The air around Twilight was as still as could be as she gawked at the glowing regal figure standing before her. She struggled against the pressure in her head as she tried to prevent herself from fainting. “Princess?” She muttered out once more.
The figure seemed to freeze for a moment as it stared down at Twilight. After a couple of seconds, she folded her wings down to her sides and relaxed her body. “You must be the Element of Magic,” the alicorn assumed. “I have waited a long time for your arrival. Sadly, I must disappoint you, as I am not your Princess. I am merely an imprint of a select part of her mind.” The figure returned to an idle position as she appeared to wait for Twilight’s response.
Twilight relaxed her shoulders and slumped over, disappointed. She looked around the room, which was completely dark by now. None of the light emitted by the alicorn nor the diamond seemed to reflect off the walls, almost as if there were none there. Turning her attention back to the diamond, she noticed that it appeared to have a few rays of yellow light that connected with the alicorn. “Well, if you are not Princess Celestia, then who are you? What are you? I have so many questions but the more I find out, the less I seem to know!”
“I am not and have not ever been amongst the living, therefore I have no name,” she continued. “What I am is a magic spell, cast by the Princess of the Sun to hold a secret for the duration of my existence. Should the Element of Magic herself request said secret, I am obliged to present it.”
This doppelganger looked, talked, and even sounded like the Princess. Twilight inspected her carefully, walking around to view her from different angles. All the while, the figure never took her eyes off of her. Twilight walked up to the her and moved her hoof to attempt to touch her, but her hoof never made contact with anything. It simply passed through the alicorn as the light appeared to distort like ripples in water. “Well then...” Twilight paused for a moment, considering how to address the image. “May I call you Celestia?”
The figure nodded.
“Well then, Celestia, can you tell me the secret?” Twilight requested.
“I’m sorry, Element of Magic, but I do not recognize this question. You must ask another question.”
“Well, she either has pre-assigned responses or a limited amount of them,” Twilight thought. “This... is not going to be easy.” Twilight took a moment to think before coming up with a plan. “Well if I can’t just force the information out, I’ll just have to ask things that I want to know and hope that she has an answer for them.” She looked back up to Celestia and cleared her throat. “Why did Princess Celestia bring me here?”
The alicorn paused for a moment once again, but came up with a perplexed look on her face. “I’m sorry, I have two answers for that question. Could you please be more specific?”
Twilight sighed in exasperation. “Why did I have to come here to find out what Princess Celestia’s secret was? Why couldn’t she just tell Princess Luna or even leave me a message?”
The alicorn responded immediately this time. “The information I hold is too valuable to be written down, and while Princess Luna would already know anything I have to tell you, she could not know what information Princess Celestia has left for you since she would be able to act on it and interfere with Princess Celestia’s plans.”
“Plans? What plans?” Twilight asked, perplexed.
“I’m sorry, Element of Magic, but I do not-”
“Alright, alright! I get it,” Twilight interrupted “Well then, why did Princess Celestia leave Luna to tell me that she was 4000 years old?”
The hologram closed her eyes as lights began to flow from the diamond back into the walls of the room. “Element of Magic, there was a time when the Princess wasn’t a Princess, or even an alicorn at all,” the hologram responded, motioning with her hoof for Twilight to turn around.
Twilight looked back to see a young white unicorn filly with a wavy pink mane playing in a field of daisies with another unicorn; dark blue with a light blue mane.
The alicorn walked up beside Twilight as she began to explain. “Yes, over 4000 years ago, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna were born as unicorns, just like you.” The world around the filly suddenly began to crumble before reassembling itself into a library. The filly began to study intensely while periodically stopping to practice spells from a book. “She and her sister both showed an exceptional talent for magic.” The image of the filly grew into a teenager who was performing spells that even Twilight found to be rather difficult. A regal alicorn suddenly came in through the doorway and began to address the fillies. He was clad in platinum armor over his crimson coat. His mane flowed much like the Princesses’ but it was golden like the rays of the sun. “Prince Sol took notice of her skills and took her under his wing.” The images played out in front of her showing Celestia growing as she studied book after book and honed her skills.
"But everything changed as an impending disaster loomed on the horizon.”
“Dear sister! Princess Selene requested our presence for something important.” Celestia ran in brandishing a scroll stamped with a royal insignia on it.
Luna looked up from her book to see Celestia impatiently waiting for her to get up. “What is the matter? Is something amiss?” She asked, noticing the fear in her sister’s eyes.
“She said it was important and that we see her immediately,” Celestia panicked.
With a quick nod, Luna reached out her hoof, touching Celestia’s shoulder before focusing her magic. With a quick flash, she and Celestia teleported to the Throne room of the Prince and Princess.
