• 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 7: The Griffon Kingdoms

The Elements Chapter 7

Luna walked through the grand hall of Everfree Castle, treading lightly on the blue carpet that ran the length of the corridor. Stained glass windows lined each side of the hall, with colorful, intricate depictions of Sol and Galactica adorning each window. The ceiling rose high above Luna, and curved into a massive vault with chandeliers dangling from long chains to shine light into every corner. Beautiful pictures of vines were carved into the ceiling above, snaking its way up and down the entire hall.

Nopony else was present in hallway, leaving Luna utterly alone. No form of sound echoed through the castle except for Luna’s hoofsteps, which reverberated off of the walls. When Luna tried to peer out of one of the stained glass windows, she was unable to see anything besides the colorful glass.

Massive doors lay ahead of Luna, marking the entrance to the throne room. More vines were etched into doors, swirling around themselves into massive spirals. Luna paused in front of the doors, observing the detail that went into carving out the leaves of the vines. After a moment, Luna charged her horn, and she grabbed onto the massive handles of the doors and pushed open.

The doors swung wide, and Luna was left staring into a void of swirling, magical energy and floating rocks. The magic twisted and turned every which way, taking on the role of looking like shooting stars streaking across a bright night sky. Luna slowly inched her way into the void, and the doors closed with a loud thud. When Luna looked behind her, the throne room doors had vanished.

Grinding her teeth together, Luna turned back around and stopped in her tracks. Sitting in the void at a wooden table was the black alicorn mare. She had a tea cup gripped in her magic, and she gently levitated it to her lips and took a sip. Luna ruffled her feathers against her sides as she began to advance carefully towards the table. The black alicorn glanced at Luna as she approached, her cold, turquoise eyes piercing into Luna’s own, and then returned to taking another sip from the tea cup.

When Luna finally reached the wooden table, the black alicorn said, “Good evening, Luna. Please, take a seat.”

The black alicorn’s voice was smooth and lustful, albeit commanding. Luna carefully sat down on a pillow across the table, and when she looked down she found that a cup with tea was waiting for her. She levitated the cup up, but didn’t take a sip.

“Why are you here?” Luna asked.

“I thought we should talk,” the black alicorn said, setting her cup down.

Luna narrowed her eyes and asked, “What is there to talk about? If you mean to come to try to convince me that ‘Tia wishes to betray me once more, then you will be sad to hear that I will not listen to any more of your fabrications.”

The black alicorn remained calm, but her cold eyes bore down into Luna’s own. She said, “I wish to apologize for my behavior.” Luna raised an eyebrow, but the black alicorn resumed speaking before Luna could say anything. “It was not right of me to try to accuse your sister of deceit when she has shown you nothing but kindness through these years we have known each other.”

"Why apologize now?” Luna asked, leaning forward slightly.

“I only wish to protect you, Luna, nothing more. I was afraid of your sister, and of how reckless she can be sometimes. You saw how she went headlong into the heart of the Changeling empire just to rescue her little coltfriend. I thought she might try to take you with her to Everfree.”

Luna leaned back and looked down at her cup. “Sometimes we need to take risks. Firemane is important to both of us, not to mention he would be a valuable asset to the resistance against Discord. What ‘Tia did was brave and dangerous, but it was not foolish.”

“Luna, she put other ponies at risk with her endeavor,” the black alicorn said, scowling. “Three of the ponies that went with her are dead. There had to have been some way other than that little operation she carried out.”

Luna set her own cup down and stared hard at the black alicorn. “There was no other way. We do not have the strength, we do not have the resources, we don’t have anything. Equestria is failing under Discord’s onslaught, and hundreds of ponies are dying by the day. We need every piece of help we can get, and if that means we have to take extraordinary risks, then ‘Tia and I will do it.”

Luna jumped slightly when the black alicorn’s tea cup shattered, and she stared at the pieces and saw that they were encased in dark blue magic. She looked back up at the alicorn and met her frigid gaze, shrinking back when she began to rise from her seat.

