Inner Glory

by Erindor

Chapter 60: Leveling

Chapter 60: Leveling

Luna hastily threw her remaining blade as she stepped back, trying desperately to think of how to counter the sheer force Celestia was swinging at her. Celestia advanced slowly, easily knocking the blade aside. Luna looked around the room for help, catching Quicksilver's eye. She frowned. No, she was going to do this herself. She had called this fight, and she was going to see it through. The princess of the night looked up to the roof, eyes widening as her plan began to form. It was a long shot, but it might just work.

She stomped the ground once more, the force traveling up the nearby pillars, guided by her magic. It collected at the center of the hall, beginning to crumble the stone around the point. Celestia looked up in surprise, having expected a more direct attack. Luna ran around her, pushing Celestia into the epicenter. The ceiling fell, forcing Celestia to drop her hammer as she tried to fling the rocks away from herself.

As she was distracted, Luna ripped the hammer away, swinging it at Celestia's legs. It was only a glancing blow, as Celestia tried to dodge, but it was enough to throw off the sun sister's concentration. She lost control of the falling masonry, which pinned her with a gut-wrenching crunch. Even Luna winced, but she continued forward, unwilling to let her advantage go to waste. She climbed onto the pile of stones, staring intently at Celestia, who looked up helplessly. Luna licked her teeth in anticipation. She lifted the hammer, a fury rising up from her chest. Her sister would pay for everything she had done— and everything she had been barely prevented from doing.

The hammer fell, the telekinetic weight adding a sense of finality to Luna's attack. She laughed quietly at Celestia’s pleading look.

“Luna!” Quicksilver yelled.

Luna paused, looking at him with fury. “What, you bumbling fool? I have to kill her!”

Quicksilver looked frightened. “That’s the problem! That's what you were about to do! This isn't a fight to the death, this was supposed to be honorable, just combat!”

Luna looked down at Celestia in horror. She had... she had been just about to kill Celestia. Luna tossed the hammer to the side like a poisonous snake. “What... what am I doing?”

Celestia weakly rose up from the pile, her wounds healing rapidly. “Luna, something's wrong, and I don't think it's just normal sisterly annoyance.”

“I... I can't help myself.” Luna looked up at her wildly. “Each of my attacks is like an injection of pleasure. I feel like I want to hurt you. Like, really want to. What's wrong with me?”

“Luna, I'm afraid your inhibitions are completely gone. The slightest frustration is worse than murder now.”

Luna began giggling desperately. “What are you talking about?”

“It's exactly why I turned down the Devil. I could see where that modification could take me. I thought he had only offered it to me, so I was negotiating a deal to have him never approach an Equestrian again, but it looks like he got to you first. I only accepted your challenge because I was hoping I'd be able to knock some sense into you. Maybe while you were unconscious, I would be able to put you back the way you were.” Celestia began making her way towards the throne.

Luna looked over herself. “You're right, I’ve gone too far. I was foolish. Help me, sister.” Her wide eyes begged for mercy. And yet they still carried a hint of malice that Celestia couldn't help but notice.

“I can only help you if you let me,” Celestia began, choosing her words carefully. “You need to renounce your duties until we can take care of this. We can't allow the kingdom to see what you've become, it'll only cause mass unrest.”

Luna's demeanor shifted, and she hissed ferally. “You're just trying to cement your position on the throne!” She stopped, then began weeping bitterly. “It's just like my nightmare! I've become the nightmare!”

Celestia nodded. “I'm afraid you have. I'm sorry, but this is for your own good.”

Luna looked up from her despair. “What do you mean?”

Hovering around Celestia were the Elements of Harmony, which she had retrieved from their hiding place beneath the throne. Luna shook her head. “No. No. You can't.”

“Luna, it might be the only way. If you get out of this room, you'll hurt yourself, or worse, others.”

Luna broke down, sweat forming on her brow as she panicked, losing what little control she had left. “No! You're lying! I'm fine!” she seethed. “You're evil. You're trying to enslave the people of Equestria.”

“Listen to yourself!” Celestia pressed the star-shaped element to her chest, where it held and began to glow. The other elements began a careful orbit as Celestia prepared her spell. “You’re being completely illogical!”

“You're going to kill me!”

“No! I'm trying to surgically remove the Devil's influence! If you resist, things might go wrong. Hold still.”

