In The Company of The Sun

by PlumBuckeredOut

First published

After countless refusals for a proper hearing the Prince of Parnce takes matters into his own colven hooves.

A story of judicial vengeance. A tale of ill-fated love. How far would you go to save your homeland's destruction? How far would it take for your love to convince you otherwise? For Celestia, she'll find out it isn't as simple as yes or no, wrong or right.

In this verse: Discord isn't born with his chaotic power, but gains it. The royal pony sisters are orphaned, and Celestia is the same height as her sister, and has pink hair. Luna looks like her season one counterpart.

Caution: This story's Romance tag might go from Teen to Mature in future updates.

Cover art is Lysok's "Meeting" @

Prolog: Within The Power of A Seed (v.3)

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Nestled deep in the Earth's soil rested two opposing forces. The purest of these forces was the Seed of Harmony, which blossomed from only the purest of hearts. Its antipode was the Seed of Hatred, and unlike the Seed of Harmony it grew by every creature's sour desires; greed, vanity, and lust of power. This left the Seed of Harmony vastly weaker than it's counterpart, yet at the time only the darkest of a being's soul to could feed Hatred's power. In its youth the Seed of Harmony kept itself hidden. The Seed of Hatred, undaunted by the creatures above, drilled its stalk like a needle through the dirt and grew among its passive kind.

That tranquil forest the Seed of Hatred had invaded gave into the seed's corruption. The ancient trees turned gnarled and grotesque, flower's seeds mutated into magical weeds and, the vines of the forest became linked within the seed's vile magic, growing sentient crab-clawed buds.

Only the brave would enter this twisted forest... exactly whom that sprig of evil wanted.

It had been this way for thousands of years, before the migration of Pony tribes, before the settlement of Equestria and in this time the seeds were fully grown. For some reason or another the Ponies of Equestria resonated better with the Tree of Harmony. It could have been their lawful nature, but do not believe that all Ponies upheld justice. Sure they knew right from wrong. They just chose otherwise. Or so they thought.

Equestrian law was always able to handle the influx neigh-doers, and so the real root of the problem was never treated. Their land grew vast, just like the seeds beneath them had. Their roots had stretched so far that even the once oppressive ocean borders could no longer halt their speed, but it wasn't the ocean's fault. No, once the Equestrian Ponies landed on a new continent they brought along the pollen of Harmony and Hatred within themselves. Throughout the lands the Tree of Harmony became known across the earth, every creature aspired to do right by it. Yet no one had been able to find its counterpart, many dark powers wish to tap into the seething darkness that not even the sun could blot out.

As the years passed the knowledge of the trees became shrouded in mystery, yet the two still held their power, and still waged their wars. None so easily wished forgotten as The Chaos Wars. Every creature has a desire for more... more power, more gold, more food, more, and more, and more. The Seed of Hatred festered in the new lands like an invisible poison to the once balanced lands, and soon the native's laws could do nothing but rewrite their laws to combat the growing disharmony. What was once "What is done unto you will be punished unto them." could no longer stay and the Equestrian Ponies were but too eager to lend their laws along with an alliance of peace.

And it is within this treaty that the Seed of Hatred had split in two, now there were two taproots of Hatred encompassing the world. For what the Ponies did not know, was that their allies had never lived out of their tamed country before, not since their ancestors. No dirt, nor desert, nor water kept Hatred's growing influence at bay. Of course the lawful minded Ponies of Equestria rallied their might to combat what evil they could, but Hatred was no longer a simple seed. It had flourished in the Dragon's lands and with its new power even the purest of hearts could be persuaded that not all evil was bad, and not all good was the law.

At least, that's what my father had told me.

Ch. 1: Where Is Our Balance? (v.1)

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I sighed once more. The delegate had stopped mid sentence and glared bitterly to me.

"Am I boring you Prince de Parnce?" She huffed coldly. Of course she knew the answer, but I wasn't going to tell her so. I'm sure another delegate of Equestria would visit my quarters and tell me the same news.

"Madam you're not telling me anything I haven't heard from other delegates." I scoffed.

"Then why am I still here Prince de Parnce, wasting our time?" She asked snidely.

"Because I'm going to keep sending my request to visit Equestria after you, and another, and another delegate leaves my quarters saying "No"."

"If that is what you wish." she stared at me. "No." She turned to the door to the hallway, unlocked it with her magic and closed the door behind her. After a few paces I could hear her squeal of frustration echo faintly throughout the hall. Which brought a smile to my face. Then I counted down from thirty and made my way through the castle to the westernmost turret.

at the count of five I was past the sleeping quarters, and past the buttery. I gave Sewet A wide smile as he tossed a slice of hot pandemain my way. Though he knew he did not have to treat me to such fine bread, I was fine with a simple cheese and cluster of globe grapes with my wine. But I thanked his diligence to surprise me. He was never one to let a mouth stay uncurled in humors.

By the count of ten I was in a full gallop on the northern allure over looking the Celestial bay, but before the ponies decided to rename it , we called it Mist Bay. For we Prancians knew that the bay would sweep a warm wind's mist into the bay until noon. I had counted to fifteen as I made it to the turret's last steps and watched as the Pony delegate vehemently hoofed her papers to the ship captain. The size of the vessel dwarfed our own, but it was the exotic craftsponyship that made the ship so exquisite. I stared in awe of it even as it set sail and drifted out past the fog of morning's dew.

I let out another sigh as I descended the stairs,and returned to my quarters. There I rested on my bed until one of the servants woke me up, and ushered me down to the feasting hall for lunch.

I ate my usual fare, blue cheese and grapes, made locally here in Parnce. Then I spent the evening like every other since my coronation. I'd try my best to uphold my country's law, and that of our ally, Equestria. It wasn't easy before the treaty, but at least I knew my limits. The law was Parnce's and Parnce's alone. There was no second hoof of law, I could make a judgement can feel the confidence in my words, but now... I send the guilty away, and the innocent free. It sounds simple, doesn't it?

But would you kill another for stealing cattle? How about food? The old law's decreed "What is done unto you will be punished unto them." and Equestrian law decrees "Whomsoever is found guilty will be punished, and whomsoever is found innocent will be free." I am sworn to follow both laws, and I vowed to give equal truth and true balance. If freedom is the sentence of the innocent, then is death not the proper sentence for the wronged. So I kept myself to my quarters and thought of anything to reassure my faith, to believe in my word, just like my citizens did.

I thought. No I prayed that Equestria would let me voice my concern in person and that all would be fine, yet they seem unwilling to hear my thoughts, unwilling to let Parnce know more about their ally. At first I was sympathetic, I still held my hope that in time they would someday soon say yes, but years went by and all I heard was the same answer.

"Under great consideration the Royal sisters have deemed your request, not dire. You were told on moment of signing the treaty that all rulings and agreements were final. You are welcome of course to write your concerns and reapply for a hearing to rewrite the treaty's conditions." Each delegate spoke it so apathetically that I began to question if they had beating hearts. Had they not read my words? They still believed my father alive. Did they not understand my sadness? So I drifted far from the prospect of hope... My foolish belief in their help, and I succumbed to my feelings of hate. I didn't care for the ponies of Equestria... I only cared for my vision.

My words would be heard.

Ch. 2: Self Preservation (v.1)

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In my attempts to rewrite the Treaty of Equality I kept careful notes. By talking with the captains at harbor, and having the lighthouse keepers along Parnce's borders follow the delegate's ships. With their information I charted a course. If Equestria wasn't going to bring me to their ports. I'd bring myself there. What I needed however was a reason to be accepted over there, if I just landed uninvited they might consider it an act of war, even sabotage. That's when my eyes opened, and I gave the most devious grin.

So I sent my response letter once more for a hearing to rewrite the treaty's particular wording involving Equestria's laws and policies of government in Parnce, then laid waiting for the next ship to arrive. This time however, the ship hadn't arrived as timely as it usually did. I hadn't treated the last delegate any differently than the others who had worn out my sympathies. Maybe the Royal Pony Sisters had finally given up, and assumed ignoring me would quiet my resolve?

It wouldn't. It was in those months waiting I felt my anger brood. My simple visit to Equestria became a vendetta against our "ally" that crashed onto our borders, restarted The Chaos War and insisted to overstay their self-assumed welcome until said disharmony was "under control". I hadn't notice in my solace that my bitterness became known throughout our country, it was then that the unrest finally spilled out..

"Prince Norm!" One of my loyal servants yelled. I turned to her, still groggy from my sleepless haze. She bowed in forgiveness, but I lifted her back up. As my hoof rose her chin I could feel worry seeping from her eyes.

"What's wrong Abby?" I asked calmly. I watched her cheeks blush in her pensiveness as she choked her thought out in a stutter.

"Th-the court needs you my Liege. Th-there's been a m-m-m... murder."

I made my way to the throne room at once, unconcerned with my mottled sleeping gown. As I sat on the throne I had to repeatedly command the townspeople to calm themselves as they spat and screamed at the accused. It was what I feared... A Pony had killed one of my citizens, though he claimed in self-defense. I felt the saliva in my throat slide down slow as I gulped. Which law should I follow? It was a Pony, which meant he followed the Equestria law. He believes he will be free because he only harmed out of self-defense...

"You are aware of Parnce's Laws, are you not?" I asked him.

"No. Prince de P-Parnce." I heard him lie. It sickened me how they would claim stupidity over accepting their fate. Every goat of Parnce is taught the Law of Equal Punishment, but I pitied him, and told him the law. You should have seen the size of his pupils when he finally understood what his situation was.

"Please, your highness... I am the Royal Sister's delegate. I was attacked before the ship made it to port!"

"You were assaulted and now you're claiming my townsfolk sunk your ship?" I asked bemusedly. I wondered how twisted his lies would spiral until he began blaming the ocean's violent current for his obvious fatigue or the new moon on his inability to see that he wasn't fooling me. Sure his clothes were damp, but any simpleton can jump into the bay and claim to be ship wrecked.

"I understand you will not believe me, I have no proof." He said. "But I implore you to check where my ship sank for survivors."

My brow widened and I leapt from my throne. "Put the stallion in the keep, his judgement will be resumed after we search the waters." But before my guard could touch him he rebutted.

"I'm sorry your highness, but I'm not telling you the coordinates. You're taking me with you." I grinned at him.

"Alright stallion, have it your way."

Ch. 3: A Sea Of Difference (v.1)

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After I got properly dressed the murderer, ten of my royal guard and I set sail to the supposed shipwreck. In the span of that time the water had become unnaturally wild, as if by magic. Was this the stallion's plan to get away with murder? It dwelled in my thought as a guard motioned me starboard and I saw the hoofful of bodies float on a receding wave. They were the same crew the female delegate boarded with, along with some goats. The darkness if Luna's night was making it hard to make out if the water was stained with blood. Come to think of it, the stallion had only bruises. I asked my guard to fetch him when the sea had calmed down.

"Is this enough proof, Prince?" The stallion nickered.

"It isn't..." I turned to face him. "What is your name?"

" Umbra." He spat. I could taste his bitterness, but that didn't hold me back. I walked closer to him and inspected his damp yet uncomfortably pristine tan surcoat. Even all of the buttons of his scarlet cape where secured. I glared darkly to the Pony.

"Well then Umbra... would you mind telling me where we are going, since I can tell you are controlling these waves?"

"Relax, Prince!" He chuckled "I mean you no harm... I thought you wanted to go Equestria." he added in, to by chance mollify my growing distrust.

Yet he seemed to only bury himself deeper."I am able to-wait how did you know that? Those letters are for royal eyes only." I growled.

"Are they now?" The stallion scoffed. "Don't fret then, Prince Norm. Not a single commoner's eyes will witness your petty attempts to reason with them. You have my word Prince to Prince." He grinned cocksure stomping his hoof to the planks, and before I could react in kind I felt my the lids of my eyes sink heavily and my muscles become numb.

I woke up in a overgrown and twisted looking forest and in the center was a bright red glow. I felt myself rise, compelled to investigate. As I made my way closer to the light my heart began to beat faster. My hind legs gave out and I fell bowing to the light, then a voice spoke within me.

"Sow the seeds of balance Norm."

My head throbbed as my ears rang a mind-halting drone. I must have been hexed to sleep, by the "Prince's" magic, no doubt yet I didn't have time to dwell on it. The sound of hoofsteps was certainly getting louder, and yet I felt stiff. A deeper breath revealed the smell of fish. It didn't take long for me to connect the dots. I was in a fish barrel... A few muffled voices bickered on about gold and wasting goods, then the barrel flung to its side apathetically and my face followed suit.

Now I was not only recovering from my half-deaf ears, but the bleeding of my snout. The long barrel ride did helped wake my sleeping muscles, which did not include my throat, or my eyes, though mattered it little since I had been tied and gagged. No, the only thing my mind dwelled on was the validity of my forced dream.

My family always sought the wisdom in their dreams, said they were visions of the future. They implored me to do the same not only because as Prince it would give me an advantage, but with my link to magic my visions could have deadly repercussions. The dream had told me just as I had vowed to my country; To sow the seeds of balance, to keep discord in check with which would let the country flourish. The lid to the barrel lifted as did I out of its confines and met my glare to the supposed Prince's.

"Have a nice nap Norm?" He gritted his teeth mockingly as he untied my bindings. "A word for wiser. Keep your regality in check until you reach the castle, mmm?" He whispered. Then he lifted the gag and told me quietly his plans. He had stowed me away in the brig under the guise of a spoiled shipment. Which I replied to with a dirty look. Shipments of this sort had to be sent to the harbor master, and if his records where in order that would be it. But we wouldn't be telling the harbormaster the whole truth, which would lead us being sent to the castle. So off we went to the Harbormaster.