“You are just as reckless as your sister,” the alicorn said, walking around the table and standing over Luna. “You are a danger to those around you, and I pity those that you travel with.”

Luna fell onto her back when the black alicorn lowered her head to be level with Luna’s. She held her forehooves up in front of her, shielding herself if the alicorn attempted to attack her.

“You should be afraid, Luna. You are nothing but a runt. You are disposable, weak, and unsightly. You are another peasant cowering behind your sister’s wings. You are no leader. I am disappointed that it was you who was destined to control how and when the moon should rise. How and when I should rise.”

The alicorn extended her massive, crow-like wings. Her eyes began to sink into her head until they were replaced by black holes, and when she opened her mouth again, her smooth teeth had been replaced by jagged fangs. A long, forked tongue slowly extended towards Luna, who stared in horror as the alicorn edged closer to her.

“I am the true moon,” the black alicorn growled. “I am the pure moon. I am your Nightmare.”

~~~

Luna’s eyes flicked open, and she was left to stare at Forza’s dirty, red hooves. Her ears folded back and she closed her eyes again, taking a deep breath. The sky was dark above them, the black clouds from the previous day still present and rolling across the sky. Luna’s heart beat heavily in her chest, but after a few more deep breaths, it no longer filled her ears.

“You did not sleep well,” Forza said, staring out of the minimal tree cover she and Luna had used once day broke. They were at the foothills of the Northern Drackenridge mountains that marked the border between Equestria and The Griffon Kingdoms.

Luna rose to her hooves, looking at Forza and said, “No, I did not. Ever since I was a small foal, sleep has been hard to come by.”

Forza shot Luna a sideways glance, but Luna didn’t notice as she looked down at her hooves. A roll of thunder echoed off in the distance, causing Forza to snap her head back and look out of the tree cover once more.

“Is there something you wish to talk about?” Forza asked.

“Perhaps another time, Forza,” Luna said. “Thank you, though.”

The sky above Manehatten filled with electricity once more, shooting across the clouds and sending another blast of thunder echoing across the plains. The air was cold, and the wind sliced through Luna and Forza’s coats, but the rain had once again stopped. Luna’s ears remained folded back, and she shifted her wings uneasily against her sides.

“We should start out for tonight,” she said. “We are not too far from The Griffon Kingdoms, and it would be best if we arrived there before the nation is completely asleep.”

“As you say, Your Majesty,” Forza replied. She stuck her head out of the tree cover, looking on either side of her, and then slipped out onto the sloped plains. Luna followed her out, and she looked off to her left back across the plains and towards the mountain that held Canterlot. The town was invisible against the colorless side of the mountain, and she turned back around to trot after Forza towards the mountain pass.

In a matter of minutes Luna and Forza had reached the mountain pass, a tall, wide canyon that was filled with all sorts of trees and shrubbery. The road to the Griffon Kingdoms snaked around the foliage, and split off in several directions for multiple routes around the hills that rose up in the canyon. Small creeks were etched in the ground, cutting their way through the canyon towards the massive Red Bone River that guarded the griffon borders beyond the Northern Drackenridge Mountains.

Luna and Forza started to make their way along the road, passing underneath massive trees and walking over roots and vines that had started to creep onto the path. Luna walked behind Forza, and her eyes kept drifting back and forth between her torn butterfly wings and the scars and dirt that covered her slender body. Luna looked away, grinding her teeth together and clenching her wings against her sides.

“Why do you feel ashamed and look away?” Forza asked.

Luna jumped, and she stuttered, “I... I... You knew I was looking at you?”

“You did not try to hide the fact that you were looking at me,” Forza replied, glancing behind her. “I could feel your eyes on my back like a torrential downpour.”

“I’m sorry,” Luna said, looking down at her hooves and away from Forza’s gaze. Forza slowed her pace so that she walked alongside Luna, and Luna added, “There is something I want to ask you, although I do not know if it is right for me to ask.”

