Promise (AiE; Celestia/Anon)

Mar 29th, 2015
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  1. A more concise ending to the "Siege of Canterlot" short I wrote for the Celestia threads over a year ago. Just the aftermath.
  3. >The doors to the royal audience chamber opened slowly, the heavy oak straining the massive iron hinges.
  4. >Silence fell upon the small army of ponies as they collectively held their breath, fear and awe grasping their hearts as a single figure emerged behind the gateway.
  5. >Despite her surroundings and her situation, she still walked with the practiced grace of a millenia old ruler.
  6. >Even with her regalia gone and her mane no longer radiant and flowing, there was no mistaking Princess Celestia.
  7. >The unharmed soldiers at the front struggled not to bow, a lifelong practice that was now considered treasonous.
  8. >They wore simple chainmail, their once enchanted armor failing as they turned their back on the light of the sun.
  9. >She cared not for them, and with but a glance, they stepped aside, weapons lowered.
  10. >The final act of respect for their fallen Princess.
  11. >As she continued her solitary march, she stole a few looks around the remains of her once wonderful castle.
  12. >Hoofsteps echoed on the cracked and damaged marble, the once grand hallway reduced to rubble.
  13. >The stained glass was shattered as well, fragments of every color imaginable accenting the crumbling stone floors.
  14. >All surrounding the fallen vessel of her once greatest protector.
  15. >At his side was the one who delivered the fatal blow, once his closest friend.
  16. >An adolescent dragon, one who also fought with loyalty and love in his heart.
  17. >He held the oversized gauntlet of the fallen champion, tears in his eyes.
  18. >The Princess' shadow cast upon the purple dragon, his golden armor dented and ruined from the fight.
  19. >"He called me brother...that's what he said before he......"
  20. >He raised his head toward the Princess, his expression a mix of shock and regret.
  21. >When Spike saw the stoic look upon Celestia's face, he immediately ceased, releasing the hand of the departed and backing away.
  22. >She would not be offering words of forgiveness.
  23. >Not now...likely not ever.
  24. >Celestia knelt beside her champion, her hoof resting softly on his chestplate.
  25. >She remained silent, her eyes surveying the ponies around her.
  26. >While many ponies were injured, none appeared to be mortally so.
  27. >Even the worst were only nursing glancing blows and broken wings.
  28. >Spike was never the fighter her champion was either, she had watched them spar for nearly a decade.
  29. >As her head lowered back to his peaceful form, it was only then a single tear began to form in her eye.
  30. >The stone expression she wore softened, and she lowered herself next to his body.
  31. >He had kept his final promise to her.
  32. >Even at the cost of his own life, he had not let true harm come to her ponies.
  33. >He held them at bay while she conducted the ritual, fought wave after wave of those who sought to stop her, and not once did he take their lives.
  34. >"Princess Celestia."
  35. >The voice of Twilight Sparkle filled the grand hallway.
  36. >Authoritative and lacking any emotion, just as Celestia had taught her all those years ago.
  37. >Celestia did not raise her head to acknowledge her former student, nor did she care what she had to say.
  38. >"You have been found guilty of high treason and intent to commit--"
  39. "Shut up."
  40. >The blunt, steely reply from the white alicorn seemed to make the entire room flinch with shock.
  41. >Even Spike, who had taken up his position at Twilight's side, clenched his spear tightly, a look of fear widening his eyes.
  42. >Celestia had very little of her former magic left, but it was enough to crush all those present.
  43. >Twilight knew this more than anyone, and while she grit her teeth in anger at being so quickly dismissed in front of her followers, she complied.
  44. >Celestia returned her attention to Anonymous, his eyes closed, a peaceful smile upon his face.
  45. "It were right. The ancient ritual was a success..."
  46. >She choked back a sob as small droplets of moisture fell upon the tarnished armor.
  47. "The sun and moon shall rise and fall on their own...the ponies will no longer need princesses to govern their day."
  48. >She traced her hoof gently under Anonymous' chin, caressing his messy hair.
  49. >She wanted to say she could heal him now, that his duty was complete he may be free to live his life in peace.
  50. >His life...with her.
  51. >That was the plan.
  52. >That was always the plan.
  53. >Ponies were so resistant to change, when word of Celestia's ritual had gotten out of the castle, more and more they turned their back on her.
  54. >Twilight Sparkle had been the one to raise an army and siege the now deserted Canterlot.
