“Soon, my Changeling army will break through. First, we take Canterlot, and then... all of Equestria!” the Changeling Queen, Chrysalis, declared triumphantly as she hovered off the ground. She smiled with malicious glee as she saw the fear of everypony before her.
The Queen turned toward the authoritative voice, and saw the one pony who wasn't afraid approaching her.
“You won't.” Princess Celestia stated firmly as she stopped a few meters away from the grotesque creature that dared to ruin this special day and threaten her little ponies. As the Queen returned to the ground, she spoke again. “You may have made it impossible for Shining Armor to perform his spell. But now that you have so foolishly revealed your true self...”
The royal alicorn charged forward, the Changeling mirroring her movements a second later. They met in the middle, horns now locked in a test of strength. As they glared at each other, the Princess finished her declaration. “I can protect my subjects... from you!”
With one mighty beat of her wings, the Goddess of the Sun was airborne. Her horn became bathed in golden light as she fired a powerful beam of magic at her enemy. The Queen answered with a sickly green glowing beam of her own. They collided with with great force, but Celestia's magic was already proving stronger and was pushing the dark magic back towards its owner. The Changeling cried out from the magical pressure coming down on her, almost causing her knees to buckle.
NO! Chrysalis thought furiously as she struggled to stay on her hooves. I can't lose now! Not when I'm this close! With that, she summoned up all the magic she could muster into the blast, and to her relief, she felt the pressure of Celestia's power begin to lessen, and then, to her surprise, began to recede.
Celestia's eyes widened in shock as the Changeling's beam was now pushing back her own back towards her. She closed her eyes to concentrate, to summon more magic and regain the upper hand... but it was too late. The white alicorn's eyes shot wide open again as her magic was canceled out, and the full force of the Queen's dark magic struck her horn, and then she knew only pain.
Luna shot up in her bed with a pained gasp. Her sapphire eyes quickly scanned her and her sisters' sleeping chambers. Seeing nothing amiss and nopony in sight, she focused her attention on the fading pain that had suddenly shot through her. After a moment she realized that the pain she felt was not her own.
Throwing the covers off, the young alicorn rolled off of her bed, got to her hooves, and trotted over to look out the window, toward the chapel where her niece's wedding was taking place. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary as far as she could tell, but Luna just knew that something was wrong. The bond that the two sisters shared told her that Celestia was hurt.
Suddenly, something caught Luna's eye, small pulses rippling down along the surface of Shining Armor's magical barrier. Her eyes traveled up towards the canopy, and immediately saw the sky filled with small black objects. Focusing some of her magic into her eyes, her vision became telescopic, zooming in and getting a closer look. The creatures were about the size of an average pony, insect-like wings, and black armor-plated bodies, which they were continuously ramming right into the barrier. Her vision zoomed in further, and was shocked to find miniscule cracks in the shield, growing larger and webbing out with each impact.
With a blink, her vision returned to normal vision. She returned her attention back to the chapel as her mind tackled the situation. Impending invasion; a weakening protection spell; Celestia's troubling condition. The Moon Goddess's eyes narrowed with determination as she came to an obvious conclusion.
She was needed.
“...-cess Celestia! Please, Princess, wake up!”
With a pained groan, Celestia cracked open her magenta eyes, only to see a large purple blur filling her vision. She closed them again and shook her head, which she quickly found out wasn't a good idea. Her head felt as it were about to split in two, her horn felt as if it had been completely blown off by that blast (for all she knew, it may well have been), and the rest of her body wasn't doing any better. A few seconds later, she forced her eyes open again, and this time everything came into focus, and the Sun Princess found herself face-to-face with her beloved student, who was gently cradling her head in her forelegs. She also noticed that the rest of Twilight's friends have gathered around the two of them, concern filling their eyes.
“Princess Celestia!” Twilight was relieved to her mentor was still conscious, but she was also worried about her current state. She had never seen the regal alicorn hurt this badly before. She had never seen the Princess hurt before!
Celestia felt tears starting to well up in her eyes over Twilight's concern for her. The memory of yesterday came to her mind, when she had admonished the young unicorn for her behavior at the wedding rehearsal. At the time, she merely thought that Twilight was just being over-protective of her brother. But now it seemed that the little pony had been on to something. The alicorn cursed herself for ever doubting her protege.
“Twilight... I'm sorry.” she said softly, a single tear falling from her eye. “I should have...”
“It's okay, Princess,” Twilight interrupted softly, gently using a hoof to brush the tear from Celestia's cheek. She had been initially hurt that her teacher had turned her back on her like everypony else, but then again the Changeling Queen had done a darn good job of fooling them all, herself included.
Celestia almost wept at the forgiveness she saw in Twilight's eyes, feeling that she didn't deserve it. Had she only listened to her, then this could have been avoided. She intended to make it up to her student. But first...
