Long ago, (twelve hundred years ago to be precise) before even Canterlot came into being, the Royal Pony Sisters ruled the magical land of Equestria together in peace and harmony. They resided in a mystical and vastly unexplored part of Equestria known as the Everfree Forest, with a stone fortress they had constructed themselves. The stronghold itself was fairly small for the house of the Goddesses but it served it's purpose well, keeping out unwanted wildlife and ponies alike. A chosen few had been selected to serve within it's sturdy walls, namely cooks and a few guards to keep away anypony who might be looking to pick a bone with either regal deity. Unlike the Canterlot that would be, the bastille was made of simple stone bricks (clean as the day they were made and stronger than diamond to be sure) and was only a fraction of the future Canterlot Castle.
One bright summer's day, Celestia and Luna where relaxing on the upper balcony after a hard day's work, waiting for evening court where they would attend to more pressing matters.
"Ah, ye warm rays o' Our sun doth have a soothing quality unmatched by any other means. What sayest thou, sister?" The white alicorn stretched as she spoke in the language of the day.
"Thou shalt hear no disagreement from Our lips, sister, thy celestial body doth indeed banish Our fatigue in a most pleasing way. Hast thou any knowledge o' ye whereabouts o' Discord?" Luna rolled over on her solid gold lounge chair to better face her sister. Luna was roughly the same size as Celestia, although Celestia could still be seen as the elder of the two.
"Neigh, dear sister, We hath not seen him for some duration, We suspect he has some jest in ye works." They began to giggle at the thought of another cotton candy rain cloud drenching them in chocolate milk when they both went very quiet very quickly. The two pegasi maids (neither of whom could direct magic) looked at one another as the two sisters slowly rose to their hooves, they both faced the north tower as if they were anticipating something. Nothing. They glanced at one another and where about to return to doing absolutely nothing when…
*Kra-KOOOOM* "Ugh…dammit…" Came a voice from the south library, it sounded older and not very happy. The two sisters warped to the end of the hall and faced the smoke-filled room that once housed some VERY important books.
"Hark! What hath transpired here?" asked Celestia.
"'Hark'? Don't give me that, Radigan, I've had quite enough of you and your experiments today." The creature that emerged wasn't anything that the Princesses had expected to see; a human. Although, they assumed he was some sort of off-color Diamond Dog that had stumbled into the castle. He wore a long black coat that was fairly common for gentlemen in the mid 1800's, with black slacks and a matching pair of dress shoes, he was covered head to foot with soot and dust. He removed some protective goggles and knocked the dust out of his receding, grey hairline while attempting to restore his vision from the explosion at Radigan Conagher's Tools & Munitions by rubbing the ash out of his eyes. "Congratulations are in order I suppose; it's not everyday you manage to ruin my best suit, blind me, and make me look like a fool all in one fell swoop."
He was so wrapped up in his endeavor to clear his aged eyeballs that he failed to notice the two alicorns standing awe-struck in front of him, he didn't even realize that he had left 1840 America at all. He strode right past Celestia and Luna and (to the shock and horror of the maids who quickly abandoned their posts at the sight of the human) sat himself down on one of the royal seats and continued to massage his pupils.
Celestia and Luna stood at either side of the doorway in absolute silence; what the hay was this thing? He didn't seem too dangerous, and he certainly didn't seem to have any idea how he had unexceptionally arrived in the sisters' private study. Celestia brought herself up to her full height, unfolded her simmering wings of ivory and approached the creature; what kind of ruler would she be if she didn't make first contact with a previously unknown entity? A sucky one, that's what.
She towered over the elderly man, "Hark, strange creature, what business doth thou have with Us, or o' Equestria?"
The man stopped his fruitless endeavor, and looked blurry-eyed at the magnificent creature that had addressed him. With his vision not yet at full strength (and his ears still ringing from the incident) he only made out part of what was asked and the tone of the voice, a woman's voice.
