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Sunlight of her own creation played across Celestia's face as the overlarge star moved slowly across the heavens. The encroaching brightness roused the alicorn, causing her to blink rapidly and breathe in heavily as her head steadily rose off of her satin-sheathed pillows. The sensation of a migraine headache overcame her, and she raised a naked hoof to her forehead while closing her eyes and frowning. She blinked twice again, and slowly drew her entire body back up to a propped position, resting upon her elbow and letting the violet silken sheets slide down her frame and pool around her waist.

Welcome back to the waking world, my lovely. I can see you…

Celestia lowered her hoof and her eyes widened as she frantically looked about the room. She saw nopony else in the bedroom with her, and her fears quickly subsided. Discord was still encased in stone, Luna was covering for her to allow the weary princess a day off for the first time in over a thousand years, and Twilight Sparkle was safe. Though the most important things in her life were taken care of, Celestia couldn't help but feel a sense of grave danger and unease at Discord's comment, and the feeling compounded with her headache to make her feel nauseous and cold.

I left you alone, as promised. But now, you have raised your cursed orb, and I even allowed you the peace of returning to sleep for a while afterward. I grow impatient, Little Tia. It is time for our game to begin…

The Sun Goddess shook her head in response, drawing another deep breath as her tricolor mane cascaded down her shoulders and back. She slid her body out from underneath the smooth sheets and heavy blankets, allowing herself to step onto the ornate marble floor. Her head throbbed as she walked toward her vanity, and upon looking into the framed reflective surface atop its shelves, her heart stopped. Discord was standing directly behind her, projecting his thoughts to her as he gave her a cold glare.

Surprise. Miss me?

Celestia drew a shaky breath as the draconequus walked forward, closing the distance between them. Her eyes never left the mirror, and she focused entirely upon controlling her breathing. You aren't here. This is merely another illusion. You are still in the Royal Gardens, biding your time and pretending you have a plan. Just disappear already, you bothersome charlatan.

Discord 's reflection stopped next to her side, and her mouth opened, but produced no sound. She stared resolutely at the mirror as he reached an arm out toward her shoulder, her breath unmoving in her chest as she waited for the possibility of contact.

"A charlatan, am I?"

Celestia froze as his paw touched her while the words echoed about the empty room, and her insides felt as though they had solidified into a single, icy mass. Her expression changed to one of shock as her eyes widened, and she spun around immediately, coming face to face with only the air.

See something you didn't like? Perhaps you overslept. After all, there is no way I could be here… right?

Breathing heavily and with her heart pounding in her chest, Celestia slowly and cautiously walked around the room, staring into every corner, giving nervous glances toward the ceiling, and checking every hiding place she could think of. No. There's… there's no way that was real… I'm hallucinating…

Perhaps you are. You never should have gone back to bed, dear. Perhaps you would have had time to respond to the letter you missed last night if you had remained awake. Shame. Somehow, I think you would have preferred to reply after raising the sun, had you noticed it. Maybe then you would have had time to stop the events already in motion…

The princess spun in place, breathing hard and feeling as though her knees would buckle at any second. "Wh-what… what letter? I see nothing here…"

Foot of the bed, my Dear. You knocked it onto the floor with your disgraceful awakening. I fear it may be too late to stop her, Princess. It would appear that we have a new player in our little game…

Celestia froze, and stared at the scroll lying atop the tangled blankets at the base of the bed. Slowly, her horn became enveloped in a light purple glow, and the letter was surrounded in an aura much the same. The parchment floated toward her, the ribbon binding it falling to the floor as the alicorn brought the paper to her eye level and began to read.

Princess… forgive me. I have always trusted you and placed absolute faith in your instruction, and one of the most important lessons that you ever taught me was to follow my own heart above all logic. I fear that I have relied upon books and conventional knowledge to deal with stressful situations up until now, and that approach has failed me. You have always been right, and so, I am going to take your advice, and go against your orders.

