Truth Earned from Honesty

Second main installment in the Tutelary Spirit universe. Recommended reading order: Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, and Friendship.
Many ages after the original adventures of the Elements of Harmony, a hybrid mare crosses the countryside, searching for the Element of Honesty. And just like the rest of her friends, Honesty is no longer just a simple bearer of her Element anymore.
She is her Element.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/216963/truth-earned-from-honesty

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4. What is Earned from Honesty

Fields of bronze were traded for fields of gold as huge quantities of yellow wheat stretched on for miles. Just as the prairie, the golden strands blew listlessly in the wind, creating a flowing landscape not unlike a sea made of liquid gold. And just like a sea, an island of green grass was spotted in the middle of this field. This island was composed of a large, wooden, two-story farmhouse in its center, with three tall, metal silos and an uncolored, wooden barn around its perimeter, and a couple of healthy oak trees that were dotted around these structures.

Even after she had moved to Las Pegasus, this old farm still felt like home to Jazz Hop. Even as she stood before the farmhouse's front door, she felt so familiar and at home here. Taking a deep breath, Jazz Hop raised her hoof.

She hesitated, letting her hoof drop as she turned her head back to look at the pony behind her.

"Look," she began quietly, "before we go in there, I just want to say, 'thank you' for what you did back there," she said sincerely, "I feel... better for it," she pawed her hoof against the porch's wooden floorboards awkwardly, "So... thank you."

A tender smile is what she received, "Yer a good and honest mare, Jazz Hop. I jus' helped yeh with one of the few things yeh were havin' trouble bein' honest about. But yer welcome, nonetheless."

Returning with a small smile of her own, Jazz Hop quickly turned back to the door, breathed in deeply one more time, readied herself, and raised her hoof.

Knock-knock!

"Coming!" yelled out a mare's voice, slightly muffled behind the wooden walls of the farmhouse, "Just give me a second!" she shouted again. After a couple of seconds of the sound of hoofs clopping against floorboards, the front door was pulled open to reveal a full-blooded zebra. Covered in white and black stripes, she had a dark mane and blue eyes, and a distended belly that showed clear signs that she was heavily pregnant.

This zebra barely had the chance to say hello before she was suddenly wrapped in a hug by Jazz Hop, "Mom!" she shouted joyously, "I'm back and I've missed you!"

"Jazzy?!" said her mother, startled by the hug, "What are you doing here? I mean, I'm happy to see you, I always am, but you were only here a week ago, visiting. Shouldn't you be back in Las Pegasus?"

"I'm currently using my vacation days," answered Jazz Hop as she let go of her mother, "and last time I was here, grandma asked me to do her a... favor. She wanted me to find somepony for her, somepony important. Speaking of which..." Jazz Hop stepped aside so that her mother could see that somepony.

"Howdy, Ita," casually greeted the towering Mare of Honesty with a tilt of her hat as the sun shined down on her, her emerald eyes shimmering divinely from the light, "I must say that this is a mighty fine farm y'all have here."

Jazz Hop turned toward her mother with a grin, "Mom, this is Applejack. She's the—"

"—Mare of Honesty," her mother interrupted with wide eyes and a dazed voice, "I know who she is," she said before quickly shaking her head to regain her wits. Looking back at the embodiment of honesty, she gave her an apologetic smile, "I'm sorry, I'd respectfully bow to you, but I'm afraid that if I do, then I won't be able to get back up," she gently patted her belly for emphasis.

"That's quite alright," assured Applejack, "I much prefer it if yeh didn't anyways."

"Right-right, what am I saying?" she replied, "Mom always said that you hated being bowed to. I'm sorry, would you like to come in? My dear husband and sons are in town right now selling produce and buying groceries, so we're not much on food right now, but I'm sure I can whip something up."

"That's real kind of yeh to offer," said Applejack, "but right now, I think its best that I met with Candlelight first. Do yeh know where I can talk with her?"

"Oh, yes. I last saw mom out back, resting under the oak tree on the hill," she answered before smiling, "I'm sure she'd love the chance to meet you."

Applejack returned the smile, "That I ain't gonna doubt."

"Alright, let's go," said Jazz Hop happily. She started trotting toward the door before she was stopped by an orange hoof calmly pressed against her chest.

"Actually, Jazz Hop, I think it'd be best if yeh stayed here with yer mother," informed Applejack politely, as she looked down at her with such trustworthy eyes, "Me and Candlelight are gonna have a personal chat, jus' between the two of us."

"Oh! Um... okay then," replied a slightly confused Jazz Hop. She then took a couple steps backwards until she was next to her mother again, "I'll just wait here until you two are done."

