• Published 31st Mar 2017
  • 3,164 Views, 93 Comments

The Mare that eats The Monsters - Skijarama

She is known as no more than a myth, a legend, a bedtime story to scare little foals. Her name is Moonrise Drifter, and Twilight Sparkle is going to learn more about her than anypony has in a long time...

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Chapter 11 - Truths Long Overdue

“Sweet mother of a cheesemaker! What the hay happened to Drifter?!” Lumberjack asked in alarm as Twilight set the wounded and unconscious thestral look alike down on one of the lobby's lounge seats.

Twilight sighed and fell onto her backside as the adrenaline began to wear off. She was exhausted, the fight having been draining even with how small of a role she had in it. The poison had done most of the damage to her energy, leaving her sagging and sluggish even with it cured. “She got into a fight with an enemy she wasn’t ready to face. She was beaten… brutally.” she finally managed to say, looking up into Lumberjack’s wide eyed look of shock.

“Jeesh… Looks like the wounds are closed up, though…” he said, leaning in and getting a closer look.

“Yeah. A high level healing spell that used to be used by field medics in wars. The bleeding stopped, but we should probably examine her for infection or anything more serious.” Twilight said worriedly, her eyes starting to dart around as scenario after scenario began to run through her head.

“I’ll go get a first aid kit. I’ll be right back!” Lumberjack said before turning and galloping off for a storage room. Twilight nodded silently and sat still, simply looking down at Drifter. Her eyes were filled with immense worry and confusion, but not over Drifter. She’d be fine, most likely. Growing her claws back would take time, but she’d live and make a full recovery eventually. Probably...

No, Twilight was worried about Princess Celestia. She had seen the sadness in her eyes, heard the emotion in her voice. Something was going on with her that had to do with Horizon and his fiends.

“I’m facing my mistakes… You’re work here is done, as is Drifter’s… get out of here. I need to do this alone…”

The conviction in Celestia’s voice was unrivaled. Twilight had seen the solar princess show determination and commitment before, but never before had it sounded quite so invested, with the exception of when she fought Nightmare Moon so long ago.

“Twilight…?” Drifter mumbled from the couch, shifting slightly before hissing in pain. “Ack! Oh, that hurts…”

“Hold still, Drifter. Take it easy.” Twilight urged softly, resting a hoof on Drifter’s shoulder and pressing down gently but firmly to ease her back into the cushions.

“Oi… what happened? I feel like I got put through all of the factories in Cloudsdale.” Drifter asked weakly, staring blankly up at the ceiling.

“You’d probably be in better shape if you did, honestly.” Twilight remarked quietly before sighing heavily. “...Horizon did this to you.”

“Oh, right... tch… figures.” Drifter muttered quietly before her eyes widened a bit. “Wait… Celestia showed up, didn’t she? When did we get back? What’s- ACK! Piss!” Drifter yelped and cursed profusely as the hoof that once had claws in it rubbed against the couch, the still very tender and sensitive skin sending a spear of fire-hot pain through her system.

“Woah, easy, Drifter. Calm down.” Twilight said, even though she herself was in similar straights mentally. “Yes, Princess Celestia came to the rescue. She saved our lives and then ordered me to take you and retreat back here.”

“You mean Celestia stayed?!” Drifter asked through grit teeth, her pain still pretty intense.

“I guess… she was still there and hasn’t shown up yet. It seemed like they were talking to each other… but, well, then I got too far away and lost sight of them.” Twilight explained before her ears drooped slightly.

“...Strange... “ Drifter mumbled tiredly before closing her eyes to rest some more. “She’s cryptic, but not usually to such a degree…”

Twilight had only nodded when Lumberjack returned with the first aid kit. “Here we go.” he said as he set the case down next to Twilight. “We have a doctor in town who could make better use of that than you or I, probably. I’ll go get him and-”

“That won’t be necessary.” Came Celestia’s voice from the door as she strode in,her usually regal posture having deflated slightly. “I can take it from here.”

“Wha-what?! Your majesty!?” Lumberjack exclaimed before scampering to the side so that his bow wouldn’t obstruct Drifter’s space. His hooves slipped on the smooth wooden floor and he found himself colliding with his desk with a loud THUNK in his efforts to bow to the solar princess. “What a surprise!”

“I’m sure it is.” Celestia said with a motherly smile before turning her attention fully to where Twilight and Drifter were sitting. “What’s your name, my little pony?”

“Lumberjack, your highness.”

“Lumberjack, I would be in your debt if you could pass a request onto the mayor for me.” Celestia said while her horn lit up. A sheet of parchment was pulled from the desk along with a quill and some ink.

