It's nighttime again. This night, no different than the last. Or the one before that, or the one before it. I don't know how I got here. I don't know where 'here' is. It's a question I find myself asking, to no one in particular. I live alone, you see. Only recently did I realize I knew how to write.
I believe this place used to be a castle of some kind, though I can't say for sure. I was drawn to this place from afar, though I cannot say for certain why. The daytime heat is almost unbearable, as it is every day. The blood red sun in the sky has taken a particular disliking to me. I don't know who designed these buildings, but I thank them for constructing them so solidly. I saw this city in the distance, and decided it would make a suitable place to seek refuge from the great desert.
Unfortunately, this city is dead, just like all the other cities I've visited. I can't remember the last time I spoke to another living thing, or the last time I've seen anything alive for that matter. It is as though the whole world died, and I am the only one left.
This city is unique in its design, especially since it is the only one I've come across with a castle. The room I've chosen to stay in looks as though it was once quite nice. There is something familiar about it, but that familiarity is fleeting. There are old cushions scattered about, which are very soft for laying on. The doors of this place sit warped and brittle on their rusted and decaying hinges. I can tell that at one time, they bore magnificently carved designs. Now, the intricacies of the artisans, whomever they were, have been lost to time.
There are numerous scrolls littered about the floor, and I've been reading them, another skill I was unaware I possessed. They are about something called 'friendship'. I've no idea what that word means, but from what I can gather, it appears to be a relationship one has with others who share similar interests.
I've found many scrolls about the subject from someone named 'Twilight Sparkle'. They're written to a princess named 'Celestia'. I feel as though these were her chambers. There's a rotted old bedframe in the corner of the room, and the curtains that once shielded it from the heat of the sun have long since been burned away. It seems the only piece of furniture to have survived the ravages of time is an armoire in the corner. Its doors locked by a chain and multiple padlocks, it frightens me to even go near it. I stifle the dread it instills in me, as this room is cooler than the rest of the castle for some reason, so it is here I make my bed. It is quite dusty in this old fortress, but it is as I expected.
The area surrounding the city is desert, and so is the rest of the world, as far as I can tell. I wandered the desert for a long time, searching for someone, anyone, to tell me what had happened to make this place so unwelcoming. Alas, I found no one. For a time, I thought I would surely starve, or die of thirst, finally freeing me from this hellish landscape.
Yet, as my hunger grows, and so does my thirst, I persist. Even though I long for death's icy grip, he does not come for me. It was then I thought I was being punished for my sins, and perhaps that theory is still true, I don't know for sure. All I know is I cannot leave this place, no matter how great my desire.
These 'friendship' scrolls keep me company in a most peculiar way. I don't think I'll ever know who 'Applejack' was, or what 'Cider' refers to, neither will I know who Rarity was, or why being nice to her little sister was so hard for her.
Little sister... in a faint memory, like a memory of a memory, I think I once had a sister. I see her in my dreams, sometimes. She has her back turned to me, and when I try to look upon her face, I find it impossible. She turns away every time I approach. She's mostly blue, and her mane is quite beautiful, but I can't remember her name. Sisters are supposed to be important, and I can't even remember if I've had one.
I can only explore the castle during the night, as the angry sun's heat beats everything into submission during the day. I've witnessed fires begin spontaneously in the other dead villages and towns I've passed through. Though it is uncomfortable, the sun's heat seems to have no effect on me.
To say I don't know what killed this planet is somewhat misleading. All it takes is a look outside during the daytime to reveal the culprit. The heat is simply unbearable. It has delivered death to everything around me, and yet, it leaves me alive. I feel the heat, it burns the skin beneath my coat, but I am unable to succumb to my injuries. They heal, only to be burned again the next time I venture out beyond the protection of the buildings in which I hide.
It isn't fair. I've been wandering for longer than I can remember, I haven't seen another living thing in just as long. The whole world is dead, and yet it had to be alive at some point. Something had to build this city, these castles, the other villages and towns I've come across.
I must go now, to explore the rest of this castle. Perhaps there are still beings other than myself taking refuge in the ruins.
I searched a bit of the castle last night. I did not want to explore everything at once, for I feel it is important to leave some parts unexplored for later evenings. A most curious thing happened in a hallway, however. As I peered down its expanse, I could have sworn I saw something dart behind the corner! A purple creature on four legs, similar to myself! Upon seeing it, I raced down the hallway to confront whatever it was.
When I reached the end, I found the rest of the hall sealed off by the roof, which had caved in. I couldn't begin to budge the rubble, and there was nowhere else for the figure to go except back towards me. Could it have been a, blast, what is the word, a specter? I doubt it. Perhaps it was a play on the moonlight, reflected in some peculiar angle. All I can say, was that it was quite unnerving. I had never seen even a hint of another living being, in as long as I can remember. Maybe there were creatures inhabiting this old palace after all.
