• Published 30th Sep 2013
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Mother of Nations - Benman



Centuries after the events of Mortal, Celestia struggles with a runaway child, a resentful Twilight Sparkle, and the looming threat of invasion.

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Chapter 1

As the Sun Princess's rock-hard face gazed down upon her, it dawned on Summer Solace that she had never been further from home. Mom must have realized she was missing, by now.

Summer Solace swallowed. The spires of Elysium were little more than a distant, hazy smear. The floating megalopolis of cloud and crystal and magic had been her entire world, but it was long past time she left the alicorn city. If she succeeded here, today, then she would never go back.

Summer Solace bowed low. Her pearly mane brushed the dirt. Around her powder blue legs, the rocky wasteland stretched away. The guards had brought her here from the border, once she found them. Now they stood beside her, resplendent in their golden armor. They were the first mortal adults she had ever seen.

“Why are you here?” Celestia’s tone was hard but not quite harsh. The princess had refused to let Summer Solace near Equestria’s few remaining cities.

She steeled herself. “My name is Summer Solace. I want to come to Equestria.”

Celestia’s face didn’t change. “You know the law. Once you leave Equestria, you don’t return.”

“But I didn’t! Leave, that is. I was born in Elysium.”

Celestia inclined her head slightly, but that was all. Summer Solace faltered. A listless breeze failed to ruffle her mane. She swallowed, then plowed ahead.

“I, I know why you made that law. And I agree with it! When ponies leave Equestria to become alicorns for their own selfish reasons, they give up their right to live in the real world. They’ve turned away from Equestria, and they shouldn’t be allowed back. But Princess, I never turned away! I never chose what I am.”

The barest frown crossed Celestia’s face. “I remember my own transformation. You cannot become an alicorn unwillingly. The spell only works if the subject cooperates.”

Summer Solace sputtered. “I was a child! I wasn’t even thirty years old when it happened. I just did what my mom told me!”

“But now you want to leave her.”

Summer Solace nodded firmly. “She’s not running my life anymore.”

Celestia leaned back a fraction of an inch. “Are you sure of that?”

Summer Solace’s voice hardened. “I’m almost fifty, now, and it’s time to start making my own choices. And Elysium is terrible, Princess! Everything is so, so stagnant. Nothing changes, and there’s nothing important for us young ponies to do. It’s like you wrote.” She had found the book in her mom’s library, ten short months ago, and it explained everything. For Summer Solace’s whole life, the world had seemed stale and meaningless, and finally she understood why. “Please, Princess. I want to live in the real world.”

Celestia stared into her. Summer Solace fidgeted. The princess was almost two thousand years old, she had read, and all the wisdom of those centuries was now focused like a sunbeam through a magnifying glass.

Finally Celestia spoke. “I cannot undo what was done to you.”

“I know. But I want to have children someday. They deserve a chance to live in Equestria.”

Celestia nodded slowly. “True enough.” She sighed. “We’ll figure out what to do with you. For now, I’ll ask Cadence to watch over you.”




Celestia dreamed, that night.

She soared above the empty farms and cities that had once been Equestria. The streets were deserted, the buildings crumbling, and the fields overgrown. Canterlot bustled at the center of her domain, but it was a desperate clamor, an insecure cry for attention. All around, abandoned land fell into the distance until it came up against a vertical wall of shimmering cloudstuff. The alicorn cities blurred into a single mass, surrounding her domain, pressing closer, closer.

“Princess.” She hadn't heard that voice in centuries. Twilight Sparkle was flying with her, now. For a moment, they soared side by side, as they had long before. Then Twilight spoke, and the moment was gone. “I want my pony back,” she said, and Celestia remembered everything.

“No,” said Celestia. “You have taken too many ponies from me already.”

“You think you can keep her?” Twilight was incredulous. “You know they’ll all come to me eventually. And what would you do if I just walked into Equestria and took her back?”

“I would stop you.” Celestia’s horn pulsed with power. She stood on a rocky crag, a place she had visited in countless dreams, but only once in the waking world. The moon hung overhead, as it always did, here. “You will not threaten my ponies. I’ll do whatever it takes. Even to you.”

Twilight Sparkle advanced. She wore a breastplate and helm of blue steel, the color of the gloaming sky. “It nearly destroyed you the first time. You won’t do it again.”

The tableau froze. Celestia glanced around, confused.

“Um, hi,” came Twilight Sparkle’s voice, echoing from all around. “Sorry, I don’t really know how to do this.” She faded into being beside her frozen double. There was a firmness to the new Twilight Sparkle, a sense of reality otherwise absent from the dreamworld.

Celestia stepped backwards. Only Luna had ever appeared to her like that before. “You’re dreamwalking. You’re dreamwalking and you’re inside my head.”

The real Twilight nodded. “I need to talk to you, and you don’t want me in your physical realm, so—hold on.” She stared at her image, clad in the Nightmare’s armor. “What, really? You think I’m jealous of you?”

Anger drowned out shame. “I won’t answer for my own dreams. You have no right.” Celestia pounded a hoof on the lectern. They were in the old classroom, now, where Celestia had once instructed her faithful student. The room had been torn down in centuries past, but her memory of it was unchanged. “How are you even here? Dreamwalking is Luna's special talent.”

“I've been studying alicorn magic for hundreds of years.” Twilight pointed to a poster on the wall, a detailed graph of the relationships among thaumic fields of study. “Dream magic is one of many subjects.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised. You always were talented.” She looked around the classroom. A shard of dragon egg, construction paper covered in hoof-shaped gobs of paint and glitter, a forty-page treatment of Star Swirl’s Meditations, a stack of letters. She let out a breath. “Why did you come, Twilight? Is this about Summer Solace?”

Twilight visibly relaxed. “So she is with you.”

Celestia blinked. “You didn’t know?”

“Of course not. She never tells me anything.”

“I see.” Celestia fought down a laugh, or perhaps a sob. “Your child, then.”

Twilight nodded. “My youngest. She’s always been… well. I'm not surprised, really. I'm sorry to disturb you. I just... I had to know where she was.”

“Now you know what I felt like when you left.” Celestia regretted the words even before they escaped her lips.

Twilight’s face hardened. “Take care of her,” she said, and was gone.

“Of course,” Celestia said. “I take care of all my ponies.” But there was no one to hear.




Summer Solace tore through the skies above Canterlot, reveling in the wind driving against her face as she twisted between the clouds, gathering the most promising into a single dark gray mass. She turned to face Cadence, who hovered above. She had held onto her questions at first, but now they were alone. “You used to know my mom. What was she like, then?”

“That was a long time ago,” said Cadence. “She had a good heart. Misguided, in the end, but she was kind to me when I needed it most.”

“Your thing on the moon?”

“Yes.” Cadence hesitated. “I’m not proud of that. It was… not a good way to solve my problem. Your mom helped me see how much I was leaving behind. Even diminished, Equestria is a special place.”

Summer Solace nodded. “It’s so different, here.”

“I’m surprised you’re the first Elysian who wanted to come here.”

“I’m the first who was able to come here. The frontier wards are supposed to keep us out of Equestria, but my mom built them herself, and she showed me how they work when I was learning magic. I managed to sneak through.”

“I’m glad you did.”

Summer Solace didn’t know what to say to that. She started to turn away, but Cadence’s voice brought her back. “You’re having fun up here.”

“I know!” said Summer Solace. “It’s weird! I always hated being a weather pony, before.” She had played with clouds, of course, but this was different. Her wings surged with an urgency she had never known. She felt alive. “Doing actual work, being actually useful, it’s...” She turned and soared back to the clouds. “I never got to do this before.”

“What, never?” Cadence said as she followed.

“No! Back home, other ponies are already doing all the stuff like this. There isn’t anything left. I’m really grateful you’re letting me do this. I know that seneschal guy didn’t think we should be here.”

Cadence shrugged. “Fee Simple is always like that. Don’t worry about him.”

“Oh, and I was wondering. What’s with those funny binoculars he was wearing?”

“You mean his glasses?” said Cadence. “His eyes don’t work very well. Those lenses correct the light coming in so he can see better.”

“Huh. Are the healers busy or something?”

“These things happen when ponies get old. Our doctors can’t fix all of it, unfortunately.”

Summer Solace stopped abruptly and hovered in place, transfixed by the sheer absurdity. “Wait. You mean his eyes just don’t work and nopony’s doing anything?”

“I’m afraid so. Unicorn magic isn’t nearly as powerful as alicorn magic.”