"Keep thine tongue under lock and key, errant varlet, lest thou finds thy self in deeper peril!" Celestia had flared her wings up and her tone had changed to one of annoyance. "Look upon ye one thou callest 'Elizabeth!'" WIth that, the angered Princess' horn glowed with a powerful yellow aura that found it's way into the man's eyes. She quickly gathered herself and returned to her normal royal manner once more. "Thine vision hath returned, now gaze upon-"
"Mother of all that is holy…" The man was already up and looking over the balcony at the surrounding forest. "IT WORKED! HAHAHA! Radigan, we can finally move matter through vast distances of space with the press of a button! We can finally- my God when did you let horses in here?" He examined the white horse before him, wondering how much time it took to get her coat that white, or to get her mane…to…move…"Oh my…"
Had Celestia not locked her lavender eyes onto the strange creature, she would have assumed he possessed the ability to teleport. He was suddenly on the right side of her flank, closely examining her flowing tail. He waved his hand through it and attempted to grab hold of it, but Celestia willed it intangible and it slipped between his finger like sparkling, multi-colored smoke. "Fascinating. What's this? A stencil of the sun? So strange…" He moved away from the illusive tail and focused on her Cutie Mark; a large golden sun. At first he thought it was just another dye job by whatever lunatic had gotten hold of this poor creature, but looking closer, he saw that the colors went all the way down to the skin, which was also a pure white. He parted the fur that composed her Cutie Mark with his fingers to further examine this scientific discovery when negotiations broke down completely.
"Thou artless, ill-bred mongrel! Were We not within ye hallowed halls, We would SMITE thee…" Her face turned red as she hissed at the now severely confused man who was now starting to inch back towards the stone railing. That horse just spoke, and by the look of that horn that was pointed directly at his forehead, he should probably choose his response CAREFULLY.
"Uh, I…um…er…I…uh…" Not the witty response he was hopping for.
"Guards!" Two unicorns in shimmering gold armor appeared on either side of the human and summoned chains that coiled around his arms and legs, "Take this witless jackanape to ye dungeon!"
"Verily!" they spoke in unison and teleported the disheveled man to the lower rings of the rather extensive prison area of the castle. Luna finally stepped forward after Celestia had time to cool off and started breathing normally again.
"Such fearsome circumstances, pray tell, o' what manner 'twas that beast?"
"We know not, dearest sister, only that 'twere he any potent threat he would hath revealed his heraldry upon arrival."
Luna looked down at her light blue greaves. "There be much in what you say, and yet, We feel as though there be foul work at play."
"Unbelievable, I must be dreaming. That's what happened; the explosion at the lab KILLED me and this is some sort of strange limbo I'm sure my brother has something to do with…*sigh* Well, Silas; what are you going to do now?" Silas Mann, co-founder of Mann Co., master inventor…was currently hanging upside-down by his ankles above what he was certain was a 'present' left by a previous prisoner. He had given up struggling against the magical chains that bound him and instead focused on attracting the attention of the guards who at this point were all but drowning out his pleas. "Excuse me, good sirs, would you be so kind as to explain to me WHY I'm locked in this Godforsaken place?"
"Thou art to be subdued for touching her Royal Highness, knave!" barked a rather angry pegasus guard. Being sentenced to guard detail in the dungeon was punishment in itself; the floors were sticky, light was scarce, the inmates' howls caused migraines, and the smell…the guards could overlook every other detail where it not for the smell. It was not one that the guards could avoid either, Celestia knows they've tried, everything from cloth masks to scented candles, but nothing seemed to halt the rampaging beast that was the eye-watering stench. So it only made sense that the guards subjected to this everyday were in horrible moods to match.
Silas sighed. 'Fine, if you won't free me, I'll just let myself out on walkabout.' Silas pushed his wrist against his sleeve and a small, gold key dropped into his waiting hand. With the skill of a expert craftsman, he found where the keyhole was imbedded and threw the key into place, he thrashed his body again and the key turned until it clicked. "Haha! Yes! Now I caaaaaAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! *BAM* *Splash* Ugh…"
Both of the guards' ears perked up, they had indeed heard Silas forgetting that he was suspended twenty feet in the air and rushed into his cell, only to be laid out by the same iron coils that moments before contained the human infiltrator.
Silas poked his head out from the cell and scanned the immediate area, it was clear…of more ponies, the same could not be said for roaches and other vermin. He ran back up the spiral stone tower and found himself in the main foyer, this gave him pause for thought; he really had no idea where the dungeon was connected to since the unicorns had teleported him into that wretched hovel. He looked around once more, safe. He emerged from the doorway and felt the warmth of the sunlight that was pouring in from the massive windows to his side and the skylight up above.