I am leaving for Canterlot in the morning. It is clear to me that something has happened that you are trying to deal with on your own, and my heart is telling me that you need somepony there to help you through it. This was an incredibly difficult decision to come to, but I will not be swayed. I do not know what is troubling you, but I will not stand by and let something preventable occur if it is bringing you harm. I am coming to offer my hoof in aid, and even if you cannot tell me what is wrong, I want to be there for you as you have so often been there for me. If I am to be accused of disobeying a Royal order due to this, so be it. It is a risk that I am willing to take to ensure that I have done all that I can to assist you in your time of need. I am so sorry, but I feel like this is the correct course of action. You clearly need assistance, and I will do everything in my power to give it to you.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

The letter fell to the floor as the glow around it faded all at once. Celestia hung her head, shaking it back and forth as she closed her eyes and felt tears sting at the edges, threatening to spill over at a moment's notice. No. No, she cannotcome here! It is no longer safe in Canterlot! She gazed out the window, taking in the afternoon sun with a worried breath. If she truly left in the morning… then it is already too late… if any harm befalls her…

What's to say none already has?

Celestia snorted and raised her head, glaring at the outside world through her window. She cast her eyes to the Royal Gardens, sending her most malicious stare to the hedges that blocked the statuary from her view. Your empty threats mean nothing, Discord. You said that you only have hold over me because I cannot shut you out due to my own interest. You have no sway over Twilight.

Is that how you interpreted my words? Your mind is enshrouded in carefully-constructed walls to lock in your emotions and keep your true self hidden. Necessary, perhaps, after going through so much pain and having no one to truly reveal yourself to for a thousand years. Your attraction to me put holes in those barriers, allowing me access to your thoughts and putting you on the same level of mental protection as a common laypony. Reading and influencing the mind of anypony that is not an alicorn would be a quite simple task. I could read Twilight like a book, if I so desired…and perhaps pen a few lines of my own onto her pages…

Tears were becoming an affair too common for Celestia's liking, and so she blinked them back, utilizing all of her willpower to prevent the display of weakness before her enemy. She turned away from the window, planning to dress quickly and begin the search for somepony who knew if Twilight had yet entered the palace grounds. As she stepped forward and began to levitate the dressings of the bed in order to make it, the door to her bedroom flew open, slamming against the wall with magical force as Luna galloped through it.

The distraught younger sister skidded to a halt mere feet from Celestia, panting and shaking as sweat dripped down her brow. She quickly raised her head to capture her sister's gaze, a sense of extreme urgency present within her own teal eyes. She spoke hurriedly between breaths, seeking an answer that she knew would not be to her liking.

"Celestia… Discord… his statue… has it been moved?"

The blankets dropped into a messy pile, and Celestia focused all of her efforts upon her trembling sibling. She placed a hoof upon the smaller alicorn's shoulder, and leaned her face in closer, features swimming with worry.

"Wh-… what do you mean? What has happened? I never gave the order for him to be moved!"

Luna sank to her knees, shaking her head and closing her eyes. "He's gone, Tia! The podium is there, but he isn't on it! H-he… he must have escaped!"

A deep, thunderous laugh echoed through the skulls of the alicorn sisters, and both staggered in shock at the sudden invasion of their mental silence. Discord began his resonating speech, projecting it to both of the alicorns and taking delight in their mutual sense of despair.

It looks like you have made an oversight, my dear, sweet little ponies. Do not bother searching the Gardens, you fools, for I am no longer there. Finally, I can drop the charade and move about of my own will, and I have no one but you both to thank for it! I wouldn't worry about the how and why if I were you, if you want any chance to stay in this game, you had better act now. I have taken a few steps across the board, and eagerly await my next turn. Your move.

Celestia stood, her fur bristling as her lips drew back in anger. "WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? WHO HELPED YOU ESCAPE? ANSWER ME!"