“But you’re an alicorn!”

“There are only three of us to run all of ponydom. I wish we had time to help every individual, but we have too many other responsibilities.”

Summer Solace straightened. “I don’t have other responsibilities.”

“True.” Cadence smiled. “I’ll ask Celestia about—”

Summer Solace didn’t wait for Cadence to finish. She dove, banking towards the palace, with Cadence close behind. The wind tugged at her mane as she picked up speed.

They were still far above Canterlot when it started. All along one of Elysium’s distant cloud spires, pinpoints of eldritch light winked in and out. Both of them slowed to watch. If the spells were visible from this far off, they would have to be astoundingly powerful.

“What’s happening?” Summer Solace stamped at the air. She had never seen anything like this. “That’s the Noctilucent District. What are they doing?”

Cadence peered closely. “It looks like they’re fighting,” she said softly.

“I don’t understand. Who’s fighting? Why would anypony want to fight?” Summer Solace beat her wings and rose higher. “That’s where Mom lives. I have to go back.”

Cadence kept pace. “Don’t! You know you can’t do that. The law—”

A searing crimson light ripped apart the sky. When Summer Solace blinked her vision back, half a minute later, the entire district was gone. House-sized chunks of debris rained earthward in apparent slow motion. Summer Solace let out a wordless cry. The flickers of distant magic slowed, and slowed again, and finally stopped.





The embassy came into being around Celestia. As the teleport finished, she found herself in a room tiled with queer crystals and a strange, glossy material unlike anything she had seen before. Everything was bright, but there were no light sources and no shadows. Most disconcerting of all, the chamber was at least twice as wide as the building that contained it. It had been eighty years since Celestia had last been here, the one place in Canterlot where she permitted Twilight’s renegades to return and see the families they had abandoned.

In the hundreds of years since Elysium’s founding, Twilight herself had never once visited. Her dream notwithstanding, Celestia had not spoken to her directly. After yesterday’s cataclysm, though, Celestia had demanded to speak to her counterpart right away. She was afraid. Something had obliterated a structure the size of a small mountain, and she still didn’t know what.

She didn't have to wait long. Soon enough, Twilight blinked into existence without so much as a flash of wasted energy.

“Your wing!” Celestia froze, torn between drawing back in shock and rushing forward in sympathy.

“What, this?” Twilight glanced at the bandaged, blackened stump. Her whole side was charred, but the wing itself was simply gone. “It's nothing.” She straightened and faced Celestia. “Breezy Balm will regenerate it later today, once she's finished treating the serious injuries.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing that affects Equestria, Princess.” Twilight Sparkle's voice was tonelessly formal, now. “Summer Solace's father has been a problem for some time. When he learned where our daughter was, he wanted to bring her back by force. I insisted otherwise, and he wouldn’t back down. You saw our battle, I’m sure. He's a powerful mage with many followers, but I won, and he's under control now.”

Celestia frowned, matching formality with formality. “Under control?” Such foes had a way of coming back, she had learned.

“He's in the Cloister. He’ll stay there under guard until he gets the help he needs.”

“And these guards are strong enough to stop him?”

Twilight shrugged. “Probably. If I'm wrong, and he gets loose, I'll just stop him again.”

Celestia stared. She gestured at the space where Twilight’s wing should have been. “He tried to kill you.”

Twilight was silent for a moment. “You really don’t understand,” she said, almost to herself.

“I really don’t! Twilight Sparkle, this pony tried to invade Equestria and abduct a pony under my protection. I’m not sure if you’re taking this seriously.”

“With respect, Princess, you're not in a position to evaluate our justice system.”

“How you conduct justice is your business, but I’m worried about security. This pony is a threat to Equestria. I have a right to know how you’ll keep that from happening again.”

“Fine. We can go now, if you’d like.”

“Tomorrow. I’ll need to make arrangements with my sister.” And possibly other plans. This would be her first visit to Elysium. It was a unique opportunity.

Twilight nodded. “Tomorrow, then.”





Rarity was waiting when Twilight returned. The sun was low in the sky, infusing the ectoplasmic walls of Rarity’s chambers with a strawberry glow. Twilight’s body had been healed, she saw, and her wing regrown as healthy as ever, but her friend was so tired she was swaying on her hooves.

“Oh, my stars, you’re exhausted.” Rarity bustled forward, draping a wing over Twilight and guiding her inside. “Do lie down, and I’ll fetch you something to drink.”

“Thanks.” Twilight collapsed belly-first onto Rarity’s chaise longue. “Ugh. I really appreciate you letting me stay here, you know.”

“Think nothing of it.” Twilight was far from the only pony who had lost her home in the Noctilucent District’s destruction. It was exasperating for everypony involved, of course, but Twilight needed the extra stress least of all. “How bad is it out there?”

“It’s going as well as it can, I guess.” Twilight yawned and rested her chin on crossed forehooves. “Everyone’s been healed, except for a few bruises we’re not worried about. Cleanup is just about finished. Keystone thinks it will take a couple months to rebuild everything to the point where ponies can move back in. All of Blaze’s followers are in custody. Everything’s going smoothly, except for this thing with Celestia.”

“Ah. The rumors are true, then.” Rarity fetched her favorite goblet, a wispy thing of orichalcum and emerald, and conjured a powerful sherry within. “This can’t be easy for you.”

“Well, it’s weird. I mean, yeah, I was pretty obsessed with her for a couple hundred years, but I thought I’d moved past that. Seeing her again, though… I don’t know. She was like a mother to me, once.” She accepted the goblet from Rarity and took a deep draught. “Whatever. She’s not running my life anymore.”

“How will you handle it?”

“I don’t even know. I guess I have to deal with her, but I really don’t want to. It reminds me of all sorts of things I’d rather not dwell on.” Twilight rubbed her temple. “I’ll just have to be pleasant to her anyway. Diplomacy, and all that.” She yawned. “Anyway. Can we talk about something else? How’s your work with the griffons?”

“Slow. Their spirits are so different from ours.” Rarity looked out the window, focusing on nothing in particular. “We have to learn so much more before we can even think about transforming them.”

“Well, you made immortality work for the buffalo and the llamas and the donkeys. I’m sure you’ll figure out griffons, too.”

“Eventually, yes, I don’t doubt it. But every year we spend working, more of them die.” Unlike most Elysians, Rarity had friends among the mortals. The border with Equestria was sealed, but other nations welcomed alicorns and the hope of immortality.

“You’re doing everything you can,” said Twilight.

“I know. And I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do so much.” Rarity cleared her throat. “Was there any news of your daughter?”

“Nothing new.” Twilight spoke through clenched teeth. “She left because she wanted to make her own path. I’m trying to respect that.”

“You must worry, though.”

Twilight made a sound that was probably meant to be a laugh. “Of course.”




Twilight Sparkle led the way into the Cloister, with Celestia close behind. The structure was the size of a small mountain, larger than the entirety of Ponyville had been at its height, and this grand doorway was only one of many, many entrances. The building had long since ceased to intimidate Twilight, and the architecture wasn’t why she was nervous, just now. She glanced at Celestia, trying and failing to read her face.

Twilight crossed the threshold. A familiar wave of magic washed over her. Celestia shivered at its touch. “Is that an anti-teleport ward I feel?”

“Yes,” said Twilight, “along with some other counterspells and a generalized magic-damping field. It affects everyone except the guards, who are attuned to the spells. They monitor the whole place with clairvoyance spells, too. This is the best-protected building in the world. Some of the ponies in here are dangerous.”

They passed a quartet of alicorns wearing armor forged of scrith, the seemingly indestructible metal that was just coming out of the labs. Soon they would be making enough to use it in construction.

The guards cast dark looks at Celestia as they passed into a marble hallway. Celestia spoke once they were out of earshot. “What was that about?”

“Rumors travel fast, I guess. Ponies know you’re here. Uh, you’re not very popular.”

“I suppose that’s not surprising.”

Was Celestia’s voice accusing? She couldn’t tell. The stories weren’t Twilight’s fault, though, and Celestia had to realize—no. Celestia could think whatever she wanted. Twilight was done chasing after her approval. She was here to reassure a visiting diplomat about the security of a criminal’s confinement. Nothing more.

Two more guards passed down a side corridor. “This place is like a fortress,” said Celestia. “You made it sound more like a hospital.”

“It’s both. The ponies who are sent here need to get better so they can rejoin society, but we also need to keep them in the Cloister until they’re ready. Most cooperate, but, uh, a few don’t. We have to be careful.”

