• Published 25th Apr 2016
  • 3,341 Views, 77 Comments

For the Good of Equestria - brokenimage321



In the wake of a great tragedy, Celestia tells, for the first time, just how much she's had to sacrifice for the good of Equestria.

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Chapter 23: The Curtain Falls

“It took a week for them to find us,” Celestia said, after a pause. “By that time, I’d gone unconscious. Luna’s magic helped, but she was no doctor, and a wound like that…” She smiled humorlessly. “Well, I still have the scar.” She pulled down a corner of her dress, revealing, just under her arm, an ugly, puckered pink mark. Posie and Sill stared.

Celestia pulled the dress back up, then shifted her weight uncomfortably. “I owe Luna my life,” she said. “Making a teleport like that was impossibly stupid—trying to appear somewhere she’d never seen, someplace she didn’t even know for sure existed. Without the magical beacon of the Crystal Heart, it wouldn’t even have been possible.” She hesitated. “But, Sombra had done it… perhaps Luna decided to try herself…” She paused, then shook her head. “But more important—Lu helped keep me going through the storm… and, when I couldn’t go any farther, she kept me breathing.” She closed her eyes. “Even then, they only found us, huddled in our little snow cave, because she had thought to raise a light before the snow buried us.”

She sighed. “When I came to, they told me what we’d already suspected. Every crystal pony, every crystal building, every... crystal. Just—gone.”

A moment of silence. Posie swallowed. “What happened?” she asked.

Celestia shook her head. “I don’t know. And the crystal ponies don't, either; for them, the whole thousand years was… was just a bad dream...” She swallowed. “I think, maybe, like Sombra said, the crystal ponies are tied to the Crystal Heart. Wherever it went, they followed. Maybe it was just trying to protect them.” She sighed. “Sombra might have had something to do with it, too—he was crafty enough to try, at least…”

She fell silent for a long moment.

“I could have helped them,” she said, finally. “If only I had been a little more careful… if only I had waited a little longer…” a tear rolled down her cheek. “If only I had talked to her before… before that…” She swallowed. “Then, maybe...”

“No, no,” Posie murmured. “It wasn’t your fault… you couldn’t have known…”

Celestia laid her head back down.

“I could have,” she said simply. “I could have.”

Celestia stayed quiet for a long time. Sill looked at Posie uncertainly, a question in his eyes. Posie silently shushed him.

Suddenly, Celestia spoke. “It took… two months, I think, before Luna told me she was with child.”

Sil’s mouth dropped open, and Posie’s eyes went wide.

“By that point,” Celestia continued, “we… we weren’t on good terms.” She shifted uncomfortably on the bed. “But certain things can’t be hidden. Not forever.”

Celestia hesitated again. “She had so much darkness in her heart… anger, and guilt, and jealousy… But…” A little smile crept across her lips. “To see her… there, in the sunlight… knowing she was finally going to be a mother…” She opened her eyes and gave her audience a half-smile. “Would the phrase ‘over the moon’ be too much?”

Posie snorted, and Sill rolled his eyes. Celestia chuckled a bit—but soon, her smile faltered.

“When the child came,” she continued, her voice somber again, “she was an alicorn, of course. Luna had been searching for a name for… well, for her whole life, I think. And she finally settled on one she liked—a name taken from an old opera she loved.” She sighed. “She named her Mi Amore Cadenza.’”

“Cadenza?” Sill repeated. “I don’t think I know her… would she be…” Suddenly, his eyes went wide. “Cadance?” he yelped. “Princess Cadance?”

“Princess Cadance,” Celestia repeated with a nod. “Queen of the Crystal Empire—and my niece. After Luna and I…” She swallowed. “After we fought, I told everyone that Cadance had been adopted. If they’d known I’d done… that… to my sister… and she a nursing mother, no less… well…” she swallowed again. “Things were already hard enough.”

Sill opened his mouth to speak again, but Posie put her hoof on his shoulder. He glanced at her questioningly, but closed his mouth.

After another pause, Celestia began again. “For those first few months, though… Luna was happy. Happier than I think I’d ever seen her. When it was just the two of them…” she sighed. “I stumbled onto them, once. They’d cuddled together on a window seat in a moment of quiet, then fallen asleep. And, even when they were dreaming, Luna’s smile almost outshone the sun.” She looked down. “Almost.”

