• 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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05 One Hoof In Front Of The Other

05

Fluttershy hesitantly gave chase to the limping creature as it stepped out to the courtyard to feel the burning warmth finally engulf it. She wanted to stay and help but was wracked with dread imagining this thing lumbering through the Canterlot kingdom. It somehow was her responsibly now. She grabbed a bandage from a passing medical aid and followed the droplets that pointed the way. As the golden shade washed over it failed to stop and savour the sunlight, only pushing onwards. Treading over the fallen ponies and scrap it stopped over a pink one amongst the many littered forms. As Fluttershy pushed through the fray and scrambling trying not to be in the way a chorus of wailing sounded all around her. To her relief it did not appear anypony had been permanently harmed many lay whimpering, crying, complaining, cursing but as the forms regained their senses she could not see one without a pony to help it. The screams and moans echoing out into the dawn were a beautiful symphony compared to that of total silence.

The creature kneeled down over the pink pony, adorned with a piece of rubble over it. From the mark she could see it was Princess Cadence, Twilight’s sister in law. It appeared she had been hit hard and was now trapped underneath, her hoof reaching out to the creature as its claws hovered over her. Fluttershy wanted to race over and yell out as a claw rested on the neck and she saw its teeth bare as its head pulled sharply back as though looking to the sky. Fluttershy was confused as some scattered aids came along side it and with a collective groan it was clear what was happening. They hoisted a large piece of the door off the trapped princess, only now could Fluttershy see the size of it. As those around scrambled to recover her the creature held on, all its weight on one leg letting the other hang loosely above the ground. Next to it the ponies that held the frame up were seemingly larger, all standing on hind legs to lift the odd shape clear.

It appeared Princess Cadence could not be moved, one of the aids holding her head and feeling the neck. They looked to the creature in shock as it pushed the frame higher up and stepped over to pivot the piece to harmlessly fall on the other side. As they palpated and treated the princess the creature neatly slipped out and away, scanning the wreckage as it staggered past. A pony attempted to bandage the claw but he was quickly turned to another pony with a gash across her foreleg. It took advantage of its ambiguity to ease out of the courtyard, lost form focus.

Fluttershy had a funny thought, the ponies were not afraid of this odd looking thing. Despite the sinister appearance nopony recoiled in shock or fear. A few whispers were uttered as it passed but they left it alone to wonder out in peace.

She galloped after it still with the wrapped bandage packet in her mouth. She had little experience with treating ponies but she assumed it would be no different than looking after a bear, only less straightforward. It was moving very fast despite the limp, the distance between them only closed as it entered the main street of Canterlot.

“Wait please,” she called nearly dropping the pack. It did not halt, but quickened its pace. Fluttershy was now standing behind it but had to push herself to close the distance. “You need help.” She was met with cold silence. It continued to stagger, past the burned homes and smashed stalls, desperately trying to hold itself from collapsing as it used all manner of wall or post for extra balance. “Please let me look, I can help you.” She was becoming distressed, the creatures movements were more erratic with each heavy step, rocking side to side staggering down the stairs of the marketplace. Its breathing was becoming deeper and faster, occasionally spluttering for the spittle to catch the sunlight as it fell to the road.

The large open space of the main square offered little to hold itself on and as it pushed on the head bobbed up and down in exaggerated motions to keep weight off the leg. There were no guards at their normal posts. Instead she could see their golden armour glinting in the distance as they soared over and around the city aiding the ponies who had been caught in the fray. She was relieved there was no more fighting, all the golems had perished in the castle. It hit her then, all the golems had perished. It took a while to see it but the creature had single handedly turned the entire battle to their favour. She shuddered then thinking about it, there must have been at least a dozen or more golems in total. Their size had made it seem like more but she was not preoccupied at the time with counting. She wondered where the changelings were now. That black mist pouring out of each new pile as it ripped through. Focus Fluttershy. Despite the complacency of her body she still stayed behind it trying to think of a way to help the creature.

Fluttershy was afraid and she could not understand why, all was safe and the creature was leaving. She questioned if her fears were for the creature or for what it may do to anypony who got in its way. It grabbed a bottle from a merchant stall as it left the square and drank deeply from it tossing the empty shell to the Floor. Fluttershy picked it up and pushed it into a nearby trash can, feeling silly as she saw the wreckage lying about her hooves.

