“So, what exactly are we looking for, Zecroa?” The curious Rarity asks.
“Somewhere within these pages unturned, may lie the answer to how the Darkness has returned,” Zecora answers as she continues searching for the right page.
Twilight notices the pages are old and a bit worn…which reminds her of the book she found in the Royal Library. Unfortunately, she left it behind at the Gala. Whatever befell that little book that might have had some connection to all this, Twilight only hopes, however unlikely, the book is still in once piece...or somewhat.
The six wait as Zecora continues searching every page for answers, but decide to take the time to change out of their Gala dresses. There are rips in some places and their slippers are either broken or missing; Rarity’s hard work destroyed in one night is too hard for her to bare, and despite having more important things to worry about...it might help if a cheering up could be tried.
Once finished, the beautiful white unicorn gently lays her dress and those of her friends on the bed neatly. “It seems no matter what I make for my friends...something bad always happens to them. It’s so unfair,” Rarity complains with a heavy sigh.
“Oh...it’s okay Rarity. It’s not your fault these things happen, “ Fluttershy does her very best to cheer up her generous friend in a comforting, yet soft voice, “Your designs are beautiful, and we are always grateful when you make us outfits that no other pony can make.”
Rarity smiles and hugs her kind and most caring friend, “Oh thank you ever so much, Fluttershy darling. You are most kind.”
Twilight smiles as she listens to her best friends conversing once more and is glad to see some of her friends smiling again. Even after all that has happened, it is nice to see a small amount of happiness return to them.
Princess Luna smiles to the sounds of the little ponies doing their best to comfort and cheer up the others, while continuing to stand by the window...keeping an eye out for trouble. Using her own magical abilities, her sight spreads throughout all of the Everfree Forest, watching for any signs of movement…whether it be simple creatures or servants of the Darkness. So far, there are no suspicious activities, yet the forest felt so still…and too quiet.
Zecora flips through the pages through the great big, dusty book that seems to go on forever. But at long last, almost missing it, the zebra finally stops...for she has discovered the page at long last. “This is it, that to which we seek. Now let us look and hope our future will not be so bleak.”
Upon hearing some good news at last, the six young mares gather around the table once again...ready for what the wise zebra has discovered. They listen in carefully as Zecora starts from the beginning of the page that is written in a language the ponies to not understand; The words are probably that of the zebra's homeland:
“This is a tale told of the time, when Light and Darkness were at their prime. In an age where the world was ruled by magic and nature, our once peaceful tribe was soon changed forever.”
“The zebras were very cheerful and wise, our skills and chants reached as far as the skies. We were friends with a chosen few, while our dislike of ponies only grew.”
“Ponies thought themselves superior to others, while the buffalo saw us as their brothers. Our friendship with dragons was the same, which was strong as their mighty flame.”
“One day a stranger was brought before the tribe, his features were simple yet difficult to describe: Feathery wings of a pegasai with the features of a unicorn, this was the first of its kind…the first Alicorn.”
Twilight’s eyes widened the moment she hears this, “No…it can’t be. It can’t be the same one…can it?” She asks herself in her mind. To her, it has to be a coincidence. However, the young pony cannot think of any logical explanation to the journal she found, the dream she had, the monster that appeared, Luna's connection with him, and now this. Whatever this may be...is bigger than anything she may have ever read on Equestrian History.
“Uh, beg pardon’ Zecora, but what da hay does dis have ta do with Tirek?” A very impatient Applejack questions.
Zecora, who’s mood changes from patient to irritated by that interruption, turns and snaps at the young earth pony, “Please listen and do not interrupt again! Such a thing can be quite a pain!”
Applejack nods and apologizes, “Ah’m sorry...”
Zecora accepts the apology of her friend and resumes the story that happens to be written in rhyme:
“Though he was a pony, we could see that he was lonely. A wanderer in search of a place to belong, his valor was without a doubt very strong.”
“The tribe took him in and taught him our ways, and within a few years he received much praise. A friend he had become among our own, a rare thing that any of us had known.”
“Though he was a member of our family, the day he set off brought great calamity. We would see him again someday, and would always think of him while he was away.”
Zecora finishes the current page for he moment and moves on passed a few other passes that apparently she claims to hold no importance...since what is needed is the part that tells of the Dark Lord and how he was defeated before.
“Okay, now I am completely confused,” Rainbow Dash informs her friends, trying desperately to jot down all she just heard into her head.
“I'm afraid I must agree with both Rainbow and Applejack: What does this alicorn have anything to do with saving Equestria from Tirek?” Rarity questions.
“I don’t know, but I’m REALLY enjoying the story. Aren’t you enjoying the story, Fluttershy? Are you, Are you...Huh Huh Huh?~~” The clearly excited Pinkie Pie asks her little pegasai friend.
“Oh…well…I think it‘s…” Fluttershy mutters...unable to decide if the story is good or...well...not.
