Chapter 10: Sin of the Ages
Daily Log #528343
Date: 03-14-0005 - New Lunar Calendar
I suspect she will be here soon. She only has two options at this point, one of which would result in only failure. I don't know how, but somehow she is going to find out about us, and she is going to come for us.
Nightmare Moon was a fool to let her go. She had Celestia right in her hoof, but she let her desire for revenge get the better of her. She just wants to toy with her, make her slog through every bit of misery she can conjure up. And it's because she knows Celestia can take it.
If anything will be her downfall, it will be letting Celestia live. She thinks she can keep Celestia down forever, but this is foolish. Celestia is a threat to her, and she does not take it seriously.
But I do. And I believe that soon I will find out how much of a threat she can be. The path of fate will lead her right to my doorstep.
Then I will find out if she is capable of doing what so many others have failed to accomplish.
A green-maned earth pony lay sprawled out on his back, his tongue hanging out of his mouth while he snored. He lay on the ground next to the remains of a small fire. Celestia sat curled up across the smoking ashes.
Celestia's ear flickered as a noise pestered her eardrums. She winced and slowly opened her eyelids. After a moment she looked at Fate and heard him snoring loudly.
"Fate." Celestia yawned.
Fate snorted and twitched his hind leg.
"Fate, wake up." Celestia said slightly louder.
Fate blinked his eyes open and looked around, confused. He stretched his legs and yawned. "What happened?" He said as he rolled onto his hooves.
"Your snoring woke me up." Celestia said.
"Oh." He responded. "It seems that even in my sleep I can't keep my mouth shut. Are you feeling better?"
Celestia stretched her neck and heard a satisfying pop. "I'm feeling much better after last night's rest, thank you."
The two of them sat around a pile of burnt sticks and blackened rocks. The meager fire had not provided much warmth, but it had given them some comfort.
"Say, Celestia, what's for breakfast anyway?" Fate asked.
"Nothing." Celestia sighed.
"Oh...right." Fate frowned. "I hope we find some real food soon, this grass is barely edible."
"Once we go to the Valley we will head to the nearest town we can find. Then I can hopefully get a plan on track."
"You can get a plan on track? What about me?" Fate asked.
"I'm worried that you might be in danger if you stay with me for too long. I don't want you to get hurt because of me. You will need to find somewhere safe and stay there until the dangerous tasks are finished."
"Hold on Princess, you can't keep me out of the picture that easily. I'm not gonna sit by and watch you do all the tough work. If you're putting your life on the line for others then I have no right to do any less then that."
Celestia paused. She admired his bravery, but she had no idea what kind of danger facing Nightmare Moon might pose. She didn't want more innocent ponies to die because of her. Fate stared at her as she thought.
"Alright Fate. If you wish to stay with me then you may. I do need somepony who can guide me through the wastelands after all..." Celestia said hesitantly.
"Thank you Princess." Fate cheered up again. "And I'm fully aware of the consequences of being around you, but I don't care, I just want to help you. You're the best shot we have at toppling Nightmare Moon."
Celestia nodded her head. She kicked a small pile of dirt onto the smoldering ashes that had lit up the night while they slept. Celestia stood up and stretched her wings, stepping into her golden horseshoes.
"Let's not waste any more time then."
"Right." Fate nodded and jumped to his hooves.
The two ponies walked along the dull grass at a brisk pace. The night's sleep certainly had lifted their spirits, even if their miserable dinner had tried to spoil it.
No matter how much she looked at it, Celestia still could not believe the current state the land was in. She could barely see any life in anything she looked at. It was all so empty.
The only positive thought came in putting one hoof in front of the other.
"The only way to go backwards is to not move at all." The words of the old magician Star Swirl the Bearded rang into her head. "It doesn't matter which direction you are going; so long as you move somewhere you will make progress."
His words had often reminded her to keep going when she felt like she hit a brick wall.
"Hey, I think we're getting closer." Fate said, getting Celestia's attention. "I think it's about time we brought up the matter of your memory gap."
"Are you going to tell me what it is now?" Celestia asked.
"Actually, yes. The reason I didn't tell you straight away was because I needed you to believe I knew what I was talking about and that you trusted me to tell you the truth. I told you that story because I knew you needed something to 'get the ball rolling', so to speak."
"I trust you to give me the full story, Fate."
"Thank you. I should be able to finish the rest of the story before we reach the valley. Let's begin shall we?"
Fate cleared his throat, ready to continue his story.
"The next chapter in history takes place almost one hundred years after we left off. The population had just finished constructing the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters with you and Luna watching over them."
