Tough Love: Luna vs. Celestia
Part 7: Colt and Student
Princess Celestia loved days like this. She was going to a local daycare in Canterlot to visit the foals there. She only got to do it maybe once or twice a year, but she always loved to see their bright and shining faces. Sure, she could visit a group of nobles and their children, but they lived a life of plenty anyway. Foals that needed daycare often had hard-working parents. Being visited by a Princess would light up their lives. Captain Grey and Striking Spear were pulling her golden chariot down the cobbled lane. A few ponies darted out of the way, mild fear in their eyes, but she didn’t notice. There were younglings to go see and inspire! Why, she’d prepared over a dozen solar blessings, and she had a little satchel of goodies—she loved her littlest subjects very much.
They pulled up to Morning-Side Orphanage and Daycare, a brightly colored, humble little place with a huge backyard that was scattered with toys. Princess Celestia could already see the little ones frolicking in the field, playing on the swing sets and chattering amongst themselves. Smiling with glee, she nodded to her two guards and they stopped at the sidewalk path. Hopping daintily out with her little sack of goodies, she came to the door and knocked. An excited looking mare pulled the door open. “Ah, Princess! Everyfoal is outside, in the back yard. They don’t know you’re coming.” She giggled.
“You must be Cheeriloo.” Celestia smiled, tapping her with her horn and giving her a blessing. The mare shuddered pleasantly as the solar magic gripped her for a few moments, then melted into her skin. “You do such wonderful work here, thank you on behalf of Canterlot.” She praised. She looked over her shoulder at the two armored stallions. “Ahem, now, I have two rather handsome guards that will be bored stiff for the next few hours, if you wouldn’t mind entertaining for a bit?”
The mare looked outside at the two of them, her cheeks a little pink. Solar stallions were always rather handsome, she knew. “O-oh! Come in!” she waved them to unhitch their chariot buckles. “I’ll get you two some drinks while the Princess plays with the children.” They smiled politely and Celestia winked at them, bidding them to stay inside.
Celestia emerged into the backyard, drawing the eye of many foals right away. But, what drew the Princess’ gaze was the sound of a tiny little filly sobbing. “Give it back, Coal Dust! Give it back!” she cocked her head, seeing a dark grey colt holding a little doll high above his head and out of reach. The tiny little filly reared up, hopping on her back legs. “Give it back or I’ll tell on you! I’ll tell Miss Cheriloo!”
“And what’ll she do about it? Sit me in a corner for five minutes?” said the colt nastily. Celestia approached rapidly with a frown. “More time to think about the next thing to do to you and your grubby little doll!” he shook it back and forth, the stitching on one of the eyes starting to come loose.
“Stop it! You’re hurting her-er-er!” the sobs were getting louder and more shrill. Miss Cheriloo was inside with the two solar stallions and did not hear the weeping foal. Celestia knew it was up to her to put this travesty right. “Why’re you so mean to me-hee-hee?!” the tiny thing wailed, plopping down on her butt and burying her face in her hooves to cry. The foals around the yard watched, swallowing, as the white alicorn came up behind the bully and waited for the right moment.
“Because I’m bigger, I’m stronger, and I can.” He threw the doll on the ground, where it’s head came off, and he stomped on it with his little grey hoof. That tore it even further.
Celestia could stand it no longer. Taking one step closer, she cast her shadow over him. Coal Dust’s wicked smile fell, and he slowly turned around. For lack of a better word, the Princess eclipsed him in darkness. She grabbed the bully by the scruff of his neck and lifted him, shrieking, off the ground to her eye level. His tiny hooves flailed and his eyes finally found her face. He went as pale as a sheet. “I think you need a time out, little one.” She said acidly. His response was the rather striking stink of urine wafting up into her nose. Celestia carted him, bodily, to a nearby flat space while all the other foals watched. Dropping him on his butt, she ignited her horn with terrible magicks and blasted--- a black circle around him. The grass burned briefly, then the smoke settled. He peered around, shaking like a leaf, surprised he’d not been scorched to cinder too. “See that line? Don’t cross it. If you do… something bad will happen.” Celestia promised him darkly. He curled up in a quivering, whimpering ball of dark grey mottled fur.
“W-why?” was all the little colt could manage to squeak out.
She leaned close to his face, down to his level. He squeaked and hid himself under his quivering front hooves. “Because I’m bigger, I’m stronger, and I can.” She threw his nasty, poisonous words back in his face. There was a certain satisfaction to be had there, and she grinned down at him as she rose.