Twilight led Celestia to a grand staircase of softly glowing marble, inlaid with frescoes of stars and flowers. They went down, and down, and down, passing countless landings with openings to wood-paneled hallways.

“This place is enormous,” said Celestia. “How many of your ponies do you keep here?”

Twilight shrugged. “Pretty much everyone winds up here eventually. Living forever is hard.”

“And yet you’re still trying to spread this to the whole world?”

“The ponies here get better,” said Twilight. “Sooner or later, I imagine every one of us will crack—but eventually, we’ll all heal, too. No one has ever been here for more than a hundred and fifty years at a stretch.”

Celestia missed a step. “A hundred and… that seems like a terrible fate.”

“It’s better than death! A hundred and fifty years isn’t enough to recover from that.” Twilight paused until her voice was level again. “I’ve looked at the numbers. The average pony spends a bit less than three percent of her life in here. It’s not great, but I’ll take that over dying any day. We’re getting better at treatment, too.” Twilight ducked into a hallway, leaving behind the staircase as it continued downward as far as the eye could see. They passed door after door of translucent blue crystal.

“I’d like to see some of the ponies here,” said Celestia.

“Why?” Twilight said sharply. Stars, but making this trip even longer was the last thing she wanted.

“I need to know what they’re like. If your ponies go mad, one might do something dangerous, someday.”

“That happens occasionally, and we can deal with it. Rarity succumbed to the Nightmare three times, you know. She tried to take over the world each time, but she was surrounded by alicorns. You can guess how long that lasted before we brought her here.”

Celestia blinked. “One of your friends ended up here? I hope she’s okay.”

“She’s been perfectly fine for the last couple centuries.”

“Hm. I’d still like to see for myself.” Celestia stopped before one of the crystal doors. “One moment.” She fell into what Twilight recognized as a spellcasting trance. “Ponyfeathers, but the wards here are strong.”

“Um. What are you doing?” Normally Twilight would have been able to tell the spell from its aura, but the antimagic wards suppressing Celestia’s spell dulled Twilight’s mystical senses as well.

“Clairvoyance,” Celestia said through clenched teeth. “Just need to see through that door and—”

The door burst open. Celestia stumbled back, half a heartbeat before it would have struck her muzzle. A silvery alicorn burst forth, clipping Celestia and cantering down the hallway without slowing. “Whoa!” he shouted. “Coming through!”

Twilight didn’t quite manage to keep a straight face. “You could’ve just knocked, you know. It’s not locked.”

“So I see.” Celestia regained her balance and looked after the retreating pony. “Should we be stopping him?”

“No need,” said Twilight. “Patients aren’t confined to their rooms unless there’s a really good reason. Quicksilver might be, ah, exuberant, but he’s a long way from dangerous. He won’t go anywhere he shouldn’t, and the guards would stop him if he tried.”

“How many of the ponies here are like that?”

“Most of them. You’re here for one of the other type, though. Come on, let’s get this over with.”

Further down the hall, Twilight opened another door. Beyond, three armored guards looked up at them. “We’re here to see Blaze,” Twilight said.

A guard thrust a wingtip towards Celestia. “Doctor Willow said that one can go in,” she said, frowning. “He didn’t approve a visit from you, Miss Sparkle. I’m sorry. The patient is still considered a threat, and regulations are clear.”

“I know all about the regulations,” Twilight said evenly. “I wrote them. Did Doctor Willow mention me?”

“Ah, he said something about you two not getting along. Really, I have to ask you to leave.”

Twilight stepped closer. “Did he say I wasn’t allowed in?”

The guard blinked. “You specifically? No, but the regulations—”

“Right.” Twilight strode forward.

“Whoa, hey!” The guard blocked her path. “You can’t do that!”

Twilight fixed her with a level stare. “I would never go against the doctor’s judgment, but you’re just blindly applying rules that I crafted myself. If anypony knows when they should be followed and when they shouldn’t, it’s me. Please stand aside.”

The guard swallowed and stood aside.





“Listen to me,” said Cadence. “You have to slow down.”

“One more.” Summer Solace’s vision blurred, and the base of her horn throbbed with pain, but she only threw more power into the spell.

The pony before her slept through Cadence’s admonition. Apparently he hadn’t been able to hear anything for years. Next to that horror, a little fatigue didn’t even count.

She had already fixed his hips, which had been horribly swollen, and his lungs, which were weak as a child’s. In the room before this one, she had cured a pony with a failing liver. She remembered his face, wrenched in agony, before she started her spell. Before that, a pony whose limbs wouldn’t stop trembling. Before that… she couldn’t remember which. There were so many. Cadence had helped, at first, but now all she did was argue.

The spell clicked together, and power flowed out of her. Summer Solace staggered. The patient slept on.

“It’s done,” said Cadence. “He’s better. Now get some rest. Please.”

“Not yet.” She shambled into the hallway. There was so much more to do. Back home, she had read about sickness, but somehow she had just… she had never realized… she hadn’t let herself realize what it actually meant. Death was one thing, but all this suffering was beyond the pale. Nothing like it existed back home. It wasn’t allowed to exist.

“Just take a break,” said Cadence, close behind. “You’re too exhausted to help anyone.”

Summer Solace trudged into the next room. “One more.”





Even sitting down, Celestia thought, Blaze was an imposing pony. He was broad and well-muscled under his scarlet coat and vibrant blue mane, with a golden fireball on his flanks and a broad white streak running from eyes to snout. His chambers were richly appointed with plush cushions and soft divans, but he sat still on the bare mahogany floor. Twilight had hardly finished introducing them before he spoke.

“How is my daughter?” His voice was soft, but somehow it sounded like a threat in Celestia’s ears.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “She just saw her home destroyed.”

“The clouds will be rebuilt. How is she?”

“Celestia didn’t come here to talk about Summer Solace,” said Twilight Sparkle.

Only his head turned to face her. “She is your daughter too.” He spoke quietly, forcing Celestia to listen closely just to hear.

“She left for a reason,” Twilight Sparkle said carefully. “She wants some space from us. I’m trying to respect that.”

“She wants to have a mortal child. Do you respect that, as well?”

Twilight shook her head. “I told her I would never let that happen in Elysium. If she cares enough to leave… well, it’s her decision.”

“She is too young to make that decision.”

That was too much. “She’s forty-eight years old,” said Celestia.

Blaze turned his gaze back to her. It was like staring into a spotlight. “You have met her,” he said. “Does she act like an adult?”

“No,” said Celestia. “She acts like a teenager, and it’s past time she grew up. The way you’ve held her back is unforgivable.”

“Is it?” said Twilight. “I mean, it’s not like she’s in a hurry. We let ponies grow up at their own pace. Some take a long time, and some are full members of society by the time they’re fifteen.”

“Not full members.” Blaze’s mouth twisted into something that could be mistaken for a smile. “Even I am not old enough for that, in your eyes. All the useful jobs, the important jobs, the powerful jobs—your coterie has those under hoof and horn, and they’re not giving them up.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “This again. Ignore him, Princess. Our system is a pure meritocracy. Older ponies tend to rise because they have more experience, but it’s not absolute.”

Blaze smiled mirthlessly. “The youngest pony on your cabinet is four hundred years old.”

“You’re not even trying to be fair!” Twilight’s voice rose. “That’s a tiny sample size! It’s not representative of a larger trend! I could just as easily cite examples where—”

“Twilight,” said Celestia.

“I know, I know. But he always does this! He never—”

“Twilight,” she said again.

Twilight took a deep breath. “Doctor Willow was right. This was a bad idea.” She stood. “I’ll meet you outside, Princess,” she said as she slipped out.

“My daughter,” Blaze said the moment Twilight had gone. “How is she?”

“Twilight Sparkle tells me you would have invaded Equestria and taken her by force.”

“She is my daughter. If she needs me at her side, I will burn down whatever stands between us.” He leaned forward a fraction of an inch. “Now. Is she happy?”

Celestia found herself grateful that Twilight had stopped this pony before he reached Equestria. “Cadence tells me that she’s enjoying the opportunity to be helpful. Summer Solace seems to think there aren’t any meaningful ways to be useful in Elysium.”

“Not for a young pony. You saw how Twilight Sparkle reacted to the mere suggestion of sharing responsibility.”

Celestia nodded. “This would be why you don’t get along with her.”