"There, the final piece. Now it is finished."
A voice echoed through a large stone room. Celestia stood in front of a large pedestal in the center of the hall. She placed a small stone sphere onto one of the arms sticking out from the pedestal.
"A wonderful resting place for the Elements of Harmony, don't you think Luna?"
"I do." Luna stood next to Celestia and gave her a smile. "This whole castle is fantastic. I am excited to brgin living here."
Celestia nodded. "Yes, we will have to start working on making sure the three tribes get their own castles as well. Perhaps start constructing houses out of stone too."
"Let's take it one step at a time." Luna said. "Let us go tell the workers their job is complete."
Celestia agreed and the two of them walked out of the large front doors to a lush clearing. A sweeping vista of bright green grass and wandering ponies lay before them. They held their wings open and stepped among the small village of ponies.
"Attention, we would like to declare that the construction of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters is complete!" Celestia said, raising her voice so everypony could hear it.
A small crowd of ponies stepped out of their thatch huts and formed a circle around Celestia and Luna, listening to them.
"We appreciate all of the effort that has gone into it!" Luna shouted. "And we are excited to begin watching over the tribes from our new home. All business regarding either me or my sister shall be directed to the castle!"
The crowd cheered in approval. They stomped their hooves on the ground and shouted. Celestia and Luna walked into the crowd and the ponies huddled around them, asking them questions about the future of their villages.
The alicorns tried to respond to the villagers as best they could, but they could barely speak over the commotion. They crowded around the two of them and showered them with praise.
But there was one pony who was not with the crowd. One pony sat against the side of a hut by herself. Her black coat hid her in the shade of a tree overhanging the hut.
Her face was twisted not into a smile, but a scowl. Hate fueled her face as she stared angrily at the crowd. She felt nothing but rage in that moment, watching the crowd of ponies cheer the two alicorns.
She grunted and turned to leave. Her horn glowed a light blue as she tossed a tree branch out of her path. She was different then any other pony that had come before her, she had something that nopony else had.
It seemed like it was coursing through her veins since the day she was born. Ever since she first laid eyes on the two alicorn rulers she had developed a deep anger at the thought of them.
"They don't deserve that castle. They don't deserve to rule us." She scowled to herself. "The only thing that makes them special is from having the blood of all three pony kinds. It is not fair!"
She kicked at the ground, sending up a cloud of dirt. For years she had been sitting in the shadow of the two sisters, and she had let her anger brood inside of her. She felt as though there was a stone weighing down on her, and she desperately wanted to cast it off.
Her jealousy had made her the only pony to feel pure hatred and jealousy. Ponies had felt anger and jealousy before, but it was only a fraction of what whirled through her mind.
She stomped into a worn down hut buried between a pair of dark trees. The branches on the trees were sagging and dull, contrasting the bright and lively ones on most others. Inside the hut three small clay vases sat around a larger vase. Inside the vases were a light red liquid.
"If an alicorn is the only one who may rule, then an alicorn you shall have." She said to herself, looking at the vases. "Blood from an earth pony, blood from a unicorn and blood from a pegasis. With this I can finally become a ruler."
She thought back to the castle and the Elements of Harmony inside it.
"Soon everypony will know the name of Luminaria..."
"Wait, hold on." Celestia suddenly said, stopping in her tracks.
"What?" Fate asked her, stopping as well.
"That name...Luminaria...it feels so familiar."
"Really? That's very good, that means the memory is starting to come back into focus."
"This is where my recollection of events starts to grow hazy. I remember the completion of the castle, and then I just recall mourning over something some time later. I don't know what happened in that period of time."
Fate nodded. "Then we're on the right track. Do you remember anything else now?"
Celestia squinted and rubbed her head, trying to think of that fateful day. "No, I don't. But Luminaria...she does something terrible doesn't she?"
Fate nodded again. "Uh huh. She was the most vile pony who ever lived. It is said that the wickedness in her heart could make a normal pony mad from even thinking about it. It was her that introduced true evil into the world."
Celestia stared wide eyed at Fate. Pieces of memory began to swirl in her mind. She thought of the wickedness within Nightmare Moon and suddenly she felt a sense of familiarity.
"Why have I never heard this before? If the events have been passed down then why have I not heard it? Why keep a secret like that from me?"
"Because we trusted you Celestia. You never spoke of your youth, so we trusted that is was not to be discussed. The few who passed it down all swore not to tell anyone until the day they were going to die, and they swore never to tell you of it. We felt It would have stirred up painful memories and disrupt your life."
