• 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 5: Bitterness

The Elements Chapter 5

“Princess Celestia, Miss Moonlight, you need to wake up!”

Celestia’s head bolted upright from the couch that she had been sleeping on. Autumn Lullaby stood by the front door panting with her brown hair in a mess of tangles. The sky outside was still dark, and when Celestia looked at the clock, it read five o’clock in the morning. Her gaze shifted back to Autumn.

“What is the matter, Autumn?” Celestia asked, raising herself from the couch. Across from her, Moonlight was doing the same.

“Flutterponies have come to the village to do an extensive search,” Autumn cried, leaping in front of Celestia and looking up. Celestia glanced out of the window, but when she didn’t catch sight of any Flutterponies, she looked back down at Autumn.

“We need to get you out of here before they find you,” Autumn continued, tears welling up in her eyes. “I lost count of how many Flutterponies are outside of the village. There looks to be dozens.”

Celestia’s eyes darted to Moonlight, who returned the glance Celestia gave and trotted over to the window. A bell rang out through the town, and Celestia’s ears folded back against her head.

“We should not have come here,” Celestia muttered. The bell continued to ring throughout the village, waking the residents and having them step outside of their homes. Celestia said, “Is there any place to hide in the mountain behind us?”

Autumn Lullaby shook her head, and Celestia swore under her breath. She began pacing back and forth in the middle of the room while Autumn looked on, biting her lower lip.Meanwhile, Moonlight continued to stare out the window towards the center of town, her tail swishing from side to side. The residents of the town started to gather in the center, followed shortly by some of the Flutterponies who had arrived on the outskirts.

“We’re going to need to sneak out of town,” Celestia said, ruffling her feathers against her sides while she paced. “The village is small, and there isn’t much cover when we are moving from house to house, but if we stay along the edges we may be able to avoid being seen.”

Moonlight’s head snapped around back to Celestia, and she asked, “Do you have any idea what these Flutterponies are going to do to these villagers if they find out they allowed us to stay here for the night?”

The bell outside stopped ringing, and the air around Celestia began to feel heavy. Autumn fell back onto her haunches and closed her eyes, tears streaming down her face. Celestia’s wings drooped slightly, and she sat down next to Autumn and extended one of her large wings around the mare. Moonlight sighed, stepping away from the window and joining Celestia and Autumn on the floor.

“We have to try, Moonlight,” Celestia said softly. “If we stay here we would be discovered as soon as the Flutterponies searched Autumn’s house. There is a huge possibility that we will be discovered in our attempt to escape, but-”

Autumn broke into sobs. Celestia jumped from the mare shaking next to her, but she used her wing to lean Autumn up against her side.

Moonlight inhaled deeply, and she glanced at Celestia before saying, “Autumn, there are no words that can express my gratitude for allowing both Princess Celestia and I to stay in your house for the night.” She paused, watching as Autumn looked at her before continuing, “There is one last thing that we wish for you to do for us before we depart.”

Autumn stared at Moonlight while tears continued to roll down her face. Moonlight bit her lip and glanced at the clock. Only three minutes had passed, and she turned back to Autumn and said, “We need to you distract the Flutterponies for us in anyway possible.”

“H-how am I supposed t-to do that?” Autumn asked, sitting upright and blinking the last of her tears away.

“I don’t know,” Moonlight said, looking away. “The princess and I need an escape route, but we’ll be easily caught if the Flutterponies are searching through the village for any trace of us. If we can get somepony to stall the search long enough, we will have a better chance of escape.”

Autumn looked down at her hooves, shifting them back and forth. The dull ticking from the clock on the wall filled the room, and Celestia’s heart beat heavily inside her chest. Her eyes stayed locked on Autumn, whose wet cheeks glistened from the dull light shining through the windows. Moonlight rose from her seat next to Autumn and trotted back over to the window, her tail swishing back and forth once again.

“I will distract them,” Autumn said quietly, taking a deep breath and adding, “we have no other option. If you two are to escape, you’re going to need my help to do it.” She prodded under her chin with a hoof. “And maybe I can get the mayor to help me.”

