It had finally happened.
Equestria lay in ruins. Around Celestia. Around her sister, Luna. And around it, their subjects lay in ruins of their own.
It tore Celestia’s heart apart to see the land like this. Gray. Ash falling from the sky. Complete and utter silence.
Her sister, next to her, an expression of absolute horror on her face. Tears forming vivid, highlighted lines on her face where the dust had been cleared away by the salty water.
And, originating just a few miles away from where Ponyville used to be, a crater. A crater of incomprehensible proportions; miles upon miles across, dozens of miles deep.
And above that, a cloud. It resembled a tree or mushroom, and it was dozens of miles high. There were twenty-two smaller smoke rings surrounding it, Celestia counted.
But the worst part? What it all meant.
Equestria was gone. It didn’t exist any longer. Celestia and Luna were the only residents left. All of their subjects were gone. Disintegrated. Absolutely annihilated.
And the rest of the world. They wouldn’t see the sun for weeks. Months, even. This had happened before, albeit on a much smaller scale, and even those had blocked out the sun for a day or two. But this... The rest of the world would suffer. Crops would die. Winter would take hold prematurely. And no pegasi remained that could fix it.
Celestia’s vision clouded. Tears obscured it as best as they possibly could.
“L-... Luna. Do you realize... what you’ve done?”
“DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!? DO YOU REALIZE IT!?”
There was a wet pitter-patter as Celestia’s tears flowed freely.
“I-... I’m sorry, sister!”
“They’re gone, Luna! GONE! SAYING ‘SORRY’ WILL NOT BRING THEM ALL BACK TO LIFE! Saying that you’re ‘sorry’ will not restore our beautiful country!” Celestia emphasized the last word by stamping on the ground with her hoof, stirring up a wake of dust.
“I know that, sister! I didn’t mean to! I... I couldn’t have meant to...”
“You lost control. Admit it right now. You lost your goddessdamned control.”
“Please sister, don’t swear like tha-”
“Do not call me your sister. No sister of mine could have ever done this.”
Luna shrank away from Celestia’s tirade. “Please, sister! You don’t mean that!”
“Oh, but I do, Luna. Millions. That’s how many. Millions of ponies. Dead. All of them. In one single instant, gone. And who is to be held accountable? Oh, that’s right, my incompetent SISTER. I am ashamed to share blood with you. I am ashamed to admit that I even know you,” Celestia hissed.
Luna sobbed uncontrollably, inconsolable as her sister disowned her. “Celestia, please! We only have each other now! You can’t do this to me!”
“Look what you did to our country! Our people! MILLIONS, LUNA! YOU KILLED THEM ALL!”
“And the titans wouldn’t have!? Is that what you’re saying? That we stood a chance!?”
Celestia stopped in her tracks and reflected upon what had brought this about...
“Twilight, whatever is the commotion? And why have you teleported your friends here as well? This is my day court, you know.”
Twilight’s voice shook as she answered. “P-princess Celestia, something is happening! I was taking Cerberus back to Tartarus-”
Celestia cut her off. “What!? What was Cerberus doing away from Tartarus?”
Twilight resumed her explanation. “I don’t know! I was taking him back, and when we crested the final hill, I saw... things coming out of it! There were monsters everywhere! I teleported back to Ponyville, gathered my friends, and here we are. We need your help! We don’t know what’s happening! Ponyville is in danger!”
Celestia arose from her throne as her horn started to glow, and she vanished in a flash of light. She reappeared in a completely dark room; Luna’s bedroom.
“Sister, you must wake up at once. The seal we placed on Tartarus has failed. The demons and monsters sealed away are escaping!”
Luna wiped her eyes blearily, but donned her royal raiments quickly. They both teleported back out to the court where Twilight and her friends were trying to console a bawling Fluttershy. They stepped past them and out of the court, and gazed out upon their land. In the direction of Ponyville, several smoke columns were drifting lazily through the sky, giving evidence to the chaos below them. Explosions could be seen from Celestia and Luna’s vantage point. It was dozens of miles away, but it was evident that Ponyville was under attack.
Celestia turned around and started to walk back inside. She started barking orders to her guards at once. “You! Get General Himmock immediately. You have permission to use force if necessary. Tell him we have what could be the most important war Equestria has fought in four thousand years on our hooves here.”
The guard nodded fiercely. “Yes, your majesty!” And he took off at a gallop. Celestia quickly processed more thoughts. “You, contact the post office and inform them that they must send evacuation notices to the mayors of all towns and cities within a one-hundred mile radius of Ponyville. If refugees have nowhere to go, we have room here in Canterlot.” As the guard obeyed the command and left, Celestia thought about what else she normally did in wartime. “Let’s see, let’s see...”
Suddenly the floor started shaking and a deep rumble filled the air. Luna’s voice drifted in from outside. “Tia, get out here now. We need to do something!”
Celestia galloped outside and gasped at what she saw. Where the mountain that stood over Tartarus once was was a massive hand. It dug its fingers deep into the earth and started hauling hard. A massive head appeared shortly thereafter, trees and boulders sliding off of the top of it. It opened its mouth and roared, the sound hitting them seconds later. It sounded angry beyond comprehension, and nearly deafened the two princesses. It shattered several windows in the castle around them and they could hear the retorts of shattering windows from the city far beneath them.
Celestia and Luna looked on it in horror. “Good goddess... a titan,” Celestia breathed. Luna sweated profusely. “C-can our military handle something like that, Tia?”
Celestia bit her lip fiercely. “No. They can’t. It’s just too big... we haven’t fought them in four thousand years. I didn’t think a titan would emerge this quickly.”
Luna shivered slightly as she gazed upon the behemoth slowly pulling itself out of the ground. “Which one is that? I think it’s... Hyperion?”
Celestia shook her head. “No, that’s... oh my goddess. That’s Cronus.” Luna whipped her head around. “What!? But he’s the leader! He’s the strongest and the biggest, and, and-”
Celestia pushed her hoof against Luna’s lips. “Now is not the time to panic, little sister, now is the time for action. Come, we must plan strategies for how we are going to deal with this.” Celestia stood and began to walk away.
“B-but what about Ponyville? Are you saying that you’re just going to abandon it? What will happen to it!?” Luna screeched from her sitting position, unable to tear her eyes away from Cronus. Celestia stood still.
“...Luna... I’m sorry, but there’s no hope for Ponyville at this rate. There are already too many monsters that have escaped, and with Cronus soon to be upon it... there’s no hope, Luna. Just let them be. We cannot save them without endangering the lives of countless others.”
Celestia started to walk inside again, but was interrupted once more by Luna. “So they’re just collateral damage? Is that it? The ‘trojan horse’, if you will, only they won’t be dealing any actual damage? No, they’re just the guinea pigs! The sacrifices! Why would you do that!?”
“Because we cannot save them, Luna! If we had known this was going to happen, then maybe we could have mounted a proper defense, but there’s nothing to be done at this point! With Cronus there!? We cannot save them!”
Celestia felt the light slowly dimming around her, as if the color was being sucked out of the world. She turned around quickly to see that Luna’s horn was sucking it all in, absorbing entirely too much energy. “That’s where you’re wrong, sister. There is something to be done. We can do something!”
Celestia spoke quickly. “Luna, this is madness! Stop that at once! As your older sister and thereby your elder, I command thee to stop at once!”
Luna glared daggers at Celestia even as she gathered power from the air around her. “No, Tia! I won’t let them die! We are in this together, you are not the only one that gets to make decisions!”
Celestia’s heart skipped a beat. “Luna, don’t be a fool! Stop at once! STOP!”
Luna ignored her and continued charging the energy. Lightning bolts started to crackle in the air around her, her horn almost too bright to look at. In the distance, Cronus slowly turned his gargantuan head towards them, seeing the bright light that Luna was creating. Cracks started spreading through the ground around them, and fissures began to open up in the streets of Canterlot while the ground began to rumble as it had before when Cronus was first emerging.
“Don’t do this, Luna! You’ll destroy us all! STOP!” Celestia dove at her sister.
“No Tia, don’t touch me while I’m doing thi-!”
The energy instantly released itself all at once. Celestia watched in horror as the beam of light narrowed in on the entrance to Tartarus.
“TWILIGHT! RUN!” Celestia managed to scream as she threw herself in front of her bewildered sister, before a miniature sun blossomed in the middle of her country, her beautiful, beautiful country.
