• Published 7th Sep 2013
  • 16,650 Views, 1,250 Comments

Courage - scion



Evil has come to the Everfree and Ponyville. The Elements must stand against it... but they will not be alone. The mysterious blue-eyed wolf will aid-or hamper- their efforts to bring harmony back to Equestria.

  • ...
25
 1,250
 16,650

Dawn

Celestia did not begrudge her time in her Sun. Her corporeal body was gone, her very soul subsumed into the strata of the celestial body. The fiery orb was as much a part of her as a tail or a mane was to any of her little ponies, and to find herself re-united with it was like seeing an old friend again.

She allowed such thoughts and feelings to keep her occupied so that she would not worry. The last time she had been imprisoned here, she had had a plan. Tenuous, more than she would admit, but she had faith and confidence in her faithful student. This time, however, she was more worried. Whatever had possessed Luna had done so without warning; there was no thousand year wait, no time to prepare, no time even to send a message to Twilight or alert her guards.

If somepony managed to stop the Nightmare, then this would be a nice and refreshing break from her normal duties.

If nopony did so, then she would no doubt have many, many years to worry about her little ponies.

So it was that when she felt a familiar pull upon her incorporeal form, Celestia knew that her faith had not been misplaced. Twilight Sparkle had come through, once again; the Elements had released her. She took one last moment to bathe in the fiery furnace of her Sun before allowing the pull to take her back home.

The pull took her to the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, not very surprising from what she knew of Nightmare Moon, and directed her towards the throne room. Once there, she began the process of re-constituting her corporeal body.

And so the day dawned.

---

Awareness returned quickly to Link. His body felt energized and alive, with no sign whatsoever that he had been asleep. Even his usual lethargy was not present.

He was in the throne room still, lying on broken stone next to a still, large pony with wings and horn- not black, like Nightmare Moon, but deep blue, and slightly smaller. Her mane flowed slowly, and looked almost as though someone had taken a piece of the night sky and animated it into her hair. She breathed slowly in her sleep, still out from whatever the rainbow had done to them.

With a grunt, Link pushed himself up- and then did a double take at the appendages he was staring at.

It was long, green, and ended in a hoof.

He was a pony.

This... was certainly new.

Slightly curious, he turned his head to look at his behind that was planted on the floor, allowing straw-colored strands of hair to slip into his vision, and looked at his buttocks. They weren't covered by the loose tunic he was wearing, or the small saddlebag that had appeared on his back. Each pony had a different marking upon their buttocks, seemingly identifying themselves, impregnated into the fur, and he was wondering what his was, if he had one at all.

He did. It was the head of a black wolf, like the one he became, down to the pattern of fur upon its brow. The only difference was that the forehead of the wolf mark also bore a sequence of triangles, one of which was golden, while the others were a duller yellow.

His curiosity sated, he stood to his hooves and found two things. The first was a gold rimmed gemstone, hollow, and cut into the shape of a heart, with a smaller pink heart contained inside. The other was about the size of a dagger, was black, jagged, and pulsed with florescent orange light. Shadow magic.

Whatever that rainbow had done to him and Nightmare Moon, it had been powerful enough to remove the taint from its host and simultaneously remove the piece of evil magic from his body that forced it to wolf form, a feat that had before only been possible with the Master Sword.

Whatever they had done, it had been as powerful as the Sword of Evil's Bane.

He grabbed the heart shaped container first, somehow managing to grasp it with a hoof and put it into the saddlebag. The enchanted pouch readily accepted the heart. Then he moved over to the magic shard, grabbing it, letting the evil magic flow through him, transforming him into a beast just as light filled the throne room.

---

There was always a moment of disorientation for Celestia when she reconstituted her physical vessel. As a drop of sunlight, all her senses were spread out, and she was capable of hearing, of seeing, in all directions at once. Returning to the sensations of balance, of having two eyes and two ears, all the trappings of a physical body always gave her a moment of pause.

The first thing she saw in the morning sunlight that poured in was her sister. Not the Nightmare, but Luna, her younger sister, diarch of the night. Strangely, she had not been de-powered by the Elements this time; her ethereal hair was on full display. Perhaps a sign that the stone fragment she had been studying had not completely possessed her? Or that is was otherwise differentiated enough that the Elements could readily separate the two?

Such thoughts were derailed moments later when a wolf stepped out from behind her form.

The wolf that she knew as Link only through Twilight's correspondences padded around her sister and sat before her, cool blue eyes meeting her own as he sat with only the very tip of his tail twitching.