“And be led like a lamb to slaughter? Never!” Luna rushed towards Celestia, the moon far above glowing brighter as she prepared her spell.

Celestia groaned. “Luna, don't, I'm trying to help you! Besides, we don't even raise meat, the griffons do that. That metaphor hardly applies.” Celestia was forced to abandon the spell as she braced to meet Luna's attack.

Luna lashed out with a wall of fiery energy. Celestia threw up a shield, her mind racing for a way to end this as quickly and painlessly as possible.

“You're an oppressive monster!” Luna yelled, throwing a second wave of flame. “Only one of us will leave this room!”

Quicksilver had enough. He ran up to Luna and attempted to physically pull her back. “Luna, listen to reason!”

With an movement almost too fast to see, Luna whipped around and struck Quicksilver squarely in the face, her eyes full of fury. “Never try to hold me back,” she seethed.

Quicksilver stumbled back a few feet, stunned. “You... you hit me.”

“I'll do it again if you don't stay out of my— AUGH” As Luna was distracted, Celestia had tackled her, sending the two of them sprawling to the floor.

“Quicksilver! Get everyone out of the castle!” Celestia yelled. “I don't want to endanger the others!”

Quicksilver stopped rubbing his cheek. “Of course, my liege. It will be done,” he answered automatically.

“Traitor!” Luna yelled from underneath her sister. “You're siding with her, after everything we've done?”

“I... I can't side with you, Luna. You're no longer yourself. You're not what you stood for. I'm sorry.” He turned and ran, calling out for the other guards.

Luna darkened considerably. “So. I stand alone.”

“Just ride it out Luna, we can get you through this.”

Luna, still pinned by Celestia, stopped resisting for a moment. “The Devil only removed my inhibitions, didn't he? He hasn't taken ahold of my mind or anything like that. What you're seeing now is only what I wished I had the guts to show. This... this is what I really am.”

“You're wrong, Luna. You're being blown around by the slightest whim. An intelligent being has the occasional thought that they wouldn't dare entertain, but you're becoming a slave to them. This isn't freedom, it's a slavery worse than any you perceive me to be imposing on you. I'm sorry, but I've only done what I thought was good for the country! We are charged with protecting those weaker than us, Luna, and sometimes that takes sacrifice. I'm sorry if I've slighted you, and I'm willing to work this out, but you're not giving me a chance to help!”

“You've had your chance.” Luna finally managed to get a proper footing, and kicked Celestia away. The two quickly stood up, facing each other off.

“Luna, stand down. I don't want to hurt you.”

“It's too late for that.”

The air was still, though heavy with anticipation. Celestia deliberately chose to not move; she had to buy as much time as possible so the others in the castle could escape. They had prepared for every threat except an internal one such as this; she only hoped they were able to figure it out quickly.

Luna was stock-still as well. The light had gone from her eyes, giving her an aura of disconcerting calmness. Quicksilver was right; she was no longer the pony both he and Celestia knew and loved. And as such, Celestia could hold nothing back in this fight. She knew this nightmare wouldn't.

The Elements followed their careful orbit, their humming the only sound in the room besides the soft, controlled breathing from each side, and the wind from the revealed sky above. The sun was setting, and the moon was rising; if Celestia didn't act soon, she'd get weaker with each passing second. After all, the sun was the source of her main power, and with the earth interrupting the direct line of sight, she'd have to rely on her personal reserves, and perhaps the Elements. She couldn't toy with the strange magic they offered, however. They felt like caged animals, trying to escape, and despite their usefulness in the past, she feared their power. She could turn the sun back, but that would throw off the careful balance of life, and Luna would only try to stop her. She had to end his quickly. In an extended fight, Luna would certainly be able to beat her. Celestia's spells always had been less combat oriented anyways.

Neither side dared to move. Then, finally, Luna dashed forward as Celestia was taking a particularly deep breath.

Shoot. Celestia attempted to throw up a shield, but Luna had apparently boosted her speed with her magic. She was lightning fast, striking Celestia four, five times with her armored hoof. Celestia recoiled, trying to find a sure footing, but Luna kept up the attack. Another three strikes landed solidly, each hit dazing Celestia. If this kept up, the fight would be over before it even began.

