• 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 3: Departure

The Elements Chapter 3

Celestia and Luna sat inside the Canterlot clinic, watching everypony going about their daily business. Although they stood out as the only alicorns in the waiting area, the only pony deterred by their presence was the receptionist, who would occasionally glance over at them. In the moments Celestia would establish eye contact with her, however, she would hastily look down to the papers on her desk. Looking out the window, Celestia saw that the sun had reached its pinnacle point in the sky. Its heat beat down upon the town again, and the temperature of the clinic started to increase considerably from the warmth radiating from the bustling ponies within.

Celestia blinked away a bead of sweat as it threatened to slide down along her eyelid. Her wings shuffled against her sides in irritation, and she glanced over at Luna to see that her eyes were darting around the clinic. Luna caught Celestia’s gaze, and she rolled her eyes before looking down at her hooves. Celestia looked down at her own hooves, too, and watched as the light glimmered from her shoes onto the clinic wall.

A door down the far hall of the clinic squeaked opened, and both Celestia and Luna jerked their heads up and looked over at the hallway. A commotion of voices echoed into the main room of the clinic. Celestia strained her ears to make out which voice belonged to who. She was about to raise herself from her seat when the two ponies who were conversing with each other left the back corridor.

A tall, white Flutterpony emerged with a smaller doctor from the back hallway. Celestia’s eyes widened, and she galloped over to Forza. Forza jumped slightly when she saw Celestia bounding towards her, but when she was pummeled by a hug from the princess, her foreleg eagerly wrapped around Celestia’s neck. Just as Celestia started pulled away, Luna jumped at Forza and wrapped her legs around both her and Celestia. Forza’s battered butterfly wings fluttered behind her.

“Princess Celestia, Princess Luna!” Forza exclaimed, smiling at the two princesses. “I... I never thought...”

“How are you feeling?” Luna asked.

Forza’s smile faltered as she looked back at her wings. She turned back to the princesses and said, “I am feeling well enough. After being confined to darkness for so long I am having some trouble adjusting to the light, and my whole body aches, but I have felt worse.”

Celestia’s smile waned, and she looked at the doctor standing next to Forza. The doctor was busy scribbling something down onto the clipboard she had in front of her, her eyes scanning over her notes methodically. The air around Celestia felt heavy, and she glanced over at Luna, whose wings shifted slightly.

The doctor finally looked up from her clipboard, and after glancing between Celestia and Luna, she said, “Oh! I’m sorry. Let me just finish up this paperwork, and then Ms. Forza is free to go.”

Celestia nodded at the doctor, and she, Luna, and Forza followed her over the front desk. The doctor gave the clipboard to the nurse at the front desk, and after the nurse had scribbled something over the doctor’s notes, she hoofed the clipboard back. The doctor turned back to Celestia and Luna.

“You are free to leave,” she said. “Ms. Forza has told me that she wishes to speak to you about everything rather than have me do it.”

“Very well. Thank you, Doctor,” Celestia said. “We shall be off.”

Celestia, Luna, and Forza left the clinic and started to make their way towards Moonlight Sonata’s house. The heat from the sun was intense once they were in the streets, and both Celestia and Luna spread the wings to allow air to run through their feathers. Meanwhile, Forza’s eyes danced from each pony that walked by them, and Celestia noticed that some of the ponies that passed by gave Forza quizzical looks.

“Is there something wrong?” Celestia asked.

“Look at these ponies, Princess Celestia,” Forza said. “They walk with their heads held low and fear filling their eyes. When they look at me, they look at me as a reminder of what is beyond this town.”

“Is it because of your—” Celestia stopped, her eyes drifting back towards Forza’s wings.

“Yes, I’ll never be able to use them again,” Forza interjected.

Celestia’s eyes snapped towards Forza, and she searched her face. When Forza remained unfazed by Celestia’s gaze, she said, “I-I’m so sorry.”

“There is no need to apologize,” Forza said. They passed underneath the statue of Sol, and Forza looked up at Sol and muttered something before continuing, “Flutterpony wings do not grow back unless they are mended by the proper healer. Only the most powerful of our race could become healers.”

Celestia’s eyes wandered over Forza’s torn, damaged wings again. She hesitated a moment before asking, “Who is the most powerful Flutterpony?”

“Queen Chrysalis was,” Forza muttered.

Everypony fell silent again as they left Canterlot’s square. Moonlight Sonata’s house was just coming into view when they were nearly on the edge of the town, and Celestia motioned for them to quicken their pace. The heat of the sun had caused all of their coats to be slightly damp from sweat, and everypony heaved a sigh of relief when they had entered Moonlight’s house.

Moonlight trotted down the stairs that were built in the middle of the house, and she stopped before Celestia, Luna, and Forza in the entrance of the house. She bowed low and smiled.