I thought I told you not to obsess over the details. All will be revealed in time, Little Tia. All I can say is that I warned you about trying to use that which you do not understand against me. I have more knowledge of the Elements of Harmony than you or your protégé ever could. Now, I suggest the Queens mobilize before the King takes the Pawn. I don't like waiting, Tia, and may stop playing by the rules if you take too long…

Luna stood, shaking, and slowly backed away from her sister. "H-he… he isn't… he doesn't mean… Sissy, he… he's going after Twilight!"

Celestia experienced a flood of adrenaline moving through her, and the sensation caused her skin to tingle in sick worry and anticipation. "I know. We cannot allow that to happen, no matter the cost. Go and rally the Guard, have them put the entire Palace in lockdown until Twilight can be located. I will begin the search for her, and take a small contingent of the Royal Guard with me. We have no time to lose!"

The Moon Princess gave a sharp, determined nod, and galloped off through the door of Celestia's chambers. The larger alicorn followed, trailing behind her sister and parting to gallop in the opposite direction when the two passed through the doorway of their private study. Celestia's hooffalls echoed through the empty hallway as she ran at full speed, looking for a member of her elite soldiers to begin the search for her missing student.

Run, run, run, Little One. I do so enjoy watching your toned leg muscles stretching and contracting as your hooves pound into the floor. I suppose the hallways are a little tight for flying, but I'm certainly enjoying the show, so I can't complain. It's been so lonely being trapped in stone… perhaps now you and I can have some fun in the flesh once I make you see reason… or a lack thereof.

Celestia's heart fluttered involuntarily, and she silently cursed herself for even considering such things. She needed control and certainty in her life, and the inability to stop herself from experiencing such traitorous feelings only served to make her doubt her qualifications as a leader further. The princess shook her head and continued to run, banking tightly around a corner and pushing herself even harder to gain speed.

Drop your little Ruler act, and come to me. I could use someone like you, you know. You could certainly use someone like me. We're perfect for each other, Celestia. Chaos and Order, morality and animalism, love and hatred in equal measure. Abandon responsibility and give in to me, you cannot deny that the thought entertains you. It would save you so much pain to give up now, and just accept that you cannot fight me.

SHUT UP! I WILL NEVER GIVE IN! I DESPISE YOU! ALL THAT YOU'RE DOING IS MAKING ME HATE MYSELF AS WELL!

Then perhaps I can be content. I'll allow you to focus on running, and merely watch your sexy, rather large flanks as you go. Would be a shame if you were too late to find Twilight, I don't want to distract you…

Celestia's cheeks adopted a red tint, and she fought with all of her mental power to keep herself from thinking about his words. It had been so long since anyone had spoken to her and admitted their attraction to her, and despite how wrong it made her feel, his words were beginning to make the base of her tail tingle in arousal. After all, she had been lonely for quite some time as well.

What have you done with my Guard? Why is nopony here?

As she finished the thought and stormed through the doors separating the hallway from the guard tower, she found her personal bodyguard, Sol, leaning against the banister on the stairwell leading to the bedchambers. His golden armor clanked against itself as he lowered himself to the floor at his charge's arrival, and his expression changed from a stoic blank to one of worry as he beheld the approaching mare. Celestia galloped up to him, stopping and breathing hard from her sudden efforts as she regarded the white pegasus before her.

"My Princess, what is wrong? Shall I rally the Guard?"

Celestia shook her head and gasped for breath. She had not needed to exert herself so much without preparation in a long time, and the sudden need for sprinting had completely drained her.

"No. No, Luna is taking care of that. Have you seen Twilight Sparkle? I fear that she may have come to the palace, and if she is here, I need to find her immediately!"

Sol stepped forward and considered the alicorn as panic began to overtake him. He had never seen his Princess in such a state, and he knew that something big must have been happening to drive her to personally gallop about the palace in search of her student.

"I have. I was standing watch outside of your chambers when she arrived earlier. I've never seen you go back to sleep after raising the sun, nor have I seen you fail to hold court, so I told her you were not to be disturbed. What is going on, Your Majesty? Are you in need of assistance?"

