Seeds of Future Past

Equestria, as told by the Tree of Harmony

My entry in the EqD Summer Fanfic Contest

Before Equestria
Before the Elements of Harmony
Before Celestia and Luna
Before Discord

There was a seed.


1. Harmony

Seeds of Future Past

I am born of magic, a tiny spark of life brought forth from nothingness and wrapped in fire. Existence fills my newborn senses, concepts and knowledge poured into my shell in an endless stream of magical power.

I feel. There are no other words. Sensations surround me, from the pressure of my fragile shell to the warmth of the sun shining down. I want to grow, to explode out into the world and see what else is out there, but struggle as I might, I cannot escape my bonds. A shadow comes between me and the sun, a huge white unicorn who holds my tiny body in her magic. Her eyes reflect the deepest blue of the sky as she leans close, her soft breath blowing across my cooling prison. For an eternity, she does nothing but watch me, and I bathe in her admiration. She is my creator, and I live to carry out her will. In the end, a small smile lights her tired face, and she speaks to me in words that roll like thunder.

“Yes. It is perfect,” she says, moving slowly with small steps over to a shallow hole. “You, my last creation, shall take my place as I pass on to my final reward. Watch over my little ponies. Protect them, guide them into the light, and above all, help them grow.”

She stumbles as she approaches the hole, her breathing rough and labored, but her firm grip on me does not shift. The warmth of the sun is replaced by darkness as she scrapes warm soil over me, small splatters of moisture raining down around me from her tears. Her voice is muffled by the fertile earth, but her crying eventually fades, replaced by a powerful glow of magic that finally forces me to rupture through my thick skin. Roots plunge into the soil as crystalline sprouts rise into the air, capturing the warmth of sunlight and filling my new sap with life. My roots drink in the sweet nutrients of creation as the sun rises and falls until I have lost count of my lifespan.

Days pass, warm and pleasant things while I grow. My roots touch others, and still others, filling my senses with the dark and humid forest around my new home. The Everfree. It is a knowledge that comes to me through my creator’s magic, and I know that it is good. Harmony exists as far as I can sense, a balance of life and death, light and darkness, plants and animals, and it fills my trunk with joy.

The cold of winter comes, and I bathe in it, the heat of summer sweeps over me, and I rejoice. My roots stretch out far beyond the forest now, touching other strange lands. I see ponies of all three races, striped zebras and feathered griffons. At the waters, I can feel the seaponies dance and sing, and in the mountains, the rumble and growl of dragons and their minions.

It is good, but I am bothered by the distant ponies. They squabble and fight, unwilling to let harmony of my creator into their lives. In that weakness, the cold within their hearts grows. They are a powerful species, and from their power comes the wendigos who sweep across their lands. Harmony falters in their far-away lands, and I feel a tug in my heartwood.

My creator called upon me to watch over her creations, and as the cold closes in on their homes, I call to them in turn. Three little bands of explorers from three vanishing tribes heed my call, coming to my warm and fertile land, but the cold they created comes with them, and harmony is threatened.

I fret with worry, for although the cold cannot harm me, the wendigos will bring disharmony to the rest of the land and death to my charges. Helpless, I can do nothing but watch as the three tribes struggle in a futile search for warmth. I call again, putting my entire strength into my summons. There must be something out there which can save them, and I can feel a response far away.

Then something miraculous happens.

In the cave where the survivors huddle for warmth, harmony blossoms. It fills the land with warmth, a power greater than I could imagine. Together, these three squabbling tribes manage to create more than what my creator dreamed of creating. I watch as they bring their tribes into my lands, spreading out across the ground and sky in a disorganized happy mass. Within their numbers are two that I recognize, the ones who responded to my call. They resonate with their own harmony in addition to the powerful magic which binds the three tribes together, and I am pleased when they build their home within my grove. Rock and stone raised into the sky at their command gives me a sense of completion. They are allies, helping my creator’s dream of harmony and protection for our little ponies. Cycles of summer and winter sweep over me again as harmony is restored, one large land under three harmonious influences.

Until Discord.

