The Price of Harmony

by Priceless911

First published

While Star Bolt tries to forget his life of sin. An ancient evil sits and waits for the day that its prison will weaken so it can break free and finish its goal that was started 2000 years ago. The extinction of the alicorn race.

1002 years ago, Nightmare Moon and Commander Bolt lead Equestria into a year long war which ravaged the lands and spread nothing but fear and pain to the ponies of Equestria. now, Princess Luna has returned to her life of leisure and peace... however her commander now lives his life with self pity and regret. With the weight of the world on his shudders, he hides his identity, ability, and past under rumors and speculation, hoping that the world will assume him dead, and leave him to live in peace. This lonely commander now finds a new home and new friend that make him forget his troubled past.
However, an ancient evil will soon return from its prison too... only this time, it wont be so peaceful for the survivors, of his last rein of death and destruction more than two millenniums ago. Now... the commander must set aside his pride and his anger for the crown. to try all he can to protect his former love... and his friends. when even the Elements of Harmony arn't enough. But what will happen to this broken heart... when his world is once again torn apart, from death and destruction.
(The Sequel to Tears of a Fallen Star and The Wandering Bolt)

Prologue & Ch1 The Cloaked Stallion

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The howling wind and the flowing water were the only sounds he could hear, and considering what he heard prior to falling unconscious… this sound terrified him. Slowly Star Bolt opened only one eye as the other was submerged in the gently flowing water around him. Looking around from where he laid, Star Bolt could tell that he was lying in the shallow river that flowed through the valley. With every bone in in his body aching from the catastrophe. Star Bolt rolled from his side onto his back. As he looked into the sky, he could see a small clearing in the surrounding dust, and through that clearing, he could see the orange colored sky that was supposed to be dusk… but he knew that it was closer to twelve o’clock midnight.

Seeing this only deepened his sadness, as he tried to roll over and pick himself up. As he picked himself a few inched from the mud that acted as a suction cuff on his body, he felt a sharp pain his wing that was so immense that the rest of his body became limp as he fell back to the ground, splashing into the water below him. With the softly flowing water cleaning off the mud that was on him, he rolled to his side and looked at a broken sword shard that was embedded into his left wing. Star Bolt reached up and gripped the shard, then trying to ignore the pain he started to pull on it. The increasing pain that the sword fragment made on his wing was so immense that Star Bolt started to cringe as the blade started cutting his hoof as he pulled. Finally, with one last pain-riddled tug, Star Bolt pulled the sword shard from his wing, flinging it across his body and making it land on the riverbed as he screamed in agony.

Laying on his side as he breathed deeply holding back the extreme pain of his wound, Star Bolt slowly opened his eyes and looked at the sword shard that laid on the riverbed. While looking at it shine in the light of the half-set sun, he started thinking about the pony who owned the sword. As he thought about him, he could only close his eyes in disappointment, “I… I’m sorry Armor… I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I couldn’t save your princess. I couldn’t even protect your sist…”
When Star Bolt realized something, He struggled to pick himself up, “T-Twilight!...”
Star Bolt struggled to hold himself up as he stumbled out of the shallow river and looked around in concern. The dust around him was still too thick to get a good view of anything; however, it was clear enough to see the edges of the riverbank so he followed what he could see till he was back on the shore.

The pain of his wing and the weight of the celestial armor he was wearing didn’t help the wounded stallion as he continued stumbling up the riverbank, “TWILIGHT!!!, SPITFIRE!!!, RAINBOW DASH!!!, ZECORA!!!”
As the weak stallion felt weaker thinking about who could have survived such a tragedy, He sat down to catch his breath as tears began rolling down his face, “Anypony!... Please… I… I can’t be alone... I can’t be the last…”
As Star Bolt looked up, the dust in the air had settled to reveal the ruins of the once beautiful city that was broken from its foundation and slid down the mountain. While looking at the ruins, he sighed as he shook his head, “C-Canterlot… It’s gone… it’s all gone, I knew this would happen someday, but… I never thought I would be alive to see it… nor did I expect it to happen too fast to save anypony.”
Star Bolt thought about the one responsible and glared at the city, “It’s his fault… Celestia… Cadence… Luna… I’ll get him for this… I’ll kill him with my bare hooves. To this… I swear it!...”

The Price of Harmony
Chapter 1
The Cloaked Stallion

With the moon shining brightly above, The Royal Guards surrounded the small cottage as the officer stood in the front yard, “Commander Bolt!!! We know you’re in there! Come out peacefully and there won’t be any trouble!”
As the front door of the cottage opened, an earth pony came out and replied to the officer, “You ponies are trespassing on private property! Leave my farm now!”
The guard replied, “Sir! We have nothing against you and your family… But we have reason to believe that you are harboring a criminal of Equestria in your home! We kindly ask that you surrender him to us so that he can face justice.”
The stallion yelled back, “Criminal! I think you got the wrong farm!!! Cherry Jubilee’s Farm is to the south of here!”

The officer disregarded the comment and replied, “Sir we know Commander Bolt Is here! Please surrender him to us and we will leave your family in peace!”
The stallion held his hoof to his ear in a mocking manner, “what was that? Commander who? Sorry nopony here by that name.”
The guard became irritated, “Sir! I would ask you to take this seriously. Commander Bolt is a dangerous threat t…”
A mare stood at the doorway of the cabin holding a newborn filly as she interrupted the guard, “If my husband says nopony is here, then nopony is here! Why don’t you just leave us alon…”

Just then, the mare silenced herself as she felt a hoof on her shoulder. She looked to the cloaked stallion who was standing just out of the guards view as he spoke softly, “its ok… you don’t have to protect me. I’ll go to them.”
The mare tried to argue, “But Mr. Star… please let us hel…”
“I’ve seen this coming a mile away… its better I face them now then to bring trouble on your home.”
The Mare calmly stepped aside as the mysterious stallion trotted past her and into the front yard. As he trotted passed the farmer, he spoke, “You don’t have to do this Star… please let me help you.”
Star Bolt smiled as he put down the hood on his cloak, “Its ok sir… I can handle this. There is no need for you and your wife to get involved anymore than you already are.”

Before the stallion could try to make an excuse, the royal guard officer called to him, “Are you Commander Bolt of the Nightmare legion?”
Star Bolt looked the guard in the eye as he replied, “My name is Star Bolt… the pony you seek died a long time ago.”
The officer wasn’t fooled for a second, “By order of Princess Celestia of Equestria! I hereby place you, under arrest. Will you come quietly?”
Star Bolt stared at the guard with no expression, as he replied, “No… I won’t.”
The guard smiled as he replied, “Then we will take you by force! Soldiers! ARREST THE TRAITOR!!!”
At that moment the royal guards hovering overhead, dove down on Star Bolt from behind. Star Bolt held his ground until the very last second when he quickly untied his cloak and flung it upward fooling the diving ponies, making them think that Star Bolt had jumped into the air himself.

As the diving pegasi guards tackled the cloak, Star Bolt ducked down as the pegasi slammed and pined the empty cloak on the ground in front of him. But just as they realized their mistake, Star Bolt turned and kicked the pony in the back of the group, causing them all to fall down over each other, as Star Bolt opened his wings and took to the skies flying over the farmhouse and into the field so that he could better watch his numerous attackers. After the guards chased him into the field, the officer yelled to their target, “Give it up Bolt! You can’t take us all on!”
Star Bolt smiled confidently as he replied, “Modern Royal Guards are nothing but a joke… I’ll take you all on… and to be fair, I won’t use my sword.”
Star Bolt patted the sheathed sword on his side, then braced himself for another attack as the officer reiterated his orders, “Remember soldiers! Princess Celestia wants him alive! Nevertheless, do what you have to do to take him down… ATTACK!”

Almost immediately two ponies charged Star Bolt from his front as he smiled, “Let’s play.”
With a strategy already planned, Star Bolt charged forward at the attacking ponies. Just as the two ponies tried to punch him, Star Bolt continued at his speed as he rolled over, and fell on his back with his wings open, tripping the two guards as he slide under their hooves, causing the guards to face plant into the ground. Before they could react to the surprise attack, Star Bolt used his wings to vault himself from the ground and slam his hooves on his attacker’s head why they still were on the ground. As the now unconscious soldiers went limp, Star Bolt smiled as he looked around, “Who’s next?”
just as he looked upward, he spotted an attacking pegasus guard who was already diving for him. Thinking fast, Star Bolt picked up one of the unconscious guards and tossed him into the air, hitting the diving Pegasus, and causing him to hit the ground at full speed.

With no time to comment, Star Bolt ducked and dodged an attack from another guard that snuck up behind him with a sword. The frustrated guard continued to swing the sword over and over as Star Bolt kept taunting him, “Little higher… now lower… warmer… warmer… colder… you’re almost there…”
The frustrated stallion yelled as he brought his sword down in a vertical swing, “SHUT UP!!!”
As the blade hit the ground, Star Bolt placed his hoof on top of it and held it down, “And to think you’re a sergeant of all ranks.”
Using what force, he could while keeping the swords blade in the ground; Star Bolt raised his other front hoof and punched the guard in his face. However the guard only jerked with the punch and remained standing so after the guard shook his head and glared at Star Bolt he smiled, “Is that all you got… Traitor?”
Star Bolt cleverly smiled, “Nope, I’m just getting warmed up.”

Putting himself at risk, Star Bolt released the sword and placed his front hooves on both sides of the guard’s head, then using all the strength he had, he smashed his forehead against the royal guards face, causing the guard to fall backwards and hit the ground unconscious. After the impact, Star Bolt took a step back, stumbling as he mumbled, “Probably should have removed his helmet first...”
Shortly after regaining his balance, Star Bolt could hear the slushed sounds of three soldiers charging him from behind as they charged through the mud. Star Bolt immediately reacted by opening his right wing, and turning at an angle, while he used his open wing to scoop up mud and fling it into the faces of his attackers. As the three guards stopped their charge while they quickly wiped their eyes, Star Bolt looked at the ground around him. There was mud and water all over the ground, so he immediately thought up a brilliant plan.

Star Bolt then flung the rest of the mud from his wing as he jumped into the air and flew over the stunned soldiers, landing on the other side of the shallow marshland. Then as he looked at the setting water on the ground, he smiled menacingly as the officer yelled, “Thinking about fleeing? Go ahead! You know that you won’t get away from us that easily!”
Star Bolt smiled as he called back, “You’re so pathetic! Here you thought you could beat me and all you’ve done thus far is play in the mud.”
The Officer yelled, “YOU WON’T WIN!!! GIVE UP NOW!!!”
Star Bolt shook his head, “You forget what made me famous in the first place!”

As Star Bolt stood there smiling at his foes, the guards could see lightning start to arc in his eyes as the officer yelled, “HE’S GONNA USE THE LIGHTING ORB!!! STOP HIM!!!”
Almost immediately all the royal guards charged, forward toward the legendary soldier in hopes of stopping him from using his powerful technique. As they continued, Star Bolt’s eyes continued to show arcing electricity, but no cloud appeared over his head. The charging soldiers continued their efforts until the officer suddenly spotted what was happening. The officer quickly flew into the air as he called to his soldiers. “GET OUT OF THE WATER!!!”
Before the soldiers could react, Star Bolt took one step forward and placed his electrified hoof onto the shallow water of the marshlands that the soldiers were charging through.

The ground immediate lit up, as electric arcs flew from his hoof and channeled themselves through the water, electrocuting everypony who was still on the ground, causing them all to fall forward into the shallow waters, unconscious. After the momentary light show had vanished, Star Bolt took a couple of deep breaths to regain some energy, then he looked at the only remaining guard hovering above him. The officer looked at the concern less look that Star Bolt gave him, and then at his unconscious soldiers as he panicked, “… you’re… YOU’RE A MONSTER!!!”
Afraid for his life, the lone royal guard tried to flee through the air as a cloud appeared over Star Bolt’s head, “I’ll show you monster!”
Just then under Star Bolt’s control, a bolt of lightning flew from the cloud above his head and hit the fleeing Pegasus, causing him to fall out of the sky.

Shortly after the Pegasus hit the ground and the cloud dispersed, Star Bolt realized something important, “Oh no…”
Star Bolt galloped through the still electrified marshlands until he reached the fallen officer. Then with worry in his heart, he felt the officer’s pulse, “… Oh thank Luna… I thought I used too much juice with that one.”
As Star Bolt sighed in relief, the farmer and his wife approached the scene, “Th-those guards?... are they?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Don’t worry… they aren’t dead. But very few will remember what happened here, and even fewer will want to talk about it.”
The mare spoke, “Are you alright Mr. Star? You ain’t hurt are you?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Other than a headache… I’m fine. But it looks like I’m gonna have to leave again.”
The farmer spoke up, “Are you sure? I’ll bet we can find a place for you nearby. And who knows. May if we explain what happened, the princess will forgi…”

Star Bolt looked away from the couple as he continued, “The princess won’t understand… and she won’t forgive anything. I’m better off just leaving.”

The two ponies were concerned as the farmer held out a bag of bits, “Then take this… it ain’t much… but I reckon it will help you either way. You helped me during my wife’s delivery. I don’t know anypony else who would help perfect strangers deliver a foal in the forest, so I owe you anyway.”
As Star Bolt took the bag, opened it, and counted the bits inside, then he took a hoof full out and gave it back to the farmer, “There… I can’t accept it all, that little filly of yours did most of the work. I was only moral support.”
Then the farmer gave him his cloak as the mare spoke, “Will you be alright Mr. Star? Where will you go from here?”
As Star Bolt put the cloak on, he replied, “Don’t know… I guess I’ll just have to travel the road and see where it takes me. But if these guards ask… tell them I’m on my way to Canterlot.”

The farmer and his wife looked at each other then back at Star Bolt as the farmer asked, “… are you?”
Star Bolt laughed, “What are you crazy? If I wanted to go back there, I wouldn’t have gone thought this trouble to prevent these royal pains from taking me back… I just think that if you tell them this, they will stop searching for me and wait instead… at least till they realize the truth.”
As Star Bolt and the farmer started to laugh at his idea, the little filly saw them laughing and smiled at the joy they were showing. Star Bolt smiled back at the little filly as he put the cloaks hood over his head, “Well maybe the next time I cross through I’ll stop in for a visit. Till then, you better take care of that filly of yours.”
The farmer smiled, “Of course, and you take care of yourself too. I don’t care what the rumors say, you’ll always be welcome in this house.”
As Star Bolt turned to leave he asked, “Have you thought of a name for her yet?”
The mare smiled, “Yea… I was thinking of something like… Gem.”
Star Bolt couldn’t help but smiled at the idea, “Gem… hmm… that sounds like a good name. Well you take care.”

Then with nothing more to say, Star Bolt trotted out of the field and onto the road. As he traveled, he started thinking about where to go next. It has been two whole years since he faked his death and began his life as a wanderer and in that time, he has been to every major city in Equestria. That is, every city excluding Canterlot. Nevertheless, out of the small cities, his list was getting shorter and shorter. His biggest worry was running out of places to go, and having no choice but to leave Equestria. In the past two years, he has traveled the world trying to forget the life has had more than a millennium ago. He tried to forget when he carried the title of Commander Bolt and brought forth a war that was fought in the shadow of an eclipse. He wanted to forget his service to Nightmare Moon, and the officers he called family. However, with Princess Celestia sending wave after wave of search parties after him, he found it impossible to keep himself hidden for long. It was a wonder how Princess Luna still believed him to be dead despite the fact that Princess Celestia and Prince Armor of the Crystal Empire are spending countless resourced to capture him.

Star Bolt looked up at the sky and paused as he saw a shooting star race across the night sky. As he looked at that, he sat down and sighed, “Luna… are you crying again?... is it still over me?”
Caught in his memories of trying to cheer up Luna when she was sad, Star Bolt didn’t notice a newspaper that was being carried by the wind as it flew against his face killing the moment, as he reached up and grabbed it. After grabbing the newspaper, Star Bolt took a closer look at it when he saw a help wanted sign in bold print on the outside. Star Bolt then placed the paper against the ground and began reading the article. It read:

Help Wanted!
Looking for help during applebuck season.
Hoping to find good strong pony for heavy labor and long hours.
Will pay what’s fair depending on the work.
Contact Granny Smith at:
Sweet Apple Acres
2010 Apple Line Rd,
Ponyville, EQ

After looking at the ad, Star Bolt thought to himself, “Hmm… Ponyville. I don’t think I’ve been there before.”
Star Bolt placed the newspaper in his saddlebag as he pulled out a map of Equestria, “Ponyville… Ponyville… Pon… Ah! Here it is. It’s only a few miles away. And it’s close to the Everfree Forest. I may drop in on Zecora while I’m there. Welp, looks like I’ll be applebucking for my next job.”
As Star Bolt put the map back into his bag and continued on the road, he started thinking to himself, “I wonder what Ponyville will be like. And why does that place sound so… familiar? Oh well, I guess I’ll find out when I get there.”

Back in Canterlot, Princess Celestia found herself standing in a blackened abyss with nothing in sight. As she looked around in confusion, she started to see a glowing light above her. With a curious stare, Princess Celestia looked at the light, as it split into six different colored gems, pink, green, blue, yellow, red, and purple. Looking at the gems, she immediately recognized them as the gems that made up the Elements of Harmony. The gems then lowered themselves until they circled her and hovered in place as she thought to herself, “Something is off”
As she observed the elements closely she realized something, “These aren’t our elements… then wh…”
She paused as she heard a cracking sound come from behind her. Princess Celestia turned around and looked at the pink gem that was hovering behind her, as it slowly started cracking up.

Celestia became nervous, as the cracks slowly spread across the gem’s surface until finally; the gem shattered into many pieced and fell to the ground. As Princess Celestia looked upon the shattered gem, she gasped, “No… this is…”
all of a sudden, the gems around her changed from their bright colors, to a dull gray, then she heard a terrifyingly evil voice, “Princess… oh princess… does thou remember thee?... tis time.”
The now scared princess looked above her to see a spiral of black sand and white glowing eyes. Princess Celestia took a few steps back in fear, as the remaining gray gems melted into the ground and moved toward her till they covered her hooves and solidified, holding the helpless princess in place, “No… no, it… it can’t be…”
The voice continued as the black sand molded itself into multiple swords, “Time… To pay thy PRICE!”

With special emphasis on the final word, the swords dropped from above in an effort to skewer the princess, but as the blades made contact with her skin. Princess Celestia sat up from her bed in a cold sweat. Though it seemed to be only a nightmare, Princess Celestia knew it to be more then that as she climbed out of bed, put on her crown and trotted to the main throne room. As she entered, Princess Celestia spoke, “Princess Luna!”
Princess Luna quickly wiped the tears from her face and looked up at Princess Celestia in surprise, “Sister? Morning isn’t for another few hours. Is something wrong?”
Ignoring the fact that Luna was crying, Princess Celestia nodded her head, “I had the vision again.”
Princess Luna replied with worry, “Was it him again?”
Celestia nodded her head, “It was…”
Princess Luna stood up and began pacing, “What… what should we do sister? The visions are getting closer and closer… at this rate it should only point out that he will escape in…”
“Three months… maybe sooner.”

Princess Luna sat down and began thinking over their schedule, “Three months… that’s only a few weeks after the grand galloping gala. Will Princess Twilight Sparkle be ready for it?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, Princess Twilight and her friends know what their task is… but you and I both know that the Elements of Harmony cannot defeat him. Tomorrow I will go check on Princess Cadence and Prince Armor. I can only hope they are ready to help too. I will also go speak with Captain Spitfire of the Wonderbolts… we will need all the help we can get.”
Princess Luna put her hoof on her head in anxiety as she asked, “What about the Griffin King?”
Princess Celestia replied, “I sent Discord there to ask him personally for help in this matter.”
Princess Luna sighed as Princess Celestia asked, “What is it?”
Luna replied, “A lot of help he will do… let’s not forget he is partially responsible for this.”
“Sister, aren’t you being a little hard on him.”
“I only speak the truth.”

All of a sudden, a voice echoed through the throne room, “Now Luna, why would you go and say a thing like that. You’re going to hurt my feelings.”
All of a sudden, Discord climbed out of one of the black tiles on the checkered floor as he continued; “Now I go out of my way to help you, and still you chose to shun me? Why would you say such hurtful words?”
Princess Luna glared at Discord and replied, “You know perfectly why.”
Before Discord could reply, Princess Celestia changed the subject, “Discord, What did the griffin king say?”
Discord replied as he shrugged his shoulders, “King Talon is being a sour puss as usual; he says that unless the Griffin Kingdom was threatened too, then he didn’t want to get involved with pony affairs.”
Princess Luna spoke up, “But doesn’t he know that this involves the Griffin Kingdoms too?”
Discord sneered at Luna and replied, “I’m not talking to you… so there…”

As Discord stuck his tongue out at Princess Luna, Princess Celestia sighed as she repeated the question, “But doesn’t he know that this involves the Griffin Kingdoms too?”
Discord replied as he pulled a balloon out from behind him, “I told him that it would be better to pop this balloon before it’s too high, but as usual the griffin wanna play by their own rules.”
Discord began blowing up the balloon and twisted the balloon into an animal that looked like a griffin, as Princess Celestia sighed, “I know it’s probably a waste of time… but perhaps I should go see him later this week.”
Princess Luna sighed, “I suppose it’s a good idea… but what can we do till then?”
Princess Celestia sighed, “We need to keep this as quiet as possible. If word gets out that he will return then Equestria will be torn into a state of chaos.”

Discord smiled as he held up the balloon griffin and a needle in the other hand, “Oooh, my favorite kind of state.”
Princess Celestia looked at Discord and replied, “That goes double for you… not one word.”
Discord motioned towards the balloon, “How about a pop?”
The draconequus sighed as he replied, “Alright, alright, fine… I won’t say anything… but you own me one princess.”
Discord then held up the balloon and stuck the needle in, but as he did, his entire body popped like a balloon, leaving the real balloon griffin to gently float to the top of the room. Overlooking Discords somewhat unusual action, Princess Luna continued, “Will we really be able to stop him sister?”
Princess Celestia turned around and started trotting out of the room, “We have to… because if we don’t, the Equestria will share the same fate as Eden. And the pony race will share the same as the alicorn.”

Ch2 The Ponies of Ponyville

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“Welcome to Ponyville…”
With the sun hanging overhead, Star Bolt stood looking at the welcome sign as he thought to himself, “Well this is it… I guess I should find out how to get to Sweet Apple Acres now.”
Star Bolt began trotting past the sign and into the town. As he continued down the road, he looked ahead at the town and smiled, “Looks peaceful… not very big, but very homely. I hope I can stay here for a whi…”
all of a sudden, a mysterious pink flash flew out of the town, passed Star Bolt and vanished somewhere down the road. Star Bolt turned and looked behind him, but after he didn’t see anything he mumbled, “What… that was that?... hmm… just my imagination I guess. Maybe I should find an inn and get some sleep, it’s almost noon now and I haven’t slept since yesterday morning.”

Star Bolt turned around and continued into the town, but after three steps, the pink flash returned a second time, only this time, it flew in from behind and went into the town. Thinking that the flash could have been a projectile from some kind of attack, Star Bolt quickly turned around and gripped his sword as he looked down the road leading out of the town, “Who’s there!”
Star Bolt stood still while he waited for some kind of response, but when nothing happened he released his sword and put his hoof on his head, “I couldn’t have imagined it twice… could I?”
Star Bolt stood facing the outside of the town for a little bit longer before starting to turn around, “I really need to get some slee…”
Just then as Star Bolt turned back towards the town, then trotted into a solid wooden surface that somehow appeared while his back was turned.

The ex-soldier immediately thought he was under attack, so he jumped backwards and gripped his sword as he got a better look at whatever it was he trotted into. After realizing what the object was, he once again released his sheathed sword and sighed in relief. It was a large wooden wagon with a tarp covering the top, so Star Bolt began trotting around it examining the wagon closely. Star Bolt was confused, something of this size would have made some kind of noise being placed in his path… but how did it get there without him noticing, and furthermore… who put it there. As Star Bolt took a good look at the wagon, he saw on the side, written in big pink letters, W.W. Star Bolt started to think to himself about what the letters mean. However, after thinking for a few seconds he started to laugh at the only thing he could think of, “What is this? The Welcome Wagon?....”

Just then, the tarp on top of the wagon flew off as a pink pony jumped out with a lot of balloons and confetti following her, “THAT’S RIGHT!!! Oooh how did you guess… are you a genius? Oh and if so do you know Twilight Sparkle? Well, now she is called Princess Twilight but that was after she became a princess back when she was a unicorn… oh… I bet because you have that cloak, you’re a traveling scholar! I bet that’s what you are, why else would you travel all over the place… wait you have a sword? That must mean you’re a traveling scholar and a royal guard, then you must know Princess Twilight that’s the princess from Canterlot but not like the other princesses, ya see Twilight was a unicorn first before beco…”
As the pink pony continuously talked herself into circles about the same subjects, Star Bolt put his hoof on his head and mumbled to himself, “Well somepony is excited… who is this mare?... and… why is she still talking?”

The mare continued talking as Star Bolt sighed and put his hoof over her mouth, “Um… sorry if I seem rude… but, who are you?”
As Star Bolt moved his hoof, the pony replied, “Oh… that right how silly of me, I’m Pinkie Pie.”
As the mare gave Star Bolt an enormously big smile he replied, “Pinkie Pie?... well ok, my name is Star Bolt.”
And before he knew it, she was off again, “Star Bolt? Oh that’s a good name… wait does that mean your related to Berry Bolt? Or you could be related to Kelly Bolt… WAIT, THUNDER BOLT!!! You have to be related to Thunder Bolt. You could be his brot… wait no, no. he was an only foal… and when I think about it I think his name was Thunder Bait… wait… Teddy Bait? Mikey Bait?... … Billy?”
As the mare got trapped in her own thought, Star Bolt took this perfect opportunity to speak, “Well… it was nice meeting you Pinkie Pie, and I’m sure your very busy you know, putting spaces between your words… but I have to get going. There is someplace I have to get to before…”

The mare immediately snapped out of her trapped thoughts as she replied, “Oh! I can show you how to get there! I know all the places in Ponyville you got the courthouse though I hope you don’t have a date there. Then the Carousel Boutique… but you don’t look like you’re into fashion… Oh, I know! You wanna get something yummy to eat! Well you’re in luck Sugar Cube Corner is the place for you! They have all the sweets you could ask for. In fact, today is special because today is the day that I’m supposed to be in charge of the register! Yep I’m su…”
The Mare immediately realized what she said as she froze on the spot. Star Bolt looked in confusion at the frozen mare as he waved his hoof in front of her face, “Pinkie? Pinkie?... uh… is she broken?”
All of a sudden Pinkie Pie snapped out of it, “Gotta-Go-Bye!!!”
And with that quick reaction, Pinkie Pie darted away in the same pink flash that he saw earlier.

As soon at the mare was completely out of sight, Star Bolt mumbled to himself, “Well… that was… interesting. If that was the first impression of this town, then they better be grateful I don’t judge on first impressions.”
Star Bolt continued trotting into the town until he reached the market place. While he was there, a mare approached him and asked, “Good afternoon sir, I was wondering if I could interest you in a dozen of our finest flowers, nothing says I love you like a fresh bouquet of beautiful daisies, and they’re fat free too.”
as Star Bolt looked at the mare, the mare got nervous looking at his face from under the shadow of his cloaks hood, “Or… um… you don’t have to if you don’t want… I… um…”
Star Bolt realized the mare’s fear of his shadowy appearance so he put his hood down and spoke, “Sorry miss, I know it must seem strange to be wearing a hood when the sun isn’t that bright today.”

After his hood was down, the light pink Mare got close to him and started to study his face, “Hmm… dark coat… black cloak… Yellow and black mane… mysterious… and scar on one ear?”
Feeling uncomfortable with the mare’s excessive staring, Star Bolt started to back away, “Well, thanks but no thanks miss…”
The mare continued examining him from a distance as she replied, “Daisy…”
“Right, right, Daisy… well I gotta go, so I’ll see you around.”
Star Bolt then turned around and quickly trotted away from her as he mumbles to himself, “Well that couldn’t have been creepier.”

As Star Bolt Continued through the market place, Daisy approached one of the produce carts and tapped the orange salespony on the shoulder, “Hey Carrot Top?”
Carrot Top turned to her and replied, “Yes Daisy what is it? Can’t you see I have some customers here?”
Daisy pointed at Star Bolt and spoke, “Would you mind describing that pony to me?”
“Describing him to you?”
“Yea, if you had to describe him to somepony who wasn’t here what would you say?”
Carrot Top sighed as she looked at Star Bolt and replied, “Well he is a dark grey stallion with a black cloak. He looks a little buff, with a sword on his side… he has a yellow and black mane… deep dark red eyes… and a scar on his ear?... wait… is that?”
Daisy nodded her head, “He fits the description perfectly. That is definitely the stallion Rose told us about.”

Carrot Top thought to herself, “But I though we all agreed that Roseluck imagined the whole thing?”
“Yea, but that doesn’t explain why we are standing here looking directly at her imagination does it?”
Carrot Top nodded her head, “Yea… you’re right about that.”
“So… what should we do?”
Carrot Top smiled as she replied, “Let’s tail him. Since Roseluck and Lily are in Canterlot for the Peddlers’ Pedals Gardening Competition. We should see if he will be in town long enough to see her when she returns tomorrow morning.”
With the decision settled, the two mares closed up their stands and began following Star Bolt hoping to find out more about the mysterious traveler.

As Star Bolt continued out of the market and into the deeper portions of town, Star Bolt decided to go into one of the nearby shops and ask for directions to Apple Lane Rd. He decided to go into the closest one to him that looked like a gigantic carrousel. After trotting inside and hearing the customer bell that hung over the door, a cream-colored unicorn came out of the back as she spoke, “Welcome to Carousel Boutique where every garment is chic, unique and magnifique. How may I assist yo… oh… well I must certainly say you do require my assistance.”
Star Bolt was confused, “Wait… what?”
The unicorn approached him and held up a part of his cloak as she continued, “This outfit… though it matches your coat, it’s too dusty and dirty… not appealing at all.”
The unicorn used her magic to remove his cloak as she turned and approached a rack with numerous types of fabrics on it, “Hmm… perhaps something following a raven… no gotta be Navy blue… the color just seems so… you. Now about the fabric… what style do you want this for?”

As the tailor turned to look at Star Bolt, he was still trying to keep up with what was happening as he replied, “Well… actually miss I…”
The mare looked at him then nodded her head, “Ok so a gold or navy cloak then… I’m guessing that what royal guard wear nowadays… and too keep your appearance amongst your princess presentable, you should wear silk, or satin… which would you prefer sir?”
Star Bolt spoke up before this turned into an unnecessary transaction, “I’m sorry miss… but I’m not here to order a new cloak… and I’m… wait? Why did you call me a royal guard?”
The mare smiled nodded her head, “Well, I saw your sword and I could only assume you work for the princess. However, I could be mistaken. May I ask why you are here then if not for a new outfit?”
Star Bolt got back onto his original goal, “Yes I’m looking for Apple Line Road. Could you tell me how to find it?”

The mare thought to herself for a few seconds, “Hmm Apple line Road?... ah, yes… that is the road that Applejack lives on. Just head down Mane Street for a few blocks then you will reach it in no time at all.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he picked up his cloak and put it back on, “Thank you miss?”
The Mare smiled, “Oh... How rude of me. My name is Rarity, I own and operate the Carousel Boutique and if you ever need a new suit… or a new cloak, then feel free to come by. I like to give a discount to royal soldiers since they work so hard to protect the princess.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Thank you Ms. Rarity I’ll be sure to do that.”

As Star Bolt exited the building, and began back on his path with better knowledge of where he was going, he sighed as he mumbled to himself, “I don’t see what the problem is… this cloak has been fine the whole time. I know it isn’t meant to stick out… but it isn’t that bad. Though it is funny how she thinks that the color best for me is navy blue… if she only knew how often I used to wear that.”
As the stallion made his way down the road, the two ponies who were spying on him looked at each other as Daisy whispered, “Why did he go into the Carousel Boutique? Did he buy anything?”
Carrot Top replied, “No… but it is strange why he would stop in there. I wish we could have heard the conversation between Ms. Rarity and him… I wonder if they knew each other. Let’s keep following him and find out.”

After about thirty minutes of traveling, the road that Star Bolt was on connected to another. Star Bolt read the sign, and nodded his head, “That information was good. Here it is Apple Line road, now I just need to…”
As Star Bolt looked up the next road, he started to see a trail of dust climbing from over the next hill. As he looked at the dust with curiosity, he realized that it was a small wooden cart that was throwing up the dust, but as it flew by him with great speed, he noticed that there were three screaming fillies trying to drive it, but as they passed by, he heard them scream, “WE’RE OUT OF CONTROL!!!”
After seeing and knowing clearly that the three fillies were in trouble, Star Bolt took off into the sky to catch up to the cart as it continued flying down the road at a dangerous speed. As Star Bolt flew through the air, he could see that the road was about to make a sharp right and on the other side of that turn was a wooden fence and a thick apple orchard. He knew that he had to stop the cart before it reached that point.

Star Bolt flew as fast as he could until he managed to catch up with the three fillies. As he grabbed onto the side of the cart he looked at the three fillies and yelled, “There is a sharp turn ahead! You gotta jump!”
Two of the three fillies looked at each other in confusion as the earth pony gestured, “You first Scootaloo.”
Scootaloo smiled as she pointed off the cart, “Hey what’s that?”
The earth pony looked, “What? I don’t see nothin.”
When the earth pony was distracted, Scootaloo pushed her off the cart as she hit the ground rolling.
As Scootaloo jumped second, Star Bolt looked at the third filly and yelled, “You’re next! Quickly you gotta get off this thing!”

The third filly had her helmet on backwards from all the panicking so she couldn’t see as she desperately tried to get her seatbelt off, “I… I can’t get out! Help!!!”
Star Bolt braced himself as the cart went over the turn and crashed through the wooden fence on the other side, losing absolutely no speed as it continued into the orchard. Star Bolt quickly climbed to the front of the cart where the last filly was sitting. When he tried to get her seatbelt undone, he noticed that the buckle was stuck. Looking forward and seeing a large tree quickly approaching, Star Bolt quickly drew his sword and dug the blade into the seat where the belt connected to it. Then with the filly now free, Star Bolt picked her up and jumped off the cart leaving his sword behind still stuck in the seat. As Star Bolt was flying off the cart, he used his wings to protect the young unicorn as he hit the ground and rolled into a tree to the side.

Mere moments after Star Bolt was stopped by the tree, the cart at its dangerously fast speed collided with a large tree and shattered in pieces as Star Bolt’s sword was thrown out of the wreckage, digging into the tree he was against mere inches from his face. As Star Bolt opened his eyes and looked at his cutie mark that was painted on the blade, he sighed in relief, “Wow… that was close … in more ways than one.”
As Star Bolt took his wings from around the filly he protected, the little unicorn stumbled and tried all she could to move the helmet back to where she could see, “What happened? Did we die?... can we save the racer?”
Star Bolt picked himself up from the ground and approached the filly, “Here let me help you with that.”

Star Bolt grabbed the filly’s helmet and turned it around so she could see, then when he saw that it was straight he let go and smiled, “There… now even the least of your worries is over with.”
As soon as the filly looked at the face of her savior, she started to blush as she spoke, “… Um… I… uh… hi.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “I think we are well past that, but hello to you too.”
Just then the other two fillies came running up as Scootaloo looked at the cart’s remains and sighed, “Well looks like we are back to square one.”
The earth pony approached the unicorn and asked, “Sweetie Belle, you alright? I though you bit the dust for sure… or the tree.”

Star Bolt looked at the fillies and asked, “Exactly what was that?”
Scootaloo replied, “Well that was our soapbox racer… but I think it’s totaled now.”
Sweetie Belle looked at Scootaloo and asked, “You made the designs for that thing… how could you forget the brakes?”
Scootaloo replied, “Don’t look at me… Apple Bloom put it together!”
The two fillies looked at Apple Bloom as she shrugged her shoulders, “You’ll said you wanted it to be unstoppable.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Yea… but unstoppable almost got you three killed. You’re lucky I came along when I did, otherwise you three would be applesauce right now.”

The tree fillies looked at the ground knowing that they were in trouble as Apple Bloom spoke, “We’re sorry, we only thought that we might receive our cutie marks for soapbox racing. We didn’t mean to hurt anypony.”
Star Bolt pulled his sword from the tree and sheathed it as he replied, “Well… since I didn’t get hurt at all and none of you died, I'd say we can keep this our little secret… but just try to be careful in the future.”
Sweetie Belle started to blush as she spoke, “Um… Mr. Pony… can, can you tell us your name?”
Star Bolt looked at the shy filly, “My name?”
“Um… yea, well it would be nice to know who to thank. You know for saving us and all.”
Scootaloo and Apple Bloom looked at each other in confusion as Star Bolt replied, “Ok… well… I’m Star Bolt.”
The filly smiled, “Star Bolt… such an awesome name. I’m Sweetie Belle.”

Feeling a little awkward at how the young filly was staring at him, Star Bolt changed the subject, “Well, since you three put me in this mess, I guess you can repay me by telling me how to get to Sweet Apple Acres from here. I kinda lost track of where I am after the whole, let’s not crash into an apple tree scenario.”
Apple Bloom smiled, “Sure… that’s an easy one, since I live there I'd be downright happy to show you how to get there.”
Star Bolt smiled as he stepped aside and replied, “Then feel free to lead the way little lady.”
Scootaloo and Apple Bloom began trotting back up the road as Star Bolt followed them, and Sweetie Belle followed behind him still giving him that strange smiled.

As the four ponies began up the road, Scootaloo sighed, “So… what can we do about the cart?”
Apple Bloom replied, “Well I'd say we won’t get our cutie marks driving that thing… considering we crashed it on the first try.”
Star Bolt overheard the ponies talking and added, “Well it’s very common to fail on the first try… so I would say to never give up.”
Apple Bloom smiled as she replied, “So you think we should try again?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “I said, I would say to never give up… in the concept of not dying at a young age… I think you should probably try something else.”

Scootaloo looked at Star Bolt and asked, “Well… what did you do to get your cutie mark?”
Star Bolt didn’t expect to be asked that so he hesitated before replying, “Well… I… um… I don’t know.”
The two leading fillies looked at each other in confusion as Scootaloo replied, “You don’t know? How could you not know how you got your cutie mark?”
Star Bolt looked at Sweetie Belle who was still awkwardly following him with a smile on her face, then he looked back and replied, “Well… I have amnesia?”
Apple Bloom looked at Star Bolt, “Am-whatta?”
“Amnesia… it’s a condition where a pony losses his or her memories after a terrible accident. My memories before I was ten… all gone.”
Sweetie Belle spoke next, “Aww, that’s so sad.”

Star Bolt looked at the unusual filly as Apple Bloom replied, “Wow… losing memory of how you got your cutie mark. That sure stinks.”
Scootaloo continued, “That must be pretty harsh. To know your talent and then forget it like that.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Actually it’s not so bad… I may not know anything about my past, but what I do know is where I am now… and where I hope to be in the future. Besides, a cutie mark only tells what you’re good at, it will never tell who you are, and that’s what really matters in life.”
Sweetie Belle nodded her head, “And that’s what I’ve been saying this whole time.”
Scootaloo gave her a funny look and replied, “But you said yourself that we need a cutie mark to prove who we are in this world.”
Sweetie Belle defended herself, “What? When?”
Apple Bloom replied, “Just this morning, you said and I quote… I hope we get our cutie mark for this, we need one to show everypony who we are in this world. Now pass me the helmet, I’m driving. End-quote…”

Sweetie Belle blushed as she replied, “Oh… that’s right.”
Star Bolt smiled at the three as he spoke, “Wow you three are really good friends aren’t you?”
Scootaloo replied, “We aren’t just friends… we are members of a secret organization that strives itself in finding out what makes us special and gives us our cutie marks.”
Star Bolt replied, “Secret organization hum… and what’s it called?”
Without thinking Sweetie Belle replied, “The Cutie Mark Crusaders.”
Scootaloo gave her a disappointed stare, “Well… so much for secret.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well that last time I dealt with crusaders wasn’t very pleasant. Nevertheless, I see what you’re doing and I think it’s good that you three are connected as tightly as you are. The best goals that you will ever achieve are the goals achieved with your closest friends.”
Sweetie Belle replied, “I always say that too…”
The other two fillies rolled their eyes as they continued leading Star Bolt to Sweet Apple Acres.

When the four ponies arrived at the farmhouse, Apple Bloom spoke, “Welp, here we are. Home sweet home. Can I ask why you wanted to come here?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well I’m answering an ad in the newspaper about a helper in the orchards during applebuck season.”
Apple Bloom smiled, “Well with all the trees we have, we could use the help. But remember our deal… we led you here… so the broken fence and smashed up racer?”
Star Bolt smiled, “What fence… and what racer? I don’t know what you three are talking about.”
Scootaloo and Apple Bloom nodded their head in agreement to the secrecy, then the two turned around and started to leave while Sweetie Belle sat smiling, “Well… goodbye Mr. Bolt… it was nice meeting you.”
Star Bolt replied, “Ok… well its nice meeting you too Sweetie Belle… I wish you three luck in getting your cutie marks.”

Then Star Bolt turned and started trotting towards the front door. As Sweetie Belle sat there with a love struck smile on her face, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom turned back as Apple Bloom spoke, “Um… Sweetie Belle? Are you ok?”
Sweetie Belle replied, “Isn’t he awesome?...”
Scootaloo replied, “Well… he was a little cool, but it’s not like he is the awesomest pony in the world or something like that?”
Without breaking her smile, Sweetie Belle replied, “That’s not a word.”
Scootaloo replied, “What are you a dictionary?”
Apple Bloom spoke next, “Well either way we need to get to the cart and clean up the mess before anypony finds it.”
As the three ponies nodded in agreement, they all turned around and began trotting up the road as Sweetie Belle looked back at Star Bolt one last time as they trotted away.

As Star Bolt approached the house, he was stoped just before he got close enough to knock on the door, “Well howdy doo, what can I do ya fer?”
Star Bolt turned to the side of the porch to see an old mare sitting in a rocking chair, “Oh… I didn’t see you there, are you by chance Granny Smith?”
The elderly mare smiled, “Ya darn tooten.”
Star Bolt nodded his head and replied, “Well Ms. Smith, my name is Star Bolt, I’m here to answer your ad in the newspaper.”
The elderly mare gave Star Bolt a funny look, “Answer my wha?”
Star Bolt replied, “Um… your ad… you know, the one you put in the newspaper? I have a copy of it here is you want to see.”

Star Bolt pulled the newspaper clipping from his saddlebag as Granny Smith looked over it, “Hmm… well I don’t recollect… um… welp just because I don’t remember placing such a thing doesn’t mean I didn’t, my mind ain’t as sharp as I used to be. Well before I agree to hire ya, I only need to ask ya one thing sonny, have ya ever worked on a farm before?”
Star Bolt nodded, “Yes Ma’am. I’ve worked on apple, pear, orange, grape, and dairy farms.”
The mare gave him a funny look as he added, “Oh… the dairy farm, I delivered the milk to the market. Not what you’re probably thinking.”
Granny Smith nodded her head as she continued, “You said you worked on an apple farm before didn’t ya? You know the owner’s name?”

Star Bolt thought to himself then answered, “Hmm… I think her name was, Apple Rose…”
“Cousin Apple Rose! Shoot I ain’t seen her since the apple family reunion.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Well what a coincidence, she hired me to help look after her farm while she was away for a family reunion.”
Granny Smith then agreed, “Then you’re the kind stallion who did such good work while she was away. She told me about you in her letters, course I thought she said Stair Colt… but she ain’t the best when it comes to readable hoofwriting.”
Star Bolt lowered his head, “Oh… did she tell you everything about me?”
Granny Smith thought to herself, “Actually no, all she said was; there was a kind and handsome young stallion who looked after her farm while she was gone and then shortly after she got back he up and disappeared without so much as a whisper of where he was going.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… something unexpected came up so I had to leave town quickly, call it a family emergency.”

Granny Smith smiled as she stood up from her rocking chair and approached Star Bolt, “Well, family first I s’pose, that’s all I need to hear. I’d say ya got the job, you can start tomorrow morning bright and early.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “That’s fine Ma’am, thank you.”
As Granny Smith trotted off the porch, she spoke, “Now hush up all that ma’am stuff. You can call me Granny Smith or just granny, it don’t make no difference to me. Now come on, I want to introduce you to my granddaughter Applejack; she will be workin with ya in the fields. Plus… she’s single, hint, hint.”
Star Bolt blushed at Granny Smith’s remark as he replied, “Oh… um… sorry granny, I um… I’m not looking for anything like that anytime soon.”
Granny Smith nudged his shoulder as she laughed, “Aww I’m just joshing ya. I wouldn’t see you as her type anyhoo.”
Star Bolt couldn’t tell if Granny Smith was serious or just plain coco… but he knew that he needed this job since his money was running short and he was running out of towns to run to.

After a few minutes of trotting through the vast apple orchard, Granny Smith and Star Bolt came across a mare who was setting up apple barrels under a tree then she looked up and smiled, “Yep… that’ll do it.”
The mare the turned so her back was against the tree then she very precisely tapped the tree with one hind hoof, before bashing the tree as hard as she could with the other. Right after the tree stopped shaking from her kick, a large number of apples fell from the tree and fell perfectly into the barrels. Then she smiled as she looked back at the tree, “Perfect each and every time.”
The mare looked towards Granny Smith and Star Bolt then smiled, “Well howdy granny, what brings ya way out here?”
Granny Smith smiled, “Well pudding pie, I’m out here to introduce your new worker in this year’s applebuck season. This here is Mr. Star Bolt”

Star Bolt smiled and spoke, “Afternoon Ms. Applejack, nice to meet you.”
Applejack smiled and gave him a friendly nod, “How do you do Mr. Bolt.”
Star Bolt corrected her, “I’d… prefer you just call me Star Bolt.”
Applejack smiled, “Likewise, Applejack is my name, ain’t no miss necessary. So where ya from Star Bolt?”
Star Bolt replied, “Just about everywhere, but I started traveling when I left Canterlot.”
Applejack nodded her head, “So you worked in apple orchards before?”
Star Bolt smiled, “Yes I have.”
Applejack nodded her head, “Well then meet me at the farmhouse early tomorrow morning and we can get started. I hope five o’clock isn’t too early for ya.”
Star Bolt smiled, “That sounds good, five it is.”
Applejack nodded her head as she looked at Granny Smith, “Well, I’m gonna call it a day granny. I’ll have Big Mack collect these barrels in a little bit. It was nice meeting you Star Bolt, I’ll see ya tomorrow.”

Granny Smith and Applejack then trotted past Star Bolt and back to towards the farmhouse as Star Bolt smiled, “Well I guess I better find a place to camp for the night.”
Then Star Bolt trotted towards a tree, leaned against it, sighed, then asked, “Did you two get all that? Tomorrow morning bright and early. If you want to keep following me then you can do it then.”
Star Bolt leaned against the tree waiting for a reply but when he didn’t get one, he turned away from the tree and kicked it with one of his hind hooves. All of a sudden, the two earth ponies fell from the tree and hit the ground with their mane hair standing on end. Star Bolt turned towards them and spoke, “The reason that hurt you two so much, is because I just shocked you through the tree… next time I catch you two spying on me, I won’t be so forgiving... I’ll hit you directly with lightning. So… how clear am I?”
Both Daisy and Carrot Top didn’t reply, instead they were still stunned by the jolt of electricity the felt so Star Bolt sighed, “I’ll take that as a pretty darn clear.”
Star Bolt then turned and left the two mares in the apple orchard with nothing more to say to them.

By the time Star Bolt traveled back to the road, he noticed that the sun was already setting on his first day in Ponyville. Therefore, he traveled up the road until he found himself at a small clearing where a meadow and the Everfree forest connected. Star Bolt then pulled a tarp from his saddlebag and staked it on all four ends, then he used a long stick he found to prop up the center of the tarp to create a teepee style tent. With his new shelter set up and ready, Star Bolt laid his cloak out on the floor of the teepee, laid his sheathed sword on top and laid down to get some rest. As Star Bolt laid there in his minimalist teepee with enough of an opening to see the moon rise over the horizon, he thought to himself, “This town is very unusual, first Pinkie Pie and her… randomness, then the strange spy wannabe flower salesponies. Next you have your, you must look perfect tailor, and your I’ll die trying to get my cutie mark fillies. All the way to your master apple farmer and her kooky old grandmother… this town has no bearing, no discipline, and makes absolutely no sense what so ever… I can get used to living in a town like this.”

Spitfire was returning to her office at the Wonderbolts academy as Soarin nervously approached her outside of her door, “Um… Spitfire? You have a visitor.”
Spitfire replied, “Ok who?”
“Princess Celestia, she is waiting for you inside.”
Spitfire sighed as she approached the door, “I should have seen this moment coming a mile away… she is a lot later than expected though.”
As Spitfire opened the door to her office, she entered and closed the door behind her, “Sorry to keep you waiting your majesty. I hope it wasn’t too long”
Princess Celestia smiled, “It wasn’t, in fact I just got here.”
Spitfire trotted over to her desk and stood behind it, “Really that’s good to hear.”
Princess Celestia gave her a serious look and continued, “I’d suppose you know why I’m here, don’t you.”
Spitfire looked out the large window at her students below as she replied, “It’s about Commander Bolt… isn’t it?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “It’s been six months, and from what I hear, you did find him. Then you confronted him, but for some reason after that, you called off your search and let him go… Care to explain?”

Spitfire sighed as she turned back to princess Celestia and replied, “I had a chat with Commander Bolt. From what I understand, he served his time for the crime he committed, and he isn’t a threat to Equestria anymore. So I see no reason to continue pursuing him.”
Celestia continued giving Spitfire a suspicious stare, “Is that all?”
Spitfire nodded her head, “Yep… that’s all.”
Princess Celestia sighed, “Ok… I take it he saved your life in some way and you’re defending him… aren’t you?”
Spitfire was shocked, “What… but how?”
Princess Celestia smiled, “He hasn’t changed a bit… Star Bolt can always claim the upper hoof in a fight and use it to his advantage… so may I ask how he saved you?”

Spitfire blushed as she replied, “I’d… rather you didn’t… I don’t like to talk about it.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “That’s fair enough… however; I want you to continue your search for him.”
Spitfire looked princess Celestia in the eye as she replied, “With all due respect your majesty… I refuse. Commander Bolt only wants to live a peaceful life free of persecution. And I, like most, want him to live that life too. So if you want the Wonderbolts to bring him in, then you’ll need to explain to me why you want him so badly.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head as she replied, “Very well… but you cannot tell anypony else… not even your Wonderbolts.”
With that said, Princess Celestia used her magic to lock the office door, and closed the blinds on the window, making it so that nopony outside the room could see or hear what was going on inside the office.

Just outside the office door, Soarin was talking with another Wonderbolt, “Come on! You cannot tell me that there is nothing appealing about Spitfire.”
“Sorry, but she just isn’t my type.”
“Well I don’t know what your type is, but you most definitely don’t understand what makes a fine mare…”
Hearing the yell from inside Spitfire’s office killed the two stallion’s conversation as the door flew open and Spitfire came out, “Soarin! Gather all the Wonderbolts and tell them to reestablish our search for Commander Bolt.”
“Commander Bolt? But I though you said tha…”
“I know what I said, but new information has risen that now makes him a high priority target.”
Soarin nodded his head, “Right then, I’ll gather the Wonderbolts and start searching for him as soon as possible.”

Spitfire added, “Just the Wonderbolts… leave the students out of it. The less who know, the better!”
As Princess Celestia trotted by Spitfire, she spoke, “Thank you Spitfire… I will also need your help when the time arises. But please, if you do find him, don’t let Princess Luna know… I want her to find out about Star Bolt when the time is right.”
Spitfire nodded her head before she asked, “Your majesty, is this new threat really as bad as you say?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “For the first time… I’m actually worried that this will be the end of Equestria, and the world as we know it.”

Ch3 The Keepers of the Elements

View Online

The train slowly entered the Ponyville station as Roseluck and Lily sat waiting for the train to slow itself to a stop. As soon as the train stopped, Roseluck and Lily stepped off the train as Lily smiled, “Ah… it’s good to be home isn’t it Rose?”
Roseluck smiled, “Well… almost, I’m a little nervous about whether or not Daisy kept up with our gardens while we were gone, or if she forgot... again.”
As the two mares got their bags and left the train platform, Carrot Top and Daisy met them on the path from the train station, Daisy smiled as she spoke first, “Welcome back Lily, Rose, how was the Peddlers Peddles Competition?”
Lily hung her head in shame, “I lost again…”
Roseluck smiled, “Oh don’t be so negative Lily. At least you placed this year. Third isn’t so bad.”
Lily gave Rose a stern look as she added, “Easy for you to say… you got first place… again. Next time will you help me with my entry?”
Roseluck smiled, “Oh alright, I’ll give you some pointers when you come up with ideas for next year’s entry.”

As the group smiled at Roseluck’s kindness, Carrot Top got straight to the point, “Hey Rose… remember that stallion you told us existed but we didn’t believe so we denied his existence only to turn out he really did exist and the fact that we said he didn’t exist only disproved our claiming in his existence while he did in fact exist to disprove us?...”
Carrot Top gave an innocent smile as all three of her friends gave her look of confusion. Roseluck tried to respond, “Well… uh n-no um… ye-yea… um… w-wait… What now?”
Daisy sighed as she clarified for Carrot Tops confusing statement, “She is talking about your so called, spirit of the Thunder Grounds… you know the one you told us about nearly a year ago after our little scare in the Everfree Forest.”

After mentioning that, Roseluck sighed as she trotted past her friends in an irritated way, “If you’re going to start making fun of me for that stupid thing again… then stop wasting my time… I don’t care what you girls think… I know what I saw and I know that he was real. He was the bravest pony I ever met… and if you think I’m only making this up, than you can just shut up and leave me alo…”
Daisy tried to defend herself, “No, no Rose you don’t understand. What we are trying to say is that we believe you now.”
Roseluck stopped and turned around to look at Daisy, “What? You do?”
Carrot Top continued, “Yea… in fact he’s here in town right now…”
Roseluck looked at Carrot Top, thought to herself for a few seconds, then looked back at Daisy with an annoyed look, “You forgot to water my garden again didn’t you?”
Daisy took a step back in shock as she replied, “I... um… well… yea… But that’s not the point.”
Carrot Top stepped forward, “We are telling the truth Rose. He is here, and his name is Star Bolt.”

Roseluck couldn’t tell whether or not her friends were serious or if they were simply bringing it up to continue making fun of how much she talked about him. Nevertheless, the name did sound familiar, and the looks on both Carrot Top’s and Daisy’s faces were too serious to be a joke, so she sighed as she replied, “Fine… if you say he is here, then take me to see him.”
The two mares smiled as Carrot Top gestured to follow her, “Alright, then let’s go… he is working at Sweet Apple Acres.”
Still feeling unconvinced, Roseluck followed her friends onto the road, as the four mares made their way towards Sweet Apple Acres.

Meanwhile in the vast orchards of the large apple farm, Star Bolt stood balanced on a branch as he called to the stallion below, “Ready Big Macintosh?
The large red stallion looked back up at him and replied, “Eeyup.”
Star Bolt nodded his head then gripped his sheathed sword while focusing his strike. Then with one quickened swing, Star Bolt drew his sword and cut off a rotting branch that was growing on the top of the large healthy apple tree. As the branch fell from the top of the tree to the ground, Big Macintosh pulled the wagon into place as the branch fell onto the wagon. Shortly after the branch was secured, Star Bolt smiled and spoke, “Good catch Big Mac take that wherever you need to and I’ll continue with this area. I want to finish this wing of the orchard before I call it quits for the day.”
Big Macintosh nodded his head as he replied, “Well, call if ya need me again.”

As Big Mac trotted away, Star Bolt went to the next tree and moved some barrels into place. Then he unbuckled his sword harness and sat it beside the tree as he readied to kick the apples loose. Just as he reared his hind hooves to kick, his focus was broken by a loud voice, “HI MR. STAR!!!”
With his concentration broken, Star Bolt kicked the tree only to have all the apples fall on top of him instead of into the barrels as planned. As Star Bolt climbed out of the pile of apples, he looked to the side to see Sweetie Belle standing there with an innocent smile on her face. Star Bolt sighed and spoke, “Um… Sweetie Belle… aren’t you supposed to be in school or something?”
Sweetie Belle replied, “Um its four o’clock… school is out already.”
Star Bolt looked up at the sun, “Really? Wow the day just seemed to fly by didn’t it. But shouldn’t you be at home with your mother and father then?”

Sweetie Belle Started nudging an apple on the ground as she blushed, “Well… mommy and daddy are on vacation… and my sister is too busy working, so I decided to see what you were doing.”
Star Bolt gave her a look of irritation, “Um… I’m working too…”
Sweetie Belle sat down as smiled, “Well then just continue what you’re doing and I'll quietly watch.”
Star Bolt felt a little confused but since she wasn’t hurting anything he just sighed and replied, “Ok… but if you get bored then you’re welcome to leave.”
Star Bolt then Started loading the apples on the ground, into the barrel as Sweetie Belle looked at his sword and spoke, “Whoa… is that your sword? Can I see it?”
Without looking at Sweetie Belle, Star Bolt spoke, “There… you see it, just don’t mess with it.”

Sweetie Belle trotted over to the sword and looked at the cutie marks on its sheath, “What do these pictures mean?”
Star Bolt continued his work while he replied, “Don’t mess with that! It’s sharp!”
Ignoring his command, Sweetie Belle picked up the sword and pulled it from it sheath just far enough to see the cutie mark on the blade. “This is your cutie mark right?... then does that mean that the rest of these pictures are other cutie marks too?”
Star Bolt sighed as he stopped what he was doing, trotted over to Sweetie Belle, took the sword form her, and sheathed it completely as he spoke, “Sweetie Belle… I know you just want to help… but why don’t you go see your friends? Aren’t you three in a club to get your cutie marks? I just can’t focus with you here.”

Sweetie Bell looked at the ground in disappointment, “Oh… I’m sorry; I’m in the way aren’t I?… I just wanted to help you since you’re new in town and… I think you’re cool and all…”
Seeing the sad look on the filly’s face made Star Bolt feel bad, “… Well if you want to help so badly, then you can help by picking up a few of these apples while I work on the next tree… how’s that?”
Sweetie Belle smiled as she sat up straight and saluted, “Yes Sir! I’ll do my best sir!”
Seeing the little filly’s frown turn quickly into a smile, made Star Bolt smile back as he turned towards the next tree. As Star Bolt approached the next tree, he heard another voice, “Land sakes! When Big Mac told me you were this far on this field, I didn’t believe it. Yet here you are. Almost halfway done with the first field and only in twelve hours too. I ain’t ever seen any Pegasus work that fast before.”

Star Bolt looked up and saw Applejack as he replied, “Well I wasn’t kidding when I told you I worked in an apple field before.”
Applejack smiled, “Well I suppose you can call it a day then. I wouldn’t want to work you too hard on your first day out here.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Not at all… a good day’s work is something I enjoy out of my wandering lifestyle.”
All of a sudden, the two heard a scream as they both looked at Sweetie Belle who was lying on the ground with a barrel of apples dumped over on top of her. Star Bolt sighed, “Even if the help isn’t so… helpful… but at least she’s trying… I think…”
Sweetie Belle picked herself up and blushed, “Um… I’m okay… I'll clean this up.”

Applejack smiled as she continued, “Well, anyway I say you earned yourself the rest of the day off. If ya want, I can show ya round Ponyville since your new and all.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Sure sounds like a good plan to me.”
Sweetie Belle jumped up and added, “I’ll go too!”
Applejack shook her head, “Actually you should probably meet Apple Bloom back at y'alls club house. I think she is waitin for ya there anyways.”
Sweetie Belle lowered her head in disappointment, “But… I thought…”
Star Bolt smiled and patted her on the head, “It’s ok Sweetie Belle, go play with your friend… just be sure to come show me your cutie marks when you get it. Ok?”
Sweetie Belle smiled with joy as she replied, “Ok! I’ll do that… Thank you Mr. Star Bolt!”
With joy in her step, Sweetie Belle skipped away, as Star Bolt called to her, “And try not to kill yourself in the process!”
Sweetie Belle yelled back “Okay!”

As Sweetie Belle skipped away, Applejack smiled, “Well, ya sure do have a way with the little ones don’t you? But what was that about them killin’ themselves?”
Star Bolt nervously smiled, “Well, um… it’s an inside joke. Um… shall we?”
As Star Bolt and Applejack Started trotting into town, Applejack looked at Star Bolt and asked, “You said you’re from Canterlot right Star? I bet you know Twilight then don’t ya?”
Star Bolt recognized the name so he replied, “Well… I know of Twilight… but I don’t think I’ve actually met her before.”
Applejack smiled, “Well I’m sure you’ll get the chance while you’re here. She’s a good friend of mine so it’s a matter of time before I introduce you two.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well I’ll look forward to it th…”

Before Star Bolt could finish his sentence, something bumped into him so he looked forward and spoke, “Oh, I’m sorry si…”
Star Bolt stopped himself when he looked forward to realize the pony he was apologizing to, was actually a small turtle that was hovering with a helicopter propeller. As Star Bolt looked at the small creature, he slowly tried to understand what he was looking at, “Um… it’s… a turtle… and… it’s flying.”
Applejack smiled, “Oh, that’s just Tank.”
Star Bolt continued, “Why is the turtle flying?”
Applejack replied, “Well that’s Rainbow Dash’s pet.”
Star Bolt was still confused as he replied, “Well yea… but why is the turtle flying?”

Applejack smiled at his confusion as a light blue pony dove down from the sky and landed in front of them, “Tank? What have I told you about flying off like that? If your rotor breaks down again and you’re not close by, then it could take weeks for you to get back home.”
The flying turtle turned towards the mare and licked her cheek as she blushed, “Well… as long as you stay close to me… then I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Applejack smiled as she spoke, “Well speak-of-the-devil, howdy Rainbow Dash. I'd like you to meet Star Bolt. He’s workin part time for me during applebuck season.”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “Well it’s nice to see a new pegasus in Ponyville, the name’s Rainbow Dash, nice to meet you.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Rainbow Dash? WP2343? You’re the weather Pegasus in charge of the south by south-west sky in Equestria aren’t you?”

Rainbow Dash was surprised at Star Bolt’s reaction, “You were in the union? The Equestrian Weather Union?”
“Nah, I only worked part time in the south by central west area… my specialty was lightning storms. I’m sure you got a few of them that passed through my sector didn’t you? It was about four weeks ago.”
Rainbow Dash thought to herself, “Well a lot of lighting clouds pass through my area pretty often… but I do remember one that was about a month ago that made even my mane stand on end. Was that yours?”
Star Bolt smiled “Probably I had a knack for lighting… who knew right?”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “Well then maybe I’ll ask for your help sometime, I don’t think I’ll need it, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some back up from time to time. Well, I’ll see ya around Star Bolt; I gotta get Tank’s battery changed before it dies on him again.”

Rainbow Dash and Tank flew off as Applejack looked at Star Bolt, “Wow, you sure do get around don’t ya?”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “Well the life of a wanderer isn’t as easy as you think. Everypony has to eat, and the only way to pull that off is to have money. So wherever I go I have to get a job. From mining, farming, weather, even fishing. Then the change in season plays a roll too. Travel light for summer months but bundle up for winter. You gotta do what you gotta do.”
The two ponies continued down the road as Applejack spoke, “What about family? Don’t you have somepony to go to when you need help?”
When Star Bolt thought about that, his mood changed for the worst, “Actually… no, I don’t… anytime I found myself in a pinch… I would just move on to the next town… it’s not like anypony would notice if I vanished… I’m just like a passing cloud. You notice me when I’m here… but once I pass on; it will be like I never existed in the first place.”

Feeling like Star Bolt’s change in mood was too hard for him to talk about, Applejack looked ahead and changed the subject, “Oh look, it Sugar Cube Corner. Why don’t we go in for a milk shake or somethin.”
Star Bolt also wanted to get off the subject so he put the thoughts behind him as he replied, “Sure… a milkshake sounds fine.”
As the two ponies entered the building, Pinkie Pie and another mare with a light pink mane were sitting at a table as Pinkie Pie called to them, “Applejack! Hey Applejack! Over here!”
Both Applejack and Star Bolt approached the table as Pinkie smiled, “Hey it’s Star Bolt! See Fluttershy! I told you there was a traveling scholar slash royal guard in town. And guess what! He is related to Mikey Baits!!!... or was it Billy?”
Star Bolt sighed, “First of all, I don’t even know a Mikey Baits… and second, I’m just a wanderer…. nothing more… nothing less.”
“Wha?... But that’s not what you said yesterday?”

Star Bolt put his hoof on his face as he replied, “I didn’t say I was yesterday… you only assu…”
Star Bolt went quiet as Applejack put her hoof on his shoulder, “No need in fussin over this one Star… Pinkie tends to jump to conclusion way too soon.”
Fluttershy hid her face behind her long mane as she spoke softly, “Well… um… it’s… nice to meet you… Mr. Star… sir…”
Star Bolt couldn’t believe how familiar this mare seemed too, but since he didn’t know how he knew her, he just replied, “It’s a pleasure to meet you too Fluttershy… but please, call me Star Bolt or Star.”
“Oh… I’m sorry… Star… um… I’ll remember… next time.”
Star Bolt felt a little confused as to why the mare seemed so timid around him, but he only assumed it was the cloak since it did seem suspicious, so he only acted like nothing was wrong.

As the three ponies got better acquainted, a small purple dragon entered the building and approached the counter, “Mr. Cake? I was wondering if I could get that ancient recipes book back from you. Princess Twilight is in another one of her, everything’s got to be reorganized twice moods and she wants all the books back at the library so she can account for all of them.”
The stallion behind the counter replied, “Can do Spike, I’ll go get it.”
As the stallion went to retrieve the book in the back room, Spike looked at the groups table as he smiled, “Oh, hey everypony. How’s it going?”
Applejack smiled, “Smooth as fresh cider… but it seems like Princess Twilight has kept herself locked up more then usual lately… is everythin’ alright Spike?”
Spike nodded his head, “Yea, everything is alright. Twilight has just been a little distracted abo…”

Spike looked at Star Bolt, then put his hand over his mouth as he whispered to Applejack, “She’s been a little distracted about what Princess Celestia told her about you know who.”
Applejack nodded her head as she whispered back, “You know well as I do that Princess Celestia said that we shouldn’t worry ‘bout that till after the gala.”
Spike continued whispering as he replied, “Well she keeps saying that she has to find a way to stop it before it happens. You know how she likes to over react to this sort of thing.”
With a complete disregard in their whispering, Pinkie Pie spoke aloud, “Come on Spike! Why doesn’t she just relax, it’s not like we had a hard time against Discord or Nightmare Moon. We’ll be fine.”
As soon as Pinkie stopped talking, the other mares and Spike Started shushing her as Star Bolt Stared at her in shock, “N-Nightmare Moon?...”
Pinkie continued, “Well yea. We beat Nightmare Moon ages ago with the Elements of Harmony. Oops… I probably shouldn’t have said that.”

As Star Bolt thought about Pinkie’s words… it suddenly hit him. This town was the closest town to them when he and Nightmare Moon returned from their prison two years ago… and these ponies… are the very same ponies responsible for returning Princess Luna to her normal self, The keepers of the Elements of Harmony. Star Bolt immediately stood up, “Oh… I um… I just remembered I was going to meet a friend earlier… um… yea I’m sorry to eat and run ladies… but I gotta go. It was nice meeting you all, and I’ll see you at work tomorrow AJ.”
The group looked at him funny while Applejack replied, “Well… um… okay. I’ll see ya tomorrow then.”
Without waiting for a reply from the rest of the group, Star Bolt turned towards the door and left, as fast as he could without galloping. As Star Bolt trotted hastily up the road, he thought to himself, “Crap… of all the places in Equestria… I had to like the one place other than Canterlot that I never wanted to go to… now what should I do? Should I leave? And if so… where should I g…”

As Star Bolt turned a corner, he was suddenly stopped when he accidently bumped into another pony knocking her to the ground, “Oh, I apologies… I wasn’t paying attention t…”
Star Bolt went silent, when he realized that the pony he knocked to the ground was a purple alicorn. As the alicorn picked herself up from the ground, she replied, “Oh no… it’s my fault, I wasn’t watching where I was going. Wait, your new in town aren’t you. My name is Princess Twilight Sparkle, but most just call me Twilight… I’m not used to being called a princess yet.”
Star Bolt knew that the proper thing to do would be to bow in respect for the royal mare, but he swore he would never bow to a princess ever again so he just nodded his head as he replied, “Nice to meet you, my name is Star Bolt.”
Princess Twilight thought to herself, as she replied, “Star Bolt?... Star Bolt… I’ve heard that name somewhere before… but where? Hmm I wonder if it was in a book I read.”

As Princess Twilight tried to remember where she had heard his name, Star Bolt realized who he was talking to. This mare was the same unicorn trotting out of the palace of the alicorn sisters two years ago with Princess Celestia… in other words, one of the keepers of the Elements of Harmony. Trying to cover his tracks, Star Bolt thought up an excuse for his familiar name, “Um… Pinkie Pie told me you’re from Canterlot right?... Well… I was a royal guard a few years ago… maybe we crossed paths, a few times.”
Princess Twilight nodded her head as she replied, “Hmm… maybe… anyway I was looking for my assistant. He is a purple baby dragon with green spines…”
“Oh you mean Spike. Last I saw he was at Sugar Cube Corner.”

Princess Twilight nodded her head, as she trotted past Star Bolt, “Ok, thanks Star Bolt, I’m kinda in a hurry so I gotta go. I hope you like it here as much as I did when I arrived for the first time. Well, see ya.”
As Twilight trotted down the road towards Sugar Cube corner, Star Bolt thought to himself, “She didn’t recognize me… hmm… maybe I can stay a little while longer. At least until one of them finds me out. Nevertheless, I better keep my head low… I don’t need to be found too soon.”
As Star Bolt turned back onto the road, he looked up to notice that the sun was starting to set, so he decided to start searching for a place to set up camp for the night.

Further down the road, Roseluck was pouting as she trotted in front of her friends, “I just can’t believe you two… I haven’t said a single word about him in months, and all of a sudden you two bring him up out of the blue just to make fun of me… Some friends you turned out to be…”
Daisy tried to defend herself, “Rose… I swear he was there this morning…”
Carrot Top added, “He’s got to be here somewhere… maybe he got fired or something…”
Roseluck continued trotting as she turned and looked back at her so-called friends, “You know how much I liked him! I owed him my life and all you can do is joke abo…”
As Roseluck continued down the road, Star Bolt came from around the corner and bumped into her accidently knocking her to the ground, “Oh! Sorry ma’am… darn… I seem to be bumping into everypony tod… Wait… Rose?”

When Roseluck looked up and saw Star Bolt, she quickly stood back up as she blushed, “Um… hey… it’s you… um Star… right?”
Star Bolt smiled, “So you did hear me after all… I thought I'd lost you when I told you my name last time.”
Rose looked at her hooves ash she replied, “Actually… you did. Daisy and Carrot Top told me your name.”
Star Bolt looked at the other three mares and replied, “Oh… it’s the wannabe spies form yesterday. How are you two doing… still feeling staticy?”
The two mares looked away as Lily was still surprised, “Wow… dark coat, black cloak, yellow and black mane… and the scar on his ear. He is exactly as you described Rose.”
Star Bolt blushed a little as Roseluck continued, “So… um Star? How long are you in town?”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “Hmm I’m not sure. It depends on how well I can keep my current job.”

Roseluck Started scratching her roof against the ground as she continued, “So… um… where are you staying? You know while you’re here in town.”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “I found a place just at the edge of town… not a bad set up but I may need to relocate if it decides to rain on me.”
Roseluck was confused, “Relocate? Is it a mobile home or something like that?”
Star Bolt smiled in self-pity as he replied, “Well… it’s more like, a tent really. Or in this case, a tarp and a stick. As a wanderer I have to work with what I can carry.”
Roseluck looked at her friends then back at Star Bolt, “Well I found out how I’m going to repay you then.”
Star Bolt was confused, “… Repay me? For what?”
Roseluck explained, “Last time we saw each other you saved me twice, once from Timberwolves which I repaid you for by patching your wounds, then a second time from…”

Realizing what she was saying, Roseluck looked at her friends and continued, “Other events… so I still owe you. So from this point until you’re ready to leave Ponyville I’ll let you stay in my guest room.”
Star Bolt felt a little embarrassed, “Oh… um… I guess that’s alright but I don’t want to be a burden.”
Roseluck shook her head as she Started to blush, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous… actually, it will be a good change from being alone all the time. You see… if I’m going to repay you for saving my life… then I insist you stay with me. I couldn’t let you sleep outside when I have an empty bed for you to use. So… what do you say?”
Star Bolt thought to himself as he replied, “well… it would be nice to sleep in a bed every once in a while… alright… but if I catch even one hint that I’m overstaying my welcome then out I’ll go.”
Roseluck laughed, “Hey isn’t that my line?”
Star Bolt laughed at the comment as he thought to himself, “From the way she is acting, I’m guessing she kept the incident with the royal guards secret… so I would say this means that I owe her one now. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all. Better to stay with somepony who trusts me then a complete stranger’s house. But still… I can’t get too involved here. Otherwise I’m only dragging everypony into my own mess”

Far away in a distant land, two equestrian royal guards entered a dark tomb that sat under a great castle. As the guards continued, the lower ranking one spoke to his superior, “Sir… I don’t think this is a good idea. Princess Celestia said…”
“Know what the princess said… bit new orders have come up from Canterlot telling use to double our security here.”
The guard replied, “What? But why sir?”
The superior got irritated as they entered the main portion of the tomb, “That’s what I want to know. As usual, the princess is being very secretive about it. So if she won’t tell me… then I know somepony who will.”

As the guards entered the large tomb, they looked around. The whole tomb was completely round with a dome like ceiling. In the center was a hexagon shaped paint marking on the ground and on each corner a large pillar that held a brightly glowing jewel on the center of each. And in the center of this perfectly arranged pillars, sat a pedestal with a chest bearing the emblem of the Elements of Harmony. As the two soldier looked at the chest, the subornment once again tried to convince his leader to turn back, “Sir… please. You know as well as I do that this place is pure evil. Talking to him is a death wish and you know it.”
The leader shook his head, “If you want to be a little filly about it then leave now! I trained a Stallion who follows orders! Not a little foal that doesn’t trust his leader’s judgment. Besides, you know as well as I do that the pillars form an invisible barrier. As long as I’m outside that barrier I’ll be safe.”

The leader trotted towards the edge of the hexagon and stopped only an inch from the edge. Then using unicorn magic, he tossed a pebble into the hexagon hitting the chest in the center. Slowly the chest opened only a crack as black sand began pouring out of the chest. As the sand bundled up under the pedestal, a dark voice could be heard, “Who dares to awaken thee?”
The guard replied, “I do!”
The guard Stared bravely as the sand bundled up and took the form of an alicorn that looked as if it were built like a sand castle. The alicorn with its white glowing eyes looked at the guard and spoke, “Courage… I assume thee to be a noble soldier. Nevertheless, every soldier needs a ruler. So explain to thee, who is thy ruler?”
The guard replied, “Princess Celestia of Equestria!”

The sand pony smiled in a wicked way as he spoke, “Thy little princess? Tis been two millennia since thou has seen thy princess… then thee must share her fate, if thee be a loyal soldier. Dost thee agree?”
The guard took a step forward in irritation, “What fate are you talking about? What are you planning?”
The alicorn continued, “A curious one… dost thou know what curiosity brings?”
The guard continued, “I’ll say again! What are you planning? Princess Celestia has ordered us to increase security on this city! But why!”
The alicorn continued to smile wickedly as he continued, “Foolishness… tis this what the future brings? Tis a foolish soldier to question thy orders from thy princess. Is thou sure that thy loyalty rests with thy princess?”
The guard took another step forward as he got even more angry, “You Disrespectful trash! I hold more loyalty for my princess then my own life! But if she chooses to keep secrets from me then I would like to at least hear your side of this!”

The Prisoner smiled in a terrifying way that showed the true evil of his being, “Disloyal one… thy goal is just… thy time is near… and thy fate to thee will be sealed… just as thy fate to thy princess, too will be sealed.”
The guard asked, “Fate… what fate? What are you talking about?”
the monstrous creator just stood there with a smile on his face as the guard took another step forward, “ANSWER ME!”
The Leading guard quickly realized that he had stepped into the barriers reach, so he quickly turned to run back to safety… but it was too late. A string of sand from the dark monster shot straight out and pierced the body of the fleeing unicorn before he was able to make it to safety.

Knowing there was no hope, the subordinate, yelled, “SIR NO!!!”
The dark creator used the pike of sand that was still inside the unicorns body to pick him up and bring him close enough to look him in the eye, “Thy fate?… Tis death of course. Death to thy princesses, death to thy soldiers, death to thy kingdom, and… death to the alicorn species. However, if thee really wants to support thy princess with such loyal indulgence… then thee will share the same fate”
The dying unicorn stared with horror into the Monsters eyes as the sand started to engulf his body causing him to scream in the most horrifying way that anypony had ever heard.

The remaining soldier stared in horror at the event before trying to turn and flee for his life. As the soldier ran, the sand made alicorn picked up the pebble from with his magic and tossed through the barriers with such speed that it pierced the pony’s body, killing him as if it were an arrow. As the pony laid on the ground dead, the creature tried to reach for his body, however as the sand Started to pass the barrier, it fell to the ground as if it were ordinary sand. The alicorn looked at the jewel that was embedded in one of the pillars as he smiled, “Soon thy queen… thou power will run out and thou magic will fade… then, I shall free thyself and make thou daughters share the same fate as thee… they shall die as thee did, two thousand years ago…”
And with those words, the creature turned back into a pile of sand, returned into the chest, and sealed it shut, leaving behind no remains of the loyal soldier who so foolishly entered his domain.

Ch4 Old Friends, and New Storms

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Star Bolt continued through the Everfree Forest before he finally reached the home of his very first friend since the Nightmare Crusade. Star Bolt knocked on the front door and waited until the door was opened by the resident. Zecora smiled as she spoke, “Star Bolt my friend, it’s been quite a while, so happy to see you and bearing a smile.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “It’s good to see you again Zecora. How have you been?”
As Zecora stepped aside to let Star Bolt enter her home, she gave him a somewhat disappointed look, “I’m fine as always though annoyed and bleak, I’ve heard you’ve been in Ponyville for about a week.”
Star Bolt felt embarrassed as he replied, “Yea… sorry about that. I’ve been working every day at Sweet Apple Acres. It’s a moderately easy job… but it’s left me with almost no time to do anything. But I’m here now and I brought some stuff for you.”

Star Bolt sat his saddlebag on her table as he pulled out many different types of herbs that he had gathered in his travels. As Zecora looked over the herbs, she smiled, “Star Bolt my friend, I can always count on you, to bring me ingredients for every type of brew.”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “What can I say, you saved my life and gave me reason to continue living. I know that what I did was terrible and if death should meet me, I'll gladly accept it. However, if somepo… I mean if a zebra like you can save a lowlife like me, then maybe there is reason for it.”
Zecora started to laugh, “There’s plenty reason for that, an ancestor’s great plea, dragged me from my home, and here to Everfree. But I'll admit your friendship, for which I'll never squander, gave me great joy, even if you wander.”

Star Bolt started looking around the house as he continued, “Not much has changed has it. I can tell you’ve gotten better at your magic haven’t you?”
Star Bolt saw a stand part of the floor and began scratching it with his hoof, “Hmm… I guess even magic can’t get bloodstains out of wood.”
Zecora knew that something was on Star Bolt’s mind so she spoke, “You bled a lot on a most troubling day. But from the look in your eye… you have something to say?”
Star Bolt nodded his head as his expression became serious, “I wanted to ask your opinion on something. I wanted to know, what do you think would happen, if I decided to retur…”

In mid-sentence, Star Bolt went silent as he looked towards the front door. When she noticed his silence, Zecora tried to asked, “Star Bolt what’s wr…”
After Star Bolt shushed her, He quickly and quietly leaned against the front door and gripped his sword as he looked back at Zecora and nodded his head. Then Star Bolt quickly opened the door and drew his sword as he and Zecora watched their spy fall into the room. As soon as the little filly hit the floor, Star Bolt sighed, “Sweetie Belle… what are you doing here?”
Sweetie Belle replied, as Star Bolt sheathed his sword, “Roseluck said you were going to see a friend in the Everfree Forest, so we came to see if you needed help.”
“… We?”

As Star Bolt looked at the opened front door, he saw both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo standing there with a worried smile on their faces as they waved to him. Star Bolt could only put his hoof against his face as Zecora smiled, “A fortunate day for me, as it would sit. Appears that many have come to visit.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “More like intrude… but this would be a good reason to cut my visit short. I better get them home. You know how dangerous the forest could be for fillies. Maybe you can come visit me sometime. I'll be staying in Ponyville for a while so if you’re ever in town, feel free to stop by. I’m staying with Roseluck at her home, but if I’m not there then you could most likely find me at Sweet Apple Acres.”
Zecora smiled, “Thank you my friend, your invite is nice, perhaps next time, I can give you advice.”

The three fillies looked sad as Apple Bloom spoke, “Aww… but we just got here.”
Star Bolt sighed, “And now, we’ll just leave. Let’s go crusaders.”
The three fillies left the house as Star Bolt followed them and closed the door behind him. After the door was closed, Zecora looked at the herbs that Star Bolt left behind, then she looked back at the door with a worried look. She didn’t know exactly what he was going to ask, but she knew that his expression showed it to be something dangerous for him.

As the stallion and the three fillies traveled back up the road, Scootaloo asked, “So what’s the deal with you coming out here in the first place Mr. Star?”
Star Bolt sighed, “Well I was actually coming out here to visit a good friend with whom I’m indebted to… but since you three are out here without an adult to protect you, I might as well get you three back safely, I’m not too worried about Applejack, but I know Rarity would rip me in half if I let something bad happen to Sweetie Belle.”
Apple Bloom replied, “but I thought you were going to be working today… are ya playing hockey or somthin.”
Scootaloo corrected her, “I think the word you’re looking for is hooky.”
Sweetie Belle smiled in a smart way, “Oh who’s the dictionary now?”

