• Published 7th Apr 2013
  • 3,809 Views, 214 Comments

Old Wounds - Martian

They must not be forgotten.

  • ...

Chapter 4 - Konabos

“Konabos. What is there to be said of Konabos? An old name from an old place, yet you might not recognize the meaning of it, nor realize the weight that it carries. I’ve read the legends and myths that had been written of him, Twilight Sparkle, and I can assure you that none reflect the pony that he was.

“A great warrior he was not: Konabos lived out most his days in peace and tranquility, surrounded with love; not once had he raised a hoof in anger. Divine messenger bound to the Sisters Regent? A poetic lie founded with only a sliver of truth, likely written in fit of creative abandon by some historian needing to increase his sales. I have even seen it written that he was some fire-breathing, half-dragon abomination under the dominion of my sister, which is so patently absurd I cannot even think of what the author was taking to have come up with it.

“No; Konabos was a pony. He was a pony and nothing more, though how he came to be known to us is a story indeed.”

Luna pushed herself upright from her small nest of cushions, with Twilight following suit. The Night’s Princess trotted towards the center of the room, mounting the stairs that circled the grand pillar. Her silver-shod hooves rang softly on the metal, echoed by Twilight’s own as she followed the princess upwards.

“To know him, you have to understand the time he had come from. It was less than one hundred years since the defeat of Discord: the lands that you know as Equestria had only just been tamed by harmony, though much of it was still wild. The ponies here were still soothing the land and forging their cities, building the world that you know today. In the north however, there stood a city that had not been touched by chaos, and had been a flourishing civilization since even before Celestia or myself had gained dominion over the heavens.

“The Crystal Empire was built with order and fueled by love; its very nature rebuffed the chaos of Discord and stood strong as a bastion of harmony for the world. It could not fight against him, for the strength of the Crystal Empire lay in its foundations, but it stood as a beacon for hope, its light shining across the sky for all to see. It was a powerful thing indeed, and the aurora it cast long into the night gave us the courage to fight on until we had our victory.”

The two ponies passed beyond the ceiling of the floor below and now they stood in a room much the size of the other, though the windows were shut and the curtains drawn, filling the room with a soft blue glow. The comforts were fewer here; a single chaise longue resided beneath one window, on it a few cushions that looked a bit threadbare. Half the room had bookshelves arranged like the spokes of a wheel, reaching towards the center, though half of them were empty.

Twilight’s discerning eye could see the age on some of those shelves, could smell the scent of gently rotting paper that permeated any library, and could certainly sense the magic on those shelves, slowing time for those books so they could last far, far longer than any book could on her shelves. Twilight couldn’t tell the age of them at a glance, but given that Luna has been locked away for a very long time indeed, some of those tomes had to contain some very old knowledge.

Luna briefly exercised her will, drawing open a few of the curtains behind the chaise longue to let in the golden sunlight. A second wisp of magic unlatched a pair of tall windows and drew them open, a fresh breeze wafting into the cloistered room.

“It makes sense,” said Twilight, joining Luna at the window, setting her hooves upon the balustrade to peer out across the garden. “Crystalline structures are precisely ordered and uniform. Strengthened with a touch of natural magic... Discord wouldn’t have been able to effect anything. And, since the ponies there themselves share that crystal trait, he couldn’t manipulate them either.”

“Indeed. In the Crystal Empire, Discord is very nearly powerless. He could do small things, but they would only last a few instants before returning to normal. That power frustrated him beyond all belief, and my sister and I used what we could of it to defeat him.”

“Didn’t you say that power couldn’t leave the Empire?”

“As a race, the Crystal Ponies had to stay within their borders to maintain their immunity to chaos. Much as they would have liked to help us, they had no answer to a Discord outside of their city. Even so, they pledged to help us build a home for the ponies beyond their borders, and they welcomed our best minds into their city to study their magic. Twenty years of work, of ceaseless study, to produce six very special crystals...”

Twilight’s eyes went wide, and Luna had to smile.

“It is as you think. Six crystal they forged, using magic that only they knew, and imbued them with an echo of their harmony. The power in each crystal was weak, and near useless without the others, but by combining them together and fueling them with true love from the depth of one’s heart, they would resonate and redouble that power. Two-fold, ten-fold, a thousand-fold...” Luna trailed off, smiling faintly. She leaned against the balustrade before the window, forehooves crossed upon it. “I’m certain you understand the feeling.”