"Who knows," He continued. "maybe it was fate that the story was passed down all those years, only for me to tell you now when it is most vital. Sometimes it is the storytellers who end up writing true history."
Celestia thought back through her entire life and kept hearing rumors of an old mare's tale about the old castle. Everypony who was asked about it denied any knowledge of it and eventually the rumors died out.
The rumors died out, but not the hidden piece of history.
"Tell me what happened next." Celestia said firmly.
Luminaria poured the last vase of liquid into the center case. She used her magic to place the vase next to the other now empty ones. The red concoction in the large vase swirled as she stirred it with a thin stick.
A quiet moment passed as she stared into the mixed blood with desire in her eyes. Soon her horn glowed blue and the vase started trembling. Sparkles emanated from the red liquid and it began to bubble.
She shut her eyes, focusing on enchanting the blood with her magic. Her magic pushed back against her, it was as if it could tell that what she was doing was unnatural.
She finally touched her horn to the vase and it vibrated uncontrollably. She stopped her magic and stepped back a pace. After a loud hiss the blood stopped moving and settled back into the vase.
Luminaria stood over the vase and looked down at the blood. It had a much darker appearance now. She smiled to herself.
"It worked..." She cheered. "Now I can finally prove to them that I'm worthy of ruling."
She reached her head down into the vase and drank a sip of the dark red blood. She felt the magic in it burn her throat as she swallowed it. A burning sensation started in her chest, it expanded and she felt like something was about to burst from her insides.
She fell to the ground and screamed in pain. Her back bulged outwards, causing her to scream again. The foreign magic flowed throughout her veins, threatening to tear her apart.
Luminaria pounded her hooves on the ground. She gritted her teeth so hard she felt like they would break into pieces. The bulge on her back burst, causing a pair of pure black wings to shoot out of her back.
Her legs started quivering as the magic flowed through them, enriching them with the power of an earth pony. Lights and magic shot out from her body, illuminating the hut and the trees around it.
With one last burst of light the magic finally subsided. Luminaria lay on the ground panting, holding onto her life. The pain in her body started to fade away.
She shook her head and stood up on her hooves. She looked over her shoulder and saw a pair of black wings. The wings rushed through the air as she gave them an experimental flap. Her legs pulled life out of the ground; Luminaria smiled as she felt the earth connecting with her.
She indulged in the sensation of her newfound transformation. "Oh this is more wonderful then I imagined! With these I can prove to those two that I deserve to rule."
Luminaria stepped out of her hut and into the evening air. She could feel the wind running through her light blue mane and the richness of the earth under her hooves.
"Now you cannot ignore me, nopony will." She said and started walking towards the newly created castle.
Luminaria walked through a crowd of ponies; they gawked at her and spoke to each other quietly. They all had questions but the look of rage on her face made them afraid to ask.
Celestia and Luna sat in front of each other having a discussion when the large front doors burst open with a blast of magic.
Celestia and Luna jumped to their hooves, shocked by the sudden entrance. A screen of smoke clouded the doorway. Through the smoke a black figure could be seen walking into the castle.
"Who are you?!" Luna yelled.
Luminaria stepped forward into the main hall and spread her wings out. Luna stood in shock at the sight of her wings and horn.
"Don't you remember me?" Luminaria said angrily. "I guess I didn't matter to you. You were to busy wasting away your privileges!"
"Kakia?" Celestia stammered.
Luminaria lowered her eyebrows. "That is not my name anymore. But I see you remember who I am."
Luna looked at Celestia then back to Luminaria. "Wait, I remember you too. You were the one who came to us and told us we were not being forceful enough."
"That was me. I came to you and proposed a way to make everypony's lives better, but you rejected me and told me I was wrong." Luminaria snarled.
"What you proposed was a tyranny." Celestia said. "One pony should not control the lives of many."
"Oh Celestia, put your ignorance aside and think for a moment." Luminaria said. "There are ponies who do not live happy lives, and you think that they can only improve themselves by relying on others? You fool, these ponies are dumb, they do not know how to improve their own lives, they need someone who will make them!"
"They need someone who can teach them!" Luna said forcefully. "You cannot make somepony be happy, no matter how much you press them. They need somepony who will show them the best way to gain the ability to pursue their own dreams and let them do it."
Celestia nodded. "That is how ponies learn, and learning is the only way forward. It is not by forcing things."
"You don't see it." Luminaria said. "I came to you and gave you the solution to maintaining a successful population and you threw it back at my face! Your ignorance is disgusting. That day made me realize something."
