“Say what!? You were the pony outside my office?” Lauren yelled. She could feel the cold drops of sweat coming out from her head. “But that’s impossible! Do you mean you were...”
“Yes. I was in your world… the ‘real’ world,” Faust replied. She looked once again at Luna and Twilight. “Remember that?”
“L-Lauren told us about how she believed to saw a pony moments before arriving to Equestria,” Twilight recalled their conversation last night on the library with her and the Princesses. “Princess Celestia was right! The mysterious pony and Lauren’s arrival are indeed connected to each other!”
“But… how did I end up here!? Answer me!” Lauren ordered. Her short fuse was starting to run out as she pressed her hooves harder on the floor.
“After I arrived to your world, I simply dragged you here,” Faust responded. “The lightning was actually my teleportation spell. The last thing you knew was that you woke up in Twilight’s library.” She raised her hoof again and began to play with her hair, incredibly calm even if she was revealing Lauren the truth.
“So you are the reason why I’m stuck here!? Why did you drag me in here for?” Lauren asked. So if Faust was the one responsible for her apparition in Equestria, what was the reason behind it? She bit her lower lip, anxious of whatever answer would come out the big alicorn’s mouth.
“Didn’t I tell you earlier? I dragged you here so you could help me put a stop to Celestia’s evil scheme. I had no choice, for I could not save my own daughter, and your world's integrity, without your assistance.” Faust was wrapping locks of her red mane around her horn while talking.
“But why me? What can I do?” Lauren asked. Even when she was an ordinary human, there was no reason for her to be special. “Is it because I… created…”
“Yes, Lauren. It is precisely that. Because you’re the creator. The creator of Equestria.” Faust stopped playing with her mane and took a step forward her own self. “Only you have the power to stop Celestia. She is your own creation, after all.”
“Her own creation?” Luna asked, breaking the conversation between the two Laurens. “What does that mean?”
A smirk was quickly displayed on Faust’s muzzle. She turned around to look at Luna, then at Twilight. “It means exactly what you’ve just heard. Celestia, Twilight, yourself… You’re all Lauren’s creations.”
“Hush! Don’t tell them!” Lauren begged. The topic was shifted for a few seconds, but sadly, it came back to this. The secret she had kept to herself since arriving to Equestria.
“I won’t. You will,” Faust chuckled. “There is no way back now. They deserve to know who they really are, don’t you agree? It’s rude to keep secrets from your friends. It’s time to end this façade.”
Lauren grunted, pressing her hooves harder on the floor. She rolled her eyes to look at Twilight, who was staring right at her. There was no escape now. It was all over. She relaxed her body with a soft sight and bowed her head. “I… I give up,” she muttered.
Twilight stood up from her seat and walked towards Lauren and placed a hoof on her shoulder. She was worried about her. “It’s okay, you can trust us. What’s the matter?”
“It’s easier said than done, so you two better prepare yourselves for possibly the greatest shock of your lives,” Lauren warned. Both Luna and Twilight nodded. “Okay then,” she muttered. “Do you remember about what we talked about last night? About me knowing this world of Equestria because in my world, it was like a story?”
“Yeah, what about it?” Twilight asked. She remembered that conversation very well. It was just before they went to sleep last night. Lauren had told her that Equestria was like a story for her. It was sort of confusing, but at least she would tell her now what was going on.
Faust kept watching Lauren with a smirk on her face. Luna’s face showed a puzzled expression, a bit dazed about the matter.
“Well, your land… Equestria… is exactly that, a story,” Lauren said, staring at the ground in shame to avoid looking at Twilight’s reaction.
Twilight blinked, unsure about what she just heard. A story? That was vague. She needed more information. “Uh, I don’t get it. Care to be more specific, please?” she requested. Faust kept looking at Lauren, waiting for the great moment to arrive.
Just say it, Lauren! It doesn’t matter anymore! “Okay then, since you really want to know.” Lauren took a short breath. This was it, the moment she never wanted to come; the topic she was afraid to broach and actively avoided for the last few days. “You, Luna, Celestia... you’re all characters in this story.”
Twilight tilted her head and took a few steps back from Lauren. “Beg pardon?” she asked.
Luna couldn’t say a word, for she had the greatest knot in her throat. What could she mean that she was a character in that so-called story of hers? Meanwhile, Faust let out a faint snicker.