Ch. 4: Sowing The Seeds of... (v.1)

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She was rather odd; the Harbormaster. She darted her eyes to us both and within moments of leaving, flung her papers to the desk. "Parnce. Three barrels of grass seed and cider."

As the dark gray "Prince" lips began to move, she rose from her desk and placed her hoof to his mouth. "All commerce matters must be handled by either a country's delegate, or the ship captain himself." Her glance was fixated on me as she spoke. "State your profession, time travelled to and from... and your boarding papers."

I, in the first time of my Princehood stood dumbfounded, void of thought. All my years of believing my inner strenght was my keen guile, and here I was mouth agape at Equestria's eccentric Harbormaster. I had become rather lax, I had always been able to get what I needed by regality alone, no one ever questioned my needs in Parnce.

"As I was going to say Sea Quill." Umbra cleared his throat. "This here is a very special goat, who spent his family's money and his time to travel here. He doesn't have time for the facts and papers. Just know that Parnce needs him back as soon as possible." As the stallion spoke I watched his eyes lock to hers, and when I finally figured out what he was doing, I looked down in disgust. "What a sickening use of power." I remember mumbling. The harbormaster's eyes watered as she swept the papers clean off her desk and started writing feverishly on a blank piece of parchment, and then gave a pound of her stamp. She became a bumbling mess, her sclera still green as she chanted her apologies to us. Umbra roped a forearm around me and pushed me along.

"Relax Prince. This might have been a change in plan, but this letter will give you a free pass to see them. Don't waste it." Umbra whispered to me. He was trying rather hard to hide his enjoyment after brainwashing that poor mare, Sea Quill. I was trying my hardest to forget what he had done to Sea Quill, soon my mind graced me with a new fixation; What purpose did Umbra have in helping me? He couldn't have cared about me or my country's needs. He seemed like the type to use those around him, and I was sure he had a plan for me that I didn't want any part of. In my thoughts I had all but forgotten that I had been aimlessly walking through Canterlot, and as I turned my head Umbra was gone. He was either lost in the sea of Pony faces or had gone his own way with or without telling me, either way I was alone now. I grasped my chest as my heart's beat hastened steadily. I scanned their faces, their eyes... Somepony was trying to read my thoughts.

I could feel their alien power digging into my core. It was thick like a ship's tar, and as bitter cold as a scorned lover's desires. I forced my eyes to stay open, for if they closed the intruder could have complete control of my mind. The pain was becoming unbearable. I forced all my power to my legs and ran, ran as fast as I could to the darkest parts of Canterlot's alleyways. The pain was receding, like the grasp at my thoughts and I sighed a breath of relief, I had outrun my intruder.

Ch. 5 : Temperance (v.1)

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I staggered within the alleyways of Canterlot, unsure if I should leave the secluded darkness or brace myself once more to the open light. Dare I leave myself exposed to whoever attempted to peer at my mind? I jumped in shock to a pony whose hood was ragged and weathered. He whispered something from his four-toothed mouth and glared at me. I smiled to him and released an uneasy chuckle as I asked him . "What was that?"

His eyes widened as he stared to mine. "Such radiance doesn't belong among filth... ye' could outshine thee stars yet ye' sulks amidst the dirt and dank." As he rose up to me his robe flopped down revealing his ali, blood red irises and half scarred skin. "Is it true what thee say? Is one forced to follow what thee know, and never grow?" He hissed in bemusement as he drew closer to me and tapped his horn to mine.

It felt like only a second of time. Yet as I looked up, Celestia's sister's light is all that shined in the sky. I darted out of the alleyways and followed the path I took as best as I remembered. With a sigh of relief I trotted through the docks and marketplace which were void of the crowds and cheerful life I had witnessed just moments ago. Something the Alley-pony said, or did had removed all sense of purpose within me. Had he stolen my courage, maybe my bravery? I couldn't tell.

"Are you alright?" I heard a honeyed voice ask me. I felt a rush of comfort, like the smell of rain on an arid summer day. The vigor from her voice alone had drawn that alley-pony's poison away. Within my view were the hooves to a porcelain frame I could never forget. My kid long friend had grown quite tall during our missed years. Her neck craned closer and she repeated in the same soothing chords.

"I-I'll be alright." I spoke plainly. My voice was shaken by her beauty alone. I forced my eyes to my surroundings yet they ebbed back to her regal form, or her Breezie-flossed mane. I had also gathered that I, had been transported again to the Royal Gardens and that her expression lacked the usual confident smile that she wore like a mask. It seemed my random appearance in her gardens was enough to wrinkle her brows in concern, but as I watched her face scour my own. I could tell it was not merely concern but the inability to identify me. Had the years been too long, had she forgotten the ali horned Prince of Parnce?

Her mask slid back into place and she bowed and greeted me. "My apologies for inspecting you so, you've come such a long way from Parnce. I'll redirect you to the throne room." I nodded with a sheepish smile, as I held in my laughter.

We made it halfway through the Royal Gardens until she started up another conversation. "What business do you have in Canterlot?"

"Royal business."

Her eyes glazed to mine, as she honed into my voice's tone. She stopped and turned her head. "My apologies I did not receive word of your arrival." She bowed her head with blushing cheeks. A sign of true embarrassment.

"Do not worry yourself Princess. He isn't mad at your declines, merely curious of their nature."

"Declines? This is news to me as well. I have not witnessed a single letter from Parnce. What does King Par need?!"

"King Par? ..." I felt my throat grow dry. "Dear Princess... What is the last letter you remember from Parnce?"

"I was a filly at the time... " Her eyes widened in realization. "Has the prince sent you here unannounced... No, please don't tell me. My apologies can not even begin to correct this matter." Her mask cracked, her air of confidence was choked out by the smoke of terror. Her smile became forced and uncanny. Her eyes darted away. Was she thinking about what else she had missed throughout the years?

"Tis' not my concern how your Counselor of Foreign Relations is doing their job. My Prince will find his way to your ear Princess Celestia." I knew that keeping my charade as a royal delegate wasn't worth the pleasantries that poor Celestia was trying to keep up, but I needed to work that in slowly 'else the wrath of the sun would most likely boil me. "Much has changed Princess Celestia, but I ask only for a hearing to rewrite the Equestrian Laws and Government section." I added.

Beads of sweat were building on her forehead. "S-sir." She gasped, looking to me painfully for mercy. Did she believe that the Prince de Parnce planned to abolish these laws due to her counselor's inadequacy? Surely anything could've been brewing in her fever. Inside I felt a sickening joy from her distress as I wished my years had been so lax as hers, but I was a balanced creature. I withdrew my feelings of revenge as I witnessed her shellshock, just as I had at the Harbormaster's requests.

"Celestia, please calm yourself." I hushed to her. "I would never in all my anger slight our father's work. I know the gravity of their hard work, and the many omens my father foresaw to lead our countries here. Yet my father died before he could witness his first trial with the Equestrian law partnered with our own." I hugged her tightly, and I felt her body shake from her doubt.

"Norm..." She cried happily. She gave a playful jab at my shoulder. "It is good to see you, but what is with the uncanny secrecy?"

"It started out innocently enough, Princess. I just couldn't help myself when you didn't recognize me at first." I chuckled to her.

"It was your horn that threw me off! I don't remember it being blue as children." She rebutted. "Though I was wondering whether you would send another ali-horn as a delegate, or come yourself."

"No delegate, nor adviser can speak my words better than my own tongue Celestia."

We both smiled, as we stared once more at each other. I could feel her doubt being expelled just as she had taken mine and we stood there admiring each others maturity, and lack thereof.

Optional song: The Difference of Time

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Look how time has changed us.
See how time has shaped us.

I think it's clear to see.
Think it's clear to say.
That we're witnessing the difference of time.

You've grown quite taller, but still...

You've aged quite better, yet still...

There is one thing I can not say

And there is this feeling I can't leave out.

I think it's clear to see.
Think it's clear to say.
That we're witnessing the difference of time.

Is it her eyes, or just her beauty?
Is it my mind, that's gone off-duty?
I have other things to tend to.
Obligations to uphold.
Yet I can't deny this beating, is louder than before.


In my heart I know better.
Then to lead him off astray.
Yes in my heart I know better.
But I didn't feel this way before.

There were mountains and ocean between us, yet our fathers couldn't keep our eyes away.
There are moments and memories between us that might've shaped. This. Day.

I think it's clear to see.
think it's clear to say.
That we're witnessing the difference Of. Time.

Ch. 6: Grey (v.1)

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Somewhere, in our enchanted gazing, my horn flared once more and sent me reeling to the trimmed lawn. I had calmed Celestia down, merely telling her that my vision "wasn't clear to me yet". The same line that my father used when he wanted to omit his knowledge, and I was doing my best to hide this knowledge like an unsavory bite of an aspiring chef's farrago. My vision had helped us both get back onto the subject of Parnce's needs. She knew both the laws, yet didn't see the dilemma. This lead both of us into a classic "discussion".

"Maybe you're defining the law too strictly Norm?"

"Laws are meant to be strict, Celestia. They uphold the law... They are written-"

"I understand the purpose for laws Norm."

"I'm speaking of equal punishment. If the victim is to be set free, what other option is there but, its. Equal?"

" ...You. You haven't been." Celestia was frozen in shock.

My conscience ran like wild at her steely gaze. Had she thought me mad? She didn't know of the urgency because she hadn't receive my letters... but maybe it was more than that? My father knew wholeheartedly the complications of a Pony's nature. They were not bound to goodness, yet The Sacred Tree watched over them. A Pony could be evil, or virtuous and everything inbetween... but for a goat. The path of right and wrong lied solely in grey.

We prided ourselves in pure balance. It's why a goat takes so long to speak... they are thinking of the perfect words, not too hurtful, not so caring. While some ponies treated my citizens as senile, or worse... as farm creatures. We knew better than to give into such dark emotions. If the world saw us as simple folk, let them. It would keep those naive from our bays.

She was still, maybe lost in her thoughts as I apologized, as I usually did for these "colorful" banters. Looking back on it they where much like the ones I would hear our fathers have... had.

"This isn't fair to you, Princess. I've already caught you off guard with my arrival. Bickering like this is but oil to your wings. We shall resume it after some thought... and maybe a date of my hearing?"

Her head shook out of her daze. "Oil... yes, I agree Prince Norm. We will continue this after I discuss the treaty with my sister. I made a promise to include her in all the royal affairs."

"How nuturing of you Celestia. Finally instilling some of your mother's lessons of compassion?" I said.

She scowled at me and then smiled. "Any other, and I would have thought you were insulting me..."

"Wouldn't dream of it." I chuckled.

"I'll be sure to ask Luna then." She nickered playfully.

The walk into the castle dredged painful memories of my younger years. My magic was frantic as I tried to lock my feelings away, but as we entered the throne room, I lost my composure and my magic leapt the memories throughout the room. My father stood tall beside King Sol, both chuckling endearingly to Celes' playful levitation of her father's gold crown to her head, and she toppled over from the sheer weight.

"Calm yourself Dear Princess Celestia." My father cackled as he helped lift the crown off of her. "Take your years of princess hood as a blessing, until the day you've learned all the Sacred Tree can offer."

"Yes Darling! Take Lord Par's wisdom... not many get such saged advice for free." King Sol assured as he hugged his pouting princess.

My eyes looked up to the present-day throne with Celestia now sitting, her father's crown perched behind her ali. I wondered if she truly heeded my father's advice. Is that why after years after her parent's death she still remains a princess? Is it out of dutiful respect to her parents, to her sister... or is she waiting for The Sacred Tree to impart her queen-like wisdom?

The sour vision I had received in the gardens ringed once more. This time with more imagery. The cutie mark of a heart? This vision was different from the rest. It didn't feel natural, but forced as if another was trying to feed me subtle clues. When I received a pure vision there was no pain when leaving my dreaming state, but in a forced dream... it felt like being reeled onto like a fish. The invader didn't know how to let go, or when to let me go. Prolonging my time in a dream state would be critical to my body, yet the mark of a well trained ali horned goat was a frail body.

Little Luna closed the throne room doors behind her as she reached her sister. "You summoned us, 'Tia?" Luna glanced over to me as the two began to whisper about. "Surely you jest?" Luna spat and she looked over to me, and Celestia turned her sister's eyes back to her and whispered more. "But could he not-" The moon mare scoffed once more.

It was clear that Luna took little after her serene mother besides her supervision of the moon. She was as bold and brash as her father. "He boiled like the sun, and was as caressing as a fire, and when you are lost... A fire is all you will need." My father said in defense of Sol's flightiness. I had never met Luna, until now, in fact it was out of my curiosity that I had even met Celestia.

I can hardly remember that day, the only thing I can remember clearly was the harsh punishment my father had given me. His eyes were cold, almost glazed as he struck me. Just standing still while he decided his punishment was in itself punishment enough. Just hard enough to prove his superiority, but merciful enough to not knock his kid son's hip out. Sometimes when I am feeling spiteful I can feel the place where he had struck become warm, even though it has been years since he struck me... years since his departure. The two both turned to me smiling with an over-welcoming candor.

"Prince De Parnce." Luna said as she cantered to me and bowed her head.

"Fret not Princess Luna. Call me as your sister does, I'm simply Norm, or Norm De Parnce... if you wish."

