• Published 10th Apr 2013
  • 1,724 Views, 174 Comments

Libera Mé - EZTP



Set just after the events of season 3, Twilight Sparkle and her friends must rise to a challenging beast the likes of which will test her not only as an alicorn, but as the Princess of Friendship.

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00. Prologue

Waking light brings pain. Pain deprives myself the illusion of a dream. A dream filled with these strange creatures and their biting shackles. Enjoy your bite, it will not last. Soon I will be free. Libera me.

*

The sun rose high above Equestria, bringing the morning. Much had changed on the previous evening with the coronation celebration spilling well into the late hours of the night and every pony from Manehattan to Fillydelphia rejoicing their new princess; Twilight Sparkle. However not all had slept in the aftermath.

The barely rested, lavender hue of Twilight Sparkle stood before the entrance to Princess Celestia's council chamber. Her legs complained and her eyes were no less forgiving but this was surely to be her first duty as a princess and Twilight was eager to rise to the challenge.

A princess…

Thinking it was as strange as seeing it in the reflective floor she stood on. Twilight was a princess now. Despite repeating it and hearing it an overwhelming amount of times, it failed to register. Twilight felt that there was another Twilight Sparkle somewhere that everypony else was celebrating. She was the new Princess of Friendship and she was the one with a new title.

As per Princess Celestia’s request last night, she had wanted to meet with Twilight to discuss a matter of 'grave importance' as soon as she was able. For Twilight this meant as soon as possible and seeing her mentors nervous look made her increasingly concerned with what the ‘grave’ matter was. It was spoken over spilled drinks but Celestia’s decorum when she thought on this matter was burdened.

Sleep had not been kind to Twilight, her thoughts racing with the days ahead and those now gone. Excitement and fear filled her waking moments. She was not only a princess, but an Alicorn. Such a transformation was unheard of, admittedly she missed those chapters in the Canterlot archives. It did not aid her rest to be summoned to grave matters either.

She used the word 'grave'... surely if it was that important it would have already been dealt with. Twilight could not help worrying over the nature of the matter in question. Another test to prove herself? A rite of passage all new Alicorns must take? The concepts presented themselves in an endless cascade drowning her inner calm. Regardless of what may come here she stood bright and early and ready for the new day.

She had been instructed to meet the princess alone, to her disappointment. Her closest friends were not allowed to be there. She could not help but be sad and concerned. What secrets would need to be hidden from them? The others on the other hand seemed to be grateful, mostly for the chance to sleep in that day after their antics, and Spike was his usual sleepy self. Lately the dragon had been taking more hours of rest than usual.

Still Twilight wished they were here. She laughed remembering poor spike trying to admit his crush to Rarity, how he kept falling over his words and how Rarity teased him. She did not want to hurt the little guy but letting him out grow his crush was taking a toll on her. Thankfully Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie diffused the situation with expertise and spared both friends a very awkward morning.

Admittedly, the council chambers were a strange venue to discuss grave matters. This hall and room were normally reserved for discussing treaties and negotiating disputes. It was set aside from the castle’s main wing and hastily erected to the right of the main entrance during the construction days.

Twilights eyes followed the light of the corridor to the stain glass windows. These were lovingly crafted in secret by Celestia’s skilled work mare. This whole time it seemed she knew Twilight was to ascend. There was yet to be an Alicorn window installed though. The ones here depicted excerpts of Twilight's long journey to this moment, seeing them brought fond memories and a smile. They bathed the hall in beautiful colours as the sun shone through, bringing warmth and wonder. She could not help scale how quickly things had changed in such a short time.

Fear intruded her nostalgia and she tried to push it from her as Princess Cadence instructed, breathing in deeply then an exhale to tread water on the tide of anxiety. Twilight was still overwhelmed with emotion over yesterday's coronation and her ascension into a princess alicorn. The experience brought with it great pride and joy however this fear was an unwelcome visitor. Was this now who she was? Could she stay in Ponyville or would she have to come live in the castle like Princess Cadence and Princess Luna and Princess Celestia? It always seemed that all the princesses were so buried in their duties and commitments. Would she now have those burdens to bear? Would the Princess expect her to leave Ponyville and all her friends?

Or am I just worrying for nothing? her thoughts echoed in her mind. It was more than likely she was growing weary of nothing for nothing, her unfounded fears were simply intrusions into an otherwise great moment, which was a common problem she had. Following her sister-in-law’s advice she threw out her concerns and basked in the happiness of the moment.

The doors to the chamber opened, jarring Twilight from her thoughts. The white form of Celestia stepped through them, clearly surprised to see her.