“In other words… you’re fictional characters of this story. A story created by none other than myself.” Lauren raised her head and looked deeply at Twilight’s purple eyes. “I am the creator of Equestria. As I said last night… this story is like a book. A book… that I wrote.” She took a few steps towards Twilight. “Twilight. You are the protagonist of my story. A story I called Friendship is Magic.”
A few seconds of silence shrouded the throne room. Luna and Twilight both stared at Lauren with their eyes wide open. They were trying to digest what she had just said. Something about them being fictional characters in some story of hers. Luna was the first to open her mouth to comment about it.
“So, you’re trying to tell us… that Twilight Sparkle is the protagonist of a story you created?” Luna calmly asked, waving a hoof around.
“Uh, yeah. That’s pretty much how things are,” Lauren responded, giving a friendly nod to the Princess of the Night.
“What kind of foalish joke is this!?” Luna yelled, immediately killing her calmed self who was talking just a few seconds ago. She stomped her hooves hard onto the ground, almost shattering her crystal shoes. “What is the meaning of this!?”
Faust kept looking at the scene without saying a word. She would occasionally let out a faint snicker. She glanced at Lauren, waiting for her answer to Luna. “Good time to explain our cutie marks, right, darling?”
“Cutie mark? Ah, right.” Lauren looked at her flank and stared at her ink bottle cutie mark. “You remember I said that I was a story-teller, right? Precisely, I wrote Friendship is Magic. That’s the title of this story.” She was releasing information like a newspaper. Each claim that came from her mouth puzzled Luna more and more.
Twilight had her head bowed down to the floor, futilely trying to accept the claims that Lauren was throwing at her. Protagonist? Story? Friendship is Magic? She had heard that last phrase before, it was quite familiar to her as the topic of her friendship reports to Princess Celestia.
“Exactly,” Faust commented, staring at Luna. “Remember when you corrupted into Nightmare Moon and were banished to the moon for a thousand years? Yeah, that was her doing.” She pointed her hoof at Lauren. “Every action that led you to do so was her own work.”
“H-hey! Don’t pin the blame on me! I had no idea something like this would happen!” Lauren complained. She didn’t notice the furious glare she was receiving from Luna.
“Thou art the reason why we became that monster!?” Luna yelled. Her Royal Canterlot Voice came out for pure instinct. “What were thou thinking!?”
“This was my story! I set-up a plot and developed it! I never thought I would meet the characters from my story!” Lauren explained.
“‘Tis a joke! A sham! We refuse to believe that!” Luna exclaimed. “If thou art our creator, prove the worth of thy words! Tell us something only we should rightfully know!”
Boy, this is just getting better and better. Prove it, eh? “Fine. Want me to say something like that?” She turned her head and looked at Twilight. “Twilight. You left Canterlot, the city where you were born, because Princess Celestia asked you to check the preparations for the Summer Sun Celebration, correct?”
Twilight gasped, still unwilling to raise her head to look at her. How did she know? That was something only Spike, Princess Celestia or her friends in Ponyville would know.
“At first, you were all grumpy about meeting new friends, but that’s when Luna, as Nightmare Moon, came back from her thousand-year banishment.” Lauren paused, expecting that she would get interrupted. Fortunately, Luna remained quiet. “That’s when you, along with your friends, defeated Nightmare Moon using the Elements of Harmony. After that, you asked Celestia to let you stay in Ponyville. That’s when you discovered the magic of friendship.”
Twilight was astonished. She couldn’t comprehend how Lauren could know all about that. She finally raised her head and looked at her. “How… how do you know about that?” she asked, trying to keep her composure. “Do you mean that…”
“Yes, Twilight,” Faust intervened. “You, Luna, Celestia, your friends, Spike, everypony, even the whole of Equestria. They were created by none other than Lauren herself.”
“This is too confusing,” Luna said. It seemed that she was back to her calm self. She pressed her head with her hooves, rubbing them to get rid of the migraine she had acquired. “A story, you say? Like a book of common tales?”
Not really a book, but I guess it doesn’t matter. “The world you know of as your own, the one you rule together with your sister, is just a story; a story I unassumingly wrote, not realizing that my artistic creation had imprinted itself on this world. That’s all,” Lauren finished, hoping that it would be enough information to satisfy both Luna and Twilight.
