• 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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The Royal Decree

“Queen Mantissia.”

Crystal Princess Aura stood on the raised platform, in the center of Unitopia square, surrounded on all sides by the victims of the accused. The subject of her address gazed back at her, wearing an expression of defeat.

“You stand before us today, accused of the worst crimes in our young world’s history. You have conspired to seize control of these beautiful lands: not only those belonging to our city, but also the fertile fields, tranquil forests and beautiful skies. You sought to enslave our entire race, sapping our hearts of the very love which we are still rebuilding our world upon.

“You plotted to steal my father’s throne right out from underneath him. You posed as my mother to steal the love he bears her, my sister and I—love which knows no bounds. You waited until the perfect day of our year—Hearts And Hooves Day—to infiltrate our beautiful kingdom, the one day of the year when the love in everypony’s heart burns with the most passion.

“You ordered your troops—your children—to assault, apprehend and imprison every member of Unitopia, Cloudsdale and the Earth pony pastures. They each took on a disguise before doing so, that of one member of each family—even my own. With the amount of love on display throughout the land, your children overcame their targets easily and sealed everypony up in cocoons—Cocoons that stole their love and held them in a sleeping stasis.

“Finally, you committed the worst offense of them all: you aimed to mercilessly crush any and all opposition directed at you, no matter who stepped up to challenge you. My father, my elder Aunts—Celestia and Luna—the entire Royal Guard, even myself and my friends. Your final, desperate act involved the absorption of every drop of love from your entire swarm, transforming you into a soulless, powerful beast. This act included the subduing of everypony who challenged you… and resulted in the death of my father, the king.”

Aura ceased her accusations and bowed her head, taking deep, calm breaths.

I can’t let them see me cry. Not again. Not yet.

After a few seconds, Aura raised her head, resuming her speech once more.

“Everything that you have put our entire civilisation through, over the past forty-eight hours—everything that you’ve put my friends and I through—warrants the punishment of death, many times over. It could be argued that each and every one of your children should share such a fate. Be that as it may, I cannot find it in my heart to go through with that punishment. I simply cannot ever consider that my word would put another’s life to an end.

“It is now that I shall tell you, along with every other citizen of Unitopia, why I am not ordering your death on this day.”

Aura took a moment to pause and assess the crowd. Everypony had been hanging onto her every word, Mantissia included, as she recounted her adventure with her new friends and all of the perils they had faced. She blushed. I never thought my first oral presentation would be to an entire kingdom full of ponies, she thought, allowing a small smile to creep onto her face.

“Aided by the alicorn Luna—” Aura turned to her elder aunt and beamed brightly “—my friends and I were able to restore Clover from the brink of death. We returned home, only to find it completely besieged. Luna’s sister, Celestia, had already engaged in battle with you, Mantissia, stalling your takeover efforts to the best of her ability. The rest, you—and now everypony else—knows."

With those final words, Aura concluded her speech. Her gaze lingered now on the eldest alicorn. Celestia simply smiled and nodded her head, urging Aura to continue.

Aura directly addressed the queen now, commanding her attention. “Queen Mantissia,” she repeated, “though your actions are deserving of the ultimate punishment, without the events that you set in motion, the Crystal Heart would remain, as-of-yet, undiscovered. The hidden power and knowledge that this adventure my friends undertook—instigated by your invasion plan—will be incredibly beneficial to ponykind all over the world. We have unlocked the true power of love. Not only that, but we have also restored Celestia and Luna to the world, themselves bearing artifacts of great value and importance to our society: the Elements of Harmony.”

Aura beckoned for her aunts to join her. Nodding to each other, the sisters took up a position on either side of Aura’s flank. “Combining the power of the Crystal Heart with the powers of Harmony, wielded by myself and by each of my aunts respectively, we were able to accomplish something phenomenal, something previously considered impossible: we revived my father from death, undoing your tainted, twisted magic.

"You were right, Mantissia,” Aura announced. “Love truly is the ultimate power that this world has to offer. But the way that you used it was so wrong, so unnatural, that it betrayed you and everypony else that your power touched. Only our harnessing of love’s true power could have undone the effects of your magic.”

“Today, I hoof down your judgement. Father!” Aura commanded. King Levitatus trotted to her side, scroll and quill at the ready in his steady, magical grip. “Record these words, for they shall determine the fate of Mantissia, her children and all of her descendants.”

The king nodded, smiling at his youngest daughter. His face glowed with pride. “I know that anything you decree shall be fair, but decisive, my little Princess,” he said. Aura returned his smile, before substituting it for a serious expression. Aura cleared her throat as she performed a sound-enhancing spell.