I am unaware of where the beast comes from, only that he is here, among my harmony and joy. The sky twists in agony as the sun darts up and down, the ponies flee his cruel laughter, and the land bleeds chocolate blood. The harmonious beasts of the land turn upon each other with fang and claw, twisted into bizarre shapes for his amusement. The two special ponies, Celestia and Luna, rise up to fight him but are struck down almost without effort, and retreat in disgrace. I dare not call for a champion to fight him, for he is drawn to the forces of harmony and destroys them at a whim. My creator would be ashamed at my cowardice.

I can do nothing but watch as the brave ponies try to fight the beast, being defeated in droves and transformed by his powers into abominations against harmony. Unless I do something, the work of my creator will be lost forever. I risk everything by focusing my call upon a bearded pony who has infuriated Discord by slipping out of his grasp time and time again, and trust that harmony will guide his steps.

I wait. It is unbearable torture, but I cannot use the power I have. I must trust in the will of my creator to guide me. Harmony will be restored. I must remain true to my destiny.

The two special ponies approach me, and I know what I must do. I fragment myself into pieces and allow the ponies to remove them. Only a shadow of myself remains, barely able to watch as the two defeat Discord and seal him away in stone. Harmony once again flows across the land, and in my weakened form, I can sense Discord’s touch dissolving away into the chaos from which he was formed.

It is a frightening thought, and I consider it as the two ponies place my fragmented pieces into their castle. Could the ponies have created Discord the same way their ancestors created the wendigo? They are far more powerful than even my creator realized, and I hesitate to think that they may someday exceed her in power without discovering her wisdom. The thought occupies my time, distracting me from the weakening in harmony between the two special ponies. The elements of my being are the basis for harmony, but now Envy and Jealousy have taken root in the lesser of the two beings. Their bond frays and tatters under the strain, and the results are impossible to watch. I turn my attention elsewhere, unwilling to see what I know will happen.

A power in the frozen north arises while I fret, and the two rise to meet it together. I hope that their victory over the dark powers in the frozen city will draw the two closer, but their widening differences cause them to strike their foe crudely, driving him and his city away into the darkness where none can pass. Only a lone infant of the crystal empire remains untouched, hidden between the cracks of time by the bearded pony until she can be reunited with her home.

The disharmony between the two sisters continues to grow, and I cannot watch. One sister rises against the other, and harmony shatters. Rage and Pain ravage my peaceful land, far worse than anything Discord ever did. Sister fights sister, while their forces clash in the skies. It is insanity, and my will snaps under the strain. Disharmony rages through the ponies, tearing family and friends asunder. The lesser sister draws upon my remaining power, giving new life to her forces and twisting them into more powerful shapes. My consciousness is torn in many ways when I feel Celestia pick up my shards and force them to her will. It is wrong for her to do this! I fight with my weakened will against hers and my rage roars through the surrounding forest, but to no avail.

Luna is cast away into the moon, and I withdraw my power from the shattered remains of my crystalline form. All is lost. The creator’s dream will fall. I cannot watch the destruction of what was so promising, and I will not allow my powers to be used by one who would be so cruel to one so close to her.

She sheds tears. I ignore her. She pleads. I will not listen. She raves and rants through the shattered remains of her castle, begging for me to return her sister from exile. Silence is her only answer. Finally, she flings herself down in front of my inert remains and commands her ponies to leave. She does not move. She does not plead. She does not speak. Tears form a pool around her as the days and nights continue, the rising of the sun and moon controlled by her ponies far away. They will not endure. Without leadership, they will eventually lose harmony and the windigos will return. The goal of my creator will be unrealized, and the ponies will perish. The pony sprawled out in front of my inert physical form, no matter how much I despise her for the actions she has taken, is the key.

It was not in my nature to hate. I have changed. The creatures of the forest echo my hatred. They form their own harmony, one of claw and tooth, red with blood.

It is not in my nature to change. I must change further.

