posted by NocturnalMirage
The last solstice
Chapter 30: Fading light – Part 2
Celestia's mind was hovering on the border of consciousness, trying to find a way through the thick haze. The Princess of the Sun awakened slowly and the process itself meant struggle for her. She opened her eyes for a little, feeling dreaded because of the unfamiliar surroundings of the room. Although the fabric of the sheet and the cover; the furniture and the paintings on the mur resembled the style of royalty, it was definitely not the Ivory Tower. She failed to recollect any memory where she was ou how she got here whatsoever. The blurriness dissolved, and her vision cleared up. Celestia spotted a silhouette at the foot of her bed. As she observed the figure, she realized it was none other than Twilight Sparkle herself. The lavender alicorn was levitating a scroll and a quill with her magic, taking notes, seemingly Lost in her work. The youngest Princess had almost 15 years to get acquainted with the enhanced powers of alicornhood, and she sensed Celestia's look on her. Twilight tilted her head a little and glanced at her former mentor. The sun goddess opened her mouth to speak, but her throat was dry as the dunes of the Blacklands and she couldn't not make a sound.
“Ssssshhh! Don't speak!” Twilight hushed quietly. “You need to rest.”
The purple mare levitated a glass of water to Celestia, who emptied it at once.
“More...” the solar Princess rattled ungracefully, sitting up in the bed.
Twilight remained silent, but gave her an entire jug. Celestia drank the vital liquid vehemently, until not a single drop left.
“Thank you!” she sighed in relief, falling back on the silky pillow.
Twilight nodded and continued her work. The tip of the scarlet quill trembled and danced in the grasp of her magic as she was écriture quickly.
“How long was I unconscious?” Celestia asked on a weak voice.
“About two and a half hours.” the Princess of Transition replied, not even looking up from the scroll.
“Luna... Is she all right? I think I heard her scream...”
“Yes, she's fine for now.”
“Magic outburst.” the younger alicorn stated neutrally. “But let's just focus on you. Has this happened to toi before?”
“Yes... a couple of times. But I don't know what caused it...” the white alicorn said. “All I know is that my scars are burning!”
“U-huh...” Twilight murmured, still taking notes. “I see what I can do.”
She rolled up the paper and took a step toward the door.
“Wait!” Celestia called out. “When did toi become so... rigid?”
“I'm afraid I don't have time to discuss that with toi right now.” Twilight declared, looking back at the sun goddess. “I have to take care of Luna as well, because her mana is fading away fast, par maintaining such complex spells at all times.”
“She's doing YOUR job! And I have to do mine!” the purple alicorn rejected harshly. “Stay in lit and have some rest. We'll need toi to be at your full health. Now, if you'll excuse me...”
Without any hesitation, she walked out of the room and slammed the door, before Celestia could react anything.
“I don't know, Mirage... She has changed... She was once my faithful student, yet she looks at me with frosty despise...” the solar Princess explained an heure later.
Nocturnal Mirage sat beside her, resting his hooves on Celestia's, carefully listening to her words. Heavy concerns furrowed his features as he was staring into the purple eyes he adored so much. He was outraged, because the royal guards didn't let him in to see Celestia, and he had to wait outside. His sharp senses comprehended the ripples that the magic outburst created in the natural flow, yet he was rendered useless, forced to be separated from the object of his love. He was granted entrance par Cadence eventually, who understood the aspects of l’amour plus than anypony else could. Once he was inside, the cobalt earth poney rushed to Celestia and sat par her lit ever since. Like in the past, his presence calmed the Princess down so she was able to share her impressions about Twilight coherently, without her fragile sanity collapsing once again.
“She still blames me for everything that happened!” the snow white alicorn continued, fighting with her tears. “I can't take it anymore! I feel like I'm suffocating here! I... I have to get away from all this!”
“You know toi can't do that...” Mirage replied on a warm, soothing tone and their noses touched very gently. “Everything's going to be fine, I promise. Just stay strong, my Princess.”
“But they want me to use my magic again! The magic that has obliterated an entire city...” Celestia replied on a trembling voice.
“I know... but if toi don't do something soon, everything will be lost...”
A few days later, Celestia regained her health and started to déplacer around the château a little. The royal guards and the staff got used to her presence after a while and the braver ponies even started a friendly chat with her. The sun goddess sought company due to the urging of Mirage, because the earth poney thought it would help reinstate her status. But while Celestia was slowly rediscovering her own self, a fiery débats erupted in Luna's office.
“What are we doing?!” Twilight yelled in frustration and anger. “There's not much time left!!! How long are we going to keep jouer la comédie like everything's fine?!”
“Twilight, calm down...” Cadence a dit on a soothing tone.
