• Published 27th Oct 2019
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The Ending of the Beginning - Jade Ring



Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow escaped following the Battle of the Bell. Are they planning vengeance? Or have they found their own happy ending?

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A Different Ending

Shutter Bug, professional photographer and homemaker, exited her home’s dark room and winced as her eyes adjusted to the afternoon light filtering in through the kitchen window. She glanced at the clock; just past two. Her daughter would be getting home from school soon. She was a growing filly, and growing fillies needed proper, nutritious snacks after a long day learning. She hummed a happy song as she peered into the cupboard, but a distant rhythmic clanging noise caught her attention. She smiled, knowing exactly what the clanging meant.

Her husband was working out. Again.

She laughed airily as she trotted down the hall to his home gym. She might as well ask if he wanted a snack, too, while she was at it. She peeked into the open door and spied his impressive bulk stretched out on a bench, hefting impossibly huge weights over his chest in rapid succession. She silently swooned as the muscles in his arms flexed and rippled with the effort. She bit her lip and considered giving him a little afternoon surprise. Her daughter would be home in less than an hour. If they were quick…

A stern knock from the front door derailed that train of thought.

Her husband lowered the barbell to its holding position and sat up, grabbing a nearby towel in the process. He looked back at her, not surprised in the least to find her watching him work out. Again. “Are we expecting company?”

“Not that I was aware of.” Shutter Bug trotted briskly towards the door, lighting her horn and sending out her magic to pull it open. “Can I help… you?” She stared in shock at the trio of ponies on her door-step. Shock quickly became fear, and she swallowed hard. “D…dearest?” She called. “You might want to join us.”

Her husband poked his head out of the gym, and the red centaur actually yelped in surprise.

Standing in the open door were the two ponies who, until the events of one year prior, had been the ruling body of the land of Equestria for nearly two millennia. The former Princess Luna stared coldly at the clearly terrified centaur. “Ah, Lord Tirek. It has been too long, has it not?”

The former Princess Celestia nodded down at the cowering filly at her hooves. “We found this one walking home after school. We thought it best to escort her. For her safety, you understand.”

Cozy Glow looked up at Shutter Bug, her terrified face a mirror of her mother’s. “This is bad, isn’t it?”

Shutter Bug did her best to calm her rapidly beating heart, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. Emerald flames washed across her, revealing her original form to the former diarchs of Equestria. “Shall I put the kettle on? Or would you prefer to arrest us now?” Queen Chrysalis asked.

Celestia smiled without humor. “Tea would be lovely.”

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The trio of villains sat on one side of the dining room table, the sisters on the other. They sat in silence as they waited for the water to boil, alternating from awkward stares at one another to looking pointedly at the walls and floor. When the kettle at last began its piercing whistle, Chrysalis used her magic to bring it over from the stove, bringing with it a small tray of cookies. “It isn’t much. We weren’t expecting company.” She offered apologetically. She poured several cups of hot tea and set them before the assembled adults.

Celestia raised an eyebrow as her own magic lifted the cup to her lips. “I don’t suppose you poisoned this?”

“It might taste like it.” Tirek muttered. He winced at Chrysalis’ reproachful glare. “What? You’ve made some wonderful strides, my dear, but mastering tea is still sadly out of your wheelhouse.”

Cozy Glow reached for a cookie, and then paused as though remembering her manners. “May I have one?”

“Just one. But only because I didn’t get the chance to prepare your after school fruit snack.” Chrysalis nodded. “And no tea.” Her magic opened a nearby refrigerator and pulled out a juice box bearing the image of a smiling yellow filly. “The doctor says you need to cut back on the caffeine.”

Luna looked at the three, her brow wrinkled in confusion. “This… is not what we were expecting.”

“And what exactly were you expecting?” Tirek sipped his tea, shuddered, and began spooning in more sugar. “Another epic battle? A desperate escape attempt?”

“Well… yes. Exactly that.”

