Life was normal- or as normal as it gets in Ponyville- for Tempest. Until on a fateful day, she is commanded to the city of Canterlot, where she is told of an existential threat that becomes a harbinger of ultimate destiny.
Life was normal- or as normal as it gets in Ponyville- for Tempest. Until on a fateful day, she is commanded to the city of Canterlot, where she is told of an existential threat that becomes a harbinger of ultimate destiny.
Despite there being references, no prior reading is required.
The sun was high in the sky, creating a shimmer on the uneasy cyan sea.
Below the surface, there was open water, with nothing in sight in the murky blue. But below, in the abyss that appeared bottomless, a high pitched sound rose in crescendo before ending in a deep bassy pulse.
At the shore, the tides rolled across the sand before reaching a certain point and receding back. But the water began to crawl forward, enveloping the land without end.
"Come on! I know you have a few more in you! You're stronger than that!"
Rainbow Dash's eyes were squeezed shut with a face of strain, sweat trailing down her forehead as her forelegs quivered.
The cyan pegasus shakily extended her forelegs up sitting in a planked position, taking in a few rapid breaths.
Rainbow's brows furrowed in determination. She eased down, and attempted to push up, her teeth grit as she hissed. Inch by inch she rose until at the last stretch, she growled, fully extending her forelegs. She abruptly collapsed, breathing heavily.
Rainbow felt a shadow cover her head, prompting her to look up. A maroon hornless unicorn with a black poncho and purple scarf stood above her with a subtle smile, and a hoof extended down for her to grasp. Rainbow took it. "You know, you don't yell like Spitfire but you're way more commanding."
"I knew you had it in you," Tempest answered.
"So," Rainbow said, hovering above the ground, flying, "now that I've finally reached my goal, are we done?"
"I don't know. Working out outside the academy is sort of tough. But I do enjoy hangin' out."
Her eyes met Rainbow's as she gave a calm smile. "It's up to you if you want to continue training."
"I think for now I'm pretty confident in my ability," Rainbow said, tilting her head with a knowing smirk and closed eyes.
"The bigger they are, the harder they fall," Tempest replied.
"Good thing I got these bad boys," Rainbow replied, flying in a loop de loop "Hey, maybe you could teach me some of your cool moves!" Rainbow exclaimed.
"Firstly, I'd take a while. Secondly, there's not much use teaching you any of my techniques when you should be utilizing your flight."
"I guess that's true. What do you think of my technique?" Rainbow said, shadow boxing the air with her hooves for emphasis.
"I haven't really seen you fight. The only thing I've seen from you is your flight and your-" The word escaped Tempest as she attempted to remember the name she heard.
"Sonic Rainboom?" Rainbow asked with a grin and crossed forelegs.
"Heh, yeah. Pretty awesome right?"
She remembered seeing it in the distant grey sky while driving her skiff- a shockwave of rainbow energy dispersing in a circle. She would be lying if she said it wasn't visually impressive. Or 'awesome' she supposed.
Her ears flicked before she turned to look down the dirt path, seeing a purple scaled baby dragon jogging toward her with a worried expression.
He stopped just in front of them, resting his hands on his knees as his chest heaved with wisps of smoke leaving his nostrils. He raised a claw as a gesture for them to wait.
"Twilight needs you at the castle asap," he finally wheezed.
Tempest shared a glance with Rainbow.
"I guess I'll see you around?" Rainbow asked.
Tempest nodded before beginning to trot away.
She began to speculate what it could be about. Whatever it was, Spike seemed to be in a hurry to tell her. Which didn't paint a pleasant picture of possibilities.
After a few minutes on the dirt path she arrived at the Crystal Tree, which also was her temporary home.
She contemplated where else to reside, but nothing came to mind. She figured she could resume her travels as a nomad, walking through the desert once again. But she did enjoy living in Ponyville somewhat. She figured it was mostly due to her relationships with Twilight's friends. But it was mostly quiet with the occasional drama or strange occurrence. Like the few days of being stalked by three fillies. They eventually spoke to her, and except for one of them, they turned out to be sisters of Twilight's friends. In a way, they reminded her and evoked memories of her old friends as a filly.
Memories of the Gala filled her mind, causing her to frown.
Tempest pushed the giant double door open and entered. She sauntered down the spacious crystal halls, now knowing exactly how to navigate the labyrinth.
Tempest pushed the door to the Castle library open, noticing Twilight pacing with her head hung low in rumination.
"Is everything alright?" Tempest inquired while approaching with a raised brow.
"Oh, good, you're here, the princesses have sent a letter requesting our arrival at Canterlot immediately," Twilight said with a brittle smile.
"Both of us?"
"Did they say what for?" Tempest further prodded.
"No," Twilight squeaked, the anxiety leaking into her voice.
"Hopefully it's not too serious," Tempest added.
Tempest sauntered alongside Twilight down the spacious pearlescent silver-gray hall with various stained glass windows on either side, the rays of light stretching across the little water streams and touching the red carpet. Each window displayed notable events in Equestria's history, from Nightmare Moon's return and defeat, to Discord's return and defeat, and there were still plenty of windows to be filled.
At the end of the room were two Alicorns, one sitting on a throne with a circular stained window of a sun behind it, and the other sitting on a throne with a circular stained window of a moon.
Both unfurling their large wings, they left their opulent thrones, dropping to the floor below.
"So what's the problem? Is it serious?" Twilight asked.
"I'm afraid so," Celestia said calmly.
"It appears there is a massive flooding happening across Equestria," Luna informed. "And it is not because of the moon."
"Then what is it?"
Celestia went to open her mouth but the bursting of the throne room doors stopped her.