Luminaria started to walk over to the pedestal where the Elements of Harmony sat. "I realized that neither of you two knew how to rule. I rejected my old name and swore that I would spend my life proving to both of you how wrong you were. And now the day has finally come where a new age shall begin with me as it's proper leader."
Luna spread her wings out and lowered her horn. "Do not dare touch those Elements. They possess a power nopony can control."
"But that is where you are wrong Luna. I can and will force their power to submit to me." Luminaria took another step towards the Elements.
"No you will not!" Luna shot a quick beam of magic at Luminaria.
Luminaria brought up a small shield of magic and the beam bounced off of it and exploded against a wall. She flicked her horn and fired a beam back at Luna.
The beam hit Luna in the side of her face, knocking her back across the room and into the back wall.
"Luna!" Celestia cried.
A second beam hit Celestia in the back and knocked her to the ground. Luminaria smiled, looking at the two fallen alicorns.
She looked back to the Elements of Harmony and walked over to the pedestal. Her horn glowed as she picked up each of the Elements and moved them in front of her.
She focused her magic on th-
"Wait! Fate, stop. I remember now."
"I am starting to remember everything. It's all real, it all happened exactly like that story." Celestia said hurriedly.
"That's good." Fate said, getting excited. "How much do you remember?"
"I remember what she did." Celestia started getting worried. "Oh heavens I remember the evil she did that day. The evil that could never be undone."
Fate stared at Celestia, letting her speak.
"The darkness that was unleashed when she touched the Elements of Harmony...It was worse then when I had brought forth the darkness before; so much worse. It was because of her that there is evil in this world, it was in everypony's heart all along but she brought it to the surface."
"Princess," Fate said. "I think it would be best if you finish the story from your perspective."
Celestia nodded and calmed herself. "Alright, I will try."
I felt pain running through my back as I lay on the ground. My sister was laying against the wall; she was in more pain then I was.
Kakia was holding the Elements of Harmony in front of her. Or I suppose I should say Luminaria was, she was not the same pony I remembered speaking to before.
I looked up at her and the last thing she did was look down at me. I could see into her eyes and they were filled with everything dark and crooked. She only wanted one thing: power.
She took the Elements of Harmony and poured her dark magic into them. They started to shake and quiver, like they were afraid of her. Beams of black and white magic started shooting out of them, making the ground rumble.
The Elements turned black and shook harder. Cracks started to form in the ceiling above us. The beams of black magic began shooting into the ground and made the ground quake. I could only watch in fear.
Luminaria screamed as the Elements grabbed her with a black and white tendril. I saw magic being pulled from her body. I believe she had invited them to take the darkness inside of her, she thought that she would be able to control it.
But she was wrong. I saw the life start to drain from her, the Elements started pulling from everything she had in her. When the Elements finally let her go she collapsed to the ground and could barely move.
Five balls of blackness came out of each of the Elements and floated to the ground. Sparks came out of the orbs and caused the ground to shake again. Chunks of the ceiling were torn out by the force of the oppressive magic.
I rolled to the side as a piece of rock nearly crushed me. I looked back at Luna and saw her looking up at the Elements in fear.
The five orbs of magic touched the ground, each a different shade of black. A powerful wave of white magic burst forth from the Elements, turning the rocks that fell from the ceiling to ashes. The force from the magic sent the ashes into the air like a smokescreen.
I suddenly felt someone else there with us. I could see ponies inside of the ashes where the orbs were. As the light subsided I could see them.
I could look upon what Luminaria had created. Five ponies stood in a circle around the Elements of Harmony with dark magic obscuring them. They were horrible, an embodiment of everything the Elements of Harmony were not.
Terrible, twisted versions of the darkness inside Luminaria. Her creations all looked at each other and then at the Elements. I then heard Luminaria's coughing on the ground, still alive after she had failed to contain the power of the Elements.
She looked up at the creatures standing around her. I could see her face so clearly, it was wracked with desperation and pain. She reached out to one of them and said the last words I ever heard from her.
I didn't know what to do. I simply watched as the pony turned away from her and leapt out of the castle through the destroyed ceiling.
The others left soon after, each dashing away in different directions. Luminaria dropped her hoof to the ground and groaned in anger. Her eyes closed and she drifted out of consciousness.
Everything was calm after that.
I simply sat in shock. I couldn't believe what I had just seen. I looked back at Luna and saw her getting up on her hooves.
"What...happened to her?" Luna asked, almost lost for words.