The residents remained in their homes, still terrified of the battle and the new figure lumbering past. Fluttershy found herself growing angry at this creatures stubbornness, she darted in front of it and stamped her hooves firmly, staring intensely at it with her secret weapon. The stare of Fluttershy was known amongst the citizens of her hometown, Ponyville. She did not know where it came from or why it worked but it had the power to halt a frenzied manticore instantly, her greatest accomplishment reducing a fully grown dragon to tears. She was secretly relieved though as it halted, placing a claw on a window sill to hold its weight off the damaged leg. She took the sterilised packet in her hooves, as if to offer it to the beast. “You need help. Let me help you.”

The creature looked at the ground and its knuckles, it grabbed a fallen banner from the jubilation, a small streamer with the words Princess and Welcome boldly drawn across. It proceeded to wrap the decoration expertly around its open claw, Fluttershy saw in the light the full extent of the injury. She was normally good with blood, but there was a lot of it running down the arm and dripping off the elbow. Both claws were split around the knuckles, skin lifting up and exposing the red of the torn layers under the light coat of hair. The elbow too was beginning to swell, she could see it pummelling the golem that had choked Rarity. The creature winced with the final tightening of the makeshift bandage. She only knew then how hard it had fought for its freedom. The eyes peered to her again, it did not seem her stare was working as she had hoped, and as it stared back she was forced to look away feeling those eyes pierce her. Its head lowered to hers, the arm being used as extra support. This close she could smell rusted metal from its dried blood, the sweat as it dripped off and the raw earth upturned under her hooves. A powerful odour came from the creatures mouth as it spoke, rancid and hot on her face, gently caressing it with its potent aroma.

“You have no need to.” Its words were confusing. She remained string at the floor, no longer able to look upon its stained face. “Your friends... and monarch are in need of you. Go to them. Forget me.” It spoke with clarity, the words chosen carefully to cause it less pain as it forced them through the bruising face.

“I-”

“Look around!” it barked though gritted teeth forcing her back with the shock, “I could not have done this. Learn whom you must fear and chain. Burden me no longer with your weakness. Go!”

It was staggeringly obvious this creature was far too stubborn to return. She did not look about her, nervously remaining focused on the visage she was confronted with. It was still the same as in the cell, seething with anger and tense in agony. Her silence urged it to speak further, “I cannot be near the Celestia one again, my strength will fail and I will succumb to my baser lust for revenge.” Only a blank blinking face met the comment, “If you had not been the one to grant my freedom, this would have had a different end.” She now understood. Trying to empathise with it, she could understand what it spoke of. After being imprisoned for who knows how long and subjected to sit in its own filth and squalor whilst enduring such hardship, the reason for it lay right under its claws not long ago. Princess Celestia, its captor, was directly under the digits, helpless and vulnerable. She was completely at its mercy as they hovered over her beating veins.

Fluttershy felt ill thinking about it, the Princess coming so close to loosing her life. She did not fully know if it was possible to take her life but the creature had been in a position to find out. It must have taken everything it had to step over her and place its trust in Fluttershy’s promise. The creature managed to stagger past her and continue on, leaving the bandage behind she followed more cautiously.

The chirping birds sounded their sweet melodies in the dawn over the carnage that once was a street of houses. As her eyes wondered after the limping beast she could only see how much damage Queen Chrysalis’ Army had done. To her relief there were no ponies amongst the rubble, most likely all still sleeping when the attack happened. There were upturned carts now flattened, entire buildings and corners ripped apart. The sounds of fire safety and law enforcement rang out over the screaming and weeping. Fluttershy had seen such sadness in her life but today was exceptional. She wanted to stop and help where she could but everypony she could see was digging through rubble and safely evacuating the wounded. Most of them had minor cuts and scrapes and as she looked around she became more terrified she would see a figure with a blanket over its head. Such a sight never came to her relief.

She could see the ponies around her now taking an interest in the creature, nudging those close to point out the oddity lumbering through. As the whispers grew and the eyes hardened Fluttershy quickly realised what was happening. The injured monster on two legs limping out of the city, covered in wounds and very clearly trying to flee. It looked incriminating. As a group of younger stallions took up improvised weapons while eyeing it an easy feeling came to her. This time she could do something, she was there right now and had to do anything to stop this.