Tirek snorted. His nose-ring was gone and his beard had been trimmed to a more manageable length. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

Celestia sipped her tea slowly, her face betraying nothing about the taste. Her eyes never left those of the first creature besides her sister to best her in single combat. “So… how long have you been here?”

“Eight months.” Chrysalis sipped her own tea, her face as stone as Celestia’s. “We hid in the caves under Canterlot for three days before fleeing. We reached the borders of Equestria and started south a few weeks after that. It still took a few months to find a village far enough away from Canterlot that nopony would recognize us.”

“And one that had a decent sized school.” Cozy Glow chimed in, plunging a straw into her juice box.

“Saddleburg is a perfect small town. It’s not all that unlike Ponyville come to think of it.” Tirek added. “Backwoods, mostly earth-pony population… Yes. The perfect place to…”

“…Plot out your revenge?” Luna cut him off.

Tirek only rolled his eyes. “To make a home.”

“I knew it!” Luna exclaimed, pointing a hoof at the centaur. “A home to…” She stumbled. “A… a home?”

“Yes, a home.” Tirek indicated Cozy Glow. “She needs a stable home life and a steady social circle. It’s vital to her development. All the books say so.”

Cozy Glow nodded sagely, gulping down her juice.

Luna sat slowly and looked at her sister. “Tia, I’m confused.”

Celestia remained, unblinking and silent. She took another sip of tea.

Chrysalis met her gaze, her eyelid twitching slightly. Her every muscle was tensed, ready to move…

“Oh, enough of this.” Tirek reached over and took Chrysalis’ hoof in his hand. “Chryssy.”

Her eyes snapped to him, aghast at his use of that name in front of her mortal enemies. “How dare you…!”

“Chryssy.” Tirek smiled and squeezed her hoof gently. “Show them.”

Chrysalis’ retort was cut off by a smaller hoof touching her free one. She looked over and found Cozy Glow smiling at her. “It’s okay.”

Chrysalis looked back to Celestia and sighed heavily. “Any jokes, and I’ll give you the battle you were expecting.” Again her form was awash in vibrant green flames, but this time when they faded it wasn’t Shutter Bug staring back at them.

Celestia’s legendary resolve broke, and her jaw dropped open.

“By Starswirl’s beard…” Luna whispered, her face much the same as her sister’s.

The Chrysalis that sat before them was a creamy white, from the tip of her elegantly curved horn to the frogs of her now hole-less hooves. A tuft of orange fuzz covered her breast. Her perfectly sparkling wings flittered once before folding down across her back. Her mane and tail were straight and gleaming, their color seeming to be both turquoise and gold at the same time. Perched atop her head was a small orange growth that resembled a crown. She glared at them with shining blue eyes for a moment before breaking her gaze and focusing on the table. “I know I’m hideous…” She hissed.

“But… how… this is….” Luna gestured wildly at Chrysalis’ new form. “How did this happen?!”

“The same way it happened for Thorax and all the rest of my traitorous hive.” Chrysalis looked at one perfect hoof. “I gave love freely, and thus was Reformed.”

“But you’re YOU!” Luna nearly screamed. “You’re the most hateful, spite-filled monster that Equestria has known since… since…”

“Since Nightmare Moon?” Celestia cut her eyes at her sister, sending a silent signal that she should calm herself.

Luna bit her tongue and was silent.

“It was about a week after we started running.” Cozy Glow said. “Tirek wasn’t in the best shape. Turns out constantly absorbing and then losing vast amounts of magic isn’t too good for anybody. One night he just collapsed, and we thought we were going to lose him.”

“So Chrysalis fed me some of her own magic, her own love, and I was restored to my old self.” Tirek looked at Chrysalis with a kind of warmth that seemed unnatural for his kind. “And then this happened.”

“I couldn’t just let you die.” Chrysalis muttered. “That would’ve left me alone with her.” She gestured at the smirking pegasus.

Celestia took in the changeling queen’s new form carefully. “Why didn’t you assume this form immediately upon our discovery of you?”

