The Quest for Harmony

by Jay David

Chapter 2: Meeting with Royalty

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Meeting with Royalty

To say that Twilight was worried would have been a great understatement. As she walked behind her brother, through the long and tall hallways of the esteemed royal palace, she found her hands shaking considerably, and she took great pains to try and steady them. Nobody could blame her of course. After all, when your nation's ruler asks to see you, it is no small matter, and as such, her mind was flooding with the many terrible possibilities of why she had been summoned like this. As for Spike, who was currently walking alongside her, he was not so fearful, though Twilight knew the reason for this. Instead, he looked to his sister, reaching out and placing his hand upon her shoulder, gaining her attention. She turned to him, seeing him offer her a reassuring smile, which did much to alleviate her worries, though not as much as she would have wanted.

Looking ahead once more, she began to notice the many stained-glass windows that lined this hall, depicting the many historic events from Equestria's distant past. Being in this place, seeing those legendary events immortalised in those images, it made her feel small, far more so than the reason behind her being here, which was saying something. But, her attention was soon focused on her brother, who cleared his throat to get her attention.

"We're here."

Twilight looked past him, and saw a massive doorway of immaculately-carved oak, flanked by two burly members of the royal guard. The young woman knew that her leaders were there, on the other side of those doors, and her heartbeat had grown quite fierce and loud at this point, prompting her to try and calm herself as best she could. Shining, though concerned for his sister, nevertheless kept his eyes on the two guards ahead, giving a salute, as was custom. The men themselves gave him a brief look-over before returning the gesture, after which they moved to the knobs of the door, giving them and almighty push, causing the whole thing to open up slowly.

Twilight kept her eyes forward, watching as those doors opened more and more, and eventually, she finally saw it; the royal throne room. The stories she'd heard of this place did not do it justice, for it was by far the largest room she had ever seen in her life. It towered above her, with the high ceiling held up by ancient marble columns. Yet further stained-glass windows decorated the walls on either side of her, and on the floor was an ornate red carpet, leading up through the middle of the room, to their final destination.

And there, as Twilight, Shining and Spike entered the room, did the former at last see the one whom she'd been called here by. Princess Celestia, diarch of the sun, and without question one of the most revered figures in their nation. Never before had Twilight laid eyes on her, and she was just as regal and imposing as she'd always imagined. The alicorn woman was far taller than any other, bearing a flowing white dress that almost blended into the whiteness of her fur. Upon her neck and wrists were the golden ornaments that was typical of royalty, and her head bore the bright tiara of her station.

The princess kept her eyes upon the young woman, as she nervously entered further into the throne room. And as Twilight drew closer, her eyes veered to the left, seeing that, as always, Celestia was accompanied by her younger sister, Luna, who sat beside her in a throne of sapphire, rather than the golden throne of her elder sister. Like Celestia, she too wore a long dress, though it was coloured black instead of white. The closer Twilight walked to them, the harder it was for her to keep her eyes up, and she found herself drifting her gaze to the carpet instead. During this, Celestia leaned over to her younger sister, speaking in a hushed voice so the others could not hear.

"This is the one?" she asked.

The moon princess gave a single nod.

"Yes, sister...I believe she is."

The elder princess looked back again to Twilight, who had finally reached the bottom of the small stairs leading to her and Luna's throne. Shining, her brother, gave a bow, as was expected of a guard to the princesses, and the latter two nodded, giving him silent permission to rise again. After this, he stepped aside, presenting his sister. The younger unicorn was visibly shaking all over at this point, showing clear terror at being in the presence of alicorns like his. But Celestia, before addressing her, instead looked to her side, seeing the young drake that accompanied here. And here, rather than the stern and authoritative demeanour she had worn throughout the last few minutes, instead gained a look of warmth and affection, which was reflected in her tone as she spoke.

"Spike...it is good to see you again."

The dragon smiled back and gave a quick bow of his head.

"It is good to see you as well, princess."

In stark contrast to how most Equestrians would have expected of her, Celestia responded to this with, of all things, a giggle.

