• Published 11th Oct 2019
  • 4,590 Views, 209 Comments

All That We Are - Marezinger Z

All processing their encounter with Aurelian very differently, the three villains part ways on paths that will ultimately lead them back together in a way they did not expect.

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Chapter 4

Luna quickly went to meet with Twilight and her sister the moment she received word of their return. She found Celestia on the throne, her eyes heavy with thought.

“Sister, what news do you bring?” She asked, hurrying to their side.

Celestia raised her head from her pondering. “Well, it is as Thorax suggested; Chrysalis is indeed living within the hive once more and shows no interest in further conflict with us.”

“Truly?” Luna checked with Twilight.

“Yes.” Twilight nodded. “I mean… she’s not exactly anymore friendly or anything, but she said she just wants to have her family back.”

“That is most excellent news.” Luna eyed her sister. “So why do you seem so troubled?”

“We may have another problem.” Celestia explained. “Chrysalis’ sudden change of heart only came about due to an encounter within Tartarus. She told us that there is an ancient, male Alicorn living in those forgotten tunnels.

“An Alicorn? In Tartarus?” Luna found herself lost in surprise at the idea.

“She said his name is Aurelian.” Twilight continued. “And his lifespan predates our recorded history.”

“What do you intend to do, sister?”

“I am not certain, Luna.” Celestia admitted. “There is much to consider and ruler or no… I am not wholly comfortable drawing a conclusion alone.” She looked to Twilight. “I can think of no other opinion on the matter I would value more than my own mentor’s. You converse with Starswirl regularly, would you ask that he join us here?”

“That’s a great idea.” Twilight smiled. “I’ll have Spike send a letter to him right away; be back soon.” Twilight vanished in a purple flash of light as she teleported from the room.

“Sister, did Chrysalis have any further information on Tirek and Cozy Glow?” Luna sat in her throne at Celestia’s side.

“No, she is unaware of their location.” Celestia shook her head. “She did say that Aurelian spoke with them at length before freeing them from Tartarus. Part of me hopes that his words impacted them as they did Chrysalis; although I must remain skeptical.”

“If nothing else, they are no longer working in concert.” Luna gleaned a bright side to a matter. “And with Chrysalis out of the equation, the threat has greatly decreased.”

“True.” Celestia agreed as she stood. “I am going to draft a public announcement about Chrysalis , would you mind tending the throne a bit longer?”

“Not at all, sister.” Luna nodded as Celestia teleported away.

Cozy Glow had spent the last two days enjoying her recent popularity as a full grown mare. Her newfound beauty served only to exponentially increase the effectiveness of her manipulative ways and she was using it to full effect. Charming her way into some free room and board, she laid low in a quiet town while she pondered her next moves.

“Let’s see now.” She sighed, reviewing a list she was assembling of possible creatures on which to use the Chimera Bracelet. “Scorpion tail?” She looked down at her rear. “And ruin this?” She quickly scratched the creature off the list. “Minotaur horns?” Her eyes rolled up in an attempt to see her forehead. “That could be neat, and I can get them painted if I don’t like the color.” Her thought was interrupted by a knock at the door. “Just a second!” She strolled to the door and opened up to find one of the attendants.

“Your lunch order, miss.” He timidly smiled, presenting the tray.

“About time… geez.” She took the tray, finding him still standing there. “What?”

“Oh, well… a tip?” He meekly asked.

“Tip huh?” Cozy Glow reached her head out the door and set her lips to the corner of his mouth. “That should cover it.” She quickly shut the door in his blushing face. “Boys are so much easier to deal with now.” With a giggle she set the tray down and uncovered her meal. Her devious smile faded after a moment as she looked around the empty room. “Still, this would be more fun if Tirek and Chrysalis were here.” Her face soured. “Dummies, wasting their time sulking; whatever, once they see the new me they’ll realize that they were wrong and we can get back to business.” She took a bite of her sprout, tomato and spinach sandwich. A much harder knock came at the door and with an annoyed growl she went to answer.

“What!?” She pulled open the door to see an older mare glaring up at her. “Ugh… please don’t tell me you want a tip too?”

