• Published 19th May 2014
  • 1,806 Views, 44 Comments

My Faithful Student - Knight of Bacon



All life fades. This is fact. The four Princesses were not taken off-guard when Applejack finally died, but they were left defenseless; they are no longer able to wield the Elements of Harmony. Equestria is left exposed.

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Decay of Harmony

Decay of Harmony


Appaloosa was always hot and dusty. The humidity had built up to a truly thunderous heat, and Twilight thought she would melt from the pressure. Overhead, heavy black storm clouds rumbled threateningly, sometimes striped with lightening. Two lone Pegasi were doing their best to keep the storm at bay, hoping to give the ceremony a bit of respect and dignity. At the moment, with the flies buzzing around, the lather on everypony’s coats, and the raspy cawing of a few crows, the funeral had all the dignity of a pair of old work boots.

“Dearly beloved, we gather here today to mourn the passing of Applejack, the Element of Honesty,” a somber old pony said, settling his spectacles along the bridge of his nose.

Twilight looked at the gravestone. A plain slab of rock, rounded at the top, with three apples carved into the middle. Fresh earth had been overturned, a stark contrast to the cracked, dry land around them. She couldn’t feel anything except sweat trickling down between her wings—shouldn’t she be crying, like the rest of them? She had cried at all of the other funerals. Why was this one different?

Her student was sitting next to her, standing out starkly against the yellows and browns. Pale blue coat, spiky white mane—his snowflake cutie mark was particularly appealing in the middle of the desert. Feeling lightheaded, she contemplated creating a magical snowstorm which would take the edge off the heat, at least.

Spike poked her with a claw, and she shook her head. Everypony was looking at her.

“Princess Twilight?” the funeral director prompted.

“What? Oh,” she cleared her throat and stood, shaking back her mane. “Applejack…was a dear friend of mine.”

She looked out over the sea of faces, saw Applebloom in the very back, her eyes full of tears.

Twilight tried again.

“A dear…dear friend.”

The whole town turned out for the funeral. She looked past them, and saw the orchard of lush apple trees just beyond the outskirts of town. Straight through the middle was a wide, clear path, like a river of brown dirt.

“I remember,” Twilight began, not sure where her mind was going, “I remember a very long time ago, when we were all still young, and Applejack brought a tree to your orchard. She named it Bloomberg. You were in the middle of a war, I guess, with the tribe of buffalo who lived here.”

Ponies were nodding, following along. Twilight licked her dry lips. She was so hot.

“Bloomberg meant a lot to Applejack. And it helped you ponies here in Appaloosa, helped out Braeburn and everypony else. And she gave it to you, because she knew you needed new trees. That’s the kind of pony AJ was, she always put others over herself. She never…I mean, she thought of herself, but it was always as an extension of her family. And with Applejack, everyone was family. That’s just…who she was.”

Her throat was feeling very tight, and sweat was beginning prickle into her eyes, making them sting.

“And she was the Element of Honesty. She shouldn’t…she shouldn’t have died. Because the world needs more ponies like her, more ponies willing to be honest and brave and true. I wish I wasn’t speaking at her funeral. I wish…this didn’t have to happen whenever somepony dies. Let’s celebrate honesty when ponies are still around to appreciate it.”

The two Pegasi trying to keep the storm away were sent flying across the sky, and thunder boomed loudly. Rain began pattering down, and a burst of fuchsia magic exploded from Twilight’s horn, showering over everypony. As ponies scrambled for cover, the rain began to deluge, soaking them to the skin, while small green sprouts burst up from the ground.

Twilight dully contemplated a daisy which was blooming near her front hoof. It was a nice effect; she had done the same thing at Fluttershy’s funeral, and it had gone over well. Death represented rebirth, the circle of life, remembrance, and all that. It was an effect that would be gone by morning.

“Twilight? Should we go inside?” Flash Freeze called over the noise of the storm. The rain was matting down his precious mane curl which he spent so much time on.

The rain was beautifully cool. It soaked her mane, plastering it against her back, and the crown she was wearing slipped off her head. She lifted her neck and took a long look at the plain headstone which marked the grave of her last friend. Applejack. Honest to the end.

Slowly, Twilight kicked out of the golden shoes she wore on her hooves. They joined the crown on the ground, and finally she unclasped the heavy golden necklace using a quick spell. The symbols of her stature lay on the ground, quickly becoming covered in mud as the dust started to finally settle.

“Twilight?” Spike asked, taking a step towards her.

With a single, powerful leap, Twilight took off from the ground, her wings blasting her up towards the strong rain.


Spike found her hours later, after the storm had passed, in the middle of the orchard. He sat, and waited.

“They’re all gone, Spike. All of them.

He curled his tail around her.

“I’m still here.”

They sat there for a long time, two old friends feeling even older. Twilight rested her head against his scaly shoulder. The sun was beginning to set, bloody and glorious, behind the distant blue mountains which nearly surrounded Appaloosa.

“Maybe we should go to Ponyville,” Spike said finally. “Visit the library again. Make sure Dinky is getting along okay.”

