A quick glance around revealed that Luna was sleeping on the bed as well a few feet away from her. Luna’s bed was quiet large. Actually Twilight was pretty sure it was larger than her bedroom back at the library. Luna was curled up into a ball and hugging a pillow tightly. Her billowy mane was covering her face and she was snoring softly. Twilight giggled at the thought of somepony so royal snoring. Twilight glanced up at the glass ceiling which appeared to be tinted glass. Twilight assumed it was designed so that Luna could comfortably sleep during the day since most of her duties took place at night. She quietly eased herself out of bed and took a walk around the room. There was a bookshelf that covered the northern wall. Twilight went to inspect it, looking to see if there were titles she recognized. However, most of the books were unbound or unlabeled. Many of them simply contained crude quickly done sketches of the phases of the moon and locations of various craters. A few were obviously tax documents. One was a picture book of what Twilight could only guess was children stories, the kind a toddling foal would have her mother read to her. Twilight did notice several books that contained drawings of magical flow paths, visualizations of how magic interacted with the physical world. Understanding these charts were always difficult, Twilight being Twilight, understood their basic principle but would never be able to construct one on her own. Luna apparently had created several. It had become apparent that Luna did not actually have anything to read. She had many complex charts and diagrams all throughout the room, but the only words Twilight could find were an occasional caption for a figure. Luna seemed to love books, but preferred visual medium better. She spied an easel with a few painting supplies placed nearby. Twilight was unaware that Luna painted. She used magic to flip a few of the sheets of paper and glance at Luna’s drawings. Most were of the sun setting upon a field or lake’s reflection at night. One was of Nightmare Moon and Luna standing with their backs to each other. Twilight shuddered at this one. Perhaps Luna was exploring her duality? One was a picture of Twilight and her friends sporting the Elements of Harmony. Twilight blushed at that one a bit. All the paintings were exceptionally well done. The last painting on the easel was significantly less colorful than the rest. It, Twilight could only guess, was a landscape of the moon. Twilight looked at it for a few minutes. It was a desolate place, monotonous and static. The painting felt cold to look at. Not that the painting was actually cold, it just simply made you feel… alone. Twilight’s search was momentarily disrupted when Luna stirred slightly. The Unicorn replaced the paintings on the easel.
Twilight decided that perhaps she should make her way down to Celestia and apologize for her disappearance last night. She desperately wanted Luna by her side when she confronted Celestia, but she also did not want Luna to get in trouble. Twilight made her way to the bedroom door and tried to push it open with her hoof. When that did not work she tried magic. After a few minutes of struggling she gave up and went back to looking at the decorations of the room. She noticed the walls were covered in charts of the night sky. Plots of constellations with several labels scratched out were pinned to the southern wall. Luna had been designing and naming new constellations it seemed. She glanced through some of them, trying to see if she had recognized any of the patterns in the night sky. Most of the new constellations had not had a name picked yet or there were two names chosen with a question mark in between, as if Luna had not been able to choose. One particularly complex constellation caught her eye. It spanned three star charts and included more than thirty stars. It took a while to see as she traced the web of lines, but it appeared to be a pony. Not that there were not many other ponies in the sky, but this one was a Unicorn. There were only a few of those and many were just a couple stars that you were supposed to just take Luna’s word on their shape. But this constellation was clearly a Unicorn. There was a label at the bottom of the center of the three charts. Luna had not had a hard time naming this one. There were not any other names crossed out. “Oh my,” Twilight gasped.
“Do you like it?” Luna asked. In her study of the constellation, Twilight had not noticed Luna waking. “It’s a thank you for helping me on Nightmare Night.” Luna smiled. Twilight honestly did not know what to say. The chart had been labeled with her name, Twilight Sparkle (Unicornus Lux Crepusculum).
“It’s beautiful. But why would you name a constellation after me? That’s…. a big deal….”
Luna giggled, “When the sun sets, the sky is mine to do with what I wish. You helped free me from my nightmare. You were one of the first ponies to show me friendship. And if that’s not enough, you’re a national hero, Tia would have asked for one after you passed on anyway.” Luna levitated a brush and fixed her mane. “But I figured, why wait for one posthumously when you could enjoy it while you’re still alive.”
