“I'm sorry Twilight. You are the world's only hope,” he said as his eyes changed, one glowed with the purest white while the other was the deepest black. His horn began to hum with power, and he released. Twilight screamed as his bolt of magic struck her horn directly, and she saw no more. “It's up to you now Princess Twilight. I wish you luck....My dear sisters...know that I will always love you both, and I send to you the only salvation.” With a flick of his horn, a hole in the floor opened up and swallowed Twilight. She was gone just as his attack disappeared.
“Fool...you shouldn't have given her the rest of your power. Now you can never hope to defeat me!” Umbra laughed manically as a form cloaked in shadowy flames materialized, “You are doomed!”
Caesius smirked and replied coolly, “Perhaps. But only one may hold the power of the twilight. I was already destined to pass it on. But even without them, you won't be having any picnic fighting me Umbra! En garde!” Caesius exclaimed as he brandished his magic-covered horn like a sword, knowing that this would be his last epic battle and it would end in shadow.
Chapter Three: Awakening
Soft....so very soft.
Twilight giggled to herself as she clutched the squishy object between her hooves, a silly smile spreading across her half-asleep face.
"Why of course Luna. I would love to. I thought you'd never ask," Twilight murmured into the object, eliciting a happy sigh to usher from her lips.
"Ask what Twilight?" a sudden and extremely amused voice asked, piercing the already thin, degrading shroud of sleep that had been covering Twilight.
Instantly, the now-lavender unicorn's eyes snapped open, her mind racing and hoping that her subconscious hearing had been completely wrong. She didn't even want to think about who her eyes would meet when she removed them from the dark blue pillow that she recognized as one of the pillows from her old bedroom at the Royal Palace. However, this fact only served to reinforce her resolve to not look up from the pillow currently resting in the clutches of her hooves.
A light delightful chuckle reached Twilight's ears, and she wasn't sure how much longer she could resist not looking. Maybe she was wrong? What if the pillows, sheets and blankets had distorted the voice that was currently speaking to her into what she thought she had heard.
Either way it was time to face the music......or in this case the light.
Removing the pillow from her face, Twilight blushed a harsh shade of scarlet as she laid her eyes on her beloved mentor, Princess Celestia, who was currently sporting what looked like an amused smirk.
"Princess Celestia!....um...it's not what it sounds like I swear!" Twilight attempted to explain, "What I mean by that is...uhh..."
"Hush my faithful student. You have no reason to explain anything to me," Celestia answered, setting a calming hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "I'm sure whatever it was was nothing of malicious or.....inappropriate content," she continued, a mischievous twinkle shining in her eyes.
Just as Celestia had expected, Twilight nearly fell out of the bed in embarrassment, stammering and babbling a random stream of words which she attempted to string into a sentence in vain, and Celestia laughed openly, having gone too long now without being able to interact personally with Twilight and enjoy all of the eccentricities and hilarity that went with it.
"It is okay Twilight," Celestia soothed, attempting to calm her frazzled pupil who's face seemed to refuse to return to her natural lavender. "I was merely teasing you dear."
It took a while and more than a few deep breaths to finally calm Twilight down, and then the lavender unicorn finally realized something was very strange.
"Um...what am I doing back in Canterlot? And why am I in my old bed in the castle? I don't remember traveling here....." Twilight said, now trying to rack her brains for a reason as to why she was here. Celestia's face changed from her light and happy face to a rather serious and focused one.
"What is the last thing that you remember Twilight?" the sun goddess asked suddenly, leaning in a bit closer.
"Um...a field?" Twilight ventured shyly, not entirely sure she could trust her foggy memories at the moment.
"Go on,” Celestia encouraged.
"A field in..Ponyville...I was doing something....testing something....A theory," she answered slowly, "A theory...of magic..."
"From what I'm told that seems consistent," Celestia said, "Is there anything else dear? It is quite important that you try to remember. It would explain almost everything most likely."
"Nothing dear....go on." Twilight looked at her beloved mentor strangely, wondering what was going on. She decided to dismiss it for now and keep going.
"Oookay...There were...gems? Yes gems. White gems...and black ones....and then..." Twilight started, scrunching up her face in frustration as she attempted to defog the hazy mist that was clouding her mental vison. Alarmed, Celestia put a hoof on her faithful student's shoulder.
"Don't force it dear. Let your memories flow into you...lest you lose them. You must relax, some answers only come with time." Fortunately for them, that time would be rather short.
"Magical etherealization..." Twilight murmured, closing her eyes as she dove into the mental memory pools of her mind that were rapidly refilling and clearing.
"What was that Twilight?" Celestia asked, her eyes wide and alert. She was not sure she had heard her correctly.
"An in depth study of the feasibility and direct applications of complete and total magical etherealization...." Twilight continued, "In other words... the ability to trace all magic to its source point and decipher the exact components that are contained within..."
"I don't think anyone has been able to..."
"It worked..." Twilight interrupted, much to Celestia's surprise, "But then I found something in the sky....an anomaly. It was a conglomeration of Luna's night and your day....."
Celestia's heart and head began to race as she began to understand. But it had to be impossible, she and Luna had tried for quite literally ages and in vain.