Celestia let loose a shockwave, knocking Luna away. It was a powerful attack, and likely a waste of Celestia's stores of magic, but at least it gave her some breathing room. Celestia conjured four warding discs, which circled her body, ready to intercept any incoming physical attacks. She watched Luna carefully. The sun goddess was still holding onto the hope that Luna might be redeemed, and as such, she could not attack her younger sister as wildly as might be wise.

Celestia took a deep breath, and with careful movements, generated a snaking arc of light. She flung it towards Luna, the tail trailing behind the head like a comet. Luna rolled to the side to dodge the attack. With a subtle nod of Celestia's head, the spell's trajectory immediately changed. Luna began running as Celestia continued to guide the attack after her. It was an incapacitating bolt; easily avoided, but wonderfully effective if it actually hit.

Luna began firing a barrage of far less refined attacks. Each seared through the air, blinding Celestia's vision. Celestia closed her eyes and reached out with her arcane eye, striking down each attack with a counter missile. After a moment she opened her eyes once more, and gritted her teeth. Luna was standing in the center of the room, chanting frantically. Runes were appearing around her, and the moon began pulsing in time to her rhythm.

Celestia ran forward, attempting to interrupt the ritual. It was already too late, she knew, even as Luna finished her incantation. “ yn achosi tân garthu'r eni o gyfiawnder i arwain fi.”

A beam of light blasted from the moon, enveloping Luna instantaneously. Celestia was thrown back as a dark laughter began to fill her ears. The room fell into darkness, the light in the center failing to illuminate anything but itself and the creature inside. Each step it took shook the room, and its wings seemed to blanket the horizon, like the night's sky.

“You waited too long, Celestia. I'm at my very most powerful now. I have harnessed the full power of my creation, and I dare you to try and stop me.”

“Luna! Stop this madness!”

The creature drew ever closer, its draconic eyes glinting with malice. “Why Celestia, this is just the beginning. I've had a change of heart. I don't want to rule Equestria. I want to destroy it.”

Celestia shook her head, refusing to hear what her sister was saying. “You wouldn't.”

“Oh, wouldn't I? I have the power to. I have the motive. I've realized that it wasn't just you that was holding me back; it was everyone else as well. This world isn't worthy of our protection, so we'll begin anew. Hand over the Elements, and we'll recreate the pony race in a more glorious form.They will be perfect, like us. No more inequality. And then, we shall march across the rest of the world, and claim it for our own. One war to end the rest. No more strife. No more petty politics.”

“Luna, this is my last warning. Restrain yourself, or I will be forced to put you down.”

“I am no longer Luna. That name is tied to the weakling I've left behind. Yes, I've become her nightmare, her deepest worries about herself come true. But it's liberating! I can do anything I want to now, and there's no one to stop me! All shall know the name of Nightmare Moon, and each will bow before me. Beginning with you. Kneel before your superior, and I will allow you to serve me, as I was once forced to serve you.”

“Nightmare Moon?” It was all that Celestia could think to say. “That’s what you’re calling yourself? A bit tacky, don’t you think?”

“Don’t patronize me, Celestia.”

“I'm sorry, I just can't take you seriously.”

Nightmare Moon snarled. “You never could. If you're trying to talk me down, you're doing a poor job.”

Celestia held her head high. “I've realized that Luna is lost to me, at least for now. I owe you nothing that I owe her. And as such, I will defend myself without restraint.” Celesita's shields blazed, and she stepped forward, radiating glory.

Nightmare Moon laughed. “You can try to defend yourself, but you'll find you have a hard time doing it.”

Nightmare Moon tapped her armor-clad hoof lightly against the stone, the sound echoing across the hall. The wet smell of rain began to fill the air, as she traced her hoof around in sweeping motions. Celesita watched her carefully, waiting for Nightmare Moon to strike first. The scraping sound continued as she finished her pattern, drawing her hoof in next to her body. A thunder clap filled the air, and Celestia's eyes widened as the lights continued above, obscuring the early night sky.

Celestia swung all four shield above her as the lightning began to strike. Each bolt was blinding, the echoing sound vibrating the walls and jarring Celestia. The effect was like a strobe light; each blast seemed to make the world move in slow motion. With surprising and disorienting speed, Nightmare Moon dashed forward, and Celestia backed up in a panic.