The two unicorns bowed before the two alicorns in reverence before rising to await the news from them. Princess Selene rose up from her throne to address them. She was not wearing her usual golden crown and accessories, leaving her smoky white mane free to flow and her light gray coat completely exposed. “Young fillies,” she choked. “We requested your presence bearing grim news.”
Prince Sol stayed seated at his throne announcing in a passive voice. “You are both familiar with the spot in the sky that dares block part of it day in and day out, are you not?”
Both mares nodded.
“Our astrologers assigned to researching this anomaly have discovered that it is approaching us very rapidly,” he continued.
“It will impact Equestria in a little over one day.” Princess Selene interjected, sensing the Prince’s struggle with presenting the bad news. “Sadly, it will impact our fair land with such force that nothing could possibly survive.”
The two mares stepped back, awestruck at this devastating revelation. They quickly embraced each other before turning back to the royal alicorns again. “What do you want us to do?” They offered pensively.
“Go home.” Princess Selene solemnly answered.
The two mares were surprised by her order. Looking first at each other and then back to the royals. “Surely you can’t be serious!” Celestia scoffed. “Isn’t there anything we can do? What about the elements? Can’t you use them against this threat. I’m sure their power-”
The Princess held up her hoof to stop Celestia’s incessant suggestions. “The elements cannot be of use without the Elements of Magic. Sadly, the Elements of Harmony, as well as the Elements of Chaos are both without.” She swept down to hold the mares, joined shortly by the Prince. “We have squandered your entire childhood training you for a future that you may never have. We cannot ask anything more from you.”
“Go home and spend the rest of the time you have left with your friends and family.” Prince Sol choked, stifling his tears.
The two mares returned to their home in the small village of Canterlot at the base of a steep mountain. The town had been going about their daily business, unaware of their impending doom. The Prince and Princess had decided that it would be best to keep the grim news a secret in order to prevent riots and general chaos.
A light brown unicorn stallion was outside tending to a small crop of potatoes when he noticed the two mares on the horizon. He wiped the sweat from his brow and then brushed his dark gray mane from his face before whistling for his wife to come out. With a smile, he waved to Celestia and Luna as he leaned on his gardening tool. “Welcome home girls!” He called out.
“What is all the ruckus about?” The mare questioned as she wandered out of the cottage. Upon adjusting her glasses, she noticed her daughters approaching. With a gleeful yelp, she galloped towards them.
The two unicorns held their hooves up to catch their mother, forcing out the best smile they could muster, given the circumstances. When they met, they held her as tight as they could, resting their heads on each side of her shoulders.
Their father noticed immediately when their charade dropped. “Girls, what troubles you?” He asked as he began to approach them with worry in his golden eyes.
Their mother broke the hug to examine her daughters’ faces more closely. Sure enough, she noticed the worry in their eyes.
“It’s...” Luna began, struggling to come up with an easy way to tell them.
“It’s just that we must prepare a grand feast for the Prince and Princess by this afternoon, and we are not sure if we can complete the task by sundown,” Celestia finished. She was always better with her words and plans. She always had a solution for everything.
Luna looked back to the alabaster unicorn with confusion painted on her face. “But dear sister, what of-” she began before being nudged in the ribs by her sister.
“Everypony has been granted invitation, but we were hoping that the village would assist us in preparation as well. It would be magnificent if everypony would join us in this grand event.” After her last sentence, she turned towards Luna, winking subtly before turning her attention back to her parents.
With a brief pause, the two ponies smiled back at Celestia and Luna. “We’d love to help out.”
The two sisters both split up to prepare for the evening’s festivities. Luna had taken the task to write a letter to the Prince and Princess, explaining the situation and requesting that they join them for the feast. After, she decided to gather her rather questionable friends. Celestia couldn’t understand why Luna chose to hang out with such an unruly bunch, but she seemed to be able to bring them all together rather harmoniously. Regardless, Celestia had to come up with a way to round up all her friends as well.
Her first stop was down by the bakery. Surprise was an exquisite baker and an even more talented party planner. If anypony could make this event the best night of their lives, it was her.
Celestia walked up to the counter and rang the small silver bell that rested on top. In no time at all, a white pegasus with a bright blonde mane came skipping out.
“Hello, is there anything I can help-” she said before noticing Celestia waiting at the counter. “Celestia! When did you return?!” She gleefully exclaimed, maneuvering her way around the counter to give her a hug.
“It’s good to see you again, Surprise.” Celestia tried her best to return the beaming smile that her friend wore. “I’d love to catch up on everything, but we have much to prepare for tonight. I’ve come to request your assistance in setting up a lavish feast for the Prince and Princess.” Celestia specifically chose to visit Surprise first, not only because she needed her party planning skills, but because Surprise was probably the most attentive pony in all of Canterlot. Surely, if she had visited the others first, the emotional toll would have become more obvious on her face.
