• Published 31st Dec 2014
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Essenza di Amore - Cerulean Voice



Like Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess Mi Amore Cadenza was not born into her royal title. Follow a younger Cadance along the path to ascension, and her discovery of the true essence of love.

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Chapter Three: Master Passion Greed (part one)

Look what you did.

Kavi flapped against the chilled midnight air. Her wings and shoulders screamed in protest, begging her to slow down.

You stupid little filly.

She ignored the aches and pains in her mantle and shoulders, for they paled in comparison to the aching of her heart.

They hate you now. All because you overreacted.

Kavi sobbed as she beat her wings even harder, as though she could outrace her thoughts. If her wings ever had held such power, though, it had long since left her.

She was exhausted. The Moon had long since crested the night sky and begun its descent, and her wings could carry her no further. She looked up at the familiar silhouette of the Mare in the Moon, staring into its emotionless, constant gaze.

“Princess Luna… if you are real, then maybe you know what it’s like to be banished, too.” She sniffed, drawing a wayward bit of mucus back into her nostrils. Despite the cold spring air, her eyes burned. Every gasp of air kept her on the verge of a hacking cough, her throat drier than an autumn leaf.

Kavi set her wings into a glide position and drifted slowly to the ground. As she approached Smokey Mountain Ridge, a dark shape crept into view amongst the trees: a wooden cottage nestled up against the side of the mountain. Unlike the houses in her village—the village—it had been hastily crafted. Not much care had been put into the architecture; it slumped to the side, its wooden log walls thrown atop one another instead of firmly lashed together, leaving no space for windows. There were patches in the roof where branches and leaves had been laid out to form a barely adequate shelter. The entryway yawned open, large enough for one pony to walk through; there wasn't even a hint that a door had once held fast against the elements.

Still, a shelter was a shelter, and its presence invited the cold air to claw at her coat all the more. As she spiraled down for a landing, the air bit at her eyes and lips while the beginnings of rain pricked at her coat and drove the cold deeper.

When she touched down on the slick vegetation, her hooves flew out from under her, sending her into an uncontrollable slide. Her balance already unstable, she came to a splashing stop in a deep puddle. As she scrambled out of the bog's cold water, the night breeze deepened the chill, sucking the breath from her lungs.

Mud caked her hooves, her legs, and the longest parts of her mane. Her head came up dripping wet, leaving her feeling like she’d just been hit in the face by one of Avran’s snowballs.

Avran… I wonder how he feels. He wasn’t there when…

As the memory resurfaced in her mind, Kavi turned her gaze up to the night sky and screamed, her cry echoing through the otherwise silent woods. Gasping for air, a fresh round of shivers wracked her body when a light breeze teased her damp coat.

“I never wanted this!” she cried. “I wish I’d never known the truth. I wish I’d never flown off in the first place! And how I wish wish wish I could take back everything I ever said!” She slumped into the muck at her hooves. The rain and mud faded away into the background of her misery.

What's it matter anymore?

The growl of distant thunder accompanied her sobs as the sky cried with her. Raindrops and teardrops mixed on her face and fell thicker and faster with each passing moment, the weeping sky thoroughly drenching her coat. Her aches and pains were washed away, all other sensations replaced with cold and numbness.

Vaguely, she registered a flash and a pop nearby, too quiet to be a lightning strike. Eva stood in the doorway, shaking her head.

“Why in Equestria are you wallowing outside in the mud, Kavi?”

“It doesn’t matter. Go away.”

Kavi felt a prickling sensation; before she could register it properly, she was separated from the ground’s cold, sludgy embrace as she floated toward Eva.

“My dear, you look like you just crawled out from under a mudslide. Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. I’ll run a bath for you.”

“Just leave me alone…”

Eva clucked her tongue. Her horn’s rainbow glow intensified.

“H-hey!” Kavi cried out, eyes flying open as she was shaken violently. Finally waking up to her situation, she twisted in midair and tried to break free. “What are you doing? Put me down, Eva!”