When she turned around, the other foals recoiled from her like she would do the same with them. The Princess went to the little weeping filly, looking at the smashed and ripped doll. Using a simple repair spell, she stitched it back together and repaired the eye. Sitting across from her, the alicorn’s massive wings gingerly cast her into a warm shade. She looked up, “P… Princess Celestia?” she whispered in disbelief. Celestia smiled in a motherly way, shaking the little dolly at her like it was alive. She smiled cautiously, reaching out to take it. The alicorn wiped her tears, and soon the other foals began to gather around. She blessed them, as many of them as she could. Then she passed out the sweets she’d brought with her. Then she told them cooing, encouraging things that foals needed to hear.
It was over an hour later when Miss Cheeriloo came outside to check on them all, and found a puffy-eyed Coal Dust shaking in a little black circle off to one side. “Coal Dust? What’s wrong?” She started to quickly trot over and check on him.
Celestia saw the matron come out and waved her down. “He needed a bit of a time out. I caught him being cruel to one of the other foals.” She smiled gently.
“Oh’hoh, well, Princess.” Cheeriloo said with a nervous smile. “You shouldn’t worry yourself with the punishments of the foals, I can handle that. We do have certain rules around here, don’t we Coal Dust? C’mere now, silly thing…” She reached over the black line to gather the terrified little pony into her arms. Celestia reached out, mouth open, but it was too late. The spell FLASHED, blinding Cheeriloo and sending her reeling back and clutching her eyes! Only the presence of many foals and the years of practice kept her from swearing every word she knew in agony.
“Miss Cheeriloo!” One of the foals cried. There was a stampede of little hooves to gather around and peer at her worriedly. Coal Dust looked at her in horror. That could’ve been him!
“I-I can’t see!” she said, tears streaming down the sides of her face. “I can’t see!” she rubbed at her eyes over and over.
Celestia made a mad dash, regretting having set up the spell without targeting just the one foal. She hadn’t thought somepony would try to go into the circle. “Oh, please forgive me!” Celestia said, lighting her horn and parting the tide of little ones. “Here, let me fix it. Hold still, hold still now…” she coaxed, pawing at the mare a little until she held still. A short solar spell later, the matron’s eyes were restored and she looked around at all the sad little faces around her.
“Oh, I’m okay, don’t worry.” She said, the twin moist streams going down her face while her eyes tried to clean themselves out. The children all began to cry and mooshed in around her. “Oh shhh-sh-shhh, I’m alright. There-there now.” She tried to wrap her arms around as many of them as she could.
Celestia stepped back a bit, feeling just a little bit guilty. She looked over at Coal Dust, who had joined the thrall to coo and whimper over their injured mother figure. The white alicorn stepped back again. Had a flash bang spell really been necessary? She pondered. “I’m… sorry.” said Celestia a little meekly.
“I-I think you should go, Princess.” said Cheeriloo without looking at her. “Thank you for visiting us.” she said it in such a neutral way even the foals could tell she didn’t want Celestia to come back. The big black mark in the middle of the play yard spoke as much, too. Coal Dust had fought his way through the gaggle of foals and was trying to nuzzle her.
Slowly, Celestia turned and was away without another word. Gathering a confused Captain Grey and Striking Spear, she mounted her chariot and quickly retreated back to the palace. Well, that could’ve gone better. Well, at least she’d put a stop to that colt’s bullying. He’d be looking over his shoulder for awhile. She smirked just a little, and by the time she’d arrived home the guilty feeling had already passed. Bullies deserved to be put down like that.
It was a strange idea to Twilight Sparkle, sneaking into Canterlot. Neigh, sneaking into the palace itself in the dead of night without Celestia knowing. She got off the train and was greeting by a Lunar Stallion who called himself Falling Storm. He was a grey, ashy thing with golden eyes and dark armor. He came bearing Luna’s secret password (“Sunset”), so she would know to trust him. Twilight looked around as the train began to hiss away, and he herded her into shadow.
Falling Storm gently took Twilight’s shoulder, not daring to light a light. “We’re going through a secret passage, miss. Try not to wander off. My dark vision only reaches so far.” He warned. The purple mare nodded slowly, warily following where he led. They turned abruptly into what Twilight was sure was a wine cellar in an alleyway, but no, it went deep into the mountain. She leaned on him a little, for the stairs never seemed to stop. When they were well into the darkness, he finally lit a torch.
Twilight smiled gratefully when he held up the torch so she could see better. “Thank you.” She looked into his golden eyes, admiring the serpentine glitter of stoic intelligence. “You have… pretty eyes.” She said lamely, trying to make conversation. She then blushed and kept going. He didn’t answer, but didn’t make a mean face either. “Is all this secrecy necessary?” she asked after a time. They were winding up some spiral stone stairs now.