As the two fillies glared at each other in annoyance, Star Bolt sighed, “No I’m not playing hooky. Applejack said that Rainbow Dash was planning on a storm passing through today, so she told me to wait till it passed before continuing. Besides she says that we are so far ahead of schedule that she will give me weekends off so we can wait for the apples that aren’t ready to be harvested to ripen a little more.”
Scootaloo asked, “Ok so why did you use your day off to come out here? Are you in love with Zecora or something?”
As Sweetie Belle glared at Scootaloo for her comment, Star Bolt shook his head, “No, no, nothing like that. let’s just say I borrowed a few things from her and as payment, I’m returning what I borrowed through the herbs I gather in my travels.”
Sweetie Belle sighed in relief as Apple Bloom spoke next, “Ya mean like a trade?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… like a trade.”

As soon as the ponies exited the forest, Rarity met them on the road, “Sweetie Belle, I’ve been galloping everywhere looking for you. We have to hurry and get home before the storm starts. Thank you Star Bolt for seeing that my sister got home safely. I’ve been much too busy getting orders filled for the Grand Galloping Gala that I’ve almost forgotten to make sure she stays inside today.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Not a problem at all Ms. Rarity. Can you see that the other two get home safely too?”
Rarity smiled as she replied, “Hmm I don’t see why not. To think that you would go this far out of your way to help these fillies was too much to ask to begin with.”
Star Bolt turned to leave as he replied, “Thanks Rarity, you be careful then.”
As Star Bolt was trotting away Rarity yelled to him, “You too Star Bolt, and tell Roseluck hello for me… she’s a lucky mare.”
Star Bolt stopped and turned towards Rarity, “What was that last part?”
She smiled, “Oh, Nothing! Nothing at all!”

Since Star Bolt didn’t actually hear her comment, he just disregarded it completely, as he made his way back to Roseluck’s home. As he entered, Roseluck met him at the door, "Welcome back Star, how was your visit?"
Star Bolt felt a little unusual being greeted like this but he was a guest so he just replied, "Well, it could have gone better, but all in all it wasn’t too bad. The weather looks like it’s going to get a little rough out there. Will your garden survive a storm?"
Roseluck smiled, "My roses are tougher than they look."
“I'm sure they ar..."

Before Star Bolt could finish his sentence, the door flew open as Rainbow Dash rushed inside, "STAR BOLT!!! I need your help! You said you were once a weather Pegasus right?"
Star Bolt was surprised that Rainbow Dash seemed so worked up, "Yea... I did some work here and there, why do you ask?"
"Cloudsdale messed up, big time! They have a typhoon that was supposed to wait till it reached the coast before activating, but it activated too soon. Now it’s a massive tornado that’s going to hit Ponyville on its way to the coast, unless we stop it."
Star Bolt replied, "So this town can't handle this tornado?"
Rainbow Dash replied, "Are you crazy! This was going to be the mother of all storms! Ponyville has no hope against this thing. If we don't do anything soon then Ponyville will be permanently relocated to wherever this storm takes it!"

Star Bolt immediately reacted, "Then let’s get to work and stop this thing!”
Rainbow Dash smiled, "YEA! Now you’re talking!"
Roseluck nervously stepped forward, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Rainbow Dash replied, "Nah, it’s probably best if you leave it to the professionals."
As Roseluck looked down in disappointment as Star Bolt spoke to Roseluck, "What she means is; it would be better if you found a place to take shelter. You know just in case."
Roseluck smiled at Star Bolt and replied, "Ok... If you think its best, then I'll take your advice."
Rainbow Dash realized something and smiled, "Oh, I see what's going on here."
Star Bolt was confused, "What?"
Rainbow Dash replied, “I know you two ar..."

Before Rainbow Dash could reply, Roseluck jumped forward, covered her mouth and spoke quietly to her, "Shhhh, please Dash, I want to tell him at the right time."
Rainbow Dash smiled, "Ok if you say so. Come on Star; let’s take care of this thing."
Ignoring the conversation that was interrupted, Star Bolt spoke to Roseluck as he trotted out the door, "Just stay here and be careful if you have to, go to Sweet Apple Acres. They have a storm cellar you can take cover in."
As both Star Bolt and Rainbow Dash flew into the sky, Rainbow Dash explained her plan, "Ok you try to take out any surrounding storm clouds and I'll work my magic on the center of the cyclone. That should be enough to disperse it, and stop it from leveling Ponyville."
Star Bolt replied, "Are you sure you can handle it by yourself?"
"Please, you’re talking to the pony who got her cutie mark from using the Sonic Rainboom... I so got this!"
Star Bolt shrugged him shoulders, "Whatever you say Dashie."

It wasn’t long before Star Bolt and Rainbow Dash approached a massive tornado that seemed to be almost a quarter mile wide. Star Bolt paused as he looked at the storm and spoke, “Hey dash? You sure you can handle this thing?”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “I told you before, I’ve handled worse than this monster.”
As Rainbow Dash flew close to the tornado’s center cyclone, Star Bolt made his way around the outside destroying the outer clouds so that the center would be easier to control. But no matter how much she tried every time Rainbow Dash tried to build up speed, she had to slow down or stop to dodge the severe lightning that was assaulting everything near the center of the storm. It wasn't long before Rainbow Dash took a full on impact from a lightning bolt and started to fall. When Star Bolt saw this, he immediately sprang into action. Moving as fast as he could Star Bolt caught Rainbow Dash just inches before they both hit the ground and rolled a few feet.

When Rainbow Dash stood up, she stumbled as she spoke, “It’s no use, I can’t get enough speed to reverse the vortex. That lightning won’t give me a break."
Star Bolt thought to himself and replied, "I have an idea, I'll draw the lightning to me while you continue trying to reverse the vortex."
Rainbow Dash was confused, "And how exactly are you supposed to do that?"
Star Bolt replied, "Trust me."
Rainbow Dash looked at the vortex that was just starting to cross the outskirts of sweet apple acres, then she sighed, "I hope you know what you're doing Star."
Star Bolt smiled as he flew into the sky, "Don't worry Dash... I got this."

Star Bolt then took off into the sky straight towards the large spiraling cloud. As he got closer, the lightning that was posing a problem for Rainbow Dash started to strike near him now. Remembering the countless arrows, spears, catapult boulders, and other obstacles he faced in the many battles he fought in, Star Bolt dodged the lightning with ease using the same maneuvers he used more than a thousand years ago. Not far behind him, Rainbow Dash marveled at Star Bolt as he flew. She was moving as swiftly as she could and dodged the lightning by inches, while the lightning wasn't even close to him as it passed by, Watching him fly was almost like watching the Wonderbolts. Rainbow Dash stopped in flight, "Whoa... Who is this guy?"

Finally Star Bolt got to the outside of the cyclone, using all the strength he had, Star Bolt hit the side of the vortex, made it inside, and vanished from Rainbow Dash's sight. While inside the vortex of the massive tornado, Star Bolt could see that this storm truly was the mother of all storms. The wind was strong while the lightning scattered in many directions making the center of the vortex look like a tin can with a neon spider web inside. Star Bolt continued to climb through the center of the massive funnel until he finally reached the very top of the clouds where the mouth of the vortex began. Star Bolt flew to the side and gathered a large cloud into the center of the mouth, and then he stood there and started to focus on using the Lightning Orb. He didn't know if this would work or not, but if it did he knew that he would need a large amount of energy to attract the entirety of the charge that this storm was carrying. He knew if he could absorb all of electricity in the air then he could either weaken the storm so it would be easy to stop, or stop it entirely.

As Star Bolt stood on the cloud trying to use the Lightning Orb, he started to feel the charge in his hooves that he usually felt when he used it; only this cloud didn't appear above him... Instead, the cloud he stood on started to get darker and darker as it absorbed the energy around him. Outside the vortex, Rainbow Dash was increasing her speed as she flew around the storm with ease, she had no idea how he was doing it, but Star Bolt was actually drawing the lightning away from her as she flew. Then she started to notice that the vortex was getting darker as the surrounding cloud cover was turning white or dispersing all on its own. Finally, a large flash rose out of the top of the vortex as a large string of lightning shot out in all directions from the highest point in the vortex. Rainbow Dash couldn't believe her eyes; she had never seen anything close to what she was witnessing at this moment. But she wasn't the only one, all the ponies watching the tornado as it approached, marveled at the spiky electrified ball that was hovering just outside Ponyville.

As the sphere of light vanished leaving behind a small number of white clouds, Rainbow Dash called out, "Aww yea!!! That's what I'm talking about!!!"
Up on one of the few remaining clouds, Star Bolt stood breathing heavily as he looked around, "I... I did it... That's... That's good. I didn't know if..."
With barely enough strength to stay awake, Star Bolt collapsed and laid on the cloud as he thought to himself, "I... I hope nopony saw too much... I’ve come too far… to be seen now…"
With that said, Star Bolt lost consciousness on the slowly dissolving cloud. Down on the ground, Princess Twilight approached Rainbow Dash as she was landing next to her, "Wow Rainbow Dash that was amazing, you really showed that storm huh."
Rainbow Dash turned and replied, "Well actually the credit belongs to Star Bolt, he’s the one who stopped this storm. Though I wish I knew how."
Twilight looked around and replied, "So um... Where is he? I don't see anypony else but you here."
Rainbow Dash looked around and replied, "Hey... Where did he go? I got a few questions I want him to answer."
As the mares looked around, Star Bolt continued to lie on the only remaining cloud in the sky, until it finally dissolved from under him, causing him to fall. When Rainbow Dash saw him falling, she called out, "Look! There he is!!!"
Twilight quickly spoke, "He is too far for my magic to reach!!! Rainbow Dash!"
“I'm on it!"

Rainbow Dash took off into the sky as fast as she could but she was too far from him, even if she flew fast enough to use the Sonic Rainboom she knew she couldn't reach him in time. Rainbow Dash continued flying as fast as she could but to no avail. As Star Bolts motionless body fell behind a hill, she heard a loud crash. As Rainbow Dash approached the area that Star Bolt landed in, she was relieved to find Roseluck standing there coughing as she was fanning the dust away from her shattered wagon filled with flowers. Out of breath and tired from sprinting, Roseluck unhooked herself from the wagon as she shuffled through the flowers looking for the cause of its destruction. Finally, she uncovered Star Bolts face as she spoke, "Thank Celestia I saw you in time. That wouldn’t have ended well at all."

With Star Bolt still unconscious Rainbow Dash spoke, "Way to go girl! If that doesn't win him over, nothing will."
Roseluck smiled, "See, I told you I could be of help. And I was!"
As Princess Twilight landed next to them, she spoke, "I'm glad this all ended well. This will be a good lesson in friendship to send to Princess Celestia."
Remembering Star Bolts last encounter with the royal guards when they first met, Roseluck quickly spoke up, "Um... Princess Twilight? Is it alright if I send this letter to Princess Celestia?"
Princess Twilight nodded her head, "That's fine; I have other matters to attend to anyway so feel free to knock yourself out. But first, you might want to let him get some rest, he has been through a lot today."

As Princess Twilight started to trot away from them, Roseluck replied, "Thank you princess... I will."
As soon as Princess Twilight was out of sight, Rainbow Dash flew up and gave Roseluck a skeptic look, "there is something you’re not telling us, isn't there?"
Roseluck replied, "What are you talking about?"
Rainbow Dash replied, "Yea, yea, I don't know anything about what happened today, but I'll get to the bottom of this, so you better not be hiding something important from us."
Roseluck replied, "I know things are a little sketchy, but I promise you have nothing to worry about."
Rainbow Dash turned to fly away as she replied, "I better not."
As Rainbow Dash flew away, Roseluck turned back and looked at Star Bolt as he laid in the wagon. She remembered the day they first met, the conflict he had with the royal guards, and the same flash that she saw today. She knew he wasn't bad, but that didn't stop herself from asking the question, "Star? Who are you?"

Back in the Canterlot Library, Princess Celestia was looking through some old tomes as her top historian trotted up and sat a number of books on the table in front of her, “Here you are your majesty, everything set before you became princess of Equestria, but I'm afraid we don’t have anything in here that could help with our problem.”
Princess Celestia closed the book she was reading and sighed, “Thank you Niether… you may leave for the night if you wish… I'm going to keep looking.”
Niether bowed as he backed away, “Thank you your majesty, I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

As Niether left the room, Princess Celestia opened another book and saw two eyes looking directly at her on the pages. She sighed and spoke, “What is it Discord?”
As she placed the book flat on the table Discord climbed out of it and replied, “Really Princess? You’ve been locked away reading old books all day, while things around the castle continue to get even more boring, and all you can do is asked rudely what do you want? Talk about disappointing.”
Princess Celestia shook her head, “Things won’t get any better if we continue to ignore what’s to come. How is Princess Luna doing, has she had any problems running Canterlot alone?”

Discord hovered over her, “She’s had no problems, in fact she sneers at me twice as much as you do, so I suppose she is twice as efficient… not to mention boring.”
Princess Celestia replied, “She still doesn’t trust you I see. Well… what about you know who?”
Discord picked up a book about the Nightmare Crusade and replied, “Still no word… this pony is really good at what he did, here I am… the bringer of chaos and despair, and yet I never did the damage to Canterlot that he did way back when.”

Princess Celestia sighed, “Don’t say that… That pony has felt more pain than any Pegasus alive. Almost as much as sister and I. Just report any news you hear to me and me alone, and remember Discord, I don’t wa…”
“I know, I know. You don’t want sweet innocent Luna to find out. You’re worse than a broken record… I'll behave… but I hope you know that my reputation is on the line so try not to expect the impossible from me.”
With that said, Discord sat the book he was reading down on the table and climbed inside as he closed the cover behind him. Out of curiosity, Princess Celestia opened the book to the page that Discord climbed into and saw a picture of Star Bolt standing in front of his officers during the Nightmare Crusade, “I can only hope he will agree to help. We could use all the help we can get.”

Ch5 Truth and Lies

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Star Bolt slowly opened his eyes as the light from the sun shined through the bedroom window. As he sat up, Star Bolt felt his side starting to ache, as he looked out the window. He started to think about his last memories, “The storm… is everypony ok? The winds stopped, and then…”
Before he could finish his sentence, the door opened as Roseluck pushed a cart into the room with a plate of food on it, “Star, you’re awake, how are you feeling?”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders as he replied, “Well my side hurts, but other than that I’m fine.”
Rose smiled, “Well the doctor came by earlier and said you had a pulled muscle. But other than that nothing was broken so that’s good, considering you fell from nearly a thousand feet.”
Star Bolt smiled, “And you caught me, didn’t you?... thank you Rose, looks like I’m in your debt.”

Roseluck blushed as she replied, “No…we’re even now. But please don’t do that again. I was worried about you. What if I didn’t come to help?”
Star Bolt looked at the plate of food as Roseluck sat it in front of him. He sighed as he replied “Then I would have died… nothing more to it.”
Roseluck was troubled by the serious expression on his face as she argued, “Yea… and where would that leave us?”
Star Bolt looked up at her, “Us?”
Roseluck blushed as she looked away and replied, “I wouldn’t be able to repay my debt… Applejack would feel guilty for not getting the chance to pay you for your work. Rainbow Dash would feel bad for dragging you into that tornado. And poor Sweetie Belle… she would lose one of her best friends. Just because you’re a wanderer, doesn’t mean that nopony would notice if you all of a sudden died… you’re our friend Star Bolt. And now… our hero.”

Star Bolt couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew that it wasn’t as pointless as he made it out to be… but when explained so vividly like that, he realized that it was a lot more complicated then he understood. Hearing her talk like that reminded him greatly of an incident during the Nightmare Crusade. And seeing the blushing seriousness that Roseluck’s face was showing, reminded him greatly of Gem Stone. Star Bolt sighed and put his hoof on her shoulder, “You’re right Rose… sorry if I seem to be too negative. It’s just been a while since somepony spelled it out for me, that’s all.”
Roseluck nodded her head as she turned around to leave the room, “Good, now finish your food and come down stairs. You have a few guests waiting to greet you.”
Roseluck smiled as she left the room, “I wasn’t the only pony waiting for you to wake up.”
After Roseluck was gone, Star Bolt got out of the bed, and went down stairs.

By the time Star Bolt was at the bottom of the stairs, he had already seen Princess Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, The Cutiemark Crusaders, and Zecora standing in the living room. Twilight Sparkle was talking with Zecora, “So you knew Star Bolt for a long time then? I didn’t know you two were acquainted.”
Zecora smiled, “He helped my past, with no problems to mend, because when I arrived here, he was my first friend.”
Pinkie yelled out, “HE’S HERE!!!”
Star Bolt smiled as everypony in the room looked at him, “Um… hey everypony… what did I miss?”
Rarity spoke first, “Only the most spectacular save I have ever witness in all my days!”
Pinkie Pie jumped in the air as she spoke, “YEA, you were like Shooom, and then you were like StZZZZZZZ, then we were like WHAAAAA! then you were like BOOOMMMM!!, then it was all like SHEEEZZZZZZZZZ. Then it went very quiet while we were like Whoooo and th….”
Applejack put her hoof over pinkies mouth, as she translated, “What she means to say is that we are all grateful you helped us out of that pickle… we didn’t know you had it in ya.”

As Star Bolt smiled, Pinkie Pie trotted up to him, “Ohoo you know what we should do? We should throw him a PART…”
Pinkie Pie stopped talking when she was interrupted by Rainbow Dash who was entering the front door, “I have a question for you Star? That is… if you’re not hiding anything from us…”
Star Bolt felt a little nervous, but he had a lot of practice in hiding his guilt so he replied without any suspicion from the other ponies in the room, “Sure, Dash… what do you want to know?”
Rainbow Dash asked, “Exactly what happened up there yesterday? How did you manage to attract all that lighting?”
Star Bolt replied, “I took a thick cloud and I used a very unique way of kicking lighting out of the clouds… only I fired it through the center of the vortex which made it attract lighting with the spinning wind surrounding it… kinda like an electro magnet.”

Thought it was a complete and utter lie, the surrounding ponies nodded their heads in agreement, but Rainbow Dash still had her suspicions, “Ok, then what about afterwards? How did the storm die after that one little trick?”
Without any hesitation to arise suspicion, Star Bolt replied, “The quick increase in temperature probably caused a strong shift in air pressure. Therefore, the cyclone was disrupted by that one event. You see it often like when the wind picks up because of the heat in the sunrise.”
with all the ponies looking at Rainbow Dash expecting a continuation in her argument, Rainbow Dash felt embarrassed as she tried to counter the debate, “Then… Then why were you exhausted? You expect me to believe that a stallion with your strength can get tired after kicking one lightning bolt out of a cloud?”
Star Bolt hesitated, but not because he was stumped, but to make it seem like he was embarrassed, “Well… the change in pressure got to me. From where I was to begin with, the air was thin. Maybe the change in pressure gave me an extreme head rush… and maybe I couldn’t handle it… so I lost consciousness. I’m not superpony ya know.”

Feeling like her argument was making her look bad, Rainbow Dash decided to try one more attempt, “Ok, that seems believable enough… but where did you learn a technique like that? I’ve never heard of such a thing and I doubt it can be learned in the royal guard… so how did you learn to do that?”
Star Bolt felt nervous, not only was this a question he wasn’t ready for… but he couldn’t think of anything in the spot like he could with the rest of the questions, “I… um… well… ya see…”
“He doesn’t remember!”
Everypony in the room quickly looked at The Cutiemark Crusaders as Scootaloo added to Apple Bloom’s comment, “Star Bolt Lost his memory when he was a colt, so he has no memory of how he got his cutiemark!”
Apple Bloom continued, “That’s right! He got amnausea so he doesn’t remember anythin’!”
Sweetie Belle added, “Well Amnesia… but yea, he told us himself that he lost his memories a long time ago so he doesn’t even know if that is his special talent or not!”
Rainbow Dash looked back at Star Bolt as he blushed in embarrassment, “Really?...”
Star Bolt replied, “Um… yea, when I was ten I lost all of my memories. To be honest, I don’t even know if I was ten when it happened because I didn’t even know my age.”

Rainbow Dash knew she was beat but she still tried to continue, “Well… um… then… uh…”
Star Bolt looked at Rainbow Dash and spoke, “Dashie? Is something wrong? You’re acting like I caused the storm.”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well… I… I just don’t know what happened is all. You flew into the tornado then all of a sudden a bright flash, and then the storm stopped as if you hit the brakes. I just want some answers.”
Star Bolt replied, “Then simply ask… I have nothing against you, or anypony else in Ponyville.”
Rainbow Dash sighed, “Well… it’s not like I don’t trust you or anything like that… but it just seems suspicious, that’s all.”
Star Bolt smiled as he nodded his head, “I understand.”
“You do?”
“Of course, you have a good thing here Dashie. You have a good town that is very friendly to all who pass through. Good, trustworthy friends who will do anything to help you. I guess all I’m saying is, you have every right to be suspicious about a wandering stallion like myself who refuses to talk about his past, and who did something unbelievable to save a town that isn’t even his own. But… I guess that’s why I did it. I’ve traveled all over Equestria and I’ve been to places that most wouldn’t even know existed. And of all those places… this town and these ponies are the best I’ve met. I guess that’s why I helped you all. You all have shown me nothing but kindness and generosity. And for that… I’m happy I came to Ponyville. I’m happy I met you all… even you Rainbow Dash.”

After hearing his speech, Rainbow Dash hung her head as she replied, “Sorry Star Bolt… I guess I owe you an apo…”
“No need… you’re the one to praise for saving the town anyways. If you hadn’t gone to get me… then I wouldn’t have helped.”
Rainbow Dash blushed as she replied, “Well… I guess I did help out some during the storm didn’t I?”
Star Bolt smiled, “You sure did… now what was it that you said we needed Pinkie?”
Pinkie Pie jumped in the air, “A… wait… what did I say we needed… oh… right… A PARTY!!!”
Applejack spoke up, “And I know just where to have it. C’mon everypony! Let’s get down to Sweet Apple Acres! Time for a good old-fashioned hootenanny!!!”
As everypony in the room Started gathering at the door, Star Bolt noticed that Roseluck stayed behind as he asked, “Rose? You coming?”
Roseluck shook her head and replied, “Oh… no, I’m not feeling too well Star. I’m just going to stay here. I need to tend to my garden anyway.”
Star Bolt knew a lie when he heard one, but since it wasn’t his business, he replied, “Well… ok, don’t be afraid to come out if you feel better later on. We’ll be waiting.”
As Star Bolt Continued out the door, Roseluck mumbled to herself as she pulled out a letter that she had written to Princess Celestia, “Ok Star... I trust you… I hope.”

Not long after the group of ponies left the house, they arrived at a decorated part of Sweet Apple Acres where many were already enjoying the gathered festivities. The large party continued throughout the day with everypony present having a good time, even Rainbow Dash who was still sore about the morning’s argument decided to cut loose and enjoy the festivities. After a while, Star Bolt decided to go to the punch bowl to get away from the large crowd for a few seconds. When he got there, he saw Spike sitting and sighing as he watch Rarity who was enjoying herself at the arts and crafts table. As he sat there sighing, Star Bolt asked, “How it going little buddy? You ok?”
Spike Started swishing the cup of punch around as he sighed, “Yea… I’m fine.”
Star Bolt got a cup and sat down next to him, “Ya sure? You don’t look fine to me… what’s up?”
Spike looked at Star Bolt and replied, “It’s just…. No, a cool popular pony like you wouldn’t understand.”
Star Bolt looked at Rarity then back at Spike as he smiled, “Maybe… but in the end, does anypony ever truly understand love?”

Spike Started to blush as he looked at Star Bolt with surprise, “What? But… how did you know th…”
Star Bolt smiled, “I know that look anywhere. The look of longing, and hoping. What you should do is talk to her.”
Spike felt nervous, “Yea… but… what should I say?”
Star Bolt thought for a second, “Hmm… why don’t you tell her something sweet? I dunno… I’m not interested in what she likes so I’m clueless as to what mares want. However, if you leave her in the dark too long, then either she will look past you and find somepony else or something could happen and then you will never get your chance.”
Spike looked at Star Bolt, “What kind of something?”
Star Bolt thought to himself, but only one instant came to mind, but it wasn’t good so he dodged the question, “Just… something…”
Spike looked back at Rarity and tried to prepare himself, “Ok…ok… I can do this… I’m going to go right up to her and say… um… Hi… How’s that?”

Star Bolt put his hoof over his face and sighed, “Well… I'd say it’s a Start. But I think you should take more than just one step in this. Why not ask about something she enjoys… like, well you two both like gems right? Why not ask her what her favorite color of gem is, and go from there. Who knows, maybe you learn something new about her.”
Spike nodded his head and replied, “Ok… I got this… Hello Rarity, I was wondering, what’s your favorite color gem is… How’s that?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Go for it… sounds like you got this covered.”
Spike finished off his punch then gave a deep breath as he started walking over to the arts and crafts table. When he got there, he taped Rarity on the shoulder, “Um… Rarity? I was wondering what your favorite rock was… Wait… Gem… wait, favorite color rock, GEM!!! I… um…”
Rarity couldn’t help but laugh at the bashful dragon as she put her hoof over his mouth and spoke, “Well Spikey-Wikey I would say its purple. But I think the heart sapphire you gave me is still my favorite.”
Spike blushed as he replied, “Oh… really… then I’m glad I gave it to you…”

As the two Started to continued their conversation, Star Bolt held his punch up in a manner to give cheers for Spike’s success, “Way to go little buddy.”
“That was a sweet thing you did for him Star.”
Star Bolt looked over to see princess Twilight standing next to him, “Well it was killing me watching him kill himself with his continued self-pity… I had to do something to boost his confidence. Besides, I’ve given that look too many times in my lifetime… and in the end; I never got my chance, to tell her how I felt.”
Princess Twilight replied, “Really? What happened? Did you leave town or something?”
Star Bolt sighed, “No… she died.”
Princess Twilight looked at the ground in sadness as she replied, “Oh… I’m sorry to hear that.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Its ok… I’m over it, but I still can’t help but wonder what life would be like if she had lived. I guess it’s just one of those what if situations… like what if I had a little brother to take care of or something like that.”

Princess Twilight smiled, “I’m glad you’re so ok with talking about something like that. I couldn’t tell you how I would react if somepony I love died.”
Star Bolt shook his head and replied, “We all have our ways to mourn another. Some cry, some get angry, and others just ignore it.”
Princess Twilight nodded her head, “While the rest chose to abandon everything that remind them of it…”
Star Bolt didn’t show any expression to the comment; instead, he just finished his drink and began trotting away without a single word. Twilight stopped him, “I’m sorry if I went too far Star… I didn’t mean t…”
“No… the sad part is that you couldn’t be more right… Nevertheless, it’s my choice… and I have no regrets. Thanks for the party Twilight… but I think I’m going to call it a day.”
Twilight felt bad about what she said as she watched Star Bolt leave Sweet Apple Acres without a single word to the party guests.

As he continued down the road towards Roseluck’s house, Star Bolt stopped when he came to a fork in the road. Normally he would just continue on his path, but when he looked at the directional signs, he saw that the other path lead to the Everfree Forest. Thinking to himself about the hard conversations he had throughout the day, he started to wander, “Maybe I should go to the Thunder Grounds… clear my head for a few minutes.”
So, Star Bolt put the hood of his cloak on his head as he began trotting down the road leading to the Everfree Forest. Not long after that, he heard a nervous voice behind him, “Um… Mr. Star?”
Star Bolt stopped and turned around to see Sweetie Belle standing there with an uneasy expression on her face. Star Bolt turned towards her and sighed, “Sweetie Belle you need to go back to the party… there is no reason for you to follow me.”
Sweetie Belle asked, “Are… are you leaving? You know… for good?”
Star Bolt thought to himself as he replied, “Look I only need to clear my thought for a few seconds.”
“But you’re coming back… right?”

Star Bolt saw tears starting to build up in her eyes as he replied, “Sweetie Belle… why are you so concerned about this?”
Sweetie Belle looked at the ground as she replied, “Well… I just… I don’t want you to leave… that’s all.”
Feeling that this was the right time to talk to her about this, Star Bolt looked at a nearby hill with an apple tree and spoke, “Sweetie Belle… come with me… we need to talk.”
Star Bolt lead Sweetie Belle to the hill and sat down next to her, “Sweetie Belle, I know how you feel about me… and I’m going to have to tell you that you need to stop.”
Sweetie Belle started to tear up while she tried to deny it, “What?... I… I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

Star Bolt shook his head, “You can deny it all you want… but I know how you feel about me… and I want you to stop now before you get yourself hurt.”
Sweetie Belle started to cry as she spoke, “But… but why? Is… is it something I said? Something I did to make you mad?... am… am I bothering you? I promise I can stop hanging around you so much if that’s what it is?... did… did I do something wrong?”
“Sweetie Belle…”
“I promise I can do thing differently if that’s what you want.”
“Sweetie Belle!...”
“What did I do? Why do you not like me?”
“Sweetie Belle enough!!!”
Sweetie Belle looked at the ground in complete despair as Star Bolt sighed, “Sweetie Belle… I know you’re only doing what your heart tells you… but right now, you can’t be certain that your heart is right. Trust me… I was in love at your age too.”

Sweetie Belle looked up at Star Bolt in shock, “R-really?”
Star Bolt smiled, “Yep… I fell in love with the first mare I saw after I lost my memories. When first saw her I wanted to be with her all the time. In fact, that’s why I grew up to be a royal guard. I wanted to someday protect her and show her that my love was stronger than I could ever be. But… I was just a foal. And because of that, I never had any friends when I was young. All I knew was training and her, and because of that… I let my foalhood sift through my hooves.”
Sweetie Belle looked back at the ground in disappointment, “So… it’s because I’m a foal?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well that’s part of the reason. You have your whole life ahead of you; right now, you should leave your focused on your cutiemark, and your friends. If you try to rush through your foal years, then you will let the best part of your life slip by.”
Sweetie Belle nodded her head with her tears still on her face, ‘I guess I know what you mean…”

Star Bolt pat her on her head as he continued, “Don’t worry so much… one day you will grow up into a beautiful mare, then when you have all those stallions fighting over you, you will meet that special one that makes you smile and that you want to be with. You two will spend endless hours with each other, and never want to be apart. Then you will make the horrible mistake.”
Sweetie Belle looked back at Star Bolt, “Mistake?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yep, you’re going to make the mistake of introducing him to me… and I'll beat the endless tar out of him until he proves to me that he is the right pony for you…”
Sweetie Belle started to laugh through her tears as Star Bolt smiled, “Then… one way or other, he will prove me wrong, or strangle me in my sleep. Then he will be free to ask for your hoof in marriage. But until that day, just enjoy your foalhood while it lasts… seriously; don’t waste a single day of it.”
Sweetie Belle felt a lot better about the subject now, but she still had to ask… “But… why are you leaving? Don’t you like it here?”
Star Bolt looked at the sun as it began to set, then continued, “I never said I was leaving… you only assumed I was. Like I said, I’m only going to go to a special place that I use to think for a few seconds… that’s all.”

Sweetie Belle nodded her head, “Oh… I thought you were going to leave because I heard you and Princess Twilight talking. I thought she said something that would make you want to leave.”
Star Bolt replied, “It will take a lot more than that to make me want to leave.”
Sweetie Belle then continued, “So… what is it you’re running from? I mean what are you avoiding so you can forget about the pony who died?”
Star Bolt tried to think of a lie but the words came before he could think of a good one, “I’m… um… I’m just afraid of what might happen if…”
Sweetie Belle interrupted, “Rarity told me that if you’re afraid of something then you need to stand up to it, otherwise you will never overcome your fear.”
Star Bolt thought to himself for a second, “Overcome my fears… interesting… I'll keep that in mind.”
Sweetie Belle smiled, “Yep, that’s how I got over being afraid of the dark.”
Star Bolt could only smile, “I’ve heard the phrase before… but I didn’t think my situation applied to it. Anyway, I suppose this little discussion got my mind off my problems, so I'll just head back to the house and get some rest.”

Sweetie Belle felt nervous as she asked, “Um… Mr. Star? I know you said that I need to stop, but can I still come and see you when I want to? I promise I won’t get in the way.”
Star Bolt shook his head and sighed, “Well, I guess it doesn’t hurt anything if you do… just try to spend a little more time with your friends too… I don’t want them to think I’m trying to steal you away or something.”
Sweetie Belle smiled, “Ok… I'll do that…”
Then Star Bolt looked towards a nearby tree and spoke, “Is that alright with you Ms. Rarity?”
Feeling embarrassed she got caught eavesdropping, “Rarity stepped out from behind the tree as she spoke, “Well… I guess that’s fine. Now come along Sweetie Belle, it’s time to go home.”
Sweetie Belle smiled as she started trotting away, “Ok… Good by Mr. Star, I'll see you tomorrow.”

As Sweetie Belle trotted past her sister, Rarity smiled at Star Bolt, “Thank you Mr. Star… I have been a little worried about this since she started talking about you nonstop at home. So, I’m glad you let her down easily.”
Star Bolt smiled, “It’s my pleasure Ms. Rarity, her heart’s in the right place, but right now she is just too young to worry about that sort of thing. Nevertheless, with a sister like you giving her advice, she is only guaranteed to succeed in the future.”
Rarity smiled, “Anyways, if you ever need anything, feel free to ask. You’ve already done so much for us, it’s the least I can do.”
With that said Rarity turned around and began trotting with her sister back to their home as Star Bolt looked at the rising moon, “Face my fears… hmm.”
Star Bolt then turned around and trotted back to the place he was staying.

Shortly after arriving at the house, Star Bolt saw Roseluck sitting in the living room with a troubled look on her face. Star Bolt saw her look and spoke, “Rose? Are you ok? I was wondering why you didn’t come to the party… did something happen?”
Rose sighed as she laid a letter on the table and spoke, “Star… will you read this?”
Star Bolt felt a little unusual that he was asked to read a letter, but since he saw no harm in it, he replied as he picked it up and sat down, “Sure… may I ask what this is about?”
Roseluck looked at the floor in disappointment and replied, “Just read it…”
Knowing that whatever it was wasn’t good, he cleared his throat and looked at the leader as it read:
“Dear Princess Celestia

You don’t know me, but I’m a friend or your student Princess Twilight Sparkle. She asked me to write a letter on a lesson in friendship that covered the actions of a stallion who recently arrived at our town. About a week ago, this stallion by the name of Star Bolt came to our town in hopes of finding work. Since I knew him from an incident in the Everfree Forest, I already trusted both him and his actions. And as if I couldn’t trust him more, he was responsible for a heroic action that saved Ponyville from a devastating storm that would have easily destroyed our town. We all owe him our lives and he has taught me a lesson in friendship too. He has taught me, that friends can come in many shapes and sizes while at the same time, they can show us that you don’t have to be lifelong friends to share trust in each other. I know that with all the good he has done for this town, that he is 100% trustworthy. In addition, I hope he will continue to stay with us, here in Ponyville.
Your loyal subject,

After reading the letter Star Bolt sat it down on the table as he looked at Roseluck with an expressionless stare, “Rose… what is this?”
Roseluck sighed, “Star… that’s a letter I’m going to send to Princess Celestia soon… but I want you to be honest with me first.”
Star Bolt was confused, “Okay?”
Rose continued, “If there is any reason you have that I shouldn’t send that letter… then I want you to be honest with me. Who are you? What was that flash from yesterday and that day in the Everfree forest… and why were the royal guards chasing you that day?”
Star Bolt sighed, “I can’t say… not because I don’t want to… but it’s for your protection.”
Rose continued, “Star… I trust you with my life… and you’re going to just shoot me down just like that?”
Star Bolt replied, “I have to, there are things that I’m responsible for that would completely change your view about me… I wouldn’t be surprised that even after I told you, you would send that letter anyway.”
Roseluck continued, “Star… if anything will change my view of you, it will be the thought that I could never trust a pony who is hiding something important from me. Please, let me help you.”

Star Bolt sighed, “Fine… Remember that story I told you in the Everfree Forest. About the commander who made the Thunder Grounds… well. I’m him.”
Roseluck was confused, “You’re him? But wh…”
“Over a thousand years ago… when I was just a foal, I lost my memory after using a legendary technique called the Lightning Orb… everything, my name, my family, even my own age… was forgotten on that day. ”
“When you were a foal!?!”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yes… right now, I’m one thousand twenty six years old… or that is if I was ten when I lost my memory.”
Rose put her hoof on her head in amazement, “But… is that even possible?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yes… it is.”
Star Bolt went on to tell her everything about him, from his training as a foal, to his entry into the royal guards. From his service in the Griffin Civil War, to his promotion to commander, into his involvement in the Nightmare Crusade, to his battle against his mentor and Canterlot itself. Even his love for both Gem Stone, and Princess Luna wasn’t left out, all the way to his imprisonment in the stars and his return to Equestria. The only thing he left out was the names of the ponies who helped him since his return.

After his story was told, Roseluck sat in silence for a few seconds as she pondered his situation. Then she quietly stood up, picked up the letter, and trotted to the fireplace, “Star? Do… do you still love Princess Luna?”
Star Bolt hesitated then replied, “I… n-no… I don’t.”
With her back turned away from Star Bolt, she closed her eyes and smiled as she mumbled quietly to herself, “You’re such a bad liar…”
Star Bolt herd her mumble but he didn’t hear what she said. Nevertheless, Roseluck crumbled up the letter and tossed it into the fire. As she watched the letter burn, she spoke, “I'll help you Star Bolt. However I can, but from now on… no secrets ok? If I’m going to let you stay here, I need your honesty to remind me that this is the right thing to do.”

Star Bolt didn’t like the idea, but he nodded his head anyway, “Ok Rose… but that means I’m going to need your help too. Everything you heard tonight… stays here… is that alright?”
Roseluck remained expressionless as she nodded her head, “Agreed. But for now, I’m going to get some rest… it’s been a long day.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he got up and started leaving the room, “Tell me about it… my nerves can’t handle any more stress. I'll call it a night too… I'll see ya tomorrow Rose.”
Even though both ponies felt awkward about the whole situation, they continued into their rooms and went to sleep with no further discussion on the topic.

In the Capital city of Gryphus, Princess Celestia entered the royal hall of King Talon of the Griffin Kingdoms. As she approached the throne, she spoke, “It’s good to see you Talon. How have you been?”
The king smiled as he stood up from his throne and approached the princess, “Princess Celestia of Equestria… I didn’t expect to see you so soon. However since I sent that obnoxious draconequus away, I should have. So what brings you to my fair kingdom?”
Princess Celestia spoke with a serious tone, “You know why I’m here.”
The king sighed, “Ah yes… how could I forget. You’re here to talk about the dark alicorn aren’t you? When the draconequus started spitting out that nonsense along with his repugnant jokes and magic, I could only take it as such. To be honest, I highly doubt that alicorn is anything more than superstition and legend.”
The king started to trot back to his throne as Princess Celestia spoke, “Talon, you know very well that he does exist and that he will return soon. You need to start thinking about the future of your kingdom and su…”

The king angrily turned around and spoke, “How dare you enter my kingdom and tell me how to rule my subjects! I am thinking about my kingdom… and I think it would be better to spend their time improving our nation rather than fending off an old ponytale. Rumors like that will spread panic and I don’t need to calm millions of my own subjects simply because a pony decides to start believing in old stories of dark powers and fallen kingdoms.”
Princess Celestia continued, “King Talon I and my sister were mere foals as we watched our father die by his hoof. We watched as the ponies of Eden were reduced to ash. We even lost our mother to that monster! If you ignore this warning then Gryphus will fall just as Eden did! We must find a way to stop him otherwise both our kingdoms will fall and our species will become exti...”

Princess Celestia silenced herself as the king slowly sat back in his throne and spoke, “Even if he is real, and he does return… his goal will be to eliminate the remaining alicorn. So as far as I’m concerned… You are the only one who needs to worry, how dare you use my nation and my resources to save your own skin… This conversation is over; I would advise you to leave Princess. Though your stay has been brief, I will not allow you to corrupt the minds of my subjects with your talk of nonsense.”
Princess Celestia sighed as she turned around, “Fine… if you want to ignore this plea, then that’s fine by me. But know this, if Luna and I are his targets… then what will happen once he finishes us off? Eventually, he will seek out new targets… and I don’t think he will overlook your kingdom simply because you’re not ponies.”
As the princess left the palace, she trotted to her carriage as the guard waiting for her asked, “Any luck your majesty?”
Princess Celestia sighed, as she looked back at the castle, “No… as usual the griffin king is worrying more about himself then his own subjects… I just hope he isn’t proven wrong… I'd hate to see any kingdom fall, even the Griffin Kingdoms.”

Just as Princess Celestia stepped onto her carriage, another griffin approached her, “Hey Princess? You’re the princess of Equestria right?”
Feeling that the griffin could be a threat, the guard stepped between her and Princess Celestia, “Can I help you miss?”
The griffin rudely replied, “I’m not talking to you dweeb… I’m talking to the one in the crown.”
The guard sneered at the griffin, “You disrespectful little…”
“Stand down captain, let her speak. How may I help you?”
The griffin spoke, “Have you found him yet?”
“Him? Him who?”
The griffin replied, “You know… the pony who can use the Lightning Orb… Him…”
After hearing her remark the guard stepped forward again, “How do you know of Commander Bolt? Have you seen him?”
“Back off pony boy! This is between your princess and me… we didn’t ask for a comment from the metal wearing donkey now did we?”

Before the soldier could reply to the insult, Princess Celestia spoke up, “Do you know where I can find Commander Bolt? Please tell me.”
The griffin nodded her head, “So this dark Ali-whatever is the real deal then hmm. Well I don’t know where Commander Bolt is, but I know if you want his help, then I would explain to him in perfect detail of what you facing and he might help you… however if I heard his story right… then he won’t be persuaded so easily”
The guard was now enraged, “Hold your tongue!!!”
As the guard looked back at Princess Celestia, she hung her head and replied, “I know he is probably still holding a grudge… but I still have to try. We need all that we can gather, and I know that he and his ability can greatly increase our chances for victory. Besides, the fate of the world is at stake… so I must try.”

The griffin shook her head in hopelessness, as she turned around and replied, “Well suit yourself… don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Before the griffin was out of sight, Princess Celestia asked, “How do you know of this anyway… if you don’t mind me asking?”
The griffin replied as she continued, “I only know what dad and the king have said about this… I guess it pays to have your father as a commander in the King ’s Counsel after all. Good luck princess, you’re gonna need it.”
As the griffin walked away, the guard spoke behind her back, “As if we needed her for such useless information anyway.”
Princess Celestia sighed and mumbled to herself, “Luck… I’m going to need much more than luck.”

Ch6 Letter from the Princess

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“Ready… Set… PULL!!!”
As soon as the order was given, Star Bolt, Big Macintosh, and Applejack pulled on the ropes as hard as they could until the rotting tree stump finally came out of the ground. As soon as it was out, Star Bolt trotted to the stump. Drew his sword and began cutting the roots that were still holding the dead tree in the earth. As he did, Applejack approached him and wiped the sweat from her brow, “Whoo-wee, that thing sure was in there. Now that it’s out of the way, we can plant a new tree and have it ready to grow more apples next applebuck season. I appreciate your help Star Bolt, I don’t think Big Mac and I could have handled that without ya.”
Star Bolt smiled as he cut the last root, “Well what good is a farm hand that won’t work when work needs to be done? Besides it wasn’t like I had better things to do today.”

As Big Macintosh started picking up the now free tree stump, Applejack looked at Star Bolt and replied, “Well either way, you’re done for the day. Head home and get some rest, we’ll be seein’ ya tomorrow. Same time and place.”
Star Bolt sheathed his sword and smiled, “No problem AJ, I'll see you then.”
Star Bolt trotted over to a nearby tree and picked up his cloak that was hinging from the branch, then he trotted out of the orchard and down the street. As he approached, the outer edge of Ponyville Star Bolt heard a very faint voice come from behind, “Um… Mr. Star… sir… I, um… I hope I’m not interrupting something… but um… can I talk to you for a second…”
Star Bolt turned around to see Fluttershy standing behind him trying to avert her eyes, “Oh, good afternoon Fluttershy. What’s up?”

Fluttershy continued to avoid her eye contact as she continued, “Oh… um… nothing in particular… I mean… I hope you’re not busy… or something…”
Just then, a little white bunny hoped up to her and tapped her on her hoof, then stood as if he was waiting for her to say something as she continued, “Oh… I mean… if it’s not too much trouble… could you help me with something… if you’re busy… I understand…”
Star Bolt smiled, “I’m not busy at all… if you need my help, then all you have to do is ask. You should know that by now. I’ve been in Ponyville, what? One month now?”
Fluttershy hid her face behind her long mane as she replied, “Oh… um… I’m sorry… I should have known…”
Star Bolt put his hoof on her shoulder and replied, “Fluttershy… you need to stop apologizing. You did nothing wrong that requires any apologies. Anyway, what is it that you need?”

Fluttershy smiled at his sympathy as she replied, “Ok… well… my friend Beary is in trouble and… um needs your help… um… can you?... please?...”
Star Bolt smiled, “Sure thing, please lead the way. I don’t know if I can, but I'll do what I can to help him.”
Fluttershy smiled as she turned around to lead the way, “Beary is a full grown female grizzly bear.”
“Grizzly what!?!”
Fluttershy flinched at his outburst, “Oh… um… that isn’t a problem is it?…”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No, no, it’s fine… I just didn’t expect that?”
Fluttershy smiled with joy, “Oh… ok then please follow me…”
Fluttershy then turned and continued leading Star Bolt to the meadow near her house. Shortly after arriving there, she led Star Bolt to a large tree at the very end of the meadow.

As soon as they got to the tree, Star Bolt looked around and asked, “So… where is this female grizzly bear?”
Fluttershy trotted around the other side of the tree and pointed out the large grizzly bear that was stuck inside a hole in the side of the tree. As soon as Star Bolt saw the bear he spoke, “Oh… wow… that really is a problem isn’t it? Can I ask how this happened?”
Fluttershy replied, “Well… um… ya see… for some reason, she was angry at Angel so she was chasing him around and he tried to defend himself by jumping in that hole. But when she tried to get him out… she got stuck. So… um… can you help her?”
Star Bolt looked at Angel as he asked, “So… what did he do to anger her?”
Fluttershy thought for a few seconds then replied, “Um… I really don’t know…”
Angel looked at the stuck bear and smiled in an evil way as Star Bolt sighed, “Actually… I could probably guess…”

Fluttershy looked around on the ground, then hovered just above the bear as she looked at how she was stuck, then she asked, “So… um… do you know how to get her free?”
Star Bolt also evaluated the situation as he replied, “Well… from her arms up are completely inside the tree, and the tree is tightly pressing on her torso, so she probably won’t come out if we try pulling her… I could try cutting her out with my sword.”
As Star Bolt drew his sword, Fluttershy quickly jumped between Beary and Star Bolt and held her hooves out to stop him, “NO!!! You might hurt her! There had to be a less dangerous way!”
As Star Bolt sheathed his sword, he started thinking to himself, “Well, we could try… no… that probably won’t work. Then again, we could also… no... That would probably kill her. Hmm… we the only other way I can think of that might be safer, would be to split the tree.”
Fluttershy gave Star Bolt a confused look, “… Split… the tree?...”
Star Bolt smiled, “Well yea, I’m going to stab the tree with my sword just above where Beary is stuck and then I'll hammer the blade in till the wood starts to split. Once it splits wide enough, Beary can use her grizzly bear strength to push the tree apart from the inside. The tree will probably die… but Beary will be free.”

Fluttershy hesitated, “Stab the tree… oh no… I can risk putting Beary in that kind of danger… she is far too delicate.”
Star Bolt mumbled, “Delicate?”
Not realizing he said that out loud, Star Bolt replied, “Oh… nothing. Don’t worry Fluttershy, the blade will be too far up for it to hurt her. And in any case, I'll make it my primary objective to keep her safe during this whole ordeal, you have my word.”
Fluttershy looked at Beary then back at Star Bolt as she sighed, “Well… um… ok… if you say she will be safe… then I trust you. But please, please, please be extra careful.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he drew his sword again and flew into the air above the tree, “No problem Fluttershy. She will be safe.”
As Star Bolt looked at the tree from above, he guessed at the perfect place to start then he flew close to the tree and stabbed it as hard as he could while Fluttershy cringed in anxiety on the side. After shimmying the blade a few times, Star Bolt pulled it from the tree and jammed it back in just a few inches above the hole left over from the first strike.

After repeating this process numerous times, Star Bolt found a place that was in between the first and last hole and jammed the blade into the tree one final time. Then Star Bolt kicked the pommel of his sword as hard as he could until the whole tree above the stuck bear split straight down the middle leaving a long crack on the wood. Star Bolt called to the bear, “Hey Beary! If you can hear me, push against both sides of the tree as hard as you possibly can!”
Star Bolt could immediately tell that she understood since the crack on the tree got slightly wider, however it still wasn’t enough to free the strong bear from her tight spot. So with one final tension filled kick, Star Bolt kicked his sword again causing the tree to split into two along the line that his sword had carved into it. With the force of the tree’s explosive splitting, Star Bolt’s sword was tossed a few feet away as the bear raised her now free torso into the air and gave a loud and terrifying roar.

Fluttershy smiled with glee as the monstrous bear grabbed Star Bolt by his shoulders, held him up to eye level, and glared at him from this extremely short and uncomforting distance. As Star Bolt stared at the bears expression which to him seemed nothing short of angry, Star Bolt shifted his eyes to his sword that was laying on the ground, and immediately started thinking of ways to break free from the beast’s grip, “Um… Fluttershy?”
The bear continued to stare him in the eye until her expression went from angry to joy, as she pulled him against her chest and gave him a literal bear hug. As the ferocious grizzly bear was holding Star Bolt tightly cutting off his oxygen, Fluttershy smiled in joy, “Aww… she likes you…”
Trying to speak through the tight grip, Star Bolt replied, “Ya… don’t… say… can… can she let… me go now?...”
Almost immediately, the bear dropped Star Bolt as he fell to the ground twitching as he started to regain his breath, “Whoa… my life flashed before my eyes for a second… I’ve been through a LOT haven’t I?”

Fluttershy smiled as she picked up the dazed pony and hugged him too, “Oh… thank you Mr. Star… you really are a good pony…”
As Star Bolt regained his balance, he could only smile, “Well if you can’t trust a friend for help, then who can you trust?”
Fluttershy smiled with glee, “Pinkie Pie?...”
Star Bolt was a little confused at first, until he realized that Pinkie Pie was trotting up behind him wearing a fruit hat, “Oh, hey Pinkie… um… why are you wearing a fruit hat?”
Pinkie Pie gave him a strange look as she replied, “I think the real question here Star Bolt is, Why aren’t you wearing a fruit hat?”
Being in Ponyville long enough to understand Pinkies randomness made Star Bolt smile, “Well… I guess I can’t argue with that logic now can I?”

Pinkie Pie looked at Fluttershy as she started to ask, “So what brings you two out he…”
All of a sudden, Pinkie Pie’s entire body froze except for her tail, which started to twitch, then she called out, “Oh ho… Twitchy twitch, TWITCHY TWITCH!!!”
Both Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy took cover under one-half of the split tree while Star Bolt stared at them in confusion, “Twitchy what? What ar…”
Before he could finish his sentence, a grey pegasus fell from the sky and hit him from the side knocking him to the ground. As Star Bolt picked himself up, he rubbed his head as he spoke, “Ouch… what was tha…”
When Star Bolt realized what had happened, the grey mare picked herself up from the ground and smiled, “Oops… my bad. I lost focus for a second. I’m sorry.”
As Star Bolt looked at the mare’s uncentered eyes, he could only think to himself, “… A second?”

The mare quickly stood up straight and saluted Star Bolt as she spoke, “My name is Ditzy Doo, Pegasi Postal Service… but friends call me Derpy.”
Star Bolt could only give the unusual mare a strange stare as he replied, “… Derpy?… well okay. Are you alright Ms. Doo? You took a nasty fall… or it felt like one anyway.”
Derpy smiled as she replied, “Nope I’m fine. I just came to deliver a letter… and here ya go…”
The mare reached into her mailbag as she pulled a letter out and gave it to Star Bolt. Then she smiled as Pinkie and Fluttershy came out from under the tree. Then Pinkie asked, “Ooh! Ooh! Who’s it from!?!”
Star Bolt looked at the letter and nearly panicked, “P-Princess Celestia!?! But who…wait a sec, this letter is addressed to Princess Twilight Sparkle.”
Derpy looked confused as she took the letter and looked at the addresses, “What… but isn’t that you?”
Star Bolt replied, “No… it isn’t.”
The confused mare then looked at Star Bolt and spoke, “Wait a sec…”
She began to squint her misaligned eyes as she began concentrating very hard on the pony she was looking at. Then her eyes slowly started to align themselves until both eyes were directly focused on Star Bolt.

The grey mare smiled as she felt embarrassed, “Oh… sorry. I mistook you for somepony else. Um… I’m a little behind today, so can I ask you to deliver this to her for me?”
Feeling a little awkward about handling somepony else’s mail, Star Bolt replied, “Well… I do know her… so I guess I could. But, aren’t there rules about this sort of thing?”
Derpy smiled, “Well yea there are… but we’re friends now, so consider this just a favor. And there is nothing in the rules about letting somepony deliver a letter as a favor now is there?”
Pinkie Pie nodded her head as she replied, “Welp, she has a point!”
Star Bolt smiled as replied, “That’s a really smart way to look at it. No room for arguments here, consider it done Ms. Doo.”
Derpy smiled, “Please call me Derpy. And thanks again, Bye bye.”
As Derpy flew away, Star Bolt thought to himself, “Well… that was interesting. And yet another resident of Ponyville crosses my path.”

Fluttershy approached Star Bolt and spoke, “Um… I wonder what Princess Celestia sent? It’s uncommon for her to send anything through the normal postal service.”
Pinkie Pie started hopping around Star Bolt as she spoke, “Ooh it’s gotta be something extra special like, like, a letter made entirely of candy…”
Star Bolt looked at the scroll and shook his head, “No, I don’t think so… either way it’s not ours to open, so let’s just get it to the princess.”
Pinkie Pie nodded her head and added, “I think she went to meet Rarity at the Carousel Boutique.”
Star Bolt placed the letter under the strap that held his sheath on his side as he replied, “Ok then let’s go.”
The three ponies started trotting down the road until they reached the Carousel Boutique.

As they entered the building, they saw Applejack, Spike, and Rainbow Dash watching as Rarity took measurements on Twilight as she was trying on her unfinished dress for the Grand Galloping Gala. As soon as Rainbow Dash saw them enter, she spoke, “It’s about time you two showed up, how are you doing Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie… Star…”
By now, Star Bolt was used to the tension between him and Rainbow Dash, so he replied with little interest in her attitude-filled comment, “Dash…”
Fluttershy spoke next, “I’m… sorry… are we disturbing something… it’s just… um… we brought a letter for Twilight.”
Applejack turned and asked, “A letter? From who?”
Pinkie quickly swiped the scroll from Star Bolts sheath strap as she held it up, “From Princess Celestia.”
While still standing still for Rarity’s measurements, Princess Twilight used her magic to take the letter from Pinkie Pie and unroll it in front of her, after reading it; she pulled a number of golden tickets from the letter and spoke, “Well here you are girls, this year’s tickets to The Grand Galloping Gala.”
As she passed out the tickets, she gave one to Spike and he could only shake his head, “Sorry Twilight, the last time I went I spent my boring day sitting and waiting for that dull thing to end, Here Star Bolt you can have it if ya want.”

As he started to give Star Bolt the ticket, he shook his head, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve been to those galas before. Big borefest, while half the time I spent mustering up the courage to ask the pony I liked to dance.”
Twilight stretched out her wing so Rarity could measure around her wing’s base as she added, “Well why don’t you just go for the fun of it then… I wouldn’t mind telling Princess Celestia about your heroism during that storm a few weeks ago.”
Star Bolt tried to make excuses, “Princess Celestia should have received the letter from Rose that she sent that evening so she knows about me. I just think it would be better if I stayed out of it.”
Rarity looked back at Star Bolt as she added, “If you need a suit then I could make one for you… dresses are usually my specialty but when it comes to tuxedos… I also have a special touch to make any well respected gentle-colt shine like a prince.”
Before he could continue his argument, Rainbow Dash jumped in and spoke, “Look if he wants to be antisocial then I see no reason to get him to come with us.”

Though he knew her intent was to insult him, Star Bolt paid no mind to her comment and agreed, “Yea, I’m good… I can find something better to occupy my time anyway. Thanks though.”
Spike put the ticket away as he replied, “Well… ok if you change your mind then let me know.”
As Star Bolt nodded his head, Twilight silently stepped down from the pedestal in deep thought as Rarity asked, “What’s the matter Twilight? Is the seam too tight?”
Princess Twilight shook her head, “No, the dress is fine I’m just wondering why Princess Celestia sent the letter the old fashion way instead of using magic. It’s not like her at all.”
Spike thought to himself, “Well maybe she isn’t at the castle. You know that she can’t use the spell properly if she is traveling.”
Princess Twilight thought to herself, “Yea… maybe your right.”

Feeling as if he overstayed his welcome, Star Bolt started to turn towards the door, “Well I guess I’ll see you ladies later.”
Rarity stopped him, “Mr. Star, you don’t have to leave on our account. Feel free to stay if you like, a stallion’s opinion on a dress, is always appreciated here.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Thanks, but no thanks, fashion is your forte, not mine. The sun is already setting outside anyway so I'll be seeing ya.”
Fluttershy smiled, “Oh… ok… well, thank you so much for helping Beary again… it means a lot.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Not a problem.”
As Star Bolt started to leave the room, he overheard Applejack as she asked, “Uh… Pinkie Pie? Why are ya wearin’ a fruit hat?”
Star Bolt started to laugh as he called back, “Why aren’t you?”
Pinkie Pie looked at Star Bolt as the door began to close behind him, “HEY! That’s my line!”

As he traveled down the street, he started to think about everything in Ponyville. For once, he felt like he had actually made friends that he could trust in this town. However, he knew that unless something was done, he would eventually have to leave this town just like all the rest. So he stopped and began thinking to himself about what he could so, then he finally made a final decision, but for his plan to work, he was going to need both time, and resources. Then while thinking over his plan he started to look up as the moon began rising, “… I know what’s next… but how will she take it? This will be harder than any battle I’ve ever faced. But if I’m going to come out of this unscathed… then it has to be done.”

The moon shined brightly as Princess Luna trotted through the vast Canterlot Garden alone. As she continued on her route, she stopped to look at the beautiful blue roses that Roseluck won the Peddlers Pedals Competition with, “These are truly beautiful, a fine addition to the garden… I… I wish you could see them.”
Feeling unhappy, Luna turned back to the trail and continued trotting down the lonely road as she started mumbling to herself, “No… I have to forget about him. It’s been two years; I can’t keep beating myself up over him.”
All of a sudden, Princess Luna looked at the pedestal where Discords statue was standing it the same pose that it sat in for a thousand years as she sighed, “Why are you here? You know I want to be alone.”
The statue began to move as Discord replied, “Would you believe I got so used to being in this pose that I can’t sleep without being like this anymore? I should blame you and your sister for that thank you very much?”
Princess Luna gave him a dulled stare as she sarcastically replied, “You’re welcome… now go be annoying elsewhere.”

Discord vanished in a big puff of smoke and reappeared behind Luna as he started massaging her shoulders, “So much tension in you dear princess… can I ask why you dislike me so?”
Princess Luna nudged her shoulders out of his hands in a disrespecting manner, as she turned towards him, “You know to reason! Now leave… I want to be alone.”
Discord sighed, “Then can I ask why?”
Luna looked at the ground in sadness as she replied, “I don’t want to talk about hi… I mean it.”
Discord sat back on his now empty pedestal as he replied, “I know what it is… it’s that stallion isn’t it… what’s his name? Star Bolt?”
Luna continued looking away in silence as Discord could only sigh, “I know you didn’t get the chance to tell him how you feel princess, but it’s no reason to keep beating yourself up over it…”
Princess Luna glared back at Discord, “And how would you know how I feel?”

Discord laughed a little as he made a TV guide appear in his hand, “It wasn’t hard to tell… I was right here for a set number of months watching you two make goo goo eyes at each other every night. You two were worse than a soap-opera, but since nothing else was on I decided to watch anyway, waiting for either the season finale of you two announcing your love for each other, or when his half step-brother named Enrico would wake from his coma with multiple personalities to take you back from him…”
Luna gave Discord a confused look as he opened the TV Guide and added, “Or am I thinking of another soap… Anyway, finally the two partter of the finale began when you told him what was bothering you and he was interrupted before admitting his love, but I guess the show was canceled after that… you became not-so-Innocent Nightmare Moon and he your trusty sidekick, as you two brought all sorts of chaos with your eternal eclipse thing.”

Princess Luna now kept her face hidden as tears rolled down her face, but as Discord saw her sadness, he sighed, “I think I said enough… as much as I hate to say the S word… I’m s-sorry, I'll leave you alone now princess.”
Discord rolled the TV guide up then crumbled the whole book in his hands only to open it back and reveal a blue rose. Then he gently placed it on the ground in front of her as he spoke, “Even if I never personally met him… he will truly be missed.”
Then Discord patted Princess Luna on her head as he vanished into the darkness behind her. As Luna looked at the rose on the ground, the tears started too pure from her eyes, “St-Star Bolt… I… I should have told you first… I should have said what I had known from the very start… I… I’m sorry… I… I’m responsible for everything wrong with your life… even… even your death…”
Princess Luna spent the rest of her night in the Canterlot Garden, and though she overlooked her duties as princess of the night, Princess Celestia didn’t say a word about it. Especially when she heard ponies talking about the large number of shooting stars that was seen that night.

Ch7 Gathering Resources

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Roseluck looked at the staircase to see Star Bolt coming down, “Good morning Star. You’re up early; I thought you were off work today?”
Star Bolt replied, “I am, but I’m expecting a package soon.”
Rose asked, “A package? When are you expecting it?”
“Last night.”
“Hm… I guess it’s late then.”
Star Bolt could only smile, “Well, not necessarily… considering my delivery mare, yesterday was best case scenario.”
All of a sudden, there was a loud crash against the front door as Star Bolt turned towards it, “Oh… there she is now.”
Roseluck gave Star Bolt an unusual look as he approached the door and opened it to see Derpy sitting on the ground as she rubbed her head, “Sorry… came in too hot… Oh, Hi Mr. Star, I got that package you’ve been waiting for.”

As Star Bolt took the package he smiled, “Right on time Derpy… well sort of; how was your trip?”
Derpy smiled, “It was fun… I didn’t know there was a book store that took personal requests by mail, in Manehatten.”
Star Bolt smiled, “The owner owed me a favor. So I’m guessing he was happy to help?”
Derpy smiled, “Yep, once I said your name he was more than happy to help… but he did give me a funny look when I told him the title of the books you wanted.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Did… he say anything about why he gave you the funny look?”
Derpy replied, “Nah, he just went to the book case and got the books you needed. Didn’t even take the money you gave me to pay for them.”
As Derpy handed Star Bolt the package and a bag full of bits, he pulled a number of bits out and gave them back, “Well either way, thanks Derpy. You really are a good friend.”

Derpy smiled with glee as she started to fly away, “Well if you need any help Mr. Star, then just ask.”
Star Bolt waved to Derpy as she flew away, “Count on it!”
After Derpy was gone, Star Bolt took the package inside as he sat it on the table and opened it, “Ah, here we are.”
Star Bolt opened the first book and started looking through the pages as Roseluck approached him and asked, “What are those?... History books?”
Star Bolt replied with a smile, “Not just any history books… History books over the Nightmare Crusade.”
Rose was confused, “But… why would you need those? You know first hoof about th…”
“Here it is…”

Star Bolt closed the book and tucked it under his wing as he trotted over to a coat hanger, and put on his cloak, “I'll be back later Rose… Don’t wait up.”
Before rose could stop him, Star Bolt left through the front door and went down the road. Roseluck then picked up the remaining book and looked through the pages until she saw an image of Commander Bolt and his highest-ranking officers. Then she sighed, “I hope you know what you’re doing Star… I don’t want you to get hurt again. And this plan of yours is practically asking for it.”
Roseluck then sat down and began reading the book that told the story of her mysterious roommate.

Not far down the road, Star Bolt approached the Carousel Boutique, knocked on the door, and waited as Sweetie Belle opened the door and smiled, “Mr. Star! Good to see you… but erm… we aren’t open till eight o’clock.”
Star Bolt looked at the sun and nodded his head, “Oh… that’s right how silly of me… well is your sister here? I need to ask her something.”
All of a sudden Sweetie Belle smiled really big as she started jumping to conclusions, “Oh! You want to ask her out don’t you… I kinda suspected a special something between you two… even if you two don’t really talk to each other… like… at all… but I sure she would love t…”
Before Sweetie Belle could finish her sentence, Rarity used her magic to pull her back from the door and cover her mouth as she spoke in an annoyed and embarrassed tone, “Sweetie Belle!!! What have I told you about trying to hook me up with other stallions without my permission? Just because you like him doesn’t mean that he and I are compatible together!”

Star Bolt started to laugh at the squabble between the two sisters as he spoke, “Now, now ladies… I know I’m a catch and all, but there is no need to fight over little old me…”
Rarity looked at Star Bolt and replied to his sarcasm, “Please don’t encourage her Mr. Star… she is full of herself as is.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Alright, alright, well the reason I’m here is that I need a favor from you Ms. Rarity… that is if you have the time?”
Rarity smiled as she replied, “Well of course I do… I always have time for my friends. May I ask what kind of favor?”

Star Bolt looked at Sweetie Belle who was watching their conversation unfold, “Well… not here. I need to speak to you in private.”
Rarity looked at Sweetie Belle and replied, “Um… okay. Sweetie Belle? Would you mind giving Mr. Star and I a few seconds alone please. In the meantime why don’t you continue getting ready for school?”
Sweetie Belle lowered her head in disappointment, “Aww… alright.”
As Sweetie Belle went upstairs, Star Bolt entered the building and closed the door behind him as Rarity started getting things ready for when the shop would open, “So Mr. Star, what is it you need assistance with?”
Star Bolt started looking around the room as he replied, “Well… I have a special order I need you to fill for me.”
Rarity replied, “A cloak?”
“A suit.”
“A suit?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yes… but I need you to promise you’re not going to panic when I show you exactly what I’m talking about.”
Rarity thought he was being ridiculous about what could be a terrible looking suit so she nodded her head and replied, “It’s alright Mr. Bolt… I’ve made many ensembles that could only be described as repugnant. So anything you could ask me to make wouldn’t be that big a deal.”

Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders as he opened the book that was under his wing and flipped to a specific page, “Well, alright… I need you to make this for me.”
Rarity used her magic to pull the book from his hooves and bring it closer to her as she studied the outfit in the picture, “Hmm… very retro… yet chic and sleek… wait… this pony in the picture… is… is he?...”
Rarity looked at Star Bolt, then back at the picture, then back at Star Bolt, then the picture. As she repeated the motion Star Bolt smiled in anxiety, “Well… can you make it for me?”
Rarity dropped the book and took a few steps back in shock, “You’re… you’re… You’re him! You’re the stallion in the book! The stallion on the page aren’t you!?! Your Com…”
Star Bolt interrupted, “Yes… I won’t deny it… but I promise you I’m not the stallion I once was… and I’m hoping I can trust you to do this for me. You said you trust me fully right. And you also said that if I needed anything from you, all I had to do is ask right? Well I’m not asking, I’m begging. You’re the only pony I know who has the skills to make something like this, and you’re the only one I can trust with this task. So please, I'll pay triple your usual price, and I’ll keep the origin of the outfit secret for your protection. Of this, you have my word. So, do we have a deal?”

Rarity looked at the picture one last time and ask, “This outfit… what do you need it for?”
Star Bolt replied, “I can’t say, the less you know, the better. but I promise; I won’t do anything to ever make you or Sweetie Belle ashamed of me…”
Rarity looked back at the outfit and sighed, “Alright Mr. Star, I'll do it… but I hope nothing bad will come of this.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “Nothing bad will ever come of this… in fact, things will only get better.”
Star Bolt then stepped onto a pedestal as Rarity started taking measurement for the outfit, then shortly after words, Sweetie Belle entered the room, “Rarity! School is about to start… and remember I’m supposed to bring in a speaker for career month.”
Rarity thought to herself then replied, “Oh… I completely forgot. Sorry Sweetie Belle I have far too much work to do today, with the gala being tomorrow night have a number of orders to fill.”
“But… But… you said…”
“I’m sorry Sweetie Belle, but I don’t have time to do it today… maybe next time.”

As Sweetie Belle looked at the ground in disappointment, Star Bolt spoke up, “I can do it.”
Sweetie Belle looked at Star Bolt and smiled, “REALLY!”
“Sure, not a problem at all. That is, if you’re ok with it Ms. Rarity.”
Thinking about what she had just found out about him, Rarity hesitated, “Well… um… I don’t know…”
Star Bolt smiled, “Its ok, I’m still the same as I was before… it will be fine you’ll see.”
Rarity looked at Sweetie Belle who was giving her big begging eyes, “Please, Please, Please, Please, Pleeeaaase…”
Giving into her sisters begging, Rarity sighed, “Alright… but you better not do anything to bring harm to her Mr. Star.”

Sweetie Belle started hopping around Star Bolt as she cheered, “Yaaaay!”
Rarity then got real close to Star Bolt’s face and glared at him as she spoke, “But it anything… ANYTHING!... bad happens to her… then I'll have you to pay for it. Is that clear, Mr. Star?”
Feeling nervous for the first time around her, Star Bolt replied, “Um… of course… she will be safe. I am a stallion of my word…”
Rarity slowly moved away from his face as she continued glaring, “Good… in the mean time I will start on your suit and have it ready for you by tomorrow morning.”

Star Bolt pulled a bag of bits out of his cloak and laid it on the table, “This should be more than enough.”
Sweetie Belle then started pulling Star Bolt’s cloak as she spoke, “Come on Mr. Star we’re gonna be late for school… we have to leave now!”
In a playful manner, Star Bolt started to wine, “Awww… I don’t want to go to school today…”
Sweetie Belle then started to complain, “You’re worse than Scootaloo… we gotta go!”
As the two left out the front of the store, Rarity looked at the book that she was using as a reference then back at Star Bolt out the front window, “Can he really be that stallion from this story?... I guess it is possible. Now where did I put that navy fabric?”

As Star Bolt followed Sweetie Belle to her school, he asked, “So what is this career thing supposed to be?”
Sweetie Belle replied, “Well everyday this month somepony is supposed to bring in an adult that has a job so he or she can explain what they do for a living.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Hmm… makes since, so what do you want me to tell your class about then. Right now I’m an apple farmer, and last time I was a weather pegasus.”
Sweetie Belle thought to herself, “Hmm… how about when you were a royal guard?”
“No can do.”
“What? Why not?”
Star Bolt replied, “Well my job as a royal guard isn’t something I like to talk about… especially to foals. How about my life as a wanderer?”
Sweetie Belle thought to herself again then agreed, “Ok… but you have to tell us about all the cool places you’ve been to. Nothing boring like, a grassy field or something like that.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Got it… only cool places. Like the frozen north cool.”
Sweetie Belle smiled at his joke, “Oh ha, ha, funny Mr. Star.”

By the time they arrived at the school Sweetie Belle and Star Bolt met with her teacher at the front door, “Hello sir, I’m Ms. Cheerilee… aren’t you Mr. Star Bolt that helped the town a few weeks ago?”
Star Bolt smiled, “Yes, I’m hear to speak for the class… Ms. Rarity was busy with work and she couldn’t make it.”
Ms. Cheerilee nodded her head as she replied, “Well alright then if you can please stand at the side of the room, and I'll call you to the front when we’re ready.”

Star Bolt did as he was told and waited at the side of the room while Ms. Cheerilee did roll call. Then when she was ready she announced, “Alright settle down my little ponies. As we all know this is career appreciation month so today Sweetie Belle brought Mr. Star Bolt to come in to talk to you about his career.”
As soon as Ms. Cheerilee stopped talking, both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo gave Sweetie Belle a dull look as Scootaloo spoke, “Seriously?”
Apple Bloom then added, “You’re kiddin’ me right? We know ya like him an all, but did ya really have to substitute your sister for him?”
Sweetie Belle blushed as she replied, “Rarity was busy today, and he offered to help… I promise I didn’t put him up to it.”

As Star Bolt stepped to the front of the room, he spoke, “Thank you Ms. Cheerilee. And thank you my little ponies. To be honest, I haven’t spoken to a crowd in almost… um… well, let’s just say it’s been a long time, but I'll do my best. My name is Star Bolt and I’m a wandering worker.”
A filly with glasses raised her hoof, “What’s that? Do you think about working?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No, no, not a wondering worker, a wandering worker. I travel from place to place doing various jobs for money. One day I can be a farmer, the next a fishing stallion, and sometimes I’ve even worked part time controlling the weather.”
Another foal raised his hoof and spoke, “Why do you do that?”
Star Bolt replied, “Well, rather than staying in one place for a long time, I get to travel all over Equestria and meet many different ponies.”

The taller earth colt beside him asked, “Uhh have you ever met the great and powerful Trixie?”
Star Bolt thought to himself, “Well, I met a Trixie… but she wasn’t so great and powerful. She was working part time with me at a rock farm. The pay was medial, but that job didn’t last long.”
Another pony raised her hoof, “How far have you traveled?”
Star Bolt replied, “I’ve been as far as the Gates of Tartarus… but that’s the furthest I’ve gone. I prefer to stay in the Griffin kingdoms or Equestria’s area.”
The next little filly raised her hoof and spoke in a snobby manner, “So… you’re a hobo?”

Star Bolt looked at the little filly as she smiled at him in an easily insulting manner, then he replied, “You seem very cleaver… tell me little filly, what is a hobo?”
The filly smiled, “My daddy says that a hobo is a homeless pony who travels from place to place collecting money however he can for his next meal.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Very good. A hobo does travel looking for work so he can eat… however, that’s not the reason I travel. You see, a wanderer, travels to find something better for himself. Something that he can’t find anywhere else and wants more than anything in the world.”
The grey filly sitting next to the snobby pony asked, “What is it you’re searching for Mr. Star?”

Star Bolt paused, then thought to himself, “To be honest, I’m not quite sure… I guess, I'll know when I find it.”
The snobby pony spoke again, “Well daddy says…”
Before the pony could finish her sentence, Sweetie Belle spoke up, “Nopony cares what your daddy think Diamond Tiara. He nearly bored us to death last time he spoke.”
“Well I'd rather hear more about Rich’s barnyard stocks then to hear this hobo talk about where he has been.”

As the two fillies got into an argument, Ms. Cheerilee spoke up, “Girls, girls, please! I’m sorry Mr. Star, I hope they didn’t offend you.”
Star Bolt smiled, “No Ms. Cheerilee, it alright, fillies will be fillies, But did I hear you right Diamond Tiara? Your daddy owns Rich’s Barnyard Bargains?”
Diamond Tiara smiled, “He not only owns it… he is one of the founders. Everypony in Ponyville knows Filthy Rich.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Ya don’t say… I knew a Rich a long time ago… maybe I'll have to drop in for a visit. Anyway, does anypony else have any questions?”
Scootaloo asked, “Um… Mr. Star? I notice you do more trotting then flying… is there any reason for that?”

Star Bolt nodded his head, “When you’re in the sky you see much further, and better in the area, then you do on the ground. But only when you’re on the ground, do you actually see what matters more. You can never tell the gentle flow of a simple spring or admire the glowing dew of the moonlit night, when you view it from above. In addition, it’s much easier to avoid wild beasts when you’re on the ground. Manticore, Gargoyles, and even dragons can be very dangerous when it comes to traveling alone.”
Talking about the wild creatures quickly caught the class’s attention as they went into an uproar of question about what he came across in his travels. However, Ms. Cheerilee stepped forward and interrupted, “Now, now my little ponies, I’m sure Mr. Star would like to tell us all about his exciting adventures in his travels, but I’m afraid his time is up. We are about to break for lunch, then we will go into our usual lesson plans. Now thank Mr. Star Bolt for coming and talking to us about his career.”
The class spoke all at the same time, “Thank you Mr. Star Bolt.”
Star Bolt smiled and gave the class a friendly nod as they began getting up and getting their lunches from their saddlebags. Sweetie Belle then approached him and spoke, “Thanks again Mr. Star… I’m glad you came.”
Star Bolt smiled, “My pleasure Sweetie Belle, I couldn’t let down a friend… anyway, I was wondering, do you know where I can find Filthy Rich’s home?”
Scootaloo was surprised, “Whoa… I know you didn’t like Diamond Tiara’s comment but do you really have to tell on her?”

Star Bolt, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle gave Scootaloo a look of hopelessness as Star Bolt replied, “You… really think it bothered me enough to tell on her?... a comment from a pampered little filly?”
Scootaloo didn’t understand, “… I donno… maybe.”
Apple Bloom sighed, “Fillies and gentle colts… I present one of my friends…”
Sweetie Belle replied to Star Bolt’s question, “Well, Diamond Tiara and her father live in the mansion on the southern part of town.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he started to leave, “Thanks Sweetie Belle… I should make it back to the Carousel Boutique before you do, but if I don’t, then please tell Rarity that I will come by for my order sometime tomorrow.”

As Sweetie Belle nodded her head in agreement, Star Bolt left the schoolhouse and made his way to the southern portion of town until he came across a large mansion. As he approached the large manor he knocked on the massive doors and waited until a butler opened the door, “Yes sir, may I assist you?”
Star Bolt replied, “Yes, is this the manor of Mr. Filthy Rich?”
The butler nodded his head, “Yes sir, Master Rich is in a meeting upstairs, but I believe it is now coming to an end. If you like you may wait to see him in his study.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “It seems kind of strange for you to allow a complete stranger to come in without allowing me to introduce myself or my reason for coming here.”
The butler smiled, “Master Rich knows who you are Mr. Bolt… in fact he has been expecting to meet with you ever since you saved the town a few weeks ago. Please follow me.”

Star Bolt followed the butler into the large mansion, as he was led to the master’s study. As Star Bolt entered the study, the butler spoke as he started to close the doors, “If you will kindly be patient, I will return with the master.”
After the doors to the study were closed, Star Bolt started to look around. At first, it seemed no different from Commander Mist’s old study from a thousand years ago, but when he looked over the fireplace, he saw some things that significantly caught his eye. First, he saw a thin fencing sword that he hadn’t seen in over a millennium, and next to it, he saw inside of a frame, an old photograph of the great Commander Bolt, and his highest-ranking officers, plus the commanders of the allied nations to the Nightmare Legion. As Star Bolt looked at this photo, he couldn’t stop himself from picking it up and studying the photograph closely.

While looking closely at the picture, Star Bolt started to focus on the smiling faces of his once happy family. Looking at the smiles, he himself stared to smile as a voice came from behind, “As I live and breathe… Commander Star Bolt, in the flesh and right as rain.”
Star Bolt turned and looked at Filthy Rich as he entered through the doors, “Filthy Rich am I right? I feel embarrassed that I don’t know you, yet you seem to know me very well.”
Filthy rich sat down at his desk and replied, “On the contrary commander, the only thing I know about you is all that I read in history books. But please, any friend of family is a friend of mine, but I still prefer you to call me Mr. Rich.”
Star Bolt sat the picture back onto the shelf next to the sword as he replied, “And I would prefer you to call me Star Bolt… or Mr. Star as most call me in town.”
Mr. Rich smiled, “I heard… lately many have been talkin’ bout you since you saved our hides the other day. Funny, nopony in Ponyville knows that we are praisin’ the great Commander Bolt from the olden days.”

Star Bolt picked up the sword and pulled it partially from its sheath to look at the blade, “The blade is more new then old… but the hilt is almost the same… leave it to Captain Storm’s fine repairing skill to keep this thing young and usable for over a millennium.”
“Captain who?”
Star Bolt sheathed the sword and placed it back on its stand as he shook his head, “Just an old soldier from the war.”
Mr. Rich nodded his head, “Oh… well that sword has been passed down from Rich to Rich since Frances Rich himself. It’s a priceless artifact and one that I value more than my own home.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he trotted over to a nearby chair and sat down, “That’s what he always said. Sometimes I thought that even in death that blade wouldn’t be pulled from his hoof.”
Filthy smiled, “He was a good soldier?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No… he was a lousy soldier… but he was a good friend, and a strong swords pony. I wouldn’t ask for any other to assist me in battle”

Filthy stood up and trotted over to a nearby table and pulled out a bottle and some glasses as he asked, “I assume you ain’t here to just talk about the good ol days then are ya?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Despite how much I miss those days with my soldiers, no… I’m not hear to talk about them. I was actually hoping you could help me with a little plan I have in store.”
Filthy started to pour them both a drink as he spoke, “Plan? What kinda plan?”
Star Bolt stood up and trotted to the table as he continued, “All I'll tell you right now is I’m in need of a carriage and a driver. Everything else I will only tell you if you accept to help. Fair enough?”
Filthy put the cork back on the bottle and tucked it under the table as he replied, “Well, that seems fair and all… but ya know everythin comes at a price Mr. Bolt.”

Star Bolt took one of the glasses as he replied, “I'll pay you exactly three hundred bits… that seems fair enough for a rental don’t you think?”
Filthy took his glass and leaned against the table, “Not so fast Mr. Bolt, what I want can’t be bought with any amount of money.”
Star Bolt gave him a suspicious look as he asked, “Alright then… what is it you want?”
Filthy held up his glass to give a toast as he replied, “I only want you to tell me about the good ol days, my ancestor… his glory filled life, and what this plan of yours is. Then we’ll call it even, what do ya say?”
Star Bolt tapped his glass against Mr. Rich’s and replied, “I say, you and me will be okay. Just remember I gotta leave before nightfall… I got to see a certain dragon before the library closes.”

Princess Cadence of the crystal empire kissed her husband as she got ready to board the train, “Are you sure you don’t want to attend this year’s Gala? I know that the soldiers are important to the upcoming crisis, but I still think you should attend since it is Twilight’s first gala as a Princess.”
Prince Shining Armor shook his head, “I’m sorry my love, but I really need to make sure they are ready. I know you weren’t around when the Dark Alicorn first appeared, but that doesn’t mean you’re not in danger too. I won’t let anypony young or old harm my wife. And as your prince, I'll do anything to keep you safe.”
Princess Cadence smiled, “Yes, but I still think the kingdom will be fine without its prince for at least one night. I mean Twilight will be disappointed when she find out you’re not there. You know how much she loves her B.B.B.F.F.”
Shining Armor nodded his head, “Well, you’ll be there, and so will her friends, so she won’t be lonely or anything, besides, I heard Discord will be sitting the gala out too. Maybe you could convince him on stopping by here so he doesn’t cause any trouble. It wouldn’t be a bad idea seeing that he is an important role in the Dark Alicorn’s return too.”