“You are behaving like a foal,” Eva said. She stepped back into the doorway with Kavi firmly gripped in her aura. “Do not let depression drag you down. Now, come with me—you can get warm, clean, dry, and then settle down. We can have a rational discussion in the morning when you are well rested.”

Kavi said and did nothing while Eva's magic carried her inside. I already lost control of my life. What good would it do to fight her?

* * * * *

Kavi moaned and closed her eyes; Eva had levitated her into some sort of tub, filled it with rainwater from a makeshift reservoir tank near the house, and warmed the water with her magic. It was a heaven unlike any that Kavi had ever experienced. Her tired wings, aching mantle, tight shoulders—all were caressed and cleansed by the lovely embrace of soapy hot water as it absorbed her woes, giving her the best full-body massage of her life. Dirt and mud fell off her coat as simply as the ocean breeze could pluck leaves from trees in late autumn.

“How do you feel, Kavi?”

“Hmmm?”

Kavi opened her eyes at the question; Eva had sat, rocking her chair back and forth in silence, waiting for a sign that her effort had paid off. She fluffed a yellowed, aged pillow suspended before her inside her aura. A small fire crackled in a shallow pit surrounded by large stones. An old-looking mattress occupied the corner. Aside from the essentials, various small personal effects littered the house, and the corner opposite the bed contained a giant carrybag of sorts, next to some wheeled device.

“Are you feeling better now?” Eva persisted.

“Oh. Um, yes, I suppose. Thank you, Eva.” Kavi sighed and bowed her head. “You’ve already done so much for me, and yet I’ve done nothing in return.”

“What complete folly, Kaviyayu,” Eva said. “You degrade yourself too much. Why, you have done far more for me than anypony has in years.”

“What do you mean?” Kavi tilted her head and sat up, rippling the water back and forth. “All I’ve done is ask you questions and be a total burden. You didn’t have to go looking for me before. You never had to tell me what I was—what I am. And you don’t have to be doing all this for me now.” She frowned in spite of her relaxed state. “Why are you so nice to me? I don’t deserve it, not after—”

“Shhh.”

Eva smiled as she stood from the chair, leaving it swinging back and forth. The pillow floated over toward the mattress, freshly fluffed and ready to receive a tired filly head.

“Just because you had a moment of weakness at a critical point in time does not mean you are obligated to suffer and wallow in despair in the aftermath. Now trust me when I say this: you have no idea the measure of gifts you have given me.”

Her horn lit up again, and the Crystal Pendant floated up from within her cloak. Contrary to earlier, it shone with a radiance that filled the cottage. Pale blue light bounced off every wall, glowing with a ripple effect that made the cottage feel almost like it was underwater.

“See how it shines, Kavi. This Crystal Pendant pulses with love from your village. Never before have I entered a place so pure, so peaceful… so appreciative of life and the simple things. Everypony in the village has a deep, interwoven love for each other. It is really quite extraordinary.”

Eva lowered the pendant with a frown. “I feel I owe you an apology, Kavi. You have to believe me—I genuinely believed that your family would be thrilled and relieved to see you back home. Why they turned on you so viciously like that… it makes no sense.”

“It’s not your fault, Eva. You meant well.” Kavi slumped back into the tub, no longer enjoying the slowly-cooling water’s caress. “Love, huh… I threw that away, for sure. My mother… she hit me! She’s never done that before. And my father—my father did nothing to stop it. He just jeered at me. As for Kara…”

Kavi swallowed the foul taste rising in her throat. “She found me. She convinced Mother and Father to adopt me, but… but s-she... she’s the one who… who—”

“Shhh, sh sh sh. Calm down, Kavi.”

The blue light vanished as Eva slipped the pendant back inside her cloak. She grabbed a towel from near the bed with her magic and brought it over to the tub, where she tucked it into a rail on the side.

“Come on, now. Let us get you out of there, dried, and into bed. I shall warm some blankets and you can sleep this horrible night away.” Eva furrowed her brow as the water slowly floated out of the tub. Forming the water into a sphere, Eva levitated it out through the door before letting it fall to the ground.