“Of course, your highness. Whatever you need.” Lumberjack said as he stood tall, awaiting the note he was to deliver.

Celestia scribbled some quick instructions, signed the letter and then rolled it into a scroll before materializing a red ribbon with the royal seal on it to neatly bind the message. She passed the scroll to Lumberjack and nodded. “Make haste, Lumberjack. This is important.”

Lumberjack gave a salute, albeit a sorely outdated one, before turning and sprinting from the room into the snowy town outside.

With that done, Celestia allowed her tall, regal posture to fade. She sagged and became sluggish almost instantly, practically dragging herself over to sit next to Twilight and look at Drifter.

“...Princess?” Twilight asked softly, touching a hoof to Celestia’s shoulder.

“The message is for a search and rescue party to be sent out in order to find your friends. As far as I know, they should have been here by now if they were taking the balloon. Besides, we all need to return to Canterlot as soon as possible.” Celestia explained bluntly before closing her eyes. “I’m sorry for sending you on this mission alone, Twilight… I should have come with you from the start.”

“Why didn’t you?” Drifter asked weakly from where she lay, shooting Celestia a look.

“...Shame. Guilt. Fear. I could easily keep listing off the emotions that held me in place. I won’t lie, Drifter. Every time you called for my aid, I was not always willing to go; the feelings of regret I harbor over all of this are just too great… I guess that, in the political situation in Canterlot, I saw an opportunity to excuse myself from all of this…” Celestia admitted quietly, looking away.

“Shame?” Drifter’s face scrunched up incredulously. “What do you have to be ashamed about with this situation, Princess?”

“Myself.” Celestia answered without even a moment’s hesitation. “...myself and the role I played in causing all of this to happen in the first place.”

Twilight looked at her former mentor in concern and confusion. “Celestia, what are you talking about? None of this is your fault.”

“What were you and Horizon talking about, Princess…?” Drifter asked slowly, narrowing her eyes at Celestia.

Celestia shuddered and sighed. “I… we… It’s a long story, Drifter…”

“I’ve got time.” Drifter said simply, drawing a flinch from Celestia.

Twilight watched in awe as a tear slipped out of Celestia’s eye.

“...Very well.” The princess took a deep breath before beginning her story. “...Horizon wasn’t always a fiend. He was a perfectly wonderful unicorn when I met him so very long ago.” Celestia closed her eyes and shook her head sadly. “He was chosen by the Tree of Harmony to wield the elements, just as Luna and myself were.”

“You mean there were THREE Element Bearers back then?” Twilight asked in shock, taken aback by this development. “Why didn’t any of the history books or stories say so?”

Celestia shot her a look and continued. “Because I erased him and everything about him from history. Every mention, every note, every written word… if he was mentioned anywhere, that mention was removed. Nopony knows of him because nothing exists to tell of him.” Celestia wiped a forehoof across her eyes. “Luna and I got our wings. We became Alicorns when we assumed the roles of maintaining the cycle of night and day. The unicorns were no longer able to do so, thanks to Discord’s chaotic mischief.”

“Luna and I found Luminous Horizon, a hero in his hometown, which had been largely sheltered from Discord’s chaos magic. He was sheltered from it. Which, by extension, means he had very weak resistances to it’s influence.” Celestia sighed and sagged even more as she recalled the events as if they had happened yesterday. “He went with us to find the elements so we could stop Discord. In his efforts to stop us, Discord was able to break down Horizon’s mind… as he did with you and your friends, Twilight.”

“But we reversed that with a memory spell… I’m guessing something was different with Horizon?” Twilight inferred hesitantly, earning a nod from Celestia.

“Yes… Horizon was in this state for far longer, his natural mind under the layers of chaos being damaged by the foreign energy. Eventually, the damages to his own mind became so great that the Tree determined he would no longer be a valid candidate for wielding the elements… a decision made at the same time that his chaos-induced madness led him to murder a family of ponies in cold blood.”

“So…” Drifter ventured uneasily. “He suffered permanent damage… how bad was it?”

“When we stopped Discord, Luna and I found him and helped him recover as best as we could. He was more or less back to his old, wonderful self. He was gentle, generous and loyal for as long as his mind remained intact.” Celestia shivered once more. “But he was… unstable. Easily broken. To make matters worse, nopony trusted him. Everypony was afraid of him, lashing out at him in anger or hatred. They had heard of the acts of mindless murder he had committed and… none of them truly knew what they were dealing with. They were dealing with the unknown.”

“And what we don’t know is what we’re the most afraid of…” Twilight muttered in realization.