“What was his name?” Twilight asks out of the blue to her zebra friend who continues to scroll through the next few pages.
Puzzled by this odd question asked during this moment of answer searching, the five mares turn to their brilliant if now questionable friend, and feel very confused. Zecora herself brings her eyes away from the old book, turns towards the pony who asked said question, and shakes her head sadly, “I know not what his name might have been, but more shall we discover from the words within.”
“Oh…ok,” Twilight understands, although disappointed that the answer could not be given and remains a mystery.
“Uh, Twi…since when is knowin’ his name so important?” Applejack questions the very question of her unicorn friend.
“Huh? Oh, I was…just wondering. Nothing wrong with that, right?”
Applejack shakes her head, “Not really, but it’s not somethin’ we need to know. Right now, we need answers on-”
“I believe I have found the next passage of the story, that tells of a battle and of its glory.” Zecora interrupts...which brings the conversation between Applejack and Twilight to an end. The Mane Six cease for now and return their attention to the wise zebra as she reads the next passage of the old book:
“The skies become shrouded in the darkest of nights, the day all light had vanished was the saddest of sights. All hope for any peace, would soon disappear and cease.”
“But we then found ourselves united, under the one we had cited. Dragons, buffalo, zebras and ponies alike, were brought together to face that which we all grew to dislike.”
“The Champion of Light was now his title, and he stood strong and true upon the enemy’s arrival. We were many but their numbers were larger, making our chances for victory that much harder.”
“But his spirit and courage made us strong, and we were ready to face those that were wrong. Each of the us six wielded a power forged from the Light, essence of friendship and harmony within our hearts glowed bright.”
Once Zecora turns the page to read the next section, Twilight and the others all gasp at the picture before their eyes. While it is a crude drawings, it is there and clear what they are: Six great gems held by what appears to be six different creatures: A unicorn, a pegasai, an earth pony, a zebra, a buffalo, and a dragon.
“The Elements of Harmony!!!” The Mane Six all say together at one. Without a doubt what they see are the very Elements that they have used on a few occasions...including recently to where they failed for the first time.
“Yes, these were the very elements you now wield, and by this book the key to victory is now revealed.” Zecora replies as she searches for anything else she may have missed within the book that was read to her when she was but a mere filly.
“So are you saying that the Elements are the key to stopping Tirek?” Twilight asks her zebra friend...who replies with but a nod as her attention is fixed on the pages before her.
“Well...that’s very useful to know, except for one problem: We tried that already and they didn’t work!!!” Rainbow Dash yells as she huffs from the fact that she listened to a story that had no good ending to it.
“Oh, silly Rainbow Dash. Were you not listening to what Zecora was saying?~” Pinkie Pie intervenes and tries to brighten up the bad mood of the grumpy cyan pegasai.
“Why don’t you tell me, Pinkie...” Rainbow Dash retorts.
“Well...Zecora said the Elements were the key to defeating the Darkness, but she also mentioned that it was not just ponies who wielded them. The buffalo, and the dragons, and the zebras were there too. So what she is saying is we need to go ask them for help.” Pinkie explains quite well and slowly for once...then turns to the zebra and smiles, “Right, Zecora?”
“That would be correct Pinkie Pie. You sure are as wise as I.” Zecora admits...since this is the first time she has heard of such wisdom from the hyperactive party pony.
The others are amazed and shocked that Pinkie Pie was able to come to that conclusion...which does makes some sense. Even Twilight is impressed, “Wow Pinkie, that’s like the most incredible explanation I have ever heard you say. How did you figure that out?”
“Oh silly, weren’t you paying attention? I mean, I was totally paying attention the whole time well expect for when I had an itch on my leg and had to scratch it and when I thought I heard a noise and looked away for a moment, and when-”
“Okay Pinkie, we get it!” Applejack interrupts by gently shoving her hoof onto the lips of the chatter pink pony, “We're all amazed, but ya don’t have ta go into all the extra details, sugarcube.”
“Okey-dokey-lokey,” The pink pony smiles and hops away for the moment.
After praising Pinkie Pie for her quick thinking...which they know to be one of her most recognizable traits, Twilight turns back to Zecora and tries to see if what her pink friend says was true, “So...I guess we have to find help from elsewhere across Equestria...but the real question is...where do we start looking?”
“I may have some ideas to where you may start. Within my collection over there is a helpful chart.” Zecora points over to her shelf that holds a few artifacts from her homeland...in addition to a few scrolls mentioned.
“"Okay...but...is there anything else in the book that may also help?” Twilight asks, hoping for more information...especially on the "Champion of the Light."
“Hmm…let me see.” Zecora reads through the next few pages but does not find anything at the moment, “From what I have read…not really-”
“But there has to be something!” Twilight presses on once again, finding herself determined to find out more.
“Twilight, don’t be rude!” Rarity exclaims, snapping at her friend for that sudden outburst.
