• Published 26th Mar 2015
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The Road Home - Pen Stroke


Discord tosses Twilight and her family into an unexpected adventure while the rest of Twilight's friend get to work on the new crystal palace. All together, they'll do everything to ensure that Twilight and her family have a place to call home.

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The Road's End

The Road Home

By Pen Stroke

Preread, Edited, and Reviewed By

Illustrious Q, BronyWriter, SaturnStar14, Applejack-fan

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Chapter 15

The Road's End

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“Is that the palace?”

Twilight glanced up from the book she was reading. Nyx was standing up in her seat, looking out the window at the passing scenery. After discovering Discord’s prank, Twilight had lost most of her interest in going to the Crystal Empire. They remained in Lumberton, waiting until the south bound train arrived a few days later. Those few days were perhaps the most relaxing and joyful since the library’s destruction. It had been good quality time amidst the inviting residents of Lumberton. Nyx had made a new friend in Lumber Jack’s granddaughter, Pink Rose, and the stress of their unexpected adventure melted away in the embrace of the gentle pines of the Rainbow Range.

It was calming, and it had allowed Twilight to gather her thoughts. Discord, however, wasn't entirely free from his crimes. Twilight was still angry that he had pulled such an inappropriate prank, and she wasn’t the only one in their private cabin aboard the train that held such an opinion.

Sitting with Shining on the other side of the cabin, Cadance was perhaps even more furious with Discord than Twilight. She had been swept up into the life and child threatening situations simply because she had been a bystander. She didn’t go screaming off into the mountains on a hunt for Discord, but that was only prevented by a kicking foal and how close it had been to lunch time. Still, during their unexpected vacation in Lumberton, the princess pair had devoted numerous hours to planning just how they’d approach, lecture, punish, and perhaps maim the spirit of chaos. It had been very relaxing to contemplate, even if the maiming only happened in the most hypothetical of situations.

The rest of the friends they had picked up on their little adventure had parted ways before they got on the train to Ponyville. The guards were going to escort S43 and Biscuit to the Crystal Empire. There, they would inform their commander everything was okay and also ensure the changeling and diamond dog were taken care of until the royal couple could return. Maud was going to take a break from her studies and take the train back to the rock farm. Maud claimed she and Boulder needed some quality time at home. Lastly, the Flim Flam Brothers said their goodbyes at the lodge before disappearing. No one knew quite where they went. The popular theory was they had gone back into the mountains to find the gems they had been forced to abandon.

In any event, the group had shrunk back down to the original five that had left Canterlot nearly a week before.

“Yes, that’s it,” Twilight said as she set her book down. She got up from her seat and walked to the window, looking out at the glistening palace with Nyx. “It’s a bit daunting, I know, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it. It’s really nice on the inside, if a little empty, and it does have some perks. You and Spike will get to have your own rooms now, and…” Twilight forced a smile, quickly running out of perks for the new castle. She laughed and made a little popping noise with her lips.

“Crystal’s also very durable and super easy to clean,” Cadance said as she and Shining looked out at the castle as well, though they remained in their seats.

“Yes, that too,” Twilight said, nodding her head to Cadance before looking out the window again. “Won’t that be nice, Spike?”

