ensured that they did not question what the six were doing wandering around Canterlot late at night.
Finally, they reached the hall where the Elements of Harmony were being housed. To their surprise, they found that the hall was being guarded by a trio of Celestia's elite guards. Luna, however, was not fazed by this and she approached them.
"We must enter this chamber," she said. "You will let us pass."
The guards did not move.
"We cannot do that, Princess Luna," said the leader. "Princess Celestia herself has ordered that nopony can gain access into this hallway without her personal authority."
Luna glared at them. "Is Our authority not enough? Is it not enough that We have brought the wielders of the Elements of Harmony with Us? Our cause is just and you cannot stop our entry into this hallway!"
The guards stood fast, but there was a hint of unease behind their expressions. The leader shifted uncomfortably, but stood his ground. "Princess Celestia told us to guard this room, Princess Luna. If you wish to gain entry, then you'll have to take it up with her."
Luna stared at the guard for a few moments, as if studying him. Then, before anypony could say anything, she ignited her horn and shot a beam of magic at the guards. When the light faded, nothing was left to give any indication that the guards had been there at all.
"Princess Luna what have you done?!" Twilight yelped.
"Do not worry Twilight Sparkle, We have merely teleported them to another part of the castle. We did not wish to spend all night arguing with him" Luna walked up to the doors. "However, we must hurry, for they shall be quick to tell Our sister what has happened here tonight."
Luna used her magic to open the giant doors that led into the hall where the Elements were kept. At the end of the hallway was another doorway which they all surmised opened to reveal the Elements. Twilight sensed the powerful magic protecting the door and turned to Luna.
"Are you sure you can get in there?" asked Twilight.
Princess Luna snorted and rolled her eyes. "As strong as Tia is, she does not actually have the amount of power that she thinks she does. Tia keeps saying that only she can break the spell that holds this door shut, but really, We have strong magic of Our own, Twilight Sparkle." Luna slid her horn into the hole in the door and used her magic to unlock the door. The doors swung open revealing a large, ornate case which Luna brought over to the six friends. "Now then, you all must wield your Elements to cleanse your friend. We will wield Rarity's. However, we must hurry, I sense that Tia is on her way even as we speak."
Luna opened the box and gave the Elements to their respective ponies, taking Rarity's for herself. She nodded to Twilight who began charging her Element. All at once, the Elements of Harmony began to fire up and each of the ponies in front of Rarity was engulfed in a bright light. Part of her wanted to run, but her mobility was still limited. She now realized what Nightmare Moon had felt when they had stopped her with the Elements.
As the light became brighter, beams began to shoot out of the cutie-mark shaped gems that adorned the necklaces and tiara that made up the Elements of Harmony. The beams combined to make one rainbow beam that suddenly shot itself directly towards Rarity. She gave a squeal of fear as the beam enveloped her.
All at once, time seemed to stop for Rarity. Her mind was filled with visions of all of the ponies that she had killed. Her mind was sent back to her first kills and she re-watched the events for the second time that night. However, this time the memory became a little fuzzy as she was watching it. It slowly began to fade away as if it had never happened. In fact, all of the memories that were shown seemed to fade away into nothingness once they were shown. Rarity felt all of the angry feelings inside of her fade away, all of the urges to kill, even to protect her friends, were slowly going away. Rarity knew at that moment that everything was going to be okay. Twilight would forgive her, Sweetie Belle wouldn't be scarred for life at what she had seen and done. She didn't have to kill anymore! Princess Celestia wouldn't have to know about what she was.
No, what she used to be.
All at once the light faded and the ponies were standing around looking expectantly at Rarity. "Did it work?" Twilight took a small step towards Rarity. "How do you feel?"
Rarity examined her body, both inwardly and outwardly. To her surprise and joy, the Elements had actually healed her legs! She jumped off of the wheelchair and stood up. She examined herself inwardly, expecting to find any trace of the urge to kill that had driven her life for so long, but it was not there. Rarity's eyes began to fill with tears of joy and she pulled Twilight into a giant hug.
"Yes Twilight, I think it did!" she said. The rest of her friends gathered around her and Rarity pulled them into a hug as well. They didn't know why they were here, they were just glad that whatever had bothered their friend was gone. She would tell them why the events of tonight happened at all in their own time, but for now they could just relax knowing that it was all over.
Luna used her magic to put the Elements of Harmony back where they belonged. "We feel that thou must all go now before Tia finds out what has happened here."
"Of course."Twilight put a hoof on Luna's shoulder in a half-hug. "Thank you for everything."
"She helped cleanse the darkness inside of us." Luna gave Twilight a smile. "We are overjoyed that We had the chance to return the favor."
"PRINCESS LUNA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE HERE?" came a powerful voice that shook the hall. The seven of them turned to see a livid Princess Celestia standing in the doorway with three slightly singed guards behind her. Twilight flattened her ears. She had never heard Princess Celestia's Royal Canterlot Voice before, but its power and authority was far greater than Luna's could ever hope to be.
Luna motioned the six friends to get behind her. "Leave this to Us, Twilight Sparkle," she said grimly.
"I'm waiting for an answer, Luna," said Celestia angrily. "Why did you attack my guards and steal the Elements of Harmony?"