"Twilight? You do have permission to sleep," she said with an amused smile. Twilight was taken aback.

"But you told me last night you had something 'grave' to discuss tomorrow and it’s tomorrow and I wanted to be here on time because tomorrow begins when the sun comes up and since you raise the su-"

"Twilight," Celestia called breaking the young Alicorn’s runaway train of thought.

"Sorry," she grinned nervously.

"I can understand your enthusiasm but you must remain calm. I said when you are able.”

“I am able,” she enthusiastically replied trying her best to hide the fatigue.

Celestia smiled. “Then it is chance I am fresh from the morning raising.” The Alicorn princess looked over Twilight into the hallway, her smile faltering but growing when she looked on Twilight. "A great deal has happened indeed," she spoke softly, almost to herself, “I am once again so proud of you, my student.” Hearing it was wonderful, one very important relationship had not changed. “Tell me young princess. Have you tried yet?"

"Tried?" she responded quizzically.

"Your new wings? Do not forget I was once a young Alicorn myself."

"I..." Twilight looked at her new wings, she could not bring herself to admit to the princess that she forgot they were there.

"Don't worry," she said understanding. "Remember to wear a helmet." She lowered her head to Twilight in a whisper, "From one princess to another, I wish I had." Twilight chuckled, seeing her more at ease, at least a little more than before.

That burdened matter weighed on her mentor. Twilight knew Celestia long enough to see when things were troubling her. From the distant stare to the excess in tea, it was clear she had a great deal on her mind.

Celestia gestured to her and they trotted down the hallway heading to the entrance arch of the council wing. She led Twilight past the stained glass windows to one she had not noticed when entering, tucked in the corner. Normally she was always very astute at remembering new details about the castle. This one however had not stood out despite its drab appearance. It seemed unfinished and lacking.

"Is this new?" Twilight asked. It was drab with few colours and patterns. It bore a small symbol in the centre representing Princess Luna and Princess Celestia’s cutie marks.

"In a manner of speaking, it is new,” replied Celestia, "Yet it is older than all the others here." Her cryptic description did nothing to alleviate Twilight’s confused expression. Her horn glowed and the pieces of the window folded inwards on themselves to reveal a doorway. Torches sprang to life in the darkened arch to light a downward spiralling stone staircase. The contrast to the otherwise bright and joyful castle was disturbing, it looked out of place with such bare stonework and massive scale. It ran deceptively deep into the earth.

“I apologise if this is strange, but I will explain as we proceed.” Celestia’s voice was thankfully soft enough to ease Twilight’s tension but not enough to break her eyes of their futile stare to see the end of the dim lights.

A rush of air came out and Twilight was hit with a waft of damp stone and mildew. Her mind raced once more with wonder over what was going to happen, was this a secret room for only princesses? or alicorns? was she going to...

"Princess Twilight?" Celestia called gaining her attention once again.

"Yes Princess! Sorry Princess. I was..."

“Would you prefer to rest a while longer?"

"No no, please continue. I'm sorry Princess." Being called a princess brought some embarrassment to twilight and she could feel her cheeks growing hotter.

Princess, she thought, Guess i'll have to get used to that.

One of her fears was that things would change with friends, that somehow their friendship would be strained. She had a warm reception but she had noticed they were on edge around her now. It was more of a suspicion and she hoped that much like everything else, it was an unfounded fear. Despite all these fears however, Twilight felt more exhilarated than anything else. A princess title meant more responsibility and more opportunities to grow as she had done these past two years. Already, not a day into her ascension, was she already being tasked with helping her mentor.

Celestia led Twilight down the stairs, her horn providing the only useful source of light to see the worn steps. The sound of their hooves trotting down carried far, echoing on the walls seemingly without end. Celestia looked at Twilight and saw the enthusiasm on her favourite pupils face. Even now she could see her eyes darting around with awe at the large descent. Her only hope was that it stayed.

"Twilight, much has happened to you since you left for Ponyville, I have seen you flourish with every obstacle with your friends. I have seen you achieve such potential with wisdom scarce in a mare of your age.”

“Umm…it was you who helped me grow, Princess.”

“This morning, Princess Twilight, I am about to do something I have everything I can to prevent.” Twilight felt the encroaching darkness, the thick musk of the air no help. “I must seek help.”

“Help?” Twilight felt a burst of joy. “You want my help?” Twilight's attention was now firmly fixed on Celestia.

"I have brought you here because this matter cannot be postponed any longer than it already has. I have done what I can and…it pains me to say it is not enough.”

A loud brutish roar groaned up from the dark of the stairs gripping Twilight and rooting her hooves where she stood. Her eyes widened as she squinted at the dark without moving, hoping in vain to catch a glimpse or clue as to what could have made it.