“Because most of the time I force myself to remain disguised in my old body. I assume the form of Shutter Bug to support my photography business. Tirek can’t leave the house during the day, so I bring in most of the bits.”

“There’s a rock farm on the other side of the town.” Tirek explained. “I do heavy lifting after night fall and they pay me under the table.”

“It must be a tremendous strain, being disguised all the time like that.” Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Why go through the effort?”

“Because…” Chrysalis stretched out a hoof and touched it to Tirek’s hand. “Because this was the face he fell in love with.”

“Dear heart, I would love you no matter what face you wear. You know that.” Tirek lifted the hoof to his lips and kissed it gingerly.

Cozy Glow rolled her eyes. “Ugh, now you’ve gotten them started. There’s gonna be a sock on the door-handle tonight…”

Celestia’s impassive face cracked a small grin that soon grew into a smile and a giggle. She went to refill her tea. “Well, this is the surprising development. Two of my greatest foes fallen head over hooves for one another.” She nodded her head to Cozy Glow as she went to take a sip. “And where does she fit into all this?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Tirek reached over and ruffled the filly’s mane. “We’ve adopted her.”

Now it was Luna’s turn to laugh as Celestia sprayed tea across the table. Only a quick spell from Chrysalis kept the three former villains dry. “Forgive me.” Celestia coughed as she patted her cheeks with a napkin. “That’s just something I didn’t expect to hear today.”

“How did this happen?” Luna finally lifted her own tea cup for a drink. “I saw you all bitterly arguing in the midst of the battle. I thought you hated each other.”

“Oh, we did.” Tirek nodded. “Couldn’t stand the sight of one another. But while we were working together, we realized how powerful an alliance we could really be. And that made it easier to explore how we really felt about one another.”

“I saw Tirek as the father figure I’d never had.” Cozy Glow grinned at the centaur.

“I saw Cozy Glow as the chance to be a mother again.” Chrysalis beamed down at the filly.

“And I finally found someone who would share their heart with me.” Tirek reached out one massive arm and wrapped it around the two mares, pulling them tight for a hug. “Looking back on how we acted during the… what are they calling it?”

“The Battle of the Bell.” Celestia and Luna said together.

“Hmm. Catchy. Anyway, we were so focused on winning the battle that we lashed out at one another. Really, that was probably the last step we needed to take to becoming the little family you see before you now.”

“So you aren’t planning revenge on Equestria?” Luna asked carefully.

“Well, we were.” Chrysalis admitted. “But after my…” She stuck out her tongue. “…Reformation… some things just became clearer.”

“I mean, we spent months sowing the seeds of fear and turning the three tribes against each other, right?” Cozy Glow finally selected a cookie and took a bite. “All that effort, and we were still beaten? What would we do for a follow-up?”

“What Cozy’s trying to say is that we saw the writing on the wall. It was never in the cards for us to win. So we had two choices.” Tirek held up a finger. “One, regroup and try again. And probably lose again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Or two.” He held up a second finger. “We could try something else.”

“And for these past few months, that something else has worked out just fine.” Chrysalis drained her tea and sighed. “But, all good things must come to an end.” She looked at the sisters and bowed her head. “You’ve found us, and we must pay for our crimes.”

“I will never get used to her acting like this…” Luna muttered.

“Chryssy’s right. Once again we have two choices, and I’m tired of running.” Tirek looked at his family and smiled sadly. “But, this is a family decision. Cozy Glow?”

“Yes…?” Cozy Glow looked up at her father-figure. No. Her father. “…Papa?”

“Oh, I hate that even more…” Luna added under her breath.

“What do you think is the right thing for us to do?”

Cozy Glow looked sadly at the tray of cookies, wishing she could taste just one more. “Can I ask you something?” She looked up at Celestia.

Celestia nodded slowly.

“Whatever you do with us, if you toss us into Tartarus or seal us in stone, could you keep us together?” She poked out her lip in an expression that had once been her greatest weapon, but now seemed all too genuine. “Please?”

