Discord was dying. He had to be. They had thrown everything they had at him, used almost every trick and every bit of power they had at their disposal – the battle had waged for weeks. Three armies had fallen to Discord already, thousands of ponies broken, killed, or worse. And still he stood there, smiling as calmly as he ever had, mocking her. The last defender of a nation – nay, many nations – that had stood together to face the one who had created them. To face their inevitable destruction, and overcome it.
Discord was dying. He had to be. Scars and gaping wounds covered his body, one of his wings had been torn in two, and his coat was stained dark with blood. His breaths came, slow and heavy, and one of his forelegs hung useless and broken at his side. And yet his smile had never faltered. Not as they had rained down blow after blow against him, eliciting grunts of pain she knew could not be false, not as her horn had found purchase in his belly, and not as he had lifted her by the head and tossed her effortlessly into the trunk of a nearby tree.
It hadn’t been there, before. She was sure of it. Just as sure as she was that her back was broken, and she couldn’t move. There was, at the very least, no pain. But the smile on Discord’s face promised her that there would be. Discord was dying, and so was she.
Discord was dying, and it wouldn’t be enough. They had failed. They had lead their people in pursuit of a legend, a chance, and they had found it – the Elements of Harmony. Months spend attuning themselves to the baubles, trying desperately to connect themselves to the power they contained- and they had succeeded. But it hadn’t been enough.
The power of the elements had weakened Discord, left him unable to change himself with his magic. Unable to repair his wounds, or become some enormous, lumbering beast. Unable to alter their entire army with a wave of his paw. But it hadn’t been enough. They had bought to bear every power at their disposal, the greatest power the world had ever known…and it hadn’t been enough.
Luna had never come.
He stood over her now, and finally his smile faded. With a single motion he snatched her up, talon clenched around her throat, and slammed her against the enormous tree. Once, twice, three times.
She was suddenly very glad that her body was numb. It didn’t prevent the tears from coming – but that was an entirely different kind of pain. And by the way he tilted his head and let out a soft chuckle, Discord knew it.
“Oh, Celestia, you look so very unhappy. Whatever’s the matter?” His words dripped with mock sympathy, and his expression was one of concern. She didn’t believe it. Not for a moment. Nor did she give an answer – wouldn’t have, even if she could have spoken with the demon’s claws crushing against her throat.
“You ought to be happy, my dear daughter. I’m so very proud of you, you know- and little Luna, too. Do you have any idea of how long it usually takes for anypony to get this close to defeating me? No?” He offered a sympathetic smile, and sighed. “Then I suppose I’ll just have to tell you, won’t I? It wouldn’t do for you to die not knowing just how spectacular your utter failure really is.”
He leaned closer, his voice a low, brutal hiss. “Centuries. Eons. Long enough that not a single living creature has to remember a time I wasn’t already here. Can you imagine that, Celestia? Not having that memory to cling to? Not knowing that once, things were wrong? And they were wrong – don’t ever doubt that. This little… ordered society thing you ponies try to do is adorable and all, but it just isn’t natural. If you’d only been born a few hundred years later, you’d see that. And then… well, perhaps I wouldn’t have to kill you quite so soon.”
Then he smiled again, and tightened his grip. She couldn’t breathe. She was going to die.
“So be proud, my dear – you achieved in twenty years what most ponies can’t in two hundred. And you almost won, too. If only that sister of yours had bothered to show up for the battle, you might just have beaten me. But look on the bright side – at least she doesn’t have to watch you die. And don’t worry – I’ll make her suffer, just for you.”
Celestia tried to laugh, to throw Discord’s words back in his face, and found that she couldn’t - her vision was darkening, and her mind was fading away. But she was smiling, as her eyes drifted around the forest that had sprung up from Discord’s spilled blood – as though it had always been there. As her eyes meet those of her sister, behind Discord in the clearing with her blade in her jaws and her head held high, she was happy.
Discord saw her smile, and chuckled quietly. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I think I’m going to name it after you, my dear. But what should I call it? Failure forest? Abandoned sister woods? No, no…I have it. Everfree. Just like your little rebellion. Amazing how true it turned out to be. Maybe you should’ve called it the everbreathing rebellion? Food for tho –“
He cut himself off with a howl of agony as Luna’s blade was driven through his chest, and released Celestia to swing his claws wildly at the new threat – she jumped nimbly backwards, slamming a hoof into his jaw, and smiled coldly.
“Thou thinkest we would abandon our own sister, churl? We knew that thine brain was as twisted and hideous as thine face, but we knew not that it was as oafish.”
Discord snarled, and lunged forward – Luna sidestepped easily, only to be caught by a swing from the fiend’s tail and knocked to the ground. Her smile didn’t fade, and she didn’t stop speaking.
“Perhaps thou art too feebleminded to understand that when my sister and myself took up the Elements of Harmony, loyalty was given to me?”
Discord laughed, then, loudly and mocking. “And what good has it done you, really? Your army is dead, your sister soon will be and you….you’re going to suffer for a very, very long time.”
Luna’s smile faltered, just a little – but then she glanced at her sister, and her resolved hardened. So too did Celestia’s own. The sight of her sister, fighting not to save Equestria but to save her warmed her – and there was something else, too. Building up inside her.
Rage. Discord had stolen everything from her. From both of them. But he would not take her sister. He would not take Luna. Nothing would ever take her sister from her – they would stand together, or they would die together. Just as they always had.
She felt power not her own flowing through her, mending her, and lifted herself slowly and torturously to her hooves. She knew what it was, though she had felt only snatches of it before – harmony. True harmony, rather than the faint echoes they had believed to be all there was.
And as she gazed at her sister, eyes burning white with a fire she could barely contain, she knew that Luna felt it too.
The two sisters stood, united again, and the battle began in earnest.
This was pretty awesome! The action in this was intense and exciting, and when Discord had the upper hand and seemed almost about to kill Celestia that was pretty intense. And I loved the detail that the Everfree Forest grew from his spilled blood, that has such an awesome mythic quality to it. And seeing Luna come in at the end, so the fight can really begin, was great. Wonderful work!