A voice called out from somewhere in the distance.
Celestia, get up. Come on, don't do this to me. Get up Princess.
It was far away but right next to her.
Do I seriously have to drag your sorry flank through this whole valley?
Celestia's senses came back to her. Everything was black and faded. Her eyes were useless and her ears could only hear a faint scraping sound.
Someone like you doesn't die this easily. Come on.
"Stop just lying there...you don't have my permission to die yet."
Her body was still out cold but her mind began to process sound. She heard the sound of something being pulled through dirt. And the sound of Fate's voice.
"F..." Celestia could barely speak.
"There you are..." Fate said. His voice was strained. He struggled under the weight of carrying Celestia on his back, her legs dragging on the ground.
"Wh...why..." Celestia mumbled.
"Because..." Fate groaned under the effort. "I'm not letting you die yet." His muscles burned as he carried the alicorn. "You owe us too much...if you just wanna lie there and die...then someone needs to drag you back."
Celestia's limp legs shuffled through the dirt, carried along by Fate.
"You should have left me." Celestia said, her mouth barely opening.
"No. Too many ponies need you. Equestria needs you, the world needs you, I need you. Can you not feel the pain the land is in over your own?"
"You need to let the past go...Your mistakes are the fault of your past self, you are a different pony now. You are free to be better then you were before, be better then your mistakes."
Celestia tried to speak but her mind gave out and she fell back into the haze of sleep.
-19 Hours Later-
Daily Log #528344
Date: 03-15-0005 - New Lunar Calendar
I must say, I am disappointed.
I do not wish to sell her short, but I was expecting more. This is something that may set things back. Her mind was ravaged by thoughts of guilt and anger.
She was angry at herself for making the mistakes that has shaped events for the past 3000 years, albeit very indirectly. However the blame does not fall squarely on her shoulders; she did not create the Elements of Dissonance, nor did bring out the darkness in the world. Those where the acts of Kakia.
Excuse me, I mean Luminaria.
I know that if Celestia is to overcome me then she must accept that others are just as responsible as she is, for that is what she fails to recognize. She will most certainly move forward, but what will make a difference is if she realizes that she cannot move away somepony else's blame by attempting to bringing it on her shoulders.
Sometimes someone just dies, there is not always something that can be done about it.
Her kind nature can be the better of her sometimes, it will need to be torn away in time. I do however believe that one of the greatest internal struggles for her is over. Nevertheless, I cannot account for the actions of the others.
I am especially curious at to what Cruelty may do to her. I know she has had her eye on Celestia for a long while, but never the chance to act on her desires. I will see if Celestia will be ready by then.
If she does not soon show the capacity to overcome the obstacles they will bring before her then I will have no choice but to be rid of her myself. No point in a useless pony who can't even find her own strength.
In addition, there is something else that bothers me in the meantime. I think the fact that I cannot figure out why it bothers me is what truly makes it bothersome. It is not like me to resort to guesswork.
But it shall have to wait for another time. I must be on my way if I am to keep on schedule.
However I will certainly have to have a chat with Fate, I cannot say I am fully surprised he has shown up in my sights again.
The first thing she felt was dry grass gently brushing against her. Celestia lay on the ground, slowly coming to her senses. Her eyes were the first thing to begin working again, and she saw Fate laying in front of her staring into the distance.
At the sound of her stirring Fate looked back at Celestia and sighed in relief. Celestia blinked and looked around. She saw the two of them lying under a dead tree with the entrance to the Valley in the distance.
"Are you alright?" Fate asked in a concerned voice.
Celestia lay her head back onto the ground, still tired. "I feel like I just died."
"You practically did." Fate said. "You lost enough blood to kill two ponies. You're fortunate to be alive."
Celestia mused the last part of his sentence in her head. She was so overcome with grief in that moment she wasn't sure if she considered being alive as lucky.
The two sat in silence as Celestia watched the grey clouds fade through the sky. She could see the shadow of Nightmare Moon in every swirl and every undulation of the clouds, each one laughing at her failure.
"You should have died in there." Fate said. "Do you know why you didn't?"
Celestia looked up at him confused. "Why?"
"Because you had me. You had someone who cares about you. I know you want to do everything yourself but you can't. You went in alone because you didn't want me to get hurt, but you can't do it alone."
"Is that why you went in to get me?" Celestia mumbled. "Because you care about me? Or is it because you think I can stop Nightmare?"
"Both." Fate said. "You have to understand Celestia, everyone needs you. Nightmare Moon is a tyrant, she rules with fear and ruthlessness. We need someone to stop her, and you are the only one who can do it. Giving up now would be the most selfish thing you could do. Just lay down and die because it's hard? That's not fair to anyone."
Celestia stared at the clouds for her answers. As much as she hated to think it, he was right and she knew it. She was their leader, their beacon in times of trouble. When someone was in times of need they would think of her.