“Welcome back!” she said. She looked over at Forza. “And you’re awake. I’m so glad.”

Forza nodded her head, and her forehoof brushed lightly against the wooden floor. She said, “I’m glad, too, Miss.”

“My name is Moonlight Sonata, Ms. Forza,” Moonlight said, offering her hoof to Forza. “I was the pony who carried you from Everfree to Canterlot.”

Forza took Moonlight’s hoof and asked, “You were the one who carried me?”

“That she was,” Luna chimed in, glancing at Forza.

“I offer you my sincerest gratitude, Ms. Moonlight,” Forza said, bowing. When Forza raised her head again, she gazed over at Celestia and asked, “Which brings up the question: how is it that you were able to rescue you me from Everfree?”

Celestia motioned for everypony to follow her into the room with the semi circular couch. Moonlight trotted around the room and started opening all of the windows. Even though the air began to circulate, and a breeze blowed gently through the room, the air did not cool in the slightest. Celestia, Luna, and Forza all sat down on the couch while Moonlight Sonata left the room.

“A few weeks ago,” Celestia began, spreading her wings out against her body, “a Royal Guard, one of the survivors from the battle at Everfree City, stumbled into Canterlot. After Luna and I had talked to him, we learned that Firemane could possibly still be held in the prisons underneath Everfree.”

Forza’s eyes darted between Celestia and Luna, and she asked, “Firemane was imprisoned in Everfree?”

Celestia and Luna both looked at each other. Luna’s jaw visibly clenched, and Celestia turned back to Forza and asked, “Wait, you didn’t know Firemane was present in Everfree Castle’s dungeon? You two were in the same cell block.”

“Not in all of my months of being confined to that cell did I know he was in the same cell block as me,” Forza said. Her eyes drifted down to her hooves. “I never heard anypony else down there until a little over a month ago. I... I would hear the mutant Flutterponies dragging somepony up and down the stairs out of the dungeon each day and into another cell. They never said anything to me, and they were always quiet.”

“Didn’t you try to communicate with them?” Celestia asked, her wings folding back up against her sides.

“I tried several times, but I never received a response.”

A song sparrow started to sing a peaceful melody outside of the window. Celestia turned towards the window, watching as the song sparrow sang. She felt the couch rustle underneath her body, and she turned to see that Luna and shifted her position on the couch.

“What led you to become unconscious?” Luna asked.

Forza sighed, her gaze shifting from her hooves to the blackboard that was covered with the notes from the previous day. Her torn wings moved lazily in the air.

“There are somethings I would not even share with General Reaper, Princess Luna,” Forza replied solemnly.

Celestia continued to stare out the window at the song sparrow, but she visibly grimaced. The sparrow flew away, and Celestia was left to stare out over the side of Canterlot. The sea of grass from the plains beyond remained unmoving from the lack of a breeze. The entire world was still and quiet.

“Those ponies earlier, when we were walking in the street, is Equestria really as bad as their eyes suggest?” Forza asked quietly.

Moonlight walked back into the room. She was carrying a tray with cups and a kettle of tea on it. She set the tea down on the table in front of the couch and took a seat next to Celestia.

“There has been much that has happened in the last six months,” Luna replied. “Ever since ‘Tia and I have gone into hiding after our mother teleported us here to Canterlot, Discord has been looking all over Equestria for the Element of Chaos. Not many cities are left that will openly stand against him.”

“And what of the Element of Harmony? Can you not use its power to stop Discord somehow?”

“We don’t know where it is,” Luna said, glancing at Celestia. “We do, however, have a lead on how to find it, and ‘Tia is going to pursue that lead.”

“You speak as if you are not going along with her,” Forza blinked, locking her wings together.

“No, I’m going to the Griffon Kingdoms to ask for help against Discord.”

Forza stared hard at Luna, and said, “So you wish to use the the might of the griffon armies against those of Discord and Queen Chrysalis? Very well, I’d like to accompany you.”

Celestia’s head snapped towards Forza and Luna’s eyes widened. She glanced at Celestia again.

“You can’t be serious,” Celestia said.

“Why should I not be?” Forza asked, raising an eyebrow at Celestia.

“You have only just awaken from being unconscious for who knows how long,” Celestia replied. “I watched you walk over here, Forza. You said yourself that your body still aches from your ordeals in the dungeons. You should rest and heal yourself.”

Forza sighed, and she levitated a cup of tea from the tray. Celestia, Luna, and Moonlight joined her.

“Even if you may be right, Princess Celestia,” Forza said, staring into her cup, “it is my desire to travel with Princess Luna to the Griffon Kingdoms. I swore an oath that day when I was inaugurated as one of the generals of Equestria to protect its royalty. So far I have failed my oath twice; once for your father and once for your mother. I do not plan to fail that oath a third time while the successors to the throne remain alive.”

