This work of fan fiction contains characters, places, ideas, and concepts from the Hasbro Studios series "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic". No infringement of copyright is intended or implied, and this work of parody and satire is meant as a celebration of those involved in the creation, development, and production of the series.
Original release date: March 4th, 2011
Heart of the Mountain
Written by The Descendant
Chapter 1: "A Midnight Stroll"
It was in Canterlot, that famous and fabled city, where Twilight Sparkle was made aware of the gate.
Canterlot, that shining city, that city where magic deep and powerful flows just as freely as the water that ripples through its canals and slipways. It was there where Twilight was made aware of the door. It was in that city, capital and throne of the Two Sisters, where she beheld the Gate of Brass.
Twilight Sparkle looked out her window. The view that it gave her showed the alabaster reaches of the city spreading out beneath her, the magnificence of the marbled streets that wound out from beneath her tower. As she rested her head on one of the columned pillars that framed her porch she listened to the sweet sounds of the birds that nested among the buildings. She watched proud unicorns make their way through the streets, their heads held high with bearing and grace.
"Ummm, Twilight…" came the voice of Spike, slightly uncertain.
She turned her head away from the view outside of her balcony and back into the large room that had been set aside for her. As she looked at the dragon he danced his fingers back and forth, tapping out a rhythm on his own digits. He looked up to her, a plaintive look in his eyes.
"Have, have you… you know, any idea when we might be heading home?" spoke the young dragon, putting his hands behind his back and shying away from her view.
Twilight smiled at him. "What's the matter Spike?" she said making her way down the steps from the balcony, her hooves dancing down the flight of stairs in quick fashion, "Aren't you happy to be back in Canterlot? I thought that you would like a little vacation."
"Oh, well, yes… I, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful or anything, it's just that, well," stammered the little dragon, rocking back and forth on his feet, his hands behind his back.
As he used his uncertain words to give voice to his emotions Twilight cantered across the large room to him. Resting her head beside his she sighed, and reassured him.
"Yes, Spike, I miss our friends too," she said, lifting her head and gazing around the room. In their midst stood the great hourglass, and as she watched it grains trickled through. She remembered long years spent in this room, studying, reading, her time spent as a student in this city.
In that time this room had been refuge, a place where she could come and not have to participate in the ever-swirling social scene that played itself out beneath her window.
Yet, upon her return to the city of her princess, her mistress, and her greatest friend it took a different form. Now, with no purpose in her life the room was little more than a reminder of years gone by. Now it was simply someplace where her friends were not, and she missed them terribly.
Well, not entirely. Spike was here, loyal Spike. And soon, as the day wound down she would be summoned to come to the table of her princess and share in the meal that ended the day. There the princesses Celestia and Luna would hold court, with Twilight enjoying the particular favoritism that Her Majesty placed upon her.
Twilight looked down. Spike still stood nearby, raising his eyes to meet hers self-consciously, sharing in her longing to be back in their own little loft in the library of Ponyville, the sounds of familiar ponies nearby.
"The Accounting is done, so it shouldn't be too much longer," she said lowering her head to his, smiling for his sake.
"Can't, can't you ask if we can go home… tonight, at dinner, maybe? Or, after that…at the day-end ceremony? Please?" implored the little dragon.
"Well, you don't just come out and ask a princess to leave their court, you have to be gracious with these things," she said with a sigh, "but if it seems appropriate I'll ask."
At these words Spike seemed to cheer a little, the slightest of smiles breaking across his face. Together they went back up the stairs to the balcony. Outside the pillared enclosure the sound of water trickling down the myriad waterfalls echoed off the sides of tall towers and the imposing sides of the palace walls.
Before long there was a knock on the door, and together they answered it to find one of the Royal Guard.
"Ms. Twilight, I am to inform you that dinner is soon to be served, and that your presence, and that of your summoner Spike, is welcomed by their majesties," stated the big unicorn, his armor shifting about him as he spoke in the practiced tone.
It would have been that much more impressive had they not heard it every day for the last two weeks.
"Of course," said Twilight, prancing out into the hallway, Spike jogging alongside. This had been a formal trip, not much of a vacation at all. Each long day had been spent in the service of Their Majesties, at work in the Grand Accounting of magic and summons, spell and conjure. Each day had been both long and taxing, but each day that also ended in the happy company of her teacher.
It was in anticipation of their joyful fellowship that she and Spike followed their escort to dinner.
It was, however, not to be.
The table was set as elegantly as ever, the meal just as fine as any she had ever enjoyed in the capital city, and her teacher had greeted her just as enthusiastically as ever, but as the meal progressed it was markedly different from any of the others.
The two sisters, Celestia winding up her day, and Luna just beginning hers, were oddly silent. The court around them did not seem to notice, and the assembled unicorns, pegasus ponies, and earth ponies engaged in their usual intrigues without note of the somber attitude of their sovereigns.
But to Twilight Sparkle it was as obvious and oppressive as anything she'd experienced. It was consuming, and she wondered at it.
Soon the meal had ended, and the usual entertainments got underway. Spike clapped and laughed at the frivolity of the jesters, but Twilight could find no comfort in their antics. Her head kept turning to the high dais where the sisters sat, their own noble brows lowered, readied as though in waiting.
Well later, the elder of the two sisters, Celestia stood. "Sister," she spoke in her melodic voice, "I set."
Princess Luna, her eyes becoming brighter, stood as well. "Dear sister," she said, moving to her sister's side, "I wax."
At once the entirety of the court stood, Twilight and Spike with them. In long graceful lines they made their way out from the main hall of the palace, down through the decorated corridors were lanterns filled with purple flame drifted on unseen currents of magic.
As they crossed out through the gates into the city the sun began its descent, the Princess Celestia working her magic, bringing to end with her grace another day across her realm.
Twilight looked up to realize she was under the gaze of the princess, and she humbled herself in front of her mentor.
"My dear Twilight," said Celestia, lowering her graceful head down to where Twilight waited, "you seem troubled. What bothers you my student?"
Looking up into the eyes of her teacher Twilight pondered for a way to broach the subject of taking leave of Her Majesty. But as she did, she saw something behind the eyes of her mentor, something she had not seen before, and the idea faded out of her mind.
"Oh, nothing… nothing my princess," said the unicorn, smiling.
Celestia returned the smile, and together the procession made its way out through the city. All along the route ponies from each of the distinct races bowed before the two sovereigns, the people paying homage to the graceful sisters in whose magic they trusted for their lives, prosperity, and freedom.
