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Two hundred years had pasted since Equestria had crossed paths with another plane of existence, and much had transpired in those two centuries: For starters, the Royal Pony Sisters had left their old stone fortress after the original battle with Discord had left it in shambles, and had built a new one on the side of the tallest mountain in Equestria. It was now ten times the size of the original castle and was constructed from marble and solid gold that some say was extracted right from the mountain itself, it had also attracted quite the many followers who had set up a city within the castle's mighty walls. It came to be known as: Canterlot, the new capital of Equestria.
The new capital also brought new problems. The Diamond Dogs had been on the warpath and were ripping up the countryside in search of gems and other precious metals, normally that wouldn't be a problem, but now they were expanding their zealous search into pony territory and were starting to take jewelry from travelers. Guards (now required to wear colors that reflected their race) had been dispatched to try and bring the canine criminals to justice, only to have them escape underground. The only ones that had been caught were the ones foolish enough to try and lift items off of ponies near the capital city and were bound by magic before they could burrow back into the maze of tunnels they had been constructing underneath the vast majority of Equestria.
While the Royal Pony Sisters were still deeply involved in politics, they had assigned hoof-picked guards who had proven themselves to run the military and deal with the daily goings on. One of these nobel stallions, was none other than Commander Ironsides, a war hero from the battle with Discord who had distracted the beast with his unconventional antics which ultimately lead to the monster's downfall. It was his duty to keep the peace in his homeland, and to ensure the safety of it's citizens and the sister monarchs.
It was a rather gloomy and overcast day in Equestia, as the harvest season was drawing to close before the storms of winter covered the land in an icy blanket, Luna paced the throne room as she prepared to shift her elegant celestial body closer to the Earth and illuminate the night sky. It was something she had planned on doing this for months and after weeks of begging her big sister 'Tia', she was finally ready. Yes, the ponies would finally appreciate her beautiful nights as she herself had for thousands of years prior. Celestia sat at her golden throne and watched her sister anxiously canter from one end of the long room to the other with a smile on her face.
"Luna, calm down. You're going to do just fine, you have nothing to worry about," said Celestia with a small giggle. She knew it would annoy Luna to no end if she ever brought it up, but she looked so cute when she got herself worked up.
"Oh…I know, Tia. But I just…my nights were never as popular as the bright days your sun brings, so I hope that…that…they appreciate all that I do for them…" Luna's voice trembled with every word she spoke with a mix of excitement and nervousness. She so desperately wanted to be looked up to like her sister, to be a role model for fillies everywhere like her sister, to be beautiful like her sister…not to be looked upon like a sidekick to THE Princess Celestia.
Celestia sighed. She slowly rose and trotted over to the distressed alicorn and wrapped her in her graceful wings. Luna stopped her rapid trains of thought and focused on the warm comfort her sister had always provided for her in times of need, she couldn't imagine what her life would be like without her big sister looking out for her.
Just then, a scribe came rushing through the massive twin doors and attempted to stop her forward charge and bow to royalty at the same time. These were two actions that nature didn't allow to take place simultaneously and the clumsy archiver barreled head-over-hooves and rolled right by the two embracing Goddesses. Celestia and Luna both shuffled away from each other as the scribe shakily got on her hooves and stood at attention.
"Y-Y-Y-Your majesties! I-I-I have an urgent m-m-message for you!" She tried to get the words out as best she could, but being in the presence of such royalty tended to have a tongue-tying effect on ponies who weren't used to it. Luna maintained her stern look while Celestia smiled and used some unknown charm she had about her to calm the trembling scholar.
"No need to be so worried. Now, you said something about a message?"
"Er…YES! Oh, uh, yes…we received a piece of parchment via teleportation about twenty minutes ago, but it wasn't sent by dragon fire!" She produced an envelope from her saddlebag and levitated it over the Sun Princess before she herself took hold of it with her own magic. The envelope was bare save for 'Celetsia & Luna' written on the front, Celestia flipped it over and nearly screamed. She turned to the scholar with and abnormally large smile which only made the very confused unicorn even more nervous, as Celestia teleported her out of the throne room before bouncing up and down like a school filly with new horseshoes. Luna could only look at her sister with disbelief.
"Uh, Tia? Heh, you feeling alright?" Celestia didn't respond, she only levitated the letter over to her sister and continued to jump gleefully around the sacred throne room. Luna thought that maybe the letter was some sort of sabotage that caused it's recipient to go insane. She quickly discarded this theory and joined her sister in bouncing around their thrones once she saw the wax seal; 'Mann Co.'