Celestia finally managed to compose herself, and stood before him, trying to speak with her usual proud and confident air back in place. Her efforts failed her, and her voice instead came out panicked and laced with worry.

"Nevermind that! This isn't about me, I need to find Twilight Sparkle immediately. Do you have any idea where she may have gone?"

Sol shifted and tilted his head. "She… she said she would go to the Library Tower to read until you woke up. She didn't want to disturb you, and decided to wait there until you became available. Would you like me to go and look for her there?"

Celestia's eyes widened. The Library Tower, of course! She practically lived there! Why didn't I think to just head straight for there…

"No. I shall head there immediately. I want you to return to your post outside of the Royal Quarters. Let nopony in, regardless of their station or intent. I will find Twilight. If I do not return within the hour, send your division up to the tower after me. I fear that this may not end well."

The stallion's eyes widened and he tilted his head, but he quickly mastered his thoughts and gave a snort. "Of course, My Lady. Good luck! Do not put yourself in needless danger, no matter what may be happening. I shall await your return!"

Sol galloped past her, heading back down the hall the way she had come. Celestia turned as well, and began galloping once again, running on sheer adrenaline as she ascended the inclined hallway to the nearby spire. She began to hyperventilate from overexertion and worry, praying for her student's safety. The thought of Twilight being in danger gained priority over all else in her mind, and she pushed herself still harder to reach the unicorn mare before any further damage could be done. No, no, no, no, no! YES, YES, YES, YES, YES! You'd better gallop your pretty little rump off.

I may be on my way up there as well right now. What if I didn't know where she was until you just asked? What if I'm faster than you? Can you afford to let me get there first? Or any I just toying with you as usual… Celestia's lungs burned with effort as she burst through the door, never breaking pace as she began to ascend the spiral stairs. She mentally cursed the architect of the tower, despite it being of her own design. Yet another inconvenience I am to take responsibility for. Will this vicious cycle never end? No, probably not. I am a vindictive bastard, after all. Keep running. I didn't ask you. Oh don't slow down! I love watching you sweat! Listen, you perverted, twisted, pathetic creature. Stop your commentary, and leave me alone.

I have no love for you, I care only for Twilight at the moment. Leave me be. Fine, fine. Though you are fun when you're angry… Celestia reached the top of the stairs and paused to catch her breath before opening the door. She did her absolute best to calm her mind and brace herself for what she might find. Slowly, she reached a hoof out, pushed open the door, and stepped inside. Twilight Sparkle stood alone next to a wall, her back to the entrance of the room as she drew a book down from the highest shelf with her magic. Celestia's heart warmed ever so slightly at the sight, and she slowly cantered into the room, stopping to stand in the middle of the circular floor. She gave her student's back a loving gaze, and her panic slowly began to subside at the reassuring sight of her student safely reading. "Oh, Twilight, I was so worried! I'm so happy to see you safe! Please, come with me, and we can discuss the current situation." Twilight titled her head, continuing to read her book as it floated in front of her. "Hm? You aren't angry that I came to Canterlot against your direct orders?" Twilight flipped a page, her eyes shifting over to begin reading the new material as she continued to absorb her book. Celestia froze and cocked her head to the side.

A chill ran through her core, and she immediately found something about the situation to be… off.

"I… no, I'm not angry. I merely did not wish to endanger you. Seeing you here safe sets my fears at ease, and I wish only to confide in you what is happening. Come, Twilight. May we speak in private?"

Another page flipped as Twilight continued to quietly read. After making her way through another line, the unicorn stopped and raised her head from the tome, still facing the bookshelves. The mare let out a disgusted sigh, and shook her head at the suggestion. "I don't know, Princess. I'm kinda busy right now. Could you come back later?" A second chill passed across Celestia's body, and her heart sank. Never before had Twilight spoken to her in such a way, and she knew immediately that all was not well. "Twilight? Are you… are you alright?" The violet unicorn lowered her head again, gazing into the book and beginning to read while she replied.