“Is this already in the sky?”
“It’s right over Ponyville. You can see it quiet well from your balcony.”
“I don’t know what to say… Thank you...”
“It was my pleasure. Now, I hate to say it but perhaps we should go talk to Tia.” Luna said with a slight tremble in her voice. “Unless, of course, you just want to ignore it and we could play a game of chess or practice magic or…” Luna levitated the brush over to Twilight and fixed her mane. Twilight was a bit irritated at some other pony touching her mane, but she allowed Luna to continue.
“No. I need to apologize to Princess Celestia. I’ve put it off long enough.”
Luna sighed, “Of course. Everypony just loves to make Celestia happy.” Luna turned away from Twilight and opened the grand stone door to the room. Twilight frowned. It was clear Luna still held resentment for her sister. Twilight did enjoy spending time with both of the princesses. She honestly was not trying to favor Celestia over Luna. Luna peeked her head out the door. “Come on Twilight, the coast is clear. Celestia will be in the throne room. We’ll see if we can get there without running into any guards.”
They walked out into the hallway and made their way to the tower staircase. Both of them were living or had at one time lived in the castle so they knew their way around the area for the most part. However Canterlot Castle was enormous and its internal structure was a bit confusing. Twilight noticed after a few hallways they were in fact heading to the wrong wing. Twilight corrected Luna, much to the Alicorn’s embarrassment. Truth be told, Luna’s mind was elsewhere and Twilight could tell. “Luna, I enjoyed spending time with you last night. You know I have to return to Ponyville very soon. Actually the train leaves shortly before lunch… But I was wondering if it would be alright if I could visit every now and then and we could… you know… spend time together?” Luna stopped dead in her tracks. Twilight wondered if she stepped over some boundary, after all Luna was a princess.
Luna looked over her should at the young Unicorn, “I would love that, Twilight.” She smiled widely at her friend. Twilight was relieved. Luna seemed to be in a better mood for the rest of the walk. They reached the hallway that lead to the throne room but Luna stopped and gestured to a door they had just passed. “I need to check on something really quick. Don’t go anywhere I’ll be right back. Then we’ll go talk to Tia.”
“What do you need to do?” Twilight’s ears perked up.
“It’s a surprise,” Luna giggled. Twilight nodded and the lunar princess ducked behind the door. Twilight kicked her hooves back and forth patiently waiting for Luna to return when she heard somepony call her name from across the hall.
“Twily!” Shining Armor galloped down the hallway and stopped only a few inches from Twilight’s face.
“Hey big bro! How’s the misses?” Twilight smiled warmly.
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve been up all night looking for you! Princess Celestia is mad at you for something. She’s had my guards looking for you all night. Where were you?” Shining Armor clenched his teeth together.
“I was here at the castle… whoa! Hey! Put me down!” It was too late for protests; Shining Armor had levitated Twilight on to his back and was speeding down the hallway towards the throne room. “Wait just a moment! Shining! Wait, I was… Princess Luna… wait!” Twilight bounced up and down as Shining Armor raced through the halls. For a pony that had just gone a night without sleeping, he was surprisingly energetic. He rounded the corner and entered the throne room.
“Princess Celestia, I have located Twily… Twilight Sparkle as you requested.”
“Ah, I see that, my captain. Round up your guards and wait outside if you please.” Celestia’s tone was hard to read. Twilight could sense a hint of anger, but it was mostly her normal calm demeanor. Shining Armor nodded to the set of guards that were standing on either side of the throne. After they left the room, Shining Armor used his magic to close the door. Celestia straightened her neck as if she was about to make a royal decree, “Twilight Sparkle….”
Twilight laid flat on the floor and bowed her head, “Princess Celestia, I am so very sorry for missing the toast. I heard you were upset and I just wanted to let you know how sincerely sorry I am for disappointing you!” Celestia raised an eye brown in skepticism. Twilight lifted her head slightly and opened her eye halfway to sneak a peek at the princess’s expression. “You’re… you’re not terribly mad at me are you?” Twilight said with a slight tremble in her voice.