“Yes. She was the best part of my life, once. But after half a century, it became impossible to ignore her politics. She and her coterie will stay in charge forever, if we let them. The oldest ponies are at the top in government, art, sports, research, everything.”

“That’s why you rebelled?”

“No. We’ve been arguing about that for decades without even considering violence.” His face darkened. “Then she tried to keep me from my daughter.”

“Well, Summer Solace is in Equestria now. She won’t have trouble finding opportunities to contribute, there.”

“Yes, I remember. I suppose simply killing all the old ponies is easier than figuring out how to share.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “This from the pony who just tried to murder Twilight Sparkle.”

Blaze threw back his head and let loose a great booming laugh, catching Celestia off guard after his quiet words. “Oh, dear. Murder? Most of the ponies who fought at my side don’t know what murder is. We were trying to overpower Twilight and her minions, and I’ll admit that part of me wanted to hurt her as well, but murder? Even when I lived in Equestria, I would never have thought of that. Before you accuse me, remember this: all of my political rivals are still alive. How many of yours have died, over the centuries?”

“You were Equestrian?” Celestia found it hard to believe that a pony like this had come from her domain.

“A long time ago. I know enough of your toy kingdom to compare it to this one. Your faithful student learned a lot from you.”

Celestia didn’t let herself react to Twilight’s old title. “Yes,” she said. “She learned every lesson except the most important one.”

Blaze leaned forward. “Why did you come here?”

“I make a point of learning about threats to Equestria.” She allowed a thin smile to cross her face. “Now that I’ve seen this prison, I know we don’t have much to fear from you.”

“Not from me, perhaps, but I am not the only one who objects to Twilight Sparkle’s reign, or yours. Tell me, Princess. How well do you know the ponies here? How far do you trust them?”




“So,” said Twilight Sparkle, “what did you think?”

Celestia followed Twilight up the Cloister’s marble stairs. “I think he’s dangerous and unbalanced, but this place seems secure enough to hold him.” She paused. “You married that pony?”

Twilight looked away. “He was different, then. Just as intense, but not bitter. And he was—”

An armored guard stepped from an alcove and blocked their way. “You’re Princess Celestia,” he said.

Celestia eyed him. “I am.”

His eyes were like fire. “Murderer.”

Twilight stepped forward. “Easy, there. This isn’t—”

He shoved past her. His breath was hot on Celestia’s face. “My brother is dead because of you,” he said, his voice cracking.

Celestia drew herself up. “Your brother made his own choice.”

He lunged, horn glowing, lips drawn back in a wordless snarl. Celestia started her own spell, but the prison’s wards slowed her magic even as the guard launched a lance of raw force. It smashed through her still-forming shield and struck her chest with the power of a rockslide. She didn’t feel herself hit the ground.




Celestia’s eyes snapped open. She could feel her breastbone shifting as it knit back together. It wasn’t painful, somehow, but it was among the strangest awakenings of her long, long life.

“Ah, you’re up,” said the pony at her bedside. “Hold still, please, we’re nearly done.”

Celestia held still and took stock of her surroundings. The healer was a lemon-colored alicorn with a voice like a warm spring day. Her horn shone the blue-white color of a flame’s heart as she worked her magic. Twilight Sparkle stood beyond, watching nervously.

Soon enough the spell was done. “How do you feel?” said the healer.

“Better,” said Celestia. “Thank you.” She looked to Twilight. “How long has it been?”

Twilight stepped forward. “Not long. Two, three hours.”

She nodded. That was good; her subjects wouldn’t be worrying for a while yet. “And the pony who attacked me?”

“He’s in custody. I’m sorry. I never expected one of our guards to snap like that. It seems he only immigrated nine years ago.”

“That blast would’ve killed a normal pony,” said Celestia.

“Um,” said the doctor. “There’s nothing normal about being able to die like that.”

Celestia turned to her. “You weren’t born in Equestria, I take it.”

“No, ma’am.”

Celestia leaned back in her bed. “I’d like to think for a little while. It’s been a difficult day.” She needed time to sort through everything that had happened.

“Of course,” said Twilight. The two ponies filed out of the room.

Celestia set her mind in motion. Her instincts told her she had just survived an assassination attempt. She would be fine, of course, but it suggested that Blaze was right and there were other threats to Equestria in this land. Then again, Blaze had also said concepts like death and killing were alien to these ponies, which would rule out any connection to a larger plot among the natives… but Blaze was hardly a trustworthy source. For that matter, his intimidating talk could have been a bluff, and the assassin merely a grieving madpony. She needed to learn more.

She could ask Twilight about this, but Twilight was no longer her student. She had grown into a ruler with her own responsibilities and her own ponies to watch over. She would tell Celestia whatever was best for Elysium, and while she probably wouldn’t lie, she would surely be careful about what she revealed. Celestia noted a flash of pride at the thought.

What other options did she have? She could ask for Summer Solace’s opinion. That pony was hopelessly naive, though, like Twilight before she first left Canterlot. If anything sinister were happening, Summer Solace would never realize.

She needed to learn the opinion of the Elysian public, and she couldn’t trust any of her intermediaries. With the problem phrased like that, the solution was obvious.

Celestia stood. Thanks to the healer, her body was good as new. With a quick shapechanging spell, she took the form of a soft pink alicorn with eyes and mane of bright orange. It wouldn’t mask her aura, but in a city with millions of alicorns, finding her that way would be like finding a needle in a stack of needles.

Another spell teleported her to the street where she had first arrived, a broad causeway formed of cloudstuff so smooth it could have been marble. On either side, buildings of diamond and steel thrust to the sky. Streets crossed the air above her, built of gems and raw energy and stranger things, shimmering in the setting sun.

“Let me guess.” A voice came from her side. “You just arrived from Equestria, and this is all overwhelming.”

Celestia tore her gaze downward. She had been staring. The speaker was a light green alicorn whose silver-blue mane and tail were tied in elaborate braids. “Is it that obvious?”

“The way you were gawking? Yeah, kinda. Don't worry about it. All this everything must be shocking, but everypony assimilates pretty quickly. Well, at least by our standards of 'quickly.' Anyway, a bunch of people here were immigrants at one point.”

Celestia nodded. That didn't surprise her. So many ponies left Equestria every year. That number was dwindling, but only because the population shrank so fast. “Are you from Equestria, too?”

“Nah. Born and raised Elysian. I'm Echo, by the way.”

“Call me Sunrise.” It wasn't a very good alias, but then, hers wasn't a very thorough disguise.

Echo beamed. “Welcome to the real world, Sunrise! Anything I can help you with?”

She thought. “I don't really know where to start. Right now I’m trying to get my bearings. I want to learn what’s important to ponies here.”

“Aha! Follow me, then. I was just headed to the Weather Gallery. It’s important to me, anyway.” Echo set off. Celestia followed, wondering if this would answer her real questions. It wasn’t what she’d intended, but this would at least be more helpful than gawking in the street like a tourist.

Echo brought her to a great silvery dome. They entered a short foyer, barely large enough for Echo to shut the doors behind them, plunging them into dimness for a brief moment before she threw open the portal ahead. The hall beyond was like nothing Celestia had seen in all her millennia.

What struck her first was the light. A hundred thousand crystal facets reflected ten thousand shades of red and orange and gold, casting beams of light through a thousand floating clouds before the fiery tapestry reached her eyes. The play of color on color was mesmerizing, subtle patterns and gradations that recalled a warm hearth on a chill night.

Celestia gaped, for once not bothering with the mask of unflappable calm she wore as Princess of Equestria.

The hall itself was larger by far than her royal audience chamber. The distant walls were made of cloud, glowing faintly with light diffused from the jeweled mosaics that studded their length. The ceiling, far above, was translucent under the setting sun. Small clouds floated in lazy swirls, some smaller than a pillow, some as large as a double bed. There was some pattern behind the clouds’ movement, some larger meaning that Celestia could almost grasp…

“Pretty good, huh?” said Echo.

Celestia spoke softly. This place demanded it. “What,” she said, “what is this?”

“It’s the Weather Gallery. About a hundred years after Elysium was founded, a some ponies decided to make the most beautiful thing in the world. Well, there are a bunch of projects like that, but this one was the first. And it’s the best. Anyway, ponies left the project and joined the project, but work never stopped. This here was centuries in the making, and it’s still not done.”

Not done? Celestia blinked. “Why would you want to change this?”

