Festival of Lights
(By: Flame Runner)
“A night in Canterlot? And as honored guests for the Festival of Lights?” Rarity squealed uncontrollably. “It’s sure to be one of the most marvelous events of the year!”
The white unicorn mare, known as Rarity to her friends, was excitedly pawing at the ground. Her beautifully combed purple mane and tail bobbed up and down with her joyous motion. She and all of her friends were standing around in Rarity’s dress shop, the Carousel Boutique. Among all of those present were Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy. Each of the mares present were close friends.
“I know! The Festival of Lights only comes once every seven years! It’s one of the most magical nights to ever experience. And the Princesses have invited us to Canterlot to be present for it!” Twilight spoke.
Twilight was also a unicorn and the personal student of Princess Celestia, co-ruler of all Equestria. She was purple and her deep blue mane was kept neat and straight. Her hair also had two streaks of different purple shades in it.
A sharp whistle penetrated the air in the Boutique. “Hoo wee! The Festival of Lights in Canterlot. Talk about a swell night,” Applejack chimed in.
Applejack was a strong work horse. She worked on her family farm, Sweet Apple Acres and tended to it dutifully. She was orange in color and always wore some kind of cowboy hat on her head. Below the hat her blond hair ran down and ended in a red beret.
“It says here, ‘The Festival of Lights is a celebration of light, life, and beauty’,” spoke Rainbow Dash as the pegasus held up a small brochure. “Pbth, I’m just going for the fireworks. Canterlot always has the best fireworks show in all Equestria during the Festival of Lights!”
The cyan pegasus threw the brochure back over her shoulder. Her mane reflected the name Rainbow Dash quite well as it was actually rainbow colored and hung out in a short cropped and mostly unkempt style. Her name also told of her incredible speed as she was one of the fastest pegasus around.
“Ooo! I love fireworks!” squeaked the high energy voice of Pinkie Pie.
Pinkie was, as her name suggested, pink. She was pink all over, from her body to her hair. Her hair puffed up in a fun and frizzled style that just sung of her bubbly personality.
“Oh, the Festival is so beautiful,” came Fluttershy’s quiet opinion. “And I’m sure that it will be even better in Canterlot.”
Fluttershy was a yellow pegasus. Her mane and tail flowed down her body with long and graceful pink hair.
“And it’s coming up in one week!” Rarity cried. “Oh! If only we had been invited a little earlier. I have to make us each a new dress and I shan’t have much time to do it. Well, I’d better get started then. See you girls later!”
The friends exited Rarity’s shop even as the white unicorn was busy planning and sketching dress ideas for her and her friends to wear to the illustrious Festival of Lights.
The train was noisy. Six mares were each crowded on the Canterlot bound locomotive. The friends were all looking out of large windows in the vehicle. Pinkie was looking at a large box, wrapped up like a gift, sitting in the middle of the floor. The others were laughing or talking about their plans and meeting royalty at the Festival.
“Rarity, y’all have really outdone yerself this time,” complimented Applejack as she looked at her dress and at all of her friend’s wardrobes.
“Oh it was nothing. Really,” Rarity waved a hoof in front of herself.
“I love how they all shimmer and sparkle,” Fluttershy stated.
“I figured, if we’re going to the Festival of Lights we may as well shine some of our own,” Rarity explained.
“I can’t wait to see the Princess again!” Twilight commented, excitement clearly written on her purple face.
“Ooo! The Princess! I wonder what she’ll think of my work?” Rarity mused.
“Princesses!” corrected Pinkie with a grin plastered on her face.
“Right! I forgot that Princess Luna was going to be here this year,” Rarity agreed.
“Princess Luna!” Twilight sounded shocked. “I forgot all about her! This is her first Festival of Lights after being trapped in the moon for a thousand years.”
“Man, talk about a long wait!” Rainbow Dash finally chimed in.
“I know,” Twilight concurred. “I wonder how the Festival will be different this year because of it. Princess Celestia has been doing it alone for so long.”
“Oh, Celestia uses her magic to make the most gorgeous golden hue alight upon everything in sight,” Rarity reminisced. “It almost seems to dance in front of your face and call out the best in everypony. What could they do differently?”
“Surprise!” a young voice called from behind the ponies.
As they turned around, a small dragon leaped out of the gift box. The mares screamed and jumped backward themselves. But Pinkie Pie fell to the floor and began laughing.
“Spike!” reprimanded Twilight, “You almost gave everypony a heart attack!”