"Oh, I'm fine, Princess. I just find this book rather interesting. It's about Nightmare Moon, and your history with her. I never knew most of this. Why would you hide it from me? I thought you trusted me? Or have I done something to warrant you distancing yourself from me?" Celestia raised a hoof and bent it inward, her eyes shifting from side to side as she tried to process what was occurring. A sense of foreboding blanketed the room as an idea overtook her, and she cringed at the possibility. No… no, this cannot be… please don't let this be what I think it is…

"Twilight… turn around and face me, please. I only wish to speak with you."

The unicorn raised her head from the book once again and closed it with her magic, letting it drop to the floor with a heavy thud.

There was a pause as Twilight didn't move, staring straight ahead at the rows of books before her as she spoke. "Alright." Twilight's shoulders rose unnaturally, and her elbows were quick to follow, raising out to her sides as her forelegs hung loosely in the air. Her entire upper body became completely straight, and her back hooves left the floor briefly as she turned around in midair to face Celestia. As she fell, her head hung down limply while her hooves touched the ground again, before it rose suddenly and faced the horrified Princess. Suddenly, her lips pulled back in a quick, unnatural motion, and she spoke. "Something wrong, Princess?" Celestia almost collapsed at the sight before her as she realized her student was being controlled by invisible strings. She steeled herself, and her expression turned from one of terror to one of rage as she noticed the shimmering glint of the transparent wires hanging about in the air.

"LET HER GO! DO NOT INVOLVE HER IN THIS! DISCORD, YOU COWARD!" Twilight tilted her head as she rose slightly from the floor, hovering and moving her head from side to side with the same unnatural smile stuck upon her face. Twilight slowly began to float to one side, circling around Celestia as Discord spoke through her mouth, letting his words come out in Twilight's voice. "Aw, are you upset, Princess? I don't want to upset you! I've studied so hard to try to please you!" Celestia began to shake with rage, her eyes following Twilight Sparkle's body as it floated around her in the air.

"THIS ISN'T FUNNY IN THE SLIGHTEST! UNHAND HER!"

"But Celestia… aren't you happy to see me anymore? You're going to make me cry!"

Twilight's head bowed in a nodding motion as she kept her unnatural smile.

"I'm very insecure, you know, no doubt due to how you shielded me from social interaction for so long!"

"DISCORD! STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY! YOUR ISSUES ARE WITH ME, NOT HER! I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS!"

Twilight froze in midair, her hooves each settling at a different height. Discord's voice came from her lips, and the sudden change unnerved Celestia beyond anything else she had ever witnessed. "Oh, but what are you going to do about it?" The door to the stairs slammed as Twilight's horn began to glow. Her eyes turned a deep red, and she began to glare at Celestia, who backed away. The Princess's flank hit the door, and she gasped as Twilight began to advance upon her through the air with jerky motions.

The unicorn's horn started to glow white, and a bolt of sheer magic flew forth from it, aimed directly for Celestia's head. The princess dived out of the way, rolling upon the floor as the energy crackled through the air and exploded against the stone wall. Discord's insane, deep laughter flooded the chamber, and Twilight began to strafe around the edges of the circular room, twitching and convulsing as she floated. Her voice once again became her own, though it spoke against her will.

"Are you afraid? All this time I was looking up to you, and you can't even stand to face me? What a shame. What are you, some kind of foal who can't fight her own battles?" Celestia quickly rose to her hooves, shaking her head and giving Twilight a hard glare.

"I refuse to fight my own student, Discord. Show yourself!" Oh, but where's the fun in that? I'm having the time of my life, here! The sudden mental assault rattled Celestia and threw her off guard as Twilight hurled another bolt of magic directly at her. She was too slow to dodge, and the energy grazed her side, leaving a superficial burn upon her side as she stumbled sideways to try to avoid the majority of the impact. The alicorn stood fully once again, and began making a desperate bid to free her student.

"TWILIGHT! LISTEN TO ME! RESIST HIM! YOU NEED TO FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT OF HIS CONTROL!" She won't be doing that. She isn't nearly strong enough.

