• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Prism

“Tell me, child,” Queen Whitemane uttered while gracefully trotting forward. “Do you know how the Elements of Harmony began?”

“Uhm... I guess?” Rainbow Dash nervously stumbled behind her. She gazed up with momentarily bedazzled eyes as the alicorn led them both into an open courtyard within the palace. The ceiling gave way to a violet sheet of twinkling cosmos as hanging gardens and blossoming trees glittered in the starlight. “I mean, they've always sorta been, right?”

“Everything has a beginning, Rainbow Dash,” Whitemane said as she slowly paced past the gorgeous plantlife. “Just as everything has an ending. It's true for the immortals who came to this plane and gave birth to the likes of me. It is also true for their greatest tool, the very fiber of their beings.” She turned and gazed at the pegasus. “You at least understand that the world was once all alicorns, correct?”

Rainbow Dash fidgeted with the sleeves of her robe. “Erm... yeah?”

“But do you honestly believe that the alicorns began on this world?”

Rainbow bit her lip and said nothing.

Whitemane brushed a hoof over the blooming roses of a passing bush. “Like you, I've had the barriers of time and mortality to challenge my understanding. But, like all families, mine has long carried a tradition of hoofing down knowledge to the lesser generations. What I tell you now is something meant only for alicorn ears, and the seldom few sorcerors of our time who've been blessed to carry the burden of the truth.”

She pivoted around and faced Rainbow Dash with a gentle expression.

“This world was never created,” Whitemane said. “It was found.”

Rainbow's ears folded back. “What? You mean—like—somepony else made it besides the alicorns?”

“Somepony, somebody, something...” Whitemane took a deep breath. “Not all truths in the universe have been understood by my kind. What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of years ago, the alicorns arrived at this plane from their homeland. After a magical flight through the cosmos, they landed here and stopped to curiously study this incidental landscape. At first, it appeared to them as a seemingly innocuous phenonemon. But then, upon closer examination, my forebears discovered life sprouting on its own. Suddenly, they had before them a place of undeniable worth, and as universal protectors of harmony, it was their duty to oversee the progress of this miraculous life.”

Whitemane turned and paced past the trees and blossoms once more.

“It was a joyful task, something that my ancestors reveled in. However, it was not a labor that could be accomplished easily. You see, this plane existed within a cloud of effluent chaos. As a result, the life that was growing here was threatened constantly by forces of destruction and agony. If the alicorns were to ensure harmony, they had to utilize all of the energy in their possession. Essentially, they had to sacrifice themselves. But, there were only so few of them, and this landscape was so large. They faced a dilemma, and they mutually understood that a grim decision faced them.”

“What kind of a decision?”

“Let me ask you something first, Rainbow Dash.” Whitemane smiled gently at her. “What is the world?”

“Huh?”

“By definition.”

“Ugh... if I had known this would be a geography lesson...” Rainbow Dash sighed and leaned against a marble border surrounding a patch of gardens. “Mmmm... From what Cloudsdale Primary taught schoolfillies like me ages ago—well, for the few classes that I was awake in—the world is some sort of flat plane of matter hovering around in chaotic space and... uhm... we're protected by these big bubble-thingies called the 'furry men'—”

“The firmaments.”

“Eh. Yeah. That. I meant to say that.”

“The firmaments surround the plane and keep the elements of phsyicality safe from the vacuum of space and the chaos streams beyond,” Whitemane explained.

“Yeah. And, like, the sun and moon are controlled by the alicorn goddesses who keep the world lit up and safe and prosperous and all that fluff.”

“And is this both sides of the world?” Whitemane looked at Rainbow Dash. “Hmm?”

Rainbow Dash exhaled and avoided the Queen's gaze. “No. There is... there is a bottom side,” she gulped. “A dark side.”

“The dark side of the world...” Whitemane slowly nodded. “The surface that never sees the sun or moon, that only knows twilight and shadows, that is forever pelted by the elements of chaos. You do realize, of course, that the dark side could very easily have been the lit half of the world.”

Rainbow Dash looked up at her. “It could?”

Whitemane nodded. “The dilemma that my forebears ran into was deciding which side of the plane to illuminate with their power. There were only so few alicorns who settled here. The rest were either dwelling in the Plains of Harmony, or exploring the furthest reaches of the universe. My ancestors couldn't rightly abandon this world, so they decided then and there to pool together their resources and create the firmaments so as to protect the life they had discovered. Several of the alicorns made the sacrifice, forever transforming themselves into the energy that would act as barriers against chaos, securing this land and its future for eternity. Those left alive—like the goddesses you know personally—stayed behind to monitor the cosmic bodies that would give illumination and meaning to the realm.”

“I'm guessing... uhm...” Rainbow Dash stirred as she murmured, “There wasn't enough of them to do it to both sides of the plane.”