“Well, for one thing, it’s not stable yet.” Echo pointed with her wingtip. “See that cloud? It’s flying a bit low. Must be a little too dense. C’mon, I’ll go fix it.” She soared up and over, and Celestia followed. The cloud was just wide enough for them both to stand on it. Echo’s horn pulsed, and a thin trail of light flowed to the cloud.

Celestia turned, letting the panorama wash over her, trying to pin down the rhythm behind the shifting lights. “It must be special, knowing you’ve contributed to something like this.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it is. I do kinda wish I could do more of the creative work, though.”

“Creative work?”

“Oh, you know. The old ponies do all the fun stuff. Redesigning the mosaics, drawing up new diffraction patterns, stuff like that. Ponies like me just do the grunt work, and yeah, it’s worth doing, and yeah, that’s how we learn, but still.” She squinted, and her beam of magic grew tighter.

Celestia frowned. “So you’re stuck with the drudgery? How did that happen?”

“Nothing complicated. Some ponies have been doing this for hundreds of years, and they’re good at it, so they’re in charge. I mean, I’m not even eighty years old, but my mom’s been a weathersmith since before Elysium was Elysium. Which of us do you think is better at it?”

“You could start your own project.”

“I could. Some young ponies do.” Echo shook her head. “I want to work on the best project, though. That’s more important than who’s in charge.”

“That’s a noble attitude,” said Celestia, “although it does sound frustrating.”

A familiar voice came from above. “Having trouble?” Rainbow Dash descended slowly as she hovered. Celestia couldn’t tear her gaze from the horn on her forehead. The thing was uncanny.

“It’s fine, Mom.” Echo’s focus never left the cloud. “I just need to even out the dispersion a little.”

“Nah, that’s not the problem. Your ley lines are unbalanced, though. Messing with the dispersion will only tangle ‘em up worse.”

“What? I don’t—”

“You did a good job with the density, kiddo. I’ll take it from here. This is the delicate stuff.”

Echo scowled. “Fine, then.” She dove into the distance.

Rainbow Dash circled the cloud, examining it top and bottom. “New here?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Celestia. This was more like it. Rainbow Dash was surely one of this place’s leaders, and she wouldn’t be wary of a new arrival. “I just got here from Equestria today.”

“Today?” Rainbow Dash glanced her way before returning her attention to the cloud. She poked it with hoof and horn, making adjustments too fine for even Celestia to follow. “Well, congrats on getting out of there. It’s not a good place.”

Celestia chose her next words carefully. “I heard some ponies say we should go there and fix it.”

“Yeah. Ponies talk about that. I mean, I remember what it was like when ponies got old and died. And knowing there are still ponies out there going through that…” She took a shaky breath. “Well, yeah. I want to do something.” She raised her eyes to Celestia’s. “But we’re ponies, not dragons, and that’s not how we do things. We don’t get to tell the Equestrians what to do, even if they… well. You know.” She swallowed. “We give them the choice to come here, and a lot of them take it, but we can’t make their choice, yeah? So you’ll hear ponies talk, but it’s just talk.”

“What about Blaze, though?”

Rainbow Dash snorted. “Blaze just likes to stir up trouble. He’s always been jealous, plus a little crazy. Never thought he’d go as far as he did, though. Some time in the Cloister’ll do him good.”

That was that, then. If Rainbow Dash, of all ponies, was against taking action, then surely no one was in favor of it. “Thank you,” she said. “That was helpful.” She dove off the cloud, following Echo’s path.

She found her half hidden behind a low-flying cloud, watching Rainbow Dash finish her delicate work. “You see what I mean,” Echo said without looking away. “She does all the hard stuff, but it’s because she’s better, so I can’t even get mad.”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Can’t?”

“Yeah, okay. Shouldn’t.”

“I’m not sure I agree with that, either.”

Echo shrugged. “You know what I mean, though.”

“So what will you do?”

“I dunno. I mean, some ponies get sick of being stuck behind the old ponies, so they invent something new to be good at instead. Like with Etherball, when I was a kid.” She bit her lip. “But I like the weather gallery. I don’t want to leave it.”

Twilight Sparkle materialized beside them, wearing the look she always wore when she was determined not to let Celestia see how frantic she was. Echo barely reacted to her sudden appearance—until she recognized who had just appeared. She backed away, jaw hanging open.

Twilight advanced on Celestia. “There you are. I’ve been looking all over. Do you have any idea how hard it is to track a single alicorn’s aura in this city?”

Celestia blinked. “I thought it was impossible.”

“Yes, you think everything’s impossible if you can’t do it yourself. It must be inconvenient, watching us do all these impossible things. I bet I even spoiled one of your plans.” Twilight made the word into a curse.

“You’re upset.”

Twilight’s smile was brittle as old clay. “Upset? Why would I be upset? The most important diplomatic guest this nation has ever hosted was attacked, and then she disappeared from her hospital bed. But it turns out she’s fine! She’s sightseeing in the Weather Gallery! So clearly I have no reason to be upset after all!”

“Um,” said Echo. “Diplomatic guest? What?”

Celestia turned to her. “I’m afraid I haven’t been honest with you. Sunrise isn’t my real name, and this isn’t my real body.”

“I… I don’t understand.”

Celestia released the shapechanging spell. There was a moment of disorientation as her true form reasserted itself. She braced herself for the shock and hurt she would find in Echo’s eyes.

Echo’s stare showed only blankness. “Sorry,” she said. “Should I know you?”

“This is Princess Celestia,” said Twilight. “The ruler of Equestria.”

“Oh!” Echo’s eyes widened. “But you’re not—I mean—well, the stories can’t be true, then!”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Stories?”

Twilight stepped forward. “You don’t need to hear about that.”

“No,” Celestia said softly. “I think I do.”

Echo stood frozen, eyes darting between the two of them.

Twilight huffed. “Fine. Go ahead.”

Echo swallowed. “Um. They say that ponies in Equestria die because you tell them it’s the right thing. That you want ponies to die. I always wondered how horrible somepony would have to be, to want another pony dead. But, but I met you, and you’re not horrible! Maybe you lied about some things, but I can’t imagine you’d ever want me dead.”

It wasn’t as simple as Echo thought, of course—but now, looking into Echo’s eyes, Celestia couldn’t help but wish. To cast away her responsibilities to Equestria and embrace the easy path, to be the pony Echo thought she was, pure and unburdened by her choices… it was only a dream, but the dream was beautiful. She couldn’t find words.

“I think,” Twilight Sparkle said carefully, “that it’s time for you to go back to Equestria.”

“I’m not finished here,” said Celestia.

“No.” Twilight Sparkle didn’t raise her voice. She spoke with an iron calm that brooked no argument. “You told me to leave Equestria—to leave my home. And I did. I’ve been away so long, I barely remember the place. Now I’m telling you to leave, and you will. You owe me that much.”




Cadence was standing vigil beside Summer Solace’s sleeping form when the bedroom door cracked open. Celestia entered, treading softly. “How is she?”

“Tired,” Cadence whispered. “She collapsed in the middle of a healing spell. I had to carry her here.” She paused. “And she’s confused, and hurting. I don’t think she’s ever been near pain like she saw in the hospital.”

Celestia reached out a hoof, stopping just shy of Summer Solace’s mane. “How do you think she’ll take it?”

In answer, Cadence folded back the bedsheets. The sleeping pony didn’t stir as Cadence revealed her cutie mark: the silhouette of a shade tree, tall and straight, with wide sheltering boughs. Summer Solace had been so focused on her task, she hadn’t even noticed it appear.

“Good,” said Celestia. “That’s good.” Her eyes had a faraway look. “I saw some of her world. I think I understand her better, now.”

Cadence tenderly replaced the sheets. “What do you mean?”

“I saw the things she took for granted, there, that she probably expected to find here. Elysium was… not as bad as I feared. It has problems, certainly. Bad problems. But the ponies there seem content. I think most of the young ponies there don’t truly realize what they’re missing. They won’t let themselves realize. Admitting it would unravel too much of their identity, and in the meantime they’ve built a world that’s pleasant enough.”

“Not all of them.” Cadence nodded at Summer Solace. “She left behind everything she knew, just to get out.” She bit her lip. “And I’m glad she did. I only worry she’ll keep pushing herself like this until something breaks.”

“Of course she will.” Celestia’s smile was small, and firmer than steel. “She’s her mother’s daughter.”

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Comments ( 190 )

I still love you for this. Let's see how this goes!

Hmmm....

Not a big fan of the previous one, but you did manage to hook me with this opening.