Her relaxed smile hinted to her gratitude, as she continued. "The Royal pony sisters decree that, there shall be no hearing over the Treaty of Equality for Equestria and Parnce. " Her lips moved on, yet my ears had gone numb. Had I wasted all this time just to be told "no" yet again...

What purpose did the Tree of Light, Tree of Harmony have for me in Equestria so far away from home. Why had I been deceived unto these shores?

"I-I-If that is what you decree... Then I can see we are at a loss for this treaty at all." I felt the heat burn inside me, and throughout my hip. My eyes darted up, surely burning like dry brush. I watched the moon princess step back.

If. That... That is what you two decree! Then guess what I decree Royal. Pony. Sisters! I decree That from now on, any pony set on Parnce's soil shall be deported! Any law of equine thought shall be blackened, and any-any of you two questions my anger will lead my guard to shoot all Equestrian ships on sight! Is that equal enough for you two? Is that not fair? You shut your eyes to my pleading, then I shut my country to your kind!

Even though this rage felt like mine, I could taste that it did not belong to me. Sure I had been angry of their declines, and surely if I was not a balanced creature I would have howled those words like a final battle cry, as I drove our countries into war. But I gave the two the benefit of the doubt, they didn't see my suffering enough to change our father's work. So be it.

"There was a grey furred pony in Parnce, who claimed himself a prince." I said in bemusement. "He lacked the knowledge of Parnce's law... He, I suspect also had a hoof in killing a delegate of yours."

The two both gasped. "Umbra?" I could hear Luna attempt to whisper, at least I assumed she was whispering.

My horn had begun acting up, amplifying my ears so that I could hear the guards outside the throne room doors breath a natural rhythm. The drone of Celestia's magic flickering pierced my ear drum as I quivered to the carpet.

"Sun's light!" I heard her cry out. "Normace!"

"This thoust injured?" Luna asked.

Hush foals... You dare speak to The King of Balance as a simpleton!? I heard pulse within my core.

"Shadow magic? 'Tia, Quick!" Luna commanded.

"I'm working on it Luna." Celestia rebutted. I felt her magic cling to me.

"I-It's burning me!" I cried, writhing like a fish out of water. "Stop your magic Celestia!"

I felt the guards rush in. "Your royal highnesses! What is going on?"

"Someone has cast dark magic on the Prince of Parnce. Stay outside, and keep the door shut!" Celestia ordered them.

"Of course-but your highness, what if it channels to you?" One of the guards asked.

"He is right 'Tia... release your magic." Luna agreed. I gave another pitiful cry, and I felt her magic pull away. Another magic took its place, and I could sense the fear within the guards and Celestia. "We shall take care of him." Luna insisted. My eyes drew open in force as she looked to me with lost eyes. She shed a tear into my eye, and like a single ripple in a still lake, my body ebbed into sleep.

Ch. 7: Eyes of Jaiet (v.1)

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The wind wrapped to me like silk sheets, engulfing my throat and forcing my eyes shut. This was another forced dream. Yet it was not of my own, but of the one that held me... little Luna. She was a foal when my father and I first met King Solstice, Celest' was just weaning in her filly years as I was reaching my first year as a billy.

Whenever I received visions in my sleep, they always became real. I didn't blame them, Celestia knew little about ali-horned goats as I suspected. She didn't know the trouble I was in being asleep within my dream state, nor did poor Luna. How she crashed and ebbed with such sorrow... I can't imagine how she still finds the strength to stand, even smile. It is then that I prayed to the endless air in my throat to stay, as it rushed out of me like fleeting sparrows.

Not a moment passed before the bitter chill of water swallowed me whole, the salt of the water stinged my gums and I was blinded once more. There's a pattern growing, she does not feel able to speak. There is always something or someone blinding her eyes. Muting her tongue...

I thought about her dream's elements, air... water? Each are what I assumed a Princess of the moon to suspect the night sky is like. But is she being figurative with her symbols? What if Luna is repressing a bad dream... I shudder to think if the Guardian of nightmares is holding back her own. In my thoughts I had believed that the cold was from the water, and that I was still sinking, but as I opened my eyes in curiosity I saw that I was resting on an engorged grey cloud.

Merely noticing that I was sitting on a cloud without wings was enough for my rationality to trigger the stormcloud into quicksand. My body left the comfort of the cloud, and I succumbed again to the smothering air. It was then that I had witnessed something that I had never before, though now in reflection it made sense.

Luna had swooped below me, saving me from her endless cycle of falling, suffocating and shutting her eyes. I was in her dream, but she was the guardian of dreams... I wondered if she knew about the mental sensitivities of my ancestors, how I had made it into her thoughts. With the dream-bearer with me, I could finally unlock from her dream, and hastily I did.

As I came too, I gripped at my sides tightly as my usual meal in Parnce greeted my tongue bitterly. It washed out of my mouth, and I quivered in its exit. I must have been in that dream for an hour or so. From leaving the unicorn's hex, to greeting Celestia at the gardens at sunrise, it was lunch time by the time we made it to...

To the throne room. What happened back there? I felt such hatred that I've never felt before. It was ancient... darkness in its truest form. Then the two spoke of dark magic around me? This all felt like a well planned trap, or maybe my father's sickness was finally reaching me. In his final days he had become crazed from horrors in his dreams, dreams that drove him into madness.

Under his breath I could hear him speak sour truths, he became unsociable and shut himself from the world. On his death bed I can remember him telling me something rather odd, the same line that the Unicorn from the alley spoke; Is one forced to follow what thee know, and never grow?

I didn't need my visions to see that something dark was toying with me. With Luna by my side, I was but honey to the flies.

"You have awakened." Luna said, shaking me from my thought.

"Yes. Thank you Luna."

" 'Twas nothing... are you alright?" She asked.

I chuckled softly. "As good as I can be. You can speak plainly with me Luna. There are no ears but ours out here." She had flown me to the Evergreen forest. Crickets and frogs droned out in the distance withe the canopy of the towering evergreens they couldn't tell that sunset was mere hours away.

She glanced at me, as she thought on my words with disregard. "Doth you remember what happened at the castle?"

"Yes thy does dear Luna, Thy also requests thoust speakest plainly..."

She gasped at my sour tact, a petty form of dark humor. Maybe it was the soil... In Parnce I never remembered feeling such glee from spitefulness. I closed my eyes and drew in a calming sigh. Within my exhale I smelled something so foul I choked. I flung back my head, as I watch Luna tilt hers bewilderingly, then she too winced to the horrid odor. The forest grew silent.

"Night's stars... What is that smell!" she cried.

"Nothing to take perrsSsonally Selene!" A dry voice hissed. Her body hunched as her neck slowly slumped forward. "Alone at last! Look at how you have grown!" I searched frantically for a body to the voice, and in my tension he teleported in a cloud of dark mist.

"You... Do you have any idea who you're addressing?" I asked in fervor.

"The King of Balance... Lord of Equal Punishment, and son to King Par, founder of Parnce... Your mother-" His eyes narrowed to me.

"It appears you do know about me... but do you know me?" I rebutted.

"You shamed your mother from the throne... You feel incomplete without full control, and most of all..." He paused to cough a chuckle my way. "You Long to rule everyone." He grinned.

"What?!" I spat.

"You might not believe it now... nor realize it when you do, but you're always judging others... Always peering into their psyche, assuming their life is but a page to turn. You read others, without question or thought. Like Selene here."

"But, this is Princess Luna." I grinned.

"Oh." He cackled darkly. "I couldn't tell... they both taste the same. Now that you mention it though, Selene did have a richer fear then this Luna does." He inhaled, sighing in blissfulness. "You can sense it... can't you?" He asked mockingly as he roped an hoof around me.

"I know she's in mental duress ."

"Duress! You baffle me Lord Pareil!" He wheezed uncontrollably.

"Par was my father." I said plainly.

"Oh- Right you are, Normace of Parnce. Say is it awkward having to rule a country named after your father?" He joked darkly.

"My father's name stands for his goals, He lived and breathed for equality! Of course not!"

"Equality... Sounds like you want everyone to be the same, do you want to change everyone to your vision, your perfect world?"

"Everyone is welcome to be who they are!"

"As long as they are void of any animate feeling... Is a goat able to laugh without crying afterward? That would be an equal emotion-"

"Parnce's Law of Equality is only for judicial practices, never is it entailed as a way of life."

"And isn't that what separates you from the uncouth creatures... Being able to distinguish rules as lines in the sand, not as walls to divide. " He squeezed me tighter. Look at the time, if we sat here gawking about your kinds virtues we'd be keeping half the planet from their shut eye. I'm not here to keep the sun from turning, merely wanted to probe an old friend's prodigy." He flung me into Luna. "Ta ta you two!" He's dark cackle echoed in his smoky exit.

"Norm!" Luna cried as she hugged me tightly.

"Princess?" I asked, only for her hold to increase. Violet smoke-like ribbons seeped out of her. As the smoke reached me, I knew what the Unicorn meant. Her fear was somehow now visible to me, and the air around her was saturated in fear and doubt. A gift from the dark unicorn? I started to ponder why he was invested in my father and I . I was startled by little Luna's ever hastening sobs. I tried my best to coddle her tears, and bring the princess back to her senses, but she was lost in her tears...

When I looked to her eyes, I found the problem. The Unicorn had hexed her as well. There was no time for second opinions, I placed my forehead to hers, and kissed her.

The air around me grew frigid as I held my lips to Luna's. Her thoughts and emotions clashed to battle within my own.

What if I get overthrown, what if my people abandon me?

What if I can't protect them...

Why did you leave me mother... How is this fair?

I've worked too hard just to be alone.

Why did I come here? My father could've have done this better.

I doubt I can stay here, I doubt I can make a change...

I don't need others to tell me my place! I am a king, I can rule my own land, care for my own kind!

I just want to be heard.

"They don't understand my pain, she can't feel the same as I!" We both cried. Our eyes opened, Luna was blushing. Her eyes had returned to normal. "Are you alright Luna?"

"Better now that I know I'm not alone." She smiled and cuddled my chest tufts. I smiled back, even though she couldn't see.

Ch. 8: Faith (v.1)

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I knew she was the princess of the moon. Yet her very touch left me warm. This was not to be, me and her, her and I. Granted she was nearly the same age as Celestia, and granted my heart quicken around both in a frantic flurry... but I had convinced a part of me that this flutter of heat and hastened beat was nothing but a fever of the moment. We both had witnessed something vile, and I had pulled from my regal mind the oldest trick known to Earth.

Love cures evil. There was no doubt that Unicorn was a fledgling to a darker force, one that had twisted even my father's mind. How easily he had taken Luna's will away. She had whispered to me as I embraced her fragile elegance. She heard nothing but her own thoughts whilst the Unicorn had questioned me, all that she could remember was the rancid odor from before and waking to my kiss, like an old tale her mother would read to her. Selene... What a mother she was.

Even my father was entranced by her compassion and grace. Her coat mimicked the azure sky so perfectly no creature could doubt her affinity to the night. Even more, she balanced her love with her daughters, and later even me so well that I can't imagine why Luna is more reserved than Celestia. The night was a secretive thing for sure, but it wouldn't help Luna overcome her nightmares if she forced herself to battle these fears alone. She had the honor of having a sister of the sun to call to. Then it resonated within me like a large bell ringing the midday, she wanted to prove her strength. Little Luna...

Why do we try so hard to look strong? There is no weakness in tears, yet it is only alone... with me, does Luna cry. My chest was damp from her emotional release. I won't lie... I cried softly with her too. In Par Castle I never once mourned for my father, and I took this brevity of sorrow as a sign. When her breath had calmed I alerted Luna to the still setting sun, and she turned her head in a blush and raised her alabaster orb without a second thought. I waited a moment after then I asked her curiously.

"So why did you pick the forest?"

She scrunched her lips cutely. "To be honest... I don't know. I felt my instincts tell me too." Her eyes looked to me longingly. "Norm... What were you crying about?"

"Many things... but mostly, for my father." I confessed.

"It's been five years since his passing... Yet I am, excuse me for saying so. I am glad that you still miss him. It makes me feel better about missing my own parents." Luna admitted.

"Tears are not a sign of weakness Luna. If anything they prove you are strong enough to show your feelings." I assured her.

"I-I used to, but in weeks past a Griffon emissary witness me crying and mocked my ability to lead. Only when Celestia told him I was still in mourning did he bow and give his apologies. He commended Celestia's strength given her loss..."

"My words still hold true Luna. Gryphos is a young country and still hasn't weeded out their nomadic philosophies yet." I hugged her. "Have faith in yourself Luna. Many look up to you, and much rests on your shoulders. You're blessed to rule alongside another-"

Her head sank as I reminded her of Celestia. "I suppose."

My heart sank deep to my gut, as I witnessed her second of bitterness. "Would you mind if we headed back for Canterlot's harbor?" I asked, hoping to divert her thoughts.

"Certainly Norm. Heading home so soon?"

"There's no reason for me to stay here Luna..." I sighed. "You two made it quite clear-"

"Norm." Luna huffed. "Your hearing was dismissed because we decided to revisit the whole treaty, not just the part that affected you."

My eyes grew, I felt like they could have lit up the dark air around us. "The whole treaty." I repeated.

"Celestia believed it would be best to not only Parnce but to our new allies of Gryphos and the Crystal Empire."

"Crystal... Empire?" I said whimsically.