Forza sighed as she and Luna crossed over a wooden bridge, and she said, “You wish to know why I was not turned into a Changeling like the rest of my race, don’t you?”

Luna didn’t reply, instead glancing solemnly at the creek that rushed under the bridge. Birds gently chirped around them, singing their last songs before the full darkness of night fell in the canyon. Forza continued to stare directly in front of her, but her wings remained locked together and the coldness in her eyes had melted away.

“I... don’t know why I was not transformed into one of the Changelings, to be honest,” Forza said quietly. “I’m assuming that if Chrysalis really wanted to turn me into a Changeling, she could have easily asked for the help of Discord. Why she never did puzzles me.

“You see, during the battle at Everfree City, when I allowed for you and your sister to escape from Chrysalis, I fought against her in the streets. We traded magical blows with each other, pummeling ourselves into the buildings and the city street. Chrysalis fought with a ferocity I had never seen before, and her eyes were so twisted up in anger I did not even recognize who she was anymore.”

Forza paused, looking up towards the sky before continuing. “However, even with all that built up rage, she held back against me. Being that she had been my mentor ever since I was a foal, I knew the capability she possessed to easily strike me down. Instead, she wore me out with our battle, and inflicted several wounds across my body to immobilize me. Eventually, I collapsed from mere exhaustion.”

“So, Chrysalis took you prisoner instead of executing you there,” Luna said.

“Yes, I was taken below Everfree Castle where I was locked up for six months,” Forza said, grimacing. “For weeks I was taken to a separate part of the dungeon, and Chrysalis would try to gain information from me about your whereabouts. She would sometimes have me beaten in an attempt to gain information, but never did she turn me into a Changeling, or mention the fact that she would.”

Luna was staring at Forza, her jaw held slightly slack. She asked, “I could never imagine Chrysalis doing such a thing for enjoyment.”

Forza looked down at her hooves, stopping in the middle of the road. Luna stopped as well a bit ahead of Forza, and turned around. Forza said, “I believe she still thinks of me as her daughter. No matter what she has done to me over the past six months, never did she enjoy any of it. She is confused and broken, and she must consider her transformation to be an abhorrent curse more so compared to any other torture she subjected me to.”

Tears dripped from Forza’s nose, and Luna stepped forward and used her nuzzle to lift Forza’s head up. When Forza looked into Luna’s eyes, they hugged each other, and Forza added, “She still loves me, Luna.”

“Chrysalis is a mother,” Luna whispered, “and she will do anything to protect her children against those that wish to do them harm.”

I only wish to protect you, Luna, nothing more. I was afraid of your sister, and of how reckless she can be. The vision of the black alicorn flashed before Luna’s eyes, and she stared into the two sunken abysses that were her eye sockets. Her sharp teeth were inches from Luna’s face, with black smoke dripping from the corners to her mouth. I am your Nightmare.

A twig cracked a short distance from the road, and both Luna and Forza’s ears snapped ahead of them. They broke from their embrace and turned towards where the sound originated from, both of their horns lighting up. Forza still had a steady stream of tears flowing down her face, but her muscles were tense and she stood defensively next to Luna. The bushes rustled behind them, and Luna whirled around, staring into the brush and awaiting with her wings extended on either side.

A griffon slowly walked out of the bushes in front of Luna. He was just as big as her, and his coat was dark brown with tiny, white freckles lining his back. His wings were massive but remained folded against the side of his body, although they extended far past his backside. He had a long, curved beak while three strips of red paint extended extended across the entire length of his face. Luna’s horn remained charged and she narrowed her eyes.

“There are two on this side,” Forza whispered.

The griffons remained silent, and Luna noticed that a spear was strewn across the back of the griffon in front of her. Slowly, she folded her wings back against her body and discharged her horn. Forza quickly did the same, and relaxed her posture only slightly.