Though… it might be even more amusing if I give her back control of her mouth… The creepy smile immediately ceased, and Twilight's lips drooped downward before her face began to adopt a more natural expression. Her eyes immediately changed back to their light violet hues and began to tear up while she started yelling, trying desperately to warn her mentor of the impending danger.

"PRINCESS! HE'S… HE'S DOING SOMETHING TO MY HORN! MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!"

Celestia's eyes widened at the warning, and she quickly jumped to the side as a torrent of wild blue flame erupted from Twilight's horn, spilling against the bookshelves behind Celestia and igniting them with magical fire. Celestia stared at the sight in horror as she stood once again, pleading with the angered draconequus to stop his madness.

"No! Discord, you don't know what you're doing! Please, stop! Centuries of history are going to be lost due to your personal vendetta! See reason and unhand her!"

Reason had its time, Celestia. All that remains for you is chaos and suffering. What is a little more lost history in the face of what you have already destroyed?

Twilight's horn unleashed another stream of iridescent blue flame, catching another wall of bookshelves on fire as she spun wildly in the air, screaming at the top of her lungs. Celestia brought forth a stream of water from her own horn in a desperate attempt to stop the magical fire, but her efforts were in vain. The flames continued to spread, eating through the stone walls and wooden shelves like a corrosive acid and slowly peeling away the sides of the room before the fire began to slowly implode in upon itself. Celestia galloped forward and threw herself at the wailing unicorn, trying to grab her out of the air and hold her down.

Twilight was dragged to the side in a violent jerking motion, causing the princess to fall and slide across the floor as Discord laughed at her efforts. We're almost done here. The archives in this room will be lost, but I know you store the most important books in your personal study. Perhaps I shall head there next… Celestia fell to her knees and cried, watching as Twilight hovered in place. She could no longer hold back her sobbing, and looked up to see the ceiling of the tower in the process of being eaten away, letting the light of her sun spread down through the room. "Discord… please… I will give up everything for you to let her go. I will give you the kingdom, I will give you myself, anything you want, just… let Twilight Sparkle go…" The unicorn's hooves stopped moving in rhythm, and her legs locked underneath her as Discord spoke in a commanding voice.

You can't have your toy back until I'm done playing with it. I'm almost finished, though. It was always so entertaining to watch you play with dolls when you were little, Tia. Perhaps I should give it a shot. I believe you used to do something like… this? Twilight Sparkle's left forelimb began to bend forward in the wrong direction as she stared down at her rigid body in absolute shock. Tears clung to her face as she grit her teeth in pain and closed her eyes, trying to will her leg to obey as Celestia stood and tried to reach her. Twilight lost the fight for her body, and her lower leg was forced forward with a wet, sickening snap. The unicorn screamed in absolute agony as her limb broke, and she cried harder as she tried to speak through her sobbing while Celestia yelled out in shock.

"PRINCESS! HE'S NOT STOPPING! DO SOMETHING! I-I CAN'T FIGHT HIM!"

"STOP THIS! DISCORD, I WILL ERASE EVERY TRACE OF YOU FROM EXISTENCE WHEN I GET MY HOOVES ON YOU! IF YOUR ISSUE IS WITH ME, THEN ATTACK ME!"

Celestia galloped directly for Twilight to try to save her, but was thrown back by a sudden force. Her body impacted one of the few remaining stone walls, knocking the breath out of her as she fell to the floor. You're breaking the rules, Celestia. I'm playing with Twilight right now, and you cannot help her. That's cheating, and cheaters get punished. A web of indentations appeared on Twilight's side as invisible wires pressed into the side of her skin. Suddenly, the wires slid across her fur, ripping into the tender flesh beneath and carving deep wounds into the pony's side. Scarlet blood flowed down around her stomach and started dripping to the floor as the injured mare began wailing again, while Celestia rose and screamed in rage.

"STOP! ENOUGH! YOU'RE KILLING HER! I'LL GIVE MY LIFE IN EXCHANGE FOR HERS IF I MUST! JUST LET HER GO!"

