• Published 22nd Jan 2016
  • 828 Views, 53 Comments

Redeem Us In Our Solemn Hour - Cynewulf



Midnight Aria, an initiate of the Lunar Rangers, finds herself in a losing battle that she was never meant to fight.

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Epilogue: Redeem Us

Luna would find their bodies one by one. Poisoned, crushed, cut. She would find the trigger and after a few hours have pieced the whole desperate plan together. She would cry when Twilight was not with her, after they had been collected and laid out together below the steps, dusters over them like funeral shrouds. She collected their emblems and kissed each one.



She found every Ranger and she gathered them under her wing like children, for weren’t they, in a way? Did she not know their names, each and every one?









Twilight and Luna sat amidst the dead. The changelings had been moved outside and burnt. Luna had wanted to dump them in a hole, but Twilight had insisted. Flames were traditional. It was a small mercy.


They said nothing for some time. Twilight felt sick and unhappy. Luna’s feelings were not describable.


“I wish I understood,” Twilight said at last.


“Understand what, Twilight?”


“Any of this… I mean... “ Twilight sighed. “Why are we fighting? Why would anyone hurt changelings and make them into these things? Why would they be okay with it? Why would ponies choose to die? Why would they kill? And even when the why makes sense, the how boggles the mind. I can’t imagine…”


Luna watched as she trailed off, her eyes unreadable.


“Twilight, you do not understand many things, and I know that. It is… it’s alright not to know,” she managed. “There are many things I wish you did not have to know. I have killed so many ponies in my long, weary life that I have lost track of them. The same can be said for the friends I have lost to age alone, not to mention accident, disease, famine, and war. I do not think it will ever make sense.”


“I thought we would be in time.”


Luna barked a laugh. “I never am, no matter how hard I try. I can only ever seem to save in part.”


“But…”


“And now there will be silence in this accursed city. After death comes a lingering silence for those who are left. You will think, at first, that it is a question, but it is not a question at all. The silence after death is as final and decided as it is unnerving. Like a corpse. What do you do after? You try not to think too much. You try to run on past death and not to think, because if you think then she will find you a few days early, perhaps. That is the feeling.”



Twilight shivered. “I’ve seen enough for a lifetime.”



“And this is only the beginning. A never ending cycle. The centuries of peace my sister has given you are not the real world, Twilight, or rather they are only a part of the realness. They are a sliver of creation.


“War is always with us in one way or another. I have seen the records--peace in Equestria, except. Except is always the operative word at the borders of history. The Pax Equus--Except. Pirates and brigands, monsters and invaders. Civil conflicts overseas and divisions at home. War and the rumor of war. Even when all is peace it is not well, and you will remember this and you’ll know that I am right.”


“So everything is ruined forever,” Twilight said sourly.


“No. Not at all. Not even I can say that.”


They looked at the fallen Rangers.


“They should make some sort of monument here,” Twilight said. “With their names. Somepony should remember them.”


Luna, repressing a growl: “Because you do not know, I will forgive you this thought. No monuments. No statues and no great memorial walls. Do you think that they do anything? They cannot honor the dead, for they are beyond our ability to help. They commemorate for a time and then they are either little more than a pretty rock or worse, a tool in the hands of calculation. You cannot do anything for these, Twilight Sparkle. Nopony can. They have done the thing that did not need doing, that the world would have gone on without, for no other reason than that it should be done. Let them speak often of the martyred station, but I spit upon the hubris of those who knew nothing of what this was. There are no survivors worthy to build the cairn.”



And then she looked down at Midnight, her eyes shut.


Luna stroked her soiled mane, wet from the snow and drenched in blood. Luna parted the mess to see her eyes. The hat she had laid upon the young mare’s stomach, her hooves resting on it. She looked asleep.



“I touched her mind, Twilight. Do you know… in a different world, what if I had found her first? I believe she could have been for me what you were for Celestia. I would have taught her the art of dreamwalking, and what her innate magics could do. In another world… but I live in this one. She thought about those ragged few we flew over, the ones I sent my nightshades to. She begged me to save them, and I have. Perhaps that is the meaning of this. Do you know what the meaning is?”


Twilight thought. She thought for a long time.


“No, I don’t,” she said quietly. “I want to say that it was to get the refugees to safety, but they couldn’t have known. I want that to be the answer, but now that I’ve actually seen them… It just…”



“It sounds hollow, even though you do not think it is.”



“I suppose, Luna. Why did you not go after the last few?”



Luna stroked Midnight’s mane again.



