• Published 24th Jan 2013
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The Elements - hell00001



Celestia and Luna have gone into exile under Discord's tyrannical rule, and now struggle to find a way to stop the draconequus before he can gain the full chaotic power of the Element of Chaos.

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Chapter 12: Izdihar al Nazari

The Elements Chapter 12

Hoofsteps echoed off of the broken walls of Everfree Castle, thumping their way down the hall towards the throne room. The many stained glass effigies of Sol and Galactica stood shattered and broken on either side of her, and the arched ceiling above groaned from the heavy weight of the stone and marble. Many of the pillars that once held up the ceiling were completely obliterated, while the few that still remained barely supported themselves after the extensive damage they had received from the changeling bombardment. The hallway was a desolate shadow of its former beautiful self.

Chrysalis tread carefully, her eyes locked on the throne room doors. She had once walked this hall before, back when she was making her last visit to Equestria to help Celestia and Luna train in defensive magic. She had spoken to Sol and Galactica about their daughters, their city, and their country, and then she had departed back to her homeland. Her former homeland, where the lands of ponies, Night Guard, and griffons couldn’t hope to match the pure beauty and magic that the Eternal Valley possessed.

The queen gritted her teeth and pressed on, skirting around a fallen column. Her black, holed hooves became shaded grey as she kicked up the dust around her, and her tail had dirtied as it dragged along the floor. She cursed under her breath.

It wasn’t long until she was upon the two massive throne room doors. They were once regarded as the passageway to be greeted by the diarchy of Equestria, beautifully decorated in ornate vines, flowers, and poetry. Now the wood was cracked, the engravings chipped, and nopony lie beyond those doors to ask their citizen’s troubles and worries.

Chrysalis sighed and pushed the doors open, sending a deafening creak to reverberate off of the throne room walls. The throne room itself had been desecrated. The tiles were cracked, the murals were gone, the pillars had fallen, and the massive window at the far side of the room had been utterly blown open, allowing for the cool air from outside to sweep in. In the spot where the two throne chairs had been sat only one, turned in the opposite direction to look out upon the ruined and shattered city.

“You requested to see me, My Lord?” Chrysalis asked, bowing deep towards the chair.

The chair spun around, revealing Sol to be sitting in its seat. Chrysalis’s mouth dropped, and her entire body froze in place.

“K-King Sol? I... I thought you were...” Chrysalis stuttered.

Sol teleported in front of Chrysalis, and she saw the mismatched, red eyes and manic, toothy grin spread across his face. Chrysalis looked away and grimaced, causing the false Sol to let out a dark chuckle. He somehow snapped his hoof, changing himself back into his true draconequus self.

“You should have seen the look on your face!” Discord guffawed. “You were all serious coming in here, and then when you saw Sol, your face was like...” He made an exaggerated face that resembled somepony in shock. When Chrysalis refused to laugh at him, he added, “Don’t be such a sourpuss, queeny. I’ve given you everything you’ve wanted: food for your ponies, a place to grow, and a new land since that old one you had is just some barren desert. Aren’t you at least a bit happy?”

Chrysalis flinched and looked past him and out the window. She sighed and said, “Yes. Yes, I am happy, Discord. You have... You have given me all that I wanted.”

Discord smiled, and he held Chrysalis’s jaw and forced her to look at him.

“Good. I would feel absolutely terrible if I wasn’t making ponies happy,” he said as he snapped his fingers, popping a lily into existence. He pinned it in Chrysalis’s mane. “Everypony deserves to be happy, even you.”

Discord turned and walked back to his seat. As he did so, the lily in Chrysalis’s hair began to shrivel up and wilt, and eventually it crumbled into ash. She struggled to hold back a tear from falling down her cheek. Discord sat back in his seat and crossed one leg over the other.

“Perhaps we should cut straight to the chase?” he asked, cocking his head. “You don’t seem to be in a very comedic mood today.” Discord snapped his fingers, magicking a martini glass of chocolate milk into his talons. He took a sip. “How are your changelings doing?”