The air around her instantly warmed to over ten-thousand degrees Fahrenheit for less than a fraction of a second. All of the air was then sucked away, towards the epicenter of the blast. Twilight and her friends were dead, completely disintegrated before Twilight had time to process Celestia’s warning. By now, nearly everypony within a hundred miles was dead. Celestia and her sister were in agony. Just because they were immortal did not mean they could not feel pain.
The earthquake hit first. It wasn’t a rumble caused by the blast. It was an earthquake caused by the blast. The ground quaked and buckled beneath Luna and Celestia before either had time to think, mile wide fissures instantly opening up as a result of pure concussive force, tectonic plates being forced apart far more quickly than was natural.
The shockwave hit next. Luna and Celestia were sent flying by the returning air, Celestia desperately clinging on to one of the last living beings in Equestria. They were both nearly deafened by the sound of the blast and would have been completely deafened if not for their immortal bodies. They could not suffer injuries after all, yet pain was still an active feature. Why? Celestia wondered as she and Luna flew mile after mile through the blazing sky.
They crashed into the ground, hard, both of them rolling several hundred feet in the dust and rock before they slowed to a stop. They lay there for several minutes like that, together, both sobbing uncontrollably in part due to the traumatic experience and in part due to the fact that every living pony they had ever known was now gone.
Celestia stood up first. She gazed at her surroundings. Or lack thereof. There was nothing. The mountain that Canterlot had been built on was gone. Whether it had disintegrated from the heat or had been blown away by the shockwave, Celestia was uncertain. She wasn’t even certain how two immortals could survive such a cataclysmic event. Sure, the obvious answer was ‘they’re immortal’, but... destruction on such a grand and catastrophic scale... it just didn’t seem possible.
Luna slowly stood up after Celestia. She stood next to her sister for a time, gazing upon the fireball that consumed their kingdom before she plopped down in the dirt. Celestia sat down next to her and watched all that once was fade from existence.
It had finally happened.
“And the titans wouldn’t have!? Is that what you’re saying? That we stood a chance!?”
Celestia stopped in her tracks.
The titans... were a force to be reckoned with, to put it lightly. Four thousand years ago, when Equestria was but a few centuries of age, they had emerged from the Earth with their own armies, much as Cronus had but minutes ago, and waged what had seemed like a hopeless war against the sovereign nation.
Hopeless was, however, the defining characteristic of the war. Celestia and Luna’s armies were vanquished in minutes if they were not careful, and it eventually became clear that conventional warfare was not an option when dealing with these brutes. The general rule “When a titan is spotted, bring in the goddesses!” was put into place quickly. Luna and Celestia had always hated the saying because of the morbid nature behind the innocent rhyme, but it was essentially true. It had been standard battle procedure to evacuate should a titan make itself known and to immediately notify the princesses. Celestia and Luna were more than capable of taking them down on their own, but they had to be careful to ensure they did not use enough firepower to injure anypony nearby.
Which was precisely what Luna had just done.
“Why did you do it, Luna?” Celestia asked tearfully. “We could have defeated him together, just like we did all those millennia ago. Why did you jump ahead like that? We could have prevented this...”
“I-... I didn’t m-mean to, T-Tia. I-it just happened,” Luna shakily replied, barely maintaining her composure. “I w-wanted to save P-Ponyville, b-but-!” Luna gave in to her emotions and collapsed on Celestia, sobbing into her sister’s mane as she hugged her as tightly as was possible. “I’m so sorry, Tia! I’m so, so, sorry! This wasn’t supposed to happen! It shouldn’t be this way!”
Celestia choked up as well. She couldn’t help herself.
“I-I’m sorry, too, sister.” Luna looked up at Celestia questioningly. “I-... I could never leave my one and only sister... the only pony I can never lose to time’s poison. I’ll never say something like that to my sister, my own flesh and blood, ever again. You’re my sister, and nothing can ever change that.”
Luna’s lips trembled ferociously. “D-don’t say that, Tia. You know you don’t have to. Besides, I don’t deserve an apology after... after...!” Luna buried her face in Celestia’s mane once more, wetting it even more. Celestia didn’t care a bit. Her sister’s sanity was slightly more important than a perfect mane.
“It was an accident, little sister. As... grievous, an accident it was, it was still an accident. How could I never forgive my own sister on account of something she did not intend to do?” If Luna heard her, she gave no sign of it.
They sat there like that, for a while. As sisters, one supporting the other when she needed it most.
Celestia’s eyes snapped open. It was approaching dusk.
Or at least, that’s what her internal clock told her. An ugly, grey layer of dust and ash filled the sky, covering the land as it slowly drifted down upon them. It was almost like winter, albeit not quite as... fun.
Celestia looked down at herself. In doing so, a bit of ash fell to her folded up forelegs beneath her. She noticed her forelegs were also already covered in their own layer of dust. She had evidently nodded off at some point after Luna’s sobs had ceased. The alicorn sneezed quite cutely, freeing more of the ash from her mane.
Something stirred to the right of her. Glancing over, she confirmed that a small, slightly blue pile of ash was moving around next to her and on her, Luna’s head not having fallen off of Celestia’s shoulder yet and in what appeared to be a peaceful slumber. Celestia smiled warmly and extended her right wing, brushing the ash off and wrapping Luna in its feathery embrace. The smaller alicorn sighed happily and snuggled closer to her sister.
Celestia was accustomed to such cuteness from her little sister. For the first month after Luna’s return from her banishment, Luna had been afraid to sleep in her own bedroom at the castle, explaining that she heard Nightmare Moon in her thoughts when she was alone, and had requested to be allowed to sleep in Celestia’s room. Celestia found it slightly adorable, in a dark sort of way. It was similar to a foal having a nightmare and being unable to sleep, thus coming to sleep in its parents’ room. This, however, did not take away from the fact that Luna’s reason was far, far more serious, in that it was a real nightmare.
Nevertheless, thus started Celestia becoming accustomed to her sister’s presence once more. She had forgotten how adorable her sister could be at times, and this was proven nearly every night they spent together thereafter, Luna always asking for more room or more blankets or to cuddle or whatever it was. Celestia didn’t care; she had a little sister again.
It had been an even bigger issue for Luna to start sleeping on her own again. She brought it up with Celestia one night as they lay down for bed...
“...Tia, are you okay with me sleeping in here every night?”
“Well we’ve been doing this for nearly three months, sister, I think I would have objected by now if I had a problem.” Luna stared indignantly at Celestia. “...Okay, okay, fine. No, it’s not a problem at all. I like it, actually. I missed you so, so much, and it’s just so wonderful to see you again, to hear the sound of your voice again. I’m sure you understand the feeling of which I speak, sister.”
“Of course I do, but don’t you think that it’s... um, odd, for a millennia-old pony to be afraid of sleeping on her own?”
Celestia stared at her sister seriously. “No, Luna, I do not think of it as being ‘odd’ one bit. For starters, nopony has had to endure what happened to you. Nopony knows what it’s like for evil to constantly be nibbling at the back of their minds, always threatening to overwhelm them once more.” Luna’s eyes clouded up a bit. “And besides, we haven’t seen each other for one thousand years, Luna. That’s a long time for ponies to be separated, let alone sisters. There are few ponies that live past one hundred years, yet here we are in our four thousands. Heck, another two-hundred-eight years and I’ll be five thousand! Another six centuries after that and you shall be as well! The only other being that shares that kind of age is Discord, and he hasn’t even been allowed to experience most of it.”
Luna smiled at the mention of Discord. Despite his terrible ways, she’d always found him to be quite a gentleman when he wanted to be, and hilarious in his own way. She liked him as the being he was. It was too bad he was so mean to everypony else. But she also spotted an inconsistency within Celestia’s words. “What about dragons, dear sister? Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten them!”
Celestia stuck her tongue out at Luna. “Hey, just because I’m older than you doesn’t mean I have to remember everything!” she replied hotly. Luna giggled. Celestia continued, “My point is, we haven’t seen each other for longer than anypony else has ever lived. I’d say we’re doing fine right now,” she finished. “Why do you bring it up, sister?”
Luna paused and thought carefully before answering. “I... I think I want to sleep in my own room again. Don’t mistake my intentions to be ill, Tia, but I feel like I should. After all, we’re both princesses. Us being sisters doesn’t excuse this... juvenile behavior.”