“There. A final log on the fire for a slow burn, and you should sleep well,” Eva said as Kavi rubbed herself all over with the coarse towel.

“Why are you being so nice to me, Eva?” Kavi asked, tossing the towel aside after she finished drying herself. She trotted over to the mattress and collapsed onto it with a muffled moan. “All this effort, and what have I done but take from your kindness?”

Eva chuckled. “For the last time, Kaviyayu, you have already given me more than anypony in years. Do not doubt my words. Now go to sleep, okay? With the dawn, we will talk.”

“I am pretty tired, I guess,” Kavi said, yawning. “But what if I have nightmares? I’m… I’m afraid to fall asleep, Eva. I don’t want them to come.”

“I promise you will be fine, Kavi,” Eva said as she sat next to her. She ran a hoof back and forth over Kavi’s fluffy coat, which drew a sigh of content from the young filly. “We can share the mattress. I will be right here, I promise.”

Kavi stifled another yawn. “Okay. Thanks, Eva. You’re a great friend.”

She lay her head down upon the pillow, slipped beneath the woolen blanket, and rolled up against the wooden wall. The relentless pitter-patter of rain upon the roof along with the drip of it running down to the ground helped her relax, and she fell asleep almost instantly.

* * * * *

“Kavi! Wake up! Kavi!”

With a low moan, Kavi shifted her body away from the sound. She kept her eyes firmly closed and turned her head.

“Kaviyayu! Get up, please!”

She felt a hoof prodding at her flank. Grumbling some unclear response, she lifted her head. Her eyelids fluttered open slowly.

Blue. Why was everything so blue?

Am I dreaming?

Kavi groaned and stretched her limbs with a petite yawn. She blinked a few more times, rubbing her eyes with a hoof. Still groggy, she stood up and turned to the voice. Her eyes widened.

“Kara? Is that you?”

Kartanya stood before Kavi. Stamska, Samanka, and Avran sat together on the—ground?—in a huddle nearby. Though they smiled at Kavi after meeting her gaze, the expressions seemed… somewhat forced. All was blue around them as Kavi cast her eyes about.

“Oh, thank the Goddess you’re okay!”

Kara pulled Kavi into a crushing hug. “We were so worried when you flew away. We thought we might never see you again!”

A spark jolted Kavi’s memory. She pushed her sister away with a forceful shove. “What do you mean, ‘thought you’d never see me again’?” she shouted. “You all yelled at me, hit me, and told me to leave and never return!” Her expression blazed, her legs shaking.

Kara’s eyes widened as she took a step back. “We… we did what? No, we’d never—”

“Don’t even try to deny it!” Kavi said. She pointed a hoof at Kara, circling it around the rest of her family. “I know I said some terrible things, but I’d just learned something huge and life-changing. I came back… I tried to apologise, but none of you would hear it. You all disowned me!” She rubbed her cheek, the memory of her mother’s blow stinging as much as her cheek had hours earlier.

“Kavi, listen to us!” Samanka pleaded. “We love you! What’s making you say such things? We waited long into the night, hoping you would come back. The thought that you might not return—it was tearing us apart.”

She stood and took a tentative step forward. “You have to believe us. We’d never say such terrible things. I’d never hit you.” She drew closer, seeing confusion dawning on Kavi’s face in place of anger. “I love you, Kaviyayu. Your father loves you, your siblings love you, and the whole village thinks you’re the most special, precious filly of all.”

“But…” Kavi backed away, shaking her head. “I know what you all said. I felt you strike me down. I landed in the mud, crying my eyes out. There’s no way I imagined that… is there?”

She stood still and quiet as Stamska and Avran also rose and joined her, circling her. Together, Kavi’s family embraced her in a group hug. She stayed put, not daring to move while her mind raced.

“Where are we?” she finally asked.

Everypony backed off and sat down again, their faces once more contorted in inexplicable sadness.