“I thought you said we were going to cut to the chase, Discord?” Chrysalis said a bit coldly.

“I am cutting to the chase,” Discord said, leaning forward. He frowned. “I have sent a detachment of your changelings to the Griffon Kingdoms in order to draw Princess Luna out of hiding there. With any luck, your changelings will rile them up a bit so we can stamp them out in one swift strike.”

Chrysalis’s ears folded back, and she sat back onto her haunches. “You... You did what? H-how many did you send?”

“Six thousand.”

“You sent... You sent six thousand of my changelings to fight the griffons,” Chrysalis said. Her body was shaking. “Six thousand to just fall upon the ranks of the spears and swords of the most brutal nation in the known world. They’re all going to die, Discord. Every single one of them.”

Discord leaned back in his chair, swirling the chocolate milk in his glass. “Yeah, you know, they are probably all going to die. It seems a bit senseless, doesn’t it?” He smiles and drinks the rest of the chocolate milk. “However, the real question here, Queen Chrysalis, is...” He snaps his fingers, teleporting directly in front of her and leaning his face in centimeters from her own. “...what fun is there in making sense?”

He teleported back to his chair and sat down. He was chuckling, and he waved Chrysalis off before swinging his chair back around to look out onto the city. Her whole body shook, and she slowly rose back onto her hooves and dragged herself out of the throne room with her head hung low. Discord’s laughter echoed off of the walls around her, and only stopped once the massive throne room doors shut.