Unfortunately for Celestia, Surprise was more attentive than she had imagined. “What is the matter, Celestia?” The once bubbly pegasus asked, almost as if she could feel the emotions coming off of her. “Does something trouble you?”
“It’s nothing.” Celestia lied. “I’m just worried that we may not be able to finish everything in time.” She shifted her eyes around, trying to avoid eye contact with the white pegasus until she noticed something strange. “Surprise, is there something wrong with your tail?”
Surprise sat back, grabbing her tail to hold it still in her arms. “I don’t know. It’s been twitching all day. It kind of tickles,” she giggled. “Hey wait a second. Don’t try to change the subject on me! I can tell something’s bothering you and I won’t rest until I see you smile!”
“Thank you, but I really don’t have much time to waste-”
“Helping a friend when she’s down is never a waste of time!” Surprise insisted. “You know you can always-”
“We are all going to die!” Celestia hissed, trying her best to keep her voice down. She took a deep breath to regain her composure before beginning to explain. Surprise was in shock. She only shook her head in disbelief. “A cataclysmic event is to befall Equestria tomorrow. I just want everypony to be together one last time before we meet our end.” Celestia winced as she expected an outburst of terror or sadness to come from the pegasus.
Surprise couldn’t hold it in anymore. She began to giggle wildly as she rolled around on the floor of the bakery.
Celestia was appalled at the display. “What is the matter with you!” She bellowed.
“Oh, Celestia! Don’t you see?” Surprise wheezed as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “You are so worked up over this, yet you’ve already got the best plan laid out!”
“I... I don’t believe I follow.”
“Well, you and I both know that we can’t choose when we have to go,” Surprise explained. “But being together with all our friends and family on our last day; well, that doesn’t seem like such a bad way to go.”
Celestia put a hoof up to her chin in thought. “Heh... I guess if you put it that way,” she said, easing out a little smile, just enough to send Surprise’s heart soaring.
She ducked down out of sight and popped up behind the counter with a chef’s hat on and a mixing bowl in her hooves. “Well, time is wasting. It’s time to get baking!”
Celestia walked on down the street to the town’s kitchen. It wasn’t often that they couldn’t find Brilliant Ember inside. Her cooking skills were impeccable. Even with the limited variety of crops they grew in their quaint little village, she was still able to cook meals that rivaled Everfree City’s cuisine from the Prince and Princess’s personal chefs.
Following closely behind the uniqueness of her talent, however, was her beauty. Her coat always shone brilliantly; not an easy task considering its color resembled ash. Her eyes sparkled like emeralds and her expertly styled mane was toned with a deep shade of crimson. Needless to say, between her skills and her beauty, she was a fairly popular mare.
Celestia entered the kitchen, but to her surprise, instead, there was a cyan pegasus with a rose colored bow in her violet mane carefully chopping some fresh carrots. Noticing her guest, she looked up and gave her a radiant smile before rushing over to Celestia for a hug.
“Featherlight!” Celestia beamed. “It is a pleasant surprise to see you here.”
Featherlight skipped playfully around the unicorn, flapping her wings in excitement before stopping in front of Celestia. Still smiling, she methodically began to make a few gestures with her hooves.
“Luna and I have returned to host a feast for the Prince and Princess here in our little village,” Celestia responded. “I did intend to find you after, but I actually came here specifically to see Ember about the meal preparation. Have you seen her?”
The mare nodded and pointed to the back door but before Celestia had a chance to go investigate, Featherlight held a hoof up to her lips and gave a silent “Shhh.”
Both mares quietly trotted up to the door, cracking it slightly to get peek at what Ember was doing, Celestia standing up straight and Featherlight poking her head between Celestia’s legs to get a peek. Outside, they could see Ember, but just past their field of vision, a gruff stallion could be heard talking.
“I insist,” the gruff stallion spoke. Celestia could swear that she knew the voice from somewhere. “Never before have I laid eyes on a mare as beautiful as yourself. I would be honored if you were to join me for this evening’s gala.”
“Why... this is so sudden.” Ember put her hoof up to her mouth to hide her blush.
Celestia pressed her face harder against the door. “Oh no. She’s going to say yes. This isn’t good...” As she leaned into the door to try to get a better look, the hinges made an audible squeak. Ember turned quickly to investigate the noise, startling Celestia back. Unfortunately, Featherlight still had her head between her legs, causing her to stumble as she tried to back up. Their bodies twisted trying to regain balance until they finally came crashing right through the door and landing in front of the two startled ponies.