After another moment, she looked away. “It… it was only once, though. When Cadance came, Luna... changed. She barely let me see the child, let alone hold her. I wanted so badly…” she swallowed. “I thought that maybe, maybe, Cadance could, somehow, help bring us back together.” She slowly shook her head. “But Luna wouldn’t let her. At first, we stopped sharing meals. And then, when I entered the room, she would leave. Eventually, she began speaking to me only through letters—even though we still lived in the same palace.” She closed her eyes. “And, of course, you already know how all that ended.”

Celestia went quiet, then laid her head back down on the bed. “...in the end, though,” she murmured, “when it was all said and done…” A tear rolled down her cheek. “Sombra won, you know.”

Sill glanced at Posie, then back to Celestia. He hesitated, then coughed politely. “Celestia?” he said nervously. “You... you killed him, right? O-or banished him, whatever? So… um… why do you say he won?”

She didn’t move. “He got exactly what he wanted.”

“What do you mean?”

“He had a child,” she said. “An alicorn. With Luna. And she came to rule the Empire after him.” She shook her head. “She never knew, of course—I think, eventually, she came to believe she was adopted—but still.” She heaved another sigh. “I knew I’d failed as soon as I saw her cutie mark. The Crystal Heart. She’d never seen it, never even heard of it—but there it was, plain as day.” She closed her eyes. “She was destined to rule the Empire before she even knew it existed.”

Something in Posie’s brain finally caught.“No,” she said urgently. “No, Sombra didn’t win. He might have had a princess for a daughter—but she is nothing like him. She’s kind, and gracious, and rules the Empire just like… like…” she gestured. “Well, like you would.”

Not like me,” Celestia murmured faintly.

Posie gritted her teeth and pressed onward. “You should be proud of her,” she insisted. “With the way she acts—she is nothing like her father. She might be his daughter, but Sombra couldn’t have failed more if he’d tried.

Celestia raised her head and looked Posie in the eye. Posie quailed; what she saw there was not anger or indignation, but a deep, bottomless sorrow.

“I wish I could believe that,” Celestia said, finally.

She put her head back down and turned away from them. Posie and Sill waited for her to move, to speak, to do anything—but she simply lay there.

Posie swallowed nervously, and glanced over at Sill. True, she had started it—she had asked Celestia to tell her story, after all—but, never in her wildest dreams, did she ever think that this is what she'd get. She'd always thought of her Princess as perfect: she could never be sad, or angry, or hurt, because she was Princess Celestia. She'd been ruling for over a thousand years—nothing in Equestria could even touch her, because, if it could, it would have already ground her to dust.

But the pony that laid on the bed in front of them was very different. She was the Princess, to be sure—but she was also a scared little filly, one who had never wanted the crown she was forced to bear, who had, for a thousand years, had done her best to do right by everyone. She tried—but, all too often, she failed. And, every time she failed, somepony—many someponies—ended up dead.

Posie swallowed.

All this—and they were barely getting started.

* * *

To be continued...

Author's Note:

Blog post!

If you're reading this—thanks so much for reading this far! It means more to me than you know :pinkiehappy:

Comments ( 41 )

Headcanon accepted. :pinkiehappy::raritywink:

7190201

Hehe, glad you liked it! There's more coming, slowly...

Dayum that was powerful. I can count the stories I've read in which Celestia has a believable breakdown on one hand.
Actually I don't remember any other. One finger is enough. And it's pointing at you. Good job, seriously. One can tell you put a lot of thought into bringing this story's world together.

7255719

Oh my gosh--thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words.

For what it's worth, I first conceived this story around 2012, right before the S2 finale, so it's been stewing for a while--meaning, yes, maybe a little too much thought has gone into this :pinkiehappy:

7262077

Thank you kindly! Yeah, I'm quite fond of it--though I am a little biased :pinkiehappy:

7262290

Wow, it makes me really happy you're enjoying this so much!!

This will be incredibly sad if what I think happened actually did happen..

Did it? :raritywink:

I really liked this. Around about "The Long Road" I realized your writing style reminded me somewhat of Robert Jordan, one of my favourite authors. Very much looking forward to the continuation of this story. Also I love it when people name their chapters well, it adds such a sense of... artisanship, I guess, to the story. :twilightsmile:

7263575

Thank you very much! I'm not actually familiar with Jordan, but I am/was a huge Sanderson fanboy, for what it's worth. That's high praise!

How can Celestia still be deluding herself to think Sombra won when Cadance, with the help of a little dragon, blew him to bits?

That's like saying Palpatine won because Vader's love for Luke won out and he tossed Palpatine down a giant elevator shaft.

