• Published 11th Sep 2013
  • 1,553 Views, 214 Comments

Keeper of the Crystal Heart - Cerulean Voice



An empire arises from the midst of a frozen wasteland. But how is this possible? A group of three young ones will unearth the secret. A sequel to These Flowers Never Bloom.

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Love Conquers All... (part one)

"Sister, turn back! An ambush awaits at the castle! Alert the kingdom!"

As Luna heard the frantic call from her sister resonate all through the city, a smaller voice tugged at her mind. Magic glowed atop her head, transmitting a message from an unknown source.

Please help me, Luna. Please save Clover.

While the message transcribed its way into her brain, Luna felt the burn of Kindness—coupled with the pull of Magic—compel her to the north. It stems from the mountain range where I found that unicorn... wait, did she say Clover? Is that the unicorn I rescued? Collecting her thoughts, Luna hovered in mid-air, gently rising and falling as her wings kept her aloft. Celestia said to warn the kingdom. An ambush. She must be in trouble, or she would have elaborated further. Preparing her powerful voice with a deep breath, Luna did her best to ignore the effects of her Elements.

"Citizens of the mountain kingdom! Forgive me for waking you, for I bear grave news of your royal family! As I speak, the castle is under attack, your king and queen besieged! An unknown assailant has infiltrated your city and taken them prisoner! I call to you now to aid your rulers! Fight for their freedom!"

While Luna made to return to the mountaintop, she witnessed many ponies beginning to amass around the castle courtyards. Pleased that she had managed to put her voice to good use—for a change—Luna ascended the heights and re-entered the cave. With Clover still in her induced coma, Luna gently levitated her charge onto her back.

Luna weighed her only option. With the king seemingly out of commission and the only other capable of performing the spell also disabled, I have no choice but to trust in my Elements. Luna circled around the kingdom once more, as she used her keen night vision to assess the results of her citywide alarm. A lot of ponies sure answered my call quickly... shaking her head, Luna cleared her mind as she departed, once more heading to the frozen wastes of the north.

* * * * *

"So, you thought you could protect your partner from falling into our trap? You're even more deluded than I thought." Mantissia circled Celestia as she examined her prey. The throne room buzzed with the excitement of Mantissia's troops, their leader taunting the rebel alicorn. "My children were alerted by her rather impressive voice. She will soon face an army that nopony can stand against. You know, I do hate it when surprises are ruined like that. How would you like it if I told you what you would be getting for your birthday?" She pouted.

Celestia panted heavily, doing her best to recover from her latest dishonesty overload. "You think that I'm simply going to allow you to take this castle and usurp the throne? You're the one who's deluded, My Queen." She spat at Mantissia's hooves.

In an instant, Mantissia was at her level on the ground, teeth bared. "You will not disrespect me like that!" she hissed, her voice dripping with venom. "Soon, I will be the ruler of this land and all of its inhabitants. I have starved for far too long. My children have starved. We are simply taking what we deserve. We will be loved and we will grow strong from that love. Even now, our power grows. Every unicorn household has been infiltrated by now, every home leeched of all positive emotion. You will witness the power of love soon enough."

Lowering her mouth to Celestia's ear, she offered a dangerous whisper. "You're only alive because I have use for you now and no other reason." The smile returning to her face, Mantissia rose to her pock-marked hooves once again. Turning away from Celestia, the changeling queen issued an order to her lieutenant, a drone only slightly smaller than herself. "Thoramen, prepare the pod. Our king's great defender looks tired. She could do with some rest." Sneering, she turned back around, preparing a spell for Celestia—

The speed and power of the tackle knocked Mantissia flying many of her body-lengths across the throne room. She landed heavily against a far wall and gasped, all of the air violently departing from her lungs. Wheezing and coughing, she made to rise once again as her swarm formed a vanguard in front of her. She could sense the disarray in the minds of her children—a flurry of panic, concern and fear. After three final coughs, Mantissia glared across the room at her attacker.

Celestia stood tall and proud, gazing unflinching at her foe. Her pink mane rippled as the power of Loyalty coursed throughout her body.