"That is the matter of which I speak." Celestia lowered her tone and proceeded further into the depths. Her smile had faded and as Twilight followed she lit her own horn, hugging closer to Celestia to avoid this swallowing darkness. She wondered at the possibilities of what it could have been. It was not loud enough to be a Dragon, a Manticore?... no, it lacked the pitch...not the depth and rumble of a wolf…perhaps the timber of a harpy or-

The unmistakable sound of chains shaking and a crash of clay or ceramic sounded. Twilight froze again, her stare pleading with Celestia’s pain addled admittance. Many sounds had come and gone in the castle over the years but rattling chains in a dark underground cavern was not one Twilight had ever thought she would hear.

“Before we proceed further, my student,” Celestia could not look her in the eye, “What I have done was for the safety of all ponies. I ask you to understand-”

“I’m sorry.” Twilight shook her head and marched on, the princess resuming her pace after a moment. It was shameful to imagine such things. Whatever Twilight thought at that point, she would bury it deep and forget that it had passed no matter how fleeting.

This part of the castle was such a great contrast to the rest of the rooms, there was no light from the sun, no warmth, no windows, no fresh air. The only source of heat at all was the light that the two Alicorns cast. With each step it grew colder, Twilight began to see her breath.

They reached the bottom of the stairs and by now the overpowering smell of damp stone and mildew was less invasive. It opened up to a towering hallway too dark to see the ceiling.

A kindly looking mare wearing a stained nurses dress came to greet them with a curtsy. Her eyes were were solemn and tired, the side of her uniform soaked in what smelled like carrot soup. The visible vapours rising from her only served to remind Twilight of the cold. The roar sounded once more, much louder although still muffled. The nurse flinched hearing it. This was a dark place that filled her with dread.

"It is becoming worse Princess," she reported. "We cannot sustain the creatures thirst or hunger. It has stopped eating altogether and refuses to cooperate. It's wounded itself pulling at the restraints and grows increasingly aggressive if we try to treat."

"And what of its eyes?”

"They have regained their sight.” The nurse frowned. “It watches us as we perform our chores, very eerie… Please be careful Princess." She said. Celestia nodded and the nurse went up the stairs, no doubt to clean up.

“Restraints? Eyes? It?” Twilight inquired. Celestia remained silent and continued along the hallway, Twilight reluctantly following. She was concerned about this creature and what would possess Princess Celestia to use restraints on it. The princess had a great love for all beings in Equestria and beyond but to resort to chains was something she never thought possible.

What could she want me to do? Is this some kind of monster? Fluttershy would have been a better choice, but she would never come down here, it's way too scary for her. The scene played out with her and the others having to drag Fluttershy down the stairs fighting every step of the way. She felt exhausted just thinking about it.

"We are in a place I swore I never wanted to see again," Princess Celestia’s voice sounded sad, not the energetic sweetness Twilight always thought about her. She gestured to the walls and brightened her light to illuminate more of the hall, as well as the dungeon cells adoring it. "This is, or was, Discords prison a time ago when he ruled Equestria. He would bring those whose wills were strongest down here, to break them of their sanity and restore chaos.”

“Discord built this?”

“There is much about those times that is not known to this day. Sometimes forgetting the past has its merits. Had you known of his atrocities your compassion may not have been strong enough to be friend him. Discords change to good is an example of why secrets need be kept. I hope you understand.”

Twilight stared on and took in the size of the cells. They were stacked by floors and littered the cavernous walls of the hallway. “He was evil…wasn’t he?”

“When my sister and I defeated him we were more than happy to seal this place forever, for we could not move it, or remove it. The magic within is too ancient, originally made to safeguard an ancient artefact. Discord himself does not know how it came into being, he merely corrupted it to his needs at the time." Celestia paused and focused on one cell in particular. The locks and devices within were horrors to the sane mind. The bars here were unique to the others; wrapped with rusted barbs with a plaque hung above. The markings (-)3|2() were crudely scratched in. "I never wanted to see this again," she said bitterly. Twilight stood by the side of her mentor, she regretted not being able to provide comfort to her. She turned her gaze from the cell not wanting to see the other abominations inside.

"It was with great sadness we reopened it. Unfortunately, it is a resource that we could not exclude. You see my pupil, not too long before your coronation there was a creature that came to your old study in the castle."

"What did it want in there?"

"We assume it was a book, however it is less than open with information. It regrettably tore up a large amount of books trying to find what it did want."

"WHAT!" she gasped in horror, covering her mouth to hold back the shock.

"Do not worry, the damage was not permanent and we were able to fix them."

