• Published 13th Mar 2012
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Double-edged Sword - fic Write Off



/fic/ Write Off Mar 10 Entries

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Harmony

“Princess Celestia, there are reports of bizarre weather patterns coming in from all over Equestria! Apparently it’s raining some sort of beverage in Cloudsdale!”

Her heart skipped precisely one beat while she calmed down. She’d had so much practice maintaining her composure.

She offered a gentle smile and a small nod. “I see. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.”

In that brief instant of panic, she drew up a list of possibilities she would examine once she was alone. Many of them were patently absurd, but there was no time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

“I will be in my study. Please don’t hesitate to knock if my attention is required,” she said as she stood and began combing through the potential sources of the problem. Before she even reached the study, most of them had been eliminated. Celestia was quick, efficient, and ruthless.

The door clicked shut. She exhaled slowly. There really was no need to consider the others. She’d already reached the only real conclusion, even if she wouldn’t admit it. Everything else was just a red herring. A distraction, to avoid having to think about the implications of his return.

A hauntingly familiar laughter echoed softly around the room just long enough to put her on edge. As abruptly as it had began, it faded away. Celestia closed her eyes and suppressed the tremor trying to ripple through her.

He’s here, but that doesn’t mean he’s won.

“Ah, Celestia. It’s good to see you. How have you been?”

“You’re going to be defeated,” she snarled. “Again.”

The laughter returned as a knowing chuckle. “Of course. I think we both know that I can’t withstand the full strength of the Elements of Harmony. The question is, can they?”

She tried and failed to stifle a small gasp.

“Oh? Didn’t think I’d notice? Living in a rock isn’t quite the same as living under one. I do so love the way you’ve passed the burden on to them. Or was that not your plan? Knowing when to delegate is the mark of a good leader.”

“They will stop you. They’ve already used the Elements once.”

“Beginner’s luck? A fluke? I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t really say. Still, one out of three is a pretty poor record, don’t you agree?”

“...Their friendship is strong and pure. They were the victors.”

He chuckled again. “It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself. And if the strength of the bond is all that matters, then why did Luna turn on you?”

Celestia’s mind flashed back to that fateful day. Luna refused to listen to reason. She’d lost all trace of kindness. Of laughter. Of loyalty.

But she was still there. Somewhere inside that awful mare, her sister’s heart still beat. She didn’t know. Couldn’t have known. What other choice did she have?

“My sister and I have made mistakes, but that is no reason to doubt others. I believe in Twilight Sparkle and all of her wonderful friends.”

Discord’s voice grew louder. “It doesn’t matter how much you or any other pony believe. Magic that powerful doesn’t come without a price.”

“It’s fueled by the strength of their friendship!”

“My dear, sweet Celestia, why can’t you see that fuel is consumed?!”

She snorted and stomped her front hooves. “They are fine! They restored Luna and have been living happily since!”

“Your sister seemed fine after the two of you stopped me.” The spreading of the disgusting smile on his face was almost audible.

She lost her composure. Her face twisted with grief. “Why are you doing this?”

“Come now, that should be obvious. Revenge. Being encased in stone for centuries is unpleasant to say the least. I want to watch you squirm the way I couldn’t. Or maybe it’s a side effect. Luna sure took a turn for the worse after you hit her with the Elements. Jumped from trying to fulfill a simple desire to outright bloodlust.”

The tears were held back by a strength forged in the fires of a millenium of guilt. “And she was restored again by the very same when wielded properly. I am to blame.”

Contrary to popular belief, the Elements did not banish Luna to the moon. Celestia did this with her own power. The Elements of Harmony failed. Luna was not saved. Not restored. Only enraged.

Imprisoning her somewhere distant sheltered Equestria from her terrible wrath, and it would be a very long time before her anger would fade. Her sister’s suffering was her fault. Her loneliness was her fault.

Celestia began to suspect a terrible possibility: that using the Elements planted the seed that would become Nightmare Moon in Luna. Before Discord’s defeat, she could not recall a single blemish on her sister’s character. Luna was a perfect angel. Afterward, slowly but surely, she turned. Everything was so minor and easily attributable to the stress of ruling a nation. She was still herself, just only slightly flawed.

But cracks spread. Corruption spreads. Seeds grow.

Eventually she was so distorted that action was necessary. But she was still Luna. Still her sister. She could be fixed. Cured.

It didn’t work.

Celestia frantically scrambled for a solution. She convinced herself that the Elements of Harmony were the embodiments of virtues and they could do no wrong. Celestia herself was the only culprit. She had failed her sister, but the Elements could bring her back if only they had worthy wielders. Ponies with unflinching mastery over the qualities that were needed for true harmony.

“While I may be a villain, it’s clear you’ve become a monster. Wanting what’s best for your subjects is one thing. Manipulating them and hiding the truth you refuse to face is another entirely. Really, though, risking what is not yours to achieve your own ends is what seals it. Maybe Luna wasn’t the only one to be affected by the Elements? Perhaps you lost your honesty? Your generosity? Surely you realized the danger they posed. Why else would you have locked them away in your silly little tower?”

Celestia quaked with rage. “Those ponies will overcome every obstacle you place in front of them! They will defeat you, and they will do it together!”

Three loud sounds rang through the room, followed by a heavy silence.

“Sister?”

Celestia froze.

“Well now. I’d best be going. Chaos to wreak and all, you know how it goes,” he whispered in her ear.

The door creaked open and Luna stepped gingerly into the room. “I... I thought I heard shouting a moment ago. Is everything alright?”

Celestia offered a shaky laugh. “Everything is fine.”

Luna scratched her head. “There’s nopony here but you.”

“You must have been mistaken, then.”

Another uncomfortable silence stretched a moment into an eternity.

“I trust you’ve been informed that a particular nuisance has returned?”

“I have.”

“The Elements are bound to them now, aren’t they?”

“They are. I was... just about to send for them.”

Luna peered into Celestia’s hesitant eyes before placing a comforting hoof on her. “Sister, my actions were my own. There is no poison which can introduce vile intentions into a pure heart.”

The two most ancient and powerful ponies in Equestria locked eyes and shared their grief without words. Luna smiled.

“My actions were my own. Send for them. Your research suggests a possibility, not a certainty. If fear of being struck by the back of your blade paralyzes you, you can not win.” She trotted to the door and turned to look back. “Swing, dear sister.”

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