"As long as I stand to oppose you, you will never rule my brother's kingdom! I am his champion, his most loyal subject. I am his sister: Celestia!"

The room shook as she felt the warm tingle of Loyalty bolster her supportive words. She glared at the would-be Queen of Equestria. "I will always support my family and protect our bloodline. My sister will as well. Surrender, Mantissia! Leave this city and I shall spare your race. If you continue to oppose me, there will be no dam in existence capable of halting the torrent of my judgement upon you."

Mantissia glared at her opponent in great defiance. Unexpectedly, she softened. Relaxing slightly, Mantissia made to bow her head. "You are a truly fearsome guardian, Princess. You command great power at your hooftips with those Elements of yours. I do not deny your power for a moment—indeed I was a fool to underestimate it." Raising her head once more, she continued, "But do not think that your will here is absolute. For I wield a greater power than your precious trinkets can ever bestow upon you: the power of love!"

The changeling fired a green-tinged bolt of dark, malevolent power directly at Celestia. The alicorn responded by conjuring an aura shield in front of her body. She buckled under the pressure, the wave pulsing violently upon impact. What is this force? How can an emotion of such purity be twisted into this monstrosity? She poured more power into her shield to prepare her counter-attack. Summoning up the hidden power of Loyalty once more, Celestia bellowed, "For my sister! For my king! For all of ponykind! In their good names, I shall repel you and your ilk permanently from this place!"

Crack

The last things Celestia heard as her mind betrayed her were the shattering of her ethereal shield, followed by the victorious cackle of the usurper she had failed to defeat. The velvet-carpeted floor raced up to meet her as she slumped to the ground, unconscious.

Thoramen, Veliger, Zinger: take your divisions and pursue the fugitive Princess Luna. Bring her to me, so I can lay her at her sister's hooves.

Yes, Our Queen. We will not rest until she is subdued and captured.

Excellent. Soon, we shall feast merrily on the love of every citizen in Equestria!

While her minions vacated the kingdom in pursuit of Luna, Mantissia lazily meandered over to the newly incarcerated Celestia. "Defiant until the end. Foalish filly. When I'm through with your emotions, my dear, you shall be emptier than I have ever been." As she levitated Celestia into the pod that Thoramen had earlier prepared, Mantissia giggled. "Oh, how the strength of your love for your family will fuel me. You're practically an all-one-can-eat buffet, you know." Mantissia howled with glee as the pod sealed closed on Celestia, trapping her inside with naught but her unconscious emotions for company.

I'm going to relish this...

* * * * *

Luna sped through the chilled night air once more, this time to return the unicorn to the original resting place where she had found her. The burn of Kindness had eased off as it realised that Luna was obeying her instructions, but the guiding force of Magic still lingered. The signal link from her Tiara to her mind grew stronger as she neared her destination. Finally, it is time to get to the bottom of this mystery. Upon crossing the threshold of the northern mountain range, Luna's eyes widened in shock. Where there had previously been a mountain in the middle of the otherwise flat and snowy wasteland, a large spherical barrier of light encased the site of the mountain. What the heck?

Luna neared the energy field, noting how the snow's intensity decreased. Frowning to herself, Luna prodded the barrier with a slash of magic. No negative effects. Hmmm. Gathering her resolve, Luna placed a hoof on the outer wall of the light sphere and gently pressed. Her hoof passed through with minimal resistance. Retracting her leg from within the strange barrier, Luna examined it. Perfectly fine. Here goes. Taking a deep breath, she stepped forward into the light.

Having traveled through the darkened night with only the moon and stars for company, the sudden colourful sight almost blinded the dark alicorn. Where there had previously been a dome-shaped mountain, a city now stood. A glistening, sparkling, glowing city. Marveling in wonder, Luna cast her gaze back and forth between structure after structure. There were grassy fields on the outskirts where she had arrived. Shiny, cubed blocks resembling houses lined the street pavements, themselves glistening from the light of embedded crystals. What truly caught her attention though was the gargantuan, triangular tower in the center.

