Set of Normalcy
Chapter 1: The court meeting
A soft knock on the door awoke Twilight the next morning. She rubbed her eyes with one hoof and instantly noticed that the bottle and cup from the night before were still on her dresser. She put them inside one of the dresser drawers and opened the door, revealing a still half-asleep Luna.
“Oh, Luna.” Twilight greeted. “Are you here to pick me up for court?” She looked outside the window. “It’s sunrise... Does court usually start this early?”
“It didn’t, long ago...” Luna said softly. She smiled, then said, “Well, it does now, I suppose. As soon the sun is fully risen, court will start. Let’s get over to the courtroom. We wouldn’t want to be late, now, after all.”
Twilight nodded and followed Luna to the courtroom, a beautiful pale sky blue tinted glass building in a separate area from the rest of the castle. Rich mahogany benches lined the sides, and a lush crimson red carpet covered the center leading up to four golden thrones, each one with one of the princesses’ Cutie Marks at the top. Twilight instantly noticed that Celestia and Luna’s thrones were higher than hers and Candence’s.
“Go ahead and take your seat, Twilight. I’ll be over in a few minutes.” Luna said, then dipped her head low. “Oh, and Twilight, please don’t go against my sister’s wishes. She can be quite...fickle when it comes to this sort of thing.” Twilight was about to ask her to explain what she meant, but Luna was already leaving. She sighed and decided to let the issue be.
Twilight sat alone, watching as more ponies started to come in. She saw Luna come back in and sat up a little straighter as she took her place beside her.
“It appears that Cadence will not be joining us again, as she has her own affairs at the Crystal Empire to take care of.” Luna said to Twilight. “A shame, since you haven’t talked properly with each other in quite a while.” Twilight nodded. “Communication is key in any relationship. Sadly, it’s not you who has yet to learn that, it’s--”
Celestia entered the room, and everybody stood up, bowing their heads. When she sat down, so did everyone else. Twilight shivered inwardly. It seemed to her like the room’s temperature had dropped a few degrees.
“Royal Court is now in session.” Celestia said. “Please bring in the first plaintiff.”
The two guards nodded and left. When they returned a few seconds later, a unicorn was with them, her mud covered hooves in shackles. Her tawny coat was matted, dull, and bruised, and her curly black mane and tail was also dull, as well as long; her tail trailed on the floor behind her, and her mane nearly reached her shoulders. Her cutie mark was of a tarnished parchment and an old red feather pen.
“What is she here for?” Celestia asked.
“We found her hiding in an abandoned house on the outskirts of a nearby town.” One of the guards said. “She fought us off and ran over to an old clock tower that was in the center of town. We managed to capture her just as a bolt of lightning struck it.”
“And what relevance does that detail of?” Luna asked.
“The clock tower is located in a shallow dip that collects rainwater.” The unicorn said, her dark brown eyes filled with resentment. Her voice was strangely monotone, a touch of hoarseness added to it that made it oddly pleasing to listen to. "The clock tower itself is made of wood, but there's a gold plating on the exterior to protect it from woodrot. There was a storm last night, as well, wasn't there? I think you see my line of logic thus far, Your Majesties?" She bowed deeply.
"Yes, I see it." Celestia replied, trying her best to contain the anger in her voice. "You manipulated your own Story to attempt to kill the guards trying to capture you. Because of your appearance, Cutie Mark, and bravado, I could instantly tell that you were a Storyteller."
"My, my, Princess, I didn't know that you could be that clever at such deductions." The unicorn smirked and began to laugh. "Excellent deduction skills."
"Storyteller? I'm not familiar with that term to describe a unicorn..." Twilight muttered. "I wonder what it means... Luna? Luna, are you alright?"
Luna stared straight ahead, her eyes unfocused and shaking. She looked as if she was seeing a terrible vision, or reliving a painful memory.
"Do not humour me, Storyteller." Celestia dryly said. "You do realize what the charges are against you, correct?"
The Storyteller was silent.
"Normally, you would've been just imprisoned in the salt mines for life, but your fierce bravado and quick tounge has made me change my mind. Highest penalty."
The watching ponies began whispering to each other in shock. Celestia slammed down the gavel next to her.
"What say you, Sister?" Celestia asked, turning to Luna. Luna looked shocked for a moment, then nodded.
"Seconded." Luna said coolly, her voice slightly wavering. "Twilight Sparkle, what say you? Shall she receive the highest penalty for her treacherous crime?"