She was the only thing left they could place hope in. And here she was, lying beaten and bloodied on the ground.
"Don't leave us all behind." Fate said, breaking another silence. "We have to keep going, regardless of what happened before. But you won't be alone, you'll have me now."
Celestia looked at Fate and saw the warmth in his eyes. The warm sincerity to match Deceit's cold logic hidden behind his bandaged eyes.
"How did you even find me?" Celestia said.
"Because I've been there before. I'm not unfamiliar with the Valley." Fate said and rubbed his eyes.
Celestia noticed him rubbing his eyes and then saw that they were bloodshot. "Fate, are you alright?"
"Oh, I'm just tired is all. You've been out for almost a full day, and I've been trying to help your wounds this whole time." Fate yawned.
Celestia looked at the ground and saw small piles of bloodied grass. Some of them were tied together into improvised bandages.
"I always found magic to be incredible." Fate said. "I sometimes wish I could use it."
"Because when I tried wrapping your cuts something happened to you. Your magic started healing you." Fate explained. "Your magic is a part of yourself, and even though your mind may have decided to quit, your magic didn't give up on you. Deep down you have much more then you think."
"You just needed somepony to remind you." He finished.
Celestia looked down at her chest. Her large cut from the battle with Deceit was completely gone. She tried moving her legs and found that she had no more pain in them.
Her magic had come back to her in a time of need.
Celestia suddenly felt like a fool. She felt like someone who was running away to hide from her fears. Her decision to lie down and let herself die seemed so ridiculous now, she was better then that and she knew it.
Celestia stood up and stretched her limbs, feeling a satisfying pop in her knee. A new rush of life flowed into her as she stood. She felt almost like a new pony.
"I hate to ask this, but the question needs to be discussed." Fate said. "What now?"
Celestia drew in a deep breath to clear her judgment. "We keep going. We go to Rainkeeper Mountain and find the next Element of Dissonance."
Fate smiled. "I'm very glad to hear that Princess." He tried standing up on his legs but could barely stand.
"Here, I'll carry you. You can rest." Celestia said, picking him up with her magic and putting him on her back. "I owe you that much."
"Thanks....." Fate yawned and closed his eyes.
Celestia smiled as she watched him fall asleep, she had almost forgotten what it was like to take care of someone.
"Hey Celestia..." Fate mumbled.
"You're heavier than you look, lay off the cakes would you?"
"Go to sleep Fate." Celestia chuckled.
Before she turned to leave something made a noise behind her. She looked around and saw a sword with a gleaming hilt leaning against the tree. She recognized it immediately as the sword she had been using in her battle.
The word on it's handle seemed to gleam with it's own light. Excalibur.
She picked it up and admired it. Her old tool was finally back in it's rightful owner's possession. She grasped it with her magic and it disappeared with a blink of light, ready to be summoned again at a whim.
The plains stretched out and seemed to call to her, challenging her to traverse their endless length. She stepped forth to answer their challenge and started walking to the west.
With each step Celestia could feel a sense of purpose in not only herself, but in Fate and every other one of the ponies she had led for so many years. They would be worth fighting for.
Rainkeeper Mountain would be another two days journey, so she kept a modest pace to avoid wearing herself out. The plains watched her silently, their grey hills judging her heart and mind.
Her fight with Deceit was the only thing she could think about. Her past and the guilt she felt came with it. She was the one who convinced Luna that they should tear Luminaria's spirit out, and until now she had always thought that made everything her fault.
But maybe it wasn't? Maybe she could let her guilt go as the result of a poor choice of her past self.
And perhaps the present could still be salvaged. Perhaps the cities and towns were not too far lost. A chance still remained that there were those who choose not to bow under Nightmare Moon's regime.
She would have to ask Fate about it soon. But for now she would keep walking, carrying the two of them through the plains.
-5 Hours Later-
A voice rang through Fate's head as he slept.
Wake up Fate.
He could barely register the voice.
"I said wake up!"
Fate jolted awake as he fell to the ground. Celestia looked down at him as he sprang his head up.
"Fate?" Celestia asked.
He stared up at her and rubbed his head. "Ow, why did you do that? I'm up already geez."
"Sorry, you wouldn't wake up. But this is important, look."
Celestia pointed to something in the distance. A thin trail of black magic swirled high into the air. Celestia recognized that magic, she could never forget it.
"Nightmare Moon..." Fate said under his breath.
Celestia ignored him, focusing on Nightmare Moon. She sat upright in the middle of an open field, blackness wrapping around her like a veil. She had her back to Celestia and was looking up at the dreary sky.
"Stay here." Celestia sternly commanded. "It's me she wants. Don't leave."
"What do you think she's doing here?" Fate asked.
"She found us, and if she wanted to kill me she would have tried to by now. She wants to talk to me. I should go."
