• Published 13th Sep 2014
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The Seventh Element - PaisleyPerson



Thestrals are thought extinct. But what will happen when one moves to Ponyville? Disguised as an earth pony, Acrylic does her best to fit in. Can she keep the secret, or will she expose her entire race?

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Chapter 26: Judgment Day

Chapter 26
Judgment Day

I waited a full day, maybe two. Boredom almost instantly overtook me, throwing my perceptions of time completely off balance. The terrified faces of my friends kept playing over and over in my head, which made time crawl even more slowly. There were no windows underground, so my only markers of time were the meals brought to me. Dinner consisted of dry oats and water, but breakfast brought a more palatable salad. I couldn’t eat the apple spread brought for lunch; it reminded me too much of Applejack. The second dinner ration marked a 24-hour cycle with a plain daisy sandwich. Somepony must have said something to the cook, because while simple, these weren’t typical prisoner rations. I wasn’t complaining, of course. Lunch the next day brought carrot broth, and a visitor.

“How are you holding up?” I was currently facing the back wall, but I didn’t have to turn around to recognize the voice.

“Are the others too afraid to look at me?” I asked Rainbow.

“Celestia hasn’t granted them ‘visitation privileges’ yet. You have no idea how long I had to work at her so I could come early.”

“Thanks, Rainbow,” I sighed, finally turning around. I plodded over to the bars, and settled on the cold cement. “What’s new back in the real world?”

“I don’t know if things are looking better or worse. After the wedding, both the Princesses locked themselves away in the library, doing as much research as they can on thestrals.” So I had missed the wedding.

“How was it? The ceremony, I mean?”

“It went smoothly, this time around. But... they hired somepony else to do the portraits.” I nodded. I’d suspected as much.

“Who did them?”

“Somepony called Graphite Sketch. Apparently, he was a really prestigious artist or something.” I clenched my jaw. It was enough that this had happened, but giving Graphite my assignment? My honor? That was almost too much to bear. Rainbow noticed my displeasure. “For what it’s worth, yours were way better than his.” I changed the subject anyway.

“You said that the Princesses were reading up on the thestrals? But they were there. How come they need to look it up?”

“Beats me, but Twilight got in on the action, too. She’s searching through every library in Canterlot, and now she’s sending for all the books possibly related to them from the Golden Oaks back home.”

“Has everypony gone back to Ponyville?”

“Twilight insisted that there was no point in staying until Celestia gives the okay to come visit, but she’s still here to help the Princesses for the time being. Spike is with her.” I nodded.

“How are they all taking it?”

“Well... not so well. Rarity’s been pacing in her boutique, trying to convince herself that none of it ever happened. Applejack’s been working herself harder than ever, but Fluttershy hasn’t said a word. I’m not quite sure that Pinkie completely understands what happened. She just sees that everypony’s been upset, and has been throwing more parties than ever to cheer them up. She’s being... Pinkie.” I huffed my laughter.

“Sounds about right.” I paused, and closed my eyes. “Does Torchwood know?”

“I rounded up every pegasus in Ponyville to help me search. We’ve combed Vanhoover and all the surrounding towns. Nopony can find him. If you tell me where his parents live, I’ll tell him for you.”

“I don’t know,” I had to lie. I bit my lip. I knew that if Torchwood caught word of the situation, he could save me. But there was no way I could expose the entire thestral encampment just to get a message through; especially not in front of the guards. Not even Rainbow knew he had wings. I’d just have to wait for the media to finally catch onto the rumors. Regardless of my lockdown, the newspapers always found out some time or another.

“Well, we’ll keep looking. He’s bound to come back sometime. Do you... do you really want me to tell him? You did kind of lie about the whole thestral thing to everypony... there’s no telling how he’ll take it.” I sighed, acting depressed at the reminder.

“He still deserves to know.”

“Okay,” she shrugged.

“Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” one of the guards interrupted.

“What? But it’s barely been five minutes!”

“Sorry. I’m just following my orders.” The gray guard I believed to be Stronghold started leading her away.

“I’ll see you soon, Acrylic! I heard the Princesses planned to ‘interrogate’ you today. Maybe then we can all come visit!” My heart stopped in my chest. It had finally come. Judgment day.

I abandoned the soup altogether and began pacing with anxiety. It was making the remaining guard outside nervous. Every time my wide wings scraped the walls, he jumped. I started purposefully yet subtly clanking them whenever possible to escape from boredom. At least it took my mind off things. He was relieved when his fellow soldier returned, escorting both of the Princesses.

“Stronghold, Defiant Clash. You are dismissed.” The guards eagerly trotted off.

“I hear you’ve been reading up on me,” I started. “All bad things, I presume?”

“What makes you say that?” Luna almost sarcastically inquired. It was rhetorical, but I answered anyway.

“Because your history books are biased.”

“Is that so?”

“Get the story from a thestral firsthoof, and perhaps you’ll see things our way.”

“Go on, then.”

“Me?”

“I know of no other thestrals.”