“Really?!” Twilight nearly fainted with relief.

"I know how much you love your books." Celestia smiled momentarily. "We do not know what it is or where it came from, as I said it will not tell us. It’s arrival however was shortly before I gave you Starswirl The Bearded’s old spell to fix. I believe this is no coincidence.” Celestia closed her eyes to remain composed, “It pains me to have to use the restraints, to have to do to it what Discord did when he was evil.” Twilight placed a hoof on Celestia instinctively but retracted it quickly. Celestia did not like being touched but smiled forgivingly.

“I’m sure you did everything you could to avoid this.”

“The decision was not mine, Princess Twilight. It came from a majority ruling. Please understand I tell you this because you must understand what you face. There was a patrol that found it first, the discovery was very...violent and...they are no longer fit for active duty for I fear what will be a lifetime.”

Twilight had seen the guards training around the castle. An average patrol of four guards was never more than an earshot away from each other. At any given moment there was an entire army ready to meet an intruder.

“So they are still..”

“One of the guards, Twilight…her wings are gone. We could not save them after it…with it’s bare claws.”

A silence hung in the air. The gravity of the situation began weighing on Twilight and her enthusiasm was replaced by fear. Suddenly there was gratitude for those restraints. Twilight hugged Celestia trying to ease the pain. After all her time with her mentor it was clear when she hurt.

"Do you want me to reform this creature like Discord?" she asked.

“No," Celestia said sternly, "You must not listen or believe a word it says. It will lie to you, it will play on your sympathies, it will hurt you if it gets the chance.” Celestia tapped her student’s shoulder and they parted. “I have exhausted my resources trying to understand it.”

“But…if you could not-”

"You have done amazing things, Twilight. In all my time I have never seen a creature like this one." Her voice had become heavy. “It is very dangerous.”

A contemptuous low laugh rumbled from behind a large door at the end of the hallway. There were two of Princess Luna’s batpony guard posted either side of it. The four of them wore an armour she had only read about; the guardian soldiers. Twilight was in awe seeing them; towering examples of magical augmentation, they were said to wield a vast array of imbued weaponry and armour. Not a trace of pony could be seen under the gleaming metal that hummed lowly.

"Even now it listens to us."

“It can understand us?”

“Understand and communicate, its vocabulary is surprisingly…graphic. When the first patrol uh, fell, Princess Luna tried to intervene and discovered her magic did not affect the creature,” Twilight's jaw dropped in shock, “Hence our problem.”

"It's immune to magic?!" she exclaimed, "...but nothing is immune!"

"You are right, Princess. We have discovered our magic has different effects on it. Our healing spells do not work, our offensive magic makes it stronger, our defensive magic is weakened by its touch. While it seems it can feel the spells, it does not react conventionally to them. Princess Luna tried to use her most powerful magic to defend us, it was seemingly unaffected.” Celestia winced as another shake of the chains echoed out. “These past few months have been terrible. Trial an error do not favour our exploration and understanding this beast is proving to be a heavy burden. I am exhausting my options.”

Twilight did not need persuading. “I will gladly help, Princess.”

“I have not learned a great deal but from what I saw its hide does not resist physical attacks. It is deceptively fast and strong for such a small size. It is above all else, very deceptive.” Twilight was shocked to see Princess Celestia's expression. It was the first time she saw that expression. It looked familiar to her, almost as if she was traumatised. “Eventually after myself and Luna cast the same spell we once used on Discord, it fell. The disturbing part is that it simply collapsed, as if it were tired. Not a stone body but exhaustion.” She frowned. “There is a great deal of rage, or pain. I cannot tell.”

Celestia studied her student’s face. Twilight’s fear and nerves were getting worse. She could see this by the sweat beginning to form on her solemn face. She forced a smile, feeling guilty for trying to unburden her pain on such a young Alicorn. The princess returned to her lighter tone.

“Understand, Princess Twilight Sparkle, I make this known to you because you must apprehend what I ask."

"Princess..." Twilight began.

"You have proven yourself able to create new magic, and for this I have need of you, now more than ever. Find a way to help it or stop it."

"I really think somepony else would be better qualified to try..."

"We have all tried,” Celestia said with dismay. "Ever since its arrival we have all been holding it around the clock, taking shifts to keep the restraints strong. Whatever damage it can inflict on the bearings can be repaired. We tried countless spells, reasoning, compassion, and kindness only to be met with resistance. Discord was without success, his methods enraged it nearly to the point of madness. Your brother and sister, Shining Armor and Princess Cadence, were too met with the same. The power of their love, much like all other magic we tried, failed." Celestia paused a moment hesitating to continue, "Their attempts left Princess Cadence weakened, but she still rallied herself to attend your coronation."