At the very edge of the city, a place where all the water that welled up from inside the mountain on which it was built, rushed a waterfall. Here the water cascaded over the edge of a precipice down, down, down to the awaiting fertile fields of Equestria beyond. It was here where the Two Sisters, the Royal Sovereigns of Equestria, came each dawn and dusk. It was here that the living embodiment of the sun, and the very living spirit of the moon, worked their magic.
Spike, Twilight, and the rest of the court looked on as the sun set, and Princess Celestia faded by fractions. And she did so Princess Luna lifted the moon, which have been waiting at the borders of their country, across the land and night fell over Equestria.
And so went the ceremony, just as it had before, seemingly as it always had in years when the sisters worked their arts together.
Yet, in it Twilight saw more. Did not Luna look to her sister in something approaching apprehension? Did not the eyes of the sisters linger on a constellation somewhere in one of the myriad houses of the stars?
Twilight felt a poke, a tiny jab at her foreleg. "You, you… you didn't ask her, you didn't ask her Twi…"said Spike, looking up at her with disappointed eyes.
"I'm sorry Spike, I got distracted," said Twilight, looking first at him and then to the princesses beyond.
"Oh, okay… distracted by what though?" asked Spike, first putting his hands on his hips, then scratching his head and looking at her in confusion.
Twilight had no answer for him. Spike followed her gaze to where the princesses stood, the two of them in the place where day was becoming night. Spike did not know why, but soon he had wrapped his arms around Twilight's foreleg, seeking comfort against something he could not name.
That night Twilight meant to sleep. Yet, as Spike lay curled in his cushioned bassinet she laid awake. She forced herself to shut her eyes, trying to shut out the sounds of the city beyond, trying to put aside the tedium and confusion of the day. She breathed in rhythm and soon sleep did find her.
At once she was before a black abyss. Above her the constellation that the Two Sovereigns had pondered showed itself in blistering golden light. All too soon this magnificent apparition fell down, reduced by a consuming darkness. Within it white forms circled towards a vanishing point, and from that point arose a form…
Twilight, breathing heavily, awoke in the old familiar bed. She sat up, let her heart calm down, and made herself breathe normally.
Twilight arose from the bed. On silent hooves she snuck past Spike's bed and down the stairs to the familiar old bookcases below. She'd always been surrounded by books, both here in this old dormitory room, and in her new home down and Ponyville. She knew these old worn books, and as she looked for a certain one she chided herself for making these bound texts her only friends during her years of study.
Finding the book she was looking for she removed it from the shelf and carried it quietly to the table. The old tome came open and she found herself looking over a star chart. With practiced eyes she scanned the page. Soon she had found what she was looking for. At the top of the page stood a constellation, and as she looked on it she knew it to be the one that marked her vision, the one that princesses had gazed upon.
The text said precious little. It noted only where the constellation could be found and gave a name. It was an older one, and the language was one that she did not understand.
Sighing, she looked for another book. This book was all too familiar to her. Pulling it from the shelf she ran her hoof over the thick leather cover. It was the same tome in which she learned the legend of the Mare in the Moon, a book of Deep Magic, a book dealing with the stars.
Within the weathered old pages she found the same odd name that she is found before, the name of the constellation. Looking under its entry in the tome she looked for a clue as to what was causing her sovereigns their discomfort.
"In the time of these stars anticipation and familiarity grow. When the House of Junctions is reached, expect returns and visitations."
Twilight, her eyes narrowed and lips curled, glared at the book. With her magic she returned it to her shelf, and with a sigh trotted up the stairs quietly so as to not awake the sleeping Spike.
Once more up on the balcony she looked to the moon. It was round and full, illuminating all that fell beneath it in a pale light. Twilight scanned the sleeping streets below. Nothing moved, and the floating luminaries had no pony onto which to shine their light or proud hooves to guide.
This changed at once. Across the street, on the grassy common of the palace movement caught her eye. Almost by instinct Twilight moved behind one of the tall columns, shielding herself from view. At once she became embarrassed, what did she have to hide? She reprimanded herself, and pretended not to look towards the garden.
With another quick glance, however, she dashed right behind the pillar, with no small haste or sense of embarrassment.
There on that common stood Luna, basking in the moonlight. This was not uncommon, as the night was her dominion. What was however unusual, was that she was joined by Celestia. And not just these two alone were found there.
As Twilight watched others joined them. Three unicorns, in the shrouds of high court advisors and mages, approached the royal sisters. These approached from the north, lanterns of purple flame following them, each one carrying a cask.
Near her Twilight heard movement, and with a gasp of surprise squatted down beneath the railing of her balcony. They are on the street below approached two more unicorns, tall and ancient looking ones. She could see their long robes, the marks of court alchemists, and see to that they carried small wooden boxes.
With a flash of magic, their horns igniting, these two unicorns flicked from beneath the tall tower and into the garden. As Twilight watched, perplexed, all five bowed before the Sister Sovereigns and then rose.
Twilight, watching in stillness and quiet, focused on them, trying to discern the meaning of the midnight meeting. Yet, all too soon the assemblage turned and with the purple flames bobbing in the lanterns they made their way out of the common.
Before she even knew what she was doing Twilight was making her way down the steps and out the door of her dormitory room. As silently as possible she made her way through the palace and into the space where she hoped to catch a glimpse of the procession.
Voices arose from ends of corridors; shadows and shapes emerged in unfamiliar patterns. When she had been a student here Twilight knew all of these back halls, knew how to navigate them to avoid others. That seemed so long ago now, and she faltered in her journey, making wrong moves that cost time.
Something grabbed her.
Twilight let out a shriek, but at once small familiar hands covered her mouth.
"Geez, Twilight, what is…" spoke Spike in a surprised tone. As soon as he spoke Twilight's hoof covered his mouth, and the two of them stood there in mutual suppression of discussion.
Slowly their eyes moved in unison from one end of the long corridor to the other. No Royal Guards came, no alarm went up, and the lights bobbed in their lanterns, casting a small glow over all.
Their eyes slowly moved to each other, and with a nod they removed the impediment to each other's speech.
"Spike? What are you doing here?" said Twilight fixing him with a gaze.
"I can ask you the same thing," he said faltering a bit, looking to the carpet. "Why did you take off?"
Twilight looked the young dragon over, and then smiled at him. "Spike," she said with a smile, "you weren't afraid of being left alone, were you?"
"No! Errr….yes. Well, define 'alone'," spoke the little dragon, going from indignant to supplicant in the space of a few words. Spike looked up to her, then back to the rug, back up to her again and finally rubbed the back of his head. "Well," he said with a amount of certainty, "you're not going anywhere without me… so, where are we going?"
Climbing onto her back he listened with growing concern as Twilight explained what she had seen from the balcony, and what she had read in the book.
"So, ummm...correct me if I'm wrong Twi, but we are stalking through the palace at midnight looking for the princesses, and if we find 'em were gonna try to spy on them?"