Flying toward them was a light pearl pink hippogriff with a mulberry mane and magenta eyes and on her head were three large cyan feathers, alluding to her matriarchal status.
She stopped just behind Twilight and Tempest, her eyes displaying a glint of worry as she looked to Celestia and Luna. "It has awakened."
"Are you certain?" Celestia asked.
"I wish I wasn't."
Celestia raised her chin as she furrowed her brows. "Then our worst fears have come to fruition."
"What? What is it!" Twilight begged.
"I'm not sure about you ponies, but we've had a prophecy and story that's lasted for a millennia," the hippogriff said reluctantly.
"It is said," Celestia began, "a sea monster that has been present since primordial creation will awaken, and with it, a massive flood will envelop the land. Again."
"Again? This has happened before?!" Twilight exclaimed.
"Then it has been defeated before," Tempest noted.
"Yes. But with the erosion of time, some details are unknown and blurry. Like how it came to be. And who defeated it. But it is said an object was left behind. An ancient artifact."
"Well, isn't that convenient," an older male voice said.
Levitating in the air was the chimeric serpent known as a draconequus, who was called the Spirit of Chaos or formerly known as Discord.
"There's always a mcguffin isn't there?" Discord said, examining his talons. "So, who's the big bad villain this time?"
"The leviathan has awakened," Luna informed.
Discord's lackadaisical snaggletooth smirk fell as his eyes widened. He put a finger to his single protruding fang. "That explains the shiver I got earlier today," he mumbled.
"What's the artifact called?" Twilight asked.
"From what I recall," Celestia said, "it was called the Pneuma Flute. But it's unknown whether it truly exists, let alone where it resides."
"There has to be another way to defeat it!" Twilight exclaimed.
"Honey, I wish I knew," the hippogriff said.
"My memory is fuzzy," Discord said, stroking his beard." I remember hearing that it may have been created by Grogar himself long ago and that its mouth is a portal to Tartarus, and its essence is of primordial chaos, like me…"
"What if we use Queen Novo's Pearl Of Transformation?" Twilight asked.
"Unfortunately," Novo began, "I split its essence into thousands of pieces, all so my subjects can move between the land and sea with ease."
"We could use the Elements of Harmony but only Starswirl knows the spell to release them," Twilight said, counterpointing her own suggestion.
"Even if we found Starswirl, I'm skeptical that even they have the power to defeat it," Celestia informed.
"I may know where this artifact is," Discord said, gaining everyone's attention.
"Please tell me you're not lying," Twilight pleaded.
"I'm not," Discord reaffirmed. "But it requires all of you except Ms. Shadow, and Novo. And it may take time to acquire."
"Time is something we're lacking," Luna informed.
"It always is, isn't it?" Discord replied.
"Is there any way we could stall it or distract it?" Twilight asked.
"A storm is said to follow it wherever it goes," Celestia informed. "And it is said the second battle will unleash the storm's true potential."
Tempest felt something deep inside her twinkle. It was small and unseen. It called to her. "I'll fight it."
All eyes fell on her.
"How?" Twilight asked.
"I have an idea."
A half a dozen royal guards maneuvered on the sky skiff, placing crates and various supplies on board. The skiff itself was made of ash wood with golden metal highlights and embellishments at the front like roots of a tree, and decorations surrounding the blimp that had a sun insignia on it.
Twilight looked on with a worried frown.
Tempest walked down the ramp, similar to how she did long ago. "Are you certain it's in the east?"
"Discord can detect magical imbalances and he said he felt it in the Celestial Sea," Twilight informed.
"Then I guess this is goodbye."
Twilight's eyes searched through Tempest's.
Seeing her expression, Tempest stepped forward before wrapping a foreleg around her.
Twilight reciprocated the hug. "Just… don't let it be the last, okay?"
Tempest continued the embrace, with Twilight giving a tighter squeeze.
After an unknown amount of time, they separated, with Tempest walking up the ramp and back into the shade of the skiff. The ramp lifted up, receding into the ship at a crawl, before the door finally shut, leaving Twilight standing below with a gentle smile.
Tempest glanced around making sure no one was left on board. She glanced at the large metal hollow splayed cup, satisfied that her request was met.
Above deck, she sauntered to the side of a broadside cannon. She examined its condition, determining it was brand new and had not been used unsurprisingly.
Equestria hadn't seen a war in a long time, and the diarchy did a good job of keeping relative peace. Which allowed them to use resources for parties or celebrations. Which to Tempest before was a waste of time. But she'd come to understand why they existed and their appeal. But there was such a thing as too many parties and bad ones. And Pinkie surprisingly may actually agree with her.
She sauntered up the stairs before standing behind the steering wheel. She pulled a lever, the ship whirring to life, slowly leaving the ground.
Above the edge of Canterlot, she looked to the compass, turning her steering wheel to align properly. Facing the east, she pushed another lever forward, causing the ship to accelerate.
The warmth of the sun bathed her face and chest, as her mane rustled and scarf undulated with the wind as she began toward the sunset.
The silver moonlight shone onto the skiff as it continued along.
Tempest was standing next to the helm, with nothing but the occasional whistle of the breeze and her thoughts.
Despite insisting on going by herself, it was strange flying a ship completely alone. Even in her days of evil, the occasional guard of the Storm King was on the deck and Grubber was by her side often, waiting for orders.
She would say that she missed Grubber, but if she was being honest, she didn't really know him all too well, and at that time didn't care to know him especially considering his antics. He did manage to amuse her on the rare occasion. But sometimes she wondered where he was after they parted ways.
Her mind wandered to her departure with Twilight, who she definitely missed.