“Strange to see a trio of griffons venture so far into Equestria,” Luna said, glancing at the two griffons behind her. One of the griffons was also dark brown while the other was white. Both had red paint across their face.

“We could say the same about a rumored dead princess,” the griffon in front Luna said. He glanced at Forza and added, “Who happens to be accompanied by a remnant of an extinct race.”

The coldness of Forza’s eyes returned, and she glared at the griffon behind her, who didn’t take notice and instead looked back at Luna. He asked, “Why is it you two seek the road to the Griffon Kingdoms?”

“Why don’t you state your business in Equestria?” Luna replied. “You are encroaching onto our lands after all, if you are who you appear to be.”

The griffon scowled. “Ever since the Flutterponies invaded Equestria, King Bloodbeak has been sending scouts to patrol this pass through the Northern Drackenridge Mountains. We happen to be that patrol tonight, along with five other griffons who are a bit further up the road.”

Luna raised an eyebrow and asked, “Why does Bloodbeak send so many to patrol the pass?”

“It didn’t used to be that way,” the griffon replied, looking towards the dark clouds that hung over Manehatten. A wave of electricity rippled through the sky. “The strange weather that has been approaching the borders of our nation has been unnerving, so more and more griffons are getting sent out per week to patrol this pass. We are told to guard the pass all the way towards its entrance as an extra precaution.”

“The Changelings don’t seem particularly interested in The Griffon Kingdoms right now,” Forza said, turning around. “Discord and Chrysalis are pushing their forces towards the border of the Night Guard State.”

“It’s the king’s orders,” the griffon said. “My name is Rikkard, by the way.”

Luna nodded her head towards Rikkard and said, “I suppose we should explain why we are traveling towards The Griffon Kingdoms. We wish to speak to King Bloodbeak on several matters.”

Rikkard stared hard at Luna, but he nodded at the two other griffons behind her and Forza. They saluted Rikkard, and then they took off towards the the entrance of the pass to the south. He watched the two griffons depart, then turned back to Luna and Forza and asked, “Why do you wish to speak to the king?”

“For reasons in which we do not wish to disclose until we have met with King Bloodbeak,” Luna replied, flicking her tail behind her.

Rikkard eyed Luna curiously. “I was on my way back to High Talon Rock for the night. I could escort you two the rest of the way if you wish.”

“That would be most appreciated, Rikkard,” Luna said, smiling. She glanced back Forza and saw that she still glared at Rikkard with frigid eyes.

Once Rikkard had already started to walk down the road ahead of Luna and Forza, Luna whispered, “Calm yourself, Forza.”

“How can I remain calm when I am insulted blatantly by a griffon,” Forza whispered back, staring into the back of Rikkard. “Their race is indecent and primitive. At least the Night Guards are respectful enough to formally address a guest.”

“These times are not bright,” Luna replied, looking at Rikkard as well. “The griffons are on edge from Chrysalis’ forces crawling across Equestria. Any traveler approaching their borders could be a Changeling.”

Forza growled, but she did not speak anymore. She and Luna trailed behind Rikkard as they twisted and turned around the many bends that made up the road through the mountain pass. The birds eventually stopped chirping, and the sky that hung over Manehatten vanished from view by the tall mountain peaks behind them. They passed over creeks and walked over hills, and Luna blew a few strands of her hair away from her eyes once a gently breeze gusted through the canyon.

In the distance, two enormous rock towers rose into the air. Rikkard looked behind him and said, “Once we pass through those spires, it is only another thirty minutes before we will reach High Talon Rock.”

Luna nodded, and the rest of their walk through the rock spires, as well as to the griffon’s capital city, continued in silence. High Talon Rock was built against the side of a mountain, and a massive, palisade wall surrounded the city in an incomplete circle. Large watchtowers were built along the palisade, as well as laying scattered across the city. Many of the buildings were simple huts made out of mud with thatched roofs, while in the center of the city was an extensive market that was filled with stalls and traders.