Celestia mock-gasped. “Here and I thought my sister loved me! Woe is me, oh woe is me! I am sisterless once more.” She swooned dramatically, crashing into her pillow with a resounding thud. Luna giggled at her sister’s melodramatic display. “No, silly Tia! I just think that it’s time we both move on a bit more. As you said, we’re both older than anypony around, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem that I separate myself from you at nighttime.”
Celestia straightened up and laid next to her sister. “Of course, my dear sister. We can make arrangements tomorrow for your room to be prepared for you, it won’t be a problem. But, I demand one thing from you in exchange...” Celestia dropped off dramatically.
Sensing her sister’s intentions and tensing slightly, Luna allowed herself to play along. “And what might that be, dear sister?”
Celestia suddenly reared up, bringing both of her forelegs high over her head. “That thou allowest thyself to be tickled!” She crashed down on Luna, immediately targeting her armpits. Luna bucked and laughed, hardly able to resist the much larger pony bearing down on her. “Ah! T-Tia, stop-heehee!- stop it!”
Celestia moved down to the soft area between Luna’s hips and her ribs before smiling sadistically. “Never!” she shouted as she dove in to attack once more.
Luna kicked and shrieked for a few more moments before taking hold of her sister in a magical glow and tossing her to the side, allowing herself much needed breathing room. “I... think... that’s... enough.” Luna managed in between gasps.
She turned over and looked at Celestia. Celestia had the biggest, sappiest grin that Luna had ever seen. “... I swear, sister, for what should be an omnipotent, all-powerful goddess, you sure like to have fun.” Celestia snorted. “Psh. As if. Just because I’m older and bigger than everypony else doesn’t mean I don’t get to have fun too!”
Luna sighed. “I suppose you’re right.” Celestia turned over to face her sister as well. “So... if you’re going to start sleeping in your room again, does that mean...?”
“Yes, I’ll be sleeping during the daytime once more, as I always used to. They don’t call me the Princess of the Night for nothing, it’s time I start acting like one!” Luna puffed her chest out with apparent bravado.
Celestia giggled. “Alright, little sister, if you insist. We can stay this way longer if you wish, you know. I love talking to you like this. We won’t be allowed nearly as much free time together once we return to our old schedule.”
“I know, and while it saddens me as well, the needs of our subjects are more important than the words you and I exchange during our free time,” Luna supplied, much to Celestia’s distaste.
“Ah well. No sense getting mopy about it, I suppose. We did it a millennium ago, we can do it now. In any case, I’m feeling slightly sweaty from our tickling match. What say we take a bath before bed?” Celestia suggested. Luna bounced up happily. “Sure! Last one to the bathroom isn’t a princess!”
Her sister grinned. “Ha! You’re on, shorty!”
Celestia’s reverie was broken by a pitter-patter on the ground in front of her. Looking down, she saw that she had allowed herself to become absorbed in the dream, emotions temporarily overcoming her.
Celestia snorted and raised her left wing to wipe away the tears streaming down her face. Such simpler times... How I miss them.
She glanced over at Luna once more. Aside from having changed position slightly, Luna hadn’t done much during Celestia’s daydream of the past.
Celestia carefully lowered Luna to the ground and stood up to her full height, stretching both of her wings until they trembled before planting both of her forelegs on the ground far in front of her, stretching the length of her body as a cat might.
After having stretched thoroughly and completely, she decided she could avoid it no longer. Celestia’s horn took on a bright glow as she took hold of the massive star in the sky, slowly guiding it along on its orbit around the planet and aiding it in sinking beneath the horizon.
If it had been dark before, she may as well have been blind, now. It was practical pitch-black all around her. She turned to her sister, still sleeping blissfully. “Luna, wake up. It’s time to raise your moon. Come on, little sister!”
Luna grumbled grouchily. “I know, I know. I don’t sleep through moon-rise as often as I used to, you know that.” Luna slowly stood up and replicated her sister’s stretches, before performing the same procedure, albeit in reverse by raising the moon rather than setting it. She turned to Celestia. “So... what now? I’m relatively certain we’ll wake up buried in this ash once more if we continue to sleep out in the open like this, and immortal or not, I'd rather not wake up suffocating in this... stuff.”
Celestia thought for a moment. “Well, there’s not too much in the way of shelter out here in this wasteland.” Luna flinched. “So I’ll just utilize some old spells and get us one built then!”
Celestia focused, and her horn began to glow. Several feet behind Luna, a large section of ground began to glow yellow with Celestia’s magic. It trembled for a moment, then the section began to rise out of the earth, eventually forming a ten foot solid column sticking out of the ground. The front portion of the column then began to glow, and a rectangular portion cut itself out and started to slide out, leaving about a foot-thick wall on all sides. Once the rectangular portion was fully out of the column, Celestia neatly sliced another foot thick segment from it and placed it back over the gaping hole in the column, giving it the same appearance as before. Finally, she cut a half circle from the bottom of the section, creating a large, cave-like entrance.
Luna whistled. “Nice job, sister.” Celestia puffed her chest out. “It’s not too bad, I suppose. It’s not our castle, but it’ll do.” She walked inside and lit her horn for a moment, allowing Luna enough light to enter without risk of bruising her nose on the wall outside. “It’s certainly better than being covered in all that ash.” Luna flinched again. Celestia smiled apologetically. “Sorry.
“In any case, what say we retire for the night? It’s impossible to see out there, and I’m beat. Sound good to you, little sister?” Celestia asked.
“There’s not much else to do, so we may as well. Besides, that... mishap earlier took quite a bit out of me,” Luna conceded. Celestia nodded. “Rest it is, then.”
They both laid down, Celestia scooting over to her sister. They enveloped each other in the other’s wings in order to keep warm, and also out of comfort. Celestia put the light from her horn out. “Good night, dear sister.” “And good night to you, Tia.”
Several minutes passed peacefully. Luna noticed that her sister was shaking after a time. “What’s wrong, Tia?”
“Luna... they’re... they’re really gone. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it,” Celestia whispered, her voice shaking. “All of our subjects... all of our friends...” she moaned. “E-even... Twilight Sparkle-!” Celestia sniffled. She couldn’t hold it in any longer. She had put on a mask for her sister earlier, but that was not an option any longer. The mask was cracking. The weight that had been bearing down on her finally crushed her, overwhelming her final reservations of dignity.
“Twilight... my faithful student... where are you now? I never even got to tell her how m-much she meant to me... she was so young! So f-full of potential...” Sobs began to wrack Celestia’s body, transferring over to Luna. Luna hugged her sister tighter, listening to her sister openly cry for the first time in over a millennium. Tears graced her eyes as well, but she contained them.
They laid there like that, for a while. As sisters, one supporting the other when she needed it most.
Celestia awoke with a start.
It was just before dawn. Which was how she always woke up. Same routine, every day, always at four thirty.
Celestia winced as she struggled out of Luna’s grasp. She hadn’t slept on hard ground in... ever. It hurt.
She walked outside of their makeshift hut, making tracks in the thick ash, and performed her normal after-sleep stretch, having to repeatedly shake her wings in order to get the blood flowing again. She hated when she slept on her wings funny. Or when other ponies slept on them. Although last night... was an exception. Celestia felt a primal urge to be near her sister at all times, it seemed. Made sense, seeing as how Luna was the only other living pony around.
She took hold of the sun and aided it in its path through the sky once again. Celestia then stepped inside of the hut once more. Luna was curled up peacefully on the floor, her mane flowing in a wind that didn’t exist. Celestia took the liberty of making Luna her seat.
“Oof!” Luna squeaked as she suddenly found a large weight pressing down on her side. “W-...what art thou doing, Tia!? Get off of Us!” Luna tossed a giggling Celestia across the room and sat up, stretching her wings and the rest of her body in general, several joints popping in the process.
Luna stared at Celestia, and Celestia stared right back, barely suppressing snickers. “...You know I hate it when you do that to me,” Luna deadpanned.
“Oh, but it’s so much fun to aggravate you, sister!” Celestia replied cheerfully.
“Why? I don’t understand. You never do any of this to anypony else. I’m the only one.”
“Because you give the desired reaction, silly! If you just tossed me off without saying anything, maybe I’d stop. But nope! You yell at me! You’re so cute when you’re angry.You always use words like we did in ancient times! It’s quite adorable.” Celestia punctuated her last sentence by poking her tongue out at Luna.
“Well, injuries or not, the moon will not set itself. I hope my legs still function after such a gargantuan weight crushed me...” Luna waited for Celestia’s reply.