Twilight saved her from her deathly fall, and instead of condemning her, forgave her, and offered her a chance of atonement. Beyond that, she became her first true friend, and stood by her side. And she vowed to never forget her deeds. And it was one of the motivators for going on this mission.
But she hoped she could see her again. It led her to ponder where they all were. Maybe in the jungle, caves, a sea temple? Wherever it was, Discord insisted it required all of them. At least she wasn't sent to find the artifact this time but it wasn't exactly a silver line.
Part of her wondered if she could truly face what was ahead of her now. Alone.
Her gaze traveled to the night sky, her eyes resting upon a luminous star.
Instead of a weight, a hidden light within her shimmered and burned in profound reflection.
Her brows furrowed in determination before her gaze fell.
She sauntered down the stairs and across the ship to the bow. Her eyes fell from the golden regalia and bowsprit with a sun insignia on it to the ground below, or lack thereof.
Instead, water was covering everything with various trees peaking above its surface. Her eyes traveled to the open water then to the horizon where she noticed in the distance was an enormous dark cumulonimbus.
Thunder boomed and echoed in the distance, like a forewarning of what was to come…
Stars had begun to fade, as dark clouds filled the space and rain sprinkled. Soon it picked up until it was at steady downpour, with visibility lowering.
Then it became torrential, with the rain making everything a blur.
At the wheel, Tempest pulled back a lever, slowing the ship's speed to a halt. She sauntered back down the stairs, her hoofsteps making small splashes, before she went below the deck into the dark.
An audible dripping filled the air, accompanying the white noise of the rain above as her poncho and scarf were soaking wet, prompting her to take them off. She threw them to the ground next to the steps, leaving her bare and exposed.
Her eyes traveled to what usually would be a cage. Ambling to the large metal upside-down cup, she made sure the chain was attached to the top before she made her way over to a lever which she pulled, causing the floor below the metal cup to slowly open, revealing the dark ocean below that was in chaos and turbulence. The bell rang as it dangled with influence from the strong wind.
Tempest made her way over to another nearby lever which she also pulled, causing the bell to fall toward the raging sea. The chain rattled as it unraveled, until after a few seconds it went taut.
Below the surface, the bell rang, reverberating into the open ocean in an ominous tone.
Tempest waited with her hooves on a crank, as another rumble of thunder sounded in the heavy rain.
After a bit, she pushed against the crank, rotating it, causing the bell to rise out of the water slowly while giving more rings.
The bell locked in place back inside the ship, its metallic surface completely drenched.
She sauntered back up the steps above deck, a flash of lightning bringing a second of clarity in the blur. The chilling rain bathed her naked body, as she stood at the starboard. She watched the sea, attempting to find any unusual movement or shape.
The rain then began to lessen, turning into a steady downpour, then turning into a sprinkle, then stopping in an eerie silence.
Perplexed, Tempest looked around, noticing the dark clouds now surrounding the airship in a distant circumference with a few rumbles of thunder and the still ever present crashing sounds of waves. Looking to the sky, she could see the stars again.
The sound of waves grew more violent before there was what sounded like an extremely loud waterfall.
She sauntered to the bow, before she looked down, noticing a gargantuan black form rising from the dark sea.
The water fell from its head, revealing the beast's face in all its malevolent grandeur. It had two ridged horns that arched back before curving up toward the end. It had C shaped gills at its temples. It had an obsidian crustacean type armor over its serpent body, each piece ridged with hardly any air escaping from the gaps. It had six armor pieces along its neck where its mane would be that were like spines. Water seemed to consistently pour from the spines. It had three almost crab-like appendages, six total, on either side of its chest. Each leg varied in length, with the longest at top and shortest at the bottom.
Tempest's gaze traveled up to its eyes, which were a soulless black, with nothing to peer into, and nothing to see.
It simply stared at her, idling above the chaotic seas...
Seeing the giant beast before her evoked a potent sliver of fear that threatened to become infected and paralyze her. But the shadow within relentlessly stomped the darkness, amplifying and allowing the fire within to cauterize it.
She turned her back to it and sauntered up the stairs. Standing at the helm, she slammed the lever forward, before rotating the wheel.
She left the wheel at a turned position before jumping over the railing, landing on the deck. She opened a box, grabbing a small silk package wrapped in rope holding black powder. Sprinting over to the starboard cannon, she threw it inside before following up with a cannonball. Her horn sparking, she lit the fuse.
The blast erupted and spewed smoke forward, causing a shockwave that sent the cannon back from recoil.
The monstrosity seemed to flinch slightly before giving a rumbling growl.
Another shot blasted forth, causing the beast to flinch again. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another. It gave an irritated screech at the airship.
Tempest examined the beast, looking for any wounds.
There was nothing.
The beast swam forward, creating tsunami waves as it cut through the sea, with malice in its muzzle.
Tempest sprinted back up the stairs, and grabbed the wheel at the helm, spinning it all the way to the left. The ship curved through the air away from the monster, but the beast closed the distance rapidly and lunged.
Tempest awaited the fatal blow, but instead, the sound of a giant splash filled her ears.
It dawned on Tempest how difficult her task truly was. She was going to have to be like an annoying fly, buzzing around it while it tried to devour her.
The monster rose back up from the black sea languidly.
She examined its features, looking for any weak point that could hurt it. They locked eyes again. Eyes.
Tempest pulled a lever, causing the airship to rise. She spun the wheel to get a proper curvature to round the beast for another shot.
She jumped over the railing again and sprinted to the cannon. She patiently waited for the alignment while the creature seemed to be getting ready to lunge again. She ignited the fuse with her horn.