Celestia looked up to see Ember’s eyes sparkle with glee. The other pony; one she recognized as a Colonel in the Royal Equestrian Army, did not look too pleased with this interruption.
“Miss Celestia,” he sneered. “To what pleasure do I owe this blatant intrusion of our privacy?”
The alabaster unicorn quickly hopped up to her hooves, dusting herself off nervously. Before she had a chance to respond, she was sent tumbling back to the ground as Ember tackled her in an embrace.
“Tia! You’re back!” she laughed. “When did you arrive?
Celestia's face contorted as she lay underneath the gray mare. “Can’t... breathe!” She stuttered jokingly.
Unsure if she was being serious, Ember jumped back, helping Celestia up to her hooves. “I’m so sorry. I must have gotten quite carried away.” She turned quickly to face the Colonel. “My apologies, but might I have a moment with my friend?” She asked politely.
“Of course, m’lady,” With a slight hint of disdain, he bowed before heading back into the kitchen, followed shortly by Featherlight, who had realized that she needed to tend to the food.
They watched as he left, brooding to himself. “You two know each other?” Ember asked.
“Why, yes. I’ve seen him around Everfree City. Let us just say that he isn’t too fond of my pranks.” Celestia chuckled, before getting a little more serious. “You... well you wouldn’t happen to be planning on going with him tonight would you?”
“Well, I suppose I have been considering it,” she suggested. When she looked at Celestia’s face, she could tell that even though she was trying really hard to hide it through her smile, she was disappointed. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh it’s nothing,” Celestia lied through her smile. “I just want you to have the best night of your life.”
Ember gave her a firm nod before they made their way back into the kitchen. Inside they could hear the beautiful melodies of Featherlight’s whistling ringing throughout the room. She was a very talented whistler and it was a skill that perfectly complimented her talent for bird keeping.
Standing at the counter was the Colonel, completely entranced by the sanguine melodies, at least until he noticed the beautiful mare trotting over to him. “M’lady! I hope you have considered my offer.”
She looked at Celestia who waved a hoof pressuring her to go ahead. “Colonel Ivory, it would be a pleasure to join you for tonight’s gala,” she began. “But I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline.” She waited for the unmistakeable gasp that she’d heard from the so many eligible stallions that she had regected in the past. Surprisingly however, she heard two gasps; one from the Colonel, and one from Celestia.
“M’lady, I implore you to reconsider.”
“My apologies, but I have made up my mind already.” Ember’s words seemed to come out naturally, rightfully so seeing as she had become accustomed to this. “You see, Celestia is one of my best friends and I rarely get a chance to see her, as you might already know. Please understand, under any other circumstances, I would have accepted without question.” The line almost sounded rehearsed.
Celestia glanced over at her shrugging in confusion. “I don’t want you to decline just for me. I want you to have the best night of your life,” she whispered.
“I know, and I could not imagine a better evening than to be together with all our friends,” she responded in the same hushed tone.
“I understand,” he calmly answered. He quickly shifted his attention over to Featherlight who was still diligently preparing meals for the ponies that continuously came and went. “Mademoiselle,” he called out to get her attention.
She looked back at him, pointing a hoof at herself and mouthing the word, “Me?”
“Yes. You have an impeccable talent. I happen to be short on entertainment for the gala and I was wondering if you would be interested in showcasing your lovely talent.” He could tell that she wasn’t avidly considering it and he was becoming increasingly desperate not to be rejected twice in one day. “You will be paid handsomely for your performance. Take whatever salary you make here and double it!”
She shyly shook her hooves and smiled, trying her best to respectfully decline the offer. She wasn’t interested in the money. In fact, she didn’t even work at the Cafe, but was volunteering her time to help out with the rush since Ember was short on help today.
The Colonel had become frustrated at this point. “Are you not even going to show me a little respect and give me a solid answer?” He asked.
Featherlight’s expression quickly changed to sadness as she backed away ashamed. Both Celestia and Ember positioned themselves in between the stallion and their friend, stern expressions painted on their faces.
Celestia was the first to speak up. “She gave you a very clear answer. I suggest that you learn to accept no for an answer.” It was a very bold response to somepony who could be considered her superior considering they both served the Prince and Princess.
“I don’t think the lass needs you to defend her,” he retorted, butting heads with the pink maned unicorn. “She’s very capable of speaking for herself.”
Celestia snorted aggressively at the rude assumption. “That would be very hard considering she cannot speak.”
The Colonel backed up in surprise at his sudden realization as Celestia’s expression quickly changed to a smirk. “Ember, what say we start with the main course?”