Ch 9: Clarity (v.1)

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We had gone back to the royal sister's castle. In this time I had forced myself to wake, I did not like the dreams that followed levitating. There was one dream that I had repeatedly had where I was gliding mere inches from a night's black ocean. I could taste the salt of the water coating my throat, yet the dream yearned on. One detail I never quite picked up on was how to tell whether all my dreams were of insight, or my wit's leisure of fantasy. I'm sure every earthbound creature dreams of flying and the effects it holds to soar so freely. Just as every base creature drolls on about the lax nature of ali-horned creatures. I couldn't dare to fathom the power of Luna, Celestia... or any other winged unicorn. Darkness had blanketed the blue night sky, In Parnce we held all sorts of night festivals, My heart ached as Luna's guise of hope eroded during her flight to Canterlot.

I didn't need to ask why she felt so, it was not merely written on her face, but engraved on her heart. Her aura drifted like squid's ink in water, thick with pain, a pain she seemed able to hide well from Celestia. How could she be silent? I knew she needed to let her emotions free, she needed another to build her strength once more, yet I was not the one. She needed the support of love, the kind not even her sister could give. But a suitor I was not, and I let the thought pass me, as I thought of revisiting the treaty of our father's. This time would be different it seemed. There would be griffons, and two other equine tribes. Luna's voice cut through my contemplation. I looked to her, the sudden prickling throb crept down my limbs as they awoke. I leaned myself on to the Castle wall as she repeated herself.

"Do you remember where the guest quarter's are?" She asked.

"Yes. I'll be up there... I just need a moment." I admitted. I was pleasantly surprised she hadn't spoken in her father's tongue.

"I don't remember much of you Norm..." She caught herself before any trace for nostalgic tears peaked, and cleared her throat. "My sister cares dearly for you. Do not forget this tomorrow..." She whispered to me, then cantered into the castle.

I stood there, musing on her words. By the time I had cleared my confusion my legs had regained sensation. It was at my last step into the castle that I turn my gaze to Prince Umbra.

"How are you Prince De Parnce?" He chuckled.

"Pleased... but now I'm second guessing if I'll feel this way for long."

"Cheeky, Norm. You can keep your comforts... You'll need them for tomorrow." He rebutted.

I stepped closer to inspect his expression, it was hard to make out much with his complexion against the darkness. Such darkness that matched Luna's. He was grieving, or holding back some plaguing sorrow. "Umb-"

"Prince Umbra." He corrected me.

"Right. What are you the Prince of again?"

His irises sparked red as purple mist drifted from his eyes. "I'm a Prince of many things... but I know what you are really asking. 'What will I lord over one day?' Let us just say it is a land too bitter for you to know of..." His eyes reverted to normal as he added calmly "and it's best kept so." His magic flared and a green and black cloud-like portal stretched up from the cobblestone to his height.

I let him go. His emotion had drawn out my usual composure, thankfully I had made it to my room without an incident. Their posh guest room bed was far more inviting than my own in Parnce, but I didn't covet the sister's wealth. Nor envied it, with that much wealth followed darker emotions that my kind didn't fall prey to.

"Prancians know their limits, when to say no... when to give up, what to fight for. " I remember mumbling before the down-feathered pillows wisped my conscience to rest.

Ch. 10: Futile (v.1)

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My ears rang to the sound of humming. My astral body rose to the violin-toned melody. As I drew close I witnessed a tall pony turned silhouette against the well-fed campfire before her, she had been repeating the same doleful tone. Her body swayed like an infant's cradle and she repeated the melody once more. Then I heard a young voice sing.

"Oh night of nights. Lend your light. Cast off the shadows at bay. Watch for my mother, and whisper that I love her. Rend all my fears away."

I cringed when I realized my magic had drifted me into Luna's mind once again, yet I understood why. The psychic training my family had passed down was drawn to strong emotions. Our magic had grown within a direct bond to our empathy, over the ages it became indiscernible which powered what. My father would always repeat the same riddle-filled proverb in hopes of cautioning me away from Uncle Zeal's empathic lifestyle. 'Those who spill enough water can turn a puddle into a pond.'

Another form walked to the campfire, with the light's aid I discerned Celestia's swan-like coat. She nestled herself close to the taller figure, and it wasn't until I too sat down by the fire did I fully understand. This wasn't a dream, just a well worn memory. Luna had embellished Celestia with an aurora-like mane that flowed like the cold night's breeze. Her mother had been humming all this time, and had stopped when her oldest daughter arrived. Yet these figures felt displaced, as if cut and arranged so that Luna could dream of both Selene and Celestia.

"I don't remember dreaming of you Normace." Luna mused.

I bowed my head. "My apologies Princess Luna."

"Wait." she gasped. As she lunged towards me the campfire flickered out, and the scene vanished like smudged ink to the purple-hued void. "I-I've never seen someone else in my dreams before..."

I inspected her, unable to understand until I saw that this Luna was a mere filly. Was this how Luna saw herself? How could she watch over her denizens in the dreamscape as a mere filly? "As I said, My apologies..."

I rolled out of bed and drifted out to the royal gardens. There I watched Celestia play within the flowers. In my grogginess I mistook this Celestia as the princess today, but in truth it was another ghost of the past. If not for my lack of sleep, I would have held these reflections of the past as a warning to my health. I sat and watched the memory loop for a time, until not even the settling dew kept me from fading out.

It was in the Royal Gardens when I experience my first tranceless sleep. It felt jarring and abrasive without being anything at all. In the dream plane I was in full control, and I never had to worry about entrapment in another dreamer's nightmares. But within the garden I did not dream of anyone or anyplace... I was stuck, entwined to the endless ocean of the dreamless. Slowly I felt my mind become disillusioned about the distance between the dreamless' space. Had I moved at all? Had I been drifting into the senseless abyss? A whisper cracked throughout the stillness of the void.

"What bends, but never breaks?" The voice hissed. My ears clammered to the sweet sound. Anything to break the deafening silence. My voice was dull in this realm, I was at the mercy to whomever had peered in.

"The cold... it can burn you, just as a flame. Yet the night you drift through. It does not burn, nor sting, nor feel like anything... You are not dreamless night-drifter. Far from it, your mind has called out... and I have chosen to answer. How do I look to your mortal vision, or can you even grasp at whom you have reeled in with your magic's lure? Such Innocence. Such arrogance... It keeps me hopeful of your future. Ahh... The sun's embrace... now I know I can't keep you from your destiny." The voice heaved a few dark chuckles. A single drop rippled into my dream and out emerged the princess of the Moon. She craned her neck down to me and smiled sweetly.

"My sincerest pardons, I don't wish to disturb thy meditation, but will you be fasting until the other emissaries arrive?" she asked innocently. My body flew up before my eyes had even opened, slapping into Luna and making us both fall. "Did I startle thee?" she whispered as if her harp-like voice could've have frightened me. "NO... no Luna. I'm just." I finally opened my eyes. Somehow I was back in the guest room, I knew better than to bring it up, and yet...

"Luna... I saw you in my dream last night."

"Is that so?" Luna said, pulling away from me as she regained her composure.

"It was a dream with your mother... Celes' was there as well. You were singing with your mother-"

"That memory is very dear to me." Her voice cracked. I could see the darkness seeping from her but this time it was gnarled and thorny. "Thee should knowest better than to speakest such things so blindly. I can not be clouded my memories today, out of all days. I must act accordingly to my role as princess."

"You can't help anyone with a broken heart Luna. Griffons can sense another's instincts."

"Seclusion has made your senses dull as well Norm. You speakest as if I do not know my weakness."

"Empathy... is no weakness Luna." I held my rage in poorly. Her eyes glistened, I was unsure if it was from shock or if I had finally resonated with the princess. She took her time, and like the stillness of the wind before a mighty storm, she rained her tears within my embrace.

"Sadness is a part of life Luna. But it cannot be allowed to flourish within you." I cautioned her.

"Are you sure you came here to rewrite the treaty...You've spent more time coaching me about feelings." she huffed. Her eyes glanced over to the door. No doubt contemplating if she had wasted her breakfast bickering to me.

"My sensitivities make it hard not to help." my voice raised slightly, as I tried to press the matter's urgency.

"Help! I don't require your help... Remember I have a sister I can cry to." Luna made her way towards the door, her magic had already twisted the door's knob, but I rested a side of my body to the door. I wasn't about to let this darkness linger within Luna another moment. I didn't know why in the moment my mind was keen on saving her. In reflection I assume it was my inability to save my father.

She tried her best to cut me with my own words. " That's true. You do have a sister that you could cry to... but I am not your sister am I? Yet here you are, crying to me."

She bit her tongue, scowling at me as if I were a villain. But I had merely told the truth. I could tell that she and I would be friends in no time, just like our fathers we were... just like our fathers.

Ch. 11: Limits (v.1)

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After tears dried, and slightings were said, each of us agreed to keep passed words between ourselves. She agreed that her bottled fears and pent-up mourning was holding her back, just as I expressed my only desire whilst in Canterlot was to settle matters within the treaty, and sail back home.

She was rather distraught when I told her this, yet I did not know what she expected. I had my own duties to abide by in Parnce. My mind reenacted the moment I chose to leave Parnce. I feared how it fared without my guidance, if it needed me at all. If Parnce did not need me maybe I could stay in Equestria. My mind fancied in these thoughts, blinded from the lavish breakfast I enjoyed with Luna and Celestia.

Parnce wasn't a poor country, third in the world with enough export demands alone to buy ships, and second in the known world to ally with the grand country known as Equestria. I was sure of it then, the exquisities of my fermented honey and "petal paradise" salad had consumed my chiseled rationality. A mix if gaillardia, iris, tiger-lily, and painted daisy coaxed my body into a rested lul of existence. A place of joy and tension, confusion and carelessness. I watched the princesses talk, pausing after eat bite as they enjoyed their "royal" portions.

'Never eat merely to consume, but consume all that you see around you. Sight can be as insatiable as the mind, and the mind can be persuaded by the soul just as well as your gut.' I heard my father's steely voice echo to me scoldingly. 'least that is what my mind knew he would so sagely advise. I knew my needs just as well as any other being could. My clairvoyance could not provide me with the power to feed my hungered body. No magic in the world could.

We may be beings of power and skill. But even the princesses have to chew their food. Celestia is not powered by the sun, just as I can not drift through the dreamscape unhindered. The dreamscape fed off of me, who knows if the sun does the same to Celest'. Food for thought... thoughts on food. This part of my tale is where the Griffon and the other pony emissaries finally introduced themselves to me, and not it the most gracious of ways...

"You plan to feed me flowers and leaves!" One of the Griffons cawed in rage, sliding his plate away with a single swipe. "I am not a parrot or some puny finch! I am Burred-paw of the Ash Mountains and I demand a proper feast!"

"You should conduct yourself accordingly to your host, Burred-paw. Not everyone is given a chance to sit with the Royal Pony Sisters." A Crystal Pony emissary scolded.

"Who are you to command me?" The Griffon uttered coldly under his breathe.

"An honored guest to the Princess of the Sun and Moon. I'm Mora Ninna, Queen of the Crystal Empire." Her head bowed to the princesses. They lightly nodded back. A guard escorted the unsatisfied Griffon to the castle's kitchen.

"If the rest of the Griffons mind the food offered, please speak up." Celestia calmly asked. Yet none of the other Griffons did. Their beaks where small. They probably did eat leaves. Yet this didn't stop my father's voice from chiming a crude Griffon statement that 'the ones with the biggest beaks are always squawk the loudest'. Celestia had reassured her feathered guests in their hospitality for the Griffon's... "accommodations". The other two were dressed rather modern in comparison to Burred-paw's more tribal-esque appearance. As I lingered on these details my eyes had loomed clumsily toward Mora...

Her dress was quite regal, but not as ornate as the crystals weaved throughout her hair. My eyes playfully counted each of the colors; blue, purple, pink, red and orange. The pattern of the colors undoubtedly meant something. Like how pink and blue always were paired together, in fact the pattern was always two colors paired together in each crystal weave. Pink and blue, purple and red... except the orange. Orange was paired with pearls and malachite. A gentle nudge coaxed my conscious awake. Thanks to Luna I was able to notice the growing concern in Mora's eyes.

"This is her first time in Canterlot after her husband's passing..." Luna whispered to me. My eyes widened, yet I remained still. I merely smiled and nodded toward Mora. She nodded back, and as she leaned back and puffed a relaxing sigh my senses flared. I heard her breath roll out like a defensive dragon. I had to excuse myself from the feast hall, though I did so in shame.

If only I could have kept calm enough to pacify my nerves, dull my senses. The feasting hall echoed in swallows, coughs and yawns that spat into my ears like a mad pony holding a bellow. I fled into my guest room, and with the door's latch clicking into place my senses finally quieted. I threw myself to the bed, and floated one of the bathroom towels to blot my sweat away. A fever was boiling within each fiber and sinew.

The voice from the night before chimed within me. "Life is simple when we do not hear the intricacies around us. We do not see the pain that festers within us. What is pain anyway? Is it power? is it weakness? Is it merely a tool of your limits... Not for you. The withering of your flesh is an honor, It dulls you to the plights around you though..."

My mouth opened yet I did not know how to speak to it, even if I did there was nothing I felt I could say. "Embrace your limits... do not let them define you. Let them reflect what you are willing to achieve." the voice added. With a knock at my door my daze fled, and I flung myself to the door. I chuckled at the sight of Luna.

"Are you growing that fond of me Princess?"

She smiled back. "Thy certainty leaves and effect on someone."