He looked around and notice that the sun was indeed setting, he had lost too much time as it was and desperately needed to report his findings to Radigan.
"Time to find what's left of my teleporter."
"…and thus concludes mine report o' ye goings on in yonder Western Fields, my Liege." The courthouse rang with the sounds of neighing, cheers, and stamping hooves. The older general pony sat back on his seat next to other distinguished members of the Royal Sisters' Cabnet of varying colors. The requirement for those in service to have their coats and manes altered according to jurisdiction (white and blue for pegasi, dark grey and white for unicorns, and charcoal with purple bat-like manes and wings for Luna's Secret Service) wouldn't be put into effect for another few hundred years when a riot in Canterlot lead to multiple guards being beaten and/or jailed because they couldn't tell each other apart (riot guards didn't wear as flashy protection at the time).
"Alas, these 'Diamond Dogs' art rather troubling, they may yet prove to be a worth foe if given enough passage o' time. In short, we must smite them before they gather strength!" said Commander Hurricane from his floating cloud seat. The sphere of a courthouse was split into three rings; the upper pegasi ring, the central unicorn ring with Luna and Celestia's seats suspended in the center, and finally the earth ponies near the ground floor. The unconventional parliament chamber sat atop the east tower and had an amazing view of the Everfree Forest (or at least the tree line). The top of the sphere was just a massive skylight with opening windows to allow pegasi easy access and to let in as much natural light as possible for both the sun and moon. Not to mention, let in fresh air to cool off the hot tempers that often flared within and halted important business that would then get pushed to the next meeting only to get pushed back by ANOTHER fight that would inevitably break out. To help avoid this, Celestia and Luna had built the courtroom so that each race could mingle with their own kind while still being able to hear and speak to other members sitting elsewhere.
This arrangement had been the topic of many arguments; from the Royal Pony Sisters being closer to the unicorns suggested favoritism, the pegasi being higher up and on clouds were thought to be held in higher regards, and the earth ponies being on the bottom thought they weren't as valued as the others, etc. Fortunately, these issues hadn't surfaced during this particular evening court since Celestia hadn't allowed any lulls in the business at hoof and they simply didn't have time for in-fighting. What she had to say next might bring her record to an end.
"Gentlecolts, We hath some disturbing news; earlier, when yonder bell towers chimed but noon, We happened upon a devious creature," the room fell silent, save the sound of teeth clacking together as their owners manually closed their wide-open jaws with their hooves, "but, ye beast hath been captured and now lays within these fortress walls as prisoner."
"What ho, a creature thou sayest? Pray, o' what manner was this mysterious being, Milady?" came a voice from the crowd which was quickly followed by a dull mummer of more of the same question.
Luna cut off her sister before she could respond, "In truth, We know not what. It be o' some manner of being that We hath yet encountered, but prithee, We hath nary a reason to-"
A frantic looking pegasi guard burst through the large wooden door, destroying the silence and suspense that had been building along with a snack tray and a few cups.
"Miladies, the beast doth roam these hallowed halls, though I know not where!"
As if it were scripted; everpony looked at each other, then back at the panting guard, then once more at a different pony, before galloping/flying through the doors with a personal battle cry in search of the escaped monster.
"-fear this being. Nightsoil…" Luna cursed under her breath, this wasn't going to end well. The two alicorns gently floated down from their roost and pursued the angry mob of high-ranking officials, quickly catching up with them and inadvertently leading the aimless charge.
With her enhanced hearing, Luna caught the sound of metal clanging together and footsteps coming from the foyer. She barreled left and broke away from the rest of the crowd, which was made simpler since night had fallen some hours ago during court and her midnight blue pelt made her almost invisible in the dimly lit halls. Only her crescent moon Cutie Mark could be seen bobbing up and down the empty halls.
She stopped at the doorway and slowly poked her head in to see what the human was up to. It was incredible. In the hours between his escape and now, he had managed to haul the surprisingly heavy teleporter prototype from the guard lockers and nearly finish repairs. That wasn't all he had been doing, as Luna soon noticed; he had also crafted various models and a few contraptions that lied scattered around his feet. Luna watched him work in silence for a moment, using tools that she didn't recognize save the hammer and saw.