"Be careful Princess, don't let her corrupt your mind too."
Celestia nodded her head. She leapt into the air and started slowly gliding over to where the black armored alicorn was sitting.
Celestia flapped her wings to slow her descent as she landed next to Nightmare Moon. Nightmare Moon barely acknowledged her presence.
Celestia stepped up next to her and sat down on the lifeless grass. She stared up at the sky alongside Nightmare Moon. The two goddesses looked up into the sky that one of them had created.
The plains didn't make a sound, too nervous to interrupt the fragile silence between the two alicorns. The power of the two opponents who were so close to each other.
"It has been some time..." Nightmare Moon calmly said, breaking the haze of silence.
"It has..." Celestia muttered. "It has been a long time since I have seen you. Not since that day you came back from the moon."
"You have not changed since the day I left. The day you cast me out and locked me up in that infernal prison everypony looked at every single day, completely unaware of what it held."
"What are you here for?" Celestia asked.
"I only wanted to talk. I missed you."
"I missed you too, more and more every day."
"Thank you Celestia, that means a lot to me."
"I wasn't talking to you Luminaria." Celestia spat. "I was talking to my sister. You cannot control her forever."
Nightmare Moon raised an eyebrow in contempt. "Oh but you are mistaken. I came to her when you had abandoned her. I gave her the power she needed to stand up for herself. She accepted me, and we became one. We are together because we need to be in order to stay strong enough."
Celestia frowned. "I will not claim that I was right in the way I treated her, and I so badly want to say something to her."
Celestia turned and looked Nightmare Moon deep into her eyes. Nightmare Moon glowered slightly as Celestia seemed to look past her eyes and into her soul.
"Luna...I am sorry for not giving you the respect you deserve. I am sorry...for everything that happened between us in that time. Please forgive me..."
Nightmare Moon stared at Celestia for a moment, saying nothing. The two stared at each other, looking into what the other was saying.
Nightmare Moon turned her head with a scoff. "Your apology is far too late, I am not going to stop. This is my kingdom, I shall have the blessings I have been denied, and you will not stop me."
Celestia frowned again. Silence crept over the two once more.
"Since you remember what made me what I am now," Nightmare Moon said. "then surely you must be after the Elements of Dissonance. Quickly followed by me."
"I can't let you go on like this, this isn't what you would have wanted for everypony. I have to try, for all the ponies you have forgotten about."
"Forgotten? I have not forgotten about anyone. I have created a stable system of rule, ponies are kept in line and in order. They are not able to make happiness for themselves, so I have given it to them!"
Celestia shook her head. "That is not you speaking, that is Luminaria. Please...Luna...come back to us, to me."
Nightmare Moon grunted and said nothing. She looked back up at the clouded sky nonchalantly.
"If that is what you truly feel..." Celestia's voice was pained yet determined. "...then I will have no choice but to destroy you. I will burn away your darkness that has clouded her mind and I will free her. I am going to fix the mistake that I made thousands of years ago. I will kill you."
Nightmare Moon turned and shouted at Celestia. "You think you can kill me? You are a foal compared to me!"
She thrust her head at Celestia, locking her horn against Celestia's. Sparks began to fly between them, caused by powerful magic urging to burst forth.
"You cannot even hope to touch me!" Nightmare Moon continued. "I have seen entire towns try to stop my most simple spells, and I killed them all without a single thought. You think you can obtain power by finding the Elements of Dissonance? They are only a fraction of what I am capable of. I could kill everypony you've ever known right now."
Nightmare Moon smirked. "I could even kill him. What was his name again? Fate?"
"Don't you even think about harming him!" Celestia shouted at the top of her lungs. "Or I will turn you to ashes right now!"
Nightmare Moon stared deeper at Celestia. "Do it."
For a moment Celestia began charging a beam of magic in her horn, but something stopped her. When she looked into Nightmare Moon's eyes she saw pure evil, but she saw something more.
The fallen alicorn.
Celestia closed her eyes and pulled away from Nightmare Moon. She couldn't kill her sister, she could still be rescued. Somehow.
Nightmare Moon scoffed. "Of course you can't do it, you think you're too good. You're just too good of a big sister aren't you? Sweet, sweet Celestia, always there for everypony."
Nightmare Moon leaned over and kissed Celestia on the side of the head. Celestia closed her eyes tighter, she couldn't stand the touch of something so familiar but so terrible.
Standing up, Nightmare Moon gave Celestia one last mocking smile.
"Good luck on your futile quest." She spat with a chuckle and vanished in a puff of blue magic.
Wind finally swept through the air, seemingly relieved to be able to flow freely without feeling threatened by Nightmare Moon's presence. Celestia's colorful hair flowed in waves in the air. She sat by herself, pained by the experience of seeing her sister so far gone.