"Well, it sounds like a really bad idea when you put it that way..." said Twilight, rolling her eyes.
She felt Spike jump down, saw him running in front of her in the lantern light, and saw him raise his hand to her as though he wanted to shake her hoof.
"Hiya!" said the dragon, smiling at her. With a doubtful look on her face she took his hand in her hoof and began shaking. "I'm Spike, nice to meet you!" he continued.
"Spike, what are you doing?" she said flatly, becoming cross, yet still shaking his hand.
"Well, with a plan like that, you aren't Twilight Sparkle! She'd never do anything so sneaky...so, nice to meet you, whoever you are..."
"Spike!" called Twilight, quickly quieting herself, "I'm just worried about them. I've never seen Princess Celestia look like that before...and Princess Luna looked worried...like she was expecting something to happen."
"Well," said Spike, "you gotta figure there's not much they can't handle. Plus, you said they've got other unicorns with them...so, you're not listening to me at all, are you...purple monkey dishwasher..."
"What?" answered Twilight Sparkle, her eyes crossing back to Spike. With a shake of her head she stated her intent, "Look, I just want to be sure everything is okay, and if it is I'll be back in bed before you can imagine it."
"I can imagine pretty quick," said the dragon in a sarcastic tone. The two looked at each other, realizing that they were still shaking.
Dropping the greeting Twilight began going down the hallway, towards the door beyond. "I still don't know if I like it," said Spike, looking over his shoulder.
"If you like," said a departing Twilight, "You can go back to the room...aloooone!"
Spike scowled. "It's not the being alone I mind," he said to himself as he ran to catch up with her, "It's just the lack of you being there!"
The kitchen doors were always a good bet to get out of the palace and into the city undetected. Making their way through the chef's pantry they exited through the grocery door and into the night air of the city.
In the quiet streets of the sleeping city they flit from lantern to lantern like moths, stopping, listening, looking to the shadowed side streets.
Twilight, calling upon her magic, lit the street with purple light. As it did so the street was illuminated, but also the paths of any magic users that may have passed that way. It also brightened the dreams of the ponies within the homes they passed. Nightmares fled before them, they squealed and fell away to the place where bad dreams go once discarded.
"Whoa," said Spike, watching one theatrically expire in a puff of ash. Twilight though concentrated on a massive river of green that lit before them, the trail of a massively powerful group of magic users. There were only two in Equestria powerful enough, she knew, to produce the cascade of sparkling emerald that she had found.
Following the trail they came out from the city center, up winding paths towards the trails that lead into the spire of the mountain upon which Canterlot rested.
Here they came upon the chalk drawings that were etched into the side of the mountain. Fantastic ponies in spectacular yet unfamiliar form were etched here. They appeared to glance down at Twilight and Spike as they came up the broad stony road.
There, below the summit, the river of green turned down a side path rather than progressing towards the observatory.
Spike looked down to Twilight from atop her back with a worried expression on his face, and she up to him, and then the two progressed quietly down the side road.
Before long Twilight stopped. Down the road lights flickered, and she took to the brambles and scrub brush that lined the road, Spike clinging to her back and shutting his eyes against the scratching branches.
Creeping forward Twilight got as close as she could to the assembly. There she took in the bizarre scene as best she could.
As the moonlight fell down and the purple flames made tapestries of light fall across the mountain face the unicorns approached Celestia and Luna. Before the princesses stood a metal basket, a large one, corroded with age.
Beyond that two massive chalk figures, accompanied by dozens of smaller ones, looked down from either side of an ancient and massive chalk drawing of an arch. The figures, the arch, and the symbols that lined the faces all shimmered in the moonlight, it reflecting off the perfect white etchings that made up their construction.
Opening their casks the three unicorns placed what was within into the basket. Twilight and Spike struggled to make out what the unicorns were placing there, but at the distance from which they hid it was impossible.
Soon the other two stepped forward, the alchemist unicorns. From their wooden boxes came light and Twilight sensed powerful magic at work. Something rose up from one of the boxes, and as it did all in that group were cast into a glistening cascade.
The princesses were chanting, reciting. Their melodic voices flowing out over the assembly. As the object became illuminated Spike and Twilight gasped. It was a dagger, and as it lowered down it was shrouded in a vapor of white.
As soon as it entered the basket the elements found within erupted into a white flame. The unicorns bowed, and as they did so tendrils of light whipped out among the group. They found the chalk etchings in the wall, and at once these were themselves illuminated.
There was a pause, and it seemed as though the air itself had become palpable. As the figures beside the arch glowed, the mountain itself creaked.
To Twilight's amazement, the arch opened.
The stone face of the mountain fell in on itself, and a cavern was revealed, the princesses turning to it as the white light of the fire fell down into the very stones of the path, shining through the crevasses between the rocks.
As it did, it streamed into the mountain, and fantastic things were cast to a luminous light within.
So enraptured with what they were seeing were Twilight and Spike that they almost did not notice the unicorns coming down the road, leaving the presence of the princesses, until they were almost upon them
Ducking down low the two spies watched in terrified wonder as the unicorns made their way by, back down the long road, their lanterns bobbing along after them. One seemed to stop before them, scan the brushes and brambles. Yet, he did not look upon them fully, and after a moment he continued on.
Long moments passed, long tedious moments, Twilight and Spike looking to each other in confusion. Then, the voice of Celestia, stern and forceful, echoed off the walls that surrounded them.
"Twilight Sparkle, Spike...enter our presence..."
Immediate shock and embarrassment came over the two. They looked first to one another, then to the ground, and raised themselves up from their hiding place.
Entering the road they looked up to the princesses, saw there not the usual cheerful expressions, but instead distant ones of judgment. Yet, there was nothing to be done, and they knew they would answer for their subterfuge.
Heart of the Mountain
Written by The Descendant
Chapter 2: "Formal Introductions"
Twilight walked up to the princesses, Spike not riding her but instead walking along beneath her, half hiding himself behind her forelegs as she walked, head down, towards the sovereigns.
As she came up to them she felt the strange light of the dagger-fire upon her, and as she passed next to it she glimpsed into the basket. White fire fading to blue emanated from the silver dagger. In the basket were bunches of vines and different types of tree leaves, but also cylinders of black earth, and a blue breeze, a visible spell, blew among it. The objects within the basket and white fire were not so much burned as consumed; fading into sparks that ascended into the sky.
As fascinating as it was Twilight could not dwell on it, and soon found herself in the most of unusual positions…bowing towards the princesses with whom she had shared a familiarity. She wondered now if that privilege had been squandered…
"Stand, Twilight," said Celestia, "Things are not yet that desperate."
