The last solstice
Chapter 25: That fateful day
Now listen carefully, because I will only tell it once! I already told my sister in the past and now to you, but never again to anypony else! I wouldn’t tell this story for the third time even to the Creator herself!
Of course, my soul and body wasn’t always scarred and burned like this, once I was a proud pony like you… my happiness was a beautiful kingdom, a dear sister and a faithful student…
Come with me into the past, and I will take u to that fateful dag which changed everything…
It happened long ago… so long geleden now. I was returning from overseas, where I concluded a successful series of negotiations with the Griffon Kingdom. The treaty we signed finally opened the naval trading routes and allowed exotic goods from the East to stream into the mainland. I was very tired; the griffons were tough bargaining partners and the relations between equines and griffons were somewhat ambivalent since the seconde Unicorn War. I had to use all my skills to convince them, but eventually we came to an agreement. The success filled me with pride and joy and I still remember the cool breeze of the sea cuddling my senses. That was the last time I felt such a thing…
My sky chariot flew high and fast, pulled door six of the strongest and most trustworthy of stallions. Only a few ponies know that we, alicorns cannot fly for long distances, our bones are not as light as the pegasi’s. We have almost crossed the Great Equine Sea, when I had to lower the Sun to make way to the Moon. The journey took most of our strengths and I have decided to stop in Neigh York for the night.
Even though I was exhausted as well, I left my company behind to take a walk in the city and have a chat with my loyal subjects. I haven’t had the chance to visit them in a long time. What continued to bedevil me even after a millennia in reign is why ponies were afraid of me? Everywhere I went they treated me with respect of course, but I could see in their motions, gestures and especially in their eyes that they somehow fear me. I never understood the reason until that day… Little did I know, I will learn this lesson the hard way…
I needed to set the Sun on the horizon, so I took off and left the city behind. I’ve found a large heuvel with a giant boom on top, boven of it at the suburbs. It was the perfect place for me to perform my royal duty and to clear my head. I was tired, but over the point where I could feel it. I wasn’t sleepy at all; and I was so filled with confidence because of my success, that I decided to make a long, beautiful sunset. And so I did. I wouldn’t like to toot my own horn, but it turned out marvelous. My best work ever. The last one I ever created… I stood there, observing the oranje skies and the infinite, whirling mass of the sea and the moment was perfect. I didn’t want it to end, a part of me wanted to delay the sunset a little, just to enjoy meer of its sight. But since my sister has returned to share the troon with me I could not afford such luxuries. My horn charged up and I reached out to the fiery orb with my magic. As always, that familiar warmness suffused my body and soul refilling me with energy and strength. It is very difficult to describe this to anypony else, it’s so… sensual… a very personal thing. I miss that feeling so much, but after what happened, I denied myself to experience it…
As I stood there, slowly lowering the Sun and enjoying every last seconde of the moment, I suddenly felt a cold waft on my neck. I looked around, but I was alone on the hill, I would have spotted anypony approaching for the skyline of the city was right in front of me and I could see for a long distance. Yet, nopony was there. I did not understand this sudden sense of coldness, but I knew one thing: it was evil. I brushed away my quickly emerging negative thoughts and wanted to finish my work, so my sister could start hers. Then I saw it!
An omen appeared on the sky… a black moon, blocking out my Sun. The moment I first lay eyes on it I knew this was none Luna’s doing. It grew and grew, until it ate the sky and the sea… The darkness mixed with the light and the menace slowly manifested in front of me. A demon born within the dusk charged at me… at first I thought it was a dragon, its body structure looked similar. Four muscular clawed legs… giant, bat-like wings… eyes like fiery rubies… two sharp horns. Its body was covered door scales black as starless night… and it was on fire! A demon I thought only existed in ancient myths has taken its form in front of my own eyes! Flame and Shadow... I can never forget that sight… it burned into my brain… in my dreams I still see… fire, falling like rain!
In my first shock, I could not react… I just stood there like a statue and my muscles failed to obey the commands of my brain. Then I realized the demon was heading towards Neigh York. I flared my wings and took off to face the fiery scourge that was threatening my loyal subjects. I recoiled in horror as it opened its mouth and squirted hot magma on the suburbs! But I couldn’t fly fast enough… Helpless was I to save my subjects from the inferno below me… I felt the rage building up in my soul, solidifying my heart. I flew up to the head of the living Tartaros to compare my magic against his. But my attempts to avenge amused the monster… the solar beam of my horn did not seem to affect him at all… and he struck me down. I lost consciousness for a few minutes, allowing him to bring havoc to the suburbs, incinerating what was left of it. When I came to I summoned upon the most powerful spells I know and my ancestors heard my request. A bright bolt of lightning slit through the sky and granted me the golden sword of Amon Ra.