Twilight felt guilt for not aiding when she could have. ”I didn't know…"

"Nor were you meant to,” Celestia assured her, “She wanted to see her sister become a princess and nothing we could say would stop her. She is resting now. Princess Luna has taken her shift.”

"Princess... Why tell me now?"

"As I said, the problem is becoming grave since Princess Cadence is no longer able to help and we are stretched so thin. Despite all our efforts, we are forced to admit this is not a long term solution. The restraints are failing as it gets stronger. It has such inner strength, I fear it will soon break free and we will not be able to stop it again."

"But you said you stopped it once already."

"It was exhausted before the battle with Princess Luna, by the time I stepped in it was barely standing, barely coherent. It looked mad. Then it awoke and attempted to deceive us.” One of the guardians shifted and Celestia’s ears fixed to the door for a moment. They drooped back with her thoughts. “It plays on my sympathies, I cannot allow it to starve or thirst. It rejects our food as of late and I fear the worst. If this creature is truly evil I need to understand what it is. The first encounter was fortunate, I do not wish there to be another."

Twilight looked at Celestia in disbelief. "Princess, if you cannot stop it, what makes you think I can?"

"Your skills in creating new magic. You have learned much and have done amazing things, Princess, even turning Discord himself to good. You can do this. Speak with it and understand what you are up against. Bring the elements of harmony with you when they are ready. Find a way to stop it before it is too late.” Celestia looked to the floor. “If we cannot do this, then there is no choice but to allow the beast to extinguish itself.”

Twilight reflected for a moment, she was not afraid of the creature or what it could do, she felt safe with Princess Luna and Princess Celestia with her. She was afraid because she could see her mentor was afraid. "I will try Princess Celestia."

"That is all I ask,” she smiled. "My sister, Princess Luna, and your brother will be close by should you need them. I will send the entire guard if it be required."

"Your coming in with me right?" Twilight asked nervously. A deep growl sounded from behind the door. She could feel it coil through that door, grip about and twist her stomach.

"I cannot,” she sighed. “If I enter the room it immediately starts to frenzy. I do not want it to hurt itself anymore.”

"But you will be here, right? Please tell me you'll be here!"

Celestia smiled, "I will wait right here,” She tapped her hoof for emphasis, “should you need me, Princess Twilight." She looked at the door and back to Celestia. With a deep breath she raised her hoof to her chest and breathed out as Cadence taught her.

"I will try,” she repeated. Turning to the door she was still in awe at the magic infused in it, the symbols and artifacts that decorated the wooden arch were powerful magic, magic she had only read about. The Binding Stone of the Ox, The Amulet of Imbalance, The Beastly Burdensome jewel, it was magic thought long gone. The room would be imbued with the same power, much like to chamber that held the Elements Of Harmony. Only a few who knew the magic could enter or leave without feeling their effects. An unwitting pony would be pulled to the ground with limbs heavier than lead.

The guard before the door stood proud and tall above her with their midnight blue and black armour shining from her horns light. The elite guard of Princess Luna were infamous for their vigilance and strength. They had definitely been imbued with powerful magic, the aura was unmistakable from this distance.

They both lit their horns and the door opened to the inside. The sheer thickness of it was emphasised by the large hinges that groaned under the strain of bearing its weight. Twilight tried to imagine what pony or creature this was originally made for, it must have been a mighty beast in ancient times.

She could see Princess Luna and Shining Armour under the glow of their magic enforcing two chains that flowed to meet in the centre of the room to a figure obscured by the dark. She could feel its eyes set upon her, the tension around Luna and her brother as she stood before the now open door. Another low growl came from it and she hesitated for a moment to step in. A deep exhalation sounded from the figure, its breath passed through the glow of the light and creeped towards her before dissipating in the air.

I just hope the Princess put her trust in the right pony.

Author's Note:

Dear reader,
Thank you for choosing my piece of fiction for your pleasure. I thought I would use this opportunity to clarify a few pieces of substrate that may end up being a nuisance in the future.
I am entirely basing the fiction off the series and not the comics, discussions, forums, fictions, or other branches.
While I have tried to be as loyal as possible to the characters, it is perfectly plausible that I have made mistakes. I not only encourage criticisms of any nature, higher and lower denominations, but I ask for it. If you think I have poorly portrayed any character in the series, I would be grateful for the warning where, if your argument is sound, I would eagerly edit and refine the work.
To keep my grammar correct I am giving away 10 E points for any errors you find and help me correct. These can be exchanged for commissions. I use British English though so be careful with those spell checks.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
-2135D