“Alright then. Long story short, they were tired of being cooped up all on their own in the woods. Nopony else wanted to intermingle. Each pony type was sectioned off, thestrals from earth ponies, pegasi from unicorns and so on. Of course, now it’s impossible to find a town reserved exclusively for any one kind of pony. I guess all it needed was time.”

“But you did not ‘give it time,’ as you say. You tried to disrupt the balance.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. It wasn’t me. It was my ancestors. I can’t control their actions. I’m not saying what they did was honorable, or noble. I’m just saying that we’ve changed. I know it was selfish, greedy and flat out wrong. But what do you want me to do about it? I can’t change the past. But we could change the present.”

“We?”

“There are more out there like me. I just wanted to come out of the woods. So do they.”

“Just like your ancestors?”

“If you think about it, they weren’t asking for much. They just wanted to feel like they were a part of something bigger. We’ve been isolated for so long, we’ve forgotten what that means.” The Princesses looked to one another. “What have I ever done? The only reason I’m here is because of these things.” I flapped my wings. “What did I do worthy of a life in prison?”

“To be honest, this would be easier if you had done something wrong, Acrylic,” Celestia sighed. Even Luna looked unsure, now. I realized that I’d been pacing all this time, and finally came to a stop. “Do you know exactly what happened when the thestrals were defeated a thousand years ago?”

“No,” I admitted. “Nopony does.”

“We do. We were there.”

“The Elements of Harmony used to have... a defense mechanism, if you will. They are purposed to uphold balance. Back when the tree was a mere sapling, the elements were still developing. They were not complete, and still had many flaws which had not yet worked themselves out. I like to think of them as children that had not yet developed a complete sense of right and wrong. More importantly, there were no ponies capable of wielding them in their raw state. The defense mechanism was the only way it could maintain the balance. The thestrals triggered this mechanism.”

“What happened to them?”

“They became evil.”

“I thought they were already ‘evil’ by Equestrian standards.”

“No. They were lost souls, as you described. Luna and I did our best to convince them it wasn’t the only path, but they did not listen. When the elements’ defense mechanism activated, it amplified that desire, and planted a seed of unstoppable evil inside them.”

“I thought the elements upheld balance, not tip the odds.”

“You must remember that the elements were still flawed at the time. They saw the purely evil thestrals as an even match for Luna and I. We were balanced.” My eyes widened. It was just as Celestia had said. To a child, good defeats evil. That’s how the elements saw the situation.

“Even after a thousand years, I fear this remnant of evil still exists in you.”

“NO! I’m not evil. I’d never hurt anypony!”

“Not intentionally, you wouldn’t. The thestrals we defeated were uncontrollable and unreasonable. The darkness within them would have been passed down through the generations. Down even to your time.”

“That was a thousand years ago! It must have worn out through all those years!” I shrank back, pressing myself against the wall. I tried to deny it, but I knew in my heart it was true. The hatred radiating in the camps; the revolting emotions I’d forced into the darkest corners of my mind; the temper I had to keep in check at all times. It was all because I was a thestral.

“I’m sorry, Acrylic, but it’s true.” I leaned against the wall to catch my balance. I was falling through a dizzying reality. Everything crashed down.

“What’s going to happen to me?”

“We have been trying to find a way to get rid of the evil within you,” Celestia assured. “Until then, you must remain here.”

“But I’ve lived in Ponyville for over a year, and I’ve never hurt anypony!”

“Do you realize the heartache you’ve caused your friends?”

“I- I...”

“You will stay here,” Luna repeated.

“I have sent a letter to your friends. They will be permitted to visit you tomorrow, if they so wish.” I only curled up on the cot, and ignored them for the remainder of their stay.


“Come on, you guys,” Rainbow agitatedly called as her friends stumbled out of the train car that had brought them. Today they were all able to visit Acrylic. Pinkie was as bouncy as ever, but Rarity frantically stroked her mane to keep from going crazy from nerves. Twilight was trying to keep everypony organized and calm. Applejack skulked at the back. She didn’t want to be here. Neither did Fluttershy; Rainbow had to drag the two along. Now she was leading the way, trying to hurry up the troop. That is, until a guard stopped them on their way to the palace.

“Are you Twilight Sparkle?”

“That’s me,” the purple unicorn stepped up.

“The Princess will receive you in the ballroom.”

“Thank you.” Twilight switched places with Rainbow, and took off without the guard to lead the way down familiar corridors. She knew the castle as well as her own home, and certainly didn’t need an escort. The six friends found only the white alicorn standing in the room, looking exhausted and weary. Twilight decided to make no mention of this. “You wanted to see us, Princess?”

“Yes, Twilight. I’m glad you could all make it.”

“Yeah... we’re all here,” Applejack ruefully stated. Rainbow shot her a dirty look.

“Where’s Acrylic?” Twilight asked.

“You will see her shortly,” the Princess promised.

“What’s going to happen to her?”

“That is what I wish to consult with you about.”

“Us? You want us to decide her punishment?”

“If ya ask me, I think she needs ta leave. Can’t banish her to the moon too, could ya?”

“APPLEJACK!”

“I do not seek a punishment,” Celestia intervened, “but an antidote.”

“Huh?”