My smile widened as I embraced her. Something the voice said to me... It made sense to try. I was trained how to guide my spirit within another, and recently my magic was heightened to her strong emotions. In theory I could fuse these powers. Maybe I could help her? My hold tighten, as did hers. I wondered the last time Luna had hugged her sister, and when Celestia had lowered her crown to do the same. Her body was shaking within my grasp, shuttering within the confides of my room.

"Always in secret... always within your grasp." The voice whispered to me. "Seize her fears... visualize the pain." It commanded. On its words I stepped out of my physical form, and my glance stretched upwards to the shadows that plagued her.

They were void of earthbound shape, yet held features of fauna of the material plane. Their eyes fixated to me, slowing their spiral weave over Luna. "This one looks at us, not through us?" a shade remarked.

"An illusion brother... no one dares to look straight at us." One scoffed.

I clenched my chest. One of the shades flew through me. "Brother you are not mistaken. This one sees with gifted eyes. He is like the crystal one!" she alerted them. My form froze within their essence. It was vile, suffocating and yet... invigoratingly primal.

"Is he a servant to the tree?" the first shade asked. The shade drifted through me again.

"Uncertain. His heart is fertile but his mind is too guarded to see."

"Pity. PerhapsSs with time he can fully use his gift." another shade scoffed.

"Why don't we give him a hoof..." The shades chuckled in unison.

"Why not a claw instead." a smaller phantom quipped.

"Yes! Yes..." The shades merged into one and lunged toward me. I braced myself, gasping as I felt their essence tear through my psychic body.

"By the stars are you alright Norm?!" Luna gasped. My grasp had tightened uncomfortably around her. It seems that I had begun shaking in a fit of tears. My ramblings were scattered in fear and affirmation, and as she continued I only felt my gut sour. When I regained my composure. I pulled myself away, clearing my throat I said.

"Forgive my outbur-"

"Never Norm." Luna sharply quipped. "Tis an honor to console thee, like thy hast. She paused, then resumed."Is this not what you have instructed of me? That I would be stronger if I released my burdens?"

"Yes... Exactly. Luna..." I gasped for air. The energy from the shades still lingered. If I had only noticed her words, only listened to her bitterness. I would have known that I had failed in helping anyone, but the shades within her.

I didn't know my own limits, and what others could do to set them.

Ch 12: Over Perceptive Prolix (v.1)

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"What are you doing son?" King Par chuckled lightheartedly.

"I'm trying to see like you." A young Norm replied.

"If I were such a strapping young king indeed. Tell me son, what do you see from your cushioned perch?"

Norm giggled with joy, father rarely talked to him. What made this moment so grand? This little prince didn't care in the slightest then. Finally his father spoke in words rather than moral building riddles.

"I. I see you... and momma." Norm's voice quaked as he saw his mother's frail body. Par opened his eyes wide in a wild fury as he hurried her back up stairs. Norm waited there eagerly, yet his father did not return. Norm sighed slowly as he puffed up his chest and threw his strongest hoof into one of the throne's pillows that he had stacked up.

"Mother always ruins my time with father. She wouldn't have gotten sick if she'd gone to the sacred tree." Norm huffed under his breath.

"Is that what you believe son?" Par towered over Norm. "Surely I raised you too well, to speak such truths in the throne room. Come with me Nor' mal."


The sun seemed eager for my departure it seemed. From breakfast to the third meeting with Luna the eve had already graced us. Another hour and the delegates where to establish the founding rules to our treaty. With any luck the treaty could be inked in another day or so, I could sail back home and everything would be back to normal.

But nothing could be normal as how it was when I was young, even the future of normalcy was bleak. I could not leave Equestria knowing one of her rulers was not well. I couldn't leave Luna like I left my father those many years ago. Was it wrong for me to see her as merely redemption... only The Sacred Tree knew. Through it all she was silent, like the sky, the air. I was so attuned to everyone else's woes that I could not hear her whisper to me within the winds.

Luna had left my company after my heart calmed down, and I took a walk in to the gardens to lighten my mood. The subtle beauty of the morning glory and daylilies consoled me, until I saw the sprouting weeds below them. Weeds... they were just like other plants, and yet they were despised because they had no place within ponicured rows of flower beds. Some of the weeds had hidden themselves well, mimicking the petal shape of the native flowers. The sound of soft hoof steps drew closer to me.

"I thought I might find you here." Said Celestia.

"Celestia." I said back to her. "You've got some weeds within your flower beds."

"Do I?" She craned her neck to my level. "I'm Sorry Norm... I don't see any."

I glanced over to her signature smile. The kind of smile that outside eyes would see as polite, and everyone else knew as a playful grin. "I love all the flowers in the garden." She whispered to me.

I gave a nod of my head as my eyes swayed to one of the Griffon delegates peering in. Thankfully not Burred-paw.


Norm marveled his father's gait, each hoof fell softly yet every leg moved with such power and determination that Norm was sure they would make some noise. His thick cream hairs hid the growing silvers and whites from anyone unable to know his father closely, and in the coming years they would become a majority. His brows seem glued into a perpetual wonder to the sights around him, even as he traced the same routines.

His father seemed flawless. Ever ready to listen, never without a proper lesson to teach. Even as they made their way upstairs to Norm's sleeping quarters, Norm kept his ears alert for his father's poignant lesson. All he heard though was the subtle rasps of his father's breath, the uncomfortable seizes he muffled as his joints flexed. When they had reached the final stair Norm looked back to his father eagerly still awaiting his moral. Par took in a deep breath.

"I'll see you tomorrow son, for breakfast." His father had a subtle limp as he continued to his chambers.

Norm sulked his head low and readied himself for bed.


"Hello there, hoof-friends!" The lithe Griffon exclaimed. Celestia gave a welcoming smile, to which the Griffon stopped tapping his claw to the well-fed grass timidly and hurried out to greet us more personally. His arm wrapped around me and Celestia as he began apologizing. "I'm just dearly-dreadfully sorry about Burred-paws more savage lifestyle. He's has an unmistakably eccentric personality, he still isn't used to getting every nitty-gritty whim he desires though."

"Just wonderful" I remember thinking as I gave a sigh in agony. "Just the character we need charting up a new treaty" I mumbled bitterly. Celestia of course was quick to dismiss my spitefulness. A steely gaze from her eyes, unleashed a half hearted glance of mercy from me to the Griffon. He shook his head. "There's no need for apologies, Norm de Parnce is absolutely correct. Burred-Paw will be a great evil in our endeavours to declare amicable peace within our species. He holds onto the old ways of the Griffons, Honor, strength. Any notion of frailty sours his lion's pride, and he is all but unreceptive. A solution for this would requi-"

"Finchelstein." Celestia said softly. Her words made the Griffon seize, forgetting his train of thought. "I invited Burred-Paw here for a reason. I want him to feel welcome here, as his thoughts are as wanted as Philias' and yours. I need the "old ways" and your ways to be unified in this treaty. No exceptions of customs or traditions can interfere the commune. Do you understand?"

"Princess, please excuse me if I sounded wicked, or deceptive. I understand Burr's consultation... I didn't mean to." He closed his eyes, pulling away from us as he exhaled slowly. "As you wish Princess." He tipped his hat and exited the gardens. I couldn't keep my eyes from watching him. Somehow I believed that Finch and Burred could learn a lot from one another. Yet that seemed as likely as Celestia raising the moon... I digress.

I'm going to be honest and just tell you right now that I don't remember how Celestia and I left the gardens on bad terms. I do remember that even though we were on bad terms she still requested I follow her, and that I followed for Luna's best interest. My mind had been replaying my morning memories like senile rooster in the midst of Celestia's questions or in mid-sentence. She had placed her golden slipper to my shoulder enough times for any onlooker to assume she was knighting me. I wanted to hear her words, relate to her problems but Celestia knew that I was in another world at that time. I only feared she believed it was out of boredom or disinterest. She held her arm out in front of me, jogging me hazily back.

"What is clouding your mind Normace." Celestia said. I could sense her pensiveness was more in irritability then true concern.

"This morning I had a memory of my father. It was a week after my mother's disappearance, I was a still a kid, month shy of my birthday. All of the memories I reflect on have a moral lesson from my father."

"What was this lesson?" Celestia asked.

"I... I don't remember. I remember the climb up the stairs, and him telling me something important... but this time all I heard was his aging body. This memory feels... hollow." I admitted.

She took her time with this insight. She must have known how such and event vexed my conscious. The idolization of my father's words, erased from my mind.

"There might yet be a lesson in what you saw, yet I do not know of you needed the answer again. Your mind will guide you farther in dreams and thoughts than mine could travel." She smiled softly, until her mind wondered. "Since your visit here in the castle, have you seen other distorted memories?" She asked worriedly.

"This is the first to distort." I replied. "Thank you Celestia." We both shared a relieved smile and continued our walk.

Ch 13: Doubts (v.1)

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Celestia's demeanor darkened as she opened Luna's bedroom doors. Luna was curled on her pillows, groans of mercy shook her regal frame. All my thoughts froze, as I focused only to Luna's aid. The Crystal Queen, Mora Ninna was resting beside Luna, humming her sweetest lullaby. It did not seem to do much for little Luna as I reached Luna's view she hesitated, forcing herself still enough to talk.

The pain she felt sapped any trace of cordiality from her tone "Wh-what did you see yesterday?" she ordered.

'"Yesterday... in your thoughts?" Her eyes narrowed menacingly. "Of course then." I winced as a warily chuckle escaped my lips, and I tried to string my words to her thirsty ears. Her eyes were darkening as I stalled. "Recently my dreamstate has been rather sensitive to Luna's mind... the only time It wasn't-"

"I don't care about then!" Luna spat as she lunged angrily towards me, Celestia and Mora restrained her back to her pillows with their magic.

"This is important Luna, I promise." I assured her. "When my dreamscape didn't hone onto Luna... I entered a dream void. Dream void's aren't like my visions, they are created when a person is either consumed with too much emotion, or are void of any. I believe someone in the castle is afflicted with a Dream void."

"Is this "Dream void" contagious?" Celestia asked.

"It depends on who the afflicted is. If it is someone like me, a seer, then only others seers should be affected, But if it happens to be Luna... we may all be affected, since she is the gatekeeper of our dreams." I replied.

"I've yet to feel any evils, or nightmares...I don't think the curse is within the sight, But I wouldn't blame dear Luna either. In the North there are many evils that could mystify or entrance one's mind. They fed off fear or disharmony... there could be monsters that feed off dreams." Mora said.

"Have you slept well recently Celestia?" I asked.

"It's nothing I'd blame any ancient monster on." She rebutted. "I need my sister well enough to sit within the treaty's commune. I'm sure we are all apprehensive and nervous for the meeting. Maybe this Dream void isn't from one being but all of us." Celestia thought a loud. Her voice distorted as she talked, I tried my best to stay focused on her, but the deepening pitch was too jarring for my ears. She took her eyes off me as I felt my face cringe. "Why a gathering like this has not happened in Equestria for over 500 years. " Her tone slowed uncomfortably as she spoke, my glance drifted slowly towards Luna as the very air chilled and time crawled. Visions rippled through my core.

This treaty will seal your fate. No longer as prince, nor king but as spirit to the realm of your choice!

You'll choose pettiness over me? Destruction over our time, our memories?

No one is outside your rule of judgement, your air of balance will rain chocolate or snow bubbles... if you decree.

Nothing will be gray when you take upon this crown.

"It's getting worse!" Mora held onto Luna in a hug as she forced her magic into her song. It echoed within the halls of our ears and I felt my muscles bow, and give out as she sang her melody.

Ch. 14: Absense (v.1)

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I awoke within another memory. My first visit to Canterlot. My father stood beside me as we walked within the white castle's grand hall. I remember this moment being potent, even pivotal to who I was then. This was the moment where my father gave one of his greatest speeches. Yet... as I gazed up to him he was silent. Another corrupted memory. As his lips moved I gave up lip-reading. The memory was off pace with his words, as if someone was pushing me along. There I heard a voice, it was of King Din, Celestia's father. He was singing a song that I never fully heard... until then.

Someone had altered my memory, for this? A simple ballad of the late king...

Originally my father and I had arrived in time for the King's last stanza. I remember my father giving a hearty chuckle as he complimented King Din on his singing. The two exchanged a hug and my father and I were seated to the right of him. I grinned. I was sitting beside none other than Prince Umbra. That's how he knew my face, and princehood. My father's speech resumed, piercing the muffle sounds around me. I shook to his rough voice.

"There's a lot you can gleam within the charity sitting here today son. Just remember to keep you attention to their brows. Conviction is a good sign of passion, but a stiff brow is merely a jest of admiration. People are will to say anything to make their thoughts your own, sometimes that is required. Your memories and powers are always tools to mold within the company of strangers, do you know what you must do then my son?"

My voice cracked. "Become F-riends with them?"

He gave a soft smile as he humored my answer. "Friendship is a nice start, but sometimes it is better not to befriend everyone you meet. It's better to understand their needs to your own. Take for instance the Crystal King's emissary, he's the King's brother. The Crystal Empire is looking for a trading partner of their magic crystals, and healing salves. Do we have any business with them?"

"Healing salves would help our wounded... but we haven't had a major plague or war in years, and not all goats can use magic... I guess we don't." I thought a loud.

My father grinned. "Exactly, In that respect we have no business with the Crystal ponies. However Emperor Onyx has sent King Baritone here for a reason... can you guess why?"

"He's here to keep good standings with the commune." I said eagerly. My father's lesson was coming to a close.