“Hey! I’m not gargantuan! I might be tall, but that’s it! Spoiled brat.”
Luna giggled as she stepped out of the hut. Well, at least she’s doing better than she was last night.
Luna considered that for a moment. Actually, at least we’re both doing better than yesterday. It’ll take a while, but... things might get better. Luna stared out at the miles of wasteland before her. Okay, not likely. Maybe we’ll start to feel better.
After setting the moon, she peered inside of the hut. Celestia had been quiet since Luna had stepped outside. She found her sitting curled up on the floor. “Are you alright, Tia?”
Celestia looked to Luna. “No, Luna, I am not alright. Our kingdom is gone. Our subjects are deceased.” Celestia slowed and swallowed for a second, but continued. “And worse, the gate to Tartarus could still possibly be open.”
Luna flinched at Celestia’s sudden hostility. Then again, it was to be expected. Luna was genuinely surprised that her sister had forgiven her so quickly the day before. “I- I’m sorry, Tia. I was just asking. Shall we go?”
Celestia stared at Luna exasperatedly. “Go? Go where? Where would we go? There is nowhere to go. Nothing is left, Luna.”
“I know, sister! But what else are gonna do? Shall we just sit in here and mope all day? Is that it? That benefits neither of us. Besides, maybe there is something left. It’s not like my magic was that powerful...”
Celestia’s jaw dropped. “Let’s just go. Lead the way, miss pioneer.”
They both stepped out into the open. The ash had piled about two hooves high. This was to the knees for most ponies, but it was slightly past Celestia’s ankles and halfway up Luna’s shins.
“What happened to you, anyways? One moment you’re bubbly enough, content with sitting on your dear sister as she attempts to gain some beauty sleep. The next, you bite my head off for asking a question,” Luna asked.
“Something to the effect of remembering that our entire kingdom is gone,” Celestia answered mutely.
“You realize what we’re walking in, right? This is...” Luna changed the subject, but Celestia cut her off.
“Don’t say it, Luna. Just lead on. Where are going to go, anyways?”
“How about the entrance to Tartarus? We need to ensure nothing else is gonna crawl out of there anyways. Even if there is no Equestria to be in peril, other countries may still face the wrath of whichever creatures claw their way out of there. We should ensure that doesn’t happen.”
Celestia moaned. “It’ll take days to get there on hoof!”
Luna looked at her sister skeptically. “Well we can’t fly. This ash makes sure of that. Standing around complaining won’t get us there any faster, so let’s just go.”
They both turned toward the crater, now dark without any sunlight to illuminate it, and began their journey. They walked in silence at first, each deep in their own thoughts, until Luna decided to break that silence.
“...How about we play a game?”
Celestia glanced over at Luna. “Like what?”
“The residents of Ponyville showed me lots of games when I was there last Nightmare Night! Let’s play I Spy. Let’s see... I spy... something grey!”
“Wow, you’re good! Your turn, Tia!”
“Um... I spy... something light grey.”
“That’s the clouds, obviously! My turn again! I spy-”
“Luna, there’s really nothing else to spy out here. Let’s play something else.”
“No really, I’ve got something this time! I spy something white!”
Celestia was confused. What was there that was white out here? She scanned the horizon. “Where?”
“That’s why it’s called ‘I Spy’, Tia! I spy it, and you have to find it. It’ll ruin the fun if I tell you!”
Celestia sighed. “Fine. Um...” She focused harder, narrowing her eyes in concentration and to make her vision slightly better.
The realization hit Celestia like a frying pan in the head. “Me. It’s me, isn’t it? Goddess, I’m slow sometimes...”
Luna giggled. “Nope! Good guess, though! But I’m looking at something else.”
Celestia was exasperated. What was Luna talking about? There was nothing out there- oh.
She spotted a small white blot in the distance. “How the hay did you see that, Luna?”
“Hey, you were mean to me earlier this morning! It’s only fair I get to mess with you in return. You always put yourself in a bad mood when you think too hard, so I want to make things easier.”
“Point taken. Aside from the fact that this game is exclusively about looking around and concentrating. Anyways, let’s go see what it is.”
It took several minutes, but Celestia was able to finally distinguish what it was. And she was uncertain if it was a good discovery, or a bad one.
They both stood over the white object, speechless.
“...It’s Discord.” Celestia stated plainly.
“How... did... he...?”
“He’s immortal, like us. I guess that also applies to his statue.”
“...Huh. Do you think he’s...?”
“I have no doubt. Since the Elements of Harmony are... no longer synchronized with anypony, he could wake up any moment now. It took about a day last time, I believe.”
“And it’s been about a day.”
Silence reigned between the two alicorns.
“... I wish he’d wake up.”
“Celestia! I thought you hated Discord!”
“I do! But only because he terrified everypony so. Now there aren't exactly... many ponies around for him to terrify. He’d make for some nice company when there isn’t anything to make chaos out of.”
Several moments passed by as they stood there, staring at the statue, Discord’s expression permanently frozen in a shriek of horror.
Luna kicked it.
“Luna! Stop that at once!”
“What? I thought you wanted him to wake u-”
Luna was cut off by a loud cracking sound. She and Celestia both glanced down at the statue. A large crack had formed directly between his eyes.
“Oh goodness. We’re in for it now. Get ready, Luna!”
“Get ready for what? It’s not like he can kill us.”
“I’m trying to be dramatic, would you play along? And he technically can, being another immortal," Celestia added.
“Well, he can have fun trying, we have him outnumbered. Besides, I think he liked me when he was around. I certainly appreciated him, albeit not his chaos.”
"For goodness’s sake, it’s a millennia-old god of chaos we have on our hooves here. You could at least act intimidated.”
“But we outnumber him!”
“Come on, Luna!”
“Fine. Ooooh, ahhhh, watch out, here comes Discooord, are we your prey alone? Or are we the stepping stone for taking back the throne? Discooooord, we won’t take it anymo-”
“Oh shut up! You’re no fun.”
“You told me I was lots of fun this morning.”
“Only when I’m in a good mood, not you.”
“I can’t believe a monarch would act this way.”
“I can’t believe a monarch’s little sister, who also happens to be a monarch, would speak this way to her elder sister.”
“I’m gonna kick it again.”
Luna ignored her sister’s pleas and kicked Discord’s statue again. Several more cracks formed on the anterior.
“What if he’s mad at us? What if-”
“Be quiet, Tia! I’m trying to concentrate.”
The statue was enveloped in the blue glow of Luna’s magic, floated into the air, and then repeatedly began slamming against the ground.
“LUNA! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”
“TRYING TO SAVE US FROM BOREDOM, THAT’S WHAT!”
The statue suddenly emitted a white light from all of its cracks. Celestia and Luna fell to their rears. They both stared at the statue for several seconds until all of the white stone fell away from it, leaving a surprised draconequus in its place.
“...What the hell happened here?” Discord looked around himself, pausing for a moment on the crater. “Or should I be more specific... what happened there?” He had somehow conjured sunglasses with which he could dramatically lower at the spectacle.
Luna sighed. “That... was me.”
Discord’s eyes widened. “What? But how? You aren’t that tough. I mean, I’m that tough, but you? No.”
Luna scowled at him. “Okay, mister know-it-all. Tell Tia and me how it got there then.”
This got Discord’s attention. “Oh, Celestia! I haven’t seen you in... a year or two now! Luna, on the other hand, I haven’t seen you since you both sealed me away originally. Where were you last time, anyways?”
“Sleeping. I am the Princess of the Night after all.”
“Right. And my shoes are made of gold.”
Luna stared at Discord for several seconds.
“...What? You don’t believe me? Look!” He gestured at his pony leg. It had a golden shoe on the bottom of it.
“I... don’t even know what to say about that. But yes, I was asleep during your last visit. Celestia was confident in the abilities of the current Elements to defeat you,” Luna said.
“Anyways, as I was saying, what happened here? There doesn’t seem to... be anything.”
“As I was saying, I accidentally... it was an accident, okay?”
Discord’s jaw hit the ground. “You really weren’t kidding. My goodness, this is impressive for someone that doesn’t even practice stirring up chaos on her downtime. But let me ask you this: What is there left for me to ruin if you’ve already ruined everything!? You really weren’t thinking about me on this one, were you? Selfish jerk.”
Luna bristled. “No, Discord, you were about the LAST thing on my mind! I was more focused on destroying the titan that threatened our homes and livelihood!”