The Tiara twinged, snapping Luna out of her daze. Reminded of the task at hoof, Luna galloped towards the center of the city, Clover still attached magically to her back. Don't worry, dear, you're going to be all right. She couldn't help but worry herself, though. The magically induced coma will wear off imminently. With that in mind, Luna followed Magic's signal toward the base of the tower. Upon rounding one final street corner, she gasped in awe.

The most beautiful jewel she had ever seen glowed a bright cerulean, cutting through the gloom of the night. As Luna stared, captivated, three ponies stepped out from behind the Crystal Heart. If Luna had been enchanted by the Heart, it was nothing compared to the new sight she beheld. A pink unicorn filly, a light-blue pegasus colt and an orange Earth pony mare stood before her, shining just as brightly as the brilliant artifact behind them. Are those ponies... made of crystal?

"It's rude to stare, you know."

The reprimand returned Luna's concentration to the realms of the conscious as she realised that the mare had spoken.

"Oh, please forgive my lack of tact, my dear mare. I have simply never laid eyes on anypony quite so radiant as yourselves." As Luna apologised, she couldn't help but notice the filly's cutie-mark—a blue heart, identical to the one behind her. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am—"

"Luna."

Noting the interruption, Luna turned to the filly who had spoken. There was a gleam in her eyes, one that told of many unknown secrets. She looks far too intimidating for one small. As the filly trotted toward her, Luna grew uneasy. What is this power I sense from her? Is she dangerous? Before Luna could reach any conclusion about the nature of the crystal unicorn, she felt the tingle of a powerful magical force lifting the other unicorn off her back. Immediately, the filly's eyes lost their white glow, her magic dissipating.

"Clover! You returned her to me! I knew I was right to call you here!" the filly cheered. "How can I ever thank you, Luna?"

"Some introductions of your own would be favoured, first and foremost," she declared. With a sheepish grin, the filly locked eyes with the alicorn once more.

"Oh, of course! I'm so sorry! The mare's name is Valencia Orange, of the Earth pony tribe." Luna bowed to Valencia, who offered only a very short one in turn. "The colt is named Cirrus Spectrum, of the pegasus tribe." Luna repeated her bow to Cirrus who returned it eagerly, though he lacked her grace. "Finally, my name is Aura. I'm from Unitopia, the unicorn city on the mountain, daughter of King Levitatus and niece of my teacher here, Miss Clover the Clever. Also, as of this rapidly fading night, first Princess of the Crystal Empire, and Keeper of the Crystal Heart."

"The Crystal Heart?" Luna gazed upon the radiant jewel, watching as it slowly swiveled in place. That must be the magnificent jewel standing there behind them. "Crystal Empire?" Princess Aura certainly has a lot to her name. So young, too. "Please, enlighten me further on the details of this magnificent inheritance of yours."

"Sorry, Miss Luna, we've no time for that," Valencia interjected. "Aura called you because she saw an echo of sorts, perceiving you as the one who took her teacher away from her. She summoned you because she wanted Clover back here, where she hopes to revive her from her magical exhaustion. Apparently, it's quite a deadly condition and—"

"Oh lighten up, Valencia—she's here isn't she? She brought Clover back, now let's just work on waking her up!" Cirrus cut Valencia off as he flew over next to Luna. "You can help her, can't you? I mean she's still alive, right?"

Luna bowed her head. "While I have placed her in a magical coma to preserve what life remains in her, I fear my other efforts to revive her have been unsuccessful. I was informed by a unicorn in... Unitopia, you called it?" Observing Aura's nod, Luna resumed, "Anyway, he told me there are only two unicorns in existence who possess the power and mental discipline to pull off a healing spell of such magnitude. One of course, is Clover herself. The other is the king—who I fear may be in danger."

Catching sight of the crystal filly's suddenly fearful face, Luna smiled. "Fear not, Princess, for my sister Celestia is there protecting him. I am confident she can handle herself and any possible threat to—"

"—Unitopia! The farm! Cloudsdale!" Valencia gasped. "How could we have forgotten? There are changelings, Luna. They took us prisoner before we escaped their clutches. They have the power to shift their shapes into any form, and they steal the love right out of ponies' hearts as a source of power. We have valid reasons to believe that every region in Equestria could be at the mercy of these horrible creatures, right now!"