A sharp cry took her attention and she saw the creature had fallen to its bad knee, staggering to get up again while holding its arm high to shield against stones being thrown at it. She darted to its side and to her relief the pelting stopped. Some more young stallions responsible for the idea. As she glared at them they took flight upon recognising her from the element on her head. Colts.

She looked behind her with alarm seeing the mass that gathered. They had gathered surprisingly fast, each brandishing their own tools. She turned to them, speaking to crowds was difficult, especially with all those eyes peering at her. Seeing the creature trying to force itself up gave her the strength to face them. There was somepony who needed her right now. As it looked away from her she cleared her throat and forced a smile to speak out to the crowd, “Hello everypony, is there a problem?”

A chestnut stallion stepped forwards carrying a large hammer, his size significantly trumped that of the creatures. Then again, he was exceptionally large for any pony, and so muscular... Focus Fluttershy! As he approached he brandished the weapon on his shoulder. It was not meant for combat, more demolition or smithing, she was not versed enough to know the difference.

“That’s one of those problems. We can solve it now!” The restless crowd cheered. Fluttershy had seen how drastic ponies would behave when in a large group and she was afraid for her safety and that of the creatures.

“Oh my no! This one helped us!”

“We are not blind, it walks on two legs and has claws like the others.”

“It is true they look similar, but this is not one of those monsters. I promise you.” She was forced to back up as the group drew closer. She could see the hungry look in the large stallions eye.

“Now there’s no need to be like that sir. I promise you it’s alright. Trust me.”

A mare on the side spoke out “Wait! You’re Fluttershy? The element of kindness?”

“Umm...yes,” she replied shyly. A whisper rippled over the group. The mare spoke again.

“What is that thing?”

“A friend.” she saw the large stallions eyes widen, “We would not have defeated the queen without it.”

“Defeated?” another pony called out, it was clear word had not yet spread.

“Thats right. The queen is gone and so is her army.”

A cheer resounded out but quickly returned to silence as the creature painfully pushed itself back up and tried to force itself around. The mass looked confused now as to their next action. The large stallion was still gripping the hammer grimacing at the monster now turned to face them. Fluttershy had a feeling she recognised this stallion but had to ignore the suspicion now.

Her attention went to a kindly looking earth pony who stepped forward and came closer to the creature. Fluttershy grew more nervous and approached it with her. She did not know the mare but she could see her youth and the concern on her face. As the distance closed the creature rose higher forcing her to stop as those eyes settled on the nervous pony. The face was in agony, that knee was trembling complacently as the weight bore down on it. The torn garments it wore draped over it but she could still see the swelling in the lower leg. The mare looked to Fluttershy for a cue and they both put one hoof before the other.

A deep growl resounded, deep enough to feel it in them. The agony had faded as an intense anger replaced it. Fluttershy expected resistance but now she had a chance to help the creature. She could finally end this nonsense. Mustering up her sweetest voice she tried to picture a large and grumpy rabbit in its place, “Its alright. You’re not so bad are you? Just stay calm. Thats it-”

“Miss Fluttershy. I tell you this for your own good. Come any closer and I will tear the pelt from your body while you still live. Don’t think it can’t be done.”

It was the way it spoke calmly than made her blood run cold. Such a violent thought did not help its case to the crowd. She could not understand how foolish it was being, lacking the tact and the eloquence it once had. Its voice was dazed and weakened but hose eyes did not falter. They told the story of what would happen if they approached. Her mind began playing the gruesome images and she felt lines being drawn on her, as to where the monster would most likely cut. It was disgusting to think about and she cursed her perfect imagination. Then she remembered this creature burying its head. Showing such vulnerability to her as a frightened filly, She could feel its warmth on her chest and the thick skull under her forelegs as it breathed on her belly. She smiled and its foreboding eyes grew wider in alarm as her fear faded. The mare next to her spoke.

“Don’t be stupid, where are you going to go?”

“Far enough.”

“Look, it’s clear you need help. I am a medical student, a doctor in training at GPUC, we can help you.”