"So, I got curious and prodded the fissure...then, I ended up in this weird world where I met this strange gray Alicorn named...."
"....Caesius," Celestia whispered, her eyes closed and her heart tight. She could not remember the last time she had ushered that name from her lips, but she could remember how he looked exactly and all the times they had spent together. Celestia tried not to think about how they had failed, but even with her long hardened years and impressive composure, she could not hold back the tears that leaked from her light magenta eyes.
"Aww...c'mon Tia, you know I hate it when you cry," a sudden and warm voice said causing the sun goddess' eyes to pop open and her head to lift. It couldn't be....
"This waiting is, without a doubt, undeniably and unquestionably uncool!" Rainbow vented, stalking back and forth in front of a large ornate door.
"Um..I'm really anxious to see Twilight too, but I'm sure there's a good reason for it," Fluttershy said quietly as she sat on a large comfy couch that currently resided in Luna's room, playing idly with her hooves.
"Ah' gotta agree with Rainbow. We've been waiting longer than a rattlesnake sleepin' in the winter waitin' fer the sun to shine," Applejack agreed, giving a long sigh.
"I do hope nothing truly dreadful has befallen our dearest Twilight. Oh that would simply and truly be...the..WORST! POSSIBLE! THING!" Rarity exclaimed before falling over dramatically onto Luna's bed.
"Oooorrrrr! Maybe something super-duper cool happened to Twilight! Maybe she's learned the secret to making everlasting candy or never melting ice cream! Or maybe she was inducted into this super secret flower club that goes around the world keeping the balance with their magical powers!" Pinkie rambled, excitedly hopping up and down in place, "Oh I know! I'll throw a CONGRATULATIONS FOR LEARNING THE SECRETS OF EVERLASTING CANDY AND SAVING THE WORLD FROM THE HORRIBLE GRIP OF THE OLD MEANIE FIRE KING PARTY!!!!"
"Pinkie...what in tarnation are ya' talking about?" Applejack asked after a moment of awkward silence. The pink party pony blinked for a moment before answering.
"I have no idea," she answered with a silly grin.
Applejack facehoofed and sighed, "Ah' hardly see how that helps Twi."
“I really hope she's okay,” Spike said as he thought about how they had gotten here in the first place.
"Don't worry everypony, Celestia is tending to her as we speak. She would never let any sort of harm come to her," Luna soothed, trying her best to calm the frzzled ponies. Twilight was indeed a fortunate mare to have such caring friends. “But, if it will soothe you all. We will go and check on them.” The six worried friends agreed without a moment of hesitation.
“Oh that would be simply wonderful Princess. All we need to know is that our Twilight is unharmed,” Rarity added, gaining a nod of understanding from the Moon Goddess. Luna opened the door quietly and walked further down the hallway that connected her room and Twilight's old room in Canterlot Castle, which happened to be conveniently nearby. Just earlier this week, this particular hallway had been completely jammed packed with doctors, nurses, specialists, medical theorizes, sages, and a strange blue pony that insisted that she be called the greatest unicorn in all of Equestria in the wake of Twilight Sparkle's 'Demise.'
Luna shook her head, remembering that said hallway was now completely devoid of any guests and only held the occasional patrolling guard that gave her a salute and nod before continuing on their way.
The dark blue alicorn raised her hoof to knock on the similarly ornate door that acted as a barrier between her and her sister's faithful student's room, but paused as her delicate ears detected the sounds of her sister.....crying?
“Oh no...” she breathed, pushing aside the large wooden door, fearing that something terrible had happened. “Tia are you....” Luna was stopped dead in her tracks, rooted in place by the impossible sight that her eyes were currently projecting through to her brain. Her eyes became impossibly wide as she processed what was going on.
“Lulu! It's been so long!” Caesius exclaimed turning his body to face his youngest sister, beaming, “Look at you! Little Lulu all grown up.” He smiled sadly. “I wish I was there to see it.....”
“How are you....I don't......” Luna stuttered, the emotional flood that was already drenching her reducing her ability to form sentences.
“Shh...I have very little time,” he said, giving her an apologetic look, “I'm sure you can both tell that this is not the real me.” Celestia and Luna nodded slowly, really wishing that it was. “Although you haven't seen it in a couple millennium, I'm sure you both remember my ability to create living messages.”
Once again, the goddesses of the sun and moon were reduced to merely nodding.
“This will be my most important one ever and....my last,” he said with sorrowful eyes, “I fear that it is even too late now. So, I shall be direct and to the point.....Umbra has broken free.” Immediately, Celestia's thought processes responded.
“What? Impossible. All three of us, our powers combined, sealed him to be forever bound to the twilight in the fledgling years of Equestria, doomed to lurk and suffer in the shadows for all eternity,” Celestia said, “How is it possible that he overcame all of our powers combined to break free of his eternal prison?”
“Anything and everything is possible Tia. I must remind you of such. One day perhaps, you'll find an earth pony that seems to possess even more magic than a mere unicorn, or maybe you'll find a pegasus fast enough to convert speed into light.... All things are a possibility,” Ceasius sternly reminded, much to the embarrassment of Celestia.