"Oh Spike. How many times must I ask you not to call me that?"

At that, Spike scratched the back of his head while letting out a nervous chuckle.


Celestia nodded.

"That's better. Now then..."

In an instant, the warmth faded slightly from her face, as she focused her attention once more upon Twilight.

"You are Twilight Sparkle, yes?"

Being addressed by the princess directly seemed to push the young unicorn over the edge, as she immediately dropped to her knees, placing her hands flat on the ground before her and keeping her head pointing straight at the red carpet below. Her voice was wobbling, showing the obvious nerves she was feeling.

"Y...Your...Your Highness! I...I am indeed Twilight Sparkle. You...you...you sent for me?"

Celestia gave a quick glance to her sister, who seemed, at least in part, amused by the behaviour of the youth before them. The older sister then looked back to her grovelling subject, and rose to her feet, walking down the steps and towards Twilight. The latter remained on all fours, never once daring to look up at her diarch’s face. But, soon enough, she heard the footsteps approach, and only slightly craned her head up, seeing that Celestia was indeed approaching, which, as one might expect, led her to looking down again. When Celestia finally reached her, she stared at her for some time before finally letting out a sigh.

"You have no reason to fear me, child. Please...stand."

There was clear hesitation on Twilight's part, and for a moment, Shining considered stepping forward to try and help her up, but a quickly-raised hand from Celestia made sure that he stayed where he was, with Spike also staying aside this whole time. A moment passed, and then another, and another, before Twilight finally started to do as she was told, inching herself into standing up, albeit very slowly. But through it all, Celestia remained patient, watching her subject gradually get back to her feet, and even then it took a good deal more time afterwards for her to even look at her in the face. When she finally did so, Celestia saw all of the fear and worry this girl had carried with her, and put on a warm smile for her benefit.

"There, that's better, isn't it?"

Saying nothing, Twilight nodded, though it was clear that she was still uncomfortable, only agreeing to try and keep Celestia happy. Sighing at this, Celestia's smiled faded a little, electing to speak in a somewhat sterner voice.

"I have heard good things about you from your teachers, Miss Sparkle. They tell me you have exceptional skill in many areas of magic."

Though the young unicorn still avoided looking her in the eye, there was nevertheless an almost-embarrassed smile growing on her face.

"You...you flatter me, your highness. But my skills are merely a reflection on your good teachings and..."

But, Twilight was prevented from saying anything further, as Celestia raised a hand to stop her, and shortly afterwards, spoke up herself.

"I may be the official head of that school, Miss Sparkle, but I have no right to claim to have ever taught you anything. After all, we have never even met before today, have we?"

Although she would have wanted nothing more than to simply continue to shower praise on the princess, Twilight suddenly gained a feeling in her stomach that doing so would probably annoy her, and so, after a good deal of silence, she shook her head, acknowledging Celestia's point. In time, the princess spoke up again.

"Had I the time, I would seek out the students more regularly. But that is an issue for another day. As for right now, I imagine you are curious as to why you are here, yes?"

Very quickly, Twilight nodded.

"Y-yes, your highness, I am."

"Then I shall keep you in suspense no longer. Tell me...what do you know about the Elements of Harmony?"

For the first time in all of this, Twilight finally looked up, right into Celestia's eyes. The words she'd spoken hung in the air for some time, and for a good deal of that time, Twilight looked very much confused over what had been asked of her.

"Um...I...I don't understand, your highness."

Celestia raised an eyebrow at that.

"The Elements of Harmony, Miss Sparkle. I trust you have heard of them before?"

At that, Twilight gave a brief nod before speaking up again.

"Well...yes, I have. But...only as legends. Stories from when I was just a girl."

Celestia nodded.

"And tell me...what did those legends say, exactly?"

Although Twilight was still quite unsure about where this was going, or what it had to do with her, she had nevertheless been given a direct question by her leader, and she was not going to simply avoid answering, no matter how confused she was. So, after brushing herself down a little, she cleared her throat before giving Celestia the answer she sought.