“Thank you,” Celestia said, tightening her wing around Autumn and kissing her on her forehead. “What you are doing for us goes beyond any gratitude I could offer.”

“Without King Sol or Queen Galactica, Equestria is living in a nightmare,” Autumn said, gently brushing her head up against Celestia’s neck. When Celestia didn’t move away, Autumn continued, “Discord and Queen Chrysalis need to be stopped, and right now you and Princess Luna are the only ones who have a chance at stopping them. I’ll do whatever I can, Your Majesty, to see you return to power.”

Celestia hugged Autumn in a tighter embrace. They rose to their hooves, and Autumn was the first to step outside of the door. She glanced on either side of the house, and when she took a few more paces outside, she turned and motioned for Celestia and Moonlight to follow her. Celestia came first, with Moonlight following right behind her and closing the door.

“If you move along the west side of the village, you’ll have less of a chance of being noticed,” Autumn whispered, looking towards a group of huts towards the right. “Undergrowth is more plentiful there. I’ll try to distract the Flutterponies for as long as I can.”

Celestia nodded her head and said, “Be careful, Autumn.”

Autumn looked down at her hooves, scraping them against the ground. Moonlight gave Autumn one last look before trotting over to the western side of the village.

“Good luck, Princess Celestia,” Autumn said.

Celestia and Autumn separated, and Celestia joined Moonlight behind one of the huts. They began to creep around the hut, and then slunk down low to the grass to pass behind some vegetation. Celestia’s ears perked up when she heard dull chatter in the distance, but the voices were muffled and she could only make out a deep growl coming from one of the Flutterponies.

They slipped behind another hut and then dipped low under a window. Moonlight halted at the edge of the house and peered her head around the corner. She remained motionless for some time, and then slowly brought her head back around the corner and looked back at Celestia. Her eyes were cold.

“You might want to take a look at this, Your Majesty,” Moonlight said.

Celestia slowly sidled up alongside Moonlight, and together they peered around the corner towards the center of the village. There was one Flutterpony that stood out from all of the rest. He was large and had massive, red wings that reflected the light from the sconces throughout the village. He had scars littering his body, and one of the sharp teeth that hung from the front of the Flutterpony’s mouth was missing.

“Blackheart,” Celestia hissed, pulling herself back around the corner. “This is not good. Chrysalis knows exactly where we are.”

“We have the elite of the Eternal Valley’s military on our tails,” Moonlight whispered, drawing her head back behind the hut as well. “How did they know we were here?”

Celestia’s horn lit up, and her ears became encased in her golden magic. She closed her eyes and rotated her ears to face directly in front of her.

“We are looking for Princess Celestia,” Blackheart growled. “I’m sure you all have heard the reports by now that there was an attack on Everfree City. She was last spotted exiting Everfree Forest two days ago.”

“We have not seen anything, Your Highness,” Autumn said. “There has been no pony that has stopped by our village for days.”

“Is that so?” Blackheart replied. “Why is it that a few of my scouts found two Changeling bodies only a kilometer from here?”

Moonlight glanced back at Celestia, raising an eyebrow and asking, “Changelings?”

“W-we did not know that there had been a killing around these parts, sir,” Autumn said, her voice shaking.

“Both Changelings have scorch marks on their bodies,” Blackheart said coldly, “obviously from magical discharge. I don’t see any unicorns present in this village, and even so, I highly doubt that a loathsome pony could take on a Changeling, let alone two.”

Celestia opened her eyes and nodded at Moonlight. “Let’s move before this turns ugly. We can’t still be here when Blackheart begins his search.”

Celestia and Moonlight slipped across to the next house, but they stopped in their tracks. Ahead of them was a brown earth pony stallion peering around the corner towards the center of the village. Moonlight took a few steps forward to behind the stallion, and she gently tapped him on his hind leg. The stallion jump and spun around, his eyes going wide when he gazed at Celestia.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Moonlight whispered, raising her hoof up towards the stallion.

“Moonlight,” Celestia said, charging her horn. “I don’t think that is a pony.”

The stallion in front of them suddenly encased himself in a green ball of energy, stripping away his features to replace them with that of a Changeling. It screamed at Moonlight, only for the mare to fire off her own magic through the back of the Changelings head and into the walll of the house next to them.