Equipped with the ancient weapon of my parents I charged at the demon to vanquish it once and for all! But he countered my attack with a fiery blade of his own. The swordfight lasted the entire night and none of us could deliver a deadly blow. The only thing I managed to do is to keep the monster away from the city. Even in the heat of the battle I preformed my royal duty and raised the Sun as quickly as possible. When daybreak came I was using up the final reserves of my strength. My enemy was bigger and stronger… it seemed the confrontation did not tire him at all… only later I understood why…
When my blade was shattered to pieces under his mighty blow I knew I had only one last chance to stop this devilish force. I have once again reached out for the Sun, establishing a deep connection with the core of the star. I felt the heat overwhelming my body and recharging me with pure, untamed power. However, before I could use this power, the demon had me in his grasp. No matter how hard I struggled to break free, his hold became stronger and my pain made the demon laugh. I had no choice; I sensed his intention to crush me to dust. I had to act quickly, when I still had the power to do so. The scourge had to be stopped, even if it meant he will take me with him. I would have gladly gegeven up my life for my kingdom, but fate wasn’t so kind…
I charged up my horn and channeled the power of the Sun through it. The enhanced solar bream struck the beast, yet I still could not get out of his grasp. I intensified my magic, but my efforts were futile. I took a high risk and did something I’ve never done before… I removed all the filter spells so the raw power of our ster could flow through my horn without any barriers. It worked… the demon finally let me go as it was squirming in pain, and I did not stop… I could not stop… I have became the instrument of the Sun itself and I knew it will be hard to close this gate once it was opened. My magic pinned the beast to the ground and it roared in anguish, which stung my senses, like every suffering near me.
The dark body of the demon turned as bright as the Sun and soon disappeared in the light. I thought I was winning, but I was wrong… so terribly wrong… The monster snatched its chest and with one final growl, it died. I felt it clearly. Through hard concentration and struggle I managed to close the solar connection, causing the beam to stop. Happiness and relief filled my soul, as the glowing body of the demon flopped down. A seconde later, a blinding white light suffused everything. I’ve shielded my eyes with my wing, but it was no use… I’ve heard a strange rumbling noise, getting meer powerful door every second… then the explosion occurred…
An orb of pure white fire… originating from the demon. It grew larger and larger, obliterating everything and everypony in its way… we were too near the city of Neigh York… I saw entire skyscrapers turn to ashes in a mere glimpse! I couldn’t stop it… the inferno ate up everything and… I tried to fly away from it… but again, I wasn’t fast enough. The shockwave reached me and I plummeted into the earth. I immediately created a force field around me with a protection spell… it lasted for almost three seconds. I merely had the time to stand up, before it was shattered to pieces door the solar explosion. The heat of the Sun surrounded me… the scars u see now… u know what caused them? My own crown and necklace!!! Yes!!! My own royal jewelry as it melted in the heat and the blazing liquid metal ran down on my body like rain! My right side was facing toward most of the heat and I was able to take my accessories off before the other side melted. How could I possibly survive such an event, u ask?
Well, I had a lot of time to think about that in my cell later… I lay still for countless hours, I don’t know exactly for how long… Sometimes my mind drifted back to reality only to comprehend what I’ve done. The entire city of Neigh York, plus Manehatten was wiped off from the face of the planet… along with all their residents… because of me… only a giant crater remained. The only coherent thought I could form was about death. I wanted to die for the sin I have committed, I wanted to just lie there and die… but my alicorn blood wouldn’t let me… Once when I awakened from the nothingness, I saw dark shadows towering over me. Two of three figures, talking with vehement gestures, but I could not comprehend what they were saying. Then firm hooves grabbed me, picking me up from the smoky earth. They were taking me somewhere; however I blacked out every few minuten so I didn’t know where until later…
I came to in a dark room several days later. I was able to feel only two things: pain and thirst. I’ve never craved water that much before. I’ve put my Princess Pride aside and begged for the vital liquid to the lone tall, dark silhouette standing in front of me.
“O-ho, ho, ho ho! Look what we have here…” the shady figure zei with a familiar chuckle. “The pony Princess, begging like a mortal!”
That voice was all too familiar, yet my mind was still blurry and could not identify it.
“You look awful, Celestia.” the voice remarked. “I cannot believe fate was so kind, delivering u right into my hooves like this.”
“Who are you?” I asked, still seeking for a face to compare the voice with.
“Oh, how sad! I thought you’d remember me! I certainly remember you!”
In that moment I finally figured it out.
“Chrysalis!” I hissed.