“We don’t know, Kavi,” Kara said. “We fell asleep by the fire waiting for you. Next thing we knew, we were all here in this strange blue place.”

She waved a hoof around; Kavi followed the motion, only then noticing other ponies sitting in their own herds further away. Apart from her family, she recognised others: Avran’s friends, Havijhan the Elder, her father’s scouting party...

“But where is ‘here,’ and why?”

“Oh, lovely. You’re awake in there. About time—I was growing rather impatient.”

The honeyed voice rang out from everywhere, and everypony jumped, looking around wildly.

“Eva? Is that you?” Kavi asked. “Where are we? What’s going on?”

“Ah, my dear Kaviyayu. So glad you could join us all. As for your question, just let me slip into somewhere more comfortable.”

Eva’s rippling visage shimmered into view. She had abandoned her cloak, her full white body and hair on display. Her eyes, previously pink, gleamed the same blue as their surroundings, small wisps of green smoke also flickering around the edges of her corneas. The Crystal Pendant gleamed around her neck, its sapphire swirling with the same mist that surrounded everypony.

“That’s better. How are you all feeling? Sad? Lost? Emotional?”

“Wh-what?” Kavi shook her head. “Why are you asking that? What are you doing?”

“Taking what I desire, of course.”

Her horn lit up, although it was not with the rainbow hue that Kavi expected. Its cerulean glimmer shone in tandem with the Crystal Pendant as an identical glow covered everypony’s barrels. An odd pressure grew in Kavi’s chest, like some invisible creature had decided to squeeze her in a tight hug. She looked down at the blue aura as it brightened, then disappeared. Her family and many other ponies around them also had similar auras coating their hearts.

It was as though all the sadness she had ever felt in life had returned to grip Kavi by the heart and squeeze it. She dropped to her knees, gasping, tears running down her cheeks.

“I… what did you… I don’t understand…”

“Oh, let me make this quite simple.” Eva trotted toward Kavi and lifted her chin to meet her eyes. “You, my dear, are everything I have sought after for years. The love that you possess for your family makes for a most exquisite banquet.”

Kavi’s eyes lit up, her mouth open. “You’re eating my love?”

“And it is truly delicious, I assure you. Of course, I plan to take it slowly over time. Love is rather potent, you see, and I do so enjoy savouring its sweetness.”

Kavi scrambled backward, tripping over herself in her haste. She looked up from the ground, eyes shining.

“But why?” Samanka shuffled forward, also having fallen from her own heart’s piercing. “We gave you our food, our attention, a place to sleep. We trusted you!”

“That you did.” Eva walked toward Samanka, her lips pulled back into a leer. “Why, I have your dearest ‘daughter’ to thank for that, do I not? Was it not her words, her trust, that won you all over?”

“You leave my wife and family alone, you freak,” Stamska growled, moving to stand in front of Samanka. He threw a punch at Eva's head as she approached, but his hoof passed through her face like she wasn't there at all.

Ignoring Stamska’s look of shock, Eva prowled forward until she stood right in front of Samanka. “You know, I really must thank you and your stallion for adopting little Kaviyayu. I have wandered this world for over a decade and never found anypony near as full of love as she.”

“Why do you want our love anyway, you witch?” Kartanya shouted from behind her.

Eva’s ears perked. She turned slowly and stared at Kartanya, who was busy comforting the shivering Avran with a gripping hug.

“Because, Kartanya, love is the most wonderful feeling in the entire world… Something that I have never had the pleasure of experiencing first-hoof.”

Rainbow light swirled around the Samanka family. Eva’s image depicted a pure white filly having rocks thrown at her by many other young unicorn foals. One of them galloped up and pushed her into the dirt; as the filly cried, her coat streaked with brown, a chorus of jeers filled the air. The image faded, replaced by another, depicting an older-looking filly sitting in a classroom and doing her best to ignore the flying spitballs aimed at her. After it, too, shimmered out of existence, a third image showed a young mare sitting alone at a party while everypony else danced with their partners. Her pink eyes shone, dark stains running down her cheeks while the music drowned out her sobs.