Twilight gasps as she realizes her anxiousness has led to a little bad behavior...especially from the looks in the eyes of her friends...who feel concerned for their best friend. Feeling terrible for shouting at her zebra friend, Twilight apologizes, “I’m sorry, Zecora. It's just…there has to be more to all this.”
Zecora smile and accepts the apology of the unicorn whom she can see has found great interest in this story, “I am afraid the rest is of how our ancestors won their freedom, and imprisoned the dark and evil demon. As for the Champion and the Elements, they disappeared without leaving any evidence.”
“They...disappeared?” Fluttershy tilts her head in confusion upon asking this question.
“From this book and what I was once told, that is what happened in the time of old.”
“Buthow? I mean, the Elements were eventually found again by Princess Celestia, right?” Rainbow Dash states and reminds of that which she happens to remember.
Applejack agrees with her best friend and friendly rival...but then moves to pose a big question, “But how come no pony knew of dose events...and not ta’ mention what is goin’ on now?”
“That’s right. I mean I have read many books on the history of Equestria and before its founding. But I have never read nor heard anything like this," Twilight Sparkle ponders to her friends, "I mean if ponies took part in that battle long ago, why did they not record anything?”
“Perhaps the pegasai, unicorns and earth ponies forgot. Perhaps there is more to this then twas thought,“ Zecroa suggests, since that part of the Zebra History is unknown to even her.
“What is that suppose to mean?” Rainbow Dash questions.
“Maybe it had to do with the disappearance of the Champion and the Elements,” Pinkie Pie guesses with a shrug of her shoulders and her hooves.
“Or maybe they chose to forget...“ Princess Luna interrupts, after hearing enough and moves away from the window to rejoin her subjects and friends, “I mean, after what we saw in Canterlot, would you want to remember any of that?”
“Well…no…I…” Fluttershy mutters.
“Exactly!” Luna states with a firm look and stomp of her hoof, “When I was banished to the moon, I never heard the voice speak to me again. Even after I escaped it was still not there-”
“And you chose to tell us now, when you could have warned us earlier?!” Rainbow questions as she butts in.
“Rainbow Dash!” Rarity snaps at that uncalled for comment, "What a thing to say to the Princess!"
“I’m just saying!”
“It is not her fault! Besides, even if she told us, do you honestly think it would have helped prepared us better?!”
As much as Rainbow wishes to shout back at the prissy pony, nothing she can say will matter...because Rarity is right. “It's just…out of all the dangers and foes we've faced, we always stood a chance. But now this…it feels like…*growls*…I’m just so frustrated!”
Applejack gently pats the angry pegasai’s back to calm her, “Ah know how ya feel, sugarcube. But ya’ shouldn’t be takin’ it out on yer friends.”
Rainbow sighs and agrees, “You’re right…" The tomboyish mare turns her sights back to the alicorn princess and apologizes, "Sorry...your Highness.”
Princess Luna shakes her head sadly, “No...some of what you said was true: I could have told my sister about it anytime. But, I was afraid she would not believe me…and if she did, there was nothing that could have be done about it; What happened in Canterlot proved none of us were ready for Tirek or his dark power.”
The ponies have nothing else to say on the matter...because they know it is all in the past now. Right now the more important issue is to fine a way to defeat Tirek and drive him out of their home. The question is how...and if they will need the help of other Equestrian creatures to succeed.
“Ponies...there is one last verse to be read here; Something on the Champion before he would disappear.” Zecora informs the seven ponies to what she has discovered.
The Mane six and Princess Luna gather around once more and listen to what Zecora has found:
“Although we are victorious this day, our friendship with the others may soon go astray. Even while we rebuild and replant, our tribe will never forget the Champion’s last chant:
“When Brightest Day…becomes Darkest Night…” Zecora starts to recite the oath of the Champion...only to have Twilight join in unexpectedly, ”...Evil shall face a Champion‘s Might…”
Zecora halts her reciting and both listens and watches as Twilight finishes the rest without so much as looking at the words in the book, “By the Strength of my Heart shining Bright. Forever I stand…Courageous of Light!” Once she finishes, Twilight feels nervous at her friends all looking at her with the same expressions. "I...uh..."
“How did you know what I was going to say?” Zecora asks.
“That was…a little scary.” Fluttershy whispers nervously.
“Are you psychic or something?” Pinkie Pie asks.
"How did you do that, Twi?” Applejack asks suspiciously.
“Are you hiding something?” Rainbow Dash inquires.
“Twilight, please be a dear and tell us,” Rarity please.
“Twilight Sparkle…if you know something, now is that time to tell us-” Luna demands...only to hold up her hoof and bring it to her lips, “Shhhh….” The Princess quietly moves to the window and look outside.
“What is it, your Highness?” Whispers the nervous Twilight.
“I believe you ponies would say...."We've got company?" Once she whispers this, light gasps fell from the other ponies mouths as they hear hoofsteps coming from outside the hut.
The minions of the Darkness...have arrived and are outside the hut.