But this gloomy sight did not lower the spirits of the many creatures that were gathered in a small desert town called Appleloosa. They were too busy making friendly conversations with the ones that they once despised.
Moved by the words of a certain pony that was respected and honored by all, the buffalo, zebras, dragons, and ponies had put aside their differences and agreed to come together as friends. United after a long history of separation, the six great species of Equestria could finally achieve perfect harmony and drive the Darkness out of their home once and for all.
As the creatures continued to talk amongst their neighbors, a few certain ponies did their best to make friends with the rest as well.
Pinkie Pie introduced Applejack to her zebra friends; Rainbow Dash and Rarity spent a while enjoying the company of the buffalo; Fluttershy however ended up face to face with the Wise one and the two other dragons. The little yellow Pegasus was always afraid of dragons, but knew they were friends now. She mustered up her courage and engaged in a conversation with them. Fluttershy was still nervous, but this was to be a good start in overcoming her fear of the mighty beasts. She was good friends with Spike, and she hoped the other dragons would become the same.
Meanwhile, inside the Salt Block Saloon, Courageous and Twilight, along with Chief Thunderhooves, Subira, and Sheriff Silverstar were gathered around a table, discussing the plan of retaking Equestria. Spike slept over in the corner while they talked.
With a large map of Equestria placed upon the table before them, Courageous went over what he knew:
“I may not know this land well, but I have seen the area while I was imprisoned. As I was able to reach out into dreams, I was able to observe the lands as well.” He explained as he pointed to the middle of the map, “The village once called Ponyville is our goal. At this point, most of Tirek’s servants will be defending it in great numbers. We have to march in and take it in order to move to our next objective.”
“A’ see. How do ya think dis will work, Courageous?” Silverstar asked with good reason.
“With all our numbers, we charge in from the south…here.” He showed them the location right below Ponyville, “Once we take the town, all who can fly, plus myself, Twilight and her friends will make our way towards Midnight Castle.”
“Seems simple enough,” The buffalo chief stated
“It will not be from there…because the Pegasai he controls will be guarding the way. We will have to divide into two groups from there: one will keep the corrupted Pegasai occupied, while the rest of us reach the castle.”
“I doubt it will be that easy...” Twilight declared.
“No, it will not be. We will have to get through the front gates, fight our way through many of Tirek’s strongest servants, and into his throne room where he will be waiting.”
Twilight Sparkle felt very nervous; Though she supported the brown alicorn completely, this plan had many flaws.
“I can sense your doubts, Twilight…and I know you are scared.” Courageous turned to look at the others around the table, “We are all scared, even I am. This plan may not be perfect, but it is the only one we have. We must get march as soon as possible; The longer we wait, gives Tirek all the more time to gather more of his servants from elsewhere to guard his Kingdom.”
“Do you think we will succeed? I mean, our numbers are not as great as the ones we will be fighting,” Twilight sighed and felt herself losing more hope, “I don’t even know if I could face my own family: Shining Armor, Cadance, Princess Celestia and Luna. I don’t know…”
Courageous placed his hoof upon her shoulder, “I know, Twilight. To face those you love is not easy. I know you felt the same in your encounter with the corrupted Spike…”
Hearing his named mentioned, Spike awoke and listened to the conversation.
“….You did not wish to fight him, no matter what happened. The temporary power of Light that I gave to you helped free him. But it was your own heart and love for him that gave the Light the energy to remove the corruption inside of him.”
Twilight nodded but remained silent. Spike on the other hand wanted to say something to the ponies who were responsible for releasing him.
“We have to fight them, even if they are our friends and family. Tirek will use anything to weaken us and bring him victory, therefore we cannot let this stop us. But I promise you, Twilight…the Light will free them, but I need you to be strong and be by my side when that happens…please.”
Twilight knew it would be hard, but she had to have faith in the Light, and the pony who was its Champion. At that moment, she looked up at Courageous and gave a firm nod, “I wont let you, or anypony, down. I will do my best, for you…and for them.”
Courageous smiled and found himself hugging the lavender unicorn, whom returned the hug with joy. As they embraced, the brown alicorn turned his gaze to the rest of those within the room.
“I know it will not be easy, and many of you plus those of your tribes will be at risk of becoming corrupted by those already serving the Darkness…”
“Say nothing more, for we shall do our part: To drive the Darkness away, and fight along with you, Courageous Heart,” Subira spoke with pride.
“That right. Dis is our home, and we will take it back!” Silverstar stated.
“You united us, and so we shall fight! It will be a great honor, Champion of the Light!” Chief Thunderhooves declared as he bowed his head towards the hero of the prophecy, not realizing he spoke in a rhyme like the nearby zebra, who smiled at him.