The round boomed, before the beast roared, recoiling back and shaking its head.
Tempest couldn't help but smile upon seeing the successful hit. But the smile quickly faded when she saw the beast lower its head, its lips curling as black and white energy emanated from the ridges of its horns.
The monster reared back, whipping its head to the sky, exposing its long pair of snake fangs with two incisors above and below as it bellowed. The roar continued to blare, its head shaking from the intensity with no hint of an end in sight.
Water from the sea began to rise, like heavy rain falling upward in slow motion.
Tempest watched in awe.
Black clouds formed, filling the gap of the surrounding storm, obscuring the starry night sky.
The beast's roar finally shifted and devolved into what sounded like a demonic whinny that echoed for hundreds of miles throughout existence, and with its end, the water fell.
The ambiance was now dark again as torrential rain once again bathed Tempest's body. She gazed at the blurry black mass, a flash of lightning briefly illuminating it.
The beast's nostrils flared, exhaling a cloud of steam, before it hissed, opening its maw wide.
A force suddenly pulled on the ship, causing Tempest to reel.
Adrenaline kicking in, Tempest galloped away up the slippery steps, stumbling on a few, before she arrived at the helm and turned the wheel and slammed the lever forward.
The airship accelerated up and away from the monster but at a crawl. The ship then reached a point of stagnation, then it slowly went backwards.
Tempest growled as she attempted to push the lever down further, but it didn't budge. It was like trying to escape a blackhole in vain.
Her mind raced as she attempted to find a solution. Her eyes ricocheted around the ship.
A flash of lightning illuminated the surroundings, including the gullet of the beast, which grew ever closer. The beast was close enough now so that its foul breath could be smelled and it reeked of death, decay, and sulphur.
With haste, she went to the stern, and looked over the edge and down at the dark chaotic seas below. Looking back, she saw certain death in the beast's maw.
Making her decision, she sprinted to the helm before she slapped the wheel, causing the ship to rotate toward the beast.
Tempest sprinted to the stern with everything she had, her vision even more of a blur as the rain hit her face. She leaped forward, clearing the taffrail.
The ship aligning, it zoomed forward into the beast's jaws. The beast whinnied as it attempted to reorient the odd shape in its mouth, clamping down over and over as it attempted to devour it.
Tempest was at a freefall, her horn sparking and her cyan eyes squinting as she could barely see the rapidly approaching black sea. She couldn't help but whimper and move her limbs as the blistering winds cut her face.
Her fate closing in, her mind flashed images. Images of her life as a filly. The innocence, the shattering, the scar, the abandoning, the vow, the loneliness, the anger, the invasion, the sacrifice. She thought of the new faces she'd met. But one face that was burned in her mind and lingered was one of a lavender Alicorn with shining violet eyes and a gentle smile.
A smile crept to her lips.
The irony of it all threatened to amplify it.
There was a moment, a thought that manifested in her mind like a luminous wisp that caused all others to cease.
Her brows furrowed as the magical electricity from her horn intensified. Pain shot through her entire body as she was encapsulated in an unstable electric aura, causing her to squeeze her eyes shut and cry out.
Her fall slowed until she stopped, hovering just above the ocean as she whimpered and hissed through her teeth.
But before she could attempt to bear the pain, a bolt of lightning arced from the sky, cracking like a whip as it struck Tempest, causing the electricity surrounding her to intensify as she cried out louder.
The indescribable agony coursed through every fiber of her being, fueling the magic, making it even more violent as she began to ascend. The feedback loop forced a scream to be expelled from her lungs, as tears were burned to steam from her eyes.
Bolts of magical cyan lightning arced into the rainy sky, and along the sea, crawling all the way to the beast making it shriek as it bypassed the obsidian armor.
The lightning spiraled and danced around Tempest's shaking body as she grit her teeth. Her mettle was being warped, bent, and oppressed, foreshadowing a riven to come. Despite the searing pain that threatened to snuff her consciousness, she refused to break...
With knitted brows, she opened her eyes to the beast before her, seeing it writhe. A bright cyan light formed at her horn, as the energy began to crescendo. She yelled with everything she had until the energy paused and gave a powerful burst.
A large cyan ball of light shot from her horn, sailing through the rain with a small trail and a mystical whistle.
It hit the sun skiff in the beast's jaws, causing a flash of light before a giant cyan explosion with an odd bassy resonance. The beast shrieked and whipped its head away, but the ship also combusted, sending its head back again as fire, smoke, and wood, spewed from its jaws.
The electricity surrounding Tempest's body ceased, causing her to resume her fall. But as she fell, she vaguely felt a magical energy hone on her bare flank before disappearing.
A sound that was ghostly and powerful filled the stormy air.
Her back smashed into the sea, registering the final blow to her battered and exhausted body.
The blast of bubbles surrounding Tempest dissipated as the icy water seized her exposed form, stinging her burned body, grasping her in its deathly grip as she sank lower toward the abyss. Her limbs were heavy, but she lethargically extended a foreleg toward the starry surface above. Her eyes grew heavier, as her final breath created bubbles, and her vision began to fade. She swore she could see something approaching, but it was too dark and blurry to see.
Falling into gloam, her eyes eased shut, her horn fizzling until it ceased.
The maroon unicorn slowly sank lower, her hindlegs touching the darkness. Her outstretched hoof was the closest to the dim light of the surface.
Slowly, a lavender foreleg reached down from above. The tip of their hooves touched before almost in a caressing motion, the lavender hoof slid around, gripping the foreleg. A magenta aura surrounded the maroon mare, pulling her out of the darkness.
A light shone brightly into the room, its rays hitting the bed where a motionless form lay. In the bed was a maroon unicorn, who's eyelids eased open.