He would also occasionally scribble something in a notebook that lay by his side. Luna pushed the door open a bit further to get a better look.
"You can stop hiding, I know you're there. Why not come out of there and have a look, hm?" He had a very calm tone for someone in his position, he didn't even look up from his work.
"We…We know not…how doth thou…?"
"Hmph," Silas smiled as the Night Goddess walked cautiously into the dull candle light he was working by, "I have two very dim-witted nephews that often spent time at my manor, having eyes in the back of your head is almost a requirement." He groaned at the mere mention of Redmond and Blutarch, those idiots had fought over literally EVERYTHING ever since they were born. Luna trotted over to him, still keeping her distance, and looked at the wondrous do-dads he had been messing with.
"Pray tell, what be yonder device?" She wrapped one of the trinkets in a blue light and brought it closer so she could see it in the flickering candle light. Although it was completely alien to her, any human would recognize it without fail; a wind-up toy. Silas extended his hand to show her how it worked but was met with Luna flaring her dark sapphire wings to their fullest extent and a dirty look.
Silas mentally smacked himself in the back of the face. Of course she's paranoid about him; he escaped from the dungeon after dropping into her library with an explosion, and she still didn't know if he was a threat. Not to mention that if these times were the same as his medieval era, than touching royalty was grounds for swift death. He lowered himself into more of a bowing position and withdrew his hand. He cleared his throat.
"Your majesty, if I may…"
Luna looked him over again before relaxing her beautiful wings and placing the toy in front of him. "Aye, that shall indeed give Us mirth." Silas took that as a yes. He scooped up the wind-up mouse and produced a key from his long black jacket which laid on the floor behind him and inserted it into the back of the faux rodent. After a few cranks, he placed the key in his pocket and the toy on the cobble stone floor. The mouse ran in circles on the floor before Silas and…Luna?
Silas looked around for the darker of the two pony sisters as the mouse continued to lap the same square two foot area on the floor. Had she teleported? Did she have the ability to turn invisible? Did she- oh, there she is. Mr. Mann looked up to see Princess Luna, co-ruler of the land of Equestia and Goddess in charge of the moon, hugging one of the support columns that lined the foyer for dear life. Silas couldn't help but laugh as he picked up the toy mouse and stopped it's gears.
"Forgive me, I haven't laughed in a very long time…" He continued to snicker as Luna floated down from her awkward perch and thanked her lucky stars that her coat hid her blushing cheeks. They talked for what seemed like hours about different kinds of inventions and various types of magic. When the aimless mob finally found them, Luna stepped forward and persuaded them to let Silas stay long enough to fix his teleporter (what would become known as the Royal Canterlot Voice helped too).
And so it came to be that Silas Mann was permitted to stay within the castle under the watchful eye of the Royal Guards. During his time there, he shared his knowledge of what was the modern age; hot air balloons, trains, farming machinery, proper speech (which made conversations much easier on the aged human), and indoor plumbing. That in particular won him numerous metals and awards in Social Sciences (especially since he introduced the field of Social Science). Sadly, progress on the teleporter was slow and tedious since he was forced to triple-check everything before making any attempts to travel home due to limited number of parts at hand, or hoof, depending if he worked with any of the scholars Luna provided for him. It was during one of these frustrating work sessions that Celestia taught Silas a trick that would grant him near unimaginable wealth, and that all had to do with…
"Keys?" Celestia placed a hoof over her muzzle as she tried not to inhale the alarming amount of smoke the teleporter was spewing from it's casing. Silas had been in the middle of explaining to the Sun Goddess what his ACTUAL job at Mann Co. was before the small metal machine had burst into disturbingly large flames and he had to sacrifice part of his favorite (and only) coat to pulverize the mini-inferno. After taking a moment to catch his breath and extinguish the charred parts of his sleeve, he turned to the alabaster Goddess.