“Ever since I was born, I’ve been vilified,” Eva said. “Everyone hated me. They mocked my albinism, my mane, my eyes… and I couldn’t even conjure up the simplest of spells to defend myself. I failed magic school, which only made things worse.”

One last rainbow image flickered in midair. The white mare was backed into a corner in an alley, a group of stallions approaching her wearing predatory grins. She let out a yelp—

“Finally, there came a day I refused to take it anymore.”

—and the entire alley exploded in a brilliant flash of rainbow light. When the light faded, only the shaking mare remained, sitting in the centre of a crater. The buildings around her were missing pieces of their foundations; seemingly on the verge of collapse, they were freshly coated with enormous blotches of scarlet. The stallions were nowhere to be seen.

“I fled Tall Tale in fear of my life, for I knew that nopony would hesitate to incarcerate me if I was found.”

The final image faded. “I have been starved of love my entire life. Now, I take it from others. I watch as misery consumes them while I relish in their pain. But that is not all I do. You see, once I imprison a pony’s soul in my pendant, their body is mine. I can make it do whatever I want. I can make them hurt each other, or themselves if I want to.”

Prismatic magic engulfed her, and she began to slowly fade, growing more transparent by the second. “I grow stronger and more powerful with the might of my pendant and my magic combined. And when I finally absorb enough power, the entire world will know my true name: Prismia, the Goddess of Love! I will see everypony bow to me and love me... while they wallow in their despair!”

She reared up, reaching for the sky as she vanished with a loud bang and a flash of light. The ponies gaped as Prismia’s parting cackle echoed around them.

“Are we… stuck here forever?” Avran asked.

“Hush, dear, of course not,” Samanka said, stroking his mane. “We’ll find a way out of… wherever we are.”

“I think…”

All eyes turned to Kavi. “I think we’re… inside Eva’s—Prismia’s—Crystal Pendant. I saw how it lit up the walls of her house before I fell asleep. This air around us—it’s the exact same colour.”

“Inside a piece of jewellery? That’s absurd! We saw her wearing it not a moment ago!” Stamska shouted. “How could we be inside it?”

“Stamska, calm down,” Samanka said, placing her hoof upon his shoulder. “You saw the way your hoof passed through her when she walked toward me. I don’t believe it was really her… just another of her magical illusions. What if she somehow put herself inside it, just to communicate with us?”

Stamska growled. “I don’t care what she did. All that matters is that we find a way to break out of this place.”

“What are we gonna do?” Avran asked, still shivering in Kartanya’s embrace.

Kavi sighed and walked over to them. She unfolded her wings and draped one each across her brother and sister. “Hey. You know how Prismia said she could make ponies ‘hurt each other’? Does that mean… when you all said and did those things to me before…”

“It… could be,” Samanka said. “Even though we don’t remember any of what you said we did, if she was controlling us at the time… we wouldn’t.” She held a hoof to her mouth. “Oh, my darling, if we really said those nasty things… did I really—”

“Mother, it’s okay. It wasn’t really you. I know that now.”

Samanka nodded and rushed to Kavi, wrapping her forelegs around her and planting kisses on her cheek. “Oh, baby girl, I’m so sorry. I love you so much. I always have.”

“We all have,” Stamska added, joining in.

“Uh huh!” Avran jumped up onto Kavi’s back and nuzzled into her neck. “Even when you tell on me and get me in trouble.”

Kavi giggled and spun in circles, waving her wings up and down; Avran grasped her around the neck and held on, his rear legs flicking around in different directions. She stopped soon after and shifted her gaze. “Kara?” She tilted her head. “Are you okay?”

Kara closed her eyes and hung her head. “Kavi…” She looked away.

“What is it?” Kavi asked, again extending a wing over her sister. “Look, we’ll find some way out of here. I promise. Don’t worry.”