Luna gasped at the mention of the changelings. Such creatures she had never seen, although the memory of Vorjhan's description of them lingered in the deepest recesses of her memory. "Then our time is indeed limited. We must return to the city to aid Celestia—"

"We're not going anywhere until we heal Clover!" Aura cried. "There has to be a way to wake her up! I have the power of the Crystal Heart at my neck, yet I haven't had her here to test it on! Lend me a hoof, Luna. Help me help her!"

Luna stared at the purple mare as she realised that her coma spell would wear off any second. "All right. How do you want to do this?"

Aura cheered, raising a hoof into the air. "Well, I'll use the power of love from the Crystal Heart, through my Pendant here. You just add your magic to the spell. Hopefully that will be enough." Aura finished ordering Luna and activated her own magic.

The power flowing through Aura's horn mystified Luna. It must be coming from the Heart—there's no way any unicorn has that kind of strength, especially a small filly. Letting the thought drop from her mind, Luna concentrated instead upon casting her own awakening spell.

A small moment of feeble attempts later yielded nothing but sighs of defeat from Luna and Aura. Aura looked almost on the verge of tears.

Luna walked over and placed a wing over the princess' back. "I believe we have done everything we can. All we have achieved is prolonging her stasis." Luna tried to comfort Aura, but the filly jumped out from under her wing, determined.

"I'm not giving up. Valencia, pass me some of those berries please?"

Eyebrow raised, Luna watched while Aura took some small, crystalline ruby rocks from the mare and stuffed them into her mouth. While there was no visually obvious change to Aura, Luna sensed a spike in magical strength within her. The Tiara of Magic reacted violently, fully comprehending the power within the filly. Luna's eyes grew wide as Aura's mane shimmered, taking on a life of its own. Such incredible power...

"Come on, Luna, let's try again! I love Clover too much to let her go. I need her! She's always been my guide through life. She's taught me everything I know. Without her, I'd be nothing at all. We all wouldn't be here now, the three of us—we'd be dead. Or worse, still giving power to those invaders."

While Aura leaned in her head close to Clover once more, Luna thought about her own sister; how much she cared for Celestia and relied on her to be there for her. Powering up her horn once more, Luna called to the Elements of Magic and Kindness.

You brought me out here to save this mare's life. Now, let me save it!

Two simultaneous bursts of power were emitted from the horns of the two mages. A hoof-biting moment later, the third stirred.

"Urghhh... Mmmmm... What's...?" the mare slurred, having been unconscious for over twenty-four hours. A collective sigh of relief ran through the party as Cirrus and Valencia cheered. "Aura? Is that you? Hehehe, you're all sparkly like, filly. What you been eating?"

Clover giggled, delirious with power as it once again flowed into her newly repaired magical dam. "Oh whoa... I'm going down."

She collapsed into the hooves of Luna as she lost consciousness. Scared with worry, Aura made to wake her again, instead meeting Luna's own hoof.

"She will be all right now. She just needs some time and rest to recover. Being in a coma can't be easy for anypony." Aura nodded, relaxing. Luna continued, "Our main focus now should be returning to aid my sister in Unitopia. Let us leave! The longer we tarry here, the more danger everypony is exposed to!" Once more levitating Clover onto her back, Luna made to fly out of the kingdom, when Valencia interrupted her.

"Whoa whoa whoa. How exactly do you expect us all to get back there so fast? We don't all have wings, y'know."

Luna thought for a single moment before she grasped Aura and Valencia in her magic as well. "Let us all leave, then. I assume you can keep up with a fully-laden alicorn mare, Cirrus?"

He nodded. "You bet, Miss Luna! I'm the fastest pegasus in all of Cloudsdale. Well, next to Commander Hurricane, anyway."

Luna smiled as she—with the wingless herd members—departed through the barrier, Cirrus following in her large wake.

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