The Price of Harmony

by Priceless911

Ch13 Tis Time...

Star Bolt trotted through the cave next to Princess Celestia as she stopped and looked forward, “That’s it…”
Star Bolt trotted towards the tree and put his hoof against it as he mumbled to himself, “The Tree of Harmony… or Princess Platinum.”
Not hearing his comment, Princess Celestia continued, “Now that I showed it to you… tell me, how do you know of this tree? I don’t recall ever mentioning it to you before.”
Star Bolt replied, “I know I’m asking the wrong mare… but maybe you know. What exactly are dreams?”
Princess Celestia thought to herself as she replied, “Hmm… Luna would know more about it then I do, but from my understandings, I would say that they could be many things… A subconscious scenario of what could be… a reminder of something that could be bothering you. I’ve even heard stories of them being messages from beyond the grave, or premonitions of the future.”

Star Bolt began trotting around the tree observing it as he added, “What about the past? Could a dream allow you to experience periods in the past?”
Princess Celestia gave him a funny look, “You mean like when you were a foal?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “I’m talking about much further than that, maybe… two thousand years.”
Princess Celestia was surprised, “Two thousand years! You mean, you saw this tree in a dream. And you believe it was two thousand years ago?”
Star Bolt trotted to a specific point and stood in place as he replied, “Believe?... I know it was… You and Princess Luna were just fillies. You two stood right in front of where I’m standing right now, and Chancellor Puddinghead was standing right here as he told you that you two would one day return here to claim the elements and defeat Discord, but only after he died first.”

Princess Celestia started thinking to herself, “… That does seem to be familiar… but from what I understand, you can only view what you yourself have experienced… unless… it was a past life, or you somehow found yourself in another’s dream.”
Star Bolt was confused, “Past life?... or another’s dream?... both seem impossible… but to be honest, it makes since… so I could have been Chancellor Puddinghead in a past life?”
Celestia replied, “Unlikely… but yes. Then again… no… you wouldn’t have seen this if you were.”
Star Bolt gave her a funny look, “Were?...”
Princess Celestia continued, “Commander Hurricane…”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Now that, I could believe… he knew the Lighting Orb too so it would make since if I was him in a past life… but he died before The Tree of Harmony was created right? So he wouldn’t have witnessed this moment in time.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Yes… and I doubt you were Princess Platinum either… so… perhaps you were in my or Luna’s dream.”

Star Bolt looked back at the tree as he mumbled to himself, “… Yea… maybe…”
Princess Celestia shrugged her shoulders then turned around as she spoke, “well either way I must get back to Canterlot, shining armor is expecting a small group of soldiers today and I would like to talk with them… you know, a little motivational speech. Would you like to come too? I’m sure the crystal soldiers would like to hear from Commander Bolt.”
Star Bolt shook his head, as he replied, “No thanks… I may trot through the ruins above us for a few minutes. It’s been a thousand years and a simple trot might be the thing I need to help me process this dream.”
Princess Celestia continued, “You know… you could always ask Luna.”
Star Bolt continued facing the tree as he held his silence. Knowing that this was his way of avoiding the topic, Princess Celestia, sighed as she ignored his silence and exited the cave.

After Princess Celestia was gone, Star Bolt mumbled to himself, “She wouldn’t tell me… even if she does know what it means… anyway I doubt it was her dreams anyway. Princess Celestia and Luna both don’t seem to know about Platinum’s sacrifice… so, what was it then?”
As Star Bolt continued looking at the tree for a few more minutes he mumbled, “Princess Platinum was so determined to protect the royal sisters, that she gave her own life to protect The Elements of Harmony… I guess even a simple sacrifice can seem well worth it. I wonder if you thought so too.”
Star Bolt then turned around and began trotting out of the cave to the surface. As soon as he reached the top of the ravine, he entered the palace of the alicorn sisters and as he thought to himself, “This castle has stood the test of time… two thousand years according to Princess Celestia. However, even a thousand years ago this place seemed at the peak of its perfection… at least till the night we were imprisoned.”