"I suppose I have you to thank, for the return of my sister," she said quietly.

Link inclined his head ever so slightly.

"If everything my student has told me is true, then this is the second time that you have aided not only Equestria, but those who are personally close to me. I am not certain I can ever thank you enough."

Link inclined his head. Then he looked at something to her left. Celestia followed his gaze and found the small slumbering figure of an imp. His companion.

"Hey!"

Celestia looked to the voice and saw Epona, the horse her sister had met, who was currently sheltering in Applejack's barn. They had yet to meet in pony, but she had heard much about her through the letters from her faithful student. What she was doing on the upper balcony of the old castle, however, was another question entirely.

"Did it work?" she wanted to know.

Celestia smiled. "Yes, my sister is back to her normal self. Though still unconscious from being struck by the Elements. She should wake soon," she replied. "I assume that Twilight and her friends are there with you?" They were not down along the floor where Celestia expected. Had they not fought the Nightmare directly?

"Yes," Epona said back. She looked behind her at something. "But they are all asleep."

"They will be fine," Celestia assured her. Using the Elements was trying for any mortal save those that approached immortality, such as an elder wyrm. "Please, go stand by them."

"Okay."

Celestia turned her attention back to the wolf to find that the small imp was sitting up, shaking her head as though she was confused. The care in his eyes as he lay next to her, supporting her, made it clear to Celestia that the two were very close friends.

“What now?” Epona called out, hidden by the stone of the balcony.

Celestia lit her horn and prepared a spell. Once, this had been her home, and she would have never used this spell. Now, though, golden light cut through the stone as though made of butter, in the shape of a perfect square around the horse and her six friends. The block broke free into the grip of gentle golden light, and Celestia carefully maneuvered it to the center of the hall before gently setting it down.

She set the block down just as as both the ponies upon it and her sister began to stir. Celestia instantly headed for her sister.

"Ohhh.... have We been drinking agai-"

Celestia could see her sister's pupils eyes shrink. They darted to her, then away... away in shame and fear as she shot to her hooves.

"Sister, We, I, am not the Nightmare, please, the shard of stone-"

Celestia cut off her sisters hurried and panicked protests with a gold-shod hoof, before wrapping her wings around her.

"I know, sister," she said softly. "And I forgive you. I'm not mad. I know you were not yourself."

It took a moment for her trembling and tense sister to relax and reciprocate the hug. Oh Luna...

Then her sister suddenly tensed again.

"Sister, the wolf and the imp are taking the shard," Luna supplied calmly. Despite her tone, Celestia could feel the magic taking shape around her horn and the muscles tense in preparation for action.

Celestia calmly let go of her sister and turned to face the two thrones, hoping that the Elements would not be necessary again. Twilight and her friends were still out cold, why she did not know.

The imp upon his back held the shard in a fluorescent mane of sorts, studying it intensely. Beneath her, Link looked at it curiously as well.

"We would advise against such course of action," Luna said, catching their attention. "Such an artifact would be safer secured within a vault, where it may harm nopony."

Link looked at the imp on his back. She raised her arms with a shrug, and suddenly there were two more black stone fragments floating in the air. They fit perfectly with the fragment they had taken from the wall, making a stone circle, little more than half filled.

Celestia's mind raced. If Link and this imp had already dealt with other such pieces, it was possible that they did not know the danger that they were in; more likely, it meant that they knew the power that it wielded and knew not to fall prey to it. Given that whatever it was was not yet complete, and their actions here, they must be seeking other pieces, though given what it had done to her sister Celestia did not wish to see what the full artifact could do.

Could they afford to let such power, such evil, into their hooves? Were their intentions noble, or malign?

He had single-pawedly saved the town of Ponyville, including her personal student and the Elements of Harmony.

He had passed through the wards that she and her sister had set deep in the caves surrounding Tartarus, proving that, at least at that time, he was uncorrupted. He had then gone on to save the Element of Generosity and single-pawedly defeat the evil that had infested the local diamond dog clan.

He had saved the lives of three foals at great cost to himself, nearly giving his life to successfully defend them against a fearsome chimera.

He was a companion of the last horse in Equestria, who trusted him implicitly, and was willing to assist him whatever the cost, even in battle.

And now, he had played at least a small, more likely a very large, part in the cleansing of Nightmare Moon and the return of Luna, her only sister.

Did he deserve trust? The answer in her mind was unquestionable now that she reviewed what she knew.