Ember nodded with a coy smile as she understood very well what her friend was implying. She closed her eyes as her horn began to glow with an orange aura. Around her, fiery sparks started to rise until suddenly bursting into flames. The Colonel fell back out of his seat as the flames licked his snout.
“You know what they say,” Celestia taunted. “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen!”
The stallion scurried to the door as another blast of flames cracked like a whip in front of him. “You just wait until the Prince hears about this!” He shouted before forcing his way out of the building.
Ember quickly turned down the heat of her magic as she began to levitate pots and pans over the fires while scooping up the chopped ingredients that Featherlight had prepared earlier and dropping them in. “So, Celestia,” she began “What brings you here?”
Lying to all her friends was the hardest thing she had to do, but it was for the best. Everything had to be perfect and she couldn’t see her friends truly enjoying themselves if they knew the truth. For now, she was satisfied telling everypony that it was going to be a feast.
Celestia continued towards the outskirts of the village where the entrance to the mines began. It was here that she knew a certain Earth pony would be working. Swift Rush had often been hired to work down in the mines by some of the Everfree elite and he was often paid handsomely for his work because he was able to work so fast. Anything he earned, however, he’d use to help support the town.
With the help of some of the workers above ground, Celestia was able to find the entrance to the newest shaft, and most likely where she could find Swift. The caves provided Equestria with a very rare element that was used for just about everything from jewelry to machinery. As far as anypony knew, the caves beneath Canterlot held the largest deposits of this gem than anywhere in the entire world. Very few ponies, however, were willing to do the work because it was so dangerous. The caves would occasionally drop several hundred feet and the gems jet out from every direction like giant spears. The gems, when that size, were fragile like glass and seemed to resonate at relatively low frequencies, making cave-ins frequent. Since the gems also lined the ceilings, a cave-in was considered fatal regardless of the circumstances.
Still, Celestia ventured down the tunnel. The walls had been mined clean of any protruding gems at this point, giving her a little comfort, but it quickly became dark. Celestia cast an illumination spell as she wandered down the path, using the minecart tracks to help guide her. Before long, she could hear the sound of steel contacting stone. She began to pick up the pace as she could see the light from the current work area. “Swift!” She called out, her voice echoing down the tunnel.
Immediately, the picking stopped. She could hear somepony coming her way with a torch in hoof. The pony that rounded the corner was very muscular. His yellow coat was soaked with sweat and he wore a metal hard hat over his messy, two toned orange mane. “Celestia? Is that you?” He whispered.
“Swift! I’m so glad I found you!” Celestia cheered. Suddenly, a hoof came up and silenced the unicorn. They both stood there quiet for a moment. With his trained senses, he could feel a slight rumble off in the distance.
Swift looked back at Celestia with a hint of fear in his eyes. “How’s about I take you up on that race I owed you?” He offered. “First to the exit wins?”
Celestia pretended to contemplate it for as second. “Well I don’t know... how about... THREETWOONE GO!” She shouted as she took off in the direction she came. Swift followed suit.
He quickly caught up with her rushing as he could feel the tremors getting stronger. Genuine fear entered his thoughts. “This one is going to be close,” he thought aloud.
“Only in your dreams,” Celestia responded obliviously. Suddenly, he began to pick up the pace, passing up Celestia with ease as they could see the light of the exit about one hundred yards ahead. Celestia tried to keep up but he was a little too fast. “Well, I guess I have to tap into my reserves a little early this time,” she thought before picking up the pace. Her breath became immediately labored as she began to catch up with him.
The rumbles began to get stronger as they neared the exit. Celestia was still oblivious; she had mistaken the sound of the rumbling for the sound of their hooves against the stone- but Swift could hear the walls crumbling behind them. “We aren’t going to make it at this pace,” he worried. In a quick decision, he began to slow down, falling just behind Celestia who couldn’t help but smirk at him as she passed him up. With everything he had, he picked up his pace, bumping his hard hat up against Celestia’s rump and pushing her with all his might. He could hear a sharp yelp coming from the mare over the rumbling.
There was no time to look back. The exit was so close.
Twenty five yards - “Give it all you’ve got!”
Twenty yards - “Don’t look back!”
Fifteen yards - “It’s so loud now! We’ll never make it!”
Ten - “Yes we can! We’re so close!”
Five - “Ow! Rocks!”
Two - “Well... crap...” He planted himself firmly and pushed as hard as he could, sending Celestia end over end out of the cavern.
In the heat of the race, she hopped up and cheered. “Huzzah! You tried to cheat and trip me, but I win again!” She shouted, turning around and pointing to the cloud of dust behind her. Immediately, her face dropped in pure fear. “Swift?” She mumbled out. “Are... are you there? Please answer me?” She stood there for a few seconds, frozen in fright.