“It’s not that, Kavi, it’s…” Kara opened her eyes. “It’s just that seeing us all here together like this—wherever here is—in this situation… I can’t help thinking about Artax. He’d…” She wiped away a tear. “He’d have loved to watch you grow up.”

“Kara, I—”

“It’s okay,” Kara said with a headshake. “I just think of you as his final gift to us. I’ll never forget his face as he… as he… passed you to me, before…”

The rest of the family jumped in, all clutching each other.

“All of Zahara loved Artax, Kartanya.”

Havijhan’s voice wafted over as he walked toward the family, the villagers all following behind him. “Artax was strong, a hard worker and an even harder player, brave… but most of all, I remember a kind young colt who looked up to his parents, and who adored his little sister. Sun Goddess willing, he looks down on you from above every night with that silly grin he used to wear.”

Kara smiled at his words. “Thank you, Elder.”

“What a touching display.”

Kavi and everypony turned abruptly at the voice, all of them stiffening and falling silent.

“No, please, do continue reminiscing upon days of old,” Eva said as she shimmered into view before them all. “It is most delicious.”

“Prismia, stop this!” Kavi cried, stepping forward in front of her family. “You’re hurting everypony!”

“What of it?” Prismia sneered. “I was hurt all my life. Now I’m taking my share of the love I never had.” Her horn glowed.

“You don’t have to do this,” Kavi said. Holding her head high, she walked forward and stopped short of the glowing mare. “Taking things from other ponies isn’t right. You need to earn the things you want.”

“I have earned this!” Prismia stamped a hoof, her eyes flashing dangerously with the pendant. “A lifetime of neglect and suffering is far more than enough advance payment for any amount of love I wish to take.”

Kavi shook her head and stepped a little closer. “I’m sorry you were hurt so bad when you were young. I admit it: I have no idea what that must have felt like, how it must still feel to remember it.” Another step. “Earlier tonight, I learned that I’ve also lost things. Once upon a time, I had pegasus parents who loved me.” She hung her head. “They died a long time ago. I never knew them.”

She lifted her head and looked around at the Zaharans. “Yet I’ve never felt alone—not for a minute, not with all of these lovely ponies—” she waved her hoof around “—to help raise me and teach me about all the good things in life.”

“Just what are you trying to say?” Prismia said. “Of course I know how strong your love is! Why do you think I was drawn to you?”

“And what happens when our love is all gone, Prismia? What do you do next—move on to the next village and keep going?”

“There will be thousands more where you came from,” Prismia retorted. “For every pony I drain, another ten will replace them. I will never run out!”

Kavi paused. “But… doesn’t it get tiring, roaming all over the land from town to town? To never have the same ponies around you? You’re talking about these ponies like they’re just food to you—something to be nibbled on and then thrown away.” She lifted her wings and giving them a shake. “You drop them as easily as if they were feathers falling from my wings after moulting.”

“A goddess does not get tired.”

“Should a goddess need to steal her love?”

“I—”

“No, I think you are just a pony like me. You want love—you crave it. You aren’t the ‘Goddess of Love’; you’re just an old, sad pony!” Kavi crept forward a little more. “How many ponies have you hurt, all over Equestria? When will you stop? Will it ever be enough? Where does it end?

“Enough of your questions!” Prismia hissed. “I’ll stop once all of Equestria bows before me. Do I need a better motive?”

Kavi sighed. “You just don’t get it, do you? Think about this: you take a pony’s love. Then what happens? They have no more love to show their family. It breaks them apart so much that they never feel love again. Everypony is sad. Even you. But you keep going—you keep taking, and taking, and taking some more! Soon, everypony will be so sad and mad with each other that they won’t want to make any more families. You know what that means, right?”

“It means they will have only one pony left to love: me, their Goddess.”

“No!” Kavi shouted. “Why can’t I make you understand? No more love means no more families… no more children…” She bent her front knees and lowered her head, eyes closed. “No desire to live on…”

“But…” Prismia paused then shook her head. “But they must. They’ll have to. Their love for me—”

“It wouldn’t be real! Just because you are the only pony they won’t hate doesn’t mean they’ll love you!”