“Mad? No. Disappointed, very much.” Twilight winced. “My dear student, last night’s festivities were important for the kingdom. Equestria, Canterlot and its outskirts such as Ponyville more so than others, have been under turmoil far too frequently as of late. With Nightmare Moon, Discord, and the Changeling incident, ponies are starting to worry about the state of our defenses. The word on the streets is that many are questioning their safety. I am afraid there’s a chance we might be entering dark times and if distrust and fear are seeded in the kingdom, we will be for sure.” Twilight nodded in agreement somberly. “It’s times like this when ponies need an ideal to believe in. For the longest time, I’ve strived to be that ideal. But alas the Elements of Harmony have moved to their new bearers after so many years. While I can certainly still protect my people from most of the threats, I lack the firepower to deal so bluntly with more serious issues. Now it is your responsibility to become that ideal. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Princess. I am truly sorry, I had no idea you were expecting so much of us at the party. I treated it like just another one of Pinkie Pie’s get-togethers. I was foolish.”
“Yes you were.” Celestia’s words stung. “As your mentor, I promise to provide guidance to you in whatever way needed. I believe last night’s disaster was in part my fault for not letting you know what was expected of you. But not all is lost. While the ceremony was a failure, the celebration around Canterlot and all over Equestria was by far a success. There was some… political cleanup needed involving pictures of a inebriated element of kindness staggering about on stage. But my attendants have taken care of it, right Storm Dancer?”
The silver Pegasus, who had been slightly obscured behind the throne nodded, “Yes, all cameras were confiscated as the guests left. We are more than fairly confident that the toast will be remembered for your excellent speech and not the guests of honor’s behavior.” The Pegasus took a step backwards after speaking, trying his best to allow Celestia to scold her student in private while still remaining in the room.
“I am glad you came to apologize. I was afraid your lessons in manners were slipping, but I am pleased to see you owning up to your mistakes. Celestia nodded, “However, I am still curious as to where you vanished to during the toast. Perhaps you could enlighten me?”
Twilight knew Luna seemed to want to avoid telling Celestia that she was spending time with Twilight. Twilight did not for the life of her understand why, but she decided to respect Luna’s wishes. “I… just went to bed.” It was true. Twilight was glad she was not the element of honesty. “I’ve been having trouble sleeping.”
“Yes, you did inform me of that. I had Applejack and Rainbow Dash check if there was any volatility for the seal on Discord. They confirmed what my own magics tell me, Discord is sealed tighter than ever. I can only conclude that these nightmares are just merely nightmares.”
Twilight scuffed her hoof against the floor, “I had a dream about him last night. He had taken you sister and turned my friends.”
Celestia glanced down at the floor, “In this dream he had captured Lulu?” Twilight nodded. “Interesting. Do you always remember these dream vividly?”
“Yes, most of the time.”
“I see. I believe that these dreams may, in fact, be related to Discord’s magic.”
“What?! You said the seal was holding!”
“Calm yourself, my student. You are the element of magic, the center piece in the sealing spell. It is through you that the power of the Elements of Harmony are aimed at their target, their conduit. When the Elements are used, a small bit of the target’s power leaks back into the conduit. It did so when you defeated Nightmare Moon and again when you sealed Discord.”
Twilight’s ears drooped, “Wait… what?”
“Rest assured, it is not anything to be worried about. The Elements purify the energy received. In fact, it only makes you stronger. You might have noticed the energy from Nightmare Moon earlier; it most likely shifted your magic attunement to something closer to Princess Luna’s.” Twilight nodded. That made quite a bit of sense. After all she just spent all of last night working with an invisibility spell that only Luna had been able to cast reliably. “When you sealed Discord, you might have absorbed some of his chaotic essence. It should dissipate within a few years. I think this might manifest itself as nightmares.” Twilight nodded in agreement again. “I would like it if you would keep track of the severity and frequency of these dreams and report on them in your letters. In the meantime, I will make use of my resources to see if there is some way I can provide assistance.” The doors to the throne room burst open and Princess Luna was standing with a nervous look on her face. Celestia ignored the outburst, but Twilight glanced back.
“Thank you, Princess.” Twilight said, “I should probably go and catch the train….”