Princess Cadence sighed knowing that she couldn’t convince him, “I don’t like him… I agree with Princess Luna when she says that even if he is reformed, he mustn’t be trusted. But if you say that everything will be ok… then I'll trust your judgment.”
Shining Armor smiled, “Its ok my love, everything will be alright. Once the gala ends, I will be on the next train there. I promise.”
Princess Cadence nodded her head as she stepped onto the train, “If you’re sure th…”
“Cadence it’ll be fine… there is nothing at the gala that is more important then my sister and my bride’s safety.”
As the train began to roll away, Cadence called to her husband, “Then be sure you’re not late! I know how you can get carried away with training soldiers!”
Shining Armor called back, “I’ll be on time my love! Count on it!”

Shining Armor watched at the train left the city and vanished on the horizon, then he turned to one of his soldiers, “Now that that’s out of the way. Flash Sentry? What is the progress on training?”
Flash replied, “Training is going as planed your majesty, though I wouldn’t consider anypony as Traipse material.”
Flash Sentry nodded his head, “The soldiers from the early Crystal Empire won’t stop talking about him. Apparently before the great exile of the empire, He was King Sombra's leading soldier. They say that he would face entire armies bare-hoofed and win without breaking a sweat. It’s become quite the little conversation topic during downtime in the barracks.”
Shining Armor replied, “Is that so? That’s nice and all but, we should probably talk more about something from this particular millennium. Ancient heroes won’t help us now.”

Flash replied, “Well from what I hear, soldiers from that time are stronger anyway. They say we’ve gone soft since then.”
Knowing where he had heard that phrase before irritated Shining Armor, “That was then, and this is now. Let’s leave it at that.”
Flash noticed tension in his voice so he replied, “My apologies your majesty, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“I’m not offended, I just think we need to worry more about the future than the past. The gala is one day away and the Dark Alicorn is supposed to arrive within the next few weeks, if not sooner. Remember, he will be hunting alicorn first, I don’t want to stand by and watch him hurt my sister or my wife. If anything, I'll die first.”
Flash nodded his head, “Of course your majesty, we will not give up the princesses without a fight.”
Shining Armor looked over his soldiers as he entered the training area, “That sound fine and all Sentry… but I won’t be giving up the princesses at all, with or without a fight.”

Ch8 Closure

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“May I present! Prince Blueblood of Equestria!”
The carriage driver stepped aside as Prince Blueblood trotted through the ballroom doors and smiled at the guests. Then with a look of no concern, he spoke to the carriage driver as he started into the crowd, “That is all Higgins… you may go now.”
The carriage driver nodded his head as he turned back towards the door and left the ballroom. After entering the crowd, Prince Blueblood trotted through to Princess Celestia and Princess Twilight as they were greeting guests, “Auntie Tia, it’s good to see you again. And the newly crowned Princess Twilight. Looking ravishing as ever my dear.”
Princess Celestia looked at Twilight to see her reaction as Twilight nodded her head, “Thank you Prince Blueblood. And may I say you look handsome this evening.”
Blueblood nodded his head, “Yes I know, well I should be off to greet my fans. I’m certain there are plenty attending, seeing that it is me after all.”

As Prince Blueblood trotted back into the crowd, Twilight sighed, “I can see why Rarity hates him so much.”
Princess Celestia smiled, “yes, he is a bit spoiled, isn’t he?”
“Please, he’s so spoiled; you couldn’t even use him as fertilizer.”
Princes Celestia nodded her head, “Well, it’s a good thing you weren’t brought up as a princess, otherwise you probably would have been the same way.”
Princess Twilight looked through the crowd as she replied, “hmm… it looks like this evening will be a little dull.”
Princess Celestia replied, “It usually starts out like this, not many guests have arrived yet…”
At that moment, another carriage driver stepped into the ballroom door way and announced, “May I Present! Lord Fancy Pants and His fiancé Fleur Dis Lee!”
The two princesses watched the two ponies enter the ballroom as Princess Celestia spoke, “You see, the guests are still arriving, so it may pick up soon.”

As the princesses greeted arriving guests, Rarity felt nervous as she stood quietly with Applejack and Rainbow Dash listening to Pinkie Pie complain, “It’s a travesty I tell you. I mean, why can’t the Pony Pokey be on the playlist for tonight’s music? It’s not like Ms. Octavia has to play every second of tonight. She can always take a break or two and let everypony cut loose for one verse.”
Completely ignoring Pinkie Pies complaint, Rarity looked at the ballroom doors in worry as she replied, “Yes… travesty…”
Applejack replied to the complaint, “Pinkie Pie, this is supposed to be some kind of proper shindig. Playin’ somethin’ like the Pony Pokey would be… what’s the word you would use Rarity? Uncouth?”
Rarity continued ignoring her fiends as she schemed over the crowd again, “Uh huh…”
the three friends looked at each other then back at Rarity as Rainbow Dash asked, “Um… Rarity? Are you ok? You seem… distracted.”
Rarity snapped out of it as she nervously replied, “What? Distracted? Me? I’m not distracted because there is nothing here or going to be here that would make me seem distracted. So there’s nothing to worry about…”

Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie looked at each other in confusion as Pinkie Pie replied, “well you’re not acting distracted anymore… now you’re acting a little kooky.”
Applejack added, “And if Pinkie Pie says that… then it has to be true. You ok Rarity. Need to get some air or somethin’?”
Rarity replied, “No… I’m fine… It noting… really… maybe I was just working too hard this past few days.”
Rainbow Dash nodded her head, “well if you need to rest, just let us know. I wouldn’t want you to fall out here?”
“Thank you Rainbow Dash but I'll be fine… It wouldn’t be ladylike to allow myself to succumb to fatigue here of all places.”
Just then, Fluttershy trotted up with an unhappy look on her faced as Rarity asked, “Why Fluttershy? What’s with the long face?”
Fluttershy replied, “oh… well… Princess Luna is in the Canterlot garden right now… and Princess Celestia told me that I should wait till she gets back before I can go out there.”

Rainbow Dash tapped her on the shoulder as she replied, “Well I gotta hand it to you Fluttershy. I respect your never say die enthusiasm when it comes to the critters of Canterlot… but don’t you think it’s time to call it quits?”
Before Fluttershy could reply, Pinkie Pie spoke up, “Oh, popy-corn. I think Fluttershy should try harder, in fact we both will.”
Applejack gave Pinkie Pie a funny look, “both?”
Pinkie Pie replied, “Well yea… I’m going to try too. If I stay really, quiet… I bet I could sneak a Pony Pokey song in.”
Pinkie Pie started casually trotting behind Applejack as she started to reply, “And how do ya expect to do…”
After Applejack turned around to look at Pinkie Pie, she realized that Pinkie had vanished as if into thin air, “Uh… Pinkie?... well… I guess that answers my question.”
Fluttershy sighed, “Well… I… I could try to wait until Princess Luna is finished… I mean… I'll still be patient and all… um… I guess I'll just wait next to the door for her…”

Meanwhile on the road just outside the castle, a carriage pulled up as the driver nervously approached the carriage door and tapped on the window, “Um… Mr. um… s-sir? I… I was w-wonde…”
“Yes… what is it?”
After hearing the lone passenger’s question, he replied, “W-well, I was wondering… if… well… you wanted to be addressed?”
“Y-yes sir… what I mean is… w-would you like to be announced… upon entering the ballroom I mean?”
The passenger smiled as he replied, “you know what? I would prefer that, thank you.”
The driver nodded his head as he nervously replied, “v-very good sir… um… m-may I ask what tittle you want to be addressed with?”

Inside the palace, Princess Twilight was standing next to Princess Celestia as they watched more guests arrive, then Princess Cadence approached her, “How is the gala so far Twilight?”
Twilight replied, “Well it isn’t bad… but it’s still a little quiet.”
Cadence then looked around, “well the night is still young… the Wonderbolts haven’t even arrived yet.”
Twilight replied, “Yea… so far it is a little dull. I wonder if Princess Luna will be finished in the garden soon. Maybe things will be a little livelier with all us princesses here.”
Princess Cadence sighed as she looked at Princess Celestia, “So Princess Luna still goes through the garden every night?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “yes, but I hope is just part of a routine and not because of him.”
Twilight asked, “Him? Him who?”
Princess Celestia tried to speak, “Well long ago, Princess Luna used to trot through the garden wi…”

Before Princess Celestia could finish her explanation, the carriage driver nervously entered the ballroom, “M-may I have your attention Please!... My I p-present, the soldier of soldiers!... The Great Commander Star Bolt!... Of the Nightmare Legion!...”
The ballroom went deafly silent, the band stopped playing, the ponies stopped talking, and everypony in the room stared shockingly at the nervous carriage driver as he stepped aside and allowed Star Bolt to enter the ballroom wearing a navy blue dress uniform with a black beret; the same uniform worn by the commander of the Nightmare Legion more than a thousand years ago. Star Bolt stood there overlooking the crowd win no expression on his face. While at the back of the ballroom the three princesses were stunned with shock as Princess Twilight spoke, “C-commander?... you mean… the Commander Star Bolt, of the Nightmare Legion?... the commander of commanders?... Nightmare Moon’s right hoof?...”
Princess Cadence spoke next, “But… why would he come here?... Tonight of all nights?...”
Princess Celestia was still too shocked to say anything herself, so she didn’t reply to the question. She only stood there as she watched Star Bolt trot towards them with no worries in his expression.

As he approached the crowd, all the guests of the gala stepped completely to the side, opening a clear path to the shocked princesses. And as the casual stallion continued towards the princesses with absolutely no expression of concern for his situation, the ponies he started trotting by took an extra step back in worry as he continued. In the crowd, Rarity lowered her head in worry as Applejack whispered through her shock, “You mean to tell me that the Commander Bolt was working on my farm all this time… and I didn’t even know it?”
Rainbow Dash sneered at him as she replied, “I knew there was something fishy about him… I just knew it.”
Pinkie Pie popped up beside them and whispered, “Well… mission accomplished… hey? Why is everypony so quiet all of a sudden?”
The three mares could only give their clueless friend a confused look as Star Bolt trotted past them without even noticing them. Finally, Star Bolt reached a part of the crowd that seemed to be a suitable distance from the princesses as he spoke, “Princess Celestia! I…”
Before he could continue, the top of the ballroom was all of a sudden filled with a swarm of royal pegasi guards, as they landed around him and point their spears.

Expecting something like this to happen, Star Bolt continued holding his ground with no expression of worry as Princess Celestia called out, “Stand Down!”
The guards looked at their princess, then at each other as they slowly lowered their spears and stepped back from their target. Then Princess Celestia spoke, “Star Bolt?... Why are you here?”
Star Bolt replied without any expression, “… Closure, I only want you to stop. For two years now, you’ve done nothing but hunt me, and chase me all over Equestria like some mangy mutt. And I want to put a stop to it.”
Knowing her husband’s goal, Princess Cadence called out, “You’re a criminal of Eques…”
“I SERVED MY TIME!!! I spent one thousand years watching over this world with no interaction with its residence. One thousand years, of watching the ponies I knew, age and die with no way of consoling them. Do you know what it like, to watch as you friend, your family, slowly die thinking they are alone. Wishing that for one minute, you could talk to them to let them know that somepony who loves them in nearby and that they aren’t truly alone! Wishing that they could go in peace, knowing that you’re by their side! Can you even fathom! The pain felt when they pass away with pity from others because of something they did in their past just because they were ordered to!”
Princess Twilight started to talk, “But wh…”
“I’M STILL TALKING SO SHUT UP!!! I spent lifetimes watching them all die… one by one… do you know how that feels?...”

Princess Celestia lowered her head in shame, “Actually… I do…”
Star Bolt continued with a serious expression, “Then… tell me… Where is Luna?”
Princess Cadence and Princess Twilight looked at Princess Celestia as she continued hanging her head in shame, “She’s… in the garden. The same as every night at this time.”
Star Bolt paid no mind to the shame filled expression on Celestia’s face as he replied, “I should have guessed… I know the way from here.”
As Star Bolt turned towards the side entrance to the ballroom, the crowd cleared a path just like before, as he continued with a serious expression on his face. Princess Twilight looked at Princess Celestia and spoke, “Princess? Shouldn’t we stop him?”
Cadence added, “Yea… he might hurt Lun…”
“It’s ok… of all the ponies in this world who are threatened by his anger… Luna is the safest.”
Twilight added, “Yea… bu…”
Princess Celestia interrupted again, “Don’t worry… the reason he showed up here tonight, is because he knows I won’t make a scene in front of my subjects, and so he won’t have to fight. I have to give him credit for his boldness… but this was the easy part of his night”

As Star Bolt started to approach the door leading to the Canterlot garden, he stopped as he took a deep breath to ready himself for his upcoming conversation. As he stood there, he heard a sound off to his side so he looked to see Fluttershy cowering behind a nearby pillar. With the expression on her terrified face, he could only guess that she heard the whole thing from here. Seeing the timid pony hiding from him only made him feel worse as he sighed a second time the opened the door and went into the garden. As he started trotting through the vast garden, he could only think about how much it’s changed since the last time he was here. With each passing step, he slowly remembered every conversation that went on between him and Luna in this vast collection of hedges, flowers, and sculptures. On most occasions this memories would make Star Bolt feel better about himself… however, on this particular night, in this particular situation… it only made his worries rise, and his guilt dig deeper into his conscience.

Not long after traveling down the path, Star Bolt saw Princess Luna ahead as she so gracefully trotted through the garden with an expression that showed she was in deep thought. Star Bolt continued watching her as she started to mumble to herself, “there is a crowd in the palace tonight… probably just for the gala. Other then you, nopony had ever cared about my nights… but I’m okay with that now. Ever since Nightmare Moon was casted from me… I know that it doesn’t matter who treasures my nights… as long as I was with you… it didn’t matter.”
Hearing her talk to herself and knowing that she had no idea he was behind her, made him feel terrible about what he had to do next. Star Bolt took a deep breath and replied to her comment, “Luna… Your nights will always be beautiful. Never let anypony tell you otherwise.”
Not realizing who was talking to her made her smile as she started to turn around, “Thank you… but you don’t have t…”

When Luna realized whom she was talking to, she froze in shock. Luna stood there staring at the very stallion she was talking about as he returned her shocked stare with a gentle smile. Princess Luna started taking steps back as she tried to understand what was happening, “S-Star?... b-but… it can’t be… you’re… you’re…”
Luna’s eyes started to tear up as she continued, “You… you’re dead… I… I killed you…”
Star Bolt sighed as he started to speak, “Luna… I…”
Luna sat down and put her hooves over her ears, “NO!... no!... you can’t be here!... You can’t!... I… you’re not here!... I know you’re not here!... S-Stop!... Stop tormenting me! STOP!!!...”
Star Bolt took a step forward, “Calm down Luna! It’s me, Sta…”
Luna closed her eyes and griped her head in an effort to remove what she thought were hallucinations, “No, no, no, no, no, no! No! No! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!”
Trying to prevent her from having a heart attack, Star Bolt rushed to her and grabber her shoulders, “Luna! Calm do…”

In a hysteric fear, Princess Luna used her magic to push Star Bolt away tossing him through the air and causing him to crash into a statue and fall to the ground. When Luna realized that her magic affected him, she stood there even more shocked then before… “S… Star Bolt?... it… it really is you…”
Star Bolt grunted as he picked himself from the ground and looked at her, “I… I guess I deserve that…”
with tears rolling down her face, Princess Luna spoke, “Star… but… how… I… I thought you were dead…”
Star Bolt brushed himself off as he picked up his beret and put it back on his head, “I know…”
Luna looked down at the ground as she tried to think, “But… but…”
“Luna… what matters, is that I’m here. And I…”
“… How long?...”
Star Bolt started trotting closer to Luna as he asked, “What?”
Luna looked up at Star Bolt with an angry tear fill stare, “How long have you been able to come back? How long have you hidden yourself away after recovering from your injuries?... How long… have you been lying to me?”

Knowing that his answer would lead to something bad, Star Bolt replied, “The whole time.”
With tears continuing to roll down her face, Luna angrily replied, “and… why?”
Star Bolt replied, “Luna… I cou…”
Princess Luna hid her face as she interrupted him, “I… I mourned you… I blamed myself for everything that caused you pain before your death… And all you did… was leave?... You abandoned me, when I needed you the most… you weren’t there“
Star Bolt tried to explain, “Luna… I can’t be…
“If… if I disgust you so much… then… then maybe you should have stayed dead…”
Star Bolt continued, “Luna… the reason I stayed away is be…”
Luna looked at the ground in anger as the tears still dropped from her face, “You… you… Leave…”
Star Bolt thought he heard her wrong as he got closer, “W-what?”
Luna glared at him as the tears continued, “I… I said leave… Now!...”
Star Bolt tried to understand, “Luna… I…”
“As princess of Equestria… I hereby banish you form this city… You will leave Canterlot Star… and this time… Don’t come back!...”

Princess Luna turned around and looked at the ground trying to hide her face as Star Bolt put his hoof on her shoulder, “Luna…”
“I SAID GO!!!...”
Feeling her tremble with rage, Star Bolt took his hoof off her shoulder as he began to turn away and replied, “As you wish… your majesty.”
Star Bolt then turned around and started trotting away. Hearing the sound of his hoof steps, as they grew fainter caused Princess Luna to break out from her tearing to full-fledged crying. As Star Bolt continued, he paused when he heard Luna crying for him, but he didn’t bother turning to look at her. He could only sigh as he continued back towards the entrance to the Canterlot garden.

As he reached the entrance, he could see Princess Celestia standing there with an expression that showed that she had heard the entire conversation. With no concern in what’s happened, Star Bolt approached her and started to trot pass her without even acknowledging her. However, as he trotted by, he stopped right beside her as she tried to speak, “Star Bolt… I…”
Star Bolt raised his wing to silence her as he spoke without even looking at her, “If you send any more soldiers after me… I'll kill them. I’m done showing mercy, and I’m done dealing with the likes of you and your pathetic excuse for royal guards. This is your only warning; if you continue to search for Commander Bolt… then you just might find him. Good-bye… Princess.”

Princess Celestia looked at Star Bolt in shock as he continued trotting by her with no expression, showing fully that he was serious, and that he would carry out what he said without hesitation. After Star Bolt trotted completely passed her, Princess Celestia trotted towards Princess Luna who was laying on the ground crying her eyes out. Feeling terrible about what just happened, Princess Celestia spoke, “Sister… are you ok?”
Princess Luna didn’t reply, she only stood up with her back turned to her sister and wiped her eyes. Princess Celestia got closer to Princess Luna and asked, “Sister… I know it hurts… bu…”
Princess Luna mumbled to herself too quietly for Princess Celestia to hear, “Yo… li… t... e…”
Princess Celestia asked, “What?...”
Princess Luna turned around and glared into her sister’s eyes as she yelled at the top of her lungs, “YOU LIED TO ME!!!”
With one rage filled thrust of her hooves and wings, Princess Luna jolted into the sky and vanished into the night leaving behind a bluish trail that quickly vanished without a trace. Seeing that her sister was hurt far greater then she expected, Princess Celestia looked into the night and sighed, “… Sister…”

Back at the entrance to the ballroom, Star Bolt entered alone as the gala was still at a standstill for his entrance earlier. Star Bolt began trotting further into the ballroom with a troubled look on his face as Rainbow Dash approached him, “Hey Commander! I have a bone to pick with yo…”
Before Rainbow Dash could finish her sentence, Star Bolt shifted his eye to look at her, giving her a stare that seemed emotionless, however the deepness of his expression sent a chill up her spine that immediately caused her to back down. With each and everypony in the room stepping out of the way giving him a clear path, Princess Twilight galloped to the side of the path and tried to get his attention as he continued through the crowd, “Star?”
Star Bolt didn’t respond, instead he trotted by her as if she wasn’t even there. Almost immediately after, the rest of the ponies he knew made their way to the side and watched with anticipation hoping he would say something, or at least look at them… but he didn’t. With a depressed and emotionless look of defeat, Star Bolt trotted past them all as if he were trotting through an empty ballroom.

As he approached the ballroom doors and started to leave, the guards standing on each side lowered their spears in his path as one spoke, “Not so fast comm…”
“If you have any concern for your safety and the ones you love… you will step aside now before I reduce you both to ash… How clear am I?”
The two guards looked at each other in worry as they took his advice and raised their spears allowing him to pass. Then as Star Bolt left through the ballroom doors, he replied to their actions, “… Thought so…”
With those being his last words, and with absolutely no pony trying to stop him, Star Bolt left the castle, and exited the city on hoof. Not far outside the city, Star Bolt made it to the top of a hill, and looked back at the crown jewel of Equestria as the lights from the city made it glow in the darkness of the night. As he looked back at the city, he removed his beret and looked at the commander’s insignia on the crest.

While looking over that insignia, he started to remember all the things he did as commander, and as he remembered them, he started to think that his return to Canterlot was a foolish attempt at regaining what squander of existence he had left in his cursed of a life. Out of anger, Star Bolt threw his beret on the ground, then he started tearing off the rest of the uniform, the medals, the jacket, the tie, all of it, until every part of the outfit that he used to wear with pride was on the ground in the dirt. When he finished, he looked at the uniform in disgust, “Why did this give me pride?… why was I so proud to wear this crap?... What am I still doing here?… why am I still alive? What is my purpose?”
Star Bolt turned around and looked at the moon as it shined above, “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?! AM I HERE FOR YOUR AMUSEMENT!?! AM I THE RESULT OF SOME SICK SADISTIC JOKE!?! TELL ME!!!”

Out of a fit of rage, Star Bolt looked back at the ground and stomped his hoof in anger, causing a small jolt of electricity to surge through the ground singing one of the corners of the uniform as it laid on the ground behind him. As tears of anger started to roll down his face, Star Bolt shook his head, “Why… why am I still here?… why am I still alone?… why?… why am I left to suffer for something that happened a thousand years ago?… Why?... Why did I let her suffer too?…”
With anger still in his mind and tears still rolling down his face, Star Bolt continued trudging down the road, as the singed corner of his dirt covered uniform, turned into a flame, and began burning the remains of the Nightmare Legion’s formal attire.

Later that night as the gala came to an end, Princess Celestia stood on the balcony far above Canterlot as she watched the last few guests leave. With her mind on the earlier events of the night, she stared into the city with a depressed look on her face as Princess Twilight and Princess Cadence approached her from behind. Both approaching princesses hesitated before Twilight finally spoke first, “Um… Princess Celestia? My carriage is here… I’m about to go back to Ponyville.”
With the look of sadness still on her face, Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Alright Twilight… in three days, I would like you to come back so we can prepare for the upcoming crisis.”
Twilight started to reply, but as she opened her mouth to talk, she saw a tear roll down Princess Celestia’s face as Princess Cadence spoke instead, “Princess Luna… hasn’t returned yet, has she?”
Princess Celestia wiped the tear from her face as she replied, “No… and I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t return. I feel that I have lost my sister a second time.”
Princess Twilight lowered her head and spoke in irritation, “This is all Star Bolt’s fault… if he hadn’t re…”

Princess Celestia interrupted Twilight, “No… the blame is equally split amongst all three of us. Princess Luna is to blame for becoming Nightmare Moon and making Star Bolt do all he did. Star Bolt is to blame for carrying out her orders and exiling himself after their return. And I am to blame for making him as bitter as he is, and not telling Luna the truth. In the end, this can’t be the fault of just one pony. Yet even with that knowledge, a solution can’t be made to make all three of us content.”
Princess Twilight replied, “so… what should we do?... should I ask Star Bolt to help us in this cri…”
“… No… Star Bolt has made up his mind. Even if I explain the whole thing to him… he will just brush me off and trot away. I can revoke his banishment from Canterlot, at least for the daylight hours… but I don’t think he will return to help us… the only pony who could convince him would be Luna… but she wouldn’t ask him even if her were the last pony on earth.”

Princess Cadence sighed, “Well… maybe the soldiers that Shining Armor is training will be enough.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “I pray that you’re right.”
Princess Twilight added, “And we will also have Discord helping us, in fact this would be a perfect excuse fo…”
“Absolutely not!”
Princess Celestia looked Twilight in the eye as she continued, “Discord has to stay as far away from this as possible.”
Princess Cadence asked, “Really? But why?”
Princess Celestia sighed, “It’s something that will be disgusted in three days. When we have all the participants here. The Wonderbolts, the crystal army, and the royal guards. I want to explain it only once so that the risk of others finding out will be greatly decreased…. I only pray Luna will be here too. One can only imagine how much she is hurting right now.”

Ch9 Judges, Jury, Executioners

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Star Bolt found himself wandering through a vast battlefield shortly after the battle had ended. As he stood there amongst the dead, he looked at a nearby corpse and examined the body, “This armor… it’s much older than anything I’ve ever seen before… it even predates my old armor.”
Star Bolt then took a look around and counted the different colors surrounding him, “Four… this was a battle against four different armies… but with the way they are standing… it’s as if they fought beside each other… not against each other. But there is no fifth… who… or what were they fighting?”
Star Bolt had seen battles like this before in his heyday, but none that ended with complete inhalation of all four armies. He decided to continue trotting though the area looking for survivors, but no matter how many corpse he crossed, each and every one were dead. As he trotted on, he accidently tripped over the horn of a larger soldier and fell to the ground. As he picked himself back up, he looked at the obstacle that tripped him but was immediately shocked at what he saw, “It’s… it’s an alicorn. But… I thought they were all extinct.”

Star Bolt then looked around and saw more alicorns amongst the dead. While continuing to scan the battlefield, he noticed a large area ahead where the land seemed to drop off. So Star Bolt decided to investigate this area too. When he finally arrived, he saw a massive crater with nothing inside but empty armor from all four armies. To most, this was an unusual phenomenon, but to him, the answer was simple. Star Bolt held his hoof over the crater and saw an arc of electricity jump from inside to his hoof, “The Lightning orb… this crater and all who died inside was caused by the lighting orb. But who?...”

Star Bolt looked in the direction that the call came from to see a small caravan of surviving soldiers and banners. As Star Bolt looked at the group, he noticed that they had with them two young fillies wearing cloaks. The leaders of two of the armies, an earth pony and a unicorn. But absolutely none of the alicorn soldiers. Thinking that the group was talking to him Star Bolt waved, “HEY!!! OVER HERE!!!”
The group didn’t reply, instead they turned another direction as the leader of the earth ponies called a second time, “Commander!!! Commander Hurricane!!! Is thou alright!?!”
Star Bolt looked at the group in confusion, “Commander… Hurricane?”
Feeling nervous Star Bolt flew towards the group as fast as he could until he caught up with them then he asked, “Um… excuse me? Can I talk to you for a second?”
All of the travelers didn’t respond except for one of the cloaked fillies who turned around and spoke, “You?... you don’t belong here…”
The rest of the group continued trotting as the little filly stood there looking at Star Bolt with her cloak covering her face.

Star Bolt was confused even more now, “What?... What do you mean by that little one?”
The little filly continued, “You shouldn’t be here… it isn’t safe for you…”
All of a sudden, one of the banner carrying guards looked back and spoke, “Chancellor Puddinghead! The princess!”
The leading earth pony turned around and spoke to the young filly who was looking at Star Bolt, “Princess Luna! thou mustn’t stop now, please step lightly young princess.”
Star Bolt stood in shock as the young filly turned around and replied, “Apologies chancellor… thou was worried about mommy…”
Star Bolt couldn’t believe his eyes when the other filly trotted to her and spoke, “Sister… Tis ok. I hope thy mother is safe too… but thou needs to continue. Thou will be safe from the dark alicorn in Equestria.”

The young filly replied, “But… what about Commander Hurricane?... shouldn’t we go back for him?”
The chancellor sighed, “Tis a shame to lose the great commander and thy gift… but thou mustn’t let his loss be in vain. Thy queen is counting on us to get thee to safety. And that is what thou must do.”
The other filly then looked at the unicorn leader and asked, “Princess Platinum? What will become of thy home, Eden?”
The unicorn sighed, “Thou don’t know your majesty… But, thou will do everything within thy power ensure thy princesses safety. Now let us continue… thou haven’t the time to waste.”
The filly turned back to Star Bolt one last time and spoke, “You don’t belong here… Please leave before he gets you too.”
Star Bolt had to ask, “Who?”
Before the filly could answer the Unicorn guard carrying another banner called out, “You’re Majesty! Thy enemy approaches!!!”

Star Bolt quickly turned around as he saw a Pillar of black sand come shooting out of the ground in the distance, the very same ground that the Lightning Orb crater was sitting. As the pillar came up and flew through the air, Princess Platinum used a spell to surround the caravan in a protective barrier of magic. However, the spell only surrounded the group leaving Star Bolt just outside of it. The cloaked filly put down her hood and yelled to Star Bolt, “RUN!!!”
When Star Bolt saw her face, he realized that he really was looking at a much younger Princess Luna. However, this Luna was still just a filly. Star Bolt quickly turned back towards the pillar of sand as it started raining down in massive clumps that quickly surround the ponies. Feeling worried, Star Bolt picked up a sword from the battlefield and held it at the ready as he braced himself for a fight. As he stood at the ready, one of the black sand clumps came flying straight at him so he swung the sword hitting it away from him. However, the little bit of sand that remained on the blade started to spread, slowly devouring the blade as Star Bolt dropped it and took a few steps back in shock, “What… what is this?”

After taking a few steps back, Star Bolt’s back hoof tapped one of the piles of the black sand that was almost all over the ground beneath him. Before he could react, the sand started spreading across his body until his back half was covered in the sand. Star Bolt tried all he could to sift the sand off with his front hooves, but it was no use, the spreading sand quickly started to cover his front half like a shadow across his entire body. Before he know it, from the very tip of his wings to the end of his tail was entirely covered in the sand as his body became heavy and he fell to the ground. Star Bolt struggled as much as he could, but the weight of the sand made it impossible for him to move. Then… something even worse started to happen. All over his body, Star Bolt could feel the sand starting to eat away at his flesh as if it were eating him alive. Star Bolt began screaming in agony as the sand continued to devour him, before covering his face, and making everything go black.

Star Bolt quickly opened his eyes and sat up to find himself laying in a bed drenched in a cold sweat. As he continued to breathe heavily in fear, he spoke, “It… was just a dream?”
Star Bolt began rubbing his eyes as he sighed in relief, “Well that figures… two years since my last dream, and now that Luna knows I’m back, she sends me a Nightmare… I guess it’s her way of reminding me that I’m no longer welcome in Canterlot. And that she is still mad about everything. I guess I deserve it. I would have done far worse… but… it seemed so… specific not like a dream at all… but something else. Never mind, fact of the matter is that it has already ended and I’m out of it, thank Luna… I guess.”
Star Bolt proceeded to climb out of the bed and look around the room until he saw Zecora meditating upside-down on a staff in the middle of the room. Then he realized what happened, “I must have dozed off at the Thunder Grounds last night… leave it to Zecora to pull me out of harm’s way yet again. Timberwolves would have made a meal out of me if I had slept in the forest without my sword.”
Trying not to disturb Zecora’s meditation, Star Bolt went back to the bed and began planning over his next move, “Hmm… Ponyville is a fifty, fifty on whether or not they will accept me, I’m banned from Canterlot, and as far as I know; there isn’t a single place in this kingdom that won’t know my face now that it has been revealed to everypony at the g...”

All of a sudden, the front door flew open and slammed against the wall breaking both Zecora and Star Bolt’s thoughts. As Zecora fell to the ground, Roseluck charged into the room, “Star Bolt! Are you here!?!”
Star Bolt helped Zecora off the ground as he replied, “Rose? What are you do…”
“STAR! It’s Ponyville… you can’t go back! Right now it’s too dangerous for you there!”
“Dangerous?... let me guess… the city has been overrun by royal guards, right?”
Roseluck shook her head, “No… that’s not it at all. This morning I was woken up by an angry mob that was outside my front door. When I opened it to see what was going on, they started attacking me with questions of where you were and what you were planning to do to Ponyville. I was able to calm them down enough to sneak out the back door… but my home is still surrounded by them and I don’t think they will leave until they have you, dead or alive.”
Zecora and Star Bolt looked at each other as Zecora spoke, “The situation seems dire, I’m worried for you, you must go into hiding and stay out of their view.”

As much as the idea seemed good, Star Bolt shook his head, “No… if they want me… they can have me. Besides… my sword and cloak are still in that town. If they want me to leave then I'll gladly do it, but I won’t leave that sword behind… it’s all I have left of my family. You two stay here and don’t go into Ponyville for at least an hour.”
Both Zecora and Roseluck looked at Star Bolt as Rose asked, “but, why?”
Star Bolt replied as he started trotting towards the door, “I’m going back for my sword. And if anything is going to happen, I want you two to be as far from it as possible. You already have a bad reputation for taking me in… I won’t ruin your life too. And if anything is going to happen, it will be settled in one hour’s time.”
Roseluck tried to talk some sense into Star Bolt, “But Star I…”
Zecora interrupted “I promise my friend, we will not interrupt, the decision you made or the conflict you erupt. We shall stay here, full knowing your trust, for you are our friend, and your cause is just.”

Star Bolt smiled as he turned towards the door, “Thanks. Well, here goes nothing.”
Star Bolt exited out the front door as Roseluck looked at Zecora, “Why are you agreeing with this? You know as well as I do that they will rip him apart about th…”
“You shouldn’t be so quick to judge our dear friend, this unfortunate past, he alone must mend. I worry for him, as much if not more, but I know in my heart, that he can settle this score. So I must stand aside, in hope he will show, just how far he’s willing to go. But will he succeed, I surely hope so.”
Roseluck looked at Zecora and asked, “Zecora, why do you trust him so much? I try all I can, but sometimes I think that he is wrong and that he is toying with us… but then he does something completely crazy that changes my mind. I just don’t get it. Why do you support him as much as you do?”
Zecora looked Roseluck in the eye as she smiled.

At the edge of Ponyville Star Bolt braced himself as he started getting closer and closer to the angry mob that was still surrounding Roseluck’s home. As he approached, a pony in the very back spotted him, “HEY THERE HE IS! THERE IS COMMANDER BOLT!!!”
As everypony in the large group went silent and turned to look at Star Bolt, he continued to approach the herd as they slowly opened a path for him to get to the door of the home. With each passing step the mob glared at the ancient soldier as he continued with little to no expression of concern or worry for the tension in the herd. As he continued, a random pony in the herd yelled, “GET OUT OF OUR TOWN!!!”
Star Bolt paid no mind to the citizen since after he yelled that, there was a continuation of silence from the herd. Star Bolt continued on his path and stopped only when Big Mackintosh stepped between him and the door of the cottage.

Star Bolt looked Big Mac in the eye as he spoke with no concern in his expression, “…I’m fired… aren’t I?”
Big Mac replied with little expression, “Eeyup.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “I should have known… then please step aside.”
Big Mac replied, “Nope.”
Star Bolt replied, “Mac… I don’t want to fight you… so I won’t. But I will ask you again… Step… Aside…”
Big Macintosh didn’t reply, he only stood in front of Star Bolt as another pony in the herd yelled, “RUN HIM OUT OF TOWN!!! HE SHOULDN’T BE HERE!!!”
The surrounding herd immediately erupted into a wave of insults and comments that all said the same thing. That Star Bolt was no longer welcome in Ponyville, “He has some nerve coming here!”
“Why did he come back anyway?”
“And to think he saved our town!”
“He probably caused that tornado to begin with, that’s how he stopped it so easily!”

Though each insult hurt Star Bolt in some way, he continued to hold his expression and temper back as they continued. Then all of a sudden an unusual yell came from the herd that not only surprised him, it surprised the whole town as it echoed into sky “LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!”
Star Bolt quickly turned around to see Fluttershy standing behind him with her wings open as if it made an invisible wall to protect him, “Star Bolt isn’t a bad pony! Sure, he was a big meanie at one point… but… he is nice now! And… I for one have never seen him do anything that would make him deserve to be treated like this!”
Star Bolt looked in shock as Fluttershy looked at him and smiled, “F-Fluttershy?...”
Rainbow Dash flew above the herd and yelled back, “Oh yea! What about the fact that he clearly lied to us! He didn’t tell us he was a member of the Nightmare Legion! Now did he?”
Fluttershy tried to reply to the comment, “Um… yea… but… uh…”
Another yell came from the herd as the Cutiemark Crusaders trotted out and stood beside Fluttershy, “That’s not fair! He did tell us he was part of the royal guard didn’t he?”
“Yea! And he also said that he had reason to travel… maybe he was trying to find a place to call home?”
“Yea and even if he didn’t tell us that specifically, it’s not like we asked him that specific question!”

As the three fillies stood around Star Bolt, he stood in concern for their boldness as Rainbow Dash tried to counter, “Well what about his past hugh! He fought against Princess Celestia!”
Another pony in the herd replied, “Yea, but if he wanted to hurt her, he would have done so last night! I saw it with my own two eyes, he did nothin’ that caused any harm to Princess Celestia, and he didn’t even bring his sword with him.”
Applejack stepped out of the herd as she approached Star Bolt, “I may just be an apple farmer… but I know a good pony when I see one.”
Star Bolt was still surprised, “Applejack… girls…”
Rainbow Dash tried to continue her argument, “but did you see how disrespectful he was to her! He’s got some wingspan to talk to her like that!”
Without Star Bolt noticing Pinkie Pie jumped out from behind him and spoke, “That’s right! It’s not like he was asserting himself by showing the princess that he had no fear and that any threat she could be to him didn’t concern him, making it known that he was ready to face any punishment that he could be facing for returning to the one city that he was entirely unwelcomed in. And it would also be weird if he approached the one pony in Equestria that thought he was dead that he secretly had a crush on an who in turn was in love with him so approaching her for the first time after she thought he was dead was a completely awkward situation… or… was that your plan after all?”

The entire herd to include Star Bolt and the few who stood up for him gave her a funny look as Star Bolt replied, “Um… actually… that’s right.”
Pinkie Pie smiled, “Oh. Then I’m with him too!”
Rainbow Dash tried to continue, “Yea! But what about that outfit! Wearing something like that is nothing but disrespect to Princess Celestia and the rest of Equestria! What bonehead would have provided him with something so…”
“I beg your pardon!”
Rainbow Dash looked below her as Rarity was now making her way out of the herd towards Star Bolt, “Mr. Star has been nothing if not a gentle-colt towards me and my little sister! When he approached me and asked to make such a thing, he agreed to pay three times the price and promised to keep it a secret so my reputation would go untarnished. I can’t say that right now it’s getting any better, but still. Star Bolt is a good pony who is kind and generous and I won’t stand aside while you ponies continue to falsely accuse him of doing wrong when clearly he hasn’t done anything wrong since he arrived.”

Rainbow Dash was shocked that most of her friends were now on his side as a few of the ponies in the herd were starting to reconsider their decision, “What! You mean that you’re still defending him! After all he d…”
“That’s enough!”
Rainbow Dash and the rest of the herd quickly went silent as Princess Twilight and Spike came trotting through the cleared path towards Star Bolt. As Twilight approached Star Bolt and turned to address the herd, Spike spoke to Star Bolt, “wow… you really have one heck of a wingspan to dis Princess Celestia and still be on Twilight’s good side.”
Star Bolt replied, “… Yea… Not helping.”
Princess Twilight announced to the herd, “By order of Princess Celestia! I’m here to remind you all that the crimes that Princess Luna was charged for when she was nightmare moon were dropped after her return. And those same crimes for Commander Star Bolt have also been pardoned. So whether you like it or not! Star Bolt isn’t guilty of anything and will not be treated as such. It will be Star Bolt decision of where he goes and what he does. So long as it doesn’t break any laws today, he will be doing nothing wrong by trotting in and out of town freely.”

The surrounding herd started looking at each other as they started to disperse after hearing Princess Twilight’s speech, even Big Mackintosh decided to leave after the matter was settled. When the herd was gone, Star Bolt smiled in relief, “Thanks Twilight… I’m glad I still have your trust.”
Princess Twilight shook her head, “No… you don’t. Even if you didn’t lie, you still wasn’t honest with us about your past or your intentions. So I’m afraid I still don’t trust you Star Bolt. I’m sorry, but after all this mess, I cant.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Well, I guess that’s fair. I know I wasn’t honest with you all but it’s not like that easy for somepony in my situation to do… I mean, what would you say, if I came up to you and said; hello my name is Star Bolt, don’t tell anypony but I used to rule over Nightmare Moon’s armies and I even commanded an attack on Canterlot that nearly destroyed the entire city while my main goal was to kill Princess Celestia. Oh and I’m one thousand and twenty five years old… just so ya know.”
All of a sudden, Pinkie Pie started laughing as hard as she could while applejack nudged her, “Uh Pinkie Pie? That wasn’t supposed to be a joke.”
“But it’s so funny!”

Star Bolt smiled at the group as he continued, “Well… either way. All I can do is thank you all. It’s been a long time since I had this many friends that I could actually trust. And I'll do all I can to make this right.”
Twilight nodded her head as she replied, “Well, actually there is something. You see Princess Celestia and pr…”
Princess Twilight was confused as to why he didn’t let her finish, “What?”
Star Bolt replied with an uninterested expression, “I said… no.”
Princess Twilight looked at her friends as Applejack spoke, “But… why?”
Star Bolt replied, “I don’t know if you know this… but I’m banished from Canterlot. Princess Luna did so last night. Furthermore, I don’t much care for Princess Celestia so there is a good chance, even if I wasn’t… I wouldn’t help. If you need a pegasus’ help, then I'll gladly give you a few names. I have connections in the Wonderbolts that can help, but as for me… I would have to be dying before I would set hoof back in Canterlot.”

Rainbow Dash spoke up as she landed next to them, “Yea right! Like you know any of the Wonderbolts!”
Star Bolt smiled confidently as he looked her in the eye, “Feel free to ask Spitfire about me… Then see how she reacts.”
Rarity tried her luck at convincing him, “Are you sure Mr. Star? We could really use your expertise to help with this prob…”
“I don’t want to be rude… especially to the few who actually stood up for me… but my answer remains the same. There is nothing that can be said that will ever get me back into that city.”
Twilight sighed as she replied, “Well… I guess I should have expected that since even Princess Celestia said it herself.”
Star Bolt continued, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that you all still support me after everything that’s happened, and if there is anything you need just ask and I'll help. I mean, I don’t have a job anymore so I have the time. However, I'll only help if it involves this town and has nothing to do with Canterlot or the two princesses there.”
Rainbow Dash sighed, “I told you guys that he wouldn’t change. Despite what you all say… I still don’t trust him.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he turned back to the road, “Well Dash, that’s your choice, not mine. Now if you will excuse me I have to go get somepony.”

The group looked at him funny as Pinkie asked, “Get somepony? Who ya gonna get?”
Star Bolt replied, “Well I told a few friends to wait outside of town so they wouldn’t be attacked by the mob for supporting me.”
Rainbow Dash thought she finally had him, “Oh yea? Who? Some of your spies? Members of your private army?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No… Roseluck and Zecora. I wanted them to stay safe so I told them to stay out of this. I wouldn’t let my friends get hurt… not for somepony like me. Well I'll be back later.”
As Star Bolt started trotting down the road, Fluttershy spoke, “You see… he is a nice pony. He wanted to protect his friend because he thought they would get hurt. Now would a meanie do something like that?”
Sweetie Belle added, “I’ve been saying it the whole time. Mr. Star is good, I just know it.”
Rainbow Dash shook her head in hopelessness, “Whatever, I’ve got better things to do than to support him.”
Pinkie Pie jumped up, “Oh like rush over to the Wonderbolts academy and ask captain spitfire if she knows Star Bolt so you can see her reaction to find out if he really did know her so you can settle the curiosity once and for all?”
Everypony gave Pinkie Pie a confused look as Applejack replied, “Let me guess… a hunch?”
Pinkie Pie smiled “Yep”

Far off in the Crystal Empire Flash Sentry and Derpy trotted up to Prince Shining Armor as he was overlooking his soldiers training, “Um… Prince Armor?”
Shining Armor turned around and asked, “Yes, what is it Flash?”
Flash Sentry held up a scroll and spoke, “We just received a letter from…”
All of a sudden the scroll that was in his hoof vanished as Discord appeared over the ponies heads and looked over the scroll, “Ohoo what’s this? Hmm, just a mushy letter from your wife… how dull… wait a second. Hmm… interesting.”
Discord started reading the letter silently to himself as Shining Armor looked back at Flash and asked, “Why would Cadence send me a letter? Doesn’t she know I'll be on the train to Equestria tomorrow? What’s so important that can’t wait till then?”
Discord finished the letter And smiled in an extremely devious way, “Maybe you should see for yourself… it’s quite inspirational… I’m actually disappointed I didn’t go to the gala now.”

Shining Armor used his magic to grab the letter and pull it from Discord hands and he opened it up and began reading. As Shining Armor read the letter, Discord watched in amusement as Shining Armor’s expression went from normal, to confused, then to an increased anger. While this went on, Derpy tapped Flash Sentry on his shoulder as she asked, “Um… how long will this take? I gotta get back to Canterlot soon. Got some kinda record for a Vandal Scratch?”
Flash looked at the record and corrected her, “That says Vinyl Scratch.”
Derpy took a second look at the letter and blushed, “Oh… so that’s what is says… thanks handsome.”
Flash looked at Derpy in confusion as he asked, “Um… did you just call me…”
Before Flash could finish his sentence, Shining Armor wadded up the letter, threw it down on the ground and stomped on it, “HIM! Why did he of all ponies have to show up there! I’m gonna kill him myself!”
Derpy gave Shining Armor a curious look, “What was it? Good news?”
Shining Armor ignored the question as he looked at Flash Sentry, “Have the main force on the train and ready to leave by tomorrow morning. As for me. I’m leaving today!”

Flash looked at Shining Armor in confusion as he asked, “What’s wrong your majesty? Is Canterlot in trouble?”
Shinning armor replied as he started trotting towards the train station, “No… but I know somepony who will be. Take care of the kingdom till I return.”
Flash stood in confusion as Shining Armor left him with the soldiers who were still training. As Shining Armor continued, Discord used his magic to make a small car appear and drove alongside Shining Armor as he spoke, “Road Trip!... sorry I thought this would be a good guy thing for us to do. I mean we are going to meet one of my heroes aren’t we? Well… I’m going to meet him. You’re going to try to beat him up. But don’t worry. I'll be there to take you to the hospital afterwards.”
Shining Armor looked at Discord and spoke in irritation, “And what makes you think I can’t beat Commander Bolt in a fight?”

Discord made his car disappear as he started flying next to Shining Armor, “Hmm let me think…”
As he hovered in the air, a long checklist appeared in Discords hands as he put on reading glasses and continued, “One; he fought in numerous battles while you only managed to fend off changelings… and toss your wife from a balcony. Two; he was trained a long time ago so he is a lot better trained than you are. Three; he has that little trick he does with lighting. Four; he did manage to become commander of Equestria while you only became Captain before becoming a prince. Five; he still has a princess to impress while you already have your ball and chain. Six; he has eluded you for years so there has to be some skill behind that. And seven; simply because he is Commander Bolt nuff said.”
Shining Armor looked at Discord and spoke, “Look I don’t care how experienced he is. I’m still going to take him down.”

Discord shrugged his shoulders, “Oh well, I can’t say I tried. But don’t worry I have your back I'll just watch patiently from the sidelines.”
Using magic, Discord made a ball cap appear on his head and a small flag appear in his hand that both had Star Bolts face on them, and then he waved the flag around as he spoke “Hmm… I wonder if there will be any snack at the concession stands… oh who am I kidding, Pinkie Pie will be there. There are bound to be snack.”
Shining Armor ignored Discords actions as he thought to himself, “I got you now Commander Bolt. You’re not getting away this time.”

Ch10 Commander and the Prince

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“You girls ready?”
Star Bolt looked down from atop the apple tree as he waited for The Cutiemark Crusaders to reply. As Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle flipped an apple barrel upside down on the ground beneath the tree Apple Bloom looked up at him and replied, “We’re ready when you are Mr. Bolt.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “All right then everypony step away from the barrel and prepare to be amazed.”
As the three fillies quickly rushed away from the barrel, Star Bolt gripped his sword then focused on his targets. Using an impressive speed, Star Bolt drew his sword and cut free three apples with one swing. Then continuing his fluid motion, Star Bolt rolled to the side and fell from the tree using gravity to allow him to catch up to the falling apples. While falling Star Bolt with his unsheathed sword, swung three times before landing next to the barrel on all four hooves. After reaching the ground, Star Bolt sheathed his sword as the three apples hit the apple barrel and fell into perfect halves.

Star Bolt smiled confidently as he spoke, “Well girls… lunch is served. Consider this thanks for your help yesterday.”
As the three fillies approached the apple barrel, they each picked up an apple half and started eating, as Scootaloo replied, “No prob commander. I don’t know why Rainbow Dash is so determined to keep you down. I for one, think you’re awesome.”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “Thanks. I know I’m not the best role model for you three, but if anything I’m a good example of what not to become when you get older.”
Apple Bloom asked, “So how come your still workin’ here? I thought Big Mac said you were fired?”
Star Bolt took his sword belt off as he leaned it against the tree, “Well he did… but Granny Smith came by later yesterday and said that she is the pony in charge of who works for your family, so she is the only pony who can fire me. And apparently she supports me since I do such a good job around here so she said that I can still work here so long as I keep up my workload.”
Sweetie Belle asked, “So… things are back to normal then?”
Star Bolt sighed as he climbed into the tree, “Well not exactly… I still get dirty looks when I trot through town, and also Big Mac really doesn’t like me either.”

As Star Bolt started pulling rotten apples from the tree and tossing them aside, Apple Bloom asked, “Big Mac? That’s funny. He’s not the type to dislike anypony. How can you tell he don’t like ya?”
Star Bolt replied as he pointed to a number of full apple barrels, “Well I asked him hours ago to bring the wagon around so we can load those up and take them to the barn. However, I’ve been waiting for a while now and nothing. I guess I'll have to do it myself later.”
Sweetie Belle looked at her apple half as she sighed, “It’s just not fair… everypony in the kingdom knows you did what you did because you were ordered to and you even came out an apologized for your crime… I wish everypony could just accept your apology and move on with their lives.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Well first of all, I didn’t apologize for what I did… and I never will. I only said I’m not the pony I used to be… and I'll never claim that what I did was the right thing… but I'll never say I’m sorry. Second, many ponies have every right in the world to say whether I’m evil or good. Nevertheless, that isn’t my problem. They can pin me a monster or a savior, but it will never change what I did, and who I hurt. I’m only grateful there are a select few who don’t see me for the demon I once was.”

As Apple Bloom took a bite of her apple, she saw something that surprised her so she started coughing while Scootaloo looked up at Star Bolt and spoke, “You shouldn’t beat yourself up Commander… everypony does something they regret once in a while. Its just a matter o…”
As Apple Bloom continued coughing on her apple piece, Scootaloo stopped talking as she asked, “Apple Bloom… are you ok?”
Apple Bloom continued coughing as she pointed past Scootaloo at what it was that surprised her. As the three fillies looked away, Star Bolt could hear Apple Bloom coughing so he asked from the tree, “Apple Bloom? You alright… you’re not dying on me are ya?”
Apple Bloom stopped coughing as Sweetie Belle spoke, “Um… Mr. Star? You have a visitor down here?”
Star Bolt continued working as he asked, “Is it Big Mackintosh with that wagon?”
The three fillies shook their heads, as Scootaloo replied, “Um… no… you might want to get down here though.”
Star Bolt finished what he was doing in the tree as he jumped down and looked at the three fillies, “Alright girls… where is my so called visitor?”

Star Bolt picked up a rag from the top of the barrel as he looked into the distance to see Prince Shining Armor trotting up with an unamused expression on his face. As the prince approached them, he spoke, “Commander…”
Star Bolt looked him in the eye as he finished wiping his hooves and sat the rag down, “Your so-called majesty…”
The Prince smiled, “It’s been a while… hasn’t it… SB… or should I call you Commander Star Bolt.”
Star Bolt glared at Shining Armor, as he replied, “not long enough… I have to applaud Princess Celestia for this loophole.”
“Yea, I told her that if she sent any of her guards after me, then I would kill them… so instead of a guard, she sends a prince. Maybe I should better reiterate my threats… then maybe she will understand that I’m not playing any games.”

Shining Armor placed his hoof on his sword as he replied, “I’m not here by order of anypony other than myself. I came here because we have a score to settle.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied with little concern, “Hmm… I see. Sweetie Belle?”
Sweetie Belle stood up from the barrel and asked, “Yes Mr. Star?”
Star Bolt replied, “Can you get me my sword? I'd do it myself… but I don’t trust that the minute I turn my back, this… prince wont dig his sword into it.”

Sweetie Belle nodded her head as she rushed to the tree, “Ok Mr. Star… I got it.”
After Sweetie Belle grabbed his sword belt, she galloped it to Star Bolt as he grabbed it from her, “Thank you Sweetie Belle now take your friends… and go back to the house.”
Scootaloo stood up and spoke, “But Commander! We want to he…”
“No… this is something I can settle on my own. Just go back to the house and wait there until somepony comes to get you.”
The three fillies looked at each other as Apple Bloom replied, “Um… ok Mr. Star… we will go back.”

As the three fillies slowly trotted back to the apple family home, Shining Armor smiled in an insulting way, “Well, well, The Great Commander Bolt has traded in his army of soldiers, for an army of fillies instead. I didn’t think you were that low.”
Star Bolt replied with little concern for the insult, “Careful… if it wasn’t for one of those fillies, and her advice. You probably would be spending your time chasing your own tail in hopes that it would miraculously lead you to me. But I digress. If we are here to do this… then might I suggest finding a more open area to do it in?”
Star Bolt started putting on his sword belt as Shining Armor replied, “Fine by me commander… please, lead the way.”
Star Bolt trotted past Shining Armor and began leading him into a part of the apple orchard that had fewer trees in the area. As they continued Shining Armor smiled, “I thought you were supposed to be better trained; since you started leading me I could have killed you three times by now.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Don’t be so full of yourself your majesty, if you had noticed, my wings aren’t completely against my body. Any unexpected movement and I’m ready to dodge in any direction I need to. Remember… a good soldier prepares to be unprepared.”

The two ponies continued trotting until they reached a clearing, then Star Bolt turned towards Shining Armor and spoke, “This will do.”
Shining Armor nodded his head and drew his sword, “alright… then I believe its time to settle this, here and now.”
Star Bolt nodded his head and griped his sword, “I couldn’t agree more.”
As Star Bolt drew his sword from its sheath and held it in the air, Shining Armor asked, “Alright, so who will strike first? Should I? Or do you want the honor?”
Star Bolt smiled at first then his smile faded from his face as he replied, “No…”
Star Bolt then flipped his sword upside down and stabbed the blade into the ground as he spoke, “This is where things are settled. If you want to strike me down… then go right ahead. I’m already dead anyway.”
Shining Armor was surprised at Star Bolt action, “What? Are you really giving up?... just like that?”
Star Bolt shook his head as he turned around to trot away, leaving his sword sticking out of the ground, “If you will excuse me… I have work to do.”

Shining Armor yelled out in anger, “WE’RE NOT FINISHED HERE!”
Star Bolt continued trotting away as he replied, “Last I checked, we were. Strike me down if you want… but I have no reason to fight you.”
“So The Great Commander Bolt just gives up.”
Star Bolt stopped in his tracks as he replied without looking back, “I’ve lived for over a millennium… I’ve seen my fair share of death and misery. So if you want to gain some stupid title for taking me down… then go right ahead.”
Shining Armor charged towards Star Bolt as he replied, “THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”
With the distance between the two getting smaller and smaller, Star Bolt turned and stared at shinning armor with a look that showed he wasn’t going to do anything to defend himself. When Shining Armor saw this look, he froze just as the blade was in the air to make contact with Star Bolt’s neck. With Shining Armor holding his sword just inches from Star Bolts neck, He looked into his eyes as he spoke, “So… you really are going to just give up… without a fight and without any concern."
Star Bolt replied, “What else is there? You of all ponies know my reputation. So what purpose would I be to you?”

Shining Armor slowly lowered his sword, “To me?... Don’t flatter yourself Commander! You’re of no use to me at all! The reason, the whole purpose that I spent a year and a half searching the four corners of Equestria for you is because Princess Celestia wanted you to help her!”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Figures… I’m still nothing but a tool to them.”
With no concern for his life, Star Bolt turned around and continued trotting away from Shining Armor as he continued, “If Princess Celestia wants me so badly… then I'll tell you the same thing that I’ve told her guards that have ever gotten close enough to even see my face. She has to come to me. I won’t be summoned like some dog.”
Shining Armor glared at Star Bolt in anger as he raised his sword again, “You think you can just disrespect Princess Celestia just like that?”
Star Bolt turned around and yelled “YES!!! I think I can! And do you intend to do something about it! If so, go for it! I’m standing right here! Unarmed and unindenting to defend myself so feel free to take your best shot! Because frankly, I couldn’t give two bits as to your concern. And I wouldn’t even give the crap on the bottom of my hoof to Princess Celestia’s concerns either. You don’t know what she put me through… she, or that monster that corrupted her sister’s heart.”

As Star Bolt turned to continue trotting away, Shining Armor said his final words before striking a nerve in Star Bolt’s already enraged heart, “Commander… I understand that she pu…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Star Bolt unexpectedly turned around as he opened his wing flat out, striking Shining Armor’s face as he dropped his sword in shock. Before he could react, Star Bolt jumped up and kicked the unexpecting prince in his face tossing him a few feet as Star Bolt quickly picked up Shining Armors sword, rushed over to the stunned unicorn and held the blade to his throat. As soon as Shining Armor realized what happened, he held still as Star Bolt glared into his eyes with a look that would terrify even the bravest of soldiers, “You don’t understand jack… you will never understand what it’s like. The day you do, will be the day you hold that princess of yours and look into her eyes as the light slowly fades and she mumbles her last words before she passes away in your arms… I love you. Until that day… you better not say that you understand me… because until you feel that particular pain… you will never understand. So… how clear am I… your majesty?”
Shining Armor didn’t reply, instead he only held his tongue as he looked into the rage filled abyss that was the eyes of the legendary Commander Bolt. Star Bolt pressed the blade tighter against Shining Armors neck making a small cut as he asked a second time, “I said… How clear am I… Answer me!...”

Shining Armor swallowed his pride before replying, “Crystal clear… Commander Bolt…”
“Star Bolt STOP!”
Both Star Bolt and Shining Armor looked up as Princess Twilight, Applejack and Rarity rushed up to the site as Rarity called out, “Please Mr. Bolt! You said yourself that you are no longer this kind of stallion!”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he calmed himself down and stepped away from the pinned prince, “And I meant every word. But if you want me to keep my word… then keep this prince out of my sight.”
Star Bolt raised Shining Armor’s sword in the air and stuck the blade into the ground next to his head, making the three mares flinch, as he began trotting away from the grounded prince, and towards his own sword. As Star Bolt reached his sword and pulled it from the ground, Twilight sighed as she started to speak, “Star… can you at least hear the situation that Princess Cel….”
Star Bolt turned around and held his sword up to reveal his cutiemark that is painted on the blade, “You see this? I had Zecora paint this on my sword… that way every time I drew it… I could look at it and remember who I am. I am no longer Commander Bolt; I will not take orders from any princess. And if she needs my help for anything… then I won’t hear it, unless she says it to me herself. Otherwise, I wish she would just get it through her head; I won’t be a tool anymore. I'd rather fade away and live in the shadows then to be under her wing again.”

Shining Armor picked himself up from the ground and yelled at Star Bolt as he was sheathing his sword, “So you’d rather live in the shadows where ponies despise you?”
Star Bolt turned around and began trotting away as he replied, “Better then to live on the pedestal, where they use the term loyalty as an excuse for murder.”
Shining Armor yelled back, “A life in shadows is not a life!”
Star Bolt continued back into the orchard, as he replied, “Not true… because death in shadows is still death… Now if you will excuse me… I have to get back to work.”
As Star Bolt continued into the orchards, Shining Armor mumbled to himself, “I can’t believe that guy. He’s going to trot away from me just like that?”
Twilight replied, “Well, I took a look over his history last night, and to be honest, I don’t blame him. Sure, he is a little rough around the edges, but when he first arrived here, he was a kind gentle pony who wanted to help those in need. I bet if we give him time, that pony will return to the surface.”
Shining Armor sighed, “If you say so Twilly”

Applejack watched him trot away as she spoke, “Ya know…we might have to take him up on his offer. I bet he will at least hear her out if Princess Celestia comes here herself.”
Shining Armor argued, “And give him the satisfaction of…”
“She’s right… if Star Bolt says he will only listen to Princess Celestia, then we will just have to call his bluff. He’s too proud to turn her away if she comes to him right?”
Shining Armor sighed, “Well whatever you do, I hope you just drop it. If I never see that stallion again, it will still be too soon.”
With that said, Shining Armor picked up his sword and sheathed it with too much pride to admit that he technically lost that fight.

Further into the orchard, Star Bolt continued back to the tree he was working around with his thought spiraling over what he just dealt with, “That pampered little noble… he doesn’t know the first thing about being a guard. And then he goes and marries a princess of all mares. I wish he would go bac…”
Star Bolt froze when he felt the presence of another around him, so he just stood very still and listened to his surroundings for a few seconds. Finally Star Bolt quickly drew his sword and threw it towards a tree, but just before the blade could bury itself into the stem, the tree jumped completely out of the way of the flying sword as Star Bolt braced himself, “WHO’S THERE! SHOW YOURSELF!”
As Star Bolt glared, at the tree that had just dodged his sword, he heard a voice, “Wow… you detected me before I could even do anything to make myself known. Well, I should have suspected as much from The Great Commander Bolt.”
Slowly, the tree began to turn into Discord as he continued, “I guess I should introduce myself… my name i…”
Star Bolt took a step back and continued glaring at him as he interrupted, “Discord!”
Discord started clapping his hands as he spoke, “Oh goody! You do know who I am… I thought I would be a simple nopony talking to my idol. I hope you won’t see me as a bother, but I’m a huge fan of your work Commander… can I call you Mr. Bolt? You could say I’m a fan boy of your work I mean, your artistic quality on the thunder grounds… your devilish charms for flirting with Princess Luna, and I’m also a big fan of how you like to make a small raincloud destroy countless others…”

Star Bolt continued looking at Discord as he interrupted, “So… you’re a fan… of what I did? Remembering Luna’s stories, you only like the chaos that followed me don’t you?”
Discord made a Nightmare legion shield appear in his hands as he continued, “Well of course I do! The chaos you brought is nothing to the chaos I could have. And trust me… when I returned from my stone prison, I tried… Can… can I bother you for an autograph?”
Star Bolt bluntly looked at the shield then back at Discord who was holding out a marker. Then Star Bolt sighed and turned back to his path, I don’t have time for this.”
Discord made the shield disappear as he made Star Bolt’s sword appear, “Hey! Wait up sparky! You forgot your sword. Oh… it feels so neat to say that. Can I call you Sparky from now on Mr. Bolt?”

Star Bolt yelled back as he continued, “No! You can call me Star Bolt and nothing more!”
Discord caught up with Star Bolt as he continued, “Well… how about Commander… is that fine?”
Star Bolt replied, “No.”
Discord pouted, as he complained, “No fair… I heard Scootaloo call you commander earlier. So why can’t I?”
Knowing that he probably wouldn’t be able to get Discord to leave him alone, Star Bolt sighed, “Fine… go right ahead.”
Discord continued, “Oh how about Starbie?”
“That’s the line!”
“Alright, alright commander it is. Say commander… what was the best thing about being the great commander… the army, The lighting orb, or was it the princess… you dog you.”
Star Bolt grabbed his sword form Discord and sheathed it as he replied, “hey Discord?”
“Yes Commander Bolt?”
“Shut it!”
Discord smiled, “Whatever you say commander.”

Later that evening, Princess Celestia stood on her balcony as she slowly lowered the sun then paused to wait for the moon to rise, but when nothing happened, she sighed, “Sister… are you still made after this long?”
Feeling disappointed, Princess Celestia started to trot inside as a scroll magically appeared in front of her. Knowing Spikes work when she saw it, Princess Celestia used her magic to pick up the scroll as she started reading it:
Dear Princess Celestia

Sorry but there is no lesson on friendship tonight… however I do have a report on Commander Star Bolt’s progress. I know you told us to leave him be… but I can’t stand idly by while a valuable asset to our crisis just sits idly by. What I mean by that is that Commander Bolt can help us, and I think he should, especially since Shining Armor took it upon himself to come to Ponyville and pick a fight with him. Luckily, Shining Armor is ok (other than his pride) But when he tried to explain to Star Bolt about why we need his help. Star Bolt refused to hear it. He said and I quote “If Princess Celestia has something to ask of me, then she should do it herself.”
Okay… so that’s a better version of what he actually said, but overall I believe that if you come here and explain to him the problem, I think that he will show his true colors and help us. I read his story and I know there is good in him, since I’ve seen it first hoof. So please, I implore that you come to Ponyville yourself and reason with him. And if he won’t be convinced by you… then maybe Princess Luna can convince him. But that’s saying if she will even talk to him. After looking through his story… its anyponies guess.
Thank you and I hope you will consider this option since I don’t think we have any others to choose from.

Your faithful student
Princess Twilight Sparkle

P.S. Discord is here too and he has taken a liking to Star Bolt. So much in fact that he won’t leave him alone. Star Bolt doesn’t react much to it, but I still don’t think that is the best formula for a friendship. Then again, I could be wrong, with Discord on our side now, I have seen the impossible.

Princess Celestia smiled at the ending to the letter as she mumbled to herself, “Discord and Star Bolt… a funny combination when I think about it. Perhaps I should pay him a visit. I know Twilight sees good in him still, and he didn’t kill Shining Armor so that’s a sign too. If I can convince him to join us… then our chances of victory will be increased greatly… but I still have to wonder. Will it be enough?”

Ch11 Gathering help

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The voices echoed throughout the vast cave as Star Bolt got closer to the ponies that were discussing the situation, “Princess, has thee slipped into madness?”
Princess Platinum looked at Chancellor Puddinghead and replied, “Discord rules Equestria now… Tis no place for the elements be hidden… unless…”
Chancellor Puddinghead replied, “Unless thy life be sacrificed for sanctuary. Is this thy intention?”
Star Bolt spoke up, “Wait! Discord? What do you mean by Discord rules Equestria now? What are you talking about?”
Without acknowledging Star Bolt at all, Princess Platinum sighed, “Our intention is to keep the elements safe until the day the princesses will rise to claim them and deliver Equestria from Discord’s chaos. I only ask that thou must raise them well. For tis thy task now to ensure that the princesses will mature to claim the elements in days far from now. Till then, I shall lie in wait.”

Chancellor Puddinghead continued his plea, “Tis a fool’s errand! Our queen entrusted thee with the safety of the princesses. To give thy life before her trust is fulfilled… is disgraceful! Thee… We… Must stay together and protect them in life! Commander Hurricane died to ensure their safety… why must thou do the same when thy task still needs to be done!”
Princess Platinum approached Chancellor Puddinghead and placed her hoof on his shoulder, “Chancellor… With thee protecting the princesses, thyn task will be fulfilled. But thou must protect them till death, and by then, the princesses will be old enough to properly and safely use the elements to vanquish this vile beast. Discord only seeks misery for thy life… he doesn’t seek death like the shadow. So please… fulfill thy pact and promise that my sacrifice will not be in vain.”
Chancellor Puttinghead lowered his head as he replied, “Of course… thy sacrifice shall not be forgotten.”
Princess platinum kissed his cheek as she turned around and replied, “Raise the princesses well chancellor, for the future of Equestria… shall be in thy hooves.”
As she turned around, Princess Platinum pulled out six gems from a saddlebag then began to chant, “Let thy harmony shine forever bright, and let thy magic, protect thee with light. Thyn elements I bear, from now till one day, when alicorn light come shineith thy way… and banish all darkness till its dying day.”

After the spell was casted, the gems started spiraling around the unicorn’s body as her royal robes and crown disintegrated in the light. Star Bolt tried to hide his eyes from the blinding light but as he did, he still got a glimpse of the spells work as it caused the gems to slowly merge with her body and turn her entirely into crystal. After the merge was complete, each gem started gathering at the sides of her body as they started to grow crystal branches that stretched out the side of her body as if she were a tree. With the branches growing out of her back, more began growing from her hooves and dug deep onto the ground slowly changing the shape of her now crystalized body into what looked like a tree that could be found in any forest. With the light of the spells actions starting to fade, Star Bolt looked at the once living unicorn as she now looked like a simple tree made entirely of crystal. Now, nothing remained to let anypony know that this amazing spectacle was once a pony. As Chancellor Puddinghead looked at the newly made tree, he started to tear up as he spoke, “Fare-thee-well dear princess… as the last of the three rulers of Equestria… I shall see to it that thy princesses will know their destinies, and reclaim Equestria, from the demon of chaos.”

As Chancellor Puddinghead continued looking at the tree, Star Bolt started to speak, but as he did, another voice said the exact same words at the exact same time, “What is this?”
Both the chancellor and Star Bolt turned around to see both the filly princesses galloping up as the chancellor replied, “Princesses… this… um… tis the Tree Of Harmony that stands before thee. Princess Platinum created this tree to protect The Elements of Harmony from Discord until thou are old enough to wield them.”
The young Princes Luna replied, “And, where is the princess?”
Chancellor Puddinghead sighed then replied, “She went to seek… support of the unicorn community of Equestria. With Discord claiming control over all, thou must make haste to gather allies for thy survival.”
The two princesses looked at each other as Celestia replied, “Then… what shall I and sister accomplish? We wish to help save thy kingdom too.”
The chancellor smiled as he placed his hoof on her shoulder, “Young princess, thou needn’t worry for the lives of those below thee. Thy only concern is to understand that when thy time is near, thou must return to this place and claim The Elements of Harmony to defeat Discord, but this is a task that only be accomplished after I pass from this world. For in this day, thou are too young and frail for such a feat. Now come… the elements shall be safe from darkness in this now sacred place.”

As Chancellor Puddinghead and the young Princess Celestia turned to leave the cave, the young Luna stood there and looked directly at Star Bolt, “Why have you returned? I told you that this is no place for you. Please leave.”
Star Bolt looked at the young princess and replied, “What is this? Is this a dream… or something else?”
The young filly approached Star Bolt, “This is what you see it to be… however, you don’t belong here.”
Star Bolt gave her a confused look as he tried to reply, “What I see it to be? What do…”
Before Star Bolt could finish his next question, the ground started to shake as Chancellor Puddinghead yelled, “Princesses! Tis Discord! He’s here!!!”
As the ground started to shake, Princess Luna rushed to her sister as the three began galloping through the tunnel towards the exit. As they left, Star Bolt started to follow until he saw a blinding light coming from the Tree of Harmony. As Star Bolt looked towards the light, it started to get brighter and brighter until Star Bolt had to shield his eyes from the immense light.

Star Bolt held his hoof over his eyes as he tried to look at the glowing tree but as he lowered his hoof, he found himself looking at the ceiling of the room that he was staying in. Star Bolt quickly sat up and looked around at his surroundings as he started mumbling to himself, “Why do I keep having these dreams?... and… are they really dreams?”
As Star Bolt thought through these questions, he started to hear a loud ringing coming from next to him as he looked to see an alarm clock with Discords face, sitting on the nightstand. Knowing what he was looking at, Star Bolt sighed as he reached up and bashed his hoof against the top of the alarm clock as it stopped ringing and turned into Discord, “ouch… I’d like to think that you would be a little more gentle with things that don’t belong to you.”
Star Bolt gave Discord a dull look as he replied, “And I'd like to think that you would go home… why are you still hanging around me?”
Discord smiled as he stood up and saluted Star Bolt, “As I said yesterday… I’m your biggest fan and if you will have me… I want to become your dark assistant in whatever chaos you intend to bring.”

Star Bolt put his hoof on his head, “I told you yesterday… I’m not that kind of pony anymore… all I want to do is get on with my life. I don’t need the bringer of chaos hanging around me when I could be turning my back on my past and giving myself a name that other ponies could one day respect.”
Discord turned himself into a dog and laid at the end of the bed that Star Bolt was sitting in, “I respect you commander…”
Star Bolt sighed, “Oh… goodie… that makes feel a lot better.”
With his dream in his mind, Star Bolt started to ask, “Um… Discord? I remember Princess Luna telling me that you ruled Equestria a number of centuries before the nightmare crusade right?”
Discord turned back into himself as he nodded his head, “Yea… I did, back before I became an overgrown garden gnome.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Okay well, when you ruled Equestria… did? Um…”
Discord gave Star Bolt a curious look as Star Bolt just shook his head, “Never mind… just a strange thought crossed my mind but I guess it was a stupid question anyway. I’m just going to see if Rose needs anything done today. Applejack is supposed to be going to Canterlot today so I'll be out of work till she gets back.”

Star Bolt then climbed out of the bed and made his way downstairs to see if Rose was awake. As he made it down, Roseluck was reading one of his books with an expression of interest in what she was reading. Star Bolt approached her and spoke, “You’ve been reading that book for days… is it really that interesting?... Rose?... Rose… Roseluck!”
Roseluck snapped out of it and looked at him, “Oh, Star Bolt… good morning. Wait, what time is it?”
Star Bolt replied, “It’s almost ten…”
Roseluck placed a bookmark on the page she was reading as she closed the book, placed it on the table, and stood up, “I better see to my garden I meant to water it around nine but I lost track of time.”
As Roseluck started to leave the room, Star Bolt opened the book to the bookmark and saw an image of the fountain in the plaza that Gem Stone died at. As he looked at the page in the book, Roseluck stopped just before she was out of the room, “Um… Star?”
Star Bolt closed the book and looked back, “Yes Rose?”
Roseluck started thinking about what to ask, but she didn’t know how to word her question so she just went out and asked, “Why did you fall in love with Gem Stone… and Princess Luna too?”

Star Bolt knew that when he saw the page in the book that a question like this would eventually pop up, so he just sighed as he replied, “You’re asking me to understand love… to be honest, I just don’t know. Gem, was always by my side pushing me to accomplish anything in my path, and she was always there to help me when I started to question myself too. I don’t know how, but she was so confident that I could take on anything. And for a while… I believed it. But I was wrong… we both were.”
Roseluck continued, “And… Princess Luna?”
Star Bolt thought to himself then replied, “Luna… she and I had some kind of… connection. I can’t quite explain it… but…”
Before Star Bolt could finish his sentence somepony knocked on the front door so being closest to it, Roseluck started trotting to it to answer. As soon as Roseluck opened the door, she saw two royal guards standing there with their usual serious expressions. Without giving them a chance to say anything, Roseluck called out, “Star!... It’s for you!... “
Star Bolt approached the door as he sighed, “you realize that I have to kill you two… right?”
Without saying anything, the two guards stepped to the side so Star Bolt could see Princess Celestia stepping off a carriage in front of the house, with a large number of royal guards surrounding her.

Star Bolt stood silently as Princess Celestia approached the door and spoke, “It’s good to see you Star Bolt… even if it’s under such tense circumstances.”
Star Bolt stared seriously at Princess Celestia as he replied, “That makes one of us.”
Knowing that she deserved that comment, Princess Celestia nodded her head as she spoke, “Star Bolt… I’ve come here because, Equestria is facing a crisis that requires the upmost attention.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Then feel free to explain it to me. However that doesn’t mean I'll necessarily help you.”
Princess Celestia looked around at the ponies that started to gather at the sight of the large force of guards surrounding the home, “Gladly… but not here. This is something that must be discussed in private. I would like you to come back to Canterlot with me so I can explain in full detail.”
As Star Bolt stood there thinking over his situation, Roseluck put on her saddlebag and slipped the book inside as she added, “If he goes… then I go too.”
Star Bolt smiled at Roseluck as he turned back to Princess Celestia and spoke, “You heard the mare. Besides this is insurance. So you won’t put me in a cell when my back is turned.”
Princess Celestia sighed, “So you still don’t trust me?”

Before Star Bolt could reply, a voice echoed throughout the house, “Like a dragon with a temper problem…”
Discord appeared behind Star Bolt as he continued, “Can I go too? I wanna help… wait… oh yea… I can’t. Why can’t I again?”
Princess Celestia gave Discord a serious look as she replied, “You know perfectly well why you can’t be a part of this Discord!”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he continued, “Well… then I suppose we should get going, then shall we?”
Princess Celestia replied, “So you’re really going to come with me? Just like that?”
Star Bolt smiled as he put on his sword belt and his cloak, “Even you wouldn’t put the ponies in Canterlot at risk by bringing me in, unless you had good reason the way I see it, I’ll listen to what you have to say… for now anyway.”
Princess Celestia understood his caution so she stepped aside and allowed both Roseluck and Star Bolt to pass her as all three of them trotted to the carriage and climbed on. Just before the carriage took off into the sky, Discord asked in a whining manner, “What about me?”

Princess Celestia sighed as she gave Discord a dull look, “Discord? You’re going to meet us there anyway. Why not wait for us in the conference room?”
Discord crossed his arms and pouted, “Way to spoil it Princess. I wanted to surprise Commander Bolt when he arrived.”
Princess Celestia gave Discord an annoyed look as she replied, “Then why were you whining about it, if you were going to meet us there anyway?”
Discord smiled as he held up a battle planning map, “Even Commander Bolt knows this strategy… it’s all about misdirection. A lot like when he attacked Canterlot and made you think he was going for the front gate, but then he…”
Discord stopped pointing at the map after hearing both Star Bolt and Celestia yell. Then he rolled the map up and sighed, “Sorry… I know you two were there but you don’t have to be so cross about it. It’s unbecoming of a princess and a commander.”

As the carriage took off into the sky and made its way to Canterlot, Star Bolt and Princess Celestia kept their silence making the ride awkward for Roseluck who was curious about what she will discover in Canterlot. As soon as the carriage landed in the courtyard inside the castle grounds, a guard galloped up to Princess Celestia and spoke, “Your majesty, good news! Princess Luna has returned to the castle this morning. According to her she was in the palace of the alicorn sisters this whole time.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head and replied, “That’s good to hear. I’m glad she returned.”
As Princess Celestia stepped off the carriage she looked at Star Bolt and spoke, “You remember where the conference room is located right Star Bolt?”
With no concern in his expression, Star Bolt replied, “You mean the old war room? Yea, but don’t let my company stop you, you’re the princess so by all means, lead the way.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head and began leading the two visitors into the corridor of the castle.

Not long after the group was inside the castle they saw Princess Luna turn the corner ahead so Princess Celestia spoke, “Sister… it’s good to see you’re alright. You had us all worried.”
Princess Luna replied with a tone that showed she was still angry about what happened, “really… well what sort of princess would I be to abandon my kingdom.”
Princess Luna looked at Star Bolt then spoke with an annoyed tone, “Commander…”
Star Bolt replied with the same tone, “Princess…”
She then spoke with sarcasm, “Didn’t I banish you from this city? I thought a princess’s word was always final.”
Star Bolt ignored her angry stare as he replied with no expression, “Trust me… I don’t want to be here anymore then you want me here… but your sister apparently had something important to ask me so… here I am.”
Princess Luna gave Princess Celestia an annoyed look as she replied, “Well… I suppose that just makes everything fine then doesn’t it?”
Princess Celestia tried to speak, “Sister we need his help if we…”

Princess Luna put her hoof up to stop Princess Celestia as she interrupted, “I’m too tired to deal with this right now… if you will excuse me sister, commander, and… guest… I need rest for tonight. Enjoy your visit commander… however long it may be.”
As princess, Luna began trotting past them with a serious expression, Star Bolt replied, “Have a good rest… Your majesty.”
Then with tension filling the air like a thick fog, Star Bolt started trotting away with no concern as Princess Celestia and Roseluck tried to keep up. With the distance between the group and Luna getting bigger, Star Bolt continued with absolutely no concern in his mind. However, after about ten steps, Princess Luna’s expression of pride faded into sadness as she stopped trotting and looked back at the stallion she used to love. Praying he would also stop, Princess Luna watched in disappointment as Star Bolt continued down the hallway and turned the corner with no hesitation or regret in his steps. After she lost sight of him, Princess Luna sighed, as she turned back to the direction she was trotting and continued on her path with her head held low and tears in her eyes.

It wasn’t long before the three finally reached the conference room deep in the very center of the Canterlot castle. As soon as the doors opened Star Bolt was amazed that almost everypony he had met in his travels was in this very same room. Captain Spitfire and Soarin were talking with Rainbow Dash in one side of the room, while on the other, Princess Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Applejack, and Rarity were talking with Prince Shining Armor, and Princess Cadence. And at the very back of the room, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Zecora were having their own conversation too. As Star Bolt and Roseluck entered the room, all three groups stopped talking as both Rainbow Dash and Shining Armor yelled at once, “What is he doing here!”
Star Bolt smiled innocently as Princess Celestia answered, “Star Bolt has agreed to listen to the situation before deciding whether or not to assist. Therefore, I brought him here so that everypony could hear it at the same time. And now we only have two more to wait for so once they arrive, we can begin.”
Star Bolt and Roseluck began trotting through the room as Star Bolt looked at Spitfire, “Long time no see Captain. Have ya learned to swim yet?”
Spitfire’s face went beat red as she replied in anger, “Wh… i… Sh… SHUT UP STAR!!!”

Star Bolt could only smile as he replied, to her embarrassed outburst, “Um… I'll take that as a no then… right?”
As Spitfire glared at Star Bolt in her embarrassment, Rainbow Dash was amazed, “Wait… you mean you two really do know each other?”
Spitfire sighed as she replied, “Unfortunately yes… he is the only pony that we allowed to slip through our hooves.”
Star Bolt smiled at what he took as a compliment as Zecora spoke next, “I’m glad you decided to come here today, for a second I was worried, you would have gone astray.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “Well, since it seemed like every day somepony I didn’t want to see kept popping up at my doorstep, I decided to knocked them all out at once. How else am I supposed to enjoy my life as a free stallion?”
Feeling that she was being overlooked, Roseluck cleared her throat loud enough to be noticed, “Um whose doorstep?”
Star Bolt smiled innocently as he replied, “Oh… right… your doorstep Rose. Um… by the way… thanks for letting me borrow it… hopefully I can get one of my own and you can go back to the peaceful life you used to have.”
Roseluck sighed as she replied, “Oh… it’s alright Star. If it wasn’t for you, things would be boring around my home anyway.”

Star Bolt then looked at Princess Cadence and spoke, “So… you must be Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. Your name definitely says something about your beauty. Prince Armor is a lucky stallion.”
Princess Cadence blushed a little as she replied, “Oh… um thank you. Well you seem different from the last time we met.”
Shining Armor got angry, “Um! Excuse me Commander Bo…”
Star Bolt smiled as he patted Shining Armor on his head, “Oh, you’re excused Armor. It’s not every day that a thousand year old stallion compliments your wife now is it.”
If looks could kill, then the look Shining Armor was giving Star Bolt would have killed him a thousand times over, while all Star Bolt could do was smirk in a way that was insulting Shining Armor to his face. Princess Cadence and Roseluck couldn’t help but laugh at the argument between the two stallions before Roseluck’s laughter was interrupted by an unusual movement in her saddlebag. Out of curiosity, Roseluck opened the side of her saddlebag as Discord popped his head out and spoke, “Are we there yet? It’s getting a little cramped in here.”
Roseluck sighed as she spoke calmly, “Okay… one, how did you get in there? Two, yes we are here. Three, how can it be crowded in there when all I packed was a single book. And four… GET OUT OF MY SADDLEBAG!!!”
Discord quickly climbed out of the saddleback as another voice was heard, “Sorry I’m late everypony! I had to close up before leaving the library.”