“Only mercy makes injustice just again,” she said woodenly. “Perhaps. Celestia said that once. Still seems foolish to me, but my heart reacts to it, so… Her meaning was that she wished to love her neighbor--the ponies she was with, the ponies she might yet meet. I want her meaning to be mine, because it is a thing I think even princesses could live or die for.”


She looked up at Twilight, who bit her lip.


Twilight said, “Will she make it?”



“Yes. But I do not know… I do not know how well she will recover. I have done what I can, but Celestia was the one who healed. I had too harsh a touch for it. I too wished to love my fellow pony. But how? I do not know, Twilight Sparkle. I hope that young Midnight knows, but I do not think so. Maybe we do not know and we try regardless. When I touched her mind during a moment of exhaustion I felt… I…” Luna took a shuddering breath and was silent.



Everything was silent. It lingered, like a crowd watching, waiting. Holding its breath for an answer but finding none presented. Only another question.


Or rather, everything was silent but for the slow and steady breathing of a scarred mare wrapped in the duster of her office, laid in state yet still alive, clutching two beautiful Lunar emblems beneath a furred cap.

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Comments ( 22 )

And - am I correct that this happens somewhen in a somehow different timeline, probably one closer to show - 'cause you said somewhere there that Twilight is alicorn ('horns and wings and all') - but then, it is somewhen not much later than Return of Crystal Empire? I'm confused and uncertain and unsure, how does alicornization work concerning you speak about cities and things that are clearly were referenced before in "The Night is Passing", but weren't alicorns where akin to different kind?

6898929 it isn't in Night's universe. It could be seen as a neighbor perhaps, but it's closer to the show's timeline than Night by far.

I really like Midnight and this story. Will we be seeing more of this universe or is its story told?

Xel

This story... any words I could come up with would not do this story justice.

Do you perhaps have any other stories in this world?

Such is a midnight aria, that it would caress my mind and inner sanctum when i close my eyes to reality.....just to be there for me, forever in dreams.

May you midnight, find peace in dreams forever.



.....may we see her again please?

6901885 I actually feel legitimately sorry for doing that.



6914369
6915128

Oddly, I do have an idea for what comes after for her. I'm not sure what it would feel like, if you understand me. It would be something of an undertaking to balance the future I see for her and the agony of being a survivor. It's really a story that would deserve a longer treatment, but I'm not sure I could hold out that long.

She actually shows up in a single sentence in the Night is Passing, but not in person

Xel

6915464 I can understand that. If you're really feeling up to it sometime you could always work on it and not release it until you're almost done, but that has it's own slew of problems. I do think this story is great how it is, and a story about afterwards isn't necessary, but it'd always be nice to see. If not, the ending to this definitely worked.

Thank you for the great story. I'll take a look at your others as well!

6915464 well I like her. so there......yeah. *puffs out bat pony chest and wiggles ears*

Gosh, this was brutal. This reminds me a lot of the movie Saving Private Ryan with it's absolutely brutal depiction of war and battle. I remember the first time i watched Saving Private Ryan and I felt physically sick for a month afterwards.
That knife scene has been a nightmare for many nights since then. *shudders*

Though I will admit I felt quite bored for the first 1 or 2 chapters and was contemplating to drop this story now that I'm done I'm very glad I stuck with it.


// Sphex

Wow.
This certainly was an interesting story. That ending was rough.

Poor Midnight.
:fluttercry:

Poor Luna
:fluttershysad:
(Fortunately the Tantabus was dispelled prior. This latest "failure" would have provided him with a veritable armoury of ammunition with which to torture Luna).

7114789 Luna declares Station 19 The Martyr'd Station, the only one with a name. I think she takes Midnight as her student, trying to piece her life together. I realized she couldn't die. Not the last, not alone, not after all of that.

Rangers Fly.

I'm going to have to read this again when I'm in a better state of mind. I couldn't stop, but I couldn't possibly hold onto the... Everything... That was in here. You think, "well death has taken her at least" at the end though your mind rebels at the entire story, screaming that it shouldn't have gone that way... That they deserve a small happily ever after or someone they could at least talk to afterwards but then you made it somehow worse! She survived, alone, horribly alone with every single comrad next to her dead! She has to LIVE with that nightmare now! That memory that she couldn't save ANY OF THEM! WHY THE FUCK? HOW COULD YOU BE SO CRUEL? This is literally the worst fear of any soldier, of any one who faces the prospect of combat! And YOU WROTE IT OUT IN PERFECT FORM! IN THE MOST PAINFUL WAY TO READ BECAUSE I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!

Fuck!

7276841 I agonized over her fate.


I don't know what happens to Midnight.