"On this day, I pass my royal judgment upon Queen Mantissia and her children, her subjects, her troops. For the crimes of destruction of property, leading an army in a coup, plotting treason and regicide, unlawful imprisonment of no fewer than five hundred ponies, adultery and murder, I find you, based on indisputable evidence and multiple eye-witnesses, guilty.

“Your punishment, however, shall not be that of death, or even exile. Based on the testimony you provided, you resorted to this takeover plan believing that you had no other alternative. You were starving, your children were starving and you were all desperate. While these facts alone are not justification enough for your crimes, I have taken into consideration that you were created the way that you are; that you did not choose the life you are forced to lead. Nor did you choose your unfortunately parasitic diet.

“As a pony who now understands love more completely than anypony else in Equestria could, I am overflowing with sympathy and willingness to forgive you of your transgressions. However, there is an alternate measure, something that will serve as a dual punishment for your crimes, and as a reward for indirectly enabling the discovery of the Crystal Heart.

“Today, I sentence you, Mantissia, as well as your children, to perform an indefinite amount of community service to the Crystal Empire—which I shall soon form in the north, in support of Unitopia. You will spend your days and nights there, bound to the city, ordered to patrol the perimeter constantly and protect it from any outside threat. An indefinite sentence may sound harsh," Aura said, "but not when you consider the less forgiving alternative. Also, I inform you of another decision which will lessen the burden—and may in fact enthuse you for the work.

“Mantissia, you shall relinquish your title of Queen and serve the Crystal Empire. However, should you choose to aid in the Empire’s eventual prosperity, you shall find the Crystal Heart’s power growing. It is a vessel of pure love and compassion, that which your kind requires for survival. So, in the spirit of peace between the pony and changeling races, I shall allow you and your children—in return for your servitude—to periodically feed off of the Crystal Heart."

An eerie silence filled the city square. Nopony could quite believe what they had heard. Mantissia herself looked stunned, shocked into silence at the surprise declaration. Valencia, Cirrus and Edge all looked at each other, eyebrows raised in confusion. Every other citizen of Unitopia now had their attention feverishly planted on Aura, like she was some form of demon.

The sound of rhythmic stamping began to fill the air. Aura turned to witness Celestia, Luna and King Levitatus standing together, clopping their front hooves repeatedly on the ground. Smiles matching the sun in radiance adorned their faces, clear approval filtering off them toward her. She could feel the slight tingle of their love through the Crystal Pendant.

Slowly, the sound amplified as Valencia, Cirrus and Edge added their own applause to the royals’. Following their lead, more and more Unitopian citizens added their hooves to the din, until everypony present was applauding Aura. The princess beamed, seemingly wider than her face allowed. Mantissia still stood silently aghast, immobilised by the sheer outpouring of adoration from everypony for their new Crystal Princess.

Aura walked back to King Levitatus, receiving an enthusiastic hug. “I’m so, so proud of you, my daughter,” he said. “You’ve already grown up so much. I believe that, in time, you will become a much wiser pony than I have ever been.” The king relinquished his hold, allowing Aura to accept a loving embrace from Queen Portia and Princess Platinum.

“Aura, I love you, so much. Everypony here owes their lives to you and your friends,” her mother said.

“You have performed your royal duties to the absolute letter, Aura,” Platinum agreed. “I never thought you would become so smart and well-beloved. Great job, little sister!”

As the hugs broke off, Aura leaped off the stage and galloped at full force toward Valencia and Cirrus.

“I did it, guys! I did it!" She cheered, tackling them both in a very non-princess-like manner.

“You sure did, love,” Valencia confirmed. “Nopony could have given a better judgement.”

“You are awesome, Aura! I’m so glad to have shared this adventure with you!” Cirrus shouted.

“I love you both, so much,” Aura said. “So, so much. Without you two, none of this would have been possible at all. Thank you. I’m ready to be a princess now. A true Princess.”

A sudden hush descended over the crowd. Aura looked up at the strange silence. Her eyes widened in disbelief. A bright spotlight shone down from on high, completely illuminating Celestia and Luna. From within the epicentre of the glow, six different coloured lights gleamed.

The Elements of Harmony combined their power; six beams of light shot out of the alicorn sisters' adornments. They converged and struck Aura square in the chest. The resultant flash illuminated the still-twilight gloom with the force of the sun, forcing everypony to avert their eyes.

When the light had dissipated, a collective gasp rang through the square.

A heart-shaped scorch mark covered the ground; Aura was nowhere to be seen.

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