Her eyes almost couldn't contain themselves, Celestia rubbed her face as her eyes threatened to let loose the pain in her chest.
Luna was gone, replaced by a monster had been waiting for a chance to upset the established order for generations. Luminaria had taken Luna's desire for respect and twisted it into a mockery of itself.
Celestia slowly stood up on her hooves and leapt into the air. Her main reason for defeating Nightmare Moon came rushing back to her head.
Her sister. She had to get her back.
And Luminaria was what stood in her way.
Celestia flew back to where Fate was rubbing his hoof into the dirt and landed softly behind him. He looked over his shoulder and quickly rubbed out what he had been scribbling into the dirt before speaking.
"Glad to see you back in one piece Princess. What did Nightmare Moon say?"
Celestia mentally sighed. "Luminaria didn't want to say anything, she just wanted to make me suffer more."
"Did you call her that? Luminaria?" Fate asked.
"She's more than smart enough to have figured out I remembered what happened by now."
"Hm...do you think she will try to interfere?" Fate asked.
"I don't think so, at least not until we come close to finding all the Elements of Dissonance. Her desire to be above me is one of the things that drives her, she wouldn't throw that away by killing me."
"Does this change anything for our plan?"
"No, we keep going. We are going to make her regret her decision to leave me breathing. We are going to Rainkeeper Mountain immediately."
Fate nodded in agreement. Celestia lowered to her knees and motioned for him to climb on her back.
"Come on, we can get there faster by flying."
Fate nervously climbed on her back and tightly grabbed her neck. He had never flown before, but he swallowed his fear and held on for dear life as Celestia took of into the air like a bullet.
After a few minutes of flying Celestia found that Fate had stopped gripping her neck quite as hard. She turned her head and looked back at him out of the corner of her eye.
His face had on a look of concentration she hadn't seen on him before. She pondered what went on in his head but let him think in peace.
No need to potentially open old wounds. Especially when her own mind could only think of one thing as well.
-2 Days Later-
"You know, this used to be my favorite forest." Celestia said to herself, her words hanging in the air in her new destination.
Celestia and Fate stood at the entrance to a dead forest. Trees with dried up gnarled branches spread out in front of them, remnants of a thriving forest which long since had the life drained from it.
"What makes this forest so special?" Fate asked.
"The Autumnfall Forest, it used to be so full and invigorating. It's all dead now. All dried up."
"Right now I'm more interested in it's location; right at the foot of Rainkeeper Mountain."
Fate looked up to the peak of Rainkeeper Mountain. It's abnormally flat top seemed to stretch up for ages, taunting them with it's height.
"This forest used to be completely sustained by that mountain." Celestia explained. "At the top is a reservoir of fresh rain water, and it would flow down the mountain to make rivers. Everything in the forest grew around these rivers."
"But the rivers are gone." Fate noted.
"And so the forest went with them. This place used to always rain on it's own, without the pegasi's involvement, but with Nightmare Moon's cloud layer, it stopped raining naturally."
Twisted dead branches reached out in every direction, desperate to find water to keep themselves from dying. Some plants had even moved closer to the empty rivers edge, trying to figure out were it's sustenance had gone.
Celestia took a step forward and the two descended to the foot of the mountain.
"We're finally here..." Fate said, taking in how large the mountain was up close.
"It's getting dark, we should sleep for the night and go in the morning." Celestia looked up into the sky and saw the clouds getting darker. "I'll get a fire started, see if you can find some wood we can use."
Within a minute a small circle of sticks was arranged. Celestia's horn glowed as a spark appeared in the sticks and sent them aflame. Fate blinked when the fire's light suddenly lit up his face, casting it's faint glow on him.
"Are we friends?"
"You and me. Are we friends? I know we are allies but is that it?"
Celestia looked at Fate, confused. "Of course we are friends. I don't see you as just an ally, you are more to me then that. We've looked out for each other and shared experiences together, that's what friends do."
Fate smiled to himself.
"And besides..." Celestia sighed. "You're the only friend I have right now..."
"You're my only friend too." Fate said and laid down on the ground to sleep.
Celestia watched him slowly close his eyes and fall into sleep.
His only friend, she was his only friend.
She removed her golden horseshoes and placed them neatly next to herself. Curling into a comfortable position she let her heavy eyes fall and put her mind at ease.
-8 Hours Later-
Daily Log #528347
Date: 03-16-0005 - New Lunar Calendar
She fights him tomorrow morning, I cannot wait to see what happens.
So much potential for failure and yet so much potential for success. Even I cannot predict precisely what might happen. There is so much that has yet to be determined within her mind, so much to be sorted through.
I'm certainly not a betting pony, but if I was I wouldn't bet against her.
While it's true that I can only account for so much of his actions, I know him well enough to know that he will not hold back. Which is good, I hate it when ponies hold back.