"Well...according to the stories, the Elements of Harmony were six magical artefacts, forged by the great power of our world's creator, the blessed Faust."

Before continuing, Twilight immediately closed her eyes and lowered her head slightly.

"May she always be loved."

But, to Twilight's surprise, this gesture on her part was met by yet another giggle form Celestia, prompting her to look up as the older woman began to speak to her.

"I appreciate the reverence, Twilight, but my ancestor has been gone for a long time, and even if she were here right now, I very much doubt she'd want you to speak of her so. Please...continue."

A slight blush appeared upon Twilight's cheeks, after which she did as she was told, continuing on as instructed.

"The...the Elements were created by Faust, who imbued them with tremendous power, which she used to not only found our great nation, but also to breathe life into our entire race. It is said that...that when her work was done, she scattered the Elements around the world, so their power could never be used for ill purposes."

Celestia nodded slightly.

"It is good to know that the old lessons are not forgotten. Tell me, Twilight...what would you say if I were to tell you..."

The princess leaned closer, much to Twilight's worry.

"...that the Elements were real?"

Hearing that, Twilight's eyes widened with shock, almost as if she had just been told that the world was about to explode. Needless to say, this shock was soon reflected in the jittery nature of her voice.

"Then...then...it's all true? The legends of our world's creation? Faust making our race? All of it?"

For a brief moment, Celestia gained both a smile and a somewhat ponderous look, as she turned from Twilight and towards one of the nearby stained-glass windows.

"Perhaps...but then again, perhaps not. Those stories hailed from a time many thousands of years ago, Twilight. Long before even my great-great-great-great-great grandmother had even been born. It will be impossible to ever truly know what events transpired in those ancient times. But even if it were possible to know..."

Slowly, she turned to look at Twilight yet again.

"...that is not the reason I bring this subject up."

Curiosity grew on Twilight's face, and she tilted her head to emphasise it. Celestia, after staring at the young woman for a few moments, finally gave her the answer she was waiting for.

"Twilight Sparkle...it is my wish that you go forth from Canterlot...and find the Elements of Harmony."

The silence that followed those words was almost deafening, as Twilight stood as still as a statue. Part of her had no idea what was happening, and other parts of her were very much hoping that Celestia, despite her seriousness, was actually joking about all of this. Go out and find a long-lost group of artefacts that have been beyond Equestrian hands for thousands of years? It couldn’t be done. It was laughable to even think of it. And yet, as Twilight stood there, looking at Celestia, she saw no jest in her eyes, nor falsehood. The princess of the sun had meant every word of it. This was the reason she'd called Twilight here, and this was what was now being asked of her. To go out from the city she had spent her entire life in and journey forth into the unknown.

Her breathing became difficult, and she felt as if the walls around her were closing in. That was how much of an overwhelming moment this was for her. As for Spike and Shining, who had been standing silently to one side this whole time, they gave each other equally-flummoxed looks after hearing Celestia's words, with the latter hesitantly taking a step forward.

"Um...princess? May I speak freely?"

Celestia regarded the blue-haired guard for a moment before giving a small nod, granting his permission.

"If the task you wish for is a journey such as this...then I ask that I go in her stead."

The sun princess seemed somewhat surprised at that remark, as indeed did Twilight, who had finally shaken herself out of her trance-like state to turn towards her brother. After a few moments of silence, Celestia spoke.

"You do not believe your sister capable of this task, Sir Armour?"

Shining shook his head before replying.

"My sister has far more talent in magic than any other I have known, myself included. My faith in her abilities is not my concern here, your highness. She has never once set foot beyond the borders of Canterlot, and the lands beyond can be very dangerous. I do not wish to see her harmed by this task you intend for her, and so I ask of you...no...I beg of you...send me instead."

Celestia regarded the young guard for some time, seeing the determination and honesty in his eyes, before eventually breaking out into a warm smile, as she then turned to the Twilight instead.

"You are fortunate to have a brother as loving and loyal as this one, Miss Sparkle."

Turning back to shining, Celestia let out a sigh before continuing.