Twilight dearly wished her first library was still standing. Ages ago, when Tirek had attacked Equestria and destroyed her library in the process, the Box of Harmony had created a new library for Twilight. But the damage had been done; her books had been lost. Eventually Twilight moved into the Castle of the Two Sisters, and the idea of going to her old home intrigued her. Dinky Hooves, a sensible older unicorn, had been in charge of tending the castle while they were away. And it would be nice to relax in her old bed once more.

More importantly, she kept all of her friend’s letters there. The very very old ones. The ones she wrote when she first came to Ponyville. If she reread them, she might feel something. Anything.

“Maybe we should,” Twilight said softly. “Just you and me.”

“And Flash Freeze,” Spike reminded her.

Her shoulders dropped. “Right. And Flash.”


The next morning, they prepared to leave. The four sturdy Pegasi guards who had brought them here were waiting with the carriage, standing stiffly at attention. Appaloosa’s thirsty ground had already sucked up any puddle the rain might have left, and foals were out playing in the fresh dirt. Twilight snuck out of the orchard, craning her neck in case anyone saw her. She didn’t have the energy for hoof-shaking and polite introductions, not today.

Flash was waiting for her. “Where did you guys go?” he asked worriedly. “You were gone all night, are you all right?”

“Get in the carriage,” Twilight muttered. “We’re going to Ponyville.”

He perked up. “Really? Are we going to the castle?”

Twilight sat down on the cushioned seat, adjusting her golden slippers. “Yes. Please just get in, Flash Freeze.”

She didn’t have the strength to deal with her exuberant student. Most of the time, Flash’s energy was refreshing, especially when the two of them were discussing a specific spell, or ancient magical history; that was one of the reasons she had selected him as her student—his mood was usually infectious. Today was different. All she wanted to do was go see her old library and bury herself in books until her eyes crossed.

It was a beautiful day to fly. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, and with the breeze ruffling her mane, she could almost forget about the past few years. Spike curled his tail comfortable around Twilight and dozed lightly. Flash Freeze, in a rare moment of introspectiveness, had his chin propped against the lip of the chariot, eyes downcast, wind rumpling his unruly white mane. The sunlight overhead was warm, and slowly, inch by inch, she began to relax against Spike’s scaly side.

A thought pressed against the back of her mind, seeping into her consciousness.

Why did she have a student?

She remembered how cute he had looked when she first saw him; small, chubby, with a mop of tangled white fur for a mane and dirty fetlocks. Celestia had brought up the subject more than once, prodding her towards apprenticeship, although Twilight had always assumed she would tutor one of her friend’s children. Between the Mane Six there were nine children and four grandchildren, but of the two unicorns, neither showed interest in being the student of a princess.

But when she first saw Flash, she knew. She knew he was gifted, exceptional, and would be the perfect apprentice; Celestia had encouraged her readily.

“It’s not a requirement, of course,” the snowy-white alicorn had said over tea one day. “But I thought it would keep you busy. A private student can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things to a princess. I should know, I had a wonderful one.” She had said, smiling.

Keep her busy…as though she were a bored two-year old. Celestia’s reasons for wanting anyone to do anything were mysterious; the immortal being kept many things to herself, and although Twilight loved her mentor greatly she was tired of secrets. She was tired of Celestia’s vague predictions and general sense of knowing; whenever she tried to scratch deeper, to see what was layered behind the mirrored perfection, she only found more walls, and more layers.

How could she be close with her own student if Celestia showed her nothing? Princess Celestia had shown her nothing about friendship, merely told her to make some friends and let time run its course. Well, time had run its course, and done it well—now the friends she had loved so dearly were gone.

And all that remained was a half-grown, puppyish unicorn who she tutored in the art of magic.

“What if I mess up?” Twilight had asked Celestia, panicking. “I can’t…I’m not ready for a student!”

Celestia had tipped a hoof beneath Twilight’s chin and said seriously, “Twilight. You must be ready.”

Then, it had seemed like encouragement. Now, thinking back, had Celestia been issuing a warning? Take a student, for the fate of Equestria rests on your shoulders? If only Celestia weren’t so mysterious and strange. If only her mentor told her about the downfalls of friendship before she experienced them. If only time wasn’t such a race.

But why did she have a student? Because Celestia had asked her to? Because Flash contained all the raw, natural talent of herself at his age?

Or was it selfish, did she merely want companionship?

Cadence, for all her strength and love, was in the Crystal Empire. Luna was a broken clockwork toy, bringing forth the moon every evening but still jerky and uncertain in her movements, too frightened of the monster she held at bay. Celestia was…well, Celestia. After Pinkie Pie’s death, Twilight had gone to Flash Freeze’s parents and asked them if she might continue his education. They had been estatic, of course. His mother had cried. She remembered that.

Was it arrogance? How often had she seen the foals in the schoolyard, thinking of all the things she could teach them? And when Flash Freeze had come along, so bright and excitable and eager to try new, dangerous things, had it been too much?

“Hey! We’re almost there!”

She jerked, and realized she had been dozing. Flash Freeze had his hooves on the chariot edge, looking at the ground as she slowly emerged through the clouds. Spike stretched and yawned mightily, arching his back in a catlike manner. There was scale missing on his chest, and she never noticed it unless he was stretching, or her nose was right up against it. She had often wondered, but never asked; the scale had gone missing after Rarity fell ill. She could do the math.