“Gah!” Celestia yelled, her cry drowned out by another thunder clap. Nightmare Moon's eyes were glowing with a sinister light, blades of energy slashing at every opening Celestia allowed, only to taper off and die out as the Nightmare conjured yet another blade, striking down and releasing, over and over again, in fluid motions.

“Had enough yet? We've only just begun!” Nightmare Moon held her attack for a moment, making Celestia's steps stutter. With two telekinetic blasts, Celestia was thrown against the wall. Nightmare never let up, continuing her cutting strikes viciously. The Elements did what they could to heal Celestia, but the attacks were coming in faster than they could be handled by Celestia’s unfocused mind.

“You like that? The thing is, this isn’t anything compared to the pain I’ve been feeling for all these years! It’ll take quite a bit more of this to get to the point where you can say you understand what I've gone through. Then perhaps you will have the moral ground.” A beam of concentrated light slammed into Celestia's last defenses, ripping them away. Celestia yelled out, her eyes falling out of focus.

Is this how it ends? Celestia wondered. My sister, corrupted? Me, alone? Without putting up a fight? She scowled. No, never.

Celestia began to rise, the energy still blasting at her. Nightmare Moon gave a quick shake of her head in confusion. “What? That's not possible.”

Celestia just closed her eyes, shutting out the pain, smiling softly. “You underestimate the power of will.” She turned to face the Nightmare, her scarred and burned flesh beginning to heal as she secured control over the Elements. “No words. Let our actions speak.”

“Very well.” With a heavy flap of her wings, Nightmare Moon was in the air, her umbilical cord of lunar energy trailing behind her. Celestia opened her mind, feeling the nigh infinite expanse of the Elements. Each second was drawn out as she removed all distractions. There was now only her, and the threat to the kingdom before her. The threat wasn't Luna any longer; she was an idea, a corrupting cancer. She couldn't be a sapient being anymore. That would make it too painful. She was a blight, an open sore, a mockery, a plague. And she would be removed.

Celestia let the energy flow. Once it had begun, it was easy to let it all out. With determined flicks of her horn, she threw blast after blast towards her airborne opponent. Nightmare Moon made an active effort to dodge, managing to avoid most of the attacks, which crashed unhelpfully through the walls. However this turned out, the castle would need some renovation.

Nightmare Moon was obviously only stalling for time, hoping that Celestia would run out of power. With a flap of her wings, Celestia took to the air as well, her horn glowing with the same glory as the Elements. She now fired a constant, incredible beam, which slammed into Nightmare Moon, who gave a cry of pain. The dark alicorn gritted her teeth and dove down from her higher vantage point, straight through the attack, tackling the older alicorn. They spiraled to the ground in a tangle of limbs and feathers, neither willing to break first. At the last moment, they pushed off of each other, rolling to minimize damage.

As soon as they had stopped rolling, the two were at each other once again. They forgot their ranged tactics and went straight at each other’s throats. The two of them jousted with their horns, kicked with their armored hooves, and butted each other for all they were worth. Finally, Celestia managed to land a solid blow on Nightmare’s knee, a loud crack filling the air.

“AH!” She yelled. Celestia landed another blow on the wounded knee, quickly following up with a third to her enemy’s side, throwing her to the ground. Before she could react, Celestia quickly cast thin beams that severed Nightmare Moon’s limbs. It was gruesome, it was barbaric, but it was the only way to keep her down long enough for this to have a chance. Celestia shut out the cries of anguish beneath her as she readied the Elements.

“Tynnwch y gwenwyn sydd wedi dod o'r ffynhonnell ffiaidd. Dychwelwch y meddwl oedd yn berchen arni unwaith. Rhowch ei heddwch a chariad.”

“What have you done?!”

Celestia was pulled out of her spell by a familiar voice. “Quicksilver! Get out of here!”

The look on his face spoke of untold horror. “You’ve hurt her! Your own sister!”

“It’s the only way. Go!”

Nightmare Moon raised her head weakly, her face dripping in her tears and the blood that had begun to pool around her. “Quicksilver, help. She’s trying to kill me!”

The look of horror suddenly twisted into rage. “She won’t be able to.” He rushed forward, yelling incoherently.

Celestia jumped up, turning to face him. “Quicksilver! If you interrupt me, you’ll kill her, you’ll kill me, you’ll kill the kingdom!”

