The Summit was the largest gathering of leaders from pony, mule, donkey, griffon, minotaur, yak, zebra, and at times even dragon to discuss the future of Equestria. It was customary to have annual meetings to discuss a great many things, to confer with one another of topics and issues that needed resolution or insight, but this particular meeting wasn't going to be so reserved. Every leader of their respective homeland or race had come with the knowledge Princess Celestia had provided her in summons over what could potentially take place.
Princess Luna stood outside the large marble doors that led inside to the Summit's Chamber where she would address the whole of Equestria's most noble leaders and respected nobility. She was accompanied by Discord, Chieftain Talon, and Tier the Arcana. Although the jungle ponies would be making their first appearance at a Summit, welcomed by all attending, their sway over any other land would be little to nothing in helping convince others of their cause. Discord would also be limited to what help he could offer, his reputation, albeit rather tame this last year, would not sit well with many. Princess Luna would ultimately have to convince the Summit of their intentions and appeal to them of a risk worth taking on Smolder's behalf.
"Everypony has been informed of the incident concerning Princess Celestia, Twilight and her little friends, and even that old bat. Our chances of having every pony agree to our plan of opening the portals has increased." Discord said.
"Everypony might agree to opening one portal to get them out, but that is not enough to fulfill Smolder's intentions. We cannot use my sister's predicament to influence this matter. As much as I want everypony's safe return, using them as a crux to fuel our agenda is not what this meeting is about. Before this incident, the plan was to simply open the portals to render the Storm inert, defeat it, and rescue Smolder." Princess Luna replied.
"I feel that the mismatched creature makes a valid point. With more lives at stake, the need for this quest to succeed is more prevalent than ever. Tier can even serve as the mediator between every pony, serving to pass on our good intentions and our resolve." Chieftain Talon added.
"To this I cannot agree. Influencing any pony's emotions or perhaps thoughts on this matter through Tier's powers would be unethical. A decision must be reached with their own feelings on the matter, swayed by their own thoughts, and resolve to do what they believe is right." Princess Luna said.
"Then, what am I to do?" Tier asked looking unsure.
"I would ask that you act as an ambassador to your kind, seeking help for your world, and providing the Summit with whatever answers they might seek." Princess Luna answered.
"So your plan is to simply humble yourself to them? Appealing to every pony's good nature and hoping that they agree to take a chance of possibly destroying all of Equestria?" Discord asked.
The door to the Summit clicked open, the appointed pony presiding over the introductions stepped through to meet with them.
"My lady, all the Lords and Ladies have convened and are ready to begin." The appointed pony disclosed.
Princess Luna nodded her head. The appointed pony stepped back through, the marble doors opening wide to reveal the chamber beyond. Several dozen ponies of different colors and walks of life lined the chamber on raised steps that circled the platform to where Princess Luna would address them. Spotted across the rows were minotaur, griffons, yak, mule, and donkey alike. Familiar faces were that of Princess Cadance, Shining Armor, Duke Wellington, Lord Tundra, Lady Frost, Prince Rutherford, and Princess Sheva.
"Standing in for the absence of Princess Celestia, is the honorable Princess Luna who will be presiding over the Summit this day. With her, Chieftain Talon of the Wakanda Tribe, Leader of the jungle ponies, Discord, the Master of Chaos, and visitor from a plane beyond our world, Tier the Arcana." The appointed pony read from his paper.
Princess Luna strode in with all the dignity and poise a Princess was to have, while Discord waved to the crowds using a T-shirt cannon to give a few lucky ponies some souvenirs. Chieftain Talon was close to follow with Tier floating close beside him.
An eruption of hushed whispers passed through the chamber, it was obvious that every pony was curious about this new creature, and what it represented as a whole. Discord slithered by, snaking his way up one of the many pillars that lined the chamber, creeping along the ceiling as to hang on around as it were. Princess Luna had taken the stand near the center of the chamber, preparing herself to address all in company.
"I want to personally thank each and every pony here for taking time out of their schedules to appear for this Summit meeting. I would also like to extend my personal apology for the absence of my sister, Princess Celestia, as she currently irretrievably detained for the foreseeable future." Princess Luna started off.
"I believe I speak for every pony present that we hope for Princess Celestia's quick and safe return." Lord Aton of Somnambula stated.
A murmur ran through the collective, agreeing with the sentiment professed.
"I appreciate every pony's thoughts on this matter and thank every pony for their understanding in regards to my standing in for this Summit meeting. First and foremost, it is with great pleasure that I am to introduce a new representative to our council today. Chieftain Talon, leader of the jungle ponies, has chosen to come out of their isolation and become part of the happenings of Equestria."