“You may not like what you have to hear. So yes, it is necessary.” Falling Storm said quietly. His voice was deep and syrupy, lulling Twilight’s fears until a bat screeched and flapped by. The purple mare shrieked, mooshing up against him a little.
“S-sorry!” she jumped away. “When I was little, a spider got caught in my mane for like five minutes. I’ve been afraid of things crawling in my mane since then, bats’re no different.” She shuddered.
“S’okay.” He said pleasantly. “We’re almost there.” He turned his golden gaze forward, squinting at the sealed door ahead. Opening his wings, he reared up as a series of nine panels poked themselves out of the wall. A stack of nine tiles was next to him. Twilight frowned in confusion, staring at what she’d thought was a tic-tac-toe board initially. The Lunar Stallion put the torch on the ground, then ritualistically placed all nine panels in a certain order. The symbols were nonsense to Twilight, perhaps Ancient Equestrian. When he’d placed the final panel on the tic-tac-toe board, he pushed the middle one and there was a sound of shifting stone.
“It must be pretty hard to use all these secret tunnels.” Twilight commented, lifting the torch by magic.
“Not if you’re supposed to be here.” Falling Storm said, walking forward after he took the torch from her and started forward. The labyrinth of tunnels wound back and forth, but the Lunar Stallion seemed to know where he was going the entire time. “This way, miss.” He gestured to another stone door, and pushed it open for her. “Your Majesty, Twilight Sparkle, to answer your summons.”
Luna stood in a long, chapel-like room with a high ceiling. It was dark, and the pews were mahogany, a dark wood with a purple stain to them. The sweeping columns were carved with bat-winged pegasi, and the singular source of light was a stained-glass window depicting the moon in all its phases. Twilight craned her neck, and she could see the valley beyond it. They must’ve been under the city, hidden in the cliff’s face! Astounding!
“Twilight Sparkle.” Luna turned with a careful smile, opening her wings and pushing back her hood. “I am sorry to meet you in such dreary settings.” When her hood was pushed back all the way, her cape and cowl burst into bat-shapes and evaporated. Twilight flinched, but walked forward amongst the pews. The groan of the great door made her look behind herself. A pair of Lunar Stallions were pushing the heavy thing closed, Falling Storm having been sealed outside. They lifted a great log of wood into sconces, effectively barring it. Then, they stood at attention. “This is my lunar chapel. I taught some of the first Lunar Stallions here, thousands of years ago. We are safe to speak freely here, I promise you.” The Princess said. “Aegis Shield! Stalwart Hide!” she called over Twilight’s head. “More light! It’s chilled in here!” The two stallions set to work lighting the burning woks around the room with their torches. Soon, the room was a bit warmer and well-lit. With winter well on the way, such buried places of stone were cold indeed.
Twilight looked about in wonder. She’d never imagined that such a place existed under Canterlot. Suddenly remembering her manners, the unicorn bowed before her. “Thank you for responding so quickly, Princess.”
“Just Luna, here, Twilight.” Luna smiled kindly. “And we’re meeting in secret, so there’s little time for formalities. When I got your letter, I knew we had to act fast.”
“Is it true? What they’re saying about Princess Celestia?” Twilight asked. “Did she really throw a colt in jail for putting graffiti on the side of a warehouse?”
“I checked. Yes.” Luna said gravely. “Perhaps she thinks a harsh punishment will nip any delinquency at the bud.”
“Or it could traumatize him for life, living with those hardened criminals for a week. Who knows what they could do to him!” Twilight worried, pacing back and forth.
“I intervened behind Celestia’s back.” Luna said, trying to sound brave. “I made sure he was kept separate from the other criminals, and in his own cell. That was all I could do. I could not override my sister’s punishment.”
Twilight fretted more. “You should’ve seen her in the royal gardens, Luna. She terrorized this poor gardener, right in front of my eyes.” The purple mare went back over what she’d written in her letter, in greater detail. “She seems so different these past few months, I’m getting really worried!” she looked up at Luna with soft eyes. “A passerby in Ponyville was talking about Princess Celestia destroying some poor pony’s reputation because he brought her the wrong kind of cake! That’s just… just silly!” the poor mare paced back and forth while Luna watched, nodding along with her words. “Any idea why she might be acting dif--! Your side!” Twilight suddenly jolted to a stop, looking at Luna in horror. The dark alicorn was standing profile, looking regally at the ceiling with her wings open thoughtfully. On her side with a long, pink line, barely hidden by her fur. “Luna, your side!” she shrieked, pointing.