“A titan, you say? What are these... titans? Are they titanic?”
“Yes, Discord, I’m going to ignore your sarcasm and tell you that they are quite large. We’re uncertain of where they originated or why they decided to attack us, but we went to war with them and their armies of monsters before you came around.”
“Then what were they doing here? Didn’t you kill them or something?” Discord was clearly perplexed.
“They can’t be killed. Well, by conventional means, anyways,” Celestia answered, speaking up for the first time in Discord’s presence. “Luna used a method we haven’t used since we saw the first one. I wish we hadn’t even discovered it in the first place. The titans are, essentially, immortal, just like you, Luna, or myself. They can be injured, but they always bounce right back, and they can take many, many injuries before it begins to make a difference. And even then, the injuries heal far more quickly than is natural.
“But when they first emerged from the ground, in a time of desperation, I accidentally... discharged too much energy in an attack against one of them. A large portion of our country would have perished had I not done something right then. As sad as it is, that portion still perished because of what I did. We discovered they can be killed... but only if you coalesce massive amounts of energy and release it all at once. The ensuing blast disintegrates miles upon miles of terrain, and knocks down structures miles beyond that, not to mention severely burning anypony directly exposed to the blast, and that’s only provided the heat doesn’t instantly kill them.
“Starswirl the Bearded did experiments of such a nature using Luna and I as his ‘test subjects’, if you will. He, essentially, discovered that unicorns could blow things up at will if one collected enough energy and released it upon one point. Unicorns had accidentally killed other ponies before when they got angry enough, and Starswirl set out to find out why. Well, there’s the answer. I remembered this ability all those years later when those monsters made themselves known, and... I abused its power, to the expense of my enemies and my own ponies. It was a terrible, awful price, but I don’t honestly know what may have happened had I not done otherwise. That, Discord, is what happened here, albeit just yesterday.” Celestia looked in the direction of the crater, not making an effort to hide the tears that slid down her face.
Discord floated in place, taking it all in. “...Wow. Just wow. You guys are even better than I am at this stuff.” He swallowed his words when Celestia and Luna both glared daggers at him. “I didn’t mean it like that! I... aw heck. There’s no way to cover that one up. Sorry.
“Anyways, how did the titans come back? Didn’t you say that you defeated them?” Discord inquired further.
Celestia took a moment to formulate an answer. “No. We could never have defeated them. I mean, we could have, but not before all of our people lay dead at our hooves. So we made a seal. An underground prison, named Tartarus. We sealed the titans in there using ancient, dark magic. They had remained under such and lock and key ever since then, until just yesterday. We don’t know how or why the seal failed, but we intend to find out.
“Which brings us back to our original point of why we’re here. Discord, I understand that we haven’t... seen eye-to-eye in the past, but we have nothing left. Literally. The country is gone, our people are gone. The only thing Luna and I have left is each other. Would you please consider being our companion, Discord? I know this is sudden and completely random, but I don’t see an alternative unless you’re content wandering this wasteland on your own. Where’s the point in inflicting chaos unless somepony is around to enjoy it?” Celestia put on her best smile.
Discord was silent for a few moments, deep in thought. “Hm. You present a damning point. And it’s not like I have much to work with here anyways. I can always conjure things, but that’s very tiring. It’s one thing to alter a state of matter, it’s another entirely to make matter out of nothing. There are a few laws of physics dead-set against that, if I do recall. In any case, there’s really nothing else for me to do here. Why not? Show me this Tartarus place, I want to see these titans you speak of.”
Celestia stood up and began to walk towards the crater. “Trust me, no you don’t... actually, you of all beings might. But most ponies wouldn’t.”
Luna stood up as well and followed her sister. “How long do you think it will take to get there?”
Discord gazed out at the crater. “Hell if I know. I usually just fly everywhere. Or teleport. Why don’t you two do that?”
Celestia stopped abruptly and planted her hoof on her face. “Oh my goodness... how did I forget that? Luna, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t like to teleport! We have wings for a reason,” Luna retorted.
“Whatever. Let’s teleport to the edge of the crater.” Celestia’s horn took on the yellow glow of her magic and she disappeared with a pop and a flash of light. Luna sighed and did the same, while Discord smugly snapped a finger and vanished.
All three appeared directly next to the crater’s edge. Celestia took several steps forward, peering into the dark hole. “Gah. Why is it so dark? Why won’t these clouds go away?”
“Probably because Luna nuked the place, that’s why.”
“Be quiet,” Celestia hissed. “How are we getting down there?”
“Like this!” Celestia’s eyes dilated to pinpoints and a fierce blush developed on her face as she felt two hands firmly grasping her flanks before she was roughly shoved off the edge.
Luna turned on Discord. “What the hay is wrong with you!?”
Discord shrugged. “What? I’m a god of chaos. Don’t expect me to be predictable. Besides, didn’t you two invite me along in the first place?”
“So we could have somepony else to talk to! It’s quite lonely out here, actually. But not so you can bully Tia!” Luna stomped on the ground to emphasize her point.
“I’m not bullying her. It’s difficult to be bullied when you’re immortal, I’ve found, and I’m betting that Celestia is no exception.” Discord looked over the edge. “YOU ALRIGHT, CELESTIA?”
“ASSHOLE!” Celestia swore back. Discord gestured in the general direction of Celestia smugly. “See? She’s fine.”
Luna sighed. “Whatever. Let’s just get down there with her.” Luna tentatively place her hoof on the edge of the crater and felt downward to get an idea of what to expect. Discord had other ideas, however, and scooped Luna up in his hands before diving off the edge.
“What the hay are you doing!?” Luna screeched as they both skidded down the edge.
“Making our trip about a half hour shorter! You’d have taken forever!” Discord replied.
“Because I’m careful, dumbass! What happens if we- oof!” Luna flew out of Discord’s arms as he collided with a particularly large boulder, throwing both of them off-kilter.
They both arrived at the floor of the crater covered in dirt. Luna shakily stood up and gazed down at her right foreleg, noting a trail of a golden liquid flowing from a... cut in the side?
She looked up to Celestia. “T- Tia? What the hay is going on? Look at this!” She rushed over and pushed her hoof in her sister’s face.
Celestia stared at it for only a moment before flashing a similar injury on her cutie mark. “I-... I don’t know. I think it has something to do with the Elements. Now that they’re gone, maybe we’re...”
Luna slapped her sister with her hoof. Celestia winced before turning on Luna. “What the hay!? I present a theory and that’s how you respond!?”
Luna shooshed Celestia with her hoof before turning her cheek to examine it. There was a pink outline of Luna’s hoof that was quickly turning purple. “You may be right, sister. Things like that have never happened before. Before, I could slap you and get away with it!” Celestia glared at her. “...Well, not get away with it, but nothing would physically happen to you. Now, this... What the hay is happening, sister?”
Celestia cleared her throat. “As I was saying, I believe it has to do with the Elements. We’ve always been able to feel them in our hearts. I could still even feel them during your absence, when I was separated from the Elements for a millennium. But now... I can’t feel them at all. I had always taken it for granted that they would be there, but it seems the Elements were destroyed...”
Luna gasped. “But what about after you banished Nightmare Moon? I remember bits and pieces of being her, and I remember the stone Elements lying on the floor of our old castle! Even after they separated themselves from you, they were still there!”
Celestia shook her head. “No. That was different. There, they separated themselves from me of their own volition. I could still feel them, it’s just that they were no longer a part of me. I’ve never fully understood them; we call them ‘the strongest magicks known to pony’ for a reason, you know. It seems that now that Equestria and her people are gone, so too are the Elements. There is no longer any harmony to maintain, seeing as Equestria is gone and Discord is here.”
“But what does that have to do with us suddenly being able to sustain injuries? This has never happened before, even before we knew where the Elements were!” Luna was frantic, scrabbling for answers. “And if the Elements did sustain our immortality, how come the blast didn’t kill us outright?”
“I’m guessing that was because it happened so suddenly. One second the Elements were there, and the next, completely destroyed. It may have taken some time for their effects to wear off,” Celestia concluded.
“That still doesn’t answer my first point, though. We’ve never been able to sustain injuries, ever! That includes the time before we knew where the Elements were!” Luna reiterated her point with a stamp on the ground.
“We didn’t know where they were, that didn’t necessarily mean they didn’t exist,” Celestia answered.