Applejack nodded once to that, before she turned to Jazz Hop's mother, "It was nice seein' yeh again, Ita," she said with a tilt of her hat and a kind smile, "you've grown into a beautiful mare and a fine mother," she glanced back at Jazz Hop with a toothy grin, her knowing eyes delving into the younger mare's own golden ones, "the fact that yeh raised such an honest daughter proves that." With that, the Mare of Honesty turned around and calmly walked off of the farmhouse's porch, completely missing the confused look Jazz Hop was giving her mother.

"What did she mean by, again?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I don't know," answered Ita, before turning toward her daughter, "maybe she..." whatever words that she was planning on uttering died on her lips as she suddenly stopped talking in mid-sentence.

She stopped when she noticed just how... bright her daughter's eyes were. They were so much more vibrant than she had ever seen them before, like they had turned into actual gold that shimmered in the light. If eyes were truly windows to the soul, then her daughter must have become incredibly trusting to allow ponies to see her soul so clearly.

Jazz Hop cocked her head as her mother suddenly ceased her line of conversation, "Mom?" she said, worry and curiosity in her tone, "Are you okay?"

Slowly, a small smile formed on Ita's face, "Yes, Jazzy," she replied, her tone barely hiding the pride in her voice, "I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" asked Jazz Hop, her shining, golden eyes staring at her mother curiously, "because you look different to me."

"Really?" asked Ita, her smile mirthful and knowing, "How so?"

"I... I don't know?" replied Jazz Hop, confusion evident on her face, "but... when I look at you, you seem..." leaning forward, she scrunched her face in concentration as she looked at her; through her, "prideful, and worrisome, and motherly, and-and a whole lot of things that make you... you!" Jazz Hop reared her head back, her golden, shimmering eyes quivered, "How... how can I see these things?"

"Well," said Ita warmly, as she stepped closer to pull her cherished daughter into a loving hug, "from what my mother always told me, ponies with honest eyes happen to be very good judges of character."

Honest, golden eyes widened in realization.

 

 

One day, on a fine and sunny afternoon, in the middle of a sea of gold, the Mare of Honesty walked up a grassy hill. At the top of this grassy hill she found a large oak tree, where an old mare calmly sat under it.

This old mare was a unicorn, as she had a horn atop of her head that jutted out between the graying strands of her mane, which had once been an onyx black in color combined with natural, bright blue highlights. Her coat, once a vibrant red, had darkened into a crimson color over the years, and even her shining purple eyes have dulled due to the passing of time. The only aspect of her that was still as striking as ever was the lantern bursting with flames that decorated her hindquarters.

Behind half-moon glasses, the dulled, purple irises looked up at the Mare of Honesty, who now stood before the aged unicorn like a contempt statue.

"I see that you've helped yourself to our wheat field," the old mare stated in an indifferent tone, her voice not as creaky as the rest of her appearance would suggest.

A strand of wheat between her teeth, Applejack moved the wheat to the other corner of her mouth before answering, "I did," she replied factually. Her piercing emeralds looked down at the old mare's forehooves, "I see that Winona is much more friendly with yeh now."

Looking at her master upside down, Winona cocked her head at Applejack as her tummy was lightly rubbed by the aged mare.

"Looks that way," the old mare answered as she continued lightly tracing circles on the canine's belly, "darn thing almost gave me a heart attack when I first saw her come out of those wheat fields. For a second, I had thought that you sent her after me to drag me down to Tartarus."

"Candlelight," began Applejack as she stared down at the old mare with a slightly annoyed look, "I already told yeh long ago that Winona don't do that. She doesn't send bad ponies down to Tartarus," she leaned her head down to Candlelight's eyelevel and stared at her with deeply, mesmerizing eyes that could make the most remorseless of ponies flinch from guilt, "only us Elements have the power to do that. Winona jus' helps us find 'em."

Purple irises stared back calmly, "Right, well, I must have missed that detail at the time," replied Candlelight casually, as she then raised one of her hooves to carefully feel along her neck, "as I recall, I was more preoccupied with her jaws around my throat."

"Mhmm," murmured Applejack as she raised her head back up, "Winona! Git!" she commanded with a flick of her head.

Always obedient, the large canine calmly turned herself over and pawed off away from the two mares to lie down at the base of the hill. With Winona away, it was now only Applejack and Candlelight atop the hill. They stared at each other silently, bright emeralds meeting dull amethysts, with only the wind in their manes to show that they had not become stilled pictures.

Blinking once, Candlelight's eyes slowly wandered over Honesty's form, examining her, "You look younger than you were the last time I saw you," she spoke, breaking the silence.

