The last solstice
Chapter 42: Cleansing light
Everything was bright and shiny. She was walking through a strange white tunnel, but the walls seemed to be alive. As she moved on, she spotted several faces all around her. She blinked in utter confusion and perplexity. She had no memory of how she got here, of where was “here”. Outlandish whispers reverberated from the moving and forever changing walls, but she was unable to comprehend the meaning of the quiet words; they just swiftly glided through her brain, like fallen leaves, traveling with the autumn wind.
The familiar faces kept emerging from nowhere, only to be swallowed door the white brightness a few seconden later. Then the recognition struck her: she knew all of these ponies; they accompanied her along the lengthy path of her life for an evanescent moment. Yes, all the ponies she met and who came close to her hart-, hart were there. Her students, her officers, her subjects... everypony she ever encountered and brought grace into their lives. Everypony who got consumed door the sands of time countless years ago. They were all there around her. She clearly sensed the presence of their entities in the all-suffusing whiteness. But this whiteness wasn't cold of menacing, it radiated with pleasurable warmness, penetrating deeply into her soul. As she walked forward, the light became even brighter, that it was almost blinding. Yet some invisible force was beckoning her further and she could not resist. When she came out of the white tunnel, she realized she was walking on fluffy clouds. The Sun shone brightly on the top, boven of the sky, bathing her in its light. It was an idyllic picture, harmony and calmness surrounded her, wisps of refreshing breeze cuddled her senses. Then she saw the contrast. Two dark silhouettes in the distance, idly sitting door on a giant cloud. She could clearly see their horns and wings and even though their features remained invisible; she could only see their eyes, but it was enough for her to know they meant no harm. On the contrary...
“Welcome, our child!” a soft, yet strong feminine voice called out, in unison with a deep, determined masculine voice.
“Mother? Father?” Celestia gasped in disbelief.
“After all these years... we meet again.” the two voices spoke at the same time.
“Oh, I missed u so!” Celestia cried in tears.
“As have we.” the two voices replied warmly.
The sun goddess galloped towards the shady figures of her parents in anticipation, but no matter how fast she ran, they remained in the same distance. A few moments later, she understood this was getting her nowhere and stopped.
“What happened to you, our child?” the voices asked. They only spoke together: the soft female voice and the strong male voice.
“I... I don't know... I think my journey has come to an end.” Celestia stuttered, lowering her head, using her sparkling mane to cover her scars.
“You have forgotten us, Celestia!” the voices declared in disappointment.
“No, I could never...”
“You have forgotten who u are, therefore u have forgotten us.” the voices continued.
“I'm not the mare I was...”
“Look deep within yourself!” the echoing voices exclaimed. “You are so much meer than what you've become! u are our daughter, a true Princess door blood!”
“How could I possibly change the past? What I've done... I failed you!” Celestia cried, letting her emotions flow freely this time.
“What happened at that city is not your fault. Neither is the Changeling Queen's victory.”
“I'm so tired... so very-very tired... weary of battle.” the Princess zei quietly and a careworn sigh escaped her chest.
“Yes...” the voices agreed. “The weight upon your shoulders is almost unbearable and offers u no peace. The task would crush the spirit of a common pony, but u are our daughter, Celestia! u are destined to lead ponykind to glory!”
“I... I can't do this anymore... I'm broken... how can I fight against such blazing hatred? No... it... is... impossible.”
The two alicorn figures narrowed their eyes at the same time. Suddenly, the picture of the silhouettes with glowing eyes, the bright Sun and the fluffy clouds melted away, only to be replaced door a series of disturbing, sinister images.
“Do u give up?” Celestia heard her fathers voice alone this time.
The first image showed an appel, apple orchard in Ponyville, where a family of earth ponies were hugging each other, tears flowing down their cheeks, as they were waiting for the apocalypse. It was the appel, apple family of course. The picture changed, tonen a cyan colored pegasus, holding an oranje filly close.... regenboog Dash and Scootaloo. Then the winged ponies grew horns, their feathers merged with their barrel and disappeared and their jas turned white. Their surroundings have changed as well. It was Rarity and Sweetie Belle in Carousel Boutique. Then the dress koop turned into a cottage near the Everfree Forest. There was a boter yellow pegasus, trying to calm the countless little critters around her with the help of a draconoquus: Fluttershy and Discord. After a brief moment, Celestia found herself on a rock farm, observing a roze pony with her family. There were party decorations and accessories everywhere, but the atmosphere was grim and dark.
“This isn't the end, Pinkie.” the father said, smiling warmly at her daughter.
“I know.” Pinkie Pie smiled back with tears in her eyes and hugged the old stallion.
The scenario changed again, and image of Luna appeared in front of sun goddess. Her sister was cruelly chained down in a dark dungeon, she wasn't even able to verplaats an inch. There was a magic disruptor kraag around her neck. Anguish and sorrow distorted her face; she was clearly suffering.
“Will u abandon their hope?” her mother's voice asked.
The volgende picture showed the soul of Cadence and Twilight, struggling to break free from the powerful hypnosis of the Changeling Queen. They were in agonizing pain as well. Then the image of Canterlot flashed in front of Celestia, tonen her subjects in their homes, doing what Chrysalis suggested them: spending their last hours with their loved ones.
“Can u not feel their desperation?” her mother questioned relentlessly.
The volgende image featured Chrysalis, laughing maniacally, making Cadence and Twilight watch Mirage's agony in the shrinking green sphere of magic.