As everypony looked at the door, they saw a dark blue unicorn with a black mane enter the room as Princess Celestia greeted him, “Ah, Niether we’ve been waiting for you. Alright my little ponies, now that everypony is here we can all take our seats.”
As the ponies all took their seats, Star Bolt had to speak as he began pointing the ponies out, “Okay… just so I’m on track… I know you, you, you, I hate you, you, and you. I just met you so you’re ok. You’re a good friend, you’re a good friend, you four all good friends. I work for you and you won’t leave me alone… so who is this guy?”
Niether nodded his head as he replied, “Oh, how rude of me… My name is Niether. I happen to be Princess Celestia’s top historian.”

Princess Celestia continued, “Niether has been helping Princess Luna and I gather all the information we can on the upcoming crisis. In fact other than Princess Luna and myself, Niether knows more about our foe than anypony else.”
Discord crossed his arms as he spoke up, “Um… I believe you left one name out of that list Celestia.”
Roseluck started thinking to herself, “Niether… Niether… Oh!”
Roseluck reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the history book as she looked at the cover, “I knew it. You wrote this book didn’t you?”
When Niether looked at the front of the book in Roseluck’s hooves, he smiled, “why yes I did. I was always fascinated with the history behind Commander Bolt and the Nightmare Crusade. In fact, when Princess Celestia told me his story from start to finish, I had to write all I could to keep it as true as possible. I hope that Commander Bolt will work with us during this crisis. With his help, I bet we will come out of this without any problems whatsoever.”

Star Bolt gave the knowledgeable unicorn a serious look as he replied, “Well, as flattered as I am… I didn’t agree to anything yet… but we’ll see.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Alright my little ponies, now that we are all here, I wanted to tell you all that you were not selected by accident. Each and everypony in this room has some kind of skill that can help us in this future events. However, since I have been keeping specific details from you that may seem too dangerous. I will let you know that if at any time you feel you can’t complete what I ask of you. Then I will allow you to leave at your own discretion. In return, I only ask that you will keep what I’m about to tell you silent so that panic will not spread through the kingdom. I will warn you now… what awaits us in this fight, will be more dangerous than anything you have ever seen before… and that includes all that I have seen as well.”
Princess Celestia looked at the reactions of everypony in the room, Star Bolt, Shining Armor, Niether, and Spitfire had expressions that showed that they weren’t concerned at all, however the rest show simple expressions that were easily hiding their worry. That is except Fluttershy, and Spike who were holding each other shivering in fear. After seeing the ponies expression, Princess Celestia continued, “Alright everypony, for you to understand what’s about to happen within the next few weeks… you must first know what happened more than two thousand years ago. In the city of my and Luna’s birth… the city, of Eden…”

Ch12 The Last City of the Alicorn Race

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“Many millenniums ago, there was once a lone city that sat in the center of a dead volcano. Protected by the magic of their King and Queen, this city was home to the Alicorn and its rulers who to this day are still believed to be the creators of all. The king was said to have created the heavens and the earth, while the Queen was said to have created life itself. For many centuries, the two ruled together receiving nothing but praise and love from their subjects. However, to keep the world in perfect balance, they sought the help of the other species to keep equality between them. To the Pegasi race, went the responsibility of weather and seasonal control. To the unicorn, went the responsibility to raise and lower the moon and sun so that there was time set for ponies to rest and work. For the earth ponies, they gave the task of keeping plant life flourishing so that all could have both food, and a beautiful land to inspire continued life. Finally to the griffin species, the responsibility for keeping the peace and safety of all other species, so that none could be deprived of justice. Because of this equality and the thriving happiness that the king and queen spread throughout the world, the city of which the two resided in was named, Eden.”

“For many generations, the king and queen did everything within their power, to make certain that the residence of Eden and the species leaders outside Eden’s naturally made walls were happy with their lives. Even the birth of their two daughters didn’t divert the rulers from their eternal goal, of peace and tranquility. However, not long after the birth of the two immortal princesses, The Queen had a vision of a terrible future. She saw, a dark cloud, rise from the earth below and consume the ponies of Eden leaving none it its wake, and she knew that once this vision came to pass, then the rest of the world, would be next. After telling her husband of this great catastrophe that would ensue, the king sought out his strongest soldiers and smartest scientist to find a means to prevent this great disaster that would bring forth extinction of all life on the planet. For many weeks, Eden was in distress, for none knew what this darkness was, or how they would fight it.”

“Finally, one scientist came forth and spoke of a magic far surpassing the king and queen’s own. The scientist was well known for his studies in mysterious phenomenon, so when the king heard that this new magic could be used to save his kingdom, he ordered the scientist to continue with whatever he needed to create this magic. Therefore, naming this new form of magic, The Elements of Harmony, and giving the scientist literally unlimited resources. The scientist went to work on what would have been the last hope for Eden’s future. The scientist gave a specific date at which the elements would be completed, so that the king of Eden called forth the three leaders of the newly founded Equestria, the Griffin King and all of Eden to attend a ceremony to celebrate the completion of what would save Eden from the issuing darkness. With Eden’s subjects, Equestria’s leaders, the Griffin King, and the royal family in the room to include the king, the queen, and the two filly princesses, The Elements of Harmony were revealed for the very first time… and that day, I will never forget. For on that day, in front of his wife and foals, and all the subjects of the kingdom. The darkness revealed itself, as glass spikes, shooting from the ground killing the king before danger was even recognized. The king of Eden… my and Luna’s father… died before us on that very day.”

The room went silent as Princess Celestia looked at the ground in thought about what she had just told the group, so Princess Twilight spoke, “So what happened next? Did you use the elements to vanquish the darkness?”
Princess Celestia spoke in a tone that showed that the scene was very traumatic for her, “N-no… with my father still sitting in his throne dead, the glass shards, dissolved into black sand then reemerged as a black alicorn that still terrifies me to this very day. He looked at my mother who was shielding Luna and I from him, and then he smiled as his body shot out black shards of glass and large clumps of black sand into the subjects who were attending this ceremony. Everypony who came in contact with the sand or glass… died on the spot. To include the Griffin king, and the guards that tried to protect us.”
Applejack spoke up, “how did you manage to get out of there your majesty?”
Princess Celestia placed her hoof on her head and tried to think, “Most of it is a little fuzzy, but I do remember commander hurricane, using the lightning orb to clear a path to the door. Once we were outside, Mother tried to use the elements against The Dark Alicorn… but they had no effect. The Dark Alicorn only smiled as he started sending more of his spikes in our direction.”

Star Bolt started to remember his dream as he asked, “This alicorn… you said his sand would kill other ponies… exactly how?”
Princess Celestia replied, “The ponies killed by his sand were eaten alive by it, as if it were thousands of tiny insects… it was truly a horrifying sight… but nothing was left in its wake. No flesh… no bones… no blood.”
Star Bolt was trapped in thought about her answer as Spitfire asked, “So… what happened next? How did you escape from him?”
Princess Celestia continued, “Well one of the equestrian guards was able to escape and link up with a local army that was on standby with Eden’s royal forces a few miles outside the city. So mother, Commander Hurricane, Princess Platinum, and Chancellor Puttinghead, lead Luna and I to the outskirts of the city where we were able to link with the defending army, however…”
Star Bolt answered for her, “They weren’t enough… were they?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head as she replied, “All of the soldiers, the unicorns, the pegasi, the earth ponies, and the alicorn were destroyed. In a feat of desperation, Mother along with the remaining alicorn soldiers decided to try to sneak back to Eden to find the scientist who created the elements and see if there was any other way we could fight The Dark Alicorn… but to do this, they needed a decoy. Commander Hurricane and a number of his soldiers tried all they could to lead The Dark Alicorn away from the city so he could try to distract or destroy him with the Lighting Orb… but in his attempt ended in failure… as he and his soldiers were destroyed by the very power he tried to use.”

Star Bolt started to remember his first dream as he thought about the crater created by the lighting orb. Then Rarity spoke, “Well… surely your mother succeeded in getting into the city right? So did she find who she was looking for?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “I think so… but… well, all I can say for certain is that princess Platinum and Chancellor Puddinghead wanted to take us back to Equestria since mother asked them to look after us, but while traveling, The Dark Alicorn caught up and nearly killed us, if not for Princess Platinum and her protection spell. We were completely surrounded by the wall of sand, but just as her spell was starting to wear off… a bright light shot out of the city of Eden hitting The Dark Alicorn and dragging him back to Eden against his will. I don’t know what exactly happened, but when we returned into the city to investigate, we found a second set of elements that sat in a circle with The Dark Alicorn trapped inside. We don’t know where or how the elements came to be… but we do know that so long as they remain in a circle, The Dark Alicorn can never escape from it. Or… at least his body can’t.”

The room was confused as Rainbow Dash spoke, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… his body? You mean to say that another part of him has escaped?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head as Discord answered for her, “Well of course another part could escape. His body was trapped, but when it came to something, a little more or less… corrupted… then you have me. His… other half.”
Everypony was amazed as Shining Armor spoke, “Other half? What in the world are you talking about?”
Star Bolt sighed, “You mean… his soul… don’t you?”
Discord rang a game show bell as he cheered, “Ding, ding, ding! That’s correct… and you thought he was dumb… Shame on you princey poo, Looks like your rival is stronger and smarter, than you thought.”
Shining Armor gave Discord an angry look while Zecora spoke, “A shadow he is? This seems hard to foresee, but this strange event… how can this be?”
Princess Celestia continued, “We don’t entirely know. All we have been able to discover is that for some reason, The Dark Alicorn’s body seeks extinction while his soul seeks chaos. We think there might be a purpose for Discords separation from him… but after two thousand years… we are still clueless as to what purpose he must serve.”

Star Bolt wanted to understand more, “Ok… so the second set of Elements encased The Dark Alicorn… but not Discord. So what about your mother?”
Princess Celestia sighed, “I wish I knew… Mother, the soldiers she left with, and the remaining alicorns in the kingdom were never recovered. I hate to think of it… but I believe that The Dark Alicorn killed everypony else, just before mother was able to trap him. So with no place to go, Princess Platinum and Chancellor Puddinghead took Luna and I back to Equestria with the original Elements of Harmony. However, by the time we returned, Discord had already arrived here and taken the kingdom for himself. He spun it into a midst of chaos that caused great suffering for all.”
Discord smiled, “Ahh… my glory years… so much fun and yet, it was the worst kind of fun… sometimes I miss it so.”
Princess Celestia gave Discord a serious stare as he changed his tone, “Um… I mean. I can’t believe how bad I was back then… I don’t think I can do anything to redeem myself. I should count my blessings that the great princesses looked into their hearts and sought forgiveness for such a soul.”

Seeing through his sarcasm, Princess Celestia continued, “Well… anyway, with Luna and I too young to wield the power of the elements of harmony, Princess Platinum used an ancient protection spell to keep the elements safe from Discords hands until we could rise and use them to vanquish him. Once that happened, and Equestria was free of his rule, Princess Luna and I took control of Equestria and the rest is history.”
Spike raised his hand and spoke, “Um… ok so, it sounds like you already took care of this problem. So… what do you need all of us for?”
Spitfire stood up and added, “You said yourself that The Dark Alicorn was encased in the second set of the elements right? So where is he right now?”
Star Bolt stood up and gave Princess Celestia a serious look as he answered the question himself, “Eden… You left The Dark Alicorn in the ruins of Eden didn’t you? You forget… I was your soldier a thousand years ago. I remember the rumors of a special force that worked outside of Equestria. In fact, Commander Mist, My mentor was part of that force at one time. He refused to talk about where he went or what he did. But for some reason, he swore that so long as I was under his command, than I would never be part of that group.”

Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Yes… the griffin king and I have a select number of soldiers guarding Eden as we speak. And inside the ruins. The creature stays imprisoned in the second set of elements that keep him in his place. For two thousand years, we have denied the existence of that city in hopes that nopony will ever find, or free the dark beast that killed my parents and destroyed my home.”
Shining Armor spoke up, “So, what are we here to do your majesty?”
Princess Celestia stood straight up and replied, “The magic that binds the second set of The Elements of Harmony is losing its power. And soon it will be weak enough for him to break free.”
Everypony in the room gasped in worry as Pinkie Pie spoke up, “But! If he escapes! The then sand castle pony will come here won’t he?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Yes… that is why I gathered you all here. We know that The Elements of Harmony alone won’t stop him… but we hope that there is a way to weaken him enough to either imprison him a second time or destroy him once and for all.”
Princess Twilight spoke up, “What about making a third set of Elements? Surely the scientist who created them kept a journal or diary that helped him create the first two.”

Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Sadly that was my first thought too. But the journal of the scientist who created the first set was destroyed over a thousand years age. In fact, you knew the pony responsible for its destruction Star.”
Star Bolt replied, “Really?”
Niether nodded his head, “That’s right, it was the mercenary group known as The Cutters who destroyed the book. According to ancient text, they discovered the book while completing a mission to retrieve it. But when they found out the secret it held, they threw it into a river of magma so it could never be used for evil. Very interesting considering that many portrayed them as evil to begin with.”
Star Bolt thought to himself, “Well evil isn’t the word I would use to describe them… but I can see why Traipse would do that. He was never a fan of magic to begin with, so power like that probably terrified him.”
Princess Celestia continued, “Nevertheless, we know that The Elements of Harmony should have some kind of effect on The Dark Alicorn, but we don’t know how… nor do we know what we can do to us it to our advantage. First thing is first. We need to prepare for the day he will arrive. I already increased the guards around Eden… but I fear that won’t be enough.”

Shining Armor stood up, “I gathered the strongest soldiers I had from the Crystal Empire to come and help. Three thousand in all.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Useless…”
Shining Armor looked at Star Bolt and spoke in irritation, “What was that bolt? Do you mind speaking up? I’m afraid I may have heard you wrong!”
Star Bolt stood back up and gave him a serious look, “Then read my lips prince… Use-less… those soldier are of no help and you of all ponies know it.”
“And what makes you say that hmm?… enlighten us commander!”
Star Bolt replied, “Princess Celestia said it herself. This monster destroyed four armies… to include Commander Hurricane. A stallion that even I would be afraid to face in war. Your soldiers will fall. I know because I have seen your best. It’s nothing…”
Princess Celestia spoke up, “Then I would like for you to train them Star Bolt. With your skill I…”
“Hold your horses princess… I didn’t say anything about actually helping you.”
The room was shocked as Roseluck and Twilight spoke at the same time, “What!?!”

Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well I only came to hear you out… nothing more. As far as I’m concerned, this doesn’t change a thing. When the time comes, I will lend a helping hoof… but not as your soldier. Till then… I believe we are done here.”
Star Bolt stood up as the entire room was silent, but before he left the table Princess Celestia spoke with concern, “Do… you really hate me that much?...”
Star Bolt stopped and replied, “I think the bigger question is… Why don’t you hate me? one thousand years ago, I put your sister against you, I lead half of your subjects in a revolt to dethrone you, I encouraged your sister to continue her onslaught towards Canterlot, and was the leading soldier who called that very attack which destroyed more than half of this city. Because of me, countless innocents and soldiers who fought for you died… because of me, you even had to banish your own sister. How can you look at me and not think about all I did to you? How can you even stand in the same room as me without the urge to kill me?”
Princess Celestia smiled, “Because I know that you’re not that kind of pony. You followed your heart and that’s all you did. What kind of princess would I be to see the real you and not give you a second chance?”
Princess Twilight stood up, “Star… we know you, and we know that you want to help. So please, forget about the past and join us. We can all use a pony like you on our side.”

Everypony in the room except for Rainbow Dash and Shining Armor, nodded their heads in agreement to Twilights words as Star Bolt shook his head and smiled, “Know me… sure… you all know me so well, don’t you? Until a few days ago, half of you didn’t know anything about my past, and the rest of you either tried to capture me, or were still hunting me like some kind of monster. You all know me so well… you say you can use a pony like me on your side… but the key word to that is use. I have been used as many things in my life… but I’m done. If you need to use me… then use this.”
Star Bolt drew his sword and stuck it into the table with the flat part of his blade facing Princess Celestia showing the cutiemark on the blade, “Use this… to remind you who I am… and what I despise in this world. Use this as a reminder that so long as I draw breathe… I will never take orders from a princess again. Now, I believe I have over stayed my welcome. Rose? Are you coming?”
Roseluck stood up and replied, “No… I may not be very helpful with something like this… but, I want to stay and help. Equestria needs us Star… I want to do what I can for it. Even if I’m just a flower peddler, I still think it’s the right thing to do.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he turned to the door, “I won’t stop you and I wish you luck…”

Star Bolt then trotted through the door as Discord followed closly behind. As the two went down the hall, Star Bolt asked, “Why are you following me Discord?”
Discord replied, “Where you go, I'll go too. Besides I can’t fight my other half… most the times I refuse to talk to myself so why would I fight myself?”
Star Bolt was curious, “Speaking of which? If he is part of you, then why can’t you fight him?”
Discord replied, “Well, he still has more power than me so I would lose almost immediately, plus, Celestia is worried about what could happen if I reemerge with him.”
“And what would happen in that case?”
Discord shrugged his shoulder, “Nothing…”
Discord nodded his head, “Yep if you take a glass full of juce and drink the juice then the only difference between the two would be that now its empty… but fill the glass back up, and still that’s the only difference. The glass doesn’t change nor does the juice.”
Star Bolt smirked, “So… it’s all a product of Celestia’s worries then… this dark alicorn must be the real deal if even she is overthinking things. To be honest, this is hilarious. I never thought I would see the wise Princess Celestia stuck without a plan.”
Discord smiled as the two exited the castle into the courtyard, “You have no idea… anyway what will we do now commander?”

Star Bolt looked around to find that the carriage he arrived on had already left without him so he just sighed, “Hmm… guess we’re trotting back to Ponyville… kinda awkward without Rose though.”
Discord smiled, “Why… is she your girlfriend or something?...”
Star Bolt gave Discord a dull look as he replied, “I meant it feels strange leaving without her because she came here because of me, but I’m leaving her behind… kinda makes me feel like I’m abandoning a friend.”
Discord smiled as he pointed to a balcony above, “That’s good… because I think somepony else wants that position.”
When Star Bolt looked up at the balcony, he could see Princess Luna looking down on him with a look of concern on her face. Star Bolt could only sigh as he coldly turned away, “She’s probably just disappointed that I refused to help… Let’s go Discord. The sun will be setting soon and there’s one place I would like to visit before I leave Canterlot.”
As Star Bolt continued trotting through the courtyard and towards the castle wall, Discord looked back up at Luna as she lowered her head and went back into the castle. When the princess was out of sight, Discord sighed, “I don’t know what’s worse… their denial or their attempts to avoid one another.”

As Star Bolt continued further and further into Canterlot, Discord noticed that many of the residence were doing what they could to avoid him, “Well what a wonderful greeting from the citizens of Canterlot… now, is it you their trying to avoid? Or is it me?”
Star Bolt replied as he continued on his path, “Does it matter?”
Discord smiled, “Of course it does, if it’s me then I’m flattered. But if they are afraid of you… then I should try harder. It’s not fair that I scared them thousands of years before you, and still I’m upstaged by a younger better spirit of chaos. But then again you are Commander Bolt. You did more damage to this city then I ever did.”
Star Bolt stopped trotting and sighed, “Discord… where I’m going is a little… personal. I would prefer to continue alone if you don’t mind.”

Discord could see a sort of sadness in Star Bolt’s eye so he sympathized with the old soldier, “Well, ok I guess I can wait for you back at the city gate.”
Star Bolt smiled peacefully as he replied, “Thanks… you know what? You’re a good friend. Even if you only like me for my ability.”
Discord looked at Star Bolt with emotion filled eyes as he smiled, “R-Really?... my hero… called me f-friend?...”
Star Bolt gave Discord a dull look, “don’t milk it…”
Discord nodded his head as he turned to fly away, “whatever you say… friend.”
Star Bolt yelled to Discord as he flew away, “THAT’S COMMANDER, OR STAR BOLT!!!”
As Discord vanished from Star Bolt’s sight, Star Bolt continued on his path.

It wasn’t long before Star Bolt arrived at the place he wanted to visit. As he entered the desolate plaza, he looked at the sky as the sun was setting overhead. Star Bolt approached the fountain in the middle of the plaza and looked at the center status as he smiled, “how appropriate… a bow and arrow. I guess this is Celestia’s way of honoring this ground.”
Star Bolt then sat down and started looking at the area around him. Every few seconds he would have flashbacks of that very day. He could see the burning buildings around him, the leaking fountain water, and the dark smoke above with ash and dust falling around him. But what he could see the most, was the blood on the cobblestone ground beneath him. As these visions passed before his eyes, a tear rolled down his face, “One thousand years… it’s really been one thousand years since that day. But… I remember it as if it was yesterday…”

Closing his eyes, Star Bolt could hear voices of that very day, “Gem! Oh no… Please Just hold on a little longer we are almost there, just a little further than we will be in the clear, but please… just hold out a little longer.”
“Star… go. Go and leave me here. I'm only slowing you down.”
“Unless you come with me, I'm staying right here with you.”
“Star… You’re the commander of the Nightmare Legion’s armies; they need you more than I do. They can’t continue without a Commander.”
“You’re my most trustworthy soldier, friend, and more, and a stallion can’t continue without a mare… I… I can’t continue without you… I… I love you Gem. It took me a war to figure it out… but, I love you with all my heart.”
Hearing those voices, made Star Bolt sit down against the edge of the fountain as tears continued rolling down his face, “It’s funny… back then, I would have stabbed myself in the throat to get Luna back… yet, I would have done the same for Gem Stone. And now… after two years of avoiding Canterlot, royal guards and the princesses, I’m finally free to come and go anywhere as I please… but, why… why do I still feel like I’m trapped? Why do I feel like I’m in some kind of prison that I can’t escape from? I wonder whe…”

Before Star Bolt could finish his sentence, he paused when he felt that he wasn’t alone. Siting still and listening carefully to his surrounding, Star Bolt could tell that not only was he being watched… but he was completely surrounded. Trying to act casual, Star Bolt stood up and stared at the statue as his eyes tried to scheme the area around him, but with the darkness of dusk hiding everything around him in the shadow of the horizon. Star Bolt couldn’t tell who was watching him, only that they were flying above him and that they were in great numbers. Still acting casual, Star Bolt continued listening until the faint flapping that was in swarms above him was overshadowed by a loud thump as one of them landed on the peak of a building nearby. Star Bolt immediately looked at the nearby building as he recognized a Lunar Royal Guard standing on the nearby rooftop and giving him a serious look. Then, one by one, the rest of the flying royal guards landed on the rooftops surrounding the plaza and keeping a safe distance from Star Bolt. as the rest of the airborne bat ponies landed, Star Bolt started to mumble to himself, “bat ponies… Luna’s own personal guards… and me without my sword… this may be difficult. I don’t know if I can hit them all with a weak enough Lightning Orb without damaging the fountain.”

As Star Bolt calmly looked at each guard trying to identify the leader, the guard on the rooftop behind him, glided to the ground and landed as he spoke, “Commander!?!”
Star Bolt turned towards the guard but didn’t reply as the guard repeated himself, “Are you Commander Bolt!?!”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “What of it?...”
The guard looked at the rest of his soldiers as a few of them glided to the ground and landed in the plaza still keeping a safe distance. Then the leading guard looked back at Star Bolt as he continued, “Commander Bolt… of the Nightmare Legion? The same commander who protected Princess Luna over a thousand years ago?”
Star Bolt glared at the speaking guard as he replied, “The one and only! Are you here to arrest me or something?”
The guard’s expression quickly changed from serious to nervous as he removed his helmet and sat it on the ground. After seeing their leader remove his head gear, the surrounding guards both on the buildings and on the ground did the same as the leader stepped forward, “No sir… well… actually, we just wanted the chance to meet you.”

Star Bolt felt completely confused as he replied, “Meet me? What do you mean?”
Another guard spoke up, “We… just wanted to meet the legend himself… you know, in person.”
The leading pony added, “We… All of us are Princess Luna’s personal guards. Night by night, from dusk till dawn, we watch over her and keep her safe from anything that hopes to threaten her… but we aren’t Commander Bolt.”
Star Bolt gave the guard a funny look as another guard stepped forward, “When I was a little filly, my mother told me the stories about the great Commander Bolt. She told me about his many death-defying experiences, and when I found out that Princess Celestia was allowing bat ponies to become guards, I knew that… I wanted to be just like him, only… a mare.”
A third guard stepped forward and added, “it’s been only a few decades since Princess Celestia allowed bat ponies to guard the night. When that happened, there wasn’t a colt I knew who didn’t want to be like the great Commander Bolt. You’re a legend.”
The female guard that spoke a second ago gave that stallion a dirty look as the guard corrected himself, “… sorry colt and filly…”
the leading guard continued from there, “not only are you a legend… but you’re an inspiration. Nopony, not in a thousand years has ever lived like you, they either died trying or realized that you set a bar that nopony could ever hope to reach. Heck, even your officers are legendary to us.”

Star Bolt stood speechless as a broader stallion stepped forth and placed his battle-axe on the ground. I may not have any magic so I know I will never be as strong as Lieutenant Ardent Viscous… but I still wanted to be like her.”
The next to speak was an archer, “I tried for years to learn how to master the bow because I dreamed of being like Captain Gem Stone… but I never could. And that’s why I'll continue to carry this bow, because when I stop breathing, will be the day I stop trying.”
The lead stallion spoke again, “we know that there is something big about to happen… and word through the barracks says that whatever it is, you refuse to be a part of it. But considering your life… we all understand why you said no. However, we were hoping that... You know, before you leave Canterlot. We hoped that you could give us a word of advice. Or… some pointers? You know so we can protect Princess Luna like you did back then.”
Star Bolt couldn’t believe what he was hearing, “Pointers… you, actually want me to give you tips on being a guard?...”
The lead stallion replied, “it would be an honor, nopony could protect the princess like you could, but we would still like to try our best.”
With that said the leader of the surrounding bat ponies bowed to the ancient commander, Then one by one, the surrounding subordinates started bowing in respect as Star Bolt tried convincing himself that this was actually happening.

With everypony in the area bowing to him Star Bolt felt like he had stolen an army from the princesses so he spoke up, “Rise! All of you!...”
With his outburst the surrounding ponies stood back up in worry as he continued, “You shouldn’t bow! Not to me! If anything you should only bow to your princess and nopony else, that’s what being a royal guard signifies! However… and I do intent to offend you… You all don’t have what it takes to defend the princess as I did! But that’s not your fault. If anyponies’, it’s the princesses fault. They don’t train guards like they used to and trust me… I had some of the toughest training that anypony could ever have hoped to survive. But, considering what we’re up against… We don’t have that kind of time. Therefore,… with what time we do have! I intend to make you stronger then you ever hoped could be possible. And maybe… just maybe, you will have a chance to survive this new threat! For now, continue with your usual duties! Because I don’t know when your training will start! But trust me, you will be seeing more my face. And you will grow to both hate, and respect it… NOW HOW CLEAR AM I!”
All the guards first looked at each other with smiling faces then they all stood at perfect attention as their reply echoed throughout the city, “CRYSTAL SIR!!!”

As each and every royal guard put their helmets back on, Star Bolt smiled as he called out, “Now! See to your duties! You all still have a job to do!”
The soldiers stood at attention as they all replied “YES SIR!”
Star Bolt smiled as one by one, each soldier took to the sky with a motivational spring that could easily be seen in each soldier’s actions. As the guards vanished into the night, the area started lighting up as Star Bolt looked at the rising moon and smiled, “You know… maybe this is for the best. Maybe, this will be what I need to feel free. I can’t believe that I actually inspired others… I guess, this makes me think about the soldiers I lead. It make me think about… my family. Well, time to go back and do something I hoped I would never do… I gotta tell Celestia that I'll help.”
With that said, Star Bolt took to the sky and began flying back to the castle. A few minutes later, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna were trotting through the castle courtyard as Princess Celestia continued, “Sister… something like this won’t just go away overnight. I know I should have said something as soon as I found out myself… but when I discovered that he was alive, all I heard was rumors of his return, and I didn’t want to get your hopes up.”
Princess Luna sighed, “But… why did he hide for so long? I just want to know if he intended to hurt me like this, if… he wanted to make me feel this pain.”
Princess Celestial shook her head, “Luna, you know that hurting you is something that he never wants to do unless he had good reason.”
“I know… b…”

Before Luna could continue, the two princesses paused as they witnessed Star Bolt landing in the courtyard with a serious look on his face. Princess Celestia asked, “Star Bolt? is something wrong?”
Feeling annoyed with what he was about to say, Star Bolt sighed, “I had a little time to think over your problem, and… I decided to help you, but only under one condition. I am not your soldier… you can give any order you want, but the decision to follow or ignore that said order will be mine and mine alone.”
Princess Luna and Princess Celestia looked at each other in confusion as Princess Celestia replied, “Why the sudden change in heart?”
Star Bolt replied, “That’s my decision and I would like to think it remains mine. But since it’s been a rather long day… I think I would like to discuss this in the morning… that is… if you will let me.”
Knowing that she should be grateful that he said yes, Princess Celestia replied, “Very well… we have a suite available for you to stay in if you like. I’m afraid the rest of our guests have already settled into their rooms for the night.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “Then please, lead the way princess.”
As both Star Bolt and Princess Celestia turned to go back inside, Star Bolt stopped for a split second, “Um… Luna?”
Princess Luna didn’t reply but she did look at Star Bolt to show she was waiting for him to reply as he continued, “The full moon… looks beautiful tonight… just saying.”

Princess Luna was speechless as Star Bolt left those words behind to spiral in her head as he continued into the castle with nothing more to say. While traveling through the corridor, Princess Celestia smiled and spoke, “That was smooth Star.”
Star Bolt replied, “I only spoke the truth… nothing more. But I do feel a little strange.”
Star Bolt continued, “Yea… like I’m forgetting something… hmm.”
Princess Celestia shrugged her shoulders as she replied, “Well maybe you’ll remember in the morning.”
Star Bolt only nodded his head as the two ponies continued up the corridor towards the guest suites. However, at the city gate, Discord sat reading a book as he mumbled to himself, “you know… I think I see why Roseluck likes this book… but I wonder what’s taking the commander so long… hmm maybe he got lost. But if he did he can just fly here so I'll just keep waiting… it’s not like he has anything better to do.”

Ch13 Tis Time...

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Star Bolt trotted through the cave next to Princess Celestia as she stopped and looked forward, “That’s it…”
Star Bolt trotted towards the tree and put his hoof against it as he mumbled to himself, “The Tree of Harmony… or Princess Platinum.”
Not hearing his comment, Princess Celestia continued, “Now that I showed it to you… tell me, how do you know of this tree? I don’t recall ever mentioning it to you before.”
Star Bolt replied, “I know I’m asking the wrong mare… but maybe you know. What exactly are dreams?”
Princess Celestia thought to herself as she replied, “Hmm… Luna would know more about it then I do, but from my understandings, I would say that they could be many things… A subconscious scenario of what could be… a reminder of something that could be bothering you. I’ve even heard stories of them being messages from beyond the grave, or premonitions of the future.”

Star Bolt began trotting around the tree observing it as he added, “What about the past? Could a dream allow you to experience periods in the past?”
Princess Celestia gave him a funny look, “You mean like when you were a foal?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “I’m talking about much further than that, maybe… two thousand years.”
Princess Celestia was surprised, “Two thousand years! You mean, you saw this tree in a dream. And you believe it was two thousand years ago?”
Star Bolt trotted to a specific point and stood in place as he replied, “Believe?... I know it was… You and Princess Luna were just fillies. You two stood right in front of where I’m standing right now, and Chancellor Puddinghead was standing right here as he told you that you two would one day return here to claim the elements and defeat Discord, but only after he died first.”

Princess Celestia started thinking to herself, “… That does seem to be familiar… but from what I understand, you can only view what you yourself have experienced… unless… it was a past life, or you somehow found yourself in another’s dream.”
Star Bolt was confused, “Past life?... or another’s dream?... both seem impossible… but to be honest, it makes since… so I could have been Chancellor Puddinghead in a past life?”
Celestia replied, “Unlikely… but yes. Then again… no… you wouldn’t have seen this if you were.”
Star Bolt gave her a funny look, “Were?...”
Princess Celestia continued, “Commander Hurricane…”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Now that, I could believe… he knew the Lighting Orb too so it would make since if I was him in a past life… but he died before The Tree of Harmony was created right? So he wouldn’t have witnessed this moment in time.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Yes… and I doubt you were Princess Platinum either… so… perhaps you were in my or Luna’s dream.”

Star Bolt looked back at the tree as he mumbled to himself, “… Yea… maybe…”
Princess Celestia shrugged her shoulders then turned around as she spoke, “well either way I must get back to Canterlot, shining armor is expecting a small group of soldiers today and I would like to talk with them… you know, a little motivational speech. Would you like to come too? I’m sure the crystal soldiers would like to hear from Commander Bolt.”
Star Bolt shook his head, as he replied, “No thanks… I may trot through the ruins above us for a few minutes. It’s been a thousand years and a simple trot might be the thing I need to help me process this dream.”
Princess Celestia continued, “You know… you could always ask Luna.”
Star Bolt continued facing the tree as he held his silence. Knowing that this was his way of avoiding the topic, Princess Celestia, sighed as she ignored his silence and exited the cave.

After Princess Celestia was gone, Star Bolt mumbled to himself, “She wouldn’t tell me… even if she does know what it means… anyway I doubt it was her dreams anyway. Princess Celestia and Luna both don’t seem to know about Platinum’s sacrifice… so, what was it then?”
As Star Bolt continued looking at the tree for a few more minutes he mumbled, “Princess Platinum was so determined to protect the royal sisters, that she gave her own life to protect The Elements of Harmony… I guess even a simple sacrifice can seem well worth it. I wonder if you thought so too.”
Star Bolt then turned around and began trotting out of the cave to the surface. As soon as he reached the top of the ravine, he entered the palace of the alicorn sisters and as he thought to himself, “This castle has stood the test of time… two thousand years according to Princess Celestia. However, even a thousand years ago this place seemed at the peak of its perfection… at least till the night we were imprisoned.”

Not long after entering the castle’s main corridor, he almost tripped over something while looking around so he stopped and looked down at a deep gash in the floor. He could only sigh as he saw the gash left in the floor when Lieutenant Viscous dropped her axe centuries ago. While looking at the gash, he started to mumble to himself, “Sorry I wasn’t there in your final moments Ardent… you, Drib and Snow erm… Rich. You all deserved better then thi…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Star Bolt heard a loud crash coming from a nearby room. Making sure nopony was hurt, Star Bolt galloped into the room to find Niether lying under a large pile of books. As Star Bolt looked around at the disorganized library, Niether complained as he climbed out of the pile, “Darn it! I really need to stop stacking books vertically… once it gets to about thirty or forty, they just don’t seem to stay up.”
Star Bolt helped him up as he smiled, “Well I’m glad to see that this old library isn’t as boring as it us to be.”

Niether looked at Star Bolt and smiled, “Oh! Mr. Bolt… I didn’t know you were here. Is there something I can help you with? I’m just trying to find a lead to defending Equestria from The Dark Alicorn. I thought that these old books may hold a secret or two… but so far all I could find was that every book dating between the fall of Eden and the rise of the celestial rule is nonexistent.”
Star Bolt looked at the many stacks of books all over the room as he replied, “I should say not, if I’m right that era of Equestria was Discords rule and I don’t think he was much of a linguist, so I don’t think he gathered any books during his rule.”
Niether nodded his head, “You mean bibliophile.”
Niether began organizing the books, as he looked at the confused look on Star Bolt’s face “Well a bibliophile collects books while a lingui… oh, never mind… common mistake.”

Not understanding his mistake Star Bolt continued, “If Princess Celestia tried as hard as she did to keep Eden’s history secret, then I wouldn’t expect her to keep any records. Especially if it was really as traumatizing to them as it seemed. To watch your father die in front of you… even I wouldn’t wish that on either of the pony sisters.”
Niether finished organizing the stack as he nodded his head, “Yes… indeed a tragedy for anypony to endure. Once again, I’m grateful you reconsidered your decision on joining our fight. To think that I will be part of an actual battle with The Commander Bolt… just make me feel like I’m fulfilling my destiny… kinda like Commander Orem and his spotlight hour.”
Star Bolt asked, “Spotlight what?”
“Spotlight hour… When Commander Orem was deemed a hero of his nation he went on to claim that his quote unquote, Spotlight hour was during The Battle of Canterlot when he stood next to you calling the charge for his soldiers.”

Star Bolt opened a book that was at the top of a stack and looked inside as he replied, “Well… Orem did always have an interesting view when it came to battle… but I wouldn’t claim my shadow as something to be proud to stand in. but you’re an eggh… Smart pony… Do you happen to know why it is that my story inspired others?”
Niether continued organizing books as he replied, “Inspired? If I may, why do you ask?”
Star Bolt closed the book as he shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know? It’s just that a few soldiers approached me asking for advice, and saying that they wanted to be either like me or my officers. And I don’t see why anypony would want that.”
Niether smiled as he replied, “Ah… your opinion of yourself leaves you to believe you don’t deserve the praise, is that it?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Believe? I know I don’t deserve any praise, what I did was terrible.”

Niether nodded his head as he replied, “Well… I can’t say I agree with you but I understand both sides of this argument.”
Niether then looked at the large bookshelf as he used his magic to pull a specific book from the wall and open it to a page, “Hmm… let’s see… it’s in here somewhe… ah here it is.”
Niether then turned the book around and showed Star Bolt as he asked, “look there and tell me what you see.”
Star Bolt looked at the picture and replied, “Well… I see myself as a foal standing next to Commander Mist and Captain Storm… though I think he was a sergeant back then.”
Niether replied, “Ok say you don’t know their names… then describe this image to me.”
Star Bolt replied, “I see a foal standing next to two royal guards… exactly where are you going with this”

Niether replied as he pulled the book back so that they both could identify the picture, “You know what I see? I see a young orphan with no past, as he stands next to his guardian.”
Niether then turned the page and showed another picture, “Ok… now what do you see?”
Star Bolt replied, “I see myself fighting in the royal guard exam against the dragons.”
Niether reiterated, “I see that same orphan… still without a past as he strives to achieve what he wants most…”
Niether turned the page one last time, “And there?”
Star Bolt sighed as he replied, “I see a merciless monster as he charges through a battlefield leading his soldiers to certain doom.”
Niether shook his head as he reiterated one final time, “I see the orphan… still without a past, risking life and limb for the pony he loves. Facing and cheating death many times over, and even bringing Princess Celestia into desperation to use The Elements of Harmony to defend herself.”

Realizing where Niether was going with his story, Star Bolt lowered his head as Niether continued, “You see commander? When other ponies hear your story from me… I always tell of the great nopony who became one of the most known names in Equestria… maybe even the world. Because that is the pony, I see when I first heard your story. The great leader of the nightmare armies who chased Princess Celestia to her doorstep. Not the greedy monster who wanted eternal night. That is why I became a historian… I wanted to prove that you didn’t do what you did out of will alone. I wanted to prove that your heart was in the right place, just… the wrong time.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “but it wasn’t. I called the charge on Ca…”
“You called the release of countless prisoners of war… you avoided all confrontation with civilians even to a point to threaten your own soldiers. And you even put yourself in harm’s way to protect those closest to you. I mean, I heard you once went face to face with a catapult boulder… Now that is a feat worth talking about.”
“I lost…”
“But you survived… and that’s a lot more then anypony else has ever done.”
“How many others took on a catapult like that?”
“Well… none… but that’s what makes yours even better. You were the one crazy enough to attempt it.”

Star Bolt couldn’t help but smile as he started to reply, “Crazy… I guess that will explain why I’m helping Princess Celestia aga…”
Before he could finish his sentence, a loud scream was heard as one of the large stacks of books toppled over. Both Star Bolt and Niether made their way to the pile of books as they saw Roseluck climbing out of them, “Sorry… I hope they weren’t in any order. I thought they were more stable than that.”
Star Bolt thought to himself then smiled, “caught red hoofed.”
Roseluck blushed as she replied, “I… I didn’t mean to eavesdrop… I only came here to see if… well…”
Niether started restacking the books as he smiled, “Its ok… I’m just glad nopony got hurt.”
Roseluck reached into her saddlebag and pulled out the book she had been reading as she asked, “Um… Mr. Niether? I was wondering if… you could sign this for me. I finished it this morning, and I think it’s great. I’ve never read something with so much passion behind the words. I know Star Bolt told me this story before, but the way you told it makes him seem like a better pony then the way he told it.”
While watching Roseluck hold out the book to Niether, Star Bolt thought about something and smiled, “Well… I um, I better get going. I um have… stuff… to do. So I'll just leave you two alone for a while.”

Roseluck immediately became suspicious, “Stuff?... What kind of stuff Star?...”
Star Bolt hesitated, “Um… the kind of stuff that I'll have to leave to do… so um, have fun. Hey Niether, since you know this place pretty well. Why don’t you show Roseluck the book that teaches you ancient secrets in raising a garden?”
Completely missing the point of Star Bolt’s comment, Roseluck replied, “Ancient secrets?... Is there really a book here like that Mr. Niether?”
Niether replied, “oh yes there is… so you’re into gardening?”
Roseluck replied, “Well, it’s sorta my talent. In fact about two and a half months ago I won the Peddlers pedals gardening competition with my…”
“Blue roses?... I saw that competition, you’re really skilled to breed flowers in such a way. They were beautiful.”
Roseluck blushed as she continued, “well… they were ok.”
“No I’m serious… you have a beautiful gift Ms. Rose.”
Roseluck corrected him, “Please… call me Rose.”

Seeing that the two were now ignoring him, Star Bolt decided to slip away so they could be alone. As he exited the castle, Star Bolt smiled, “You know… they’re perfect for each other… of course this may mean she will kick me out of her house once this thing is all said and done. But at least she will have somepony who can relate with her.”
“Aww… now Mr. Commander is playing matchmaker… what can’t you do Commander Bolt?”
Star Bolt didn’t even turn towards the voice as he replied, “Well Discord, I’m surprised you waited this long to come see me… I figured you’d be glued to me like usual.”
Discord flew up behind Star Bolt and pouted as he made a tattered old sheet appear around him, “Don’t think I forgotten what you did to me last night… You left me out in the blistering cold with no food and no water waiting for my great leader to come save me… it’s so cruel I can’t even think straight.”
Star Bolt sighed, “first of all, it was about eighty degrees. Very common for a summer night. Second, I said I was sorry, and I can bet you’ve done worse.”
Discord made the sheet disappears as he crossed his arms, “that doesn’t make it alright.”

Star Bolt sighed as he continued on his path back to Canterlot, “ok… sorry again… anyway why did you avoid me all day, I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason.”
Discord replied, “Because you went to the Tree of Harmony… I may be reformed, but that bothersome plant still repels me… its very annoying.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Hmm… maybe I should find a way to do the same.”
Discord was annoyed by the comment, “That’s not funny commander! You’re starting to act like Luna now.”
Star Bolt’s attitude changed quickly, “watch it…”
Knowing he struck a nerve Discord replied, “Oops… sorry commander, I forgot that was a touchy su…”
Before Discord could finish his sentence, he all of a sudden froze in place with a shocked expression. Then he quickly turned towards the west and mumbled to himself, “uh oh…”

Star Bolt stopped when he realized Discord was quiet then he asked, “Discord? Are you ok?”
Discord looked back at Star Bolt and quickly thought up a lie as he made an umbrella appear in his hands, “oh… I just realized the cloudy sky… I guess it will rain soon wont it?”
Star Bolt looked at the sky and replied, “Well… it is cloudy, but I don’t think we are scheduled for rain till tomorrow. Maybe Rainbow Dash is gathering the clouds so she doesn’t have to in the morning.”
Discord smiled innocently as he closed the umbrella and replied, “Ok… I guess that makes since doesn’t it?”
Star Bolt gave Discord a funny look as they both continued on their path, “Are you sure you’re ok?... you’re acting a little strange…er.”
Discord replied as the umbrella vanished and he turned his head just slightly enough to look to the west, “Don’t worry about me commander… I’m fine… for now anyway.”
Star Bolt decided to take his word for it as the two continued back to Canterlot with nothing more to say on the subject.

In the silence of the dark tomb that lied beneath the castle of Eden, sat the lone chest and the barrier of its prison. As the sound of the flickering torches seemed to be the only sounds that could be heard, they were all of a sudden overshadowed by the loud click of the chest latch as it slowly opened and the black contents began pouring out. As the sand bundled up and took the form of The Dark Alicorn, he smiled wickedly as he looked at one of the gems that was embedded in the surrounding pillars. As he observed the pillar, he noticed that the purple gem’s light started to fade just enough to individualize itself from the other five. After this happened, The Dark Alicorn raised a large pole made from his sand and tried pushing it through the barrier. As the poll passed the border between the magical pillars, some of the sand began to fall to the ground, however, this time there was still a small amount that was unaffected by the barriers magic and was still under his control so he nodded as he spoke, “Tis time.”

With the wicked smile on his face, The Dark Alicorn turned the sand outside the barrier that was still in his control onto a very thin flexible thread. Then he wrapped the thread around the pillar until the pillar had a thin black spiral going from the gem to the floor. With the thread spiraling around the pillar numerous times, The Dark Alicorn smiled as he began squeezing the pillar as hard as his magic would allow. In mere seconds, the thin thread squeezed the pillar with such power that the thinness of the thread acted as a razor’s edge and sliced the pillar into small pieces causing the massive structure to fall to the ground in a loud crash that could be heard throughout Eden. Shortly after the pillar crashed to the ground, The Dark Alicorn approached the pillar’s gem that was now lying alone on the ground. Then with one simple stomp of his hoof, the mystical gem shattered into many pieces as the rest of the elements stopped glowing. All of a sudden, The Dark Alicorn could hear voices shouting through the entrance to the tomb so he dissolved into sand and hid himself as a large number of pony and griffin soldiers entered the tomb.

The leading pony called out, “What happened here?!”
Another pony replied, “Sir! It looks like one of the pillars collapsed!”
“I KNOW THAT! What I’m asking is how did it collapse?”
A griffin soldier approached a part of the pillar and examined it, “It’s been cut… quite clean if I say so myself.”
The griffin leader called to his soldier, “What about the chest!”
Another griffin approached the chest and opened it, “SIR! IT’S EMPTY!!!”
As both the griffin and pony soldiers gasped in worry, the pony leader gave his orders, “You! Get outside and get back to Equestria! We must warn the princess at once! The rest of you! Fan out and keep your head on a swivel! There is only one way in and out of this tomb and I won’t let him by me!”
Then the griffin leader called to his soldier, “Support the ponies! We cannot allow this creature to escape!”

With the order given, both pony soldiers and griffin soldiers started examining the tomb very carefully as the lone pegasus left and began galloping through the entering corridor. As they looked around, the griffin leader looked at the pony leader, “You sure he’s still here? Not a lot of places for him to hide in here.”
The pony replied, “Your guards watched over the outside of the tomb so with their eagle eyes, I could guess that if anything could escape from here. Then they would have seen it. Besides, he can turn his body into sand. There are many places that sand could hi…”
Before the pony could finish his sentence, a loud scream came from the darkness of the exiting corridor as the soldiers immediately assumed their messenger was now dead. As everypony and griffin looked at the entrance in worry, a large wall of sand quickly shot up from the ground and closed the entrance as it quickly solidified into a large glass wall.

The soldier quickly gathered in the center of the room and looked in all directions as an evil voice echoed through the tomb, “Such loyalty, in the face of danger. Tis a promising sight for thy kingdoms… however, loyalty… bears foolery.”
As the sound echoed throughout the sealed tomb, The Dark Alicorn’s sand creped out of the crevices of every shadow and accumulated on the side of the tomb furthest from the glass door. As he appeared, everypony and griffin started backing away as they drew their weapons. The Dark Alicorn looked over the soldiers and continued, “Pegasus, unicorn, earth pony, and griffin… If I remember correctly, the three pony species now reside in one kingdom. And the griffin in their own… however, times do change so I will ask of thee. What kingdoms stand before me?”
First silence was the only reaction that the two groups of soldiers could give, but then without receiving an order, one of the pony soldiers lost control of his fear as he raised his spear up and charged at The Dark Alicorn.

When the soldier finally reached him, he dug his spear deep into The Dark Alicorn chest as the blade went through his body and out his back. However, acting as if nothing happened, The Dark Alicorn looked into the desperate eyes of his attacker and replied to his actions, “Courageous indeed… however, tis a foolish action. Thou must become an example now.”
With the spear still sticking out of his body, The Dark Alicorn slowly sent some of his sand running down the shaft of the spear and onto the soldier’s hooves. Almost immediately, the soldier backed up in fear as the sand quickly spread across his body covering every inch of him until his body was pitch black. Then the soldiers echoing screams started rising from his body as he immediately started jerking his body around as if her were being attacked from the inside out. Then after a brief moment of horrific jerking and screaming, the soldier went silent as his body became limp and he fell to the ground. Upon hitting the cobblestone surface that was the bottom of the tomb, the sand covered soldier scattered across the ground as if he was made of sand the whole time, although the entire room knew better.

As the black pile of sand that was once the pony soldier started to accumulate back into The Dark Alicorn’s hooves, he spoke, “Now that thou has seen what I can do to thee if I am ever assaulted. Perhaps thou may want a second chance to answer my question… What is thy kingdom?”
With horror in their eyes, the soldiers looked at one another as the griffin leader drew his sword and called out “All griffin! ATTACK!!!”
Though they were each worried, every griffin in the formation of soldiers charged forward as they raised their weapons up. Seeing the charging griffin, The Dark Alicorn shook his head, “Fools… all of thee.”
The Dark Alicorn raised one hoof and slowly watched as the distance between them got smaller and smaller, then as the griffin got close enough, The Dark Alicorn stomped his hoof against the ground causing a wave of glass spikes to begin shooting from the ground away from The Dark Alicorn. As the spikes began to pierce the charging soldiers, some tried to dodge the attack by flying into the air, however, as the clever griffin thought themselves to be safe, the same spikes shot out from the dome shaped ceiling as well, causing the stabbed griffin to fall from the air onto the spiked covered floor below.

As soon as the charging griffin were all taken care of, the glass spikes that killed then turned back into sand and completely devoured their bodies leaving the area between The Dark Alicorn and the remaining soldiers completely clear. The remaining soldiers stared in fear at The Dark Alicorn as he reached up and pulled the first attacker’s spear from his chest and smiled, “so the griffin species still remains proud… and yet, naive. Tis a sad day that thy pride shall be struck down… but be proud griffin leader… for thy executioner is me.”
Before the griffin leader could react, The Dark Alicorn used his magic to take the spear that was in his hooves and throw it through the air, skewering the griffin leader’s chest and nailing him to the wall of the tomb behind him. As soon as this happened, all the remaining soldiers, which only consisted of Equestrian ponies, panicked to exclude their commanding officer. Some turned to attack the glass wall that blocked the entrance while the rest charged in a fit of fear that prevented them from hearing their leader’s commands, “soldiers! Stop! Calm yourselves! Regroup and gather! Now!”

Ignoring their leader’s orders, the pony soldiers continued their actions in a panicked state. The soldiers behind the leader continued bashing their weapons against the glass wall, but not so much as a scratch appeared. As for the charging soldiers, they quickly closed the distance between The Dark Alicorn and them but just as they were in range to attack, The Dark Alicorn sighed, “Pity…”
then the mystic black mane of the alicorn quickly scattered into many directions. Putting out all the torches and completely blacking out the entire tomb. With the next few seconds, the leader of the Equestrian forces heard a series of scratches, screams, and cracking that could drive anypony to the brink of insanity. Then as all the sounds were at their loudest, it all of a sudden went silent. Now, nothing could be heard, and nothing could be seen. The Equestrian leader tried all he could to look around until finally all the torches in the room spontaneously ignited, lighting up the entire tomb.
The Equestrian leader looked around in fear, because what was once a room filled with soldiers and their one foe... was now a room with only two. The commanding officer of a now missing squad, and The Dark Alicorn himself.

The Equestrian soldier quickly looked around trying to find at least one of the bodies of his fellow soldiers but there were none. The leader backed to the glass wall behind him as he spoke through his terror, “g-gone… no… I-it can’t be…”
The Dark Alicorn stared at the sole survivor with no expression as he spoke, “I left thee alive since thou seems to be the only pony who can keep thyself calm under such strenuous ordeals. So I ask of thee, will thou tell me thy kingdom?… or shall I devour thee too, and claim thy knowledge from your brain by force? Answer wisely, for this is the only chance that mercy will be shown to another. And in return… all that is asked, is to betray thy loyalty.”
The lone pony sighed as he drew a small dagger from his side, “My loyalty hm… it would seem that that is all I have left then… but if I gave that up, even my life would be empty. So… here is my answer!”
In a suicidal attempt, the pony raised the dagger up to stab himself but before he could, The Dark Alicorn sent a pillar of sand straight towards the pony, pinning his armed hoof against the glass wall behind him and holding him in place. The Dark Alicorn then smiled and began approaching the pony, “Thy loyalty is admirable, to think that such chivalry still exist allows one to truly see hope for thy future. However, suicide is not how such chivalry should meet its fate. Allow me…”

With the pinned solider glaring into his eyes, The Dark Alicorn gently placed his hoof against the pony’s chest as a small amount of sand started to spread over the pony’s body, covering him completely. The pony tried all he could to hold in his screams as the sand quickly devoured him and fell to the ground along with the dagger, which made a sound echoing through the now silent tomb. The Dark Alicorn then closed his eyes and smiled, “Such a noble and knowledgeable soldier. His mind is full of all I need to know. The Griffin Kingdoms still exists, as does Equestria, however the three pony leaders have been replaced with alicorn princesses… the young princesses of Eden. And my shadow also exists… perhaps I should seek him out first. With both halves, I can understand more about this age of difference. Then… I can fulfill the meaning to all life… by ending it.”

Ch14 Reconciliation

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Star Bolt stood watching the pegasi soldiers fly the obstacle course while he started calling each one out, “Slow… slow… sloppy… slow… not great… can’t bank… What the?”
As Star Bolt watched, he noticed both Spitfire and Rainbow Dash crisscrossing through the soldiers as they quickly made their way to the front of the group. As soon as they finished the course, they both landed next to Star Bolt as Rainbow Dash asked, “Well commander… what did you think of that? Amazingly awesome if I say so myself.”
Star Bolt approached them as he sighed, “Your speed is adequate… but your precision lacks subtlety, you’re sloppy on your banking, and you waste too much energy when you raise and lower your altitude. Remember speed does help, but it isn’t everything.”
Spitfire asked next, “ok… so what did I do wrong?”
Star Bolt replied, “Actually… all you need to work on is flying alone.”

Star Bolt nodded his head as he looked back at the course and replied, “You use the tail wind of those around you to increase your speed and performance. But you need to start relying on your own speed. Otherwise your speed is good, your precision is flawless, your banking needs slight altering, but you have no problems with raising or lowering your attitude.”
Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but think she was being treated unfairly, “Why are you nicer to her then me commander? You don’t like me or something?”
Star Bolt sighed as he looked at her, “The reason I treat her better is because she is doing it better… I don’t choose favorites when it comes to training. Because it doesn’t matter how much more I like you on the battlefield… they will kill you all the same. Now stop your whining and try agai…”
Star Bolt stopped talking as he saw Roseluck approaching him as she continued, “Can I speak with you for a second… Privately.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he looked at Spitfire and spoke, “Can you take over here for a second, I'll be right back.”

As spitfire turned to continue where Star Bolt left off, he and Roseluck started trotting alongside each other as Roseluck hesitated trying to choose her words carefully, “so… um… h-how is the training going.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Slow and miserable…”
Roseluck smiled, “Don’t worry Star, I’m sure they can handle it. They are royal guards after all”
Star Bolt shook his head, “I meant me… these soldiers are so bad, I don’t think any of them would be of any help at all… but since they are all we have, I'll do what I can with them.”
Roseluck laughed in a troubled way as she looked down and continued trying to find the right words to say, “So… um…”
Knowing that she was stalling Star Bolt spoke up, “What’s on your mind Rose? Something is telling me that you didn’t come out here just to see how the soldiers were doing.”
Roseluck nodded and asked, “Um… Star… What… what do you think of me?”
Star Bolt thought that was a funny question so he answered, “What do I think? Well you’re a good friend and trying to help in this crisis really shows that you’re a kind pony with a big heart… why? Are you having second thought? If so, I can show you some self-defense techniques if you want. They won’t fend off an army… but they could help if you were in a pinch.”

Roseluck shook her head, “No that’s fine… what I meant was. Am… am I just a friend to you?”
Hearing this question immediately sparked something in his mind as Star Bolt looked at Roseluck and replied, “You… you have feelings for me… don’t you?”
Roseluck’s face turned red as she tried to think to herself, “I do… or… at least I think I do… I um… I don’t know anymore… I… I just don’t know.”
Star Bolt realized what she was saying as he nodded his head, “So… you think you love me… but now you’re wondering if it was really love, or something else… right?”
With her face still red, Roseluck turned around and tried to flee the conversation, “I’m sorry… it was a stupid question… forget I said anything.”
Before Roseluck could get away from him Star Bolt put his hoof on her shoulder, “Rose… please… stay… what was said was said and if this isn’t dealt with now… then it will only continue to hurt until something is done about it.”
Roseluck tried to avert her eyes as she turned back towards him as Star Bolt continued, “I know this is hard to hear… because it’s actually hard to say… but you and me… we are friends… and that’s all we can be. Just friends.”

Roseluck looked at her hooves and asked, “Is… is there something wrong with me?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Not at all… if anything, there is something wrong with me. You’re a good pony Rose. You’re one of the ponies I actually trust with my life… and all considering, that’s a hard list to land on which says something.”
Roseluck started to tear up as she continued, “But… you and I… have been through so much… I thought…”
Star Bolt put his hoof under her chin and raised her head up to look her in the eye, “Rose… A pony like you… I can never be with, because… you’re too good for me. somepony like you deserves more than anything I can offer. Your talent allows you to create thing of natural beauty. You’re a beautiful creator of life, but me… I destroy… and that’s all I ever do.”
Roseluck tried to argue, “But you’re here to he…”
“Face it Rose. I’m here to use my power to destroy another pony. A few minutes ago, I was teaching others to destroy and kill. The only reason Princess Celestia asked me to come here is so I can help kill The Dark Alicorn because I am a pony who is known for destroying… not creating.”

Roseluck hung her head low again as she replied, “I know… but, you’re really a good pony… and I know that beca…”
Star Bolt shook his head, “You don’t know me as well as you hope Rose… I know I may sound mean right now… but nopony knows me. You’re better off without me Rose… trust me; just look at everypony who ever loved me. Gem Stone… Luna… and Nightmare Moon. In the end, two are dead and the third… is in deep pain, all because of me. I’m a burden to everypony around me… and I’m an even bigger burden to those who love me.”
Roseluck sighed in disappointment as Star Bolt noticed something strange, “You don’t seem as broken hearted as I would suspect.”
Roseluck replied, “Well… what you said does hurt… but I don’t know… maybe… it’s not that bad.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Or… maybe there is another on your mind. Maybe there is somepony else, you have feelings for that catches your eyes too. And maybe since I’m not for you, you’re telling yourself that this other stallion is.”

Roseluck put her hoof on her face as she replied, “I… I don’t know…”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he put his hoof on her shoulder, “Rose… If there is one thing I know in my thousand years of living, is that everypony seeks love. Everypony wants to find that one pony who will be with them when the going gets tough. I sought it, Luna, Gem, we all wanted to know that special feeling of standing next to the one pony that you would spend the rest of your life with.”
Roseluck understood what Star Bolt was trying to say but then she had to ask, “Then… who is yours?”
Star Bolt didn’t reply, all he did was give her a blank stare as she continued, “Sorry… I went too far that time… maybe I’m just a little tired. I was up early this morning trying to help do research on The Dark Alicorn. So, I think I'll just go. Thanks Star… I know I didn’t want to hear this form you… but in a way, I’m glad I did.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as Roseluck turned to leave. Just before she was out of sight, Star Bolt sighed, “Why am I still trapped?…”
Thinking about how hard it was to answer her question; Star Bolt turned back to the soldiers and continued training them.

Later that evening, just as the sun went down Star Bolt returned to his room to find Princess Celestia waiting for him. As soon as he saw her he sighed, “What is it?”
Celestia replied, “Do you really have to be so disrespectful? I understand your tension towards me but I would like to think that it starting to fade since we are on the same side now.”
Star Bolt replied, “… ok, what is it, your majesty?”
Princess Celestia shook her head, “Anyway, I came here to ask you a favor.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “A favor hmm… what a shock. Whatever it is, I’m not going to do it. I’ve had long and rather awkward day, so I think I'll just get some rest. So if you don’t mind, your majesty could you please leave.”
Princess Celestia sighed as she trotted out of the room, “Well… since you said please. Have a good evening… Commander.”
With that said, Princess Celestia left the room as Star Bolt started to take off the celestial armor he was wearing. When Princess Celestia entered the hall, she saw Princess Luna waiting for her outside the room. Princess Celestia sighed as she trotted by her sister, “As you can see… he won’t listen to me… Good luck.”
Irritated, Princess Celestia trotted by Luna and continued down the hall to her room to rest until morning.

When Princess Luna lost sight of her sister, she turned back to Star Bolt’s room and sighed, “Ok… you can do this…”
Slowly, Princess Luna entered the room to find Star Bolt standing on the balcony looking into the city in deep thought. Princess Luna entered the room completely then started to think of what to say to him. After deciding her words, she stepped forward and opened her mouth to talk, but all that came out was silence. Continuing her hesitation, Princess Luna started to think about changing what she was going to say, to something else. However, just like before, when she stepped forward again and opened her mouth to speak, she said nothing. Luna now felt awkward because, she entered the room in hopes of talking to him, but so far has yet to say a single word. While at the same time, she assumed that he knew she was there, however she couldn’t be more wrong. Star Bolt stood on the balcony looking into Canterlot as a series of thoughts crossed his mine. His dreams, their threat, and everything that he knew he would eventually face was embedding deep into his mind as he continued standing there with no knowledge of Luna’s presence.

After a few more seconds, which felt like hours for Luna, she sighed then finally said something, “It’s… beautiful… isn’t it?”
Star Bolt slowly turned and looked at Luna as he replied, “B-beautiful?”
Princess Luna blushed she replied, “The city… I mean.”
Star Bolt looked back into the lit Canterlot as he replied, “Oh… yea… beautiful. But… it’s hard to look at it… and not see the burning remains that I left it in all those years ago.”
Princess Luna trotted to him and stood beside him on the balcony as she looked down in shame, “oh… um… well. At least they rebuilt it. I think it looks even better now. The city is almost twice the size as it was back then.”
Star Bolt continued looking at Canterlot as he sighed, “Yea… I guess so.”
A few more seconds of awkward silence passed then Princess Luna spoke, “Um… Star? I was wondering… Well, could you stand in for my commander? You see, he left to see how Eden was doing a few days ago, and I wanted to know if you could fill in for him.”
Star Bolt wanted to say no right off the bat, but when he looked at the look of hope that was written all over her face, he could only sigh as he looked back into the city and reply, “Sure…”

Though Luna felt a little better about his answer, she was still disappointed because she had expected more than just a single word for an answer. As she started thinking to herself, she giggled at her thoughts as Star Bolt looked at her and asked, “What’s so funny?”
Luna smiled as she spoke, “I was just thinking about this balcony… remember this was the balcony you learned to fly from.”
Star Bolt looked around the smiled, “You’re right… in fact, this was the balcony that Commander Mist tossed me from. It was a good thing he used magic to catch me the first few times. If he was an earth pony, the fall would have killed me.”
The two laughed a little bit as Luna replied, “Yea… I remember that when you finally glided for the first time, you were so excited, you galloped all the way through the castle and woke me up in the middle of the day just to tell me.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Well it was the first time I wasn’t falling straight down. Remember, I had no memories of flying before that and as far as I knew I fell from Cloudsdale before that so I was excited.”
Luna smiled softly as she spoke, “Things were so much simpler back then, weren’t they?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… back when there was nothing big to worry about.”

Princess Luna blushed a little as she asked, “Star… If, things were different back then… what do you think would have happened… to us?”
Star Bolt didn’t expect a question like this; he couldn’t help but blush as he replied, “Well… I suppose… um… uh… well… we probably would have… um… been… uh…”
Luna smiled as she continued blushing, “Together?...”
Star Bolt looked away trying to hide his face, “Um… yea… together…”
Luna smiled peacefully as she looked back into the city, “I would have liked that… very much.”
Star Bolt cleared his throat as a diversion to hide his hesitation, then he sighed as he looked at Luna and tried to speak, “Luna, i…”
Before he could continue, he paused for a brief moment as he saw her looking into the lit city below with a peaceful carefree smile. Looking at the peaceful smile that was only visible because of the soft shading from both the moonlight and the city lights, captivated him to a point of speechlessness. He could only stand there in awe as she turned to him, then their eyes met. Looking into her blue eyes only brought back all those memories that he loved about her. And in his captivity of her beauty, something seemed to take hold, not just of him… but in her as well.

The two ponies stared into each other’s eyes as they began slowly acting on impulse of their feeling for one another. The beauty of the moment and the affections they felt for each other completely overwhelmed them both as they leaned in towards each other, tilted their heads slightly, and closed their eyes to kiss. However, the moment was soon broken, when Star Bolt paused just before their lips met. With dark memories and dark thoughts starting to fill his mind and overwhelm his actions, Star Bolt opened his eyes and turned away without a single word for explanation. When Luna realized his actions, she opened her eyes and looked at him as she started to tear up, “S-Star?”
Without looking back at her, Star Bolt sighed, “Luna… I can’t.”
Luna backed up as the tears started to roll down her face, “I… I… I underst…”
Before she could finish, her emotions took hold of her heart as she turned and ran from the balcony, through the room, and into the hallway leaving nothing behind but the echo of the slamming door and her tears as they fell from her face. Hearing her hooves echo through the hall as Luna ran away from his room only saddened him more as he looked into the city again, “She… deserves better. I can’t…”

Trying to convince himself that his actions were the right ones, Star Bolt went back into the room and began pacing back and forth, as he talked to himself, “This isn’t the life I should live. I’m a fugitive…. A rouge soldier who abandoned his post to live the way he… I mean I wasn’t... I’m no lap dog. I don’t belong here… I’m only here to help Equestria… nothing more. I’m not here to be a hero. I’m not here to win over the princess’s heart. I’m here because I’m still trapped. I’m here to finally free my conscience… but will this do it?”
Star Bolt stopped pacing as he looked up to see his sword and cloak sitting in a chair next to the armor he removed earlier. Then Star Bolt sighed, “I just need to clear my head for a few minutes… a trot around Canterlot should do it. This spare time is all I should need to clear my mind.”
Star Bolt put on his cloak and sword as he trotted back onto the balcony. Normally he would choose to go out the door, but since he didn’t want to risk bumping into Princess Luna after what they just went through, he felt it was better to give her time before even showing his face to her for the rest of the night.

Star Bolt trotted back out onto the balcony as he closed the doors behind him and put the hood of the cloak over his head. Then he jumped from the balcony and glided outside the castle walls as he landed on the street and began trotting trough Canterlot. First, Star Bolt wanted to see how the noble district was doing, so he made his way there, however, when he arrived, he found out that the district had been moved and all the mansions, to include, the Mist manor and the Snow family manor, had been torn down and replaced by a second market street. Disappointed that his foalhood home had been torn down, Star Bolt decided to trot to where the old walls used to run, however, they two had been relocated to make way for new changes in the city’s size. Star Bolt started to get disappointed, everything other than the Canterlot Castle, the Canterlot Garden, and the plaza that Gem died in had been completely changed. It was as if this city wasn’t Canterlot at all, or at least, it wasn’t the Canterlot he grew up in.

As Star Bolt continued through the city, he happen to stumble on one place that was still in business from when he was commander of the Nightmare Legion. It was an old Royal Guard tavern where many Royal Guards would relax and gather after a long day’s work. It wasn’t much to look at, but considering that this old hole in the wall had been in business for over a millennium, he thought it was a perfect place to clear his mind. So Star Bolt trotted towards the door to go inside, but just befor he could reach for the door handle, the door flew open as two larger guards tossed an inebriated soldier out and spoke, “We don’t accept handouts! Beat it, and don’t come back till you have money to pay for your drinks.”
Completely ignoring Star Bolt all together, the larger stallions went back inside, as Star Bolt smiled, “ah… hasn’t changed a bit.”
Star Bolt then trotted inside the tavern to see a large number of ponies all gathered inside as they drank the night away. Star Bolt looked around the room as he made his way to the bar, as expected; everypony in the room was, is, or will be royal guards of Equestria. The day shift was having a spirited time on one side of the room while the night, AKA the bat ponies where having their fun on the other side. On a small stage sat a cello playing mare who was playing a melancholy song that seemed to fit a better mood for a stallion who was down on his luck, but despite the beauty of this tune or the mare herself, the guards were paying more attention to each other than to her.

Star Bolt made his way to the bar as he pulled up a stool and took a seat. The bartender was wiping a glass as he looked at Star Bolt and spoke, “Didn’t expect somepony like you to show up here… what will it be commander?”
Star Bolt wasn’t surprised that the bartender new him since a place like this is always full of news and gossip spread by the personal guards of the princesses of Equestria. Therefore, he just smiled as he put his hood down and replied, “Can you get me a zap apple cider?”
the bartender nodded his head as he replied, “O k… that will be three bits… and your sword.”
“My sword?”
The bartender replied as he pulled out a mug and started making the drink, “I don’t want any trouble in here, so if you want that drink… then first you have to pony up your weapon. That’s the rules round here. If ya don’t like it, then you can go elsewhere.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he drew his sword and laid it on the counter, “Seems fair enough.”
But just before her could place the bits next to it, another voice spoke up, “Put it on my tab, I owe him a drink anyway. And also, get me a basic cider while you’re at it.”
Both Star Bolt and the bartender looked where the voice came from as they saw Shining Armor trot up to the bar and sit down next to Star Bolt. The bartender nodded his head, “Can do your majesty… however I’m going to have to ask for your sword as well.”

As Shining Armor drew his sword and gave it to the bartender, Star Bolt looked at him and spoke, “So what is the glorious prince of the Crystal Empire doing in a shabby, hole in the wall like this?”
The bartender turned and gave him a dirty look as Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “No offence.”
As the bartender went back to his work, Shining Armor replied, “I was once a royal guard too. This is where I always went to get my mind off troubles. But then again I could be asking you the same thing. Why would the great soldier of soldiers be in this shabby place when his tittle could allow him to relax with the noblest of the nobles?”
Star Bolt smiled in a joking manner as he replied, “I couldn’t find the nobles… Canterlot has changed in the past thousand years so I decided to go somewhere that I recognize. Besides, I’m not the kind of pony to look down on anypony else, especially since I am the lowest of the low right?”
Shining armor replied sarcastically, “Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

As the two sat at the bar, the bartender trotted up and sat the drinks down on the table as Star Bolt smiled, “So why are you here? Trying to avoid the wife?”
Shining Armor nodded his head, “If she asks… I’m training my soldiers.”
Star Bolt smiled, “lying to the wife… very unbecoming of the noble prince.”
Shining Armor replied as he pointed to the corner of the room, “I’m only partially lying, my soldiers are over there. Nevertheless, you have yet to tell me why you’re here… this is a place where ponies go to either clear their minds of daily troubles, or… to have a good time. And don’t get me wrong… but you don’t look like you’re having a good time if you ask me.”
Star Bolt sighed as he took a drink of his drink and asked, “How did you do it Armor?”
“… What?”

Star Bolt continued, “I’ve faced entire armies, deadly mercenaries, heck I’ve practically spit in the griffin king’s face. But no matter what, I just couldn’t muster the courage to tell Luna how I feel. Then when she makes it apparent that she feels the same way, I can’t even go with it. I’ve killed more than anypony in this day and age could ever face in battle. But I can’t even say three simple words to the pony I care about.”
Shining Armor nodded his head in agreement, “I see where you’re going with this. To be honest, I felt the same way. When I proposed to Cadence, I rehearsed in a mirror for three hours on what to say, and in the end… I still screwed it up. But you know what, I think that the reason I love her so much, is because she knows me enough to overlook my screw-ups. She cares about me enough that all my faults, all my mistakes and all of the things that make me imperfect, are completely ignored. She loves me for me. and she doesn’t want it any other way.”

Star Bolt shook his head, “yea… but that doesn’t help me much. Luna did overlook what I did, but I still can’t overlook what I was. Nor could I accept somepony like her, being with somepony like me… she deserves better.”
Shining Armor nodded her head, “I thought the same about Cadence, but when somepony better came along, she overlooked them. Not because he wasn’t good enough, but because she wanted me instead. So I thought about what was more important. What she deserved, or what she wanted. The pony that would make her life perfect, or the pony who would make her life happy.”
Star Bolt looked at Shining Armor, “And?...”
Shining Armor smiled, “I’m still here aren’t I? And unless she wants it any other way, I plan to stay with her till death do we part.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Hmm… I guess I should just take a shot then shouldn’t i?”
As Shining Armor raised his mug in a gesture that said go for it, Star Bolt smiled, “this only proves that immortals are hard to please.”
Shining Armor smiled, “Oh, I wouldn’t know. Cadence and Twilight aren’t immortal. Only alicorn of the original royal family are immortal, and even then their immortality is flawed.”

Star Bolt nodded his head as he took a drink “Yea… they have eternal youth and beauty, but their physical being is just as frail as yours and mine. But I have to ask, how is it that two alicorn outside the royal family exist anyway?”
Shining Armor replied, “Twilight apparently was destined to become an alicorn, while Cadence was a natural born alicorn. Something about an ancient ancestor was an alicorn or something like that. I hear it happens every century or so.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “I’m surprised, out of all that time in my prison, I never saw a single alicorn… but then again I never saw a pony who could also use the lightning orb too so I guess it makes since.”
Shining Armor smiled as he added, “You know what doesn’t make sense? What’s happening right now… if you came to me a month ago and told me that Commander Bolt and I would be sharing a drink right here in Canterlot today? Well I'd imprison you for insanity.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he added, “If I came to you and told you that a month ago? I'd be in prison since you were still hunting me back then.”

The two stallions laughed as Star Bolt looked at his drink and spoke a little more seriously, “You know… in spite of all the bitter comments and uncomfortable tension… I’ve always kinda envied you.”
Shining Armor was surprised, “Really? Why?”
Star Bolt replied, “You have everything… and I’m not just saying that because you’re a prince. What I mean is, you have a beautiful wife, a loving sibling who will always help, and you have never had to see the horrors of war. And not to mention, you married a princess. Who wouldn’t want to be you?”
Shining Armor sighed, “You’re one to talk. You never married your princess, but you captured her heart and that only makes her want you more. You’ve lived a life of excitement and danger the like of which most royal guards have only dreamed of. And when I trained my soldiers, not once have I ever heard the term, what would Captain Armor do? It’s always, what would Commander Bolt do, or who do you think you are Commander Bolt, or something like that. There isn’t a guard in this city who doesn’t know your legacy, and I highly doubt that anypony would ever pass up the chance to live just one day in your horse shoes.”

Star Bolt could only smile as he continued, “Wow, we are definitely two of a kind aren’t we?”
Shining Armor replied, “yea… just the kind of fools that only a princess could love… speaking of which, I should probably get back to mine. Late night training is common, but not when it drags past nine o’clock.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he finished his drink, “Yea… I should probably head back too. There’s something I said I'd do, and even though I’m late, I’m a stallion of my word.”
Shining Armor stood up and signaled the bartender to give him his sword as he replied, “You know Bolt… despite all we’ve been through. We should do this again sometime.”
Star Bolt stood up as the bartender gave him his sword too, “Sure, and next time I'll be here to relax and have a good time.”

Shining Armor smiled as he trotted out the door, “Well you take it easy commander. Good luck with you know who.”
As Shining Armor trotted out of sight, Star Bolt sheathed his sword as he sighed, “Yea… Celestia knows I need it.”
Before he left the bar, the bartender asked, “That’s not the only thing on your mind… is it sir?”
Star Bolt placed a bit on the table as he replied, “And what makes you say that?”
The bartender replied, “I’ve seen the look of heart break, and the look of troubles all the time… but your look is one of a deep worry…”
Star Bolt put the hood over his head as he turned to the door, “Worry, trouble, and love seem to be all in the same category. So I think once I fix this, I won’t be worried anymore. Thanks and take it easy.”
With that said Star Bolt left the tavern and took to the sky with a small amount of confidence in his next actions.

Back at the Castle, Princess Luna sat on her throne with a depressed look on her face as she tried to forget what had happened earlier in the night. However, her mood couldn’t be hidden from her guards, as one couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Your majesty? Are you feeling alright?”
Princess Luna didn’t reply, however, before enough time had passed to show her hesitation, the doors to the throne room opened as Star Bolt stood at the doorway with a serious look on his face. A part of her felt curious as to why Star Bolt was there, however, her embarrassment overclouded her curiosity as she looked away and hid her face, hoping that he would just leave. Star Bolt took a deep breath then confidently began trotting into the throne room towards the disheartened princess. As he continued towards the throne, the surrounding guards could see that Princess Luna was uncomfortable but since they knew Star Bolt to be an ally, they didn’t act, although they readied themselves for an order just in case. However, none was given, as Star Bolt approached Princess Luna and stood directly in front of her for a few seconds. Then when nothing was said, Star Bolt stepped to the side and sat next to the throne as he did back when he was her commander.

Seeing this greatly confused Princess Luna, however just as she was about to ask a question, he spoke first, “Luna… I can never forgive myself for what I did… nor can I ever forgive Nightmare Moon for what she made me do.”
Luna looked at the floor in disappointment as he took a deep breath and continued, “However… you’re not nightmare moon… and I told you myself that I would fill in for your commander till he returned. So I'll do as I said I would and fill in for him. I may never forget my past or the reason I hate this life of mine… but… I’m willing to try.”
Princess Luna smiled with joy as she replied while holding back her tears, “Then… I’m glad to have you back… commander. And I can only be honored to have you back by my side.”
Star Bolt smiled, “I’m honored that you would have me here your majesty, and may I ask, how long will it be before your commander returns?”
Princess Luna replied, “About three days. Eden is almost five days travel from here so the commander should be a little more then halfway there by now. Oh, and by the way… call me Luna.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Alright then, for the next week, I'll do everything I can to keep you safe… Luna.”
Luna smiled, “I thought you wouldn’t consider yourself a soldier of Equestria anymore?”
Star Bolt replied with a smile, “Who said I was doing this because I was a soldier… this is something I would do, with or without an order. Because no matter what… I want to see you happy.”

Somewhere in the desolate area of a faraway forest, a commander and a hoof full of soldiers were sitting around a campfire as one soldier asked, “Commander? How many days till we get to Eden?”
The commander replied, “It’s only about one more. We should arrive by tomorrow evening.”
The same soldier asked, “Are you nervous? You know, about going to where the dark alicorn is kept?”
The commander shook his head, “No… I’ve been there before. As long as you stay out of the tomb, then you should be safe. The elements there are meant to keep him sealed away, so it should be a…”
Before the commander could finish, a dark cloud had quickly moved in and blotted out the moonlight above. The commander and his soldiers stood up and looked at the cloud as one of the soldiers spoke, “That’s strange… we were supposed to have clear skies all the way to Eden. Cloudsdale said nothing about any cloud cover.”
the commander replied as he slowly reached for his sword, “… that’s not a cloud...”
While the group of soldier looked into the sky at whatever it was that blocked the light from the moon, none of them saw the small snakelike stream of sand as it slinked under their hooves and circled their campfire, hiding in the shadow of the stones that lined it. Then as the unsuspecting ponies watched the cloud above, a second snake lick stream of sand slinked behind the Equestrian commander and accumulated into the dark alicorn right behind him. But before they realized his presence, the dark alicorn smiled wickedly and spoke, “Good evening… commander.”
Just as the group of soldiers quickly turned to the dark alicorn, the sand circling the fire covered the flames, snuffing out the only source of light, and causing area to go dark.

Ch15 Discord...

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Star Bolt looked into the cannon tube with caution as he asked, “So… you say this thing can decorate an entire room for a party with just one shot?”
Pinkie Pie smiled as she replied, “Yep. All you do is pull on this string and LOOK OUT!!! Your very own party.”
Star Bolt couldn’t help but smile as he replied, “The last time I saw a cannon in action I had to look out. The dang thing leveled a quarter of Gryphus during the Griffin Civil War. Nevertheless, after a thousand and six years, we would have gotten it right by now… either way, I still won’t use a cannon in war. It’s too risky for our own soldiers. Nevertheless, if you say you have this thing under control, then I suppose its ok with me to use it. So long as you keep it under control.”
Pinkie Pie smiled as she picked up her toothless alligator and held him over the party cannon, “Whatever you say commander. Oh and in the meantime Gummy can be my co-cannonier!... is that how you spell that?”
Star Bolt gave Pinkie a funny look, “How you spe… Pinkie, what are you talking about?”
Pinkie smiled innocently, “Oh… nothing…”

Disregarding Pinkies random comment, Star Bolt looked at the toothless reptile as it jumped out of her hooves and started biting him. Since it had no teeth, the little critter’s bites didn’t hurt so Star Bolt just stared confusingly at the little creature as Pinkie Pie smiled, “Aww he likes you.”
Star Bolt pulled Gummy off his neck as he placed the little pet on the cannon and replied, “Sure… like… well carry on Pinkie. If I were you, I would think of making that cannon shoot something more powerful then party favors.”
As Star Bolt trotted away, Pinkie called back, “Okie dokie lokie!... oops, I mean okie dokie lokie, Commander!”
Star Bolt then looked at Spitfire as he asked, “So how it the training going for the day shift?”
Spitfire replied, “We continued with the training schedule you gave us. And we are seeing some results, though most of the soldiers now hate you for it.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Trust me, when it all comes down to it, they will be grateful they did this when it saves their lives in battle. So how about your Wonderbolts?”