Several more Changeling screams erupted from the center of the village, and Celestia and Moonlight peered around the corner to find Blackheart staring directly at them. He raised a hoof, uttering an ear piercing scream, causing the Changelings in the village center to charge for Celestia and Moonlight. He then turned back to Autumn, who was cowering against the ground. His lips curled into a twisted smile, and he lowered his head.

“You know the price for treason,” he said gently.

Before Autumn could utter a single word, Blackheart released a bolt of magic to pierce through her skull. The mare fell limp against the ground, and the rest of the villagers began running in every direction away from the village center. They fled into their houses and the building at the center of the village, only to be followed by the Changelings, who chased after them and started tearing every building apart to get to their prey.

Celestia released a bolt of magical energy at a Changeling approaching her, grazing across its neck and sending it colliding with the building next to her. She stared directly at Blackheart, her cold eyes meeting his.

“Celestia!” Moonlight shouted, firing off two volleys of magic at a Changeling that was attacking them from the right. “We can’t stay here!”

Celestia’s gaze drifted from Blackheart’s eyes to a Changeling who was trying to flank them from the left. She fired three magical bolts through its chest and the Changeling fell short at Celestia’s hooves. She glanced at Blackheart one last time before she turned and began to gallop away from the village, closely followed by Moonlight.

The smell of charred wood started to fill the air, and after Celestia looked back at the village, fires started to rise up from some of the huts. Changelings followed closely behind them, leaping into the air and using their powerful wings to close the distance between them and Celestia and Moonlight. Celestia turned, charging her horn and releasing a blinding flash of light that seared the fragile wings off of the Changelings, causing them to collapse to the ground.

Celestia gazed at the village one last time, watching as the smoke from the fires rose up to meet the dark clouds overhead.