The light burned her retinas, but she kept them open in a slit. She attempted to move, but the demand was too much for her body to oblige. The weakness in her limbs and lack of energy made her feel comatose. The pain quickly made itself known, as her entire body felt like it was singed.
She opted to instead examine her surroundings, noticing what looked like a regal type of room.
But before she could even begin to think or postulate, the door at the end of the room opened.
What appeared to be a nurse entered the room. Her eyes met Tempest's eyes causing her to freeze for a few seconds.
"Oh, hello. You're awake. How's the pain?"
"Bad," Tempest rasped.
"Do you want any pain killers?"
"Am I okay?" Tempest replied.
"Let's find out," the nurse answered. She approached the bedside before taking the stethoscope around her neck and putting it on. Holding the bell, she gently placed the diaphragm to her chest, moving it around while listening in silence.
After a bit, she pulled it off. "Can you close your eyes for me?"
Tempest obliged. Her left ear flicked to what sounded like distant taping.
"Can you hear that?"
Tempest nodded. The tapping occured beside her right ear.
She nodded again.
"Okay, so just stare straight at me," she said, hovering a pen light in her azure aura.
Tempest did as she was told, her eyes wincing and aching from the light passing through them.
She clicked the light off, and began writing on her clipboard. "You sustained some pretty bad injuries. Burns and magical burns. Almost like you got struck by lightning. But luckily, your heart's strong along with your body."
"How close was I?" Tempest alluded.
"From what I know, pretty close," she admitted. She turned away beginning toward the door. "I'm going to bring this to the doctor and he'll speak with you soon. If you need anything just shout alright?"
With that, the door shut, leaving Tempest alone. She sighed.
She raked her hazy mind, attempting to put together the events that transpired in chronological order. She remembered training with Rainbow Dash, then receiving urgent news from Spike, then going to Canterlot with Twilight…
Flashes of the obsidian serpent within the heavy rain appeared in her mind. Potent memories of the battle cycled, cannon fire, her attempt at stopping her fall.
Knocking sounded at the door again, pulling her out of her thoughts. The door opened, revealing a familiar lavender Alicorn. Her smile was bright as she trotted forward to the side of her bed. Her eyes were glassy as she simply stared.
Words were exchanged, but none were spoken. Tempest reached over despite the pain and embraced Twilight.
For a moment, the pain seemed to dull, as she relished embrace.
After a bit, Twilight pulled back, giving a giggle through her teary eyes. "You seem to have a habit of falling."
Tempest realized she did indeed fall a lot. It was almost comical. She almost met her demise three times from falling. Technically four. "And somehow surviving," she replied. "Did you guys beat it?"
"Yes. And you made that possible."
"I think you're giving me too much credit," Tempest chuckled.
Twilight shook her head, "I don't know if we would have made it in time without you."
"Where did you go?" Tempest asked.
She sighed, "It's a long story."
"Where are we?"
"Canterlot… When you fell I just saw the splash of the water. I dove down and grabbed you before you sank and I took you all the way to a tree above the water where I tried to resuscitate you." Twilight paused, staring blankly as if she was seeing the moments. "A bit of water expelled from your mouth, and I heard your heart start beating but you didn't wake up. I flew as fast as I could and teleported you to the hospital. I gave you to some of the best doctors in Equestria."
"Did anypony else get injured?" Tempest asked.
"It put up a bit of a fight, but with more flute playing and some spells they managed to put it in a trance. Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and Discord are fine. I don't think anypony got hurt from the flooding."
"Yeah, as it turns out, we had to get her as well."
"I'm surprised Celestia lowered the sun and Luna raised the moon," Tempest noted, thinking back to the night on the skiff.
"It turned out it actually had to be done. Again, a long story."
"You're gonna have to tell me someday," Tempest replied in jest.
Before Twilight could answer, knocking sounded at the door.
Tempest assumed it was the doctor but when the door opened, two Alicorns entered the room.
"It seems we've been in this position before," Luna noted with a smile, standing beside Celestia at the end of the bed.
"But our intentions are different this time," Celestia said. "We must be brief as we need to attend to the damages from the flooding. What you've done is no small deed, and my sister and I wish to invite you to a festival here in Canterlot, to honor you for your heroic actions."
Tempest was silent for a few moments, processing what she'd heard. She didn't know what the offer exactly entailed, and she wasn't too keen on celebrations but she recalled what Pinkie told her a while ago. "I guess I'll go," she said.
"'Tis settled then," Luna replied with a knowing smile.
"Meet with us in the castle in three days," Celestia said, bowing her head respectfully. "Until then, I wish you a speedy recovery."
"As do I," Luna replied.
The door shut, signifying the departure of the Alicorn sisters.
Tempest noticed Twilight was staring at her. "I imagine I don't look so great," Tempest noted.
"You look fine," Twilight gently dismissed, "but if you want, you can look in a mirror," she shrugged, with a smile.
Tempest raised a quizzical brow in response.
"Anyway, I should probably leave too," Twilight said. She reached forward, hugging Tempest who reciprocated.
Twilight sauntered toward the door before she spoke over her shoulder. "Don't forget to get a view of the back," she said, winking.
Tempest's eyes widened as her face flushed.
The door shut, leaving her alone.
Tempest attempted to understand what just happened. What was she implying? Was it just a playful remark?
Her gaze traveled her left to the open door beside her bed. Her curiosity piqued, she moved her legs, gauging the pain and range of motion she was capable of before she lifted the blanket off of herself. Her hooves touched the cold floor, before she stood wincing a bit. The cold air grabbed her naked body, smothering any residual warmth. She wished she still had her outfit. She would have to discuss that with Rarity.