I located another room, which was sealed by a heavy stone door. It bared a depiction of the moon across it, though it glided smoothly on its old hinges as I opened it. I did not like this room. The stench coming from it was heavy, as if the air itself carried weight. I could tell this door had been sealed for a long time, though this room was not entirely cut off from the desert world outside. However, the most disturbing thing about this room was also its defining characteristic.
The floors, the ceilings, the walls, all covered in white chalk writing. Every last inch of space had been taken up by the same four words: "When will it end?" The rest of the room was similar to the one I had chosen to sleep in. The once comfortable bed was now rotted and fallen through, the dingy curtains now stained with centuries of dust clinging to them. Scrolls littered the floor, illuminated by the moonlight. The once ornate furniture now sat damaged and weak, ruined by the intense heat of the dry daytime air being let through the smashed window leading to a balcony. The endless desert of the world stretched far before me as I glanced at the arid landscape beyond the window.
I did not stay there long, as a sense of dread filled my heart as soon as I entered. I noticed the room had a lunar decor, and the few preserved letters I was able to gather described the former occupant to be the sister of this 'Celestia' I had read about. I knew nothing of her but more reading of the weathered old scrolls revealed that she used to rule from this very palace.
After I had left the writing room, I discovered a great chamber with high, vaulted ceilings that had also caved in. The windows appeared to once have housed stained glass, though only a few stubborn shards remained fixed to their sills. A decayed old red carpet led to a strange looking seat. I believe this place to be the throne room, but again, this is only speculation. I cannot fathom why such a large room would be necessary for administration of a kingdom, but I can only assume it was at the command of 'Celestia'.
Upon leaving the throne room, I made quite a marvelous discovery! A room, filled to the brim with books! My jubilation was short lived, however. Most of the books had been rendered unreadable by years of exposure. The holes in the roof and walls saw to that. The few that weren't damaged, I took back to my chamber. I've since learned that this place was once called 'Canterlot', and the kingdom Celestia ruled: Equestria.
It was within the confines of those books, I was able to piece together some of the bloody history of this long forgotten city. Something called 'The Swarm' and the 'Griffons' attacked this kingdom at the same time! The Elements of Harmony and Celestia fought alongside countless divisions of warriors, as did someone named Luna.
When Celestia's armies began to falter against the onslaught of two nations, she did the unthinkable. She used all of her magic to bring the planet closer to the sun. The fury of the star scorched the advancing armies, forcing them into retreat. Unfortunately, the heat did not discriminate. Everything began to die.
She had used so much magic to move the world, she didn't have enough left to move it back! If this was true, then I curse this 'Celestia' for her grievous lapse in judgement. She has burned this world, and now I have to wander it, alone.
I have returned to my chambers for the night, as there is still much about this castle I have yet to discover. Physically, I am very weak, yet I do not tire. I am emaciated, my ribs exposed like that of a starving animal, yet I never feel the final darkness I long for creep over me. How much longer can I go on like this? Every time I lay my head down to rest, I wish to never wake up. Every time I do, I am disappointed. They say that death comes for everyone. Why has he chosen to ignore me?
I ventured back into the writing room today. I felt drawn to it for some reason I cannot explain. It was there I discovered a scorch mark on the stone floor, out on the balcony. A faint trace of ash still remained, though what had been there had been blown away by the fierce daytime winds. Something burned there, but what? Who had burned it? When had it been burned? This gave me just a glimmer of hope. It was not much, but it was something even now I cling to. I was also able to find a name among the papers I had missed the first time I entered in.
Luna. Princess, Luna.
That name, it sounded so familiar hearing it a second time, as if I've said it a million times before, and yet... it sounded so foreign. Who was this Luna? I hadn't had time for pondering such things, for shortly after I left the room, I explored another region of the decrepit castle, to discover hoof prints! In the dusty old carpet, a place where I was sure I hadn't tread before! There must be another being in this castle, this was proof! Even as I write this, what little magic I can muster is shaking the quill quite a bit.
I've never felt so happy! Another being, another living thing! The first I've seen since as far back as I can remember! I chased the tracks as quickly as my frail body would allow. I came upon a spiral staircase, and I could not believe my eyes. Waiting for me, was the purple thing I had thought I'd seen! Only now did I get a clear look at it. It was a purple creature, with a small horn on its head, protruding through its violet mane, accentuated with a single deep red stripe. She smiled at me, and I nearly cried.
