• Published 25th Jul 2012
  • 2,206 Views, 28 Comments

Onus - blank check



Princess Celestia has a secret shame, but she planned its rectification long ago.

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Onus

Dearest Twilight Sparkle,

There comes a time in an old mare's life when one looks back at all they have done, and sees all the ways they could have done better. I have always considered regrets a necessity, a way to shape my future actions so that I never make mistakes twice. One must make mistakes to learn right from wrong, after all. I have adhered to this philosophy, some would say admirably. It has been after a great deal of consideration that I would say that it is not admirable at all, but stubborn and headstrong.

I have indeed been looking back at my youth, and I must woefully add that a great deal of it was spent set in my stubborn and headstrong ways. It was only after I descended from deity to monarch that I began to change my behavior. This is a valuable lesson, as it shows that even the most permanent among us may change for the better.

I once made a grave and terrible mistake. This is undoubtedly so. It was a heinous, unnatural act, performed in just that headstrong fashion that motivates both so unflinchingly and so blindingly. Despite opposition to my selfish desires, the removal of which doubled my sin, I carried out my plan to terrible effect.

You must know the truth, Twilight. I truly fear what may happen to Equestria in the future, but I entrust its safety to your hooves. It is my great shame to abandon you in such a manner, but I know my mistake now, and I know its solution.

Nightmare Moon never existed until the day my sister was freed from the Moon. There was no battle for control of the skies when she was imprisoned. I was a coward then, and, as then, I am a coward now. I have not dared to speak of this with her. The spell binding her into the Moon showed her false visions, taught her false emotions, convinced her of false memories.

The dispute was never as baldly evil as it was made to appear, though it was just as morally simple. In my stubbornness, I refused to see. It was only due to my overwhelming power that I was able to capture and bind my sister to her fate as a royal pariah. I have wished for many centuries that I had not done it.

Wishing would do nothing. This is not the kind of mistake that is able to be made twice. It was only a little over a century ago that I saw the error of my ways and decided to ensure the future would be rid of my largest failure.

Equestria was built on an unnatural curse. I know you do not yet believe in curses, but know that they are vile things, made to infect the fabric of reality and change the way the world works. I saw this as a boon at the time, as even my near-limitless power was not enough to spread so many spells to the whole of Equestria. But it is time to tell you. I will hold back no longer.

One thousand thirteen years ago, Equestria was embroiled in civil war. It was not the kind of conflict that may be easily resolved by segregating the two sides and splitting the country in two. It was both a land war and a race war. The pegasi against the unicorns.

The unicorns had recently discovered Whinny the Elder's Permanent Cloud-walking Effect, and wanted to move into the pegasi's cloud cities to study weather magic and eventually subsume the necessity for pegasi. The pegasi did not appreciate the attempted invasion into their sacred cities, and they could easily guess as to why the unicorns wanted access. They decided that unicorns were gaining too much power, as they were already the majority of the aristocracy, and that this power grab was grounds for an attack.

There were many bloody battles, most of which were fought on the ground. The pegasi couldn't get close enough to the aristocrats' castles and walled cities to invade, or the unicorns could just as easily invade them. The earth ponies were unfortunately caught between the conflict, and they were often drafted to fight for no other reason than the unicorns' power. The pegasi were steadily losing ground, and their cloud cities retreated across Equestria, until they were almost at the Equestrian border, near the Dark Forest.

My sister and I were not any sort of rulers at the time. We were free spirits, previously unconcerned with the political or social states of the country. The war grew heavy on our hearts, but we didn't know what could be done about it. We were spiritual and philosophical leaders, sometimes going amongst ponies and aiding them with their great burdens. This was the one burden that we could not agree on how to solve.

Of course, our duty was torn directly down the middle. I took up the political aspects, Luna took on the social aspects, and we agreed to meditate for one week on what could be done. We were residing in the Home of the Two Sisters, our temple on the very edge of the Dark Forest. What happened in that week has been my worst memory.

Luna meditated for a week. I did not. At the end of the first day, I knew what would be done, and I set about crafting its execution. I wove several subtle mind spells into Luna's meditation, convincing her that we needed the added power of the Elements so that we would be heard by all. I crafted the curse, thinking it like unto a countercurse at the time, and dimmed the Sun, very slightly, to amass greater power.

At the end of the week, my subterfuge was done, and my plans were set. I returned to my meditative position to be found by my sister. We swiftly agreed on what must be done. I gave her my plans to reform the Equestrian government into an immortal diarchy and cripple the aristocracy, and she gave hers to speak to the battlefield, empowered by our use of the Elements of Harmony, and make them see sense again. The day of the final battle arrived. If I had paid attention to Luna's plan, I would have seen it as the best solution, for it was. No, I was blinded already, and I would carry out my terrible plan to its fullest.