Briefly glancing over her youthful body, Applejack returned her ancient eyes back to Candlelight's aged ones, "Well, I was only a couple years away from passin' on the las' time yeh saw me," explained Applejack, her tone of voice even, "me and my friends only live for some sixty years, before comin' back after another ten, and we tend to show a couple of gray hairs in those las' few years."

"Only a couple, huh?" Candlelight snorted abrasively, "And here I am with almost a full head of gray," she stared knowingly at the embodiment of Honesty, "I guess being an Element of Harmony has its benefits."

"Ten years compared to an eternity in Paradise comes to mind," countered the Mare of Honesty calmly before she quietly turned herself to her side to better look out over the golden sea of wheat, "but I reckon yer right," she admitted apathetically, "bein' what I am s'got its wonders."

A gust of wind flew over the wheat field, creating shimmering waves in its wake as it sailed past the two mares, their manes and tails flapping in the air after it.

Applejack breathed in the air as she observed her surroundings, "You've built yourself quite a farm here," she stated simply, her eyes trailing over the land and structures.

The aged, crimson-coated mare joined the Mare of Honesty in gazing at the scenery, "That I did," she replied with just the barest hint of pride in her voice, "it took a while, but luckily for Ita and I, my fire does wonders for the soil around here," as she said this, her horn briefly flared red from a burning glow.

"Good," commented Applejack plainly as she chewed her wheat, "I'm glad yeh found a less destructive use of yer magic."

Amethyst irises flickered toward Honesty's form emotionlessly, except by the slightest sense of strain, before flicking back toward the horizon, "...Me too."

Distantly, the clanging sounds of pots and pans hitting the floor was heard from the farmhouse, soon accompanied by muffled voices of apologies and polite dismissals of said apologies. Grabbing her attention, Applejack diverted her gaze to the farmhouse.

"Do they know?"

Candlelight looked up toward the farmhouse, her eyes focusing on the single lit window, "No," she answered, "I haven't told them." She turned her head, the Mare of Honesty's image reflected on her half-moon glasses, "Do you disapprove?"

"Depends," replied Applejack, not even glancing back at the aged mare, "what did yeh tell 'em when they asked about yer life before this, about who yeh once were?"

Staring at the back of the Honest Mare for a short moment, Candlelight soon turned her gaze back to her home, "When they asked, I only told them that I had once been a soldier. I then made it very clear to them that I didn't ever want to share my experiences during that time, and they've respected my wishes."

"Then no, it ain't a problem," said Applejack, "a pony's past is their own, and at least yeh had the decency to be direct about that to 'em. Yeh didn't try to string up a story and lie to 'em." Glancing at the aged mare from the corner of her eye, Applejack gave her a skeptical look, "But I seriously doubt it were as clear cut as that. Ita must have been curious 'bout where she came from at some point in her life."

"When she asked, I told her the truth," replied Candlelight, her eyes still staring at the farmhouse, "I told her, that during the war, I had found her crying in a burning village and that I had decided to save her and adopt her as my own. She eventually lost interest in her heritage after I explained to her that there was nothing left of that village and that I was never able to find out who her parents were."

Tufts of air escaped Applejack's nostrils as she scoffed contentedly, "I suppose that's technically the truth," she replied in a barbed tone, "the village was burnin', and the peace treaty weren't enacted yet, so the war hadn't officially ended," twisting her neck to face Candlelight fully, Honesty's emerald eyes pierced into the old mare's, "and those burnt corpses shieldin' the cryin' filly were hard to identify."

Candlelight stared back with hollow eyes, "If you're trying to 'twist the knife' so to speak; don't. There's nothing that you can say to me that can compare to that day."

Staring back an instant longer, Applejack turned away, "I suppose yer right. Besides, I already gave yeh a serious enough tongue lashin' when I first found yeh anyways," she said as she looked off into the distance, "I still remember that day too. I was only passin' by that area, on my way to the peace meetin', when Winona started barkin' like crazy and led me to that destroyed military camp of yers, which was where I saw the tower of smoke in the distance."

"Which led you to me," stated Candlelight.

"Which led me to you; a broken down mare, in the middle of a burnin' village, bawlin' her eyes out at the destruction she caused," said Applejack, who then turned back and faced the old mare with a softer look, "but let's not relive that day more than we already have to today, after all, we both know the reason why yeh wanted to see me."

Candlelight nodded once, "There's only one reason."

