posted by NocturnalMirage
The last solstice
Chapter 33: The return of a Princess – Part 2
Celestia idled in her sister's office, gazing through the broken window. In front of her lay the Castle's parade ground, filled with the bodies of the fallen. The heat of the battle was gone and now the Princess of the Sun had to face reality once again. All of her suppressed emotions bottled up and a large teardrop ran down on her cheek, following the path of the burnt scars.
“What have I done?” the white alicorn whispered to herself. “Is this what I'm destined for? To cause pain and suffering?”
The unsettling maswali left haijajibiwa as the swirling thoughts were chasing each other like hungry timberwolves in her mind. All that misery and anguish stung her acute senses as she watched the royal guards who already started clearing the battlefield. Celestia rubbed her long, white horn and a grimace of pain distorted her features. It was aching and burning because of the massive amounts of unreleased magical essence that was building up inside her body during the fight. She felt that blasphemous power assaulting the psychic barriers she implemented, to separate her being from the magic that ran deep in her kind... the magic which was responsible for the death of millions.
The Princess looked up to the sinister scenario on the sky, which was now visible to everypony else. Even though it was an early afternoon, it seemed like the dusk was approaching. The shadows elongated in the weakening sunlight, as the large moon of the Chronos consumed zaidi and zaidi of the fiery orb. The ponies of Canterlot could not comprehend the depths of this phenomenon and the danger that lied within, therefore they returned to their duties after the first shock. If there was one thing the fierce battle was good for was this: it distracted the ponies, driving their attention away from the skies. However, gifted with incredible foresight, Celestia knew she will soon have to make a choice... a choice she barely understood, but greatly feared, yet it will determine the fate of Equestria.
As time passed, zaidi and zaidi troubling maswali surfaced in her mind and she could not find any answer for them. In her long life, ponies always came to her seeking help and guidance and she was zaidi than happy to satisfy their needs. But after what happened in Manehatten, her soul was utterly broken and she felt the world turned its back on her. So, she turned away from the world as well. Yet, fate seemed to have finally caught up to her and she did not have enough time to adjust to the new situation. When she jumped into the battle, she acted instinctively, her natural leadership took over her rational mind, but this did not mean she came in terms with her own self au furthermore, accept her everlasting role in the kingdom.
Suddenly, the sun goddess picked her head up as she sensed a strange vibration in the magical flow. There was a commotion on the parade ground below, which ended her contemplation. Royal guards were running around and seeing their excited gestures, Celestia knew something happened. A dakika later, the door behind her swung wide open and a pegasus stallion rushed inside the office. As the solar Princess turned around, she acknowledged with surprise, it was the same guard, who she met earlier, before the battle erupted.
“What is happening?” she asked nervously.
“We have found Princess Cadence and Twilight Sparkle!” the stallion replied in excitement.
“Come with me!” Celestia alisema and flared her wings.
She flew out through the broken window with a rapid wing flap, leaving the surprised pegasus behind, but he caught up to the Princess after a few seconds.
“Over there, under the ruins of the East Tower.” he informed.
“I see it.” the white alicorn nodded and soon landed beside the large pile of rubble.
Her skillful eyes searched the premise and soon, she spotted a purple hoof sticking out from the debris. Numerous royal guards of every race were already there, trying to free the Princesses. Earth ponies equipped with shovels and pikes were chopping up the larger pieces to small chunks. Pegasi, with ropes tied around their waists were flying above the pile to lift up the debris and unicorns made a united effort to songesha giant pieces of the tower with their magic. Celestia immediately realized, the younger alicorns were lucky. The steel reinforcements made a small cage around them, when the tower collapsed, that is why they weren't crushed kwa the debris. But this was also the obstacle in the way of freeing them.
“It's no use... too heavy!” one of the unicorns growled as blue sparks of his magic erupted from his horn.
Celestia recognized with shock, that despite their best effort, the humongous piece above the Princesses was slowly deforming the reinforcement and the steel began to give in to the pressure.