“Yes,” Twilight breathed, a warm smile touching her own lips. The beauty and goodness of true harmony flowing around and through you was not something that could be described: it could only be experienced. “But I thought there were only five physical crystals?”

“Six were forged, but that sixth element was what bound the other five together at the same time as they bound it. It existed outside of reality in a way I can’t really explain. My sister would likely know more than me in this case; I never had a mind for studying magic, truth be told. It was Starswirl and Celestia who loved to tinker with that realm...” A pained expression flitted across Luna’s features just then, though Twilight was too absorbed with the knowledge to notice. The taller pony turned away from the window and strode towards the rows of shelves.

“You know, it is actually pretty obvious once you look at it objectively. I’m kind of ashamed that it never occurred to me.”

“Much of the information on the Elements were purposefully purged,” said Luna from somewhere among the shelves and books. “For the study of the magic that forged the Elements of Harmony was what allowed King Sombra to seize power.”

“What?!” Twilight was shocked to her core.

“Think of it. All of the Crystal Ponies are tied together with their love; they feed their love into the Crystal Heart, which in turn protects them, one and all. Starswirl and his staff spent some twenty years studying that magic: how it worked, how it resonated, how it reacted to our magic and crystal magic, and both at the same time. They found how to focus and strengthen the natural magic of love and friendship... it is almost too obvious that a pony would steal that knowledge for himself. Sombra was indeed a powerful unicorn, Twilight, and he was once highly trusted.”

Luna stepped out from the stacks, carrying with her a slender volume in a faint blue nimbus. The cover was green, turning grey in places and cracked with age.

“Sombra used... the elements to-”

“No, Twilight Sparkle. The Elements could never be used in such a fashion, but the knowledge that had built them was neutral. Sombra discovered he could use the power from the crystal ponies to fuel his own magic.”

Twilight’s legs felt shaky. She sat down slowly, eyes wide and staring off into the middle distance. Knowledge, pure and good knowledge, something that she herself loved and very nearly lived for, had caused such suffering. It had been used to build the Elements of Harmony, a true power for the good of all, and that very same knowledge had been put to use to enslave an entire people. She wanted to say something, to deplore this act that went against everything she stood for, to curse Sombra with every iota of her being, wanted to rant and rave... but all she could do was sit, and stare.

Luna settled upon her chaise longue, setting the book she had found on the cushion before her. She did not open it, instead just waited quietly for Twilight to come back to the real world.


“Knowledge is power, as you well know, Twilight, and how it is used means everything. Sombra decided to use it for evil. Eighty three years after Celestia and I cast down Discord and trapped him in stone, Sombra crowned himself and seized the city and all the ponies therein, or very nearly all...”

“Who was he?” Twilight interrupted, trotting briskly over to stand before the reclining Luna. The younger pony’s jaw was set hard, her eyes glittering with righteous outrage. “I never read anything about a contemporary of Starswirl with the name Sombra. Who was this pony?”

Luna met Twilight’s gaze, her own expression blank. That moment of strained silence stretched into two, then into a full minute. Luna never looked away, never blinked, and Twilight did not budge an inch.


The answer was soft, barely more than a whisper, yet it carried a weight that could shatter mountains.

“Celestia told you, not long ago.”

Twilight searched Luna’s eyes, then sat back and scanned her own memory, searching everything Celestia had told her in the past weeks, but there was nothing... unless... Twilight blinked, focusing on Luna again as several pieces fell into place.


“Starswirl did not understand friendship as you do, Twilight Sparkle.”

“The harmony of love and friendship is give-and-take. You know well that it requires trust and effort on both sides; it is what gives you and your friends such strength. Starswirl was always ambitious, always wanted to achieve greater skill with magic, and he did not often care what the consequences were. It made him strong indeed, but...”

Luna let the silence fall, turning her head down as she opened the cover on the book she had taken from the shelves. Twilight was staring straight ahead, seeing nothing, her mouth opening and closing silently as this new information filtered through her mind. Her blood felt like ice water. Twilight had practically worshiped Starswirl since she was a foal. The greatest unicorn magic-user ever to stride the world, the founder of five distinct schools of magic, the creator of twenty-six new spell frameworks, and more than 200 individual spells that themselves had become the root of some three thousand other spells...

He had become one of the worst monsters in history.

