• Published 14th Apr 2018
  • 2,800 Views, 236 Comments

Dear Faithful Student - Muramasa



Celestia has been alive for thousands upon thousands of years, and as a result, has had more than one student who have studied under her. When her long dead students appear in modern day Equestria in their youth, Twilight must discover why.

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CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER FIVE:
MEMENTO MORI


The wind gently whispered in my ears, coursing in and out like a melancholy song. Little droplets of snow floated down upon my scarf and, as soon as they hit its plaid cotton, melted into tiny droplets.

It was cold.

I remember it as if it had just happened. Our marks soaring back to us, the identities and talents that made us who we were restored. I remember chasing Starlight Glimmer, the mare who had stripped the destiny from so many, across the mountainside.

I remember her face when we'd finally drew her from hiding. Cold, loathsome fury twitching every-which-way through her visage, sneering to me that my "sentimental nonsense" would do her no good.

I remember how biting the cold was, numbing every inch of my body with a sinister steadiness, but I remember more distinctly her words that evening biting harder.

In the very spot where we all stood now, I had given up on Starlight Glimmer. When she ran to the caverns in disgust and defeat, I had turned my back on her--literally and figuratively--and I'd walked away from that mountain pass expecting to never see her again. Starlight Glimmer had been filled with a burning fervor that I didn't entirely understand, and her vicious words made it clear to me, at the time, that I likely never would.

Now, I stood beside a best friend and a mare that I had not only taught, but who had taught so much to me. It seemed so long ago that Starlight Glimmer was the latest antagonist in my never-ending friendship crusade, and now I don't think I could imagine my life without her in it.

When I turned to Starlight, her mouth slightly creaked and her eyes a gateway to the gears in her head spinning at a thousand miles an hour, I knew she remembered it, too.

She turned to me, a wistful glint speckled in her eyes, and she stared. I stared back--for comfort maybe, or something else--but surprisingly, it was Violet who decided to break the silence.

"Twilight?" she asked. Both of us turned to her, and I quickly smiled to break the tension: the corner of my eye revealed that Starlight had done it at the exact same time.

"I'm sorry, guys. We're ready to go now, it's just... Starlight and I were remembering something that happened right here." I turned to the mare in question, who merely nodded in agreement. Violet cocked her head to the side in curiosity, her gaze floating back and forth between us.

"Bethinking oneselves of this spot? Were these memories pleasant?" I looked to Starlight again, who shook her head and drew her gaze to the ground as a reminiscent smile slowly spread across her face.

"Not really, no," she answered after a pause, a chuckle escaping her lips. She looked back to Violet, the embarrassed and recollecting smirk quickly erased by an eager warm beam.

"But we're not here for my memories, Violet... we're here for yours." She said the last part much softer, knowing all too well what Violet was about to go through.

Violet was about to take a trek through the history of Hourton, its parchment the mountain walls that made up the cave and its ink the remains of the dead. She would likely see friends, family, and many other ponies who she would come to know across her life, as well as those who sat by her bedside when she took her last breath (or so she had assumed). The trip, however, would end with a casket far more familiar than any other.

Her own.

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Sunset interjected, leaning across the line of ponies we had formed. Sunset had taken Violet under her wing in adapting her to the new world she had found herself in: a task I had thought to be a bit ironic, seeing as how Sunset also had just come back to Equestria after a long period of absence, but she had done a great job of settling Violet into a world she couldn't possibly comprehend.

Violet paused for a few seconds before merely nodding and taking the first steps into the mountain pass, the muffled echo of her hooves across the rock reverberating through the cavern.

"Let us go," she began, not stopping to look bad at the rest of the group. "My sepulture is likely far into the cavern."

We all turned to look at each other one more time, unsure if Violet's confidence was truly genuine or a cloak over her nervousness, but we carried on nonetheless. We made sure to stick close to Violet, as Starlight only knew the basic paths of the mountain pass and would likely get lost if she strayed too far from where she had escaped from so long ago.