“I am with you too,” Spike interrupted, “I will fight and help reclaim the land that belongs to all of us!”
“Oh Spike…” Twilight was so proud to see her little dragon ready to give his support. She never doubted him for a moment.
“Thank you, my friends. Now, let us inform the others outside. We need to quickly prepare for the upcoming battle, in every way possible.” Courageous informed them as he made his way outside. The rest followed, ready to get this underway.
After discussing the plan of action of retaking Equestria to everypony within Appleloosa, preparations for upcoming march began:
The buffalo painted their faces and sharpened their horns. They practiced butting heads, for there would be many ponies and objects to knock down once they reach Ponyville.
The zebras painted their whole bodies with ancient and traditional markings. Bows were passed out, along with the powered-tipped arrows. Each arrow carried a powder that could knock out an enemy, or even put them to sleep.
The two dragons left to gather the support of the rest of their clans in the Badlands; the ponies from Dodge Junction would soon be notified and join; the zebras in the Hayseed Swamps were sent word of the battle and began preparing all they had to fight.
The Mane Six did what they could to lend a hoof:
Applejack and Rainbow Dash were the toughest of the group and helped practice with the buffalo and zebras. Since they also knew the ponies in Ponyville well, the two mares explained what they would most likely encounter.
Rarity helped paint markings on the ponies throughout the town. Inspired by the ways of the buffalo and zebras, everypony wanted a special kind of marking on their coats and faces. Since Rarity specialized in giving makeovers, this was easy for her.
Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie helped by entertaining the young fillies and colts while their parents helped elsewhere. Fluttershy sang soft lullaby to them to keep them happy and quiet. Pinkie however hopped around excitingly and made funny faces at them, in hopes of bringing smiles to their faces.
Courageous Heart and Twilight spend their time painting markings on each others faces. The ones Courageous drew were not of a design of either zebra or buffalo; these were of this own tribe. He gently drew some on the lavender unicorn’s face; Twilight smiled at him the whole time.
“These markings are what my tribe wore in our first battle with Tirek so long ago. “Wear them proudly, my dear Twilight.”
“I will,” She replied as she closed her eyes to allow him to continue painting her face. The gentle feeling of his hoof made her blush, to which he smiled warmly.
After an hour of preparation, every pony, zebra, buffalo and dragon present, gathered together in the middle of the town and looked upon the mighty stallion that would lead them. Giving him their undivided attention, they awaited for him to speak before they would march.
“My friends. On this night…no…on this day, we shall stand together for the first time in four-thousand years, to challenge the very demon that dared to take that which belongs to all of us!”
The entire town cheered in unison.
“As I look upon all of you, united under the same banner, I see the same faces that stood with me so long ago. I see hope! I see victory! I see…the Light in all of you!!”
The crowd cheered once more, only louder this time.
“This will be the greatest battle in not only the history of Equestria, but the rest of the world! The eyes of those all over the world will be looking to us to lead the charge against the Master of Darkness while they fight to protect their own homes and kingdoms from his servants! If any of us are to ever see the light of day again, then we must steady our hearts, muster our courage, and stand together as the defenders of this land! For we are...THE LIGHT OF EQUESTRIA!!!”
The second the speech Courageous gave reached the end, the army before him cheered the loudest that could ever be heard; with their numbers, determination, and a leader to guide them…victory was only hours away.
As the volume of the cheers eventually lowered, Courageous smiled and turned his attention to the six mares standing before him, “Twilight, Flutershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Applejack…step forward, please.”
The six obeyed and moved together towards the Champion. He looked upon them all and spoke:
“The Elements of Harmony were forged long ago to represent each tribe, and to be wielded by a member of each…ones who were my greatest friends. You now wield that power, and carry the courage they had.”
The girls smiled at his words as he looked at each of them to explain each Element:
“Applejack...you wield the Element of Honesty, and therefore you represent the Earth Ponies. Honest and true, they work all their lives to make their homes a better place. I knew a great stallion who showed me what it meant to be an honest and hardworking pony.”
“Gosh…thank ye kindly, Courageous. A’ will carry that honor proudly.” Applejack replied with gratitude.
Courageous nodded at the orange earth pony and then turned towards the one standing next to her:
“Fluttershy...your Element is of Kindness, and the Buffalo are who you represent. Caring and friendly, the buffalo protect and communicate with the land and the animals that roam across it. You care for every manner of creature, big and small. Your heart is the same as the young buffalo that I once knew. She cared for everything, and showed me great kindness, as you have to others.”