Only then, when Chrysalis was away from Discord and alone in the hall, did she finally cry.

~~~

Celestia and her entourage stopped at the top of a hill overlooking Stalliongrad. Moonlight Sonata stood next to her, levitating a map in her telekinesis magic. Meadow Free and Regality were still climbing up the hill behind them, and Philomena circled the party overhead, keeping watch over the surrounding lands for ponies and changelings alike.

Stalliongrad itself shone brightly from the morning sun. It’s massive, white and tan skyscrapers shimmered in the sunlight, and its short, white walls snaked unevenly around the city. A large river curved around the city and flowed southeast towards the Eternal Sea, stretching and becoming wider and wider until it broke into a delta. Beyond the river lay a vast steppe that stretched on for kilometers to the north and the northeast.

Philomena squawked and swooped down, perching herself on Celestia back. The warmth from the phoenix's feathers shielded Celestia from the cool morning air, and she twisted her head so she could give Philomena a gentle nuzzle.

“Can we... Take a break?” Moonlight asked once she and Regality reached the top of the hill. “I’m not quite as young as I used to be.”

Celestia nodded her head. “I think we all should rest. We’ve been walking for two hours already.” She sat down and peered over Moonlight’s shoulder to see the map. “How far do you think we are from al Nazari?”

“Diamond Heist said that she left the city recently,” Moonlight said, “so I can imagine we are not far behind her if we can keep up the pace.” She glanced over at Meadow Free and Regality.

“Don’t worry about them,” Celestia said, following Moonlight’s eyes. “They’ll keep up. They managed to keep up with Luna and I when we were foals, so I have faith in them.”

Moonlight gritted her teeth, but relented and returned to studying the map in front of her. A huge range of mountains, an enormous sea of grass, and several rivers covered the map, detailing the surrounding areas around Stalliongrad. Celestia noted on the map that they were taking a road that led to a small farming town that al Nazari supposedly traveled to. They were nearly there; perhaps in another hour of walking they would be at the town’s outskirts.

Celestia’s ears perked as she heard the sounds of bells ringing across the plains from Stalliongrad. These were no ordinary church or clock tower bells, as they sounded more ominous and menacing in nature. She slowly rose to her hooves and unfurled her wings, shortly followed by Meadow Free and Regality as they took their places behind her. They stood for a moment, gazing out across the grassland towards the city to look for the source of the bells.

Regality pointed towards a large black cloud, creeping out of the Drackenridge Mountains and moving closer to Stalliongrad. Everypony else squinted to try and get a better view.

“What is that?” Regality asked. “That doesn’t look like any kind of cloud I’ve seen before.”

They continued to stare at the black cloud as it seemed to shift and shimmer against the sun’s light. As it continued to pour out of the mountains, there were also black shapes that swam across the land out of the mountains as well. Celestia’s eyes widened.

“That’s no cloud,” she said, reaching into the saddlebags Moonlight had secured on her back. “No, no, this can’t be happening. It’s too early. We need more time.”

Meadow Free looked over at Celestia. “What’s wrong? What is that cloud?”

“Discord has accelerated his plans and is marching on Stalliongrad,” Celestia said, pulling out a quill, some ink, and a piece of paper. She began to write. “Luna and I had hoped that we would still have at least another week so that we could locate the Element of Harmony and rally the griffons to our side, but from the looks of it we have but a few days before Stalliongrad is totally over run.”

“Judging from their numbers,” Moonlight said slowly, putting the map back into her saddle bags. “Discord has the entire changeling army swarming out of those hills. Fifty thousand changelings descending upon the last stronghold in Equestria. What a poetic last stand for all of ponykind.”

Celestia finished writing and rolled the message up before securing a string around it. She looked back at Philomena.

“I need you to take this to Firemane and tell him to gather the Equestrian Resistance immediately,” she said, giving the message to the phoenix. “He is more than likely in Canterlot, but if you can’t find him there, then I’m sure one of the guards of the town will tell you where he has gone.” She nuzzled Philomena. “Go.”

Philomena took off of Celestia’s back and flew towards the Drackenridge mountains, giving the troupe behind her one last squawk. Celestia watched her go for a few moments longer before she turned back to everypony else. She took a deep breath.

“We’re going to need to pick up our pace if we want to catch al Nazari as fast as possible,” she said.

“Celestia, wait a moment,” Regality said, stepping forward. Celestia look urged her on. “The... The griffons and the Equestrian Resistance will not stand a chance against those numbers or their firepower. Have me go to the Night Guard State and rally the Night Guard to our cause.”

Celestia hesitated. “Every emissary we sent to the Night Guard State has never returned, whether it be because they were imprisoned or killed. The Night Guard are too fearful of the changelings to allow anypony to cross their borders.”

“But I’m a Night Guard, Celestia,” Regality said, spreading her bat-like wings. “If there is anypony that they would listen to it would be me. They could not refuse one of their kin, even under circumstances like this.” She took a step closer. “Celestia, we need the Night Guard’s army. Over sixty thousand spears would come to your aid if they listened to my plea.”

Celestia grit her teeth and looked back at the massive cloud approaching Stalliongrad. A massive, pink bubble expanded from the center of the city and spread out to its furthest walls, encasing everything and protecting against any attack used by the changeling’s themselves. The bubble pulsed, indicating that unicorns were constantly putting energy into the shield.

“Go, Regality,” Celestia finally said, keeping her eyes trained on Stalliongrad. “I wish you luck on your endeavor, and do no come back to Equestria until you have secured the Night Guard’s trust.”

Regality stood staring at Celestia for a moment before she straightened herself and gave a salute.

“Yes, Princess,” she said. She turned towards Meadow Free. “I know you’ll want to come with me, but... Your safety isn’t guaranteed once we reach the border. I couldn’t ask you to risk your life like that.”

Meadow Free nodded. “I-I know, Regality. Please, be careful.”

They hesitated a moment, then embraced each other in a hug. They whispered something between each other before Regality broke them from the hug and spread her wings, taking off and flying towards the border between Equestria and the Night guard state. They watched her go.

“We had best get moving,” Moonlight said, levitating the map back out of her saddle bags. “Every second we waste now is precious. Stalliongrad will not hold forever, so the sooner that we find al Nazari the better.”