"Let them take it," Celestia proclaimed.

Luna raised an eyebrow and flicked an ear, the subtle question plain upon her face to her sister. Art thou certain? she could imagine Luna saying.

Celestia replied with a subtle wink. Trust me.

Luna flicked her tail. As you wish.

The wolf nodded, and with a flash, all the pieces of the stone were gone. The imp said a few words, gave the wolf underneath her a pat on his side, then pointed her hand at a spot on the floor. A ring of turquoise fire appeared on the ground, a magic that Celestia had never before seen.

"Link..." A voice called out.

Celestia turned to see her student, awake but still collapsed on the floor.

"Thank you. For everything."

Link inclined his head, then stepped into the ring of fire and disappeared.

What an interesting creature. She could see why her student was so intrigued. She could see why her sister was so intrigued. He was a mystery that nagged like an itch that cannot be scratched.

Still, with Link gone with the piece of stone, peace could return. To her sister, to Ponyville, hopefully to all of Equestria.

And speaking of Ponyville, it was probably best to see to her student.

Twilight was shaking like a newborn foal as she got to her hooves. The rest of the Elements were not even trying to rise. Celestia knew the Elements were taxing, but her student had not been so weakened when she had faced Nightmare Moon the first time, nor against Discord. What had happened?

“Princess…”

Celestia gave Twilight a gentle nuzzle. She promptly gave up the fight and collapsed back to the ground, to which Celestia gave a small chuckle.

“Relax, my faithful student. Lay down, if you wish, there is no need for ceremony here,” she soothed. “This is the second time that you have returned my sister to me, and for that I am eternally grateful. But I must ask, why are you so tired? Surely it was not the Elements that have done this to you?”

“‘Twas the Elements,” Luna supplied from her side. “They were not enough to remove the magic of the shard in one blast. We know. We saw through the Nightmare’s eyes. Thrice they used the Elements against me before the Nightmare was vanquished.”

Celestia raised a questioning eyebrow at her student. Twilight nodded in return.

“And are you alright, my little ponies?” she asked.

The resulting chorus of grunts and affirmatives led Celestia to believe that the Elements were indeed alright, though they appeared exhausted by their ordeal. It was fortunate that the Elements had managed to cleanse Nightmare Moon when they did; given the way her student and the rest were moving, they would not have had the strength to use them a fourth time in a row. The fact that they had done so three times in a row was beyond her wildest expectations.

Celestia was distracted from her thoughts by the sound of wings. She turned just in time to see one of her guards land in a clatter of hooves and stand to attention.

"Princess Celestia!" he said with military precision. Then his eyes fell upon her sister.

The guard instantly became alert, crouching and backing away as though expecting a fight.

"Stand down," Celestia ordered. The guard froze.

"Princess, Nightmare Moon-"

"Has been taken care of. Princess Luna is no threat to anypony here," Celestia cut in firmly. "What is your name?"

"Private Storm Wind, of the 12th Royal Guard Division, your Highness."

The guard division she had assigned to the diamond dogs...

"Private Wind, find your commanding officer and report our position at once. I wish to speak to him."

Wind saluted with a wing, and with one last uncertain glance at Luna, took flight.

Beside her, Celestia could almost feel her sister sagging in on herself. She had worked so hard over the last two years to be seen for Luna, not the Nightmare, and now because of one small mistake that work would all come crumbling down.

Unless...

"Luna, I have an idea. Play along, and do not worry," she whispered to her sister.

The longing on her face was clear, the hope against all hope that what she dreaded would not happen. Celestia gave her her best smile. Her plan would work. It had to.

Twilight had barely managed to get to shaky and uncertain hooves when the doors to the throne room creaked open to admit several ponies in guard armor, led by a rather large earth pony whom Celestia recognized.

"Ah, Colonel Barricade. Please, help the Elements to their hooves and send your soldiers to scout the path back to Ponyville. We have much to discuss on the way."

Author's Note:

Sorry this took so long guys. Got hit with a wedding and lots of work. And Starcraft. I blame Starcraft.

Anyways, we are rapidly coming to a close with this story. With the 'temples' of Equestria done, we are nearing the end game of Link's quest and we won't be seeing much more of him. I'm expecting only a handful of chapters to finish this story out from this point.

Finally, don't expect the next chapter soon. I need to write a chapter for my other story very badly, so I need to focus on that right now. Probably going to be at least two weeks before I get back here.