"She tried to take control of the Elements. She failed." I told her, explaining everything I could. "I think when she grabbed onto the Elements with the intention of transferring their power into her body, but the power was far too great for her."
"So those ponies, they came from her?"
"I believe so. They must have been created when she tried taking the power into her body, but the Elements rebelled and took the evil in her heart and put it in ponies from her flesh. She's inadvertently created a dark living version of the Elements of Harmony." I said.
Luna shook her head in disbelief. "This is unbelievable. Those five ponies-"
She stopped mid-sentence and stared at something. I followed her gaze and saw Luminaria lying on the floor. My sister walked over to her and placed her ear on Luminaria's chest.
"She is still alive, but barely." Luna said.
I shakily stood up and walked over next to her. In all my days I had never seen a pony that looked so withered and weary. It hurt to see her so weak.
"What do we do now?" Luna asked me. "I fear she might die in our halls."
"She came to us, and while she brought her fate upon herself we have the choice of what happens with her now. I don't want to see her die." I told her.
"I agree, I do not know if I could stand letting myself watch her die if something could be done."
"What do we do?" I looked down at Luminaria and wished I could simply pick her up and put her back on her hooves. "She is close to dying."
"Her body is dying, but we can let her spirit live." Luna turned to me. "We can tear her spirit from her body and set it free. She can live on. But I am not sure if I want to subject her to that, would it not be worse to live an eternity as a spectator then simply to die?"
I looked Luna in the eyes and saw how much she meant what she said. Either choice would leave an irreversible stain on our conscience.
"I refuse to let somepony die if they can live." I said. "She will come to terms with her punishment. It is what must be done to save her."
So we did it. We tore her spirit out of her body and let it roam the world. Luminaria could live but only watch as the world turned. She would watch as we made everything right and pushed through our struggles. Only then would she learn that she was truly wrong, that control is not the way to make sure everyone lives happy lives.
The very next thing we did was leave that dreary castle. The creation of those five creatures corrupted the land around it. Everything about the land felt wrong and dark. Me and my sister could feel it seeping through the ground.
So we left it all behind. We left the area and forbode anyone from going back. It was marked as evil and no one was allowed there. We started over from scratch again, building our towns and communities once more.
The area that saw Luminaria's fall became known as the Everfree Forest. We moved into the plains and formed new villages far away from the forest that soon grew in that place.
But Luminaria was not as gone as I had hoped. Her presence could still be felt. Her presence in the world brought forth greed and anger from ponies. This was how the three pony tribes split apart and fought before forming Equestria.
"And then you erased her from history."
Yes, soon after we moved and I saw selfishness come into view, I spoke with Luna about what happened that day at the castle. We spent hours discussing it, but we came to one conclusion.
No one could know about what happened. If those events were to be lost in the mists of time then it had to be forgotten by everyone, including ourselves. It was the only way we could think of putting the events behind us and let history be history.
It would essentially make everything start over from scratch once more.
We told one of our most trusted companions everything that happened, and told her only to tell their offspring on the day they felt they were ready to keep the secret. We needed a record to be kept in the chance that one day history really would come back to haunt us.
And then we cast the spell. It wiped everyone's memory of Luminaria and everything she did. Ponies were angry with us for refusing to give them an explanation as to why we had left. But we only had our past judgement to go on, so we trusted our previous decision and told them nothing.
Only the one pony we trusted remembered what happened. The knowledge was passed down through the generations without us being aware of it. It did not stay within that one family tree, but we had no idea of it's existence.
That pony must have been your ancestor, Fate.
"No, I heard it from an old pony dying on the side of the road after being attacked by some creature. I think she mistook me for her son. She told me everything and I never forgot a word of it."
Oh, I see. She must have missed her son very much in that moment. It's all my fault that she was forced to carry that secret her whole life. We were so foolish. I was so foolish.
"Celestia, I think any pony would have done the same thing in your situation."
Exactly Fate, that is what is supposed to separate a leader from everyone else. The strength and courage to make the choice that is not easy, but what solves the problem. I did not act like a leader, I acted like a scared foal trying to hide something.
I completely ruined everything we worked so hard for by letting Luminaria go. My whole life had been plagued by my mistake, even as I fought to understand what it was that had caused darkness to exist!
I had brought suffering by failing as a leader. The sins of all Equestria sit on my shoulders. I have failed and everypony else pays the consequences! It is all because of me; I'm the world's worst enemy!
Celestia stopped and stared at their destination. At the bottom of a mountain stretched a valley filled with a perpetual mist. Pillars of rock stuck out of the mist that filled the dip in the land.