“Yeah, about that, I think we need to reconsider the chore wheel,” Spike said. “Because I will tell you one thing right now. Doing the dishes is not equal to sweeping or washing the windows anymore. Not by a long shot.”

~~~

“Is Ponyville usually this deserted at this hour?”

Twilight looked around, noticing exactly what Cadance had just pointed out. The normal ambient noises of Ponyville were silent, and the streets vacant. Businesses had their doors closed, except for the odd few where it appeared only one pony was working. And those few ponies who they could see through the shops’ doors and windows quickly vanished, closing up the shop with the loud shuttering of doors.

“Last time Ponyville was like this, it was when we first found out about Zecora,” Spike said as he rode on Twilight’s back. He was standing, using her to get a higher vantage point to hopefully catch a glimpse of someone. “You don’t think something’s going on, do you?”

“I really hope not,” Twilight said as she and the others kept searching. Their chosen route of travel would take them past the stump of the library before they continued on to the palace. The agreed upon plan was to stop and visit the library’s remains, to pay some last respects. Twilight had, of course, visited the stump multiple times, but that had always been on the premise of trying to fix the library. This time she would be saying farewell, and she was happy to have her family with her.

Still, block by block, intersection by intersection, they found not a single soul. The town was unnervingly quiet, silent except for the patter of hooves of ponies running away. Twilight was beginning to share Spike’s fear that something was going on, but she couldn’t imagine what. That thought, however, evaporated in her mind as they drew near where the library had once stood. It was then they finally caught sight of someone. It was the first and—at the same time—last person they wanted to see. He was lying on a cloud, snoozing like a coiled up snake, and below him was a hole in the ground. A hole where the stump of the library had once been.

“Discord!” Twilight and Cadance barked in unison, galloping ahead of Nyx and Shining while Spike hung onto Twilight’s back for dear life. Discord raised his head slowly, picked an alarm clock out of his ear to check the time before chomping down on it like a donut.

“A bit late getting back, aren’t you, Twilight? Was the train delayed?” He asked once he had finished eating his alarm clock. He licked his claws, as if to catch the last dribbles of frosting.

“Don’t play dumb!” Twilight took to her wings, flying up near Discord and shoving a hoof in his chest. “You have a lot to answer for, Mister, and you are going to answer for it. But right now, I want to know what you did to the library. Where is the stump? If this is another one of your pranks, so help me, not even Fluttershy will be able to protect you from being turned to stone.”

“Now, Twilight, is it really appropriate for a princess to be making such unfounded accusations?” Discord snapped his claw, teleporting from the cloud to a standing position on the street. “All I’ve done since I delivered that letter to you was relax here in Ponyville. It really was a delightful time. I enjoyed helping Applejack do some measurements, and I even grew a nice little house for myself.”

“I saw,” Twilight said as she returned to the ground. She and Cadance approached Discord together, both of them glaring daggers. “I’ve been there.”

“You have?” Discord gripped his claw and paw together, wringing his hands a little. “How did you find it?”

Twilight’s horn began to glow, a harsh light that was indicative of the spell she was preparing to cast at a moment’s notice. “I saw the check for the cookies you bought from Pink Rose. I saw what you wrote in the memo line. I found your little mountain house with the little game pieces.”

“Discord, you are in so much trouble,” Cadance said, the glow from her own horn matching Twilight’s in intensity.

“Ah, I see. You know, I just left that hint there to be fair. A proper game master should always ensure his players have a chance to figure everything out. It was a miniscule chance, really, but you’ve proven before you are quite capable of completing your quests to their fullest extent. Still, I know when the jig is up.” Discord bowed, lowering his head to the eye level of the average pony. “I am ready to accept any and all punishments my princesses have devised. But first, may I offer a few words in my defence?”

Cadance took a few stomping steps towards Discord, pointing her horn right below his jaw at point blank range. “You get one.”

Discord flashed a smile and winked. “Bye.” He snapped his claw, and a ploom of smoke erupted from the ground, blinding Twilight and everyone else. Twilight lashed out with her magic, and through the heavy smoke she could see the flare of Cadance’s magic as well. Yet, though she felt her spell of binding hit something, it had no effect except to draw out Discord’s laughter and a series of squeaks.

Quickly changing tactics, Twilight cast a wind spell. With a single strong gust of air, she blew away the smoke, and unintentionally, she sent Discord flying away as well. He had turned himself into a balloon animal. His body was comprised of dozens of long balloons tied and twisted, and he floated and bobbed on the strong gust Twilight’s spell had created.

“I’ve got him!” Shining sprinted forward to catch Discord before he had even gotten a block away. He leapt up to tackle Discord, and his body connected with the tied balloon animal form Discord had taken. Yet, when the pair crashed to the ground, Discord’s body made a distinctive squeak as all the air shifted to one side. His eyes and limbs bulged, and then the air rushed back. Shining was sent flying back like he had just pounced on a inflatable bounce house, and he flopped into a bush that bordered the street.

Twilight glanced back at Nyx and Spike. “Help Shining!” She then turned her head to Cadance. “We’ll go after Discord.”

Cadance smiled and nodded, and the pair of princesses spread their wings before taking off after Discord, who was now trying to run down the street and squeaking like a chorus of chew toys being chomped on by dozens of dogs. Twilight launched another spell, this time trying to chain Discord down to the ground. The chain formed, it grasped one of his legs, but as soon as it snapped taut, the balloons of the limb broke apart. Discord hopped along on a single leg for a few seconds, but the dozen balloons that made up his horse leg quickly gravitated back to their correct positions. Soon, he was running along, and laughing, as if he had felt nothing more than a tickle.

Twilight tried spell after spell to pin down Discord. She even tried a spell that manifested a large, magical pin that tried to jab him in the foot. The pin was unable to pierce his chaotic magic balloons. It bounced off, and ended up skewering the roof of the local fabric shop. It almost looked like an appropriate decoration, considering the fake, oversized roll of fabric that was mounted on the roof of the shop.

Cadance was being less inventive with her spells. She relied on the basics of blasting and bubbling. Her blasts hit, but they ended up only helping Discord. The force of their impact would send him bouncing down the street, giving him extra momentum until he was finally able to right himself and run on his own legs again. When she tried to bubble him, it would slow him down, but the balloons of his body would begin to bounce off the interior. Each bounce he gained more momentum until, finally, he managed to crash out of the barrier bubble and resume his escape through the town.

All the while, Twilight’s ears were assaulted by the infernal squeaking of his balloon body, which was leading her to try more and more aggressive spells.

Still, nothing she tried was able to catch Discord, and he was slowly starting to pull ahead of the pair of pursuing princesses. Twilight leaned into the wind and managed to fly faster, to match Discord’s ever increasing speed, but Cadance was beginning to fall behind. Though that wasn’t stopping her from hurling spells in Discord’s direction, even if they were starting to miss by fairly wide margins.

Twilight lost sight of Discord as he grabbed a lamppost and used it to swing around a corner, dramatically changing his direction for the first time in what had been a fairly linear chase. Twilight had to tilt her wings and bank hard to make the same turn without losing any speed. Rainbow Dash would have probably been able to pull off the maneuver flawlessly, but Twilight was not as practiced a flyer. She took the turn too wide, and soon crashed head first into a stack of hay on the side of the road.

Flailing around inside the hay, it took Twilight a few moments to get her bearings and dig her way to the surface. She popped her head out and shook it firmly, trying to cast off the bits of hay that were clinging to her. She then looked around, trying to spot where Discord had gone. He wouldn’t get away. She was going to make him understand just how much trouble he was in for sending them on such a wild goose chase.

At least, he would have been, if Twilight’s eyes hadn’t glanced down the street and seen what was going on at the end of the road.

She climbed out of the hay and walked to the center of the street. There, Twilight just stared a moment, trying to take in everything she was seeing. She heard wing flaps come up behind her, and they were soon accompanied by a voice. “Where is he?” she heard Cadance ask, but then her sister-in-law fell silent as well. In the periphery of her vision she saw Cadance walk up beside her, but she did not glance away. Her eyes remained transfixed on what lay before them. Soon, she heard the sound of hooves as well. Shining, Spike, and Nyx caught up, and like Cadance, they were only able to ask a question or two before they joined Twilight in her awe-struck stare.

At the end of the street was a celebration, a festival filled with hundreds of ponies that were crammed together in front of the crystalline, treehouse palace. Snack tables were stacked high with boxes upon boxes of filly scout cookies. There were balloons, streamers, music, and dancing. But all that was slowly being replaced with cheers and applause as the crowd became aware of their presence. From the balcony of the palace, Twilight could see her friends and fellow princesses waving down at them. Princess Celestia and Luna were forming words with their magic, a glimmering banner that appeared above the castle.

“Welcome Home!” was what the magic read, and it was what so many of the voices in the crowd were cheering as Twilight, Cadance, Shining, Nyx, and Spike looked on in disbelief.

~~~

The cheers of the crowd surrounded Twilight and her family, brother and sister-in-law included, as they stood on the steps of the castle. It was like being awash in positivity. Cheers, applause, and shouts formed a cacophony, making any individual words said incomprehensible. Yet the sentiment was undeniable. Princess Luna and Celestia stood to the left and right, sharing in the moment but also using a bit of magic to keep the clamoring crowd at bay. Twilight’s friends were standing in front of them, and they were now stepping back as Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy pushed open the doors. As the entryway swung up, they in unison said, “Welcome Home!”