Spitfire nodded her head, “Right now, both Rainbow Dash and Soarin are running some drills with our Jr. Wonderbolts all over Equestria. If all goes well we might be able to graduate a large number of them to assist in the fight.”
Star Bolt felt concerned, “Jr. Wonderbolts? I won’t allow any foals to fight in this battle.”
Spitfire shook her head, “Whoa now! They aren’t foals. They are just the upper classmen from the academy who haven’t graduated yet. In fact, Rainbow Dash happens to be one herself. However, if you will help keep a secret, I plan to graduate her after this crises is averted. I think she has earned her place in the spotlight, don’t you think?”
Star Bolt smiled, “That’s good to hear. But we need to focus on now rather than later.”
Spitfire smiled sarcastically, “Easy for you to say, you’ve been a full-fledged honorary Wonderbolt ever since that day at the Crystal Sea. Not to mention, you’ve had enough of the spotlight to get a tan from it.”
Star Bolt smiled back, “Speaking of which… have you learned to swim yet?”
Spitfire glared at him as she blushed, “I… Um… Shut up!”

Star Bolt chuckled as he started trotting away from her, “That’s shut up, Commander… I do have a tittle you know… Captain.”
Star Bolt then approached Rarity who was also in the same room as she asked, “Mr. Bolt em… Commander? I was wondering about your… ensemble. I couldn’t help but wonder why you weren’t wearing the helmet?”
Star Bolt looked at the royal guard armor he was wearing and replied, “The only reason I’m wearing this thing is because it was suggested by Niether. He says that the rest of the guards would respect me as a leader more if I wore the same armor they wore.”
Rarity nodded her head as she added, “Then why not wear the helmet. On the other hoof, if you want something a little more distinguished, might I suggest little piece I put together on my spare time… I think these navy gems would be absolutely perfect for your appeal. It’s light weight and yet still has that simple something that just screams authority.”
Star Bolt looked at the dazzled up helmet, that Rarity held up as he sighed, “as much as I… um… like the look you gave that… um… accessory. I’m gonna pass. The uniform I wore during the war didn’t require a helmet, so I won’t wear one.”

As Rarity put away the helmet, Niether trotted into the room followed by Discord as he nudged him, “Go on… ask him. And if he says yes… then can I come in too?”
Niether sighed as he replied, “Fine… but you better not touch anything in there Discord. And only if he says yes.”
Star Bolt looked at the two and smiled, “Good evening Niether? How’s the research going?”
Neither replied, “Well I would be going a lot better if Discord would stop fooling around while I tried to keep my research materials in order. Sometimes I wonder why I must be the one to keep him company during the day. And with you now filling in for the night commander, I suppose he can’t stay with you during the daylight.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he smiled, “Well Discord is a hoof full on his own.”
Discord sighed as he tried to prevent the subject from changing, “Yes yes, I think we all know and love me and my chaotic ways… but I think we are overlooking the point here… Mr. Book worm… do you mind cutting to the chase and asking him?”
Niether gave Discord an annoyed look as he replied, “Will you hold your horses? I’m getting to it!”
Discord then picked up Niether and replied, “I don’t have horses so I'll hold my ponies instead… but I’m still waiting for you to just ask him already!”

With Discord holding him like a newborn foal, Niether gave Discord an annoyed look as he sighed, “I’m not your pony… and I wish you will just be patient! Patience is a virtue you know.”
Discord smiled, “Yea, but so is loyalty, and I think we all know how that can steer you in the wrong direction from time to time.”
Star Bolt nodded his head in agreement to Discord’s comment as he replied, “Tell me about it... Anyway, you two wanted to ask me something right. What is it you want to ask?”
Niether looked at Star Bolt from Discords arms as he replied, “Well Discord wanted to know if you wanted to see your exhibit in the local museum?”
Star Bolt was surprised, “My exhibit?”
Neither nodded his head, “Well yes. There is an entire wing dedicated to the Nightmare Crusade. That’s where a number of artifacts from the war were placed shortly after it ended. So would you like to see it?”
Star Bolt looked at a nearby clock and replied, “Well I do have about an hour before Luna wakes to bring the night, so I don’t see why not.”
Discord smiled and dropped Niether on the ground as he spoke, “Oh goody! I was hoping you’d… oh… oops… sorry about that.”
Star Bolt laughed as Niether picked himself up from the ground and gave Discord a dirty look.

The two ponies and their draconequus friend then left the Canterlot castle and made their way to a museum that was on the very edge of the Canterlot. As the trio entered the large building, Star Bolt was lead to a room in the back of the building where he could see wax displays of him standing with Nightmare Moon just outside the door. As they entered the room, the first thing that caught his eye was the glass case in the center of the room that held the weapons of the original Nightmare Officers, to include Lieutenant Viscous’ axe, Both parts of Captain Drib’s broken pike, Gem Stone’s bow and quiver and even Captain Storm morning star. As Star Bolt stared in awe at the familiar weaponry, Niether spoke, “We tried to get Captain Snow’s sword and shield too… but Filthy Rich currently owns the sword and refuses to sell it to the museum, while the shield seems to be lost in time. Nopony knows where it is. Probably rusted and worn away.”
Star Bolt asked, “Why do you keep this here?”
Neither replied, “History is history commander… whether its good, bad or misunderstood, we should always know of events in the past if we want to better our future.”

Star Bolt sighed as he looked a Niether, “And how should this be used to better anything?”
Discord walked up wearing a suit of Nightmare Legion armor as he replied, “Well it shows what happens when darkness corrupts a pure heart. And it also shows what happens when you have enough confidence in our skills as a leader.”
Niether didn’t realize Discord was wearing the armor as he nodded his head, “just another example of… DISCORD!!! I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING!!! Put it back NOW!!!”
Still wearing the armor Discord posed while he replied, “But it looks so cool… very retro look if I say so myse…”
Niether continued yelling “NOW!!! Now, now, now NOW!!!”
Discord sighed, “Oh… fine. I guess this is the price I pay for trying to look fashionable.”

As Discord turned back towards the empty armor display case, he began removing the armor and placing it back on the display manikin as Star Bolt looked at another part of the exhibit to find another glass case, with three more familiar items. In the center was a small number of stones propping up a Celestial Crusaders spear with a red bandanna tied just below the blade. Next to that, some old destroyed armor with a damaged shield propped against it revealing the insignia on both. In other words, Commander Mist’s spear as it was displayed on the battlefield where he fell, Nightmare moon’s armor, and his old shield, as it was displayed in the palace of the alicorn sisters more than two years ago. Shortly after directing Discord on how to reassemble the armor, Niether turned back to Star Bolt as he continued lecturing Discord, “I turn my back for one seco…”
As soon as he saw the expression of interest in Star Bolt’s face, he smiled, “I see you noticed the three most valuable artifacts in this museum.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he looked at the shield and replied, “You’ve cleaned off the blood… for sanitary reasons I would guess right? I’m happy to see Gem’s gift to him still on his spear.”

Niether nodded his head as he replied, “You can thank Lady Mist and Mist Jr. for that. Shortly after Chrome Mist the third was born, they both donated this spear with instructions to never remove the bandanna. They said since it was a gift from an enemy, it was precious in its own way. So removing it would be an insult to them both, the commander and his foe.”
Star Bolt smiled and nodded his head, “Well Blade… I mean Serenade Mist, always looked at battle in an unusual way. But then again that’s how The Cutters were. If there was one thing they praised more than money, it was a good fight, and a worthy opponent.”
Discord nudged Star Bolt and smiled, “so I guess you and them had something in common… right?”
Star Bolt gave Discord a dull look as he replied, “Actually, I hate war… it’s caused me nothing but trouble. But as a guard, that’s what I had to do.”

Discord put his hand on his chin as he replied, “Hmm… then why is it that you like to train soldiers to fight, and you continuously put yourself into situations that usually end with you fighting your way out of?”
Star Bolt sighed, “Discord… those situations find me. Not the other way around. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have the need to carry a sword. I would just live out my life with the feeling of peaceful freedom. That’s what I want.”
Discord smiled as he nudged him, “I think you’re leaving your beloved princess out of that life… right?”
Star Bolt blushed a little as he replied, “Well… I… um…”
Niether smiled, “So it is true, you and Princess Luna are getting back together! That’s great to hear commander. Congratulations!”

Star Bolt shook his head as he tried to defend himself, “First off… we were never together in the first place. Second, I’m only allowing myself the chance to understand whether or not she truly wants this… That’s all!”
Discord smiled as he made a wedding dress appear on him and a flower bouquet in his hand, “Oh that’s what they all say at first, but then before you know it, that chance becomes like, then like to love, then love to dates, then before you know it…”
Discord turned around and threw the bouquet behind him as Star Bolt caught it to avoid it from hitting him in the face, then Discord continued “… those dates become a wedding then little fillies and colts. Followed by the stress of threatening teenage colts to say away from your daughter, and the whole, my son thinks I’m lame phase.”
Star Bolt threw the bouquet down and demanded a subject change, “Thanks for being specific Discord!… However, my personal life is nothing to either one of you! And furthermore, it’s my business so I suggest you two, butt out!”
Discord smiled as he turned to Niether and smiled mischievously, “Ok… then what about Mr. Historian here and his lovely Rose? What’s the story between you two?”

Niether blushed as he replied, “What? You mean me… and Roseluck?”
Discord sighed as he made a rose appear in his hand that hade Roseluck’s face in the center, “no… I’m talking about me… Of course, I’m talking about Roseluck… who else? I know that you two have been spending a lot of time looking up research on The Dark Alicorn together… and don’t think I didn’t notice how she seems to always smile when you’re near her.”
Niether’s face turned red, “I… um… well…”
Star Bolt smiled, “Don’t listen to him Niether. He’s just jerking your rains. I think you two are perfect for each other. And don’t worry, I think she already liked you so she is already hooked… you just got to reel her in.”
This time Niether got angry, “Wait just a second commander… what was all that about minding our own business?”
Star Bolt smiled as he turned back to the door of the exhibit and replied, “I guess you’re right, so let’s get back and let you two settle it yourselves then.”
Trying to avoid continuing the conversation, Niether followed the other two back outside in complete silence.

Not long after the three were outside, Discord paused when he felt a dark presence in the area. When the two ponies noticed his hesitation, Star Bolt started to ask, “Discord? Is something wr…”
“I beg thy pardon… but wouldst thou mind, if I asks thee a few questions?”
Discord worry became fear, as the three turned around to see a stallion wearing a dark cloak that covered both his face and his body. As Discord stared nervously into the darkness of the cloak’s hood, both Star Bolt and Niether didn’t realize their danger as Niether replied, “Well, I see no harm in answering a question or two.”

The cloaked stallion gracefully nodded his head as he continue, “This city… would this be the city of Canterlot?”
Star Bolt replied, “Yes… are you a wanderer?”
The stallion nodded his head, “Of sorts… so am I to assume that thou are residence of Equestria? Ruled under the alicorn princesses, Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna?”
Both Niether and Star Bolt nodded their heads to the question, however while their full attention was on the stranger before them, they didn’t notice that on the cracks of the cobblestone road beneath them, black sand was slinking through just outside of their view.

The dangerous stranger continued, “Judging by thy appearance… am I to assume thee to be… a scholar, and… a soldier?”
As the question was being asked, a small amount of the sand beneath the two ponies turned into a glass spike that was pointed directly at Star Bolt’s chest and held its position while he waited for the two stallion to answer. Discord saw this spike as his anxiety grew, but he continued to hold his silence as Niether answered first, “Close… I’m actually a historian. However, you could call me a scholar of sorts.”
The cloaked creature looked at Star Bolt and continued, “And what of thee? Wouldst I be correct to accuse thee of being a soldier of Equestria?”

As the stranger readied the glass spike to attack, Star Bolt sighed, “No! I am no soldier. I’m only here to settle some business… that’s all.”
The Stranger continued, “Business? Yet thou art wearing armor of Equestria?”
Star Bolt looked at the armor he was wearing, still not noticing the glass spike that was just below his wing as he replied, “I guess this armor is just a requirement of this business.”
The cloaked stranger smiled as his glass spike that was still out of the two pony’s sight, quickly dissolved back into sand and creep away from the two without them seeing it. Then he replied, “I see… thou must still make sacrifices, to get what thee desires… correct?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “True… too true.”

Discord sighed in relief when he saw the sand recede, so he kept quiet as the stranger replied, “My apologies for taking up thy time. And so I wish thee a good evening. Oh… but first, wouldst thou kindly show me to the nearest inn? Tis a long journey I just completed and I would like to find a place to retire for the evening.”
Star Bolt started to reply, “Well I'll sh…”
Discord quickly interrupted, “Um… Star? I can take him there myself, perhaps you should go along back. The moon will rise soon so you wouldn’t want to miss that.”
Star Bolt was surprised for two reasons, first, Discord has never called him Star, and also Discord has never been one to volunteer for anything that would help somepony else. However, since Discord was right about the time, he could only replied, “Well… ok, I guess I'll see you later then.”
Niether added, “I can go with you if you wa…”
“No thanks… I’m sure something this simple won’t take long. Then I'll do you a favor and go to sleep for the night. It’s been a long day annoying you and I’m a little tired myself.”
Niether and Star Bolt were both confused, but they just turned around and started back towards the castle, “Well… alright then. I'll see you tomorrow Discord.”

The two ponies continued up the road towards the castle. When they were out of sight, Discord turned back to the cloaked stallion as the stallion spoke, “Very bold move brother… to drop thy guard and allow them to leave without explanation… if I didn’t know any better. I'd say thou wanted to protect them. Was that thy intention?”
Discord replied, “… Maybe… so why didn’t you attack yet? I figured that somepony like you would leave no hesitation in destroying Canterlot the moment you arrived… you growing soft in your old age?”
The Dark Alicorn put down his hood as he smiled, “Now, now brother, thou know as well as I do that the only reason I could age was because thee were a part of me. Yet I am struck by confusion. I thought thou was a spirit of chaos… why are thou living amongst the ponies, when the true spirit would live over them.”
Discord replied with a devious smirk, “The Elements of Harmony.”
The Dark Alicorn nodded his head, “I see… so those troublesome trinkets still exist… no worry. They cannot defeat me.”

Discord smiled, “But they could trap you… right?”
The Dark Alicorn’s expression became serious, “Tis the queen’s doing that trapped me… yet even her magic couldn’t hold me in forever. I realized that the day she separated us. My darkness from thy light. But I digress. On your guard brother… for I will retire, only after I remerge with thee.”
Discord looked back at the Canterlot castle one last time as he sighed, “I won’t fight you… but I will make a deal… or in your words, Tis a friendly arrangement for the safety of thyn home… did I say that right?”
The Dark Alicorn smiled, “Bartering with thyn life? Now this is a spectacle to behold. Perhaps the ponies have affected thee in a way that overshadows the chaos in thyn soul.”
Discord nodded in a serious way, “Perhaps…”
The Dark Alicorn nodded his head, “If memory serves I was a civilized pony at one time, so I see no harm with bartering… yet, the terms do affect the decision. What are thy terms?”
Discord continued, “I want you to leave the ponies of Equestria unharmed.”
The Dark Alicorn shook his head, “Thy princesses must meet there fate… and all who supported them must share that fate. Sorry brother… but that offer is declined.”

Discord rubbed his eyes in frustration as he tried something else, “Then… how about postponing your attack… or giving them some sort of chance to defend themselves.”
The Dark Alicorn thought to himself and replied, “Till the day they discover thy absence… and not a second more. I will allow them life till they find that either I have escaped from my prison, or that they find out that thou has reemerged with me… is that satisfactory brother?”
Discord sighed as he replied, “Since that is about all I can get from you… I accept, so long as you keep your word.”
The Dark Alicorn bowed in a noble way as he replied, “Dear brother, a monster I may be… but I am nothing if not honorable to my word. As a former servant to thyn king and queen of Eden… I gladly accept the terms and swear on my honor, that no harm will come to anypony in this city till they display their concern in my escape.”

As The dark alicorn finished his sentence, Discord walked up to him and placed his hand on the alicorn’s head and watched calmly as the sand quickly started climbing up his arm and spreading over his entire body. As Discord was now covered from head to toe in the sand, he could only smile peacefully as he mumbled to himself, “Good luck… Commander Bolt.”
With those last words, the sand covered draconequus melted away leaving nothing in its wake but a pile of sand. At first The Dark Alicorn seemed unchanged by the event, but all of a sudden, he began to cringe at the amount of knowledge that poured into his mind all at once. Knowledge about the city he was in, the world around him, and the ponies of Equestria began spiraling into his mind as if he were living a second life and experiencing all the emotions and events all in the blink of an eye. Once it was all said and done, The Dark Alicorn opened his eyes and smiled as his voice sounded more modern but more evil as well, “Princess Celestia of Equestria, and her younger sister Princess Luna of Equestria. The last of the royal alicorn… but two others exist now… a fake… and a mortal. And to top it all off. The fake wields the element of magic. This sin… shall not go unpunished. However, I will continue to observe them I should at least adhere to the final request of my shadow. Even if he allowed his heart to be corrupted by the likes of mere ponies”

Back in Canterlot, Star Bolt stood smiling peacefully as he watched Luna and her graceful magic as it raised the moon to begin the night. When the moon reached its point in the sky, Luna turned and looked at the peaceful smile on his face as she blushed, “What?...”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Oh nothing… just remembering a few things. So… what’s on the agenda for tonight? I need to train some of the night guard later, but for now I have a few hours to do whatever it is you need.”
Princess Luna began trotting down the hall beside him as she replied, “Well we could go through the garden for old times’ sake, but we may get bothered by Discord. Sometimes I wish he would just disappear.”
Star Bolt replied, “I think you’re being a little harsh. I mean, sure he can be annoying about… well one hundred percent of the time… but when you think about it, he isn’t that much different from you and I. We were all caught in trouble that caused pain for others… but I think he is coming around. Less than an hour ago, he agreed to show a random pedestrian how to get to the nearest inn.”

As the two finished going through the hall and began entering the throne room, Princess Luna replied, “Really? That doesn’t sound like him at all… are you sure it’s the same Discord?”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “Hmm tall draconequus, Kind of annoying but funny at the same time. Big fan of my chaos, Yea it seemed like him alright.”
Princess Luna sat down on her throne as she asked, “But… why did he do that?”
Star Bolt sat beside her as he shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know… maybe he wanted to do it since I had to be here. Either way… this one good deed may very well be the one thing that changes him. Who knows we may be looking at a completely new Discord come tomorrow morning.”
Princess Luna smiled, “Well… since you say so, I guess I'll go a little easier on him. Who knows, we might actually become friends.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Discord is a character on his own, but give it time, and I bet you will. And if he is like me, like he claims… I bet that’s all he will need to become a better citizen. Because despite how strange he can be… Discord is a good friend, and I’m looking forward to fighting beside him.”

Ch16 Canterlot's Genocide

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Princess Celestia stood on the balcony as she watched Prince Armor, Spitfire, and Zecora train the soldiers below. Then she looked into the sky as she spoke, “It’s almost time to lower the sun. I wonder if sister and Star Bolt are awake yet.”
As she stared peacefully into the horizon, she saw something in the distance as it made its way towards the city. Princess Celestia watched in curiosity as the distant object got closer and closer to the city though it wasn’t long before she realized it was a lone griffin soldier flying their way in an alarming speed. As the griffin arrived in the skies over Canterlot, Shining Armor Spitfire and Zecora saw the griffin and rushed to Princess Celestia’s side as she landed in the courtyard to meet with the unexpected visitor. As the four stood in the courtyard, the winded griffin landed in front of them and quickly spoke up, “Your majesty! Sorry if I speak out of place… but I’m here to give you some troubling news.”
Princess Celestia replied, “Calm down solider… just let me know what’s wrong.”
The griffin soldier replied, “A few days ago, contact with our special Eden Guard was severed when our usual scout failed to report their status. So I and my soldiers decided to investigate. But when we arrived, the city was completely empty… none of the guards were present, griffin or pony.”

All of a sudden, Princess Celestia froze in worry as Shining Armor asked, “What about the tomb!...”
The griffin shook his head slowly, “My apologies… but one of the elements keeping the prisoner there, was destroyed, and the chest… is empty. As soon as I found out, I sent my soldier back to the king and came here on my own accord. As Commander of the Griffin Royal forces, I felt it was necessary to inform you as soon as possible.”
Princess Celestia sat down in shock as Shining Armor continued, “You did the right thing commander. We thank you and wish you a safe journey home. Please inform the griffin king that his city is in danger and they need to go on the alert as soon as possible. And who do we owe our gratitude for this critical information.”
The commander stood at attention as he replied, “Commander Thor Orem your majesty.”
With Princess Celestia still stunned with fear, Shining Armor replied, “Then quickly get home Commander Orem.”
As Commander Orem bowed in respect, he slowly backed away before turning around and flying into the sky.

Shining Armor, Spitfire and Zecora looked at Princess Celestia who was sitting with a terrified expression as she tried to think of what to do next, “He… he’s free…. That… monster… is free…”
Shining Armor asked, “Princess Celestia? What do you want us to do?”
With no change in her expression, Princess Celestia looked at Shining Armor and replied, “Prince Armor… gather our soldiers and put them on the full alert. Day… Night… Crystal… I want them all prepared for anything, then meet me on the northern tower balcony for further orders.”
Princess Celestia looked at Spitfire and continued “Captain Spitfire, Princess Twilight and her friends are with Niether and Roseluck in the library. Tell them to get here as soon as possible, then get your Wonderbolts from Cloudsdale and bring them to Canterlot. And Zecora… Wake Princess Luna and Star Bolt tell them to meet me at the northern tower. We will begin our defense as soon as we are all there.”

Spitfire stepped forward as she asked, “But… what about Discord? He’s still missing, and it’s been almost three days now.”
Princess Celestia sighed, “He’s been missing too long… we can only assume the worst right now… just get the others and get back here.”
The three nodded their heads as they each left to complete their task. As the three vanished from her sight, Princess Celestia started trotting back into the castle only to lean against the wall in worry as she sighed, “He… he’s free…. Mother… Give me strength. I’m begging… I need it more now than I ever have before. I worry that my kingdom will meet the same fate as Eden. I… I can’t let that happen. As a princess of Equestria… I will stand between him and my subjects… and the only way Equestria will fall, is if I fall first.”
The princess then continued on her path to the balcony to wait for the rest. Though her hopes for their battle were high, something inside continued to tell her that when this was all said and done, Equestria would be forever changed.

Later as Princess Celestia looked into the city to see, her armies slowly mobilized, Zecora, Princess Luna, and Star Bolt approached her from behind as Princess Luna spoke, “Sister! The city is in an uproar. What’s happening? Zecora would only tell us that you required our assistance.”
Princess Celestia sighed before turning to them and replying, “The Dark Alicorn is free…”
Star Bolt stepped forward, “Are you certain?...”
She nodded her head, “Yes… the griffin commander just left here after informing us that the guards in Eden are no longer there… and the chest is empty.”
Princess Luna immediately reacted as she started to turn around, “We must mobilize the soldi…”
“No need… Prince Armor and Spitfire are doing that as we speak.”
Star Bolt continued “Then we need to gather the ot…”
“They are on the way… I took every precaution necessary to the moment I found out. As soon as the rest arrive we will be…”

The four turned as they saw Princess Cadence, Shining Armor, Princess Twilight, and the rest of the element users. Princess Celestia looked at the group and asked, “Where are Roseluck, Niether, and Spike?”
Twilight Replied, “This morning I sent Spike back to Ponyville to get a few books for me, but Roseluck and Niether took a personal day, so I have no idea where they are.”
Star Bolt started to think to himself as Princess Celestia continued, “Have you seen Discord?”
Princess Twilight shook her head no as Applejack spoke up, “Now don’t you worry bout’ a thing princess. Discord may be a little irresponsible, but he is more than capable of takin' care of himself.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “I can only hope so… Anyway, we need to find out where Niether and Roseluck ran off t…”
Star Bolt interrupted, “I have a good hunch as to where they went!”
Shining Armor added, “We didn’t ask for a hunch… but it’s better than nothing. What do you think Princess?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Then go get them… we need to have us all here so we run through what’s been prepared and what hasn’t.”

Star Bolt nodded his head as he stepped onto the balcony railing and opened his wings to take off, “Don’t wait up… remember they both can’t fly so it will be a little longer before they get here.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Then hurry as fast as you can.”
Star Bolt nodded his head but before he could dive from the balcony, Princess Luna spoke up, “I’m coming too!”
Star Bolt looked at her and replied, “It be better if you stayed here… I won’t be long, I pro…”
“The last time I let you go off by yourself, you ended up in a Canterlot cell… This time I’m going with you. You may not be my soldier, but you still can’t stop me from following you… I’m going and that’s final!”
With a serious look on her face, Princess Luna stepped onto the balcony next to Star Bolt as she opened her wings and smiled, “After you, Star…”

Realizing he couldn’t convince her otherwise, Star Bolt just sighed and smiled as he started to jump from the balcony, “Geez… one thousand and two years and you’re still going to hold that over my head. Well since your mind is made up, I’m not going to stop you… but you better keep up. We aren’t going to fly with elegance. We have to book it and I won’t slowdown for you.”
Princess Luna jumped first then hovered in the air as she replied, “Did I ask you to wait for me? I think you should realize that I’m no heavy winged noble… I’m an alicorn.”
Taking it as a challenge Star Bolt smiled, “Then let’s go already.”
With those words, Star Bolt dove off the balcony and fell a few stories before opening his wings into a high-speed flight. As he leveled out, Princess Luna had no problem catching up to him as she followed close behind him on their way to find Niether and Roseluck.

After Star Bolt and Luna were out of sight, Princess Celestia wasted no time in beginning their first order of business, “Prince Shining Armor? Use your protection spell to enclose the city, just like you did for your wedding.”
Shining Armor nodded his head as he stepped further onto the balcony and started to focus his magic. After a few seconds, the tip of Shining Armors horn started to shine bright pink as he pointed it to the sky and shot the light straight up. As the glowing light continued climbing, it finally reached a specific height before stopping and holding its place over the city. The immense light was so bright that the citizens of Canterlot who were unaware of any danger stopped their daily activities to marvel in awe at the bright light. However, they weren’t the only ones to see the light. In a dark alley, near a large plaza The Dark Alicorn stopped and watched the light, as his face slowly began to show a wicked smile.

The light hovered over the city for a few seconds before it finally it began to spread horizontally as it created a magical barrier that curved with the cities edges before meeting on the ground after concealing the entire city of Canterlot in a bubble shaped force field. Now, nothing of dark magic could get into the city… however, the dark magic that they worried about was already inside, and he was anything but impressed as he mumbled to himself while making his way to the center of the plaza, “A simple spell… but a pathetic one. I guess I'll show them what true darkness can do to such pathetic magic.”
After making his way to the center of the crowded plaza, The Dark Alicorn lowered his hood as he looked into the sky with glowing white eyes. A nearby stallion saw this unusual action and approached him, “Sir… are you ok?”
The wicked creature looked at the innocent stallion and smiled, “Never better…”
then The Dark Alicorn placed his hoof against the other ponies chest, only to have his sand quickly cover the unsuspecting stallion, “What! What is this!...”

The Dark Alicorn looked back at the sky and ignored the stallion as he frantically tried sweeping the sand off him before screaming in agony. The screams echoed throughout the plaza as the citizens of Canterlot turned their attention to the cries for help from the dying pony. The terrified residents watched in horror as the stallions screams resided and he melted away into the sand as The Dark Alicorn mumbled to the now dead pony, “This is your fate… the fate of you, your princesses, and everypony in this kingdom who so loyally followed the orders of the royal alicorn’s. And that fate… is death!”
With all eyes on him, The Dark Alicorn’s cloak melted away into sand as his large bat like wings opened up and the sand quickly bundled up below him. With the horror of what they witnessed mere seconds ago, all the residents started to back away from the creature of darkness as the pile of sand created by the alicorn continued to grow. With eyes that showed no concern for the nervous residents around him, The Dark Alicorn’s sand started climbing into the air in vine like streams that weaved through each other creating a thick pillar of sand that shot up with incredible speed straight towards the magical barrier above.

Without noticing the quickly rising pillar in the center of the city, Princess Celestia turned to the others and continued, “When Spitfire returns with her Wonderbolts we will be…”
Before she could finish her sentence, the large pillar colligated with the magical barrier with a loud crash that could be heard throughout the city. As soon as the two made contact with each other, Shining Armor dropped to a knee holding his head in agony as his wife tried to comfort him, “Honey?! What’s wrong? What’s happening?”
With Shining Armor on the ground, Princess Celestia looked at the magical barrier and gasped, “No… he’s already here…”
Elsewhere in the city, both Star Bolt and Princess Luna were landing in the Canterlot garden as they saw both Niether and Roseluck standing there looking at the flowers. When Niether saw them approach he spoke, “Commander, princess, what are you two doing here?”
Star Bolt started to replay, “The Dark Alicorn has escaped Eden and I…”
All of a sudden, the shockwave from the crashing pillar and barrier hit the area as the ground shook beneath them. The four ponies looked to the sky to see the cause of the tremor as Princess Luna spoke, “It’s him… he’s here in the city.”

As the entire city watched in worry, the part of the barrier where the pillar had crashed started to crack up. Soon the once solid barrier had a spider web crack on the portion that the pillar of sand had hit with incredible force, but then the crack started to spread outward until the entire bubble shaped wall of magic shattered and vanished into nothing, leaving behind a lone tower of sand that held its height at the point of impact. As the entire city grew silent, The Dark Alicorn stood at the base of his tower then smiled as he turned to the citizens who stopped to marvel at the recent event. With all eyes in the plaza back on him, he called out, “To all those who served under your princesses… I thank you. For thousands of years you have proven your gratitude to the immortals for giving you all that you hold dear! However… now, let your gratitude be rewarded… right here… and right now.”
With those words, the massive pillar that towered even above the tallest tower in Canterlot began shooting vines of sand into the city, hitting random ponies and devouring them in sand before retracting and shooting into the city a second time. With the entire city now in a state of panic, the ponies tried to flee for their lives, but even if they went indoors, they couldn’t escape as the vines shot through even the strongest stonewalls devouring everypony who happened to be its target.

The group on the balcony watched in horror, as the pillar started its genocide of the entire pony race. With his pain gone, Shining Armor was helped back onto his hooves by Princess Cadence as Princess Celestia gave her order, “Prince Armor! Gather the armies and begin attacking that pillar! The Dark Alicorn will be at its base!”
Shining Armor nodded his head as he started to turn around, “Got it!”
Before he was gone, Princess Cadence caught up with him and replied, “I’m going too… I won’t let you face him alone.”
The two looks at Princess Celestia as she nodded her head, “If you two want to face him together… then I won’t stop you. But don’t let your guard down.”

As the two went into the castle to do what they were told, Princess Twilight asked, “What should we do princess?”
Before Princess Celestia could reply, Rainbow Dash spoke up, “I don’t know about you? But I’m going to help Spitfire get the rest of the Wonderbolts. We need their help now more than ever!”
Zecora replied, “No my friend, for the problem this won’t fix, for the elements to work, we will need all six.”
Rarity spoke up next, “She’s right Rainbow Dash, without all of us here, these elements are nothing more then useless accessories, Fashionable ones, but useless all the same.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Correct, without all six, the magic of The Elements of Harmony can’t be unleashed. You six must stay together at all times. Otherwise, you will all be at risk.”

Princess Twilight repeated her previous question, “Got it! So what do you want us to do?”
Princess Celestia sighed as she looked at the base of the pillar and replied, “I want you all, Zecora included, to find my sister and Commander Bolt… and flee Canterlot.”
All the ponies on the balcony were shocked, “What!!!”
Princess Celestia replied to the outburst, “You heard me right… I want you to take them out of the city and keep them safe. I can only relax knowing that my sister is at a safe distance from this monster. And it would be best if Star Bolt was with her.”
Pinkie Pie spoke next “Are you loco in the coco? Don’t we need the commander to fight The Dark Alicorn thingy?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “At first… yes. But now that I know that he will truly protect her from anything, I want him to be with her so she can be safe… and happy.”

Princess Celestia looked back at the group as Fluttershy asked, “But… if we will be with Princess Luna… then… um… what will you do?... I mean… If it’s not too much trouble to ask…”
Princess Celestia replied with a serious tone, “I’m going to meet The Dark Alicorn face to face. I can’t allow this senseless murder continue. I will make my stand here… and I will never retreat. Not now… not ever.”
Zecora spoke up, “But your majesty I plea, without us to protect, we can’t keep your actions safe, no matter how direct.”
Princess Celestia replied, “I don’t intend on it… I only want you to keep Princess Luna safe… I won’t lose my sister a second time. Now go… that’s an order, no… a command!”
With those words, Princess Celestia jumped from the balcony and flew towards the pillar as Fluttershy looked at Twilight and asked, “Um… Twilight?... Are we really going to let her face that big meanie alone?...”
Twilight sighed as she replied, “We have to trust the princess’s judgment… no matter how juristic it may seem. Let’s find Princess Luna and Star Bolt, we have to act now if we can get out of the city in one peace.”
With that said, the six ponies and their zebra companion quickly went to do what they were commanded by Princess Celestia.

In the skies just over the edge of the city, Spitfire, Soarin and almost one hundred Wonderbolt pegasi were entering the city as Spitfire saw the large pillar, The Dark Alicorn, and the destruction they were reaping on the residents of Canterlot. Seeing the horror-taking place on the ground, Spitfire called to the Wonderbolts, “There!!! At the base of the sand! That’s him! Wonderbolts! Swarm strike! GO!”
With that order, the large herd of Wonderbolts broke from their formation and started spiraling around the pillar in a randomized swarm as if they were bees buzzing around a hive. The Dark Alicorn saw this swarm and smiled, “The Wonderbolts I presume… this should prove interesting.”
As the Wonderbolts pullulated above, they each drew a short sword that they all were wearing on their sides, then leading the order, Spitfire dove down from the teeming ponies, as she swung her sword with the hopes of digging it into the face of their enemy. However, as the blade made contact, it only passed through the alicorn’s face as if she were swinging it at a haze of fog. Continuing her actions as if nothing had changed, Spitfire flew back into the sky and rejoined her Wonderbolts who continued their swarm above, while another random pegasus broke from the swarm and attacked The Dark Alicorn in the same way.

This continued random strike happened for about two more minutes before Soarin flew up beside Spitfire and called to her, “Captain, we aren’t doing anything to him… what now?”
Spitfire looked at the sand residue on her sword as she continued, “I’m… not sure… Princess Celestia should have her army here soon. Let’s just continue till they arrive.”
Soarin thought to himself then smiled, “Captain I have an idea. I know our thin blades don’t do anything to him…but maybe if we hit him with something a little thicker. Maybe there is a vital part of him that we have to hit directly.”
Spitfire thought to herself for a few seconds then replied, “It sounds simple enough… but I don’t know if it will work.”
Soarin nodded his head, “Well we won’t know until we give it a shot.”
With that said Soarin adjusted his angle of flight and began a straight dive onto The Dark Alicorn. After Soarin began his dive, Spitfire looked back at her sword only to see that the sandy residue on the blade started to spread and thicken as her blade started to turn from steel silver, to jet-black.

In a combination of fear and surprise, Spitfire released her sword and watched as it fell into the flight path of another Wonderbolt. As the random member of the acrobatic team accidently hit the falling blade, the black weapon exploded into sand as if it were made of sand the whole time. Spitfire continued to watch as the pegasus stop his flight and tried to brush off the sand. However, like the many victims prior, the sand didn’t come off. Like the others, it started to spread until the panicking pegasus was covered from head to hoof. Then he melted into sand and fell from the sky. Seeing this sight only terrified Spitfire as she realized what could happen to Soarin too. In a fit of worry, Spitfire called to her partner as loud as she could, “SOARIN STOP!!! DON’T!!!”
Though her cries to him were heard by the surrounding Wonderbolts, none of it was heard by the determined pegasus as the sound was overlapped by the rushing winds that flew by him as he continued his high speed dive towards his foe. When he finally reached The Dark Alicorn who was watching another part of the swarm, Soarin opened his front hooves in an attempt to tackle him by his torso. However as the fast pegasus colligated with his foe, The Dark Alicorn’s body exploded in a sandy mess as Soarin hit the ground and rolled a number of feet before realizing that his plan didn’t go as expected.

As Soarin picked himself up from the ground, he stumbled a bit as he looked back at The Dark Alicorn’s body, only to see the hooves and lower half of his torso still standing in his place. Soarin’s fear tripled, as the surrounding sand started running up the remaining portion of the alicorn and slowly rebuilt his body from the failed attack. As Soarin watched the now rebuilt alicorn open his eyes and look directly at him, he took a step back in worry as the dark creature smiled and spoke, “Very bold pegasus… however, very foolish…”
Soarin’s focus remained on The Dark Alicorn as the remaining sand both on and off Soarin’s body started to make its way to the ground he was standing on before solidifying into glass, which acted as both an anchor and a glue that held him in place. Realizing what happened, Soarin tried all he could to free himself, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t break free from the glass that kept him stationary. With his victim now completely trapped, The Dark Alicorn slowly approached Soarin as he smiled, “You and the rest of the pony peasants who so value the light casted upon by the alicorn princesses will know my power. Feel privileged, for you will be one of the first examples of my wrath.”

Seeing her partner in danger, Spitfire began her dive to save Soarin however from her height she didn’t know if she could do it or not. As The Dark Alicorn continued getting closer and closer to his victim, the surrounding Wonderbolts continued their attacks that not only had no effect, but The Dark Alicorn continued as if they were nothing more them buzzing gnats. As The Dark Alicorn finally got close enough to Soarin, he held his hoof up as a small amount of sand gathered in his hoof and solidified into a glass dagger. Seeing the weapon in The Dark Alicorn’s hoof, both Spitfire and Soarin tried harder at what they were doing as The Dark Alicorn placed his other hoof against Soarin’s back, “Calm yourself… it will be over quick… I promise.”
With a calming look on The Dark Alicorn’s face, he plunged the dagger directly into Soarin’s heart, then he quickly removed the dagger, as the glass brace on Soarin’s hooves dissolved into sand and back into the alicorn’s hooves leaving the rest of his body to fall to the ground. As The Dark Alicorn stared at Soarin’s corpse, he sighed, “Such courage… in other circumstances I would have given you endless dreams… but not here… and not now.”

With no decrease in her speed, Spitfire yelled as she saw her friend fall to the ground, “Soarin!!! YOU!!! I'll KILL Y…”
Just as Spitfire approached The Dark Alicorn to tackle him, he quickly turned around and punched her with enough strength to toss her across the plaza and into a nearby wall. When Spitfire hit the ground, she struggled to stand as she glared at him with enough rage to show him just how angry she was. The Dark Alicorn could only smile as he looked at the enraged pegasus, “Captain Spitfire… now you, I know. However, my shadow didn’t remember your comrade’s name… pity. By the look in your eyes, he will surely be missed… that is… if somepony survives to miss him.”
With the anger still in her eyes, Spitfire spoke, “You’re a monster…”
The Dark Alicorn nodded his head as he started trotting back towards the center of the plaza, “My dear… I’m merely what my queen foresaw all those centuries ago. No more, no less.”
The Dark Alicorn then turned to look into the sky at the Wonderbolts who were hovering in the air staring in shock at the scene that had taken place mere seconds ago. Then he smiled as he spoke, “Captain… if you value your life… I would leave now. Otherwise you may find yourself a victim of my retaliation to your Wonderbolts’ attack.”

As The Dark Alicorn looked at the hovering ponies in the sky, a large amount of sand started to gather in front of him and piled up in a small pedestal that was about three feet tall. At first Spitfire was confused but then she looked at the towering pillar that was still wreaking havoc on the citizens of Canterlot. Knowing what was coming next, Spitfire frantically warned the rest of her team, “WONDERBOLTS RETREAT!!! GET OUT OF HERE NOW!!!”
With her fear apparent, the rest of the Wonderbolts quickly tried to do as she warned. However, as they turned to fly away, the pile of sand that was just in front of The Dark Alicorn shot up and scattered into many different strands that immediately homed into the fleeing pegasi. As the pegasi tried frantically to escape the pursuing strands of sand, a large number of them were hit while they flew and were instantaneously covered and consumed by the sand leaving not one feather amongst the sand that fell to the ground in their place.

Out of fear for her own life as well, Spitfire quickly flew into the sky and joined a group of Wonderbolts that were fleeing the scene. As she flew amongst the group, she dodged the perusing strains of sand, but one by one, she could see her surrounding team as they were being taken down by the threat. Spitfire continued flying as fast as she could to escape from the sand but no matter how fast she went the sand continued until she finally saw something that could help. Using a technique that she witnessed Star Bolt do in the past, Spitfire flew straight towards the window of a building as fast as she could. Just as she approached the window, she closed her wings and braced herself as she crashed through it and into an empty bedroom hitting the wall on the other side before falling to the floor unconscious.

As The Dark Alicorn looked into the sky that was once teeming with pegasi, he heard a voice come from behind, “YOU STOP!!!”
The Dark Alicorn turned around to see Princess Celestia as she landed in the plaza. Then as the small pile of sand that was attacking the Wonderbolts, melted away and receded into his hooves, The Dark Alicorn smiled, “Princess Celestia of Equestria… funny, for a second I wanted to call you, Celestia of Eden. I can see that you grew into a beautiful mare … greatly different from the young filly that you were back then. However, I must apologise, you missed the show, the Wonderbolts put up a life changing performance… Too bad, I don’t think they have the numbers to do an encore.”
Princess Celestia looked at Soarin’s corpse that was laying on the ground on the other end of the plaza and spoke, “S-Soarin… but… why… why are you doing this?”
The dark creature smiled, “The immortal family is nothing more than a crime against existence… Everypony knows that everything that has a beginning, has an end. In order for something to exist, it must first be created… then destroyed.”
Princess Celestia gave him a dirty look, “What are you talking about?”

The Dark Alicorn started to approach the lone princess as a large amount of his sand started to spiral in the air around them. As the spiraling sand thickened in a way that made it seem as if they were trapped inside of a tornado, The Dark Alicorn continued, “You know perfectly well what I mean… for mortals time slowly destroys the body until it dies then decomposes. But you immortals… time has no effect on you, and what makes it worse, you continue this blasphemy by surrounding yourselves with guards who protect your bodies so that nothing else will destroy you. But in the end… that’s not the true reason I do what I do…”
with The Dark Alicorn getting closer to her, Princess Celestia started to step backwards before being sand blasted by the spiraling sand that enclosed the two. As she stepped forward again, she readied her magic as she replied, “Then why… why kill my father… why destroy Eden? Why all of this senseless murder!!!”
The Dark Alicorn smiled, “When you referred to me to my shadow and your peasants… you called me and I quote… The Dark Alicorn… correct? So I’m not being too judgmental to assume you have no idea who I really am then… do you?”

Trying to catch The Dark Alicorn off guard, Princess Celestia didn’t answer. Instead, she tried to attack him by firing a beam of magic from her horn to immobilize him. However just as the beam hit him, his body deteriorated into sand as it scattered in all directions and joined the spiraling wall around them. “Sweet innocent princess… I now know that this beautiful rose you grew to be, has thorns… however you should know by now that magic has no effect on me… even the magic of a royal alicorn.”
As Princess Celestia looked around at the walls that enclosed her, she saw the spiraling sand as it created an image of the alicorn’s face at the edge of the wall. “Why! Why are you doing this? You say I don’t know who you are? Then explain it to me! TELL ME WHY!!!”
In a fit of anger, Princess Celestia fired another beam into the image of The Dark Alicorn’s face, but just as it made contact, the image vanished and the spiraling sand created a glass wall that reflected the beam back at Princess Celestia, hitting her and knocking her to the ground.

Slowly Princess Celestia struggled as she picked herself up from the ground, “Y-you monstrous...”
As the glass wall turned back into the spiraling sand, The Dark Alicorn appeared as he trotted out of the wall of sand and smiled, “Don’t take it personal princess… your mother foresaw this ages ago… I was there when she announced it to the world. And when she called us forth to find ways to stop it. I was even there when she and the king hoof chose me personally to stop it from happening.”
Princess Celestia stared in shock at The Dark Alicorn as she spoke, “W-who…Who are you?...”
The Dark Alicorn leaned forward and whispered into her ear, “My name… is Osiris… Professor Osiris.”
As The Dark Alicorn backed away from Princess Celestia, she couldn’t believe what she heard, “P-Professor?... but… that was the name… of the pony responsible for… creating…”
“The Elements of Harmony?... Yes… I created those wretched things. It’s too bad I miscalculated. They don’t have the power to destroy me.”

Knowing that there was no more need for the spiraling sand, Osiris made the wall dissipate as he watched Princess Celestia trying to ponder what she just discovered. When the wall of sand was gone, Osiris placed his hoof on her back as she continued lying there from the impact of her own attack, “There, there princess… in the end… you should have known this would happen.”
As both Princess Celestia and Osiris looked up, they saw Princess Cadence, Shining Armor, and their armies approach as she spoke, “Shining Armor… your fi…”
Before she could finish her sentence, a glass spike shot up from the ground and dug into her chest with a fatal speed.”
As Princess Celestia gasped at the surprise of the attack, the flesh around the glass spike began to change color from its normal cream to a dulled grey. In shock, Shining Armor called out, “NO!!! PRINCESS CELESTIA!!!”
With her final action, Princess Celestia looked up at the worried prince and his wife as the grey coloring continued spreading over her body and finally covered her face, turning her entirely to stone.
As the glass spike dissolved into sand, Osiris looked into the lifeless eyes of the now stone princess as he smiled, “Rest easy, and rejoin your mother princess… for your sister will join you soon. As will… your kingdom.”

Ch17 The Fall of Canterlot

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Star Bolt, Princess Luna, Niether, and Roseluck made their way towards the pillar as Niether asked, “Commander? Are you sure, it’s wise to head towards that thing? Shouldn’t we link up with Princess Celestia first?”
Star Bolt replied, “This… thing appeared after she told us to come find you. If I were her, I would mobilize my forces and head straight towards it. So my guess is that she is there.”
Roseluck added, “So… what will we do wh…”
Before she could finish her sentence, a long vine from the towering pillar shot down and barely missed her as Niether pushed her out of the way. As the vine retracted back to the pillar, both Niether and Roseluck stood back up as Rose looked at the pillar, “What was that?”

Before anypony else could say anything, Star Bolt replied, “That was sand from the pillar… don’t let it touch you otherwise it will eat you alive.”
Princess Luna gave Star Bolt a surprised look as she started to ask, “But… how do you know th...”
Before she could finish her question, Star Bolt looked back at the pillar and asked, “What on the world?”
The group looked at the pillar to see the swarming Wonderbolts as they circled the pillar in an unusual way that made Star Bolt smile, “Clever… that’s a good battle tactic… considering they’re acrobats and all.”
“You’re darn right that’s a good tactic! Did you expect anything less from Spitfire and the rest of the Wonderbolts? I didn’t think so.”
The four ponies looked to the side as Princess Twilight, Zecora, and the rest of the element users approached them. Star Bolt smiled and replied to Rainbow Dash’s comment, “That may be, but once again she is relying on a strategy that requires a group. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it will be if she is ever caught alone.”

Before Rainbow Dash could disagree with his comment, Princess Luna asked, “Twilight Sparkle? Why are you here? I thought sister would have you and your friends confronting The Dark Alicorn.”
Twilight nodded her head as she replied, “She would… but she told me that… well she wants us to…”
Knowing that it was hard for Twilight to say, Applejack spoke up, “Well, what Twilight’s tryin’ to say is. Princess Celestia gave us explicit instructions to escort ya out of town.”
Princess Luna was concerned, “What? But what about her? While we run away, what does sister intend to do?”
The group didn’t reply, instead they all diverted their eyes as a look of depression covered their faces. Looking at their expressions alone, Star Bolt could guess what their answer was, “She’s going to face him… isn’t she?”
The ponies continued their silence as Twilight nodded her head yes. As soon as the nod was seen, Princess Luna immediately reacted, “I’m going to get her!”
“NO! Princess Celestia said that she wanted us to escort you both out of the city. She is doing this to keep you safe. She says it isn’t an order… it’s a command. In all my years as her student, I never once heard Princess Celestia command anything of anypony.”

Star Bolt smiled as he replied to Twilight’s words, “I haven’t either… luckily, I’m not one of her soldiers… am I?”
Princess Twilight started to reply, “Well yea… but tha…”
“I’m going! Twilight, Get Luna, Rose and Niether out of the city. I won’t put them at risk.”
Before Princess Twilight could reply, Princess Luna spoke up, “Where you go, I go! I’m not letting you do this alo…”
“Yes, you are Luna… I won’t allow you to risk your life for me.”
Princess Luna replied, “Then I'll risk it for my sister.”
“No… that’s what I’m doing. In the meantime you need to get out of the city and to a safe place.”
Princess Luna replied with an unhappy tone, “There is no safe place now… with The Dark Alicorn free, the entire world is in danger.”
Star Bolt replied, “Then you will be there to lead them from that danger.”
“No… cuz I’m going with yo…”

Everypony in the area was shocked to hear Star Bolt snap at Luna like that, as he calmed himself and continued, “Luna… I can’t let you do this… don’t let me witness it. Please, I can’t bear the sight of seeing your corpse, and I know that if you do this… then that possibility is….”
As Star Bolt went silent, Princess Luna sighed, “Star…”
“Please Luna… just go with them. You will be safer with them anyway. Remember I was beaten by The Elements of Harmony, so if they can’t protect you, then who am I to say I can?”
Princess Luna saw the distress in his eyes as she sighed and replied, “If you want me to stay back… then, I'll do that. Nevertheless, I won’t retreat from the city. I owe it to Equestria since they forgave me for my actions a few years ago.”
Star Bolt replied, “Then I want you to find a place to take cover until this whole thing is over. However, the moment you feel that something is wrong. I want you to leave. Understand?”
Princess Luna smiled as she nodded her head, “I understand Star… and I know that you would never steer me in the wrong direction.”

Star Bolt nodded his head as he turned to leave, “You girls protect her… I’m counting on you.”
With that said Star Bolt continued galloping up the road making his way towards the tall pillar of sand. When he was out of sight, Zecora looked at Princess Luna and asked, “You’re worried it’s true, and you know he could die. Yet you still let him go… May I ask you why?”
Princess Luna replied with a depressed tone, “He wants to do this himself. He… he wants to save sister… not because he cares but… because he knows that’s what I want to do.”
With Luna looking at the ground in worry, Rarity trotted up to her and asked, “Nevertheless, you allowed him to continue without you… but, why princess?”
Princess Luna sighed, “He wanted me to stay here so I can be safe… and… since he is so serious about it… I'll stay here, because… I… I love him.”
Rainbow Dash thought to herself, “Ya know… just because he says you should stay doesn’t mean you have to… I mean, he says he wanted us to guard you… but what if we decided to go to support him… we can’t really guard you if we leave you here now can we?”

As Princess Luna looked back up at the group, Pinkie Pie jumped up and continued, “Oh… I get it! The old switcheroo! That sounds fun!”
Applejack looked at Pinkie and spoke, “Actually, I think that just word play. The switcheroo would involve us actually switching somepony with somepony else.”
Fluttershy added, “Well… it could be a switcheroo… I mean, we can always switch places with the princess we are guarding…”
Rarity added, “Actually Fluttershy, if we did that then we would be going against Mr. Bolt’s words by not guarding Princess Luna.”
Pinkie tried to speak next, “Well… what if we…”
“ENOUGH! We are wasting time! Princess Luna? What do you think? I mean, what is it you want to do?”
Princess Luna looked at the pillar of sand as strands of sand started attacking the Wonderbolts swarming around it, “I… I want to be with him… I want to stand beside him… no matter the odds.”
Princess Twilight smiled, “That’s what I thought. Zecora? Can you keep Niether and Roseluck safe?”
Zecora smiled, “For you my friend, I'll do it all and more. But stay safe yourself, that’s all I ask for.”
Princess Twilight nodded her head as she looked at her group, “Alright girls… let’s show that alicorn the power of our friendship.”
And with that said the group rushed off towards the sand pillar, leaving Zecora, Niether, and Roseluck behind.

Minutes later, Star Bolt approached the plaza to see Shining Armor as he called out, “NO!!! PRINCESS CELESTIA!!!”
When Star Bolt looked at the center of the plaza, he could see Osiris standing next to Princess Celestia as her body finished turning to stone, “No… Celestia…”
Osiris looked at the statue and spoke too softly for him to hear as Shining Armor turned to his soldiers and called an order, “All Archers! ATTACK!!!”
With that order given, every archer in the army of ponies raised their bows and fired directly at Osiris as he continued standing next to the stone princess. As the arrows whistled through the air, The Dark Alicorn smiled as a wall of sand shot upward and shielded him from each arrow as they stuck themselves into the wall. As the archers redrew their bows and fired a second volley, Star Bolt made his way to Shining Armor as the archers ran out of arrows and stopped firing.

The wall of sand that stood between the army and Osiris looked like a porcupine as the arrows almost completely covered it. With a chuckle being heard from the other side, the wall deteriorated along with all the arrows as Osiris smiled and spoke, “Commander Star Bolt of the Nightmare Legion… Prince Armor of the Crystal Empire… and Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, also known as Cadence the natural born alicorn. I’m sorry to say princess… but you will be my next target.”
Shining Armor drew his sword as he replied, “Over my dead body! Soldiers! CHARGE!!!””
Osiris smiled in an evil way as all the armies began charging towards him, “… Very well…”
With that said, Osiris looked at the bottom of his front hoof as a small amount of sand started to spiral in it making a small sphere. As the ponies looked with curiosity at the alicorn’s actions, he placed the same hoof flat against the ground as if he had just crushed the little sphere with the same hoof. Then, as his actions seemed completely pointless. A glass spike slowly raised from the ground right next to his hoof. Then this time with an incredible speed that seemed almost instantaneous, a second spike rose right next to the first, then a third, then a fourth.

With a clever smirk, Osiris looked up at the charging forces that were almost close enough to attack him as Star Bolt immediately know what was going to happen next. With a hasty call Star Bolt yelled, “ALL PONIES TAKE TO THE SKY!!!”
Just as the call was made, thousands of spikes started shooting up from the ground in a wave motion from where Osiris was standing. Thinking fast, Star Bolt grabbed one side of Shining Armor’s hooves while Princess Cadence grabbed the other as they pulled him from the ground, mere seconds before the spikes reached them. Most of the soldiers in the armies that were pegasi managed to get off the ground before the spikes could reach them, however all the unicorn and earth ponies could only turn to run before being impaled by the glass threat. As soon as the spikes had passed the last rank in the mass army, they stopped spreading as they all turned back into sand and dissolved all those who were killed by the attack. With all the pegasi still hovering in the air, Osiris smiled as he spoke, “Do these alicorns really mean that much to you ponies… funny… this is what they mean to me.”
Osiris then turned around and placed his hoof against the statue of Princess Celestia. Then with a smile of pure evil, he watched calmly as the statue exploded into many pieces leaving behind only the royal crown, which fell to the ground with a soft chiming sound.

The pegasus, the alicorn, and their unicorn cargo glared down at the evil creature as he looked back up and continued, “Now then… where were we? Oh yes… the natural born alicorn, but first… I think I'll return your gifts from earlier… they just don’t suit me.”
With that said the large pillar of sand that towered above everything in Canterlot, stopped its attack on the residence as it slowly deteriorated into sand that was absorbed by the alicorn’s hooves. Then as the last of the sand receded into his hooves, Osiris smiled as he used his magic to bring out hundreds of arrows that he himself had stopped with his wall of sand earlier. As the remaining airborne ponies looked in worry at the levitating arrows that were hovering around him, Osiris smiled, “Now… DIE!!!”
With that command, the barrage of arrows flew into the sky towards everything that was airborne above the city, to include Star Bolt and Princess Cadence as they were carrying Shining Armor. Trying to dodge the attack, Star Bolt looked at Cadence as he asked, “you trust me?”
Cadence tried to answer, “Trust you? What are you tal…”
Before she could finish her question, Star Bolt released Shining Armor and kicked him out of the way of a flying arrow, as Princess Cadence lost her grip and dropped her flightless husband by accident.

As soon as she realized what she’d done, Princess Cadence dove for Shining Armor as the arrows whistled by, killing or injuring every pegasi soldier in the sky. With Princess Cadence trying as hard as she could to catch up with her falling husband, she didn’t notice that Star Bolt had already caught up with her and passed her in the attempt to save him before he hit the ground. Just feet above the ground, Star Bolt curved his path and flew right under Shining Armor as he caught him and crashed to the ground between the falling prince and the coble stone surface of the plaza. As soon as Cadence caught up with the two, both Shining Armor and Star Bolt stood up as Shining Armor punched Star Bolt as hard as he could, “That’s for dropping me!”
Star Bolt rubbed his cheek and replied, “Hey! I caught you didn’t I?”
Shining Armor punched him a second time as he replied, “And that’s for almost being late in catching me!”
Osiris looked at the three ponies as he mumbled to himself, “Reckless… yet courageous… This really is the pony you respected as commander of the Nightmare Legion. However… that won’t save him.”

While the three ponies had their guard dropped, a large amount of sand appeared under Princess Cadence’s body and quickly covered her from her neck down, before solidifying into black glass. When they realized what happened, Princess Cadence started to struggle to free herself as both Star Bolt and Shining Armor drew their swords and tried to chip away the glass, “CADENCE!”
“Hold on princess we will get you out of there!”
While the two stallions were trying to chisel the princess free with their swords, they were both pushed away from her as a gust of sand gathered under her glass cast and raised her high into the air on a pedestal that towered about as high as one of the lower towers in the city. With Princess Cadence now raised high enough that the entire city could see, Osiris flew up and hovered right in front of her has he placed his hoof under her chin and raised her face to look him in the eye, “Don’t waste you strength princess… even the royal alicorn couldn’t hope to break free from this cast. Face it, you’re trapped… and now you’re next. I'll see you in the afterlife. Princess Ca…”

Before he could finish his sentence, Osiris was caught off guard as a bolt of lightning came from nowhere and hit him directly in his chest. Causing the pedestal of sand to turn back to normal as it melted away allowing Princess Cadence to free herself as she landed next to her husband. Feeling dizzy from the attack Osiris looked in the direction the bolt of lightning came from to see Star Bolt standing there with his hooves braced and a cloud above his head. Seeing this sight greatly annoyed him as he glared at the stallion and spoke, “How dare you strike an alicorn! Have you forgotten your place pony?... but then again, I couldn’t expect any less from the son of the Cutters.”
Thinking he had heard wrong, Star Bolt looked at Osiris with curiosity as the cloud disappeared, “Son of… what?”
Without giving him a clear answer, Osiris sent a vine of black sand at Star Bolt with alarming speed, giving him barely enough time to dodge it as it hit the ground right next to him. But unlike the other vines from before, this one didn’t retraced, instead it widened as it dragged against the ground with great force, hitting him like a club and tossing the stunned pegasus through the air before he hit a slanted rooftop and rolled off the edge only to hit the ground below.

Osiris quickly turned his attention back to the royal couple as he made the sand that was in the plaza turn into a large solid cylinder that resembled the head of a mallet. Then he quickly raised it up and dropped it down on the two lovers only to have a combination of their magic to stop it by creating a barrier around them. With a determination to stop wasting time, Osiris raised up the sand cylinder again and slammed it down a second time, then a third, then a fourth. Over and over, he slammed the cylinder of sand on the magical barrier as the two ponies started getting weaker and weaker with each hit. Finally, after almost twenty hits the magical barrier shattered knocking the two to the ground under the extreme force of the impact. With the magic gone and the two ponies too weak to even stand, the two looked into each other’s eyes as the cylinder was raised for the final attack. Shining Armor sighed, “we… we tried our best… didn’t we?”
Cadence placed her hoof against his cheek, kissed him, and smiled as a tear rolled down her face. “If we go… I’m glad we go together… I love you Shining Armor.”
Shining Armor smiled as he gripped his sword, “And I love you… Cadence.”

Star Bolt struggled to his hooves as he tried to ignore the pain from the hit he just took. Then he charged at the two with an attempt to save them. As Osiris brought down the cylinder of sand one last time, Shining Armor drew his sword and pointed it at the Cylinder in a desperate attempt to save his princess and himself. Nevertheless, the sand hammer came down and crushed the two as it shattered the blade and sent a shard flying through the air towards Star Bolt. Seeing his incoming projectile, Star Bolt raised his right wing as a reflex to protect his eyes. His reflex worked as it stopped the tip of the sharp blade shard from dinging into is face… however, the shard did manage to hit, and pierce his wing entirely. As the pain from his impaled wing quickly rose, Star Bolt dropped to a knee as he held his wing and screamed in a combination of anger and pain. Then he slowly looked up to see the massive sand cylinder as it sat inside of a crater that it had made in the Canterlot plaza. Griping his wing and breathing heavily to ignore the pain, he watched as the large cylinder melted away into the sand that made it and returned to Osiris’s hooves, leaving behind only two things… the shattered royal sword, and the royal crown of a Crystal Princess.

Osiris smirked at his actions as he mumbled to himself, “And now… only two remain… but first…”
Osiris turned to look at Star Bolt as the wounded pegasus was panting trying to hold in the pain he was feeling from the sword shard that could be seen on both sides of his wing. Then the dark alicorn began approaching him as he spoke, “A good commander will always continue fighting… no matter what. Am I right Commander Bolt?”
Star Bolt didn’t reply, instead he just glared at The Dark Alicorn while his wounded wing continued to bleed around the sword shard that was embedded in it. As Osiris got within a few feet of his foe, he stopped and continued, “Your eyes say yes... normally I would just kill you and be done with it, but seeing that my shadow was so fond of you, I think it would be best if a soldier of your reputation died fighting. I rather that then a dishonored execution don’t you think?”
Using his magic, Osiris drew Star Bolt’s sword and laid it on the ground in front of him as he continued, “Secure your weapon commander.”
Knowing full and well that he didn’t have the strength or energy to face so mighty a foe, Star Bolt thought about his options only to come to one conclusion. Slowly he picked up the sword and held it at the ready.

Osiris smiled, “Good… it does me pride to see that you’re determined to fight till the end.”
Star Bolt glared at Osiris with intense rage, but before he could reply, Osiris bundled a large amount of sand around his hoof and used it as a wrecking ball as he raised his hoof up and punched the wounded stallion, tossing him a number of feet before slamming him into a wall. As Star Bolt struggled to pick himself up, Osiris picked up his dropped sword and laid it next to I’m as he spoke, “You’re still alive commander… continue.”
Star Bolt tried to pick himself up but with his body acing from every angle, and his blood loss apparent he didn’t have the strength to do so. Osiris sighed as he looked at the defeated pony, “I was hoping for more of a fight from somepony of your heritage and reputation… but I suppose you’re nothing but a simple mortal.”
Star Bolt slowly opened his eyes as he tried to speak, “H-heritage?... Wh… wha…?”
Before Osiris could reply, a rainbow beam came out of nowhere hitting Osiris on his side and throwing him through the wall of a nearby building as it collapsed on top of him.

With a surprised stare, Star Bolt slowly turned his head to see Luna, Twilight and the rest of her friends as they rushed up. The element users cheered as Rainbow Dash hoof-bumped Applejack, “Aww yea! Bull’s eye! Naturally we showed him what’s up!”
Fluttershy and Princess Luna rushed to Star Bolt’s side as Princess Luna spoke, “Star!... are you ok?”
As the two mares helped him up, Fluttershy looked at his wing and gasped, “Oh!... dear me… that’s a nasty wound you have there… we better get you fixed up and fast…”
Before anypony could touch his wound a dark voice was heard, “The… The Elements of Harmony. It’s been a while since I’ve seen those in action. Sadly… they don’t affect me at all.”
Everypony looked at the collapsed house as a hoof step was heard and the rubble went flying in all directions leaving nothing on the foundation but Osiris as he stood there smiling wickedly. The group of ponies couldn’t believe their eyes as Osiris started trotting from the foundation without so much as a bruise.

Twilight spoke in shock, “but… we hit him directly… not even Discord could come out of that without anything changed.”
Osiris stopped as he replied, “Yes… my brother was turned to stone because his magic was weak and essence of good was in him… however you will find no such traits in me.”
Pinkie Pie rushed to Fluttershy as she reached behind her and pulled out her party cannon, “Ready Fluttershy!”
Fluttershy gave her a nervous look as she replied, “oh… um… well… I don’t thi…”
before Fluttershy could finish her sentence Pinkie Pie put a daredevil helmet on her head along with goggles and gave her a round shield as she picked her up and shoved her into the cannon bore, “Nonsense! You’ll be fine! All you have to do is aim for him and it will be a piece of Pie!”
Fluttershy tried to reply, “Isn’t aiming your job?... and don’t you mean piece of cake?”
Pinkie Pie aimed her party cannon at Osiris as she replied, “Silly Billy… who eats cake in a cannon?”

Before Fluttershy could reply, Pinkie Pie finished aiming the party cannon and yanked the cord as the cannon fired the nervous pegasus through the air. As the terrified pony flew straight towards The Dark Alicorn, she held the shield in front of her as it hit the alicorn’s head, completely removing it as Fluttershy, the shield and Osiris’s head hit the building behind him, completely embedding the round shield into the wall as Fluttershy fell to the ground. As Fluttershy stood up trembling in anxiety of what she just went through, she started to speak, “W-w-what… j-j-just… h-happened?...”
when she looked at Osiris’s body as it remained standing in place without a head, she immediately cried with her faint frantic voice, “Eep!... Headless pony!...”
with that said she rushed back to Pinkie Pie and hid behind her as she slowly peaked out from behind, “is… is he dead?”
Pinkie Pie looked at the headless pony and giggled, “Oops! Looks like we took a little too much off the top.”

As the group looked at the headless stallion, they froze in shock, as sand started running up from his torso and slowly rebuilt his head. As Osiris opened his eyes and looked at the group of ponies, Pinkie Pie cheered, “Oohe!... Again! Do it again!!! That was neat!”
Osiris smiled at the playful pony as he replied, “How about… I do one better.”
With Pinkie Pie staring in curiosity, Osiris turned to the building that the shield was embedded in and watched as it popped out of the wall and fell to the ground. Then the sand that was once his head, melted down and wrapped the shield up as it began crushing and bending it into a solid metal ball. With all eyes on the iron sphere, the sand started to cover the ball then it began to grow until the black sand surrounding the metal ball took the form of a large cannon that had a tube that was the same caliber as the iron ball. With a smirk on his face, Osiris looked back at Pinkie Pie and replied, “How’s this… Pretty neat hmm…”

Before anything else could be said by either side of the conflict, the large black cannon fired the large iron ball with great force and speed, landing the ball inside Pinkie’s cannon before exploding and throwing metal shrapnel at both Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy as it tossed them away from the now destroyed cannon. As soon as the explosion was seen Twilight called out, “Pinkie Pie! Fluttershy!”
Before anything else could happen, Princess Twilight glared at the dark alicorn and yelled, “FREEZE!!!”
Using a freezing spell Twilight shot a beam of ice at him only to have him dodge the attack by jumping into the air. While hovering above the ground, Applejack quickly threw a rope around his neck as Rarity quickly used her magic to wrap it around him numerous times to try to hold him in place. However, he quickly phased through the rope by letting that portion of his body turn to sand. And as the rope fell, he then used his magic to wrap Applejack in it and fling her through the air knocking Rarity over with one attempt. Trying to get his attention Rainbow Dash flew right up to him then punched him before flying behind him and kicking his back as she circled around the side to do the same thing as before.

Thinking she was too fast for Osiris, Rainbow Dash continued drawing his attention while Princess Twilight focused and fired a second ice spell at him. Sensing the magic, Osiris used his sand to create a glass prism to split the magical beam, and a series of glass mirrors to deflect them out, hitting Rainbow Dash’s wings with the first, and sending the second to Twilights hooves. As rainbow dash fell, she was quickly caught by Osiris’s sand as he raised her high and smiled, “Very loyal… as resembled in that element you wear… but foolish.”
As Osiris made a glass dagger appear in his hoof, he raised it high to kill Rainbow Dash as he yelled, “Let’s put an end to your loyalt…”
Before he could finish his sentence, a bolt of lightning came from behind as it hit him in his back causing him to drop both Rainbow Dash and the dagger, and flinch under the strain of the attack. Osiris was now enraged as he turned and glared at Star Bolt who fell to the ground after straining his energy with the lightning orb. In a fit of anger, Osiris grabbed Star Bolt with his magic and tossed him through the air, hitting Rainbow Dash as she was rushing towards Twilight to free her frozen hooves.

As the two pegasi were tossed to the side Princess Luna tried to rush to their aid, but before she got to them, The Dark Alicorn made a small pedestal of glass shoot from the ground, hitting her in the face as she was running, knocking her to the ground and stunning her completely. Then Osiris smiled as he looked back a Princess Twilight and spoke with the anger that he was still feeling from Star Bolt’s attack, “You… you’re nothing but a mockery… A cheap reproduction of what should only be pure. Why do you bear those wings, Unicorn? Was it some kind of spell? Some kind of false identity to con your way into a higher society of true alicorns?”
Twilight was terrified from the sound of the anger that was in his voice as she replied, “I… I’m an alicorn because I was told that it’s my desti…”
With anger in his eyes, Osiris created a sand vine that he wrapped around her neck and raised her in the air as he interrupted her, “Shut up!... what do you know of destiny? You think it was destiny that brought you into this world? Destiny that raised the mountains, brought day and night, and paved way for species like you to thrive? Do you think it was destiny that created the very elements that you so willfully disrespect by parading about like you were something special?... No… it was the Alicorn that brought the day, night, and mountains. It was the alicorn that brought forth life and created The Elements of Harmony. But you… you are not one of us. So… I think that I should do as nature intended. And bring you back to your birthright. I rather you live a unicorn… then die an alicorn.”

With her body being helplessly held in the air by the vine, Twilight struggled as a small amount of sand started running from the vine to her wings s it covered them completely. Twilight tried to fling the sand off by flapping her wings as much as she could, but after a few seconds, her wings stopped moving as she started screaming in agony. Hearing her cries of pain, the surrounding ponies struggled to pick themselves up from the ground but none had the strength to come to her aid, as Osiris smiled while watching her wings melt away into the sand leaving only two massive wounds in place of the missing appendages. As Princess Twilight continued hanging in the air by the vine, she cried as she tried to bear her pain as much as possible, but even the tears of the poor wounded pony didn’t faze Osiris as he dropped her to the ground and turned away from her with no sympathy for the wounded princess. As Osiris turned towards the last alicorn on his list, he was shocked to see a trail of blood leading across the ground left behind by Star Bolt as he dragged himself all the way to Princess Luna’s body to check on her. Seeing the wounded pegasus as he ignored his wounds to aid the princess he loves made Osiris sigh, “Soldier, or not… he is getting on my last nerve. It’s time to end him.”

With the dark alicorn slowly approaching them, Star Bolt reached Luna and started shaking her, “Luna… Luna stay with me… you have to get up… you have to run…”
As Luna slowly regain consciousness, she looked at Star Bolt and replied, “Star… where?...”
“Luna… Run… Now… you have to run…”
when Luna looked up behind Star Bolt she saw Osiris as he raised his hoof up and made a glass spike appear. At first, she was still too dazed to understand what was happening, but when she saw Osiris raise his hoof in a way to bring the glass spike down into Star Bolt’s back, she made the only move she could think of at the time. The only thing she could think… to save the stallion she loved. With extremely little time to act, Princess Luna quickly picked herself up from the ground and lunged forward as the glass spike that was meant for Star Bolt, pierced her body instead. The very moment this happened, Star Bolt and Osiris were equally shocked, as Princess Luna looked Osiris in the eye and spoke, “You… you have what you want… now please… g-go…”

With that said, Luna started to fall backwards as she landed on the ground next to the shocked pony she loved. Star Bolt was speechless; he had no idea if this was real or an illusion. He could only stare at Luna as she turned her head to him and smiled, “Now… I can look after you for once…”
Star Bolt put his hoof on her face as the wound in her chest started to turn grey, “L-Luna… what?… what did you do?...”
As the grey coloring quickly spread across her body she replied, “I only did what you would have in the same situation… I saved the stallion I loved…”
With those final words, Luna smiled peacefully as the grey coloring spread across her face, and she turned to stone. Stunned and at the same time afraid, Star Bolt slowly regained his energy as what happened a second ago slowly set in, “L-Luna… Luna… L-LUNA!!!”
As tears started to build up in his eyes, Star Bolt started placing his hoof on her face, but when he felt that it seemed to be merely a statue, his worries skyrocketed “No… no… Luna no… no, no, no! NO! Luna! LUNA!!! NO!!! NO LUNA!!!”
After taping almost every inch of her face, Star Bolt used every bit of strength he had as he wrapped his hooves around her with tears now pouring from his face, “NO!!! LUNA!!! NO!!! Not again… not again… NOT AGAIN!!! LUNAAAA!!!”

Star Bolt cried his eyes out as he held the statue against him, hoping with all of his might that somehow, it would turn her back. But it didn’t… Star Bolt’s cries echoed through the now empty streets of Canterlot as he held onto the stone princess for dear life. With Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash back on their hooves, they were quickly tending to the wounds that Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight had sustained, however, Rarity couldn’t help but tear up as she saw the heart broken stallion clinging onto his love with every fiber of his being. Osiris stood calmly and watched the morning Stallion for a few second until finally, he turned around, “And so… it ends. Suppose I should deal with the rest of th…”
“You’re a monster…”
Osiris turned to look at the anger enriched eyes of the stallion who had a look of near insanity in his anger. Then Osiris replied, “If I had a bit for every time I heard that… I'd be a rich stallion.”
Osiris then started to trot away as Star Bolt spoke, “Where are you going… I’m still alive you know… get your plot back here and finish what you started…”

Osiris stopped and smiled, “perhaps… another day. For some reason, seeing you with this much heartbreak puts me in a mood to leave. Funny, I can’t tell what worse… the fact that a royal alicorn would demean herself by sacrificing her life for a mortal pegasus… or the fact that she could fall in love with one to begin with… through all my studies as the top professor in Eden… Love, has always managed to escape me… but I suppose, some things should never be explained. It just makes the journey of life that much more enjoyable. I shall leave you with a parting gift commander… a challenge of worth for the great Commander Bolt. Truly a test that only you could pass.”
Star Bolt never let a single gram of his rage slip by as he replied, “Test… what are you talking about?”
Osiris could only smile as he opened his wings and began to fly away. After he was out of sight, Star Bolt looked back at the peaceful smile that remained immortalized on her face as the tears continued to pour, “Luna… I’m sorry… I… I couldn’t save you… I… I failed you too… I’m sorry…”

In the distance at the summit of the very mountain that Canterlot sat on, Osiris landed and looked down at the city as he sighed, “This city is the legacy of the immortal princesses… and its residents, accomplices to their blasphemy… It’s time to end this.”
With one powerful stomp, The Dark Alicorn stomped the highest point of the mountain and created a small crack on the ground. As soon as the crack was made, sand started pouring from his hoof as it entered the mountain and started pushing the crack more and more until the crack started to spread outward in a single line. Further and further the crack spread as Osiris’s sand guided the crack perfectly as it very precisely circled vital parts of Canterlot’s foundation. Meanwhile in the city, Star Bolt finally stopped clutching Luna’s statue as he struggled to stand. Applejack and rainbow dash rushed to his side as Applejack spoke, “commander? Are you gonna be alright?”
Star Bolt wiped the tears from his eyes as he replied, “I… I'll be fine… how are the others?”
Rainbow dash replied, “We wrapped Twilights wounds… but we don’t know how to treat Fluttershy or Pinkie Pie. They are covered with metal shards.”

As Star Bolt nodded his head Applejack asked, “So… where are Princess Celestia, and Cadence? Did… did he get them too?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… they’re gone…”
Rainbow Dash asked, “What about Shining Armor and Spitfire?”
Star Bolt sighed, “Shining Armor is gone too… and Spitfire… I can only assume the same.”
Applejack sighed, “Well… thank Celestia we managed to scrape by on this…”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… thank Celestia…”
Rarity then trotted up as she spoke, “Well… I don’t know much about medicine, but I do know that Twilight should be alright, but I don’t know about the other two.”
“I know of medicine, for it is my knack, I'll do what I can so they survive this attack.”
The ponies turned to Zecora, as she trotted up, “I could not leave, for my help you could use, a medicine mare’s talents, are one to not lose.”

Star Bolt looked around and asked, “Roseluck and Niether… did they get away?”
“As Zecora trotted to Pinkie Pie and looked at her wounds as she replied, “They’re gone and saved; you shouldn’t need to worry, for to keep them safe, they left in a hurry.”
Star Bolt smiled as he sighed with relief, “Good… that makes me feel better than”
The Rarity nodded her head, “Well if Zecora can help them then perhaps I should help you Mr. Bolt… that sword isn’t going to come out on its own.”
As Rarity grabbed the sword shared with her magic, Star Bolt braced himself, “Alright… I’m ready…”
However, before Rarity could move the shard, the ground beneath them shifted with enough force to knock them all to the ground. Star Bolt ignored his pain as he picked himself back up, “What? What was tha…”
Again the ground shifted with extreme force, however this time, it wasn’t a sudden shift… but it started to feel as if it were sliding.

As the ground beneath them shook, Applejack spoke, “Is?... Is the city fallin’ apart?”
Star Bolt looked to noticed that the mountain’s peak was getting further from them as the ground continued to shake, “No! It’s just Falling! EVERYPONY BRACE YOURSELVES!!!”
At first Star Bolt tried to open his wings to fly, but with the sword shard still in it, he couldn’t even open his wing entirely, so he grabbed the doorway of a nearby building as everypony else did the same. However, with the entire city sliding down the side of a mountain, many of the buildings started to collapse as everypony tried to keep themselves from being crushed by the falling debris. This seemed to go on for a few more minutes until finally, the edge of the city hit the valley below turning the entire city vertical as towers and unsupported structures started collapsing and sending rubble falling on the group. When this happened, Star Bolt reached out for Princess Luna’s statue, but the force was too strong, as it fell down the street and shattered as it hit the rocky river below, “NO! LUNA!!!”

With all his attention on Luna’s shattered statue Star Bolt didn’t notice that one of the large Canterlot towers had toppled over and was heading straight for the building he was using to support himself. Before he could react, the tower had plowed through the small shop as Star Bolt was tossed from its foundation and hit another building as he fell leaving the rest of his friends still supported above. As Star Bolt fell from the center of the city, he continued to hit buildings before he landed in the rushing river below. As soon as he hit the water, Star Bolt swam to the surface and caught his breath, but as soon as he did, Star Bolt looked up, only to see many buildings falling towards him from the vertical city as it slowly fell apart above. Star Bolt tried all he could to avoid being crushed by the falling debris until a large building fell into the water next to him, creating a wave that washed him down river away from the city. As the rushing waters pushed him down stream, Star Bolt tried to keep his head above the waterline, but as he did so, he didn’t notice a large rock in his path as the waters slam him into it like a hammer striking an anvil. From the shock of hitting the rock, Star Bolt lost all control of his hooves, as his body slowly sank into the waters that carried him. With the air knocked out of his lungs, and his immobility preventing him from surfacing, Star Bolt slowly drifted away as everything around him went black.

Ch18 Aftermath

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With the eternally stationary sun still resembling dusk, Star Bolt and Niether sat around a campfire just outside of the remains of a still standing building. As they sat there with nothing short of depressed looks on their faces, Applejack came out of the building as she helped Roseluck over to Niether’s side, “Now you just rest up Rose. That busted up leg of yours won’t heal if ya keep strainin’ it.”
Roseluck sat down and looked at the cast on her front left hoof as she smiled, “Thanks Applejack. Sorry I can’t help you three inside. I wish I could be more helpful.”
Applejack shook her head, “It’s alright… Rarity Zecora and I got things covered inside, so you just focus on restin’ up.”
All of a sudden, Rarity stood at the doorway as she called to Applejack, “We need more bandages! Applejack, could you be a dear and find some for us?”
Applejack nodded her head and replied, “Alright I'll be right back!”

As Applejack rushed off, Star Bolt looked at Roseluck and asked, “So… how are they?”
Roseluck looked down in depression as she replied, “Fluttershy is awake, but she is in a lot of pain. And Pinkie… hasn’t even woken up yet. All I can say is that it doesn’t look good… for either one of them.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “I understand… I’ve seen bigger and stronger soldiers take much smaller hits then that and die on the spot. I'll say this though; they are determined to stay alive. What about the princess?”
Roseluck replied, “I don’t know… they were working on her as I left. I can only imagine the pain she is fee…”
Just then, Rainbow Dash landed next to the fire with Spitfire on her back. As soon as she laid Spitfire on the ground, Niether rushed to her side, “Spitfire! Is she alright?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well… she isn’t wounded… but…”
As Star Bolt approached Spitfire as she sat up and continued staring at the ground with an expression of sheer terror. As Star Bolt looked at her face he spoke, “Spitfire?... Spitfire?... Spitfire!?!”

After emphasizing her name, Spitfire shifted her eyes to Star Bolt but her fear riddled expression stayed the same as Niether looked at Rainbow Dash, “Were there any others?”
Rainbow Dash shook her head with disappointment, “No… I combed the entire city but she was the only one I could fi…”
When she was interrupted, Rainbow Dash stopped talking as everypony’s attention went to the traumatized pony as she continued, “They’re… Dead… all of them… Dead… I… I saw it happened as I tried to get away… he… he turned them into sand… he destroyed them before they had a chance to flee… all of them… dead…”
Star Bolt looked at Rainbow Dash and asked, “Was she like this when you found her?”
Rainbow Dash nodded her head, “Yea… she was trapped in a collapsed building. Luckily the back corner of the place held out long enough for me to get her out.”

Spitfire continued, “Dead… Soarin… Cloud Chaser… Sky Stream… all of them… none managed to get away… I… I’m the last…”
Star Bolt sighed, “Post traumatic stress… it very common when a pony experienced battle for the first time… especially when she’s as close to the center as she was.”
Rainbow Dash asked, “Well… how do we treat her?”
Star Bolt replied, “We don’t… it’s along the lined of having a terrifying nightmare and being on edge for a while. All we can do is let her rest and hope it didn’t dig too deep into her subconscious.”
Rainbow Dash looked at the traumatized expression on her face as she replied, “But… what if it did?”
Star Bolt trotted back to where he was sitting then sat down as he replied, “Then she will never be the same… either she will be like this forever… or she will be too afraid to do things she used to.”
Rainbow Dash looked back at Spitfire as she sighed in worry, “Captain… it’s ok… your safe he…”
“No… nopony is safe… his sand will seek you out in buildings… his spikes will catch you without mercy… he will devour all…”

As Spitfire went silent, Applejack galloped to the group carrying a bunch of bandages she had gathered from a destroyed hospital. As she approached the group, she saw Rainbow Dash and spoke, “Oh… I didn’t know you were back Rainbow Dash… did ya find any other survivors?”
Rainbow Dash shook her head as she pointed out Spitfire, “No… just her… She isn’t wounded… but she’s still in bad shape.”
Applejack nodded her head, “Oh… well if she wants to get looked at too, then she should come inside with us. But I hope she doesn’t mind if we tend to Twilight, Pinkie, and Fluttershy first. They aren’t doin’ so well.”
Spitfire didn’t acknowledge them as Star Bolt answered for her, “No… she’ll be fine right here with us… it will be better that she doesn’t see the others anyway… it could worsen her own condition, if she knew fully what the dark alicorn could do…”
Applejack nodded her head as she trotted back inside and replied, “Well... All right then. If ya need us, we will be in here. Once we finish we will come back out.”