The land in front of them dropped sharply and lead into the bottom of the valley. The pillars of rock jutted out of the ground like spikes. It looked as if one could walk into the mist and simply disappear forever.
"I have never been here in person before." Celestia looked into the valley.
Fate looked at her out of the corner of his eye and smiled to himself. The two of them stared at the valley for a few moments.
"Do you have an idea what you will find here?" Fate asked.
Celestia thought about the question before answering. "Something from that dark day."
Fate nodded. "One of the Elements of Dissonance. That is what they have come to be called. One of them will be here waiting for the day you would arrive."
"What do I do when I meet them?"
"You will have to take their power, just like Luminaria tried to do. All you need to do is kill them and you can take their spirit, and by extension their power and ability, into yourself."
Celestia gave him a look of surprise and anger.
"Look," Fate said defensively. "I know you despise killing but it's only way. They are made from the same power as the Elements of Harmony. If you take their power you can turn it from evil energy into positive energy and you can essentially have a copy of the Elements of Harmony."
Celestia looked from Fate back to the chilling mist. She sighed, weighing her options.
"You need their power Celestia. It's the only way. If you feel that you have failed as a leader then this is where you begin to face your choices and conquer them."
She shook her head slightly while thinking about killing the Elements of Dissonance. "I will do what I need to do..."
Fate nodded. "Ok. Good fortunes Princess."
Celestia adjusted her horseshoes and began walking into the valley.
"Keep your guard about you at all times Princess, he will not go easy on you. This may be your toughest foe yet."
Celestia looked back at Fate and gave him a reassuring nod. She turned to the mist and continued walking.
"Oh! One last thing." Fate said. Celestia stopped and looked at him. "How is your swordplay?"
"Swordplay was considered a regal sport some time ago, but it has been many years since then."
"Let's hope your skills haven't dulled with time. I will wait here for you." Fate said.
"I will return soon." Celestia said and walked into the eery vapors, disappearing from view. Fear and death surrounded her as she placed one hoof in front of the other.
If one of the Elements of Dissonance really was here, they would have an easy target. Celestia wondered to herself just how many ponies got lost in these stone pillars.
A maze of columns spread out in every direction in front of her. It would be almost impossible to maintain a sense of direction in here. With no immediate goal Celestia wandered in random directions, weaving through the columns of hard earth.
Everything about the situation screamed to her to get out as soon as possible. She felt uneasy not knowing what could be watching her. The mist felt like an actual presence closing in on her.
She flapped her wings to dispel some of the fog. A gap in the mist formed around her, giving her a little more space to see. She continued walking in a random direction, occasionally flapping her wings to create a small pocket of visibility.
As she walked she saw a pillar that had fell to the ground. She walked up to it's base and saw that it had been cut cleanly through. Not many creatures would be able to do something like that.
A new sense of vulnerability hit her. She spread her wings and flew up to the top of one of the stone spires. The valley spread out in front of her, but the mist called out to her like it was summoning her back in.
The Element of Dissonance was in that mist, staying inside of it was where she would find him. She swallowed her fear and leapt back down into the mist. Dread and panic swarmed over her once again.
She kept her courage about her and pressed on. After wandering aimlessly she came across a cave entrance at the side of the valley. As she was about to step closer to it she heard the sound of hoofsteps somewhere behind her.
Celestia whirled around, spreading out her wings in preparation. The hoofsteps could be heard again, this time to her left. She quickly looked to her left, but the sound suddenly came from her right.
She looked in every direction, but she could see nothing in the foggy mist. The sound appeared in front of her and she instinctively ran towards it. As she chased the sound it got quieter and quieter.
Celestia looked around, she had no idea where the cave entrance was anymore. Her first move had already given her opponent an advantage. She mentally kicked herself for falling for such a simple trap.
Her ear flicked as she heard the sound again, coming from her right. She leapt into the air to her left and flew to the top of a pillar. The mist now completely surrounded her, she couldn't even see the ground.
Celestia heard another noise behind her and turned to see the top of a wide pillar. But this one was not just covered in mist, it had somepony standing on it.
"I had wondered when you would arrive." A colt's voice spoke.
Celestia stared at the colt. He had a deep red coat with a dark grey mane. He stood silently as Celestia observed him, watching her as she watched him. But something about the way he looked at her made her slightly disturbed.
He wore a white bandage around his eyes, completely covering them. Another fact that caught her eye was how he had no cutie mark.
"How can you-"
"See?" He answered for her. "I can feel the world around me. Unlike ponies like you I can see the world at it's deepest level. My connection with the earth is stronger then any normal pony. I can see through the earth and feel it."
