As she stood there, staring up at that old wooden door, Rainbow hesitated. For those who knew her, hesitation was something that was very much against how she usually was. But on this day, she made an exception. This particular tower of the Canterlot royal palace was not as attractive on the inside as the rest of the building, owing largely to it's purpose of holding criminals. The walls were darker, colder than the other rooms, and the whole place was just largely unpleasant. She focused on this because it didn't seem right for her to be here.
But Rainbow knew that she would have to address this. If she didn't, she'd regret it for the rest of her life. Raising a hoof, she pushed the old door open, and it creaked loudly, no doubt alerting the room's lone occupant of her arrival. The room within was small, with only a small window letting in any light. There was a small bed, upon which stood a young mint-green mare with a short yellow mane. Lightning Dust. Rainbow found it very difficult to look upon her, because her condition was not something she would have wished for her.
Lighting was a pegasus. "Was" being the main word there. Right now, her back, which was all Rainbow could see of her, was without wings. They had been taken from her by the dark magic of Sombra. The very idea of as pegasus' wings being taken was one that sent shudders down Rainbow, and deep down she never wanted this for her, even after everything she'd done. The green mare kept her back to Rainbow, but nevertheless acknowledged her.
"Why are you here?" She asked.
Rainbow sighed before answering.
"I......I wanted to see if you were okay."
Although she could not see her face, Rainbow knew she would have been angered by that question.
"Okay? My wings......are gone. I'll never fly again. Never have a shot at the Wonderbolts. Never......never do anything that mattered to me."
Rainbow could feel the pain in her voice as she spoke. She'd known Lightning only for a short time during their days at the Wonderbolt Academy, but even then, she knew just how important her flying skills were to her. It was her life, all she lived for. And now that had been taken from her in an act of undeniable evil. It made her wonder if her own friends would end up like this if they lost something that mattered to them, like Twilight with her magic. Rainbow knew that Lightning was too proud to accept sympathy from her, so decided to change the subject.
"What will happen to you?" She asked.
Lightning, still looking away, raised her head.
"Celestia herself came to me today." She answered.
That piqued Rainbow's interest as she continued to listen.
"She told it to me straight. That I was a traitor. That I put my own selfish needs above everypony else's and that my actions aided a tyrant in almost destroying Equestria."
Rainbow's ears flopped down. She'd never heard of Celestia saying such things to a pony. Though she couldn't blame her. When Rainbow had discovered Lightning's treachery, she too had been angry at her. The green mare continued.
"But......I'm free to go."
Rainbow raised her eyebrow at that.
"You're......not being punished?"
Lightning shook her head.
"No. The princess said that my......affliction by Sombra was punishment enough."
The rainbow-maned mare couldn't deny that. Having a pony's most precious thing stripped from them would have been a fate she wouldn't give her worst enemy. So it made sense that Celestia wouldn't want Lightning to endure further suffering. It was at this point that the latter got up off her bed and walked over to Rainbow. The two stared at each other for the longest time before lightning broke the silence, her voice tainted with an angry tone.
"I'm leaving now. I don't know where I'll go, or what I'll do, but I can't stay here."
Rainbow considered this for a moment before getting an idea, though she had low hopes of that idea's success.
"Why don't you come to Ponyville? It's far from Canterlot and I'm sure there are plenty of ponies there who'll...."
But she was stopped by a raised hoof from Lightning. The green mare's eyes were icy cold, and it was clear that Rainbow's offer had not helped.
"Don't. I need no pity from you or anypony else. I joined Sombra, and did the things he asked me to, because I had hate......for you."
Rainbow remained silent, and merely stayed in place as Lightning spoke out against her.
"You took everything I had worked for, and though I may have acted out against Sombra in the end, that does not change what I feel towards you. I know that you and the others can never truly forgive me for what I did. But neither can I forgive you."