Spike was a baby dragon and also Twilight Sparkle’s number one assistant. He helped the unicorn keep the library in Ponyville. He had purple scales and green spines with ran down his back.
“What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were watching the library.”
“Wait, we’re not in Canterlot yet?” Spike asked. “Rats! I was hoping to surprise you all when we reached the city. But don’t worry about the library Owliscous is taking care of it.”
“What? How did you get him to do that?” Twilight asked.
Back at the Ponyville library a lone owl sat perched on a stand. A huge pile of birdseed was mounded in front of the bird. In one of his wings was clutched a contract with Spike’s name scrawled on the bottom. The owl leaned over and pecked up some of the seed.
“We have an arrangement,” Spike explained. “Besides, nopony goes anywhere during the Festival of Lights. Everything’s closed!”
“I suppose…” Twilight thought aloud. “Well, welcome to the party Spike.”
“Twilight said it! It’s now officially a party!” shouted Pinkie as she threw confetti into the air.
The train rolled up a large cliff leading to the dazzling city of Canterlot. As the friends laughed and enjoyed Pinkie’s crazy antics and Pre-Festival Party Twilight stuck her head out the window for a quick breath of the fresh air.
“I’m just worried for Princess Luna,” fretted the unicorn.
Canterlot. The grand city built by unicorns many long years ago, now the capital of Equestria. As the capital city, Canterlot was home to Canterlot Castle, the living quarters of both Princesses Celestia and Luna the rulers of all Equestria. Canterlot itself was built on the edge of a tall mountain and waterfalls flowed down the mountain, directly through the great city. It was into this city of culture that seven friends disembarked.
“Whoa,” was the first words to come to Rainbow Dash as her mouth opened agape.
A similar effect hit each pony as they looked around at the grand city. Even Twilight, who had once lived here, was stunned. All Canterlot was decorated festively. Streamers hung from every street corner and paper lanterns seemed to hang on every building. Colorful light of all hues dazzled the eyes and sparkled in every pool of water. The very streets themselves seemed to be almost glowing with a life all their own. And then there were the ponies. Those who had come to participate in the Festival at Canterlot were a sight to behold.
Mares, Stallions, Fillies, and Colts were all dressed up in elegant fashion as was befitting the beauty of this night. Many wore jewelry of some sort which made the light dance around as it bounced off of the jewels. Children were laughing and running. Some carried glowing sticks or small paper lanterns of their own. Vendors all around sold glowing dust, glowing sticks, paper lanterns, and many other gizmos which produced light. One unicorn mare, colored a rich red, was entertaining a group of the little tykes by making tiny glowing toys come to life and play with the kids. A different unicorn, this one a brown colored stallion with a mane streaked like fire, was putting on a light show. He would create fun, dancing light orbs which would then fly into the sky and then explode like a firework. All around, the festivities of the night were off to a grand start and there was so little time to take in the life and beauty found here.
“This is amazing!” Twilight managed to squeak out.
“You’re telling me!” agreed Pinkie, who had managed to find a table laden with sweets and was currently relieving the table of its contents.
“I’ve never seen Canterlot like this before,” commented Spike. “Do you think that Luna’s return has something to do with it?”
“I don’t know Spike, but I think we’re about to find out,” Twilight said.
The purple unicorn pointed ahead of herself. Coming toward the small band of friends was a golden chariot, pulled by two strong pegasus guards. The chariot itself seemed to be glowing like the sun itself. Standing in the chariot was none other than Princess Celestia. A collective gasp and many bows came from the ponies standing near.
“Princess,” Fluttershy said respectfully as she bowed her own head.
The others in the group did likewise.
“Welcome to the Festival of Lights,” opened Celestia regally. “I’m glad to see that all of you could make it. Come, hop in my chariot and I will take you to the castle.”
The friends complied and soon the golden chariot was speeding through the glowing streets of Canterlot and toward Canterlot Castle.
Princess Celestia’s personal chambers were surprisingly small, but ample. In the room was a large white bed with the emblem of a golden sun stitched into it. Pinkie had soon found that the bed was very soft as her hooves started to sink into the soft mattress.
“Funny,” mused Rarity, “I always pictured the royal suite to be…larger.”
“I really don’t need that much space to sleep in,” Celestia replied.
“Oh? But what about personal space?” Rarity asked a follow-up question.
“Actually, I don’t have much personal time,” the Princess said.
“I…I suppose,” the white unicorn muttered.
“I have to ask Princess, why are we in your personal chamber exactly?” Twilight queried.