“How is it no one knew this?” she breathed, voice quavering.

“Before he turned, Starswirl did great things for Equestria, Twilight. He was the key figure in the forging of the Elements of Harmony, had been on the front lines when we defeated Discord, had been crucial to expanding our knowledge of magic. Starswirl was a hero, an idol for an entire nation, an inspiration to one and all... Had it become known that he had turned his back on all that was good, for his own ends, the results would have been disastrous.

“The ‘official’ history was that Sombra slew Starswirl when he seized control, and I believe that is true, in a way. Starswirl ceased to be Starswirl when he became Sombra. It was a death of a different sort.”

“But why would he do such a thing, Luna? He had everything a pony could have hoped for...”

“No one knows, Twilight. All we have is speculation for his reasons; Sombra did not detail any demands or give reasons for doing what he did. Celestia and I did not even know the truth until we faced him. 'Why' is a mystery no one can truly answer.”

Twilight thought back to the grand mess of the Starswirl wing, of the dusty tomes scattered everywhere, of the scrolls piled haphazardly across tables, of a desk not touched in a very long time. She wondered on the journal she had been given, on the others that no doubt lay in the chaotic mess of those archives, wondered just what insight could be gleaned about that horrible betrayal of trust... but the thought of sifting through that place to find it sent a chill down Twilight’s spine, and she found herself not wanting to venture through that barred door.

A page rustled, drawing Twilight back to the present. Luna was browsing through the book, briefly scanning the writing as she went.

“I was not playing with hyperbole when I told you that these names carry great weight, Twilight. The story of Konabos is bound up tight with the final act of Starswirl the Bearded, when he betrayed all of ponykind to take up the mantle of King Sombra; one story cannot be told without the other.”

Luna lifted the book with an effort of magic, and turned it so the pages were facing Twilight. The writing there was small and neat, but in a script that she had never seen before, much less understand. At the top of the page however, picked out in simple but beautiful colours, a symbol...

“Konabos and his family escaped the Empire before Sombra’s coup could claim them. They had lived on the outskirts of the city, close to the border with the winter lands. When they saw the Crystal Palace go dark, and saw the corruption spreading, they fled across the border and into the snow with only what they could carry on their backs. Sombra’s magic was tied to the Empire’s boundary spell at that time, so those few ponies escaped being captured by his power.

“They came south. What trials and difficulties they suffered in that journey, we do not know. Konabos’ family numbered half a dozen when they marched out into the snow, but he was alone when I found him.”

Twilight sat up straighter, “You found him?”

“Indeed. I had just raised a winter moon; a slender crescent that nonetheless lit a slumbering Equestria. I was at the top of my tower here, and I caught a glimmer of colour in the darkness beneath the city; a sparkling rainbow cast across the snow. When I flew down to investigate, I found a crystal pony- a foal no older than eight- struggling through the snow. Konabos’ crystal coat acted like a prism for the light of my moon and made him a beacon in the night.”

Luna turned the book back to herself and looked for a moment to the image there before closing the covers. “How he survived, we don’t know. He didn’t remember the journey, and the search parties we sent out to follow his tracks found no one else. What Konabos did remember was the image of the city turning black, of his parents shouting to get away.

“Konabos had brought a warning to us, and because of him my sister and I were able to confront Sombra before he could consolidate his power and strike beyond the borders of the Empire.” Luna set the book down next her foreleg and looked to Twilight. The younger pony was chewing on her bottom lip.

“So, the myth of Konabos being a messenger and saving Equestria...”

“Is true in essence, though he was not a spirit of the wind or a noble envoy bound with golden laurels. He did not have control of any clouds, nor could he shout his missives through stone, nor did he have wings that glittered in every colour of the rainbow. He was a young and frightened pony, lost in the snow.”

“What happened to him?”

“He was cared for here in the castle while my sister and I marched on King Sombra. Konabos was hypothermic and very ill, though crystal ponies are fortunate in that they cannot contract frostbite, otherwise it might have been far worse. I was told he slept for many days, only awaking when we returned.

“We defeated Sombra and cast him into the ice with the power of Harmony, but we were not triumphant. He cursed the Empire before he went, so when the ice closed over him, so too did it seal away the Crystal Empire and all the ponies trapped therein.”