How about instead of 4 spaces, try using the horizontal rule button to indicate a setting change? I found it a little confusing.

They're... so alike...

Is this correctly marked as complete, or will it go on?
Its a bit very open if its complete, more like an intermission between two stories.

Based on the description alone, it looks like we will see things from Celestia's point of view, whether the events of those last centuries have comfirmed or challenged her previous opinions.

3282583
I hope that is a mistake. It would be short for a sequel.

Wait... ok I'll grant you that this a well written story but I really, really want to strangle Twilight. Death happens, death is part of life, part of the ultimate cycle of the universe. To disrupt that is lunacy, and to make an entire nation based on that sounds like hell. And to call Celestia a murder for letting that cycle continue... you have no idea how angry that makes me.

Xexilf #8 · Sep 30th, 2013 · · 2 ·

3282659

This debate was heavily had in the comment thread to mortal, and im not sure this is the place to rehash it. If you intend, you may want to try to put forth a bit more of an argument.

Like this i could also say to let people die when it could be stopped is lunacy, and would make make you a murderer...or something. It also presumably makes immortality advocates (which i would be counted amongst) angry.

If you wish to debate this, or even hope to convince anyone, try to make a bit more formulated and less emotional response.

3282773
I never read Mortal, and I don't think I will. Death is part of life, everything dies. Even gods die according to most mythologies. I won't debate this since it will become emotional.

Life to Death to Rebrith, a cycle seen everywhere.

3282773
I never read Mortal, and I don't think I will. Death is part of life, everything dies. Even gods die according to most mythologies. I won't debate this since it will become emotional.

Life to Death to Rebrith, a cycle seen everywhere.

3282659

There isn't a problem with it.

Letting it remain stagnant, letting the exact same ponies handle everything forever? That is a problem. As it is properly shown here. Eternal life means you must be willing to accept eternal change, something Twilight isn't ready to do yet.

Xexilf #12 · Sep 30th, 2013 · · 5 ·

3282835

Very well, but you understand that you come across as a bit ... mhm, arrogant isnt quite the right word, but you proceed to call people who hold a different view from you lunatics, proclaim your supposed truth like it should be self evident, but refuse to further elaborate.

Also you insult the protagonist of the previous story severly, without having read that story and seeing how she got where she is, when thinking about that issue was the whole point of that story.

To you death is natural and should not be meddled with may seem self-evident, but to others death is a disease/failing and should be cured is just as self evident. Which shows if anything that "its selfevident/ovious/etc. to me" makes poor arguments.

You come across a bit like a preacher who cannot bear to hear opposing views, but im probablymisjudging you there.

Without willingness to debate this will have to end at a sort of agree to disagree, but if you keep espousing your views you will find them challenged.

Also you doubleposted there, but im gonna assume that wasnt intentional.

Fascinating. Babes in paradise leaving it to witness age and sickness for the first time. Buddha beholds the beggars. Static versus dynamic, continuity versus change, order versus chaos, and Celestia finds herself on the side she'd never thought she'd take.

Great read, especially since you made clear Elysium isn't perfect. There are pros and cons to each approach. It's just that it is a very difficult choice to make.

Rarity succumbed to the Nightmare three times, you know.

I had not expected Nightmare Rarity here. Please tell me this is a syndrome and not what is usually known as the Nightmare in fanfics or the Nightmare Forces / Energy in the comic book series. :facehoof:

Anyway, I like this Elysium and the social struggle over age discrimination the story appears to focus on. I think Celestia might help Twilight understand this problem, all the while realising the absurdity of her own Equestria. As for Summer Solace, I have no idea what she will do.

I do hope the story is not complete.

I loved reading about your antideathist society. I hope this isn't complete, because I'd love to see more.

It still feels like reading a horror story with this universe; Elysium's words and deeds are almost sickening to me. But I'm aware that I'm a minority, being on Celestia's philosophical side. Nevertheless, it was stirring as much as its predecessor.

do kinda like the concept, except for a few points. largely there is another side to the alicorn that seems to be part of the mythos. while i will not go and bring up the fact tiwlight is not immortal, as the concept is what if she is, the problem with the alicorn is that not everyone can deal with that power and responsiblity. in equestria girls we see what actually happens when someone forces an alicorn traansformation. sunset shimer sought to become greater tahn she is, a rather selfish act, and used the crown to do so, knwoing from a dark book that she could be turend into an alicorn, or in that case some human equivalent of one.
the result was that she became a monster. from twilight's transformation, the alicorn power comes from some inner strength, and it is known that alicorns have the features of all ponies in one. however she was no truly changed because she hide nothing of herself from herself. she did not become corrupted. this means that anyone who wanted to be an alicorn to escape the mortal coil would thus become a corrupted alicorn, as it is with slefishness and fear that drives them isntead of discovery. because at their core they have this weakness, a overwhelming darkness. and it would not be like something they could get over, they would be possessed by their own darkside, worse than nightmare moon. the only way to free them would be to reverse the transformation.

Interesting. And I kind of feel like Twilight might be on the verge of going Nightmare herself. She's deluding herself on certain things after all. She was always trying to learn things and being told you can't do this or that because there were others ahead of her would not have sat well. And she's not showing herself a good judge of character. Nightmare Moon was not a sign of jealousy from Luna it was a sign of anger and agression and even hatred.

Plus she's just allowing her ponies to delude themselves about things like Celestia behavior. And I have a feeling that none of the ponies who go nuts lose their jobs or anything after going nuts. Which might seem good, but if you get promoted upward and do a job for a century and a half it's pretty easy to be pissed when your job is given back to the returned original

and I don't know if you covered this in the original, did Celestia ascend like all these other ponies, and did she know immortality would result?

Xexilf #19 · Oct 1st, 2013 · · 3 ·

3283505

How about...

1. Spellcheck? Noone here asks for perfection but that is horrible.

2. Coherency?

3. An argument that amounts to more than just baseless speculation?

--3A: We have no idea if whatever sunset shimmer did had anything to do with alicorns.
--3B: Its kind of a leap of logic that anyone not in perfect balance would be corrupted.
----3B1:In mortal we hear that part of becoming an alicorn like this involves finding inner harmony, so your logic is not solid there.
--3C: And transformed out of fear or even greed, if we let that stand, does not in anyway conclude to automatic ultimate evil. Many things are done out of fear or some sort of selfishness that end well, or at least not bad.
--3D: Did you even read the story? It adresses the very point that not everyone takes it well.

I enjoyed it -- too bad it was just a one shot -- but it was a good continuation.

This is really good. Keep it up! If you can inspire heated debates like this, you're doing it right.:twilightsmile:

3283708 perhaps i could have been more clear at least. basically from analysis the alicorn transformation is rare to begin with as because few ponies have that kinda fortitude to handle it. from what can be observed from twilight's transformation, the transformation happens by drawing out some kind of inner power from the pony, as evident as magic emerged from her chest. one could say that the real power of their 'true selves' and drawn out.
sunset shimmer displayed why this should not just happen to anyone. from the idw comics, it shows that she was trying to become an alicorn, hoping to match celestia's power. she always craved power, to improve herself further and further. yet she was not EVIL persay. at one point she actually gave up considerable power over twilight when she tried to force her to give her the element of harmony. when it came to threatening someone's life, she was completely unwilling to go that far.
however the moment she put on that crown everything went wrong. all of inner faults mutated her form into some demonic shape, a human equivalent of a corrupt alicorn. suddenly she lost her normally dominative demeanor for a demented, unstable persona, and tried to kill twilight, when moments before the idea of even pretending to threaten someone's life was too far for her to go.

basically if there is enough darkness in a pony's heart, whether sunset's greed or seeking power and immortality for fear of the reaper's embrace, if they go through a forced alicorn transformation they will lose control immediately. and it is not as simple as locking them up till they become more mentally stable, the only way to save them is to reverse the damage done somehow.

Fascinating as Mortal was, I hope we see more in this pantheon.

While it's clear Elysium has yet to work out all its kinks - it has eternity to do so. What's 500 years in a life that will last billions? Fifty thousand years from now, ponies will look back at the times of 'turbulence' and smile fondly.

It has been some time since I've read Mortal - so I forget if the story came down solidly on the 'There is no Afterlife' side of things. I want to say it did, in which case, much as I love Celestia, she is simply wrong in every way possible. If life went on past life - it is one thing. But if this is all there is? Then yes - she is allowing death via neglect.