“T-that’s all? That’s all?” Twilight fumed. “Are you telling me we’re only fictional characters in a story you wrote?” She only received another nod from Lauren. The evidence to support her claims was strong. She suspected that Lauren knew too much, but she never expected that things would end the way they ended.
“I’m afraid so. I’m sorry for hiding this from you all this time.” Lauren rubbed one of her front legs with a hoof.
“Why didn’t you tell us from the beginning?” Twilight asked. “It could have been much simpler that way, and maybe, we could have avoided many things that happened.”
“Come on, Twilight. What would have happened if I had told you that the night I arrived here? You would probably consider me as a crazy mare,” Lauren said. She was sure Twilight knew she had sense in her words. If anypony you just met told you a crazy story like that, you’d probably believe that he or she escaped from the mental asylum.
“So then… is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Twilight didn’t know what to believe anymore. She was puzzled even more than when she studied complex magic spells.
“You know, Twilight, that’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I arrived here. I, myself, don’t know what to believe anymore. I understand how you’re feeling, trust me.” Lauren walked a few steps closer to Twilight, raising her front hooves and wrapping them around her neck. She embraced her in a hug, which the unicorn returned by wrapping her own legs around the alicorn.
“Real life or fantasy,” Faust commented. “When it comes to that, only you have the last word.”
Upon hearing those words, Lauren broke Twilight from the hug, looking at Faust with confusion. “Explain yourself,” she requested.
“Lauren, you’re the creator of this world. You have to ask yourself these questions; is this reality? Is this an illusion? Is this a dream? Only you know the answer.” Faust’s smirk appeared once again on her face.
“So I’m assuming you know everything about my world, right?” Lauren questioned. “If you do, even you should know the answer to that question. The question if this is reality or if it’s just fantasy.”
“I know everything you know, Lauren. But remember these words.” Faust smirk was wiped from her face, and instead, a grimace displayed on it. “Once you find the answer to that question, your role here will be done,” Faust replied,
“However, I am not done yet,” she said, pointing her hoof at Faust. “You.”
“Me? What’s the matter, dear? Do I have something in my face?” Faust said, rolling her eyes to look at the tip of her nose for any signs of imperfections. However, there were none to be found.
“No. I mean, you,” Lauren said. “I don’t remember ever creating YOU. You are not part of MY story.”
Luna and Twilight looked at them with concern. The sudden revelation of Lauren’s origin was still bugging their minds. However, what she said grabbed their attention. Lauren didn’t create… herself?
“Ah ha ha, Lauren,” Faust chuckled. “You created me the moment you acknowledged me as your character,” she said, pressing a hoof against her chest. “I exist thanks to you. We are one soul, one mind, one body, one heart.”
“Yes, but I never acknowledged you to be Celestia and Luna’s mother,” Lauren claimed. She was right, after all. She didn’t acknowledge her character to be the Princess's mother. That was something totally unrelated. “Why then, you claim to be their mother?”
“That is… something beyond my knowledge,” Faust admitted. “I don’t know why I am who I am. I was created like this. Since always, I’ve been Celestia and Luna’s mother. Even if you didn’t create me to be it.”
“But that makes no sense. I created everyone to be who they are. What’s the matter with you, then?” Lauren asked. She wasn’t sure what could that mean.
“I’ve believed that there’s some sort of external influence causing this mess,” Faust said. She glanced back at her motionless daughter, looking at her mane, which lacked the pink color. “The same something that caused Celestia to end up like this.”
“You mean there’s something else causing all this mess?” Luna finally spoke. She seemed that she had forgotten about her being a fictional character for a while. “What is this something?”
“This something is the responsible of what happened to Celestia and caused this whole mess in the first place. It’s the reason why I had to bring you here, Lauren,” Faust explained, looking back at the smallest alicorn.
“Why? What can I do?” Lauren asked, completely clueless about her role in the whole deal.
“You’re the only one who can stop this something that has corrupted Celestia!” Faust replied. “We must save her, before this evilness within her corrupts her entire soul.”
“Just explain this to me,” Lauren said. She looked at Twilight and Luna before looking back at Faust. “How were you able to go to my world? What method did you use?”
“The wall between this world and yours is very thin, darling,” Faust said. She raised a hoof and tapped her forehead with it. “Once your mind is filled enough with this world essence, it’s fairly easy for me to reach your world.”