It had been so long since I'd seen something alive, I knew it couldn't be a specter! She had to be real, she had left the hoofprints! She moved her mouth, as though she was talking to me, though no words escaped her lips. She silently motioned for me to follow, and I gladly did.
I followed her up a set of winding stairs, where she seemed to continue faster than my feeble legs could carry me. I begged for her to wait, but she continued climbing the seemingly endless staircase. Once I had reached the top, she was gone. I fell to my knees and wept. It was like I had lost a child. She was the only thing that had given me hope in this bleak and desolate world, and now she too, was but dust. It was then I noticed her hoofprints led right through a heavy stone seal with a single hole in it.
I deduced it was for Celestia to open, but I couldn't figure out how. I stayed in that room for most of the night, trying to figure out a way in, or wait for my purple friend that had entered to come out. I felt positively giddy in anticipation, knowing if she were just a figment of my imagination, she wouldn't have left hoofprints! I waited, and waited, until the heat of the blistering sun began to burn the horizon. This room was not like the others. The eastern wall had completely collapsed and if I stayed during the day, it would surely hurt. It wouldn't kill me, unfortunately, only hurt.
According to some of the other scrolls in this room, Celestia used to raise the sun every morning. I found that a bit hard to believe. The sun obeys no one, especially not some creature 1 billionth its size. Perhaps what I had read in the library was simply the superstition of a bygone race. Her sister Luna, raised the moon, but again, I was skeptical of this claim. It was as I was flipping through one of the books I had retrieved from the library that I came across an image of Celestia. She had a horn on her head, like I did! Even wings like I did! Although hers were magnificent and graceful, not beaten, weak and ragged looking like mine. That's when I put the hole in the vault and Celestia together. It was a keyhole! Her horn was the key! If I could only find something to simulate that, I could open the stone seal, and free my purple friend!
With renewed vigor, I await for this blasted sun to retreat. I will be with you soon, my friend!
Tonight was the night.
Tonight I tried to open the seal, and release my purple companion. Even now, as I write this, my quill refuses to steady. I was certain this would be the chance to break my eons of loneliness.
I stood up. My knees were weak, but this was nothing new. They never got worse, but never any better. Simply the same level of weakness throughout my days. I remembered the route I was taking. My purple friend appeared again! As before, she trotted that same route, even as I pled for her to slow her pace. She merely smiled. I knew that smile from another place, another time. Glimpses of it alone brought me such joy! I had to gaze upon it for as long as possible. I simply craved the warmth and love I felt when I saw it. She knew where we were going, as did I. Up the staircase we went. I could hear her hooves against the steps as mine echoed not far behind.
Once again, I found myself in the same decrepit top floor of one of the towering spires. She was nowhere to be found. I knew I had only one chance at opening the seal. I stepped forward, and inserted my horn as far into the slot as it would go. With what little magic I had left, I activated the seal. It began to glow, the runes and symbols inscribed on it channeled my little bit of magic as I withdrew, watching in awe as the heavy stone parted to allow me entry.
It was all I could do to not rush in and greet my new friend! As soon as the door opened fully, I cautiously stepped inside.
I... I can't believe it. Even now, as I write, I still can't believe what I saw before me in the ancient vault. I don't want to document this, but I must, lest I doubt my own memories. There was nothing there. I was a fool to believe otherwise. Just seven piles of bones that crumbled to dust at a touch, six adorned with some kind of jewelry. I cried, harder than I'd ever recalled weeping. I was so sure she was real, so sure she would be here waiting to greet me! How could I have been wrong, again?!
I couldn't go on after that. I laid in the center of the windowless vault, casting my empty eyes toward the jewelry. One was a tiara of some kind, the others appeared to be necklaces, each centerpiece bearing a different design. An apple, a red lightning bolt, a blue balloon, a butterfly, and three diamonds. They sat atop piles of grey dust, next to a note with singed edges that had somehow survived the ages sealed in this vault.
"Dear Princess Celestia,
We have hidden in the vault as you instructed, but our supplies are running out. I'm not sure if Spike has the strength to get you this letter, wherever you are. If the heat has been dealt with, please release us! I fear we may not be able to survive in here much longer.
Your faithful student,
This Celestia was a monster! She left these poor creatures sealed in a windowless room until they starved to death? How horrible! They died because of her error! It must have been a specter that had led me here, to free them. Only, I was 10,000 years too late. The paper I was reading turned to ash, just like the bones before them. I ran from the vault. As I retraced my steps through the castle, I noticed the hoofprints I was so certain had been real, had vanished. Had my mind deteriorated that much? Was this some type of punishment? What could I have done to deserve this?