“The statement stands, leave me be.” The gash on its cheek began running a fresh droplet to trace around the mouth but was not licked away only to fall on the garments below it. Upon consideration, Fluttershy could not blame it for being this way. Shining armour had made it clear after all what they were planning. Even though the creature stepped away from Celestia and Twilight he still held the line, ready to charge. He spoke from anger over his sisters suffering and she understood that, but the creature clearly did not, and was unwilling to risk the captains wrath.

The mare stepped closer despite the danger and Fluttershy felt relieved she did not have to approach. The creature flexed its muscles and bore its teeth clumsily stepping backwards trying to avoid limping.

“Its alright fella. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She darted back as the creature swung to her. “I will hurt you.” The gentle voice was frightening, the creature spoke with pleasure.

There were a few ponies gathering behind it now, seeing this it started to stumble on biting though its pain. The few ponies lost their nerve and quickly retreated to allow it to limp through, each step growling intensely. The mare that tried to help it sat where she stood holding her hoof to her cheek. Fluttershy took it to see what was wrong, to her relief it seemed like shock and nothing else. She smiled in gratitude and nodded, turning to give chase to the brute. This encounter only clarified one thing; the creature was not going back and would do anything to get away.

After what this thing had done to Twilight, and for Twilight, Fluttershy had mixed feelings. She knew it was wrong, but she knew it was right to worry about what was going to happen to this monster. Almost a kilometre later of limping she saw the ponies around gathering their own tools again. This would be a constant as long as it was insisting on this foolishness. There was something she could do, it was not smart but at this point intelligence was not going to sway the stubborn creature, lacking any of its own. Her pace increased and she drew close to it. Almost on cue it turned its head to her and brandished those teeth again. Speaking softly while smiling.

“You are not thinking. Leave me be!”

“No.” she was shocked by her own assertiveness.

“I will tear you apart!”

“No. You wont.” Its eyes widened with alarm again and she knew she was right. Coming in close now, a sadness urged her to reach out. She quickly pulled her hoof back as the claw swept out.

“I will not warn you again!”

She got angry and stomped her hoof. Almost fed up with this infantile behaviour. Her eyes followed the creatures as they darted around erratically. There were now a significant number of ponies looking at the new thing in the street, everyday ponies from Canterlot. They each brandished an improvised weapon, a sense of deja vu hitting Fluttershy. The creatures growl was deep and loud enough for her to feel it in her gullet as it shook her insides. Once again she had to stop it from fighting. What felt odd is that she saw the ponies as the oppressors now, not the monster.

She galloped forward and took the claw in her hoof nearly stumbling the creature. It turned sharply to her menacingly but it only made her hold tighter. “No.” she said firmly. The creature buckled on its good leg, trying to hold its free claw back now inches form her throat. She loosened her grip understanding she was hurting it and the claw clasped over her hoof as though to peel it off. Adjusting her balance she came closer and placed her hoof over the other claw, “Look around, they are afraid of you. Please be calm, I want to help.”

“You already have.”

“Please let me to walk by you, so they know you’re a friend. Please use me.”

The creature looked around to the ponies, seeing Fluttershy near it was enough for them to lower their weapons, some cooing mistaking her gesture for something more intimate as she looked down into the lowered face. The tension was leaving it, softening and revealing the hide under the cracked grime that was mingled in the fur. Both claws were incredibly hot to the touch, she wondered if it was her heartbeat she felt in her hooves or the throbbing of the claws themselves. “I will not return.”

“I understand.”

“Walk quickly.”

As it began to limp towards the border along the lines of destruction Fluttershy felt overwhelmingly relieved that it did not shake her hoof off. She wanted to support it in someway but it was not possible, she had taken a beating herself and was now feeling the extent of her bruises yet to show. The fact that she could feel this pain was good news to her, it meant it was finally over and the shock of the fight was subsiding.

The look it gave when she grabbed its claw was imprinted on her mind. The widened eyes and twisted brow, that must have been the last thing those golems saw before it crushed them. She didn’t want to think about it any more and squeezed tighter, quickly having the ease it because of the cracking sound. It helped her feel better, the fact that it could feel pain was enough to show it was not so immune. A little voice in the back of her mind kept telling her to leave it to the crowds, abandon her attempt and watch it fall under the tide of the Canterlot citizens. Maybe it was the shock of the battle and the fumes around her, but she did not see a monster limping there anymore. She did not want to cause it anymore pain.