Suddenly, she heard coughing coming from the dust. A gray pony came trotting out, coughing as he was fanning the dust away from his face with his hoof. Celestia collapsed in relief.
“Well...” he smirked. “I guess you win again.”
The pair went to the nearest medical station to get him washed up and checked out. Other than the scrapes and bruises, he was fine. Luckily for them, he was given the rest of the day off freeing up his schedule.
Even though he wasn’t a great cook, Celestia had convinced him to help Ember out with the meal preparation. She had convinced him that with the size of the meal they were preparing, there would be a lot of heavy lifting required.
Still, there was one pony left that she wanted to see. One pony that she had been purposefully saving for last.
The name Garden Growth didn’t really flow off the tongue, but the name suited him well. He could grow a grain of rice in the desert if he wanted. Essentially, he could grow anything and that’s just what he did. He owned probably one of the largest plots of land in Canterlot where he grew everything from Apples to Zucchini. If they needed something for the feast, he would be the first pony anypony would see.
But that wasn’t why Celestia stood in front of his home today. She stood there, biting her lip with a hoof up, ready to knock on the door but frozen in place. She closed her eyes and waved her hoof back and forth carelessly, hoping that it would make contact with the wooden barrier before her.
The irregular pattern of the knocks echoed in her mind. “Ugh, already sounding stupid.”
Moments later, a stallion opened up the door. He wasn’t very statuesque as one would expect from a farmer. He was shorter than most stallions and, while muscular, he wasn’t as big as one either. He stared at Celestia with his beautiful gray and blue eyes for a moment before being caught off guard by the hug that came flying at him. He slowly wrapped his arms around the mare as she rested her chin against his shoulder. Certainly she had no intention of leaving that position for a while.
“Celestia... I... I didn’t think you were coming back,” he stuttered. “Not after the way you left.”
“I’m so sorry, Gardie!” She cried. “I was a fool for leaving the way I did. Can you ever forgive me for the things I said?”
He broke the hug and looked Celestia in the eyes. She turned her face to the ground quickly avoiding those eyes. Gently, he put his hoof under her chin and rose her face back up and then moved his hoof to brush the hair out of her face. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Celestia walked with her head hung low as they followed the path down to a small grove around the base of the mountain.
“Tia, remember when we used to come here as foals?” He asked, waiting for an answer from Celestia. She nodded shyly. “You told me that we’d never be apart and then you planted the first seed you found in the center of the clearing, where it would get the most light. You asked me to promise you that I’d take care of it because it would represent our friendship?”
“I remember,” she cried, tears dripping down her cheeks. “When I saw you with her, I just got so angry.”
“I really thought you’d be proud of me,” he sighed as he tried to catch a glimpse of her violet eyes. Celestia didn’t respond. They came up to the clearing which had been well groomed for being so far out. “This was my personal project ever since that day. It turns out, the seed you planted was cherry blossom.”
Celestia looked up in excitement to see light shining down into the center of the clearing down onto a gorgeous cherry blossom. The tree had grown quickly under Garden Growth’s care, almost covering the entire clearing. Best of all, the tree was in full bloom. It’s pink petals gently floated down to the ground where they blanketed the grass.
“It reminds me of you,” he said, gesturing with his eyes to her pink mane.”
“I was proud of you,” Celestia finally admitted, finally finding the courage to gaze into his eyes. Those eyes were her favorite part about him. They were gray, but in the right light, you could see the blue shine through. They never faltered, even in sadness, as if he always knew that he’d find a way to make it through. “But, I was just jealous.”
The sudden revelation caught Garden by surprise. So much so that he still didn’t realize what she meant. “Wha-huh?” he asked dimwittedly.
Celestia wanted to tell him so badly, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it again. She had considered it a second chance to back down when he didn’t understand the first time. “C’mon Celestia. It’s just three little words. What do you have to lose?” But like a fool, she could only stand there under the most romantic setting she could imagine with the world about to end and still say nothing. She was lucky that he was patient. “How long has he been waiting? A minute? An hour? I must look so dumb right now!” she panicked. “I was jealous, because I thought it would be me!” She shouted. Wincing in embarrassment. It seemed like an eternity had passed before she had the courage to peek up and look back at him. “I... I love you...”
He placed a hoof up on her shoulder before pulling her in and holding her tight. “I love you too,” he said, but before she had a chance to express her excitement, he continued. “But not like that.”
Instantly, tears started to well up in her eyes before spilling out on the floor. Her heart felt like it had been crushed under the weight of the entire mountain. She wanted to run away as far as she could go, but just as she turned to run, he grabbed a hold of her arm.