Luna looked exasperated. “What!? Then what made the Elements? Who made them!? Why do they exist!?”
Celestia tutted. “And that’s where religion comes in, my little pony. A lot of ponies insist that you and I made everything, and refuse to listen when we tell them that we didn’t.”
Luna groaned. “Don’t remind me of the Lunatoligists. Idiots, they. One group that I’ll never miss...”
Celestia resumed her speech. “The point is, we don’t know too much about how or why the Elements worked the way they did, but one thing is for certain: everything has been destroyed, and now we can suddenly be hurt. The most important thing to be destroyed was the Elements, so they are to blame, I suspect,” Celestia finished.
Luna stared for a moment at her sister. “... Very well. We have nothing else to go on, so I’ll just stick with your argument for now. It makes sense anyways... sort of.”
“So, is it ‘let’s ignore Discord time’ or what? I’m beginning to feel underappreciated.” The draconequus flew several loops through the air, nearly tying himself in a knot.
“No, we’re discussing a worrying discovery. Nothing serious, like your level of appreciation. We’ll resume bowing at your hoo- feet shortly,” Celestia stated dryly.
Discord feigned a wound, floating slowly to the ground as a crippled cloud would. “Ouch, Celestia, that burns. I guess I’ll-”
The ground started shaking violently. Luna and Celestia looked at each other. Celestia spoke first. “You don’t think...?”
A few miles away from them, a giant hand, similar to the one from before, wrenched itself from the earth’s grasp.
“Yeah, I think so. AND it looks like I was right the first time, just a bit late!” Luna replied evenly as Hyperion pulled himself from the earth.
Luna panted heavily. Several hundred yards to her left, her sister did the same. This battle had gone on for over half an hour. When would it end?
Somewhere behind her, Luna faintly heard laughter. Turning and glaring angrily, she saw Discord doubled over, beside himself with glee at the sight of their suffering.
“What the hay is wrong with you!? Why aren’t you helping us?!” Luna shouted angrily, her blood boiling at the thought of the god taking pleasure in their struggle.
“This is great! I’ve hated you guys for a long time, it’s great to see you get paid back!” Discord hooted merrily.
Luna turned her head in disgust and focused on the task at hand. Hyperion was an intimidating foe- he stood at over four-thousand hooves tall on only two legs (bipedals, her sister called them?), and had immeasurable power. Celestia and Luna were taking a beating at the hands of such a behemoth, and they wouldn’t last much longer without taking drastic measures.
Hyperion moved again, bringing his massive arm crashing down on top of Celestia. “Sister! Shield!” Luna shouted at Celestia.
The air shimmered around Celestia seconds before impact, and Hyperion’s titanic fist smashed into an invisible barrier several feet above Celestia’s head, eliciting a blinding flash while dozens of sparks flew off of the shield. Celestia disappeared beneath the Earth’s crust, her shield forcibly being shoved through the mantle with incredible power from Hyperion’s fist. The shockwave from the impact knocked Luna off her hooves. Thankfully, Hyperion was slow and uncoordinated, so he never took advantage of such vulnerability whenever it presented itself.
“Tia!” Luna screamed, fearing for her sister’s life. She knew not how far their mortality stretched now- without the Elements on their side, their strength was waning incredibly quickly, and they were actually sustaining injuries. She didn’t know how much longer they could last.
A golden ray of energy blasted out of the small crater where Celestia once stood, piercing straight through Hyperion’s hand. Hyperion let out a loud cry and stumbled backward, clutching his hand. Each footstep shook the earth, but the shockwaves receded as Hyperion retreated for a moment. Celestia shot from her crater gloriously, spreading her wings and accelerating quickly. “Quickly sister, while he’s wounded! We’ll strike at his head!”
Luna galloped a few yards before spreading her wings and taking off. The residual ash in the air made it difficult for her feathers to ride the airstream properly, but most of the ash was being shaken up or blown away by Hyperion, leaving them with relatively clean skies.
Celestia approached Hyperion from the left, while Luna approached from the right. She had no idea what her sister was planning, only that it would likely end with Hyperion’s head exploding in one way or another. Perhaps this could defeat the titan once and for all?
Luna’s thoughts were cut short by the sound of Hyperion’s angry roar. She glanced up in time to narrowly avoid a colossal open palm moving toward her at the speed of sound. The turbulence from Hyperion’s massive limb moving through the air so quickly disturbed Luna’s airstream, toppling her end over end while in midair. She eventually recovered and looked toward her sister.
Celestia was preoccupied shouting something at Luna and didn’t see Hyperion lash out towards her.
“Tia! Move!” Luna shouted, but to no avail. A sickening whump permeated the air as Hyperion’s palm made contact with Celestia. Celestia’s limp body flew towards the ground terrifyingly fast, several shockwaves breaking out as she broke the sound barrier on her journey to the hard dirt and rocks below. Luna screamed incoherently and fell into a steep dive, heading toward her sister as if to catch her.
A massive dust plume erupted when Celestia’s body smashed into the earth. Boulders and other debris flew up from the impact site. No, Luna thought. No no NO! She broke the sound barrier as well on her way toward her sister, screaming at Discord to do something, but not really registering the thought.
Luna’s heart stopped at the sight of her sister. Celestia lay in a crumpled heap, her limbs pointing in unnatural, crooked directions. Bones came out in places they shouldn’t have. There was a golden liquid everywhere, the same as what came from her cut earlier. Celestia’s eyes were dull, listless, unseeing.
Luna stood, her eyes seeing but her brain uncomprehending. She couldn’t process the sight before her. Celestia was always the big sister, the one Luna looked up to. Celestia always knew what to do. Celestia always fixed everything. She was perfect. She couldn’t... she couldn’t...
Luna’s body began to shake. Rage began to well up inside of her. She hadn’t felt this way since her transformation into Nightmare Moon.
A blue aura surrounded her. The earth began to crack around her, stones floating up of their own accord.
Luna’s pupils gave way to total whiteness. There was no color to her eyes. Only a blinding whiteness.
She turned around to face Hyperion. He was walking towards her with his standard, slow, leisurely gait. The sight of his calmness sent Luna’s emotions into overdrive.
“UNFORGIVABLE!” Luna’s voice was imbued with Olde Canterlot, silencing all in its path. Hyperion stopped for a second, confused, until his body was surrounded by a blue aura. He began to flail wildly as he floated into the air. A creature of such incredible size was not used to being handled.
“THOU SHALT NOT HAVE MINE FORGIVENESS!” Luna screamed, Hyperion flinching with each syllable and struggling even harder. Luna concentrated harder, making Hyperion struggle more still.
“THOU SHALT PERISH AT MINE HOOVES, AND MINE HOOVES ALONE!” Hyperion’s eyes widened as Luna exerted every ounce of her power at her disposal, concentrating on sending Hyperion, far, far away. Hyperion disappeared with a pop, a large clap of thunder resounding from the sudden vacuum where Hyperion once was.
Luna gradually lowered herself to the ground, not even noticing that she had floated upwards. Her mind was preoccupied by something much more important at the moment being.
She walked over to her sister’s corpse, and collapsed by her side. Luna nuzzled Celestia’s neck as the tears began to flow freely. Not even the loss of her people was as great as this. Selfish as Luna may have been, Celestia was the world and more to her. She had always been there, had always known what to do, had always taken care of and had always been there for Luna. And now that was gone.
Discord approached the small crater cautiously, taking heed of the lament that echoed out from within. He glanced toward the spot that Hyperion had previously taken up, half-expecting Hyperion to suddenly reappear from nowhere. But he never did.
Discord glanced over the edge of the crater. His stomach did a flip at the sight of the broken pony before him. But even worse was the heartbroken pony that lay next to her. Luna mourned the loss of her sister openly, not caring for the world who saw. It didn’t matter to her anymore. Nothing did.
Discord slowly approached Luna, resolving to attempt to comfort her. He only made two steps before Luna spoke to him. “Do not get any closer, child. This is no time.”
Discord scoffed. “Child? Why, you’re only a few thou-”
Luna cut him off harshly. “This is no time, child. Leave me be lest you wish the fate of the monster that committed this atrocity upon thyself.”
Discord stood still for several moments, mulling the situation over as Luna resumed her sobbing. He resolved he would tell her right now.
“I can fix this,” Discord announced. “She can be restored.”
Luna looked incredulously at Discord with puffy, bloodshot eyes. “Y-you mean to say you can... can... fix her? Heal her?” Discord nodded slowly.