“I don’t get it. You mean you can travel to my world at will?” Lauren asked.
“No, of course not,” Faust replied. “My arrival to your world and your arrival to this world is no coincidence. I needed you because we need to stop Celestia. That night was the only chance I had to bring you here,” she explained. “The gate between these two worlds opened for just a fraction of second. That’s when I arrived there.”
“So that stormy night… you appeared right in my physical world,” Lauren said. It was still too hard to believe. How could a cartoon character visit the real, physical, non-technicolor world Everything sounded too crazy to be true, but she gave up trying to see everything the logically way a long while ago.
“After I appeared there, I had only thirty seconds to take you with me to Equestria,” Faust said.
“Then, why did Lauren appear all alone under the storm that night?” This time, it was Twilight who interrupted. If Faust said that she took her to Equestria, the only logical thing would be if she appeared right next to her.
“It’s because I couldn’t reveal myself to you, yet.” Faust looked once again at Celestia. She was still unconscious and unaware of the conversation. “I kept watching you, though. Since you arrived to the moment you met with Celestia today. I’ve been watching every step you and Celestia had made.”
“But why hide yourself? You should have told us from the beginning what was going on!” Lauren complained.
Faust closed her eyes and turned her back to Lauren. “Lauren. Your life. I desire it.”
The vital thing right now was saving Celestia. Questions could wait for later. Before Lauren could open her mouth to reply to what Faust just said, something unexpected happened.
“Hah…” a voice muttered from somewhere in the room. The four mares immediately identified the origin from the mutter. It came from Celestia; the one they thought was already defeated. The one who was being corrupted by an evil something. The one they needed to save… from herself. Lauren, Twilight, Luna and Faust had a serious problem on their hooves.
Faust clenched her teeth and stepped back. The other mares did the same, keeping their distance from the Princess of the Sun.
“Hah… hah…” Celestia sighed. “I… hah hah hah.” Her sighs turned into a clear chortle. Her front hooves began to shake as the slowly moved them and pressed them against the floor. “Hah hah hah.” She kept chortling. Now her hind legs were moving, doing exactly the same as her front legs. They pressed on the floor, trying to look for support. “I… I heard everything!” she exclaimed.
Everypony gasped in unison as they saw Celestia raising herself from the floor with certain difficulty. All of a sudden, her whole body stood up, making herself stand up in four hooves. She had her right eye closed, while staring at everypony with her half-opened left eye. Her wicked grin displayed clearly on her face. She was the same insane Celestia that Twilight, Lauren and Luna had to battle moments ago. She was not done yet.
“So I am a character from a story written by my mother? Talk about nonsense!” Celestia exclaimed.
“C-Celestia!” Luna exclaimed. “H-how!? Your body was paralyzed!”
“Foolish little sister,” Celestia mumbled, looking at Luna with hate on her face. “You lack experience, Luna. You underestimate my power.” Her glance shifted towards Faust. “And you… mother…” Her front hooves slowly moved, allowing her to take a step forward. “I will make you pay for everything you’ve done to me…”
“Celestia! Desist! Do not do this to yourself!” Faust yelled, taking a step forward as well to show her dominance.
“Shut up! You’ll pay for what you did to Luna! You’ll pay for trying to wipe away my memory! You will…” Celestia paused. Her grin disappeared, and instead, her face displayed a frown. “You will pay for leaving me…” Her left eye shed a single glistening tear. The single tear which reflected all of the positive feelings she had for her mother. Feelings which are unknown to a Celestia who is a mere shadow of her former benevolent self.
“Hmm…” Faust closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I never thought it would come to this,” she said. “Celestia, my own daughter. It hurts me deeply to watch you suffering like this. But you’re leaving me no choice here. We will stop you, for your own sake!”
“My own sake?” Celestia said, recovering her evil grin from a few seconds ago. “I will be perfectly fine after I make you and your other self disappear! Then I will finally be in peace! You think I’m just a fictional character? Let’s see how fictional your fate becomes once I’m done with you!” she yelled. Her voice echoed through the throne room. The voice of the once fair ruler of Equestria.
“Lauren,” Faust said, without shifting her gaze from Celestia. She was prepared now. Ready for what was going to happen next. There was no turning back now. “This is it. This is where our final battle begins.”