Trixie Lulamoon, who had stayed quiet for most of the trip--an instance most in Violet's time would consider one of Celestia's many miracles--walked up to my left side before speaking softly as we traveled.

"Did you get that letter back from Spike?" she asked, a rushed and nervous inflection in her voice. I shook my head in the negative: I had asked Spike to gather the all the girls in Canterlot and to report back to me as soon as he could, but I didn't get any word from him yet.

"No, which is strange because he usually--" At that moment, I heard a rumbling in the leather messenger bag strapped over my shoulder. I quickly opened it with my magic and pulled out a neatly tied scroll, looking to Trixie with a shocked amusement. I could feel Sunset imitating my glance from behind me when Trixie's eyes went wide.

"Abracadabra?" the magician jokingly stated, shrugging her shoulders with a sheepish grin. That one caused a riot among the three of us, the smug look slowly I'd come to love from Trixie Lulamoon washing over her as we continued to walk. I opened the letter and read it aloud, the echo on my voice getting more and more intense as Violet led on ahead of us.

Hi, Twilight!

As it turned out, Rainbow and Rarity were already here! They're in the castle with me now and we're having lunch with Celestia and Luna. The other girls told me they were all gonna get here as quickly as they could, so hopefully they're all here by the time you guys come back!

P.S: I gave the old tower a once over before we move back in. It's gonna be real weird living there again...

P.P.S: I almost forgot! Celestia wanted me to tell you to take care of Violet in there. She's really worried about her.

Your favorite dragon,

Spike

I decided to omit the post scriptums aloud, though did take note of them all the same. Celestia and I had figured it a good idea to stay in Canterlot for a few weeks in order to discover the reasoning behind Violet's sudden appearance, and that old tower I used to live in had remained virtually untouched since I left it. It was nice to know Spike had thought to tidy it up, and I mentally reminded myself that I had to thank him whenever we got back.

We kept walking after that for a few minutes, the silence in the cave deafening, until Violet stopped at the left side wall. We watched her from a distance, and when I truly took in the surroundings I immediately noticed the defining features of the area.

There were three rows carved into the cave walls, each harboring coffins of various types. Many of them looked exactly the same--a nice, brown wood with gold latches--but a few them were oddballs, made from a different material or completely coated in flowers or cloth. Each coffin had a plaque beneath it, designating the pony who was buried there: Violet had been dusting one off, and she read the plaque aloud as we watched a few feet away.

"Golden Comet," she said softly. "This stallion was the bottler's son." She quietly read over the rest of the description, which likely displayed the date of his death and possibly how he died. We all looked to each other, unsure what to do, until Starlight carefully walked from the rest of the group and knelt down to Violet's side.

"Was... was this pony your friend, Violet?" She asked, a somber tone bleeding through her voice. Violet stayed silent for a few precious seconds, only answering when she had finished reading the plaque.

"Celestia, no. He was a nithing," she answered, a deep and wistful tone to her voice. I could feel my eyes widen in surprise, and as emotional as she sounded, it took everything in my power not to start laughing: upon looking to my right I could see both Sunset and Trixie vehemently fighting off grins that had slipped through their visage. Violet quickly got up from the cavern floor, turning to face Starlight with a glowing grin.

"I truly thank you for thy worries, Starlight Glimmer," she said warmly. She turned the Golden's coffin once more, observing it one final time as she spoke. "I do not imagine this trek will be facile... memories return even for those froward and loathly."

She continued onwards, contantly scanning to the left and right in search of somepony she knew. We walked forward to Starlight, and she fell right in line with the rest of us as we delved deeper into the cave.

"That was very nice of you, Starlight," I said, resting a hoof on her shoulder. "Even if that, uh, wasn't exactly what we were expecting." We all got out the laughs we had been burying a minute earlier, but they quickly silenced when Starlight shook her head and began to speak.

"I couldn't even imagine. It's very brave of Violet to do this for us. We should do something really nice for her after this." We all nodded in agreement, silently thinking of something cool we could all do to relieve her stress when we arrived back in Canterlot. The silence continued for quite some time with only our steps to listen to until Violet stopped again, this time on the right side.