Not long after entering the castle’s main corridor, he almost tripped over something while looking around so he stopped and looked down at a deep gash in the floor. He could only sigh as he saw the gash left in the floor when Lieutenant Viscous dropped her axe centuries ago. While looking at the gash, he started to mumble to himself, “Sorry I wasn’t there in your final moments Ardent… you, Drib and Snow erm… Rich. You all deserved better then thi…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Star Bolt heard a loud crash coming from a nearby room. Making sure nopony was hurt, Star Bolt galloped into the room to find Niether lying under a large pile of books. As Star Bolt looked around at the disorganized library, Niether complained as he climbed out of the pile, “Darn it! I really need to stop stacking books vertically… once it gets to about thirty or forty, they just don’t seem to stay up.”
Star Bolt helped him up as he smiled, “Well I’m glad to see that this old library isn’t as boring as it us to be.”

Niether looked at Star Bolt and smiled, “Oh! Mr. Bolt… I didn’t know you were here. Is there something I can help you with? I’m just trying to find a lead to defending Equestria from The Dark Alicorn. I thought that these old books may hold a secret or two… but so far all I could find was that every book dating between the fall of Eden and the rise of the celestial rule is nonexistent.”
Star Bolt looked at the many stacks of books all over the room as he replied, “I should say not, if I’m right that era of Equestria was Discords rule and I don’t think he was much of a linguist, so I don’t think he gathered any books during his rule.”
Niether nodded his head, “You mean bibliophile.”
Niether began organizing the books, as he looked at the confused look on Star Bolt’s face “Well a bibliophile collects books while a lingui… oh, never mind… common mistake.”

Not understanding his mistake Star Bolt continued, “If Princess Celestia tried as hard as she did to keep Eden’s history secret, then I wouldn’t expect her to keep any records. Especially if it was really as traumatizing to them as it seemed. To watch your father die in front of you… even I wouldn’t wish that on either of the pony sisters.”
Niether finished organizing the stack as he nodded his head, “Yes… indeed a tragedy for anypony to endure. Once again, I’m grateful you reconsidered your decision on joining our fight. To think that I will be part of an actual battle with The Commander Bolt… just make me feel like I’m fulfilling my destiny… kinda like Commander Orem and his spotlight hour.”
Star Bolt asked, “Spotlight what?”
“Spotlight hour… When Commander Orem was deemed a hero of his nation he went on to claim that his quote unquote, Spotlight hour was during The Battle of Canterlot when he stood next to you calling the charge for his soldiers.”

Star Bolt opened a book that was at the top of a stack and looked inside as he replied, “Well… Orem did always have an interesting view when it came to battle… but I wouldn’t claim my shadow as something to be proud to stand in. but you’re an eggh… Smart pony… Do you happen to know why it is that my story inspired others?”
Niether continued organizing books as he replied, “Inspired? If I may, why do you ask?”
Star Bolt closed the book as he shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know? It’s just that a few soldiers approached me asking for advice, and saying that they wanted to be either like me or my officers. And I don’t see why anypony would want that.”
Niether smiled as he replied, “Ah… your opinion of yourself leaves you to believe you don’t deserve the praise, is that it?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Believe? I know I don’t deserve any praise, what I did was terrible.”

Niether nodded his head as he replied, “Well… I can’t say I agree with you but I understand both sides of this argument.”
Niether then looked at the large bookshelf as he used his magic to pull a specific book from the wall and open it to a page, “Hmm… let’s see… it’s in here somewhe… ah here it is.”
Niether then turned the book around and showed Star Bolt as he asked, “look there and tell me what you see.”
Star Bolt looked at the picture and replied, “Well… I see myself as a foal standing next to Commander Mist and Captain Storm… though I think he was a sergeant back then.”
Niether replied, “Ok say you don’t know their names… then describe this image to me.”
Star Bolt replied, “I see a foal standing next to two royal guards… exactly where are you going with this”

Niether replied as he pulled the book back so that they both could identify the picture, “You know what I see? I see a young orphan with no past, as he stands next to his guardian.”
Niether then turned the page and showed another picture, “Ok… now what do you see?”
Star Bolt replied, “I see myself fighting in the royal guard exam against the dragons.”
Niether reiterated, “I see that same orphan… still without a past as he strives to achieve what he wants most…”
Niether turned the page one last time, “And there?”
Star Bolt sighed as he replied, “I see a merciless monster as he charges through a battlefield leading his soldiers to certain doom.”
Niether shook his head as he reiterated one final time, “I see the orphan… still without a past, risking life and limb for the pony he loves. Facing and cheating death many times over, and even bringing Princess Celestia into desperation to use The Elements of Harmony to defend herself.”