7297183 not terribly important. There's not really explanations here in full for anything, just hints, but I can explain some stuff.

The Old Colony was the original settlement of batponies in the Central Continent, in Equestria. In anything touching the song, batponies originate in the West, in the cave city of Ulthar where their weeping Mother gave herself up to create them. The Changelings also originate in the West. They too had a Mother. If she was an Alicorn or not, who can say? No one is sure, and she exists more as an idea than a real memory in the shared gestalt dream of the Hives. She was killed long ago, scattering the hives originally, by a creature known as the Father. It is this terrible creature that connects the two races. It's also why normal batponies make changelings a little nervous and why Duskwatch full them with absolute terror.


Also the second thousand is intentional. 1000 X 1000. Not sure where I read that but it stayed with me for years.

7287566 quite a few. Not sure why I made Midnight's gender mysterious or if I even intended to. I *did* intend that with Sam in Alien Suns and that was written and released around the same time, so perhaps some cross pollination?

On the Song:

Dont remember telling you that but I'll agree with a caveat. From the beginning, part of the whole Song thing was the idea of multiple possibilities or worlds. Other planes of existence. The Maze in "Where the Sun is Silent" is in fact another plane of existence. Night is the most explicit about this, later on, but basically assume that they are all Songverse in that they share certain aspects and probably lore but don't assume continuity or anything unless proven or stated. A common creation story, mythos, common themes.

7318364 Alicorns can have children in stories that are connected to the Song. Cadance's mother was the Alicorn ruler of Henosia in Night.

Celestia has had kids in Night, but not in centuries. Luna has never had children in Night and probably here. I don't know her reasons if so in this iteration, but in Night it was because she was exclusively homosexual and very much disliked the idea of surrogates (not for others, just for herself) and while she adopted foundlings she really kept holding on for someone to be able to "create" foals with magic.



7318324 This is the only story so far to mention Sombra beside Night. Opal was there also, being badass and also actually sadistic. She's crazy.

Sombra in both was a handsome young Royal heir who was like third or fourth in line for the throne. He "befriended" Opal early on when she was still young, idealistic, and kinder and as she became a hero he incorporated her into a long bid for power. Assassination later, but at first he was just courting the people, making himself look fair and generous to commoners, kinda subtly saying, imagine what I could do for you as Emperor.


Eventually after lots of external and internal turmoil and a lot of death (only some he caused directly) and after brainwashing and twisting Opal into an almost suicidally reckless sadist o' war, Sombra took power and restored order just as he had promised. Then he was decent for a few months... And then outside tribes got a little pushy and in the aftermath of his unprecedented campaign of genocide he basically went from spoiled rich kid with lots of problems and issues to psycho-murderer with a god complex.

Opal would later lead the revolting commoners and the mutinying Ninth against him right before the end. Celestia and Luna helped a bit but the vanishing was the result of them trying to seal away Sombra when he pulled his fail safe.

7318554 Ooooh, that Sombra bit sounds interesting. Even if that isn't the most unique backstory for him that I've heard, it does sound like something I'd want to read. Thanks for clearing up the Luna bit too, I'm still trying to figure out just how powerful/omnipotent they are in here. Odd part is, I stopped sympathizing with Ari in the last three chapters which was a bit of a bummer, I went from enjoying her and what she had to offer and how she handled/described things and looking forward to what happened next to solely reading for the diction and what happened next. It's still a great story though.

As for why I found that line funny: In the Iceverse, the monarch before Sombra was named Queen Opal Charm, or just Opal if you wish to call her that. You can probably imagine what happened to her, and why she isn't very happy about it.

I don't read tragedy often, but this was incredible. The last part, with the long spaces before solitary names was absolutely heartwrenching. A nice little bright spot in the ending, though, which is very nice.

There is much others have said here.
But I find something very poignant that through all of that, in the end their stand amounted to very little. A intimate look at their final hours, but not a heroic victory over dark forces or even a noble sacrifice.
And in the end, war is often like that.

A refreshing, intimate and at times painful read on the heartstrings.

A reminder of why you're my favorite author on fimfic (and outside of it come to think of it)

This.. this right here, this work of art deserves so much more attention than it received. Its merits deserve to be shouted from the rooftops. It ought to be featured in the top slot of the feature box until the end of time itself, and beyond. Its beauty is only matched by its hideousness, and it manages to be both endearing and gut-wrenching in equally satisfying amounts. It is, without a doubt, the most awe-inducing piece of fiction I've ever had the pleasure of reading on this site.

8200121 you always have the most perfect music.

Whelp.

Its a powerful story alright. No idea what else to say.

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