"I, I am so sorry, I...I didn't mean to spy, I was…" she said, trailing off, cheered slightly at her mentor's statement, but still racked with shame.
"Why did you come?" asked Luna, tilting her head, speaking in a more contemplative tone.
"I…I had waken from a dream, you see, Majesty, and went out onto my balcony. There I saw your ladyships and the unicorns. I…I had seen how distant you both looked today…and…and I was worried…"
Twilight dared lift her head, and as she did so she was overwhelmed with relief when the terrible and stern expression on the faces of the princesses faded, replaced with something more akin to understanding. Yet, their faces fade not back to the expressions of happiness she longed for.
"Tell us of the dream," said Luna as the fire made sounds like single notes played on a violin.
"I…I stood under the constellation, and it became black. The nine stars fading into a, I don't know, something. There were white clouds, and somepony rose up…" she said, trying to remember it all.
Luna looked to Celestia, and their expressions got deeper. Twilight found herself staring at the ground again. Soon however, the familiar nuzzle of her teacher passed over her, and she was refilled with confidence.
"Twilight," spoke Celestia, the grace-filled eyes meeting those of her student, "you are loyal, strong, and empathetic. In this place is something that has long been the realm of me and my kind, something over which the alicorns alone have had to hold dominion…"
Twilight looked up to her teacher, saw the concern growing there.
"…and we must use this time wisely. What happens again here tonight has not happened since before you were born, Twilight. You are among the greatest of my students, and if you will promise me not to touch anything, and not to speak unless spoken to, and to follow directions, you may enter with us."
Twilight did not know what to say. Something important was about to transpire, but what? She could only shake her head as the curiosity and wonder overwhelmed her. Nearby something cleared its throat, and the three looked down to where a little dragon still bowed.
"You may of course come too, Spike," spoke Celestia, nuzzling the bowing form, "granted that you follow the same conditions."
"Umm, oh…sure! Thank you!" he said, suddenly filled with enthusiasm.
The four turned from the fire, and for the first time Spike and Twilight saw the space beyond the arch clearly. It was massive. As they drew nearer Spike jumped back up on Twilights back and whistled. It was as a naïve of a great cathedral, with buttresses flying out on either side. Beneath the reaches of it were trees! How could there be trees inside the mountain? As she looked she saw that they were stone, intricately carved and formed, and plants like them covered the spaces along the path. The white light crept up their branches, and the spaces between the stones that made up the towering pillars were illuminated by it.
"I am curious," said Luna to Spike.
"My princess?" he answered.
"What would you, Spike, have done if after following us you had found that we had been delivered into a trap, that your princesses were betrayed and faced enemies unnumbered?"
"Well," answered Spike, standing tall and pointing to himself, "Twilight and I make a good team, and we would have rushed in and saved you, of course! I am a dragon after all!"
He opened his eyes to see the smiling faces of the three ponies looking at him, and he grew self-conscious. "Well," he said, shrinking down onto Twilight's back, looking at the sparkling space between the floor stones, "I am, Majesty…even if just a little one."
"You are indeed, and I am glad you both are here to lend comfort, for even with my sister with me I do not know how my judgment here will pass…"
Twilight and Spike looked to each other, then to the smaller princess, and as they did so they saw her expression fall down into a subdued one of a painted smile and resignation.
They wished to ask so many questions, but their promise held fast, and they stared at the towering space that encompassed them.
Soon they arrived at a circular space, nine stone chairs, two larger than the others, each marked with a symbol that Twilight could not recognize. The space held her attention for a moment, but soon she was drawn to a glowing edifice in the distance.
At the end of the path stood a massive gate. Brass in color, and covered with a relief like those in the palace, baffling constellations, and symbols she did not know. The gate thrummed with the white light that was pervading all, and voices emanated from the space beyond the path. Twilight felt Spike's arms wrap around her neck tighter as the voices went up and down in tone, volume, and duration.
"They can not harm you," said Celestia, "They are memories, both of things revealed and not yet revealed."
More questions piled up in Twilight's mind, but she soon found Celestia motioning to her, showing her a space among the plants that was paved with the luminous stones, one from which she could see the gate, the path, and the circular space with the stone chairs.
"You are to wait here until I call for you," said Celestia, her face still pleasant, yet set, "Do not make any noise until you are called upon or spoken to, and do not be afraid, there is nothing here that my magic will not defend you from, and do not stray from this spot by any means."
Spike gulped, and Twilight looked to her teacher.
"Do you wish to leave? There is no shame in it if you do…" asked her teacher, tilting her head.
"No, no My Princess," said Twilight, "I…we will do just as we are bidden."
Celestia smiled, nuzzled the two interlopers, and set off to where Luna paced back and forth before the circular space.
Twilight and Spike watched as Celestia and Luna shared some small words. Luna looked to the floor once more and Celestia, her eyes softening, leaned in and embraced her younger sister.
After a moment, the two turned towards the gate. Spreading wide their wings they bowed low, almost throwing themselves on the floor.
Spike looked up to Twilight aghast, and saw that she too was baffled. What could the Two Sister Sovereigns of all Equestria possibly have to bow to? Together Twilight and Spike lowered themselves to the floor, not so much bowing as trying to hide behind the stone foliage, shielding themselves from whatever was about to occur.
Soon, the white path thrummed, and to Twilight it seemed that it was keeping cadence with the beating of the hearts of the Two Sisters. At once the light passed between them and the great brass gate shown with greater intensity, and soon the path become more luminous.
A booming sound erupted from the gate, and as it did so the voices in the distance grew louder. Spike reached out to Twilight again for comfort, but found first that she had gathered him up. The gate erupted into light, and the brass shone forth, and the symbols upon it shimmered…and then moved. The planets turned, the stars flew…and, and…the figures…danced.
The voices grew louder, a blue breeze, like the one in the white fire outside, crept from behind the gate, and with the sound like a crack of thunder over a tempest sea the Gate of Brass came open, and out from it flew sound, and wind, and visions.
Twilight could barely keep her eyes open to see it, could only hold tighter onto Spike as he buried himself into her chest in fear and wonder.
And there, at the end of the long corridor, sat Procer Celestia Invictus, and Procer Luna Revenio, unmoving, the tides of light and sound washing around them, but touching them not.
Silence overcame all, and even the voices in the distance were still.
Twilight and Spike looked up to the gate over the marbled hedgerow in front of them. It stood open, a black sheet of obsidian beyond its borders. As she watched, white swirling forms appeared in it…just as they had in her dream. She stifled a gasp, pulled Spike in closer, and knew what was about to happen, even though she could not name it.
There, in that silence, came to sound of one hoof-fall. Then another.