~~~

The town came into view as the party reached the top of the next hill. Small, wooden houses and stores made of the center of the town, while the outskirts was surrounded by larger houses or windmills. Dead fields of hay stretched for kilometers in either direction, casting a mixture of brown and gold colors across the landscape. At the very center of the town was a large clock tower, although part of the roof had caved in on top of it.

“I don’t see any ponies moving around in the village,” Moonlight said, rolling the map up and putting it into her saddle bags.

“That’s because the majority of ponies from the surrounding villages or towns packed up and took shelter in Stalliongrad,” Meadow Free said. “Once word reached this side of Equestria that the cities and strongholds were falling one by one to the changelings, many ponies didn’t feel safe anymore staying in their homes. Any other town or village we were to come across would look similar to this.”

A shiver ran down Celestia’s spine. She looked back at Meadow Free and Moonlight behind her.

“We had best get moving,” she said. “We’re not far behind al Nazari.”

The two nodded, and together they trotted the rest of the way to the village. Upon closer inspection of the buildings, it was obvious that no pony had lived at the village for months. Plants had overgrown, windows from several buildings had broken, and there was a distinct lack of fresh hoof prints over the dirt streets. Even the animals that have always coexisted with ponies had run away, leaving the town truly devoid of life.

Moonlight took point, trotting ahead of Celestia and charging her horn. A gentle breeze rolled through the town, ruffling Celestia’s feathers and disturbing everypony’s manes. They reached the center of the village.

“Perhaps we should split up,” Celestia said, looking up at the clock tower. “Maybe we’ll find some clues as to the next direction that al Nazari would have taken after passing through this town.”

“I’ll take the north end of town,” Moonlight said, nodding her head and then trotting around the clock tower.

After a moment, Meadow Free said, “I’ll go check out some of the outlying houses and mills.”

Celestia nodded at Meadow Free, and then watched as she trotted off through an alley and into a field. She snorted.

“Looks like I’m taking the south end of town,” she muttered to herself.

After readjusting her wings to rest more comfortably against her sides, Celestia set off down the road that she had come in on. She kept her ears perked and eyes focused on scanning the windows of the buildings on either side of her, checking and making sure there was nothing suspicious or dangerous lurking within the shadows and waiting for her. Eventually she came upon a general store that sold all manner of goods. Taking a moment to peer into the windows on either side of the store, Celestia entered through the front door.

The general store was absolutely empty. Many of the items that were for sale on the shelves and walls had been taken or were left scattered on the floor. The furthest corners of the store were dark, and a thin layer of dust coated every inch of the establishment, sending tiny, suffocating particles up into the air with each hoofstep Celestia took.

She walked to the back of the store, stopping in front of the back counter and looking over a few empty cans and bits that had been left out before the exodus. Upon closer inspection, Celestia noticed that the layer of dust that had covered the rest of the store was oddly absent from the money. Her whole body tensed, and her ears perked into full alert, listening for the faintest of disturbances that could emanate from anywhere within the store.

Low pitched clicking and chirping bounced off of the walls, sending shivers down Celestia’s spine. She turned around, unfurling her wings and looking around the store for the source of noise. The clicking came from every direction, driving Celestia’s rear back up against the counter behind her.

There was a thump behind her, and upon turning back around, Celestia came face to face with the blue eyes and long, sharp fangs of a changeling. It screeched, opening its maw wide to reveal two rows of sharp teeth and a long forked tongue. Charging her horn, Celestia was about to release a bolt of her magic down the changelings throat, but she was suddenly stopped as another changeling darted for her, careening into her side and sending them both crashing into the wall of the store.

Before Celestia had a chance to rise back onto her hooves, the changeling that had charged her was already snapping and her neck with its fangs. Celestia brought her foreleg up in front of her, causing the changeling to sink its teeth into that instead. She let out a yelp of pain and yanked her foreleg to the side, smashing the changeling into the wall next to her. It released its grip on her arm and slumped to the floor, groaning.