The moment the doors were all the way open, Twilight’s body went an auto pilot. It walked forward, leading everyone into the library, but her head was craning in all directions. The air was caught in her chest. Last time she had seen the tree trunk like foyer of her castle, it had been little more than a large empty room. There had been a simple staircase that lead up to the castle proper, and a few columns for decorations. To her, it was similar to the foyer at Canterlot Castle. A grand entryway that’s only purpose was to be a prelude to the rest of the palace.

But over the week she had been gone, it had been transformed. It was a library now, a beautiful, jaw-dropping library. The bookshelves hugged the interior walls’ crystal tree trunk, stretching from the ground floor all the way to the ceiling, where the trunk joined with the rest of the palace. A spiraling staircase circled the interior, stopping at a total of seven landings that formed rings along the trunk’s interior. Each landing was an interior balcony that provided access to a section of the bookshelves. Several reading chairs and tables also occupied each landing, making the place truly feel like a library.

Twilight could hear her friends speaking to her, telling her what they had done. Her mind was incapable of processing the exact words, but the gist managed to break through the euphoria she was experiencing. While she was away, they had taken the initiative to make the palace feel like a real home. They had done a lot of things, and added several of their own personal touches, but one of the key centerpieces of the renovation had been the library. It wasn’t filled with many books yet, but Twilight could already picture it. Every shelf, stocked to the brim with rows upon rows of books. It made her feel weak in the knees.

She would have happily collapsed right there, but her friends scooped her up and began leading the tour group up the stairs. Carried in Rarity’s magic, Twilight floated in the air as her mind just tried to take it all in. She saw Spike and Nyx riding Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s backs respectively. Nyx was asking a thousand questions a minute. Questions that weren’t being answered, but she didn’t seem to care. Twilight had seen it before, her daughter was just trying to vent her excitement. Spike was a lot less chatty, but the smile on his face was undeniable.

Twilight’s body lazily rotated in the grip of Rarity’s levitation spell, and she could see Cadance and Shining taking up the rear of the group with Celestia and Luna. They were asking some questions of their own, though theirs seemed more focused on what Celestia and Luna were doing there. The princesses were claiming they had helped with the renovation, and Cadance seemed to be calling their bluff. That and giggling at the thought of her two aunts in overalls, holding paint brushes and other tools of the construction trade.

They were halfway up the library’s spirally staircase, having left the fourth landing behind when Twilight noticed small gaps in the bookshelves. Interspaced symmetrically along the bottoms circumference of the otherwise seamless shelves were small alcoves. While most were empty, Twilight saw two varieties of things occupying some of the alcoves.

Most of the alcoves that were occupied were filled with statues depicting different moments in time. In a way, it was a reflections of the stained glass mirrors in Canterlot, but it wasn’t just the big saving-the-world events. One statue depicted Discord holding Fluttershy’s hoof with his claw, commemorating the day he made his first friend. Another was carved to resemble Luna playing a game amidst costumed ponies, depicting her first Nightmare Night.

Those alcoves not occupied by statues had display cases that contained relics and mementos from similarly significant events. Rarity had donated the fire ruby from the day Spike’s greed got the best of him along with a hoof written note, both of which were displayed in one case. The shattered pieces of Zecora’s doorstop, which played the role of a fake magical amulet occupied another case. The shards of Nyx’s old armor, damaged in defending Ponyville from the creatures of the Everfree Forest and Fluttershy’s Mare-Do-Well costume were also on display.

In a way, the library doubled as a museum to friendship, giving physical shape to the many lessons she and her friends had learned over the years. It was a fitting foyer to the palace belonging to the Princess of Friendship. Twilight would have smothered her friends with “Thank you’s” for just doing this much, but they were beginning to near the top of the stairs. There was still the rest of the castle to see, and Twilight couldn’t even comprehend what else her friends had done for her.

~~~

After the library, each of Twilight’s friends took turns showing off different sections of the castle. Pinkie Pie and Rarity went first, giving a tour of what they called the business section of the castle. “This is where we see you performing a majority of your royal duties,” Rarity said with a grand sweeping gesture of her horn. They were passing by several doors as they walked towards a large set of double doors at the hallway’s end. “You’ll be able to meet with dignitaries, contemplating matters of the nation, and other similar royal duties in one of the many rooms, each of which has its own unique theme related to the Elements of Harmony, the sun, the moon, and the Crystal Empire.”

“Let’s not forget about throwing amazing parties!” Pinkie Pie cheered as they reached the double doors, which swung open to reveal a grand ballroom. “This ballroom is perfect for any kind of party. You could have your own Gala, or put your hooves in the air with a super fun dance party. It’s even got a disco ball, Twilight! A disco ball!”

Rarity cleared her throat, though the smile did not leave her face. “Yes, Pinkie Pie also assured that the connecting kitchen is more than capable of supplying all the food and beverages any such party should need.”

“Yay, and I worked with Rarity to make sure the ballroom could have the super fun party stuff it could ever need, but that’s all nice and hidden away so it can be super fancy. The disco ball is hiding as part of the fancy, schmancy chandelier. Isn’t that amazing?!”

“Not as amazing as the palace garden,” Rainbow said, trying to urge the group to move from the ballroom to the palace’s large, connecting, exterior balcony. Like a baton pass in a relay race, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy took the reigns of the tour, directing everyone to stand along the balconies railing and look down at the garden below.

“Yeah, that’s a pool,” Rainbow Dash said with a firm nod as Twilight and everyone else took in the view from above. The centerpiece of the garden was a one-half scale statue of the Tree of Harmony, which stood on a small island in the center of the donut shaped pool. Like rings on a dart board, the rest of the garden spread out from there. A sundeck surrounded the pool, occupied by a few lounge chairs which looked perfect for enjoying a midday nap. Surrounding the sundeck was the actual garden part of the castle gardens. It was populated by lush trees, vibrant flower beds, and carpeted in soft, green grass. From their vantage point Twilight could also see a few woodland critters and birds happily going about their business amongst the flora.

“We originally didn’t plan on doing anything outside,” Fluttershy said. She had a small blush on her cheeks and a slight uneasiness in her voice. “But, in the end, the garden turned out so lovely. It’s comprised of flowers and trees that occur naturally in the area around Ponyville, so it creates a naturally balanced ecosystem of flora and fauna. The little critters and birds have also promised to help keep the garden nice and clean, since they love their new home near the palace so much.”

“And did you see the pool?” Rainbow Dash asked, drawing a few chuckles from the group. She swooped down and flew once around the replica Tree of Harmony. “It’s nice and deep, so you can dive in just about anywhere. And do you see the green stuff at the bottom. They’re plants that will actually keep the water clean. You have a lawn at the bottom of your pool? How sweet is that?” Rainbow shouted before doing a loop-de-loop and diving into the water.

“It’s a naturally occurring type of river grass Zecora told us about,” Fluttershy said as she and everyone else watched Rainbow swim to the bottom of the pool and walk around on the soft carpet of green. “You’ll have to trim it every once in a while, since there aren’t any fish in the pool to eat the grass, but I personally think it’s a lot better than having to clean the pool with magic or harmful chemicals.”

Rainbow Dash returned to the surface, spraying water out of her mouth before shouting up at the balcony. “Hey! Tell them about the tree.”

“Which tree?” Twilight asked, her eyes moving from Rainbow’s antics in the pool to the surrounding garden.

“A Golden Apple Tree, courtesy of myself and the princesses,” Applejack said, pointing at a particular tree at the back of the garden. It was just a sapling, but it had been given a fairly secluded place to grow, with a perimeter of open grass separating it from most of the other bushes, trees, and flowers. “It doesn’t look like much yet, but Princess Celestia’s little Goldie down there will grow fast. By this time next year, you’ll be having your own golden apples.”

“And golden apple cider,” Rainbow Dash said. She had flown out of the pool, and was now letting herself dry off as she hovered on just the other side of the balcony railing. “Which, by the way, sounds awesome.”

“Yeah, it does, but I think it’s about time we got to the last part of the castle,” Applejack said, directing the group to head back inside. “After all, when y’all aren’t taking care of royal business, it’s where you’ll be able to hang yer hats.”