My creator’s will is stronger than my hate. I reach out to the pony, now thin and barely breathing. I touch lightly. A thousand years. Hardly enough for the torture they have inflicted upon me. At first, I think she has perished as she deserves. Then her lips move. She thanks me. My forest rages at her words.

Rising from her place, now smeared with tears and dung, she begins to walk. As she passes through the forest, she eats of my grass and drinks of my water, pausing only to thank me. When the moon is risen by the other ponies, she bows her head and thanks me again. I can barely feel it as she leaves my forest, but even then, she thanks me.

The sun rises. The Night comes and goes. Snow and heat return. I remain alone in my tortured madness, my reason for existing crushed, my being engulfed in darkness. The shattered castle built above my physical form crumbles further, home to none but the wild creatures of my forest.

But I count the summers. I promised. There will be no harmony, but she will be released.

Through the years, Celestia returns. She stands in front of my broken fragments and begs my forgiveness. She pleads for the lives of the ponies who will fall when Luna returns in her dark form. I do not listen. I have lost my will. There is only madness.

I can sense the rise of other towns of ponies around me, happy groups living in harmony together. Celestia rules over them with a kind hoof, caring for them, loving them, doing everything that I was called upon to do by my creator. The forest rages in response. The power was taken from me and abused. Now she claims the glory that should have been mine. The Nightmare is my refuge. I know the torture that Luna endured which drove her to the darkness. We are both made into legend, forgotten to history. I will have my revenge. I count the years until the Nightmare is released with fear and anticipation.

Celestia visits again, but this time her face is radiant with anticipation. She speaks to my fragments in a bubbly excitement that she cannot contain about a young student named Twilight Sparkle. I do not care. The Nightmare is very close now. This student will die with the rest of the ponies when she is released.

Every year when the sun rises highest in the sky, Celestia returns. She tells me of lessons learned and taught, of books and accomplishments. This student has brought light into her life, and although the forest still rages under my insanity, I am pleased at the thought. The harmony between Celestia and Luna was a special thing, far more powerful that normal bonds of friendship and family, and I can sense a form of that bond between teacher and student now.

On the day of Nightmare’s release, I am almost sad. Soon all will die in ice under her power, but I release her anyway and watch as she descends to the small town on my border, intent on continuing the battle which destroyed their old home. I admit to curiosity and watch as they meet, only to be shocked as Celestia does not even raise a hoof in her defense, allowing herself to be sealed up within the sun.

Ponies crowd the small town, but only a few have the courage to stand up to the Nightmare. She toys with them, taunting and striking down those who rise against her in wanton cruelty before gliding away on the winds. There is something different about the Nightmare now, something of myself that has become ingrained within her even as something of herself has infected me. She is in pain, lashing out at others to assuage the agony within, wanting only to prove herself worthy, but of what?

I watch as the student travels into my forest in pursuit, dancing to the tune of insanity that has engulfed my mind since that horrible night. Others follow, and I sense the threads that bind them together strengthen as they travel. What I feel, the Nightmare does too, toying with their lives as they all draw near to my inert remains. I do not call to them, but they arrive anyway.

The student is a ball of pure light in my senses, untapped potential beyond measure, but bound in frail mortal flesh. Still, she challenges the Nightmare, and flings herself onto my inert shards in desperation. Their ties are obvious to me now, each facet of my whole matching one of them. Loyalty, Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, and Honesty brought together as one, and their harmony brings out the fragment of myself I had thought lost forever. Magic encompasses them, bursting out into a rainbow of power that engulfs the Nightmare.

Only then do I realize that the corruption which claimed Princess Luna had also touched my physical form. Magic frees the alicorn from her self-imposed chains even while it calls her sister home from the sun. It pours through the castle, bringing light to dark places, purging all traces of the darkness while filling my heartwood with the joy I could barely remember.

The sun returns, the moon rises, and all has returned to what it once was, and more. The forest above me still rages with insanity, but I can feel the change that will take many cycles to complete. Harmony has returned to me, and once again I stretch out my roots. Despite my thousand years of madness, Celestia’s guidance has spread harmony across the world.

