Part Two: Luna’s Investigation.
As almost all ponies, Griffons and Dragons know, Equestria is ruled by the omnipotent sisters of sun and moon, Celestia and her younger sister Luna.
Celestia the goddess of the sun was a large white Allicorn, earth Pegasai and unicorn rolled into one who was adored by her faithful subjects and who secretly enjoyed the high life within reason of course, after all she was a good pony, not a complete troll... Right?
Luna however was the dark horse of the two, she had lost her rag with her sister in the past, transformed by the darkness within she had waged war upon her sister in a battle for control of their kingdom.
When this was thwarted by Celestia, with as Luna might add considerable help from the combined elements of harmony, a light brown earth stallion with an extra long colorful scarf, a fedora hat, an hourglass cutie mark, buck teeth and a penchant for carrying a bag of sweets and that Pegasai companion didn’t exactly help her cause either.
This as all ponies know resulted in her banishment to the moon for a thousand years, only returning after the magic that kept her there had worn off and despite her alter ego being defeated yet again, this time thanks to Celestia’s protégé and her assortment of friends harnessing the elements.
A repentant Luna had been allowed to stay in Equestria and resume her duties as princess.
Luna strongly suspected this was a ploy by Celestia to get time off, but since she had spent a millennium on the moon alone, and now could live freely in Equestria as long as she fulfilled her duties (each sister responsible for raising and lowering their respective celestial bodies each day) Luna was prepared to overlook the odd sun coming up late because of yet another all night party thrown by her sister.
Today though Luna couldn’t shake the feeling of something being wrong, turning to her sister as they sat at the long table in the palaces great hall for their breakfast, Luna began to ask.
Her sister groaned.
Luna looked at her sister’s bedraggled mane, bloodshot eyes and hung over expression and tried to imagine what it took for a goddess to get drunk?
Sure Luna knew that the parties her sister threw were sometimes extravagant, and that she always invited at ‘least’ one of personal guard or a ‘friend’ to her chambers afterwards for a nightcap, but...
Luna didn’t really understand the situation or what a ‘nightcap’ meant, and Celestia's attempt to explain what she called the birds and the bees had resulted in confusion for Luna since she couldn’t understand what that had to do with ponies?
Luna studied her sister as Celestia sank lower into her chair, Luna decided perhaps disturbing her wasn’t the best thing right now, especially since every servants hoof thread echoed loudly in the marbled hall, causing Celestia to wince.
Leaving her remaining breakfast and her near comatose sister to wallow in self pity, Luna left the hall and headed outside to the palace grounds.
An idea quickly thwarted as Luna realized her sister had forgotten to regulate the sun’s temperature again, the result being it was scorching hot outside and the guards at the gate looked as they would burst into flame any minute.
Sighing deeply and wondering why everyone put up with her sister’s behavior she made her way towards the library, at least in there she would be cool enough and able to relax.
As Luna entered the grand library, she breathed deeply; the smell of dust and old manuscripts. Moving along the shelves, she began to hum to herself.
Just as she passed the first of many rows of books in the mythical creatures section, she failed to see the large piles of books that unsteadily turned the next corner by a large stack piled against the shelves in front of her, and with a nudge and a yelp she was unceremoniously buried among the heavy tomes and age old manuscripts.
As the dust settled on this unfortunate heap Luna poked her head out from underneath it all, shook her mane free and tried to focus.
Looking for the source of this mess Luna’s eyes came to rest on the pony next to her, who was trying to extricate himself from the pile also.
Luna knew there were no male librarian ponies at the palace, so she stood awkwardly and with the best impression of her sister she could muster, she drew herself to full height (which for Luna was about the same as most normal ponies), her sister had assured her she would one day be as big as her, but Luna had snorted at this, like a certain youthful Apple family member she ‘wanted’ it now!
The strange pony managed to stand after slipping about on the books, and for the first time noticed Luna.
“Hello”. He asked with a slightly confused expression as Luna puffed her chest out.
“Who are you?”
Luna asked with what she hoped was a commanding tone.