She entered the bathroom, which was fancy but not overtly so.
In the mirror, her reflection came into view, which she examined with minor trepidation.
Her mane appeared mostly intact, with some loose strands and frazzled areas, and her coat was fine despite the burns she could feel under it. Overall, she actually didn't look too bad for fighting a giant serpent and getting struck by lightning. Nothing stood out to her.
She turned to leave when something in her peripherals snagged her attention. Her head flicked back to the mirror before she gasped. Upon her flank was a symbol, a symbol that was a small cyan eight pointed star with two arcs on either side with smaller stars like fireworks.
Shock paralyzed her as she was still unknowing whether her eyes were deceiving her. But no matter how long she stared, the symbol remained.
Her eyes began to water. Memories of all the pain, anger, and sorrow returned, but instead, it was transformed into glee. She felt deep inside of herself that she was no longer forsaken. She felt an indescribably radiant joy, a joy at having fulfilled her destiny.
Tempest sauntered alongside Twilight in the throne room, leaving and entering the occasional multi-colored sun rays shining through the stained glass windows.
At the end of the room, Tempest noticed both sisters unfurl their wings and leave their thrones, flying toward them.
Tempest and Twilight stopped as the princesses landed a comfortable distance in front of them.
"How was your recovery?" Celestia inquired.
"Good. It did get a little boring," Tempest admitted.
Celestia chuckled, "Well, there's going to be quite a lot of fun ahead."
Twilight walked ahead of Tempest and waved for her to follow. Tempest obliged, sauntering past the sisters.
She wondered if it was what Twilight mentioned earlier that she wanted her to see.
Twilight stopped, turning to face her with a big smile. Tempest stood perplexed, until she turned and pointed to the wall.
Turning, Tempest's eyes widened.
There was a stained glass window, but upon it was herself, hovering in the air above the swirling waves of the sea, looking up with a visage of determination at the irate obsidian serpent as a lightning bolt struck her and bathed her body in cyan electricity. She was surrounded in a cyan circle, and there was an eight pointed star at the end of her broken horn and on her flank.
"My sister and I requested its construction immediately," Luna said, from behind them, "and we're happy with the artist's rendition as we hope you are as well."
Tempest didn't know how to respond. She thought it definitely made her look more heroic than what actually happened. But at the same time, she was grateful and honored at the display.
"Well?" Twilight asked with a smile.
"It's amazing," Tempest replied.
"We are happy to hear of your approval," Celestia said. "Now. About the celebration."
Tempest swiveled around to face the two sisters.
"As you know," Celestia began, "the celebration is already in progress, and we planned on having you on the stage as soon as possible."
"Shall we depart?" Luna asked.
Tempest followed behind the sisters through the throne room alongside Twilight. Celestia opened the large double doors before speaking with the royal guards, and continuing forward. The comfortable silence between them all lengthened as they traversed through the castle. Until eventually, they made their way outside on the royal steps.
In front of them was the back of a stage, and on it awaited another pale cerise Alicorn mare. On the other side of the stage, somewhat obscured, hundreds of ponies could be seen conversing at tables and idling or going to the various tents or booths in the distance at the edge of the city platform.
On the stage, the princess turned to face them. "Sorry for being late. Flurry was being a lot more difficult and I had to help Shining with her."
"I imagine being a mother and running a city is quite difficult," Celestai chuckled.
"I wonder which is more difficult," Luna replied in jest, following her sister.
"It's difficult to say," Cadance replied.
Twilight and Cadance both gave knowing smiles before stopping in front of each other. "Sunshine, sunshine," they both said in unison, prancing in place, "ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!" They ended the jingle by mirroring with a sway of their haunches.
Despite it being harmless, Tempest couldn't help but raise a brow at the esoteric display. But she also couldn't help a small smile that tugged at her lips due to its adorable nature. But her attention was pulled elsewhere when she noticed the princesses talking with a familiar baby dragon.
"You know," Twilight began, capturing Tempest's attention again, "I meant to tell you later but… There was a moment where a small part of me knew you would succeed."
Tempest pondered the implications. "So you weren't worried?"
"No, I definitely was," Twilight chuckled in response. "But for a moment, I felt faith turn into a small glint of certainty. And I'm happy it came true."
Before she could think of a response, a voice spoke.
"Are you ready, Tempest?"
Turning, she saw Celestia standing beside her with a genuine smile.
The curtains parted, revealing Spike with a microphone in his claws. "Greetings ladies and gentlecolts! Gather around as we take this moment to honor this historic occasion! To honor the hero who made it possible for us to celebrate here today! Please stomp your hooves for Tempest!"
Tempest expected there to be silence but cheering and what sounded like a stampede filled the air. She followed behind the princesses onto the stage, where she got to see the vast crowd. After a while, the cheering subsided.
Celestia took initiative, speaking so her voice could be heard from afar. "We've set up this festival today to not celebrate the beast's defeat, but to celebrate Tempest's triumph."
"And though she has made severe mistakes," Luna began, "and previously lost her way, she has shown she is truly capable of transcending her difficult past and becoming a better pony."
"She not only battled against the great leviathan," Cadance began, "she also aided in saving an empire with thousands of ponies from an evil tyrant shadow."
Tempest took a sidelong glance beside her to the shadow she cast. Her chest rose before she exhaled through her nostrils, once again looking at the crowd.
"With the help of new friends," Twilight began, "she was able to save an empire and become a better pony, despite her dark past. So much so, she was willing to fulfill her true calling and face the Leviathan alone. But it was not just because she felt indebted, she found that she valued friendship, and that her newfound love was worth sacrificing for. Tempest has shown the noble warrior spirit, and true fortitude."