Luna turned her head to gaze out the window, eyes tracking the slow passage of a distant cloud. Twilight turned her eyes down to the book, reaching with her magic to draw it gently towards herself, opening the covers to look at the symbol marked there on the page; a comet with a rainbow tail, passing before the crescent moon.

The princess’ voice was soft now, “Konabos was the last crystal pony in all the world, until you and your friends freed them a thousand years later.”

Twilight let out a slow breath, understanding now the weight of what she had been told. No mere name, indeed. “Did he... die?”

Luna looked mildly taken aback. She gave Twilight a curious glance. “All things die eventually, Twilight: one day even the sun will burn out. If you are asking if he died after we returned...”

The lemon sorbet was bright and tart on the tongue, tasting like chilled sunshine. It was the perfect counterpart to the sweetness of the cherry pie. Crumbs were flecked upon Celestia’s elegant throat, and Twilight’s own coat was spotted with a few errant pieces as well, but neither much worried about it; they were much too busy laughing.

“And then, Konabos jumps up onto the table, one hoof in his soup, and pilfers my bread roll right out of the air! In front of everypony! Half a nation worth of dignitaries here for a visit at a sixteen-course grand supper, and Kona couldn’t care less, hah!”

Their laughter rang in the confines of the Astrolabe, the two princesses seated next to one another behind the viewing bench, which was actually being used as an impromptu table. Several bottles and empty plates were scattered across it, most devoid of anything but crumbs, though one or two still held a few remnants of the meal. Above them, the great brass dome was opened to the night sky, only just beginning to fill with stars as the sun receded beyond the horizon.

They had watched the transit of Konabos together through the great telescope, though it was the wrong season to have been able to see the planet’s beautiful rainbow tail. As it was, they could only make out the faintest colour in the dusty wake of the tiny world, but it had been enough to steer their conversation to the pony who had owned that name.

Twilight had been expecting to have to comfort a tearful Celestia, or to have to gently coax the story from her, but what she had gotten was something else entirely. There weren’t tearful stories of a lost pony, or heartbreaking remembrances of a family vanished into the swirling snows: Konabos was a wild and carefree young colt who loved few things more than raising merry hell with the palace guard. He had lost much in his young life, had gone through a terrible time, but in the warmth and safety of the castle he had found a new family.

Celestia wiped the back of a hoof across one eye, sweeping away a tear between barely contained girlish giggles. “Ohhh, you have no idea just how insulted the Grand Duke was. He was this big, puffed-up oaf with the kind of moustache you could lose a rat in; incredibly prim and proper for someone who looked like a walrus. He tried to tell Kona off and get him to sit in his seat,” Celestia cleared her throat and tried on a rumbling basso voice that didn’t fit her in the least, “‘Like a proper young stallion, wot!’. Konabos just looks at him, and bounces this breadroll off his forehead.”

“Speaking as a pony who had met with someone very similar during the last round of trade envoys, I can understand the sentiment,” Twilight tittered, exploring the possibility of tea from the pot that had been brought in a few moments ago.

“So did I. You have no idea just how many breadrolls I would have been hurling if I had the chance, but it probably would been frowned upon.”

“Was Kona allowed back to those big suppers?” Twilight poured out a second cup of smoky-smelling lapsang tea and set it before Celestia before trying a sip from her own.

“Allowed? Twilight, I practically had to bribe him to attend every one. I might not be able to get away with doing all the foalish things I want to, but a colt of nine years? His name might as well have been Carte Blanche,” here Celestia grinned, sly as a fox, “And I may or may not have guided him in just which dignitaries to target.”

“You’re awful!” Twilight laughed, “Corrupting young minds!”

Celestia tried on a dignified and regal air, which suited her extremely well, though the effect was lessened by the crumbs on her chin and the fleck of cherry pie filling on one cheek. “I will have you know I gently guided a young colt into a perfect understanding of the political process...” The grin came back, “And how to apply it in a direct fashion. Anyways; if Grand Duke Farsi didn’t want to have to comb breadcrumbs out of his mane, he should have thought his comment through before opening his mouth.”

The tea was good; all smoky oak flavours, tasting the way a campfire smells, settling as a pool of warmth in Twilight’s stomach and sending tendrils through the rest of her body. “You know... That kind of sounds familiar, Celestia.”

“Mmn?” The princess tried to look innocent. It also fit her incredibly well, yet that perfection just made her look all the more suspicious.

“Inviting a bunch of ponies to the Grand Galloping Gala, four of whom had never had any kind of experience in such company?”