Realizing where Niether was going with his story, Star Bolt lowered his head as Niether continued, “You see commander? When other ponies hear your story from me… I always tell of the great nopony who became one of the most known names in Equestria… maybe even the world. Because that is the pony, I see when I first heard your story. The great leader of the nightmare armies who chased Princess Celestia to her doorstep. Not the greedy monster who wanted eternal night. That is why I became a historian… I wanted to prove that you didn’t do what you did out of will alone. I wanted to prove that your heart was in the right place, just… the wrong time.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “but it wasn’t. I called the charge on Ca…”
“You called the release of countless prisoners of war… you avoided all confrontation with civilians even to a point to threaten your own soldiers. And you even put yourself in harm’s way to protect those closest to you. I mean, I heard you once went face to face with a catapult boulder… Now that is a feat worth talking about.”
“I lost…”
“But you survived… and that’s a lot more then anypony else has ever done.”
“How many others took on a catapult like that?”
“Well… none… but that’s what makes yours even better. You were the one crazy enough to attempt it.”

Star Bolt couldn’t help but smile as he started to reply, “Crazy… I guess that will explain why I’m helping Princess Celestia aga…”
Before he could finish his sentence, a loud scream was heard as one of the large stacks of books toppled over. Both Star Bolt and Niether made their way to the pile of books as they saw Roseluck climbing out of them, “Sorry… I hope they weren’t in any order. I thought they were more stable than that.”
Star Bolt thought to himself then smiled, “caught red hoofed.”
Roseluck blushed as she replied, “I… I didn’t mean to eavesdrop… I only came here to see if… well…”
Niether started restacking the books as he smiled, “Its ok… I’m just glad nopony got hurt.”
Roseluck reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the book she had been reading as she asked, “Um… Mr. Niether? I was wondering if… you could sign this for me. I finished it this morning, and I think it’s great. I’ve never read something with so much passion behind the words. I know Star Bolt told me this story before, but the way you told it makes him seem like a better pony then the way he told it.”
While watching Roseluck hold out the book to Niether, Star Bolt thought about something and smiled, “Well… I um, I better get going. I um have… stuff… to do. So I'll just leave you two alone for a while.”

Roseluck immediately became suspicious, “Stuff?... What kind of stuff Star?...”
Star Bolt hesitated, “Um… the kind of stuff that I'll have to leave to do… so um, have fun. Hey Niether, since you know this place pretty well. Why don’t you show Roseluck the book that teaches you ancient secrets in raising a garden?”
Completely missing the point of Star Bolt’s comment, Roseluck replied, “Ancient secrets?... Is there really a book here like that Mr. Niether?”
Niether replied, “oh yes there is… so you’re into gardening?”
Roseluck replied, “Well, it’s sorta my talent. In fact about two and a half months ago I won the Peddlers pedals gardening competition with my…”
“Blue roses?... I saw that competition, you’re really skilled to breed flowers in such a way. They were beautiful.”
Roseluck blushed as she continued, “well… they were ok.”
“No I’m serious… you have a beautiful gift Ms. Rose.”
Roseluck corrected him, “Please… call me Rose.”