Luna sniffed and glared at Discord. “If you’re lying or mistaken, it will be your last. That is my vow. But I will not move. Whatever it is you are going to do, you’ll do it with me present.” Discord nodded. That was fine. It wouldn’t affect Luna anyhow.
He made a show of cracking his knuckles, neck, and back several times before his body was surrounded by an orange glow, residual trails of energy floating away from the aura.
“You might wanna back up a bit,” Discord suggested. “Healings can get pretty violent when done through magic. Restoring a deceased pony through magic isn’t possible without the healer giving up their own life, but I’m a god of chaos, so frankly, that doesn’t apply to me.”
Luna stood several paces back, staring in awe at what was occurring right before her eyes. Grotesquely, Celestia’s bones shifted back into place, one by one, the golden liquid somehow oozing backwards through her wounds. It was a fascinating procedure, if not one that made Luna nearly throw up.
After several minutes, Luna broke the silence. “Where on earth did you learn this? I don’t seem to recall you caring too much for the wellbeing of others.”
“Being trapped inside of a shell for thousands of years leaves one lots and lots of time to think,” Discord replied evenly. “Of course, you wouldn’t know this because I don’t seal ponies away like that, but I figured all of this out through observation of the outside world and in my own thoughts.”
Luna was baffled. “That doesn’t make any sense though. How could you figure something out like that on your own, without having any time to practice it?”
“God of chaos, princess,” Discord deadpanned.
Luna wouldn’t take that for an answer. “Nonsense!” she complained, “That’s your answer for every inexplicable thing you do! I demand an actual answer! How did you figure this out?”
“I’m actually just sort of doing this on the fly. Don’t expect me to get this done quickly.”
“You heard me. Did I stutter?”
“You sonuvabitch, you had better fix my sister!” Luna shouted, enraged.
“Don’t yell at the doctor, Miss Luna. Besides, I’m done with the healing process.”
“Really!?” Luna bounded forward, Discord stepping out of her way. She stopped short. “Wha-... she’s in one piece, I’ll admit, but she’s still-” Luna cut herself off. She wouldn’t say it aloud.
“Dead?” Discord supplied. “Yeah, I know. I said I was finished healing her, not reviving her.”
Luna turned on Discord again. “Bastard! Get on with it! Don’t tease a woman in this way!” She stomped away.
Discord feigned surprise, throwing his hands in front of him with the palms up. “Goodness, quite the antsy one, aren’t we?” When Luna didn’t respond, practically with visible steam emanating from her being, Discord turned again to finish his work.
He once again made a show of cracking his knuckles again, and said “Now, for the tricky part.” Celestia’s body was enveloped in the same orange glow as before, and all of her limbs were thrust out to their fullest capacity. Discord carefully thread a line of magic flow between himself and Celestia, and starting channeling massive amounts of energy through it.
After just a few seconds, Celestia’s eyes fluttered open. “W-wha... What hap-...” Her eyes closed once more as Discord lowered her to the ground. Putting his finger to her neck and observing her breath, Discord confirmed she had a pulse and was breathing.
“Woona, I fixed your sis- Oof!” Luna tackled Discord in a bearhug, burrowing her face into his chest.
“You may be an ass sometimes, but... thank you, Discord, for saving the life of my sister.” She looked up with watery eyes. “I’ll remember it forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
She buried her face into his chest once more and began to sob gently. Discord petted her mane and patted her back. “It’s... no big deal. You’re welcome.”
The heartfelt moment was broken when Luna heard a faint moan come from her sister’s crater. She sprang up from Discord, eliciting an “oof” from the god, and walked over to the precipice. Inside, she observed Celestia curled up at the bottom, a grimace on her face.
Luna pressed her hooves against the side of the crater in an effort to slow herself down as she descended, plopped onto the ground next to her sister, and proceeded to hug Celestia as ferociously as possible.
“Ah, my dear sister... what possesses thee, currently, to suffocate me so soon after my slumber?” Celestia squeaked under the force of Luna’s hug.
“Nothing, sister. I’m just grateful you’re back on this Earthly plane.” Luna stated simply. Her feelings extended beyond that, but simply put, it was sufficient. She slightly lessened her crushing hug; but only slightly.
“What’s that supposed to mean? And what happened, anyways? One second I was relaying instructions to you, the next... you’re sitting here, next to me, crushing all of my internal organs. What happened?” Celestia asked, squinting as she opened her eyes. Dim as it might be outside, it was still brighter than the abyss of unconsciousness
“Hyperion... killed you.” Luna said, tears worming their way into the corners of her eyes. “He murdered you, Tia. I had to watch it happen. I couldn’t do anything; I wasn’t fast enough...” Her voice caught, nearly breaking as she recalled the feeling of dread accompanying her flight to Celestia’s would-be grave.
“Wh-...what? Then how am I... here? Alive, I presume?” Celestia was confused, to say the least. “And where is Hyperion now, then? Don’t tell me this is the afterlife.”
“It’s not. At least, as far as I’m aware. And he’s dead. I teleported him to... I don’t know where, but not on this planet. I moved him as far as my magical constraints allowed me. It’s a wonder I didn’t kill myself in the process.” Luna answered, somewhat proudly. “And as for the... ‘alive’ bit, Discord healed you.”
“How? He’d have to expend all of his energy to...” Celestia’s distant gaze suddenly focused as realization dawned upon her. “Oh yeah. We’re mortals now. Which would explain the dying bit. This sucks.”
Luna laughed, a stark release from the reality their world was. “I agree completely. But yes, Discord healed you, Hyperion is dead, and now we’re all happy. Sort of.”
Celestia sat up, meekly embracing her sister. “I’m sorry you had to go through that, Luna. I... I shouldn’t have let my guard down. I won’t let it happen again, I promise,” Celestia said, staring into her sister’s eyes. It was sincere.
Luna sniffled, and returned the embrace. “You had better not. Losing you was... worse than the kingdom. An impossibility suddenly made real. Don’t do that to me again, Tia. We were lucky we had Discord around. What if it happens again?”
“It won’t happen again. I won’t allow it,” came the warm, confident answer. The floodgates burst, and Luna once again broke down into tears for the third time that day. She didn’t care. She had a sister again.
Despite the emotional stresses of the day, Luna and her revived sister still had a task to complete. They trudged across the bottom of the massive crater, making slow but steady headway in the direction of the gates of Tartarus. Random lightning bolts of red shot out of the crater, striking indiscriminately at targets they chose. Which wasn’t, admittedly, a whole lot.
“...Girls, this is boring. Boring on an unprecedented level,” Discord remarked drably.
“More boring than one thousand years sealed away in a statue?” Celestia retorted.
“Hey, it was one thousand and one years, thank you. Let’s not forget my reimprisonment.” Discord crossed his arms and stuck out his lip accordingly.
“Oh please, don’t be a baby. You deserved it anyhow,” Celestia stated firmly. “Disturbing the peace and actively destroying harmony? It’s like you forget what ponies are all about.”
“And it’s like you forget what I’m all about. God of Chaos? Ring-a-bell?” Discord cupped his hand in front of his ear and leaned in until he bumped into Celestia, making her stumble slightly.
“Jerk! Stop it!” She giggled playfully. “And no, being a God of Chaos doesn’t excuse ruining harmony; perfection,” Celestia added.
Discord clutched at his chest tragically. “How your words sting! Oh, fine. I suppose I’ll forgive you girls, as long as you don’t seal me away again after we fix this.”
Luna stopped in her tracks, making her presence known for the first time in a while. “Fix this? Are you kidding? I know you can be a jerk, but... Discord. Don’t say things like that.”
This time, Discord really was hurt. “What? Bu-...” He received two muted stares in reply. “Oh come on! It’s like you girls make a point of forgetting my capabilities! I’ve been capable of fixing this for, oh, I don’t know, whenever?”
The two muted stares turned into icy ones composed of daggers. The sisters were speechless in the face of such a revelation, and Discord was feeling the effects of not having told them sooner.
“You girls are idiots. Really. Remember how I turned mostly everything to candy or various articles of food? Everything encompasses a lot of stuff, you know. And how I guided celestial objects through the skies like it was no big deal? And how I just revived a goddess!? Do you really think a silly little thing like moving backwards through time is a big deal to me?” Discord continued spouting off random facts about himself.