The Queen solemnly nodded. “If they attempted to monitor both sides of this world, their resources would have been spread too thin. They knew that it was a grim decision to have made, because the side of the world untouched by their glory would forever be abandoned to the essence of chaos. But it was also a necessary choice, because if they had divided their powers, then the world as a whole would not have survived. That is why—to this day—we have a light side and a dark side to this plane, separated merely by the corners of the earth, where they pierce the fabric of the firmaments.”

“So, where do the Elements of Harmony come into play?” Rainbow Dash asked, fidgeting slightly with the pendant around her neck. “Were they just a bunch of alicorns who morphed into magical bling?”

Whitemane chuckled slightly. “No. The Elements belong to a fabric of energy that not even the alicorns could alter. However, they could channel and focus it. And the source of such vibrance comes from the Plains of Harmony, the homeland of all alicorns who spread out across the universe.”

“So... what brought the Elements here, then?”

“Something that every group of alicorns carry with them as they seek out the furthest ends of the cosmos to colonize and spread their glory,” Whitemane said. “It is an object that is forever connected with the enegy of the Plains of Harmony. And, once wielded in the hooves of a pure-bred alicorn, it can refract the beam of vibrance and redistribute it into multiple vessels that embody the same power that protects this world.”

“Yeah. Uh huh.” Rainbow Dash leaned forward, squinting. “Can I have a name, please...?”

“The 'Harmonic Prism,' of course,” Whitemane said. “You mean you've never head of it before?”

“Pfft. Why should I have?”

“What other reason would empower a mortal like you to make such a daunting trip to the Midnight Armory?”

Rainbow Dash sighed and slumped down on her haunches. “Because I'm bored? I dunno...”

“This is hardly a topic to treat lightly.” Whitemane paced towards her. “The Harmonic Prism was what made the creation of the Elements of Harmony possible. Once the six elements were created, the Prism's chief function was to act as a backup, to channel great power from the alicorn homeland in the Plains of Harmony and recreate that which was lost. Now, Rainbow Dash, I know that there is much that you know that you do not wish to confess to me, and I respect that. So, I implore you to at least ask yourself this: has something been lost that the Harmonic Prism can assist in recreating?”

Rainbow Dash bit her lip. She gazed at the ground and slowly nodded.

Whitemane exhaled. “I knew before you even came here that most if not all the elements had been lost. But, I also knew that the world would live on in spite of the destruction of the elements. It wasn't until I met you that I realized that one soul in all the world was attempting to do something about it.”

“You wanna hear a confession?” Rainbow Dash muttered. She gazed up at Whitemane with dull eyes. “I don't really give a crud if this Harmonic Prism thingy can recreate the Elements of Harmony or not.” She gulped, and her voice wavered. “There's nothing in this world—light or dark—that can bring back what I want...”

“And yet you keep flying, keep going, keep seeking a means of reaching the Midnight Armory—where my ancestors placed the Prism for safe-keeping—as if it is the most important task that you have to live for. Do you even know where the Midnight Armory is located?”

“Pfft. Yeah, sure.”

“Do you truly?” Whitemane's pearl-blue eyes narrowed as she trotted slowly around the pegasus. “Do you know the lengths that are left to scale on this surface? The countless miles and stretches of landscape—both forbidding and dangerous—before you can even get halfway towards such a goal? Have you ever asked yourself why you haven't flown north or south? For they are far less lengthy journeys.”

“They'd also end up in me getting totally fried...”

“Because the friction between chaos and the firmaments at the north and south edges of the world are too heated and tempestuous for any single body to even come close to. But do you think that the barrier is any more forgiving on the east edge, Rainbow Dash?” Whitemane momentarily leered above her. “I have seen the edge of the world with my own eyes. I was there seven hundred years ago, as an alicorn foal, taken by my mother and father to witness the work that our immortal ancestors had constructed for the safety of this world. I saw the nebulous fountains of madness that erupted along the bleak precipice of everything. Even a goddess with the protection of magic would find it a perilous task at best to attempt navigating the hellish plummet in a bold but foolish attempt to make it to the surface of the dark world on the other side. And then—what would such an inhospitable landscape offer anypony, much less a lone mortal such as yourself?”

Rainbow Dash said nothing. Her wings were tightly coiled to her side as she stared into the floor.

Whitemane continued. “The darkworld has been untouched, unvisited, and unseen by all civilization—mortals and immortals alike—for countless eons. It is a realm of darkness, suffering, and confusion. There are things there that live but do not know it, for chaos has blinded them for ages, forcing them to feed off of pain like a second oxygen. To reach the Midnight Armory, a soul must not only scale the ends of the earth, but cross the diameter of the sun-less, moon-less horrorscape that is the dark world before the improbable goal can be met. Then and only then, after having miraculously overcome inconceivable odds, would the adventurer even come close to getting her hooves on the Harmonic Prism.”