Princess Luna turned her head quickly, “Uh?” Looking down past her ribs but before her cutie mark, she saw the remains of the long laceration she’d (completely) healed before. “Oh, I thought I’d gotten rid of that.” She said softly, looking from side to side with a certain embarrassment.
“That’s almost a foot long, what happened to you?!” Twilight pawed at it, tracing along its length with her hoof.
“Er-well, Celestia and I were… exersizing.” It sounded like a pretty poor excuse to Twilight.
“Did Princess Celestia… hurt you?” Twilight gasped, her eyes turning big and soft.
“No no! We were exercising together! That’s why she looks so much better lately!” Luna eyed the Lunar Stallions to one side, then back to Twilight. “But don’t tell anypony, okay? It’s supposed to be a secret, just between us alicorns.” Aegis Shield opened his mouth to agree and give more details, but Luna gave him such a venomous glare that he was shocked into silence again. Twilight was too focused on the long scar to notice.
“Secret exercise that gets you hurt?” Twilight Sparkle said, furrowing her brow. “She’s not doing anything… bad, is she?” her voice fell to a quivering whisper, not even the Lunar Stallions could hear. Quite suddenly, all the different things she’d seen and heard about were sliding into place. If this was just one more thing, it had to be true as well.
They looked at each other for a long time. Then, Luna looked to one side, turning her ears back and with soft eyes. “Yes.” She said aloud, so even the posted stallions could hear. “Celestia… beat me, recently.” She let out a little mewling sound, her ethereal mane hanging over her face. Terrible, nightmarish images rushed into Twilight’s mind, in which a pink-haired Celestia slashed her horn over a defenseless Luna’s side, making her cry out and bleed. Twilight gasped, looking over her shoulder at the two Lunar Stallions. They nodded confirmation.
Stalwart Hide started forward, not wanting his Princess to suffer. But, Aegis Shield held him back and shook his head. This was for Twilight Sparkle to hear about. Clearly the Princess was feeling hurt that her sister had bested her in a duel, so easily, after only three months of training. Well, you couldn’t win every single duel but she’d taken a pretty heavy beating from Celestia, so her ego was probably pretty bruised. And when one had an ego like the Princess of the Night, well, one was bound to weep over it. The stallions looked at each other, then wisely decided to keep mum. There wasn’t anything they could add to make things better.
“B… beat you?” Twilight gasped quietly, looking up at Luna. The dark alicorn nodded quietly, a single tear dripping down the side of her face. Twilight Sparkle quickly pulled her into a hug, and the Princess shook like a leaf. “I have to see this.” She whispered. “I have to see this new Princess Celestia for myself. I can’t believe it until I’ve seen it for myself.” She gulped a little, but squared her shoulders.
“Be careful, Twilight Sparkle. My sister is much stronger than she once was.” Luna whispered in her ear so none could hear but her. “That’s why her mane changed color. Her powers have grown.” It was like she was delivering the secrets of the universe to her little subject. Twilight nodded gravely. “Just… just be careful.” The alicorn embraced the unicorn again, the shiver working its way up her back. Twilight stroked her mane comfortingly. Luna made a show of wiping her eyes and clearing her throat. “Aeg--- ahem!--- Aegis Shield. See Twilight Sparkle to the palace proper. She’s going to see my sister. Not a word until you return.”
“Yes, your Highness.” Aegis Shield and Stalwart Hide pulled the log from the door so it could be opened, and he offered the passage to Twilight with a sweep of his hoof. Twilight looked at Princess Luna, then started forward.
“Stalwart Hide, do you have any more of my healing balm?” Princess Luna asked softly, looking at him with pathetic eyes. “It… it still hurts a little. I don’t think my spell sealed the wound over entirely.” She extended her wing to show him the long mark on her side.
“Right away, Princess Luna!” Stalwart Hide started forward, flipping his saddlebag open and getting the little jar. Twilight looked on in horror, but said nothing. Strong. She had to be strong. For Princess Luna, and everypony else. She was close to Princess Celestia, she’d be able to figure out what was going on and fix it. Luna yipped a little when the stallion pressed some balm over her scar, and he apologized profusely. Twilight could stand no more of watching Luna suffer from her sister’s abuse, and rushed away into darkness with Aegis Shield.
As soon as Twilight Sparkle was gone, Luna smiled quietly from under her eyebrows. “That’s enough, Stalwart Hide.” She lit her horn. “Keep rubbing it in, right there.” she praised him while her spell worked across her side. The cut vanished under the balm, though it hadn't been real to begin with. The original had been healed over the first time around, the current one had been an illusion. “Ohhh, much better. Thank you, my stallion.” She kissed him atop the head, and Stalwart Hide smiled bashfully. He did like her kisses.