"I can even see into a pony's heart." He continued. "I can see into one's heart and see what they really feel. One might be able to lie with their words but you cannot lie to your heart."
Celestia looked at him and tried to piece together what he was thinking right now. His face had no expression, and she could feel him staring into her, waiting for her to say something.
"What is your name?" She asked.
"Deceit. The anti-thesis to the Element of Honesty. You have come to attain my power along with the other four Elements of Dissonance. Am I correct?" Deceit said.
Celestia simply nodded.
"Tell me Celestia." Deceit stared at her. "Are you afraid of me?"
"No, I am not afraid of you nor am I afraid to die."
Deceit sneered. "Liar."
The handle of a sword jutted out of the ground with it's handle near Deceit's face. He slowly picked it up and held it in his mouth. He reared his head back and snapped it forward, flinging the sword at Celestia.
Celestia stood in place as the sword impaled itself into the rock in front of her. She looked at it's silver handle that had a purple gem emblazed into it. The sword looked familiar to her, it took her a moment before she recognized it.
It was the very same sword she had used when she had been practicing her swordplay almost fifty years ago.
A second sword appeared in front of Deceit. He waited and watched Celestia admire her old sword.
"Pick it up." Deceit commanded. "You wish to fix the present and repent for the past. You will start right now, with me."
Celestia looked down at her sword. It had a word written into the hilt of it: Excalibur. She picked it up with her magic and gave it a few experimental swings. It was surprising just how quickly all that experience came back to her.
Deceit picked up his own sword in his teeth. "Prepare yourself." He said out of the corner of his mouth.
Celestia looked at him and barely had time to bring up her sword as he lunged at her.
Deceit's sword collided with Excalibur as he jumped past Celestia and into the mist. She brought her sword back in front of herself, readying for whatever move he might make next.
A whoosing noise caught Celestia's attention as she turned and blocked another strike by Deceit.
He disappeared back into the foggy mist. Celestia spun her sword, bringing it to another defensive stance.
"You fight like I suspected a leader would. You fight defensively, like one who has things they wish to protect and only fight because they must. That shall not work now, you must push against me." Deceit's voice came from somewhere in the mist.
Celestia moved her sword to a more aggressive position and waited for Deceit to make a move. Her ear caught him before her eyes did. She spun on her hind legs and blocked another sword aimed at her.
As Deceit jumped back into the fog Celestia leapt in his direction and threw her sword at him. It spun through the air and landed in the ground just behind him. Celestia landed by her sword and quickly pulled it from the ground, following the sight of Deceit's tail disappearing.
She lost sight of him and flapped her wings, creating a pocket of fresh air. She looked around and saw him approaching from behind her. She threw her sword and he leapt to the side to avoid it.
As the sword hit the ground Celestia took control of it with her magic and launched it in his direction. He pivoted in the air and blocked her sword with his own. She chased after him as he jumped off of the side of a spire and into the mist.
He jumped from the side of one pillar to another, leaping in between them with ease. Celestia jumped into the air and followed him on her wings.
As he leapt off of a pillar he kicked it with his hind legs and a chunk of rock shot out from the side of it in front of Celestia. Celestia quickly shot the rock with a blast of magic and crashed through it, reducing it to rubble.
She fumbled to stay in the air and saw something approaching out of the corner of her eye. She spun her sword around to stop Deceit's sword from cutting her neck. She regained her composure and flew after him.
She flew after him and concentrated her magic. Her sword flew forward at Deceit. He turned and whipped his head to block the attack. Celestia's sword spun back and swung at him again, he twisted his neck to stop it.
He ran towards Celestia while blocking each strike from Celestia's sword. The glowing sword followed him, desperate to get past his defenses.
As Deceit approached her Celestia brought her sword back to herself and held it in front of her. Deceit jumped at Celestia and struck at her. She quickly positioned her sword to counter his.
He flipped backwards in front of her and spread his legs out, analyzing her stance. Celestia crouched down and prepared to attack. Before she could make a move he lunged at her and she barely managed to block his blow.
He didn't stop after one attack. He spun around and tried to hit her again. Celestia twisted and turned to avoid or block his flurry of attacks. He moved like a blur through the air around her, crashing through the mist in a fury.
Deceit jumped backwards, eyeing Celestia. Celestia panted, she had barely been able to stop his whirlwind of blows.
"You are skilled, but perhaps not as skilled as you need to be." Deceit said.