“Very well, my student. Travel safely.” Twilight bowed and turned around to face the door. Celestia called out, “Ah, my dear sister. You are certainly up early, Lulu. You aren’t abusing that rejuvenation spell again, are you?”
“No Tia, I slept all last night,” Luna began to walk up to the throne; she stopped when she met halfway with Twilight. “Twilight Sparkle, you are leaving?”
Twilight gave Luna a small frown, “Yes, Princess, I must catch the train.”
“Do visit soon when you can. My sister always enjoys your company.” Luna leaned forward and whispered, “As do I.”
Twilight winked at Luna, “You were right. Morning time is the best time to apologize.”
“I’ve had many chances to experiment.” Luna smiled before giving Twilight a regal nod of dismissal. Twilight exited the room and Celestia glanced to Luna.
“Is there something you need, Lulu?” Celestia’s voice was caring with a hint of concern, like always.
Luna glanced at the doorway where Twilight had just left from.
She smiled mischievously, “Actually, yes there is.”
“Oh?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.
“I request that my travel restriction be removed so that I may travel to Griffica.”
Storm Dancer, who had been waiting patiently the whole time, spoke up, “With all due respect, Princess Celestia, the princess of the night’s reprimand is not due to be up for another five weeks. I suggest you deny this request. Especially since the princess wishes to travel to foreign grounds.”
“Storm Dancer makes a good point, Lulu. Your punishment for the Appaloosa incident was three months restriction to the castle only.”
“Oh come on! It was only one barn I burned down! They were going to demolish it anyway!”
Strom Dancer stamped his hoof, “They were demolishing the barn next to the one you burned down! You are their princess! They expect you to act with regality! The incident was a public scandal!”
“Calm yourself, Storm Dancer. Lulu, you place me in a difficult moment. I do not like to rescind commands. Why do you think a reprieve is justified?”
“I want to travel to Griffica and negotiate the pastry tariffs face to face. I believe they will take our requests with greater weight if one of us personally attends. You are too busy, and this was assigned to me. You know how important this is to our economy…”
“I see. I am glad you are back to taking such an interest in our affairs of state. Very well, you may make the trip. Storm Dancer, assemble a group of attendants and guards to accompany you and Luna to Griffica.”
“If it is all the same, I do not think they will be needed. I can travel faster alone.”
Celestia raised an eyebrow once more. Luna liked to call it her ‘mare, please’ face. She used it whenever she was certain somepony was trying to pull a fast one, that she was going to let them get away with anyway. “I know Storm Dancer and you have differing points of view, but he is your personal attendant, I would strongly suggest you take him along.”
“Suggest does not mean I have to. I want to travel alone.”
“Very well. Amnesty on your punishment is granted. Represent Equestria well, my dear sister.”
“I will sister; I will rest for the afternoon and depart this evening.”
“Princess Celestia, this is an outrage! She is making a mockery of your initial order! You can’t let her…”
“STORM DANCER!” Celestia bellowed in the traditional Royal Canterlot Voice. The room rumbled with the utterance. Bits of plaster fell from the ceiling. Celestia had always trusted Storm Dancer. He had a keen eye for politics and was one of the best attendants she had seen in this generation of ponies. She had liked him enough to appoint him her sister’s personal attendant, a position that required extreme temperance and delicacy, but sometimes he overstepped his bounds. “I have spoken. I do, however, thank you for your input on the matter. Sleep well Lulu and may mother’s spirit fill your wings during flight.”
Luna nodded with a bit of grimace. She had really wished Celestia had not brought her mother into the conversation. The truth was, Luna had finished the treaty on the pastry tariffs with Griffica a month ago. While the new trade rules were not set to go into effect until later in the year, Luna had not told Celestia about her quick success for a single reason. She knew Celestia would be ecstatic to hear the consultations went well and Luna had been saving delivering the good news for when she screwed up. It would undoubtedly have gotten her out of any trouble she was in, but Luna had a different plan now. She had just secured travel time with no place to go. She had essentially just booked a week’s worth of attendant free vacation time and she knew exactly where she was going to spend it. Luna chuckled evilly as she left the throne room, “Ponyville is so nice this time of year.”