“Sorry, don’t you know who I am?”
Luna bristled as she eyed up the weirdo, he was an earth pony, brown with a dark brown unkempt mane and blue eyes, a small white collar around his neck on which was hanging a long thin metallic tube and a green tie.
Other than that...
She screwed up the courage and looked him straight in those eyes.
As she stared, he didn’t flinch or blink but those eyes she knew them from...
The dark times, as her memories began to resurface, the library dissolved around her into nothingness, darkness began to fill her mind as she began to panic...
“No… Not again she cried!”
“I’m so sorry…”
That was the last thing she remembered before she felt herself lose consciousness.
The earth pony caught Luna as she toppled, gently laying her down and as he placed a few manuscripts under her head.
Satisfied he left the library, the book he wanted in his mouth he glanced back at the prone sleeping princess and smiled…
…A sad smile.
It was a long time ago he had first met her, and even then it wasn’t this fragile pony or him for that matter, well sort of, with a craving for sweets he slipped quietly away.
A little while later, Luna awoke with a start, books and paper fell away from her as she hastily got up.
What had she been doing?
She calmed herself closing her eyes she thought back....
Luna’s eye opened wide as she remembered.
Turning towards the door and in a less than royal fashion, she ran headlong out the library.
She called out.
She cried out in an even higher pitch.
It was now mid day in Ponyville and as busy as ever.
After the debacle at the farm and Applejack getting a mouthful from Granny Smith about…
“All that darn mud in my kitchen!!!”
Rainbow Dash and Applejack had decided since it was too hot to work, or as Dash put it, lay out on a cloud, they would go out looking for Ditsy.
“You know Rainbow, she could be anywhere.”
“Well… Why don’t we just check Sugarcube corner…?”
“And what exactly makes you think she’s there?”
“They sell muffins?”
Applejack stopped walking,
“Sure, they are her favorite thing in the whole of Equestria, and she’s upset, if we go to all the places that sell muffins we’re bound to find her?”
Dash flapped into the air and headed in the direction of Sugarcube corner.
“I sure hope your right Dash, you know Ditsy she could be flying into all sort’s of trouble.”
“Trust me OK, muffins for sure.”
Dash sped away as Applejack followed behind her mentally questioning Dash’s logic and listing all the places around that sold muffins.
“Gosh darn it.”
It didn’t take long to get to Sugarcube corner, and as the pair reached the open door they heard the distinctive cheering and hollering of their friend and fellow Element of Harmony, Pinkie Pie.
As the element of laughter Pinkie’s pink coat and mane along with her party balloon cutie mark personified her as the one pony, any pony would ask for help planning any party, anytime, anywhere, for any pony.
Trouble was if there wasn’t any parties happening anywhere and Pinkie couldn’t think of an excuse, she had the tendency to get a bit unhinged.
Not that she was crazy, well not in the traditional sense but she could be very scary if she didn’t get her quota.
Dash and Applejack caught sight of Pinkie through the open door, she was covered in bits of glitter and bits of streamer and was bouncing back and forth between the shelves and a pile of what looked like party bags, cakes, toys and sweets lying all around, this told the girls she was preparing some young ponies birthday party.
Deciding not to disturb her, Applejack poked her head through the door, scanned the shop and stepped back.
“She isn’t here Dash”
“Well next stop then.”
Dash replied lazily flapping her wings and turning to head back down the road.
As Applejack followed, Dash winged her way towards their next stop, a little cafe newly opened just off the town square.
Applejack who was a little behind and not so good at remembering gossip and news asked her friend.
“Uh Dash you mind telling me who runs the place again?”
“Don’t you ever listen to Rarity?”
Applejack looked sheepish.
“Ah skip bits.”
Dash nearly crashed.
“Look, last month Bon-Bon’s aunt, you know Bon-Bon right?”
Applejack shook her head.
“Well she passed away and she left her a ton of bits, well Bon-Bon was going to do all this stuff! Like travel…”
“So what’s that got to do with this here cafe...?”