"Exactly my son, He is here to represent his empire, and listen to what other countries and delegates are inquiring about. This knowledge is vital for a healthy relationship." My heart sank as I remembered how the future played out for the Empire. Lord Baritone had remained silent to his brother, most importantly he hadn't told the commune about the Windigo attacks. It had left their utopian north a bitter wasteland, and with only a fraction of survivors reported... the counsel was left broken after such a loss. With no warning of the Windigos they swept much of Equestria into a blizzard. This severed the tribe's trust within one another, until King Din rallied the tribes back together,but the birth of his twins solidified Equestria's union. Zebrican legend revered the two as a signs of The Sacred Tree's awakening. This legend alone bound the pony tribes to the King's trust. How I had wish I knew all of this then, Though I still believe my actions have prolonged our era of peace. I digress... where were we again?

Ahh yes... Mora's lullaby, just five hours until the commune would join.

I could still hear the most alluring call. Voices only the nearly dying or purest soul should be blessed to hear, or so I thought then. My pacing was staggered as I found the will to follow wherever these voices desired. Everyone else laid in their slumber as I hobbled ungracefully through the castle. My gait was regaining it's regality as I left the castle's door, atleast I was allowed some dignity to remain. The voices leaded me into the thorny gnarls just outside of town. Some distance into the forest their verses became audible, and for the first time in my life I wished I wasn't magically attuned.

"Not too proud to shed a tear, but to scared to share his fears..." a deep voice rang.

"How has your father guided you?" A softer voice whispered.

"Have you lost what you once knew?" A honeyed voice chimed.

"Your creed instills you should not feel..." The deep voice hissed

"Yet emotions are what bind you here." The soft voice sang.

"Enough!" I barked. In unison they giggled around me. "I'm needed at the castle, so if you're done lamenting about my past." I spat.

They only giggled more.

"Such... rage in one so calm." An orange pony flashed in front of me behind green smoke. "Where's that balance I-"

"It doesn't rest with you. I may pride myself on balance, but I'm no fool to wickedary. Keep whatever filth you call magic to yourselves." I protested. As I turned back the forest turned dark. I gave a small gulp. I may had contested the wrong evil force. A sharp pain crept up my leg, and as I looked at my pained leg vigorous thorns was spiralled around my leg. My... My blood had not even quenched the root's thirst as it bound to my leg tighter. A cry shot out of me.

"Shall. I. Take your peep as I sign of submission, or merely an instinct. Of. Your. Misery?" A deep throated voice asked in faked wonder.

"I-" I cried, I wasn't given a chance to speak, as the root lifted me. Drops of blood dripped past my eyes.

"A. Fragile. Husk, such as you does not hold the. Power. Of. Intimidation." It cackled within my core. "Such. Pride. Indeed... It does not know to whom it offends, to Whom. It. Commands!" The voice shook within me. "I will spare your thread of life, for the life water you have shed for me. Not out of mercy... but of pity." The root unwound from my leg leaving me to fall to the grass below.When I awoke three pony-like forms grinned around me.

"I... I have nothing f-urther to speak to you." I fumbled out in my daze.

"You will not write your treaty... it is not meant for your scribe." the orange one attested.

I sighed as I tried to collect whatever bearings and wisps of dignity I had left.

"It's not because your writing is bad, it is because you won't want to sign it." The blue one added quickly, much to the disdain if the purple one.

"Ladies, as much as you enjoy telling me who I am, I think I'm better off being the judge of that." I assured them calmly as I limped away.

The orange one drifted in front of me, sliding her hoof up my chin. She harped "Your heart is cold yet it beats ever on... How have you endured on?"

I seethed my anger out with a long rolling sigh. The blue one hooked her arm around my neck.

"She meant no harm, but it is hard to see you limping on..." She coyly sang.

"I... The three of you, please. Just let me get back to the castle." I sighed. One by one they drifted away into the forest.

The castle bell rung the Evening feast. I stumbled out of the brush and over the fence back into civilization. The pain in my leg was weak in comparison for my eagerness to eat. Never had I felt such a craving, such hunger. The crowds parted as I made my way through the commons, the stationed guard's eyes grew as they shouted words I cared little to hear. Scents of foods assaulted my senses as I was almost in full gallop to the mess hall. The griffons turned immediately to me, Finchelstein stumbled in horror to the floor. Mora lifted a hoof to her lips, and heart as she gasped.

"What is all this... blood?" Luna hesitantly asked.

"Blessed Sun! Norm!" Celestia cried.

Even with the silence of the crowd, and the screams of my best friend I pillaged the feast I piled in front of me. Berries, petals and all manner of confections flung into my jaw, not even the touch of Celestia's hoof snapped me out of my greed, only her whispered words did.

"Your bloodied leg... it... it's a dragon's."

Song: All Are Welcome

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Welcome, welcome all around,
We're just around the bend,
All are welcome, welcome,
We're across the sea,
Waiting to be friends.

All are welcome to my land,
I Welcome, welcome every heart,
To hear my word,
To witness my song,

We have food you never heard of like cherries, oranges, pears, and pies,
Flowers to adorn you with from vivid, vibrant, bloomed and shy.

Let our hearts welcome you in,
If you're setting sail from home,
Please do not let the name deter you,
If you're feeling bold.

Equestria is for all kind,
From feathered, finned and clawed.
We hold dear the teachings of The Tree,
Let us show you all.

Our honesty and loyalty, will glisten in the night.
As you make your way across the sea.
And when you arrive,
You will find kindness in kind,
With our generous minds.

From our singing do we spread or joy,
That all may feel our laughter,
And from our heart to yours,
You'll see our magic in store.

Friendship is what I decree,
What I prescribe,
What I shall trade.

If you so desire change,
I smile to thee,
And I say.

Welcome, welcome to my land,
We're just around the bend,
Across the sea,
Waiting to be your friends!

Ch. 15: Writings of Red Ink (v.1)

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my arms were roped tightly around me as I cried pitifully. No being should eat that much food. Celestia, Luna and Mora were levitating me to the hospice. I didn't argue, something was violating my very essence. What could change my leg into another species?

"There's no doubt about this." Mora protested. "This is dark magics..."

"I'm afraid Somber has done something to prince Norm."Luna protested.

"Somber?!" Mora's eyes shined momentarily. "Are you sure, positive that he did this?" her voice waivered, the first time I had heard her honeyed cords dull in seriousness.

I shook my head, as did Luna.

"I witnessed a rather despairing dream last night... one any normal pony would call a nightmare." Luna admitted. "There's is no doubt that he is among us. I would not doubt his intentions pure of malice."

"Then we shall find him!" Celestia boomed. "If only to figure his intentions." she reasoned.

I gingerly drifted down to one of the beds. Luna give a firm tug to the supply room's door. "What do you need Mora?"

"For this type of affliction... Pegasus feathers, Aether root, Lover's Lily... and one of my crystals." Mora lamented.

"Aether... root?" I weakly moaned.

"It's a special plant that grows in the mountains, where the clouds cover... The griffon's gift is Aether root." Celestia said. She called for some nurses to me as she left in a half gallop. The nurses tightened a tourniquet around my leg, until now I hadn't felt the pain of my thorn-punctured leg.
The very nature of my wounds baffled the mares. Soon all of the nurses were throwing back and forth ideas for how to clean scales, how to cast my leg, and what solution of salve would be most likely to seep into reptilian skin. Then the room grew silent. A slow clop echoed on the stone.

"Pardon me... pardon, pardon ol' me." mumbled through the crowd. The nurses broke away in a line for the pony to shuffled through. I winced, trying to make out a face within the pony's curled facial hairs. He reminded me more of a saint bernard than any pony,in fact the only reason I could tell that he was a pony was his ears sticking out from his eerily pointed hat. "Crystal Empress... would you please lend me your dark purple crystal?"

"O... of course." she stammered. Who was he to make the most tranquil pony I had known shake? The air felt so familiar around him, it felt of home. It felt... like father. His voice was cordial yet rang with authority. This was a pony?

"I haven't seen a goat since colthood. Judging by your horn... you're someone important. I'm pleased to meet you."

"Norm... Normalcy De Parnce."I fumbled.

"Interesting ekename." He mused. "I am going to be your healer today, you may call me Star Swirl." The hairless valley on his muzzle curled, but with my, and the rest of the rooms stillness he let out a lax bellowing chuckle to break through the tension. Cupping the dark purple stone from Mora's unweaved braid, he laid it on my leg.

My eyelids pressed firmly together as the crystal gave a hissing crack. "Norm." He whispered haphazardly. "You are the victim of a curse. A very powerful one." He leaned in closer "This curse aims to change your nature, and in the process... reinvent you."

He shot back up as he exclaimed "But there is no need for worry, this curse is self contained."

Luna pressed through the nurses next to Mora. "Are you sure of this?"

"Has there been other symptoms?" Star Swirl inquired.

"Night terrors." I spat. "My-my memories are getting distorted." I bit my lip, as I bottled in my pain. Luna levitated the crystal off of my leg.

"Why is crystal hurting him?!" She pressed.

"The crystal embodies the opposing force." Mora stated. Star Swirl gave a content nod. "He acted with greed, so the curse reflected this. This crystal holds the energy of Generosity. I do not know whom you angered Normalcy, but they've taken an interest in your emotions." He extended his hoof to Luna "The effects can be hindered though." Luna slowly placed the jewel onto me.

His magic flared wildly. Streams of purple ribbon bound to my leg vicing to the scales like tacky sap. With a quick flash the gem disappeared, and so did my dragon hide.

more steps headed our way as the nurses went back to their other patients. Celestia had arrived with a wispy thin leafed plant floating in a glass bottle. "Do we. still need... the aether root?" Celestia panted.

Star Swirl turned curiously around to her. "Aether root? Why in shining stars would we need that?" As his eye met hers he chuckled softly. "No princess, He should be fine now."

Celestia floated her wild hairs back into her mane. "oh." She sighed, panting softer. "Thank you Star Swirl, I did not know you would be back from your expedition." The two of them shared a smile. "Care to explain everything over lunch?"

"I would be honored dear princess." Star Swirl mused. Mora joined them as well.

I awoke to see Luna reading beside me.The room was faintly lit with candles and Luna's magic atop her horn. "What time is it Luna?" I sighed.

She smiled eagerly at me. "Do not worry over the time. Are you feeling better?"

"I will once we sign that treaty." I mumbled.

"'re rather eager to leave." She sighed.

"My country is without a leader... and the closest thing to an advisor are relatives that can not use magic."

"Is magic so important to rule?" Luna asked.

"It is how it been done for ages, even before Parnce was name so. My uncle, father, and their father before them. My other relatives... they come from my mother's side." I explained.

"What is wrong with your mother's side?"

"She wasn't native to Parnce... or even pre-Parnce. My uncle brought her back with him during the chaos wars. Father didn't trust her at first,but-"

"Norm..." She softly hushed me. "I'm asking why you don't like her."

I pressed my head deep into my pillow. I wanted to pretend to be awake, to mask the ire I harbored for my own mother. Luna out of all the ponies I had met, why did I confide solely to you?

"She doesn't believe in the sacred tree. She thinks every being is born with good and bad in them, and only they can make themselves purely good." I felt my skin hotten as I held back my tears. "She doesn't believe you, or me or even Celestia can achieve such purity though... Because we are all flawed, we will always give in to our darkest needs because our darkness needs stem from just that. What we need. I needed answers, and I was too greedy with my power it seems. I treasured everything my father whispered, only see his memories fade away." Luna's eyelids were on the brink of overflowing her sympathies. She clung to me tightly humming a calming melody.

"Night will be kind to thee, rock like the endless sea. Dream off into the fields, flowing with golden reeds. Sun shining peacefully, as stars fade out blissfully. Welcome the new day here~ With. Me."

My mind rocked comfortably back into serenity. "My mother always sang that to my sister and I." Luna said.

This moment of peace wouldn't last of course. Mora would peek in and tell us they were gathering in another hour. Luna and I went about our business. The following hour was nothing but the most grueling hour of my princedom.

Ch 16: Epiphany (v.3)

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Each of us had our own desires. Each of us wanted our words bold, underlined and affixed in memory. We would not leave until we were heard, we would scream until we were heard. I felt something grow within me as we fought, churning like a festering scar. A resolute notion, a ringing truth that no lie could veil from my eyes. There is no harmony here, at home, or within nature. She is as mal tempered as the souls in front of me today. She is as spiteful as the lies we wrote down. There is only silence when she allows, and storms when she desires. Nature herself is disorderly, she has no favors to hold, nor favorites she protects. She does not ward away evils, nor does she promote her defenders.

They are as timeless as her mercy. Pegasi claimed mastery of her weather, Earth-ponies thought their strength could tame her... Unicorns believed all would bow to their arcane puppetry. Even worse, Crystal-ponies could only pretend to manipulate her will, but my secluded kind thought nothing of her physical form, we sought only to harness the astral. We each held our sights of conquest to an entity that would age on without us. We are merely here for the adventure, along for the ride. Burred-paw's words were thick with a passion I could have mistakened as my own. Not a single jib from my father's reserved wisdom could rebut, nor anyone else in the hall. The room was still, frighteningly so. Not a whisper pierced through my ears. My heart beat was erratic, and quaked like a waking volcano. What was this feeling?

Was it anger? Was it suspicion? These words that Griffon belted had stringed tightly to the other ailments I was blighted with. My heightened senses, my growing pride, my inability to sleep. I had, for moment agreed to his words, and it had left my whole psyche shaken. He did not believe harmony was the absolute of justice. The Sacred Tree to him was merely an entity that corrected what it deemed impure. I refused to make eye contact with him, even though I knew my efforts were fruitless. He knew I agreed.