“Your words are empty, just like your heart! You care for what’s ‘proper’, but you never take into consideration anybody’s feelings!” He lunged forward viciously, but Celestia side-stepped him. “My liege, I’m sorry, but you’ve lost the once unshakable faith I had in you! I know Luna’s not acting herself, but if she were, she’d be no better off! You’ve smothered her with your rule!”


With a final exertion, she grasped Quicksilver telekinetically, and before he could react, she threw him across the room with abandon. She ran over to Nightmare Moon, who was struggling to get up, her limbs having reformed due to her lunar aura. Celestia stepped on her neck, pinning her to the ground. “Just hold still,” she whispered frantically. “Please, for once in your life, just let me help you.” Celestia powered up the Elements once more, probing the Nightmare’s mind. It was tumultuous and hostile, but at the very center was a spark she recognized. It was the core of Luna’s personality: her love of discovery, of peace, of thought.

Celestia began tunneling through Nightmare’s system, dispelling the darkness within. The light of the Elements burned away the darkness like the rising sun, leaving the resplendent and yet modest light of the moon. Celestia began to let herself breathe easily. She would be able to restore her sister, and then perhaps they could put this ordeal behind them.

Without warning, Celestia lost control of the spell. It surged throughout Luna’s– no, Nightmare’s– system, neither dispelling the darkness nor reclaiming the gloom. Celestia looked up in confusion. Quicksilver was glaring at her from across the room, his eyes dimming as they recovered from the spell he had just cast. Celestia looked down at the Element of Magic. It was spotted, as if it had begun to grow black mold. The energy flowing from it was disrupted as well. Celestia began to panic.

“Quicksilver! Do you know what you’ve done?!”

“Yes,” he said calmly, walking closer. I’ve prevented you from harming her any further.”

Nightmare Moon sputtered, then finally stood. Celestia tried to pull back the energy that was being sucked from the Elements, but whatever Quicksilver had done had forced the channel open. The Element had become a one-way stream.

“This is impossible...”

Nightmare Moon stood up, her mocking smile gone. “You... you were trying to save me.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” Celestia seethed. She hated that she was losing control of her emotions, but if this wasn’t solved now, correctly, everything she had worked for her entire life would be no more than garbage.

“You failed, though.”

“Only because HE stopped me!” Celestia shot an accusatory glare at Quicksilver, who met her with a level gaze.

“No, it wasn’t just that.” Nightmare Moon slowly rubbed her still-healing wounds. “Celestia, I’m afraid I’m too far gone–”

“That’s not true!”

“–Too far gone for your power. The Elements are not meant for a single creature; their power is drawn from the strength of relationships. Heh,” she scoffed softly, “I don’t think we’ve been taking good maintenance of the Elements, so to speak.”

“No, we haven’t. Luna, are you–”

“I haven’t changed as much as you’d think, Celestia. I’ve already told you; The Devil only made me unafraid. I’m not going to blindly fight you now, but I still can’t let you remain on the throne.”

Celestia began shaking. “Don’t do this.”

“I’m sorry. Ready yourself, sister. We’ll fight again.”

Celestia just closed her eyes, shaking her head. “I can’t go on like this. I can’t keep fighting you.”

Nightmare Moon raised a brow. “Then you forfeit?”

Celestia laughed bitterly. “I only wish it was that easy. I’m sorry, Luna. Perhaps someday you’ll be able to forgive me. I never will.” With a surge of will, Celestia grabbed hold of the Element’s flow, pouring everything she had into it, and urging the orbital Elements to do the same. The result was a pulse of energy so great the room shook. Nightmare’s eyes widened in terror.

“No... no... don’t...”

Quicksilver looked at Nightmare Moon in worried confusion. “Luna, what’s wrong?”

“She’s... killed me.”

The energy reached its critical point. With nowhere else to go, the pressure escaped in the only way it could. With a flash of light, each fiber of Nightmare Moon’s body was torn apart, the aura of glory filling the room immediately. With an echoing cry of agony, the lunar umbilical cord shot back to its origin, carrying an almost indistinguishable small, golden sphere.

The light cleared, and darkness fell on the now ruined throne room. Celestia dropped to the ground, weeping bitterly. Quicksilver only stood dumbfounded.

“You killed her.”


“You killed her.”

“Yes. Yes, I did! It was the only thing I could do!”