We woke with the dawn and reached the battlefield in minutes. The soldiers were waking, and preparing for their attack. It was a great calm before the storm. My sister and I readied the Elements of Harmony, but as I was the guiding force as the Element of Magic, I only made it appear to Luna as though her voice were magnified a hundredfold. I set in to weaving my curse throughout Equestria. Luna spoke for nearly an hour. I was not paying attention to the battlefield, as the curse needed my greatest attention. Luna was utterly confused, as the battle had started as though she wasn't even speaking.

It was then that my power reserves were drained, and I had to draw on the Sun and the Elements to continue weaving the curse. I was almost done. It had spread from the very tips of Equestrian territory, nearing our location as the border of Equestria, and it was being set into our ponies' very hearts. Luna realized my plan too late, and attempted to fight me for dominance over the Elements, but I overpowered her. I was now talking to her while I wove the curse, trying to convince her that this was the only way, but she was having none of it.

She retreated, and I continued with the curse, until it was nearing the edge of the Dark Forest, and our temple. I was hit with a wave of magic, and the curse abruptly ended. I was enraged to find that in the curses final moments, she had woven a countercurse, and made to Dark Forest to forever be wild and untamable. My curse would remain incomplete. I sought her out, wrested the remaining Elements from her, and banished her to the Moon.

Well, you can imagine what happened after that. The Elements fell lifeless from my power, and were locked into the forms you released them from the dawn of my sister's return. Luna was taught to forget what truly happened the day of her banishment, and brainwashed into believing that she was the one in the wrong. I became the immortal monarch of Equestria, propelled to power by my curse's effects.

No longer.

The curse removed nature from the land and put it into a state of preservation. The Equestrian Plate was frozen from its tectonic motion and ripped itself from its parent plate. It was a mere thousand years, and there has been no significant change to the landscape, but there has been an undeniably large amount of seismic activity on our borders. The atmosphere was forced into a sluggish pace, making clouds a ridiculously stationary feature and necessitating a greater degree of control on the weather, as opposed to the gentle, guiding hoof of the old pegasi. The animals, including ponies, had their instincts suppressed, survival, reproduction, competition, hostility. Above all, ponies were made to obey the Law.

This was wrong, a perversion of nature. Ponies had their freedom removed, and were given a set purpose in society, usually guided by their magical mark. They were not made to be happy, but useful, and happy to be useful. They could not disobey. They were blindly devoted to me, no matter my actions. They could not break free of the status quo. You may have noticed, there has been little to no technological innovation or invention for the last ten centuries. The amount of work you have been able to do has simply amazed me, and it leads me to believe you have not only the greatest raw power I have ever seen in a unicorn, but also the greatest force of will. It is undoubted that each aids the other, but you have made the most progress in Equestria since the curse began.

This brings me to the final two points of my letter. The curse must be removed. You may disagree with me now, it has brought about a thousand years of prosperity, after all. But that is why it must be removed. You are unable to think badly of me, you are unable to see why. My terrible crime must be erased from the Earth, and only then will you be able to form your true judgement of me. I have built a government, not only on the foundation of this curse, but on the foundation of self-sufficiency.

Equestria had neither a military nor a guard until a scant century ago. There is no need for one now, and there was no need for one then, but my decree was vehemently agreed upon, to the point of its formation the very next day. Equestria had no true political offices, nor bureaucracy until about the same time. Their purpose is for the future.

I am removing the curse. This is a great problem, and without the Elements of Harmony it will take more power than I can handle. I have convinced my sister to lend me her power, though she knows not what for. However, even with this my power is not enough. I will blacken the sun to scour this curse from the Earth, and though it will take hours, it will be done. The countercurse on the Everfree will be removed as well, and I will do my best to heal the damage on my sister's mind. This has no little consequence. I will be going away, Twilight.

My power will be drained of me. I will have to return to the Sun, for there is no way to remain on Earth after I have channeled such great power. I do not require a successor, for the government I have set up is quite robust. How robust, however, is the true question. I will not have a successor, but as my last act as the Equestrian Monarch, I am appointing the immortal Elements of Harmony as Equestria's protectorate.

I do not think you will find it much of a surprise that the Elements of Harmony are made immortal. You have probably suspected this for years. For the past twelve years, you have not aged a day, nor have you sustained any irreparable injuries. You may have noticed your abnormally fast rate of healing, or your unusual resistance to the effects of tiredness, hunger, and thirst. The Elements granted us the spirits of the Moon and Sun to my sister and I after we defeated the old gods and imprisoned them in Tartarus. In you and your friends' case, you were granted the untarnished spirit of Chaos after you removed Discord's power from him and converted him to stone.

Like the many times you have protected Equestria from the forces that would do harm against it, I must task you to not only protect Equestria from without, but from within as well. Thus, you and your friends are to be Agents of Equestria, to move freely where they please, and to go unhindered by the laws and regulations bounding the rest of marekind. You will only be answerable to Luna and each of yourselves. Be warned, however, the further your friends may separate, the less effective they may become.

I am proud of you, Twilight Sparkle. All that you have become, all that you will become, all that you will do. Know that I love you, and that I hope that in the future, you will forgive me for both this day and the day one thousand thirteen years thence.

I will return.