“What I want...” The ornery mare began. “Is the bits you owe for this room. I just let my front desk manager have it for falling for whatever sob story you threw at him, so pay up.”

Cozy Glow put on a gimmicky frown. “But… it was the truth. I’ve been traveling all alone and I just needed a place to rest. Times have been hard.”

The owner looked her up and down. “Fancy mane, painted hooves… yeah, life’s been real rough on you hasn’t it.” She scoffed. “Stop acting like a spoiled brat and fork over the bits. Otherwise you can beat it, before I let the Sheriff straighten you out.”

Brat?” Cozy Glow’s eye twitched. “I… am not…a BRAT!” She spread her unnatural wings, the sight of which confused the owner. Mashing her hat down over her eyes and kicking her to the floor, Cozy Glow instinctively raised the bracelet to strike but stopped herself. “Actually, forget it. The only thing I could get from you is bags under my eyes.” She flew from the room and down the stairway, knocking over patrons as she made her escape from the building. Taking to the sky, she fled from the town and began making her way west.

The following dawn, Starswirl had joined the Princesses as requested. With little time for a full reunion, Celestia explained to her former teacher what Chrysalis had detailed to them. The old sorcerer listened to the tale with a sense of wonder that he had not felt in ages. As Celestia concluded her story, Starswirl sat quiet; stroking his beard as he mulled over the situation.

“No matter how old I get, there is always something new to learn.” Starswirl let out a short chuckle. “Although, this Aurelian would probably disagree.” He looked up at the ceiling. “Ten thousand years, how many mortal lifetimes could one live in so vast a span of time. This world changed so much in just the time I spent trapped in limbo, and yet that might as well be the blink of an eye to him… I can only imagine the level of change he’s witnessed.”

“I know.” Twilight nodded. “Think of what a creature like that could teach us.”

He laughed and laid his hoof to her head. “Ever the student, but you cannot look at this through that lens alone, Twilight. This creature not only represents knowledge, but a power that I doubt any of us could stand against if he wielded it as our enemy.”

“That is why I struggle with this, Starswirl.” Celestia said in frustration. “As much of me is intrigued as it is fearful. On one hoof, Aurelian accomplished with a simple talk what we’ve been unable to for years; Chrysalis is no longer an enemy and we have him to thank for that. There is no telling how much good a creature so knowledgable and influential could do for our world. And yet, on the other hoof, his actions are based purely on his whim. If he was returned to the surface and decided to raise his hoof against it… well, as you said, who would or could stop him.” She let out an indecisive sigh. “As much good as he could do, perhaps it is best to let his power stay where it is.”

“Sister.” Luna stepped in. “You mentioned that Chrysalis said this creature chooses to remain in Tartarus and can leave at will. If that is the case, then merely leaving him there is just as dangerous. If we do nothing and he one day chooses to return anyway, we will have no presence against him.”

“Luna is right.” Twilight added. “We have the chance to reach out to him in friendship.”

“An olive branch used as a preemptive strike.” Celestia hummed in thought.

“He is like a gigantic explosive just sitting in the middle of a crowded room.” Starswirl surmised. “If we leave him be, he could explode on his own. If we approach him, we could attempt to defuse him but set him off anyway. No matter what course we take, the same end could be the result.” He went to Celestia with a reassuring smile. “If that is so, then I agree it would be best to try and speak with him now while we have the opportunity. If not, we also run the risk of a far more malicious creature reaching him first.”

“Very well then.” Celestia nodded in acceptance. “I will go to Tartarus and see him myself.”

“Alone?” Luna asked.

“Yes.” She said surely. “He may hear me out, he may strike me dead; if the latter comes to pass then I need you and Twilight here to maintain order in Canterlot.

“Princess.” Twilight’s eyes washed over with worry.

“Do not fret, Twilight.” She smiled. “I will take utmost care in dealing with this. In the meantime, we should garner some precautions if I should return here with him; I would like Discord to be present as his power is of the greatest we have at our disposal.”

“He’ll show up if Fluttershy does.” Twilight noted. “I’ll bring them here.”

“Luna.” Celestia turned to her sister. “See to it that all of tomorrow’s appointments are cancelled. I don’t want any creature here that does not need to be.”