“I am preparing myself for tonight’s festivities,” Celestia replied even as she levitated a large gold crown onto her head. “And I needed to speak with you all in private.”
“Is something wrong?” Fluttershy asked with concern.
“It’s Luna,” Celestia responded. “I think she’s very nervous.”
“Psh…nerves. Is that all?” Rainbow Dash flippantly waved a hoof in front of her face.
“No, it’s much more than simply nerves,” the regal alicorn stated. “You see, after Luna returned from being trapped in the moon for a thousand years, ponies didn’t know her as their Princess Luna but instead as a creature of fear known as Nightmare Moon. The citizens of Canterlot have finally come to know and except Luna, but the rest of Equestria remains mostly unsure of my sister. Tonight is the night that she will be able to prove herself because she is taking a large part in the Festival.”
“Is that why Canterlot is so much more active and decorated than usual?” Spike asked.
“In part, yes. For almost a thousand years I’ve been hosting this Festival by myself. Now, after all this time, I will finally be able to perform my duties by my sister once again. This is why Canterlot is so much more festive tonight because tonight is very special.”
“Whoa! This party has been going on for over one thousand years?” Pinkie declared with wide eyes.
Celestia chuckled a little as she fitted on a shiny breast piece.
“Over one thousand years,” corrected the Princess kindly. “Do you know why we celebrate the Festival of Lights?”
“The brochure said something about life, light, and beauty I think,” Rainbow Dash replied unsurely.
“I know Princess,” Twilight interjected. “The Festival was begun shortly after you took the task of raising and lowering the sun upon yourself.”
“Very good Twilight, but there is more to it than that.”
Twilight gazed at her mentor with surprise.
“This is gonna be good, I just know it!” Pinkie whispered as she grabbed a bag of popcorn with a reach that extended beyond sight.
“Shortly after the defeat of Discord, Luna and I took charge of Equestria. We used the Elements of Harmony to seal him away and took the responsibility of raising and lowering the sun and moon and of keeping the ponies happy and united. The Festival of Lights was begun to remind ponies of the beauty of the lights moving in the sky that declared their freedom. It also was a reminder to live life in harmony with one another and not bickering like in times before. Truly, the Festival is a celebration of life, light, and beauty.”
“I didn’t know that,” Twilight said.
“Yes, but tonight we celebrate something new: The return of my sister, Luna. And I’m afraid that she doesn’t believe herself to be up to the task after so many years. I know that all of you have befriended my sister. Would you be willing to speak with her in her own chambers as I prepare myself for the evening’s events?”
“Princess, ya’ can count on it,” Applejack promised.
The door to Princess Luna’s chambers was closed. It was a deep blue color with silver bands around the outlines of the door itself, very elegant in appearance.
“I think it’s locked,” Applejack stated as Spike yanked with all his might on the heavy door.
“It’s a push door!” came a muffled voice from inside.
Fluttershy barely nudged the door and it creaked open, much to the chagrin of one blushing Spike. Standing a good ways into the room and looking out a window down at the city below was Princess Luna, the keeper of the night, and she was alone.
Luna was a deep blue in color with a black splotch on her hindquarters. Her cutie mark was that of a crescent moon and her mane and tail were an ethereal swirl of deep blues and purples with sparks of light sometimes shining through the dark hair. She had on no crown, no shoes, and no regal armor.
Luna turned toward the group who had come to see her. Her face was a mix of anxiety and great awe, but as she saw who had come she began to smile.
“Welcome Twilight Sparkle! And welcome to everypony! I shall permit thee all to enter,” declared the alicorn with a gracious sweep of her hoof.
The party did as suggested and entered into Luna’s private chambers. The room was small, much like Princess Celestia’s but a tad bit larger. A neat bed with deep blue sheets and stars and the moon stitched into it sat in a corner. A dresser and hooks adorned one wall with regal clothes and armor. Finally, at the far end of the room was a window which had a magnificent view of the city below.
“I am gladdened to see each of you here,” Luna commented.
“Hee hee,” Pinkie giggled.
Applejack nudged the pink mare.
“Yes, I am still acquainting myself with the modern language after being gone for so many years.”
Luna’s eyes began to sadden and her lips began to quiver ever so slightly. The Princess turned from those in front of her and bowed her head low.
“Please, shut the door,” whispered the Princess. “I would rather not have anypony else see me like this.” Her voice quivered as she spoke.
Spike knocked the door closed with his tail.
“Princess? What’s wrong?” Twilight asked as she reached out a concerned hoof to touch the Princess.
“It…It’s hard to say.”