As per usual, Chieftain Talon was adorned with his traditional jungle pony clothing, decorated skull staff, and his Hom Dai mask hanging by his side. His presence was intimidating, although, the smile he wore offered much in friendship as he bowed his head to every pony in attendance. A generous applause was soon followed welcoming Chieftain Talon, many of which found him just as intriguing as her counterpart.
"Joining him is a rather unique addition to our group, a creature from which my sister and several talented ponies have been attempting to study further upon, Tier the Arcana. She comes from another dimension called the Kingdom of Naught. Her presence within our world has been a closely guarded secret of the jungle ponies until recent events, beyond our control, have forced her participation amongst us."
Many of those attending had forgotten to applaud, many were whispering among themselves again, but it seemed that none harbored any resentment towards Tier. In fact, it seemed as though many were interested in finding out more about her. Chieftain Talon escorted Tier to the bottom tier of the platform where the most convenient space could be found. Even though each would be representing their own kin, Chieftain Talon still regarded himself Tier's protector and had her hovering close to him to ensure every pony knew it as well.
"To begin, it would only be fair to recount the minutes of the last meeting to ensure that all issues and subjects have been addressed before tackling new ones." Princess Luna said.
"It would prove a moot point if this creature from another dimension is to invade our world, wouldn't you say?" A rather robust minotaur asked aloud.
"I would have to agree with Lord Bushwacker, this issue with this 'Storm' as it is being called poses far too much of a threat for it to be considered just another point on the docket." Lady Havisham agreed.
The chamber murmured their agreement with that sentiment with many eyes looking towards Tier.
"If every pony is in favor of this then I am obliged to jump straight to the main issue at hoof. For posterity sake, allow me to state, in detail, the reasons and accounts of everything that has led us to this point. Lord Smolder, King of the Ashen Fields, had willingly entered the Kingdom of Naught, the Void in our terms, seeking to help the race of Void Walkers that lived there. In his departure, he gifted a set of instructions to Princess Sapphire imploring her to seek out other Obelisks that were hidden across Equestria to help him combat the Storm that threatened their world. In so doing, Princess Celestia, along with many ponies that sought to fulfill this request, have been inadvertently pulled into the Void as well. It was Princess Celestia's hope that this Summit would find ample cause to aid Lord Smolder by using the found Obelisks to render this Storm inert long enough to destroy it. The issue that stands before this council is the possibility that these portals would allow for the Storm to escape into our world and suffer the same fate the Void Walkers have."
"If I am so bold as to ask who Lord Smolder took council with before attempting such a heroine expedition?" Lord Nox asked asked.
"He acted under his own volition. He made no mention of his plans to any pony." Princess Luna replied.
Nox snorted derisively. "I believe the old adage is leaping without looking? In this case, acting without thinking."
Lord Nox represented Mustangia, a herd of wild ponies from the earliest times of Equestria that had now become civil and respected, but their hearts still beat with a fiery passion. They believed in the truth of all things, for when one is thirsty they would drink, if one was hungry they would eat, and if one shared a difference of opinion they would speak it. At times it would seem cruel, perhaps insensitive, but the Summit was a place to have different cultures clash and be tolerated.
"Your sarcasm is unappreciated, Lord Nox." Duke Wellington pointed out.
"Perhaps the same could be said for this king of flame ponies going off on his own and dragging the rest of us with him." Lord Nox rebutted.
Murmurs ran through the hall, many agreeing with Lord Nox's view of the situation.
"If you are entirely against this idea of assisting King Smolder, Lord Nox, then perhaps you should simply refuse and we can move on to other things." Lady Frost suggested.
Lord Nox did not respond right away. His hesitation was warranted, no pony wanted to be the first to cast their vote against this idea, lest that they be forever remembered as the reason the flame pony king had met his untimely end.
"I will not deny that if we were to vote now, I would be against proceeding with this motion to help the flame king. Although, this is a place of open mindedness, understanding, and acceptance. I am willing to hear what everypony has to say before making a decision." Lord Nox replied.
"Then allow me to bring forth the plan we wish to carry out." Princess Luna offered.
With a sudden flash of magic from her horn, Princess Luna produced a large overworld map of Equestria upon the floor of the hall. Four sets of two Obelisks markers were placed on the areas in which they were located, the Frozen North, the Southern Jungles, Trottingham, and the Ashen Fields.
"From several sources, we have substantiated that these Obelisks are a means of travel to Tier's world, the Kingdom of Naught. While each has a specific requirement to be opened, these portals were built for a singular purpose." Princess Luna began.
"Which is?" Lord Nox asked curiously.
Princess Luna looked towards Tier to allow her the chance to speak.