Celestia fell silent, and she looked at Luna, whose eyes were cold and determined. Luna shifted her body so that she could face Forza.

“I’d be happy if you were to come with me to the Griffon Kingdoms, Forza,” Luna said.

Forza nodded her head towards Luna and took a sip of her tea. Celestia’s eyes bore into Luna’s, but Luna remained unfazed by Celestia’s conviction, and she broke contact with Celestia to look at Forza. Celestia felt the couch shift next to her.

“Your Majesty, if I may ask,” Moonlight said.

“Of course, Moonlight,” Celestia said, taking her eyes away from the window to look at Moonlight.

“I’d like to travel with you in search of the deer to train you.”

Celestia’s wings clenched against her sides, and she levitated the teacup away from her face. Her eyes fell upon Moonlight. She said, “I’d have to decline your offer, Moonlight. Your assistance during our mission in Everfree was more than I could have asked for from you. Your determination is commendable, but I don’t want you to put yourself in harms away again for my sake.”

Moonlight shook her head. “But you didn’t ask, Your Majesty. I volunteered.” She looked at Celestia sternly. “And like last time, I am well-aware of the possibility of danger.”

Celestia narrowed her eyes. “And that is your final decision?”

“That is my final decision,” she said, sitting upright. “Anything to ensure the safety of Equestria’s heirs.”

Celestia stared at Moonlight for quite some time, yet she smiled. “Then you may accompany me.” After tapping her chin with a forehoof, she added, “Actually, thinking about it more, the journey would be very lonely by myself. Thank you for volunteering.”

“You are not taking Firemane with you?” Moonlight asked, tilting her head.

“No,” Celestia said, looking away. “Although I wish I could take him with me, his superior tactical knowledge are going to be needed here.” She paused, swirling the tea in her cup before continuing, “I hate to ask it of him, but we’re going to need somepony to lead forces against Discord to slow down his search for the Element of Chaos.”

Moonlight Sonata nodded her head, and then brought her teacup to her lips to take a drink. Celestia did the same. The heat from the sun had lessened once a breeze started to pick up outside.

The front door to Moonlight Sonata’s house opened, and Celestia turned to see that Firemane walked in carrying saddlebags full of supplies. She raised herself from the couch and trotted over to him, planting a quick kiss on his cheek. Firemane nuzzled her in return, and he then trotted past her to drop off his saddlebags in kitchen.

Celestia trotted after Firemane, and when he finished laying the saddlebags on the floor, she said, “Firemane, there is something I need to speak to you about.”

“You don’t need to ask, Celestia,” Firemane said, turning around. “You can say anything to me that you wish.”

Celestia bit her lip and said, “I want you to stay here while I go searching for the deer to train me.”

Firemane’s feathers ruffled against his body, and he lifted an eyebrow while his ears folded behind his head. Celestia felt a lump rising in her throat and her heart began to beat faster.

“Why do you want me to stay behind?” Firemane asked.

“You make an excellent leader for the soldiers, Firemane,” Celestia pleaded. She touched her muzzle against Firemane’s, and added, “We need somepony to fight against Discord and slow him down. I can’t think of anypony who could take up this task. Our forces are stretched too thin, and the amount of leaders that remain in Equestria dwindle. I hate to ask it of you, but you are the only pony that I trust.”

“What about you?” Firemane asked. “You’re going on a journey across a darker Equestria. You’re going to be learning magic that regular unicorns can’t even perceive of doing. How will I know you’re safe?”

Celestia closed her eyes and said, “You won’t.”

A pair of hoofsteps clopped on the wooden floor behind Celestia, and she opened her eyes. She stared directly into Firemane’s orange eyes. He blinked, and she felt his lips press against hers. Celestia returned Firemane’s kiss.

“As much as I hate to lose you again,” Firemane said as he and Celestia broke from their kiss, “I’m not going to stop you. You’re right. I belong with the troops. I’ll buy you as much time as I can to retrieve the Element of Harmony.”

Tears welled up in Celestia’s eyes, but she blinked them away as she kissed Firemane again. They raised themselves onto their hind legs and held their hooves together. Celestia’s heart was thumping loudly in her chest, and her ears folded back against her head. Firemane’s breath was heavy, but both he and Celestia heard another pair of hoofsteps echo behind them. They broke their kiss and Celestia quickly turned around.