“Exactly.” Celestia closed her eyes again. “I tried to help him… I did everything I could. He was my best friend and I was willing to do whatever it took to save him from his own mental scars and newly formed insecurities.” a soft smile slowly began to grow on Celestia’s face. “He was starting to fall in love with me, after a while. I must admit that it was a possibility I was very open to…” her smile faded and she choked down a sob.

Silence hung in the air for several moments before she continued.

“The last time I saw him as himself was when he proclaimed that very love at sunset.” the barest hint of a smile came to her face for only a second as she opened her eyes slightly. “I remember how touched I was… whether or not I truly loved him wasn’t clear to me, yet, but regardless…” she shifted slightly on her haunches. “We made love that night. It was the best night of my life. When I awoke, however… he had gone. He had left to get breakfast in a local Canterlot cafe.”

Twilight visibly wilted herself as she saw Celestia shiver and fail to hold in a shuddering sob that crashed through her.

“He was being harassed, as I understand it… somepony was throwing insults, taunts and ridicule. Humiliating him and deprecating him… he snapped. The last of his barriers broke and he lashed out. The pony… he… he killed the pony and then fled.”

“Oh my goodness…” Twilight whispered, putting a hoof to her chest as Celestia gradually began to succumb to an emotional meltdown.

“He told me later that… ‘if all they can see is a monster... then that is all they’ll get.’ He felt such bitterness, resentment and anger over how he had been treated for events that weren’t even his fault… nopony could see him any differently. He saw no point in being anything else anymore.” Celestia took a moment to pull herself together before continuing.

“He fled to the edges of Equestria. He used magic to change his own biology, starting by halting his aging, much like what Luna and I did to combat Discord. Then… he began to change his very nature. Soon enough, he was the being you met in the garden earlier. He began to use magic born within his twisted mind and made brand new creatures. The fiends. They were far from what they are now, but they were still dangerous.

“He began to launch attack after attack on settlements, slaughtering everything. Stallions, mares, animals, fillies, colts… it was of no difference to him anymore. He painted a bloody path across Equestria in his efforts to show everypony what they had been calling him. He was a monster in every sense…

“Nightmare Moon was born from Luna shortly after this matter came to my attention. I had no choice but to drive him back... “ Celestia opened her eyes and looked down at Drifter sorrowfully. “And… oh, little Drifter, I am so sorry I never said anything to you…”

“Said. What?” Drifter asked coldly, narrowing her eyes at Celestia with a fiercely analytical glare.

“When I pushed Horizon and his forces to the edges and they were reduced enough as a threat… I realized that I was pregnant with his foal.” Celestia lifted a hoof and pointed it at Drifter. “You.”

Twilight felt her ears snap flat against her head as soon as Celestia said that, looking between the two in shock. Drifter kept a blank face, hiding whatever she was feeling from Celestia expertly.

“But… the changes Horizon had made to his biological structure extended past his main body… it passed into all of him.” Celestia sighed. “Drifter, you were born half fiend, half pony… when I realized what had happened to you, I… I couldn’t…”

“You left me in the forest.” Drifter said bluntly in a low, cold growl. “Why? Out of Shame? Guilt? Fear?

“Because I couldn’t stand to see you grow up with the curse my neglect of your father brought upon you…” Celestia said in barely more than a whisper. “I should have done more… but because I didn’t, I lost both of you…”

“I get it.” Drifter said dryly, looking up at the ceiling with a frown and her eyes closed.

“Drifter… I am so sorry-”

“Don’t.” Drifter snarled, silencing Celestia instantly. “My mother died a thousand years ago.”

“Drifter... come on, don’t be like that.” Twilight said softly, earning a cold scowl from the wounded hybrid.

“Celestia gave birth to me and then left me for somepony else to find. I was already over forty years old when we crossed paths.” her eyes turned to glare at the solar princess, whose head was hung in shame and regret. “Any mother worth her bits wouldn’t have given up like that. Not on their own child.” Drifter leaned towards Celestia slightly. “But you did give up. You abandoned me. Something I can’t say about the ponies who raised me.”

Celestia didn’t say anything, simply standing and slowly walking towards the front door, her hooves dragging sluggishly along the wooden floorboards.

“Tch… I figured.” Drifter muttered quietly. “Celestia… if you wanted me to ever call you my mother, you should have been the one to raise me.”

Celestia stopped by the door before glancing back to Drifter. The sorrow in her eyes was one that had grown over a thousand years of regret. “I know, Drifter… you’re right… I left you… and it is the worst mistake I have ever made.”

With that, Celestia left, the golden flash outside telling Twilight and Drifter that Celestia had used a teleportation spell. All Twilight could do was sit in stunned silence before Lumberjack came back, looking around in confusion for a moment before excusing himself from the tense silence of the room.