*

The walk along Canterlot was strange, she began wishing it was not such a large place. The destruction drew a clear line out of the city and as they approached the main gate it became apparent why it had chosen to follow that path. The guards were now gone, moved away to a hospital she hoped or busy. The once mighty barricade now lay splintered and open, it looked abandoned. The defence had been moved to the inner walls, the fallback in case the outer ones fell. As they passed under the shattered arches and into the shadows that they cast she was relieved to have cleared the kingdom. Before her now was countryside and the Everfree Forest. A mass of trees untamed by anypony, stretching out far and wide into the expanse of Equestria. It touched many towns along its way, including her home of Ponyville. It was a place housing countless mysteries and monsters, giving birth to legends told at gatherings to entertain and thrill foals. She had only ever been in the border, a few kilometres deep in the forest. It stretched on for such a great distance she dared not go further in after her last time; securing the elements of harmony with her friends.

Seeing the creature looking relieved as its gaze glided over the tree line she was compelled to ask, “This is your home?”

“No.”

The creature loosened its grip and stepped forward but she held on and pulled back causing it to grunt in pain. Focus Fluttershy!

“Sorry sorry sorry.”

“You can release now.” She wanted to but was unable to. The claw loosened further and tried to slide away but eased its tension as the sharp pain returned. The warmth from it had caused her hoof to sweat and soak in the streamer, mingling with its blood in the enclosed palm. In the shade here its features were less sinister, the sun no longer emphasised the bizarre complexion and odd contours.

“Release me.” It voice had hardened again.

“I...” she did not know what to say. All this fear and pain would go if she would open her hoof and let it wander away. Almost certainly for the last time. As the birds sounded in the distance she looked to the claw her hoof was squeezing, mildly startled by the darkened trails that had crawled over her hoof to stain her coat.

She felt the other claw rest on her shoulder, now a familiar feeling, and looked to the sunken eyes.

“Miss Fluttershy... you love your friends don’t you?”

“What? ...Of course I do.”

“Then go to them and stop wasting my time.”

“Why are you so angry?”

“It would be better if I was happy?”

“Yes...but you’re not,” she admitted. The smile it gave her was both condescending and sarcastic with a raised brow and wide eyes, “So you’re just going to go out there like this?”

“Yes.”

“And you will not let me treat you, even here where nopony else is around?”

“Correct.”

“And there is nothing else you can say.”

“Incorrect. There is something I should say,” she shifted nervously tensing her muscles to prepare for more cruel words, “You have granted me my freedom. You can do nothing else now aside forgetting I was here. Leave me in peace, that is all I ask.”

“You can’t survive out there alone.”

“If it is the price for freedom, it is not a high cost.” The claw closed around her hoof and shook it firmly and slow, “Thank you Miss Fluttershy. Time is up.” As it finished she turned to the sounding of hoofsteps accompanying the group of guards galloping to them, there was no sight of Shining Armour. Before she could say anything to the creature, she felt the claw slip out of her loosened grip as it took flight down the road. The distance it covered was remarkable considering its injuries the leg no longer limping complacently but bearing the weight to carry it away.

Fluttershy was overwhelmingly annoyed and she turned to stare down the guards, halting the entire party. As they compacted into each other trying to avoid colliding with the pegasus. That legendary stare once again proving itself.

“What are you doing?” she said angrily.

“P...Princesses Celestias orders M’am. The monster is to be taken to the medical ward under escort.”

“Then why the weapons?” she glared at the halberds.

“Orders M’am. Please excuse us.” They edged around and regrouped their formation in pursuit of the creature. She knew they were only acting under orders, and admired their bravery for doing so, however she did resent them for being vigilant in their task. As it disappeared into the foliage of the forest, she followed its movements watching the lumbering form grow ever more obscure by the dense greenery and shadows. Then only movements of the branches of trees overhead, then the fluttering of birds as they took flight when it passed under them. Then silence. As the chase grew further away and the guards barrelled in after it, she caught herself in the act of hoping for something strange. She hoped it could get away. Having seen what it did this morning, there was a feeling it would.