Though in truth, perhaps, in the real world, it would be a middle road - people would ultimately be allowed to leave the hallowed spires and let their lives end naturally. I suspect many would do so, and at least of the generations that lived when mortal death was a common thing, most ultimately would.

But for the rest of us? I will go on. I want to be able to say, billions of years from now, to some child of a mere 50,000 years that yes, I was one of the Last. One of the truly Ancient Ones. And I will smile - for that taste of mortality will make Eternity that much sweeter.

MORE NOW MORE NOW MORE NOW MORE NOW

I'm noting that Twilight conspicuously never indicated whether or not she had ever snapped and been placed in the Cloister. Interesting thought. I suspect she did.

A very good follow up to a great fanfic. I sincerely hope that there isn't the end, I would particularly like to see the relationship mended between Twilight and Celestia

The story is :pinkiehappy:

The characterizations are :yay:

The characters are :facehoof::ajbemused::twilightangry2: though, there really are few stories on Fimfiction that make me really want to throttle the main characters or think it would be easier to say "screw it" and vaporize the entire planet. Mind you, that is quite the achievement, as it means I'm really invested in your characters.....but closure needs to happen

The lack of maturity on the side of Twilight Sparkle and her nation is telling. There are no real consquences and therefor all of them are acting in varying degrees of being children. Who needs to grow up when nothing you do really matters, when you will likely never get a chance to do anything, when you literally have all the time and resources to never need to grow up. They do not take responsibility for their own actions or allow others to take responsibility for theirs and lash out like children with a temper tantrum.

The previous story really failed at the end to show off what are the core issues of eternal life for all in a limited world. It was supposed to not take sides but frankly did not deliver in that ideal. The biggest issue was of course that the previous story dealt in the short term and these are long term problems. Perhaps this story will show off the problems so we can get past the easy emotional appeal of immortality.

I also find it unbelievable that you have hundreds of years of many ponies becoming immortal, having children, converting non-ponies, and expanding and they have not run into real logistical problems. Alicorns still need resources and with their unchecked populations that will make them lose it faster than anybody and those are the sort of things wars are made from.

I'm now just waiting for the bang. Body's of Twilight's ponies may be immortal, but their mind will not last, so what if it takes centuries or a few millennium to happen in the end they will snap. Be it a difference of opinion or the lack of things to do, the Alicorns will eat each other. Or better yet an thing they can't stop a virus they did not see and cannot stop, or an enemy is bigger then them with no chance for victory. it could happen a number of ways, but regardless even if you don't count an afterlife there is always a challenge and fall not even the mightiest can last forever. Sorry for the rant and heat, but this subject just annoys me almost as much as the Conversion Bureau stories. I will say its well written and its a nice follow up to your previous story.

I enjoyed this story. But most of the comments are completely missing the actual moral of the original story, Mortal, and this one. It's not about Life and Death, it's about Choice and Freedom.

In Mortal, Twilight was forced to allow her friends to choose their fate, life or death. Most likely, almost anyone in Elysium (which needs to be further explored) is also given that choice. She supports it, and fights for the right to choose, thus she prevents her people from moving into Equestria proper. There are definitely problems with her society, no argument, but it's unfair to call it a broken system.

Celestia, at the end, seems to take the fact that Twilight promotes choice to heart. Granted, no clue how long that would last if her daughter ends up killing herself trying to save the mortals from pain and suffering, but that too falls into the problem of choice, and Twilight's daughter hasn't learned that lesson yet. Indeed, it seems like most of the younger Alicorns haven't come to that conclusion.

Not to say that the older ones are much better... Celestia was pretty adamant about denying ponies the right to choose, though she eventually softened, if begrudgingly, in Mortal.

It's interesting that there's built in safety mechanics in the society. So what if one does snap? They can be instantly contained, and provided the help they need.

3285425

life and death isn't exactly a choice it's easy to take back either way, and despite what they may think each time one of them makes that choice it affects others dramatically.

as to the question on what happens if they snap, that assumes they snap in an obvious way.

Imrix #33 · Oct 1st, 2013 · · 1 ·

Squee! I am all in favour of this. Elysium seems aptly-named. It has problems, like any society, but I'll take "at some point, we should figure out what to do about the elders hogging all the best jobs" over DEATH.

3282837 Death is a part of life for now. Why should it remai- oh. So you're just going to state your baseless opinion, then refuse to actually back your argument up against conflicting opinions. Class act, kiddo :derpytongue2:

3285176 Why should they run out of resources? The last chapters of Mortal made it very clear they can fly faster than light, and create food from thin air. They're a race of magical demigods. Things like 'conservation of energy' are problems they solved a long time ago. You're looking at a post-scarcity society; stand agog and marvel.

3285335 Yeah, uh, they have a solution for that. It's called the Cloister. Alicorns totally do snap every now and then - but eternity leaves plenty of time to heal.

3284774

You are ignoring Mortal, aka the predecessor to this story. We see there that to turn into an alicorn, even with the method the elysians here use, requires an attunement with inner harmony. We see this when in the original rainbow at first couldnt transform, until she managed to overcome her anger at twilight.

Whatever Sunset shimmer did was not an alicorn transformation, regardless of what she originally hoped to archive. This may have to do with only holding one element instead of all six, and when exposed to the other elements she was reverted.

Also, in this story noone is forced trough the transformation, indeed the way it works here it cant be forced on anyone.


On the whole in these discussions i often get the feelings that many on the "death" side of things somehow start with the ultimate assumption that death is definitely right, and then work backwards from there to find justifications for that view.
Im not saying the other side is innocent of such, but if there is any serious debate to be had, both sides must acknowledge that the subject is debatable, aka that they could in theory be made to change their views, as unlikely as that is to happen in an internet debate.

3285574

life and death isn't exactly a choice it's easy to take back either way

While I love the original Mortal and this new chapter, this is something that really bothers me about the whole story. The details of their immortality:
-> Agelessness. They grow to adulthood but time does not weaken them. :raritywink:
-> Regeneration. They will recover from any injury, not necessarily fast. :pinkiesick:
-> Undeath. They can never ever die, no matter the extent of their injuries. :fluttercry:

The first one is awesome and drives most of the story. The second one is good enough. But with the last one we get the possibility of eternal torment. Let the sadist inside; Get trapped under a boulder; Watch the sun go nova; They may not rhyme but they are quite possibly some of the worst times to not die.

3285785 no, all she needed was to get that crown on the other side of the portal. if she needed the other elements she would have stoeln them as well..... it would seem that the reasons include, A, she is more attuned to the element of magic and B, the characteristics of the element of magic obviously changed. not to be corruption but to be able to work independently of the others. as Sunset aske twilight, what happens when an element of harmony goes to another world?
and i said alicorn equivalent. she was not a alicorn only because she wasn't a pony, but human at the time. twilight herself became and alicorn equivalent, and as you saw her aspects were the opposite of sunset; moer angelic. had sunset made it to the other side she would have turned back into a pony, and thus a corrupt alicorn, more corrupt than even nightmare moon.
.....that seems a contradiction to me with rainbow dash to begin with. she could nto transform because she was angry with twilight and feared death. yet if she lost her anger at twilight, that would mean she no longer feared death as well, so she would not want to........ even MORE so it would probably mean that extremely few ponies to begin with would have the inner strength to become an alicorn even ignoring the potential for corruption. the elements are a given. but one else? debatable.

and death IS always right because death is the ultimately inevitability. twilight in this story will eventually die. so will elysium. so will luna, cadance, and even celestia herself. i am not against extending your life, thoguh it is not something you hand out like candy. however tiwlight is delusional and wrong to think she coudl create a deathless society.....
actually now that i think about it, i gotta call bullshit on no one dying there. if rarity lost control not once, but thrice, she would have killed somebody. note of mlp universe. when a pony is lost to corruption, their powers become dark and are augmented violently. if rarity lost control, she owuld be stronger than normal alicorns. she would have at least killed somebody, if not three alicorns, by now. all of elsyium is a lie for it is only a few mad alicorns away from become a hellhole.