Suddenly I’ve felt new strength in me and I got up from the cold ground with a rapid move, charging at the Changeling Queen. Only then I realized I was in a dark dungeon, my ankles were shackled and the chains prevented me from reaching the insect.
“Oh, I’m flattered!” Chrysalis smirked. “In fact, I’ve brought a present. u know, so u could prepare for the upcoming event.”
“What are u talking about?!” I yelled furiously.
“You’ll see.” she replied and disappeared for a few moments.
Chrysalis then came back with a large mirror. She placed it far enough so wouldn’t be able to reach it.
“What is this?! Why…” the air stuck in my lungs as I first lay eyes upon the… thing in the mirror.
I could not believe that was my own reflection… my entire right side was burnt… the scars u see now were much bigger and deeper back then… my face went ashen and I turned speechless. Chrysalis stood there, observing my reactions with a devilish grin on her face. She laughed at my shock and misery and left me in the cold darkness for many days. The only thing there was my own reflection.
“This is not my face… it can’t be my face!!!” I screamed. “NOOO!!!! THIS IS THE FACE OF A MONSTER!!!”
I don’t know how long I was down there in that pit… the only thing I know is every time I glanced at the mirror, that hideous monster glared back at me judgmentally. I tried to escape, but the magic disruptor the changelings placed on my horn kept me from doing so. I accepted my fate with resignation.… I’ve replayed the events over and over again in my head. I came to the conclusion that the demon was somehow feeding of my solar energies… I made him stronger with every attack! And the raw solar beam I defeated him with, overloaded him and he could not handle the energy… that must have caused the explosion. The only reason I survived was my alicorn blood and my solar aura. My body must have absorbed the freed energy of the Sun… there’s no other explanation… If I knew… well… I did not…
After some time, Chrysalis came for me again… It was her enjoyment that dag to punish me for her own humiliation she suffered in Canterlot, at the wedding of Princess Cadence and Shining Armor. She forced me to walk through an open field, filled with her minions, while she watched from her throne. She wanted everypony to see my shame and my scars. I didn’t give her the satisfaction to see me break… at least not on that day. I walked through the changeling swarm with dignity using up everything what was left of my pride. It was horrible to see how they glared at me and my wounds… all snarling and growling, clashing their teeth like animals… a few of them even tried to bite me. But the laughter of Chrysalis was the worst. She paid back the deed and humiliated me meer than anypony else could….
After that, I was taken back to my cell… with no company except my own reflection. Some time passed and I noticed the mare in the mirror was whispering to me… saying awful, but true things… Yes. I am a murderer. And a monster… she zei it over and over again, until I couldn’t take it anymore… then I heard the sounds of battle on the surface. Not much later, two of three changelings rolled down on the stairs unconsciously, followed door half a dozen of armored stallions. The Royal Guards have found me and taken me back to Canterlot. The last drop was Luna… she recoiled in horror as she saw my injuries, such as the Guards who freed me from the dungeon… I’ve seen true fear in Luna’s eyes when I’ve told her everything that happened. She sent out troops all over Equestria to find me, but our relationship soon took a turn for the worse.
After a jaar of so, my injuries have healed to the point u see now and my sister urged me to retake my place on the throne. She zei she needed me and our loyal subjects will look passed my scars. But I wasn’t strong enough to face anypony. Even my faithful student, Twilight Sparkle was terrified of me. She never zei it, but she’s never been the same since my return.
Then there was another changeling attack on Canterlot. Luna convinced me to kom bij her in the battle. But I failed… a changeling took two hostages, a mare and a filly. It would have been an easy shot, but every time I tried to charge up my horn, that demon and the screams of the Neigh Yorkers flashed into my mind… Luna eventually saved the hostages, yet she could not understand the reasons of my incompetence. As we stood there in the open straat arguing, a cirkel of bystanders gathered around us. I saw them whispering in fear, and pointing at me. That was enough! On that day, I’ve decided nopony will lay eyes upon me ever again! Furthermore, I vowed I will never use my blasphemous magic which incinerated an entire city. After the dual crown was forged, I left Luna in charge of Equestria, knowing it will be in good hooves and came up here to live in exile forever.
This has happened 13 years geleden and I’ve been up here, silently observing the kingdom ever since. Now u know the truth, Mirage. I told u it will not be pleasant. I am responsible for the destruction of Neigh York and Manehatten and the deaths of millions. I am a true monster.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you're reading this (hopefully) you've read the entire chapter. What u see here is the top, boven of my both my writing and drawing skills at the moment. So I truly hope u liked what you've read and seen.
Flame and Shadow
Celestia in the solar explosion (pic drawn by me)
Celestia, during the time of the changeling imprisonment (pic drawn by me)