You've got me hooked, I'm on this wagon until the very end my friend!

7264584

In Celestia's mind, Sombra won because he achieved his goals--regardless of the fact that he was eventually defeated.

The analogy might work better if you said, "The Emperor won, because Starkiller base (eventually) destroyed the Republic entirely." Not a perfect match, but a little closer.

Also, it doesn't help that Celestia's in a dark place right now.

EDIT: More correctly--
"Palpatine won because he turned a Skywalker to the dark side, and inspired an apprentice to destroy the Republic--though both happened in a slightly different way than he intended."

7266407 The Starkiller base didn't destroy the Republic... unless the Republic only consisted of those few planets blown up rather than the hundreds or thousands it was originally composed of.

Not to mention, RULING the galaxy was Palpatine's goal, not blowing it up. Palpatine wasn't engaging in mass-genocide for jollies, you know. He had plenty of time in the interim between prequels and "A New Hope" to send his clone army to just exterminate people on dozens of planets. I believe even he'd find the Imperial fragments delusional and fanatical to the extreme.

In any case, I guess Hitler won because he managed to get rid of Jews in Germany? Come on, it's pretty absurd to look at it that way. If your side is wiped out and your enemies are occupying your former capital, YOU LOST. Sombra, being pretty much a monolithic regime nopony likes, has utterly lost forever since there aren't even any straggling forces in hiding clinging to his goals, as there were of Nazis after WWII.

If Celestia is severely depressed, she can interpret Cadance as some backward victory in a completely surreal viewpoint, but it doesn't hold up to rational analysis and she needs to be slapped upside the head a few times to clear her mind!

In a clearer comparative case, would we really consider a rapist victorious if a child resulting from that rape shoots him in the head? The rapist's goal is not merely to rape BUT TO GET AWAY WITH IT and keep doing it over and over. Ending up dead is a failure.

In any case, I don't know how Celestia and Luna fell for him so easily... but then, I suppose keeping a mental protection spell active at all times doesn't enter common thought. And yet, they knew of Discord and his mind-bending powers already and had defeated him... one would expect them to be better prepared for a magical tactic they'd already experienced so dramatically.

Bah, ponies know nothing of magical warfare!

7264560

Hehe--at least I update regularly :)

7264622
And I'm glad you liked it! There'll be short, dark side-fic coming here shortly, ideally, and then I'll start part 2. Will probably take me a while--but I'll be taking the train to work, so I'll have a couple hours time each day to write :pinkiehappy:

7268263 Sounds good!

7266767

First off, you're free to interpret the story however you choose--i.e., "Celestia's being an idiot" is perfectly valid, if it's the explanation you find most compelling--but here's what I was shooting for:

If Celestia is severely depressed, she can interpret Cadance as some backward victory in a completely surreal viewpoint, but it doesn't hold up to rational analysis and she needs to be slapped upside the head a few times to clear her mind!

Celestia has... low self-esteem? Is that the word? She has a hard time celebrating her victories, for every victory comes with a cost of blood and suffering, which she finds herself fixating on. She also tends to internalize her failures; to paraphrase a Fluttershy quote, "I've made a bad decision, so I'm a bad alicorn." Thus, her failure to save the crystal ponies, or to save Luna, weighs hard on her interpretation of events.

Perhaps a more apt comparison, at least for Celestia's viewpoint, might be V for Vendetta: the titular V dies, but, after he dies, England is freed of the fascist regime, which was his goal--thus, V won, even if he didn't survive to see it. This is how Celestia interprets the event (he got what he wanted, at the cost of his life)--though, as Posie does point out, it's not necessarily a good interpretation.

In any case, I don't know how Celestia and Luna fell for him so easily...

Several things here:

1) Sombra really does care for his people--but in a backwards, self-defeating way ("I need to oppress them to keep them safe!"). Celestia picked up on this, but misinterpreted it as goodness on his part.

2) Sombra is very good at manipulation, and preyed on Luna's existing desires/insecurities (i.e., her desire for love, and for a family).

3) Luna is an optimist, is very passionate about most everything she does, and is trusting by nature. Thus, she was especially receptive to Sombra's manipulations, and held very hard on to her beliefs that he could change. (Though, these qualities backfire when she is wronged, leading to... well, you'll see :raritywink:). Plus, he was genuinely good to her--though for all the wrong reasons.

4) Celestia, the cautious pessimist, never really trusted Sombra--but believed that he could be brought around, eventually. At least for a little while.