“If the stupid crystal was so important to the alicorns and everypony,” Rainbow Dash finally mumbled. “Why lock it away in such a crappy place to begin with?”

“Because as horrible as the dark world is, it is not entirely consumed. Furthermore, the animated monstrosities that exist there have not summoned enough strength to attempt an invasion of the sunlit realm, and it is all on account of the Prism's presence.” Whitemane's lips curled ever so slightly. “As the Elements of Harmony were created to assist our world with prosperity, Rainbow Dash, the Midnight Armory was constructed as a means of preserving the one piece of good that could ever exist in the realm of chaos. So long as it exists, then the dark realm possesses the tiniest fraction of good. It was the least the founding alicorns could do to make sure there was a modicum of balance in this world they sought to protect.”

“But.. But if the Prism could re-focus the Elements of Harmony into existence or whatever, why put it so far away that it'd be impossible to reach?”

“You must understand, the Midnight Amory was constructed in a time when the Elements were equally important to the mantenance of the light realm,” Whitemane explained. “Several eons have passed since then, Rainbow Dash, and in that time the goddesses have imbued the prospering life of this world with the power of the Elements themselves. In a way, the Elements of Harmony serve a fraction of the importance that they ever once did. Ponies—in and of their own essence—are as equally important as the tools of the alicorns used to be. Surely I do not need to convince you of this truth—you, who has become an embodiment of one of the Elements herself.”

Rainbow Dash gulped and glanced towards the far ends of the garden. “So... what you're trying to tell me is—”

“What I'm trying to tell you, to show you, to convince you, Rainbow Dash, is that the Elements of Harmony, the physical trinkets that represent the power of my forebearers, are no longer important for the absolute protection of this realm. You, however, are important. You are special and you are precious and you are one of a kind. Yes, you can finish this journey to the Midnight Armory. And, assuming you make it beyond all obstacles, you will have the ability to recreate the other five elements that have been destroyed. But what are the odds that you will actually finish such a journey?”

“Well, I—”

“It will kill you, Rainbow Dash,” Whitemane said. “If not from peril in the many continents left for you to cross between here and the east edge of the world, then most likely in the suicidal attempt to bridge the edge between the light realm and the dark side, and most assuredly in the treacherous death plains of the chaotic half of the earth itself.”

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath. “Your Majesty—”

“And have I mentioned that my ancestors built the Midnight Armory to be impregnable? Not even the horrible creatures of the dark side can enter its gates. And even if you did get the Prism from within, for it to be of any use to you in recreating the Elements, you would have to journey back to the light realm, Rainbow Dash. You would have to perform the same journey—the same length and the same perils and the same risks—all the way back until you can hoof the Prism over to a goddess alicorn of pure blood: all for the sake of recreating things that this world can prosper just fine without by this point in time. So I ask you once again, sincerely... why are you making this journey, a journey that can only end in your very own destruction?”

Rainbow Dash's lips quivered as she stared up at her. Her voice cracked as a foalish breath came out. “I c-can't tell you. You... You wouldn't understand. It... I need to make this journey. I don't care if you don't believe me. I don't care if something will grind me to a pulp before I even get to the edge of the world. I don't even care what the Prism does or doesn't do. I just don't care.” She took a shuddering breath. “No single living soul has made it to the Midnight Armory in forever. But... But I'm going to change that.”

“But why you, Rainbow Dash?” Whitemane leaned down and placed a hoof on the pegasus' shoulder. “Why must you be the one to change the future?”

Rainbow Dash was trembling at this point. Her vision blurred, and when she blinked her eyes to force the tears back into hiding, she swore she saw a fluctuation, a tiny dance of lavender light. She jerked her head to the side, gazing east beyond the chambers and halls of the palace. She saw nothing, and yet she saw everything. A smile cracked out of her, and she sniffled.

“Because I'm sick to death of the past,” she murmured. “And if I don't keep moving, I'll just hate myself forever. So maybe something horrible happens to me. Maybe I run into the edge of world and take a leap and that's the end of my awesomeness forever and ever. So what?” She gulped and glared at Whitemane. “If I stay put, if I refuse to budge, then I know what's gonna consume me. And the last thing I ever wanted to do with my life was let it end by something I could predict.” She stood up, frowning into Whitemane's face. “Would you do any different, no matter how old or how bored you'd be with everything?”

Whitemane gazed in silent reflection. Eventually she shook her head. “No.” She smiled. “No, I suppose I wouldn't be any different. I would, instead, grant you a gift.”

Rainbow Dash's eyes narrowed. “What kind of a gift...?”

“Shhh...” Whitemane's horn glowed as she aimed it slowly towards Rainbow's pendant. “This is only going to help you, child. Do not be afraid.”

“Heh...” Rainbow Dash merely smirked as she stepped back, relaxed, and closed her eyes to the glow. “Do you forget who you're talking to?”

And the two of them were absorbed by a bright flash of light.

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