“Wait, please understand,” he pleaded. “What we have is special, something that nopony else could even dream of. I mean no offense by this, believe me I don’t, but I don’t want anything to ruin that. Celestia, you are my best friend, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said, mustering up a genuine smile.
The way his eyes shined with the tears was unlike anything Celestia had ever seen. He was crying, not from sadness, but from joy. For the first time she could see, his eyes were unsure. Unsure of the future and how things would turn out, but for him, that was the happiest thing he could imagine.
She didn’t need any more convincing than that. “I wouldn’t have it any other way either.”
The hologram of the alicorn returned standing next to Twilight. She had just realized that what she had experienced had not only felt like an out of body experience, but gave her a sense of deja vu. The world around Twilight faded back to the nothingness of the room that she was standing in.
Before Twilight could ask any questions, the hologram continued. Her tale wasn’t done. “Everything went as planned. They spent the night together with their friends and families. Even the Prince and Princess joined them. It could not have gone better unless the end of days didn’t loom on the horizon. And like all good things, this day too would come to pass.”
The images started to return, this time of a sky that flashed with lightning in all different colors from intimidating and unnatural clouds. They were thick resembling smoke and appeared to be burning from the orange and red lights that shone through.
“But as you know, the world did not end that day.”
Celestia lay on the grass beneath the dark sky, admiring the power of the lightning that flashed above. Around her lay her friends, her sister, and her sister’s friends, all in a circle. There was no hiding it anymore so they told them all.
Neither the sun or moon had been visible since the previous day. The object in the sky was so close now that it would have obscured the entire sky, but it wouldn’t have mattered since the electrical storms covered the sky as well. Celestia looked to her left and her right at all her friends as Luna did the same. She was not sad that everything was about to end. In fact, she was happy. She was happy that she led a good life and accomplished everything she had ever really wanted to do and even then some. With friends like these, what more could she really ask for?
The images of her life passed before her eyes with every flash of lightning until it came to the events of the previous day. Surprise was so happy. Even the thought of death couldn’t change her attitude. She’d face every obstacle with a smile and laughter.
Brilliant Ember was always a gem to be around. She was so entertaining and pleasant, but despite her popularity and beauty, she never forgot where she came from. She was always so loyal to the ponies she cared about.
Even though fate told Featherlight what she couldn’t do, she still found the courage to give everypony more than they could ever ask for. She gave joy and happiness in any way she could, whether it was through her whistling, or just giving her time. Where most ponies would just take what they believed the world owed them, she would give whatever she had to offer.
Swift Rush was always first to put his own life on the line for others. Everything he did was to help those who couldn’t help themselves. He worked in the dangerous mines to help support the village. Even his athleticism was so that he could stay strong and protect others as well as do a better job in the mines so he could earn more money. If a little kindness goes a long way, then he would truly reach the stars.
Garden Growth had always been so noble. An honest days work for an honest day’s pay; he never took anything he didn’t deserve. His honesty to Celestia would turn out to be the greatest gift to Celestia he could give, even if she wasn't aware of it yet.
But what about herself. What did she do to make a difference in the world? Everypony around her had something that made each day brighter for her, but what did she really have to offer. Her nights were spent studying for the hope that one day, that knowledge would make the world a brighter place, but she never had the chance to shine. “What could I do with my... magic?”
She felt a spark light up inside her. How could she have not noticed it before? Each of her friends embodied a spirit of the Elements of Harmony. The only one that was missing was magic. The one that was missing was her!
Celestia stood up from the ground as did Luna. “You feel it too?” Celestia asked.
Around them, the others watched curiously as they closed their eyes and focused on the sky. The sisters’ horns began to glow intensely as they focused on the most powerful spell they could imagine, fueling it with the happiness of their friendship. Together, they connected horns and a bright beam shot up directly into the sky.With the power of the spell, the ground beneath them started to shake until they themselves lifted off the ground. The beam tore through the clouds making a clear path straight to the object that came closer to the planet.
Around them, everypony stood up in amazement as the two had appeared to be accomplishing something, if anything.
Suddenly, the clouds parted from the center in all directions for miles, evaporating instantly followed by an ear piercing crack. The shockwave had pushed everypony including the sisters down to the ground. In their disappointment, they didn’t even try to stand back up. Up above, the horror of the gigantic meteor was completely visible. The object spanned the entire horizon. At it’s center was white hot as it tore through the upper atmosphere.
However, Celestia was determined. She stood back up and fought through the heat as she cursed towards the sky. “I will not let it end this way! I have something worth fighting for! I am the Element of Magic and I will not let down my friends!”