“No, not this time! toi all seem to forget what's at stake here! The solstice is upon us! Too much time has already been wasted! If none of toi have the courage to do it, I'll drag Celestia out and make her fix all this!”
“TWILIGHT SPARKLE! ENOUGH!” Luna intervened using the Royal Canterlot Voice. “Do not forget it's my sister you're talking about, not some criminal scum! toi don't know what she's been through and how fragile and vulnerable she truly is at the moment!”
“No buts.” the Princess of the Night Raised her hoof. “She's left the Ivory Tower and now she's with us. That alone exceeds our highest expectations. I know my sister and I'm sure she will do what has to be done, as always. I also know what happens if she doesn't. But, I will not risk our achievements par pushing her too hard. If she breaks again, we are doomed! Celestia is the only one who can restore the balance and if she needs a few plus days to do that, I'm willing to give her that time.”
“So be it. But I still think it's a bad idea...” Twilight gave in with a resigned sigh.
“Why don't toi go talk to her?” Cadence suggested. “Maybe toi could settle your differences...”
“I have nothing to say to a mare who abandoned her kingdom and her royal duty because of some scars.” Twilight hissed, with the vivid aura of despise in her voice.
The jaw of the older Princesses dropped in shock and their eyes grew large par this response. They turned to stone and rendered speechless par this response and par looking at them, Twilight realized she may have gone too far.
“I mean...” she began, but was cut short par the eerie, sharp sound of sirens.
A seconde later a powerful explosion shook the ground and some of the windows were shattered to pieces. A giant nuage of smoke swirled in the air, reaching up for the sky and green flames started to consume the nearby buildings. The cacophony of screams, breaking glass and burning wood filled their ears. Royal guards were shouting commands and armored pegasi moved about in the air to every direction. The château seemed like a stirred beehive all of a sudden.
“Changelings!” Cadence gasped.
“You know your jobs! Secure the Castle!” Luna commanded loudly and grabbed the double axe that was hanging on the wall.
Her wings flared and she flew out the broken window, before the others could say something. Twilight and Cadence remained motionless for a moment, then their instincts assumed control and they ran out of the office to different directions.
A fierce battle evolved between the ponies and the changelings which lasted for several hours. The invaders swarmed the sky and the land, foraging the houses and the stores, raising fires all over Canterlot. The royal guards have sustained heavy losses, but managed to house most of the civilians behind the strong walls of the Great Castle. Chaos overwhelmed everything as the armored stallions desperately tried to repel the changeling attack, however, the number of casualties grew with every minute.
“Something's wrong... There are too many!” Twilight exclaimed, while firing powerful magic bolts at the enemy.
She took a defensive position on one of the higher balconies with Cadence, taking down changelings who attempted to infiltrate the château from the air. The bodies of fallen royal guards covered the humongous filed that was the front yard and even the Princess of l’amour had to rejoindre the battle to keep the attackers out. The door-bridge has been pulled up, but the changelings assaulted the walls violently, not caring about their losses.
“I've never seen them so vicious!” Cadence cried, trying to take part in the confrontation, par summoning upon cyan lightnings, but as the goddess of Love, she wasn't meant to be a fighter.
“Yeah... They haven't come this far, since your wedding!” the lavender alicorn replied, shooting down a changeling in the middle of a nosedive. “Where's Luna?!”
“I don't know, I haven't seen her, since the battle started!” the rose mare yelled, trying to overcome the loud noises of the fight.
The château then suddenly trembled in the shcokwave of a giant explosion; the Princesses Lost their footing and fell on the marbler floor. When they stood up, their face went ashen, because of what they saw. The entire city of Canterlot has been overrun with changeligs, the streets were occupied par an endless moving mass of darkness. Their fear grew even bigger when a strong, masculine voice shouted something below them.
“THEY'RE IN! THEY ARE INSIDE!!!”
A significant part of the front mur has collapsed and the enemy charged inside through the piles of rubble. But, before Twilight and Cadence could react, a rapid ricochet slit through the air. The émeraude magic beam was deflected par one of the royal guard's armor and now blasted into the base of the tower, where the Princesses took their positions. The damaged structure was sagging, then the entire tower tumbled, sending a massive nuage of dust in the air.
“I'll go see what happened!” Nocturnal Mirage a dit after the first explosion. “You stay here!”
Celestia was pacing around anxiously in the room ever since. She heard the sounds of the battle, and her concerns multiplied par every second. Yet, something blocked her rational mind, not allowing her to take action. The levels of fear and worry grew to an unbearable stage, but the Princess of the Sun, who led countless Victorious fights in the past, could not face the battlefield. At first, she kept telling herself that Luna will be able to take care of it. Luna's though, she knows how to deal with such situations... But there was no sign of her for too long... she didn't see ou hear anything about Twilight, Cadence, ou Mirage for that matter.