A few hours later, as things seemed to calm down inside the Building that housed the wounded; Princess Twilight exited the building with her torso covered in bandages while Rarity helped her. As soon as Princess Twilight sat down next to the fire, she looked at Rarity and smiled, “Thanks… I'll be fine from here.”
Rarity, nodded her head, “Just remember not to strain yourself darling. I know you want to see how everypony else is doing but you have lost a lot of blood, and you’re lucky to still be alive.”
Twilight nodded her head as she replied, “I… well, I think that Princess Celestia would want me to check up on everypony if something happened to them so, that’s what I’m going to do… If Zecora still needs your help then feel free to go back inside, Niether and Star can help me if I need anything.”
Rarity nodded her head as she went back inside, then Star Bolt spoke, “It’s good to see you out and about princess. Ho…”
“Star… could you not call me princess? While Zecora was working on me, my mind started to go over what the dark alicorn told me… and… I think he is right.”

Princess Twilight lowered her head in depression as she continued, “Well… Princess Luna and Princess Celestia are… were immortal royal alicorn… and Princess Cadence was born an alicorn… but I… I became one only because I studied magic for most of my life. Maybe I don’t dese….”
“Shut up!”
Princess Twilight was surprised by Rainbow Dash’s remark as she continued, “Twilight… you worked your body to the bones to get where you are now with magic. So what if you didn’t have wings at birth… BIG DEAL! If I were to wake up one day with a horn… would you look at me any different? No! Since when are we going to agree with what that monster says anyway? In my eyes, he isn’t even a pony so he has no room to claim his position over anypony, pegasus, alicorn or any other. You’re our friend Twilight… and in our eyes, you’re a princess.”
Without saying anything, Twilight looked at Star Bolt who only smiled and nodded his head in agreement with Rainbow Dash’s words, then she looked back at the ground and smiled with tears of happiness, “Thank you… I’m… I’m happy to have friends like you, to help me through these hard ti…”

Before Princess Twilight could finish her words, a small cloud of magic flew in from nowhere and turned into a scroll that appeared right in front of her face. As soon as Rainbow Dash saw it, she asked, “A letter from Spike?”
Princess Twilight used her magic to unroll the letter and raise it up so Rainbow Dash and her could read it silently to themselves. As they both finished it, Princess Twilight’s magic that held up the letter faded causing it to fall to the ground as she sat there with nothing but a shocked expression on her face, “S-Spike…”
Rainbow Dash sat down as she started talking with distress, “But… it can’t be… it just can’t… m-maybe it’s a mistake…”
Twilight lowered her head as tears started to pure down her face, “It isn’t… Spike wouldn’t make a mistake like this… he wouldn’t even joke about something like this…”
After waiting a few more seconds for Twilight to explain what the letter said, Star Bolt grew impatient as he picked up the scroll and laid it out so he, Niether, and Roseluck could read it too. It said:

Dear Princess Celestia

I don’t know how to say this but I'll just say it straight out… WE ARE UNDER ATTACK!!! When we noticed, the sun didn’t set this evening we knew something was wrong… but not long after a large black cloud flew overhead and covered the sun. At first, we thought it was normal, so a bunch of weather pegasi went up to move it… but none of them returned. All we could hear were screams overhead; before long wavy vines shot down and started attacking everypony in town. Luckily, Big Mac, The Cutiemark crusaders, and a few other residence barricaded us in the library… but as I’m writing this, we can hear the loud banging; it’s the cloud trying to get inside. I think Princess Twilight had a spell on the building from a thunderstorm that is holding him back for now… but I don’t think it will last much longer. So I’m writing this to tell everypony there; DON’T COME AFTER US!!!

I don’t know what this thing is, but even if I did… I don’t think you could make it here in time to help. I wanted to tell Princess Twilight that I have always enjoyed my time as her assistant, and to tell Rarity that, well… I wish thing could have been different. Apple Bloom and Big Mac want to tell Applejack that they have faith in their sister. Sweetie Belle wanted to say she had faith in both Rarity and Star Bolt. And Scootaloo says that Rainbow Dash can take this thing down without a problem so she isn’t worried. I want to say that all of us who are here right now have faith in Princess Twilight and her friends, and we all know that no matter what, you can beat this thing, hooves down. I want to repeat myself since I’m sure, some of you are rearing up to come and save us… but DON’T! The barrier just now broke and we can see, what looks like sand seeping in the crack under the door. We wish you luck and know that you will win against this thing, but for us in Ponyville, there is no hope.

Sincerely yours,
Spike, and the rest of Ponyville

Star Bolt sat back depressed as he spoke, “Princess Celestia… he didn’t even know that we were already hit…”
Roseluck started to cry as she buried her muzzle into Niether’s neck, “Daisy, Lily, Carrot Top, June Bug, they’re all gone…”
Niether consoled her as he looked at Star Bolt, “It’s been about nine hours since he left here. Ponyville is about three hour away by flight… meaning…”
Star Bolt sighed, “He stopped at every town between here and Ponyville…”
Rainbow Dash’s expression went from shocked to worried as she immediately took to the sky and flew as high as she could. Then she slowly glided back down and landed next to the fire as tears started to roll down her face, “Cloudsdale… it’s gone… the city… is… is on the ground in ruins…”
as the group went quiet, Spitfire spoke in her trauma, “He… he will continue… he will finish everypony off… until… until we are extinct.”

Niether looked at Star Bolt and asked, “Any ideas commander? You faced him and many other challenges before… any plans?”
Star Bolt sighed as he stood up, “Not a single one… something like this… I haven’t the slightest clue. It’s getting a little late… I had better go see if I can find us some food or something. Maybe a walk will help me think.”
As Star Bolt went into the ruins of Canterlot, he started thinking about everything that had happened, before, during, and after the disaster. He tried thinking of everything he could do to help, but no matter what he thought of, he had no leads on how to fight Osiris. As Star Bolt continued trotting, he managed to find a saddlebag, a few stocks of vegetables and some hey that survived the fall. Then just as he started picking some wild onions that were growing in the riverbed, something caught his eye as it shined in the bottom of the flowing stream. Star Bolt reached into the water, he found out that it was Luna’s crown, and next to it, the other two crowns, Celestia’s and Cadences. Looking around a little more, and he even managed to find Shinning Armor’s sword hilt.

After retrieving all of the artifacts belonging to the fallen prince and princesses, Star Bolt put them all in his saddlebag as he held Princess Luna’s crown in his hooves, “Luna… I… I never even got the chance. I never got to tell you that… I love you…”
Siting on the riverbed with her crown in his hooves, Star Bolt held it close to him as he sighed, “If only things could have been better. If only… he could be hurt, by magic, the elements, or even the Lightning Or…”
just then Star Bolt thought about something, “Wait… Weapons phased through him… he could reflect magic… but… the Lightning Orb and The Elements of Harmony actually touched him… and when I used the lighting orb the second time… he actually… THAT’S IT!!!”
Star Bolt quickly threw Princess Luna’s crown into the saddlebag as he stood up and started sprinting back to the camp as fast as he could.

As Star Bolt arrived back where the others were, he saw Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Niether, Roseluck, Spitfire, Rarity, Applejack and sitting around the fire with expressions that showed they all know about Ponyville. Star Bolt quickly approached them as he spoke up, “I know how to defeat The Dark Alicorn!”
Everypony looked directly at him as he continued, “When you used The Elements of Harmony against him it didn’t work right? It only threw him into a wall. And when I used the Lightning Orb against him, it did affect him but only by surprising him. But maybe the elements aren’t meant to defeat him… maybe they are only meant to subdue him… you know weaken him enough to defeat. The second time I used the Lightning Orb against him he cringed. That means he felt it!”
Twilight tried to speak, “Yea but…”
“If we find some way to hit him with The Elements of Harmony and hit him with the Lightning Orb at the same time… maybe we can find a way to defeat him.”
Applejack tried to speak, “Good plan, bu…”

Star Bolt in his fit of excitement continued, “The best way to do this would be to hit him where it hurts. Niether! You know how to get to Eden right?”
Niether replied, “Well yea, but we…”
“Perfect! Once we are in Eden we can challenge him to a fight and face him all at once. His ego will allow us to get the chance to do that much.”
Rarity tried to speak next, “Commander Pi…”
Star Bolt interrupted again, “I know that Ponyville is a great loss… but I bet with this plan we can at least…”
Star Bolt finally stopped talking as he looked at Princess Twilight after her call, “It’s a great plan… and we are all for it… but… We can’t use the elements.”

Star Bolt chucked at the remark, as he replied, “What do you meant you can’t use the elements… of course you can. I’ve seen you use them before.”
Rarity spoke next, “You’re right about that Mr. Bolt… but now…”
Star Bolt looked at the depressed expressions on the groups faces as, Zecora stepped forward, “So sorry to be such bearer of bad news, but with a strategy like that, we are sure to lose. I did all I could, but I’m sorry to say… that Pinkie and Fluttershy… have both passed away.”
Star Bolt was shocked, “What?...”
Applejack stepped forward, “The metal shards in their bodies dug too deeply for us to save them. We did all we could, but… Pinkie Pie passed about five minutes ago… and Fluttershy… Just now. Even the two element they were wearin’ were damaged and stopped glowin’. There’s no magic in them anymore.”

As Star Bolt sat down trying to absorb this new information, Rainbow Dash spoke up, “So… how do we defeat him without all six elements?”
Star Bolt sighed, “We don’t…”
Rainbow Dash looked at Star Bolt as she continued, “But a few minutes ago you said…”
“I know what I said! But… without all six elements… my plan is completely useless. We have no hope in defeating him now…”
“So you’re going to just give up! Just like that!?!”
Star Bolt sighed as he stood up, “No… I’m not. Niether! I know every country in the world and every route to take in each. Now tell me… How do I get to Eden?”
Everypony gave him a surprised look as Roseluck replied, “You’re still going to go?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Twice now, I’ve seen my world come crashing down in ruins. The second time literally. Nevertheless, I survived them both… I’m not going to give that… Thing… the satisfaction of taking my life from me while I hide or run in fear. I’m going to face him head on… and if I die, so be it!”

Niether stood up, “Well you won’t face him alone! I’m going too.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No you’re not… you’re going to stay here and take care of Roseluck… Luna died before I could tell her I loved her. Even if she knew, it doesn’t change the fact that I never said it to her face… I have to live with that regret for the rest of my life, but I won’t let you bear that feeling too.”
Spitfire stood up, “I’LL GO!!!”
With a surprised expression on everyponies’ faces, Spitfire trotted up to Star Bolt and continued, “Everypony I cared about, to include my Wonderbolts are all gone! I have nothing left to fight for… so… I’m going to fight for you! You saved my life a while back, so I’m going to return the favor. Am I scared? You bet, but I won’t let him finish me off while I’m grounded. Therefore, I'll follow your lead commander! Once a Wonderbolt, always a Wonderbolt.

Star Bolt smiled as Applejack stood up, “I’m goin’ to! Granny Smith, Big Mac, and Apple Bloom are gone, but I ain’t gonna let that monster get away with it. So I'll follow your lead too Commander.”
Rainbow Dash smiled confidently, “You did manage to hold your own going one on one with that alicorn… so I guess I'll lend a helping hoof too. Especially since Cloudsdale will also need to be avenged. And I’m never one to trot away from a challenge.”
Rarity nodded her head, “Spikey Wikey and Sweetie Belle said it themselves that they had confidence in us… so I’m going too. It’s time to teach that dreadful creature some manners.”
Zecora stepped forward and spoke, “If I have to fight, then for my friends I'll do. So ready yourself Star, because I will go too.”
Finally, Twilight stood up and began trotting towards Star Bolt as she spoke, “I think I know why Princess Celestia likes you so much. Even when things seem their worst, you will say or do something truly amazing that will motivate others to follow you. I know I’m not much of a princess, but if you will have me, then I'll go and fight alongside you. I think that’s what Princess Celestia would want.”

Star Bolt looked at the group and added, “You know it’s gonna be dangerous…”
Applejack replied, “We know.”
“We are going in without a plan.”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Plans are overrated anyway.”
“The chance of us winning is at least a million to one.”
Twilight smiled, “Then that means there is still a chance.”
Star Bolt smiled as he looked back a Niether and replied, “Looks like it’s settled then, we will all go to Eden, and show him that we may not be immortal, but we will fight as if we were.”

Niether looked at Roseluck as she nodded her head, “With my leg like this I can’t go… but, you should at least tell them how to get there… it would be better this way.”
Niether nodded his head as he looked back at Star Bolt, “Alright… The fastest way to Eden would be to take the Arion Pass through the Gorgon Mountains.”
The Gorgon Mountains? That’s on the other side of the Griffin Kingdoms.”
“Yes… and not too far from the gates of Tartarus too. Nevertheless, once you get there you should see a dark trench that runs along a massive mountain. In that trench is where you should find the entrance to Eden. It will be covered in mists.”
Star Bolt took a sheet of paper from the saddlebag and wrote down the instructions, “Got it.”

After he wrote down the instructions, Princess Twilight asked, “Alright so we should probably get ready fo…”
Before Princess Twilight could continue, the area around them turned dark as the sun slowly set behind the horizon. As the ponies looked at the setting sun, Rainbow Dash spoke, “What the? I thought that Princess Celestia was the only pony who could raise and lower the sun.”
Princess Twilight thought to herself for a few seconds, “I wonder who… wait… do you think the Dark Alicorn would raise and lower the sun?”
Star Bolt replied, “He said something about being the top scientist in Eden… maybe he still relies on the day and night like everypony else. If so then that means we can actually rest easy at night… although we should still take in consideration that he may still attack though, even at night.”
Niether looked at Star Bolt with curiosity, “Commander? You say he told you that he was a scientist in Eden?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Yea… those were his words exactly. Why?”

Niether thought to himself then replied, “Hmm… no, just a coincidence. Never mind.”
Star Bolt looked at Niether with confusion before continuing. “Oh… By the way, do you know if there was any leads as to who my parents were? The dark alicorn said something about me having a strong heritage, and being the son of The Cutters.”
Niether shook his head, “The Cutters? Hmm… sorry to say, but there is no records of who your parents were. Even today, that remains a mystery. The closest thing to a clue that anypony has ever dug up was a rumor that you were the son of the god of war. But that was just a statement made my Commander Orem after the Nightmare Crusade.”
Spitfire asked, “Commander Orem? You mean he’s that old?”
“That old?”
Spitfire continued, “Commander Thor Orem was the griffin who warned us about The Dark Alicorn’s escape.”
Niether smiled, “Oh… no, no, Commander Alfarinn Orem. He was the griffin commander over a thousand years ago. Hmm… I wonder if there’s any relation.”

Before the subject could stray further from his original question, Star Bolt continued, “Well… whatever he meant, it doesn’t matter anymore. The only pony I know from the cutters to have foals was Serenity Mist, AKA Blade. But then again I never had the pleasure of meeting The Reaper. Oh well it doesn’t matter now anyway.”
Princess Twilight looked into the sky as the moon slowly rose, “Well what do you say commander? Should we search for supplies? They may help us when we leave here.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Good idea, Everypony split up, gather what can help, preferably food, water, and medical supplies. A rope and axe may come in handy too.”
Applejack thought to herself, “If I didn’t know any better… I'd say you’re enjoying this.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Well I was a wanderer for two years… maybe I’m just used to this kind of lifestyle.”
The group then split up and started gathering supplies for the next day’s quest.

As the sun rose the next morning, Star Bolt spent the entire morning on the highest hill in the valley putting something together as Princess Twilight approached the hill, “Um commander we… oh…”
Princess Twilight was surprised to find six graves at the top of the hill. Each one was marked with something that belonged to the ponies buried there. One had the shattered element of laughter, the next the cracked element of kindness, then the broken sword of the Crystal Empire, next to that, the Crown of the Crystal Princess, and finally on the end, The crown of Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna. After positioning Princess Luna’s crown perfectly on the grave, Star Bolt took a step back, “I… I had to do something for them… they gave their lives trying to stop this monster.”
Princess Twilight approached the center of the area and bowed in respect to all of the graves as she replied, “I know they would be happy to know you cared so much.”
Star Bolt smiled, “The last time I did something like this, it was for my commander.”
Twilight asked, “Commander Mist right?... I read about him, some say that the Mist and the Sparkle family had some relation… who knows you could be my ancestral uncle or something.”

As Twilight tried to make him laugh despite their dark setting, Star Bolt couldn’t help but smile, “Funny… I was called an uncle once back then too…”
Twilight noticed a tear rolling down Star Bolt’s face as she tried to change the subject, “Um… Commander? Everypony is ready to go. I only came up here to see if you were ready too.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Yea… one second.”
Star Bolt sat down his saddlebag and pulled out his old cloak as he unlatched the royal guard armor he was wearing and tossed it aside. After putting on the cloak and putting his sword halter back on, he smiled, “So… how do I look?”
Twilight smiled, “Like the old wanderer who stumbled into Ponyville a few months ago.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Funny… I feel like I did back then… only this time. I’m not running.”

Ch19 The Ruins of Gryphus

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As Star Bolt and the team of ponies made their way across the countryside, Rainbow Dash was finding ways to amuse herself, “Are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?”
“Dang it Rainbow Dash! If you don’t shut up I swear I'll strike you down… and don’t think for a second you can dodge a bolt of lightning!”
Before Rainbow Dash could say anything, Rarity used her magic to pull out a map from her saddlebag as she opened it and spoke, “Um, commander? Do you happen to know where we are? I'd like to think we crossed the Equestrian border a few days ago, but since we have yet to find a habited city it’s hard to tell.”

Star Bolt sight, “I know… Trottingham, Stalliongrad, even the griffin city Kestrel was wiped completely out. The dark alicorn is traveling much faster than we expected. At this rate, we will be the last on the planet by the time we reach Eden.”
As the traveling group of ponies made their way into a vast grassland, Princess Twilight replied to Star Bolt’s remark, “well… I guess the best thing to do is keep our spirits up… you think it was a good idea to make Roseluck and Niether stay behind?”
Applejack replied, “We had no choice. With a busted up hoof, Roseluck would have just slowed us down, and we couldn’t leave her behind alone.”
Spitfire replied, “She’s right, besides, Niether is a standup guy. Knowing him he probably took her to another town to find more survivors.”
As the group continued into the silent meadow, Star Bolt felt something so he stopped. After stopping in his tracks, everypony else stopped behind him as Zecora asked, “What is wrong commander is the time to rest near? I'd think we would find a better place than here.”

Ignoring Zecora’s comment, Star Bolt started to look around as he mumbled to himself, “Who are you… and why are you watching us?”
Princess Twilight trotted close to Star Bolt as she asked, “Star Bolt? Is something wrong?”
Star Bolt continued looking around as he asked, “do you hear that?”
Everything went quiet as the group listened to their surroundings, but after a few seconds of silence Rainbow Dash replied, “I don’t hear anything?”
Applejack knew what it meant, “You’re right… it’s as silent as a sleepin’ jack rabbit out here… no birds… no critters… nothin’.”
Star Bolt griped his sword as he replied, “it’s far too quiet…”
as the group looked around in all angles, as Star Bolt slowly drew his sword. Just then, a small patch of grass was tossed into the air as a griffin jumped out of a covered hole and tried to attack the group. As the griffin got close, Zecora pulled a vile from her saddlebag and smashed it against the ground sending a blue cloud of fumes into the griffins face causing him to back up as he broke out into an uncontrollable sneezing tantrum.

With the griffin immobilized by his own sneezes, a large number of griffin jumped out of more grass covered holes as they lunged at the group of ponies. When one got close enough to Star Bolt, he raised his morning star up to strike him, but just as he did, Twilight used her magic to stop the weapon in midair causing the griffin to look up as Star Bolt turned around and kicked him in the face. Another griffin tried to grab Rainbow Dash but she was too fast for the large creature as she crisscrossed through the group of griffin, distracting them completely as Rarity picked up a number of rocks and tossed them at the griffin with her magic. While Rarity was distracted with her own actions, she didn’t notice as another griffin snuck up behind her and readied his sword to strike. Luckily, as he raised his sword up, Applejack roped his arms and pulled him backwards as the unbalanced griffin fell onto his back. Before he had a chance to do anything else, Rarity used her magic on the rope and tied him up quickly while adding her own signature bow on the same rope, “There… remember even the most simplest addition to something vulgar can make it stylish.”

As Rainbow Dash was continuing her distraction as she crisscrossed through the griffin, she didn’t notice when one of the griffin pulled out a set of bolas and tossed them through the air. As the bolas hit her, they tangled her wings up causing her to lose control as she crashed to the ground. Before she could react a griffin pinned her to the ground as he spoke, “Surrender now pony!”
Before Rainbow Dash could reply with what would obviously be a no, Spitfire dove in from nowhere and kicked the griffin at top speed causing him to fall to the ground unconscious. As Rainbow Dash tried to untangle the bolas, Spitfire asked, “You ok Dash?”
Rainbow Dash smiled as she replied, “Are you kidding? I was just saved by the captain of the Wonderbolts. This is totally awesome!”
Elsewhere Star Bolt was dodging sword strikes from another griffin as he started mocking him, “Slow, slow, sloppy, slow, even Prince Armor fought better then you… and that’s saying something. Something sad.”

With Star Bolt’s attention on his front, another griffin snuck up behind him, grabbed him my his wings, and raised him in the air so that his hooves were off the ground. For a split second Star Bolt cringed in pain over his wounded wing, but with the griffin in his front attacking and the griffin behind him preventing him from moving, he had to ignore it. Reacting from the front griffin’s attack, Star Bolt drew his sword and blocked the griffins attack. As the two swords were pressed against each other, the griffin saw the cutiemark on the blade and spoke in shock, “it… it’s you…”
Before the griffin could finish his sentence, Star Bolt swung his hind hooves forward, kicking the griffin in front of him before swinging back and kicking the griffin holding him in the air. As Star Bolt landed on the ground, he ignored his pain as he opened his wing and swung around hitting their legs and tripping them both as they fell to the ground. Before they could pick themselves up, Star Bolt jumped on top of the front griffin as he held his blade to his throat and called to the surrounding attackers, “LAY DOWN YOUR WEAPONS OR HE DIES!!!”

The surrounding griffin stopped what they were doing as the pinned griffin yelled to them, “Do what he says! Its him! The pony that the commander told us about! It’s Commander Bolt!”
The surrounding griffin laid down their weapons as Star Bolt asked, “Commander? Is this his doing? Did he order you to attack us?”
the griffins looked at each other as one replied, “I think the bigger question is, why are you trespassing here!?!”
“Trespassing? This is a meadow in the land between Kestrel and Gryphus. This land is free to roam as we please… that is, unless your king passed some new law that we don’t know about.”
Another griffin replied, “The king is dead! We take our orders from our commander now!”
Star Bolt replied, “Then have your commander talk with us! If he has a problem then he should tell us himself!”
“Don’t mind if I do… oh, and by the way, it’s herself.”

After hearing the familiar voice call from the back of the crowd, the group of griffin stepped aside as they stood at attention in respect to the approaching commander. The griffin commander made her way to the front as she smiled, “Long time see Commander Bolt… or should I still call you Star Bolt?”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “I’m a commander again, although I didn’t expect you to be one too.”
as the commander smiled at the group of ponies Rainbow Dash made her way to the front and spoke in shock, “G-Gilda?”
Gilda smiled at her surprised friend as she replied, “Dash, what’s up? How have you been?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well… I’ve been better…”
Gilda nodded her head, “Haven’t we all? Sorry about the mistake… things have been a little crazy these past few days.”
Rainbow Dash nodded her head, “You don’t know the half of it.”
As Gilda looked at her surrounding griffin, she called out, “there is nothing to worry about! These ponies are friends. They have nothing to do with the attack on the city.”
Star Bolt stepped off the pinned griffin as he sheathed his sword, “Attack on the city? Care to explain Gilda?”
Gilda nodded her head as she replied, “It might be better to talk about this back at camp, that is… unless you have anything better to do.”
Though Rainbow Dash looked uneasy with the question, Star Bolt replied, “That sounds fine, a break from our travels will help us anyway.”

Gilda nodded her way as she turned around and began leading the way, “Sounds like a plan. Let’s get moving, then shall we?”
The griffin attackers stayed behind as Gilda began leading the caravan of ponies out of the meadow and onto a steep hill. While they continued, Star Bolt noticed that Rainbow Dash wasn’t flying like usual; instead she was trotting with a troubled expression on her face. Star Bolt slowed his trot until he was beside her as he whispered, “You ok Dash? I take it you know her.”
Rainbow Dash whispered back, “Yea… she used to be a good friend of mine… but, the last time we saw each other, it didn’t end well.”
Star Bolt sighed, “Look I don’t know what happened between you two, but now is the time to get over it. Whether you like it or not, we need to rest and resupply if we hope to get to Eden in one peace.”
Rainbow Dash tried to argue, “I know… but that doesn’t change what I said to her…”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Well whatever it was, apparently she is over it, otherwise she would have turned us away by now. Just give her a chance, regardless of which, we are all in the same boat so we need to trust each other.”

As the group reached the top of the hill Rainbow Dash started to reply, “Maybe you’re right comma… whoa…”
as the ponies looked into the distance they saw the ruins of a once massive city as Twilight spoke, “wow, look at the size of that city. Where are we Gilda?”
Star Bolt sighed as he answered for her, “… Gryphus… those are the ruins, of the capital city, Gryphus.”
Twilight was surprised, “Gryphus? That’s Gryphus?”
Gilda turned to the group, “it was… now… it just what’s left of a once great kingdom.”
Gilda turned back to the city and continued with a depressed expression as the group followed her. Not long after they entered the city, Star Bolt saw a large number of griffin survivors scrounging through the ruins for valuables as he mumbled to himself, “Déjà vu…”
Not hearing his comment, Rarity asked, “Gil… I mean, commander? Was this the work of the dark alicorn?”
Gilda continued walking as she replied, “Dark alicorn?... was that who he was?”
Surprised by Gilda’s answer, Spitfire spoke, “Wait a sec… You mean you don’t know?”

Gilda shook her head, as she replied, “No… a few days ago, a stranger wearing a black cloak had entered the city and claimed that he had troubling news for the king. So with the city worried about news that the kingdom was in danger, my father decided to bring the stranger before the king so he can give him the news himself. I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened, but before I knew it, black sand came shooting from every window in the castle. Seconds later the sand started flying through the streets like a sand storm. Everygriffin out on the streets that day was covered in the sand… and then… they were gone. Most of us thought we’d be safe indoors, but then the sand started destroying the building and killing those inside. Luckily, me and a few others hid in the tunnels below the city, but when we got back out, this is what we found. Everything was destroyed… everygriffin was nowhere to be seen… including my dad. The only one who was found was the king, but he was found dead in his throne with what looked like a glass sword in his chest. Being the daughter of the commander of the griffin king’s armies, pretty much volunteered me for the position to lead the survivors.”
Star Bolt asked, “So that’s why your soldiers attacked me. Stranger wearing a black cloak, I fit his description to a tee don’t I?”
Gilda sighed, “Ain’t that the truth. Luckily, I told them that Commander Bolt was a friend so he could help us if we found him. And you even proved it to them by beating them in a fair fight.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “If my wing had taken any more abuse then would have lost. So exactly how many survived?”

Gilda sighed as she replied with a heavy heart, “About a two hundred.”
Rarity smiled, “That sound pretty good for a disaster such as this, you were lucky.”
Gilda shook her head, “Two hundred, out of one hundred million? That doesn’t seem very lucky to me.”
Twilight was shocked at the difference in numbers, “One hundred mill…”
Star Bolt interrupted her, “Gryphus is… or was, the largest city in the world. To be honest, more survived then I would expect. At least you have enough to slowly rebuild your kingdom.”
Gilda nodded her head as she replied, “Yea… but I don’t know a thing about ruling a kingdom… and with what’s left… I don’t even know where to start.”
Zecora smiled, “the key isn’t to where or how to lead… but to know your subjects, and what they need.”
“But what do they need?”
Star Bolt sighed, “right now… Food, Water, and a leader. Just remember to put their needs before your own and you should be fine”
Gilda sighed, “Yea… but with that dark alicorn still out there… none of us can rest easy.”

As the group arrived at one of the ruins Gilda and her visitors sat down net to a fire pit that was made in the center of the ruins. After sitting down Gilda asked, “So commander, what brings you to the Griffin Kingdoms? I figured you’d be too busy worrying about your own kingdom to come to mine.”
Star bolt lowered his head as he replied, “We don’t have one anymore… Canterlot is in ruins, and it seems like every town we passed on the way here was devoid of life.”
Gilda looked at the depressed look on everypony’s faces as she continued, “Wait a second… where are Pinkie Pie and what was her name? Flutterfly or something like that.”
The group went silent as Rainbow Dash replied with a heavy heart, “They… they’re… not here.”
Gilda hesitated for a second before realizing what she meant, then she hung her head and replied, “oh… dang… I’m… I’m sorry to hear that.”

Star Bolt nodded his head, “We’ve all lost somepony… or griffin we care about to that monster. The best thing we can do for them now is remember them and move on.”
Gilda sighed, “Well yea… but… I wanted to get the chance to apologize to them. The last time I saw them… I acted like a real jerk, and I wanted to get the chance to make up for it. I know I can’t change the way I treated them… but considering the lesson you taught me… it would be the cool thing to do.”
Twilight was confused, “lesson?”
Gilda nodded her head, “yea… not that long ago, Commander bolt saved me when I was stuck in a snowstorm. It showed me that, not all bad actions set us for life. And that even if we did something’s that were wrong, you could always find ways to make up for it. Like… trying to bring eternal night, or being a jerk to a good friend and her other friends…”

Rainbow Dash nodded her head as she added, “Or… shunning a friend for life, without giving her a second chance… Gilda, I’m sorry.”
“No Dash… I’m the one who was mean to your friends, and if they are cool enough to earn your friendship… then they are far cooler then I could hope to be.”
Star Bolt smiled at what he could only assume was a compliment as he started to trot away, “alright, while you two get caught up… would you mind if the rest of us split up and look for supplies? We’ve got a ways to go and we are low on food.”
Gilda smiled as she replied, “for you commander? Anything. I still owe you my life remember. Feel free to take whatever you need, in fact you can stay here for the night if you want… it isn’t much but it’s better than nothing right?”
Star Bolt smiled and nodded his head as everypony in the group except Rainbow Dash followed him out the door of the damaged ruins.

Hours later as Star Bolt was returning to the campsite, he saw Gilda and Rainbow Dash as they were passing the time by telling each other stories, “Whoa! Seriously? That’s pretty hard core.”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “Yea… one second Star was flying towards the storm dodging lighting as if he was able to predict it. Then he hits the cyclone dead center and vanishes completely. It was awesome! Not long after that, we saw a bright flash come from the top of the tornado. After that, nothing. The storm stopped, the clouds cleared up and everything was back to normal.”
Gilda smiled as she spoke, “That must have been the Lightning Orb. I knew Star Bolt was awesome, but I didn’t think he would do something like that! That’s just too cool!”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “Well what was I supposed to do? I thought up a strategy and I attempted it. Although to be honest, I didn’t think it would work.”

Both Rainbow Dash and Gilda didn’t know he was there as Gilda replied, “now that I understand. According to commander Orem’s journal, you often acted before thinking things through.”
“Orem’s journal? So you really are a descendant of his?”
Gilda smiled, “Well yea, you didn’t know?”
Star Bolt smiled, “I had my suspicions. The pride you carry is similar to his.”
Rainbow Dash spoke next as she looked at Star Bolt, “Oh, commander? I told Gilda about what we are doing and guess what?”
Gilda replied, “I want in! I even managed to gather a small force of griffin who want to go with us. If it’s all right with you, then we will march under your command. It would be so cool to fight beside you… just like Commander Orem did in the final battle of the Nightmare Crusade.”

Twilight and the rest of their party entered the ruins as Star Bolt motioned towards her and replied, “Thanks… but last time I checked, she wears the crown. So if you want to come with us… then you will have to ask the princess.”
Twilight only heard the last part of the conversation as she asked, “what? Star Bolt? What are you telling her?”
Star Bolt smiled, “Well princess… it would seem that the remaining griffin forces want to march under your command. So, what will it be? Will you allow them to fight with you? Or will they have to stay here?”
Feeling like she was being overwhelmed, Princess Twilight whispered to Star Bolt, “Can I talk to you alone for a sec?”
Star Bolt and Princess Twilight stepped outside the destroyed building as she asked, “Why are you telling her that? You know that I can control an army of…”
“Listen Twilight, you’re the last of the alicorns. With or without your wings, we will look to you for guidance. Now I’m not saying you will control her army… that’s her job. All I’m saying is that you will give her guidance. Gilda is from a strong family, she has what it takes to lead her army alone. But you still have the decision to allow her to go or stay.”

Princess Twilight looked at the ground as she sighed, “I… I still don’t know…”
Star Bolt spoke seriously, “Twilight… when it’s all said and done, what do you intend to do? These ponies and griffin will still need a ruler once this is all over. They need a princess, they will need you.”
“What about you?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Princess Celestia made you a princess for a reason. Eventually you would lead either a kingdom or at least a city. You need to understand that even if that crown is one of the Elements of Harmony, it’s still a crown. Now if you want some advice on leading a commander and her soldiers then I’ll take care of it. However to claim your dominance you still have to say it yourself. Do you want me to do that?”
Princess Twilight nodded her head as she replied, “If it isn’t too much trouble. But do you really think I have what it takes to lead?”
Star Bolt smiled, “of course you do. You lead your friends to defeat so many threats to begin with. Discord, Nightmare Moon, even that changeling queen. You’re a born leader. All you lack is confidence. So let’s go inside and tell Gilda this. You can fight with us, but you will be placed under Commander Bolt. That way you show that you’re the authority, but at the same time, I will be doing all the work. It’s a little trick that the princess has been playing for thousands of years. Pretty smart huh?”

Feeling a little inadequate in what she was doing, Twilight nodded her head, “alright… I guess I can do that much. Thanks Star.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Don’t thank me. Just wait till you see how I handle it.”
Feeling a little concerned with the devious smile that Star Bolt gave as he turned and went back inside, Princess Twilight followed him back in as they both sat next to the camp fire. Gilda gave them an anxious look as she asked, “Well?”
Princess Twilight replied, “Well… I talked it over and decided that if you want to fight under me… then you’re more than welcome. However, I will put you under Commander Bolt’s authority. Is that alright?”
Gilda smiled, “that’s exactly what I wanted to hear. So how will we do this Commander?”
Star Bolt smiled, “well since you are a griffin, and I don’t know much about how griffin fight, I want you to command your soldiers. However, their action will be your responsibility, so can you keep them under control? If you know the story, this is the same thing I told Commander Orem when he lost the duel against me. But remember, my orders, overrule your own, clear?”
Gilda stood at attention as she replied, “Yes commander! I understand!”
Star Bolt smiled as he looked at Twilight with a clever smirk, as she shook her head and mumbled to herself, “A pretty smart trick… well played Star.”

Rainbow Dash cheered, “Right on! What could be cooler then fighting with all my best friends?”
Applejack smiled, “How about winnin that fight. And with a small army on our side things are definitely lookin up for us.”
Zecora added, “Now don’t get too hopeful, though we have numbers to spare, those soldiers won’t decide how well we fair.”
Rarity nodded her head, “that is true… we did have an army in Canterlot. But I’m afraid they didn’t fair too well.”
Spitfire sat back as she sighed in depression, “yea… my Wonderbolts didn’t do so good either.”
Star Bolt replied, “That doesn’t matter we are here and we all survived. We know what we are facing and we have already decided that we want to continue with this task. So I say, we get some rest and get ready. If Niether’s directions are right, then we should arrive in Eden within the next few days, so let’s stop looking at the downside and get ready. Soon, we will face him, and I don’t know about you… but I will die before I let that monster get away with what he did to us.”

Far away in the ruins of an ancient city, the sound of trickling sand could be heard in an abandoned tomb as sand began seeping in through the cracks in the ceiling. As the sand bundled up on the floor, it took the shape of Osiris as he solidified and began trotting through the tomb with no expression on his face. As the lone alicorn continued through the empty tomb, one of the remaining pillars containing the elements that trapped him began glowing as Osiris looked at it and mumbled, “well my queen… what’s done is done. Your daughters are dead and I remain the last alicorn in existence. However… my elements draw near. I can feel that false alicorn approach as she continues to wield magic. Nevertheless, I don’t sense laughter or kindness amongst them. And even with all six, they were no match for me, so they are only seeking out their own doom. However, if they impress me… then, perhaps I shall reward them. Nevertheless, this will prove interesting.”

Ch20 The Battle of Eden

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Star Bolt slept soundly as a small amount of black sand began slipping under the side and into the tent. As the sand gathered, Osiris was formed as he stood over the sleeping pegasus and smiled, “Your heritage leads me to believe you have what it takes to defeat me… but we know better… don’t we?”
And with those words a small amount of sand bundled up on the ground next to Star Bolt and took the form of a cobra. As the sand snake slipped closer to Star Bolt’s face, it raised itself up and opened its mouth to reveal its fangs. Then, without waking the sleeping pony, the cobra struck. All of a sudden, Star Bolt opened his eyes and sat up in fear of the terrifying dream to reveal that he was not only unharmed, but alone in the tent. As the relived pony wiped the cold sweat from his face, he mumbled to himself, “I know it’s a long shot… but I still have to try.”

All of a sudden, Gilda’s voice was heard as she called through the tent walls, “Commander? You awake? I got us some breakfast! Better dig in before it’s all gone!”
Star Bolt stood up and shook off his cloak that he was using as a blanket as he replied, “Sounds good, wake the others and I'll be out in a sec.”
Gilda replied as she turned to leave, “Whatever you say sir!”
Star Bolt then put on his cloak and sword, and exited the tent. While outside, Star Bolt approached the edge of the camp where a deep ravine sat with an extremely wide mountain sitting on the other side. As he looked across, he mumbled to himself, “Just like Niether directions. I hope this is the place.”
Star Bolt then turned and started trotting back into the camp. As he continued, he could see many griffins making their own meals outside their tents as he thought to himself, “This seems too familiar.”

After a few minutes, Star Bolt approached Gilda’s tent where he saw Gilda, Rarity, and Applejack sitting around a boiling pot. As he approached, Applejack looked at him and smiled, “Mornin’ commander. Ready for today?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “As I'll ever be. If all goes well, by the end of today, The Dark Alicorn will be gone and we can start rebuilding our kingdoms.”
Rarity nodded her head, “I'd assume things will go well. You’ve never steered us wrong before. And as soon as Zecora finishes on Twilight, we can begin. Rainbow Dash and Spitfire are searchin’ for the cave as we speak.”
“Zecora’s working on Twilight?”
Applejack smiled, “Oh, it’s just a bandage change, nothin’ to worry about.”

Feeling relieved Star Bolt looked at Gilda and asked, “So, what’s for breakfast?”
Gilda smiled, “It’s an old griffin favorite, rabbit stew, and field mouse dumplings, Mmm always a good treat.”
The ponies looked at each other in concern as Star Bolt smiled innocently, “Sorry… I think we’ll pass on that. Meat isn’t really our kind of food.”
Gilds shrugged her shoulders, “Suits yourself.”
As Gilda continued stirring the brew over the fire, Applejack whispered to Star Bolt, “It’s a good thing Fluttershy isn’t here… she’d have one heck of a fit over this particular dish.”
Star Bolt nodded his head in agreement as Rainbow Dash and Spitfire landed next to them. As they landed, Rainbow Dash looked at Gilda and smiled, “Smells good, can I have some of whatever you’re making?”
Gilda nodded her head in agreement as Star Bolt replied, “Trust me Dash… you won’t like it.”

Gilda gave Star Bolt an annoyed look as Spitfire smiled and spoke, “Well I have some good news and some bad news.”
Applejack smiled, “Alright what’s the bad news?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well… actual you might want to hear the good news first, otherwise you won’t get the bad.”
Rarity asked, “Wait… does the bad news counteract the good?”
Spitfire nodded her head, “Well, kinda.”
Trying to cut to the chase, Star Bolt sighed, “Fine, whatever, just tell us already.”
Spitfire continued, “Well… we found the cave. But the route that was by hoof is completely worn away. If you want to get down there, flying is your only way.”

Star Bolt nodded his head, “Easy fix, Gilda, get some of your griffins to carry some of us down there. With my wing in bad shape and Twilights wings completely gone, there are only two of us that can fly on our own.”
Gilda nodded her head, “No prob, I'll gather my best and have them ready.”
Before Gilda could stand and do what she said, Star Bolt continued, “For now, just get you some food. We can do that later. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go find something that doesn’t have a face that we can eat.”
As Star Bolt trotted away, Rainbow Dash asked, “What does he mean by that?”
Gilda shrugged her shoulders, “Beats me dash. Here take a sip and tell me what you think?”
Rainbow Dash took the spoon that Gilda was stirring with, dipped it into the stew, and tasted it as she said to herself, “Hmm… I’ve never had this before. It isn’t bad.”
Rarity and Applejack looked at Rainbow Dash in worry as Gilda smiled, “You’re darn right! This stuff will put some real feathers on your chest.”

About an hour later, Star Bolt stood on the edge of the ravine as he looked into it. As hard as he tried, the ravine dug so deep into the ground that there was no hint of how deep it was since the bottom couldn’t be seen. Star Bolt opened his wing and looked at the bandage on it as he sighed, “Figures… the one time I need to fly, I can’t. Oh well, I’m sure the griffin ca…”
All of a sudden Star Bolt froze, as he started to sense something around him… something dark and evil. Usually Star Bolt would play it casual and act as if he couldn’t sense them, but with the amount of darkness in the area, he couldn’t. Star Bolt began looking around in worry as he mumbled to himself, “No… no not now… where are you… where are you… I know you’re here… show yourself monster.”
As he tried to find a hint of where Osiris was watching him from, Gilda approached him from behind as she spoke, “Commander I…”
In an anxiety formed reflex, Star Bolt drew his sword and swung it around in an attempt to strike her. Luckily, just as he realized who was talking, Star Bolt stopped the blade just one inch from her face as Gilda jumped back and fell to the ground in shock. Gilda was speechless as she looked into Star Bolt’s eyes as it went from, rage filled, to shocked, to worried, ending on apologetic, “Gilda… I’m… I’m sorry. I um… I didn’t expect you.”

Gilda slowly picked herself up from the ground as her worried expression stayed, “Y-you told me to meet you here… um… are you ok? You um… don’t look so well.”
With the sword still in his hoof, Star Bolt looked at the blade and sighed in relief, “I’m fine… just a little on edge.”
“A little?”
Star Bolt sheathed his sword as he replied, “Yea… a little.”
With the awkward moment still taking place, Rainbow Dash and Spitfire flew up as Spitfire started to speak, “Hey commander, we… um… are we interrupting?”
Both Gilda and Star Bolt wiped the awkward expressions from their faces as Star Bolt replied, “No… um… in fact you’re just in time.”
With the nervous expressions on both Star Bolt and Gilda’s faces, the two arriving pegasi looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders as Twilight, Zecora, Rarity and Applejack arrived. Twilight spoke, “Well we’re ready to go. How do you suggest we do this commander?”

Star Bolt looked back at Gilda and spoke, “You got the troops?”
Trying to forget the awkward moment Gilda replied, “Um… yea. They are waiting over there.”
Gilda pointed to a griffin formation as Star Bolt continued, “Alright, let’s go, Spitfire, Rainbow Dash, you two lead the way.”
The two nodded their heads as Gilda waved to the griffin formation. As soon as they got the signal, the griffins took to the skies as the small separated group approached the group of ponies and picked up, Rarity, Twilight, Zecora, Applejack, and Star Bolt. Then the group of griffins flew into the ravine as they followed the two leading pegasi and Gilda. As the group flew through the ravine, Rainbow Dash looked at Gilda and spoke quietly, “You mind telling me what all that was about?”
Gilda replied, “What? The signal to my troops?”
“Don’t play dumb, what happened? Are you crushing on the commander or something?”
“What? No! He just brought up a bad topic is all… nothing more so just drop it.”
Rainbow Dash wasn’t convinced but since Gilda wanted to forget it, she decided to let it go.

As the group of griffins flew through the ravine, Star Bolt couldn’t relax and enjoy the ride, primarily because he could still sense Osiris in the area, but since he didn’t want to worry the griffin flock and his friends, he kept his silence. Not long into their flight, Star Bolt’s worries came true as one of the following griffin that wasn’t carrying a pony screamed as something dropped from the sky and hit him like a hammer, tossing him straight down and into the darkness below. Star Bolt looked up and saw a dark cloud of sand hovering above as he called out, “EVERY GRIFFIN SPLIT UP! HE’S HERE! Twelve o’clock high!”
As the griffins looked to the sky, a number of black sand cylinders similar to the one that killed the rulers of the Crystal Empire began falling straight for the griffins as they began splitting up to avoid the surprise attack. With the splitting formation scattering in all directions, and the black cylinders hitting and devouring the scattering griffins, it wasn’t long before Star Bolt found that the griffins carrying the flightless ponies had almost lost complete sight of each other.

In an attempt to avoid being attacked directly, the griffins carrying Star Bolt and Zecora saw a fork in the ravine so they separated themselves from the rest of the formation. Star Bolt wanted to tell the griffin to turn back, but with the griffin preoccupied with dodging the incoming cylinders, he felt it wasn’t the best time. Star Bolt turned back to Zecora as the griffin carrying her followed him, “Zecora! Do you have anything that can help?”
Zecora nodded her head, “A potion for defense, is what you need. I think I have one, wi…”
Before she could finish her sentence, a cylinder fell and hit the griffin carrying Zecora as the cylinder quickly turned back into sand and started to spread over the griffin’s body. As the griffin started to feel the pain of the sand devouring him, he screamed as he dropped Zecora and began to fall. Star Bolt looked back as he screamed, “Zecora! Hey go back for her!”
The griffin that was carrying him replied, “What?! I can’t carry you both.”
In a fit of anxiety, Star Bolt drew his sword and placed it against the griffin’s talon as he replied, “Either we go back for her together… or I'll go after her alone! Your choice!”
Feeling the sharp blade against his wrist the griffin replied as he started to turn around, “Alright, alright, just don’t do anything rash, okay.”

As the griffin turned around and began diving for the falling zebra, the falling sand that was once the griffin carrying her turned into a spear and shot towards Star Bolt and his griffin escort. Before either of them could react, the spear pierced the griffin’s torso, threw him into the wall of the ravine, and nailed him there just barely missing his pony cargo. As the dying griffin took his last breath, he let go of the pegasus as Star Bolt fell onto a small ledge that sat just below him. As Star Bolt picked himself up, he didn’t waste a second as he rushed to the edge of the ledge and called out, “Zecora… ZECORA!... ZECORA!!!”
Star Bolt frantically looked into the darkness below him in hopes of seeing her, but it was no use. She had already fallen too far for him to see, and it was unknown whether or not she was ok. As Star Bolt continued searching the ravine, a small amount of sand formed behind him next to the wall as it took the form of Osiris, “Don’t bother commander… even if you tried, you can’t save her now.”
In a fit of rage, Star Bolt turned around and glared at the alicorn, “You… YOU SON OF A!!!”
Star Bolt drew his sword and sliced through the alicorn’s neck as the sand made body quickly reformed on the part the blade sliced through, “Now, now commander… you of all ponies know what risk awaits soldiers in battle. Did you really expect all of you to survive?”

Star Bolt then sheathed his sword as a cloud appeared above his head, “I'll KILL YOU!!!”
As a bolt of lightning came from the cloud and flew the two feet of space between him and Osiris, The Dark Alicorn quickly melted away into sand and dodged the attack as he reformed in midair just off the platform, “Perhaps some other time commander. In fact how about in Eden? Come to the tomb just below the palace. If you can make it there… then perhaps you will get your chance.”
Star Bolt turned towards Osiris and yelled, “SHUT UP!!!”
With his rage now controlling him, Star Bolt drew his sword as he sprinted to the edge, jumped off and swung at the hovering pony in the middle of the ravine. As Star Bolt’s blade and body hit the hovering alicorn, Osiris exploded into sand as he continued his airborne attack. As Star Bolt began to fall, he opened his wings and cringed at the pain as he glided to the wall on the other side of the ravine. When he reached the other side, Star Bolt stabbed his sword into the wall and was able to stop his fall and look back at the falling sand in rage, “Alicorn!.... I'll KILL YOU! COUNT ON IT!”
With his rage filled voice echoing through the ravine, Star Bolt held onto his sword as it suspended him on the wall of the ravine.

With tears rolling down his face, Star Bolt looked into the darkness below him as he spoke through his rage, “Zecora… no… I… I’m sorry…”
Star Bolt looked up as he saw Gilda and a few of her troops fly down to him, “I thought you were a goner. You alright?”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “Yea… are the others safe?”
Gilda nodded her head as she replied, “Yea, about ten of my griffin are missing plus your zebra friend.”
Gilda then looked around and saw the dead griffin who was still nailed to the wall of the ravine and continued, “Well, that counts for one of my griffin.”
Gilda then reached down and held Star Bolt as he pulled his sword from the wall and sheathed it. As they flew back, Gilda noticed that Star Bolt was a little quiet so she tried to break the ice, “You’re lighter than I expected commander, or maybe I’m stronger than I thought.”
Star Bolt didn’t speak, with his mind on the recent loss of his friend, he just couldn’t.

Not long after they left the site of the attack, Gilda arrived at a platform that sat just outside a cave in the side of the ravine. As they landed, Princess Twilight and the others rushed to his side, “Commander! Thank Celestia you’re all right. Have you seen Zecora? Was she with you?”
Star Bolt looked down in depression as he replied, “Yes and… yes…”
Applejack continued, “Well… where is she?”
Star Bolt sighed as he looked up and trotted past them ignoring the question, “Is this the cave? Alright, Gilda, gather your soldiers and let’s move out. He will be waiting for us in a tomb under the Castle of Eden.”
Trying to keep to the previous subject, Rainbow Dash asked, “Commander? Where is Zecora?”
“If we want to end this today, then I suggest we start moving now.”
Spitfire stepped forward, “How do you know he will be in a tomb under the castle?”
Continuing to ignore his friends Star Bolt turned to the griffin soldiers and called, “ALL SOLDIERS MOVE OUT!!!”

As Star Bolt turned to trot into the tunnel, Princess Twilight stepped in front of him, “Commander!... what happened? Where is Zecora?...”
Star Bolt looked away as he sighed, “She… she’s… gone.”
Everypony’s eyes widened as Rarity asked, “You mean… you mean she’s…”
“She would want us to continue… we owe it to her to finish this as soon as possible. Now quit wasting my time… and get moving! That… thing is waiting for us to end him… and that’s what I intend to do. ALL SOLDIERS MOVE OUT!!!”
With the rage filled voice, and a dead serious expression on his face, Star Bolt began trotting through the cave ahead of everypony as they all sat there amazed to see him this angry. As the group started to continue, Gilda walked close to Twilight as she asked, “Um… your majesty? Is this… normal? Right now he seems so scary… it’s freaking me out a bit.”
Princess Twilight replied, “You’re not alone… I’ve never seen him this angry before. It’s quite terrifying if you ask me.”
Gilda nodded her head, “Yea… it reminds me of all those stories my dad used to tell me… I wonder if this is the real Commander Bolt.”

As the group continued, they started to reach the other side of the cave as they stepped out of the damp darkness, and onto a hill that over looked a massive city filled with trees as if a forest had grown through it. As the group stared in awe at the city, Star Bolt spoke, “The city of Eden… we’ve finally arrived.”
Princess Twilight couldn’t help but marvel at the large castle that sat in the center of the city as she spoke, “Look at the detail in that castle… can you imagine what this city looked like all those centuries ago?”
Rarity added, “Craftsmanship that can last two millennia and still hold a tower that tall is definitely a sight to behold. Perhaps the alicorns truly were the most luxurious of all pony races.”
Gilda shook her head, “Well… it isn’t a griffin castle, but it’s not bad.”
Rainbow Dash added, “Common Gilda… even you can’t believe that a city this big is still standing after all these years.”
Star Bolt added, “Yea… but even with a forest, this place reeks of death.”

The group went silent for a second as Applejack continued, “He’s right… there ain’t a single sound of an animal in this entire place. A full city, covered in forestland, and surrounded by a wall of a volcano and yet there are no sounds of birds, bugs, or critters of any kind. It’s like nothin’ can survive here.”
Gilda asked, “Is it because The Dark Alicorn wiped them all out?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No… something tells me it was like that before…”
As Spitfire pointed towards the highest tower on the Castle of Eden, they saw Osiris trot out onto the balcony and stare directly at them. Then with a crooked smile on his face, he flung his large bat like wings out causing many large clumps of sand to scatter in all directions and fall into the city below. As soon as all the falling wads of sand had hit the ground, they each started to mold themselves into black phoenixes, as they looked towards their creator and paused.
With a smile on his face, Osiris spoke, “Kill them…”
Although the order seemed too soft for any of the sand made phoenix to hear, they all reacted by taking to the sky and swarming around the castle of Eden in a large black cloud that seemed similar to the Wonderbolts actions in Canterlot.

Seeing the impending death that awaited them only increased the griffin soldiers worry as a few of them stepped back in fear. Princess Twilight looked at the swarming phoenixes as she spoke, “He’s ready for us…”
Spitfire spoke next, “He… he will do everything he can to eliminate us… just like my Wonderbolts…”
Applejack nodded here head, “Well I ain’t gonna sugarcoat it… things don’t look too good for us.”
Gilda spoke next as she looked at Star Bolt, “On your order… commander.”
Spitfire looked at Star Bolt, “Commander?”
Then Twilight, “Star?”
Star Bolt then turned to see that everypony to include the griffins were looking at him waiting for instruction as he smiled and turned back towards the city, “We have to make it to the tomb under the castle… nothing else matters. If something happened to us, I just want to say it now. I’m glade I arrived in Ponyville. It gave me reason to fight… reason to continue forward. And now as I stand here... I know that I‘m risking it all for something important. As we all are.”

With those words still in mind Rarity stepped forward,, “For Sweetie Belle…”
then Applejack, “For my family and home.”
Spitfire added, “For my Wonderbolts!”
Then Rainbow Dash, “For Ponyville and Cloudsdale!”
Princess Twilight spoke next, “For Princess Celestia, Luna, And all of Equestria!”
Star Bolt smiled as he nodded his head, “For ponies everywhere…”
Gilda stepped forwards, “And griffins!”
Star Bolt saw the smiling faces of the entire group and nodded his head as he looked back to the Castle of Eden and the swarming sand phoenixes that surrounded it. Then he smiled peacefully as he took a step towards the castle, “Gilda… give the order to your troops. Our top priority is to get us all to the castle in one piece. From there Princess Twilight, her friends and I should be able to try using what elements we have against that monster.”

Gilda smiled as she nodded her head, “Got it commander.”
Star Bolt then looked at his friends, “We may only have four elements… but maybe that will be enough. We won’t know till we try, so let’s try to make it there together! Even you Spitfire, whether you carry an element or not, you’re still a good friend. And we can’t do this without you.”
Spitfire nodded her head, “Thanks commander… I just want to show that we are more than just acrobats.”
Star Bolt smiled as he turned back to the castle, “Gilda, make your command. The rest of us, FORWARD!”
With that call, Star Bolt, Twilight, Spitfire, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack rushed forward into the forest that surrounded the outer edge of the massive city. As they continued, Gilda called back to her troops, “We’ve fought long and hard for this day! Now it’s time to show this monster the real power of the griffin species! Protect the commander and his group; we have to help them get to the castle! NOW LETS GO!!!”
With that call, the griffin army let out a mighty roar that was a simple custom before battle in the Griffin Kingdoms.

Gilda smiled at her soldiers as she turned towards the castle and took to the sky, followed closely by her many soldiers. Osiris continued watching from his tower as he smiled, “So the griffin race remains an ally to the ponies… I guess even something’s will never change. No matter, they will die like the rest.”
With that said, the swarming sand phoenixes stopped their randomized flying around the castle and began flying towards the charging invaders. As Star Bolt continued his charge through the surrounding forests and into the outer rim of Eden, he looked up to see Gilda’s griffins flying over them, as they got closer to the center of the city. As they continued, Gilda approached him and flied alongside him as she asked, “Ok commander… what next? What’s the plan?”
Star Bolt continued as he replied, “I told you already… get to the castle, find a way into the tomb below it, and destroy The Dark Alicorn.”
“That’s it?”
“That’s it.”
Gilda seemed disappointed, “But… I thought there would be an elaborate battle tactic behind this.”
Star Bolt smiled, “The stories make it seem more planned out… but to be honest in most of my battles, I just winged it.”

Gilda could only smile as Star Bolt looked up, “INCOMING!”
As the group continued on their path, the phoenixes arrived at their location as they began diving trying to collide with the charging ponies as they dove from the sky and hit the ground like falling arrows. As the group dodged the diving phoenix and continued towards their goal, one phoenix tried to hit Gilda as she caught it with her metal gauntlet and slammed it against the ground as she smiled, “These things ain’t so tough.”
“Gilda! Your gauntlet!”
As Gilda continued flying alongside the group she looked at her gauntlet as sand residue started to spread across the outside of it. In shock, Gilda quickly unlaced the gauntlet and flung it off her talon as it hit the ground and dissolved into the sand that covered it. With shock, Gilda looked at Star Bolt, “What the world was that?”
Rainbow Dash flew alongside her as she replied, “That’s why this is harder than it looks. Don’t let the sand touch you. It’ll eat you alive.”
Gilda was shocked, “What? Then how are we supposed to fight this?”
Applejack replied, “Your guess is as good as ours.”
Star Bolt continued, “Like I said… Wing it.”

As the group made their way onto a main street that led strait to the castle, one of the attacking phoenix landed far ahead of them and stood next to a tower that sat along the road. Then as the group got close, the phoenix opened its wing and extended it in an almost supernatural way, as its edge solidified into a black blade, and sliced the bottom of the tower completely through it in a diagonal motion as if it were an enormous tree. As the top half of the tall tower started to slide off its base, Star Bolt looked at the tilting tower as he called out, “Everypony out of the street!”
The group of ponies plus Gilda quickly started going to the nearest building, but just as Star Bolt was nearing the door, the same phoenix that cut down the tower flew towards Star Bolt and struck the ground in front of him. Trying to avoid the sand made creature, Star Bolt tried to jump over it so he could continue running from the falling tower. However, while he was in midair, the creature melted into sand then turned into a vine as it wrapped itself around one of his hind legs, stopping him in the air, before throwing him back into the middle of the street, straight into the path of the falling tower.

As Star Bolt tried to pick himself up from the ground, he looked up and knew that he was completely out of time. However just as the tower was a few feet above him, Applejack came out of nowhere and pushed him out of the way before the tower came crashing down sending a cloud of dust into the air. As Star Bolt was tossed out of the dust from Applejacks actions, he quickly shuffled to his hooves as he rushed back to the rubble, “APPLEJACK!!!”
The ponies taking cover in the building didn’t waste a second, even before the dust started to settle the group came out of the building and approached the rubble as Princess Twilight called, “Applejack! Are you ok? Say something!!!”
Inside the rubble, Applejack picked herself up as she looked around trying to fan away the dust. As she looked around, she noticed that she was inside a small pocket inside the rubble with no way out, “I’m alright everypony… nothing to wor… Agh!”
Star Bolt heard her scream and asked, “Applejack! You all right? Are you hurt?”

When Applejack turned to look at where her pain was coming from, she saw that one of the support beams that held the tower together had pierced her back left hoof. And to make the matter worse, the same beam was the only thing keeping the rubble above her from falling in and crushing her. Still shocked by the pain, Applejack remained silent while Star Bolt asked again, “Applejack! Can you hear me? Are you ok? Applejack?!”
Applejack took a deep breath to numb the pain and replied, “I’m… I’m fine Commander… I just… just a little paine is all. You might want to continue on without me!”
Rarity tried to argue, “Don’t be ridiculous Applejack! We can’t possibly continue without…”
“Just go! I ain’t gettin’ out of here anytime soon and if ya waste anymore time The Dark Alicorn will get ya’ll before ya have a chance to face him!”
Rainbow Dash spoke, “What are you, nuts! If we leave you here The Dark Alicorn will get you for sure!”
Twilight added, “And we need as many of the Element there as we can get! Please Applejack, there has got to be a way to get you out of th…”
“They’re coming back around! We gotta go now!!!”

After Gilda made the call, everypony looked into the sky to see the swarm of phoenixes swing around and come back for another strike. Just as the sand made phoenixes approached, the griffin soldiers overhead charged and halted the phoenixes as they effortlessly fought back. However it still seemed like a one sided fight from the ground. Star Bolt looked at the group and spoke, “She’s right!... I'd hate to say it, but we gotta leave her behind!...”
Applejack replied, “There ya see! The commander agrees with me. Besides, as long as I’m in here The Dark Alicorn won’t know where I am!”
The rest of the group looked at Twilight who could only sigh, “Well if you say it will be alright… then we have no choice. Stay safe Applejack we’ll be back to get you before too long”
Feeling light headed from her blood loss, Applejack replied, “Take your time! I ain’t in any hurry…”
Star Bolt turned back to the road as he spoke, “Let’s go!... Applejack will be fine! We gotta get to the castle!”

Star Bolt could tell by the look on every ponies face that they didn’t like what they were doing, but since it was insisted by both Applejack and Star Bolt, they only nodded their heads and agreed as Princess Twilight replied, “Lead the way commander.”
As the group turned to continue down the road, Star Bolt could only keep his thought to himself as he assumed that Applejack was fatally injured. However, since he didn’t want to worry Twilight and the others, he could only keep silent. After the group was gone, Applejack laid on the ground where she was stuck, as she felt weaker and weaker with every second. “I… I did the right thing… Big Mac, Applebloom, and Granny Smith would be proud.”
Just then, sand started to seep in through the rubble as it gathered in front of her and turned into Osiris, “Funny… I didn’t expect the Element of Honesty to be so… dishonest with her own friends. Although, I can’t say I blame you. Even the most honest of us will give it all up when we want to protect somepony. Isn’t that right Applejack?”

Applejack tried to pick herself up as she sneered at the alicorn, “How… do you know my name?”
Osiris smiled, “Oh Applejack, I know well more than that. Your little sister’s name was Applebloom, your brother, Big Mackintosh. You owned and worked a farm called Sweet Apple Acers in the quaint little town of Ponyville. Everything about your life I know simply because I gained the memories of those who knew you. It’s a simple little trick that was gained when I created the Elements.”
Applejack sneered at the alicorn as she replied, “And I’m supposed to believe you created the Elements of Harmony?”
Osiris shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t expect you to believe anything, since you won’t live much longer to use it. Anyway back to business… are you ready to meet your end? Go ahead and speak your last words, I'll let you have that much.”
Applejack looked at the beam that went through her back hoof then at the rubble that it was holding. Then she sneered at Osiris as she spoke her last words, “Suck on these apples!”
with that said, Applejack used every bit of strength she could muster, to raise her other rear hoof and kick the beam as hard as she could causing it to shift just fae enough so that it stopped supporting the rubble above, as it all fell and caved in on top of them both. Shortly afterwards, the sand that made up the evil entity seeped out from below the rubble as it formed up and recreated Osiris just outside the destroyed tower, “Well spoken, earth pony... although it was a useless sacrifice.”

Further into the city, the group of ponies and the griffin commander arrived outside the castle of Eden as they looked at the massive structure. Then Gilda spoke “Okay… we are here… now what?”
Star Bolt quickly looked around “Crap!... I don’t know where the entrance will be!”
Princess Twilight thought to herself, “If the tomb is under the castle then there has to be an entrance similar to a cellar or dungeon.”
Gilda looked to the side of the castle and saw a part of the ground that looked like it had caved in as she pointed, “What about that? That looks like it will lead underground!”
as the group looked in the direction, Spitfire replied, “That’s gotta be it! let’s go befo…”
before Spitfire could finish her sentence, the group heard a crumbling sound that caught all their attention. The group quickly looked at the castle to see that the large stone blocks that made up the castle’s walls were being pushed out of place by black sand causing the top blocks to fall into the spaces and the rest of the building to crumble under its own weight. As the castle started to crumble around them, Star Bolt yelled, “Everypony hurry and get in before the castle comes down on top of us!”

The group quickly rushed to the caved in ground as the castle came crumbling down on top of them. Just as the group got close enough to the tombs entrance, the wall that sat beside it collapsed as the roof of the castle’s segment slid over the cave and covered the only entrance to their goal. Reacting immediately as he arrived, Star Bolt tried to lift the roof to reveal the entrance, however even with all his strength, the roof didn’t budge. As the rest of the group arrived, Princess Twilight and Rarity tried all they could to assist with their magic while everypony else tried lifting with their hooves, however the roof only raised up a few inches, still not enough for anypony to squeeze through. Star Bolt tried cheering them on in an effort to boost motivation, “Common! We have to get this up! This is our last obstacle! Try harder!”
As the group focused all their strength on the roof, Gilda finally approached as she smiled, “Step aside!”
With all the strength, she had and the assist of Rarity and Twilights magic, Gilda placed her talons under the roof and managed to lift some of it up. It was only about a foot and a half, but it was still enough. With the roof just slightly up, Gilda called, “GO! HURRY!!!”

Star Bolt took a few steps back, before charging towards the hole, and sliding under the roof as he fell in and landed in the tomb below. as soon as he landed, Star Bolt drew his sword and looked around, but once he saw that the coast was clear, he looked back and yelled, “Hurry up and get down here!”
Gilda looked back at the remaining ponies and added, “Hurry!... I cant hold it for much longer.”
One by one, the rest of the ponies mimicked Star Bolt’s actions in entering the underground tomb. First Spitfire, next Twilight, then Rarity. However, as Rainbow Dash approached the roof to enter she looked at the strain on Gilda’s face and asked, “Wait… how are you supposed to get in?”
Gilda smiled through her strain, “Ya really want to know Dash?”
Gilda gestured her head telling Rainbow Dash to come closer, then as Rainbow Dash approached her friend, Gilda reached up with one talon and grabbed her by the back of her neck, “I wont…”
Without letting Rainbow Dash do anything, Gilda pushed Rainbow Dash under the roof and into the tomb then let the roof fall on top sealing the tomb with her friends inside.

As soon as Rainbow Dash hit the ground, she quickly picked herself up and looked at the covered entrance, “GILDA!!! You need to come with us! We need your help too!”
Gilda turned around and sighed as she could see the phoenixes finish off the remaining griffin in the sky and started flying towards her, “Dash!... you and your friends will be fine! I know if anypony can handle this, it’s the coolest friend I have ever had. And not to mention you have Commander Bolt with you so that makes your odds even better. But as for me… well… there’s a silly pink pony I have to say something to. And if I’m good for anything… then I'll be good to apologies to her.”
Rainbow Dash tried to argue, “But!... Gilda! We can’t leave you too! We’ve lost enough friends for one day!... please, I don’t want to lose you too!”
Gilda smiled, as she looked at the claws on her remaining gauntlet, “Friend… that’s all I ever wanted to hear from you Dash…”
Rainbow Dash started to tear up as she called through the cover to the tomb, “GILDA!!!”
With tears starting to build up in her eyes too, Gilda readied herself as she looked at the attacking phoenix, “Come and get me dweebs… I got a score to settle. Compliments of my dad!”
And with that said, Gilda let out one final terrifying roar and she raised the gauntlet up and charged the assaulting sand made phoenixes.

After hearing the mighty roar from inside the tomb, Rainbow Dash dropped to a knee and began crying as Star Bolt put his hoof on her shoulder, “Common Dash… she knows what she’s doing.”
Twilight sat down and sighed, “One after another...”
Star Bolt looked at the depressed faces as he spoke up, “They gave their lives for this… the least we can do is try to finish him. Otherwise, they died for nothing!”
Rainbow Dash stood up and snapped at him, “Easy for you to say! They weren’t your friends, their lives didn’t even matter t…”
Before Rainbow Dash could finish, Star Bolt punched her knocking her to the ground. As everypony stared at him in shock, he spoke, “Don’t ever say that… Zecora saved my life long before she even met you! Applejack gave me work when I needed it and saved my life as her final act of courage. Gilda says she owed me her life for saving her… but I still owed her mine, for the friendship her ancestor gave me. They were my friends too. And just like my last set of friends, they gave their lives for what they believed in… if you want to blame this on me, then go right ahead and do it! But don’t you ever say that their lives didn’t matter to me. Believe it or not, I’m just as devastated as you… but you know when the best time to morn a fallen friends is? Its after the battle ends, because if you don’t win, then you can’t.”

After realizing what she said, Rainbow Dash rubbed her cheek, “I’m… I’m sorry commander… I’m just…”
Star Bolt continued, “We have to continue… I don’t know about you, but I want to end this as soon as possible. Oh… and Dash?”
Star Bolt smiled, “You’re my friend too, if you fall, I'll be just as devastated. Remember that.”
With nothing more to say, Star Bolt began trotting through the underground corridor, as Rarity helped Rainbow Dash off the ground and spoke, “Crying doesn’t suit you Rainbow Dash. You’re way too tough for that… even Gilda would agree.”
Rainbow Dash wiped the tears from her eyes as she nodded her head, “You’re right… thanks Rarity.”
Rarity smiled as the four ponies started following Star Bolt through the corridor and further into the tomb.

Slowly the group of ponies continued deeper and deeper into the tomb until Star Bolt looked ahead and saw that the long corridor finally fed into a much larger room. Seeing the main chamber ahead, the group stopped as Star Bolt looked back and asked, “Ready everypony?”
The group nodded their head as Twilight replied, “Well… as ready as we’ll ever be.”
Star Bolt replied, “Well… that’s close enough.”
Slowly the group continued to enter the chamber, however just as they got close to the entrance, black sand shot up from the ground and solidified just in front of them, sealing the tomb ahead. Reacting to the surprise, Star Bolt yelled, “IT’S A TRAP!!!”
Acting quickly the group turned around to flee, but before they could move, another wall of sand shot up behind them and solidified, sealing them in a small segment of the corridor. In an attempt to free themselves, Star Bolt drew his sword and began striking the glass as everypony else tried punching or kicking the glass hoping to break it. Nevertheless, the wall remained stationary with no signs of cracks, chipping or even scratching from the attacks.

While continuing their attempts at freedom, they heard a loud cracking sound as a large crack stretched across the ceiling and black sand began pouring into the room in large amounts. As the room quickly filled with the sand everypony tried all they could to get out, however no matter how hard they tried, the glass walls didn’t budge and before they knew it, the sand had already filled half of the room as they struggled to keep their heads above it. As the sand continued pouring in Rainbow Dash spoke, “It’s no use!... I can’t get out! What do we do now?”
Spitfire replied, “Keep trying! There has to be a way out of this! Commander? Can you use the Lightning Orb to free us?”
Star Bolt sighed, “I’ve been trying to do that since the sand completely covered the floor. The floors bottom became a sheet of glass… I can’t transfer electricity through it.”
Twilight gave him a look of disappointment, “So… this is it… isn’t it?”
Star Bolt nodded his head as Rarity frantically looked around, “No! I can’t forfeit now. What abou…”
Rainbow Dash interrupted “Face it Rarity! He won! We lost! Its over!”

After hearing Rainbow Dash’s remark, Spitfire looked at the ground in disappointment, “So… this is the end of us… and the pony race?”
Star Bolt looked at the rising sand in disappointment as he replied, “We did our best… and even if it wasn’t enough, I'd like to think that those we cared about would be proud that we made it this far.”
The group had depressed looks on their faces as the sand continued pouring in to the room. Then all of a sudden, it stopped. The group looked around in confusion as the level of sand stayed just below their chins, but as they did, Rarity screamed and she was pulled beneath the surface of the sand. Rainbow Dash called out, “RARITY!”
Then without warning Spitfire was pulled down next, followed closely by Rainbow Dash. As the two pegasi vanished from view, Twilight called out, “Rainbow Dash! Spitfire! Star? What do we d…”
Before she could finish her question, Princess Twilight was pulled under the sand just like the rest leaving Star Bolt alone, “Twilight!”
Star Bolt tried effortlessly to free himself, but just as he expected, he felt something wrap around his neck under the top layer of sand, and jerk him down deeper until he couldn’t see. Star Bolt continued trying to free himself but it was no use, with the weight of the sand immobilizing him and preventing him from breathing, Star Bolt slowly lost consciousness and he heard Osiris’s voice say two simple words, “Sweet Dreams…”

Ch21 Director?... Wingmare?... Captain?...

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Slowly Rarity opened her eyes as she looked around, “Wha… where am I?”
“Miss Rarity? What do you think?”
As Rarity looked around, she realized she was sitting inside of a director’s stool with many ponies in the room looking directly at her. At first, she didn’t know where she was, but then the setting seemed familiar as she realized she was in an empty showroom for models. As she looked around, she could see many ponies that were simple behind the scene ponies in a show and one particular model who was standing in stage looking nervous. Rarity rubbed her eyes as she started to ask, “What’s happening? Where…”
The pony standing next to her immediately looked at the model and spoke, “It’s apparent to say that your performance was so dreadful, it caused even Miss Rarity to lose sense of what’s going on. Get out of our sight! You’re fired!”
The mare on stage galloped off the stage and out the door crying as the snobby pony looked back at Rarity and spoke, “my apologies Miss Rarity. If I had known she was so terrible, I wouldn’t have suggested her to you in the first place. Please forgive me though I know I don’t deserve it.”

Rarity gave the pony a funny look as she tried to understand what was happening, “um… pardon me, but, where is Princess Twilight?”
The pony looked at a clipboard as he shifted through the pages, “Hmm, Twilight… Twilight… ah here it is. Meeting with Princess Twilight… I’m sorry Miss Rarity but you’re not scheduled to talk with her for another week.”
Rarity was confused, “Another week? Can’t we schedule it sooner I think I… wait… what am I doing. Tell me where am I? What happened to Princess Twilight, The Dark Alicorn, and Eden?”
The assistant gave her a funny look as he replied, “my apologies Miss Rarity, but I don’t think i understand. You’re in Canterlot, overlooking the additions for this year’s Pony of Ponies Fashion Show.”
Rarity immediately became excited, “wait, you mean The Pony of Ponies Fashion Show… the most luxurious show in the entire world!”
The assistant smiled, “But of course, and what better pony to judge this year’s models then the duchess of the fashion industry herself?”
Rarity became anxious, “really? who?”
The stallion laughed, “Oh Miss Rarity, your humor is simply divine.”
As the stallion laughed at what he assumed was a joke, the surrounding staff started to laugh too although most of it seemed to be fake just so they could be a part of the herd.

As soon as the laughter died down, the assistant replied, “Why, it’s you of course. There isn’t a pony in the world more suitable for the position than The Rarity! By the way, not only is it unheard of to have this year’s show in Canterlot, but it’s a very bold and amazing idea.”
Although Rarity loved hearing this, it still didn’t divert her from her own situation, “But… what about my friends?... I mean, where is Mr. Bolt and everypony else?”
The assistant looked at his schedule and replied, “Hmm… nope I don’t see anything planned by a Mr. Bolt. Maybe you should get in contact with his agent then we can fit him in somewhere. The next avalale time you have is in about… four months.”
Rarity shook her head, “No… what I mean is, how did I get here? A few minutes ago I was in Eden, how did I arrive in Canterlot so suddenly and why is everything normal… I thought The Dark Alicorn destroyed everything.”
The stallion thought to himself as he replied, “OH! I get it… EVERYPONY! You heard Miss Rarity! Everything seems normal… And we all know that normality equals failure! You must step up your efforts if you want to please her… otherwise; I believe I shall terminate your position in fashion… Permanently.”

Rarity sighed as she put her hoof on her face, “no… what I mean to say is this isn’t what I expected at all… I was expecting more of a dark and terrifying appeal from my surroundings. Mainly life threatening for a chance to defeat The Dark Alicorn and avenge Ponyville.”
The assistant became excited, “YES! YES! I LOVE IT! Post-apocalyptic theme, something of which fashion has never seen before! Very bold choice Miss Rarity! I love the idea and I will have our decorators prepare for it immediately. This is why you’re the top name in fashion! None can match your vision!”
The surrounding ponies applauded in the idea, although Rarity sighed as she gave up, “oh never mind! I'll go find them myself!”
As Rarity, left the room the assistant turned to the crowed and called out, “Alright everypony just because Miss Rarity is gone doesn’t mean you can slack off… she demands perfection and I won’t accept nothing less. Now chop chop. Let’s get this theme ready, the show is in forty eight hours and I will not let Miss Rarity have even so much as a hint of embarrassment form the likes of you!”

Rarity could only roll her eyes at the rude pony’s comments to the staff as she trotted out the doors of the showroom and into the lobby. The bellhop in the lobby saw her and smiled kindly as he bowed in respect, “good evening Miss Rarity, is there anything that you require?”
Rarity replied, “Do you happen to know where I can find a newspaper?”
The bellhop smiled as he trotted to a nearby counter and pulled out a newspaper for her. As soon as Rarity looked through the paper, nothing seemed to make since, there was nothing in the paper about the disaster that befell Canterlot, Ponyville, Gryphus, or any of the lost cities. And to make it even more confusing, the date on the paper was the exact same date as the attack on Eden so she knew she didn’t miss anything time wise. As she looked through it, she gave the paper back to the stallion and spoke, “Um sir? Do you know where I can find Princess Twilight?”
The bellhop thought to himself before he replied, “well she is probably at the castle, with Princess Celestia.”
Rarity smiled as she hastily rushed out the door, “thank you sir, I know the way.”

As Rarity rushed into the streets of Canterlot, she looked around in amazement as she continued to the castle, “nothing is damaged…. The city looks as if the whole disaster never happened. Maybe Twilight can explain this to me. I feel as if something is frightfully wrong.”
As she rushed to the gates of the Canterlot castle, she was stopped suddenly as the gate guards crossed their spears over her path as one spoke, “Halt! Who goes there?”
Rarity replied, “I… I beg your pardon… I’m a friend of Princess Twilight and I must see her. Could you be a dear and retrieve her for me? It’s a matter of great importance.”
The two guard’s looked at each other as one replied, “Wait here…”
as the one guard turned around and went into the castle, the other held his ground as he stared at Rarity with a serious and awkward stare. After a few minutes of the awkward stare, the second guard returned with Princess Twilight talking to him, “of great importance? I wonder wha… oh… it’s you…”

When Princess Twilight expression of curiosity went to an unamused stare of annoyed anxiety, Rarity couldn’t help but feel offended at her tone as she asked, “Princess Twilight? Are you okay?”
Twilight sighed, “Well I was… but then somepony who betrayed her friends decided to pay me a visit.”
Rarity asked, “Really?... who?”
Princess Twilight replied with sarcasm, “Oh ha, ha, ha. Very funny… what do you want Rarity? Come to brag on your social popularity?”
Continuing to feel offended Rarity asked, “Twilight? What is going on? One minute we are in Eden facing The Dark Alicorn, then I’m judging the additions for the most luxurious fashion show in the world, and then I find you here and you’re acting so coldly towards me… what’s the matter?”
Twilight sighed, “I know you’re proud of all the fame you gained when you turned your back on us… but do you think I can be intimidated by you when you come here and rub it in? If you’re such a big shot now, then why don’t you go back and be a big shot instead of coming here to insult me like this. Good bye Rarity… have a nice life.”
With an annoyed action, Princess Twilight turned around and began trotting back into the castle as Rarity tried to stop her, “Twilight darling please! Tell me wha…”
Before she could finish, the guards crossed their spears in front of her again as one spoke followed closely by the other, “You heard the Princess!”
“I believe her words were, Good Bye!”

Rarity started to tear up as she watched Princess Twilight turn the corner and disappear from her sight. Then she turned around and trotted to the street as she sat on the curb and sighed, “I… I don’t get it… why was she so rude? That wasn’t like Twilight at all… and she says I abandon my friends… what’s going on?”
As Rarity tried to think about what was happening, she looked up the sidewalk to see spike walking towards her, out of excitement she called out, “Spike! You’re all right! I’m ever so happy to see that you’re safe and unharmed.”
Spike felt awkward as Rarity rushed to him and hugged him, “I… um… yea… I’m fine Rarity… why wouldn’t I be? Wait… I probably shouldn’t be talking to you.”
Rarity put him down as she asked, “what? But… why?”
Spike replied, “Well, Twilight and the others are still a little mad about what you did.”
Rarity decided to asked, “I can tell… what was it I did to anger them so? A second ago she was talking to me like I had disgraced her crown or something like that.”

Spike replied in surprise, “wait… you mean you don’t remember? It was about a year ago, when you came to Canterlot on business. Well needless to say, you gained a bunch of friends that were noble and upper class ponies and became real popular with them. So much in fact that when we came to visit you… you denied even knowing us. You called us a bunch of country bumpkins and gave us the cold shoulder while your new friends poked fun at us to our faces. Not long after that, you moved out of Ponyville and into Canterlot. It was from that point on that Twilight and the others decided that they didn’t want to even know you anymore. But what do I know, it isn’t like I’ve been keeping tabs on everything you’ve done both before and after you left Ponyville.”
Spike blushed as Rarity sat down in confusion, “but… I did claim them to be my friends… and even though I felt a little embarrassed, I still stood by them in the end.”
“No… you didn’t. You shunned us and joined the nobles in making fun of how common we all were. I mean I know I’m not as civilized as you are and I know that a pony like you is far above me as fare as value goes… but even a dragon like me has feelings…. I’m sorry Rarity… but I gotta go.”