~~~

The last section of the castle, the home section as Applejack called it, was a few rooms on the highest floor of the castle. Accessible only through a pair of double doors at the top of a staircase, it was secluded. Yet, there was a good reason for it. Behind the doors was a part of the castle where the rooms were a little less grand and a little more welcoming. Rooms that were cozy and quiet, losing much of the grandeur that was prevalent in the rest of the palace.

The double doors opened into a shared living space occupied by comfortable chairs and a few additional bookcases, a place for Twilight to keep a very personal collection of books. One of the shelves was already occupied by a full collection of Daring Do books, which had been scrounged and assembled by Rainbow Dash in the final hours of the renovation.

From the living room a pony could reach a kitchen on one side, or head down a narrow hallway on the other which lead to a pair of bedrooms and shared bathroom for Nyx and Spike. Finally, a staircase up from the living room lead to Twilight's private bedroom and study. In some ways, it was an evolution on the layout of the Golden Oaks Library, one that accounted for the fact that as Spike and Nyx got older, they would have a greater need for their own bedrooms.

“I can’t believe you did all this,” Twilight said, tears in her eyes as she hugged her friends. “This is just… amazing. How did you pull this off?”

“Well, it wasn’t easy. We had a few rough patches along the way,” Applejack said, her words eliciting a few chuckles from the other mares in the group. “It also took a lot of help. All them ponies outside, we couldn't have done it without them. Heck, even the princesses took off their crowns and helped. We took plenty of pictures too, so you can see for yourself everyone that lent a hoof. Couldn’t have done it without Discord either.”

“Discord...” Twilight blinked a few times as she stared at Applejack, then slapped her forehead with her hoof. “He was the distraction, wasn’t he?”

Applejack nodded as the group began moving again. They were leaving the “home” part of the castle behind, heading back down into more public facing areas of the palace. “Eeyup. He was in on this from the start, but I hope he didn’t make things too chaotic for all of ya. It seemed like the best way he could help, and it kept him out of our manes.”

“Trust us, we really didn’t need anymore chaos going around,” Rainbow said. “Though, you have to tell us, how long did it take you to figure out that spell he made up was fake?”

“Well… there’s a funny story about that, and about Discord’s whole distraction,” Twilight said as the group reached the bottom of a set of stairs and began walking towards the palace’s throne room. “But I’ll tell you all later over dinner or something. It’s a long story, but I suppose I can’t be too angry at him anymore.”

“I can,” Cadance said, though she was smirking. “Where is Discord right now anyway?”

Fluttershy looked up at her mane, where a tiny origami version of herself peaked out. It was soon accompanied by another origami pony, one fashioned to match Rainbow Dash. “He sent a little message saying he was going to give you some time to calm down. He’ll be back later.”

“Though I hope he stops making those origami things. They’re kind of creepy,” Rainbow Dash added as she stared at the little paper clone of herself.

“Okay, then what happened to the library?” Nyx asked. She and Spike had been passed around the group as different ponies took turns giving the tour, and now found themselves riding on Shining Armor’s back.

“Yeah, what happened to the stump?” Twilight reached out for the throne room doors with her magic, beginning to pull them open. “When we got there, it looked like it had been dug up, and—”

Twilight finished opening the doors to the throne room. Her words died in her throat and smiles grew on her friends’ faces as she looked up at the ceiling. There, a grand chandelier had been made out of tree roots. Roots she could only assume came from the Golden Oaks Library. The wood had been polished, cleaned, preserved with a light stain, and its natural shape had been accented with some light carvings. From its many roots hung numerous gemstones. “What is this?” Twilight asked as she gently lifted off the ground and flew up amongst the gemstones.

Applejack walked over to the throne with her cutie mark on and took a seat. “Well, it was an idea the seven of us had. We were looking over everything while eating lunch yesterday. Ponies were moving in the furniture, and we were double checking the plans. That was when Luna realized we hadn’t done anything in here.”

“We had a long debate at first of whether or not anything needed to be done to this room, or if there was ample time left,” Luna said. “Once the decision was made something needed to be done, the debate then shifted into what should be done. We agreed that anything that was put in here needed to be significant. Like the library below us, anything done in here should represent a cornerstone of the renovation. Applejack then asked a very simple question. What was it that you liked most about the library?”