Rainbow frowned. It was clear that nothing she could say to her was going to change things between them. Lightning kept her eyes on Rainbow for as long as she was willing to do, before eventually letting out a long sight and walking past her. Rainbow didn't bother to look at what she was doing, but could hear the creak of the wooden door as Lightning closed it behind her. Rainbow couldn't help but feel disappointment at this. Although nopony could ever blame Rainbow for what happened to Lightning, she nevertheless felt that, in some way, it was her fault.
And Lightning was right. She could never truly forgive her for siding with Sombra. But in spite of that, she bore no ill will against her now. Where Lightning would go after his, she could not say. Neither did she even care to think on it. All she knew was that this mare had left her life, and doubtless many others, and would spend the rest of her life miserable because of her one, terrible, mistake.
Twilight stood there, at the entrance to the royal palace, looking upon a mare who had helped her much recently. Trixie. A unicorn who had once been a threat to her, had proven herself a valuable ally. The blue mare stood on the steps leading down from the palace, unsure of how to respond. In truth she had been surprised that Twilight would even come down to say goodbye at all.
"Yeah. Sombra's gone and all so I figured it was time to head on back to the road."
Twilight understood her reasons. Getting rid of Sombra had been Trixie's primary motivation this whole time, not to mention her sense of debt for having forgiven her previous crimes. It was only to be expected that she'd want to leave now that the danger had passed. Still, Twilight couldn't help but feel as though she should do more here.
"You know, you could always come back with us to Ponyville."
Trixie looked at her with a surprised look on her face. She seemed to give the notion some thought before sighing and answering.
"Thank you Twilight. I appreciate the offer. I truly do. And one day I may take you up on it. But right now I'm just happy to have that monster's thoughts out of my head."
Twilight accepted that. She knew it was a long shot, asking her to stay, but she was more than willing to let her go her own way after this. Trixie took a step forward, about to leave, before hesitating for a moment. She turned and faced Twilight once more, who was now looking confused. Trixie paused for a moment before moving towards the purple unicorn. She came to within a foot of her, before stretching out her hoof towards her. Twilight looked at the hoof, then to her face, before smiling at her. She took Trixie's hoof into her own and shook it. The two smiled at each other, the bad blood now finally put to rest, before they parted and Trixie made her way down the steps.
Twilight kept her eyes on her one-time rival until she was no longer in sight. Then her expression became more sombre as she looked up at one of the nearby towers of the palace. She knew who she had to see now, but she took no pleasure in the prospect. She made her way inside the palace, walked down the hallways and up the stairs of the tower until she was at the top. Walking out onto the elaborate balcony, she laid eyes upon her. Princess Celestia, who was standing right at the edge of the balcony, looking out upon the city.
As Twilight moved beside her, it was hard for her not to feel bad about the sight below. The changelings and dragons had done a massive amount of damage to this place. Towers collapsed. Buildings and homes destroyed. The outer walls damaged greatly. Even though civilian casualties had been kept to a minimum, it pained her to see her old home town in such s dire state. But at the very least, repairs were already under way. From what she'd heard, it would only take a few months before the city was back to normal, assuming there were no problems along the way.
Looking up at Celestia, Twilight couldn't help but notice the wound on her side, from where Sombra had struck her. Although the worst of it had passed, there would probably be a massive scar from this, not to mention the pain the princess was undoubtedly feeling from it. Twilight hesitantly looked away as she noticed Celestia looking down at her.
"Are your friends all alright?" She asked.
Twilight said nothing, merely nodding her head in response. Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie had all recovered from their ordeal of trying to get through the capital during the invasion. Fortunately for all of them, the changelings had been too busy to try and fight the royal guard to really pay them any attention, so they'd managed to escape the incident with a few bruises at worst.
"Good." Celestia replied.
But Twilight had not come here to do small-talk. There was an important matter which needed to be discussed, and she couldn't allow her fears to get the better of her here. She opened her mouth to speak, but to her surprise, Celestia had already beaten her to it.
"This is about Sombra.....correct?"
Celestia looked down at Twilight, who was still clearly unnerved at the thought of asking about this. The elder princess placed her hoof on the unicorn's shoulder, giving her a reassuring smile as she did so.