Griffons flew to and from the city, carrying all manner of items on their backs or in tow behind them. Luna watched the griffons intently, observing how they seemed to file into organized lanes similarly to a well used highway. Rikkard looked behind him and smirked when he saw Luna enthralled by the sites of the sky lanes.

“Not exactly like Equestria, is it?” he asked.

“I’ve never seen such a place,” Luna said, taking her eyes away from the sky lanes. “High Talon Rock is a highly organized city, yet it is vastly more simplistic compared to any of the cities back in Equestria.”

“Wait until you see the palace.”

Luna squinted, straining her eyes across the city. She scanned over the thatched roofs and market stalls, but she never laid her eyes on anything that resembled a palace. She said, “I don’t see anything of the sort.”

“The palace is built into the mountain,” Rikkard said, nodding towards the mountain that High Talon Rock was built against. “The only way to reach the entrance is to fly, although in recent years we have built a massive elevator that carries flightless ponies to the top. We used to have to carry guests to the top ourselves.”

Luna stared at the mountain, noticing the many holes that covered the southern side like a bee hive. Some griffons flew in and out of the holes, and straight down the center of the mountain was a long, thin structure that looked like a square tube. Luna looked back at Forza and saw that she, too, was staring at the city with large eyes. Forza’s torn wings flapped lazily.

“We will need to use the elevator to reach the top,” Luna said, returning her gaze on Rikkard again.

Rikkard glanced at Forza, and he nodded his head. The trio soon approached the walls of the city, and when they were standing in front of the giant, wooden gate, Rikkard pulled a string that rang a bell above them. A black griffon poked his head over the top of the wall, peered down at the group, and then disappeared back over the top of the palisade. After a few more seconds, the gate to the city began to slowly creak open enough to allow for them to pass through one at a time.

“Greetings Captain,” the black griffon said once they all had passed through the gate. “You have returned early from your patrol.”

“I stumbled across one of the Equestrian princesses and a Flutterpony,” Rikkard said, eyeing Luna in particular. “I felt it necessary to escort both of them to the city.”

The black griffon looked both Luna and Forza over carefully, and then said, “You had best get back to the patrol. You’re already on thin ice with the king.”

“I think I can handle it from here,” Rikkard said, fluffing his feathers against his body and slightly opening his wings. “If you think it is necessary to have another griffon on patrol, why don’t you take my place?”

The black griffon scowled, but he moved out of Rikkard’s way and allowed for them all to pass. Luna quickly trotted after Rikkard as he started out at a brisk pace, and she asked, “What did he mean when he said you were on thin ice with the king?”

“The king and I haven’t seen eye to eye lately,” Rikkard replied, leading Luna and Forza around a group of griffons who were standing around a market stall. “I have suggested a few things that he did not particularly take kindly to.”

They walked across the center of the market square, squeezing their way past scores of griffons as they crowded around stalls and vendors. Luna noticed that there were a few ponies and even a zebra or two among the throng, but she didn’t stop to speak to them as Rikkard continued his trot. She glanced back at Forza, who looked uneasily to her right and left as they cleared the market.

“Do you mind if I ask what it is you two do not agree on?” Luna asked once the roar of the market square died away.

“I have a hunch the topic will come up when you speak with the king,” Rikkard said, looking behind him. “It isn’t much further to the throne room now. Just a short elevator ride to the top and then a quick walk through the mountain’s corridors.”

Luna, Forza, and Rikkard all piled into the elevator and a griffon gently shut the wooden door behind them. Rikkard nodded, and the griffon stepped over to a lever next to the elevator and pulled. The wooden car jolted, and the entire contraption began to ascend the mountain. Luna looked up and saw that thick ropes were connected to the top of the car, as well as a massive pulley system at the top of the elevator was pulling the car up.

“How long did it take for you to construct this elevator?” Forza asked.

“We’ve had the plans and blueprints to make such a contraption for over ten years,” Rikkard said, looking up, “but it was only recently that we implemented the elevator. It took us a total of three months to put the whole thing together, and the elevator has now been in service for two years.”