Rarity chuckled a little as she walked over to her throne, taking a seat to get off her hooves for a moment. “For a while all we talked about was books, though we agreed adding more book shelves in here would probably be a bit redundant. But then we started talking about all the good memories we shared with you in the library. That is, after all, part of what makes any house a home. It was then our dear Applejack had the most wonderful idea.”

“You made the roots of the library into a chandelier,” Twilight said, understanding now where the stump had gone. “How did you manage that while keeping them in such excellent condition?”

Applejack motioned towards Celestia and Luna with a hoof. “That’s where we got lucky the princesses decided to come and help. Would have probably taken a dozen ponies working for days to dig up all them roots and get them ready. I mean, the library wasn’t no sapling. Why, if it was just the five of us, I don’t know how long it would have taken.”

“It would have taken longer than a musical number sung while you were shopping for mattresses with Spike, that’s for sure.” Pinkie giggled as she jumped and landed in her own throne. She then spun herself around, her hooves near the top of the throne and her head pointed towards the floor.

“Right,” Applejack said, smiling but shaking her head at Pinkie’s strange sitting position. “But with their magic, we were able to pull it off. And it’s more than just a fancy, wooden chandelier. Take a look closely at one of those gems.”

Twilight did just that, holding a jewel in her hoof and noticing that, contained within, was a small picture. “The ornaments on the chandelier are reminders of all the good memories we’ve made together,” Fluttershy said as she took a seat in her throne. “Like the time we shared donuts after the Grand Galloping Gala, or the very first party Pinkie Pie threw for you in Ponyville.”

Rainbow Dash snickered as she flew a circle around the chandelier then landed in her throne. “I wanted to leave out the time you beat me and Applejack at the Running of the Leaves, but the others convinced me to keep it in.”

“Perhaps more than anyone, Twilight, I’ve seen how much coming to Ponyville has let you grow.” Celestia’s familiar, warm voice drew Twilight attention away from the ornaments. She began to descend from the chandelier, landing in the center of the circle of thrones as she looked at Celestia. “As the number of ornaments on the chandelier can attest, you’ve made so many wonderful memories. It is important to always be looking to the future, to the many wonderful days that are still to come as you continue to live with your friends here in Ponyville. As I recall, you once wrote a letter to me about trinkets, about things that help you remember the past, both the good and the bad.

“We hope that this chandelier will help you remember the Golden Oaks Library, and all the good memories you made there, fondly.”

Twilight was in tears again. She rubbed at her eyes, then smiled and gestured with a hoof towards Nyx and Spike. They got down from Shining’s back, and moved over beside her. She then proceeded to pick them up and carry them up into the ornaments of the chandelier. She wanted to share the view from up there with them. To share the sensation of being surrounded by so many good memories, given to them by the same mares who had put such time and effort into giving them their new home. It was nostalgic bliss. The roots not only encapsulated memories, but Twilight almost felt like she was back in the old library when she shut her eyes. The wooden smell of the roots filled her nose, and Twilight hugged Spike and Nyx tight as they just basked in the moment. There was no room left in her heart for sadness, not after being given so much by their friends, both in the past, present, and likely the future.

“Thank you, so much. It’s perfect,” Twilight said a few minutes later, when she descended to the floor. She let Nyx and Spike free from her embrace, the pair stepping down the floor as Twilight backed up towards her throne. “I really can’t tell you how much this all means to me. Thank you. Thank you. A million times, thank you. I don’t know what I could ever do the repay you for all you've done.”

She sat in her throne, and felt an odd surge in magic. She felt a tingle on her cutie mark, and now noticed that the six thrones were glowing slightly. There was a rumble in the castle, and she looked up to see her friends cutie marks and their thrones were glowing. Crystal rose and shifted on the floor, and in the center of the thrones a large table grew into existence. It glowed with magic, a depiction of Equestria appearing like a ghostly projection.

“What’s this, a map?” Twilight asked as she and her friends looked over the table from their seats. Cadance, Shining, Celestia, and Luna approached the table as well while Spike and Nyx had to scamper over to Spike’s throne to get a high enough vantage point to see. It was as Twilight described, a mystical map of Equestria and the land beyond. The strange occurrence, however, was not done. Magical projections of the six mares’ cutie marks disconnected from their thrones, and circled down to the table where they were hovering over a part of the map far north of Ponyville.

Fluttershy extended a hoof, pointing to two different parts of the map. “And if this is Ponyville, why are our cutie marks over there?”

“It’s hard to say,” Celestia said as the magical map disappeared, leaving behind only the crystalline table. “But I would venture a guess that the Tree of Harmony, or perhaps the castle itself, is trying to help you fulfill your duty as the Princess of Friendship. There is no telling what could await you in that far off corner of Equestria, but I don’t doubt that all of you will be able to handle it. And, I don’t believe the matter is so pressing that it can’t wait until tomorrow.”

“Or perhaps the day after, considering what Discord possibly put you through,” Luna said. “Today, let us focus on celebrating your return home, and the completion of your palace. As Pinkie Pie would say, let us party!”

“No no no no.” Pinkie Pie jumped up from her throne, walked across the table, and used it to put herself at eye level with Princess Luna. “You have to say it right.”

“I thought I did.”

“You were close. Now say it with me now. Let’s party!”

“Let us party!”

Pinkie Pie shook her head firmly, and put her teeth together to sharply hiss, almost like a snake. “Let’sssss party.”

“Ah, yes… the contraction. My apologies.” She cleared her throat and then raised a hoof to the air. “Let’s Party!”