“Lyra’s gotten like...
Lazy, so she convinced her roommate Bon-Bon to open a shop so they could live off the profits.”
“Uh Dash, this isn’t a shop.”
“Well Bon-Bon didn’t want to run a shop but she always had a dream of owning a cafe, sort of suits I guess.”
“And she sells muffins.”
The small interior of the cafe was simple.
White walls and wood effect skirting boards, small oak chairs and tables filled but not crowded the room and the atmosphere was quiet.
In the corner behind a small counter was a till, price boards and a selection of tea cakes, sweets and...
Dash trotted to the counter as a cream earth pony with pink and purple mane and three candy sweets as a cutie mark came from a door presumably leading to the back.
“Hi there Bon-Bon…”
The rainbow mare called out.
“Oh Dash! How wonderful, hold on, Lyraaaaa…”
“Dash is here.”
She called back through the door as Applejack caught up with Dash; she nodded to Bon-Bon, embarrassed she’d almost forgotten who she was.
Bon-Bon simply beamed back, although she looked a little exhausted, looking around Applejack noticed there weren’t too many customers, two to be sure.
One an older male stallion, quietly slipping tea and reading a paper, the other, the other kept muttering to himself.
Applejack couldn’t hear what he was saying and couldn’t see him either, well not properly.
He was sat with an old dusty book with a moon on the cover, open upright on the table in front of him and was head down reading.
As Applejack turned back to Dash, she heard him say…
“Wish it’d happened like that.”
Dash and Bon-Bon didn’t hear that and Applejack still worried about Ditsy, and also upset and annoyed because a hard day’s apple bucking had gone to waste ignored it, then she remembered! Ditsy!
Dash and Bon-Bon were chatting away harmlessly when Applejack interrupted.
“Dash, don’t forget why we’re here now.”
Dash stopped mid sentence and gave a sheepish grin.
“Hey, uh Bon-Bon, have you seen Ditsy anywhere, or has she bought muffins today?”
Bon-Bon thought for a second.
“No, sorry Dash, the only muffins I’ve sold were with tea and sweets to that stallion, pointing at the brown colt who was still muttering to himself behind the book.
It was clear Bon-Bon was a little nervous about her customer as she quickly glanced away frowning.
Unsure what to say, the trio stood for a moment trying to think of something.
This was fortunately broken by the arrival of Lyra.
Lyra, a green unicorn pony with a lyre shaped cutie mark, Applejack knew all too well since her arrival in Ponyville, Lyra had made few friends except Applejack but when her and Applejack first met nearly a year ago, Lyra would visit and sit in the orchard of sweet Apple Acres playing her Lyre while Applejack worked.
However just recently, Lyra had taken up a bad habit and Applejack had found her wandering through the orchard one day seemingly spaced out and with what looked like medicinal herbs in a bag.
Now Applejack wasn’t always quick on the uptake, but she knew something about so say medicinal herbs, Big Macintosh her brother wasn’t the quiet angel everyone took him for.
Sneaking off to the barn all hours, Applejack blushed as she play thought of the stack of ponies hidden behind a board in the wall barn.
Needless to say Applejack had politely booted Lyra off the farm but still considered Lyra a friend, if a little estranged.
“Wow Lyra, you look hammered…”
Bon-Bon and Applejack flinched at Dash’s blunt welcome.
Applejack studied Lyra, unkempt light green mane, eyes bloodshot, pupil’s dilating, yeah hammered suited perfectly.
Bon-Bon’s crushed expression said it all, her eyes though, Applejack thought the look in her eyes, was a little strange, so hopeless.
Dash wasn’t oblivious either.
“So uh Lyra, you’ve seen Ditsy Doo?”
“N’uh sorry Dash, no she hesitated, uh which one’s Ditsy again?”
Dash rolled her eyes.
“Lyra you know Ditsy Doo…?”
“Oh yeah… Derps! Why not say so Dashie…?”
“Like no, haven’t seen her in a while, been here with Bonnie all day”
Lyra flinched as Bon-Bon flicked her ear with her hoof.