I couldn't stop smiling. As each of the delegates posed their questions and Burred-paw laid them down effortlessly. His kind relished in the spotlight, and rallied to the unquestionable.

"If The Sacred tree is just a free roaming entity, then how does she connect to me?" Mora canted.

"The Tree is connected to us all Mora... Your craft is merely an illusion of progeny. All of us could wield the crystals you covet, and all of us could be empowered by them." He stated.

"Yet through the ages and scripts only ponykind has harnessed her knowledge, and has heard her wisdom." Luna added.

"With respect Ser-" Burred paw cleared his throat. "Luna, that simply isn't so. We are all guided by it. Today it told me to go outside and enjoy the spring blossoms. How? By gifting us with a warm day, the melody of songbirds and the aroma of pollen. I did not need to hear it tell me to, The tree sent its invitation without words... Maybe it has been forced to speak, because you haven't been willing to listen otherwise? My writ will not be added to this treaty, if the ponies at this commune are unable to accept these truths... so now I wonder about house Girgentana."

My heart slowed to that name. I glimpsed back to the griffon. His features were weathered by time. The small ropes of braided hair began to recede as I envisioned him younger, young enough to know that name. In truth I shouldn't have known it either, it was only through my meditative training with my father did I hear the name whisper from his guarded mind. Yet another sign of the ignorance that was unwilling to see him as anything but flawed. I could see him now, Burred-paw. He looked eager, ambitious, traits that would never leave him... but more importantly, his face was recognizable. My father had seen him before, had talked to him, had... had traded herbs for magic crystals.

The crystals late king Baritone was selling at my first commune.

"Aether root, Lover's Lily, and griffin feathers." I whispered. "Who could they possibly aid..."

Burred-paw narrowed his eyes, slowly sitting back to his chair. Within a room of attention seekers, I knew he would hear me.

"Prince de Parnce?" Mora asked. I turned to her and slyly slid my hoof over hers. She flashed pale briefly and with the added grip of my hoof held her secret knowledge.

"Your thoughts Prince?" I heard Finchelstein apprehensively peep. The fury of Burred-paw's coercing gaze had helped the modern griffon from simply spectating.

"I think we have heard enough from the griffons to know that our views are different. Yet I'm not worried over such conflicting views. My father once told me that it is unwise to befriend everyone you meet. I stand by his lesson... You do not have to believe the Sacred Tree is sacred, or that she is the entity of justice and balance. Those are our beliefs... you merely have to believe in what she represents to us. She is the elements of harmony, do you know what harmony requires?"

"of course-" chirped Finchelstein. His voice waned as my eyes were locked on Burred-paws.

"What are the elements of harmony?" I repeated.

Burred-paw gazed to the princesses unamused. "Is this a serious request, King Din would sing of the elements in every commune. I am insulted by the very thought, the very notion that I am being accused of!"

Celestia furrowed her brows. "Why are you insulted... Norm is only solidifying your seat here. He is not asking you to name each element, just that you know what the elements are Burred-Paw. If you do, than you know what is required to be apart of this commune. You must be loyal to your citizens, as well as the members of this table."

"Honesty and generosity should also factor in there-" Finchelstein tweeted as Burred-Paw silence him with a glance.

"Yes, yes..." cawed Burred-Paw " Kindness, laughter and magic. We all know harmony's elements here."

"Then what keeps your writ from our treaty Burred-Paw?" Luna inquired.

"That was Prince de Parnce's base request... I require that you all agree that that tree is nothing but a lone entity. That tree does nothing as my kind,"- his eyes flashed to Mora. " your kind suffer. There is darkness in Equestria, and its smoke is billowing over the mountains... my people's mountains. Do you all not sense it? Or do you need this too be spelled out for you?! "

"I have felt more than just sensing it." Luna cried. "I have seen it, felt it... It's growing within our dreams. It's attacking us." her hoof pointed quickly to me. "Whatever this darkness is, it fears our union."

"Yes." Mora agreed. "Such an alliance is unheard of. Griffon, Goat and all the pony realms. This treaty also unifies my kingdom as part of Equestria's."

"No." Burred-Paw crowed. "My mountains rest between your land... Griffons may live within the same space, but we will never be Equestrians."

"You live in Equestria... you are Equestrian." Mora stated.

"I am not Equestrian!" He roared. "I am Lion and Eagle, I am Griffon!"

I sighed slowly.

"What goat prince?" He growled.

"Bur-" Finchelstein tried to scold the chieftain, but another furious glare silenced him.

"Your race will still remain. Your culture with still be yours. We are not asking you to change, or become something new."I ranted. Lifting from my chair. "I am sure I speak for everyone here at this commune that we require nothing more than your pardons. We are not asking you to refute your beliefs, and yet you claim that we should abolish ours? We do not wish to steal your home and heritage yet you claim what we have loved and cherished is but old sentiments... Parnce may be an ocean away, yet even I know... You did not come here to write, or to reason. Chieftain Burred-Paw came here to curse me." I stated.

"Of all the baseless accusations!" He cawed.

Celestia and Luna rose from their seats.

"The day my mother was ill you were there! The day of my father's passing... You were there! Guess what my pillows have in them Burred-Paw?"

"Somepony please control this kid's rambling before I deem all of Equestria off limits to my citizens." The chieftain roared.

"Again... it has happened again." Mora mournfully sighed.

"Griffon feathers! Aether root is native to your land...You took the crystals from my father."I badgered.

"I did no such thing!" he roared in protest.

I was close. Yet I didn't consider the lengths some would go to keep secrets hidden, or the promises others would die to keep, even in death. There was a secret hidden within the counsel, but it had nothing to do with me, at least not today.

"Hush, Everyone!" Mora commanded. Everyone turned their attention to her, then slowly to me. My fore-hooves shook as they twisted and gnarled. Digits protruded out of them slowly, my fur lighted on the right, and it fell out in clumps on my left fore-hoof.

"I-I'm changing..." A knot of anxiety festered within my throat. No matter how much I tried to gulp or move the muscle it only tightened more. In bated breath I moaned "again?" I fainted.

Ch. 17: Imponderable (v.1)

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I held little sympathy for whatever distress Finchelstein harbored under the chieftain's piercing gaze. I had more urgent matters prying at me. Like how I felt such spiteful revenge in the first place. An inching notion twisted within the recesses of my brain, like starved fangs piercing into raw flesh. That tainted thought was coaxing the rest of me that such feelings were natural, even acceptable. But I was not tempted, even as I drifted into the aphotic abyss of the dreamless... and nothing bothered me more than to drift alone in the silence. A small quip echoed with the last remnants of my father's morals. 'Do not be afraid to question all around you, but take care with what company you ask, and solace with what you learn.' My eyelids felt swollen as I faded in and out of sleep. Comforting sounds of voices followed me; from the present and the past.

"You trust the the hircine?"

"It would be wise of you not to doubt his knowledge."

"How can I judge someone without the hairs of age in their beard, and the lack of emotion in their heart."

"Do you doubt the Royal sisters as well?"

"I do not doubt the wisdom of King Din. He was an honorable ally... nor do I doubt the keenness of his queen. I have seen their prowess, I have not witnessed his."

"Do you trust in me?"

"As a scholar?"

"As a friend."

"I do, You will vouch for him?"

"As will you when the time comes. He is vital to our alliance. You will witness his prowess... he is keen to rule, and eager to believe."

I wanted to assume that it was about me, but the pitch of the voices clarified that it was not only about me, but possibly my father. I knew then that it was Burred-paw and Star Swirl speaking. I sighed deeply as I felt my mutated forearms had been tightly bound. The feeling in my arms was almost nonexistent, the weight was still there but any tangible movement wasn't felt. The quick shuffle in the room removed my second-guessing.

"Prince?" Star Swirl warmly called out.

"Yes?" I bleated.

My head was lifted as the sounds of unraveling cloth and the blinding flash of light from Star Swirl's horn came into view.

"How is your sight?" He asked.

I looked around me. Plants of various sizes were resting in decorative pots. Herbs hung upside down by the open window giving the room a pleasant herbal breeze. I rose myself up slowly to look beside me. A slow-burning baelfire was being nursed by a baby phoenix in the fireplace. I stretched a forehoof, as it lifted I smiled slowly. My cot was a mixture of pampas grass and weaved cotton, just like the healing beds in Parnce.

"We're in the apothecary...?"I stated.

"The commune has ended, and the night watch has been doubled." Burred-Paw answered.

"What happened to me?" I waivered. The two raise their eyebrows.

"Your-" Star Swirl gave a booming wheeze over the chieftain.

"You started to change form. Reflecting our dear friend here in appearance. Star Swirl gave a jesting pat to the Griffon. Queen Mora assisted us in applying the ointment, hence the wrappings. You need to keep these wrappings on, they will repel the curse's effects until we can localize the source." Star Swirl assured me. "Now I want verbatim of your voyage to Equestria."

I told them only what I thought they should hear. It was that tainted thought in me, I questioned their motives, their loyalties to my well being. A moment ago the chieftain wouldn't find common ground with me, and Star Swirl professed curing me. So I told them about Umbra, or Somber as Queen Mora called him, losing the prince, having my thoughts read, and the unicorn in the alley way. As they listened they expressed their concerns facially, losing their will to talk with me. I was fine with their silence. I just wanted to hear my father's voice again. What kind of leader could i be without his teachings. I wasn't well enough to stay in Equestria, yet again. They wrapped the linens back over my eyes, bid me to try and dream once more.

I did dream; back to my youth.


King Par slowly closes the door of his son's room. His eyes gaze over to his wife. Her bloodshot eyes cause the king to embrace tightly in a passionate hug.

"He almost didn't make it." King Par waveringly whispered, as his held his own tears back.

"It was Equestria... The magics there are effecting him." She sullenly reasoned. King Par raises his lady's chin. His sadness hidden within his words.

"I was a fool to think my magic was strong enough to protect him. I promise my love, it will not happen again." He promised. "I must make arrangements with King Din. He and I will find a way to keep Norm and the commune safe." As King Din turned resolute. His lady hooked a forehoof to her lord's, stopping him.

"Pareil... How long will this voyage be?" she asked worriedly.

"As long as it must Lady Girgentana." He calmly replied.

Ch.18: Din, Dark and Dreary (v.1)

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A fierce caw stirred me from my lingering memory. It was from the phoenix. Its glowing claws scraped at the pit's embers, trying to reignite bits of charred wood. As I moved in my cot my muscles were eager to stretch as far as they could. Such peasantry pleasure felt divine in that moment. To feel my legs filled with vigor, and my senses renewed. I didn't believe he could, but maybe the wizard had healed me. My mind bitter-sweetly chimed Star Swirl's warning to me, and I gave a lackluster sigh. He had not cured me, he and Mora had only entrapped the curse. My hooves slid the gauze strips from my eyes, and I fell further into an uneasy gloom. Thick cloth bands with woven crystals and ancient symbols had been sown snugly to each of my legs. Under each band were damp wrappings that smelled of a hot summer's rain, with a hint of earth. No doubt the ointment. I laid my head back down. With a quick breath in, and a slow exhale I forced myself to focus. Where were the facts, the purpose... the reasons for the past few days? Typically I started a bit too far back.

I was a Goat, a rare breed of goat from a land once part of The Ashlands. Father always cautioned that the sea was calmer than the soil growing up. The ponies, more specifically; Lord Baritone, King Din and their father, Emperor Carillon fought against the evil that had cursed The Ashlands, and allied the inland goat nomads to colonize Parnce. When the ponies left the nomads fought over who deserved the throne. This fighting lasted until the ponies came back, and chose who should be the king as well as providing my grandfather with a modified version of their Tenets of Harmony.

King Baritone stayed in Parnce to assist my grandfather. In this time my Uncle had defected from the tenets and practiced dark magic. I say practiced but there are tomes that pre-date the first dragon war that claim the nomadic tribes used "dark magic". That's about 100 years before a Pony set hoof onto The Ashlands. My father had witnessed this dark magic in use, and pleaded with him to follow the new tenets. But my uncle was anything if not stubborn. There wasn't a time I could recall when my father spoke of my Uncle without malice or forewarning. With little choice my grandfather was forced to choose my father as king, and subsequently banish my Uncle.

The darkest time for Parnce in both literal and figurative aspects would soon follow. Uncle had called upon the remaining dragons for aid, asking for them to sleep in the nearby caverns. Their soot-ridden breath left the inland inhabitable and forced Parnce to migrate closer to the ocean. Unknowingly My uncle had helped my parents find each other. Mother was part of another nomadic goat tribe. Her name was Girgentana, and she and my father battled my uncle various times for the right of the throne. It was in the last battle when King Baritone revealed that he had aided my Uncle and crafted him a special bell made of crystal. My uncle had devised a way to use the bell without King Baritone's voice and promised to imprison any doubter's into another dimension. Of course my father stopped him, and my mother was beside him.

However just because he was defeated, didn't mean he was any less dangerous. To be out-shined by his younger brother left a lingering magic. My uncle's last words,was a curse filled with all the bitterness and jealousy he had harbored since his youth. He wished with all the magic he had that my father's features reflect any inharmonious desire. A faint breeze brushed past me as I forced myself to remember. The facts where becoming hazy, as if covered in a mountain's fog. Have you ever tried to remember a moment you knew was important, yet you couldn't remember exactly why? My heart was set on the severity yet my mind seemed less concerned. I didn't know if it was from the curse, the ointment, or just my own stubbornness.

