The Quest for Harmony

by Jay David

Chapter 3: Departure

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It had been a long and calm night, and yet, as always, the sun began to rise once more upon Canterlot. The orange glow of that fiery orb bathed the city in a beautiful light, and all around, there were signs of Equestrians getting up to greet the day yet again. But, out on the furthermost edge of the city, there was already activity, as Spike and Shining were standing together at the city's easternmost gateway. Shining, as ever, was clad in the golden armour of the guard, whereas Spike, in readiness for the journey, had donned an attire different to what he'd normally choose to wear. Today, he was clad in simple brown cloth trousers with a white shirt, the latter of which was covered by a brown over-vest, and as ever, he forewent any footwear of any kind. As the young drake knelt down, he finished looking over the things he'd placed in his travel bag, which he then hoisted up and slung over his shoulder, ready for the journey ahead.

"So...any sign of her?"

Shining turned, looking upon the city road that led to this gate, and there, his face lit up, giving a nod to the dragon beside him. Seeing this look, Spike turned, and was, for a brief moment, taken aback at the sight before him. Twilight had indeed arrived, though like him, she was no longer dressed as he normally expected her to. Gone was the simple brown robe of a magical acolyte, replaced instead with a more refined-looking brown cloak and hood, and underneath that, Twilight was wearing more appropriate garbs for travel, largely in the form of a well-stitched purple dress-trouser combo, with the image finished off with some simple walking boots. At present, her hood was, up, but as soon as she reached her two brothers, she lowered it.

"Well...how do I look?" she asked nervously.

Shining took a step closer to his sister, giving her a quick look-over before breaking out into a smile.

"You look ready for a long journey, Twilight."

The young woman smiled back at that.

"Then I chose well."

Although he would have wanted to keep up a happy face for her benefit, Shining soon found himself donning a more serious expression.

"I still wish I could go with you."

Like her brother, Twilight's smile shrank a little, and she raised a hand, gently placing it upon Shining's shoulder.

"I know. And I appreciate the concern you have for me, brother. But the princess herself has faith that I can do this. So you needn't worry."

Shining sighed at that.

"I wish I had the same faith in her highness' decision as you do, Twilight."

Turning, Shining looked upon the already-open gate, where the rising sun was pouring light into his vision.

"Alright then. If you are set on this...then I wish you luck. But know this, Twilight. If ever you need aid out there in the vast reaches of our land...do not hesitate to call for help."

Twilight gave her brother an appreciative smile, moving forward to embracing him in a hug, which the latter returned soon afterwards. When the two siblings eventually parted form one another, Shining gave Twilight a final nod, and then one to Spike, before donning his helmet and starting to walk away, no doubt to assume his regular duties. As for Twilight, she stayed in one spot, watching her brother go until he was too far to see, at which point she finally turned and looked upon Spike. Seeing the travel bag he was hanging from his shoulder, she raised an eyebrow.

"You know...your royal mother didn't actually ask you to come with me, Spike."

The young dragon chuckled at that.

"Maybe not. But, unlike Shining, she didn't say I couldn't go. And if you think I'm letting my best friend go out there all alone, you've got another thing coming."

Twilight gave a brief giggle at that, after which she shook her head, half-shocked and half-impressed with her brother's forwardness in this matter. Even so, her smile faded yet again, as she found herself looking upon the gates beside them, which were far larger and imposing than she'd ever really cared to think of before. She walked forward, with Spike close beside her, and within a few moments, she stopped, just short of the open gate itself. Looking down, Twilight stared at the unseen line in the ground. The official boundary between Canterlot and all that lay beyond. Never before had she strayed from the city, nor seen what wonders or terrors were out there, save for what she'd heard from her brother and her books. And now, she knew she'd be seeing many of them in this quest. So, looking ahead, to the eastern road away from the city, she took a deep breath, and finally, took that first step beyond Canterlot.

Atop the highest tower of the royal palace, Celestia herself stood upon the large balcony that emerged from her private chambers. It always pleased her to look upon her city, especially in moments of peace such as this, and as ever, her sunrise brought her nothing but joy. However, today, her attention was focused on other things, as her gaze drifted down to the eastern road, beyond the city's borders. Sure enough, there she was, Twilight, already heading out as instructed. Beside her, as predicted, was Spike, and together, the two youths were making a good pace away from their lifelong home. Although maternal concern fought for control in Celestia's mind at the sight of seeing her own son out there, she nevertheless afforded herself a smile, silently assuring herself that all would be well. But, that smile faded when she heard the sound of footsteps behind her.

"Luna...you are certain she is the one?"

Turning, Celestia saw her sister walk beside her, looking out upon the east as she did.

"Indeed. All the signs point to it."

Celestia sighed at that.

"Then if it is true...Twilight has little time to waste. That is...if your predictions are correct, Luna?"

Luna turned to her, bearing a look of utter seriousness.

"I am certain of it, sister. The nightmares in the minds of our people are growing worse with every passing year. It is returning...and the Elements will be needed."

Hearing that, Celestia shut her eyes tightly, bearing a melancholic look to her.

"Thousands of years of peace...and after all that...our people must face it again."

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