“I’m sorry, Autumn,” Celestia said, turning and galloping after Moonlight just as another wave of Changelings gave pursuit.

~~~

Princess Luna gazed up at the dark sky overhead, watching as the clouds shifted and twisted at the mercy of the winds above. Light from the rising sun barely pierced through the blanket above, and a light rain started to pick up again. Luna blew part of her mane away from her face and looked back down at the caravan ahead of her.

Luna and Forza remained hidden in the tall grass, with Luna taking up watch while Forza slept on the ground next to her. The caravan had stopped for the remainder of the night, and when the two rear guards had failed to show up, a few of the caravan guards went in search of them only to return empty hoofed. One of Luna’s ears swiveled towards Forza when she heard the mare scrunch tighter into a ball next to her.

Forza’s eyes flicked open, and she slowly raised herself into a sitting position and yawned. Her eyes drooped slightly, and her white coat was dirtied from lying on the damp ground. Luna threw a side glance over at Forza, who didn’t return the glance and continued to gaze at the caravan ahead of them.

“You only slept for thirty minutes,” Luna whispered, looking back at the caravan.

“If only I could sleep, Your Majesty,” Forza replied sharply.

Luna’s eyes narrowed when she saw one of the caravan guards walk in front of a cart. “Is there something that troubles you?”

Forza remained still, but when Luna glanced her once more, Forza flinched under her gaze. She looked down at the ground, her eyes shifting back and forth across her tattered hooves. The rain gently tapped both mares, soaking their coats once again.

“Sometimes I wonder if what I am doing is right,” Forza said. “Joining the Equestrian military, fighting alongside your father in the Eternal Valley, returning to Everfree. I look back on my choices and can’t find any reason behind them aside for undying loyalty to those who I love. I should be one of them”—Forza nodded her head towards the caravan—“or I should be dead.”

Luna’s eyes softened and she opened her mouth, but quickly closed it again. Forza looked back up and stared at Luna.

“I do not ask for pity or sympathy,” Forza continued. “We make these choices for ourselves. There is no need for us to dwell on our past, yet we must come to terms with what we have done.”

Forza’s eyes shifted to in front of them, and she raised herself to her hooves. Luna followed Forza’s gaze, and she saw that the caravan had begun to move again. She crouched low to the grass and clenched her wings tightly against her sides.

“The caravan moves again,” Forza said, lowering herself next to Luna. “Good luck to you, Your Majesty.”

“Good luck, Forza,” Luna replied, nodding her head.

Forza crept along with the caravan, using the tall grass to keep her concealed from the Flutterponies walking alongside carts. Luna watched as Forza disappeared from view, and then she slowly slunk to the edge of the grass and peered out into the road. The cart was beginning to vanish behind the next bend, so she quickly scampered across the road.

Luna lay herself low against the ground and quickly skirted through the grass after the caravan. She came up against the caravan and looked to her side. A Flutterpony dressed in ornately decorated silver plate strode alongside the cart closest to her, his armor clanging quietly together with each step. His black chitin body shone dimly from the light rain.

The behemoth at the front of the train snorted, and Luna picked up her pace to move ahead of the caravan. A pair of large boulders on either side of the road came into view, and she quickly took her place on the other side of the boulder away from view of the Flutterponies. She looked across the way and spotted Forza, whose cold eyes bore into her own. Luna nodded towards Forza and charged her horn.

The rumbling of the carts became louder as they approached, and Luna closed her eyes. She took a deep breath, her ears swiveling in every direction, catching the sounds of the wooden wheels, the metal armor, and the heavy breathing of the behemoth. When her eyes opened again, the first of the carts was almost completely past the two boulders.

Luna released a bolt of magic at the guard directly in front of her, shooting in the gap between the Flutterpony’s helmet and his chest plate. He was blasted back against the cart and fell lip on the ground, a sizable burn running up the length of his neck. The other Flutterponies brought the caravan to a halt just as Forza had completed her kill on the other side, and attempted to scatter as Luna and Forza continued to release more magic at them.

Another Flutterpony quickly fell to a bolt of magic between the eyes. The Flutterponies returned fire, and Luna dashed behind the boulder, watching as their green energy zipped past her on both sides. She spread her wings and gave them a flap, leaping into the air to reach the top of the boulder. Before she could reach the top, however, a scream erupted from one of the Flutterponies and the fire in her direction ceased.

Luna peered over the top of the boulder, watching as Forza dashed from her position at one of the Flutterponies, kicking him in the face with a forehoof while she shot a blast of magic at another. The chest armor from the Flutterpony dented from Forza’s magic, and he bent over and coughed frantically while Forza finished the other Flutterpony off.

Before Forza could release another blast of magic at the Flutterpony keeled over, she was violently rammed in the side by the behemoth. She flew threw the air and smacked heavily against the boulder closest to her. Luna leapt into the air and dived straight for the behemoth, colliding into the side of the massive beast. Her horn dug straight into its side, and she quickly pulled her horn out before the behemoth could drive her into one of the carts, knocking it over.

Luna turned to face the behemoth, its black blood dripping from her horn. The behemoth staggered slightly before opening its mouth and giving a deafening roar. Luna’s ears folded back, but her eyes were cold and steely, piercing into the beast’s vehement gaze. It charged at Luna, but she deftly avoided the attack and released several volleys of magic into the beast’s side.