“Stop calling me that.”
Bon-Bon sniffed with what looked like a real tear threatening to fall.
Lyra smiled apologetically, but her expression seemed so distant.
Applejack motioned to Dash it was time to leave as a voice behind them piped up.
“Uh… Sorry did you say you were looking for Dixie Doo?”
The stallion behind the book now peering over asked.
“Ditsy Doo, she’s grey, with a blonde mane a Pegasus who delivers mail.”
He blinked deep in thought.
“Nah couldn’t be…”
And with that he disappeared behind his book again.
Confused, tired and with a lot of places still to check, Dash and Applejack bade farewell to Lyra and Bon-Bon, and moved on.
Applejack asked as she walked, Dash flying a little off the ground next to her.
“How do you know those two so well? They were pretty happy to see you, especially Lyra? You don’t you know...”
“Uh you know... Herbs…”
Dash replied upset at the implication.
Applejack said apologetically.
Dash fluttered her wings slightly annoyed.
“I met Lyra at one of Pinkie’s parties for new ponies in town she was a bit partied out (stoned, more like Applejack thought), so I helped her home, that’s how I met Bon-Bon.
“So they’re room mates huh, they live above the cafe then?”
“Not room mates.”
She said awkwardly.
It was Applejack’s turn to blush.
“Since, w... Wait, what Bon-Bon?”
Dash glanced away.
“Didn’t you notice, the lack of customers they had?”
“Well at first lots of ponies went there, but after a week or so some pony started spreading rumors saying they were filly foolers and he’d seen them kiss, then Lyra and Bon-Bon admitted it and came out, and... Things haven’t gone that well recently.”
“That isn’t right.”
Applejack said, a measure of uncertainty in her voice, looking away from her friend she continued.
“Sooo... you’re not bothered huh Dash?”
Dash while flying alongside didn’t look at her but replied.
“Princess Celestia said ponies could be what they want so long as doesn’t hurt any pony.”
Had Applejack been looking, she would have seen the mare go from cyan to a deep red in the cheeks.
Applejack was a little surprised at how Rainbow had replied, but a sharp stone on the road reminded her they had a long way to go if they were to find their friend, as she quickened the pace, something was bothered her.
“Uh Dash, is Lyra OK?”
Ah mean she seemed a little funny to you, ah mean it’s not like her to depend on any pony or anything.”
Dash looked up, then away.
“Lyra’s been, well not good lately.”
“Because she’s been overdoing it yeah.”
Applejack asked, a little disapproval sneaking into her tone.
“That’s what every pony thinks, but...”
Dash replied slowly.
“I told you, Bon-Bon’s aunt passed away right…?”
“Lyra was in the house alone, Bon-Bon told me a neighbor found Lyra in a corner of the front room, freaking out, screaming and stuff and covered in scratches.”
“Wow Dash, what happened?”
“Well the doctor reckoned Lyra just flipped due to stress, she’s been having episodes more and more lately.”
“And that’s why she was like she was today?”
Applejack paused then…
“That poor mare...”
Applejack felt guilty about judging her somewhat a friend, so quickly and harshly.
“The reason she gets so wasted, Bon-Bon told me is because she gets waking nightmares at random in the day time and at night she wakes up screaming.
Last week, she freaked out big time, cleared the shop”
Dash finished and by her demeanor, Applejack figured she knew more but decided to leave it.
“So you’ve been helping Bon-Bon look out for her yeah?”
“Uh yeah a little...”
“You’re a true friend Rainbow.”
A few moments passed.
She sighed again.
It was late afternoon and Luna was waiting in the courtyard of the castle.
Luna had encountered an intruder, an intruder who had broken into the library and done something to her to make her relive her darkest feelings and then pass out.
Luna after regaining her senses and composure had run to and told Celestia all about it!
Celestia’s reaction was a little underwhelming, in fact when describing the villain to her, Celestia remarked.
“My dear sweet sister, did he have any distinguishing features?”
“Did you see his cutie mark?”