Faithfully yours,

Princess Celestia


* * *


Silence pervaded the library. If one was present to observe the room's condition, they would note at first glance the rather long letter on the floor, folded into thirds and flipped to the last page. They would further go on to observe an overturned desk, its contents spilled to the floor, as if pushed aside in a great hurry. And, if one was present, they would continue and see the door, flapping in and out due to brief gusts of wind, inviting a clear view outside.

Silence pervaded the library, and although it was three past ten in the morning, the sky was black as night.

Comments ( 27 )

very well written, I'd very much recommend continuing it :)

To every vision, there is an equal and opposite revision.

This story is exceptionally thoughtful, and it opens several doors. I hope you find at least one of them worth trying.

I can't help but think it irresponsible for her to exempt the bearers of the Elements from all laws. The purpose of setting up a government is defeated if a few select citizens are given free reign, and I got the impression that Celestia didn't like that same fact about her own reign--about her being absolutely above the law. It's like she's trying to put a new version of herself in power after she disappears, if not cause another war to occur.

967636

Hm, I guess she really is pronouncing a successor. Shoot. Something like a traveling oligarchy that balances against the bureacracy and keeps the government in hand, giving out reforms like candy and tuning the system to what's necessary. Maybe Luna could be their handler, but she does become extremely bitter once Celestia vanishes and she regains her memories. EDIT: fixed.

In any case, they're given special dispensation dependent on their status as an Equestrian Agent. They pretty much were before, almost owned by the Princess, and their special treatment doled out due to her best judgement. I imagine the group balances each other out and acts as a whole according to their best judgement. They must make do. Certainly better than the US government.

(They aren't really citizens anymore, more like government operatives or high military)

She is really counting on their ability to act according to their best judgement. However, like history has demonstrated, benevolent autocracies (or oligarchies, in this case) would be the best form of government if not for their mortality.

If it truly is irresponsible, well, she is headstrong, and rather distraught at the moment, so who can blame her? :trollestia: It might even become the major conflict.

967542
967286

Perhaps. It depends if I can work out a continuation that I actually like. The governmental system and laws as they are laid out and changed by the mane six may be interesting to a political theorist, but not very riveting for a story.

967727
If you do a continuation, you could skim over how all their families grow/prosper/die out :v maybe throw in some tragic romances in there, going into how some of the mane 6/Luna deal with the change and loss v:

Now this is what I call a interesting read.

Please continue this.

1004515

Nope, sorry.

It was getting kind of dark n edgy; this will stay a oneshot. I can't write for this setting anymore. :>

1006263

I was really looking forward to seeing more of this.

It's too bad that you don't want to continue this. It's a nice setup.

1599360

I'm reconsidering this, however...

If I just replan what was going to happen, it might be appealing enough to continue, and I've been thinking about this fic for a while now.

I'm just going to note that I really liked this, so am hoping you write more in this verse sometime.. of course, i haven't looked at your other stories yet, so if you already have I'm going to feel very silly.

This was a highly moving piece of work though, so thank you for sharing it.

Beautiful story. Can't wait for your next one.

Interesting premise. I like how you placed Luna and Celestia as bystanders, even diplomats-for-hire. I liked it! Have a fave and like!

It's been said above, but this story needs continuation. Perhaps a "Great Experiment" sort of thing. Snippets of where this goes, from the initial chaos at the very beginning to the various changes the Mane 6 might make, to Slice of Life stuff for the immortal Mane 6 might go through.

If a more conventional arc presents itself to you, all the better, but I want to see the consequences of Celestia's actions, as well as her eventual return....:trollestia:

Comment posted by blank check deleted Sep 6th, 2014

5059637

True, but I think this is more of a vignette than a narrative.

That was so cool! Such an awesome and epic story!

5380694

What kind of cancer? Please be more specific.

5382324 The best kind of cancer, breast!

Well this was interesting. Any chance of a sequel?

6648558

No, I'm fairly uninterested in writing pony right now, though I still read it fairly often. I am trying to write one or two things, though, which you might see in future if you frequent /r/rational.

Thank you for reading.

On the one hand, commenting now, I find this story really edgy. Like, edgy to the point that a serious reply would come in the form of some kind of Legend of Zelda postscript where Link decides that destined heroes are just that evil and sets out trying to exterminate all his, Zelda's, and Ganondorf's relatives. Well, I guess that's called The Wind Waker in a way, but not quite.

On the other hand, you wrote it back in 2012, possibly even before Chrysalis was a thing. Nowadays the writers regularly invoke threats that just can't be Rainbow Lasered into oblivion and have made Equestria a more proper Land of Adventure by having it contain any number of "random encounters", "boss battles", and even historical-level threats. I mean, nowadays Trixie plus an amulet is actually considered enough to take over Ponyville, and the conflict with Starlight Glimmer could only be resolved by actually talking to her like a person.

Back then, the argument stood to be made that MLP went too deep into grimbright territory.

So it's kinda weird to read a story deconstructing bad MLP worldbuilding long after they've retconned it.

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