Seeing that the two were now ignoring him, Star Bolt decided to slip away so they could be alone. As he exited the castle, Star Bolt smiled, “You know… they’re perfect for each other… of course this may mean she will kick me out of her house once this thing is all said and done. But at least she will have somepony who can relate with her.”
“Aww… now Mr. Commander is playing matchmaker… what can’t you do Commander Bolt?”
Star Bolt didn’t even turn towards the voice as he replied, “Well Discord, I’m surprised you waited this long to come see me… I figured you’d be glued to me like usual.”
Discord flew up behind Star Bolt and pouted as he made a tattered old sheet appear around him, “Don’t think I forgotten what you did to me last night… You left me out in the blistering cold with no food and no water waiting for my great leader to come save me… it’s so cruel I can’t even think straight.”
Star Bolt sighed, “first of all, it was about eighty degrees. Very common for a summer night. Second, I said I was sorry, and I can bet you’ve done worse.”
Discord made the sheet disappears as he crossed his arms, “that doesn’t make it alright.”

Star Bolt sighed as he continued on his path back to Canterlot, “ok… sorry again… anyway why did you avoid me all day, I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason.”
Discord replied, “Because you went to the Tree of Harmony… I may be reformed, but that bothersome plant still repels me… its very annoying.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Hmm… maybe I should find a way to do the same.”
Discord was annoyed by the comment, “That’s not funny commander! You’re starting to act like Luna now.”
Star Bolt’s attitude changed quickly, “watch it…”
Knowing he struck a nerve Discord replied, “Oops… sorry commander, I forgot that was a touchy su…”
Before Discord could finish his sentence, he all of a sudden froze in place with a shocked expression. Then he quickly turned towards the west and mumbled to himself, “uh oh…”

Star Bolt stopped when he realized Discord was quiet then he asked, “Discord? Are you ok?”
Discord looked back at Star Bolt and quickly thought up a lie as he made an umbrella appear in his hands, “oh… I just realized the cloudy sky… I guess it will rain soon wont it?”
Star Bolt looked at the sky and replied, “Well… it is cloudy, but I don’t think we are scheduled for rain till tomorrow. Maybe Rainbow Dash is gathering the clouds so she doesn’t have to in the morning.”
Discord smiled innocently as he closed the umbrella and replied, “Ok… I guess that makes since doesn’t it?”
Star Bolt gave Discord a funny look as they both continued on their path, “Are you sure you’re ok?... you’re acting a little strange…er.”
Discord replied as the umbrella vanished and he turned his head just slightly enough to look to the west, “Don’t worry about me commander… I’m fine… for now anyway.”
Star Bolt decided to take his word for it as the two continued back to Canterlot with nothing more to say on the subject.

In the silence of the dark tomb that lied beneath the castle of Eden, sat the lone chest and the barrier of its prison. As the sound of the flickering torches seemed to be the only sounds that could be heard, they were all of a sudden overshadowed by the loud click of the chest latch as it slowly opened and the black contents began pouring out. As the sand bundled up and took the form of The Dark Alicorn, he smiled wickedly as he looked at one of the gems that was embedded in the surrounding pillars. As he observed the pillar, he noticed that the purple gem’s light started to fade just enough to individualize itself from the other five. After this happened, The Dark Alicorn raised a large pole made from his sand and tried pushing it through the barrier. As the poll passed the border between the magical pillars, some of the sand began to fall to the ground, however, this time there was still a small amount that was unaffected by the barriers magic and was still under his control so he nodded as he spoke, “Tis time.”

With the wicked smile on his face, The Dark Alicorn turned the sand outside the barrier that was still in his control onto a very thin flexible thread. Then he wrapped the thread around the pillar until the pillar had a thin black spiral going from the gem to the floor. With the thread spiraling around the pillar numerous times, The Dark Alicorn smiled as he began squeezing the pillar as hard as his magic would allow. In mere seconds, the thin thread squeezed the pillar with such power that the thinness of the thread acted as a razor’s edge and sliced the pillar into small pieces causing the massive structure to fall to the ground in a loud crash that could be heard throughout Eden. Shortly after the pillar crashed to the ground, The Dark Alicorn approached the pillar’s gem that was now lying alone on the ground. Then with one simple stomp of his hoof, the mystical gem shattered into many pieces as the rest of the elements stopped glowing. All of a sudden, The Dark Alicorn could hear voices shouting through the entrance to the tomb so he dissolved into sand and hid himself as a large number of pony and griffin soldiers entered the tomb.