“I have to admit, to build this in only three months is an impressive feat,” Forza said. “The height of the elevator itself is striking.” A gentle breeze picked up, rocking the elevator side to side. Both Luna and Forza tensed and spread their legs, balancing themselves on the elevator floor, and Forza added, “Although it does feel a little intimidating.”

Rikkard smirked, and he stood entirely unfazed by the elevator’s rocking and said, “Constructing such a building is costly, so there were some budget cuts made for the sturdiness of the elevator. Believe me when I say that this elevator is safe, though.”

When the elevator came to a stop halfway up the mountain, Luna and Forza nearly ran out of the car onto the solid ground of the outcropping. Rikkard stepped off after them, and another griffon pulled the lever next to the elevator to start its descent back down the mountain. Luna’s heart was pounding in her chest, but she began to breathe easier when another gust of wind picked up.

“The throne room is just at the end of this corridor,” Rikkard said, walking past Luna and Forza. “Although the time for the king to see guests is long past over, I’m sure that he will make an exception for you two.”

Luna and Forza fell in behind Rikkard, and they shortly arrived at the throne room doors. Two large griffons dressed in thick, shining plate armor stood at attention in front of the doors. They held tall spears on either side of them, but when Rikkard approached, they stepped aside and opened the doors. Rikkard nodded his thanks towards the two griffons before taking Luna and Forza into the throne room.

They entered a chamber that had numerous holes in the ceiling to allow beams of light to poke through. Large tapestries adorned the walls with depictions of coat-of-arms for some of the most prominent griffon families in the kingdom. Bleachers were set up on either side of the chamber to accommodate nearly a hundred griffons at one time, and at the far end of the chamber sat a large throne chair.

As Luna approached, she observed that the throne chair was made out of the bones of various creatures, and a slight shiver ran along her back. She glanced at Forza, but she had composed a stoic mask and only allowed her cold eyes to reveal any tinge of emotion. Luna turned back towards the throne chair, gazing at the griffon who sat in it.

King Bloodbeak was large and had a reddish brown coat. He had scars littered all over his body, as well as missing one of his talons from his front legs. His lion’s tail was shorter than most other griffons, and the tuff of hair at the end of the tail was missing. Bloodbeak was currently speaking to one of the griffons to his left, and he ignored Rikkard, Luna, and Forza when they approached the throne chair.

“What do you mean to tell me that the Night Guard is unable to trade with the Griffon Kingdoms?” Bloodbeak asked the griffon next to him.

The griffon shuddered under Bloodbeak’s booming voice, and said, “They say it is too risky to send their trade caravans, sir. With Queen Chrysalis’ forces sweeping across Equestria constantly, the last few caravans that Lord Regent Outcry sent have been attacked and sacked.”

Bloodbeak sighed and slumped back in his chair. “Resume negotiations with the Night Guard State. Perhaps we could try to have the caravans take the longer route along the Equestrian border. Go!”

The griffon quickly took flight and shot out of one of the holes in the ceiling. Bloodbeak watched him go, and then turned towards Rikkard, Luna, and Forza. His eyes narrowed, and he slowly rose from his chair and took a few steps forward. Luna eyed him suspiciously, extending her wings slightly after he had taken two steps.

“Why did you bring them here?” Bloodbeak asked Rikkard coldly.

“They wish to speak to you, My Lord,” Rikkard replied calmly. “A patrol I was leading found them taking the pass from Equestria to The Griffon Kingdoms.”

Bloodbeak looked Luna up and down, and she straightened her posture as well as extended her wings completely. He snorted, and then turned to walk back to his throne chair. His tail flicked irately behind him.

“I thought I told you to turn away the two princesses if they did happen to show up,” he said, sitting back in his chair and glaring at Rikkard. “If Chrysalis were to find out that one of the princesses was here in the Griffon Kingdoms, she would surely rally her forces and assault High Talon Rock.”