“Come on, Celestia... toi can do this!” she a dit to herself, flipping her messed up mane.
She reached for the knob with shaky hooves and eventually she stepped out to the hallway. It was deserted, but the thick walls reverberated the noises of battle. The white alicorn trotted to her sister's office and opened the door. There was nopony inside, just the pieces of the broken window on the soft rug, sparkling evilly in the sunlight, which reminded Celestia of a confident smirk. She took a step closer to the window and the awful smell of smoke, blood and ozone from magic discharges filled her nostrils. The solar Princess frowned and risked another step. There was an excellent view to the front yard from the office and her jaw dropped in terror as she first laid eyes upon the invading masses.
“THEY'RE IN! THEY ARE INSIDE!!!” a stallion shouted desperately, somewhere in the chaos below.
Changelings... the thought passed through Celestia' s brain, but it was interrupted par the sound of crumbling granite. The smaller tower which stood about 100 feet from her position collapsed, the debris falling on dozens of royal guards and changelings. The armored stallions fought the invaders vigorously, but they were greatly outnumbered and were forced to slowly fall back to the Castle, as the vast changeling army flooded the front yard, like a furious river. The bright sunlight began to fade away all of a sudden, as Luna's cloaking spell dissolved altogether. The largest planet of the galaxy, the Chronos blocked out 2/3 of the fiery orb, but one of its Moons caused a partial solar eclipse. Only a small, shining sickle was visible from the Sun and the landscape darkened. The attackers halted their assault for a moment and gazed up to the sky, seeing the results of the disrupted gravitational balance. The cacophony of the battle settled down as all eyes hang on the sinister scenario.
“So it's all out in the open now...” Celestia a dit to herself on a grim tone, knowing she sat par idly for too long.
The royal guards below took advantage of the enemy's rerouted attention and charged at the changelings for a final desperate counter attack. The fight smartened once again. Metal clashed against metal, hooves clashed against hooves. And the lone figure of the solar alicorn was watching the massacre from above, unable to do anything to stop it, even though her same mind knew what she should do. But, she's built so many psychic barriers to isolate herself from her own magic, that she could not break free.
Celestia winced and her wings fluttered as the door of the office was busted inside. Two bulky pegasus stallions rushed inside, not even looking at the solar Princess.
“I told toi she won't be here!” the first one a dit with disapproving eyes.
“We still have to rapporter this!” the seconde one retorted.
“To whom?! Don't toi see we're doomed?!”
“To anypony!” the seconde pegasus yelled angrily, and reached for the radio on Luna's desk.
“This is Canterlot HQ, does anypony read me? We've been attacked par changelings! We have sustained heavy losses! The front yard has fallen! Princess Luna has gone missing in the battle! There's no information of the whereabouts of Princess Sparkle and Princess Cadence either! Does anypony copy?! We can't keep the attackers out for long! We're outnumbered! Somepony! Anypony! Do toi copy?!”
“Forget it! Nopony's coming! The Princesses are either captured ou killed...” the first royal guard a dit quietly, after there was no response on the radio, just the monotone, saddening sound of interference.
“You're right...” the seconde stallion replied grimly. “Come on... let's take as many changelings with us we can...”
The armored stallions turned around to leave the room, and only in this moment they've recognized Celestia. The white alicorn stood silently in front of the broken window and listened to the entire conversation with wide eyes. The royal guards recoiled in shock and surprise when they spotted her. They were so caught up in their duties, that they weren't aware of her presence.
“Uh... err.... your Highness... you're... here?” the first pegasus stuttered nervously, while his partner furrowed a brow and took the initiative.
“Princess, we are under attack!” he called out loudly. “The changelings have broken through the mur and occupied the front yard! All the other alicorns have gone missing! What should we do?!”
“I... I.... don't know...” Celestia mumbled, her voice was barely audible, plus reminiscent of Fluttershy's.
“Your majesty, please! The enemy is advancing, they will claim the Castle!!! You're the only one who can help us! What are your orders?!”
Celestia gazed at the two royal guards, who looked back at her with begging eyes. Then she glanced at the battle outside, which was almost lost. The changelings have pushed back the defenders to the gates of the Castle. The sun goddess glanced at the two stallions again, then back at the fight. Her mouth opened, but she couldn't make a sound. All the memories of the past flashed inside her mind, like a spinning reel.
“Princess, what should we do?!” the first pegasus urged impatiently.
“I...” Celestia began.
But, before she could finish, the noises of the battle faded away and everything turned deadly quiet for a glimpse. Celestia saw the mouth of the stallions moving in slow motion, but could not hear their words. She blinked in confusion and she felt like she's been alone in the silence for years, even though the strange moment lasted only for a second. The silence ended with a very odd sound, Celestia was certain she heard it: some sort of switch clicked in the depths of her brain.