I realize how much these logs have become about myself over the past few years, but I am not sure why I find that fact so discomforting. Perhaps that is what has been bothering me lately.
It shouldn't be about me though, these logs are so I may have a perfect record of events as they unfold. These recent logs are the most important, the things that will happen now are some of the most important events in all of history.
It is not the place for me to think up ways to sabotage my own self.
I remember when
She implied that it is wrong to embrace one's inner strength, where the deepest darkness can lay.
And that is why I want to kill her.
Ah, I have spent too much time on this log, I should stop it here.
I have business I must attend to before Celestia makes her way to the top of the mountain. The sky is getting brighter, I must go.
A large unicorn stood over a mechanical workbench, it's wide table covered in golden trinkets. The stallion bent over his creation and squinted, concentrating on it's fine inner workings. He used his magic to float a tiny gear into place and pressed it down with a click.
"Perfect." He said to himself with a satisfied smile.
He wiped the sweat from his forehead. His off-white coat had smudges of soot from working a large golden forge and scars from hundreds of years working metal. The nearby forge silently hissed as he rotated a valve and shut it off.
To an untrained eye his work station would look like something from another world. It had functions and features even the most experienced engineer could not comprehend. But it was not the technological advancements that made it seem so foreign, it was the setting that surrounded it.
All around the unicorn and his machinery were swirling purple and white colors. They danced madly around with no form or cohesiveness. The Void was not just where the stallion liked to work on his creations, it is what he called home.
As he worked in the Void a voice spoke up, catching him off guard.
Greed spun around to face his intruder. "Wha- oh perfect, what do you want? How did you even get in here?"
"You left the back door open."
Greed looked behind his intruder and saw an open portal leading to a mountaintop. "Hm, I knew I forgot something. Since you've made yourself at home is there anything I can do for you Deceit? Perhaps I could get you a cup of tea? Maybe a hoof massage?" Greed said mockingly.
"I just wanted to chat for a little bit, that's all." Deceit casually wandered over to where Greed was working. "Perhaps you could tell me what you're working on this time."
Greed scowled. "It's a fantastic device called none of your business."
"If you say so." Deceit nonchalantly wandered over to a golden cylindrical device with an open end. "What's this?"
"Something I finished recently. It emits magical energy in form of light. I suspect it would take Canterlot's top engineers another twenty years to figure out how to make one. And as an added feature, it also happens to be none of your business." Greed said, yanking the device away from Deceit.
"And where did you get the materials to build it?" Deceit asked.
"The precious metals vault in Manehatten. Right out from under their noses."
"Nightmare Moon is going to be very angry about you taking her things."
"He he, yeah she'll be pretty ticked." Greed chuckled to himself. "Maybe she'll even execute the guards who were supposed to guard it, that would be a nice bonus."
"Who's your guest?" Deceit motioned with his head to the side, ignoring Greed's comment.
"You mean the annoying red one who just waltzed in here and started asking a bunch of questions?"
"No, I mean them." Deceit pointed at a lone figure in the distance. "Where did you find her?"
Greed looked over at the cloaked figure. She stood in place, staring straight ahead. Their brown cloak was covered in burns and tears.
"I just randomly found her here, all beat up. I don't know what her story is, she hasn't said a word since I found her. She just stands there catatonic. I guess her mind isn't immune to the effects of the Void like mine is."
Deceit studied the cloaked figure through his bandaged eyes. He tried to imagine what thoughts wandered through her head, if any.
"Look Deceit, I'm busy right now, so just tell me what you wanted to say so you can leave me in peace." Greed said impatiently.
"She's coming. She's coming for you next."
"Who is?" Greed lowered his eyebrows.
"Celestia. She knows about us now and she's coming for you next."
"What? How? How does she know about us? And about me?"
"A pony named Fate told her. She has already tried to defeat me. Needless to say, she was not successful."
"Well then what is she doing coming after me?"
"I told her to come here after I defeated her. If my estimates are correct she should be here soon."
"Why did you do that? You could have just killed her then and there, you didn't need to drag me into her problem! I don't care about poor old Celestia, I don't care about her problems and I certainly don't care about her kingdom! I'm fine on my own as it is now."
"So that's it? You don't want to help take down Nightmare Moon's reign? You just want to sit here by yourself and keep stealing? Is that what you want?"
"Actually that's exactly what I want. Celestia's guards were so dumb it made stealing from them almost pathetic. At least the Shadowbolt Guard have a sense of security. It gives me a nice challenge."
"Come on Greed, I know you despise Luminaria. I know that you feel anger towards her and you would love to see her killed. If you want to get her out of the picture then you are going to need Celestia's help to do it."
"I don't want anything to do with Celestia. In fact, I would much rather just see her wiped from the face of the earth just so I wouldn't have to think about being bothered by her ever again." Greed huffed.