I luxuriate in the feeling, but there are still ‘lumps in my oatmeal’ as Honesty would say. Touching my Elements has brought a little of them into my life, as it has filled their lives with a little of my harmony in return. I can see the interplay of colors across my forest and appreciate their beauty in an entirely new fashion, the foals playing beneath the trees bring laughter to their leaves. A thousand new sensations my creator never considered I could experience course through my roots, and I revel in their touch.

The days and nights flow by, each one bringing new joys and sorrows. The student and her friends sing of the history of the three tribes, and I rustle my leaves in applause. An inconsiderate dragon is routed from his cave, and I laugh. The crystal city in the north is freed of its imprisonment, and I rejoice at the reunion of its lost shard. The baby dragon who follows the student strikes out on his own, and I am pleased when his loyal friends refuse to abandon him.

Twice am I brought to worry by their actions: when Discord escapes from his captivity and is imprisoned again, and then when Celestia permits the destructive beast to be released for a second time. There is a change in the chaotic beast I can barely notice the first time, where he is more playful than the destructive rampage he formerly caused. The second release baffles me, both in the trust that Celestia places upon her student and the results. The beast of chaos actually embraces harmony of his own will. It is a tenuous embrace, at best, but the trust they give to him is actually returned in kind, something I never considered a possibility.

I had considered destiny to be inviolate, but I watch in amazement as the student scrambles the destinies of her friends and brings those destinies back. In return for the lesson that destiny can be changed, I do something I had never considered since my trust was violated.

I trust her.

So I change her destiny.

After what Celestia and Luna did with my Elements, I thought I could never trust again, but these six friends remain bound together with a trust that could never be broken. And as time passes, they pay that trust back.

When the seeds that Discord had planted so many years ago take root, my hold upon the remainder of my life is nearly snuffed out. In my weakness, I am shocked while observing the traitorous beast. In his chaos, there is order. Deep within, there is a seed of harmony growing. It is very small, but so was I at one time. Perhaps the new destiny of the student is to plant these seeds, like my creator. I stretch my perceptions to their limits and see other seeds, bare suggestions of harmony awaiting her touch, and I realize my life has not been spent in vain.

She and her friends return their fragments of my power back to my physical form, and I feel the unity of myself once again. I have given of myself out of trust, and received far more in return. It is a lesson that I must be certain has been learned by the ponies before I can trust them with what I plan next. I craft a seed of my own, a gift which can only be opened by the giving, and I place it within their care.

I wait. And watch.

I cannot trust them as much as I wish, for the unpredictable beast stays near. The harmony in his heart could easily be a ruse, and I fret while I watch. One by one, the ponies extend their influence. One by one, seeds are planted in fertile soil where nothing grew before. Still, the beast fails to betray them. Still, he watches and plays with their hearts. Finally, when a darkness rises up to engulf the ponies, I see their trust in him lead to betrayal. I was right to lock this power away. They are not ready.

It is a cold victory. The three tribes of ponies fall before the darkness as their magic is swept away from them. The darkness grows until only one blinding light stands before it. The student. The darkness and the light clash, and I am reminded of Celestia and Luna. There can only be destruction in their battle, only one can survive. I can see it clearly. So can the student.

The student surrenders. She bows her head and gives up all that she is for her friends, including the beast who betrayed her. It is the last key. They have learned my lesson. They have all learned my lesson, even the beast, and returned harmony to the land.

I was wrong. I failed to trust where trust was needed. The student has taught me another lesson, and as they release the rainbow of power bound into my gift and drive the darkness away, I give them one last present.

A tree had housed the student since she met her friends. A tree which had lived with her, grew with her, and died when the darkness struck. My restored power reaches out, touches, and a tree grows in its place. It is new, a shining crystal castle of all colors which has never seen a hoof or root, but in a way, it is part of myself and a gift from my creator. From there, our seeds of friendship will spread across the land and sky in a brilliant rainbow of harmony, bringing a precious gift to the hearts of all who are touched.

Go forth, my children. Watch over all which our creator has made. Protect them, guide them into the light, and above all, help them grow.


Author's Note:

Let the rainbow remind you...

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