• Published 25th Apr 2016
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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 5: Hamartia

For a long moment, no one spoke. Then, suddenly, Woodwind whooped. “We did it!” he cried. “We got him!” He ran to Ice Dancer and hugged her, laughing, jumping up and down a little. Luna squealed and ran towards the two of them, leaping into their arms. Cob limped forward and squeezed all of them tight, then tried to pull Celestia in as well; she yelped when he touched her broken wing, and he winced an apology at her.

Celestia sat, and watched her friends laughing, a slow smile spreading across her face. They’d done it. They’d won. They, all of them, had managed to beat Discord back, managed to set things right.

All of them…

Celestia’s smile melted, and she looked around, concerned. Luna looked up and frowned. “Celestia?” she asked, “What’s wrong?”

Celestia glanced back. “N-nothing,” she stammered, before resuming her search.

By now, the rest of them were staring. “Cece?” Woody said slowly. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Just—”

And then she saw him. She gasped and stood, and the rest followed her gaze.

Cinder sat alone on the edge of the wide shelf, staring out at the horizon. His head was drooped, and his shoulders slumped.

“Cinder?” Celestia called, taking a step forward.

He glanced up at her, then quickly looked away—but, in that brief sliver of time, Celestia saw the tears in his eyes.

Celestia swallowed, then limped towards him. Her wings dragging painfully across the stone, until she stood by his side. “Cinder,” she repeated, “What’s wrong? We—we won, didn’t we? We beat Discord, and all?”

Cinder gave a half-nod. “We did,” he said, slowly. He took a deep breath before continuing. “But…”

Celestia swallowed, hard, then glanced to the group, now staring at the two of them, frozen. As she watched, Luna wriggled her way out of the group hug, then turned to watch them again. Celestia turned back to Cinder, her mouth suddenly dry. “But…?” she repeated, almost afraid of the answer.

Cinder gestured at the dead valley below them. “But he was right,” he said. “We haven’t changed anything. Haven’t fixed anything. All we’ve done is…” He glanced at the stone Discord behind them, but didn’t finish the sentence.

Slowly, Celestia shook her head. “No,” she said. “We’ll follow the plan. Give the land back to the unicorns. They’ll pull together another Council, and get the sun moving again, and—”

“And how long will that take?” he snapped. “Do they happen to have a dozen unicorn sages just floating around?” He stood, the tears running down his face. “And even if we survive that long, what happens the next time some big ugly monster rolls through? Are we going to have to do this all again?

“Cinder,” Celestia said, pleadingly.

He hung his head. “He was right,” he repeated, his voice thick and trembling. “Discord was right…” He sniffled. “...Knights of the Status Quo…”

Celestia swallowed, a knot forming in her throat. She stepped forward, and, gently pulled him in for a hug.

As she did, their necklaces touched—and a spark of magic arced between the gemstones.

For a moment, they froze. Then Cinder broke into a wide grin. “The Elements,” he almost shouted. “We still have the Elements!” He stood, took her by the hoof, and pulled her urgently toward the others. “Come on,” he said, “One more time.”

Celestia swallowed. “Cinder, what are you doing?” she asked.

He smiled at her. “We can use the Elements. Use them to make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again.”

She felt her gut twist. “Cinder, I—”

“It’ll work,” he insisted. He turned to the others. “It’s gotta work.”

Ice Dancer glanced around uncertainly. “Are you sure, Cinder?” she asked. “I mean, the Elements are powerful magical artifacts, not toys…”

Cinder shook his head. “Listen,” he said, “The Tree of Harmony gave us the Elements for a reason—to protect this world. We beat Discord, but that’s only half of it—someone’s still got to fix things. And someone’s gotta stop this from happening again, next time something like Discord rolls around.” He looked at each of them in turn. “We can do this,” he said. “Just one more time, and then everything will be okay.”

Luna looked around uncertainly, then set her jaw and stepped forward. “I’m in,” she said, firmly. Ice Dancer swallowed and stepped up beside her, and, with her, Woodwind. Cob thought a moment longer, nodded, and took a step forward as well. Cinder smiled at each of them—then turned back to Celestia.

“Come on,” he said, jerking his head towards the group.

She shook her head. “This isn’t a good idea,” she pleaded. “We need to—”

“Celestia,” he said, gently.

Celestia hesitated, swallowed, then looked into his eyes.

“Cece,” he said, holding out his hoof. “Trust me. We can do this. We have to do this…” he smiled. “...for the good of Equestria.”

Celestia stared at him—and, slowly, she sighed. A smile crept across her face, with only the slightest strain showing at the edges. “For the good of Equestria,” she repeated, taking him by the hoof.

She stepped forward and took Cob’s other, outstretched hoof. They had just stood this way—what was it, minutes before?—but already, it felt like a lifetime. With just one brief moment of concentration, they had changed so much…

...and, Harmony willing, they would do it again.

Once more, Celestia closed her eyes, and tried to clear her mind. But, it seemed, her mental slate did not wipe completely clean...

She remembered Luna, helping her off the battlefield.

She remembered Ice Dancer, her magic bringing Discord to his knees.

She remembered Woodwind, grinning madly as he dodged another bolt of magic.

She remembered Corncob, rearing and striking for all he was worth.

And Cinder—


She grimaced. Her mind had gone blank. They’d spent so much time together—there were good memories, strong memories there, she knew it. And she needed only one

And then, she smiled.

The farm, she remembered. Cinder and I will have the farm. Just the two of us.

She squeezed his hoof a little tighter.

And finally, we’ll be happy.

As she pictured the little farmhouse, she felt that same, familiar warmth begin to glow in her heart. She felt her light grow, blend, and bond tight to the others.

But, this time, something was different. This time, there was no arc of fire. No magical beam from on high. Instead, the light inside her began to grow brighter. The other lights began to fuel hers, feed hers, until it burned brighter than the sun. Suddenly, the light began to boil

—“Cinder!” Celestia shrieked, clutching his hoof—

—and the light exploded.