"I have no doubt that you would attempt this quest to the best of your abilities, Shining. But my decision stands. It is your sister that I have chosen for this."

Against his better judgement, Shining frowned slightly before speaking again.

"With all due respect, your highness...if my sister must go...then allow me to accompany her."

Sighing again, Celestia shook her head.

"I am sorry...but your duties lie here, in Canterlot. I must respectfully refuse your request...though I appreciate your reasons for asking it."

Shining was clearly upset at this, as evidenced by the look he gave Twilight soon afterwards. As for the latter, she kept her eyes on Celestia, speaking up in a somewhat meek manner.

"But...why me? Are there no others in Canterlot who could do this more than I could? I'm sure there are many experienced warriors or travellers who could easily find what it is you seek."

Celestia nodded.

"Perhaps. But answer me this, Twilight. Do you trust me?"

At that, Twilight grew more confused than before.

"Wha...what do you mean?"

Celestia frowned slightly.

"Exactly what I said. Do you trust me?"

There was a pause, and Twilight considered her position carefully. This was after all, one of the two high rulers of her land. One who had safeguarded and guided their nation through thick and thin for decades. One she had spent her whole life hearing nothing but praise for, by her family, her fellow students, by everyone. And so, when asked such a question as this, she knew in her heart that there was only one answer.

"Y...yes. I do trust you."

Smiling, Celestia gave a nod at that.

"In that case...trust me when I say that there is a reason for my choosing you. And in time, should you undergo this journey...perhaps you will come to realise it."

Twilight fell silent, her face bearing a look of both discomfort and hesitation, which Celestia was quick to pick up on.

"Twilight...this is not a command. I am not forcing you to do this. If it is your wish not to go...I will respect it."

Yet again, silence feel upon the room, and a million different thoughts filled Twilight's mind. Should she go? Where would she start? How dangerous was it really going to be out there? Was her magical training going to be enough? Why did Celestia choose her? When it came to that final question, Twilight found herself looking up at the elder alicorn before her, and for a brief moment, she saw something in her eyes. It was a glint of some kind, gone as quickly as it had come, and in her heart, Twilight felt that what the princess now felt about her, to her surprise, was confidence.

Celestia truly believed that Twilight was the one needed for this task, and that thought alone, more than anything else, awakened in the young woman a drive of some kind. It was like the excitement of a child, knowing their parents were proud of them, at least, that was the best description Twilight could give of the feeling. So, looking to her left, she saw the still-worried look upon her brother's face, and her mouth morphed into a comforting smile for his benefit. Turning back to Celestia, Twilight took a deep breath before giving a short bow to her.

"Princess...it would be my honour to do this for you."

Shining and Spike looked at her with shock, and Celestia broke out into a far wider smile than before, clasping her hands together with what could only be described as joy.

"Thank you, Twilight. It is a far better thing you do today than you can possibly know."

Rising from her bowing position, Twilight returned the smile, prompting Celestia to continue.

"I do not have all of the answers you will need to find the Elements, but I will say this..."

Turning, Celestia looked onto one of the eastern windows, prompting Twilight to look at it as well.

"...I suggest that you journey east for seven days. On the seventh day...I believe you will find the first clue to your quest."

Although confused at first, Twilight nevertheless nodded to the princess.

"Thank you, princess. I...I will do my best."

Looking back to her, Celestia smiled.

"I know, young one. I know."

Twilight's own smile grew wider, and it was here that she saw Celestia give her a silent gesture with her hand, which she instantly recognised as her being given permission to leave. So, the young unicorn gave yet another bow, as did Shining, and before long, all three of them, including Spike, soon found themselves heading back the way they came, straight for the exit from the grand chamber. It took a few moments, but eventually, the found their way outside, with the old wooden doors closing behind them. Now outside of the throne room, silence fell between them, and each was thinking and feeling a thousand different conflicting ideas and emotions. But, in the end, it was Twilight who broke that silence, looking to her little brother with determination upon her face.

"Spike...let's start packing."

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