The chariot crunched into the ground, and Flash Freeze hopped off. He took a mighty breath of air and grinned at his teacher.

“Ponyville smells better than any place else in the world, I swear,” he said, swishing his tail contentedly. “Like apples and wheat and muffins, don’t you think?”

Twilight inhaled. She had to agree, this time of year, Ponyville and the surrounding area smelled like new flowers and fresh apple blossoms, like rain and new grass and…

Death.

The wind changed, howling a little as it passed through the treetops. Her nose wrinkled; there it was, the unmistakable stench of death and decay filling her nose and mouth.

Spike coughed. “Ugh. Ewww, what’s that smell??”

Everfree Forest had never been full of daisies and sunshine, and Twilight was familiar with the stagnant water smell that seemed to fill the forest. But something had died here recently, or was dying—it smelled awful. Gingerly, following her nose, she headed across the sleek marble arch which led away from her castle. Many years ago, it used to be a rickety wooden bridge, but after Fluttershy nearly fell through and hurt herself, they had upgraded.

“Princess Twilight? It’s…it’s coming from down here.”

The smell of death got stronger when they approached the staircase towards the Tree of Harmony.

Puddles of dark, inky black sap filled the clearing. The cave, which used to be full of iridescent light, was dark; without even thinking, Twilight used her horn to light up the tree. Flies buzzed noisily, gathering as though around a carcass, and Twilight couldn’t stop her gorge from rising. The stink was truly awful; the Tree was almost completely decayed, rotten through to the core, and the trunk seemed soft to the touch. Branches lay littered around the tree, broken off at jagged edges, and when Spike poked one with a claw, bugs poured out of it.

The six strong limbs which had held crystallized versions of their cutie marks lay rotting on the ground. Smashed pieces of crystal lay in the puddles of rainwater and sap, dull and sticky. Somewhere inside the cave, water dripped and echoed.

In the center of the tree, deep in the core, there was a faint gleam, a bluish twinkle which hadn’t yet disintegrated. The cutie mark which adorned Twilight’s flanks was nearly gone, but at the very tip was a single remaining white star, which shone brightly in spite of the decay surrounding it.

“What happened?” Flash Freeze asked. “Is this because…?”

Twilight couldn’t speak. The last mortal Element of Harmony had died, and the Tree of Harmony was dying.

The Elements of Harmony. Rainbow Power. The Mane Six. All gone—there was nothing left to defend Equestria.

“Spike,” Twilight managed to say, her voice rough, “we need to send for Princess Celestia.”

Author's Note:

So, an update happened.

It's not very long, and kind of haphazard. I wrote this in twenty minute chunks, just here and there when I could fit it in, so it's probably pretty disjointed. But I hope the message comes through, and more importantly, I hope you enjoyed it. ^^

Your comments have been SO thoughtful and kind, I really appreciate them. Thanks for giving this story a chance!

Comments ( 12 )

Well, was it me or did Twilight thoughts seem to edge close to Celestias doom (overthrow Tia) :pinkiecrazy::pinkiehappy:

I cant wait till the next update and see what Celestia will tell Twilight about the tree of harmony :trollestia::trollestia:

very godd although i cant help but wonder what you wre trying to imply with spikes scales (i can be kinda dense sometimes) had they been a final gift to rarity, had he ripted them off in anger/sorrow?

4505074 A single scale, yes. Several of these things will come back later in the story. ^^

Well, that was an unexpected twist. :rainbowderp: Must know more! :pinkiehappy:

Ohhh boy, I think I know where this is headed XD

And another story the site neglected to tell up updated. Thank goodness for randomly deciding to flip through my favourites.

Very good. I hope Flash Freeze eventually becomes as good as Twilight, eventually becoming an alicorn. It would be a great thing for Twilight, her own student, who she'll probably end up loving like Celestia loved her (or maybe like a lover) becoming immortal. And it would be nice to see an alicorn STALLION! Alicorns are very sexist...against males! :twilightsheepish:

The Spike-gives-Rarity-a-scale was touching. In all the dragon lore I've read, their scales are very important to them and worth a lot of money, which is why dragons get killed a lot.

Hmm, it's been years since the last update but I figured I may as well throw a comment out there cuz, hey the world is falling apart and who knows... I'm actually in the process of updating one of my stories from 2015.

This is a very well paced and written story. I adore the characterization I see and I'm vey eager to learn more about not just the plot, but the characters themselves. Here's hoping you're still around and may still consider giving it another chance. Though completely understandable if not. Cheers! Thanks for letting us take a peek into this interesting world!

And I think the story is still a very good friendship story, but a bit weird. Now it is difficult for us millennials to perceive such books, but our children are a new generation, and I think they are ready to build their own morality. My oldest son used https://edubirdie.com/plagiatsprufung to prepare his daily assignment, and many will condemn him for not writing his essay on his own, but eventually, he entered a prestigious college without our help. ... These are the children of a new generation. So there is no need to talk about new moral values, especially if they are reading, and this is their favorite chapter.

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