Soon the sound of proud hoof beats came to them, and as Twilight watched, the most perfect alicorn she had ever beheld in her life stepped out of the black sheet of rock and onto the path.
He shone with the white intensity of suns unnamed. As he came forward the space around his noble form erupted from the black stone illuminated by white light into the full glory of a majestic palace, the stone as white as if it were newly hewn and cast into the light of noon, highlighted in blue. The stone plants became as real ones, filled with life, and birds flew overhead, insects buzzed among the leaves.
As he came down to where the princesses lay in supplication Twilight and Spike saw that where his hooves had trod plants sprang up from the stones, bloomed, withered, and died in the space of seconds. Such was the power and grace of his ennobled form that looking upon him was akin to facing buffeting winds of magic and the raw power of nature itself.
In front of Spike and Twilight the hedge which they hid behind went from stone to a lush and verdant display of green leaves and flowers, and the very paving stones on which they lay trembling seemed to echo his power.
Twilight dared lift her head a bit more over the top of the hedge, Spike peaking beside her. There they watched as the stallion approached Celestia and Luna. As he did he stopped before them, where they still lay bowed out across the rapidly illuminating stones.
There he stood, looking down on them, his light flowing out in all directions around him. Soon all of the vast delving which they had entered was filled with this light, and it shown forth in splendor.
The circular space where the stone chairs had sat turned now into a dais, and proper thrones were there, and the archway was hung with banners, and the outside world faded away…
The alicorn stallion, looking down on the princesses, spoke. The voice was like rolling waves on forgotten shores, like wind through a lonely canyon, and it came from within him.
"Luna, you have come…I had sensed it, sensed that your imprisonment had ended," he said, placing himself between the sisters. For one brief moment Twilight actually felt worried for the smaller sister, concerned that perhaps this being was somepony to be feared.
"My return was not graceful, not as it could have been," said Luna, her voice trembling, her face still to the stones.
"Speak not of it. I sensed that as well. It matters not," said the stallion, his lips not moving, the voice coming from somewhere beyond. "Know now that you have been granted the possibility to return to your ennobled form."
Luna's eyes opened, and a smile dashed across her face even as she still stared to the paving stones. In that moment Twilight saw the concern that had worried Luna so depart from her, and knew this was what had drawn her there, and that it had ended for the better.
He turned to Celestia, and Twilight tensed. "You have reconciled," he stated, "I knew you would…I knew what to expect…"
With that, his light dimmed, and he became as Luna and Celestia. A tall and handsome alicorn, one in whom the great wisdom of age could be seen, yet he was still strong in appearance, thought Twilight, as though the ages he had witnessed were as hours to him.
As he spoke the words now came from his mouth, and he suddenly seemed all too living, yet about him was the same bearing that the princesses carried them selves with…only greater in form and in magnitude…
"I knew you would find a way," he said. He reached down his noble head and nuzzled them, first Luna, then Celestia, running his head along theirs, "I knew you would…and I am so proud of you my daughters, my wonderful daughters…my beautiful daughters…"
"Oh, father!" called Celestia, bounding to him.
"Daddy, daddy!" called Luna, leaping into his offered hug with a dash of her wings.
In the hedgerow Spike and Twilight, their eyes wide, their jaws hanging slack, watched as the Two Sister Sovereigns, the ancient and seemingly immortal High Graces, the very Majesties that guided the sun and the moon, they who held dominion over all Equestria…as these two became giggling children and were squeezed, hugged, and twirled about by the ancient alicorn.
Spike reached up and closed Twilights jaw for her as she did the same for him.
The three alicorns made their way to the chairs, and there the stallion seated himself on one of the two larger ones, and Luna and Celestia seated themselves as well.
"Mother sends her love," said the stallion as he was seated, "as do the others."
"Father," said Celestia, "there is somepony I would like you to meet."
"I was wondering how long you were going to make them hide in the shrubbery," he said, and Twilight and Spike felt their faces go red.
"Twilight Sparkle, Spike, come to us, please," said Celestia in her happy tone, the one Twilight had hoped so much to hear again, the entire reason she had left the tower that evening.
Coming to the dais Twilight lowered herself in a bow, and Spike did as well. "These are two of our dearest subjects, Ms. Twilight Sparkle, my designate in Ponyville…"
"Ponyville," interrupted the stallion, "one of the cities, yes."
"…and this is Spike, her summoner."
"Most excellent, always good to have a dragon about."
Spike smiled at the floor, his head still bowing.
"Very good, well, sit up you two and have a seat," said the stallion, and Twilight and Spike stood. Approaching one of the thrones, she looked to the symbols that were set in them. Behind the radiant Celestia shone a sun, and behind the luminous Luna, a moon.
"Appropriate," she thought, "and…so, what are these?"
Upon a throne a series of small grass-covered hills fell into the distance. Moving to the throne she began to take a seat, but a great booming invective met her.
"Not that one!" echoed the voice of old stallion. Trembling, Twilight Sparkle backed away from the chair, turning to face her princesses. Twilight looked to them, hoping that Celestia's promise of nothing hurting her in this place would hold true.
She turned to the stallion. His face was stern, but upon looking at her, it mellowed and the echoing fell away.
"Forgive a sentimental old alicorn, my dear," he said, rising out of the larger throne, "That one is…special to us."
Twilight did not understand, but she saw then that when he looked at that throne a certain sadness marked his ancient eyes. It was echoed in the sisters as they too looked at the forlorn throne.
"Here, be seated in this one," he stated, motioning to a throne closer to the princesses, this one marked by a symbol of a breeze blowing across a cloudscape. "He would be the first to offer up his chair to a pretty young filly, he would be pleased to share it, the gentlecolt."
As Twilight sat in the throne Spike jumped up and sat in her lap. She folded her legs across him, glad for his being there. She watched the ancient alicorn make his way back to the large throne. Before he sat she saw on it the symbol of an eternal loop and a crown upon the chair.
When he sat he looked to her, and her eyes dropped.
"Twilight," spoke Celestia to the alicorn, "is one of the greatest students I have ever taught, and her magical abilities are most impressive. She has accomplished much."
"Really?" spoke the alicorn, leaning back.
"Twilight," she said, turning to her student, "Won't you speak of the reforging of the Elements of Harmony?"
"Yes, yes, of course, Highness," she said. However, something flashed within her, "If…if that is okay with both of you."
Luna looked up, raising her head, and smiling at her, nodded, "Of course."
So it was that Twilight retold the story, of the great gambit undertaken by Celestia, the belief that he had placed in her that she would be able to make friends, and therefore inherit the power over the elements.
As she spoke it all the old alicorn looked on, a slight smile across his face, his expression unchanging.