Her eyes began darting around the room, trying to find some sign of him so that she could stop him directly and cease his control. She found nothing as she spun in the breeze flowing through the destroyed walls, and his laughter returned once again, causing her feelings of sickness and dread to double in intensity. It is far too late for that, Tia. All that I want now is to watch you suffer in return for all of the suffering that you have caused me. It's about time you lose something dear to you again, don't you think? What will happen if I try contorting her a bit? Hmm…

Twilight's neck began to twist sideways as she let out a frightened scream, and Celestia found herself unable to move. She watched as Twilight's neck almost reached the point of breaking, when she suddenly caught sight of a distortion in the air against the background of fading cobalt flame. She immediately readied her own fire in a final gamble to save her student, and launched an arrow of crimson energy at the distortion, scoring a direct hit as she screamed her student's name. The invisible strings immediately lost their hold as Discord's tail caught fire and his invisibility faded. He let out an enraged roar as Twilight fell to the ground in a bloody heap, her neck twisting back to a more natural orientation in midair. The draconequus flew off at great speed through the ruined roof, abandoning the two ponies to deal with their situation. Celestia immediately ran to her fallen student, nudging her with the side of her face and praying that the mare was still alive. Sticky blood clung to her muzzle as it lazily oozed from Twilight's wounds, but she didn't care for anything other than the unicorn's safety. Slowly, the girl raised her head, still in tears, and sobbed heavily as she wrapped her unbroken forelimb around Celestia's neck.

"P-p-princess! I was so scared! I-I… I thought he was really going to…" Celestia cried right along with her, and gave her an affectionate nuzzle.

"I-I know, I… we got very, very lucky, my student. Let me see your leg." Twilight shifted a little, sniffling as she shuddered from the shock of the trauma, and weakly did her best to extend the broken limb. Celestia picked it up with her magic and looked closely at it, doing the best she could to determine where the break was. As she considered the damage, the door to the stairwell burst open, admitting Princess Luna into the room.

"TIA! I SAW THE FIRE AND CAME RUNNING! WHAT H-" Luna looked down at the blood-covered mess that was Twilight Sparkle with an expression of absolute shock. She immediately galloped forth and leaned down next to her sister and the unicorn, gasping in surprise as she caught sight of the limb hanging limply in the air.

"Tia… did he…"

"Yes. He… he nearly… " Celestia stopped her morbid train of thought, and instead tried to be rational and think of the best way to salvage the situation. "Luna, I need you to help Twilight walk down to the infirmary. She is in no condition to be flown. I will meet you there shortly. I need to rendezvous with Sol and reassign the Guard to place heavy security upon our quarters at all times. I'll send an entire unit to the infirmary as well to keep watch. Twilight, will you be alright with Luna for a time? I hate to abandon you, my student, but I promise I will come to you and stay by your side as soon as I am able." Twilight Sparkle raised her head and gave her mentor a weak smile, coughing as she did so. "I-I'm alright. I… my entire body feels like it's on fire… but… I'll manage.

I understand that… that other things need to be done. Please, take your time. I'll be safe with Princess Luna." Luna helped Twilight to stand as the unicorn curled her broken limb under herself, doing her best to balance on three legs. Luna nuzzled her, and gave the mare a worried look. "Can… can you walk? Lean into me." Twilight did as instructed, and took a few steps gingerly before nodding. Celestia gave them both a reassuring smile, happy at the simple fact that her student was still breathing. She said a quick farewell and beat her massive wings, rising into the sky through the shattered roof with her ethereal mane flowing around her. Discord… you have crossed the line. I will do everything in my power to stop you, and I will not let you harm those around me again. Our fight has become personal, and I will not stop my efforts until I see you imprisoned for good. Funny. I don't plan on stopping until everything dear to you lies broken at your feet. Good luck with your nebulous goal, Celestia. You'll need it.

Scented Venom Chapter 5.

Credits go to Cadenceofrain.

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