The Honest Mare creased a frown, "Are yeh absolutely sure? 'Cause y'know I ain't allowed to say anythin' to yeh, unless-"

"I'm aware of how it goes," interrupted Candlelight, as she stared up at Applejack, "I've done my research," she said quietly before she spoke like she was quoting from memory, "the Elements of Harmony may only whisper words of Paradise in the ears of the dying and of the undying, so as to reassure the former and to console the latter," she perilously bored into Honesty's encompassing, emerald oceans, "and I'm sure. There are some medical files I got from my doctor that can prove it to you."

Quietly chewing the strand of wheat for a few seconds, Applejack's eyes never left Candlelight's as she stared down at her. But then she calmly turned her gaze away from the old mare's, instead letting her eyes focus on one of the leaves of the oak tree that was whittling in the wind as it desperately tried to hold onto the branch that it was attached to.

"Yeh wanna know the truth," she stated quietly, "whether they've forgiven yeh or not."

A gust of wind broke the leaf's stem from the branch, letting it fly freely through the air. For a moment, emerald eyes followed the flittering of this leaf, before finally turning back to look at the aged mare.

"Yes," Candlelight nodded, "I know I don't deserve their forgiveness, in fact, I don't expect it, but..." she paused, turning to look off into the distance, her eyes steadying on the point where the gold of the land met the blue of the sky, "but if I've earned the right, then I'd like to know," she looking back up into Honesty's eyes, "before I have to face all of them."

The Mare of Honesty stared down at Candlelight for an intense minute, silent as she pondered the mare's words, before she spoke in a gentle tone, "Yeh weren't who yeh were that day, and yeh realized that too late," turning her head, she spat the stalk of wheat out of her mouth before facing the old mare again, "but, you've done what I asked yeh; what I told yeh to do. Yeh promised me that you'd overcome yer hatred, put yer past behind yeh, and take responsibility for Ita; raisin' her like she were yer own," from under the brim of her hat, Honesty's deep eyes stared through Candlelight's own; seeing who she was, before the corners of her mouth curved upward into a small, tender smile, "and I can clearly see that yeh fulfilled this promise. That, after all these years, you've upheld this integrity; proven yer honesty," she nodded once, "so yeah, I'd say you've earned the truth."

At those words, Candlelight's eyes didn't show any hope or elation, but just the smallest sense of relief. Taking a step forward, Applejack trotted over to the old mare's side. As she stood next to the smaller unicorn, Applejack lowered her neck down so that her mouth was situated next to Candlelight's ear.

Honesty then whispered into the dying mare's ear.

And spoke the truth.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, her voice heavy on the old mare's ear, "but many of 'em, even when they try, can't find it in their hearts to truly forgive the pony that violently ended their lives, and the lives of their friends and family."

Candlelight silently nodded once, her face betraying no emotion. The pain in her heart no more noteworthy than the hundreds of scars that already dotted it.

"But they also don't fully blame yeh," continued Honesty, her tone just the slightest bit more uplifting than it began, "they understand why yeh did it. What led yeh to it. They know that zombies are a terrible enemy to fight, especially when they wear familiar faces... like a loved one's."

A whimper broke through Candlelight's stoicism and she did her best to regain her composure. But that was a fruitless endeavor, as Honesty continued to whisper into her ear.

"They understand that yeh weren't in yer right mind. So close to the end of the war, and jus' before the two of yeh were goin' to start a life together, he was taken from yeh by some voodooists who didn't know or didn't care for the armistice. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and it drove yeh over the edge. They understand this, and yeh have their sympathies. Not their forgiveness, but yeh have their sympathies."

She nodded once, sniffing back a tear at words more promising than she had ever hoped to hear in her life, or even after.

Out of her peripheral vision, Candlelight didn't see the small smile that formed on Honesty's lips, "He still loves yeh by the way. Even now."

That tear fell, and it was quickly followed by many more. The curved smile that they trailed over and the blissful, elated feeling she felt course through her showed that these were not tears of distraught.

"And finally, I have a message from two very kind-hearted souls," Candlelight's bleary eyes widened at Honesty's words, and at just how sincere they sounded, "they wanted me to tell yeh, that yeh have their thanks for raisin' their little Ita into the beautiful mare that she has become, and for lovin' her like any true parent would. For that, yeh also have their forgiveness."

And Candlelight was content as the tears flowed from her smiling eyes, "Thank you, Applejack," she choked out before turning to Honesty with a look that expressed sincere gratitude, "For everything."

Applejack, the Element of Honesty, smiled an honest smile, "No need to thank me, sugarcube. After all," she looked out over the field of gold, her emerald eyes shimmering from the drifting sun.

"I was only speakin' the truth."

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