"The Elements of Harmony are safe, sister," said Luna. "They were not used for any nefarious purpose. We both know that by their very nature they cannot be used for ill deeds!"
Celestia's eyes narrowed. "Then why did you not see fit to inform me that you wished to use them?"
"It was none of your concern!" said Luna. "What they were needed for was the business of these six friends and Ourself!"
Celestia looked at Luna incredulously for a brief moment before anger crossed her face once more. "They are the Elements of Harmony, Luna. It is always my business what they are used for! Why did you not tell me that you needed them? I would have let you use them if the purpose was right!"
"Yes, dear sister, the purpose was right. However, you did not need to know what need we had for them this night! We would have consulted you if We knew that you would not have pried into something that was not for you to know!"
"How do you know?" Celestia retorted. "Did you not trust that I could make a fair judgment?"
Luna gave a frustrated grunt. "Tia, thou hast been Our sister for many millennium. We know that thou desires to know all that goes on in your kingdom, especially when objects of great power are involved. Thou would not have let us use the Elements until thou knew why we needed them."
"That's because it is my business to know why they are needed!"
"Tia, by not telling you what we did tonight, we preserved the lives of these six that stand behind Us. If we had told you our purpose, and even if we tell you now, then the lives of one of these here would end within minutes. We did not tell you to protect the lives of one of the wielders!"
Celestia raised an eyebrow at this and her anger seemed to fade away. She shifted her glance between the Elements and Luna as if studying them for a hint of falseness. Finding none, she sighed. "I know you do not lie. We have known each other too long for you to successfully lie to me, but can't you at least give me some details about this?"
"I'm afraid not, Tia. To tell you anything would lead to the downfall of the wielders. Only two of them even know the full extent of what has transpired here tonight." Celestia looked at the six friends huddled together behind Luna. "I know that you have no reason to trust Us with the Elements as We were once Nightmare Moon, but even if you do not trust Us, then trust your student Twilight Sparkle who would most certainly never do anything to bring you any harm."
Celestia looked behind Luna at Twilight who was still shaken up form hearing her mentor's Royal Canterlot Voice. Celestia gave a frustrated sigh. "Very well, I will trust you for the sake of Twilight. They may go back to their homes tonight without incident. However..." She turned her attention back to Luna, "we are not quite finished with this conversation."
To Rarity's utter surprise, Luna actually managed a smile at this. "We know, but thou art wasting your breath, sister. We cannot tell you anything about this. We made what We believe Twilight Sparkle called a 'Pinkie Promise'. Or hooves are tied, dear sister, for this seems to be the most solemn of vows."
At this, Pinkie Pie spoke up. "Yeah, nopony can ever break a Pinkie Promise! I mean, it's a Pinkie Promise!"
To everypony's surprise, Celestia's anger seemed to fade away and she managed a small smile as well. "Yes I am quite aware that there are certain ramifications to breaking a Pinkie Promise. Very well sister, do not see this matter as quite over yet, but we will discuss this further at a later date."
* * * *
Celestia had allowed the friends to leave and return to Ponyville without incident as she had said. The train ride back was silent (mostly because the friends were still shocked by what they had witnessed, particularly Celestia's Royal Canterlot Voice) with nopony really making eye contact with the others. All of them were deep in thought at the events of that day, Twilight and Rarity in particular. It still hadn't quite sunk in yet that she was free. No more killing. No more hiding who she was from other ponies. She could live life as her friends did, innocent and pure. Yes, the deaths that she had caused would never go away, but she was content with the fact that she wouldn't be causing any more.
The train reached Ponyville and the six friends parted ways. They had all felt tired after wielding the Elements of Harmony and they all felt that a good night's sleep was in order.
Rarity walked into Carousel Boutique with a spring in her step. Not only did the fact that she could use her legs again feel wonderful, but now...
As she shut the door behind her, she heard a set of hoofsteps behind her and turned to see a wide-eyed Sweetie Belle slowly walking down the stairs. Rarity's face burst into a wide grin and she ran towards her sister. She swept her up in her forelegs and hugged her tight. "Oh Sweetie Belle, the most wonderful thing has happened!"
Sweetie Belle whimpered softly and flattened her ears. "Rarity... I was scared I was never gonna see you again."
Rarity tightened her grip on her sister and nuzzled the top of her head. "Sweetie Belle, my friends took me to Canterlot tonight and they cleansed me with the Elements of Harmony!" Tears of joy began dripping down Rarity's face. "Big sister isn't a serial killer anymore! I'm not going to hurt another pony as long as I live!"
Sweetie Belle's ears slowly perked up, and she raised her head to lock eyes with her sister. "Really? You're not going to hurt any more ponies?"
Rarity stroked the back of Sweetie Belle's mane and nuzzled her again. "Never, Sweetie Belle. I will never again harm another pony. I don't feel those urges anymore."
Sweetie Belle stared at the floor as if deep in thought. "Not gonna...?"
With a single sob, Sweetie Belle threw her forelegs around Rarity's waist and buried her head in her chest. Rarity resumed stroking her mane and smiled fondly down at her sister. "It's going to be okay now, Sweetie Belle. Big sister is okay now. I'm not going to hurt any more ponies. I will never hurt anypony again."