“Thank you,” she muttered under her breath and returned to the castle to aid in any way she could. Her head hung low at the thought of explaining her actions to Princess Celestia, clearly she did not want to release the creature and once word reached her about how she helped it escape Canterlot, she would undoubtably be banished.

Her heart sank as she saw the drops on the cobblestone roads, they were dark red, certainly it was blood. It may not last much longer in the forest, maybe not even the night. She stood by her decision to free it and was grateful there was still a day to be enjoyed. Her friends were still there and they owed it to one individual, this creature whom they kept chained out of fear. Fluttershy was still afraid of it, the whole experience seemed so unreal now. Those eyes though, she could see something in them. It was the same something she felt in her own heart. A feeling she had struggled with all her life. The way they shuddered, that feeling of weakness she got seeing it suspended by those chains. This creature was just like her. Afraid.

*

Spike was there to eagerly greet Fluttershy when she returned. Seeing the little dragon so concerned she had to reach out and squeeze him. He groaned complacently but did not struggle, a sign he enjoyed it or needed it. He had been ordered to stay behind by Twilight and help out. Although he was not strong enough to lift rubble or carry ponies away, his observant eyes did not miss anything in the debris. Even recovering a small jewel for one of the wonderbolts that had fallen loose in the fray. His stomach growled complacently but he was too stressed to eat anyway.

The fight had been long and arduous, he had felt so helpless watching his friends pinned before him. It was a constant fear he had, his inadequacy in the physical. He had always received comments from the colts and stallions mocking his size, although he was always the centre of attention with the mares and they hated him for it. Never had he felt those unkind words like he did today. He wanted to be there for them but he had seen that was not enough now.

Princess Celestia still being able to raise the sun was an amazing sight, she had such determination despite her injuries and fatigue. With that final burst of light she had risen her army and brought light to the world. When Twilight was carried away in the aftermath it dampened her resolve, saddened as she looked at her student Spike could not help but wish it had been him, not that it was in his control. He had to keep his excitement to himself though as ponies around talked about what had happened. Unsurprisingly the monster was on all their lips. He thought it was the coolest thing he had ever seen. All those golems being thrown around. He knew it was a bad monster, it had hurt Twilight after all. Yet he found himself wishing he could be that tough one day.

After it had cleared away the golems attacking his friends he went to Rarities side with Pinkie Pie while Fluttershy ran onto the gaping doors. That was the hardest part for him. He was sure the mare he loved didn’t see it but he was crying trying to help her, wriggling in the golems grasp as she was thrown about. He had such anger and hatred building up that when the monster charged in and battered it to the ground he felt nothing but happiness seeing the head burst into a shower of glinting black dust.

He had stayed by Rarities side stroking her hoof and trying to help. She was struggling to breathe after the ordeal but Pinkie Pie knew what to do, supporting her friends neck and angling the head back she was able to open the airways and keep the neck immobilised incase it was broken. When asked about it she said she had the same injury a while ago being fired out of a cannon into a large jello mould for a stunt party. During which somepony made a mistake and switched the regular water for an industrial odourless resin making it harder than concrete. The imagery was funny at the time, he could always count on Pinkie to make them feel better.

When the monster staggered through the meditation doors Spike ran past to twilights side, the beast easing to the side to give him room. It was there he received his orders while eagerly running alongside her makeshift stretcher, one of the guards shields. He was to stick with the others and help organise the relief effort. Making a promise to Twilight he would while seeing the princess being carried away was more than he could bear, only seeing his weakness. When Rarity stood up again with the aid of Pinkie his spirits soared and he made his way to her, his relief drowning his upset.

Returning to the castle Fluttershy threw herself into helping anypony that she could. Princess Luna was in command and doing a proficient job of organising the shattered line. The soldiers that chased Chrysalis did not succeed in capturing her, claiming she had vanished shortly after taking flight. This was a concern now that the changeling queen had taken form amongst them. With Princess Cadence less than able to rebuild her spell there was no choice but to carry on and wait.

Shining Armour was organising platoons to patrol the walls and watch out for any signs of attack. When he learned about what happened to his wife, Princess Cadence, he quickly appointed a nearby elite legionnaire to act in his place and rushed to her side.