“That makes no sense. They will have to love me. I will command it.”

“‘Command it’? Are you listening to yourself, Prismia?” Kavi jerked her head up, her eyes glistening. “Have you ever even felt love—real, true love? You can’t command it. It’s an amazing thing, but I think... you’ve only glimpsed it, and it calls to you somewhere deep inside. If you had really, truly taken love and stored it deep inside your heart, you wouldn’t be this mean. You couldn’t be this mean.”

Kavi turned and paced back toward her family. “I’ll show you.” She came to rest before Stamska, looking each other in the eyes. “Father,” she said, “two days ago I disobeyed Mother and went to the Snowflow without a grown up. I know it’s dangerous and against the rules, and I’m very sorry.”

Chuckling, Stamska wrapped his foreleg around Kavi and ruffled her mane. “I forgive you, Kavi. We all make mistakes. In fact, I’m glad you were there to keep an eye on your brother.”

The Crystal Pendant shone a little brighter.

“Explain!” Prismia screeched, the glow drawing her attention. “Why—how can his love have increased? You were wrong and should be punished. You do not deserve love!”

“She is my daughter, Prismia. She did nothing to become my daughter, and she can do nothing to stop,” Stamska said. “I love her now and will always love her, no matter what choices she makes in life. I am not perfect, and I don’t expect her to be.”

Kavi grinned and hugged Stamska. “I love you, Father.”

“I love you too, my angel.”

They broke apart, and Kavi and turned to Samanka. “Mother, the other day, I flew up really high, even though you’ve told me not to because I could get tired and fall down, or get horribly sunburnt. It was cloudy, so I thought I could just rest on them, and they would help me to not get burnt. Even so, I knew it was wrong, yet I did it anyway.”

“You’re right, Kavi—it was wrong of you. If I had caught you myself, you’d be in a lot of trouble, young filly.” Samanka sighed, a small smile creeping onto her face. “But the fact that you’ve come out and confessed to your actions, even under threat of punishment, is an admirable thing. Thank you for being honest with me… but don’t you do it again, okay?”

“Yes, Mother,” Kavi said while also embracing Samanka. “I love you too.”

“I love you more.”

The Crystal Pendant brightened again.

“This cannot be possible! Whenever I disappointed my family, I was yelled at, beaten, and ridiculed!” Prismia bared her teeth. “You are all deceiving me somehow—you must be!”

“True love doesn’t lie, Prismia. I know this now.” Kavi bent down to nuzzle her brother. “Avran, I ate your cookie last week when you weren't looking.”

“What?” Avran gasped. “So it was you!” He frowned, then smiled. “Nah, that’s okay. I ate yours the day after anyway.” He leapt onto Kavi and hugged her fiercely as they both burst into laughter.

When the laughter subsided, Kavi looked around at the rest of the herd. She flapped her wings and rose off the ground a little way, granting her a clear view of all present. “Everypony,” she said as she opened out her forelegs, “I’ve spent my life among you all, and I’ve loved every waking moment that I can remember of it. You never had to accept me, but you did. You’re all so kind and sweet, not just to me but to each other as well, and I love you for that too.”

A warm tingle spread through her body as the ponies all offered up various assent and their own smiling faces.

“Stop it!” Prismia shielded her eyes against the Crystal Pendant’s shine, too bright to look at directly. “This emotion, it hurts… it’s too much...”

“Lastly, there is something important you all need to hear.” Kavi dropped back to the ground and swept her mane from her face. She reared up and placed her hooves upon Kartanya’s shoulders.

“Kara… sister… I owe you everything. You are the reason I’m still here today. When I was told the story yesterday, I… I panicked—I just didn’t know what to think. I ran away from the ponies who’ve cared for me all my life, scared you all and myself. But I know now what’s important.”

As with the others, she embraced Kara with a nuzzle and a hug. “You are my family. All of you, whether we share our blood or not.”