Spike turned around and started walking past the guards and into the castle as tears continued rolling down Rarity’s face, “this… this can’t be true… Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Spike are all my friends… how could I have treated them so cruelly? That… that isn’t the real me… that’s now what I would do at all and… what about Mr. Bolt? Where is he in all this?.”
As rarity tried to understand what was going on, the stallion from the fashion theater rushed to her and spoke, “Miss Rarity! Thank Celestia you’re all right. I’ve been galloping everywhere trying to find you. We must get back and finish choosing the models for the show in a few days. Now isn’t the time to doddle.”
Feeling like there was no reason to be at the Canterlot castle, Rarity wiped the tears from her eyes and replied, “Oh… alright then… I’m on my way.”
As Rarity turned down the road and began trotting back to the theater, she glanced back at the castle gates one last time as she sighed, “good bye Twilight. I hope I won’t burden you any longer…”

With depression and guilt weighing down on her conscience, Rarity trudged back to the theater and back to her director’s chair so she could finish the task she was told that she had to do. With each passing dress and design, Rarity couldn’t get her mind on what she was doing. Even with the most intriguing and unique designs that would usually send her into a fit of delight, her expression stayed the same. She just couldn’t focus at all. Nevertheless, she tried to remain professional like the rest of the stage workers expected, so she carefully choose of which designs were the best until one particular design caught her eye. It was a black dress with see through lacing around the collar. As the model, wearing the dress made her way to the center of the stage the announcer spoke, “Next up we have a lusciously dark dress that is perfect for a formal party. Note the dark see through lacing on the collar that not only gives this dress a mystic illusion, but also beautifully changes the appeal for what particular event this dress is meant for. And look at that sheen. Why even Princess Luna wouldn’t know how to change the night to accommodate for the natural elegance that this dress holds. Not only that, but the collar can be removes and used as a vial to change the theme for either a funeral dress or just a dark and gloomy wedding. Proof positive that even the simplest change can make all the difference.”

As the model stood on the stage and posed, the assistant looked at Rarity and asked, “Magnificent, don’t you think Miss Rarity? So is she another addition to the show?”
Rarity didn’t pay any mind to the assistant, for the time being her eyes were focused on the black lacing as she mumbled to herself, “Illusion… the simplest change can make the difference… so… that’s what I have to do. It’s so simple, I’m a little embarrassed, I didn’t see it before?”
The assistant tried to piece together what he could hear as he replied, “so… that’s a yes then Miss Rarity?”
Rarity looked at the assistant and shook her head, “this is wrong… this is all wrong. You decide yourself, I’m leaving.”
Rarity stood up and began trotting out of the auditorium as the assistant followed her, “But Miss Rarity, we aren’t finished here yet, we still have seven more models to see.”
Rarity replied, “I hope you don’t find me rude, but choose them yourself.”

Rarity stopped as she turned towards the assistant and spoke, “This isn’t where I should be, though I’ve always wanted this opportunity, I don’t want to trade it for my friends. So thanks but no thanks.”
Rarity started to turn back as the assistant pleaded, “What are you saying Miss Rarity? Does… does this mean that I’m fired?”
Rarity replied, “No… it means that I quit! I’m wasting too much time here and not spending it trying to get my friends back. Fame is glamorous… but sharing the spotlight with my friends is what my generosity is all about… and if I can’t share that spotlight… then I won’t stand in it. Besides something tells me that none of this is real. And if it isn’t, then I must find out how to get back to my real friends and help them, but I can only do that with Princess Twilight’s help.”
The assistant grabbed her by one of her back hooves as he fell to the ground, “But you can’t leave! If you do, then your career will end… and so will mine! Please Miss Rarity! We need your insight!”
Rarity looked at the pathetic stallion as she sighed, “Darling please! Get a grip, and by that, I mean let go. Your career doesn’t have to end with me, today I saw many dresses with many talented designers behind them. I bet if you gave it a shot, one of them will surely hire you. Nevertheless, I’m going home. And that’s final.”

Rarity shook the stallion from her hoof and looked forward to continue leaving but as she did, she found out that the path she was trotting had disappeared. Feeling confused, Rarity turned around only to see that everything behind her to include the assistant, the models, and the stage had also vanished leaving her completely alone. Rarity tried looking in all directions but all she could find was empty darkness. Now she was not only confused, but she was a little worried as she called out, “Um… Hello!... is… is anypony there!... I seemed to have gotten myself lost!...”
there was no reply, there wasn’t even an echo of her voice as she looked around in confusion. Finally, she decided to try trotting forward but as she took her first step, the ground cracked up as if she were trotting over a thin layer of black glass. As she lifted her hoof to look at the red crack on the ground, the crack all of a sudden started to spread in all directions as it scattered across the ground and covered it completely. As soon as the ground was covered, the distant horizon of the seemingly infinite abyss also started to crack up as everything around her looked as if she were trapped in a cracking glass room

Rainbow Dash opened her eyes to see that she was flying thought the air at a high speed, but what really caught her attention was the that she was coming in too low on an acrobat ring in front of her. Trying to avoid the obstacle, Rainbow Dash rolled around till she was upside down before just barely making it through the ring as the lower part of it grazed her back. After making it through the ring, Rainbow Dash stopped and started checking herself for injuries, but it wasn’t injuries from the ring she was looking for, but from the sand. After seeing that her body was completely unharmed, Rainbow Dash looked in all direction to figure out where she was. It didn’t take her long to realize she was at the Wonderbolts personal obstacle course just outside of Cloudsdale. As she looked around in confusion another pegasus flew up to her, “You alright Dash? You never hesitate like that, need a break?”

When Rainbow Dash turned around, she saw Spitfire hovering behind her as she spoke, “Spitfire! What happened? Where are we?”
Spitfire gave her a funny look as she replied, “um… we are at the practice course… why? Don’t tell me you pushed even your most recent memories from your mind. You should probably get some rest; I wouldn’t want my number one wing to fall out when we do tomorrow’s show?”
Rainbow Dash lost sight of the situation for a second, “Number one wing… You mean… I… am your number one wing! Me! Captain Spitfire’s Number one wing!!!”
Spitfire smiled, well “Yea… you’ve been my number one for a few weeks now. In fact we are practically partners.”
Rainbow Dash’s excitement took over, “Oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh, oh-my-gosh!”

Spitfire rolled her eyes with a smile as she replied to the sudden outburst, “Wow Dash… I though you would have gotten past this stage a long time ago.”
Rainbow Dash continued, “Well what do you expect, I’ve wanted this ever since I was a little filly and now that it’s happened I can be more ha… wait a sec… I’m getting off subject. Where is everypony Spitfire? Did we win?”
Spitfire was confused as she replied, “win? No because the show tomorrow is just a show, not a competition. Also it’s tomorrow, so we didn’t even do it yet… did you bump your head or something Dash?”
Rainbow Dash rubbed her head as she replied, “no… or at least I don’t think I did. So where are the others?”
Spitfire replied, “Soarin and the other Wonderbolts are taking the day off before the competition. I think we should too, but if you’re still up for practicing then far be it for me to question my wingmare.”

Rainbow Dash loved hearing Spitfire call her that, but she tried to stay on subject, “no, I mean where are Twilight and the others?”
Spitfire replied, “Well they should be in Ponyville.”
Rainbow Dash was shocked, “Ponyville… but I thought that was destroyed… but then again, I thought Cloudsdale was destroyed too… but… isn’t that where we’re?”
Spitfire was now completely confused, “um… yea. Dash? Maybe you should sit down or something. You don’t seem to be yourself right now.”
Rainbow Dash put her hoof on her head as she slowly landed on a nearby cloud and replied, “I… I guess I don’t feel like myself right now. The last thing I remember, I was in Eden with you, Princess Twilight, Rarity, and Commander Bolt.”
Spitfire smiled, “whoa, I know I zone out when I go though the same routine and all, but I’ve never had a daydream that extensive before.”

Rainbow Dash gave Spitfire a funny look, “Daydream… how do you know it was a daydream?”
Spitfire replied, “Well, first of all, I’ve never heard of a place called Eden and I’ve been all over Equestria. Second, Commander Bolt? There is no way in Luna’s shadow that you could have met Commander Bolt.”
Rainbow Dash got offended, “what?... and why would you say that?”
Spitfire replied, “Well, the only Commander Bolt I know of is dead.”
Spitfire was surprised by Rainbow Dash’s outburst, “uh… yea… he’s been dead for quite a while now.”
Rainbow Dash was in disbelief as she sat down, “But… how? Was it The Dark Alicorn?”
Spitfire couldn’t help but laugh, “what?... no… he died more then a thousand years ago.”
“Well, yea don’t you remember Princess Luna telling us the story? Commander Star Bolt, high commander of the Nightmare Legion met his end in the Battle Of Canterlot when he and his most trusted officer failed to flee the city after calling the retreat.”

Rainbow Dash couldn’t believe it, “No… this isn’t right. I know he was alive and I was with him a second ago. He was right beside me. We fought our way into The Dark Alicorn’s tomb, we charged through Eden dodging falling buildings and black phoenixes. Gilda and Applejack both died trying to save us! There is no way he could have died. Not then, and not now…”
Spitfire was confused, “Dash? Princess Luna said so herself… she saw his body. They buried it under this city with the officer. He’s gone… but Applejack, and Gilda are both fine. In fact, Gilda was the first griffin accepted into the Wonderbolts academy. Isn’t that great!”
Rainbow Dash was too confused the think about Spitfire’s comment. All she knew was that none of this was right. As skeptic as she was about most things, she knew for a fact that whatever she was hearing or seeing at this very moment, wasn’t right. As she stood in silence trying to get her head around what was going on, Spitfire saw her stress so she sighed, “Well Dash, I think we should call it a day. It’s obvious that you’re overworking yourself and we both need our strength tomorrow. If I were you, I’d head home and get some rest, you look like you need it.”
Rainbow Dash didn’t reply, she only nodded her head as Spitfire flew back into Cloudsdale.

Later that day as the sun was setting, Rainbow Dash found her way to the cemetery below Cloudsdale, where she found a large statue that looked exactly like Star Bolt and Gem Stone standing side by side. When she approached the statue, she looked at the text and read it aloud, “Here lie the Great Commander Star Bolt and Captain Gem Stone of the Nightmare Legion. These two ponies put their loyalty before even their lives and died doing everything in their power to accomplish their mission and please their Princess. Though their sacrifice was in vain, it shall never be forgotten for their courage, determination and selflessness is a true testimony to the pride and power of Royal Guards everywhere. Though they may be gone, their legacy will be everlasting.”
Rainbow Dash looked at the serious expression of both statues as they stood side by side in the pedestal, then she sighed, “This can’t be true… you’re too strong to die like that commander. I can’t believe that you’re actually dead. You led us into the depths of Eden… nopony that has the power to lead us that far could ever fall. Not there… not in the place this statue says. There is something wrong with what’s happening around here, I don’t know what it is yet… but I’m gonna find ou…”
“Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow Dash turned around to see Princess Luna approach her from behind, “Princess Luna? You’re alright.”
Princess Luna smiled pleasantly, “I honestly don’t know what you mean by that… but I’m fine if that’s what you’re asking. Are you here to pay respects to Commander Bolt too? I didn’t know you had any interest in him.”
Rainbow Dash looked back at the statue and replied, “Well… he was my friend too.”
Princess Luna was confused, “Your friend? What do you mean?”
Rainbow Dash sighed as she mumbled to herself, “that’s right, I didn’t know him… did I?”
Rainbow Dash the turned to Luna and replied to her question, “well… what I mean is… um… his story motivated me to push myself to where I am today.”
Princess Luna smiled, “Ah, I see… well. I just wanted to pay my respects to him. He was one of my best commanders after all.”
Rainbow Dash nodded her head, “yea… but this doesn’t make sense.”
Princess Luna gave her a curious look as Rainbow Dash continued, “Um… Princess Luna? You say he died over a thousand years ago… right?”
Luna nodded her head, “Correct, he died during The Battle of Canterlot.”

Rainbow Dash looked at the ground in disappointment as Luna saw her expression “Is something wrong?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “I just don’t understand what’s going on. I know it sounds crazy… but what if I told you that I was talking with him yesterday?”
Luna smiled in a joking manner, “You’re right… I does sound crazy.”
Rainbow Dash sighed, “I just don’t understand it… one minute I was with him, Princess Twilight, Rarity, and Spitfire in Eden. Then the next I was he…”
Princess Luna was amazed, “Eden?... how do you know about Eden?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “I told you already… I was there. It is inside a volcano on the other side of the Griffin Kingdoms.”
Princess Luna couldn’t believe it, “I… I and sister never told anypony about Eden… not even Star Bolt.”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well it wouldn’t matter anyway… apparently nopony believes that I was really there. But I know I was there… it was too real to see it as anything else.”

Princess Luna thought to herself for a second, “Well… I know for a fact that Eden is gone since the volcano it sat in became active again… but, maybe there is a possibility that what happened could truly be real.”
Rainbow Dash gave Luna a blank stare as she replied, “… uh… Kay?... Wait… what?”
Luna explained, “I can’t say in all honesty that what you say did or didn’t happen, but I have been through many dreams and I’ve discovered at times that even I find it hard to understand what is and isn’t real. In fact, for all I know, I could be nothing more than a dream version of myself while in the real world everything is as you say. But at the same time, there have been few that were so influenced by their own subconscious that even the simplest dream can be mistaken for reality.”
Rainbow Dash felt even more confused than before, “So… this… or that… was just, a dream?”
Luna smiled as she looked at the statue of Star Bolt, “Maybe… but I certainly hope it is a dream… many times, I’ve come here wishing that that day never happened. I wonder if things would have been better if this wasn’t real.”
Rainbow Dash replied with disappointment, “Yea… sure… better… I’m just gonna go back and get some rest… thanks for the advice your majesty.”
Princess Luna smiled and nodded her head as she replied, “Sweet dreams Rainbow Dash. And good luck in the show tomorrow. Whether it is real or not, I enjoy seeing my subjects succeed at their dreams.”
Rainbow Dash turned around and started to leave, before she was too far to see, Rainbow Dash stopped and looked back at Princess Luna who was sitting and looking at Star Bolt’s statue with desire. As Rainbow Dash watched, she couldn’t help but sigh, “If only that other world was better for you two.”

Rainbow Dash then continued back to her house and went to sleep. The next morning Rainbow Dash woke to Spitfire as she knocked on the door and called though, “Dash! You up yet? We gotta get going! The show starts in an hour and we gotta set up the course!”
Rainbow Dash climbed out of bed and replied as she opened the door, “um… Spitfire? Why did you make me a Wonderbolt anyway?”
Spitfire laughed, “Why? You’re the most skilled flyer in Cloudsdale and the only pony I know who can do the Sonic Rainboom.”
“Yea… but when did you make me your wingmare?”
Spitfire gave her a confused look as she replied, “after that Tornado incident in Ponyville a few days ago. Taking down a tornado without any help was something that most Wonderbolt could only dream of doing. You were already my top student in the academy, so I used that as reason enough to immediately make you not only a full fledged Wonderbolt, but my wingmare.”

Rainbow Dash thought to herself for a few seconds then replied, “Well… I think that settles it.”
Spitfire asked, “Settles it? What exactly does that settle?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “last night, I started thinking up what I could remember of the other reality and this one to settle once and for all which one was real, and which was a dream.”
Spitfire was dumbfounded, “what? Which reality? What in Celestia’s name are you talking about?”
Rainbow Dash continued, “I know everything about that other reality… but in this one, I don’t even remember becoming your wingmare. I don’t even know how I stopped that tornado here… but I know how Commander Bolt stopped it.”
Spitfire sighed with hopelessness as she replied, “Are you still going on about that? Dash, you’re starting to worry me a little bit. Maybe you should sit this show out. Apparently, your mind is distracted and I don’t want you pulling something up there without full focus. I can just tell the others that you’re feeling sick so they will understand.”

Rainbow Dash smiled as she nodded her head, “yea… I shouldn’t be up there in my shape anyway right?”
“And that’s why I quit.”
Spitfire thought she heard wrong so she replied, “wait… what?”
Rainbow Dash replied, “Well none of this is the reality that is real, right… so I quit. Where I am right now isn’t where I’m supposed to be, so I need to find a way back to reality so I can help my friends.”
Rainbow Dash started to close the door as Spitfire stopped her, “Wait! What are you talking about Dash? You mean you’re going to quit just like that? What about us? What about the Wonderbolts?”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “Sorry captain… but right now, my friends, to include the other you, needs my help more. And I’m loyal to them first. Goodbye captain.”
With that said, Rainbow Dash closed the door and sighed as she turned around, “Now I need to find out ho…”

After she turned around Rainbow Dash saw that everything behind her had vanished into thin air leaving behind a seemingly endless abyss of darkness. Rainbow Dash looked around and found out that the door she had just closed had also disappeared as Rainbow Dash found herself alone in the silent darkness. Rainbow Dash felt confused as she started to trot through the darkness, but the ground beneath her first step cracked up as quickly lifted her hoof to look at the unusual reaction to her step. As she looked at the Crack on the ground, Rainbow Dash looked closely at it as she started to wonder, “What’s going on? Where am I and why is this floor so frail? Is this… also a part of my dreams? Is this a…”
All of a sudden, her thoughts were interrupted as the small crack caused by her hoof started to spread across the ground in all directions as it quickly cover the ground. Not long after the ground was covered, the cracks started spreading up the seamlessly endless horizon as if she were standing inside a black dome shaped room that was shattering around her.

Spitfire opened her eyes to find herself standing on the edge of a stage as another Wonderbolt was nudging her, “captain, that’s our queue… you’re supposed to lead us onto the stage for our big entrance.”
Spitfire started rubbing her head as she tried to ask, “What?... where am…”
Before she could finish, Soarin got behind her, and pushed her forward, “Come on captain… time to stop stalling.”
As Soarin pushed Spitfire in front of their group, the small number of Wonderbolts made their way to the edge of the stage where they stopped and looked into the massive cheering crowd. When the group stopped, Spitfire looked at Soarin with amazement, “S-Soarin… you’re ali…”
“Uh… captain? Shouldn’t you be waving to the fans like the rest of us? They came here to see us compete in racing around the world.”

At first Spitfire was amazed to see Soarin alive but then she became even more amazed when she heard him say that, “Racing around the world! You mean The Round World Race! The one competition that we’ve been trying to get into for years!?!”
Everypony in the group gave her a funny look as Soarin replied, “Um… yea… don’t you remember being recruited for this a couple of months ago?”
Spitfire tried all she could to remember what he was talking about but no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t remember. As she sat there thinking to herself, the announcer in the center of the stage called out, “And finally the other team to be competing in The Round world Race, The Griffin Gladiators!”
As Spitfire looked at the last competing team, she was amazed when she saw the griffin leading them, “Gilda! You’re alright! I’m glad to se…”
Before she could finish, Gilda gave her a dirty look and spoke, “You pony dweebs are going down! Nothing, not even a dragon can hope to beat a griffin! So you better be ready to leave a trail of tears on your way home, cuz there ain’t no way you’re beating us!”

Spitfire couldn’t be more confused, “what? But, Gild…”
before she could finish, the announcer called out again, “and now the representative from both nations will step forth to give them a few words of encouragement. May I present, Princess Celestia of Equestria! And King Talon of the Griffin Kingdoms!”
The announcer stepped aside as both royals made their way to the center of the stage. The first one to speak was King Talon, “Welcome all to this perfect display of both chivalry and determination! Tomorrow these two teams will compete in what is most commonly known as the most difficult competition that an aviator could ever attempt. Thought the griffin kingdoms has competed in it every year for the past decade. I still know without a doubt that the pony challengers will be a worthy opponent and I wish both teams luck. May the sky be Limitless!”

After King Talon was don’t talking, the crowd cheered as Princess Celestia stepped forward, “My ally King Talon couldn’t have said it better. These two teams represent the best we both have to offer and I know without a doubt that they will try their hardest in the race tomorrow. I have personally seen the Griffin Gladiators in their previous races, and I’ve seen the Wonderbolts push themselves to their limit just to be here today, sadly if it were up to me, I would claim them both winners and spare them the dangers of tomorrow’s race. But I don’t have the power to do such a thing and it wouldn’t be fair for them to split the trophy, so all I can do is wish you two luck tomorrow and hope you try your best. To our Competitors!!!”
With those words, the crowd cheered in an uproar that echoed throughout the auditorium as both rulers turned to their teams. Spitfire rushed to the princess and spoke, “Princess Celestia! What’s going on here! Why am I here? What happened with Star Bolt and Princess Twilight?”
Princess Celestia was confused as she replied, “well, I don’t know any Star Bolt, but Princess Twilight in back in Ponyville with her friends. Anyway I’m proud to see you come this far and I can only wish you luck in tomorrow’s competition. Good luck!”

With that, said Princess Celestia started to leave the stage as Spitfire sat down trying to figure out what was going on. As she sat there, the king approached his team and spoke to Gilda, “Crush them into dust… no mere pony could ever hope to challenge a griffin. And I don’t want them coming anywhere close… understand?”
Gilda smiled as she pointed to Spitfire, “Don’t worry your majesty. Look, one is already breaking up from the stress. And if that’s supposed to be their captain then I'd hate to see what their weak link is.”
The king put his talon on her shoulder and smiled, “That’s what I like to hear, young Orem. Your father has never failed me before and I know you won’t neither. You will make a fine commander in the future… and perhaps a good queen for my son as well.”
Gilda gave him a funny look as she spoke, “Um… your son is only six…”
The king smiled as he walked by her and left the stage, “Give it time Orem…”

Later that evening Spitfire was sitting in their complimentary suite as she tried to understand what was happening, “ok… Princess Twilight, Gilda, Dash, Rarity, and Commander Bolt made it to the tomb under Eden… then we made it into the tomb. Then the sand filled the room… then… then… AGH! I can’t remember!”
All of a sudden, Spitfire was interrupted with a knock on the door as Soarin entered as he smiled, “um… am I interrupting captain?”
Spitfire looked at him and tried to act casual, “Um... No not at all.”
Soarin entered the room and sat down, “I was wondering if you’re feeling ok? You’ve been acting strange since the announcement ceremony today. Is something wrong?”
Spitfire thought to herself then asked, “Um, Soarin? When was the last time you saw Canterlot?”
Soarin gave her a funny look, “Um… this morning, we left from there before coming here.”
Spitfire continued, “Did it seem any different then it usually was?”

Soarin shook his head and replied with a confused tone, “um… no. it was the usual Canterlot.”
Spitfire then asked, “There was nothing destroyed in it?”
Soarin shook his head, “Uh… no… why?”
Spitfire shook her head, “I was just wondering… um… have you ever heard of either The Dark Alicorn, or Eden Before?”
Soarin thought to himself, “Hmm… nope, I don’t think so.”
Spitfire sighed, “Oh… ok…”
Soarin smiled, “look if you’re worried about tomorrow then don’t, we worked our tails off to be here and I know without a doubt we have what it takes to win this. You just have to trust yourself.”
Spitfire smiled, “Well I guess you’re right about that, and maybe I can fly without using your wind current like Commander Bolt suggested.”
Soarin gave her a curious look as he asked, “Commander Bolt? Who’s that?”

Spitfire was surprised, “Wait… you don’t know Commander Bolt? Come to think of it, Princess Celestia said she didn’t know him either. But how can tha…”
Before Spitfire could finish her question, Cloud Chaser entered the room and spoke, “Captain? Shouldn’t you be in bed right now? The competition starts in less than eight hours. And we need our rest.”
Soarin looked at a clock on the wall and replied, “Whoa! I didn’t know it was so late, well g’night captain. I'll see you in the morning.”
As Soarin left the room, Spitfire stared at him in confusion as he trotted out the door and out of her view, “he didn’t know Star Bolt… he also didn’t know about Eden, or The Dark Alicorn. This can’t be a coincidence… something is wrong. I just know it.”
After that Spitfire decided to lay down and get some rest for the race in the morning. Though she still had no idea what was going on, she decided to play along with what’s happening in hopes that it would lead her to answers.

The next morning she was woken up by a loud shattering sound that sounded like a shattering window. But after sitting up and looking around, she realized that nothing around her was broken. Confused about where the shattering sound came from she looked at her clock to find that it was five minutes passed the time she had set the alarm for. She didn’t feel too concerned since she had planned for plenty of time to get ready, but since her alarm didn’t go off, she decided to check her team, only to find that their alarms had been turned off too. After the team had finished getting ready, they made their way to the starting point only to see the griffin team standing there with confused looks on their faces. Gilda smiled wickedly as she spoke, “wow, I didn’t expect you to make it in time figured you’d not show up at all, or, be fashionably late.”
Spitfire glared at Gilda as they continued trotting to the start line. Something was telling her that Gilda was responsible for the turned off alarms, but it didn’t matter. Now all they had to do was start the race.

Not long after the teams were on line, the announcer came up and spoke, “now that both teams are present, let’s get ready to begin. Remember, the first checkpoint is in the gorgon mountain about twenty miles away. When you arrive, you will be given an hour-long break that must be taken before continuing into the frozen north. Then you will be given further instruction. Is everyone ready?”
Both teams braced themselves on the starting line as the announcer called out, “Ready!... SET!... GO!!!”
As soon as the go was called, the two teams took off and began flying into the mountainous terrain in front of them. At first, some of the griffin tried to fly high but when the thin air got to them, they lowered their altitude and began going through the valleys like the Wonderbolts did. As they flew, Spitfire tried to focus on the race since this was something she had always wanted to do, but then she started to hear something, “What is thi... wait… Spitfire?...”
Though she didn’t know where the voice was coming from Spitfire knew who was talking, “Commander Bolt?…”

Spitfire looked around to find out where the echoing voice was coming from, but as she did, she looked into the sky and saw a faint image of Star Bolt as he looked at her then turned and looked away, “Dash, Rarity, Twilight!... What’s going on?... They’re not dead… but… are… are they dreaming? Was that what I was doing too?”
as soon as Spitfire heard those words she asked herself, “dreaming?”
As Spitfire looked back at her flight path, she realized that she was headed straight for the face of a cliff so she banked just in time to miss it. Trying to regain control, she landed on the next Cliffside platform she saw to get her head straight as Soarin landed next to her, “captain? You ok? You almost ate that mountain.”
Spitfire looked around as she tried to listen for Star Bolt a second time, but when nothing was heard, she replied, “I… um… I gotta go.”
“What? But what about the race?”

Spitfire turned around and replied,” Sometimes, there are more important things then a race! Something tells me that this isn’t real anyway.”
“Isn’t real! But… but…”
Spitfire smiled, “Soarin… it was good to see you again… and the rest of the team. But I gotta find out how to get out of here. It’s nice to finally be able to compete in this race… but, I want to qualify the hard way. I just don’t want it given to me on a silver platter like I’m something special.”
“But captain! We need you!”
Spitfire smiled, “Sorry Soarin, but there is another team that needs me even more right now.”

As Spitfire turned around to fly back to the starting line, she blinked but as soon as she opened her eyes along with that first step, everything around her suddenly vanished, leaving her standing in a dark and empty abyss. Spitfire looked all around her but everything around her had completely vanished, the mountains, the sky, even Soarin. Everything that was once there was completely replaced by the black darkness. Feeling a little nervous about what was happening; Spitfire took another step, only to have the black floor beneath her crack up with that step. Suddenly the crack began to spread in all direction until everything that seemed to be an empty abyss began cracking up as if her entire existence was crumbling around her. Spitfire had no idea what was going on, but it didn’t matter to her. She was determined to meet whatever challenge came next as she readied herself for anything.

Ch22 Teacher?... Prince?... Dreams!

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“Princess Twilight? Princess Twilight? Um… are you ok?”
Twilight opened her eyes and realized that she was standing in front of a chalkboard using her magic to suspend a piece of chalk in front of the board. As she rubbed her eyes, her magic stopped as the chalk fell to the ground and broke into two pieces as it hit the tile floor. As she rubbed her eyes, a young voice asked, “um… Princess Twilight? Are you okay? Are ya tired?”
Twilight turned around as realized she was standing in front of a class of Unicorn foals. As Princess Twilight looked around, she noticed that her wings were back too. She mumbled to herself as she continued looking at her wings, “what? Where... um… how…
Before she could finish her thought, one of the colts raised his hoof as he asked, “Um… Princess Twilight? I have a question. If I use a spell to do something like change my age, and say I make it go too far… should I try to alter the effects of the spell by backtracking my magic, or should I use another spell to reverse the effect?”

Princess Twilight looked at the colt in confusion but despite how confused she was, she couldn’t help but answer the question, “Well… something like an age changing spell should only be used by the most experienced of magic users. But sometimes, the best way to work a spell gone wrong is to either reverse the spell’s effect, or to use another spell that was specifically created to counteract it. Using multiple spells that weren’t for the same purpose can cause your problem to get worse.”
Just as she finished talking, Twilight heard a school bell ring as all the foals gathered their books and start leaving the room as Twilight’s confusion continued, “am… am I teaching this class?”
just then princess Celestia entered the room as she smiled, “good afternoon Twilight. I just came to check the progress of your students. I’m happy to see that my most successful student has become and even more successful teacher.”

Twilight was amazed to see Princess Celestia as she spoke, “Princess! Thank goodness you’re alright. What happened? Where is the dark alicorn?”
Princess Celestia gave Twilight a confused look as she asked, “Dark alicorn? I don’t think I understand is that from a novel you’re reading?”
Princess Twilight replied, “What? No! You know, he attacked Canterlot. He destroyed Ponyville and Gryphus. He even killed you and Luna.”
Princess Celestia was shocked at what she was hearing as she replied, “Please Twilight, calm down. I don’t know what you’re talking about, but as you can see, Canterlot is fine, as is Ponyville and sister. But you may want to try calming down before you say anything to worry everypony. Now I don’t know anything about a dark alicorn. But perhaps you had a dream that got to your mind or something.”
Princess Twilight thought to herself for a few seconds as she tried to understand what was going on around her.

After a few seconds of thinking, Princess Celestia spoke up, “well since all is well, perhaps you will accompany me to the Crystal Empire. I heard that this year’s Crystal Festival is about to begin, and I also heard a rumor that there is a certain somepony there who wants to see you.”
Twilight was confused as Princess Celestia winked at her in a hinting jester, but… what about my friends… what about Eden?”
Princess Celestia gave Twilight a confused looked, “Eden? How do you know of Eden?”
Princess Twilight replied, “I know because I’ve been there. Commander Bolt, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Spitfire, and I were just there!”
Princess Celestia started to laugh as if it were a simple joke, “Twilight, I know you have a hard time making friends so I’m glad you finally found the time to make some… but if you and your friends were to step hoof in the site where Eden used to sit, you would be burned to a crisp.”

Princess Twilight was confused even more now, “what?”
Princess Celestia continued, “Well, it is true that a city called Eden did exist, but it was destroyed centuries ago. You see the city sat inside of an inert volcano but about fifteen hundred years ago, the volcano reawaken and destroyed everything. Sad to say there were no survivors. I was only grateful that sister and I were in Equestria attending a gala at the time.”
Princess Twilight sat down, “what… but, that’s not what happened. That’s not what happened at all.”
Princess Celestia smiled as she continued, “I am happy to hear you made some friends though. You have to introduce me to them sometime. I would like to meet them if I get the chance.”
Twilight gave princess Celestia a confused look as a guard entered the room, “Your Majesty? You are needed at the castle.”
Princess Celestia sighed as she started to leave the room, “Oh alright… a princess’s work is never done. You take care Princess Twilight; I'll see you this evening.”

Princess Twilight nodded her head, but she really didn’t pay attention to princess Celestia since her mind was still on her last sentence. After a few minutes of thinking to herself, she knew she had to see it for herself. In complete disregard for everything around her, Twilight quickly rushed out of the room, building, then into the sky to try to find out what was going on. As she flew through the sky, she looked at everything around her and realized that she really was in Canterlot. However, the city was completely intact. There was no sign of damage anywhere, not in plaza where the sand pillar sat, the foundation that held the city in place. There wasn’t even a sign of concern from anypony in the streets who were going about their normal routine. Seeing all of this from the sky made Twilight think, “was it all a dream?... what about Ponyville?”
In a fit of worry, Twilight flew from the Canterlot as fast as she could until she approached the sky over Ponyville. As she looked down, things here were the same as in Canterlot. There was no sign of danger or damage anywhere. So she decided to see if her friends were safe.

As Twilight landed in the streets, everypony around her looked at her with complete shock as they quickly bowed in respect. Feeling awkward, Twilight looked around as Applejack came out of the crowd and bowed, “Welcome to Ponyville your majesty. My name’s Applejack. If you need anything then just ask and I'll see to it that you’re treated with the finest of Ponyville hospitality.”
Twilight looked at Applejack and hugged her with joy, “APPLEJACK! I’m glad to see you’re alright! I was worried for a second.”
Applejack felt a little confused for a second but then she replied by smiling awkwardly, “Well course I’m alright… uh… why wouldn’t I be your majesty?”
Twilight was confused, “What?... but… you were trapped under a tower in Eden. We had to leave you behind because you told us to.”
Applejack thought to herself, “Nope… ain’t ringin’ any bells. Maybe you have me confused with somepony else.”

Princess Twilight was even more concerned now than when she first arrived, but judging by everything going on, she had only one more question to have answered before she could understand what was happening, “Say Applejack? Have I ever been to Ponyville before?”
Applejack smiled innocently as she replied, “I don’t believe so your majesty. Well, I know it ain’t much, but this town is full of some of the most humble little ponies you could ever meet. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Princess Twilight understood now, so she just nodded her head as she replied, “oh don’t worry, I think I know for a fact that the ponies in this town are some of the nicest ponies I could ever meet. But, I’m just passing through for now, maybe… in the future we could become great friends.”
Applejack smiled, “Well thank ya kindly Princess, I hope so too.”
Applejack bowed in respect as Twilight did the same, “I know it is… well… goodbye.”
With a sad expression on her face, Princess Twilight turned back towards Canterlot and took to the skies. As she continued flying back, she mumbled to herself, “Something has change the past… and whatever it was must have affected my arrival in Ponyville… but what?”

Back in Canterlot, Twilight arrived at the room she used to stay in before she started living in Ponyville. When she went inside, she saw Spike organizing books just as she expected. Spike looked at Twilight and spoke, “Oh, back so soon? I thought you would be in class the rest of the day?”
Twilight trotted past him as she replied, “I canceled them… something more important came up, say Spike, can you get me Starswirl’s latest spell book? I want to take a second look at a particular spell of his.”
Spike went to the shelf and pulled out the book as Twilight grabbed it with her magic and held it in front of her, “alright lest see, “time travel, time travel… wait… there is only one effective time spell in this entire book.”
Spike replied, “Well yea, time travel was too dangerous so other than that one spell to have two minutes in the past, there are no time spells. Why? Is something happening that would lead you to need to control time?”
Twilight thought to herself, “hmm, if it isn’t a changed past… then… maybe an illusion?”

Spike gave Twilight a funny look as he repeated, “An illusion?... what are you tal…”
“Spike! Get me the magical book of survival.”
Spike rushed to another shelf and pulled out the next book as he replied, “survival? Why would you need something like this?”
Twilight dropped the last book and picked up the next as she used her magic to search for a specific page, “hmm… alright here it is, how to overlook a mirage.”
Twilight studied the book for a few more seconds, then she put it on the ground as she started focusing on the spell, “alright here goes.”
As her horn started to glow bright with magic, a bright flash filled the room for a brief second then faded away as Twilight looked around, but she was confused when nothing around her changed, “alright… it isn’t an illusion or mirage… then what could it be?”

Spike started picking up the books and taking them to the shelf as he asked, “so… what exactly are you trying to do Twilight? You’re acting a little strange.”
Twilight sat down as she replied, “well… to be honest I think it’s everything else that’s acting strange. All I know is that nothing is the way I remember it. It seems like everything around me has completely changed.”
Spike shelved the books as he replied, “really? Like what?”
Twilight continued, “Well, everything in Canterlot is intact. The last time I saw this city was at the bottom of the valley in ruins.”
Spike gave her a funny look, then replied, “Wow… sounds like a pretty scary dream to me. I’m glad that isn’t true.”
Twilight stared to replied, “Well it’s not as much as that, bu… wait a second what did you say it was?”
Spike hesitated before replying, “uh… a dream?
Twilight started thinking about his words then she looked at Spike and smiled, “Spike! You’re a genius!”

With that said, Twilight stood up and ran to the closest bookshelf as Spike smiled, “well, I can’t argue with that… but uh… how am I a genius again?”
Princess Twilight pulled a book off the shelf and replied, “Simple! I know there are no spells to change the past, and I know that everything around me isn’t an illusion so there is only one scientific explanation for all of this. It’s all a dream!”
Spike thought about what she was saying then asked, “A dream?... Really?”
Princess Twilight replied, “Of course it is, but luckily I have just the spell that can be used in just such an occasion. And luckily, since this spell is by feelings and not thought, I can use it even in my sleep. This should be the perfect way to make everything the way it was.”
As soon as Twilight found the page, she took a step back from the book as her horn started to glow, “Alright here go…”
“WAIT! Twilight, think about this for a second! If this is all just a dream, then what you say is true, and when you use this spell, everything will go back to the way you remember it… Is this what you really want?... a destroyed Canterlot?”

Twilight smiled as she hugged Spike, “Oh Spike… you really are the best assistant I could ask for… but, none of this is real. And I can’t live in my dreams, when I know that my friends are still living in the real world. I… I'll miss you.”
Tears started running down Twilight face as she started using the spell. all Spike could do was step back and wave to his friend, as he, and the surrounding slowly started to fade away until Twilight found herself standing alone in a black abyss. After the spell was used, Princess Twilight looked around but there was nothing as far as her eyes could see. Princess Twilight called out, “HELLO!?!...”
There was no reply, as Twilight took a step forward to start looking around, but as her first step touched the ground, a massive red colored crack appeared on the black ground as if she were standing on black marble. Slowly the crack began to spread until everything around her to include the distant abyss, turned into a cracking crumbling world.

“Your majesty?... Your majesty?... Your majesty!... SPARKY!!!”
Star Bolt opened his eyes to find himself standing on a balcony. He started rubbing his head as he started mumbling to himself, “Wha... what happened?...”
the voice continued, “Welcome back… I know you’re going through a lot right now, but spacing out like that doesn’t change what’s happening here.”
After rubbing his eyes, Star Bolt looked forward as he started to ask, “What are you talking abo…”
When he looked off the balcony, Star Bolt couldn’t believe his eyes, “Canterlot… it’s… its Canterlot…”
While looking into the city Star Bolt couldn’t believe that Canterlot was all in one piece… but it wasn’t the Canterlot that was destroyed by Osiris… it was the Canterlot as it stood one thousand years ago. Star Bolt continued looking into the city as the voice replied, “Um… yea, it’s Canterlot. Ya know it ain’t changed since the last time you saw it… like… three seconds ago. I mean what kind of pony doesn’t recognize his own city?”

Star Bolt turned to the voice as he replied, “His own city? What are y…”
When Star Bolt saw who he was talking to, he was even more amazed as he took a step back, “C-Commander Mist…”
the old pony laughed as he replied, “Commander? I ain’t been called commander in nearly three years or at least since, I retired. I thought I told you just call me Mist. Or if you want to be formal, Chancellor Mist.”
Mist smiled, “Well yea… unless you want to fire me or something. Are you ok your majesty? You’re acting a little… strange… make that stranger.”
Star Bolt shook his head, as he put his hoof on his forehead, “What? Wait, why are you calling me your majesty?... what’s going on?”
Mist started to reply, “Look you’re frustrated right now… I completely understand. I remember the day I was in your horseshoes. Wow, going into that room and seeing Serenade sitting there with an expression of… well… she had an expression that says I’m going to kill you for this. But eventually she calmed down an…”

Before Mist could finish, another familiar face entered the room as she spoke, “Your majesty?... She’s ready to see you.”
Star Bolt stared at the mare in shock as he replied, “G-Gem…”
Gem Stone gave him a funny look as Chancellor Mist Replied, “Thank you Colonel. Tell her we will be there in a second.”
Colonel Stone bowed as she turned and left the room. After she was gone, Star Bolt looked at Chancellor Mist and asked, “Colonel?”
Mist replied, “Yea… you yourself promoted her last month. Why, you forget already?”
Star Bolt put his hoof back on his head as he tried to think to himself, “I… I just don’t…”
Chancellor Mist sighed as he used his magic to start pushing Star Bolt down the hall, “Alright come on sparky… if she’s ready for you then we better not keep her waiting.”

Star Bolt followed Chancellor Mist down the hall as he looked at his surroundings, “I… I don’t get it… everything is as it was back then… but… this can’t be right, can it? I mean… am I dead?”
Chancellor Mist sighed, “No… you ain’t dead… look, I know you’re going through a lot right now… but I think you better return to reality for a few seconds… I know you of all ponies wants to make a good first impression for her.”
Star Bolt looked at his old mentor and asked, “Good impression? What are you talking about… who exactly are we going to see?”
As the two approached a door Chancellor Mist replied, “um… your wife.”
As the old pony started to open the door Star Bolt replied, “My wife?...”
Before Star Bolt could continue, the door opened to reveal a medical ward where Princess Luna was lying in a bed with Colonel Stone, Ardent Viscous, and a number of royal nurses standing around her. As the door opened completely, Princess Luna looked over at him and smiled as she carried something in her hooves, “… there he is… come in and meet the newest member of the royal family.”
Star Bolt felt completely out of place. He felt as if he wasn’t even controlling himself as he entered the room and approached the bed.

With a peaceful smile on her face, Princess Luna spoke as she looked at what she was carrying, “Little princess… meet your father. Don’t worry he isn’t as clueless as he looks.”
Luna held out the little filly as Star Bolt took her and looked at her, “little… princess?”
Luna smiled, “Yes… little Princess Umbra… our daughter.”
Star Bolt was speechless, as he looked at the little princess as she opened her eyes and looked up at her father. Viscous smiled as she spoke, “Congratulations Prince Bolt. When will you announce the new princess to the citizens of Equestria?”
At that moment, those words started racing through his mind at a groundbreaking speed. Star Bolt looked at the newborn alicorn’s face as his mind started going crazy with thoughts. Prince Bolt, Colonel Stone, Chancellor Mist, these words alone with the newborn princess and the standing Canterlot made him feel dizzy as he tried to talk, “P-prince… my daughter… Umbra?... this… I…”
Star Bolt started swaying back and forth, as he gave the little filly to Viscous and tried to calm himself down, but it was no use. His mind started racing through so many thought that he could hear his own heart rate as it raced out of control causing his sight to fade. As Star Bolt fell to a knee, the royal nurses quickly surrounded him as Chancellor Mist spoke, “Your majesty! Are you all right? Calm down!”
Colonel Stone tried to help him up as she called, “Get the doctor back in here! Hurry! His heart is racing.”
With his head filed with traumatizing thoughts, Star Bolt fell to the ground feeling his heart rate slowdown, as he passed out under his own stress.

The next thing he knew, Star Bolt opened his eyes to find himself lying in Luna’s royal bedchambers, although when he looked around, he could tell they remodeled it to accommodate for him as well. As Star Bolt sat up, he looked around the room and saw a foal cradle sitting on the other side of the room and Mist talking to Iron Storm, “I can’t say I blame him… having a foal is a huge responsibility. But he’s been a prince for two years. He should be used to this by now.”
Storm nodded his head, “give it time… he’ll get used to it. Besides, if he needs it we can give him advice. I mean, my daughter is fully-grown and your son is what, eight? If he needs any help, all he has to do is ask us. Anyways, I had better get going, Colonel Drib and Major Snow are waiting downstairs. The united counsel is gathering and you know how Chief Rafi can be.”
Chancellor Mist nodded his head, “alright, you be careful on your trip commander.”
As Commander Storm left the room, Mist looked over at the bed and realized that Star Bolt was awake, “Oh your majesty… back from the great beyond I see. Scared the mane off us for a second.”

Star Bolt rubbed his head and asked, “How long have I been out?”
Mist replied, “About three hours. The doctor said you just had a stress induced episode, so we thought it would be better that you come in here while the princess rests.”
Star Bolt tried to stand as Chancellor Mist rushed to his side to help, “Easy now… no need to overdue it.”
Star Bolt looked at Mist and asked, “is… is that my daughter… in the cradle?”
Mist smiled, “yea, but she is asleep right now so I'd suggest leaving her be.”
Star Bolt approached the cradle and looked at the sleeping alicorn. As he looked at her, Star Bolt asked with a serious tone, “what’s going on here?”
Mist smiled as if it were a joke, “you tell me… first impression of your daughter, and you pass out? Doesn’t sound like the Prince that I kn…”
“No… I mean what’s going on… What happened to the dark alicorn?”
Chancellor Mist looked at Star Bolt with confusion, “Dark what?... you mean Luna? That’s not a very nice way to talk about your wi…”
Star Bolt shook his head, “no, no, no, I’m talking abo… okay how about this? What happened with Nightmare Moon?... what about the Nightmare Crusade?”

Chancellor Mist thought to himself for a few seconds then replied, “Um… is that some kind of book or something? I’ve never heard of either one of those.”
Star Bolt replied, “But… I was commander of the Nightmare Legion for over a year.”
Chancellor Mist shook his head, “What? No, you were commander of the night for a year. At least until you gathered the courage and proposed to Luna.”
Star Bolt shook his head in disbelief, “This doesn’t make sense… Luna was depressed; the depression caused her to turn into Nightmare Moon.”
Chancellor Mist was confused, “Nightmare who?... Luna was depressed for a few days, but then you told her how you felt and then she was better, no fuss no foul.”
Star Bolt thought to himself, “Did… did he change the past?...”
Chancellor Mist asked, “Change the past?”

Star Bolt shook his head and replied, “Never mind, it’s nothing. Uh… Comma… I mean Chancellor?”
Mist replied, “Yes your majesty?”
Star Bolt gave him a serious look as he asked, “can I ask you something? Well… if all of a sudden, everything you loved, and knew were taken from you all at once and without warning. What would you do?”
Chancellor Mist thought to himself as he sat down in a chair and replied, “Well…first I would like to know what was responsible… then I would strive to rebuild everything I lost.”
Star Bolt asked, “But, what about your loved ones? You can’t simply rebuild them.”
Mist nodded his head, “true… but I think remembering them would be just as good. When we are young, we become afraid of change because we know that eventually, thing will change. Parents will die, todays friends could be tomorrow’s enemies. And everything, even simple possessions will decay and wither away. But, good memories of those things will last as long as we make them. I would like to think that when I’m dead and gone, that you would remember me too. Just as your daughter will remember you when you’re gone.”

Star Bolt looked back into the carriage as he thought about those words, then he trotted over to a mirror and looked at his reflection for a few seconds. He looked carefully at the royal armor he was wearing along with a royal sword on his side. Then he looked carefully at his ear, to see that the continuous reminder of his sins, the scar on his left ear, was gone. Then he turned and looked at the simple smile on Chancellor Mist’s face as he nodded his head, “You’re right… remembering what made the ponies you care about is everything… isn’t it?”
Commander Mist nodded his head as he replied, “well yea. The alicorn princesses may live forever as immortals. But memories are also a way to keep somepony alive.”
Star Bolt trotted to the double doors that lead to a balcony as he opened them and looked into the night. As he looked up at the moon he nodded his head with a smile that seemed to be a little too calm for the situation he was in, “You’re right… memories keep us all alive. I remember the beauty of Luna’s nights… I remember sitting day by day in the wilderness hiding from royal guards just so I could continue enjoying her night.”
“Yea… wait… what?”

Star Bolt turned back into the room as he trotted back to the cradle and looked into it with a smile that seemed more sinister than normal, “and I remember, spending one thousand years looking at the night of another’s reading every flaw, studding everything that made this night different from Luna’s. And I even remember those I lost, and how each and every one of them died.”
Feeling a little nervous, Chancellor Mist started to ask, “Um… sparky? You ok? You seem a little…”
Star Bolt looked at Commander Mist and smiled with a smile that seemed only half-sane, “but this isn’t her night… is it? And all the ponies here… they are dead. None of you are alive, just as this little filly here… never existed.”
Feeling a little concerned while listening to what seemed to be less than sane babbling of a stresses out prince, Chancellor Mist stood up and trotted to the door as he opened it and spoke to a guard standing outside, “Go get Princess Celestia and the doctor… I think the prince is still feeling a little stressed.”

As the guards trotted off, Chancellor Mist trotted back to Star Bolt as he spoke, “I don’t know what joke you playing your majesty, but I think you should sit down for a second. I don’t know if you’re thinking very clearly.”
Star Bolt chucked for a second, “actually Mist… nothing could be clearer… I think this is all fake. That night out there isn’t Luna’s… I should know. Nopony knows her night better than I do. In addition, this Filly… she isn’t even my daughter. Just another cheap trick.”
All of a sudden, the newborn alicorn awoke and began crying as Chancellor Mist spoke again, “Sparky… I think it would be a good idea if you laid back down. I think the stress is getting to you.”
Star Bolt reached up and touched his ear that was supposed to have a scar as his devious smile slowly turned to a smile of insanity. Though he could feel his hoof touching something, the part of his ear that he was actually touching had no feeling. It was as if that part of his ear was actually missing so he continued, “actually… I think I'll remain standing. The fact that I am, is the only thing real here anyway. You… this room, this city, and even this filly aren’t even here right now… are you?”

Chancellor Mist was now afraid as the door opened and Princess Celestia and a few guard’s entered. As they entered, Star Bolt looked over at them and continued smiling as his hoof went from touching his ear to resting on his sword, “and here comes another illusion…”
Princess Celestia asked, “Prince Bolt?... are you alright?”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “but of course I am princess… I’m standing here with everypony I cared about who died more than a millennium ago.”
Star Bolt’s smile of insanity faded as it went back to peaceful, then he looked Chancellor Mist in the eye and spoke, “it was nice talking with you commander… but I think it would be best, that those who died, should remain dead. And those who were never born…”
Star Bolt looked back down at the crying princess as he quickly drew his sword and raised it above his head, “SHOULD NEVER EXIST!!!”
The room quickly reacted as Chancellor Mist, Princess Celestia and the rest of the guards yell all at once, “NO!!!”
Star Bolt closed his eyes, as he dropped the sword down, feeling the blade as it pierced the cradle, and hit the marble floor beneath it. Suddenly, everything went silent, the sound of the crying filly, the sound of the rushing guards, everything. Star Bolt continued standing there with his eyes closed while he waited for anything to happen. But nothing did.

Slowly Star Bolt opened his eyes to find that everything around him was different from before. The royal sword he used was now his normal sword. The royal armor he was wearing was now his cloak. And the foal cradle, the room around him, and even the ponies in the room with him, were now gone. Everything around him was a black empty abyss as Star Bolt looked around in confusion, “Hello!?!... Is anypony there!?!...”
There was no reply, Star Bolt looked around as he pulled his sword from the ground and sheathed it leaving a red crack in its place. As Star Bolt, looked at the crack, it started to spread on all directions as it quickly covered the black ground beneath him. Then the cracks not only covered the ground beneath him, but they also started to spread across everything he could see in the furthest distance, until everything was covered in cracks. A slight hesitation passed before everything around him shattered, as Star Bolt fell to the stone floor below him.

Star Bolt rubbed his head as she stood up and started looking around, but when he did, he was amazed to find himself standing in a large dome shaped tomb that had five pillars in the center, with a sixth on the ground in pieces. As he continued to look around, he also saw four large dark crystals sitting next to where he hit the ground. When he approached the one closest to him, he placed his hoof against it, “What is thi... wait…”
Star Bolt took a closer look at the Crystal as he started to see something inside. At first, he thought it was a shadow, but then he was amazed to see that it wasn’t a shadow at all, it was a pony, “Spitfire?”
Star Bolt then turned and looked at the one’s next to it as he could see the ponies inside them too, “Dash, Rarity, Twilight!... What’s going on?...”
Star Bolt started trotting by each crystal as he continued talking to himself, “They’re not dead… but… are… are they dreaming? Was that what I was doing too?”
“But of course… yet that still bears a question… Why would you deny what you care about the most?”

Star Bolt quickly turned around to see sand bundling up in the center of the room as it slowly formed to create Osiris. As Osiris formed in front of him, Star Bolt gripped his sword as he spoke, “What have you done to them?”
Osiris smiled, “It’s as you said… I put them into a dreaming state. What their heart desires most is what they are viewing as we speak.”
“What? But… why did you do that?”
Osiris started pacing as he looked at the elements still embedded in the pillars as he replied, “Eden… was once a place of dreams… everypony who lived here was completely content with their lives. There was no poverty, no disease, no threats of any king for the common stallion and his family. And all who earned it were graciously rewarded for their action. Whether they think they deserved it or not. The queen and king showed no discrimination to any who proved themselves worthy of praise… that is, until it was my turn. But I digress; you and your friends have proven yourselves worthy of that same praise. So, being the last of the alicorns I started to wonder, why should I simply destroy you when I can reward you with your dreams instead? However… for some reason you deny your own, so I have to ask… Why?”

Star Bolt drew his sword as he replied, “Dreams may seem real… but they are nothing but illusions. Subconscious scenarios that we hid behind when we want to escape the realities of life. Nevertheless, I refuse to hide. The world may be cruel… but unless I live in it like everypony else, all I’m doing is acting like a coward, when there are others depending on my help.”
Osiris wasn’t convinced, “but you gave up what you wanted most… you wanted nothing more than to tell the young princess how you felt, that night and prevent the war. This was your chance to do something that even I see as blasphemy. Yet… you still deny it? You still deny what you want the most?”
Star Bolt continued holding his stance as he replied, “Since when do I know what I want anymore…”
Osiris started laughing, “Well spoken commander… very well spoken indeed. Nevertheless, you turned down your reward, so I guess I won’t present you with one… perhaps I should just kill you instea…”
Before Osiris could finish his sentence, a bright flash started emulating from Twilight horn as the crystal around her started cracking up, both ponies looked at the bright light as Osiris spoke, “no… is it possible… does she deny her dream too.”
All of a sudden, the black crystal shattered sending shards in all directions as Twilight fell to the ground and struggled to pick herself up, “Where… where am I?”

Star Bolt quickly sheathed his sword as he rushed to Twilight side, “Twilight! Are you okay?”
Princess Twilight looked up at Star Bolt and replied, “Y-yea… I guess I’m back in the real world aren’t I?”
Star Bolt smiled, “It’s got to have you back your majesty.”
Osiris looked at her with intrigue as he started to speak, “So… even you, a false alicorn with no wing chooses the real world over her own drea… What?”
Before he could finish, the dark alicorn looked at the remaining two three crystals as they started cracking up. Star Bolt and Twilight shielded their eyes as the three crystals shattered one after another as Rarity, Spitfire, and Rainbow Dash fell to the ground. Star Bolt and Princess Twilight rushed to their side as Rainbow Dash rubbed her head and looked around, “Did anypony see that bus that hit me? Wait… Star Bolt! You’re alive! I guess that means I’m back!”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “Well, I guess in the dream you wanted more than any I was dead then… that’s cold Dash.”
Rainbow Dash argued, “Hey! It’s not like that’s what I wanted. Wait… the dream of what we wanted? That’s explains why I was Captain Spitfire’s wing.”

Rarity continued from that remark, “That also explains my dream. I wanted more then any to be known throughout Equestria as the duchess of Fashion… little did I know I would have to sacrifice my friends for such a thing. Well I say, if being known throughout the world must replace my friends… then I'd rather be known only by my friends.”
Twilight smiled, “I couldn’t have said it better myself… even though I have almost no idea what you’re talking about.”
Spitfire spoke from there, “I guess we all are a little confused as to what we just went through… but all I can say is this, Thanks commander, if it wasn’t for you, I would still be trapped in that nightmare. Even if it was a thrill that I always wanted to experience.”
Star Bolt could only smile at the complement, but then the mood was broken up when they were all interrupted by Osiris as he laughed at the group, “You really prefer to live in misery then in a paradise of your own choosing? You lower pony races really are fools. I find it hard that the King and queen actually saw you as equals to the alicorn race.”
Star Bolt Drew his sword as the rest of the group braced themselves for a fight, “Shut up! A thing like you has no place to dignify himself with any kind of pony race. Not even Alicorn!”
Osiris’s expression went from amused to annoyed as he replied, “Strong words… but let’s see how they fair. On your guard commander… this game, ends now.”

Ch23 Eden's End

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Star Bolt and his party stood in front of Osiris as the broken shards of crystal around them turned to sand and began reemerging with The Dark Alicorn’s hooves. As they stood there, Princess Twilight leaned forward and spoke quietly to Star Bolt, “what’s the plan commander?”
Star Bolt replied, “You three focus on trying to use the elements… Spitfire, you, and I will do everything we can to keep his attention on us. I won’t lie, I doubt we will come out of this unharmed.”
Spitfire nodded her head, “That’s fine…. If it gives us a chance to beat this thing… then it’s worth it.”
Star Bolt nodded as he yelled, “GO!”

As soon as the unexpected order was given, Star Bolt began sprinting around one side of Osiris and Spitfire flew to the other while Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash, stayed where they were as they faced each other with Twilight speaking, “alright girls, focus. We never did this with only three, but we still need to try.”
Shortly after the group split up, Star Bolt charged Osiris form one side, as he drew his sword. Osiris smiled as Star Bolt jumped into the air with the intent of striking him with the first swing, however, as he swung the blade, Osiris melted away into a pile of sand leaving Star Bolt to miss his attack as he continued flying towards one of the pillars that sat behind Osiris. Star Bolt turned himself in midair so he could jump off the pillar instead of colliding with it. Jumping off the pillar as if it were any other wall in his path, Star Bolt quickly threw his sword straight down at the pile of sand and watched as a circle quickly opened up leaving the sword to stick into the ground without touching any of the sand that was now surrounding the weapon.

As Star Bolt landed on the ground, and slide a few feet from his momentum, he quickly faced the pile of sand as it began spiraling around the blade and began taking the form of Osiris’s hoof as he formed around it and smiled, “Impressive commander. You’re just as quick witted as they say. But you forget, you’re not alone.”
Osiris raised his hoof up as the sword slowly emerged from it as if it were a part of his body. Then he pointed his hoof towards Spitfire and with his magic taking hold of it, Osiris shot the sword from his hoof straight at the unsuspecting mare with no time for her to react. Seeing the incoming attack, Spitfire flinched as Star Bolt called out, “NO!!!”
Before the unprepared mare fell victim to the projectile, the blade stopped in midair as Twilight, and Rarity both used their magic to stop it. Star Bolt sighed in relief but what he didn’t notice was that the attack was a distraction. While focus was on Spitfire, Osiris sent a small vine of sand along the ground that quickly made its way behind Star Bolt before wrapping around his right back hoof. With no time to react, the vine jerked his hoof under his body to his left as it caused him to fall over before picking him up into the air and slamming him against one of the stationary pillars. Then the vine slammed him against the ground as it dissolved and went back into Osiris’s hooves, “Commander I’m appalled, to think that you of all ponies would drop your guard so easily. It’s kind of insulting, don’t you think?”

Star Bolt struggled to pick himself up as he glared at Osiris, “B-bite me!”
Osiris smiled, “oh… I intend to do more than that.”
Osiris started trotting towards Star Bolt, as Star Bolt braced himself for anything. But just as the alicorn approached him, Star Bolt’s sword flew through the air as it hit The Dark Alicorn in his back causing the blade to jump out of his chest as the rest of his body stopped it. Osiris looked down at the blade that was now sticking out his chest and smiled amusingly, “hmm… that’s interesting.”
Osiris grabbed the weapon by its blade and pulled it completely through and out his chest as he turned back and looked at Princess Twilight and the group, “It would appear that you want to hasten your deaths… Very well.”
Twilight and the group became nervous as Osiris dropped the sword at his hooves, and turned towards them as many vines of sand rose from the ground around him. Osiris could only smile as the tip of each vine hardened into a sharp glass spike before they each shot towards the group.

Thinking fast, Star Bolt made a Lightning Orb cloud appear and sent a bolt of lightning into Osiris’s back causing him to cringe as the vines stopped in midair and fell to the ground like normal sand. Now enraged, Osiris turned and sneered at Star Bolt, “You will pay dearly for that.”
Seeing the rage in his eyes, Star Bolt lunged forward to his sword that was less than a foot away, but as he did, Osiris sent a small pillar of sand forward from the ground that hit Star Bolt in his face before slamming him against the wall behind him. Seeing that Star Bolt was in trouble, Princess Twilight looked at Rarity and Rainbow Dash, “alright… it’s now or never! Focus!”
as the three mares looked at each other, their elements started to glow as the magic started to gather in each. Back at the wall, Osiris smiled looking at his pinned prey before slamming him against the wall three more times. Then tossing him along the curved wall causing Star Bolt to roll as his own momentum continued inflicting pain with each foot of wall he was rolling along before hitting the ground. As Star Bolt laid on the ground in pain, he tried to stand, but as he did, Osiris sent one more pillar from below that sent Star Bolt into the air and slammed him against the ceiling before releasing him and dropping him to the ground below with nothing to cushion his fall. Seeing Star Bolt on the ground and in trouble, Spitfire rushed in and tried to attack Osiris from behind, “EAT THIS!”

Osiris smiled slighting, as he waited for Spitfire to get close enough before turning around and creating a wall of sand right between the flying pegasus and her target. With almost no time to stop, Spitfire tried to turn to avoid hitting the wall, but as she did, a thinner wall appeared in the direction she turned to as it solidified into glass. This wall couldn’t be avoided, as Spitfire crashed into the glass causing it to shatter and cut up her body as she fell to the ground in pain. Star Bolt opened his eyes and looked at Spitfire who was only a few feet away, “S-Spitfire… you… you ok?”
Spitfire picked herself up as she smiled, “yea… I’m fine commander just a little…”
Before she could finish her sentence, A vine of sand wrapped around her neck as it jerked Spitfire back causing her to fall on her back, before being raised in the air by her throat. Star Bolt struggled to pick himself up as he spoke, “No… S-Spitfire…”
Osiris melted away into sand before reforming next to Spitfire as he smiled, “Foolish pony. Shouldn’t you know that you have no place here? You wield no element… and no magic. You’re nothing but an acrobat who performs to entertain little foals. But don’t worry… I will reunite you with your team.”

With those dark words spiraling in Spitfire’s mind terrifying her even more, the vine of sand started to tighten around her neck as it started strangling her. The helpless Pegasus started struggling as much as she could in an attempt to free herself, but it was useless. Her body was starting to feel weak as Star Bolt struggled just to take a step towards her, “S-Spitfire!... N-No!...”
With Osiris’s focus on his pray, Twilight, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash managed to use the elements, as a white glowing orb appeared between the three. As the elements gathered what power they could muster, the white orb slowly rose above them, as it fired three beams of light across the room at Osiris. The moment Osiris noticed his incoming projectiles the first beam had already hit him pushing him slightly, then the next which pushed him even more, and finally the last beam of light that pushed him far enough to take a step to prevent himself from falling over. However, the beams didn’t seem to do anything to The Dark Alicorn, as he smiled, “Fools! All of you! You should know by now that those pathetic Elements are no match for me! Especially since you only have three left to use!”

Osiris loosened the sand around Spitfire’s neck just before she lost consciousness. Then he precisely threw the weak pegasus across the tomb as she flew through the pillars in the center and hit Twilight on the other side. As the group quickly surrounded Spitfire to see if she was all right, Osiris smiled before starting to turn back to Star Bolt, “Now commander where wer…”
When Osiris finished turning towards Star Bolt, he noticed that Star Bolt Had not only managed to pick himself up, but he stumbled against the wall, on his way to retrieve his sword, leaving a small trail of blood from his many scraps and cuts. Osiris could only smile at the sight, “It’s good to see that you’re determined as ever commander. No matter, if you want that sword so badly… then here… Take it!”
With that said, Osiris’s horn started to glow as an aura surrounded Star Bolt’s sword sending it flying straight at him in high speed. Though he was weak, Star Bolt still managed to dodge the sword as the blade ran across his cheek cutting him as the sword flew by. As he felt the pain of his sword on his face, Star Bolt placed his hoof quickly on his wound, then looked at his blood before quickly looking back to see the sword stop in midair, turn around, and fly at him a second time.

Seeing the blade come at him again, Star Bolt jumped up dodging it a second time as the blade flew under him taking off a few hairs from his tail. Before Star Bolt could turn around and ready himself to dodge the blade a third time, the sword swung around and flew at him much earlier than expected. The only thing Star Bolt could do was turn his body and open his left wing to block the attack, luckily it worked but just like Shinning Armor’s sword, it pierced his wing completely causing Star Bolt to fall to the ground screaming in pain. As his screams echoed through the tomb, Twilight and the others stopped trying to treat Spitfire’s wounds as Rainbow Dash spoke, “The commander is in trouble! We gotta help him!”
Twilight replied, “Yea… but what can we do? The elements don’t work.”
Rarity continued, “Well, we can’t just sit here and wait till he dies! We must do something.”
Spitfire spoke through her exhaustion and pain, “G-go… I'll be fine… just… help him…”
Twilight nodded her head as she looked at Rarity and Rainbow Dash, “Let’s go girls! We can’t do much, but we still have to try!”
With that said, the three keepers of the elements started galloping through to tomb towards Star Bolt as Osiris stood over the injured pegasus and smiled, “well commander… it looks like both of your wings are now useless. But don’t worry, you won’t ever have to use them. Because now… you di…”

Before Osiris could finish his sentence, the three charging ponies entered the hexagon that the five pillars stood in the center of the tomb. And as they did, the element on each pillar started glowing brightly as the three ponies stopped and shielded their eyes from the intense light. Seeing the light out of the corner of his eye, Osiris turned his head towards the pillars and used his wing to shield his eyes, “What?... what is this?...”
With everypony in the tomb focused on the light in the center, the five pillars that held the second set of Elements began cracking up as each gem freed itself from the socket that held them in place. After the elements were free, they each slowly moved to the center of the hexagon and surrounded the three ponies that were centered in the tomb. As the elements hovered around them, Rarity asked, “Twilight!, what is this?”
Twilight replied, “I… I don’t know!”
Osiris could only stare at the sight as his expression went from amazed to enraged, “No… they’ve been accepted by the Queen!...”
Star Bolt looked at the sight in shock as he mumbled to himself, “the… the Queen?”

Slowly the five elements that were free from their place started orbiting the three ponies as they backed up into each other in worry that they would get hit as the elements increased their speed until they looked like a colorful ring that surrounded the them. In a fit of rage, Osiris yelled at the sight, “The queen may accept you… BUT I WILL NOT!!!!”
Just then in his rage filled scream, a long glass spike formed in front of him as it shot straight at the light filled spectacle that was in the center of the tomb. As the spike approached the ponies, it stopped in place as it shattered under the power of the elements leaving the three ponies unharmed. As the five elements continued their orbit, a light started cascading from Rainbow Dash’s for head, Rarity’s back, and from under Twilights bandages. As the light shined, slowly Rainbow Dash started to grow a unicorn horn on her head, as wing emerged from Rarity’s back. And finally, Twilight bandages fell to the ground as her wings reemerged from the place her wounds used to sit. Now, the three stared at each other in shock as they realized that not only did Twilight get her wings back regaining her alicorn form, but now both Rarity and Rainbow Dash were alicorns too.

Osiris could only sneer at the new alicorns and he mumbled to himself, “No… a perversion of nature. THIS SHALL NOT GO UNPUNISHED!!!”
With their newfound forms, Twilight, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity glared at Osiris as Twilight spoke, “It’s over Alicorn!”
Osiris sneered, “it’s not over!... Not yet! Mockeries can never stand up to the genuine article!!!”
With that said, Osiris gathered his sand and shot it in a stream of power as if her were a dragon breathing fire on the group. As the stream got close, the five elements that were orbiting the group stopped their orbit as they circled up in front of the three and created a force field that blocked the attack. As Osiris continued shooting the stream of sand at the three, Star Bolt yelled from the ground, “P-Princess! Use them! Use the Elements! ALL EIGHT OF THEM!!!”
Osiris realized what Star Bolt meant as his eyes widened, “Eight…”
On the other side of the barrier of light, the three alicorns looked at each other as they nodded their heads, “Let’s do it!”

The three ponies looked at each other as the same orb from before appeared between the three, only this time, a thin beam of light shot from the five defending elements as they hit the brightly glowing orb. Then the three ponies looked at Osiris as they focused on firing the orb at him. The brightly glowing orb shot forward into the continuous stream of sand that Osiris was shooting at the alicorns. Slowly the stream was getting pushed back until it was no longer against the magical barrier. As the elements magic slowly pushed the stream of sand back from the alicorns and eased its way closer and closer to Osiris, he could only sneer as he started focusing more on using his magic to fight back. “No… You cannot win… I won’t let you!...”
With Osiris using every bit of strength on his magic, he increased the power of his stream of sand as the orb stopped pushing it back towards him and held its position as the two forces entered a stalemate. With both the stream of sand and the orb of harmony holding each other in the same position, Osiris smiled, “There… you see… Even with Eight elements, I cannot be defeate-“
before Osiris could finish gloating, the orb that was being held back by the stream of sand split into eight different colored beamed that scattered in all directions as they each moved out of the streams path and closed in on Osiris like an opening and closing talon on a griffins wrist.

Before he could react, all eight beams of light hit Osiris and pierced his body as they flew through him and vanished into thin air leaving him to scream in agony at the massive string of magical attacks. As soon as the barrage had passed, the large stream of sand that Osiris was shooting had stopped and fallen to the ground as he fell to a knee trying to catch his breath, “N-no… this…. This can’t be… I… I can’t be defeated by lower ponies…”
“Hey… Alicorn…”
Osiris stood back up as he turned around to see Star Bolt standing there with a smile of confidence, “Yea… and what do you want commander?”
Star Bolt smiled, “let me show you something…”
with Osiris watching, Star Bolt gripped the sword that was sticking through his wing and cringed as he pulled it out, trying his hardest not to scream in agony. As soon as the sword was free, Star Bolt continued standing there with the sword in his hoof as he breather heavily. Osiris could only give him an unconcerned stare as he replied, “Impressive… but what was the point of that display?...”
Star Bolt smiled as he spoke through his pain, “that… that wasn’t what I wanted to show you… this is.”

Without warning, Star Bolt swung his sword at Osiris as the blade nicked his face, leaving behind a cut as sand began pouring out of his wound like blood. Osiris raised his hoof and felt his wound as he glared at Star Bolt, “you… you cut me… how…”
Star Bolt smiled, “you can’t regenerate anymore… can you?”
Osiris tried all he could to reform his face as he had done numerous times before, but Star Bolt was right. No matter how hard he tried, the sand wasn’t responding to his commands. Seeing the worry in Osiris’s eyes, Star Bolt continued, “How does it feel, Alicorn? To be… LIKE EVERYPONY ELSE!!!”
in rage, Star Bolt swung his sword a second time only this time, he hit Osiris on his forearm cutting his arm partially off at the elbow. As the lower part of his front hoof dissolved into sand leaving Osiris to hold himself up at the elbow, he could only scream in pain as Star Bolt smiled, “Hurts… Doesn’t it?... I'd ask for you to beg for mercy… but even if you did, I would never show mercy for a monster like you!...”
Star Bolt sheathed his sword and braced his hooves to prepare himself to use the Lightning Orb as he continued; “Now… you’re going to pay… Luna, Canterlot, the entire world. I will make you feel the pain of their deaths and I will make sure this bolt allows you to suffer as long as you can before it kills you.”

Osiris breathed heavily through his pain as he bowed his head down and chuckled, “there… there is the Commander Bolt I wanted to see… there is the heartless, monster that Discord liked so much. You truly are a legend commander… that much is certain… but… all legends meet a terrible and gruesome end.”
leaving no time for him to react, Osiris with his head still bowed down, charged forward as his horn went directly into Star Bolt’s chest as the determined alicorn pined him against the wall of the tomb. Seeing the action from the center of the tomb, the three alicorns called out, “COMMANDER!!!”
Star Bolt coughed up blood as Osiris kept him pinned with Star Bolt’s blood running down his face, “If today is the day I shall meet my end… then it is only fitting that you join me in meeting that end!”
Osiris became confused as he started to hear Star Bolt laugh under his own pain, “You… stupid monster… hasn’t anypony already told you?... I died… a long time ago.”
Star Bolt placed his hooves on both sided of Osiris’s head as he started focusing on using the Lightning Orb. He didn’t know if it would work or not, but he was going to try it by channeling the electricity into a living creature instead of the ground.

As Star Bolt eyes started to glow with electric arks in his irises, Osiris started to scream as he felt the incredible pain of electricity surging through his head like a powerful vice. With his energy being bleed away through both the Lightning Orb and his wound, Star Bolt looked up at the cloud that appeared above his head, but something was wrong. As the cloud hovered over the two, an uncontrolled bolt of lightning shot straight up and dug a deep crack into the ceiling before it stopped and a second bolt shot out to the side digging a second crack into the wall next to Star Bolt. seeing the uncontrolled spasms that the cloud was giving off worried Star Bolt, He didn’t know if it was because he was channeling the electricity into a living creature, or if it was because of his weakened state, but one thing was certain. Not only was its simple discharges too powerful for him to control, but the clouds size and power was increasing too rapidly for him to regain control. After a few more seconds, another bolt shot downward taking off a chunk of Osiris’s torso as it dug a deep gash on the ground below the alicorn. As Osiris cringed in pain, everything around them started to shack as the crack on the ceiling and walls started to spread with the surprise tremors. The three alicorns in the center of the room tried all they could to stand straight as Rainbow Dash spoke, “W-What’s going on?”

Twilight looked at the ground beneath them as the cracks started to spread then began glowing in a red color, “No… the volcano… It’s waking up!”
Closer to the entrance of the tomb, Spitfire regained enough energy to stand as she saw a crack spread close by her on the ground and a small drop of Magma trickled in from below, “T-Twilight! We got to get out of here! Now!”
Twilight nodded her head as she turned towards Star Bolt, “You all go… I’m going to get the comma…”
Twilight stopped as Star Bolt coughed trying to call his order to them, “Princess!... Leave! Get out while you… still can! I… I’m done… Even if I… get out of here… I can feel my life draining… away. I won’t survive this!... SO GO!!! NOW!!!”
Twilight looked at Star Bolt with worry, “S-Star…”
“Twilight darling we must get out while we can. Commander Bolt knows what’s best… so I think we should respect his decision, just as we respected applejack and Gilda’s. We have to go!”

Though Rarity made a good point, Twilight continued looking at Star Bolt’s determined expression as Rarity put her hoof on her shoulder, “Princess?”
Though she didn’t like the idea, Twilight knew she had to make this decision so she turned to her friends and spoke, “Let’s get out of here!”
With that said, the three alicorns began galloping towards the entrance to the tomb, however, as they exited the Hexagon on the floor, Rarity’s wings and Rainbow Dash’s horn vanished as the only pony to keep her alicorn state was Twilight. With all three ponies outside the hexagon, the five elements that were hovering in the air, fell to the ground and turned black as the magic inside them faded away. With no time to focus on their or the elements transformation, the three ponies rushed to the entrance of the tomb as they reunited with Spitfire and continued as fast as they could through the corridor. As soon as the four mares left the tomb, another bolt of lightning from the unstable Lightning Orb cloud hit the wall along the bottom which tore a hole big enough for molting lava to shoot into the tomb from below. As soon as the floor was covered in magma, Osiris screamed as the magma was starting to burn his hooves, solidifying the sand into glass before beginning to melt it away. With his mind only set on his fleeing friends, Star Bolt started to feel dizzy as he mumbled to himself, “Hurry Twilight… Hurry… and get… to safety.”

Down in the corridor, Twilight and the other ponies sprinted as fast as they could but it wasn’t long before they reached a dead end with only the covered hole above them to escape through. As the group looked at the castle roof that covered their entrance, Princess Twilight and Rarity tried to use their magic to lift the roof but like before they didn’t have the power to lift it. As the group looked back down the corridor, they could see the magma slowly flowing towards them as it melted everything it touched. Seeing the slow flowing river of magma, Spitfire spoke, “There is no way out! What do we do your majesty?”
Twilight thought to herself for a few seconds but there was only one thing she could do. She stopped using a spell on the roof above as she focused on creating a barrier to hold back the flowing magma. As the barrier appeared in the magmas path, the lava slowly flowed until it touched it, but to no avail. Even the barrier composed of magic couldn’t stop the intense heat that the lava was producing as it pushed it closer and closer to the group. Trying to help, Rarity created a second barrier right behind Twilight’s, but it still didn’t make a difference. The flowing magma started to push the barriers back as the rest of the ponies started to worry, “What now! We can’t stop that stuff! We can’t get out! What do we d…”

Before she could finish her panic induced rant, Rainbow Dash was interrupted as the roof covering the entrance above exploded inward causing the rubble to fall in and momentarily stop the flowing magma from getting closer to the group of ponies. As the four confused ponies looked through their now cleared entrance, Zecora poked her head in as she smiled innocently, “I used too much, I didn’t not suspect, that this simple potion would have quite the effect.”
The group was shocked to see Zecora alive as Rainbow Dash spoke, “Zecora! But I thought you we…”
“No time! Gotta go!”
After interrupting Rainbow Dash, Twilight grabbed Rarity as she quickly flew out of the underground corridor and landed on the surface above. Shortly after the four ponies were on the surface, Twilight asked, “Zecora? Have you seen Gilda or Applejack?”
Zecora shook her head, “I’m sorry but no, there were none I could find. Even my destination remained undefined. Though I’m happy to find you all unharmed, though I see there are absent, should I be alarmed?”

The group went silent as Twilight started to answer, “Applejack, Gilda, and Commander Bolt… they…”
before she could finish her sentence, another tremor shook the ground as everypony tried to keep themselves from falling over. As they did, Rainbow Dash spoke, “Hey, just a though… maybe we should get out of the erupting volcano before we continue this conversation.”
Spitfire nodded her head as she picked up Rarity and replied as she took to the sky, “Fine by me!”
as the ground continued shaking, Twilight picked up Zecora as Rainbow Dash followed closely behind as the four ponies and their zebra companion took to the sky trying to get out of the city before the massive volcano could erupt. Below the ground inside the tomb, the Lightning Orb cloud continued shooting bolts in all directions as the magma continued pouring in. with the chaos ensuing inside, Osiris continued pinning Star Bolt to the wall as he mumbled to him, “Finish the job commander… your friends are at a safe distance now… I know it because I can feel how far my elements are.”
Star Bolt didn’t pay any mind to the comment, my elements. Nevertheless, he did nod his head as he agreed, “Fine… let’s die… together!”
Star Bolt slowly looked back at his Lightning Orb cloud as he smiled, “Luna… I’m coming.”

With those last words, the Lightning Orb released its full power that was so immense that not only did it incinerate Osiris… but it took Star Bolt with him, as the sudden increase in pressure stretched to all sides of the tomb destroying everything it touched. Just outside the city in the sky, Twilight looked back as she saw a bright flash come from the ground surrounding the castle, then the castle collapsed inward and fell into the reawakened pit of the now live volcano. As the castle of Eden fell and melted into the magma below, the surrounding building started to fall in too in a wave that spread from the center of the city until the forest burst into flames and fell in, leaving everything inside the natural walls of the volcano to vanish into the pit of fire. Twilight could only stare back at the ancient city of Eden, as it was permanently erased from existence. Shortly after, the group of ponies landed on the summit of a nearby mountain as they looked back at the distant volcano as it erupted sending ash and smoke into the sky.

As the ponies watched the eruption, Twilight stared with a depressed expression as she spoke, “We… We won.”
Rainbow Dash also had an unhappy expression as she spoke, “We came to Eden, and we destroyed The Dark Alicorn… Once and for all…”
Rarity held the same expression as she spoke, “I guess… it’s finally over.”
Spitfire could only sit down with the same expression as she spoke, “If it’s over… Then why does it feel like we lost?”
Twilight sat down as she replied, “Because… even if we won. We still lost too many friends in the process. Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy…”
Rarity continued, “Applejack, Gilda…”
Rainbow Dash finished, “and Commander Bolt… the one pony who motivated us to come out here in the first place. If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have even made it to Eden.”
Rarity nodded her head, “I agree… the main reason I was so enthusiastic about this whole trip was because I had confidence in his ability.”
Spitfire continued, “and he gave us confidence in ours… you can’t forget that.”

Twilight sighed, “and now, he, and everypony else we know are gone…”
Rainbow Dash looked at Zecora and asked, “Speaking of which… how did you survive? Commander Bolt said you were dead.”
Zecora nodded her head as she replied, “If not for a potion in my special brew, then my death and end would surely be true. But thanks to this potion that I myself did mend, I was saved at the last second by its spiraling wind.”
Zecora pulled out a flask with a potion inside as Twilight read the label, “Liquid tornado… well I guess that would do it. Though Star Bolt didn’t tell how you died so I’m guessing you fell into the ravine, right?”
Zecora nodded her head as Spitfire looked at Princess Twilight, “So… now what? Should we head back to Canterlot… erm… what’s left of it?”
Rainbow Dash put her hoof on her head as she replied, “I think the question is, should we even bother?... Canterlot, Ponyville, Cloudsdale, heck all of Equestria is gone now. I don’t even know if there is a place to go back too.”

The group went into a depress moment of silence as they thought about Rainbow Dash’s words, then Zecora looked at Twilight and spoke, “Well your majesty, its easy to know, that we look to your guidance, on which way to go. To return to our homes, though broken and gone, or to find a new home, and move on.”
Twilight thought to herself as she replied, “Equestria is our home. And even if it’s broken and lonely, Gryphus proved that The Dark Alicorn missed a few survivors. Maybe we can find more and rebuild the kingdom. It won’t be as great as Princess Celestia’s or Princess Luna’s… but it’s the best we can do.”
The group nodded their heads as Rainbow Dash replied, “Well if you say so… maybe Niether found s…”
Before she could finish her sentence, a loud explosion was heard coming from the now active volcano. As the group turned their attention to it, the saw something inside glowing with intense light that was obviously not the volcano itself, “What? What is…”
before Princess Twilight could finish her sentence, the element on her crown started glowing as the elements on Rainbow Dash and Rarity also started to glow.

The group looked at the growing light in the volcano as they started to see eruption on the surface of the volcano, but what concerned them the most was that this wasn’t a normal eruption like a volcano would often do, but it was an eruption of pure magic. However, this magic was unlike anything that Twilight or any of the group had ever witness before in their lives; it even outmatched the eight elements that were used to weaken Osiris. As the ponies marveled at the once and a lifetime sight, Spitfire brought up a nerve racking question, “is… is this The Dark Alicorns doing?... Did… did he survive?”
Hearing that question sent a chill up everypony’s spine as they could only continue watching the event unfold, in hopes that what Spitfire was asking was wrong. With the sky filled with ash and the air thick with unknown magic, the group of ponies and their zebra companion could only stand there and ready themselves for anything… even death.

Ch24 Osiris’s Sacrifice

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The cold marble floor felt like ice against his face as Star Bolt opened his eyes to find himself lying in what looked to be a grand hall. The first thing he did was pick himself up and frantically looked at his wounds on both his wing and chest. However, when he did, he found that the wounds were gone. After seeing that they weren’t there and there was no pain, Star Bolt could only sit down and sigh, “no doubt about it this time… I truly am dead, even I couldn’t survive a lightning orb like that… then there was the erupting volcano beneath our hooves.”
Star Bolt rubbed his head then started looking around the room as he admired the majesty of this great hall, “wow… this place is nice, it even puts Equestria’s throne room to shame. I wo…”
Before could finish, he realized what he just called the room as he slowly turned around and was shocked to see two great thrones sitting right behind him. In one, sat a great Alicorn king with a light orange body and a brown mane and beard. And in the other sat his beautiful alicorn queen with a pail body and a long red mane. As Star Bolt stared in awe at the royal ponies, The King stood up and took a few steps in front of his throne as he continued staring in Star Bolt’s direction.