“You heard the princess!” Pinkie Pie cheered.

~~~

After putting in so much hard work, the volunteers on the castle project were more than happy to cut loose. Twilight made a speech from the balcony, thanking everyone for all their effort, and that was the only formality the volunteers had to endure. After that, Discord and Pinkie Pie ensured there was plenty of fun, music, food, and drinks to satisfy the army of ponies that had made the renovations possible. It was also Discord’s way of apologizing for perhaps going overboard with his distraction. Twilight begrudgingly accepted it after a firm lecture, but Cadance required a little more coercion.

Discord didn’t get her to stop glaring daggers at him until he presented her with a pickled, red-velvet cake, the exact thing her pregnant hormones had her craving at that particular moment.

In all, the party was filling Nyx up with so much happiness, she couldn’t feel very sad about the library. The biggest contribution to the grin on her face was the present from her friends. A new treasure book, filled with things to replace those she had lost. It also had a few pictures from the renovations, when the Crusaders had finally been allowed to help. They had made a few messes, and Scootaloo still had a hunk of gem in her mane when they ended up spilling some crystal mortar. Still, Nyx found herself laughing at the pictures and the stories they accompanied. They were all excellent additions to her book.

Still, Discord was starting to manifest some games, and Nyx was now sprinting up the castle’s interior to put her book away. It was a lot of stairs, though, so upon reaching the third of the seven circular landings, Nyx stopped to rest. She set her new treasure book on a nearby reading table, one of many in what Twilight intended to make a publicly accessible library. She was a princess and a mare with marvelous magic, but Twilight had also grown fond of being the town’s at least part time librarian.

As Nyx caught her breath and rested her legs, she moved to the banister of the third landing and looked down. It was such an amazing place, it was hard to believe this was where she, Spike, and Twilight would be living. She was personally really thankful Applejack made their rooms, their “home,” a small subsection of the whole castle. It, in a way, reflected the Golden Oaks Library. There had been the more public facing areas, but the library had the second floor where they could get some privacy as a family.

No one had said anything about hiring staff yet, but Nyx had a feeling it was only a matter of time. The palace was too big for them to take care of it themselves, and as it began to fulfill its duties as a castle of Equestria’s newest princess, there would need to be staff to tend to the day to day matters. At the very least, as Spike pointed out, they would certainly need help keeping the place clean.

Stepping back from the banister, Nyx stretched her legs and felt she was just about ready to tackle the last half of the climb up the stairs. She picked up her treasure book, and was about to walk to the base of the next staircase when she caught a glimpse of one of the library’s alcoves. She had noticed this particular alcove during their tour of the palace, but hadn’t been able to linger and really look at it.

The alcove in particular stood right near where the spiralling staircase up to the next landing began. It was one of the alcoves that held a display case. The case itself was a stout, wooden podium with a rectangle of glass on top. The glass sealed away and protected the artifact within, and it was an artifact Nyx was all too familiar with.

It was her old helmet, the one that had become battered, dented, and sliced when she fought against the creatures of the Everfree. It had been set upon a mannequin head, one she imagined approximated what would be her adult features, just as it was. Not a single mark or imperfection had been buffed out. The damage was part of the display, though Nyx found the small plaque that accompanied the helmet a bit strange.

“The Helm of Nyx Sparkle.”

She wasn’t entirely sure if she had taken on Twilight’s second name. No one had called her Nyx Sparkle before, though she wouldn’t deny, she kind of liked how it sounded. It was a question of what Twilight had written on the adoption papers, and a question to be answered at a later date. Yet, the thing that should have been bothering her more was that her name appeared at all. She had never before considered the helmet hers. It had always belonged to Nightmare Moon.

She should have been angry, but instead, she was indifferent.

“Ah, there she is. There’s our little business partner.”

Nyx flinched and turned around, holding back her treasure book defensively before she realized who it was. It was Flam, noticeably lacking his brother Flim. The moustached stallion finished climbing the last few steps of the staircase that connected down to the second landing, and approached Nyx with what appeared to be a very confident smile.

Still, despite his unexpected appearance, Nyx was smiling. “What are you doing here? Where did you and Flim disappear to this morning? How did you even get here?”

“Asking as many questions as ever, I see,” Flam said. “My brother and I had to check on an existing investment to see if it could be liquidated. After that we found ourselves close enough to a town that had more frequent trains than Lumberton. So we decided to visit a few certain ponies and tidy up a few business deals.”

Nyx placed her treasure book on her back, letting the aura of magic around her horn fade. “You mean you went back to see if you could find your cart of gems.”

“That would be the laymare’s version, but accurate.” Flam stopped a few steps away from Nyx. His eyes flicked up to the helmet display, but quickly returned to her. “Unfortunately, diamond dogs or someone else absconded with it. My brother is actually looking for your mother, to file a formal theft complaint and discuss a royal reward. We did help a rather important filly and dragon escape from a dangerous situation, after all.”

“That’s true, but that same filly and dragon were the reason we all escaped from the belly of a giant, two headed snake,” Nyx said with a smirk.

“A business savvy counterpoint,” Flam said, chuckling a little. “I imagine your mother’s using that same argument with Flim. But I do believe we had another arrangement. As I’m sure you’ll recall, you promised my brother and I a sample of your magic and feathers.”

Nyx nodded. “I did, but only if you answered a question truthfully.”

Flam gently pulled at his moustache with a bit of his green-apple colored magic. “I believe my brother and I answered that question quite honestly.”

A frown formed on Nyx’s lips as she recalled their answer from that night out in the forest. They claimed they were con ponies because selling something that had actually worked was too much effort. “Is the answer the same now?”

Flam didn’t answer right away. He stroked his moustache a few times, looking down at Nyx as if needing to consider the question for himself. A single, short laugh emanated from his throat a few seconds later, and he shook his head. “No, I suppose it isn’t entirely true anymore. Though being eaten was not ideal, my brother and I got a taste of a world where our inventions actually worked. It wasn’t bad.”

Nyx wore a cheeky smile, the smile of a mare who was trying to hold back an I-told-you-so. “Well, that doesn’t change the fact I think your original answer wasn’t the honest truth. I think you stopped making things that actually worked because you were scared of failure, not because it was easier. That means I don’t have to give you anything.”

“Now look who’s trying to pull off a con,” Flam said, giving Nyx a little, playful nudge on the shoulder. “After all those questions I answered for you that night, you’re going to try and skip out on your part of the agreement.”