"Then do it. She will be here soon, you will have your chance. But I must warn you however." Deceit began walking towards a small portal back to the real world. "She is more skilled then you or I remember. Don't take her too lightly because she was a princess."
Greed watched as Deceit jumped through a portal and ran down the side of a mountain. He shook his head in disbelief. All he ever wanted was to be left alone, and Deceit had to go and drag him into things.
"Alright you jerk, you win..." He said to no one in particular.
He walked over to a large stockpile of golden mechanical weapons and looked them over. The golden devices stared back at him, eager to unleash their raw power onto whatever poor soul was in front of them.
He hadn't had a good fight in ages.
"I'll fix your mess, Deceit." He sighed and a dark smile grew on his face.
Fate's ear flicked at the sound of magic crashing into the ground. He sleepily opened his eyes and saw the burnt remains of a campfire. He heard another crash and turned his head to where the noise had come from.
Far in the distance he saw Celestia jumping through the air and twisting her body, shooting invisible targets with bolts of magic. He watched as she spun her sword around her body and attacked a dead tree.
Her sword looked like it was gleaming off of an invisible sun as it sliced through rotted wood. The tree shifted it's weight and fell over, it's trunk cut clean in half.
The dead forest looked like the scene of a battleground. Craters littered the ground as far as Fate could see, and bits and pieces of trees were scattered throughout the area. Celestia looked at the burnt out campfire and noticed Fate watching her. She flew over to him.
"Up early I see..." Fate said, completely in awe of what remained of the dead forest. "Did you do all of that?"
"Yes, I was getting some last minute practice in."
"And how long were you...'practicing'?"
"About an hour."
"My word Princess, you took out the whole forest."
Celestia smiled, flicking Excalibur out of sight.
"Is that ice?" Fate asked, pointing to a tree trunk covered in a chunk of icy spikes.
"Yes, remembering my pegasis blood I had the idea of turning the weather into a weapon. I haven't quite figured it out though."
"Wow, I don't think you'll have a problem with this Element of Dissonance, whoever they are."
"I wouldn't be so sure Fate, Deceit was incredibly skilled, and I don't know anything about the next one. They might not even be up there." Celestia looked up at the mountain.
"Of course they are, Deceit never lies. You should get going now before we waste any more time." Fate urged.
"You're right, I will start heading for the top of the mountain. You should stay here, I can fly faster by myself and I don't want you getting caught up in the battle."
"Oh, yeah, sure. I'll just...wait here. Good luck Princess." Fate gave a smile.
As Celestia spread her wings to fly off she asked him one last question. "Hey Fate, why do you call me Princess? I'm not the princess anymore."
"You still are as far as I'm concerned, you just need to get your crown back. Now go on Princess."
Celestia nodded. "I will be back this time, I promise."
Celestia jumped into the air and flapped her wings to soar upwards towards the mountain's peak. Fate got smaller and smaller as she flew higher up the side of the mountain. It wasn't until he was out of sight when she realized something...
How did Fate know Deceit never lied?
Fate waved to Celestia as she disappeared into the distance. Her body turned into a colorful dot as she flew up the mountain.
Slumping to the ground Fate sighed to himself. He didn't like being left behind again. He knew that it would be too dangerous for him to go, but he still wanted to at least see what the battle would look like.
"Oh well, maybe next time." Fate said to himself, trying to cheer himself up.
A noise caught his attention, causing him to jump to his hooves. He looked around but saw nothing. He held his hooves up, threatening to punch his mystery visitor.
"You'd better come out, or you'll face a world of hurt you ain't never gonna expect!" Fate said in the toughest voice he could manage. "I'll turn your face inside out if you don't show yourself!"
"I hope nopony takes your bluffs seriously." A voice said behind Fate.
He looked for the source of the voice and gave a sigh of relief when he found it. "Oh, Deceit, thank Celestia that was only you."
Deceit stood in front Fate, the ends of the bandage over his eyes flowing in a slight breeze.
"What brings you around these parts?" Fate asked, sitting down comfortably.
"I was in the area and figured we could have a chat since we would be alone for a little while. I'm glad to see you two have finally made it here, for a moment I thought Celestia wouldn't be getting back up."
"Yeah but you didn't count on me being there did you? You didn't count on her having a friend around to help her did you?"
"No I didn't."
"Especially when it happened to be me. I bet you were plenty surprised to see me wander into the valley again."
Deceit frowned, saying nothing.
"Just tell me you hate me already." Fate said with a laugh.
"That isn't true." Deceit snapped back.
"Yes it is, you hate me, that's why our little rivalry is so important to you. Admit it, you're just angry at me because I'm the only one who has never lied to you. You're trying so hard but it will never happen."