"They were designed to nullify the Storm, to remove it from the host's body, and allow us the chance to kill Null. Without its host, the Storm would cease to be threat to anyone and wither into nothingness. With our powers failing during our war with it, we sought your ancestors to help us in defeating our enemy, but only one promised to help." Tier explained.
"Who was that?" Lord Bushwacker asked.
'It was the flame pony king. He had promised to help us."
"You referring to Lord Smoke? His rule was centuries ago." Lord Nox asked.
"Our kind do not age, we are akin to being immortal, but this Storm can take from us our very soul. When the time came to face this Storm, the flame pony king refused to honor his promise and sealed us away. He feared for your world, of what the Storm might bring, and we were trapped with it."
"So now the our flame pony king feels responsible for this?" Lady Havisham asked.
"A better question would be, how did the flame pony king know of this?" Lord Nox questioned.
"King Smolder had been in contact with another Arcana from the Kingdom of Naught, it had told him of what happened, it brought upon visions of his ancestors, and asked him for help." Princess Luna stated.
"So it is safe to say that our flame pony king had not simply ran off on a noble quest, but guilted, if not, pressured into helping. Manipulated, as a young ruler, to right the wrongs of his forefathers, as he was already trying to redeem the sins of his own father." Lord Nox concluded.
"Their words you seem to twist, the point, I fear, you have missed." Lady Sheva spoke out.
"Quite the opposite, my Lady, I feel sympathy for Lord Smolder. From his father's return to the battle with an Orc and Elder Dragon, I feel that he was taken advantage of by this other Arcana. Why not come to us sooner, why hide with these jungle ponies all this time until this matter grew beyond your control?" Lord Nox asked.
"I-I-I-I believed that everyone had… had died. I never thought that any would try to reach out to this world again or try to open these portals. My isolation was to keep this world from the horrors of my own, but now I fear that it is no longer possible." Tier replied.
"I can advocate for a single portal being opened for the attempt to rescue those ponies unfortunate enough to have been stranded within this other world, but I would not consider this plan viable in anyway. The safety of Equestria and all who dwell here comes first, above all else."
There was a simultaneous agreement with that notion going throughout the hall.
"If I may interject for a moment." Duke Wellington began. "I would like to bring to every pony's attention the actual pony we are discussing here."
"We were not speaking of the flame pony?" Prince Rutherford asked in loud surprise.
"When I first met this Lord, he was only a kid, beaten by his father, and asked to carry a fallen kingdom back into the world. He never wanted the throne, all he ever wanted was to be accepted, mostly by his family, and he didn't even get that much." The Duke told.
"What is your point?" Lord Nox asked.
"We're not discussing a king that sought war, glory, or even honor. We're talking about a young flame pony prince, just crowned king, who believes that we are better ponies then we believe ourselves to be. Perhaps it is his naivety of his youth to believe that we would come marching to the breech whenever evil rears its ugly head, but we are all guilty of looking the other way from time to time. I challenge any pony here to find any foal or filly that doesn't believes that we should stand against evil."
"Even if it means losing everything?" Lord Nox asked.
"To do what is right? To what I know is to be right? Yes, we should. I for one cannot see myself holding a sword or fighting off more than the common cold, but I would stand with this flame pony knowing that I did the right thing. Even if I were to fall beside him."
Lord Nox rubbed his chin with his hoof, internally debating his own ideals and fears. The hall had become uncharacteristically quiet with their own contemplation of what the Duke had advocated.
"We…" Lord Nox began. "We are being asked to open our world to a great evil, one that we do not know if we can win against. Sometimes… making the hard decisions are not always right, but that is for us to bear while our homes and families are kept safe."
"Smolder has witnessed first hoof the horrors of what evil can bring. It has come in the form of an Elder Dragon, an Orc, and even his own father. No pony here would walk away unchanged by such events. For Smolder, who had left his lands seeking help from complete strangers was able to face all of these evils and win. From this, he has chosen to help any and all those that seek that very same mercy. His pain has only sharpened the blade that will be thrusted into the very heart of this looming darkness and all Smolder asks is that we give him this chance." Princess Luna replied.
"It's okay." Tier mumbled.
Every pony's attention turned towards the Arcana who was staring down at the ground with her hands clasped firmly together.
"What's okay?" Princess Luna questioned her.
"I… don't want to see anyone else getting hurt by this Storm. Just get your friends out as safely as you can. There is nothing left that can be saved."
There was a sadness in they way that Tier spoke, but it wasn't for her. She could feel the worry, the dread, and the fear that every pony had for this plan and it was overwhelming to her.
Chieftain Talon got to his hooves, making it very clear that he wished to speak.
"Lord Amon, if I may ask, where is it that you come from?" Chieftain Talon inquired.
"Me? Oh, well I come from Somnambula, it is a desert village in the southern part of Equestria." Lord Amon replied.