“Then how do you appear before us now? We would state that communicating with you has been impossible ever since that day, but clearly that is not the case any longer,” Luna asked.
“It is all due to this extraordinary mare whose body I am currently using as a vessel for this message. She had somehow pierced the locked gate of the twilight and revealed herself to me. Quite a special one if you ask me,” Caesius said with a grin.
“She has always been,” Celestia answered proudly. The gray alicorn smiled.
“I continue. She did not appear to trust me at first, but with some coaxing and a little bit of magic, I gained her trust,” he continued.
“What did you do Casi?” Luna asked hesitantly, knowing her older brother had a similar penchant for mischief, sometimes even more so than herself.
“All I did, Lulu, was make her realize her true self with a couple heart memories. Needless to say, I believe she will be questioning you both about your time as fillies soon,” the gray alicorn said with a happy grin. “I might have or might not have shown how adorable you two were when you were fillies.” Luna groaned.
“What happened next Casi?” Celestia asked, fearing that the message's life would end soon, leaving them with far too many questions.
“Right! We talked and discussed her nature, but then were attacked by Umbra. You would think that a couple millenniums would douse one's power a little, but Umbra was as strong, if not stronger, than ever. I could not defeat him. My own melancholy and long depression had contributed to the slow decline of my own powers. A couple millenniums is a long time to stay awake alone.....”
Celestia and Luna remained quiet, refraining from interrupting. Their hearts ached at their elder brother's speech, wishing that they could have somehow saved him all those years ago.
“Seeing that I could not overcome his still potent powers. I did the only thing left to me that would give you both and Equestria a chance to defeat him. I gave everything.....”
“....to Twilight...” Celestia finished, finally understanding. Caesius nodded. Luna's mouth curled up into a sour frown. Fresh tears began to roll down both princesses face now.
“I apologize Tia and Lulu....I will never be able reunite with you. But I leave you one last gesture of my love. I know with Twilight, you will all stand a chance,” Caesius said, beginning to now fade away.
“No! Please don't go Casi!” Luna pleaded, grasping onto his left hoof desperately. She had only come back from her exile a few months ago to find that everything she had loved had been lost. She didn't want to lose something again.
“I will never be gone Lulu,” he said as he bent down to nuzzle his littlest sister, “I will always be with both of you in your hearts. If I had to give a thousand lifetimes to save both of you, I would do it without a single thought.”
“How are we supposed to defeat Umbra? There isn't anyway for us to teach Twilight Shadow Magic,” Celestia protested, “Without you, we're powerless against Umbra.”
“Without me perhaps now.....but not with Twilight,” Caesius answered, “Have faith in me and your friend. If my character judgment is still good, I do not see her failing.”
For the first time, Celestia laughed during the exchange. “Yes....Twilight and failure very rarely mix.”
“My time nears it's end. You must guide Twilight, without both of you there to help her, Equestria will fall to the great shadow. I leave her in good hooves.”
“Casi please....” Luna begged, her heart aching with the sadness that was weighing it down. “Don't leave....”
“I must Lulu....though know I do it with much sadness, but no regret. This is my choice. If I know that you two will be safe, that is all that I need before I pass.”
“We will need you Caesius. Is there anyway...” Celestia ventured before being quieted by a firm shake of the head.
“You do no need me any longer. You have both grown into beautiful adult mares without me. I'm so proud. I can see that you both have learned and done much. Besides, if you could have saved me, I would still be bound to the twilight. This is a blessing as much as it is a curse. I will be free,” Caesius stated, half happy, half said. His form was nearly invisible now, a small gray outline being all that was left of Caesius' sentient message. “I leave you with one last piece of help, a prophecy that I now see was meant for this occasion.”
the celestial lights shall align themselves at where magic doth hence exist
A dance of light and darkness shall become free, and within shall shine with sparkle
There the twilight will rise in her greatest form and the shadow shall unshackle
The dark hand will grab for power and the great light shall fall prey to its heart
The love of the night and twilight must overcome, lest the world be torn apart.
“I go now. Know that I will forever be your brother and that I will always love you. Farewell my dearest sisters. I will see you again someday...”
And with that said, the image was gone.
“Caesius!” Luna nearly screamed, launching herself forward, only to collide with a lavender pony.
“Ow.....my head...” Twilight groaned, and slowly opened her eyes to find them staring directly into Princess Luna's azure eyes, a bit red from the crying she had been doing. “Um...Princess Luna? Are you okay?” Luna opened her mouth to speak, but was suddenly cut off by a voice from the door.
“Is everything alright in here? We could not help but overhear some sort of trouble coming from this room. Is Twilight alright?” Rarity asked, noticing a rather distraught Celestia and an....interesting spectacle on the bed. “Um....are we interrupting?” Pinkie unfortunately had no qualms about interrupting and zipped right up to the side of the bed, noticing that Twilight was pinned underneath Luna, awake.
“Twilight! You're finally awake!!! Now I can throw a TWILIGHT'S STILL ALIVE AND IS NOW A PRINCESS AFTER ONE WEEK IN BED PARTY!”
Twilight visibly twitched. "ONE WEEK!!?!?"