Once they had calmed down enough, the two siblings began to actually read the letter (and reassure the guards that they weren't under attack by assassins armed with laughing gas). It read:
Dear Princess Celestia & Princess Luna;
It may surprise you to learn that I have indeed returned to Equestria! I hope this letter finds you well, for as I write this, I am standing in front of what was your palace…but it lies in ruins, and it appears that no one has lived here for some time if the hanging moss and overgrown trees are any indication. It may please you to know that I have since perfected teleportation WITHOUT the use of any external machine. All I need from your majesties is for you to start a teleportation spell so I can lock onto it and warp myself to your location.
I should warn you, the years I have been gone have not been kind. My outward appearance has changed drastically, I doubt you'll be able to recognize me where I to just show up out of the blue.
Forever yours, Silas Mann (HHH)
They both stared at the last part, 'HHH', what could that mean? They decided that they would just have to ask their old friend about it when he came to visit! The two Goddesses had honestly thought that the aged human had died decades ago, so they were besides themselves when they were proven wrong. Celestia was especially glad to hear that Silas had apparently perfected teleportation, something that even naturally magical unicorns had trouble with.
Celestia cleared her throat, "COMMANDER IRONSIDES! WE REQUEST YOUR PRESENCE IN THE THRONE ROOM AT ONCE!" Celestia's Royal Canterlot voice boomed all throughout the city, abruptly grabbing the attention of every pony in Canterlot.
The armor-clad guardspony rounded the corner and galloped down the hall as fast as he could, passing a dazed looking scribe and two unicorn guards trying relieve the ringing in their ears at the mouth of the all-important throne room. He skidded to a halt in front of the two sibling rulers and bowed.
"You, uh, beckoned your Highness?" Commander Ironsides' cyan eyes showed his excitement of being summoned by name for an audience with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Ironsides (unlike his future descendant who would be born a pink earth pony) was a pegasus, and as such, was forced to be the correct colors; white pelt, brilliant cyan eyes with sapphire mane and tail. His original colors were much more eccentric (much like his personality); an electric blue coat that could put even the brightest of Celestia's skies to shame with an equally bright ginger mane and tail. Fortunately for him, his eyes were the right shade so they didn't have to be changed; fortunately, because every other guard who had to change their eyes said that they wouldn't wish that pain on their greatest foe.
Luna was about to explode, she interrupted her older sister. "Yes! We require your expertise for throwing parties, a VERY old friend of ours is going to be here within the hour and I want you to give him the biggest welcoming party to Canterlot!"
Ironsides' eyes lit up as his smile began to steadily spread across face before snapping back like a rubber band as he finished processing what the dark sapphire Princess had said.
"So, if you don't mind my asking," Luna nodded, "does this friend of yours live far away? I mean, he's at least SEEN Canterlot, right?" The two rulers shook their heads, their respective manes not moving with them and just continued to flow in their own invisible winds. Much like how his great great great great great great great great great great granddaughter would react to Celestia's future student's arrival in Ponyville, Commander Ironsides rose off the ground without the use of his wings and gasped like he had been holding his breath for the past five minutes. "OH MY GOSH! That's incredible! How could he have never seen Canterlot!?"
Before either Luna or Celestia could explain, the previously blue party pony bolted from the room, muttering something about 'insta-cake batter' and 'magically enhanced balloons'.
Exactly one hour after the order had been given, the grand balcony where the Royal Pony Sisters rose the sun and moon day in and day out, was nearly unrecognizable. Party streamers hung from every possible perch and cascaded across the entirety of the marble outcropping, balloons filtered the few sun rays that broke through the cloud cover into every color in the known spectrum. A massive cake that read 'WELCOME!' in creamy icing sat in the corner near the stained glass doors, with a small wooden table next to it with a glass bowl that sloshed with a new type of drink: punch.
Luna, who was now wearing her full ceremonial attire which consisted of her inky black tiara and matching neckless that sported the same waxing crescent moon as her Cutie Mark, was amazed at the wondrous decorations the pegasus had managed to come up with, and demanded that he show her all that he had to offer, "…and those colored orbs are called…"
"Balloons! I made them myself with the help of the research and development team! Do you like them?" said Ironsides, using every ounce of his restraint to stop from bouncing off the walls while in the presence of Royalty.
"I absolutely adore them! I must have some of these 'baboons' at the next Gala!" said Luna as she noticed the strange purple liquid that seemed to beckon her from across the balcony. "What is this? Did you also make this…wine?"