“It will be done, sister.” Luna nodded.

“I will have to decide just how to approach him.” Celestia started off. “We’ll convene tomorrow before my leave.” She returned to her chamber to think hard about her words for tomorrow.

Late next morning, after seeing Luna and Twilight off, Celestia returned to the Tartarus gate once more. She landed before the guards who, given their last experience with her appearance, were understandably alarmed. “It is the real me this time, I promise.” She calmly held her hoof up. “The password is blueberry pancakes.” The guards sighed in relief and opened the passage for her. Not fully knowing what to expect, Celestia steeled herself and began exploring Tartarus. The silence was unnerving and her hoofsteps reverberated around her as she wandered through the tunnels. Reaching a junction, she halted and eyed the passageways. “Aurelian!” She called. “I am Princess Celestia, one of the rulers of Equestria! I have come to request the chance to speak with you!” The area remained still for nearly two minutes before one of the passages lit with magical energy. With a calming breath, she followed the path further back to its end.

“If I had known that this place was going to become so popular, I would have chosen to reside elsewhere.” Aurelian noted as yet another guest entered his chamber.

Celestia could feel the magic radiating off of him and her chest tightened in response. “I was told of your existence by Chrysalis, the Changeling with which you spoke.”

“Ah, the Halfling.” He slowly nodded, stepping closer to get a better look at Celestia. “And you are the ruler of the modern pony world?”

“Along with my sister, yes.” She confirmed.

“I see. Then to what do I owe this royal visitation?”

Celestia chose her words carefully. “In part, to thank you for what you’ve done; and also to invite you to return with me to Equestria.”

Aurelian wandered back to his typical spot in the room and sat. “Interesting.”

“Your very existence is a wonder.” She carried on. “I have worked to spread the lessons of friendship across not only Equestria, but the whole of the world… even here in Tartarus. I know you have misdeeds in your past but I believe…”

“Stop.” Aurelian cut her off. “You know nothing of what I have done. If you truly came here because of a single deed that benefited your world, then you’re a fool; but I do not think that you are.” He aimed his wing at her. “I am not one for platitudes and rhetoric. If you wish to leave here, then speak plainly with me, girl.”

Celestia tensed but maintained her composure. “Very well.” She nodded. “I think you have a great deal to offer the world, worth that goes far beyond your immense power. You are a walking lexicon of our kind’s history and there is no telling the depth of what can be gained from your knowledge, insight and wisdom.” She stepped towards him in return. “But I am far from foolish enough to ignore the danger in meddling with a creature like you. I am taking a great risk, not only to myself but to all the world in asking what I am of you. Even so, I feel the possible rewards of that risk are worth the very real threat your power represents.” She pointed her wing to the ceiling. “What I have heard suggests that you care nothing for the world above and wish only to sit here in solitude. Yet, if all your heart was truly devoted to that notion, then you wouldn’t have taken the time to speak with Chrysalis and the others… nor would you have taken the time to see me now.” She paused, taking a thoughtful breath. “I think a part of you misses the world and I am offering you the chance to return as a friend.” She nodded solemnly. “You’re right, I have no idea what kind of miracles you have performed or atrocities you have committed over your unimaginably long life; but that was more lifetimes ago than any living creature could possibly recall. The world is so different now and you can be a part of it again, if you wish to be.” She held her wing to her chest. “And I am no girl, my name is Celestia.” He approached again but she firmly held her ground and looked him in the eyes.

Aurelian looked back into Celestia’s eyes, searching for any signs of insincerity. The corner of his mouth turned upward in the faintest of smiles as he made a short laugh. “That is better.” He said approvingly. “Still, while your offer is not without logic, no matter how different you claim the world to be I doubt the fundamentals are any different.” He sat before her. “You say you seek to spread lessons of friendship? In my time, they were called the values of unity; it was the basis upon which was formed the original alliance between the multitudes of species that wandered the world. The Halfling, the Centaur and the child claimed to be villains, ones who stood against your would be lessons and attempted to lay claim to the world for their own ends. They are about as unique as grains of sand… I’ve lost count of how many I’ve slain and how many have stood at my side over the years." He lightly sighed. "Be it my time or yours, it is all the same empty loop.” Using his magic, he formed a chess board before him with pieces representing various species. “Like a pair of chess boards from different nations, the pieces and board may be different; but in the end they are playing the same game, and I have seen all the possible moves one can make on this board.”