“The Elements of Harmony...” She spoke urgently, fighting to stay conscious, her body still in pain from the Changeling's magic. “...you must get to them, and use their power to defeat the Queen!”
Twilight gently laid Celestia's head down on the ground, rose to her hooves and turned to her friends. With an unspoken agreement, the six mares nodded, determination filling their eyes. But before any of them could take a step, the air before them suddenly began to shimmer, before a sphere of bright blue light erupted a few feet away from them, causing everypony to shield their eyes. The light disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and when they opened their eyes again, they were shocked by what, or rather who, took its place. The newcomer was easily recognizable by her midnight blue coat, flowing, starry mane and tail, and of course, her wings and horn.
“Princess Luna!” The six exclaimed simultaneously.
The young alicorn turned to Twilight and her friends, but her attention was quickly drawn to the prone form in front of them. “Tia!” She quickly kneeled next to her older sibling.
Hearing a new voice calling her name, Celestia forced her eyes open, and met her sister's worried gaze. “Lu- Luna?”
“Yes, my sister, I am here,” Luna replied, gently nuzzling her sister on the cheek. As she pulled back, she glanced up at Celestia's horn, which was charred black at the tip. Such damage had to have been caused by a strong force of magic, but to think that there was somepony strong enough to...
Her thoughts were interrupted by a sinister chuckle. “Well, well, looks like somepony's up past her bedtime.”
Luna raised to her hooves and quickly turned towards the snide and slightly distorted voice. The creature she saw standing atop the steps of the alter had similarities to the ones outside the barrier, but she was a larger size, standing as tall as Celestia, though more slender in frame, her eyes were dark green with slitted pupils. She stood upon long legs, which were full of several holes, though they did not seem to impede her balance or stability. Her mane and tail were teal-colored, atop her head was what appeared to be a black crown tipped with blue orbs, and jutting from her forehead was a large, gnarled unicorn horn.
The Princess's eyes quickly scanned the room, taking in everything. All of the guests in attendance were looking between her and the deformed creature, a mix of shock and fear in their eyes. In the middle of the aisle stood Princess Cadence, looking a little worse for wear. At the alter stood the young alicorn's husband-to-be, who appeared to be unharmed, but wearing a disturbingly blank look.
“Twilight Sparkle.” Luna spoke, addressing her sister's student, while turning her attention to the creature, who was looking back at with a smug expression. “Could you please explain to me what is going on?”
The young unicorn stepped up next to the Moon Goddess, glaring at the female Changeling as she quickly explained. “She's the Queen of the Changelings. She abducted Cadence, took her form and her place. She's been feeding off of my brother's love for Cadence, growing stronger. Now she has Shining Armor under her spell and his protection spell is getting weaker, and her army's trying to break through.”
“And it's only a matter of time until they do,” Chrysalis said resolutely. “And with Celestia defeated, there is nopony to stop us from consuming all the love from every pony in Canterlot.”
“You are mistaken.” Luna spoke firmly, flaring her wings as she stood to her full height. “There is still one Princess that stands between you and the citizens of Canterlot.”
Chrysalis looked at the blue alicorn with a neutral expression. A minute later, a grin crossed her lips as she started chuckling. Soon, she was openly laughing, much to Luna's confusion and annoyance. “You find this amusing?” the Princess finally snapped.
“Very,” the queen replied, her laughter slowly fading as she walked down the steps and towards Luna with a casual stride before stopping a couple meters away. “I was able to capture and imprison Cadence without difficulty. And, the love I have consumed from Shining Armor has given me enough power to be able to strike down the mighty Celestia with but a single blast. And now you, her little sister, actually believe that you are going to stop me?” She smirked at the Moon Goddess. “I find it quite hilarious.”
Luna's fur bristled and her face turned purple as she flushed with anger. “You underestimate my power, fiend!” she growled through gritted teeth, snorting a cloud of steam.
“I doubt that,” Chrysalis replied smugly. “In any case, you should make this easy for yourself, Princess. Surrender now, and I'll spare you the pain.”
“You harmed my sister, ruined Cadence's wedding, threaten our subjects, and you expect me to surrender, just like that?” Luna questioned incredulously. She stomped her hoof defiantly. “I am a Princess of Equestria! It is my royal duty to protect its ponies from any and all that threaten them. And even if it takes my very last breath, I will stop you!”
With that, Luna's horn began to glow with a blue aura as she aimed it at the Changeling Queen. “Prepare for battle!” she declared.
Chrysalis, looking more amused than threatened by this aggressive display, merely shrugged. “If you insist, but don't say I didn't give you a chance.” Her horn began glowing green, and she smiled maliciously as she spoke. “Two Princesses down... one to go!”