“If we don't get them out right now, they're doomed!” one of the earth gppony, pony guards declared, trying to lift the debris up with many others.
The solar alicorn grabbed the piece and did not care about the sharp edges which were cutting deep into her hooves. Every muscle in her body strained from the extortion as she attempted to lift the piece of rubble up with all her strength. To the surprise of the guards, it even rose a few inches, taking some of the pressure off of the reinforcement. Salty drops of sweat rolled down on Celestia's cheeks and helpless fury distorted her features. She felt she's reached the limits of her body and the large piece of debris was defeating her.
“Use your magic, Princess!!!” a deep voice called out.
“NO! I can't... I mustn't...” Celestia cried desperately.
As soon as she alisema the last word, one of the steel rods cracked with an eerie, metallic noise and the debris above it kept putting zaidi and zaidi pressure to the remaining ones.
“It's Cadence and Twilight in there! Your family!” the voice shouted.
“Mirage?!” the solar alicorn recoiled in shock as she turned her head toward the chanzo of the voice.
The cobalt stallion was wobbling through the parade ground toward Celestia, but he was moving slow, due to his injured leg.
“You of all ponies should know, I can't do that!” she yelled in frustration.
Another steel rod broke into two and the giant piece was coming down relentlessly, leaving less and less space for the trapped, unconscious Princesses.
“Yes wewe can!” Mirage replied. “You're the only one who can save them!”
“I... I... I'm not strong enough....”
“Nonsense!” Mirage snorted, as he finally made his way to the white alicorn. “You're one of the strongest mares I've ever known! wewe can do this! Just let go of your fear!”
The steel reinforcement kept distorting and two rods cracked at the same time, causing the piece of debris to songesha downward. Celestia felt it slipping out of her hooves, as it was about to crush the younger Princesses.
“No, no, no! This can't be happening!” the sun goddess shouted in panic.
“Do it, Princess!” one of the royal guards exclaimed.
“We're counting on you!” another guard joined.
Soon, all the ponies around them were shouting encouraging words, urging Celestia to do the thing she was most frightened of: using her own magic. Another steel rod gave in to the pressure and a sudden ghoulish scream slit through the air, coming from the dark hole. The solar goddess recognized the voice of Twilight and that settled everything. Celestia's pupil dilated as she finally opened the sluices of her soul and mind, allowing the magic to flow freely after so many years. As soon as the dams came down, the pure solar power suffused her entire body within a second, dripping new strength into her muscles. Her eyes started to glow with a bright white light and golden tendrils of magic began to coil around her horn, like hungry snakes. Everypony backed away from her, as giant shiny sparks fell on the ground.
“Sweet Creator...” Celestia whispered as new waves of magic rampaged through her being, like a solar flare, each zaidi powerful than the last one.
Her yellow aura slowly surrounded the large piece of debris above Twilight and Cadence. The light of her horn was pulsating faster and faster as she reached out to the Sun to gain zaidi power. Her scars and her cutie mark began to glow with shimmery golden light and the rubble was lifted up slowly. The struggle distorted her features and she narrowed her eyes, focusing her power on the debris. The death trap opened and the giant piece was levitating a few feet above the young Princesses, encased in Celestia's magical aura.
“NOW! GET THEM OUT WHILE wewe STILL CAN!” Mirage called out, seeing the opportunity.
The royal guards around them were gazing at the solar Princess with awe and could not react at first. After a few sekunde they sprung into action; several stallions ran over to the rescue. They quickly put Twilight and Cadence on their backs and galloped to safety. Seeing their success, Celestia closed the gates of her soul once again, releasing the chunk from the grasp of her magic. It fell down with a loud bang, sending a massive wingu of dust in the air. Silence settled on the parade ground and it seemed like time have stopped, freezing everything and everyone in this moment. Dirty, worn out faces turned toward the sun goddess; the ponies around her were completely paralyzed kwa her deed. Even the stallions who carried the other Princesses halted to look upon the graceful form of Celestia. The white alicorn kept staring at her own trembling hooves, utterly Lost in her thoughts, until a muffled groan dragged her back to reality. She turned to the chanzo of the sound and spotted Twilight Sparkle looking at her through half-closed eyelids, lying on the back of a royal guard. Confusion, surprise and misery were reflecting in her purple eyes, as their visage met and interlocked. Celestia took a step closer to her former student.