Kara closed her eyes and leaned into her sister. “Of course we are,” she said, grasping Kavi tight in return; Kavi felt a drop of moisture on her shoulder. “We’ll never not be.”

They broke apart, smiling at each other before Kavi nodded and trotted back toward Prismia.

“Enough of this.”

Kavi halted, eyeing the leer on her captor’s face.

“All you have done with your little performance is expose all of your love for each other. And now it is there, out in the open for me to take it!” Her horn brightened, a jet of rainbow light shooting out of it. The light streaked toward Kavi and pierced her barrel, illuminating her whole body.

A collective cry of “Kavi!” echoed through the area.

Prismia’s grin widened, giving way to confusion, anger, and finally fear as she took a step back, her mouth hanging open and her pupils the size of raisins.

“Do you understand yet?”

Unaffected by the beam, Kavi walked slowly toward the love vampire, her glow dissipating. “Love is not just something you can take or force ponies into giving. It can come from anywhere. Sometimes it doesn’t even need to be earned. But if you have it, it’s something you need to return in order to keep it deep down in your heart. And even if…”

Kavi paused and took a deep breath, steadying herself. “Even if your blood family never loved you, there’s always somepony out there who might. Maybe even more than just one somepony. Maybe a whole town can… if you give them all a chance.”

Squinting against the pendant’s intense light, Kavi crept right up to the squirming Prismia and wrapped her forelegs around her. There she stood for a full minute, pressed up against the suddenly rigid white body. Nopony spoke; barely anypony breathed. At last, Kavi broke away from Prismia and met her gaze, irises a mixture of blue and pink with green wisps still flickering at the edges of her corneas.

A heart-shaped sparkle flashed in Kavi’s eyes.

Seconds later, a tremendous sound filled the area, as if a giant glass window had shattered; everypony gasped and averted their eyes as the pendant’s light filled the area completely. The pendant shattered around Prismia’s neck, many blue fragments all floating before her along with its beaded amethyst chain. They began to spiral around in an elaborate pattern, in and out of each other’s position, each fragment emitting a ping before dulling completely.

When all of the fragments had dulled, they ceased their midair dance and hovered in front of Kavi. She looked down, eyes wide as each fragment and amethyst rejoined, perfectly slotting back together around her own neck instead of Prismia’s.

“What have you done?” Prismia whispered.

Kavi opened her mouth to answer, interrupted by another flash of light. Looking around, she saw nopony else in the vicinity. She smiled.

“Everypony has gone home, Prismia. It’s time for us to leave, too.”

The pendant flashed.

Author's Note:

Prismia always wore a powerful necklace, which she cared for more than anything else in the world, and it served to amplify the evil and jealousy within her own heart. When Prismia’s bad feelings and the power of the necklace finally overtook her, she cast a spell on the villagers that leeched all the love from their homes. She hoped to capture some of that love for herself. Everypony was distraught and sad.
Cadance decided that she couldn’t let that happen, so she went to see Prismia. Luckily, the
enchantress’s powerful necklace also amplified the power of Cadance’s love, and she soon defeated Prismia with her incredible gift of compassion.

Excerpt from Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell

So the mysterious Eva was the enchantress Prismia all along. What do you think of her motives? Is she evil? Was she misguided? Or is there something else at work?

Not going to lie: this was the single most stressful and difficult chapter to polish that I have ever written. It is likely that it never would have seen the light of day, were it not for my special friends and amazing editors. Thank you—Chris, Titanium Dragon, and Prak—for helping me see why what I had was terrible and for convincing me to uproot and completely rewrite the conflict. Also, thanks to Foals Errand, NightWolf289, and Syeekoh for helping me come up with the final product and actually bring the scene to life. There's no way I could have done it without you all. :heart:

Oh, you think it's over? The real conflict—the true test of fortitude—is about to begin. Kaviyayu may have laid claim to the Crystal Pendant... but has she broken through to the mare herself?

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