“Will darkness forever rule the world?” his father's voice said.
The volgende scene of the depressive slide toon focused on the universe itself. Celestia saw gleaming stars on the obsidian sky; the planets, tossed out of their orbits, spinning uncontrollably, and the black Moon of the Chronos, which almost consumed the entire Sun.
“HAVE u FORGOTTEN?!” her father shouted vigorously.
The last act consisted of a series of afbeeldingen from Celestia's life and all the things she's done. She saw herself discovering the boom of Harmony with Luna, then the first defeat of Discord and King Sombra, the battle with Nightmare Moon, the journey with Starswirl the Bearded, Cadence's ascension to alicornhood, taking Twilight Sparkle under her wing, The Summer Sun Celebration, The Elements of Harmony, Twilight's ascension, even the battle with the ancient fiery demon and finally, her brave actions that stopped the changeling attack on Canterlot Castle.
“No. I have not forgotten!” Celestia stated, furrowing a brow.
The scary afbeeldingen vanished and she was standing on the same plushy wolk as before, the silhouettes of her parents were there too, right beneath the fiery disk of the Sun.
“One aspect of your existence has indeed came to an end, our daughter.” her parents said, speaking together at the same time again. “Now u must choose a new path. u have attained the highest level of wisdom and awareness! u have mastered the solar magic that runs deep within you! u have protected ponykind against any aggressor for over a millenia! u showed nothing but kindness, compassion and understanding and created a world of peace for your subjects. u ruled well, our daughter. u have passed the test of time and nobility! u are worthy, our child! If u feel u are ready to verplaats to the volgende level of existence and awareness, then step forward. We will guide u in this new journey.”
The ultimate alicorns paused for a couple of seconds, letting Celestia comprehend what she's heard, but the sun goddess remained silent.
“What's the matter, our child?” her parents asked. “You look uncertain. Your emotions are swirling! Isn't this what u wanted to hear?”
“I...” Celestia stuttered anxiously, feeling like a helpless little filly.
“We heard the lone words u whispered into the darkness, up in the Ivory Tower... We heard when u cursed your own existence and the heavens a million times! Isn't this what u desire? To finally break free from the responsibilities and the heavy burden of the crown?”
“No! I mean yes... I... No! Not like this... I didn't want the world to end!” Celestia replied.
“You have surpassed that level of existence, Celestia. What happens to Equestria is no longer relevant to you.”
“No, that's not true!”
“Come with us, our daughter!” the silhouettes urged. “The petty concerns of that world shall never bother u again. This realm knows no war, no fights, no endless struggles. u have done your part! Let it go, Celestia! u don't belong there anymore! Come with us and your most ultimate desires will be fulfilled!”
The Princess took a step toward her parents, looking at their inviting extended hooves, but she was still hesitating. The afbeeldingen of her friends, loved ones and her subjects flashed in front of her astral eyes, the same disturbing slide toon replayed itself all over again.
“This is wrong...” Celestia whispered.
At one corner, there were Luna, Cadence, Twilight and her friends; Mirage and all of Equestria, at the other there were her parents, inviting her to verplaats on, offering her eternal peace.
“The choice is thy.” the shady silhouettes said, like if they knew what was she thinking about.
“No, this is wrong!” Celestia yelled all of a sudden. “Everything's wrong! It's not my time yet! My work in Equestria is not done!!!”
“Are u certain, this is what u want?”
“Absolutely! I have no yet earned the right to verplaats on! Not until my work is finished!” Celestia stated resolutely and her soul filled up with newly found strength and confidence.
“Very well. The path has been set.” the silhouettes declared and even though, Celestia could not see their features, she was sure they were smiling proudly.
The eyes of her parents were glowing white and their horns charged up with an oranje and dark blue magical aura. A combined beam struck Celestia, but it didn't hurt her, like she expected to. On the contrary, it was quite pleasurable, until her scars started to ache. The pain grew stronger with every seconde until it was unbearable. She let out a ghoulish scream and a dark orb of blackness emerged from her chest. A pair of purple dragon eyes flashed inside the sphere and Celestia heard the same whispers that haunted her for meer than a decade.
“You...” the sun goddess hissed. “I know u now! u are my own inner demon! But u will corrupt me no more!!!”
With those words, Celestia swung her hooves and crashed the black orb. It clashed against the wolk and shattered to pieces with a loud bang. The shock wave sent her flying back, but the whispers seized to exist.
“Always remember who truly u are, our daughter!” the fading silhouettes zei on a dying voice. “We shall always be with u in your spirit!”
“What if I never see u again?” Celestia cried, as sparkling tears ran down her cheeks.
“We shall meet again, Celestia...” her parents replied. “But not yet... not yet...”
The silhouettes dissolved, like the soft, billowing fog over the fields at the first rays of the Sun. Then an invisible force grabbed Celestia and dragged her back through the white tunnel rapidly. Everything's accelerated around her and the warm brightness overwhelmed her. She lost her body and for an evanescent little moment, she's become one with all the entities around her. She didn't fight against the unknown power, she let it take her away. Celestia felt like she was soaring through the sky in a nose dive, until she couldn't form coherent thoughts anymore; there was only the pleasurable brightness around her.
The solar Princess had no idea how long this experience lasted, but when her consciousness was starting to awake, she knew she felt something cold on her cheek. It was just a tiny dot on her face and the coldness disappeared after a second. Then resurfaced again. And again, and again. She felt it all over her body. It took her some time until she realized what it was. Is this... rain?