“Oh my, truly?”


They grinned at one another over their tea. Celestia set her cup down and leaned back some where she sat, craning her neck from side to side as she stretched. “Ooh, that was some time ago. Farsi’s Duchy was amalgamated into the Prancian state not too long after that. Served the old nag right; he was a dreadful pony.”

“What was he like later on? Not Farsi, I mean Kona?”

“I’ve made him sound a bit wild and headstrong, and maybe he was, but once he got a bit older he was actually quite calm. He liked to keep busy more than anything else; his family had been farmers, and the habit of working is etched on the very bones of those ponies.”

“Applejack would certainly agree. Her little sister doesn’t even have her cutie mark yet but she insists on doing a mare’s share of the work on the farm, even if she is only just a bit bigger than a bushel.”

“Yes, that sounds about right. He dabbled in any number of things as he grew older, but it was always the earth that called to him. When he was, ooh, I think twenty or so, he had decided to be a gardener.”

Twilight blinked. “A gardener? Really? The last crystal pony in Equestria?”

Celestia chuckled softly and nodded. “Really.”

“I would have thought he could be... well. I don’t know, but it just seems like an paltry line of work for someone so special.”

“That’s just it, though. Konabos never saw himself as special, and there was nothing particularly incredible about him, Twilight: he was just a pony. The myths and legends that surround him are just stories; puffed up embellishments made for a fun tale that eventually got taken a bit too seriously. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t special to some of us, however.”

They talked until the face of the moon was peeking through the opening in the Astrolabe. There were some tears, but it was laughter and smiles that ruled the evening, and it left Twilight feeling warm inside when the need to sleep became too strong to put aside. She took her leave of Celestia with a fond hug before trotting slowly out the door and off to her bed.

Celestia herself stayed there in the Astrolabe, her eyes turning to a bright white gem set into one of the slender but long brass rings that slowly moved with the pattern of the planets in the sky. This was the swiftest of them, always chasing the ring that held a familiar image of the sun, never venturing far from it.

Quiet whispers in her mind’s ear, distant and vague. A smiling face and green eyes, green eyes that themselves glittered with life and smiles, emerging from the mists.

What of the roses?

They are beautiful, Kona, though they never seem to last long.

What really does? Carved from stone they could last forever, but they would never be so soft nor smell so sweet, mother.

Celestia smiled quietly at that memory. “You were a wise one in your old age, colt...”

Twilight settled in her bed, drawing the warm covers up to her chin and nesting her cheek to her pillows with a contented sigh. The room was dark and quiet; the only sound the pony’s own breathing and the whisper of cloth against her body as she made herself comfortable. Her body was relaxed, but Twilight found her mind awhirl with new questions. She had learned so much, but with that knowledge came ever more questions...

Starswirl and Sombra, the nature of crystal magic, the origin of the Elements of Harmony... New worlds were opening for her to explore, but some of them held a frightening aspect that she wasn’t sure she could face.

Her mind turned to her evening with Celestia, to the warmth and laughter in her mentor’s voice as she recounted tale after tale of one singular pony that had meant so much to her...

Luna’s voice echoed in Twilight’s thoughts as she felt herself drifting off, and the words made her smile.

”He lived, Twilight Sparkle. For some sixty years he lived here in this castle, and he was loved all his days.”


Author's Note:

It's not perfect. Nope. I've said this before though, so do I really need to tell you that I barely edit or review these before posting?

Well, I just did, so nyeh. :rainbowwild:

It is what it is, and I hope it is satisfactory. Trust me when I say it could have been far worse; the original concept I had for Kona was so Gary Stu Pity Party it wasn't funny. No, really: he was going to be a crystal pegasus, a young colt, the first to ever perform a sonic rainboom, which he does after fleeing the fallen crystal empire. It would have happened at night when he saw the lights of Canterlot, thus having everyone notice him, and then he was going to have been somehow poisoned by Sombra's magic so he would die young and make Celly cry and yatta yatta yatta.

It was awful. I much prefer the route I went for here, even if it does make it a bit less eventful... or boring. Maybe boring.

Ah well. They can't all be winners.

Look on the bright side, though; the guards are coming back! Huzzah!

Also, that image up there, Konabos' cutie mark? That was done for me by the immensely talented KitsuneRisu. You should read his fics; he is also a stellar writer.