She didn't kneel down, instead staying to look to the middle row. This coffin was adorned with daisies, tied together all across it over a single white sheet. Tears began to stream down Violet's face, faster and more plentiful by the second, and we all knew then that whoever this pony was clearly wasn't a "nithing" as Golden Comet had been.

All of us quickly walked over to Violet, who was feeling the daisies over with her hoof. I took a look at the plaque in the center of the wall, displaying clearly who had been laid to rest in the cavern.

Daisy Midnight
Loved laughter and all it brought
Succumbed to the pestilence

"I aided in weaving these," Violet stated, her voice hoarse and shaking. "I was in Canterlot when news reached me. Daisy was my lifelong friend. I returned to Hourton just to see her pass on to the next world." All three of us brought Violet in for a hug, letting her remember her long lost friend in silence for what seemed to be an eternity. Eventually, she shrugged us all off, a nervous laughter escaping her lips.

"I cannot repay ye for this kindness," she began, wiping her eyes. "I am in grief beyond words, but I am glad I have returned to this place." We all nodded, and it was Sunset who spoke this time as she trotted to Violet and held on to her shoulder.

"It's alright, Violet. If you ever want to talk for a while, we have time." We all nodded in agreement, but Violet quickly shook her head in the negative as she brushed Sunset's hoof away.

"I will be fine, I promise," she said, doing her absolute best to muster a smile beneath her red and teary face. "We should be very close to my sepulture--Hourton was no Canterlot, I assure you." Although her remark wasn't strenuously funny, we laughed along with her anyways, giving her just a little taste of the gift her friend Daisy had clearly given to others so generously.

The rest of the walk wasn't pleasant for any of us, but I had something greater on my mind.

I couldn't help but think about what Violet had been doing, viewing the plaques adorned with names and faces she used to know, and how one day I would likely do the same. I would be lying if I said I didn't think about it often--I still had nightmares occasionally of ruling over an Equestria that had long passed my greatest friends by--but the emotions, sorrows and joys of Violet seeing her friends' caskets was likely a preview of my own future one day. I shook my head quickly, bringing the world back into view as we continued onwards.

That day would not be for quite some time.

Trixie had seen the small gesture, I knew, but elected not to say anything as we trudged onwards. The torches that lined the walls of the tomb, clearly propelled by some kind of magic, almost seemed to glow just a bit brighter as we walked, engulfing the caskets in a blanket of flickering amber.

Eventually, we hit a slight curve in the path, and it was where Violet stopped dead in her tracks. We quickly followed suit, staying a few feet behind her as usual while she slowly crept towards the wall.

What Violet first turned to was the middle row once more. It held a double-wide casket, the first one I had seen during the trip, with nothing but a single, dried up rose resting gently on top of it. In relation to the casket above it, I immediately knew the ponies it held, and I found a tear of my own quickly sliding across my cheek as Violet recited the plaque to the rest of the group.

"Lilac and Shining Meadow," she said sternly, the unsteadiness returning to her voice. She shed no tears, however, instead beginning to chuckle as she looked to the rose on their coffin. "My parents were inseparable, even in expiry." She rested a hoof on their coffin for a second before bringing it down and placing the opposite hoof on her chest, moving it in a pattern and whispering something to herself. I assumed it was a prayer of some sort, but I didn't recognize it: it wasn't very long, however, and she quickly looked to the top row with a smile on her face.

"It's nice to see my wishes in death were obeyed," she said simply.

The coffin on the top row was just like all the other normal ones, but it was the plaque that stood out. This one appeared to be made of solid gold, glimmering greatly as the light touched it, and was bound around the sides with what appeared to be mother-of-pearl. The royal emblem of Equestria, Celestia and Luna circled around the sun and moon, was emblazoned fabulously in the bottom left corner below the inscription. We all trotted to where Violet was standing as she read her own epitaph aloud.