The leading pony called out, “What happened here?!”
Another pony replied, “Sir! It looks like one of the pillars collapsed!”
“I KNOW THAT! What I’m asking is how did it collapse?”
A griffin soldier approached a part of the pillar and examined it, “It’s been cut… quite clean if I say so myself.”
The griffin leader called to his soldier, “What about the chest!”
Another griffin approached the chest and opened it, “SIR! IT’S EMPTY!!!”
As both the griffin and pony soldiers gasped in worry, the pony leader gave his orders, “You! Get outside and get back to Equestria! We must warn the princess at once! The rest of you! Fan out and keep your head on a swivel! There is only one way in and out of this tomb and I won’t let him by me!”
Then the griffin leader called to his soldier, “Support the ponies! We cannot allow this creature to escape!”

With the order given, both pony soldiers and griffin soldiers started examining the tomb very carefully as the lone pegasus left and began galloping through the entering corridor. As they looked around, the griffin leader looked at the pony leader, “You sure he’s still here? Not a lot of places for him to hide in here.”
The pony replied, “Your guards watched over the outside of the tomb so with their eagle eyes, I could guess that if anything could escape from here. Then they would have seen it. Besides, he can turn his body into sand. There are many places that sand could hi…”
Before the pony could finish his sentence, a loud scream came from the darkness of the exiting corridor as the soldiers immediately assumed their messenger was now dead. As everypony and griffin looked at the entrance in worry, a large wall of sand quickly shot up from the ground and closed the entrance as it quickly solidified into a large glass wall.

The soldier quickly gathered in the center of the room and looked in all directions as an evil voice echoed through the tomb, “Such loyalty, in the face of danger. Tis a promising sight for thy kingdoms… however, loyalty… bears foolery.”
As the sound echoed throughout the sealed tomb, The Dark Alicorn’s sand creped out of the crevices of every shadow and accumulated on the side of the tomb furthest from the glass door. As he appeared, everypony and griffin started backing away as they drew their weapons. The Dark Alicorn looked over the soldiers and continued, “Pegasus, unicorn, earth pony, and griffin… If I remember correctly, the three pony species now reside in one kingdom. And the griffin in their own… however, times do change so I will ask of thee. What kingdoms stand before me?”
First silence was the only reaction that the two groups of soldiers could give, but then without receiving an order, one of the pony soldiers lost control of his fear as he raised his spear up and charged at The Dark Alicorn.

When the soldier finally reached him, he dug his spear deep into The Dark Alicorn chest as the blade went through his body and out his back. However, acting as if nothing happened, The Dark Alicorn looked into the desperate eyes of his attacker and replied to his actions, “Courageous indeed… however, tis a foolish action. Thou must become an example now.”
With the spear still sticking out of his body, The Dark Alicorn slowly sent some of his sand running down the shaft of the spear and onto the soldier’s hooves. Almost immediately, the soldier backed up in fear as the sand quickly spread across his body covering every inch of him until his body was pitch black. Then the soldiers echoing screams started rising from his body as he immediately started jerking his body around as if her were being attacked from the inside out. Then after a brief moment of horrific jerking and screaming, the soldier went silent as his body became limp and he fell to the ground. Upon hitting the cobblestone surface that was the bottom of the tomb, the sand covered soldier scattered across the ground as if he was made of sand the whole time, although the entire room knew better.

As the black pile of sand that was once the pony soldier started to accumulate back into The Dark Alicorn’s hooves, he spoke, “Now that thou has seen what I can do to thee if I am ever assaulted. Perhaps thou may want a second chance to answer my question… What is thy kingdom?”
With horror in their eyes, the soldiers looked at one another as the griffin leader drew his sword and called out “All griffin! ATTACK!!!”
Though they were each worried, every griffin in the formation of soldiers charged forward as they raised their weapons up. Seeing the charging griffin, The Dark Alicorn shook his head, “Fools… all of thee.”
The Dark Alicorn raised one hoof and slowly watched as the distance between them got smaller and smaller, then as the griffin got close enough, The Dark Alicorn stomped his hoof against the ground causing a wave of glass spikes to begin shooting from the ground away from The Dark Alicorn. As the spikes began to pierce the charging soldiers, some tried to dodge the attack by flying into the air, however, as the clever griffin thought themselves to be safe, the same spikes shot out from the dome shaped ceiling as well, causing the stabbed griffin to fall from the air onto the spiked covered floor below.