As I write this entry, I can only strain to see what it is I'm writing through my tears. All I wanted was someone to talk to, to hear someone's voice, telling me I was loved, and that something out there cared for me. I was denied, even this simple request. Death cannot touch me, and life is eternal torture. The armoire in this room continues to taunt me. Though the wood is frail, and the chain itself brittle, I fear what lies beyond it. Ever since I entered this room, it has given off a sense of foreboding, the likes of which I experienced in the writing room.
I shudder to even consider opening it, but now, I feel compelled. I have nothing in this world, and there is nothing a piece of old furniture could possibly do to make my life more miserable. I must stop writing now, as my magic is growing weaker. I will open the armoire, and report my findings. Perhaps, whatever is locked inside will mercifully snuff out my life.
It was me.
I was wrong to think there was nothing that could be done to cause me more pain. Behind the chains and old, worn out locks was a mirror.
I. Am. Celestia.
I commanded the Elements to stay in the vault where the heat would not hurt them as I tried to find a solution, but I couldn't. Luna was my sister! I let her charge foolishly into the fog of war, her only desire was to defend my kingdom and redeem herself in my eyes! I killed the entire planet, and this was my punishment!
Wandering the dead world of my own creation until the sun itself burns out! I couldn't let the Elements of Harmony leave the vault until I fixed the world, but I never did. I don't know why I continue to write, no one will ever read this. I've killed everything, and now I must live with the knowledge I was able to suppress for 10,000 years. The responsibility for the death of the world is on my shoulders, and I cannot die. Why do I continue to-
Celestia put down the quill. The distant voice seemed to come from everywhere around her. Surely now, even her mind had turned against her. The voice was one that calmed her, one she immediately recognized. The one pony she cared for the most in this world, perhaps even more than her own flesh and blood. The wind began whipping through the room, blowing the scrolls all around her, enveloping her. Her most faithful student's letters clung to her like she clung to the memory of her student.
"I'm so sorry Twilight! Please forgive me!" she called.
Her throat burned as her words escaped. There was no water to be found anywhere, as Celestia begged for her former pupil's clemency.
The tears would have flowed freely, though her body lacked the moisture to produce any. She covered her ears with her hooves as the rush of the wind and the voice of her long lost ward grew steadily louder.
A haze began to cloud her mind, her head swimming with painful memories. Perhaps now, death would finally have mercy on her.
Celestia awoke with a start, her legs flailing as she flung the sheets off her body.
She looked to her bedroom door. Twilight Sparkle had poked her head into her chamber, withdrawing it slightly in embarrassment.
"I apologize Princess, I didn't mean to startle you."
Celestia examined her student closely from her bed. "Come here, Twilight," she muttered, her throat no longer the dry, arid desert she so vividly remembered.
Twilight swallowed nervously, her ears lowered in submission as she approached her Princess' bed. Celestia fought the urge to snatch her up right then and there, taking her in her forelegs simply to remind her that the unicorn before her was indeed real, and not a clever and very convincing figment of her imagination. She settled for a hoof through her mane. The bouncy, elegant hairs played just as they should have, the soft feel of her violet coat brought a joy to her tired mind that she could have only hoped for in the hellish world she had just escaped.
Twilight began to blush as Celestia brought her into a deep hug. The lavender scent of her mane, the plushness of her coat was all the proof Celestia needed. "It's okay Twilight. Thank you for waking me."
"It's no problem Princess, I wouldn't want you to miss the picnic we planned in the gardens!" she said happily.
Celestia let out a relieved sigh. A picnic was just what she needed. "I'll meet you in the courtyard, my dear," she said as Twilight nodded and excused herself from the royal chambers. Celestia couldn't help but recall the tattered state of the room in her dream.
She looked out her window. The curtains were still as ornate as she remembered, not ruined or rotted away. The royal alicorn strode to her window and opened the curtains. The day was sunny and beautiful. The gardens below her window were verdant and fresh, with various gardener ponies attending to every plant's need.
A wave of unadulterated relief washed over the Princess as she turned back to her door.
She wanted her sister to join Twilight and herself in the gardens as she trotted happily to Luna's room. After such a bizarre and terrifying nightmare, it was all she could do to put her mind at ease.
The heavy stone door with the image of the moon carved into it greeted her, as did the guards posted outside her sister's door.
"Is Luna in?"
"Yes Your Highness."
Celestia nodded, and opened the doors, closing her eyes as she inhaled the scent of her sister.
"Luna, Twilight and I are—"
The doors shut behind her.
"No..." she whispered, the color draining from her face.
The room was ruined, just as it had been in her dream. The broken furniture, the scattered scrolls, the desert stretching endlessly beyond the shattered window, it was all there.
Written on the walls, ceilings and floors over and over again in white chalk were the words:
When will it end?