Silently, Luna congratulated herself on a flawless performance.
Celestia looked up from her novel when a hoof faintly knocked at her door. “Who is it?” she called melodically. It wasn’t often she was disturbed during her me-time, it must’ve been important.
“T… Twilight Sparkle.” said a meek voice beyond the door.
Celestia’s face lit up, and she flipped the doors open by magic. “Why, Twilight! Hello there! I didn’t know you were in Canterlot! How have you been, my most faithful student?” she rose, putting the book away. Twilight came and extended her neck for nuzzles, which Celestia lovingly gave her.
“Okay, I suppose.” Twilight said bashfully. “I’ve been hearing a lot about you lately too.” She smiled in a nervous way.
“Oh?” Celestia said.
“W-well yes! They say you’re in the best shape of your life! A lot of… exercising.” Twilight said, looking at her suspiciously with her head cocked to one side.
Celestia chuckled, backing up so Twilight could come in and shut the doors. “Oh yes! Luna has been taking very good care of me!” the white alicorn clucked happily. She went over to her large bed and clambered onto it, inviting Twilight Sparkle too. She smiled as her faithful student mounted the bed and settled onto her belly to visit. “And I’ve been taking care of her, too.” Celestia smiled. “It’s so good to have a sister again, I cannot tell you how lonely and stressful it was with Luna on the moon.” She sighed a little sadly, but then looked at Twilight. She was shaking. “Twilight, are you okay?” Twilight Sparkle’s powerful mind conjured a thought-bubble over her head that the Princess couldn’t see. In it, she saw a demon-eyed Celestia ‘relieving stress’ by beating the ever-loving tar out of a doe-eyed Princess Luna. The dark alicorn begged for mercy, but-! The bubble burst. “Twilight? You’re shaking.”
She couldn’t take it anymore. “Oh Princess say it isn’t so!” The purple mare suddenly burst into wracking sobs, startling the guards outside, who peeked in at them. Celestia shooed them out with a look. “Say you didn’t do it! Please!” she said, beating on her side with her small hooves.
“Do what?” Celestia said, folding a massive wing down over her student. “Twilight what’s wrong?”
“Luna told me! She told me everything! She said you beat her!” Twilight threw her arms around the white alicorn’s neck and sobbed like a foal. “Tell me you didn’t do it!”
“Well, I did beat her.” Celestia said, a little miffed. “I didn’t think I could actually do it, but I finally did-- after so long of trying, too! She puts up a very serious fight. It took me quite a while.”
“Princess that’s terrible!” Twilight reared up, putting her hooves on Celestia’s shoulders. “How could you do such a thing to your own sister?!”
“It’s good exercise.” Celestia blink-blinked at her belligerent student, not sure she followed.
“That’s not exercise, it’s torture!” Twilight was choking a little as her throat began to close up on her. She wheezed stressfully, making little mewling sounds.
“Well it sure felt like torture for the first few nights.” Celestia admitted with a knowing smile, gathering her student closer in her wings to try and calm her. “But we’ve been doing it for over three months, so now I’m used to it and we can work at it every night. It was supposed to be a secret, but I suppose it’s alright if my most faithful student learns about my little training sessions with Luna.” She smiled confidently at the purple mare, but she watched as right before her eyes Twilight Sparkle went right over the edge.
“Th-th-threee?! Three months?! You’ve been doing this for months now!?” Twilight backed up, forcing her way out of her mentor's feathery embrace. She fell off the bed, and scrambled backward in open-mouthed horror. “Princess what’s happened to you?!”
“Well… I got a lot stronger, and my mane changed color?” It came out like a question, for Celestia was very confused. “Are… are you okay, my little pony?” She said with concern, leaning forward to look down at her. Twilight looked like she was having some sort of panic attack. Her mentor, her first crush, her mother figure, her goddess! Not just the normal citizens she’d heard about—the terrible rumors-- and the poor gardener she’d seen! She was an abusive sister-beater, too?! And she was proud of it?! And she’d been doing it for months?! Poor Luna!
“You’re a MONSTER!” Twilight screamed shrilly. She turned and fled for her life, a few tears escaping into the air and glittering like diamonds. She ran, blasting the doors open with her magic and pancake-ing both guards to the wall behind them. She ran full tilt, and her sobs faded with distance.
Princess Celestia lay there on her belly, staring at the open doorway. A moaning Captain Grey came in, rubbing his head and looking around. “I take it the visit didn’t go well?” he said. The white alicorn was completely, utterly stunned. What had just happened? She’d never been more confused in all her many centuries of life.
End of Part 7