  55. >All but Celestia and Anonymous remained when they breached the outer gates, and only he had faced them down.
  56. >All so she could give them their freedom...and in the herself from a millennium of invisible shackles.
  57. >Then the two of them could live out their lives, the curse of immortality also gone forever.
  58. >Hundreds of years doing what was right.
  59. >For the realm, for her ponies, for the world.
  60. >Why did such a simple dream cost her the only reason she ever dreamed it?
  61. >"Princess Celestia?"
  62. >It was Spike again, standing close to her, Anon's helmet in his claws.
  63. >This time she got a better look at him.
  64. >His golden armor dented and damaged, even a few cuts and bruises on his body below.
  65. >But he was still a dragon, likely the only creature tough enough to stand against Anonymous in his enchanted armor.
  66. >"He...lunged at me...we had been fighting for so long and we were both so tired...I don't know why he...I raised my spear and I closed my thing I knew..."
  67. >The dragon lowered his head and offered Anon's helmet to the sun princess.
  68. >She wiped the tears from her eyes and accepted the gesture.
  69. >She rested the helmet at his side, in the crook of his arm.
  70. >She couldn't bring herself to cover his face, not now.
  71. >Looking at him caused her eyes to water and her throat to become dry.
  72. >It had been so long since she felt this way, countless lives had passed before her and so few had brought this kind of emotion...
  73. >She should have known better...known that falling in love would bring her nothing but pain...
  74. >For a time, the only sound in the great hallway were that of the Princess's sobs.
  75. >The realization set in for those present, that she hadn't been corrupted, or evil, or even insane.
  76. >She merely wished for a world where she wasn't needed.
  77. >The soldiers began to file out as the scene became too uncomfortable.
  78. >First the wounded, then the reserves, then finally the few who had stood against Anonymous without injury.
  79. >Those each stopped by his body for a moment, addressed the fallen sun Princess and silently saluting the fallen knight.
  80. >They were all familiar faces to her, and every one she addressed by name and nothing else.
  81. >Some wore expressions of stone, some offered condolences, and some even shed tears of their own.
  82. >Anonymous had trained with them, fought with them, laughed, drank and sung with them.
  83. >It had been in the blink of an eye they became enemies, and now that it was over, they knew nothing but regret.
  84. >Spike was second to last, the only one bold enough to touch the princess's shoulder when he approached a final time.
  85. >She whispered something to him, something so quiet only his draconic ears could ever hope to hear it.
  86. >Whatever it was, he left with a soft smile despite the rivers of grief upon his cheeks.
  87. >That left only Celestia and Twilight behind.
  88. >It was nightfall when former student approached her mentor.
  89. >She dared not get too close, but Twilight was always one who sought answers, even before common sense.
  90. >To see someone she revered fallen so far, it would drive her mad if she didn't know.
  91. >Such a simple question, but one rarely with a simple answer.
  92. >Her head turned away, her eyes full of anger and confusion, she said that simple word and broke the silence of the ruined castle.
  93. >"Why?"
  94. >Celestia drew a long breath, as if she had expected this all along, and raised her head from Anonymous' body.
  95. "I was tired, Twilight. I have been for a very long time. No pony knows why Luna and I are responsible for the movement of the sun and moon, and only her and I know what life was like when unicorns were forced to do it. Anonymous spoke of his world, where the sun and moon move on their own, and I began to do research. I discovered much, but the matter was, this wasn't natural. I meant to set things right."
  96. >Twilight frowned.
  97. >"You had no right to do such a thing. You could have passed the responsibilities on. Given them to Luna, Cadence, or myself. Not rashly change our world overnight."
  98. "Perhaps you are right...time will tell."
  99. >"Easy for you to say now that you won't live to see it!"
  100. >Twilight shouted, her eyes glassy.
  101. >Before Celestia could answer, the purple alicorn galloped out of the hall.
  102. >The sounds of crickets and night life filled the room, with the windows gone the moonlight streamed upon the two remaining occupants.
  103. >Celestia slipped her hoof into Anon's hands, the cold steel of the gauntlets a stark contrast to her warm fur.
  104. "It was just as you said it would be...the moon rose on its own..the stars are where they should be..."
  105. >She laid her head against the metal of his breastplate and closed her eyes.
  106. >It wouldn't be till morning that Celestia spoke again.
  107. >Not till the sun began to crest over the horizon, bringing in the new day.
  108. "We're free..."
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