Cheers erupted in response.
Tempest couldn't help but feel pleasant, not because of the recognition, or necessarily the appraisal itself, but because she felt she was forgiven and accepted.
Her ears flicked and her eyes darted to the dusk sky, seeing an abrupt burst and explosion as a prismatic fiery circle expanded across the starry sky.
Tempest felt a tapping on her foreleg that pulled her from her state of awe. Twilight smiled at her before gesturing to the sky with her eyes. Tempest reciprocated the smile.
Sparks formed at her horn, before a ball shot up into the air with a whistle. It exploded in a brilliant cyan sphere with tendril-like energy coming from the center touching the circumference. Another line shot from the center into a magenta explosion, repeating the process.
The cheering continued, as Tempest followed the princesses off the stage.
"Well, you're free to go wherever you want now," Twilight informed. "Not that I could force you stay," she giggled. "But I'm gonna talk with the princesses a bit but I'll come find you later."
Tempest nodded watching Twilight approach the princesses before she turned to the crowd. She was immediately stumped on where she should go. She tried to look for anyone familiar in the sea of ponies. Maybe Starlight. Or Trixie since her hat would be easier to spot and she would most likely be with Starlight. Not that she necessarily didn't like Trixie.
Flying above was a familiar cyan pegasus mare with a signature rainbow mane. She flew down, hovering just above Tempest before she spoke, "You never answered when I asked about my Sonic Rainboom. What'd you think?" She asked, with her forelegs crossed.
"It was quite the spectacle," Tempest admitted.
"Heh, thanks. Nice fireworks by the way. Oh, uh, Pinkie wanted to talk to you about something also," Rainbow remembered. "I can take you there if you want."
"Lead the way," Tempest replied.
Rainbow flew overhead, making sure to stay within line of sight as Tempest made her way through the crowd. She noticed she garnered some attention with a few eyes on her, but they weren't of a harsh judgmental nature like before, and instead were more in the vein of curiosity or cautious admiration.
Walking for a bit longer, she passed by a few more ponies before a table with four other ponies sitting at it came into view.
"Tempest!" A high pitched voice greeted with a squee.
Her eyes widened when she felt a force collide with her, and a pair of forelegs wrap around her neck, halting her gait. She saw a puffy pink mane that smelled like bubblegum next to her muzzle.
Looking down, Tempest chuckled and wrapped a foreleg over Pinkie.
"Oh, I'm so-so happy to see you!" She squeed.
"It's good to see you too," Tempest replied.
After a tight squeeze, Pinkie pulled away.
"I think I can speak for all of us when I say we're glad you're okay," Rarity said.
"Twilight was especially worried," Fluttershy informed in her hush gentle tone.
"Yeah," Applejack affirmed, "she was in your hospital room for a while nodding off. Took some convincin' for her to come back to the castle guest rooms."
"Yeah, we all were a little worried," Rainbow admitted. "But hey! Look at you now! An absolutely freaking awesome pony who defeated a giant sea snake!"
"I can't say it was easy," Tempest replied.
"There is beauty in what you've done," Rarity said. "All the blood, sweat, and tears, led to something divine. Also, without clothes," she mused, noticing Tempest's bare form. "I'll make you another pair," she reassured with a smile and a wave of a hoof.
Tempest was thinking of a response when she remembered why she was there. "Is there something you wanted to ask me, Pinkie?"
"Oh! That's right!" She exclaimed, bouncing in place a few times. "The Cakes and I were discussing business matters," she said, in a faux dark and shady tone while using a hoof to obscure her muzzle. "And with some inspiration from Applejack, we decided to have a dessert cart going around Ponyville! And I suggested that you would fit for the job! So," Pinkie said, appearing beside her and wrapping a foreleg over her," what do you think?" She asked with lidded eyes.
What Tempest thought was that it seemed strange for her to be suggested for such a position. Considering her background, her looks, and well, her demeanor. She did enjoy baking with Pinkie- even though she wasn't good at it- but would she really be a good fit? "I'll think about it," Tempest replied.
"Okie dokie," Pinkie said, hopping away to her seat, "but try to get back to me soon okay?"
"You seem to be gettin' in a lot of trouble lately," Applejack noted with a chuckle.
"Yeah," Tempest sighed, "can't seem to catch a break. Can't wait for the invasion."
Pinkie snorted and giggled and the others smiled. Though, Fluttershy despite her smile snuck some worried glances to the horizon and sky, waiting for a dark armada to appear. But they all noticed Tempest seemed more enthusiastic. Like disciplined effervescence
"Yeah, sometimes you can feel like life's pinata," Pinkie agreed sincerely.
"You should enjoy the party while you can," Applejack said in jest.
"But we could totally take on an invasion," Rainbow dismissed with a wave of a hoof. "I mean, how could we lose?"
"You'd think that would've applied to last time," Applejack mumbled.
"Haven't we learned to not say things like that?" Rarity said.
"I mean, we only lost last time because we were caught by surprise and outnumbered and the princesses got taken out first," Rainbow said. "And Discord decided not to show up," she deadpanned. "Unsurprisingly."
"Um, he told me he was napping," Fluttershy said. "And that he doesn't like to fix things for us," she added sheepishly.
Rainbow rolled her eyes.
"But he did help recently," Fluttershy defended.
"I'm gonna wait for Twilight to vouch," Rainbow replied.
Tempest noticed a grey balloon floating out from the crowd toward her. She knitted her brows in minor confusion before an old male voice spoke.