“But that is the thing about chess.” Celestia used her magic to form a piece of herself. “The game can always feel fresh as long as you have someone new to play with.” She sat before the board, forming pieces of her sister, Twilight and her friends. “I will not argue that you have undoubtedly seen so much that you are actively conscious of the repetitions that take place in societies. But look at it from our side of the board; we have never seen anything like you and we would relish the chance to learn from you. Your wisdom could end wars before they start, change the minds of villains before they even set out on their wicked path and teach us the lost lessons of thousands of years past.” She gave him a sincere smile.

He looked up at the lifeless, rocky ceiling with a hint of longing. “I admit, I have been here for so long that it was a welcome distraction to interact with others once more.”

“All I am suggesting is that you give the world a chance. I know full well no creature can force you to do anything; and we do wish to extend our hooves in friendship; had I known you were down here, I would have done so much sooner.”

Aurelian considered her words. “Very well.” He accepted, their shared magical construct vanishing. “The world seems to be in no hurry to end, perhaps I should check in on how things have progressed in my absence.”

Celestia let out a great, internal sigh of relief. “I am glad to hear that, we can…” As she began to turn, she found herself outside and in the midst of her guard. She quickly looked back, seeing Aurelian staring up into the blue sky; she then noticed her even more anxious guards and quickly waved them down. “It is alright, please be at ease.”

“Y… yes, Princess.” The lead guard held their formation.

“Aurelian?” She called his attention. “May I show you to Canterlot? It is the current seat of power and my home.”

Aurelian returned his eyes to her, merely gesturing with his wing for her to lead on. The flight was quiet and a little tense for Celestia, although Aurelian did little more than pan his disinterested eyes over the scenery, no doubt observing the changes in the landscape from what he remembered. Celestia led him directly to the castle, which Luna had ensured was operated only by a skeleton crew; Aurelian continued to silently follow her to the throne room where his reception awaited.

“How colorful.” Aurelian noted, looking over the stain glass and beautiful banners. “These must be peaceful times indeed if you have time to decorate.”

“I’ll take that as a positive.” Celestia stopped and gestured to Luna. “This is my sister, Princess Luna.”

“It is nice to meet you.” Luna tipped her head respectfully.

“Sibling Alicorns are rare.” Aurelian informed. “I have known only three other pairs.”

Celestia motioned towards Twilight and Starswirl. “This is my most valued student and soon to be successor Twilight Sparkle and my former teacher Starswirl the Bearded.”

“Hello.” Twilight greeted.

“It is a rare moment in history to meet one such as you.” Starswirl added.

Celestia continued to Fluttershy and Discord. “Lastly, this is Fluttershy, a close friend to the throne and…”

“Discord.” Discord took over his own introduction with a smug smile. “Lord of chaos.”

“Lord of chaos?” Aurelian chuckled. “If you consider animating pottery and raining confections chaotic, then for your sake I hope you fail to ever run into true chaos.”

Discord irked at the dismissal of his power. “I’ll have you know that my power is among the greatest in Equestria.” He informed.

“If that is the case, then this world has truly grown weak.” Aurelian scoffed. “There were many Draconoquis in my time; their antics made them excellent jesters.”

“J…jester?” Discord growled.

“Discord.” Flutterhsy grabbed his claw and pulled his attention to her, merely shaking her head to tell him to stop.

“Wow.” Twilight looked at Discord. “I honestly can’t imagine more than one of you.”

“They are creatures ruled by remoteness and always at odds with each other. That lack of community is what likely led to their decline in numbers over the centuries.” Aurelian concluded.

“Well, Discord is different.” Fluttershy said with great pride. “He’s learned to accept friendship and is practically family.”

“Even the wildest dog can be domesticated with enough effort.” He laughed to himself.

“Aurelian?” Twilight came in. “Speaking of rare creatures, you too are something I never thought could exist. Were there other male Alicorns?”

Aurelian sighed and nodded. “Yes, there were. I imagine only females are born now?”