The behemoth let out a roar and quickly spun around to charge Luna again. She attempted to dodge the beast once more only to have her rear leg caught by its forehead. She was sent spinning through the air and crashed into the side of the fallen cart. Luna groaned, trying to raise herself to her hooves only to collapse again when pain shot through her leg. She looked back to see that her hind leg had an enormous gash running up along the length from the behemoth’s horn.

Luna snapped her head towards the behemoth as it snorted. A twisted smile etched across its face as it slowly started to creep towards her, and she frantically began to flap her wings. The ground impeded her process however, and Luna took to trying to fire bolts of energy at the behemoth. The beast merely shrugged the energy off of its chest as it approached.

Before the behemoth reached the overturned cart, Forza leapt on top of the beast and bit down on its horn, shaking her head back and forth until the horn ripped from its forehead. The beast screamed, swinging its head back and forth furiously. Forza held on, and she charged her horn before releasing a powerful beam of energy into the behemoth’s skull. It stopped swinging its head, and it slowly slumped to the ground with a heavy thud.

Forza rolled off of the behemoth, and she threw the final Flutterpony a glance as he lay on the ground wheezing before limping over to Luna. She eyed Luna’s injury, and she fell to her knees and lit up her horn.

“Hold still for a moment, Your Majesty,” she said, weaving her magic into the folds of Luna’s skin, “this will hurt.”

Luna bit down on her lip and stifled a groan as Forza used her magic to sew Luna’s skin back together. When the pain stopped, Luna looked back at her hind leg and noticed a long scar running up along its length. She moved her leg slightly, cringing from the dull pain that ran through her body.

“We need to seek proper medical attention for the wound to heal,” Forza said, getting to her hooves and walking around to the other side of the fallen cart. “All I did was bind up the skin to stop the bleeding. Maybe one of the prisoners knows if there is a village nearby.”

Luna glanced at the fallen behemoth, and then back at Forza, and she raised herself to her hooves to walk over to the other cart that was still standing up right. She charged her horn and broke the lock, opening the iron-barred door so that she could step inside and free each pony individually from their shackles. Once she stepped outside of the cart after all of the other ponies had exited, she strode up to a young pegasus mare.

“Thank you so much, Your Majesty,” the mare said, bowing low once Luna was standing directly in front of her. “I wish there was something I could offer you besides my thanks for saving everypony’s lives.”

Luna eyed the mare up and down, and said, “There is no need for thanks. Do you know if there is a settlement with an adequate medical facility nearby?”

The mare looked down at her hooves while her wings unfurled slightly against her body. “I... no, Your Majesty. Not that I know of. The closest settlement is Manehatten, and the city is heavily guarded and patrolled by the Changeling horde.”

“ ‘Changeling Horde?’ “ Forza asked, walking up next to Luna once the rest of the ponies had been freed from the overturned cart.

“It is what the Flutterponies call themselves now,” the mare replied, looking up at Forza. “It has something to do with this new magic they are being taught at the laboratory in Manehatten. It is where we were being taken, although I have no idea what purpose we could have served.”

Luna and Forza glanced at each other. Forza raised one of her eyebrows, and Luna looked back at the mare and said, “It would be best if you made your way back to Canterlot. The town is nine hours from here, but it would be safer than trying to take refuge in Manehatten.”

The mare bowed once again. “Thank you again, Your Majesty.”

Luna watched as the mare gathered up all of the prisoners from the caravan and started to lead them away towards the direction of Canterlot. The rain overhead started to pour down in heavy sheets, and once the prisoners had all left, Forza turned her attention to the Changeling who was still laying on the ground alive. She stood over him, and he slowly looked up at her with wide eyes before she used a single blast of magic to pierce through his throat.

“I thought you said that there comes a time when a pony must stay their hoof?” Luna asked, staring at the Changeling corpse at Forza’s feet.

“There also comes a time when it is necessary to end suffering,” Forza replied, levitating the Changeling’s eyes shut and stepping away from the body.

Luna’s eyes followed Forza as she stepped past her and started to walk along the road. Luna trotted up next to her and asked, “You still care for them like they are friends, don’t you?”

“Very much so,” Forza said, locking her wings together. “They were once my race, and I loved every single one of them. It pains me to see them twisted into these beasts. Nopony deserves such a cruel fate.”

Luna looked off into the distance, eyeing a pair of massive towers that rose into the sky, stabbing through the clouds. Lights ran up the length of the towers, acting as a beacon for any travelers who happened through the northern plains. A ripple of electricity shot through the sky around the towers, and Luna looked back at Forza.

“Manehatten is not too far away,” Luna said.

Forza gave Luna a gentle glance and said, “No, Your Majesty. Another time, perhaps, but not now. The griffons are needed, and if we do not have their help, then we have no hope in freeing Equestria, let alone discovering the mysteries behind this Manehatten Laboratory.”

Author's Note:

Chapter 5 is finally here! After eight days... Well, with the majority of my tests finished I should have more time to dedicate to writing in the upcoming weeks. That, and I also need to limit myself to how many pony streams I go to. Fairly distracting, especially when the subject of tulpas and thirteen-year-olds is involved.

Anyways, wonderful work and a huge thank you to my editor, Naes345.

Next chapter is Chapter 6: Drackenridge Secrets