"I appreciate your concern Twilight. I thank you for it. But there is no need. I'm fine."
Twilight believed her, but still had something she needed to say to her.
"Princess......I just want you to know that........we mourn your loss. All of us."
Celestia's smile faded somewhat, and began to look away from her pupil.
"Thank you. I mourn my son also. But I mourn the colt he was........not the stallion he became."
There was silence between them for a few moment, with Twilight afraid of how best to proceed here. Her mentor had just lost a close family member. And she had no idea how to respond to that. But Celestia continued.
"At the very least I finally have a..........a body to bury after all these centuries."
Twilight had known her mentor long enough to be able to recognise when she was hurting. She placed a hoof on her side, gaining the princess' attention once more.
"Princess.......he was your son."
Celestia's expression became somewhat stern towards Twilight.
"No Twilight Sparkle,. My son died many centuries ago. This........this was just the end of something else."
This time, it was Twilight's turn to gain a stern look.
"Princess. Who is it you are truly trying to convince of that?"
Celestia wanted to deny that claim with all of her being. But she knew that Twilight wouldn't know it to be a lie. In all of her years as leader, she had tried to be strong. To show that nothing bothered her or hurt her. But this was a pain that had lived in her for years, and now that things had finally ended for her son, she wanted nothing more than to let it out. Another touch from Twilight caused Celestia to look down at her. The young unicorn looked up at Celestia, giving her a look of sympathy, and a small nod.
That was all the permission Celestia needed. Her eyes began to well up and her knees buckled. She feel to those knees and wept, with Twilight there to offer what little comfort she could. Sombra's passing was, without question, a good thing for Equestria and the ponies that lived there. But even then, Celestia and Twilight knew what pain his turn had caused to the princess. And here, away from the prying eyes of the public, in the company of her trusted student, she could finally allow herself to let it out.
"So he has fallen then?"
Chrysalis, Queen of the changelings, was lounging on her carved rock which served as a bed for her. She looked on at the hapless drone before her, who was practically shivering at being here. She couldn't blame him for this, as he brought her news he assumed would anger her. Sombra had failed in his attempted attack on Canterlot, and had not only lost the battle, but also his life. The drone was confused however as to why his Queen wasn't as furious as he expected her to me, and simply nodded in response to her question.
The changeling Queen remained silent for a while before speaking again.
"How many of our drones were lost in the attack?" She asked.
The drone's shivering began to increase, no doubt his answer wasn't a good one.
"From what we can tell.....maybe a third?
Chrysalis narrowed her eyes at the drone. She bore him no ill will. He was but a messenger. A messenger which she was actually glad to see alive. Sombra's plan was a pipe dream as far as she was concerned. Having faced the peoples of Equestria herself, she knew it wasn't going to be as easy as he'd believed it would be. That was partly why she'd abstained from joining the fight herself. The battle could, in theory, have been won for their side had the changelings kept fighting, but she had ordered them to retreat if Sombra fell. They were here people and the last thing she would allow was for even more of them to die for a dead pony's cause.
The Queen looked at her drone, who now had his head hanging with shame.
"Forgive us my Queen. Our alliance failed."
Chrysalis gave a small smile and placed her hoof under the drone's chin, lifting his face up to look at her.
"There is no need for you to be so concerned. Sombra may have failed, but the alliance served it's purpose. I took what I needed from that so-called king, so his usefulness came to and end. Having the Equestrian's finish him off just meant I didn't need to risk it myself."
The drone was still confused, but was at least relieved that he wasn't going to be in trouble for this. A gesture from the Queen gave him permission to leave her presence. And so he left, closing the door of her chambers behind him. Now Chrysalis was a lone with her thoughts. There would be much for her to do. Many years would pass before she could fulfil her plan. But she knew it would be worth it. Smiling, she looked over to her abdomen, which had swollen since Sombra had last seen her, and gently placed her hoof upon it.
"Fear not child. For where your father failed......you will triumph".