“You...” Twilight whispered weakly.
“Yes, my dear Twilight.” Celestia replied on a warm tone and gently stroked the cheek of the purple mare.
“I cannot believe it...” the younger Princess alisema with a pale smile and fainted once again.
Two hours later, the Princess of the Sun was sitting beside Twilight's bed. She and Cadence were in the same room on the ground level of the Castle, near Luna's office. Both of them sustained serious injuries, but the doctors alisema they'll fully recover with time. They were both unconscious and Celestia couldn't do anything zaidi than waiting. Nothing happened and she almost fell asleep, when there was a gentle knock on the door.
“Excuse me, your Highness, I do realize it is a terrible timing, but may I have a word with you, please?” an older, well mannered stallion asked with a Trottingham accent.
Celestia immediately recognized the owner of the voice, it was Biro, the Royal Scrivener. The elderly unicorn has been in the service for the last five decades and was a very precise and organized pony. The decay of time turned his once dark blue mane into white, with cyan streaks, yet his skinny body seemed to be still fit and tough. He led the Princess to his office, where Mirage and a pegasus royal guard awaited them.
“What is all this?” Celestia questioned, narrowing her eyes.
“Please, your Majesty...” Biro said, pointing at the couch.
“I'd rather stand.”
“As wewe wish. Now, the reason I asked wewe to come here is a very delicate matter.” the scrivener stated formally.
Celestia wasn't surprised kwa his tone, he knew Biro well and always thought if she were to send down a glass of boiling water on his throat, it would turn to ice cubes in his stomach. The elderly unicorn never Lost his calmness, au his polite manners, no matter how dire the situation was.
“I'm listening.” the sun goddess alisema softly, locking her eyes on Biro.
“Excellent. As wewe know, the hivi karibuni changeling attack has caused quite a damage on the infrastructure of Canterlot.”
Celestia nodded in agreement and Biro continued.
“Not only that, but unfortunately we have Lost many high ranking military officers and important members of the administration.
“Forgive my baldness, Princess, but what I have to say is a matter of great importance.”
“I know what wewe want to ask, but...” Celestia countered, but her voice trailed off.
“I understand this must be all too overwhelming for you, but in order to keep our government running, something has to be done. The kingdom cannot stay without a ruler and since Princess Luna is still missing and Princess Cadence and Princess Sparkle are unable to fulfill their royal duties, their office will incumbent on you.” Biro declared in a formal fashion.
“I can't do this...” the white alicorn mumbled.
“I beg to differ, your Highness. In my long years of service, I've seen wewe overcome many treacherous obstacles. wewe protected Equestria from all kinds of evil and now the kingdom needs wewe zaidi than anytime before.” the Royal Scrivener said, trying to adapt the most gentle tone he was capable of.
Celestia did not respond, she just lowered her head and shut her eyes, her features reflecting doubt and resignation. Suddenly, Mirage stood up from the kitanda and approached the snow white mare with a cold, steely expression.
“Do wewe give up?” he asked quietly, but it was somehow menacing at the same time.
“What?” she asked back in confusion.
“Will wewe abandon their hope?” the royal blue stallion continued in the same, ambivalent fashion.
“Just look outside the window! Can wewe not feel their desperation?”
Celestia opened her eyes and faced the blue earth pony. He pierced his cold zumaridi, zamaradi eyes into hers as he moved even closer.
“HAVE wewe FORGOTTEN WHO wewe ARE?!” he shouted vigorously.
“NO, I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN!” the sun goddess yelled back in frustration and anger. “But how can wewe expect me to retake the kiti cha enzi after... after all what happened? To pretend that everything's the same?!”