5) (if this is what you're referring to) the Nightmare Trap was a complete surprise to Celestia, as it was to Twilight; it hadn't even crossed her mind to defend herself against such magic.

Does that help any?

(even if you're not asking for answers, making me define what makes Celestia tick a little more clearly is a good exercise for me as the author)

7268308 This will take me some time to respond to... as I have to address so many point. :applejackconfused:

7287926

...oh, holy cow--they are, aren't they? Didn't even think about that!! :pinkiehappy:

7266767

In any case, I don't know how Celestia and Luna fell for him so easily... but then, I suppose keeping a mental protection spell active at all times doesn't enter common thought. And yet, they knew of Discord and his mind-bending powers already and had defeated him... one would expect them to be better prepared for a magical tactic they'd already experienced so dramatically.

You do realize that you are comparing Discord (a drconequis and literal deity, of a sort) to the unicorn ruler of the Crystal Empire? Sombra was powerful, but without the Crystal Heart to act as a magical reserve, would he have even been able to stand hoof-to-hoof with Celestia in a fight, even one that involved the manipulation of the mind via magic? Although it is an oversight on their part, they cannot be reasonably expected to plan for everything. They have flaws. Additionally, it was pretty clear that they were surprised by the power that he wielded.

7292728 Yes, they do have flaws....

A shame they can't be like me. *Alondro ascends into a transcendent being*

:trollestia:

7293741 *watches him go* I hope you brought a parachute and a sweater. :pinkiehappy:

7292567

oo, good catch! I'll go fix that now.

7293753 ALONDRO NEEDS NO SWEATER FOR HE IS PURE ENERGY!!

:trollestia:

Well, well, well. First let me congratulate you on spinning this tale. It is very well executed - for example: some conversations with Sombra just "felt like him". You really did well on the whole arc - and I am waiting for a conclusion on this story - it ends and not everything is resolved.
There are things that I would have done differently (Sombra bragging on at the end felt out-of-character), but since it is not mine story, it does not matter. The important thing is that you keep writing, and that I appreciate your story.
Now you may put this small little green thumb-trophy to the rest of thine collection.

7311079
7309391

Thank you for your very kind words! Unfortunately, I won't be continuing this one. Blog Post. Sorry to disappoint--but, if I may, I think my other fics are also pretty good :pinkiehappy:

7356253 I'm aware of that. :raritywink:

7357930

Thanks! I'm glad you're liking it so far :pinkiehappy:

7359861

it's some kind of syndrome/effect, I think

Stockholm Syndrome, maybe?

FWIW, my thinking is that Luna is deeply passionate, and tends to feel something with her whole heart. Plus, she's been looking for a good stallion for literal centuries. So, when Sombra (appeared) to be the stallion she wanted so badly, she fell for him, and fell for him hard.

And, thanks for the compliment! I'm excited to see what you have to say about the next chapter :pinkiehappy:

This was very good! It started a bit slow but I like your version of events as well, it's so original. :raritystarry:

7359871 She'd have to truly kidnapped for that since Sombra didn't force her to stay there. I'm not really sure which one it is but this is some kind of syndrome. I did enjoy how invested Luna was in this story although at times she did come off as the 'little sister who never learns'.

Comment posted by Lighttone GryphonStar deleted Jul 3rd, 2016

7359982 You have to be kidnapped for that. Stockholm's develops over time (if we were to use a romantic attraction over mere sympathy) and you have to truly be kidnapped. Luna wasn't kidnapped.

If you go with this: "...feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor."

You can clearly see it wouldn't be Luna since she was never kidnapped or held hostage during the time she grew close to Sombra.

7359998

To be fair, she was kinda stuck in the empire, due to her obligations and the bad weather--but yeah. Not a proper kidnapping, at least.

7360119 But she stayed there out of duty and her own free will, and she wasn't treated like a prisoner.

7749248

That was sorta the plan, in fact: Luna's jealousy would be sparked, in no small part, by how she felt she'd been tricked and abused by Celestia. The "she wanted ponies to love the night" thing was partially true, but also a lie to cover up the painful truth.

This is very good, but grossly ambitious. But since the story is dead (I don't count "here were my notes for future chapters"-stories) I'd say you realized that.

8794307
It's a little more complicated than that, actually--long story short, it just wasn't the right time in my life. But I have other projects keeping me busy now, so there's that :pinkiehappy:

9142464
Thanks very much for the review!!

I forgot you wrote this too! Wow, this one actually made me cry.

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