“That is correct.” Celestia confirmed. “In all our recorded history, there are no instances of a male Alicorn being born.”

“That would be my doing.” Aurelian admitted.

“How so?” Luna questioned.

“The first time my path grew dark came as a shock to the world, which held Alicorns in the highest regard.” He began. “The impact I left was immeasurable and after my first defeat and imprisonment, the world decided to see to it that there would never be another Aurelian.”

“Oh no.” Celestia realized where his tale was going.

“Indeed.” He continued. “All male Alicorns were killed, and any males that were born after the fact were executed at birth.” Regret laced his voice as he spoke. “They were not me, and they did not deserve that fate. Sometimes a society can impact the course of nature itself; and it seems that in response to this cruel genocide, nature in turn saw to it that another male Alicorn was never brought into the world.”

“I cannot imagine a world so cruel.” Luna shook her head in disgust.

“If it makes you feel any better, I returned the favor upon my escape.” He coldly added, the rapid shift in his story from tragic to terrifying sending chills through the room. “If I am going to be spending time on the surface once more, I feel I should wash the thousands of years of dust from my body.”

Celestia’s mind returned to the moment. “Of course; Luna, would you show him the bath?”

“Yes, sister.” Luna nodded and motioned for him to follow. “If you would.”

Aurelian followed her from the room and Starswirl let out a drained sigh once he was away. “I know not whether to feel awe or terror, I think both are suitable.”

“I know the deeds of his past are brutal.” Celestia conceded. “But his world is not like our own, I wish for him to see that and know that he can have a place in our modern world.”

“Well, I don’t particularly like him.” Discord turned his nose up.

“Don’t go trying to start a fight, Discord.” Twilight warned.

“Indeed.” Celestia agreed. “He seems calm enough, but if you raise your power against him I have no doubt he will respond in kind. We can’t risk doing anything that might cause him to see us as enemies.”

“It’s okay, Discord.” Fluttershy patted his claw. “You’ll always be great to me.”

Discord calmed at her praise. “That’s all that matters anyway.” He smiled.

Starswirl went to Twilight with questioning smirk. “Are you still excited to speak with him?”

“I am.” Twilight nodded. “Sure… he’s pretty scary; but look how much we learned just from this one little talk.”

The quiet throne room was abruptly filled with the shrill call of Rainbow Dash. “Where the heck is everypony!” A blue blur flew by the door.

“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight called.

There you are.” She quickly appeared in the doorway with Daring Do at her back.

“Oh, Daring Do.” Fluttershy smiled. “What are you doing here?”

“She came to Ponyville looking for us.” Rainbow Dash explained. “She’s got a lead on Cozy Glow.”

“Really?” Celestia stepped forward. “What do you know?”

“Well, I went to check in on Caballeron.” Daring Do landed before her. “Just to make sure he was staying on the up and up. I found him barely conscious; it took almost a day to get him back to the point where he could talk properly.” She held her hoof slightly above the ground. “He said that a little pink Pegasus with a curly mane had come to his shop looking for artifacts; she got ahold of some weird bracelet and when Caballeron poked himself on it he passed out. As he was losing consciousness, he said he saw her grow right in front of him.”

“What?” Twilight asked. “How?”

“I don’t know.” Daring Do shook her head. “He described the bracelet to me and it’s nothing I’ve ever heard of.”

“Maybe something in my library will help.” Twilight suggested.

“An excellent start.” Celestia concurred. “Take Daring Do with you and learn what you can. Rainbow Dash, would you search the areas near where Caballeron was found and see if any creature else spotted her?”

“On it.” Rainbow Dash saluted before speeding off.

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.” Twilight noted as she teleported herself and Daring Do away.

“In the meantime, I will continue to host Aurelian.” Celestia looked to Starswirl, Fluttershy and Discord. “Would you remain here for the time? It would put me more at ease.”

"Of course, Celestia.” Starswirl nodded.

“You can count on us.” Fluttershy looked up at Discord. “Right?”

Discord rolled his eyes and groaned. “Yes.”

“Thank you.” Celestia laughed. “Let us hope things continue to go smoothly.” The four of them settled as they waited for Aurelian’s return.