Soon it was over, and upon the completion of the story, all was silent. Soon the alicorn leaned forward, and spoke.
"I was there when they were first forged, the Elements of Harmony, and I know their power. It speaks volume of you, Principal of the Elements, that at such a young age you, and your friends, were able to control them. Far older, and seemingly stronger and more powerfully magical ponies have failed. Much trust my daughter has in you…though I still wonder…"
He trailed off. And soon Luna and Celestia engaged him in conversation again.
Twilight tried to listen, tried to understand, but the names, places, and ideas that flowed back and forth between the alicorns were beyond her. They were far too much for her to comprehend. She felt as a fish suddenly freed from a small tank and thrown to the vast ocean…overwhelmed, yet understanding that there was something massive going on about her.
All too soon it began to fade. A knocking came from beyond the great brass gate, and the alicorns all in turn faced it. Outside the constellation dimmed, and the dagger began to lower into the basket, the flames decreasing.
"Well, my daughters, Miss Sparkle, Spike, it seems time is to be satiated," said the old stallion, and he did so the faces of the princesses suddenly became deeply saddened.
They all together walked back down the long path towards the gate. As they did so the great living spectacle of the cavern fell away, returning to the figures of stone and lit mortar.
"Good-bye, my daughters…my Celestia," he said, grabbing her up in a hug, kissing her. "My Luna," he said doing the same. As he stepped back from them Twilight saw the tears streaming down their faces, big wet tears that fell to the stones with audible pat-pat-pat sounds.
As he turned towards the gate he was suddenly filled with the same amazing light that filled him when he first crossed out of it. He was once again the imposing figure of radiance and terrible countenance.
At that moment the shining stallion, that brilliant and ennobled alicorn, looked back to his children. He smiled to them, tears of his own now visible, rolling down the ancient face.
The two sisters fell down into their deep bows, and Spike and Twilight immediately following in the gesture.
Proud hooves clipped, clopped, clipped, and then disappeared into the blackness of the space beyond the gate.
As soon as he was gone, the sisters, still bowing, began to sing. The words were soft, low, lilting, and in Spike's ears they spoke of something lost, something that had occurred and was being remembered.
At once the great brass gate began to close, and as it did popping sounds came from it. Spike though barely heard them. Instead he, still bowing, caught up by the music made the two sisters, focused on them with his eyes still closed.
In their song he heard many things, and even though it was in a language he could not understand, in his young mind he saw the ages that it spoke of. Long ago times, ponies now vanished, an Equestria young and shimmering, these images and more flit through his thoughts.
So enraptured was he that he did not sense something was wrong for long moments. It was only when the voices began again that he knew something was happening. He opened his eyes, looking up from where he laid. The princesses were before him, still singing, their own eyes still closed.
But there, where the gate slowly closed, stood Twilight, her hoof held up to the black face of the rock. Her mouth moved, but she said nothing.
Heart of the Mountain
Written by The Descendant
Chapter 3: "Shadowed Promises"
"Twilight!" he screamed, running forward, the princesses startling, awakening from their transcendent arias. "No," cried Celestia, "No!"
Twilight Sparkle had not wanted to look up, had wanted to keep bowing to the departing lord. Yet, at once she ventured a glance as he slipped through. As soon as he did she felt something pull at her, something grab at her from beyond the gate.
She had closed her eyes, had looked down to the floor, remembering her promise. She would do nothing; touch nothing, without the permission of the princesses.
When the two had begun to sing it had strengthened her, and she put the feeling aside. As the gates had started to swing shut the voices began again, and she sensed with her magic something powerful, something she was meant to dread…
…yet something so inviting.
Her eyes flashed open, almost against her own will. She shut them, but before she had they caught a glimpse of something beyond the gate, a swirling white cloud that settled down into a cascading tunnel…one that called to her, drew her within…
"No, no…" she told herself, "They told me not to, not to…"
And with that she had opened her eyes again, and saw the blackness beyond the gate. As she had done so it no longer became a question of whether she had wanted to or not…
Her body lifted around her, and she had felt herself walking, walking wordlessly past the singing princesses, past the enchanted Spike, and up to the gate. As she crossed the sill something buffeted her, and inside her own mind Twilight fought to pull back, but her body would not restrain itself.
Before her the onyx expanse was retreating into clouds, and she felt her hoof lift, and she placed it there…
She was falling through the sky! No, not falling…drifting…the vapors of the clouds drifting around her.
Soon the green expanse of the world opened before her…and there was Canterlot. It was not the throne city she knew…it was smaller, somehow younger, and it shone with a greater light.
She felt herself sweeping over it, looking at it over the rooftops of the palace.
There on the common, the same vast garden space she had looked on from her balcony, a family played. Two large proud alicorns were there, and seven foals, all playing on the grass, racing to one another, and calling to each other. The stallion was there, and two of the foals, one blue and black, the other white and pink, touched her heart with their joy…and she knew them…
The clouds shifted again and Canterlot disappeared.
She was raised up and flew across Equestria, in her mind she saw the lands she knew racing away beneath her. Soon she faced young mountains with jagged peaks.
There was a wheel in the sky, a wheel of time, and it was drawing backwards. There was a great crack of thunder, and a storm and a fire upon the mountains. Her mind raced her to that place…and as she watched an alicorn descended from the heavens and his hooves cracked the mountain, and a pass through it was cleft.
Twilight looked upon the alicorn. He was proud, strong, young. She knew then that it was the same stallion she had beheld not a minute before.
He raised his head to the swirling sky and neighed, a fearsome animal sound. The sound echoed down across the land and out into the young country beyond, and the heavens delivered another alicorn into the world, a mare.
The wheel in the sky flew backwards more, and Twilight saw the world from afar, as though she were a passing comet, or a distant moon.
And as she did the world was cracked, it buckled. It was opened, as a book opens, and into it were placed shards of wood and earth, and so she watched Equestria being born.
The wheel turned, and forward she went, back to the world. Now down the mountains that border Equestria she saw ponies arriving…earth ponies strong and industrious. Pegasus ponies, proud and diligent, winged their way down the slopes. Finally her own race, the magical and contemplative unicorns, their hooves making uncertain steps down the mountainside.
Now she was back in Canterlot, the larger, older Canterlot she remembers…yet not so old. Here she saw her teacher, yet younger, not yet so filled with wisdom or light. Luna was with her, but in the larger ennobled form she had before she was reduced.
They were so sad…they were the only alicorns in the city.
Suddenly all was black, and Twilight heard the sounds of a terrible battle, one fought with magic. The sounds of two magical beings in the throws of a desperate battle crashed through her mind, and the harsh cries of wounded mares echoing through the dark joined the cacophony.