Celestia suddenly felt pain and looked down at her chest. A red cut marked across her chest, and a drop of blood ran out of it. She grunted and tried to ignore it. Her breath began to run short, she was starting to get exhausted.
"You have talent but you do not have control over it." Deceit leapt back at Celestia.
She recoiled and took a step backwards, blocking his attack. Deceit turned and leapt back at her, aiming his sword at her leg. Celestia turned her sword to stop him but he moved too quickly.
A red mark appeared on Celestia hind leg. She gasped at the sudden pain.
"You need focus." Deceit said.
A second mark appeared on her other hind leg, just above her knee.
"You are full of anger, and you cannot control it."
Celestia gasped again as a large cut appeared on her left front leg.
"You must focus your pain."
A forth cut cut itself deep into her last leg.
"Use your suffering to push yourself."
Celestia collapsed to the ground as her legs collapsed under her. She closed her eyes to push back the pain in her legs. Deceit walked out of the mist, his sword stabbed into the ground behind him.
He walked up to her and stared down at her. She saw him and tried to push herself to her hooves.
"Do not try to fight anymore, this is over." Deceit said calmly. "You have much promise, but you have not developed yourself enough to defeat me."
Celestia struggled on the ground.
"Stay down, I have things to tell you."
Celestia looked up at him angrily.
"You are getting desperate, I recognize that." Deceit said. "But you are letting your pain and your desire to do good get the better of you. That is why you lost."
Celestia took a deep breath and desperately pushed herself onto her hooves. Small streams of blood ran down her lower legs. "You...shall not kill me..." She painfully said.
"No, I will not kill you. That is the only thing I do not wish upon you. I want to see you grow, Celestia. I want to see you become as powerful as you truly are. You can be strong enough to accomplish all of your goals, and that is what I want to see."
"I seek absolute truth." Deceit continued. "I want to bring to the surface just how powerful someone is. That is what I do, I bring one's deepest secrets to light. And there is much stirring inside of you, Princess."
Celestia stared at Deceit intensely. "I'm not done fighting yet Deceit." Celestia picked up her sword.
"But I am." Deceit responded. "Tell me, who told you about us? About Luminaria?"
"An earth pony named Fate." Celestia spat.
"Fate? Interesting..." Deceit mused to himself. "Leave this place, go seek the second Element of Dissonance. You will find him atop the Rainkeeper Mountain near Trottingham. Maybe you will be able to defeat him."
Celestia struggled to stay on her hooves. "Why are you helping me? I thought you were born from hatred and lies."
Deceit frowned for half a second. "Do not confuse my desires with good. I simply wish to bring a pony's deepest thoughts into the open, and almost everypony has angry or selfish thoughts brewing inside of them. Good only comes from the suppression of the evil that naturally grows in us. I wish to bring forth that evil in ponies."
Deceit walked past Celestia towards the mist. "The way out is to your right. Rainkeeper Mountain is to the west of the valley. Do not disappoint me Celestia, I will be watching you."
Celestia crumbled back onto the ground, completely out of breath.
"And one last thing before I leave you." Deceit stopped before reaching the mist. "Tell Fate I said hello."
With that he calmly walked back into the obscuring fog and out of sight. Celestia lay on the ground, her mind and body racing. She had lost again.
She banged her hoof on the ground. "I cannot believe this. At this rate Equestria will be gone before I can do any good."
She thought back to Fate. He would still be waiting for her back at the entrance. He would surely be disappointed.
The mist loomed over her, watching her lay on her back. Watching her contemplate whether or not she should even get back up. She had lost quite a bit of blood from the wounds already, draining her of energy.
The stone spires looked down at her like a disappointed parent, she could almost see Deceit's bandaged face in every one of them.
Would it be worth getting back up? She tried thinking back to the last time she did any good. Every attempt she tried ended up in flames. Death had covered every single one of her deeds.
She practically invited death when she tried to help.
But this was the last straw. Right now there were two options available to her: she could get up and crawl back to Fate and try to defeat another Element, or she could just...stop.
She could stop causing more death. Stop causing more pain then she already had. Nightmare Moon was powerful enough to lead a kingdom, perhaps she should stay in charge of it.
"I've only caused pain and misery. From the very first time I led the kingdom I've made mistakes." She sighed to herself.
It would be so simple to just lay here. Just let go. Just let herself die.
No more suffering, and no more mistakes to be made.
It would be so simple. Just like the old days: simple.
Her body told her to stay down, her mind told her to stay down, and why go against what you tell yourself?
She sighed and stared up into the swirling mists.
"Equestria has a leader, it doesn't need another one..."