“I don't. But I've learned the hard way that one cannot escape from destiny, no matter how far he runs.” Mirage stated passionately, and a gentle, warm smile expanded on his face. “Look into your heart... wewe are so much zaidi than what you've become! This is your destiny! wewe were born to lead! To spread light! wewe think you're alone, but you're not... Your allies are many and I will be there beside wewe all the way, my Princess! Break the reign of darkness and reclaim what is yours!”
With a sudden and unexpected move, he craned his neck and kissed the solar alicorn deeply, to the shock of the others.
“As I alisema before... we've spent too much time sitting in the shadows... it is time to come into the light once more!” Mirage declared. “Do what's right, my love... my Princess.”
He bowed down before Celestia and so did the others. The sun goddess was clearly weighing the options, it was visible on her face. She stayed quiet for a few dakika as all eyes in the room were locked on her, waiting for a response. After a while, she narrowed her eyes and her features turned tough, like a marble statue. It was a sign: she made up her mind.
“For countless centuries I've ruled over this land, in beliefs I can protect it against evil, no matter what form it may take.” Celestia began. “13 years ago, I failed to preform my duty and millions have paid with their lives for it. I decided on that day, that I will step down and live in exile so nopony will have to die because of me. Now I see that it is impossible and I seem to make the same mistake once again. Because of my idleness, the changeling menace got out of hoof and good ponies are paying the price. I will not abandon Equestria! Her cry of help will not go unheeded! It is time for me to retake my place!”
“Oh, jolly good!” Biro called out in excitement, then cleared his throat. “Err, I mean... the documents are ready. If wewe please sign right here, your status and all your privileges will be reinstated.”
Celestia grabbed the crimson quill that was offered to her and signed her name with arabesque letters.
“Now the witnesses, please...” the scrivener said, gesturing the two stallions to songesha forward.
When they signed the paper, Biro rolled it up with his blue magic and put it in a large filing cabinet.
“All right, everything seems to be in order.” the old unicorn declared with satisfaction. “Oh, one zaidi thing... Of course the traditional ceremony will have to wait until the crisis is solved, but I was bald enough to arrange a little gift for you, Princess.”
He reached into the drawer of his wooden dawati with a wide grin and took out a steel box, with an artistic letter “C” in the middle. The white alicorn raised an eyebrow and opened it. There was a golden tiara inside, with strange ebony runes on its surface and a shiny fire-ruby in the middle.
“Is this... for me?” Celestia gasped in awe.
“A Princess must have a crown.” Mirage smiled.
“Yes, your... uh... friend have been a tremendous help constructing the crown.” Biro added.
“What? You?” the sun goddess asked in disbelief.
“Yes. Those are ancient runes, I've learned them from my mother. Combined with the power of the fire-ruby, they will prevent THAT... from happening again.”
“I don't know what to say... thank wewe all!” Celestia alisema warmly as she put the tiara on her head with a lady-like motion.
“It suits you.” Mirage remarked.
“I believe so. It reminds me of the old times... but in a good way.”
“So, what are your orders, Princess?” the quiet pegasus royal guard asked.
Before Celestia could answer, a black arrow smashed through the window, its head pierced Biro's wooden dawati deeply.
“Good heavens!” the Royal Scrivener exclaimed in shock.
“Look, there's a scroll attached to it!” Mirage pointed out.
The snow white alicorn pulled the string and opened the paper. There was a short message inside, written with edgy, italic letters.
Allow me to welcome wewe in the game once more! I kinda missed you. Not much worthy adversaries left in this world... Meet me in Café Quattroporte on the Prancing Filly avenue, precisely at 5 PM. for negotiations. This must be settled once and for all! Come alone! Perhaps we could also grab a cup of coffee and reminisce about old times. Oh, and if wewe won't onyesha up, au try any funny business, I will kill your sister. My eyes and ears are everywhere, so I don't recommend wewe to test my determination. Don't be late!