“I will explain to you what I explained to Acrylic. During the original thestral uprising, the elements were still developing. There was no pony to wield them as you do now. They maintained the balance themselves. To the elements, the way to balance the thestrals was to create pure evil within them, and pure goodness within Luna and I. That is why we have lived for thousands of years.”

“You’re saying that Acrylic is thousands of years old?!”

“No. But the same seed of evil planted in her ancestors has been passed down through the generations to Acrylic herself.”

“Acrylic is not evil!” Rainbow screeched, hovering to get eye level with Celestia.

“I know it is not her fault,” Celestia agreed. “It was the actions of her ancestors that created the evil, and now she bears its shame.”

“The elements of harmony created the evil...” Twilight thought aloud. “Can’t they take it away?”

“I have considered this possibility, but I fear that instead of destroying it, they may reactivate its full potential.”

“I thought the elements weren’t capable of creating evil.”

“Not anymore, they can’t. However, the magic that created the darkness came from before the elements were fully developed. It is ancient, and unpredictable. There is a chance that it could remove the evil, but there is also a chance it could be reignited.”

“Whoa, whoa. Let me get this straight. You want us to use the Elements of Harmony on Acrylic with the chance of making her completely and totally EVIL?”

“Even I don’t want an uncontrollable evil runnin’ ‘round,” Applejack agreed. “Especially not one who used to be our friend.”

“She’s still our friend.”

“I will ask no such thing of you. I believe I may have come up with another solution. Follow me, please.” The six ponies were promptly lead away to the royal library Twilight was so familiar with. Luna was already seated, leafing through a book. Upon looking up to find her visitors, she shut it and stood to welcome them.

“It is good to see you again, Twilight Sparkle. I just wish it could have been under better circumstances.”

“I think we all do,” Twilight bowed.

“Show them what we have found, Sister,” Celestia requested.

“Of course.” Luna opened one of the books, and enlarged its contents by projecting it onto the wall for all to see. Her magic added stunning effects and animation as well, while the page was mundane and static.

“This is an ancient transformation spell.”

“We believe that this particular spell could destroy the evil within Acrylic,” Luna went on. Celestia should have been encouraged by the possibility, but remained glum.

“So what’s the catch?” Twilight pressed, noting Celestia’s expression.

“The ‘catch’ is that the spell would also remove her wings. Acrylic would become an earth pony.”

“No way. Bad idea,” Rainbow declared. “Flying is everything to her.”

“What about art? I thought art was her life,” Rarity interjected, looking a bit hurt. Art was the one thing that they really had in common. The thought of that being a ruse too was almost too much to take.

“Well, if no flying makes more room for her friends, I say it’s worth a shot.”

“What is wrong with you, Applejack? You’re taking this waaaay too personally. She fooled everypony, you know, not just you.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You knew all along, didn’t ya?”

“It took a while for her to tell me, and I was just as surprised. But she’s still Acrylic.”

“Rainbow,” Twilight scolded. “I know you want Acrylic back. The rest of us do, too. That’s why we all came, isn’t it?” The others, who had been silent all this time, slowly nodded. “I think that if there’s a chance at getting the real Acrylic back, we need to take it. Even if it means taking something like that away from her.”

“Spoken like a true leader,” Luna proudly yet solemnly nodded.

“You’re talking about her like she’s changed, but she’s always been this way!”

“I’m sorry, Rainbow. We have to do what’s best for her. Right, girls?”

“I do want Acrylic to come home,” Fluttershy quietly admitted.

“She’s been missing out on all the parties!” Pinkie concurred.

“Wings or no wings, she needs to come home,” Rarity declared. She had only recently accepted the reality that Acrylic really had lied about her identity. She was still quite sore at the fact that Rainbow Dash had been let in on the secret while she had been left out of the loop, though. Otherwise, she may have put more thought into what she was agreeing to.

“Then it is decided,” Celestia stood.

“But-” Rainbow protested. A flick of Celestia’s wings silenced her.

“The spell will take a few days to prepare. Until then, you will be free to visit her as often as you wish.”

“Who’s going to break the news to Acrylic?” The Princesses looked at one another. Rainbow read their minds, and wouldn’t stand for it.

“She deserves to know. You can’t just trick her into giving up her wings! That’s almost as bad as Chrysalis trying to trick Shining Armor into marrying her instead of Cadence!”

“You are right, Rainbow Dash. I will tell her after your visit concludes.”

“I want to tell her,” Rainbow declared.

“You do?” Rainbow only narrowed her eyes in determined affirmation. She wasn’t going to risk them going back on their promise. This way, she could make sure Acrylic got the message.

“Very well. I will have Iron Maille escort you to the dungeons. I believe he almost ready to begin his shift.”

“You keep her in the dungeon?” Fluttershy shuddered.

“Well, that’s no fun,” Pinkie pouted.

“How horrid!” aghast Rarity exclaimed. “I can’t imagine having to reside in such dark, dreary, icky muck!”

“Even I didn’t think she was that dangerous,” Applejack stated, shocked at the news. The only one who stayed silent was Twilight, who trusted her mentor’s reasoning, even if she did not understand it. Celestia was grateful for this as she summoned the guard from his lunch break.