Fluttershy was trying to find a job for her to do as a blur of ponies rushed all around. It was difficult trying to figure out where to go but there was somepony missing and she remembered she hand’t seen him in the battle either. She looked for a soldier that wasn’t preoccupied and spied a stallion adorning a dented helm and carrying a bent shield. He was standing guard at the entrance observantly. She walked up to him, the intimidating poise less effective with the the odd shapes of the helmet.

“Excuse me Sir Knight. Would you happen to know where I might find my friend Discord, the Draconequus?”

“We haven’t seen him M’am. He went to the city during the first attack. The last we heard he was heading the rescue operation there.”

A quick realisation came to her, that stallion was Discord, after all their time together she somehow knew when it was him. She had to question why he was rallying the ponies to attack, he knew how dangerous this creature was and yet he was going to throw them at it despite... He was trying to protect her without revealing himself. She did not know whether to be angry or happy thinking about the stupid, yet sweet, gesture.

She thanked the guard to look into the room at a tired Applejack heading towards her. They met and hugged, both happy to see the other well. It was long and tight, betraying her upset. Applejack however was always able to remain calm, casually shrugging off the conflict.

“How’s Rarity?”

“She is most fine albeit in need of a serious spa day. I will thank you never to speak of it again.” The unicorn with the little dragon on her back next to Fluttershy rubbed the back of her neck and Fluttershy grabbed her, quickly releasing the hug at a yelp of pain.

“Sorry sorry sorry.”

Rarity cleared her throat attempting to regain composure, “That’s quite alright. It is a good pain.” She looked around the courtyard and carnage expectantly, “Where’s your brute?”

“It left for the Everfree Forest.”

“Did it come form there?”

“No.” Panic began to rise in her, “I’m sorry gals, there was no other way, those things were nearly in and it wouldn’t listen. I had to let it go.”

“Whoa whoa darling, relax. You did good.” That friendly smile helped relieve the guilt she had, “Hang on...what do you mean ‘let it go’?”

“I said it was free if it would help us. As you saw it did, so it is.”

“So that ghastly monster is free in Equestria right now?”

“Kind of.”

“It could barely stand, it just ran off like that?”

“Kind of.”

Princess Luna walked up an they bowed to the princess. She managed to carry herself well despite the sling, still as intimidating as true royalty always was. “Fluttershy. The question is if it will return.”

“No. It told me to forget about it and leave it in peace.”

“And you are sure we can safely assume it does not pose a threat to the ponies of Equestria?”

“I don’t think it wants to come back.” Luna looked to the still intact windows decorating the room, the beautiful cascade of colours pouring through with the sunlight. She hated staying up late but felt happy knowing she could now rest since the monster was gone. Celestias orders to her guards were strange, they were firm and cruel. Despite Lunas protests she had commanded they find it and detain it, her bitterness slipping through. Luna had to take her aside and explain the monster was responsible for their victory. Her sister however did not retract the orders, no further comment to give on the subject. She was escorted by her guard to the medical wing of the palace leaving Luna in charge. Although her foreleg hurt the princess saw her duties, and Celestias, through.

“Princess?” A hoof on her shoulder brought her back to the present.

“I am fine thank you Rarity.” The hoof slid off leaving Luna feeling awkward at being touched.

“Is there something wrong?” Fluttershy said

“I am sorry, my mind must have been elsewhere.”

“It’s alright. I said I am sorry for giving it freedom. That was not my place.”

“You acted with the forethought and compassion we all expected. Your decision shall be honoured, well done Fluttershy.”

She felt her cheeks becoming hotter, “You mean you’ll leave it alone out there?”

“It was the promise you made. We shall respect it considering it fulfilled its end of the bargain so...”, with all the destruction around she could only think of one adjective, “Completely. Well done indeed.” Luna went to oversee the rest of her duties. She hated not being able to sleep, ordering quick cappuccino to fix her fatigue. Staring out and issuing orders to the group she was plagued with thoughts over the monster. As disappointed as she was when Celestias soldiers returned empty handed she could not help but feel relieved. Relieved that she did not have to deal with it any further, and that she could rest sooner knowing it would no longer be a problem. Although she did have a passing idea, not a wise one yet maybe it was worth trying. At any rate it would come later, for now there was a kingdom to rebuild.

Author's Note:

END OF ACT I