“I apologize, King Bloodbeak,” Rikkard said, bowing slighty, “but it would have been folly to resist both an alicorn and a Flutterpony if they decided they wanted to speak to you desperately.”

Bloodbeak growled, and he turned towards Luna and said, “Whatever business you have here in the Griffon Kingdoms, do it now and then leave.”

Luna stared directly into Bloodbeaks eyes, and she stood defiantly before him. The throne room was dark as none of the sconces lining the walls had been lit, casting Luna’s face in shadow while Bloodbeak’s face was dimly lit by the thin amount of moonlight that managed to pierce through the clouds and into the chamber.

“I ask for the assistance of the griffons to aid my sister and I against the forces that occupy Equestria,” Luna said.

Bloodbeak’s face darkened, and he leaned forward in his chair and said, “You can’t be serious.” When Luna remained unfazed, he scowled and rose from his seat. “Who are you to call upon the griffons to aid you in a lost cause? You want me to amass the griffons to go to war against an army that is vastly larger and, possibly, more well equipped than ours?”

“What I ask of you, King Bloodbeak, is to help aid a nation that is in great peril,” Luna said flatly. “Only a short while ago, my father, King Sol, had set up negotiations with The Griffon Kingdoms, securing a powerful trade route that connected this nation, Equestria, and The Night Guard State. The only thing he asked for in return was when you were called upon to help either nation, you would heed that call.”

Bloodbeak slowly approached Luna, and Forza’s lips curled into a snarl. Bloodbeak said, “Your father is dead, Luna. Equestria is dead, fallen to the might of the Eternal Valley’s armies. You are clinging onto hope that has already been extinguished everywhere you turn. Why do you wish to get others involved in this little game you and your sister play?”

“You are already involved in this game. Don’t you see what Discord’s plans are? He quickly dispatched the largest threat to his conquest: Queen Chrysalis and the Eternal Valley. He then made his move onto Equestria, obliterating Everfree City and killing both of my parents, as well as attempting to kill Celestia and I. Right now he is cleaning up the rest of the Equestrian cities, pushing towards the borders of the Night Guard State. Where do you think he will turn to next?”

Bloodbeak’s face softened, and he raised an eyebrow. “You think he will conquer The Night Guard State, the nation with the strongest military in the known world? How can you be so sure?”

Luna tucked her wings in back against her sides, and said, “Years ago, my mother and father created two artifacts that are able to harness and contain the raw magical energy of the sun and the moon. Discord was drawn to this source of power, and in his attack on Everfree City, he sought to steal the artifact that held the moon’s power: the Element of Chaos.

“However, before Discord had even arrived at the city, my mother had hidden the two artifacts away.” Luna paused, watching as Bloodbeak scratched under his chin with one of his talons. “Unfortunately, when my mother hid the artifacts, she did not disclose their whereabouts to my sister or I. Instead, for the past six months, we have been using all of our available resources to locate one of the artifacts: the Element of Harmony. With its power alone, we could successfully stop Discord and Chrysalis.”

“So why are you here now?” Bloodbeak asked, walking around Luna. “Why are you asking for our aid instead of looking for the Element of Harmony?”

“We need a distraction,” Luna replied, watching as Bloodbeak circled around her and Forza. “My sister has already gone after the Element of Harmony, but we cannot battle Discord and Chrysalis alone with the meagre amount of organized forces left in Equestria. That’s why I come to you, to ask for your help.”

Bloodbeak continued to pace around Luna and Forza. He stared at the ground, muttering to himself. Forza eyed Bloodbeak carefully, but she no longer scowled at him as he walked by her. Rikkard stood at attention on the side of the chamber, hardly moving a centimeter since Luna began speaking with Bloodbeak.

“You ask for me to lead my subjects to war that we very well may lose,” Bloodbeak finally said, stopping in front of Luna. “Equestria calls for the aid of the griffons, the Night Guard State calls for the aid of the griffons.”

Bloodbeak paused, glancing at Rikkard, who slouched his posture as his face fell. Rikkard opened his mouth, but before he could speak, Bloodbeak said, “The griffons shall not answer the call to aid. I am sorry, Princess Luna, but this is a war that we cannot fight in.”