“You can tell us,” Fluttershy said, “We only want to help.”
A long silence ensued as Luna began to weep quietly.
“Y’all ok there Princess?” Applejack also raised up a comforting hoof to Princess Luna.
“When I look out the window,” Luna began with a quivering voice, “I see all those happy ponies. I see the beauty of the night that I was blind to for a thousand years and the citizens I failed for a thousand years. Tonight I have the privilege to make it up to those I previously failed. I have the chance to make amends and show myself as their Princess…and I just don’t know how to go through with it. What if I mess up again? What if they don’t accept me? I have to be perfect tonight. I have to be perfect. And…I am afraid.”
“Excuse me?” Rainbow Dash stated quite bluntly.
Luna turned her head around in shock; her eyes were full of tears.
“You’re Princess Luna! The Princess of the night! You made Ponyville history on Nightmare Night just this year. Why wouldn’t the rest of Equestria accept you?”
“Quite right,” Rarity piped in. “Gone a thousand years or not, you are still our Princess. You still raise and lower the moon. We all owe you a great deal and respect you for all that you do.”
Luna, instead of becoming happier at the encouragement, started to weep even harder.
“I can’t thank you all enough, but you don’t understand.”
“Understand what?” Twilight asked.
Luna took a deep breath and tried to compose herself.
“Ooo! Another story! Hot dog!” Pinkie exclaimed happily as she, again, reached off-screen and pulled a bag of popcorn from nowhere in particular.
“A thousand years ago I grew angry. I raised and lowered the moon for all Equestria, but I believed that all of our citizens had rejected me by sleeping through my beautiful night while they played and enjoyed my sister’s day. I vowed that the ponies would respect my night one way or another and rashly declared that the night would continue to last until I got my dues. This, of course, was problematic. My sister knew that the night and day needed a balance, a time for work and a time for rest. A way to let ponies know how to judge the time and use it wisely. In my foolishness I became a nightmare to all those around me. I became Nightmare Moon. In my anger I took control of the sun and moon and tried to force nighttime eternal onto Equestria. Celestia was forced to take up the Elements of Harmony and use them against her own sister to stop my madness. When the Elements were released upon me, I felt their magic trying to change me, to bring me back to myself. I refused to let go of the Nightmare and the Elements banished me into the moon for eternity.”
“What? But you came back! You are the reason I was sent to Ponyville in the first place!” Twilight exclaimed.
“That is correct. I’m sure you remember the prophesy, ‘…and the stars will aid in her escape’? And help me they did, but not of my own doing. You see there are great beings known as Guardians who live in, and watch over, the heavens. They take care of the heavens much like pegasus care for the weather. It was they who used their power to free me.”
“And it took ‘em a thousand years?” Applejack sounded incredulous.
“Yeah! And how did you get them to free you? Did you make a deal with them?” Rainbow Dash pressed.
“When trapped in the moon I could not communicate with any creature. It was confusing, like being awake enough to know that I was trapped but also like a long slumber. Like being in a living dream, confined to my own moon. So no, I did not send for them. It was my sister who did.”
“Princess Celestia?!” Spike shouted.
“Yes, it was Celestia who communed with the Guardians and freed me. But the Guardians are few and far between. They almost never meet. That is why it took them a thousand years to finally come together and free me from my prison. I did not learn this until afterwards, but Celestia had been working to free me for a long time. She could not break the Element’s power by herself and so she asked for help. It was her who told of my return and lay down the prophesy which was misinterpreted as the stars aiding in my escape. Don’t you see why this night needs to be perfect? All that time I spent in my prison I brooded in my silent jail. I plotted and planned how I would have my revenge, how I would somehow return and make the night last for eternity, how I would trap my own sister the way she trapped me. But all that time that I was plotting and scheming, she was trying to save me! When I was finally freed I instantly came to my sister and trapped her. She was worn out from helping me escape the Element’s prison and was in no condition to fight back. All I saw was her smile before I trapped my own sister. I didn’t even let her say a single word. My wrongs are terrible and tonight…tonight I have to make them right. For everypony, I have to make them right.”
Tears were streaming down the face of the lunar Princess even as her heavy hooves clicked sadly against the stone floor. Head held low the Princess turned back to the window to fret over the evening’s events and her own failings.
“Then make them right we shall!” declared Rarity with a passionate stomp of her hoof.
Luna turned around with shock at the defiant unicorn mare.
“You are not the same Nightmare in the moon. No! You are Luna, our Princess, and that is what matters now,” elaborated Rarity.