Celestia and Luna shared a long look. They nodded as one, pushed back from the table, and stood. “As we are no longer the rulers of Equestria, it really doesn’t fall to us to pass sentence anymore.” Luna’s horn lit.

“But as we are on the very edges of Equestria proper, and I don’t think Twilight Sparkle will mind if we handle this for her, we think we can make an exception in this case.” Celestia lit her own horn.

Tirek looked at his wife and daughter and smiled. “If I don’t get the chance again, let me just say it now; I love you both. Very much.”

“And I love you.” Chrysalis embraced him.

“I love you, mama and papa.” Cozy Glow slid into the hug, filling the open space like it was meant for her.

The glow of magic filled the room. The three former villains tensed, waiting for the inevitable. They closed their eyes…

“You’re banished.” Celestia’s magic died and she started for the door.

Tirek opened one eye. “…what?”

“Banished. Permanently dismissed. Disbarred. Deported. Excommunicated. Ejected from Equestria without the possibility of return.” Luna cocked her head, a small smile on her face. “Was that clearer?” She turned to follow her sister.

“I don’t understand…” Chrysalis started after them.

“Hooray! We’re banished!” Cozy Glow zoomed into the air and started flying circles around the room. She flew back into Tirek’s arms and laughed as they caught her in a hug. “Did you hear that, papa? We can never go back!”

“And who says the monarchy isn’t merciful?” the centaur laughed as he spun his laughing daughter around.

Chrysalis caught the two mares just as they reached the front door. “Wait!”

Luna kept walking, but Celestia paused and turned. “Yes?”

“That’s… that’s it?” Chrysalis sputtered. “After everything that we’ve done, after everything that I’ve done, you’re just going to… to leave us here?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

“But why?”

“It’s as I said, Chrysalis. I have no standing on which to pass sentence on you. But my years wearing the crown do give me some standing to judge you, and I must say that I judge that you and your family deserve to be left alone.” The former princess of the sun reached out a hoof and laid it on Chrysalis’ shoulder. “You’ve done what my sister and I thought impossible, Chrysalis. You found your own happy ending. I’m very proud of you.”

Chrysalis smiled, and then shuddered. “I feel like I’m supposed to hug you now, but I really don’t want to.”

“Yes, that might be a bridge too far.” The two mares shared a laugh before Celestia again started for the door. “Oh, and Chrysalis?”

“Yes?”

Celestia looked back and winked. “If you keep your daughter on the path she seems to be on, then I might write the new ruler of Equestria a letter of referral in a few years. She’s still quite young, and her banishment need not be as permanent as you and your husband’s.”

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Celestia and Luna flapped their wings and lifted into the air, resuming their original flight that had been interrupted when they’d spotted Cozy Glow on her way home from school. “Well, that was interesting.” Luna said.

“Indeed.” Celestia agreed. “And quite eye-opening. I might have to write Twilight about this when we return to Silver Shoals. Of course, I’ll not mention where those three are living now.”

“It might also behoove you to instruct her to leave them where they are.”

“Of course, though I’m in no position to be ordering anypony around anymore.” Celestia basked in the sun she no longer controlled. “I believe I’ll write to Discord as well.”

“Why?”

“Because, in some small way, he helped those three to reform. Just as Fluttershy did for him.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “Explain.”

“He was the one who brought them together, taught them that united they were stronger than they were apart.”

“Yes. Because he wanted them to act as a threat to Twilight.”

“He might not have intended it, Luna, but the results speak for themselves. The magic of friendship worked on those three just as it did on him. Before they were bitter, vindictive, and self-obsessed villains. Now? They’re a devoted husband, a loving wife, and a respectful daughter. It’s not the goal Discord had in mind, but it worked out well all the same.”

Luna considered the notion, and then nodded. “If we didn’t know him any better, I’d think that was his goal the entire time.” She looked back at the rapidly diminishing settlement and smiled. “That’s certainly not the ending that I was expecting for those three. You think they’d deserve something more severe, after everything they’ve done.”

“They’re together forever.” Celestia smiled back. “I can’t think of anything they deserve more.”