Luna’s face fell, and her wings slumped to her sides. She tried to meet Bloodbeak’s eyes, but every time she gazed at him he turned away. Tears started to well up in her eyes, and she finally looked down at her hooves, allowing for one of the tears to roll along her cheek.

“You... You can’t just leave Equestria in the clutches of Discord,” Luna said quietly. “Without you, everything that everypony has known and loved will be wiped from existence forever.” Bloodbeak remained silent, staring at Luna. She raised her head back up and added, “Please, Bloodbeak, we need your help.”

Luna stared hard into Bloodbeak’s eyes, but the king merely shook his head and turned, walking back towards the throne chair. Luna’s head sank once more, and as she turned to leave, Forza placed a hoof on her shoulder. Luna’s eyes lifted, but Forza was staring at Bloodbeak when she said, “What if Luna were to complete Twilight Gauntlet?”

Bloodbeak and Rikkard’s heads jerked towards Forza, and Bloodbeak slowly strode up to her. He towered over her, but Forza remained fixed in her spot.

“No,” Bloodbeak said, “I will not allow her to participate in the Twilight Gauntlet. She is not a griffon, nor would she have the capability to handle such a test even if she was.”

“Pardon, My Lord,” Rikkard said, stepping forward, “but the Twilight Gauntlet admits anyone who so wishes to participate. She has as much eligibility as you or I.”

Bloodbeak whirled around, but before he could say anything Luna asked, “What is the Twilight Gauntlet?”

“It is a series of tests that push your body to the limit against other griffons or foes,” Rikkard replied. Bloodbeak turned back around with his face contorted into a snarl. “It lasts for three days, and you are given six challenges that you are to complete. You are not given a time limit, but there is a punishment if you fail any of the tests.”

“What is the punishment?” Luna asked, eyeing Rikkard curiously.

“Death,” Rikkard said quietly. “Not by us griffons, but by the tests itself. Each test is a fight for your own survival, so if you fail to complete any of them, you will be subjected to whatever horrors you are to face.”

“And what if I were to complete all of the tests?”

“You would have one, undeniable request that you may give to the griffons,” Bloodbeak said coldly, his feathers ruffling against his sides.

Luna looked down at her hooves, and her wings flared out on either side of her. Bloodbeak and Rikkard stared hard at Luna, watching her intently as she thought. The chamber was deathly silent, only being interrupted every time Bloodbeak took a breath. Forza shifted uneasily next to Luna.

“You are just as reckless as your sister.”

Luna cringed, and she was about to take a step back when a vision flashed before her eyes. She saw the cherry blossoms of Everfree Castle’s gardens, the pink flowers blowingly lazily in the gentle wind. The sky was clear, and the birds were chirping their beautiful songs. She heard the sounds emanating from the market place, with all of the ponies running to and fro on their daily business.

Luna’s heart fluttered from the spectacle, and slowly joy and determination started to fill her heart and her eyes. Foals ran playfully through the streets, closely being followed by their mothers or fathers who chased after them. Ponies happily greeted each other as they walked, while others stopped to chat with a neighbor or a close friend.

“Sometimes we have to make sacrifices,” Luna said, looking up. “I rule a nation alongside my sister; a nation that is broken and failing under the tyrannical grip to Discord. Equestria was once a beautiful land teeming with lush nature, happy citizens, and undying love, and I plan to restore it back to its former glory, or I will die trying.”

Luna took a deep breath. Forza stood proudly, Rikkard stared quizzically, and Bloodbeak scowled, turning and returning to the throne chair.

“I wish to run the Twilight Gauntlet.”

Author's Note:

Chapter 7 is out! It's a pretty long one, too, so I hope you all like it. I have a feeling that the Luna chapters are going to be longer than the Celestia chapters.

Anyways, a huge than you to Naes345 for his stellar editing. However, I regret to announce that Naes has resigned as my editor due to reasons. He was a fantastic editor, and it's sad to see him ago, but I understand completely. So, that I will need to renew my search for another editor. If anyone is interested, please check out my latest blog post on my userpage.

Next chapter is Chapter 8: On the Trail.