Luna’s tears stopped as the Princess listened to the words from this most fabulous of ponies.
“But you can’t go out to your citizens looking like this. Don’t worry; by the time we’re done you’ll look like one of the brightest stars in the heavens.”
“Oh! Can I do her hair? If you don’t mind that is, Princess,” Fluttershy sweetly asked.
“There will be work for everypony,” Rarity admitted. “Who’s up for making tonight the best Festival of Lights ever?”
“We’re with ya’ Rarity!” Applejack said with a courteous tip of her hat.
“Best Festival ever!” Pinkie declared. “With lots of sweets!”
“And fireworks!” Rainbow Dash added.
“And light shows!” Spike gave his two cents.
“And best of all…Princess Luna,” Twilight finished.
The friends all began to help Luna prepare for the evening. Twilight and Rainbow Dash found many scattered pieces of ancient armor and jewelry which Applejack helped to polish up. Rarity pieced everything together into a gorgeous outfit, fit for royalty. Somehow, Fluttershy actually made Luna’s hair sparkle even brighter. It almost seemed to be glowing. And Pinkie Pie kept the Princess entertained with talk and crazy antics, while Spike was busy getting food prepared for the group. As the friends worked, Luna shed another tear but this time her mouth slowly bent into a smile.
The premier event of the night had finally come. At twilight, when both the sun and moon were visible on either horizon the Princesses would take to a prominent place as all Canterlot watched them perform their magic. The first to appear was Princess Celestia. She flew up to a high platform on Canterlot Castle. Her golden armor and shoes gleamed majestically in the fading daylight. Then, slowly rose up Princess Luna, seeming every bit as regal as her sister in her silver armor. The two alicorns took to opposite sides, Luna on the side of the rising moon and Celestia on the side of the falling sun. The sisters turned to look at each other. Celestia bowed her head and ignited her horn ablaze with fiery yellow magic. From the sun itself magical light began to pour itself through the night sky, basking everything in a feint golden hue. The various gemstones among the crowd sparkled with the magic gold light. Beauty filled the vary air with the warm sunshine aura.
“It’s just as magnificent as ever,” Rarity swooned at the sight.
“Yes, it is,” Fluttershy sighed.
“I just wonder what else Princess Luna can do,” Twilight mentioned her fears.
“Luna will be just fine!” Pinkie declared emphatically.
“Look! There she goes!” Spike pointed toward the deep blue Princess.
Luna bowed her head reverently, just as Celestia had done, and set her horn ablaze with a pale blue magic. Magical light from the moon cascaded over the entirety of Equestria to fill the sky with a pale silver light. The silver and gold mixed and mingled into a symphony of beauty incarnate. A stunning silver and gold aurora filled the heavens and spread the cool silver and warm gold over the face of each and every pony. The eyes of all those in assembly became wide with awe and wonder. The blended light which filled the sky made even the plainest of things appear to be of unattainable value. Each and every drop of water seemed to shine like a diamond and the trees seemed to glow like emeralds. A night like this had not been seen in Equestria for over one thousand years.
Then the fireworks started. Enhanced by the beauty of the night, each firework was more brilliant than the last. Sparkling in glory they declared the wonderful return of the long lost Princess. Tonight was one which no pony would ever forget.
Even as the many happy sighs and ecstatically gleeful shrieks of one Rarity found their way into the air, a letter managed to find its way to Twilight Sparkle. The purple unicorn opened the letter and then rushed off to the castle as her friends continued to watch the wondrous fireworks.
“Princess Celestia!” cried Twilight as she entered the ballroom.
The Princess of they day was just taking her golden armor off and preparing for the large dance later that evening, but she was currently alone.
“I see you got my letter,” Celestia said sweetly.
“I did. It said that you wanted to tell me something important.”
Twilight moved closer to her old mentor. Celestia looked out the wide glass windows at the scene before her. The gold and silver hued light would last well into the morning, but the Princess was looking instead at the crowd of ponies respectfully bowing and conversing with a laughing Luna. A smile crept up Celestia’s face as a happy tear rolled down.
“Twilight,” said Celestia quietly. “For a long time I’ve been your teacher and though I sent you off to Ponyville to learn on your own for a while it’s time I taught you something new tonight.”
The Princess then turned her attention back upon her faithful student.
“Twilight, remember this: No matter how broken a relationship may seem, with love and friendship even something that seemed so entirely broken can be put back together to make something so much more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.”
“Princess,” Twilight replied as, she too, looked out at the beauty of the night and the laughing Princess Luna, “I will never forget that.”