Celestia and Luna’s glares had turned to slackjawed expressions. Luna spoke first. “Y-... You mean to tell me... that all... this,” She turned and waved a hoof at the utter desolation around her. “...Could all be... fixed? Undone? Are you serious? No pranks?”
Discord nodded smugly with his arms crossed over his chest. “Mmm-hmm. I’m surprised you girls didn’t ask me, but less surprised because it has occurred to me recently that you two never think to ask for help.”
Celestia shook the expression off her face. “Discord, we... we have no words. You can truly do this? How could we... I can’t even think straight. How can we repay you? Ever?”
Discord assumed a critical thinking expression, thoughtfully scratching his chin with a single finger. “Hmmm... how about freedom from that statue? It seriously sucks being stuck in there. I can’t do anything but stare at the ponies around me. It’s a horrid fate, albeit one I understand I deserve.”
“But... you’re free right now. How can you be freed you when you’re not imprisoned?” Celestia inquired.
“Ah-ha! That’s where time-travel gets a bit tricky. When we undo time’s progress, we, essentially, relive our lives but backwards, and at an accelerated pace, depending on how quickly I choose to go. It sounds weird, and that’s because it is. When I start going backwards, you’ll feel yourself stepping backwards; Celestia will experience death once more, and Luna will have to cope with her loss once more. You’ll both have to deal with Luna blowing up your entire kingdom, again. I’ll get stuck back in that accursed rock, which is why I ask that you free me after fixing the problem that results in all of this wanton destruction.” Discord finished with the diagram he had been drawing in the ground, which was actually just a stick of cotton candy.
Celestia deflated slightly, physically relieved. “Oh, thank the goddesses... or gods, in this case,” she added quickly when Discord eyed her irritably. “Discord... this means more than we can ever express in words or actions. Healing me, and then restoring our entire kingdom, when all Luna and I have done is torment you throughout time...? Why? Why help us like this?” Celestia asked again. She never usually asked questions; this was new to her.
“Because... I don’t know, really. It actually felt really good helping out when Luna needed help, when you were deceased.” Luna blushed slightly at this. “And you know, I’m not a bad guy. I never hurt anypony during my brief reign; did I mess with their mind? Yes. Did I ruin maybe a few friendships? Almost. But I never hurt anypony. All I ever did was have fun. You girls were the ones who assumed I was a bad guy.” Discord said somewhat sadly.
“Well, you did ruin pretty much everything, Discord. Forgive us for reacting accordingly?” Celestia held out a hoof.
“Not even close to accordingly! It was all just for fun! But... okay. I forgive you guys.” Discord grasped her hoof firmly and shook, rattling her slightly in the process.
After recovering, she asked “So what will happen after you stop time at the moment of your choosing?”
“As I said, you will effectively just perform all of your actions backwards up until I stop time again, at which point you will have immediate control of your senses. It’s not too hard to get a grasp on. I only ask that you two come and free me after you’ve dealt with your dilemma. When should I stop time again?”
“Several hours before Cronus hauls himself from the earth. Better, several days before. I want to just go to the mountain and refresh the spell holding the seal. I never thought it would weaken or expire entirely,” Celestia answered.
“Alrighty, you girls ready then?” Discord began to glow slightly as his familiar magic took hold on time itself.
“Wait!” Luna barked. “What will you do after we free you?”
“Hmm... that’s a good question. I don’t think most of Equestria will appreciate me being around after what I’ve done to them, and I’m not always out to make friends; I just like you girls. I’ll just wander the world, flittering to and fro, seeing what’s happening throughout the rest of the world. I can guarantee, if something interesting is happening, I’ll be there,” Discord replied with a wink.
“Very well. Then, take us back home, Discord. We’ll appreciate it forever,” Luna said with a tear in her eye.
“Don’t tell me now! Tell me after you’ve saved the kingdom and freed me! Silly pony, this isn’t goodbye just yet!”
Luna grinned. “Very well. Tia and I will see you when we get there.”
Discord’s magic grabbed onto the fabric of time, two mammoth fists appearing in the sky and grabbing onto the sky itself it seemed. With a grunt, the fists pulled backwards, the sky stretching impossibly, like a quilt may when tugged on.
Luna felt words flowing back into her mouth, a bizarre feeling completely beyond the realm of description that she wasn’t quite ready for. Celestia was similarly confused by the weird feeling.
Both continued backwards through the past few days, Celestia collapsing all at once after being restored by Discord’s magic, and then seemingly flying up to meet Hyperion’s fist for him.
Back still they flew, both reentering the makeshift hut after raising the sun, only for the sun to sink back down and the moon to creep back up.
Eventually the sky lit up with a fire on a grand scale such as the sisters had seen only once, and as they had hoped to never see again. Luna and her sister would have wept had they been in control of themselves, but as the spell continued its effects, both could only watch in horror as they closed in on the explosion, flying backwards from their initial flight vector from the shockwave of the blast.
Eventually, Twilight and her friends regained their physical forms, and the energy drained from Luna’s horn instead of being sucked in with inevitable disastrous consequences.
Cronus dug himself back into the earth where he lay dormant, and the smokestacks of Ponyville gradually receded as the lesser demons from Tartarus flew backwards into their eternal-no-more prison.
Still further back they went, Celestia reliving several wonderful baths and several horribly drab meetings, with Luna not having many meetings or too much company, seeing as she slept through the day.
Time eventually came grinding to a halt with Celestia being midway through lifting a coffee mug to her mouth with her magic. When the timespell unexpectedly came to an end, she dropped the coffee mug in her lap, not expecting to have control of herself so quickly.
“OH GODDESS DAMN IT!!!” She howled as the coffee steamed off of her, irritated both by the pain and the nice brown stain in her pearly white coat. Thought it had regressed quickly and had been over in minutes, Celestia felt as though the spell had taken days. Which, in reality (whichever reality she lived in, she decided), she had.
After telling her servants to bug off and that she was more than capable of handling a little coffee spill, and then removing the excess coffee with a quick pulsation of her horn, Celestia told her advisors to can her day’s plans. As irritated as they were, Celestia knew that meeting with several farmers to discuss an impending lawsuit on whose pineapple bush was whose could wait versus an apocalypse.
She teleported into her sister’s room, where Luna lied sleeping peacefully. “Sister, wake now,” she said gently, coaxing her little sister with a nudge from her hoof. “We’ve got a big day today. Discord really did undo our mistakes; and what’s more, it’ll be another week before the disaster will occur. Discord is... a lifesaver, literally.”
Luna stretched and emitted only the daintiest of yawns, as was her habit when waking up. “*Yawn...* Can’t it wait a few more minutes? We’ve got a whole week...” She slumped back into her pillow, cuddling toward the source of warmth.
“No, sister. That kind of attitude is what allowed this to happen in the first place.” Celestia grabbed her sister in a yellow glow and dumped her unceremoniously on the floor.
“Hey! Brat. I was enjoying that bed.” Luna dusted herself off and stretched like a cat, several joints popping as various oils wormed their way between them, lubricating them to ensure they didn’t clam up when they really, really didn’t need to.
Celestia’s thoughts snapped back to the situation at hand. Daydreaming about joints and her ponies’ silly myths about arthritis wouldn’t help them fix their growing problem.
Luna’s horn glowed as she floated over her royal raiments and donned them, taking a moment to strut in front of her sister and successfully eliciting a groan from her.
“Are you ready?” Celestia asked impatiently.
“Yup, let’s g- WAIT WAIT WAIT,” Luna yelled as she flew into her bathroom.
Celestia groaned melodramatically. “Come oooon, Luna, let’s go! We don’t have all the time in the world!”
“A complexion like this doesn’t maintain itself, you know!” came the echoing answer from the bathroom.
“Uh, yes it does? We’re goddesses, Luna,” Celestia answered lamely.
“Let me do it for the novelty of it, at least! Besides, I look snazzy with this new- *GASP* TIA, I GOT THIS NEW HOOF-POLISH, YOU HAVE TO SEE IT, IT IS INCREDIB- HEY!” Her voice was cut off as she suddenly flew from her bathroom in a yellow glow.
“Come on, let’s go, dork,” Celestia said with a smile on her face.
The giant double doors to Luna’s room opened and light spilled in, revealing her cutie mark emblazoned upon each door in a symmetrical fashion and chasing away the darkness. The two sisters stepped out... or at least one did, while the other floated along beside the first with a proper pouty expression worn on her face.