He cast the curse straight at my father... but the spell missed. I remember being told that the curse ricocheted off his crystal bell, and my mother was cursed instead. In mourning my uncle renounced his dark magic, and offered his services to making my mother's remaining hours as comfortable as possible. I do not know if was because of me, or because my uncle also loved my mother. The murkiness in these details bothered more-so than ever before.

Though that at doesn't help you how I ended up here. My mother closed herself off from Parnce, and this left her tribe worried, and her new subjects isolated. My father assured them it was merely an act of motherly protection, but even after my birth she was resistant to go outside, or socialize with anyone. One night, concerned and a little bitter he asked her why she had become so shy. She told him she had been honing her magic through meditation. This magic wasn't "dark" in nature, it merely enhanced her memories. She explained that this magic was passed down from elder to elder. This served in two sacred ideals to her tribe; to honor their ancestors, and to continue to learn from them.

Relieved that she wasn't deathly-ill my father asked her to teach him this magic. Girgentana unaware of my father's sincerity chuckled at the notion. Her tribe had special curved horns that helped tune into this magic, while my father had a single horn. Yet this didn't deter her from honoring his wishes, and she tried to teach him the best that she could. In the end she was unable to share her memories to him, and they both where convinced that it was impossible for my father's tribe to use such magic... until I was born.

The first lie my father told was that I was a single-horn, or ali-horned goat just like my father, and all his fathers before him. I had two horns. In my youth I'm sure it was hard to discern my father's type when my mother's light blue horn twisted like bittersweet around the other budding horn. It became more obvious in my kidhood when my magic seemed heightened in comparison to my father's.

I remember I spent hours wandering through my mother's memories. Watching her first word, first spell, first dream, even the moment when she met my father. But she was very protective over the memories with my uncle. She reasoned that the curse had lingered on his memories as well, and remembering him made her ill. She was always amused when we would talk of arcane or spiritual things. I took a capricious stance on either accounts. I just couldn't fathom the arcane like she could, and I had similar trouble when father spoke of the spirit. She lamented on how ' I had all the skill of a painter, yet no bearings on how to make the paint'.

Time with her seemed ever fleeting, there just wasn't enough hours of sunlight to be with her. In the coming hours if my crowning I pleaded with her to see the sacred tree, believing that it could somehow mystically cure her. How could anyone as pure as she fall to such a selfish curse? She tried to calm me as best she could, saying that I always had her memories. Some days after her passing my father had signs of the curse. I noticed that he was becoming secretive with me, and once I witnessed him trading strange ingredients with griffons and shimmering ponies. Now I knew it was to make these ointment bands... for me. The revelation pierced slowly into me. There was no controlling the stream of tears.

I had killed my parents.

Ch. 19: Reflection (V. 1)

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How is one to move on after such a plaguing revelation? I didn't move alone. The honeyed chanting of those sirens coaxed my body forward. Past the castle, the city gates, and past my better judgement for another sad story the world had too few violins to serenade. Yet I wasn't mindlessly compelled to follow their lullaby, instead I was hunting them out. Anything to distract myself from the uncertainty of emotions I was not taught to quell. If only father could see how I had strayed. How these hoof-falls poured the very foundation to my truest fears. Yet I didn't know then, then again neither did you...

These Sirens sang until they saw the light glistening from my eyes with such conviction maybe they, for a split second second-guessed their victim.

"Here he comes, the Billy King!" jested the blue siren in poor taste. I huffed a depreciate breathe, then doubled back my gaze to them.

"How do you know me by that title?" I commanded coldly.

"Things have a way of trickling down, and down the grape vine." The orange one slyly answered. "We have a very reliable source when it comes to neigh-sayers, and ill-rumor."

This, I did not doubt from such a despicable creature. The purple one slithered close to me, eyeing my vagabond-like bands as if they glistened with gold.

"He's in the company of a Crystal-pony!" She bellowed. The others followed, wisping over to my hooves like beggars to crumbs.

"How is that so?" The blue one whispered.

"I do not know!" The orange one innocently rhymed, threatening her sisters with a wild snarl to prevent them from giggling at her mishap.

"There's a summit." I huffed. "It's a peace treaty, along with rewriting the Prancian agreement. You three haven't been keeping me up at night have you?"

"He blames us for his woes!" The purple one spat menacingly.

"Typical." The hummed in unison.

"Give a king a crown..." The orange one lamented mournfully.

I pressed a fore hoof firmly to my temple, why I had actively tortured myself with this? I not sure any parental issues where so dire to resort to this magnitude of sadism. Yet here I was, listening to these three squawk like mindless hens. Then I noticed something more disturbing, I was slipping faster. Hate was building within me, but not from the sirens but because of them. Fragmented images flashed through my mind until they formed a vague memory. It was void of color, though my instincts assured me that these sirens before me were a part of my past. I could remember them in my youth... Yes they seemed similar in form minus their aquarian tails. Ponies? Slowly color leaked into the looping memory, gaining validity as the memory focused. As the image fleshed out before me I felt more lost than before. These three, they where once close Umbra. More pieces to solve.

The Sacred Tree had expected much more from me than a treaty. She wanted me to mend emotions. Luna's , maybe Umbra's as well? What of my people? almost a week of my absence, surely my viceroy was able. Yet something in me compelled me back to my home, maybe I was merely homesick. Or perhaps I was feeling the weight of responsibility pressing a bit too keenly to my shoulders. A time would come where I would have to choose what I held more important; My wishes or Parnce's , and I would have to be sure not to blur this line. But... as you know I failed to do just that. With Burred-paw the treaty was a nightmare in itself to pass, never mind the nightmares that followed.


Discord lifted his head weakly to the swan colored princess before him. His eyes were blood-shot and the constant stream of tears kept his vision murky at best. "I just wasn't ready for that much stress, old friend." He admitted mournfully. "I was so selfish back then... If I had been a good guy like you and your protege... Do you think our world would be so-" Her hoof patted at his lion shoulder. In that moment he truly felt Celestia, if not forgiven him, had at least understood his past mistakes. A giant salt-less tear welled up in his right eye. "Thank you Celest'. I don't think I could ever make up for my faults. I-I'm trying though. I think I've found something special with that sweet friend of Twilight's." He continued his mood becoming more and more eager as he proved his efforts.

As the hoof patted his shoulder again Discord felt his worthiness was pointless unless Celestia truly knew his struggle.

"Star Swirl ended up having to banish the Sirens as you remember. It turns out though that they wanted my bands... the cloth bands that held the curse at bay. The same magic that was helping me could've helped the sirens... or so they said. They could fashion a fable out of mere hearsay. But as witness to their power, you'll have to trust me. In their youth they were just like us. Misguided to a fault. Discord sneered as he gave a quick chuckle.

Isn't that always the case? all our faults come from being misguided... from the very idols whom we searched for guidance. Maybe they are as guided as us?"

Ch. 20: Black Ice

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The three of them banded close together as their hooves touched the ground. I could feel the ground beneath me pulse in agony. As my eyes strayed down I watched as the soil began to crack and the patches of grass frizzled into perfect tinder. As one lunged at me menacingly, I dodged and with the heat of my pained hip taking over I fell to the dusty earth. The cuts on my fore-legs throbbed as the sirens looked over me.

"This is who is going to help us? Hmph! I bet he can't even tell the different between the Light of the Sun and the Light of Harmony." The purple one seethed.

"Yeah sis' How is this guy our helper?" The blue one chimed in.

The orange one nickered through her snout as a small plume of smoke exited. "Our king must be from another castle."

"What are you spirits whispering about?" I dryly asked.

"You've been in contact with our father." The blue one nonchalantly blurted. "Big, stern pony?" she added.

The other two jabbed their hoof into either side of her ribs scoldingly. "What?" she huffed, obviously tired of their passive-aggressive stance.

"Yes." I answered.

All their eyes glowed with a moment of long awaited joy, all but the orange one. She was looking for something a bit more tangible than my word, or her sight.

The earth began to shake around me as the trees moaned, and rocked to my answer. No doubt the ringleader to the circus in front of me. I chuckled under my breath, clasping my hoof before the alien humor escaped me. Pony sarcasm? This would've been a more troubling malady if the rumbling hadn't coaxed the ill-thoughts from me with ease.

" If he cared for you would he not be looking for you? By manners alone, it is no wonder he left such a pitiful disguise of royalty to linger."

The Sirens gasped, hurt at this new-found venom. Then, slowly... they subtly smirked. Each paraded a menagerie of fuax pained faces as my rage continued.

"Where do you three even have the nerve to question my right to the throne... you do not even have a kingdom of your own! Unless this rumbling dust is your dominion... "

"Our home is bitter, much like the malice you speak." They began to sing. "Our home... Our home,"

They chanted, gospelling their calamity. And as they twirled around me, my fervor rose, and my tactility eluded me. The three had cast a whirlwind at my hooves clasping onto me as they wailed and chanted. After their trite lament I could feel their magic had faded from me. Now, not even a peak of interest to their caws tempted me to stay. I had overcome them. Finally I was free of them... or so I thought then.

As their voices and bodies faded I felt the last wisps of bitter air release me. When my body grounded and my senses recovered I felt something malign focus my attention. It sweetly tugged at my center, the festering darkness. Odorless plumes of purple smoke erupted from the cracked earth, thirsty for miles below me, much like the barrens of The Ashlands. There was an unnerving heat billowing from below me. A red light so bright I shielded my eyes... Then, he was there.

The shadow of my father. Red eyes that twisted his tender demeanor into a piercing spear full of judgement. His eyes effortlessly cut through mine, I could feel his disgust in me.

What I had done.

What I was becoming.

My mind was silenced... his wrath was just, he was my father. His word was just. He had no equal, he was Nonpareil. Who was I to question his word... Normalcy, a state of equilibrium. His eyes narrowed as I felt his... his... I couldn't place the word, but I knew I felt so small within his menacing eyes, so fractured within his presence. This wasn't the father I idolized, not even his wrinkled scowl could warp my validity in my youth. But now in his gaze, I couldn't distinguish if the curse was an ailment, or an abnormality.

The murkiness of my past... of that first day in Equestria. I had lost all pretense of places and things. All that remained was my feelings. There was such warmth in that memory it could only have been kindness and love. What else could calm me so sweetly as those emotions? Not the delicate rainfall of sadness, nor the rocking ebbs of serenity. It had to be love... it had to be Celestia's kindness. Yet the more I reasoned the hotter my limp hip became. Warmth. It was where my father stuck me years ago. I remember that I had hurt him, yet I did not know how. I only asked him if I would remember mother like I remembered him... In hindsight I can see why this could... could upset him.

I didn't know my mother's magic. Back then, I didn't know what magic was. I was told that magic was a tool that cruel creatures used. Yet knowing this conflicted with what I knew of my parents. They were always rather forthcoming with their magical use, even training me without issue. Maybe they did that to shield me from the unknown as a kid. The oppressive look on my father's phantom disagreed, and the searing pain from my hip helped to cement his wisdom. Everything about my past felt wrong, his gazed assured me it was. I could hear its whispers creeping into me. It ringed within my temples with words as true as ever.

"Till the soil of its-weeds. Sow the-seeds." It said to me.

I Remembered. My grandfather would always use that phase. It was his motto for everything. Unruliness in the commonwealth? Till the weeds. Not enough food to feed the people? Sow the seeds. Dragons are attacking at noon? Till the weeds, then you shall sow the seeds. Come to think if it the phrase was rather versatile. With so many meanings to his phrase no wonder King Din preferred my father as ruler. The glaring teeth of the phantom shook me from my thoughts. I was onto something. I was remembering things long past my creation, and by the growing smirk I could tell this is what it sought.

How he had judged others with either capricious malice, or wistful empathy, now it defined him. Criterion, my father's father. He had passed long before my birth. Father never spoke of him, mother only hinted at his existance. From what I remembered my grandfather never respected my father, but he trusted him enough to give him his crown. What my uncle had done surely couldn't have costed him his birthright, his very family.

He had hurt mother, that was true. He had threaten to take his kingdom back by force, that was also true. Yet when mother was hurt, he dropped his sword, he surrendered... didn't he? The ever glooming eyes of the phantom knew as well as I.

This was not true.

The narrowing of its deathly gaze shook my thoughts off of the distant, and to its origin. The unicorn from the alley. He had whispered the same phrase, and I had thought nothing of it.

Song: Our Domain

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[Sirens together]
You ask us where we are from,
Yet you know quite well

Our kingdom is under snow
sun scorned, desolate and dreary~
Yet the fire in you eye
shows you're not weary~
So, sure we will explain~
to you prince
our domain~

We are the frog within your throat,
the budding rhythm in a joke
a serenade for the snow
even in its bitter glow

We are the ire of his desire
The lament of his repent
The sullen. sheepish. secret.
[Sirens together]
Everyone keeps.

But to you prince
We're just a lock to your key.
You've got whispers all round you.
We've heard the rumors all about you.
Yet, your training keeps you all the~ naive.

You've got friends in low and high places
Yet you still can't place their faces, yes
We know you can see- yet it's all just a big blur~

We are the frog within your throat
The budding rhythm in a joke
A serenade for the eternal snow,
even in its bitter glow

Even though he will not show
We are the ire of his desire
the lament of his repent
the sullen. sheepish. secret.
[Sirens together]
everyone keeps.