"I do not hate you, I see you as a challenge. No one has ever spoken to me without telling a lie, yet you seem to be able to say the most outlandish things and I still sense you are telling the truth."
"Maybe I'm magical."
"That sounds an awful lot like a lie."
"Not so. Surely if one pony says something they know to be false, and the other knows that the first pony knows it's false then it is not a lie. I love how the concept of sarcasm seems to drive you off the deep end." Fate laughed.
Deceit frowned. "You feign ignorance of your own motives. When you act upon them I will have caught you, then we can put our long standing rivalry to rest."
"That particular thought is working under the assumption that I have motives at all. Some ponies just want to do good because they feel it is right. Of course some others just like watching everything play out; grand tales like these are some of the most fascinating."
"You are very good at dodging questions Fate."
"And you at raising them. Although perhaps you would get the answers you want by asking the correct questions in the first place. But maybe you don't because you don't like what you might find out about yourself." Fate gave Deceit a smug grin.
"My reasons are my own." Deceit grew slightly angry.
"Just face it, you'll never beat me. I will never ever lie to you, and that's final."
"No one in the world can hold off lying forever. One of these days you're going to find yourself backed into a corner with no way out expect to lie, and when you do I will finally kill you."
"I'll keep an eye out for that day." Fate smirked.
Deceit ignored him, looking up at Rainkeeper Mountain. "She can't keep going you know. Eventually she will face an obstacle she cannot overcome, and then she will fall."
"But she won't be doing it alone."
"And you are going to help her? What can you do? You are simply a sidekick to her."
"I'm not just her sidekick, I'm her friend. That's what you fail to recognize: the strength of friends. She won't ever be alone so long as she has friends with her, and understanding that is what makes her so strong."
"Yet she is still capable of dying, then your friendship will mean nothing. A group of corpses cannot be friends, once you die your friends mean nothing."
"Is that why you are so obsessed with killing? You are afraid of making friends because you might lose them?"
"No, the value ponies like Celestia places on her friends is her weakness. It creates a vulnerability that can be exploited. You create a vulnerability in her. If I were to kill you right now she would feel pain."
"You're fun Deceit. I can never hope to be as great as Celestia is but I can always outplay your little game. I can only imagine how much you want to kill me yet your desire to discover my secret overcomes that. I wonder how you would react if it turns out I had no secret at all?"
"You cannot hope to fight with words forever. These times are times of fighting, words lose all their meaning when we hit situations we cannot escape with wit. It would be a shame if you were to get yourself killed before I get the honor."
"I'm starting to think this conversation has run it's course, don't you?" Fate looked at Deceit, almost interrupting him.
"I can't help but agree. Farewell Fate, enjoy the sidelines of Celestia's endeavors." Deceit said and took off like a bullet into the plains.
Fate watched him leave and sat back onto the ground. "Always a pleasure." He said to himself with a smirk.
Despite the harshness of Deceit's words, Fate felt their was some truth in them regarding him being a sidekick. But then again, he always preferred to stay outside of conflict and simply watch it take place. He rarely minded not having a large say in what happens.
He only ever supplied information that allowed things to take place, and he preferred it that way.
After pacing around the burnt out campfire thinking about his conversation with Deceit, Fate began to grow bored. He looked around for some interesting landmark but found nothing but dead trees and craters where Celestia had been practicing.
He suddenly had the idea of taking a walk around the mountain in search of something to do.
"I won't go far, Celestia might be back sooner then expected." He muttered to himself.
Taking off in a random direction Fate started traversing the foot of the mountain. After finding nothing he was about to turn back when something caught his eye. A cave entrance.
His interest piqued he wandered closer to the cave and found that it was an entrance to a mine, presumably abandoned some time ago. He looked around and saw a sign that had been broken in half.
Throwing caution to the wind Fate stepped into the mouth of the cave. It had wooden beams lining the sides to prevent cave ins, some of the beams were worn and decayed from years of neglect.
The light from outside carried far into the cave, but lanterns also hung on the walls. Fate reached up and twisted a tiny knob to light one of the lanterns, carrying it in his mouth for light.
"This mine looks to be only 30 or so years old, I wonder why it was abandoned." He thought, looking around at the empty tunnels.
The air was heavy and dank from who knew what. It pressed down on him, giving a sense of doom all around him. But his curiosity got the better of him and he pushed deeper into the caves.
As he reached an intersection in the tunnels he spotted a light up ahead. Some of the wooden beams even showed signs of being replaced the farther in he got.
"This is the least abandoned abandoned mine I've ever seen." He thought. "I should probably-"
"What was that?" Fate whipped his head around, looking for whatever made the noise.
A light appeared at the end of a tunnel to his right. He looked to his left and saw a second light. And they were both getting closer.
"Yep, time to go!" He quickly dropped the lantern and sprinted back to the entrance.