Celestia’s horn shined brightly as her eyes were completely enveloped in light. Above her appeared the six elements of harmony which circled around the six ponies, lifting them up in the air. Inspired by her sister’s determination, Luna also began to focus her magic, first shining brightly from her horn and then her eyes as well. The six Elements of Chaos also manifested themselves above her and then descended to circle the six other ponies left on the ground and lifting them up much like their counterparts.
With one final push, the elements beamed two great lights up in the sky. The beams began to rotate around each other, drawing them closer together until they fused, creating one massive white beam. It shot up through the sky at lightning speed and pierced the meteor with a loud crack. Across the surface, cracks began to spread fanning out across the body until it was completely fractured. Lights began to shine through the cracks and in one great flash, the meteor disintegrated.
After a couple of seconds, the light of their magic finally faded away, making way for the light of the sun that shone brilliantly overhead. The twelve ponies lay together on the grass, laughing to each other at what they had just accomplished.
Their laughter was cut short by a pair of blinding lights that came from the direction of Everfree City. The lights hovered in front of them and then flared brightly, transforming themselves into the Prince and Princess. “You did it girls!” Princess Selene exclaimed. “All of you did it!”
“We knew you had it in you,” Prince Sol announced.
“Wait, you knew all along?” Princess Luna questioned. “Why didn’t you tell us?”
“Even though things didn’t go according to our plans we made for you many years ago, you still had to learn of your destinies on your own much like Princess Selene and I did before you.” Prince Sol nodded for Princess Selene to address her student individually before turning his attention back to Celestia. “The danger you girls faced was very real. We had hoped to give you more time to learn your destinies, but fate had conspired against us. Luckily, you girls are stronger than we had anticipated.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Your gift comes with a great responsibility. Together with your sister and friends, you are tasked with maintaining balance between Harmony and Chaos in this world.” Prince Sol lowered his horn over Celestia’s shoulders one at a time officially knighting her. “If ever something comes along to threaten that balance, you must use the elements to defeat that enemy. But for now, you must continue your studies. There is still much you must learn.”
The lights faded back into the gem, leaving Twilight alone in the room with the hologram. The glow was dim now, it’s aura getting weaker by the minute.
“So now you know of Celestia’s past,” the Alicorn concluded. “You are the successor to the Element of Magic of over four thousand years ago. As the Element of Magic, you have access to limitless amounts of power that you must use to maintain balance between harmony and chaos.”
“So what do I do now?” Twilight asked. “How do I get back home?”
“You must learn to control the magical state, when your eyes shine white. You can only do this if all the elements are present, but only then will you have enough power to be able to return to your own time.”
"And the elements of Chaos? What are those?"
"I'm sorry Twilight but I do not have enough power left to answer this question. You will find out on your own, in time."
Twilight pondered for a moment. While the main part of the message was cryptic, she had been given her first solid answer she had been given since she arrived in the future. Still, one thing bothered her more than anything. “Celestia, if I may, I’d like to ask you one more thing.”
“If the answer is short, you may.” The figure began to fade away to a yellow glow, no longer resembling a being anymore. “I do not have enough power to stay for any longer.”
“How did the Princesses become alicorns?”
“That, Twilight Sparkle, is a good question.”
The light faded into nothing leaving Twilight in a pitch black room with no reference point. She cast an illumination spell, but like before, the light didn’t reflect off the walls or the floor. She looked every direction, becoming frantic as she ran around searching for an exit. Something gave her a strange feeling however. Her mind was telling her that her legs were moving and her eyes were open, but she couldn’t feel any part of her body, as if her muscles had gone limp. Her lack of sight also made her unsure if her eyes were even open. She stopped in her tracks and raised a hoof up to her face.
She frantically cast an illumination spell but that didn’t help either. Everything was still pitch black. She was losing her mind. What was this place? Was any of it real? Twilight opened her mouth and felt the wind rush out, harshly grating her throat in what felt like a blood curdling scream, but no sound came out.
Suddenly, there was a spark off in the distance. Twilight squinted to get a better glimpse but it didn’t get any clearer. She rubbed her eyes frantically before taking another look. The light was bigger now. In it, she could see shades of purple. She blinked again and the image became clearer. It seemed like every time she closed her eyes and opened them again, this would happen.
“Twilight!” A voice called out to her. The room trembled once.
Twilight blinked again. There was a mare standing above her but she couldn’t tell who it was.
“Twilight! Are you alright?!” The voice called out again as the room trembled twice this time.
She shut her eyes tight. “Stupid eyes! Work!” When she opened them again, she noticed that the mare was herself. Twilight shot up from the ground, shutting her eyes and backing away rapidly as she screamed. When she opened her eyes again, somepony else was standing where she thought she saw herself.
“Twilight, what’s wrong? What happened?”
“N...Nova?” Twilight gasped.