Twilight looked unsure, but she glanced at their faces, and noticed how uncomfortable they looked, as if they knew she was going to make a counter argument.
She didn't say anything, just nodded.
"Very well." Celestia said. "Storyteller, the price for your crime most audacious is the highest penalty--immediate execution. Guards..."
Twilight shrank back in her seat, bile rising in her throat. If she had known that the penalty was execution, then she would've presented a rebuttal right away.
"W-wait!" Twilight found herself shouting. "I present a counter arguement for the defence of this unicorn!"
No, Twilight. Luna's voice said in her head. It's far too late for that. A Storyteller is a being of great magic and evil. They must be contained like this...there is no hope for her now. Her life has already begun to end.
But...but that's not fair! Twilight replied. Why...why can't I stop this...?
Luna was silent.
Three guards came into the courtroom, one of them holding a pickaxe in their mouth.
"Wait." The Storyteller said. "If anybody is going to kill me, I prefer it to be Twilight.”
Everypony in the room was silent. Never before had a death row pony have a specific request on who to kill them.
The Storyteller grinned. "After all, hasn't every other princess already have blood on their hooves? Celestia most of all... Don't you agree, everypony, that Celestia might actually have too much...?"
Celestia and Luna looked at each other, then nodded. Luna glanced over at Twilight, who got up and took the pickaxe from the guard. She walked unsteadily to the Storyteller, feeling as if she was not in control of her actions.
"Go ahead." She said. "I'm not afraid. I'm ready to do this." However, the Storyteller suddenly stood up and dipped her head politely before saying loudly, "Everypony gathered, heed my words, for they shall be my last: A calamity shall soon strike Equestria. A calamity that happens once every thousand years. A series of deaths of several ponies once a moon for ten years."
Many ponies gasped when they heard those words. Celestia straightened, her jaw tightly clenched.
The Storyteller continued calmly. "This calamity shall seize Equestria in its tight jaws, and cause everything to crumble. However, there is a way to reverse this before it happens."
Somepony in the crowd shouted, "How do we stop the calamity?"
Somepony else called out, "Yes, Storyteller, tell us!"
"Tell us how to stop the calamity!"
"Tell us, Storyteller, tell us!"
The Storyteller rose up on her hind legs, then came crashing down, putting all of her weight on her front hooves. The courtroom was completely silent.
Then, six simple words filled the air.
"Send the dead back to death." The Storyteller smiled again. "That's how you stop the calamity. One pony in Equestria is not supposed to exist currently, because they have already died before. If you kill that pony during the very beginning of the calamity, the calamity will end, without many ponies suffering. The calamity will still end even if you kill that pony later on, it's just more suffering for everypony."
"But...but how do we find this dead pony?"
"Yes, how do we know who's dead and who's alive?"
The Storyteller nodded. "Well, that's the problem, isn't it? You see, there is no way to tell who's dead and who's alive. The dead pony and anypony who's afilated with them...their memories are altered. They would swear on their life that they're alive, but they have no clue if they truly are or not..." She grinned and tossed her hair out of her eyes. "All you have to do is wait for the starting death. Oh, and one more thing: The number of deaths change from moon to moon, and the time varies, as well. So, there's no way to prevent the timing of the deaths."
"Who's the first pony to die?" Somepony asked.
Silence filled the courtroom. Then, the Storyteller replied with a single word.
The courtroom burst into chaos. Many were shouting at Celestia to not kill the Storyteller, others were rushing down to the Storyteller to protect her. The Royal Guard ran to stop the rioting ponies from leaving, pushing them back forcefully.
Suddenly, it felt like several strings were all around Twilight's body. She walked over to the Storyteller, pickaxe still in her possesion. She rose up on her hind legs, swung the pickaxe upside down, and drove it into the Storyteller's throat. Blood splashed onto her pelt and muzzle, some getting into her mouth, wide open in a wild scream. The Storyteller fell backwards, the pickaxe still lodged in her throat. The pristine white floor turned crimson as her blood spilled out. She twitched a few times, then was still, her eyes wide open, lying in a large pool of blood.
Twilight stood still, then, numbly, tried to go back to her throne, but it felt like every step was more and more of an effort. Her legs felt weak and gave way, and she collapsed, letting the dizzying images in front of grow hazier, then fade to black, like old film.