As he ran he heard hoofsteps and the sound of wings chasing after him, getting closer and closer. He galloped faster to the dim light of the end of the tunnel, his heart racing.
As he got close to the exit he was suddenly yanked to the ground. He hit the ground and tried to scramble to his hooves but a rope caught his legs and tied them together.
Within seconds he was tied into a knot by a number of ropes, squirming to break free. He looked around at his attackers and saw the faintly lit outlines of a group of ragged looking ponies.
"Looks like you picked the wrong day to go exploring little pony." A large pegasis snickered.
Fate struggled again but found that he could barely move. He tried calling for help but his voice came out as a muffled groan due to the rope around his mouth.
"Bandits, why did it have to be bandits?! Why here? Why now?" He mentally panicked.
The bandit ponies looked down at until a stern looking earth pony shouted. "Take him to the back with the other one, he might be worth something."
The earth pony leaned down to Fate's face.
"And if he's not, killing him shouldn't take very long." She smiled.
The other bandits nodded and dragged Fate down the tunnel, following the orders of the mare. Fate tried flailing his limbs in a panic but could do nothing as he was carried into the dimply lit cave.
The bandits laughed as they dragged him across the rough jagged floor of the mineshaft, bumping him into rocks and debris lining the floor.
"I could really use a sun-controlling ex-princess alicorn right about now..." He thought as he was carried away into the darkness.
Rainkeeper Mountain had looked much shorter than it actually was to climb. Even with her fast wings it took her a full two hours to come close to the top.
"Whatever is up here, I need to focus in it and only it. No mistakes this time." Celestia said to herself as she reached the upper parts of the mountain.
She stopped near the top in order to rest her wings. She took a few deep breaths to clear her mind. Deceit was right, she did need to focus more, she had so much that needed to be done she felt like her mind would overload.
She was extremely nervous about fighting the second Element. Deceit had simply toyed with her, and she had no idea how powerful this second one might b-
A dot appeared at the edge of her vision high up in the air. She looked up at the dot and realized it was getting closer. She watched it grow in size until she saw it was headed right for her.
Her eyes grew wide and she leapt out of the way as the object crashed into the ground and exploded.
Celestia looked up again and saw more objects barreling towards her. She swiftly dodged a second explosion as it blew up in front of her.
The objects picked up in number, raining down on Celestia. She leapt into the air to avoid the ground. As she did she flew up over another missile and it exploded in midair underneath her, barely missing her.
She quickly flew up to the top of the mountain, evading the fast projectiles. Explosions rocked the air around her and threatened to tear her to pieces but she charged through them.
As she reached the top a missile flew in front of her and exploded in her face. She covered herself with her limbs instinctively.
Celestia crashed into the ground, folding her wings in to avoid breaking them on impact. She rolled to a stop and grunted.
The salvo of explosions stopped as Celestia hastily got to her hooves and looked around for her attacker. The summit of Rainkeeper Mountain was empty. It had a ring shape with a pool of water in the middle.
In the middle of the water was a small island with nothing on it. As she looked above the island she saw who had been attacking her.
A platform of rock was floating in the air, and standing atop it was a large light grey stallion, his dark blue mane swept back out of his face. The stallion had a large golden machine with a pair of long barrels strapped to his body.
"So you're finally here." He spat.
"Who are you?" Celestia said, standing her ground and mentally preparing herself for whatever his machine might do.
"I'm what you've come here for." He sneered, all too eager to talk about himself.
"You know what I'm here for? You know what I want?"
"I know what you want, we all know what you want. You want to stop Nightmare Moon, and you need us to do it. That is what you are doing on my mountain, why you came all this why just to find me."
"You are so selfish..." He frowned. "But then again, so am I. You wish to use us, use me, for your goals. I know what selfish is, and it's written all over your face."
"I must do what needs to be done. Nightmare Moon cannot stay in power, that is why I came."
"And how convenient for me. Deceit just told me you were hunting me down so you can take my power and run off. You want to rip me out of my peaceful existence, and that doesn't make me the least bit pleased."
A bolt of lightning struck through the air, illuminating Greed and his weapon. Celestia ignored the lightning, focusing on Greed.
"Your words will not stop me, I am here to fight you." She shouted. "I did not endure over a month of pain to stop here. I am sorry, but I must overcome you."
"Do you even know who I am?" Greed scoffed. "I am the one the myths talk about. All the legends of the world's greatest thief, that was me. They even say I stole the keys to eternal life. No one has ever caught me, what makes you think you can now?"
Celestia's horn glowed. "Because now everything is depending on it. I won't leave here alive without beating you."
"Then that makes my goal pretty clear. I'm gonna have fun turning you to tiny bits." He laughed.
Greed lowered the large barrels strapped to his back and pointed them at Celestia. With a smirk he magically pressed a trigger on the barrels and fired another missile at her.