Charging her horn again, Celestia was ready to release a blast of magic on the changeling’s forehead when she was interrupted again, this time by the changeling who had been behind the counter. It released several bolts of magic itself at her, causing her to lose her focus and shoot her own magic into the corner of the store. Celestia backed away from the changeling still reeling on the floor and took cover behind a row of shelves down one of the aisles.

Small pangs of pain shot up Celestia leg, but she did her best to ignore them while she powered up her horn once again. The changeling continued to fire bolts of its magic onto her position, forcing her to remain behind the shelves to protect her against the onslaught.

After a few more moments, the changeling had ceased its attack, allowing for Celestia to raise herself up above the shelves and unleash her own torrent of magic. Her bolts of yellow energy obliterated the counter the changeling was hiding behind, overwhelming it almost immediately as her searing, hot magic cut through its chitin.

Another thump sounded from behind Celestia, and she had just enough time to whirl around and send a powerful beam of her magic through another changeling’s neck before it had the time to pounce on her. However, as she had her back turned, the changeling that had sunk its teeth into her foreleg returned to the foray, charging at Celestia again and driving its fangs into her hind leg.

Celestia released another painful yelp and collapsed onto the floor. The changeling was immediately upon her, trying to have another go at her neck. She raised her hooves up in defense again, frantically pushing the changeling back with all of her might. She felt its hot, foul breath blowing down onto her face as it desperately lashed out at Celestia, screeching and clicking furiously.

Just as Celestia thought the changeling might finally break through her defenses, a powerful wave of wind swept over her, sending the changeling flying off of its back and colliding into the aisle shelves. It groaned and tried to rise back onto its hooves, but it was too late as Celestia had already charged her horn again and unleashed a beam of energy through the changeling’s cheek.

Celestia groaned, and strained to roll over onto her stomach. A pair of thin, brown hooves stepped into Celestia’s view, and she looked up. Standing in front of her was a small doe with a brown coat covered in white spots. She had a large, ornate staff slung across her back that had a glowing green orb attached the top.

“Hold still, my princess,” the doe said, kneeling down next to Celestia. She took her hoof and closed her eyes. The green orb on the staff pulsed, and Celestia watched in awe as the bite wound on her foreleg healed within a matter of seconds.

“Your hind leg,” the doe said.

Celestia complied, rotating her body so the doe could take hold of her leg.

“Princess Celestia!”

Moonlight and Meadow Free came running into the store, Moonlight’s horn alight and Meadow Free carrying a plank of wood in her mouth. They stopped in their tracks when they saw the three changeling bodies and the doe kneeling over Celestia. The room smelt of scorched wood and cooking bodies. Meadow Free dropped the plank from her mouth and Moonlight discharged her horn.

“What happened here?” Meadow Free asked.

“Our princess ran into some trouble while scouring this store for my whereabouts,” the doe said as she finished up healing Celestia’s hind leg. “And I suggest that we all leave this town before more trouble arises.”

“You’re Izdihar al Nazari?” Celestia asked.

Multiple screeches rang out throughout the whole city. Moonlight whirled around and charged her horn, and Celestia and al Nazari quickly got back onto their hooves.

“It’s a little late to leave before more trouble,” Moonlight grumbled.

“Stand back,” al Nazari said, stepping in front of everyone else. The orb at the top of her staff was pulsing again.

Several changelings landed outside of the general store and advanced on the ponies who were standing behind the doorway. However, before they were able to get within meters of the entrance, a massive jet of air erupted from in front of al Nazari, blowing open the front of the store and slamming into the changelings, sending them across the street to collide with the far store.

“Run!” al Nazari shouted.

The party dashed out of the general store and galloped down the street towards the north end of town. Changelings crawled out of the many houses and stores all around them, giving chase with their fangs bared and wings buzzing furiously.

“We will lose them in the Necromancer’s Swamp!” al Nazari said.

She took the lead in front of the rest of the group, and they sped out of the town with a battalion of changelings trailing at their hooves..

Author's Note:

And I'm back to writing The Elements! Damn does it feel good to write some adventure.

Thank you, Redracer for editing.

Next chapter is Chapter 13: Unification