“I’m sorry, ‘Tia,” Luna said, her cheeks tinged crimson, “but we should make arrangements for our departure.”

~~~

The sun was beginning to touch the western mountains that marked the remains of the Eternal Valley. Celestia stood at the edge of Canterlot on a rock outcropping, watching as her sun slowly descended from view. A slight breeze blew through her mane, and she felt cool air slip through the feathers of her wings. She shivered, and her ears swiveled around her head when she heard the wooden gate for Canterlot opening.

Celestia turned and trotted to the gate just as Luna, Forza, Moonlight, and Firemane were leaving the town. They all stopped, but nopony said a word to each other. Instead, they all gave curt nods and started to make their way down the mountain. The rocks of the mountain became tinted by the orange light of the sunset, and Celestia took her time to spread her wings and let them bask in the darkening light of the sun.

A trio of birds flew over the group as they moved down the mountain. Celestia looked up and saw that the birds twirled and danced around each other. She blew a few strands of hair away from her face. She glanced at Firemane and saw that he was also staring up at the birds, and she smiled. His eyes zipped back and forth while he watched the spectacle, and when the birds flew away he remained gazing in their direction. When Firemane’s attention returned to the group, he smiled at Celestia.

Once they came to the base of the mountain where the trail met the thin road, everypony stopped and stared directly ahead of them. The grass of the plains rippled from the breeze like the waves in the ocean, and the very top of the sun was just beginning to make its descent behind one of the mountain peaks.

“This is where we part ways,” Firemane said quietly.

Celestia and Moonlight gazed south along the edge of the Drakenridge Mountain range. Their view was limited by a large mountain that rose in front of all the others. The pass through the mountains began just before reaching through the towering peak and snaked it’s way all the way to Stalliongrad. Luna and Forza looked in the opposite direction of Celestia and Moonlight, north towards the Northern Drakenridge Mountain range and the Griffon Kingdoms that lay beyond.

Celestia turned back and met Firemane’s eye. They both stared at each other as the breeze around them slowly died. Behind Firemane, Luna and Forza and turned back to face them, and Luna gently nodded her head.

Celestia closed her eyes and pressed her lips up against Firemane’s. The world around her fell still as she felt Firemane return her kiss. She breathed in his scent, and she held onto his kiss for as long as she could. When Firemane began to pulls his lips away, Celestia opened her eyes.

“I love you, Celestia,” Firemane said.

“I love you, Firemane,” Celestia replied.

Firemane straightened his posture, and he nodded towards both Luna and Forza before he started his ascent back up the mountain. Celestia watched Firemane go, and her wings shifted uneasily against her body once he began to fall out of sight behind a pile of rocks.

“You will see him again, ‘Tia,” Luna said, walking up to stand next to Celestia.

“I can only hope you are right, Luna,” Celestia said, refusing to take her eyes from the rock that Firemane had disappeared behind.

Celestia felt Luna’s muzzle rub up against her neck, and she looked down to see that a single tear had begun to slide down Luna’s cheek. She extended her wing around Luna’s back and gently kissed the base of Luna’s horn.

“We’ll see each other again, too, Luna,” Celestia cooed.

“I know, ‘Tia, I’m sorry,” Luna said.

“Don’t be,” Celestia said, looking up at Canterlot. “We both depart on missions that will decide the fate of Equestria. We will be confronted with unparalleled obstacles, powerful enemies, and haunting memories. For us to say that we will be exempt from danger would be absurd, but we must always hold on to what hope we have, Luna. We’re sisters, and we’ll defeat Discord no matter what it takes.”

The sun completely disappeared behind the western mountains, and Celestia closed her eyes when she felt a tear streak down her face. She felt Luna push herself from Celestia’s side, and she reopened her eyes to see that Luna was standing before her with a look of determination etched across her face.

“We should refrain from flying at all costs,” Luna said. “We would not want to attract attention from anypony.”

Celestia nodded, and Luna’s eyes softened significantly. Water formed from the corner of each sisters’ eyes.

“Good luck, ‘Tia,” Luna said, “and I hope we will see each other again soon.”

“Good luck to you, too, Luna,” Celestia said. “I love you, little sister.”

“I love you, too,”

Luna turned and departed with Forza, taking the thin road heading north to the Griffon Kingdoms. Celestia waited as both Luna and Forza eventually disappeared behind a patch of tall grass, and she turned her head to look up at the moon that rose overhead.

“Princess Celestia?” Moonlight Sonata asked. Celestia faced Moonlight and saw that she was standing at attention. “Shouldn’t we get moving? It would be best if we traveled as far as we could tonight.”

“Yes, let’s get going,” Celestia said.

Celestia stretched her wings to their full size, flapping them a few times, and then brought them back against her sides. She fell in behind Moonlight as they took the road heading south.

Author's Note:

Alright, I really apologize how long this short chapter took to get out. When I submitted it to my editor I was hit by a brick wall. The chapter was mediocre at best, so I had to go through and do some serious editing with major help from Naes. This final project is the work of two days of editing. I hope you all enjoy it, and I'll be taking the lessons I learned from this chapter to hopefully add to my future ones.

A huge thank you to Naes345 for his stellar editing. I'm still looking for editors, so if you're interested please check my latest blog post on my user page.

Next chapter is Chapter 4: Dawn Breaks