"Yes Princess, keys. You see, Mann Co. has been running a promotional deal where large, locked boxes are randomly distributed to our regular customers for no charge," Celestia tilted her head to the side and raised her eyebrow as she tried to see the economic sensibility behind this idea…none to be found. "That was my reaction to it at first too. Each box contains a random item from the store; anything from week-old cheese logs to great and powerful hats."
Celestia sighed. "Oh, Silas, I will never understand your bizarre obsession with hats…" she giggled as she recounted the time when she had presented him with a hat from her wardrobe during a downpour and he had jumped higher than any non-pegasis could ever hope to.
Silas coughed from the still billowing smog pouring from the busted teleporter. "We've been over this, Princess; throughout history, men have worn hats as a way of showing how much better they are than other men. 'Buy hats,' a behatted man seems to say. 'I am better than you.' Anyway, anyone who had shopped at Mann Co. got one of these boxes, and most of them got one of these when they joined our premium services…" He knelt down to his battered jacket and withdrew a simmering golden key from a pile of soot that filled one of his pockets, it had the Mann Co. emblem imbedded on it's side. "Now, this is where we hit a snag; our patented un-crackable locks could all be opened by the premium keys, thus, we had to change the locks…"
"So people would buy the new keys for their crates in order to get what was inside." said Celestia as she tapped her hoof on the floor in leu of snapping.
Silas nodded, "Exactly, my dear Lady. But then we would once again have the same problem of everyone having keys for their items, and Mann Co. loses money. It's…WAS my job to create new tumblers for the un-crackable locks." He unceremoniously discarded the now useless key off to the side, the metal striking the floor echoed more than he thought it would and apologized to Celestia before turning back to his uncooperative portal home. "After all, what good is a key without it's lock?" He knew what the answer was, it looked back at him in every reflective surface he saw.
Celestia's glimmering horn glowed as she picked up the key with bright yellow magic and examined it. She turned it over and over before a smile crept over her face. The light intensified around the key for a moment and then flowed into the small gold trinket as though it were inhaling. The Princess, happy with her work, turned back to Silas (who had been busy trying to locate exactly what part had exploded this time around) and levitated the key in front of him. Silas grabbed it as the golden aura dissipated, something was different about it, it seemed lighter.
Silas grabbed a lock that he had in his other coat pocket, he placed the key in the gunmetal grey contraption and turned it. As always, the tumblers within clicked and rolled loudly as the metal brace at the top popped loose. He was about to give the Royal Pony a sarcastic look when the key in his hand fragmented and fell to the floor as an utterly defeated three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.
He could only stare at the mound of gold dust on his black shoes as the tumblers inside his own head began to click. His eyes grew wide as he turned to the white Sun Deity with the biggest smile his face could handle but his speech was halted by an equally warm smile.
"Yes, I can teach you make all of your keys just like that one without the use of magic," said the gentle yet commanding voice. Silas had to reframe himself from hugging her as the guards would cut him down where he stood if he did, so hopping up and down like a lunatic would have to do for now.
A few weeks later, Silas got a break when two of the scholars that had been assigned to him accidentally discovered that the sparks generated by two unicorn horns clashing together in an impromptu fencing match brought on by sheer boredom could power the teleporter. Coupled with advanced teleportation spells cast by Celestia and Luna, Silas could pinpoint where he would end up with having to worry about any more inter-dimensional mishaps, or ending up as a gruesome skid mark on the fabric of reality. As the shimmering purple portal crackled to life and transformed into a spiraling tear in the fabric of space/time, he looked back at the wonderful individuals who had taught the aged man much about friendship. Before he parted, he proclaimed that he would one day return to Equestria to see his newfound friends, and with that, he stepped through the glaring portal and vanished with a flash as the wormhole faded, taking the temperamental teleporter base with it.
Luna couldn't help but cry. Leaving friends was always hard, and as an eternal being, she and her elder sister had both had to deal with the sadness of losing the ones they held dear time and time again over the years…it was something she would never overcome. She felt a familiar wing wrap around her tightly, she looked up at it's owner to see the embodiment of the sun smiling down at her. Not a tear to be seen on her flawless face that had caused envy for thousands upon thousands of mares all around Equestria. Luna was about to ask her sister how she could be so uncaring when she suddenly understood why she was so happy; Silas Mann had promised to return someday, and all they had to do was wait.