Violet
Celestia's chosen
Returned home at last

"It was the very last thing we discussed," Violet said suddenly, gazing to her place of rest. "She wanted my coffin adorned in gold and topped with the finest gems and jewelry. I wanted not to overshadow the others in this hallowed place. In the end, we compromised neatly."

"The plaque," Trixie said assuredly. Violet nodded in confirmation, her grin growing even wider.

"Yes. She wanted something to display just how much she loved me. She was fortunate I was in no strength to argue... shall we do it, then?" she asked, the heaviness of the question overshadowing her wit. I nodded grimly and turned to the other girls, backing up and forming a semi-circle at the base of the wall.

Slowly, with all our magic, we grabbed hold of the coffin and brought it outwards, dust and rock tumbling down from a thousand years of rest. As carefully as we could, we set the coffin down gently on the floor around us, holding just a bit longer than we needed to in an effort to ensure it was safely balanced. When it was done, we all turned to Violet for the thousandth time that day, with Sunset speaking the words we had all been thinking on the way here.

"Would you like to do the honors?" she asked, both a soft concern and strong conviction coming through her voice. Silently, Violet nodded, and with her magic broke the latch on the coffin and carefully removed the lid in one fell swoop.

Once the lid was completely off, we were greeted with the sight of absolutely nothing.

The coffin was as empty as it could be. There were no bones, strands of hair or anything else indicative that a body had even been placed there: the only thing it held was dust.

"Unbelievable," Starlight whispered, moving forward to take a closer look. After a few seconds of staring, she turned back to Violet, whose mouth was slightly creaked open in confusion and surprise.

"Your bones aren't in here. They're in there," she said wildly, pointing to Violet. She looked down in shock, only just understanding what Starlight was implying, but didn't say a word as Starlight turned to us with a face of giddy discovery I know I'd held many times throughout my life.

"She isn't displaced from her time period, she was revived. I don't know how or why, but there are no bones in this coffin because they're in her body: you were absolutely right, Trixie, this isn't time travel, she's back from the dead!" I nodded silently as she spoke, bewildered right along with everypony else. After a moment of thinking, I turned to my former student and began to talk faster than I was thinking.

"So she was revived this young? She just woke up in her twenties in a field outside Canterlot after being dead for a thousand years? This answers one thing, but gives us thousands of more questions." Starlight nodded, her excited expression quickly turning grim as she spoke to me with new conviction.

"I know it does. We need to get back to Celestia and figure out what in Tartarus is happening here." I was about to nod, but a chorus of rather odd-sounding footsteps echoing from further down the cave quickly caught my attention. I saw a figure step out from the shadows and instinctively ignited my horn, a stun spell pulsing and at the ready. The other mares didn't even hesitate, turning around with their own magic prepared to face whatever it was I was pointed at.

"Perhaps I could be of assistance?" the figure asked, fully emerging from the darkness. It was a unicorn stallion, his accent distinctly Canterlotian with a rough edge to it. He had a navy blue mane and tail with a light grey coat, and his eyes matched the orange in the burning torches exactly. The most notable feature about the mystery stallion, however, was that most of his right leg appeared to be made of bronze, cut off unevenly with the very little natural part of it left.

Sunset quickly stepped forward, her horn glowing more aggressively as she spoke to the intruder.

"Hold on there, buddy. Tell us who you are. Now." The stallion had a smug look on his face, seemingly unphased by Sunset's threats, and turned his gaze to Violet.

"My name is Cobalt Aegis, though you can just call me Cobalt," he replied. "I was drawn here, and I think it was because of this lass right here." Before Sunset could do anything rash, I stepped forward as well, my head cocked in confusion as I spoke with narrowed eyes.

"Drawn here? Why would you be drawn here?" I asked, making sure to bring forward my conviction. He pointed with his bronze leg to Violet's plaque on the wall, and I realized quickly he was motioning to the bottom left corner.

"Because I couldn't help but overhear your conversation," he began calmly. "And I think we have something in common."

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