The scene lifted again, and her mentor was alone. Celestia in her full glory sat alone on the familiar throne within the palace…weeping, crying unabashedly.
Suddenly Twilight was lifted high above Equestria, so high that she could see all of it, all of it she could imagine and more. All of the places she knew, places she'd visited, places she knew only by name…all of Equestria spread out before her in a panorama of beauty and life.
Yet, as she looked on in wonder something moved. From beyond the borders of Equestria something rose up…swirling forms.
As Twilight looked on intruders that she could neither name nor understand spoiled the magic of the mountain.
"It is a blasphemy," said three voices in unison, shocking Twilight out of her contemplation, "and we hate it, but we will suffer it to exist, Twilight Sparkle, if you will give us your strength."
"What...what, who are you?" she answers.
"If you will bow to us, you can reign over your beloved Equestria," said the three voices, "and we will have the rest."
"What, no…my Majesty…" said Twilight, regaining herself.
"Usurpers!" called the three, "We will not suffer the alicorns! Though, we will give you…"
"No, no I'll not betray…" called Twilight.
"Yes, yes you will, bow to us…" spoke the three voices in sweet tones.
"No, I'm loyal to Celestia, I won't…" she gasped.
"Yes, dear, yes you will…" they replied.
That is what Spike saw her mouthing as he ran to her, saw the battle she was fighting, but could not hear the words.
As Spike jumped over the sill of the gate something struck at him, something pulled at his heart and mind. His heart though was set on Twilight, and his mind on his task, and the pull passed.
"Twi, Twi!" he implored, pulling her tail. As she fell free of the onyx surface the gates came closer to closing. As he did so he thought he heard wails erupt from beyond the blackness of the onyx, but he quickly put it aside, trying to shove or push her free of the gates.
Twilight could not move, could only breathe hard, her eyes distant, her mind falling into the darkness of shock. "Twi!" called the little dragon, placing his hands on either side of her face, "Twi you have to get up, you have to run, walk…canter…teleport! Anything!" he pleaded. Yet, the unicorn did not move, could not move.
"I need help, please!" called the little dragon as the princesses galloped up to the very edge of the sill, then stopped. "Please!" he called again.
"It is beyond us to cross the sill!" answered Luna, her own face showing fear and confusion.
"What do I do?!" called Spike, trying still to push, pull, lift Twilight beyond the closing gate. Its two wings were now less far apart than the breadth of the trunk of the Ponyville library.
There was a flash of magic, and several spells exploded uselessly around him, Spike trying to shield his eyes and Twilight's as well. When he opened them the two were still within the gate. He looked to the princesses again; saw that between them they were charging one last spell. The two opened their eyes, and from their horns flashed a massive arc of magic, framed by the closing gate.
As it reached them Spike looked down to Twilight. She was now enveloped in blue flame, but instead of heat he felt coolness crossing his scales. As he watched the flames were absorbed into Twilight, filling her body.
"Spike," came the calm voice of Celestia, "You must breathe your fire upon her."
"But," he said, looking to the older sister. In her face he saw certainty, and he at once took a deep breath.
"Forgive me," he thought, and consigned his dearest friend to the green flames.
He did not dare open his eyes until he knew that her body had burnt away, until his flames splashed across the floor in long cords.
He opened his eyes in time to see her solidify, to see her come thudding down next to Celestia and Luna, beyond the sill and doors of the closing gate.
At once Twilight let out a scream of horrific pain, an awful sound that shred his heart to hear, and she thrashed about on the stones.
Spike covered his mouth with his hands, reeled in the horror of what he had done. He took a step back from the awful scene that played out beyond the narrowing gate…and at once his spines touched the black onyx.
"Spike," called three voices in unison, "See what we would show you…"
Into Spike's mind came a vision of a massive and powerful dragon, his wings wide, and his scales huge and terrible.
Beneath him was piled a hoard of gold and jewels and gilded weapons of amounts and quantity that he could not start to contemplate. It filled the palace of Canterlot; it spilled out into the streets.
Before the dragon bowed all of the living creatures Spike had ever beheld, from the massive and terrifying hydra down to the tiny, yet reviled, Angel the bunny.
In front of the animals and birds, at the forefront of the assembly, knelt the ponies, cowering before the dragon. Here knelt all of the ponies he had met, and many he could not even name. Good ponies, Big Mac, Applebloom, Snips, Snails, Ditzy, all cowered before the dragon, fearful and despondent. In front of them knelt his friends, Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy…they all knelt there.
And beneath the dragon, the crushed and broken forms of the Two Sisters lay in disgusting repose, unmoving.
Spike was sickened by it…disgusted.
"Why…why would you show me…" he began, but it was not his mouth that moved, but the mouth of the dragon. It was not his voice, but an awful one, like a roll of thunder.
At once he understood.
"All of this could be yours, Spike, if you would give us your strength," spoke the three voices in unison, in a hopeful tone.
The dragon looked down, saw the strength in him, saw how powerful he was. But as Spike, no, not Spike, this mockery of Spike, what a regular dragon would want…as this parody looked down he saw her there, crying.
There was Twilight, kneeling before him. Crying at his presence, terrified of him. He looked to her and she bowed lower, begged him for mercy as she wailed in fear and uncertainty.
Spike curled his lip, the lip of that monstrous dragon, and spoke, "You can not…" he said in that voice, taking a step forward in the bulking form.
"No!" cried the three voices, now in panic.
"You can not…" spoke that dragon, taking steps forward, that false world falling away in front of it.
"…even begin to imagine by how far you missed your guess," said Spike, walking away from the black expanse. The voices of the princesses called to him, and he saw the brass gate closing, now not much wider than himself.
Spike gave a quick sneer to the wall of onyx, and then ran. He ran as fast as he could, first on two legs, and then on all four. In bounding strides he cleared the sill of the gate and then leapt past the doors.
He cleared them in fine fashion, not touching either one as he sailed through, his back firmly turned on the vision that the intruders in the wall had presented him.
He came before the princesses; their horns already alight, working their magic over the forlorn figure of Twilight. As he approached them the gate closed behind him with a massive booming sound, one that echoed through the cavernous space.
He held his hands over his mouth as he looked at her, saw the burns…
"Spike," said Luna, "don't be fearful, look."
He leaned in closer, and as their magic wafted over Twilight the burns fell away, her purple hue returning. The pain melted off her face, replaced by a quiet stillness.
"Oh Twilight…what…" he began, looking down to her, the princesses kneeling on either side of him.
A new threat reached them, and around them great groaning sounds were audible.
"Come," said Celestia, rising up, "the temple is closing, returning to rock. We must be off."
Around them the rock face crept in, enveloping the carved plants and the great pillars.