.....biggest problem i had with the previous story, if still a good story, is that celestia was made far more shallow simply so we cannot just side with her. what right does twilight have to challenge the thoughts of a being over a thousand years old, who has witnessed eleven lifetimes, and likely has suffered that crushing loss more times than twilight could comrpehend? worse of all, someone who likely found comfort in the company of her equally immortal sister, only to have her lost to madness and pain for a thousand years? hell the story could have been celestia looking on in sadness, depressed that her student is basically trapping herself in a time bomb, rather than becomign steely. if losing her sister for a thousand years did not turn her to solid granite, then twilight would not either .

like i said, death is right because death is unstoppable. death is the plague that ravages your body. death is the beasts that hunts you. death is the very earth itself unleashing its wrath. death is time that sucks the life from the greatest of men and chews mountains into meal. death is the true alpha and omega, and even gods and universes must bow to him....... yet death, more than anything, is the kindly carriage man who waits till you are ready. death is the closing of the book, and the writing of another. death is the sunset and night that comes before every sunrise. to hide from death is to hide from reality. by all means resisting death is by itself the greatest achievement. but there is no stopping him. for he will wait and wait, sitting on the carriage, awaiting the time you finally relent and step in. the only plausible way to stop death, is to not live to begin with.

3286020

The truly undying thing is a possible problem, but there may be solutions.
As already pointed out conservations of mass and energy, and from what we see now time and space are not limitations, so there isnt some necessary final countdown to the universe. They could quite concivably go on forever.

This is of course not adressing the real problems, some sort of horrible accidents (or deliberate cruelty), and the possibility of someone truly wishing to die.
The first is a problem that in lesser respect every society faces, and its not insurmountable. There can be plenty safeguard imaginable that could be implemented as deemed necessary, crime and accident being possible problems in many places. Whith the worst case results (death on one side, bad existance for long time on the other) being somewhat horrifying on both.

Truly wishing to die is different. It may be treated as a treatable mental illness, and maybe it can be treated, maybe everyone would find something to live for. We reach into unknowable territory here.
The other possibility is that with eternity, and all this power, they may well find a way. Ideally something that like the ascension could only be done by the truly willing, or otherwise something like murder may reappear.
If no means is found, there could still be other means. Alicorns can sleep, we know that ponies can be turned to stone etc. Or maybe smash their head and trap them in a way to prevent the brain from regenerating. Now all that would have to be tested first, but its quite possible a way could be found to render them effectively comatose, which from a consciousness viewpoint may be comparable to death, aka, not there.
Nothing guranteed, but there are possibilities.

3285770 death is the true inevitability. there is no real avoidance. even if we made ourselves immortal to time, we are not invincible to tragedy and disaster, to aggression and murder. even if you lived eternal you would be eventually destroyed when this very universe collapses in, and you are reduced to nothing as it is reborn anew.

3286038
3286059

I will try to remain civil, but you seem to ignore contradicting arguments and present your speculations as fact.

Sunset Shimmer has very little to do with this story, we dont know what she did, we dont know what would have happend had she moved back trough the portal in that state, if anything it wasnt the same because normal alicorn transformation, at least as it happens in this story, is not so easily reversible. Yet somehow you state as a fact that she would be "worse than nightmare moon", whatever that means exactly. What feats we see from her in the film certainly wont put her on that level, so very much *citation needed*.

The second point, is that you assume fear of death is automatically wrong or a corrupting element...why? How does not wanting to die automatically lead to corruption?

Celestias characterization... is the point I slightly agree with in a way, i would have pictured her reacting somewhat differently, but probably also very differently from how you picture her. And some of your bits sound either authorianismic (she right because shes celestia) or the very same mistake thats happening here (shes right because shes older). And the thing with Luna may just as easily be seen as impeding her rational judgement. Her attempt to ascend someone else went wrong, so she wont let anyone else try it.

About death being inevitable.. ill try point by point.

First you say life extension shouldnt just be handed out, why? Here it seems to mostly work out right. The problems are under control.

But the main point, death being always inevitable in the long run. Bluntly, you cant know that, things like conservation of mass and energy, and fabric of space and time, they are already overcoming, so there is no definite enddate.
But on the other hand, you may also be right. In eternity, all things could change, and maybe they are not as immortal as they believe themselves to be. However, how would that in any way mean they couldnt or shouldnt try to be so? That they shouldnt attempt to improve things as far as they will go? Your argument seems pretty defeatist, and if one gives up because they belive they will never reach perfection, they will never reach anything.
A long time ago people would belive what we have today to be impossible. Many would, and have stated that some things like science shouldnt be attempted because they would never amount to anything, or you could never understand everything. Even if they were right on the last point, look how far we have come, and how fast we are still going further.
Even should something prove impossible, dosent mean we cant try to improve in that direction.

Also you are bluntly ignoring the "facts" of the story were it contradicts your worldview. You state that a corrupted rarity would have definitely killed someone, and treat this opinion as fact, when it simply dosent happen here. Just because you cant imagine something dosent mean it cant exist.

I think many of the problems that having a population of immortal people has been taken away from this story due to the ease in which the immortals are able to sustain themselves. Without the magic to simply conjure whatever food and drink they wanted the endless growth of the population would be unsustainable. However, with that magic they can sustain the unsustainable. Though, in the end, death comes for us all. Run away Immortal beings, death will still find you. It is the way of things.

3286052

There can be plenty safeguard imaginable that could be implemented as deemed necessary, crime and accident being possible problems in many places. Whith the worst case results (death on one side, bad existance for long time on the other) being somewhat horrifying on both.

Even with so many precautions, it introduces the possibility of a fate worse than death that would last forever and ever and all eternity, also known as Hell.

Truly wishing to die is different. It may be treated as a treatable mental illness, and maybe it can be treated, maybe everyone would find something to live for. We reach into unknowable territory here.

This is another huge bet to make. If someone asked me how long I think I could live before being fed up with existence itself, I would say let's find out! But eternity might really be more than anybody could chew.

The other possibility is that with eternity, and all this power, they may well find a way. Ideally something that like the ascension could only be done by the truly willing, or otherwise something like murder may reappear.

Mourning, Solemnity, Restraint, Acceptance, Severity and Nature make the de-alicornification spell all complete. Although there would always be a way to torture a pony into willingness. Someone needs to write Cupcakes Forever.

Alicorns can sleep, we know that ponies can be turned to stone etc. Or maybe smash their head and trap them in a way to prevent the brain from regenerating. Now all that would have to be tested first, but its quite possible a way could be found to render them effectively comatose, which from a consciousness viewpoint may be comparable to death, aka, not there.

This is Miracle Day all over again.

This has some truly good world building capability. Love it and like that it gives us an idea of how things have progressed since Mortal which honestly I think ended too early. Would not mind a further continuation in this universe. Thumbs up.

I rarely leave stories favorited after they have completed, but this and mortal are definitely one of them. :twilightsmile:
Great work on the world, and I certainly wouldn't mind more stories set in it.

3285770
Time to heal, yes
Will they still fall, yes again
as I said the fall does not have to involve an Alicorn, but just something they don't see. Heck it could be Discord find a way for the elements not to work on him.The fall for any civilization good or bad, powerful or weak, it will fall. If there is one thing that can wait for its chance its death. But there is a greater force, Time, eventually time will catch them as well.since nothing in existence last forever. Plus this civ is just like all the other mortal civs, its a house of cards and all you need to do is just mess up once for it all to come crashing down.

Celestia missed a step. “A hundred and… that seems like a terrible fate.”

Says the pony who banished her own sister to the moon for a millennium.

3286659
Celestia did not believe Luna fit to be an alicorn, yet she turned her into one anyway because she could not let her sister die. Then Luna became Nightmare Moon and only came back to her senses after a thousand years of isolation. Celestia believes herself a fool for thinking she could just make somepony she loves immortal, with the banishment of Nightmare Moon being proof enough of that. But Twilight, who knows all of this, has created a whole nation of alicorns where the same tragedy repeats over and over.

That's how I think Celestia sees it.

I don't think you quite found this story's ending, but good work so far anyway.

3284873
I pre-read this story, picking it apart with a fine-toothed comb … and yet it never occurred to me to ask that.

Fascinating question. There is a fanfic in that.

Wroth #49 · Oct 1st, 2013 · · 2 ·

3282659

Yes death is a part of life, but to allow it to control you..

Do you believe in destroying hospitals? Going back to non-medical ways as well as destroying most of Modern Life as we know it? Because we've been expanding our lifespans beyond what most people would've thought centuries ago, now we can produce more food through unnatural means with increasing crop-spans and vast technology keeping people alive far longer then should've been normal.

Death is a part of life, but one does not allow it to control you if you could.

3285176

In the modern times we've fixed it through genetically modified food that went from feeding millions, to billions. Magic has been shown to grow more powerfully under Twilights rule and it's likely they've produced far more food then natural.

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