As soon as the charging griffin were all taken care of, the glass spikes that killed then turned back into sand and completely devoured their bodies leaving the area between The Dark Alicorn and the remaining soldiers completely clear. The remaining soldiers stared in fear at The Dark Alicorn as he reached up and pulled the first attacker’s spear from his chest and smiled, “so the griffin species still remains proud… and yet, naive. Tis a sad day that thy pride shall be struck down… but be proud griffin leader… for thy executioner is me.”
Before the griffin leader could react, The Dark Alicorn used his magic to take the spear that was in his hooves and throw it through the air, skewering the griffin leader’s chest and nailing him to the wall of the tomb behind him. As soon as this happened, all the remaining soldiers, which only consisted of Equestrian ponies, panicked to exclude their commanding officer. Some turned to attack the glass wall that blocked the entrance while the rest charged in a fit of fear that prevented them from hearing their leader’s commands, “soldiers! Stop! Calm yourselves! Regroup and gather! Now!”

Ignoring their leader’s orders, the pony soldiers continued their actions in a panicked state. The soldiers behind the leader continued bashing their weapons against the glass wall, but not so much as a scratch appeared. As for the charging soldiers, they quickly closed the distance between The Dark Alicorn and them but just as they were in range to attack, The Dark Alicorn sighed, “Pity…”
then the mystic black mane of the alicorn quickly scattered into many directions. Putting out all the torches and completely blacking out the entire tomb. With the next few seconds, the leader of the Equestrian forces heard a series of scratches, screams, and cracking that could drive anypony to the brink of insanity. Then as all the sounds were at their loudest, it all of a sudden went silent. Now, nothing could be heard, and nothing could be seen. The Equestrian leader tried all he could to look around until finally all the torches in the room spontaneously ignited, lighting up the entire tomb.
The Equestrian leader looked around in fear, because what was once a room filled with soldiers and their one foe... was now a room with only two. The commanding officer of a now missing squad, and The Dark Alicorn himself.

The Equestrian soldier quickly looked around trying to find at least one of the bodies of his fellow soldiers but there were none. The leader backed to the glass wall behind him as he spoke through his terror, “g-gone… no… I-it can’t be…”
The Dark Alicorn stared at the sole survivor with no expression as he spoke, “I left thee alive since thou seems to be the only pony who can keep thyself calm under such strenuous ordeals. So I ask of thee, will thou tell me thy kingdom?… or shall I devour thee too, and claim thy knowledge from your brain by force? Answer wisely, for this is the only chance that mercy will be shown to another. And in return… all that is asked, is to betray thy loyalty.”
The lone pony sighed as he drew a small dagger from his side, “My loyalty hm… it would seem that that is all I have left then… but if I gave that up, even my life would be empty. So… here is my answer!”
In a suicidal attempt, the pony raised the dagger up to stab himself but before he could, The Dark Alicorn sent a pillar of sand straight towards the pony, pinning his armed hoof against the glass wall behind him and holding him in place. The Dark Alicorn then smiled and began approaching the pony, “Thy loyalty is admirable, to think that such chivalry still exist allows one to truly see hope for thy future. However, suicide is not how such chivalry should meet its fate. Allow me…”

With the pinned solider glaring into his eyes, The Dark Alicorn gently placed his hoof against the pony’s chest as a small amount of sand started to spread over the pony’s body, covering him completely. The pony tried all he could to hold in his screams as the sand quickly devoured him and fell to the ground along with the dagger, which made a sound echoing through the now silent tomb. The Dark Alicorn then closed his eyes and smiled, “Such a noble and knowledgeable soldier. His mind is full of all I need to know. The Griffin Kingdoms still exists, as does Equestria, however the three pony leaders have been replaced with alicorn princesses… the young princesses of Eden. And my shadow also exists… perhaps I should seek him out first. With both halves, I can understand more about this age of difference. Then… I can fulfill the meaning to all life… by ending it.”