"What about my vouch?" Looking at the balloon, two lidded asymmetric yellow eyes with crimson pupils and white bushy brows, and a smirk with a lone fang appeared. "Aren't I a sight for sore eyes?" Discord asked, his voice muffled and distorted.
Everyone rolled their eyes, but Discord appeared in a white starry flash. "My ears could be deceiving me, but I didn't hear a reply."
"Speak of the-" Rainbow deadpanned before being interrupted.
"Speaking of appearance," Discord replied, "where are the other girls?"
"We're right here," another voice deadpanned.
Approaching from the crowd was Starlight and Trixie, with Trixie seeming not very happy at their arrival, while Starlight wore her usual nervous smile.
"Hey y'all," Applejack greeted.
Starlight waved before she arrived beside Tempest, "So, how are you?"
"Good," Tempest responded.
"Oh," Starlight said, slightly taken aback by the response, "I was gonna say, it probably doesn't feel great almost… nevermind." She disregarded, keeping her smile, "But I'm glad you're okay."
"So, Tempest," Discord began, "how does it feel to be- oh, what's the word?" He said, tapping a talon against his chin. "It starts with an H but it appears it's eluding me. It's like the opposite of a villain?" He said, continuing his faux contemplation.
Tempest rolled her eyes, already knowing the answer. "A hero."
"Exactly! Which is what you most undoubtedly are," he said, gesturing to her with his paw.
"That's a strong word," Tempest sighed.
"Perhaps one would say equally fit for a pony with strong abilities," he replied, his hands clasped while tapping both index fingers together.
"You have the strong ability of sarcastic compliments," Tempest replied.
"How can one be so stubborn?" Discord deadpanned. "Then what pulled your strings to go on this endeavor?" He asked, conjuring a marionette who's strings traveled to the stick in his claws. His hand bounced, making the doll dance. "Surely what I said a while ago was a motivator."
She assumed he was referring to his nugget of unexpected wisdom, and unlike before, she did act in its accordance. "There was an element of that… but there was something more," Tempest said sincerely.
"Whatever the case," he dismissed, making the marionette dissapear, "you proved you had the power to heal yourself," he emphasized with a fist.
Tempest chuckled and smiled in amusement. "Not exactly."
Tempest saw Discord's face deflate in annoyance, before her eyes traveled to Trixie who was magically shuffling cards with a bored expression.
Trixie's ears flicked before she looked up, seeing Tempest standing in front of her with a hoof extended forward. She smiled. Riffling the cards together for a bit, she opened the deck up in a fan, with the faces pointed to the ground.
Tempest plucked a card from the far right, making sure to conceal it as she brought it in front of her. Seven of clubs. She slid the card back into its designated place.
"Tell me when," Trixie said, shuffling the cards swiftly.
"Stop," Tempest said immediately, causing the deck to freeze in its position.
Trixie finished the motion of putting the cards back together before she pulled a card from the top, turning it over for Tempest to see.
Seven of clubs.
Trixie was ecstatic by the reaction and gave a beaming smile.
"Oh! Oh! Me next!" Pinkie exclaimed, waving with a hoof.
"You know," Starlight mumbled beside Tempest again, "I never apologized for my comments I made a while ago."
She recalled her journey with Starlight, Trixie, and Discord. It started out rough, with her keeping her distance from them. But at their second campfire, they began to open up, and confess their wrongdoings. Except for her, which sparked a conflict between her and Starlight. Looking back, she regretted being so judgmental. To her, it seemed more trivial, but to Starlight it was not.
"So for that, I'm sorry," Starlight said, bowing her head, with a nervous smile.
"It's okay. You were right," Tempest acknowledged.
"That makes me feel worse," Starlight noted, averting her eyes. "I sort of wish you gave me your usual careless glare."
Tempest chuckled and Starlight smiled.
Tempest examined the ponies in front of her who all appeared to be talking amongst themselves. Every one of them meant a lot to her. She couldn't believe where she was, prompting her to examine her surroundings. She saw ponies reveling the celebration, but through the crowd she noticed a familiar spot at the edge of the platform touched by the setting sun.
If she told herself long ago about her circumstance, she would likely chuckle mockingly in her own face before threatening harm.
"Tempest, darling, there's a still seat by me if you wish to sit down," Rarity offered, gesturing to the seat beside her.
"Actually," Tempest said, "I'm gonna go somewhere real quick. I'll be back."
Standing by the monumental pillars at the edge of the royal city, Tempest gazed at the horizon of dusk, the light bathing her face and chest as she wore a smile of serenity.
Feelings of contentment, joy, and love coursed through her. She didn't know if their potency was due to her lack of feeling those emotions over a long period of time or if it was simply because of circumstance.
It felt as though she had been thrashed around by a raging sea in a storm for years which she fought against to stay above the surface and through sheer mettle, and fortitude, she kept herself alive despite being battered, and beaten, and scarred. But it wasn't enough, with time, her body grew exhausted as she was at the mercy of the waves, as everything took its toll as she was swept under the surface. She could see the abyss below as she slowly descended. Until miraculously, she was pulled onto a small island, where with a rapidly beating heart, she was given a chance to catch her breath.
She had been at death's doorstep many times, and though things inside her died, she wasn't corrupted again by the encounters. She had voluntary control over the evil within and the anger. The best parts of her survived as she was reborn.
With it, also came clarity. She formed relationships that were meaningful to her. Along with a gift of purpose. It felt like the stars had aligned for her…
But though the storm had ceased, she knew she was simply in its eye. But now, she welcomed the new beginning, the unknown future, and the pain to come. She could now see that there was something more to life, hidden from the eyes. She hoped to bear the pain with grace and fierceness and to reflect the light of the stars.