Luna silently cursed herself for not even thinking of the easiest way to identify a pony.
“So we’re looking for a brown colt who stole a book when our chief librarian says all are accounted for.”
“And after searching the castle and grounds, our guards found nothing suspicious or out the ordinary and no forced entry?”
“But sister, I saw him, he bespelled me!”
“Oh Luna, don’t you think you may have nodded off reading one of your romance stories again?”
Celestia yawned hiding a smirk.
“No! I didn’t dream it, why won’t you believe me.”
Luna’s voice was slowly getting higher pitched.
Wincing slightly at this, Celestia who still felt a little less than virtuous asked.
“Well little sister, what do you plan on doing about it?”
“But I, I asked for your help?”
Luna looked around them; it was quiet as a mouse.
At first, she was angry, then sad, then confused and as Celestia began tapping her hoof, Luna had an idea.
“I’m going outside the castle to look for him myself.”
“Capital idea sister, good luck.”
Luna blinked again.
“Aren’t you going to stop me?”
“I haven’t been out on my own yet.”
Luna said in a small voice.
“Oh very well, wait in the courtyard, I’ll send some of my guards to accompany you.”
“But I have my own guards Tia.”
Luna whined referring to the two Pegasai, her sister had begrudgingly let Luna outfit her with her own black, bat embossed Armour and royal crests.
“No and you can’t take your own chariot either or mine for that matter.”
“No buts, you’ll scare our subjects.”
“Oh and have them back by ten, otherwise I won’t have enough escorts for my night out with the girls tonight.”
“Uh don’t you mean not have enough guards for tonight?”
“Yes- yes, whatever just remember, back by ten.”
“And don’t forget the moon.”
She called to the angry Luna heading to the door.
Luna was furious as she stomped away, she turned and shouted,
“And I don’t read romance stories either, not that you care.”
And with that she left for the courtyard, Celestia’s laughter following her out of the room
As she cradled her throbbing head again Celestia chuckled at what she thought was her sister’s imagination, getting out and about would do Luna some good she reasoned as she wondered if by starting to drink now, it would help her hangover.
After a little longer waiting, two of Celestia’s guards turned up, Luna didn’t know their names but she didn’t have time for the niceties.
“We are going to find the intruder.”
“Uh, where do you think he is?”
One guard asked.
The other hit him with his hoof.
“I mean... where shall we start your highness?”
Luna shuffled uneasily, one thing bothered her, the librarian had said that there were no books missing, but why risk the castle, the guards, her sister?
Surely a thief would have taken something, a complete nut might have burned the palace down but just to read?
Luna could understand it she would have sold her soul for just one book on the moon, but it didn’t seem right.
Maybe he’d been a reporter? Oh, or maybe one of those pap...paper...paparazzi?
Celestia had warned her about ponies wanting to gossip and scandal apparently they would pay others to go to great lengths to get it, Celestia had said they were the lowliest of all her subjects not worth scuffing her royal hooves on.
(Although what Luna had overheard some the maids saying, it sounded like Celestia had done just that on several occasions, not to mention the large number of pony statues in the castle grounds that were suspiciously holding cameras.)
It was then Luna realized the guards were just stood silently watching and waiting as she was thinking.
Turning away from them, Luna screwed up her eyes and concentrated.
What to do? What would Celestia do? Then Luna remembered that was the reason she was out here.
Damn it, she thought it wasn’t just that long ago she had returned from the moon, she didn’t fully understand the new world she now lived in.
She needed some ponies’ help, who could…
Then it hit her, she could ask Twilight!
Celestia’s favorite student!
The ringleader of those who had wielded the elements.... Who had defeated the evil nightmare moon that had possessed her body and soul?
Who she hadn’t spoken to since that night...
Luna’s insecurities resurfaced...
“Uh, your majesty...?”
One of the guards inquired.
“We’re going to Ponyville.”
Luna stammered awkwardly.
The guard asked.
Luna replied ignoring the less than acceptable way she kept being spoken to, her mind swimming with uncertainty.