“You can only really blame yourself. You were a bad influence on me,” Nyx said before she and Flam shared an enjoyable chuckle, the kind that just leaves you smiling even after the laughter had died away. “So, what are you and your brother going to do now?”

“We’re considering making a new Super Cider Squeezy, the seven thousand edition.” Flam swept his hoof through the air, as if he was spreading out the words on an invisible sign. “But, instead of using it ourselves, this time we’re going to probably just sell it. It may be less profit than owning the cider market, but building, inventing, and maintaining equipment like that can be lucrative in its own right. After all, there are plenty of ponies that make shovels for a living, but you don’t see them out digging the holes.”

“I like that plan.”

“Thank you,” Flam said with a little tip of his hat. “What about you, kid? Do you still want to grow a fine mustache like mine?”

Nyx giggled, remembering the conversation she and Flam had near the river. She looked back at the helmet in the display case. She still didn’t want to be a princess, but being like everypony else… if that was true, then she and her family might still be in the belly of the Ouroboros. It was because of her uncommon origins that she had the magic to escape her dream, which let her and Spike rescue everyone else. That and, as she thought back, she realized something.

When she appeared in Twilight’s dream, like Spike, she had made herself bigger, stronger, and more mature. But unlike Spike, who’s super heroic form was entirely fantasy, she had taken on a probable shape. She had made herself into Nightmare Moon, without even noticing or thinking about it. She had even worn the armor as she and Spike battled against the dream manifestation of Tirek, but her cutie mark had remained the same.

In that dream, Nightmare Moon, or rather Nyx Sparkle, had helped save the ponies and dragon she cared about. Perhaps that was why seeing the helmet on display, seeing her helmet on display, hadn’t bothered her as much as she would have believed.

“No, I think I’d look silly with a moustache,” Nyx finally answered as she looked back at Flam. “You should talk to Spike, though. He’s always wanted one.” Nyx turned, using her magic to lift the book off her back again. “My friends are waiting for me downstairs. I should hurry up and put my new book away.”

“I’d better go find my brother then. The famous Flim Flam Brothers always negotiate better when they're together.”

“I’m sure you do,” Nyx said as she began to climb the stairs. She stopped though, and looked back at Flam. “Thanks again for helping me and Spike.”

“It was no trouble, kid,” Flam said as he began to walk towards the staircase that headed down.

“And when you finish your next great invention, you should bring it here. I’d love to see it.”

“Only if you promise to give us a royal endorsement, Princess Nyx,” Flam said, giving a final tip of his hat before he began descending the staircase back towards the ground floor. Nyx herself giggled before she turned and resumed her climb towards the top of the castle.

Discord had distracted them so that their friends could make the new palace feel more like home. In that regard, their mission was an undeniable success. Yet, so much more good had come of the trip than just that. Unlike Twilight and Cadance, who were holding Discord responsible for taking things too far, Nyx found herself wanting to thank him. Perhaps his reasons had been on the selfish side. Distracting them was, in some ways, a free pass to be mischievously chaotic. Yet, intentional or not, Discord had helped Twilight through the guilt she was feeling about the library. He gave Nyx and Spike a chance to save the day. Perhaps Cadance and Shining could have been spared the trek through the mountains, but it was certainly a wonderful story to tell their foal.

Working together as a family, overcoming the obstacles before them, had helped returning to Ponyville really feel like they were coming home. The library would be missed, but in the end it wasn’t what defined their family or their lives in Ponyville. What was really important were the ponies and other creatures they cared about. Their friends and family were the ones that comforted them when they were sad, laughed with them when they were happy, and helped them grow mentally and emotionally as time went by.

The road had been long, but Nyx couldn’t be any happier to be home.

=====================================================================

The End

=====================================================================

Author's Note:

This story ended up being a lot longer and taking a lot longer than I could have originally anticipated, but I think it was well worth it. I hope everyone has had a good time, especially those of you who like to wait until a story is finished before diving in. This story actually ended up being longer than Winter Bells by a few thousand words, which together means these two stories are about equal in length to the current version of Past Sins. So many hundreds of thousands of words devoted to this little variance of Equestria, but it always feels good to type those final two words at the end of a story.

So thank you all for reading. I'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone that pre-read and provided editing for the stories, including those of you who PM'd me corrections. And for the last time on this particular story, I say the usual words. If you notice any typos, please PM them to me so I can correct them like a stealthy ninja.

With all that said, I truly hope you've enjoyed The Road Home.

Comments ( 138 )

i really like this sequel for Past Sins and your welcome for reading

Is it wrong I want another story in this universe that will have to do with Starlight, or is it just me?

:yay: Fin!

Congrats on finishing this awesome story! It was absolutely great!

I felt like this was a true sequel to past sins, and was an excellent story to boot.

I cried during the third episode of season five... I OUTRIGHT WEPT AT THIS CHAPTER! You are a beautiful person. Thank you.

Twas a good story.

This was just, in the words of rainbow dash, AWESOME! Hope yo see more adventures with Nyx and Twi! Have them deal Sunset Shommer, the The Dazzling in Equestria Girls! Im sure you could pull of a human Nyx that is just as Adorable as she is as a pony! LEts see them give Star Light The Ol' Sparkle one-Two! What ever you do, I look forward to it!

Question why in the whole past sins series does Nyx never call twilight mom?

I must say, the ending brought me to happy tears, well done indeed, well done! :pinkiehappy:

6505627

I actually intended at one point to try and work an answer to that into this story, but seeing as I failed at that I'll provide a little insight into my own mental process for that.

Part of the reason is that, to Nyx, the name "Twilight" came first. Nyx knew Twilight by her proper name well before they their relationship grew into a mother-daughter dynamic, and thus that's the name that sticks. You see it a bit at conventions. You can meet an online friend for the first time, even learn their real name, but you'll still talk to them and use their online name when addressing them because that's what your used to. Changing the name you associate with an item or person can be easy for some, but it can be difficult for others.

The other half of the equation is Twilight. I don't see her correcting Nyx, or to phrase it another way, actively trying to get Nyx to call her "Mom." Thus, with Twilight not correcting, the use of her regular name instead of "mom" falls into a weird state of limbo. Both of them identify and respect their mother-daughter relationship, but the actual use of the word "mom" falls into use as a special case. It Nyx is truly scared, she'll call out for her mom instead of just Twilight. Or, if Twilight is nose deep in a book and isn't hearing Nyx call her name, she'll change over to "Mom" to finally get Twilight's attention.