Quicksilver turned and bared his teeth at the source of his pain. “No. You could have stepped aside, as she had for so long. You could have let the stronger of the two of you take power. For once in your life, you could have listened to her! She’s a brilliant lady, the best I’ve ever met, and you’ve killed her!”

“I was only doing what was best!”

“Best for who? For her? Unlikely. For the country? I doubt it. You’ve called her selfish, childish, and perhaps a bit stubborn, but you know what I think, Celestia? I think what we hate most in others is just what we hate the most about ourselves.”

Quicksilver’s words were like daggers in Celestia’s already dying heart. “Remember your place,” she sniffed. “You have sworn your life to this country and to me.”

Quicksilver could only return the most incredulous look ever conceived. “You... have got... to be joking.” He stepped away for a moment. “No. You couldn’t have just said that.” He began to chuckle. “To think I ever looked up to you. You’re just a little girl with a bit too many toys to choose from. I think that’s what you’re most afraid of getting out, Celestia. The fact that anybody could do your job, and likely a better job of doing it too.”

Celestia tearing uncontrollably. Any other day she’d give him a lecture, but now, she didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. She had killed her sister, and as much as she had tried to rationalize it earlier, she would do anything she could to undo the last few minutes. She yelled at Quicksilver, the pain in her voice clear and heartfelt. “I’ve done everything I could. I’m sorry that wasn’t enough! Perhaps you’d like to try taking the throne! Everybody else thinks they can do a better job, but nobody knows what it’s like to have thousands of families dependent on your every decision.”

Quicksilver just kept laughing. “You know what? That’s a wonderful idea. I think I’ll try to take the throne next. Who would stop me, you? Certainly not. Look at you. Your Elements are worthless now. You’ve broken the rules, Celestia. You were selfish, and selfishness is not an element of harmony. It is an element of discord. You have sown your own destruction, Celestia. I’ll finish what Luna started.” With a madness that was soon overcome by the glowing light of his eyes, Quicksilver planted his hooves into the broken ground, drawing in all the energy that had just been released into the room upon Luna’s death. He breathed deeply, an oddly calm smile overcoming his face. Out of his saddlebag flew the book that he had helped write, the one that spelled the downfall of Celestia’s reign.

“The Ascension Process,” Quicksilver began to recite manically. “Becoming an alicorn seems largely caused by the whims of fate, though proper preparation will increase the likelihood of survival. There are three key aspects of the ascension process. First and foremost, the alicorn-to-be must be so fixated on a single concept, idea, or feeling that they embody it more than any other being. Our wise ruler Princess Celestia represents Mercy, for example, while Princess Luna represents Justice. This fixation can only come, it seems, from a traumatic event that rebirths the pony in the aftermath.” He paused for a moment. “I wonder what that will be?” He giggled before continuing. Celestia only sat and watched; she had lost her will.

“Secondly, after the fixation is acquired, an influx of power or arcane energy must engulf the candidate. Recorded examples are from otherwise deadly lightning strikes, chemical and crystalline explosions, concentrated attacks from other alicorns and in the case of our Princesses, the mysterious Elements of Harmony.

“After the power surge is acquired, it triggers a hallucinogenic dream that from an outside perspective seems almost instantaneous, but some have reported spending the mental equivalent of weeks in the dream. The dream puts the rising alicorn through a series of trials and visions that force them to fully recognize who they are. Faults and strengths, the truths they've refused to believe rise to acknowledgment and the lies they have told themselves are cast aside. In the culmination of this dream, the candidate must announce to themselves and the world the fixation they are to represent. If they cannot admit it to themselves or they simply are not fixated, their body will lose control of the potent energy and it will destroy them. If however, they manage to harness the energy correctly, the physiological change occurs.” Quicksilver stretched his neck experimentally. “Well, Celestia? Shall we try it? Ironic, when I wrote the book, I never thought I might use its knowledge myself. But then, I also never could have fathomed that I could lose the light of my life. How foolish I was.”

The air in the room was a void, all available energy sapped. Quicksilver only shook his head. “Luna, if I die, I just want you to know… I loved you. We used to laugh at how cliché those words sounded, but they survive through the ages because there just isn’t another way to express it.” The tears on his face were obscured as the transformation began. Two great wings of pure arcane energy stretched from his body, enveloping him with an almost mocking hug, before the room, and the world, went silent.

And Celestia could only watch.