Fluttershy gasped a little in surprise. She loved animals but would never have guessed she had a strong connection to those that were like her. Suddenly she looked down and saw Mr. Snake gently rubbing his head against her leg. She smiled and now understood. The buffalo behind her smiled at the little pony that carried their ways with such kindness and honor.
Courageous looked the to the right at the cyan Pegasus standing next to Fluttershy:
“Rainbow Dash...strong and proud, the Element of Loyalty is yours to carry, as well as the pride of the Pegasai. Keepers of the skies and the weather, they never betray their friends nor their responsibilities. I was friends with a mare who was a great flyer and very determined. She aided me in the greatest of times, as I did for her once.”
Rainbow Dash nodded firmly with a proud smile, “Ah Yeah! Now that’s what I like to hear!”
The brown alicorn nodded and turned the next in line:
“Pinkie Pie...happy and cheerful, you wear the Element of Laughter, and the very trait carried by the Zebras. Their spirits are strong, as is yours. No matter the danger nor the situation, you both always find a way to keep yourselves and others smiling. I was friends with a young mare who befriended me when no other would. She kept me smiling and was a friend to the end. She taught me much about their ways and of the potions they made, but there was one thing that would cure anything, and it was this: “Laughter is always the best medicine.”
Pinkie Pie smiled big with joy and hopped in place over and over, “Oh Boy!! I’m like a zebra!! That is so neat, I am so excited!!!” The zebras nearby, especially Subira, proudly smiled and accepted this cheerful pony as the one who represents them and their ways.
Courageous smiled and moved on to the one standing next to the still-hopping pink pony:
“Rarity...you wield the Element of Generosity, and therefore represent the Dragons. Though they have been viewed as greedy and selfish by many, my time with them showed me they were much more. They once guarded six rare gems that were unlike any that exist back then or today. When the Darkness was approaching, I convinced them to help fight against it. The one who guarded those gems, who was my friend, agreed to give them up to help us fight. The generous dragons gave up their greatest treasure to give to us so that the Elements could be created.”
Rarity and the others were surprised to hear that the Elements were forged from dragon treasure, “My word, I would have never imagined…” She said.
“It is not unheard of. I was told by Twilight a while ago that a certain dragon, that you have a special bond with, gave you a gem that was precious to him. To him, you were much more special and it is why he gave it to you.”
Rarity remembered the Fire Ruby that Spike gave to her around his birthday. She looked at the green and purple dragon, who was looking at her as well. The two smiled and blushed a little, for what Courageous said was true; Every word of it.
Courageous turned to the unicorn her cared for deeply and smiled:
“Twilight Sparkle...you hold the Element of Magic, and carry the wisdom of the Unicorns. Gifted in the mystic arts, they were the ones I grew up among. My sister was one of the most talented of all within my village, and she and I had a strong bond that never broke, even when we parted ways. Her love for me and her powerful abilities were the reason she was chosen to wield the crown and the greatest of the Elements.”
Twilight looked up at the crown she wore and was amazed that was the one pony to represent every unicorn in all of the world. She was gifted and trained by Princess Celestia. Twilight knew she was destined for greatness, but now that she was carrying the weight of the Unicorns, she felt proud and accepting of all this.
Courageous Heart concluded explaining the origins of the Elements of Harmony and took in a deep breath, “Now that you know the powers and burdens you bare, do you accept and forever promise to carry them not just into this battle, but for as long as the Light shines on us all?!”
The Mane Six looked at each other, none showing any doubts whatsoever. They all looked upon the alicorn standing in front of them and stomped their hooves at the same time:
“Yes! We promise!!” They all declared at once.
The town cheered once again, but this time at the six little ponies that stood proudly before them, carrying the very Elements that represented each species gathered here. The girls felt grateful and ready to reclaim their home, for they were the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, and would always be.
The time had come at last. The time to march towards the capitol of Equestria was now, and from the south came ponies and creatures of all kinds, ready to drive the evil that took everything from them, away.
From Appleloosa, a total of sixty-seven said their goodbyes to those that needed to stay. The young fillies and colts, along with the elderly and those left behind to defend them, waved goodbye as the army marched out of the town and towards the north.
In the Hayseed Swamp, twenty-five zebra warriors began their long trek to the capitol of this land, while those that could not fight remained.
From Dodge Junction, a total of twenty marched out and eventually would meet up the rest of the armies along the way.
Flying from the Badlands, thirty dragons, of both adults and teenagers, flew to the north, ready to give all their support to the ponies they now called friends.
As Courageous Heart, the Mane Six, and the army walked on, they all knew this: on this day, they would fight together as one, and end this war that began over four-thousand years ago once and for all.
The hour of the final battle…was nigh.