"Prince Rutherford, may I ask where it is that you come from?" Chieftain Talon asked.
"Yakyakistan!" Prince Rutherford hollered proudly.
"What are you getting at, Chieftain Talon?" Lord Nox asked.
"Would you consider a pony's home to be trivial, Lord Nox?" Chieftain Talon asked.
"I would not."
Reaching over to Talon, Tier placed her hands on his arms, urging him to sit down. "It's okay, Talon."
Chieftain Talon pulled his arm away from her. "Is it? When our business here is concluded we shall all be returning to our homelands. I myself will be returning to my jungle, to my family, my friends, because that's where home is for me. We're here because one of us might not be going home. You won't be going home."
In a rather unorthodox move, Chieftain Talon stepped out into the center of the Summit for all ponies to see him to continue speaking further.
"Tier came to my ponies many years ago, back when we were just a warring race of jungle ponies. It was from her experiences, her pain, that we saw what are selfish greed and violence would bring. Since then, we have lived in harmony, five tribes now a single family, that swore to protect the heart of the jungle. Tier the Arcana, my friend." Chieftain Talon spoke.
"Her home has been taken by a dark force, having destroyed both friends and family, but a very this flame pony is trying very hard to get it back. If any one of us were unable to go home, if our loved ones were being threatened, harmed, or possibly even killed by untethered evil, how quick would this council be to aid that pony, yak, griffon, or zebra? Would this injustice not be met with outrage and immediate action? Why is it that we must debate helping another in need, as if their plight was somehow lessened for being a stranger?"
Tier clasped her hands tightly together, feeling the eyes of every pony on the room upon her now.
"I have recently learned of these Elements of Harmony. Honesty, loyalty, generosity, laughter, kindness, and magic. It mirrors closely to what we jungle ponies hold dear, and I can bet that it does with many of your beliefs. If you can find reason to deny them help a second time, then let us end this meeting here and now. But, if we can see that this is a noble and just cause, then let us stand with this flame pony king to help end this long egregious suffering of their world."
Almost immediately Prince Rutherford jumped to his hooves. "If the cause is just and honorable, Yaks will stand with the Fire King!"
Princess Sheva was next to get to her hooves. "To turn our backs, we refuse to do, just like the Yaks, we Zebras will stand by too."
Duke Wellington got to his hooves. "Trottingham will stand with this kid."
"Lady Frost and I will see this through to the end." Lord Tundra announced standing with her.
"Let this so called Storm feel the might of the minotaurs!" Lord Bushwacker declared.
"Somnambula will stand with this flame pony." Lord Amon stated.
The next to stand was Lord Nox, although he did not speak right away, keeping his gaze upon Chieftain Talon for a moment. His gaze broke to the others ponies that were already standing and those that were just coming to their hooves. It was unclear to any pony if he meant to stand with them or declare his refusal of it.
"I hold a great amount of respect and admiration for several ponies in this room. To have heard them speak so candidly and voicing their support of such a bleak and terrifying prospect has me wondering what sort of pony this flame king is." Lord Nox stated. "I would like to meet him for myself. Mustangia will stand against this Storm and drive it back into whatever hole it crawled out of."
It did not take much more for the rest of the Summit to stand with the some the most powerful leaders of Equestria, voice their own support to the cause. None so loud as Prince Rutherford who continuously stomped his hooves declaring his support of the matter.
"Then Equestria will stand with King Smolder and help him stop this Storm from every harming any pony else!" Princess Luna declared, finalizing the motion.
There was a unified declaration from every pony, cheering, shouting, hollering their support for this matter. Princess Luna stomped her hoof, having signaled the motion having been carried, and it only bolstered the rooms energy.
Tier hovered quietly, her hands covering her face from the tears that had been streaming down her face for sometime now. Talon approached her, placing a hoof upon her arm to try and comfort her as a sudden swell of emotions were poured into him from her. There was a overwhelming sense of relief, of happiness that streamed from her, as if a long desired wish had finally come to fruition.
"You'll be able to go home, Tier." Talon reassured her.
Tier wiped her eyes revealing a smile. "I've been home for many years now, Talon."
Talon returned her smile knowing that Tier planned to remain with him and the jungle ponies when everything was over.
Discord slithered over to Princess Luna, leaning in to whisper to her. "You left out the part of the Ashen Fields portal being inoperable."
"For the time being." Princess Luna corrected him. "The flame ponies have been extensively looking into an alternate solution to power the Obelisks."
"And if they fail to turn up with anything? What then? This plan cannot succeed if even one portal cannot be used." Discord posed.
"If nothing else, today has proven that the efforts of a one flame pony can make a large impact on us. I have faith that the entire kingdom of flame ponies will not let us down."