"We'll never make it to the archway!" called Spike, clutching at Twilight's still form once more. He quickly looked up to the sisters to see their horns already alight, powerful magic swirling about them, lowing over the group.
"Oh, right," he said, closing his eyes, exhaling.
In a flash of magic the Sister Sovereigns, Twilight Sparkle, and Spike flashed out of the Temple at the Heart of the Mountain. As it closed in on itself the Gate of Brass was placed once again into a lonely stillness, undisturbed and as alone as any other tomb.
Twilight Sparkle felt the presence of others near her. A great sound of movement surrounded her. She did not open her eyes at first, not knowing what would be there. Instead she listened…
"…and if we had crossed the sill we would have become as they," spoke the voice of Princess Luna, softly and with a hint of resignation.
"I'm…I'm afraid I don't quite…" replied the voice of Spike, sounding confused.
Nearby the melodic laughter of Celestia let Twilight know that all was all right. Her teacher's voice filled her, and as Celestia spoke she regained strength, "More aged and learned scholars than yourself have struggled with it, Spike. You should be proud of how you…oh, look! The sleeper has awakened!"
"Twi, Twi!" called Spike, leaping to her as she raised her head. She let him embrace her as she gathered in her surroundings.
They were lying on the great dais where the sisters raised and lowered their elements, seated on the long cushions. Twilight looked to see the red band of the sun gathered at the edge of the Eastern Mountains, awaiting the deep magic of Celestia.
"Sister," spoke Luna, "I wane."
"And I dawn," said Celestia, and with that her eyes became brighter, and the sun moved up over the mountains. So it was that a new day broke over Equestria.
Twilight, wobbling, turned towards the view beyond. As the great river parted around them and spilled past the sides of the dais to the earth below she looked into the distance. There in the far, far distance the last few lights of Ponyville shown through the morning mist.
"Twilight," spoke Celestia, leaning closer. "Are you well?"
Twilight shook her head, Spike finally releasing her, looking up to her with worried eyes.
"You must have questions. I will try to answer…"
"I want to go home."
"I…I want to go home!" bawled Twilight Sparkle, falling over into the great white flank of her teacher, crying into her side with heaving sobs.
Celestia embraced her, and all there on the dais moved closer, put their clawed hands and hooves upon her as she wailed.
"Of course…of course, my beloved student," said the elder sister, "You've diligently and faithfully completed your work here. As you always have."
Twilight tried to control her tears, tried to listen. She gathered herself up and looked to her mentor with big tears still running down her face.
"Forgive me, my student, forgive me…" said Celestia, a pained expression passing over her.
"Forgive…forgive, but… I broke my…prom, promise not to touch…" stammered Twilight through her sobs.
"I was wrong. I was too…proud…I had assumed because you had the dream that you were prepared to face the Heart of the Mountain, and through most of it you performed marvelously," said Celestia, laying her head alongside Twilight's, "and you as well Spike."
The dragon blushed and ran his foot back and forth across the dais floor.
"But, in my arrogance I assumed I had already given you enough practice at being in the presence of Deep Magic, but…but I had not…and it called to you in ways you were simply not prepared to anticipate. Forgive me."
Twilight looked upon the face of her teacher. She tried to picture the magnificent alicorn as the tiny pink and white foal again, to see that world which the gate had shown her. But, as always, the majestic and graceful form filled her eyes.
"You are as ever, too kind, my princess," said Twilight Sparkle, "I have trusted that you would tell me if there was anything wrong, I should not have snuck after you, I should not have dragged Spike along when he knew better…" she said, nuzzling him.
"I do trust you, and you will be better prepared next time, I promise," said Celestia.
"Next time?!" shouted Spike and Twilight in unison, in a voice so distraught that passing unicorns looked up to the dais in alarm.
The princesses looked to them, and the two sat. For long moments all was silent, and together the four watched as day crept over the lands over which the Two Sister Sovereigns held dominion. The reigns of Procer Celestia Invictus and Procer Luna Revenio, the two greatest living alicorns, yet not the two greatest alicorns to have lived, moved forward.
"The Heart of the Mountain would not have shown you what it did without reason, Twilight, and if not for the intrusion of those who tainted your vision who knows what else you would have learned…"
Twilight struggled with this, trying to put pieces together.
"If you had not been in danger of being closed behind the doors and cast into the blackness, down into the death-like dreaming, if you had been stronger the Heart would have shown you much beyond what you had witnessed…you should be proud you were strong enough to see what you saw and come out of there as unscathed as you are…"
"Why?" interrupted Spike, "What did Twilight see?"
There was no answer, and Spike wrapped his tail around himself self-consciously.
"I know what you saw as well, Spike, what those who marred the Heart offered you," said Celestia. Spike clenched his teeth in painful embarrassment, hating the idea that his sovereign should see such things. "I know the choice you made, and the quality of your heart," said Celestia, moving her noble head to face him.
"There is none whom I would rather have in the service of my designate, Spike. You are a little dragon," she said, affixing him with a kiss that made him blush as brightly as the dawning sun, "but a little dragon is a dragon none the less, and they are always true to their hearts."
Twilight fought to her feet, shaking still.
"Princess Celestia…do, do I really need to face that again. Must I?"
"Yes," answered the princess, looking to her from where she kneeled, "But the next time you will be better prepared, and so will all of my students whom still await. The Heart can not protect us forever, and that they were able to mar the Heart at your approach shows that they are moving faster than I had hoped…but they have played their hand too early in revealing themselves so…"
Twilight looked to her mentor in bewilderment. "I don't…I don't understand," she said, wrinkling her nose.
With a great sigh Celestia looked out over her domain, and then back to Twilight. "I know…and this knowledge, what you have seen, would be a burden to you, until you were strong enough to understand it…"
Twilight kneeled before her teacher once more, and Celestia gathered her to her again.
"And so, Twilight I ask that you let me lift it from you until such time as you are able to better understand."
Twilight thought, reflected, and then nodded.
Soon she felt the noble head of her teacher touching hers, and she was glad of it.
"You as well Spike," spoke Princess Luna, yawning.
"Oh, okay…ummm," said the dragon turning towards her.
Luna gathered a blushing Spike to her, and laid her head to his. With an ignition of magic the two sisters spoke one word…
…and a purple shaft of light, visible all the way to Ponyville, erupted from the four.
It was in Canterlot, that famous and fabled city, where Twilight Sparkle was made to forget the gate.
Canterlot, that shining city, that city where magic deep and powerful flows just as freely as the water that ripples through its canals and slipways. It was there where Twilight had the gate put out of her mind, at least until she would need to remember it. It was in that city, capital and throne of the Two Sisters, where the Gate of Brass slept in its grave, awaiting the day it would be called upon to reveal all.