As the king stood there with his expressionless stare, Star Bolt had no idea of what to do. He didn’t know if he was supposed to bow, or continue standing. He didn’t know whether he should speak first or wait to be spoken to, and if so, what would he say? For the first time, Star Bolt actually felt intimidated by the pony standing in front of him. And his intimidation rose as the king spoke, “Welcome! May I ask thee for thy name?”
Star Bolt hesitated as the king smiled pleasantly, then Star Bolt started to reply, “… um… M…”
“Greetings Milord, Milady. I don’t know if thou remember me or not… But my name is Professor Osiris.”
Star Bolt immediately turned around to see a Green Stallion standing behind him with a black mane and a spell book for a cutiemark. Realizing that he wasn’t being addressed by the king, Star Bolt stepped aside as the conversation continued with the queen smiling as she replied, “Yes, of course we remember thee. Twas you who solved the food problem last winter with thy advancements in agricultural studies.”

The king thought to himself then taped his hoof on the ground, “Ah, that’s correct. Now I remember thee. My apologies, for in my old age, memories of thee slipped from my mind.”
Osiris continued, “Nothing requires forgiveness milord. I know all too well that thy matters stretch far beyond the concerns of a simple peasant.”
The king felt concerned as his queen stood from her throne and replied, “Nonsense! For no matter will ever overshadow our subjects and their needs.”
The king nodded his head, “My queen speaks the truth. No matter how small, frail, or even weak a subject may seem, thou should never consider themselves peasants. Especially when thou have done so much for the kingdom.”
Osiris Bowed in respect, “You flatter me milord and lady.”
Smiling at the humble alicorn, the king spoke, “so what is it that would allow thee to grace us with thy presence?”
Osiris rose from his bow as he started to continue, “Well milord, I…”
“Mother! Father!”
“Mommy! Daddy!”

Both Star Bolt and Osiris looked off to the side as two little alicorn fillies rushed up to the Queen. When they approached her, Star Bolt couldn’t believe his eyes, “Celestia?... Luna?...”
Osiris smiled pleasantly as he stepped back and allowed the two fillies to approach their mother and hold up drawings on paper as Little Celestia spoke first, “Mother, Look what I drew. Tis Eden when we grow up.”
Luna stepped between her sister and mother as she spoke up, “Tis nothing compared to what I drew. It’s you, daddy, Tia, and me on the north tower. Isn’t it good?”
The queen smiled as she spoke, “Little ones please mind yourselves. A visitor has arrived and we mustn’t be rude.”
The Two Princesses looked at Osiris as they both faced him, bowed in respect, and spoke one at a time with Celestia speaking first, “How do you do sir.”
“Yes, how do you do?”
Osiris smiled as he bowed to the fillies, “Very fine thank you. Tis a good feeling to be welcomed by the young princesses so politely.”

As Osiris rose from yet another bow, the king asked, “Now, Thou spoke of a matter professor?”
Osiris singled towards the young fillies as he spoke, “Perhaps this isn’t a matter to be discussed in front of such innocent’s milord.”
The king gave Osiris a concerned look, but when it was returned by a serious expression, he could only sigh as he replied, “Very well… Celestia… wouldst thou take thy sister into thy chambers to play for a while? Professor Osiris and I must discuss matters of great importance.”
The two fillies looked up at their mother who smiled as she nodded her head, “Run along little ones, we shall retrieve thee when the time is right.”
The little fillies turned around with a depressed expression as they slowly started to leave the room, but before they left Luna turned towards Osiris and bowed, “Twas nice meeting thee.”
Osiris nodded his head and replied, “Fair thee well young princess.”

As soon as Luna turned and followed her sister out of the room, the king used his magic to close and lock the massive doors as he and his queen trotted back to their thrones and sat down with serious expressions. The king then leaned forward and spoke, “If thou wish to discuss this in my daughter’s absence… then I could only assume that thou wish to discuss the rising darkness… Correct?”
Osiris nodded his head as he replied, “indeed I do milord.”
The king looked at his wife with concern as she looked back and nodded her head before he sighed as he spoke, “Very well… What has thou discovered? Has thou discovered when the darkness will come?”
Osiris shook his head as the king asked, “Has thou discovered what the darkness is?”
Osiris shook his head a second time as he replied, “No milord… the reason I’ve come is because I have found a way to fend off the darkness.”
“Fend it off?”
Osiris smiled, “Yes milord… if not fend… then destroy.”

The king looked at Osiris with an expressionless stare as he continued, “Explain.”
Osiris continued, “Milord… Milady… I have discovered a way to separate traits of emotions from another and channel them onto Gems for which he or she can use to fight off dark magic.”
The king was confused, “Traits of emotion… like happiness and sadness?”
Osiris nodded his head, “More specifically milord, anxiety and kindness. I could take thy jealousy and turn it into a stone from which you could easily use to vanquish any foe.”
The queen asked, “And how can this defeat the darkness?”
Osiris continued, “I have studied each and every emotion that our personalities allow us to express, and through my studies, I have chosen the purest and most powerful emotions of harmony that I could find. Laughter, honesty, loyalty, generosity, and Kindness.”
The king thought to himself, “and… this should work?”
“Osiris nodded his head as he smiled, “yes Milord I believe it shall.”

The Queen continued, “I hope you won’t see me rude… but, how does thou know this will work? Exactly what makes thee so sure?”
Osiris smiled as he replied, “Milord… Milady… when I combine these elements with the final, it will create a great force unlike that the world has ever seen. In fact if my calculations are correct… their power will over shadow… even you.”
Hearing the words and feeling slight concern, the king and queen looked at each other than nodded their heads as the king stood up from his throne. Thinking he said something wrong, Osiris quickly bowed as he spoke, “My apologies milord… I… I did not mean to offend… I… I spoke out of place, please forgive me.”
The king spoke up with a serious expression and tone, “Arise… I did not take offence to thee… however, I would like to know one thing if thou is so sure of this power.”
Osiris rose form his groveling as he replied, “anything milord… just ask and I shall answer.”

The king replied, “If I allow thee to create such power… what makes thee so sure that thou won’t use this magic against me?”
Osiris sighed in relief as he replied, “Impossible milord… the reason I chose such harmonious elements is because these elements can only be used for good. Any attempt at deeds that are unjust, will result without any actions what so ever…. However, to create these elements leaves a price.”
“A price?”
Osiris nodded his head, as his expression became serious, “Yes milord… for to create these elements I must drain them from a host.”
“A host? And what shall happen to this host once these elements are drained?”
Osiris sighed, “Well milord… first I will have to drain the five elements that make up the ponies emotions… but in order for the elements to react, I must also drain the host’s magic so that the elements will respond to each other. Once the elements are drained from the host, all that will be left is an enraged shell. But once the magic is removed, the shell will fade and turn to dust.”

The two royals looked at each other as Star Bolt mumbled to himself, “dust?... or sand?”
The two royals looked back at Osiris as the queen spoke, “dust? And why would they do that?”
Osiris explained, “Without these elements of harmony, the body will become an enraged soul who would despise all. However, when the magic is removed, the body can’t hold itself together; therefore the body will deteriorate and fall apart. So, to place it simply… The host would meet his end.”
Star Bolt thought to himself, “So… to create the elements of harmony… somepony must die…”
The queen gave a nervous expression as she asked, “And… who will this host be? Has somepony volunteered for this?”
Osiris sighed as he replied, “I volunteer myself!”
The king nodded his head, “So… thou would sacrifice thyself?... For the kingdom?”
Osiris nodded his head and spoke with confidence, “I shall milord! I’ve deci…”

Everypony in the room looked at the queen as she stood up and spoke in anger, “I shall not allow one of the lives I’ve created to sacrifice thyself for an unjust cause! Thou must find an alternative solution!”
Surprised by the Queens’s outburst, Osiris quickly bowed, “I… I beg thee forgiveness milady… However, there is no other way. I do not wish to kill another so it is only fitting that I volunteer myself. Please do not give thee the burden of selecting another host. My conscience could not bear such cruelty!”
The queen stood there giving Osiris and annoyed look as the king stood and approached his wife, “My love… It pains me to do this myself. Nevertheless, The Professor has offered a chance to save thy kingdom, and the only price to be paid has been offered by him. For the good of the kingdom, and our daughter’s future… I must agree with him when I say that this is our best option.”
The queen tried to hold back her tears as she replied, “But the professor’s wife… She is with foal. I cannot allow him to give his life when he is to be blessed with fatherhood soon.”
Osiris rose from his bow as he spoke, “I understand Milady… but I do this for that foal as well.”

The king stood next to his wife as he waited for her to respond, “… My love?”
The queen sighed as she sat back down in the throne, “I give thee permission… to sacrifice thy life… though it pains me so, I can only hope that these… Elements of Harmony can succeed in vanquishing this darkness.”
The king sat down in is throne as he continued, “You may use the lower chamber that resided below the castle. Your equipment will be moved there immediately and you will be granted every possible resource so that these elements will be finished properly and without fail.”
Osiris smiled as he bowed, “Thank you milord, milady I shall not fail you!”
The king sighed, “And professor... I would also like to inform thee, that due to thy sacrifice, the kingdom and all who reside in it will know thy name. For you will be branded a hero for every generation to know. And thy family will forever live without hardship. You have my word.”

Osiris bowed one last time as he replied, “And that still, is more then I deserve. I shale have the elements complete in one week’s time… I pray that it will be prior to the darkness’s attack.”
The king bowed his head as he replied, “I pray that you’re correct. Guards! See to it that Professor Osiris and his equipment are moved to the lower chamber below the castle. Give him anything he needs and grant him freedom to roam the palace as he pleases!”
As if they were created out of the shadows, a guard flew in from nowhere, landed next to Osiris, and bowed, “As you wish Your Majesty!”
The guard and professor both turned around and left the room as the queen looked down at the ground in shame. When the king saw this, he spoke, “My love… do not be so hard on thyself. For you know as well as I, that this was his choice.”
A tear rolled down her face as she replied, “But when a life takes its own… I can only feel responsible. Nopony should give thyn gift of life for another. It makes me feel as if we’ve failed as rulers.”
The king sighed, “no my love. The situation for one to give thyn life for another has never come to be before now. Just know that what life he gives, will ensure the future of his, and our daughters.”
The queen sighed, “I pray that you’re right.”

As Star Bolt couldn’t help but mumble to himself, “so… this must be Eden in the past… but ho…”
Before he could finish his sentence, his surroundings went dark as they slowly faded away and returned to reveal a dark chamber. When Star Bolt looked around, he noticed that this chamber was the same tomb that he fought Osiris in, only this time the walls, and the six pillars looked brand new. As Star Bolt looked around, four ponies entered the room, two guard’s, Osiris, and his assistant. As they approached a chest that sat in the center of the tomb, Osiris opened it and pulled out a spell book that he himself wrote, and six of the twelve clear gemstones that sat inside the chest. Then he closed the chest and sat them in front of him. Then Osiris looked at his assistant and asked, “Have you checked on my wife yet?”

The Assistant nodded his head replied, “yes professor… But I’m afraid she has gone into labor. Wouldst thou like to postpone till afterwards?”
Osiris shook his head, “nay… The ceremony to unveil the Elements of Harmony has begun and his majesty shall need the elements to be completed so he can present them. Although… it seems fitting. As one life ends… another shall begin. Shall we get started?”
The assistant nodded his head, “yes professor… Explain what must be done, and I shall do it.”
Osiris nodded his head as he spoke, “first separate the gems into one group of three, then a group of two, but leave the last one by itself.”
The assistant used his magic to do as he was told then Osiris continued, “Now let us begin, first I shall extract Kindness, laughter, and honesty. And take heed, once these elements are removed from me, then the kindhearted pony you see before you will be no more. So please, do not take what I say to offence.”

The assistant nodded his head as he replied, “Understood professor.”
Professor Osiris stepped towards the first three gems as he bowed his head and focused on his spell. As the professor focused, the gems began to glow along with his horn. After a brief moment of silence as the professor used his spell, Osiris opened his eyes and jerked his head back, screaming in agony as he griped his head and fell to the ground jerking his head back and forth as he tried effortlessly to stop the pain. With the screams echoing through the chamber, Star Bolt backed up until he was against the wall in shock as the professor’s body jerked back and forth as if he were dying on the spot. The assistant rushed to Osiris’s side as he spoke, “Professor! What’s wrong?”
Osiris spoke through his pain, “L-leave me… Be… Th-this is what’s… supposed to happen…”
All of a sudden, the gems started to hover in the air as they slowly changed color from bottom to top as if they were being filled up with a colorful liquid. Finally as the top of the gems changed to their final color, they each fell to the ground as Osiris stopped screaming and laid on the ground breathing deeply.

The assistant looked at Professor Osiris and then back at the glowing elements, “Did… did it work?”
The professor gave him a dirty look as he replied rudely, “Nay… it didn’t. The gems just magically changed color because they felt like making a change… Of course, it worked insolent buffoon! Now when thou has finished making sure they don’t retreat from my sight… then thou can make thyself useful and retrieve the next set of gems… tis a sad day when my assistant proves his uselessness!”
Both Star Bolt and the lab assistant couldn’t believe the change in Osiris’s personality. It was as if he was a completely different pony now. Knowing that this was expected, the assistant went to retrieve the other elements as he replied, “Is thou sure that thee doesn’t require rest? From your screams of misery, it seemed like you were in great pain.”
Osiris sneered at his assistant as he replied, “really… are thou sure… tis natural for me to fall to the ground screaming in agony when thou feels something that amuses thee… why must I have an assistant who seeks to prove that the only art he studies are that of the imbecilic?”

One of the guard’s approached the finished elements and placed them inside of a chest that the other guard was carrying as, the assistant asked, “Which elements wouldst thou create next?”
Osiris sighed in hopelessness as he replied, “Though it isn’t thy concern… I shall create the elements of Loyalty and Generosity next… then; I shall create the final and most powerful element of all… Magic. Now step aside.”
The assistant stepped aside as Osiris repeated the first few actions as the last, by bowing his head, closing his eyes, and focusing on his spell. Shortly after, just like before Osiris jerked his head back then fell to the ground screaming, only this time, not only did the colors on the gems begin to change… but so did Osiris’s appearance. First, his mane, which seemed like normal hair, began fazing away as if it were vaporizing. Then his body that was Light green slowly began to darken as his cutiemark faded away completely. After a few more seconds, his darkening pelt had turned to a dulled blackish green while another cutiemark had appeared in the place of his old. Only this time, the cutiemark wasn’t a spell book… but the symbol of the Elements of Harmony. Just as his screaming stopped and the elements have finished changing into their new color, Osiris stood up as Star Bolt looked at the pony in complete shock, “Its… its… The Dark alicorn?... He!... He created the Elements of Harmony!... No… it’s impossible!...”

Osiris stood up as he mumbled to himself, “there… I hope thy ungrateful ruler thinks this to be amusing… tis a waste of time to continue… but if thou wishes it to be… then thou shall get his precious elements.”
Like the last completed element, the guard’s approached and secured them inside the chest with the rest as the assistant retrieved the final gem and placed it in front of Osiris, “Here Professor… the final element still required thy creation.”
Osiris rubbed his head then looked at the final gem that sat in front of him as he mumbled, “the precious king still needs his precious little trinket does he… tis a foolish game he plays on me. Yet if anything, I am a stallion of my word. Although… perhaps, the element can work with only a sample of thy magic.”
With Osiris speaking too softly for the assistant to hear, the assistant stepped back to give Osiris room as he bowed and placed his horn against the final Gem.

Osiris closed his eyes and focused on using the spell one last time as the gem began hovering in the air and began to glow brightly as it started to change its color, but this time, Osiris didn’t start screaming, in fact he only stood there smiling as the color of the gem continued changing. However, just as the gem had reached the third quarter of its change. Osiris stopped his spell as the gem fell to the ground and faded into its original color. As soon as the gem hit the ground making a clinking sound, Osiris’s body melted away into a large pile of sand as the assistant called to him, “PROFESSOR!!!”
As the assistant rushed to his mentor’s remains, the element on the ground started to glow for a few more second before changing fully to the color it was supposed to during the final spell. The assistant sifted through the sand as frantically as he could hoping to find that what he witnessed didn’t happen, but no matter what he did, the only thing he could find in the sand, was the stone floor below it. As he realized his efforts were futile, the assistant stood up as he sighed, “Rest in peace Professor… I hope thy sacrifice won’t be in vain.”

The assistant turned around and approached the final element as he observed it closely, “tis a strange sight… this element isn’t as bright as the others, yet it’s supposed to be the most powerful?”
As the guard approached him and opened the chest, the assistant laid the element inside and was amazed to find that when the element was placed with the others it glowed as brightly as the rest. He could only mumble to himself, “I assume that they must be together for the final to work properly… tis a strange new science that the professor has left in his wake. Perhaps these elements of Harmony require further study.”
One of the guards spoke, “Perhaps later… by order of the king, we must take this upstairs so that they can be revealed to the waiting public.”
The assistant nodded his head, “Very well… I suppose I shall retrieve the late professor’s remains. Even they deserve a proper burial.”

As the guard’s left the room, the assistant began cleaning up the remains of Osiris as Star Bolt could only sit and mumble to himself, “this is the past… but why am I here? If I’m dead, why am I se…”
“Um… Pardon thy intrusion… but tis this the laboratory of Professor Osiris?”
Star Bolt stopped as he and the assistant looked at the door to see an alicorn nurse standing there. As the nurse entered, the assistant replied, “Yes… however I believe the experiment that the professor has been working on has already claimed his life… I’m sorry but he cannot see his foal.”
The already sad expression on the nurse’s face got worse as she lowered her head and replied, “Then… tis a dark day indeed.”
The nurse raised her head and replied, “I regret to inform thee that during the delivery of the Professor’s foal… there were… complications.”

The assistant looked concerned as he replied, “Complications?… what does thou mean?”
The nurse continued, “well… during labor, the mother stopped breathing.”
“Tis unknown what caused it, but in our efforts to revive her… I’m afraid; she and her foal… have passed from this world.”
The Assistant sat down in disbelief as Star Bolt mumbled to himself, “Passed… meaning, they died?...”
the assistant could only sigh in disappointment as he continued, “I… I see… please… inform his majesty of this tragedy. I would understand that he would want to know immediately.”
The nurse replied as she turned to leave the room, “Very wel…”

Before the nurse could finish her sentence, the sand beneath the assistant’s hooves began moving on its own as the assistant quickly took a step back as the nurse rushed to him and hid behind him in worry of what she was witnessing. Slowly the sand started to bundle itself up and take the form of an alicorn as the dark creature’s body solidified into the flesh that he was before. As the assistant stood in disbelief, he started to approach the dark alicorn as he asked, “P-Professor Osiris?... can it be?”
Osiris opened his eyes and gave his assistant an unconcerned look as he spoke, “tell me… is the words of that mare true? Has my wife met her end?”
The Nurse nervously nodded her head as she replied, “Y-yes… I’m afraid professor, that we couldn’t save her… or the filly.”
Osiris looked at the ground in disappointment, “I… I see… I suppose the Queen’s power couldn’t save them… could it.”
The two looked at each other in confusion as the assistant asked, “Pardon professor?”

Professor Osiris replied as he shook his head, “I gave thy life, so that this kingdom can resume safely… and the queen, who is responsible for creating life, denies my foal and claims my wife in the process.”
The nurse tried to stand up for the queen as she stepped forward, “That’s not true! Everypony knows that the queen can only give life. It’s the body’s actions that sustain it. This was a medical accident that claimed their lives. Not the actions of the qu…”
Before the nurse could finish her sentence, a glass spike quickly shot out from below her as it pierced her chest and killed her on the spot. As soon as he had witnessed the action the assistant jumped back from the dead mare’s body as he fell to the ground in fear, “what? What was?... how?...”
Osiris made the spike melt away as he replied to the nurse’s argument, “Nay… does thou know what I think… I think that his and her majesties are nothing more than fakes. They flaunt their immortality about claiming them to be superior to others… through my studies; nothing has been able to explain their immortality amongst our mortality. Therefore, they can only be one thing… a sin against nature. And we all know what must be done with sins… don’t we?”

The assistant started backing up to the door, “P-professor… has thou lost thy senses?”
Professor Osiris smiled at his assistant as he replied, “on the contrary, I have more sense now than ever before. But if thou still feels unsure … then perhaps thou shall be eliminated as well.”
With that said Osiris pointed his hoof at his assistant, only to have a glass spike shoot out it as it flew across the room and pierced his assistant’s chest. As his assistant fell to the ground dead, Osiris approached him and rolled him over to look at his lifeless face, “Pity… you served me well. Nevertheless, if thy rulers corrupted the pony race enough to never allow a rebellion… then perhaps I shall take nature into thy own hooves and eliminate this abomination, and their followers.”
After that was said the room went silent as a faint sound of royal trumpets could be heard above. As the recognizable sound was made, Osiris looked at the ceiling and smiled, “and what better time than the day that my elements are revealed to the world. Tis a special day indeed.”
With that, said Osiris’s body melted away into sand as it slithered up the walls like many black snakes before creating extremely thin cracks in the ceiling and leaving the room through those cracks.

As Osiris vanished from Star Bolt’s sight, he could only think to himself, “this was the day… that the king and queen were killed on… so… why am I here then?”
Star Bolt looked over at the book of spells as it sat next to the chest in the center of the pillars. As he approached the book, he decided to look through it to see exactly what was inside. Looking through the pages Star Bolt noticed that this book seemed like any other spell book he had seen before, but when he got to the final page, he could see in full detail exactly what was required to create the elements of harmony. Sadly, it didn’t change from the scene he had just witnessed, it took six colorless gems, and a host that would sacrifice personality traits that would painfully be removed from his very soul and implanted into each individual gem leaving the sixth gem empty to place the host’s magic in. And in bold print, it said very specifically, “in order for the elements to properly bind, the host must sacrifice every bit of magic his body contains, otherwise the remaining magic will be corrupted in darkness and hatred.”
As Star Bolt looked over the page he could only sigh as he mumbled to himself, “Darkness and hatred… that explains everything.”
Then without him realizing he was being watched, a voice came from behind him, “Hello… Commander Bolt…”
Knowing the voice well, Star Bolt turned around and glared at his company as he closed the book, “Hello… Professor Osiris.”

Ch25 The Queen of Eden

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Star Bolt stood in the center of the tomb, as he looked across it to the very pony responsible for creating the elements of harmony, and destroying everything he knew. As he stood there, he noticed that Osiris looked as he did before he created the elements so asked, “Is this you?... I mean, the real you? Or is it just an illusion?”
Osiris sighed as he started to approach Star Bolt, “this commander, is the real me. The part of me that wished to escape from that heartless shell of a body. I suppose I should properly introduce myself. My name is Professor Osiris of Eden. And as you now know, I am the creator of The Elements of Harmony.”
Star Bolt stepped back from the book as he replied, “Why did you show me this?”
Osiris trotted past Star Bolt and approached his book as he started flipping through the pages, “I wanted to show you the real me… and… why I did what I did.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “you gave up everything that made you a kind hearted stallion… and so, the darkness corrupted you.”

Osiris nodded his head as he replied, “Just like nightmare moon.”
Star Bolt asked, “But… Nightmare moon only killed who she wanted to try to bring her night… what you did was…”
Osiris closed the book and put it back where it was sitting as he interrupted, “Unforgivable… my mind was too corrupted to have any effect on my actions. My biggest mistake was creating the elements in groups. You see without my loyalty and generosity, how could I ever give all of my magic and end my own life. You see… that was the difference between my elements… and hers.”
As Star Bolt asked the question, the area seemed to get hazy around them as if time had started to go by. And as soon as the haze ended, the doors to the tomb flew open as the Queen and a few guard’s rushed in and closed the doors behind them. As soon as the doors were shut, one of the guard’s spoke, “Milady! The entrance to this chamber has been destroyed, but it will not stop the sand for long! Thou must find a means of escape!”

The queen frantically looked around as she spoke, “The professor was too knowledgeable to allow his elements to fail… there must be more to it then what is presentable!”
The queen quickly rushed to the spell book and started frantically flipping through the pages until she found what she was looking for, “here! The Elements of Harmo…”
Before she finished her sentence, the queen was interrupted by a loud sound against the door as if something where trying to force its way inside. The guard’s pressed their bodies against the door trying to keep it shut as they yelled, “Milady! Hurry!”
The queen quickly read the spell then nodded her head, “I see… so that’s what must be done!”
After reading the page, she opened the chest to see the remaining six clear gems that sat inside, so using her magic; she pulled each gem from the chest and used a spell to implant them into the six pillars surrounding the center. Then she stomped the ground and used her magic to cut an indent in the ground connecting each pillar with a straight line that created a hexagon shape on the ground. For her final act, she stood in the center of the hexagon as she started to focus her magic, “If his elements can’t destroy the darkness… then perhaps mine shall trap it.”

As the guards continued holding the doors back one asked, “What is she doing?”
“Don’t question her majesty! She knows what she is doing!”
As the queen stood in the center of the hexagon, her horn started glowing brightly as her body began hovering in the air. As she hovered, a stream of colorful light started to shoot from her horn and into each of the surrounding gems as they all began to change color at once. As the queen continued creating her set of Elements, the doors all of a sudden shattered into splinters as long vines of sand entered the room, stabbing and devouring the surrounding guards as they started moving in. With the guards now dead, the sand quickly started moving towards the queen with the intent to finish her off just like the rest, however, once the sand got close enough to attack, the surrounding Gems had finished changing their color, as the queen’s body dissolved into white sand. As the white sand hit the ground, it began spiraling around in a circle as if it were a miniature tornado. As the tornado spun inside the Hexagon, the newly created elements started to glow brightly as they each shot a beam of light into the center where the chest was sitting. After the lights hit the chest with their beams of light, the chest opened up as a rainbow colored beam of light shot past the pillars and out of the tomb’s entrance.

With the beam of light shooting out of the tomb and the white sand spiraling inside, Star Bolt shielded his eyes as he called to Osiris “What?... What is this!?!”
Osiris could only stare at the sight in disappointment as the black sand vines dissolved and were pulled into the chest. Not long after a large amount of sand was also pulled in as a loud call was heard, “NOOOOOO!!!!!”
As the final amount of the massive pile of sand was pulled into the chest, the colorful light vanished as the chest closed leaving the white sand to fall to the ground. The massive commotion that was ensuing inside the large chamber had completely ceased as the room became silent. At first Star Bolt was confused until the chest slowly opened and the black sand began pouring out as it formed to create The Dark Alicorn. The monster could only smile as he spoke, “Very noble you majesty… But twas all for naught.”

With a smirk of confidence, the memory version of Osiris began stepping forward until he reached two of the pillars surrounding the chest. As he approached, a white barrier appeared in front of him as he smiled, “Nothing can hold my power.”
As the dark creature placed his hoof against the wall, he was surprised to find that no matter how hard he pushed, no part of his body was making it through. Getting annoyed, The Dark Alicorn went to another part and began trying to push himself through there too. Finally, his frustration got to him as The Dark Alicorn dissolved into sand and shot out in all direction as he tried to escape from every way possible, but to no avail. In a fit of rage, the scattering vines of sand turned to large pillars as he tried even harder to free himself, but as he did a small aura of white vapor managed to sift its way through, but he had no control over that vapor as it fell to the ground and began bundling up on its own. Out of curiosity, Star Bolt and the memory version of Osiris looked at the cloud of vapor as it slowly took the form of something very familiar, “Discord?”
Star Bolt could only watch as the vapor solidified and stretch himself out as he spoke, “Well, well, well. It would seem that you got yourself into a pickle didn’t you professor? Seeing that you’re all… jarred up now.”

The trapped creature sighed as he spoke, “Spare me thy mockery creature… and free me at once.”
Discord smiled as he examined the barrier carefully, “and what’s in it for me?”
The Dark Alicorn replied, “I shall reemerge with thee and we will continue destroying the pathetic pony races that choose so willingly to follow immortals.”
Discord created a chair and sat down in it as he replied, “No, I’m going to have to pass on that… what you plan to do is destroy the ponies right?... However, there is no fun in that. Why not just change what they know to be normal… you know, bring forth a little chaos and discord… say, I like that. Discord, the bringer of chaos. Now that’s a title to have… I think I'll keep it.”
The Dark Alicorn sneered at Discord as he spoke, “So… thou has chosen to leave me imprisoned?”
Discord smiled as he spoke, “Now, now don’t be such a sour puss… it’s not like I’m destroying you or something… I’m merely helping myself to bring misery and chaos to the world around me… that’s all. And if you still feel angry… then here.”

Discord smiled as he made a book of crossword puzzles appear in his hand and tossed it into the hexagon barrier. In a fit of rage, The Dark Alicorn created a black sand vine and sent it flying towards Discord, only to have it turn into regular sand as it passed through the barrier. With rage still in The Dark Alicorn’s eyes, Discord smiled as he casually walked out of the tomb, leaving The Dark Alicorn in his magical prison. After that, the vision slowly faded as Star Bolt turned to Osiris and smiled, “Well, it’s nice to see that Discord was the same way back then as he is now.”
Osiris chuckled, “Yea… go figure. Needless to say that book lasted me about a day before I was doomed to stay locked away in that cell for hundreds of years.”
Star Bolt thought to himself before he replied, “So the queen gave her life to create the elements that sealed you away.”
Osiris nodded his head, “Yes… and it was her sacrifice that protected the world from me for all this time.”
“But… why did Discord get free?”
“Though my body was evil… my soul was still somewhat pure. Therefore, the elements only sealed away my darkness. Leaving the part of me that was still good to freely leave.”

Star Bolt thought to himself, “That’s funny… to think that Discord was in a way… Good hmm, well he didn’t necessarily kill anypony so that makes sense… I guess.”
Osiris continued, “Discord was still effected by my removed elements, so he wasn’t good per say, but he was a lot less evil than my normal self.”
Star Bolt then sighed as he replied, “Well… it would seem that nothing protects the world from you now… since the world is rid of you.”
Osiris smiled, “as it is of you, my friend.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he spoke, “So… what’s next?”
Before Osiris could reply, another voice came from nowhere as it replied, “I believe, that is what I’m here to answer.”
As Star Bolt and Osiris turned to the pony who was speaking, Osiris’s eyes widened as he quickly bowed, “Y-Your Majesty!”
As Star Bolt looked at the approaching alicorn mare, she smiled as she spoke before he could even have the chance to bow, “No need to be formal Professor, Commander. I believe this is merely a meeting to settle things. Professor Osiris… Step forth!”

Osiris rose from his bow as he approached the mare with his head hung in shame. As he tried to avert his eyes, the Queen Spoke, “Professor Osiris! You were in fact solely responsible for the extinction of the alicorn race… the destruction of Eden, the genocide of Equestria and the murder of countless ponies from which you so enthusiastically massacred with your own hooves… What do you have to say for yourself?...”
Osiris sighed as he replied, “nothing I can say or do will ever make up for the sins I committed. I can only ask for the worst punishment imaginable. Yet even then I still could never make up for my behavior.”
The Queens smiled, “Very well… I believe for a pony like you… the only punishment available would be… nothing.”
Both Osiris and Star Bolt looked at the queen in shock as they both spoke at the same time, “WHAT!?!”
The queen nodded her head, “Yes… nothing. True you were responsible for countless deaths and despair across the world… but in the end. That was an action that you so unwillingly committed that placed a heavy burden on your heart. Therefore, I believe the worst punishment, for a pony who demands the worst, would be to get no punished at all. Though it seems cruel… it’s about the only punishment I can see available for you.”

Osiris felt a deep sense of pain as he replied with his head hung low, “I… I understand your majesty… and though it seems I’m getting let off for my crimes, I can only bear this burden in hopes that you will find a suitable punishment for me in the future.”
The queen approached Osiris as she smiled, “Perhaps I will.”
With the merciful smile on her face, the queen of Eden placed her hoof against Osiris’s chest as his body started to dissolve into a white glowing dust that seemed to be picked up and scattered in the air around them. Shortly after Osiris was gone, the queen looked at Star Bolt and started to approach him, “and now… comes the matter of you Commander Star Bolt.”
Star Bolt didn’t know how to react to this royal of royals, so as anypony would, Star Bolt bowed to the queen as she smiled, “No need for that commander… Bowing doesn’t suit you anyway. I believe the world owes you a great debt. If not for your sacrifice, Osiris would have proceeded to extinguish life as we know it.”
Star Bolt rose from his bow as he replied, “on the contrary your majesty… it was Princess Twilight and her friends that saved everypony. It was their magic that weakened The Dark Alicorn. I was just a tool to finish him off.”

The queen smiled pleasantly, “you mustn’t be so hard on yourself commander. You see, I have foreseen this for many centuries. That is the reason I showed you the visions of my daughter’s past.”
Star Bolt thought to himself, “Wait… you mean the dreams of Princess Platinum’s sacrifice? That was you?”
The queen smiled, “yes… back then your mind was on the fence about helping my daughters with the ensuing darkness. So I wanted to convince you that not only is this threat dangerous, but many have given their lives to fight against it… to include myself.”
Star Bolt continued, “But… why? Why was I so important that you needed further convincing?”
The queen sat and replied, “Because your heart is pure… you have shown me nothing but a pure heart for centuries. Whether it be sparing ponies on the battlefield. Helping those without any form of payment asked, or even when it’s just befriending those who are often overlooked. You have a heart purer then any element I, Osiris, or anypony could ever create. I see it, your friends saw it, and even my daughters saw it. Not to mention… your parents.”

Star Bolt stared at her in amazement, “Wait… You know my parents?”
The queen looked away as she smiled, “Serenity of the traveling Nomads ... Traipse of the Crystal Empire… You would know them as, the Reaper, and Traipse of the Cutters. These ponies were your mother and father.”
Star Bolt smiled, “I kinda put two and two together with all of Osiris’s comments on the subject… but to be honest… I still know nothing about them.”
The queen looked at Star Bolt, smiled as she trotted next to him, and sat down, “and… does that truly matter? If you want to know, your parents did love you. They merely kept your relation secret for your own protection. The head of the infamous reaper would fetch a high price in the criminal underground. And her son could easily be the key to that prize. Both my daughter and your mentor discovered this truth shortly after the Griffin Civil War ended, but by request of your father, they kept it secret.”
Star Bolt sat down and mumbled to himself, “So… every time I thought I was being watched… could very well have been true.”
The queen put her hoof on his shoulder as she asked, “So… do you need to know more?”

Star Bolt shook his head, “no… like you said, it doesn’t matter anymore anyway right?”
The queen stood up and stepped away from Star Bolt as she continued, “Now… about your reward for dealing with Osiris.”
Star Bolt looked at her and replied, “I told you already… I don’t deserve it. It was Twilight who saved us all. If anything, I only want her to finish her life in happiness. That’s all.”
The queen sighed as she replied, “Sadly… that’s impossible.”
The queen explained, “If you want to know… then I'll tell you. The pony race isn’t extinct… to be precise, there are about five hundred ponies left total. When Princess Twilight returns and rebuilds what she can of Equestria. She will only find about ninety of those ponies to add to her kingdom. As for the rest, some will die of starvation while others become bandits and fight for the remaining resources. In five years, the bandits will mark themselves down to about three hundred and ten, while Equestria’s population will only reach one hundred by that time. In ten years, the bandits will form their own nation and rage war against Equestria… in which, Twilight Sparkle… will meet her end. In a matter of thirty years, the remaining ponies will slowly die out and by the thirty fifth, will be extinct.”

Hearing the story, Star Bolt stood up, “this… this is just speculation… right? There is now way its true… right?”
The queen shook her head and looked down in shame, “no… my visions always come true… this… is inevitable.”
Star Bolt shook his head in denial, “NO! This can’t happen! We… They fought too hard to lose it all now! There has to be a way to stop it! You have to know of a way right? Just tell me! What can I do to prevent this?”
The queen looked at Star Bolt with a look of irritation as she asked, “and what makes you think you can… what can you do to change their fate when you yourself have already met yours?...”
Feeling like he spoke out of tone, Star Bolt sat back down and looked at the ground in shame, “I… I don’t know… but… Princess Twilight didn’t do anything to deserve this… neither did Rainbow Dash, Rarity, or Spitfire. They don’t deserve to have an ending like that! I don’t think it’s possible, but I still need to try. They are my friends… and they fought too hard and too long to lose like that. Please your majesty, I beg of you, if there is a way to save them… then please tell me. I can’t sit here and watch my friends die. Not again…”

With that said, Star Bolt bowed as low as he possibly could as the queen looked at the humble pony, smiled, and mumbled to herself, “a pure heart… loyal to the end… and beyond. I see why you fancy him.”
without hearing her, Star Bolt continued his bowing until the queen put her hoof on his chin and raised him up to look at his face, “Your plea, hasn’t fallen upon deaf ears my little pony. Yet there is no moral way to do what you wish for… however there is a somewhat, immoral way to change their fate. Although, it will go against every law of nature that I can possibly imagine. But it will solve your problem.”
Star Bolt looked at her with hope as he replied, “Really? Please… tell me…”
The queen Stood up and replied, “First… I must warn you, for this act will come at a great price.”
Star Bolt smiled as he shook his head in a joking manner, “price… I literally have nothing to lose now… just name it, and I'll pay it.”
The queen smiled, “very well, then I will do it… I will bring back everypony killed by Osiris from the day he escaped to today.”

Star Bolt was shocked at what he had just heard, “B-bring them back?... you mean, you can do that?”
The queen nodded her head, “I can…. But as I said before… it requires a price.”
Star Bolt knew that to do something like this, the price would be great, but he was devoted to helping his friends so he nodded his head, “Understood, and… the price to be paid?”
The queen smiled pleasantly as she leaned forward and whispered it into his ear. After hearing what he had to do, Star Bolt could only chuckle as she stood back up and waited for him to reply, “I should have guessed it… I would have been very close if I had. Ironic… simply ironic.”
The queen stood up straight as she gave him a serious look, “well commander? Do you accept the cost?”
Star Bolt looked the queen straight in the eye and replied, “Yes your majesty… I accept.”
The Queen could only smile, “I knew you would… Then I will wish you luck on your new task commander. A pony of your skill should have no problem at all.”
Star Bolt spoke sarcastically, “easy for you to say I gotta swallow every bit of pride I have left for this mission.”

The queen took a few steps back from Star Bolt as she spoke, “Are you ready to return commander?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “Actually… I’m missing something.”
The queen smiled, “Ah… of course.”
The queen used her magic to make both Star Bolt’s cloak and sword appear on his body as she continued, “And… now?”
Star Bolt drew his sword far enough to see the cutiemark on the blade, then he sheathed it and replied, “Yes… now.”
The queen smiled as a bright light surrounded him, “I trust you will serve my daughters well. Please… watch over them for me.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “yes your majesty I will.”
“And… tell Princess Luna… that I approve.”
“Yes your maje… wait… what!?!”
The queen smiled playfully, but before anything else could be said, the bright light engulfed Star Bolt as the image of the Queen of Eden vanished without a trace.

On the summit of a nearby Mountain, Princess Twilight, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Spitfire watched in anticipation as the massive volcano that once held the city of Eden, began erupting in an unusual way as the fiery pit in the volcano’s peak shot out rays of light. As the ponies watched, Princess twilight, placed her hoof against her glowing element of harmony as she spoke, “I don’t know if this magic is good or not. But I hope it is, we can’t afford to lose more friends.”
Rainbow Dash stepped closer to princess twilight as she replied to the comment, “Whether it is or isn’t, I don’t care. If it wants a fight… then I say we give it one.”
Spitfire added, “That’s the spirit Dash! We aren’t dead yet right?”
Rarity hesitated as she replied, “Well… I would rather not use the term yet in that particular sentence. Nevertheless, as long as we are standing, we must stand up for what’s right. At least, that’s what the commander would say.”
Twilight nodded her head, “You're right…. No matter what comes at us… we should never back down.”

At that moment, the volcano sent out an aura of multiple colors as it sent large white orbs into the sky instead of the ash and soot that it was sending out prior to the unusual glow. As the multiple white orbs flew into the sky and began vanishing in the distance, the group of ponies watched until one particular orb flew straight up and then came straight at them with great speed. Seeing the incoming projectile, Spitfire called out, “Everypony! Back down!!!”
As the group jumped out of the way the large spear shaped orb of light, colligated with the ground and stopped in place as it sat there glowing for a few seconds. Though the mountain continued shooting orbs into the air both near and far, the group could only keep their attention on the one that sat just inches away as they slowly observed the unusual object. As they continued watching it, the orb began to glow brightly as it slowly became transparent and evaporated into the air leaving behind a motionless stallion in its place. Seeing the stallion shocked everypony as Princess Twilight gasped, “C-commander? Commander Bolt!”

The group quickly approached Star Bolt as he struggled to pick himself up as he replied, “um… ouch. You think that a pony as powerful as the creator of life could have set me down a little more gently.”
Hearing that comment only confirmed that what everypony was seeing was real. As the ponies helped him up Spitfire spoke, “Commander… I… um… how…”
Star Bolt smiled, “what’s wrong Captain? You don’t think that Commander Bolt can be stopped by something as simple as a volcano now do you?”
Rainbow Dash added, “Well… yea. I mean it stopped The Dark Alicorn didn’t it?”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “well you got me there.”
Princess twilight could only ask, “Commander?... it did stop The Dark Alicorn… didn’t it?”
As everypony looked at him and waited anxiously for a response, Star Bolt nodded his head, “no… it didn’t. You all did. Thanks to you, Osiris… AKA The Dark Alicorn. Is finally no more.”
The group let out a sigh of relief as they smiled at the comment, then Zecora asked, “The Dark Alicorn’s gone, I feel much joy in this. But how did you return, I’m still at amiss.”

Star Bolt started to reply, but before he could, another voice overshadowed his, “It was the queen of Eden… wasn’t it? No doubt she had a hoof in this.”
As the group looked to the direction of the voice, they were amazed to see Princess Celestia trotting up with Applejack, and Gilda beside her. Immediately the group of ponies quickly surrounded the three as Rainbow Dash spoke, “Princess, A.J., Gilda! You’re alright!”
Gilda could only smile, “Of course I am Dash. You think you’re gonna be rid of me that easily?”
Rarity rushed to Applejack as she spoke, “but… I thought you were…”
Applejack smiled, “well, we were. At least till Commander Bolt here saved our hides.”
As the group looked at Star Bolt in curiosity, he innocently smiled as he replied, “Well… the queen of Eden helped… just a little though.”
Princess Celestia smiled, “Well even if it was with mother’s assistance, I’m sure that it was your charms that influenced her to do so.”
Star Bolt rubbed the back of his head in modestly as he replied, “Well… what can I say. I…”

Before Star Bolt could finish his sentence, he felt something approach him from behind, so he stopped talking as he slowly turned around to see Princess Luna slowly trotting towards them. As she got closer, Star Bolt began trotting towards her until the distance between them was closed as they both stopped less than a foot from each other. With tears of joy starting to fill her eyes, Luna spoke, “S-Star Bolt? You did it. I don’t know how and I don’t care… but you not only saved us all… but you bro…”
the surrounding group were completely shocked as Star Bolt leaned in and unexpectedly kissed Luna before she could even finish her sentence. With even Luna surprised by his actions, Star Bolt finished his kiss as he put his hoof around her and held her close, “… Luna… I… I thought I lost you for good this time… I thought… I thought I had lost my chance to tell you that… I love you Luna. I know I’ve never said it before… but I’m saying it now. I love you… and I won’t let anything happen to you ever again.”

Luna smiled as she pushed Star Bolt back a little, “Star… you don’t have to tell me that since I already knew. And even though it took over a thousand years… hearing you say it yourself, makes it worth more than ever before. Star bolt… I love you two… and I want to be with you. Even if it won’t last forever, I will make it last as long as possible.”
With that said, this time Luna leaned in and kissed him as the group could only smile at the touching scene. Then as their kiss ended, Gilda began looking around as Rainbow Dash asked, “What’s up Gilda?”
Gilda replied, “Well… if the princesses are back and I’m back… then where is Dad and the King?”
Applejack nodded her head in agreement, “that’s right… what about Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy? I thought everypony who died was now back?”
Princess Celestia smiled as she replied, “don’t worry my little ponies. Your friends and family are safe and sound back in Equestria. The only reason Luna and I are here is because mother decided to bring us back here instead of back in Canterlot.”

Princess Twilight had to ask, “So… it really was your mother who brought you back?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “yes… Only my mother could have the power to do something so impossible. But… I still have to wonder… if she defied her own laws of nature… then something must have been given to her in return. It’s the only way she would do something like this.”
The group looked at Star Bolt as rarity asked, “Commander?… did she say something to you?”
With everypony looking at Star Bolt with concern, Princess Luna looked at his expression carefully and asked, “Well… what did she say Star?”
Star Bolt sighed as his expression went from concerned, to calm, then to a pleasant smile, “well, she said that in order for her to bring everypony back, I had to do something for her.”
Princess Celestia replied, “And that would be?”
Star Bolt stopped embracing Luna as he turned towards Princess Celestia and replied, “In return for the lives lost during Osiris’s attack, I must serve under both princesses of Canterlot, as their commander until the day that everything is as it should be and Equestria is returned to its former glory. And so…I am under your command… your majesty.”

Star Bolt began to bow but before he could, Princess Luna put her hoof on his chin and raised his head up, as she replied, “No… don’t bow. You never did before and I won’t allow you to do so now. Star… I mean commander, no matter what position you play in Canterlot. I don’t want you to ever bow to either me or sister ever again. That… is an order.”
Star Bolt was amazed as he looked at the pleasant smile on Luna’s face as Princess Celestia sighed, “well, I guess that’s that then. Commander… lead the way home. I feel that we have a kingdom to rebuild. Commander Gilda? I would be honored if the griffin force responsible for assisting Princess Twilight and her small party of heroes back to Canterlot. But if you wish to return to Gryphus instead… then that’s fine with me.”
Gilda smiled as she bowed, “no your majesty, I would rather see to it that the heroes of Eden will return safely to their home. Besides, I still have to apologize to what I hope will be a good friend when I arrive.”
Rainbow Dash nudged Gilda as she smiled, “don’t worry Gilda, I’m certain Pinkie will be your friend if we explain everything to her… as for Fluttershy, she will worm up to you… eventually.”

With the group set on their plan, Star Bolt looked around to see Gilda’s griffin forces approach them and await their orders as the sky continued to light up with glowing orbs that flew into the horizon and vanished without a trace. Then Star Bolt looked into the distance in the direction that Equestria was in as Princess Celestia spoke, “Well commander? I believe your group is awaiting their orders…”
Star Bolt looked at Princess Celestia, smiled, and nodded his head as he turned back to the horizon and spoke with a serious tone, “Well everypony! I believe it’s time, let’s go home! Move out!”
As the group began trotting down from the mountain’s summit, Rainbow Dash asked, “So… Twilight? Any chance you know how rarity and I became alicorn? If so I would like to try my hoof at using a spell or two.”
Twilight could only shake her head is hopelessness as she continued, “No… and I don’t think I'll try.”
“Aww… C’mon!”
Twilight sighed, “I don’t even know how I became an alicorn let alone how my wings grew back. So how am I supposed to turn you into an alicorn now?”
“I donno?... how about you take a guess?”
“Um how about not.”
Star Bolt sighed, “This is going to be a long trip back...”
After saying that Star Bolt was caught off guard as Princess Luna trotted next to him and used her wing to interlock with his as she smiled, “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Me neither…”

Ch26 The Price of Harmony

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The announcer stepped to the side of the ballroom entrance as he called to the herd, “May I have your attention please! May I Present! Princess Luna of Equestria and her Escort Commander Star Bolt of Equestria!”
The announcer turned to the doorway and bowed as both Princess Luna and Star Bolt stepped inside wearing formal attire. As they entered the doorway of the ballroom, everypony in the room aside from Princess Celestia, Twilight, Cadence, and Prince Armor bowed in respect. As Star Bolt stood overlooking the bowing crowd, he opened his wing slightly as he looked at Princess Luna and smiled, “Your majesty?”
Luna smiled as she stepped closer to him and interlocked their wings, “Very smooth commander.”
Star Bolt could only laugh, “It’s the first Grand Galloping Gala since the Canterlot rebuild, and here I am with the princess of the night… I'd say that a stallion with that kind of reputation should be smooth.”
Luna leaned her head on his shoulder as the two began trotting down the center of the ballroom, “I love you for you Star Bolt… no need to act any different.”
Star Bolt smiled as they continued through the opening in the crowd, “and even that is more than I could hope for.”

As the couple reached the other end of the ballroom where Princesses Celestia, Cadence, Twilight, and Prince Armor were standing, they turned around and faced the crowd as Princess Celestia stepped forward, “Welcome my little ponies to the first Grand Galloping Gala of the new and improved Canterlot! Though this isn’t the usual date of the gala, the main reason I’m hosting this particular gala is to celebrate the final reconstruction of Equestria. Four years ago, this city was destroyed in a merciless wave of terror that spread across the world. But thanks to princess Twilight, Commander Bolt, commander Gilda and their friends. They were able to successfully destroy the dark alicorn and save the kingdom by returning all who were killed in the disaster. Nevertheless, today the final building of the old Canterlot has been finished and now the city is exactly the way it was the day prior to the horror of four years ago. And we owe it all to not only the group of heroes who defeated the dark alicorn, but the will and strength of each and everypony who so valiantly pushed themselves to return Equestria to its original glory. So raise your heads high my little ponies! For we do not owe our lives to the alicorn race who were so highly spoken of by the darkness that sought to destroy us all… but to the Pegasi, the Unicorn, The Earth ponies and the griffins who proved that no matter the challenge, we will fight for what’s right, and never give into darkness even if harmony isn’t strong enough.”

With her speech completed, the crowd gave an uproar of cheers and applauding that echoed throughout the ballroom. As the night continued, Luna, Twilight, and Cadence were socializing while Star Bolt made his way to the punch bowl. As he arrived at the table, he saw Pinkie Pie pouring a big bag of sugar into it as he asked, “umm… Pinkie? What are you doing?.,.”
Pinkie gave him a blank stare before she tried to make something up, “I… um… Hey look!!! Um… Over there! It’s a… Thing!...”
as Star Bolt looked into the direction she was pointing, Pinkie Pie quickly ran away leaving nothing but a pink haze in her place and the bag of sugar to fell completely into the punch. Star Bolt could only laugh as he shook his head, “Same old Pinkie... wouldn’t ask for any other.”
As Star Bolt continued looking at the punch bowl, he noticed Flash Sentry standing on the other side of the table blankly staring in the distance without even noticing Pinkie’s actions or their conversation.

As Star Bolt approached Flash, he noticed that whatever he was looking at had his full attention as Star Bolt leaned close to him to see exactly what he was looking at. As soon as he realized Flash was looking at Princess Twilight he could only smile as he nodded his head and leaned back, “Ahh… I see.”
Realizing somepony was talking to him, Flash started to turn to Star Bolt, “what? Did you sa… C-Commander Bolt!”
Flash immediately stood at attention as he saluted and spoke in nervousness, “I… um… The area is secured Mr. Bo… erm… Sta… Um… Commander!... um… SIR!... N-nothing to report sir!”
Star Bolt gave him a serious look and examined the nervous expression on Flash’s face. Then he sighed as he replied, “At ease soldier… this is a formal event that doesn’t require you to be so official.”
Flash dropped his salute as he replied, “oh… um… th-thank you comm… um… Sir.”
Star Bolt turned towards the socializing princesses as he smiled, “she’s beautiful… isn’t she?”
Flash nervously replied, “Um… w-who are we talking about sir?”

Star Bolt smiled as he shook his head in hopelessness, “if you want to ask her to dance… just go, and do it.”
Flash stood at attention as he replied, “Um… sir? I don’t understand. I’m only here to provide security for the princess… that’s all.”
Star Bolt smiled, “really? Which one? Because since you’ve been standing here, you’ve been watching only one princess and it isn’t the Crystal princess. If you want to ask Princess Twilight to dance you might as well do it already.”
“B-but sir… I’m only a gua…”
“So was Prince Armor… and so am I. but I think we’ve proved that even somepony as pathetic as a guard can have a shot if he tries… don’t you think?”
Flash Sentry tried to think of an excuse, “um… yea… but…”
Star Bolt shook his head in hopelessness, “Just do it already.”
“Um… is… is that an order sir?”
Star Bolt sighed, “take it how you want, but you better do it soon.”

Hearing Star Bolt loud and clear, Flash nodded his head and replied, “You’re right sir… I'll do it.” Flash took a sip of his punch and coughed it up as he dropped the glass, “Agh… what the!?!”
Star Bolt shrugged his shoulders, “Don’t mind the punch… Pinkie got a hold of it. Just focus on what you want to do.”
Flash finished coughing up the extremely sweet punch as he nodded his head, “got it sir… I'll do it.”
with that said, Star Bolt watched from his distance as Flash Sentry trotted across the room and approached princess Twilight, “Um… y-your majesty?”
Princess Twilight turned to him and replied, “oh… um… yes?”
Flash stood at attention as he spoke with an official tone, “Ma’am! I’ve been ordered to ask you to dance!”
Princess Twilight blushed as Star Bolt could only put his hoof on his face, “ugh… that idiot!...”
as the awkward conversation continued across the room, a voice replied to Star Bolt’s comment, “Idiot?”
Star Bolt removed his hoof from his face as he looked to the voice and smiled, “Oh, Dash, Spitfire. How are the Wonderbolts treating you?”

Rainbow Dash smiled as she replied, “Awesome, as usual. This will be our last night in Canterlot for a while.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “That’s right; you got that Round World Race in a few day in Prance. You think you got a shot at winning?”
Spitfire replied, “You kidding? With our secret weapon here, we are unstoppable right Dash?”
Rainbow Dash rubbed the back of her head in embarrassment as she replied, “Well… I'd hate to brag or anything but the captain and I will hold the front of the formation for the start. I mean, what else would the top two flyers in the Wonderbolts do?”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “Well I'll let you know that all of us in Canterlot will be rooting for you.”
Rainbow Dash smiled, “Thanks commander, coming from you, that’s an honor.”
Spitfire then spoke up, “Hey Dash, I think Soarin wants to talk to us, he keeps waving us over.”
“Rainbow Dash looked towards Soarin as she nodded her head, “Oh, ok well it was nice talking to ya commander. Take it easy.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “You two Dash, Captain.”

As Spitfire and Rainbow Dash trotted away, Rarity and Niether approached as Rarity greeted him, “Good evening commander.”
Star Bolt smiled, “Good evening Rarity, as usual your gown looks one of a kind. I wouldn’t expect any less from your collection.”
Rarity smiled, “Thank you commander, and you look handsome yourself. By the way, I finished fixing the seams of your cloak. I had the guards take it up to your room for you.”
Star Bolt nodded his head, “Thanks… once again I owe you one.”
Rarity shook her head, “And I owe you much more. By the way Sweetie Belle says hi.”
Niether added, “Rose says hi too, right now she is in a gardening competition in Trottingham so she wasn’t able to make it this time. Although, I want to give you some good news.”
Neither smiled, “Well… I was planning that when she returns that I… would ask for her hoof… in marriage.”
Star Bolt and Rarity both smiled as Rarity replied, “Wow this is great! Can I design your attire?”
Neither nodded his head yes, as Star Bolt added, “Well congratulations. I’m happy to hear that.”

Neither gave Star Bolt a skeptic look as he replied, “So… when pray tell will you be asking your lovely princess the same?”
Rarity gave Star Bolt an anxious look as he stepped back in surprise, “Wait… what?”
Rarity added, “Well commander? It has been a while and you and Princess Luna have been together for quite some time now… so will you be asking for her hoof soon?”
Star Bolt looked across the room at Princess Luna who was laughing at a separate topic that she and the other princesses were talking about as he started to smile. But not one second later, his smile quickly turned to a depressed expression, as he sighed, “No…”
“I… I beg your pardon?”
Star Bolt repeated himself, “I said no.”
Niether tried to understand, “You mean, no as in not any time soon? Or no as in…”
“No… as in not ever.”
Rarity tried to ask, “But… why? You two seem so perfect for each other and yet you still won’t consider taking that final step into happiness?”
Star Bolt replied as he looked at the ground in sadness, “I… I love her too much… to put her through that.”
“But command…”
“I said no!... Now drop it!”

With the serious tone of his voice slightly scaring the two, Niether and Rarity looked at each other on confusion as another voice cam in before either of them could reply, “Commander Bolt? I came to the gala like you asked, and I also brought what was kindly tasked.”
Star Bolt looked away from Niether and Rarity as he saw Zecora approach him wearing an exotic formal gown. As Star Bolt saw Zecora he smiled, “I’m glad you could make it. So you brought it then?”
Zecora nodded her head as she held up a long item that was wrapped with a white cloth. As Star Bolt took the item from her, Rarity had to comment on Zecora’s appearance, “oh, darling that dress is simply fabulous… you must tell me where you got it.”
Zecora blushed as she replied, “tis an ensemble from home, though forgotten till today. I decided to wear it, on this most occasional day.”
Star Bolt unwrapped the item to reveal his sheathed sword, then he drew the blade and examined the alterations as he smiled, “Perfect…”
With that said, Star Bolt sheathed the sword and wrapped it back up as he spoke, “Thanks Zecora, it looks great. What do I owe you?”

Zecora could only shake her head, as she replied, “No payment necessary, for a friend I can’t charge. For the debt we owe to you, is much too large.”
Star Bolt smiled as he put away the sword, “Thank you… you’ve always been there to help me Zecora. Chief Rafi would be more than proud of your friendship.”
Zecora smiled as she started to turn away, “a friend of an ancestor is what you started to be, but now, I do this, cuz you’re a true friend to me. Now I must go, for my trip I must embark. Since the Everfree Forest, isn’t safe when dark.”
As Zecora trotted away Star Bolt nodded his head, “Thanks again, have a safe trip.”
After Zecora was gone, both Niether and Rarity wanted to go back to the previous discussion but due to his awkward outburst, both ponies tried all they could to avoid that particular topic. The rest of the gala seemed to go as planned and ended just after midnight. From then Star Bolt continued his usual routine of commanding the night shift of the royal guards until morning.

The following morning, just as Princess Celestia raised the sun on the top balcony of the rebuilt Canterlot castle, Star Bolt stood on the balcony of his and Luna’s bedchambers as he watched Canterlot slowly wake up after another peaceful night. As Luna trotted onto the balcony from behind, she couldn’t help but notice that his usual peace filled expression that he welcomed each morning with, was replaced with a depressed stare as if he was in a deep troubling thought. As Luna approached him, she had to ask, “Um… Star Bolt? Is everything ok?”
Star Bolt turned around and smiled at her as if the previous expression was nonexistent, “Of course I am Luna? Why wouldn’t I be?”
Princess Luna hesitated as she replied, “Well you just seem a little… distant.”
Star Bolt nodded his head as he replied, “It’s just been a long night. I think the gala wore me out a little. But such is the job of the night commander. Anyways, I think I'll be fine once I get some rest.”
Luna didn’t seem convinced as she replied, “Are you sure there isn’t anything bothering you?”
Star Bolt leaned in and kissed her then he replied, “Luna, I’m fine. Really, I’m just thinking about your sister’s speech. I think it’s kinda funny how after everything that happened, everypony can just turn around and jump back from the pit that Osiris dug us into. It just goes to show that you can never underestimate true harmony.”

Luna couldn’t help but giggle at his comment as she spoke, “listen to yourself, right now you sound like an old grandpa.”
Star Bolt smiled as he replied, “Well, I am pretty close to one thousand and thirty now. So what does that make you?”
Luna gave him a serious yet joking stare as she replied, “Watch it Star.”
The two laughed at the joke for a few seconds as Luna forgot their previous subject and began turning to go inside, “Well, I’m going to get some rest. You coming?”
Star Bolt shook his head as he replied, “No, I think I’m gonna breath in a little more of the morning air before getting some rest. I'll be in in a sec.”
Luna smiled as she continued inside, “Suit yourself.”
As Luna trotted inside, she used her magic to close the curtain to the balcony entrance so the light of the morning sun wouldn’t shine inside.

After Luna was gone, Star Bolt looked back into the city as he sighed, “Yea… suit myself… if only.”
About thirty more minutes had passed before Star Bolt finally went inside the room to see Luna resting in the bed. On the other side of the room Star Bolt could see the Carousel Boutique box that Rarity had delivered the night before, so Star Bolt quietly made his way to the box, picked it up and went into the walk in closed in hopes that he wouldn’t disturb Luna’s sleep. Once he was in the closet, Star Bolt opened the box and pulled out his refurbished cloak. As he ran his hoof along the repaired seams of the old fabric, Star Bolt couldn’t help but remember events from the last time he had worn it. It was almost four years since that disaster, but despite all that time, he still had one more task to complete. The very same task he agreed to the day Eden was destroyed. So with a heavy heart, Star Bolt put on the cloak, secured his sword to his side, and trotted to the mirror to look at himself. As he looked at his reflection, he drew his sword and held it out to reveal all the addition to the blade that he had asked Zecora to make. Then he mumbled to himself, “Well… it’s time to go.”
Sheathing his sword, Star Bolt left the walk in closet and made his way to the bedroom doors. Before he got there, Star Bolt paused as he looked at the beautiful resting princess in the bed.

Feeling guilty for what he was about to do, Star Bolt trotted to the bed and approached Luna as she continued resting peacefully. A tear started to roll down his face as he moved a part of her mane off of her face and kissed her cheek as he whispered to her, “Sweet dream Luna, I love you. And I always will.”
Star Bolt then turned around and put the hood on his cloak up as he trotted out the door and gently closed it behind him. Just as the door clicked shut, Princess Luna opened her eyes and slowly looked around, “S… Star Bolt? Is that you?”
Curious to where Star Bolt was, Luna sat up and looked around the room. But when she saw that he wasn’t in the room or on the balcony, she had an uneasy feeling in her heart, so she put on her crown and left the room to try and find him. Not long after trotting down the hall, Luna came to the doors that entered the throne room as she could hear Star Bolt, and Princess Celestia talking inside.

With no intention on interrupting their conversation, Luna stood outside the doors as she cracked them just enough to hear the conversation, as it continued with Princess Celestia sighing, “You’re sure then…”
Star Bolt replied, “Yes…”
Celestia continued, “And, today is the day that this must happen?”
“According to her instruction… yes.”
Celestia asked, “Then… I have nothing to say other than, thank you. I know this is a hard decision for you to make. But, must you still keep the secret of the Elements… I was hoping you would pass it on before you go.”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No… The Elements of Harmony are too dangerous for anypony to try to create. I plan to take that secret to my grave, just as my father did before me.”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “That’s right, Traipse knew it too… so, does Luna know?”
Star Bolt shook his head, “No… I haven’t told anypony about how to create The Elements of Harmony.”
Princess Celestia shook her head, “No, I mean about what you’re doing… does she know?”

Star Bolt looked at the ground in depression, “No… I didn’t have the heart to tell her. I didn’t have the heart to tell anypony… I’ve kept this secret to myself for four years and nopony knows about it… not even Zecora.”
Princess Celestia sighed, “Would… would you like me to break it to them all?”
Star Bolt nodded his head as she replied, “I was hoping you would. I don’t have time to do it myself so it would be better if you did anyway. As for me, I gotta get going.”
Princess Celestia stood from her throne as she spoke, “Well Commander… I mean, Star Bolt… I guess this is goodbye.”
Though it went against his vow, Star Bolt bowed in respect to Princess Celestia as he replied, “It was an honor to serve you your majesty. Goodbye…”
With that said, Star Bolt turned and began trotting towards the door as Luna quickly hid herself behind one of the marble pillars as she watched Star Bolt exit the throne room and continue down the hall towards the Castle doors.

After Star Bolt had trotted out of her sight, Princess Luna entered the throne room to see Princess Celestia using magic to write multiple letters at once while she asked, “Tia? What was that about?”
Princess Celestia looked at Luna in surprise as she replied, “Oh… sister… um… h-how much did you hear?”
Luna replied, “Not enough… what’s going on? Why does Star Bolt seem so… depressed. And what was all that about not wanting to hurt me?”
Celestia hesitated as she tried to reply, “Um… well… you see…”
Luna’s expression became serious as she replied with an annoyed tone, “Sister… What’s going on here? And don’t lie to me. I want you to tell me the truth.”
Princess Celestia sighed knowing she couldn’t avoid this as she replied, “Luna… I have to tell you something. Its… it’s about Star Bolt… and… the agreement he made with mother four years ago…”

Just under an hour later deep in the Everfree forest, Star Bolt emerged from the tree line surrounding the Thunder Grounds as he sat down and peacefully looked at the glowing zap apple tree. As he looked at the symbol that has always captivated him, he shook his head as he mumbled to himself, “funny, of everything that’s happened in the past thousand years… this is the one thing that hasn’t changed at all. To me, this is where it all began… and… where it will end. But, not yet.”
Feeling like he had one more thing to do, Star Bolt stood up as he got close to the edge of the crater surrounding the ancient zap apple tree that stood in its center. With a bracing sigh, Star Bolt took a step into the electrified crater as arcs of electricity began jumping from the ground and making contact with his hoof. Though he felt this pain many times before, he still had to cringe as he started trotting slowly over the electrified soil towards the zap apple tree in the center of the Thunder Grounds. As he approached the tree, Star Bolt continued bearing the pain of the continuous electric shocks as he drew his sword and began focusing on what he was going to do.

Not far from the Thunder Grounds, Princess Luna was flying as fast as her wings would take her as she frantically tried to get to the Thunder Grounds to stop him. All the while the conversation that she had just had with her sister continued to cycle through her mind, “What do you mean he wasn’t honest with his payment? Exactly what wasn’t he honest about?”
Princess Celestia continued, “Luna… Star Bolt agreed to become our commander and serve us until the day that everything was as it was supposed to be… but. His agreement was to be our commander only until that day.”
Luna sat down and tried to understand, “so… okay, he isn’t our commander anymore… so what. That doesn’t explain why he was so de…”
Realizing something important, Luna took a step back in disbelief, “Wait… is… is he leaving again?”
Princess Celestia nodded her head, “Yes… he’s going to the Thunder Grounds… but this time… he… he won’t be coming back.”

Luna didn’t want to guess so she asked, “But… why won’t he come back?”
Princess Celestia hid her face in pain as Luna shook her head in denial, “No… no… he… he can’t… you mean he’s going to…”
Celestia didn’t reply, instead a tear rolled down her face as she continued looking down trying to hide her face. Seeing the tear fall, Luna rushed out the doors of the castle as fast as she could in hopes of catching him before it’s too late. And now as her wings became exhausted by her frantically fast flying, Luna had no choice but to land and continue on hoof, but that still didn’t slow her down since she was now using her hoof’s and wings to push her along to try to stop what she was greatly worried about. As she continued, tears began to fall as she mumbled to herself, “Please don’t Star… I… I can’t let you do this! Not now.”

Back at Thunder Grounds, just as Star Bolt finished carving the text into the tree, he sheathed his sword and turned back with the continuous electric arcs surging from his body to the ground around him. Being used to the feeling of the continuous electrocution, Star Bolt’s mind started to focus on something else as he made his way back out of the crater. His mind now started to play back everything the Queen has said to him all those years ago. Though it was a long ago, Star Bolt could hear her voice as if it were yesterday as she leaned close to him and whispered into his ear, “In order for me to return the lives of all who were lost… you must return with them and take the position of commander under my daughters as they strive to rebuild the kingdom of Equestria. However, you will only hold that position until Equestria is back to the way it was before… and not one day longer. For on that following day, you must return to the place where your life began… so that it may end. Only if you proceed with this action, will my gift to you remain permanent.”
As Star Bolt returned to the outside of the crater, he took a few deep breaths in exhaustion from his electrified stroll, then turned back to the tree as he smiled at the text that he carved into its base as he smiled peacefully, “I couldn’t have said it better with my own two lips.”

Staring into the Thunder Grounds for the last time, Star Bolt put his hood on his cloak down and mumbled to himself, “Your majesty?... I’m ready…”
Just then, with one final push of determination, Princess Luna jumped out of the tree line a few feet behind him as she called, “Star Bolt!!!”
Surprised, Star Bolt turned to look at Luna as he smiled, “Lu…”
Just then before wither ponies could say or do anything more, a large gust of wind whistled through the trees and it blew through the Thunder Grounds causing Princess Luna to shield her eyes by reflex. But as the wind died down, she could only open her eyes, to find that the stallion she was looking at, The one responsible for finishing Osiris and bringing everypony back, the very one that she had fallen in love with… was gone. Out of fear, Luna rushed to the place Star Bolt was standing but the only thing that remained of him was his cloak and sword that were sitting on the ground where he stood.

Trembling in both worry and sadness, Luna reached down and picked up his now empty cloak as she held it against her chest and started to cry, “St-Star Bolt… no… it’s… it’s not fair. You fought to save us all… but, in the end, you couldn’t save yourself… Why… why must your life be so cruel? I… I never even got to tell you…”
With a deepening pain in her heart, Luna sat down and continued holding the cloak as she closed her eyes and mourned her fallen love. Without her realizing it, a large number of ponies emerged from the forest behind her as one approached Princess Luna and spoke, “Princess Luna… I see you made it here first… is Commander Bolt here too?”
Princess Luna looked up to see Princess Twilight standing there as she asked, “Twilight Sparkle? W-why are you here?”
Princess Twilight used her magic to raise up a letter and show Princess Luna as she replied, “we all received a letter from Princess Celestia telling us to come here immediately. She said it was urgent.”

Princess Luna started to look around as she saw all the ponies around her. As she looked over the herd, she realized that it was everypony involved in the fight against Osiris. Princess Twilight and the other five element holders, Princess Cadence, Prince Armor, Spitfire, Niether, Zecora, and even Gilda and a talon full of troops were there. As Luna looked around tears continued to roll down her face as she sighed, “I’m sorry everypony… but you’re too late… Star Bolt, he’s gone… and… and I'll never see him again.”
Everypony looked at each other in disappointment as Princess Twilight sighed, “so… Star Bolt is really gone then?”
Shining Armor sighed, “He… he was a good friend and rival.”
Princess Cadence put her hoof on his shoulder as she added, “He was more than that.”
Fluttershy nodded her head, “he was a very good, and kind pony… trust me, I know.”
Rarity nodded her head, “to be frank, I think he held aspects of all our elements.”
Rainbow Dash added, “Not to mention he was pretty hardcore.”

Gilda stepped forward, “Seriously Dash? That doesn’t even begin to describe him. Not only does the story of his past say it, but we saw it ourselves. He continued forward without fear, or backing down.”
Shining Armor nodded his head, “Yea… he truly was the soldier of soldiers.”
Spitfire stepped forward, “And one of the best fliers I’ve ever seen. Even if he liked to travel on hoof.”
Niether nodded his head, “A wise stallion with great experience. We all learned something from him.”
Zecora added, “In all my time in hope of no ends, he remains still one, of our greatest friends.”
Everypony in the area nodded their heads as Luna smiled at all the positive talk about him, but then her smile faded as she continued, “And through all that, I still don’t know if he regrets his distant past. I don’t know if he ever got over Nightmare Moon and his family.”
Zecora smiled as she pointed at the zap apple tree in the center of the crater, “Zecora can tell, from what I see, the proof is carved, on the base of that tree.”

Everypony turned their attention to the zap apple tree as they all smiled at the words carved into it. Applejack nodded her head in agreement, as she spoke, “Finally Free… Yep. That sounds to me like he went peacefully with no worries.”
Princess Twilight nodded her head in agreement, “Come to think of it, I do remember him saying from time to time that he felt trapped… maybe this is his way of saying he is finally content.”
Princess Luna smiled as she picked up his sword and drew the blade just far enough to see his cutie mark, “Well… if, he is content with this… then I guess I can be content knowing he can finally rest in peace.”
Everypony nodded their heads as Luna looked at his cutie mark, but before she sheathed the sword, she caught a glimpse of something else painted further down the blade. As she drew the sword completely, she could see a new cutie mark added to the blade. Luna could only smile as she saw her own cutie mark painted just below his. As Princess Luna smiled and sheathed the sword, she looked at the tree one last time, “I'll never forget you Star… I… I love you.”

With a content tear filled expression, Princess Luna turned towards the forest as she spoke, “Everypony… and griffin, I think it’s obvious to what we should do now. Star Bolt did this for us all… and since this was his choice, we should honor it as we continue our lives. But never forget… because even if we can’t see him… he is still here with us. And I for one will make certain that future generations know his sacrifice. Especially since he gave so much for us.”
Everypony nodded their heads as they all followed Princess Luna back into the forest. But just before Niether entered the tree line, he looked back at the zap apple tree and mumbled to himself, “Rest in peace commander. We know what you did for us and we are grateful. I guess in a way… this is The Price of Harmony.”

The Cloaked Mare

Everything was silent as a mare wearing a black cloak made her way through the Everfree Forest until she emerged from the tree line at the place she was searching for. As she stepped closer, she marveled at the harmonious glow of the ancient zap apple tree in shadows of the night as she read the text carved in its base, “Finally free… I hope it’s a good feeling.”
As the mare stood next to the craters edge, she jumped in surprise as an arc of electricity jumped out and shocked her hoof. After jumping in surprise, a dark voice came from the surrounding forest, “Careful miss… though it’s pretty, it’s also deadly.”
The mare adjusted her hood to hide her face as five ponies emerged from the forest and quickly surrounded her. As she sneered at the armed ponies, one of the stallions spoke up, “Now what would a mare be doing in a place like this? You lost little missy?”
The mare tried to position her stance to cover as much of her body with the cloak as possible as she replied, “Not really… actually I’m looking for somepony.”

The surrounding group moves slightly closer as one of them spoke, “Such a softly sweet voice… sounds to me like we got a noble on our hooves.”
The same stallion who spoke before replied to the comment, “Now, now colts… let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So… you’re looking for somepony right… does this pony have a name?”
The mare replied, “Yes… he calls himself, Commander Bolt... Do you know him?”
The surrounding group laughed as a random pony looked at the previous speaker and smiled, “Sounds like she heard of you boss.”
The mare sneered at the lead stallion as he bowed in a sarcastically shown respect, “Look no further. For I, am Commander Bolt. And these ponies… they are my soldiers, The Nightmare Legion.”
Her cloak covered her trembling rage as she spoke up, “Really… then I only have this to say… I want you to surrender yourself now… and I promise I won’t hurt you… fatally.”

The group started to laugh as the leader replied, “Excuse me? You’re in no position to be making empty threats missy.”
“And you're nothing but a pathetic waste of life claiming to be somepony who you clearly aren’t. You have some nerve. Coming to this sacred ground, robing innocent travelers and parading yourself as Commander Bolt, disrespecting not only his legacy, but the legacy of the Nightmare Legion as well. You make me sick to my stomach. I’d vomit if the though didn’t please me more than standing in the presence of a disgrace like you.”
The group went silent as they looked at the expression on their bosses face as it went from amused to annoyed, “Well, well, well… looks like our little pampered poodle likes to snap at a wolf pack. Ya know, I was just going to rob you and send you back to Canterlot with your tail between your legs… but after hearing that, I think we should make an example of somepony like you.”
After saying that, the rest of the bandits slowly drew their swords, as they got even closer to the mare.

The mare didn’t even brace herself for a fight. She only stood there as she smiled confidently, “Don’t threaten me with a good time.”
The imposter sneered as he replied, “Don’t worry… I won’t… KILL HER!”
With that said, one of the bandits attacked from her side, but as he swung his sword, the mare ducked as she opened her wing and flung it under the pony's hooves causing him to fall to the ground. Before the pony could pick himself up, the mare grabbed him by his head as she swung him around and hit another charging pony coming from her other side. After the two fell to the ground, two others attacked from both sides as the mare held her ground. First, the pony attacking on her left tried to swing his sword for her neck only to have her duck under the blade. Then the pony on her right swung his sword for her right side hooves as she raised them up to dodge his attack, while at the same time head butting the pony on her left on his muzzle. With the left pony covering his muzzle, the right pony tried again to swing at the quick mare as he tried aiming for her head this time.

Continuing her fast reactions, the mare shifted her body and lowered her head so that she was now facing the pony on her right while dodging his attack. After the blade passed over her head the mare brought up bother her front left hoof and her rear right hoof, punching the pony in front of her in his jaw and kicking the pony behind her in his face sending them both flying in the air from where she was standing. With the leader being the last pony standing, he sneered at the mare as he drew his sword, “You’re no normal mare… But you won’t beat me!!!”
With anger, the stallion charged towards the mare and swung his sword vertically, but before the blade made contact, the mare quickly reached into her cloak and drew a short sword as she raised it up and blocked the incoming attack. With the sparks from the impact still in the air, the impost looked at the cutie marks painted on the blade and gasped in shock, “That sword is… that means you’re...”
The mare sneered at her opponent and moved too quickly for him to react as she parried his blade and used the back of her blade to bash the stallion across his face tossing him a few feet from where he was standing.

As the stunned stallion laid on the ground, the mare approached him as her tone got angrier, “That’s right… that’s the reason why I know you’re not Commander Bolt… if you were, then even your soldiers could have beaten me… but they can’t, and neither can you. Now I would take your actions and make an example of you … but I'd rather bring you back alive so you can tell the world that you aren’t who you claim to be. I don’t care what name you take this time… but if you even think to claim Commander Bolt’s again… then I'll kill you… I'll kill you, with his sword.”
Out of fear, the other four stallions picked themselves up, sheathed their weapons, and tried to flee into the forest, but as their tails disappeared into the tree line, they slowly reappeared as the four stallions slowly backed into the clearing followed closely by royal guards who were pointing spears at them. The mare looked around to find that not only were the guards surrounding the tree line, but they were surrounding the entire Thunder Grounds. Seeing the guards in all directions, she could only sigh, “Uh oh… I’m in trouble…”
“I should say so!”

The mare quickly looked to the night sky as she saw Princess Luna glide down and land in the area. The mare sighed as she sheathed the sword and slowly trotted to the annoyed princess with her head hung in shame. As she approached Luna, she put her hood down revealing that she wasn’t just a normal pegasus, but an alicorn. As she looked up a Luna, she tried to explain, “M-mother… I…”
“What were you thinking? I told you before that this was a matter that the royal guards could handle on their own.”
The mare hung her head as she replied, “but… I couldn’t just sit by and let them do this. Dad’s name was on the line. Do you expect me to just sit on my preppy little thorn and listen as the ponies of Canterlot disgrace him because of what these bandits are doing?”
Luna shook her head as she replied, “No… and despite my personal feelings to this matter I chose to stay out of it. But matters this small don’t require the actions of a princess. That’s what I’m trying to teach you.”
The mare looked away and spoke disrespectfully, “I only did what Dad would have done.”

Luna sighed, “Princess Umbra… your father would have considered his option before storming out here with his blade drawn. What you did was reckless.”
Umbra tried to make her point, “Mom I’ve been trained on how to defend myself by both Prince Armor and Commander Gilda. I’ve been taught magic by Princess Twilight and the Elder Zecora. And even Major Scootaloo agrees that I could do this on my own.”
Princess Luna looked at one of the royal guards as Scootaloo shook her head, “Oh no… leave me out of this one princess.”
Princess Luna looked back at her daughter as she replied, “That doesn’t matter… you didn’t know your risk and there for, you put yourself in danger.”
“Mom the reports say it was only five po…”
“And what if there weren’t? What if five turned out to be fifty or one hundred? And furthermore, what if this imposter knew the Lighting Orb? Do you think you could face a challenge like that?”

The younger princess looked down in disappointment as she mumbled to herself, “I’m almost eighteen… you could at least give me some confidence.”
Princess Luna sighed, “Umbra… I do… I know you can defend yourself and I know that you carry your father’s strength… I only worry that you may become too reckless. You may be an immortal alicorn… but your mortality is only by youth and beauty. A cut to the throat, an arrow to the heart and a spear to the chest will kill you just like everypony else. And I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you to something as pointless as your ego.”
Princess Umbra hung her head in shame as Princess Luna saw this and smiled, “On a brighter note, though he would have thought about it first… you did exactly as your father would have done. And you did exceptional. I’m proud of you, still annoyed… but proud.”

Princess Umbra smiled at her mother as she unstrapped the short sword from her side and gave it to her mother, “Thanks mom… I'll try not to be so reckless next time.”
Princess Luna took the sword from her daughter and gave it to Major Scootaloo as she smiled, “and that’s all I ask. As for these bandits, arrest them and take them with us. Their leader has an announcement to make to the ponies of Canterlot.”
Scootaloo nodded her head as she smiled “You got it your majesty.”
As the two princesses started trotting towards the tree line, the guards chained the four standing bandits as two other guards started to pick up the imposter. As the stunned pony stood up, he glared at Princess Umbra from behind as he sneered, “You're telling me that I was beaten by a princess… no… I won’t stand for this. I'll KILL YOU!!!”

After yelling, the bandit punched one of the guards as he grabbed the other guard’s sword, and drew it as he pushed the guard out of the way. Then with rage-filled eyes, the bandit charged at the two princesses as they turned to see what all the commotion was about. However, the bandit could only take three steps before, a cloud quickly appeared over Princess Umbra’s head as a bolt of lightning flew from the cloud hitting the bandit and causing him to fall to the ground unconscious. As soon as the bolt was gone and the cloud dispersed, Princess Luna gave her daughter a stern stare as Umbra shrugged her shoulders with electricity still arcing in her eyes, “What?... He started it!”
Princess Luna looked at the guards who were quickly surrounding the bandit as she asked, “Well?”
The guard checked him and replied, “Your majesty, he is stunned but alive.”
Princess Luna shook her head as she spoke, “As I said… you’re just like your fath…”

Before Princess Luna could finish her sentence, she looked passed the Thunder Grounds crater and could see a cloaked stallion standing in the shadows ahead with a smile on his face. As she watched, the figure slowly vanished as Princess Umbra spoke, “Mom? You ok?”
Princess Luna shook her head as if she were clearing the vision from her eyes and replied, “Yes… I’m fine… I was just thinking about how much you remind me of your father. That’s all. Now come. Dawn is approaching and I don’t want your aunt to worry if we don’t arrive on time.”
Princess Luna started to trot forward as Princess Umbra took one last look at the Thunder Grounds before speaking, “See you later dad… next time I’m feeling down, I'll be here so you can cheer me up. Okay?”
Princess Luna stopped and smiled as she waited for her daughter to catch up with her. When Princess Umbra caught up the two continued side by side into the tree line followed by the chained bandits, and the guards. As soon as the Thunder Grounds were once again empty, the cloaked vision appeared next to the zap apple tree as it smiled and replied to Umbra’s words, “And I'll be here when you do. Now… and forever.”