In any case, I hope that provides some insight, even if I didn't perhaps explain myself or word it appropriately.

Strange that Nyx doesn't say a word throughout the whole tour.
Does Twilight's throne now have 2 mini thrones?
Does Nyx now have her own room?

Once again you've proven yourself a very capable writer. This was a lot of fun.

One problem that I felt throughout the entire story was that it lacked the stakes of Past Sins, since it was known from the start that Discord wouldn't let the party get into too much trouble and that things would eventually come around to line up with Home Sweet Home. Nevertheless, the characters and dialogue carried the story the whole way through.

While it's nice to see Nyx in a lighter story than Past Sins or Winter Bells, I think now might be a good time to see her when she's a little older; perhaps taking up her old armour in defence of Equestria and how those around her respond. The best part of Nyx's character was always her conflict - both privately and publicly - against the persona of Nightmare Moon, which I doubt would persist after so many years. I'm curious to see what you do next.

This might even be better than the original. I really enjoyed this story, man. Keep it up!

Beautiful story. I can't wait to read whatever you write next, be it in this universe you've created or another. Nice work.

well as always pen a good story hope for more in the future and good luck with all your stuff. :twilightsmile:

Ri2

Well, that a good ending. One problem, though: you first said there were SEVEN tiers when describing the trunk interior, then wrote a similar paragraph saying there were FIVE.

Ah, journeys end. Always a bittersweet moment. But a welcome moment all the same. This was without a doubt, a great end to a great story.

This has been a wonderful story. Once again you have created something fantastic. Great job.:pinkiehappy::derpytongue2::moustache:

6505537
Not just you. But it's all up to Pen Stroke, whether he wants to do it or skip it like he did with the other villains. Either way, if/when a new story is added to this verse, I'm sure it'll be great.

I always feel a bit melancholy whenever a good story ends, but end they must or they become trite. Thank you for taking us on this great journey and for delivering us back to this wonderful home.

So, until we can travel together again... may your home be filled with fine food, warm laughter, and family that that is deserving of both.

nice touches at the end.

But one major Question Remains. How did the EG series? I would think Nyx would follow Twilight through. But how did those stories turned out?

Was it Val Doonican who sung this?

Welcome home.

I still wish Twilight, Discord and Fluttershy had severely abused their freindship of a certain tan stallion in town, to get all the non replaceable memories before the library burned.

I mean, Fluttershy could keep throwing Discord the chew toy at The Hounds Of Tyndalous to keep them occcupied. :yay:

Wow, great new home for the Sparkle Family. I can't wait to see what future adventures they might have there. Got to wonder if Twilight will feel comfortable leaving Nyx and Spike in the castle alone while going off on Cutie Map missions. Especially if Starlight Glimmer escapes.

Still think Discord needs to be punished for subjecting Cadence to stuff that could have hurt the foal, especially the dream snake.

6505663 So Mom is for special occasions? I like that line of thought.

Once again, our beloved author proves that the old saying is true. However, instead of merely quoting it as it was originally phrased, I'll say it how I learned it when I was five.

"The stroke of a pen is far stronger than the stroke of a sword."

Ye've giv'n us yet anoth'r beautiful tale, Lad. Don't ye e'er lose tha' creative spark o' yers.

truly a enjoyable story








stayclassy:moustache:

Thank you for another wonderful story. The Nyx-verse is truly a great and wonderful place. Thank you for it, and I'm really looking forward to further adventures in it. :pinkiehappy:

A fitting end to yet another story in the Past Sins-verse. This was an enjoyable read. I like how you fit in the part with the memories chandelier. My eyes got twingey during that part.

Was hard to keep my eyes dry on this last chapter. Bravo for another story well-told!

Entertaining and tear-jerking since season 1. :) You continue to write wonderous works, Pen Stroke!

The devil is in the details and it's the little things that count the most.

that fic was beautiul, worth the title of "Past Sins Sequel".
I remember I gave it a fav in the first chapter because I already knew it was a great fic.
And Nyx still the best OC filly of all the time.

Takes off hat and claps. well well, I see Nyx is starting to get comfortable with herself, for lack of better words. Anyway that's another good one for the books.

"record scartch" wait a golden apple tree? you didn't.....hehehe Right.

Comment posted by dracone deleted Oct 9th, 2015

Now that this story is done, I can properly give my opinion of it. I think it was much better than the episode, and a really good story. However, it just doesn't feel like a Past Sins story, and I think that's really what put me off it for so long at the beginning. I would rate it higher than most of the stories on this site, but not as good as Past Sins or Winter Bells. Flim and Flam were amazing, and pretty much carried the story for me. So, silver shelf, I would read it again. :pinkiehappy:

6505560 there is a certain user who would strangle you for that statement.

The journey has ended, but the road was well walked. The Road Home left us knowing that Twilight, Nyx, and Spike became better from this experience, learning about themselves, and the people that fill their world. This was an amazing adventure that made me feel like I was going home alongside the Sparkles, making me understand how happy their friends made the three. Thank You Pen Stroke, for making this great story. I can't wait for you to write about this family again.

6506523 Sorry, missed that note

Edit: Taken care of, and the ones in comments have now been removed

This was a lovely story, I look forward to the next one. Do you already have one lined up? Or is it in the works? Can we get an eta on it?

Only one thing to say: LOVED IT!

I love it.

Bravo Bravo!!! *claps*. This is amazing story you have written, I'm so glad to be on this journey of Past Sins.

Thank you for the story!

Pen Stroke, I just want to say thank you for a very good story. :heart:

Amazing work as usual sir. You certainly know when to tug heartstrings and when to tickle funnybones. Speaking of which, I loved all the parts with Discord in them. You captured him perfectly.:twilightsmile:

I really enjoyed this story. I especially liked Flim and Flam's interactions with Spike and Nyx. I look forward to reading more of your stories in the future.

Ah Pinkie, never change!
So much fun.

6506526 He stopped reading like six chapters ago.

“It would have taken longer than a musical number sung while you were shopping for mattresses with Spike, that’s for sure.” Pinkie giggled as she jumped and landed in her own throne.

I see what you did there. :raritywink:

6507150 I find that very funny for some reason...

From the beginning to the end, this have been an awesome story. Discord got lucky with this whole mess, that for sure, as well as Applejack who didn’t even get anything at all (though, to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting any more than a light scolding for her). And there was a lot of sweet moments in the last chapter. In the end, everything got wrap up nicely, so all I can add is great job on this masterpiece.

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