The commander shook his head, "Nope, it's a lot like wine, but made from fruits like strawberries, lemons, and oranges. With a little sugar added in, it balances the tangy-ness of the fruit and it's perfectly save for ponies of all ages! I call it; punch. 'Cause that's what it packs!" The pegasus poured a cup for Luna and waited with baited breath as she took a gulp. At first she was motionless, then the sugary drink hit her stomach and her light blue eyes grew twice their normal size.
"HUZZAH! Yonder beverage doth create an unparalleled sensation we hath seldom happened upon in all our years dwelling upon ye Earth!" Luna's voice ratcheted up multiple octaves as she slipped back into her old style of speaking. While she and her sister had perfected speaking 'properly' according to Mr. Mann, Luna would sometimes fall back into old habits when she was excited or nervous. And as it stood, she was extremely excited to see her old friend AND drinking something she would crave for the next thousand years.
"Now now, Luna. What would Silas think if he heard you not using the vocabulary he tried so hard to teach us?" said Celestia as she emerged from the bedroom that connected to the balcony with Star Swirl the Bearded.
Luna blushed, "Sorry Tia…"
At long last, the three most powerful spell casters in Equestria (Luna, Celestia, and Star Swirl) all focused their collective horns in one massive teleportation spell. They spread the range out as far as they could, searching for the fabled inventor that Star Swirl was anxious to meet in person. He had heard that this 'human' had invented some pivotal devices of the age and he had many a question for this great individual. They sat in silence as everypony who wasn't involved in the spell remained absolutely still, which wasn't too hard since the only other ponies allowed up to the welcoming party were well-trained guards.
Celestia perked up, "I found him! He's right-", a massive bubble of energy began to form in the center of the circle the three magicians had made and began to grow larger and larger as purple lightning bolts thrashed violently from around it's base, "-here…oh no."
Everypony stood back as a flash temporally blinded anypony who wasn't fast enough to shield their large eyes. A cloying portal sat spiraling down into an unknown void, spewing random bursts of energy. Celestia, who had protected Luna and Star Swirl with her large wings from the flash, couldn't believe her magenta eyes. Where was Silas? What was this thing leading to? The answers came in the form of a large leathery glove clawing at the rim of the portal and cracked the marble tile under it's overwhelming strength. What came next wasn't much better. A massive battle axe with a ghastly face carved into it's side plunged into the balcony alongside the alien hand as they both lifted up a headless, humanoid body. The leathery exterior of the otherwise skeletal body seemed to absorb all light that would otherwise illuminate/shade the fabric. The worn and battered cape followed suit, not allowing any external light to reflect off it's surface. A simple belt with a demonic face buckle showed where the shirt and ripped pants were to be separated, the pants themselves only covered the monster's upper thighs and showcased the milky bones which extended to a pair of equally grotesque black leather boots. As the creature finished arising from the depths of the purple void, it turned around and grabbed a pumpkin, which it promptly placed on it's shoulders over the opening where the head was supposed to rest. As the beast adjusted the seasonal gourd, it turned so the horrid face carved in it's orange flesh faced the mortified party-goers. Once the abomination had assembled itself, a dull purple aura encompassed every fiber of the being as the candle within the seasonal squash ignited and illuminated the interior with an unnaturally bright yellow flame.
"AH, AT LONG LAST; HOW ARE YOU MY OLD-" where she not so shocked by the massive creature and it's cackling voice that rang from inside the hallow head, Celestia would have been proud at how quickly her guards reacted in the face of such an overwhelming force. "-FRIENDS?"
The voice was familiar, and yet strangely alien; like a well-known song being played in a different key or by a completely different instrument.
Celestia, who had kept Luna and Star Swirl under her wings the same way a mother protects her children, realized that the daunting creature had made no attempts to harm any of the guards that had surrounded it and were barking orders to stand down. The giant stooped down and placed the gnarled clever on it's back as it bowed low before the co-rulers. It extended it's hand, tightly balled in a fist roughly the size of a pony's head and neck, and looked up at the frightened alicorn. Luna peered out from between her sister's feathers, the creature was indeed that of nightmares, but Luna sensed no malcontent from the beastly intruder and was now very curious as to what it was holding.
The leather-clad digits unfolded to reveal it's contents, like a clam opening to show it's pearl. What was inside made Luna gasp and well up with tears: a small, dusty, wind-up mouse toy. Luna pushed her way past Celestia's wing and stood by the outstretched hand, she levitated the small mechanical rodent to one of the guards. It looked up at her with it's unmoving features as it brought it's hand back to it's side. She then (to Celestia and the guards' dismay) walked right up to the massive warrior and stood face-to-face with it.
Up close, Luna could see just how bizarre the makeshift head truly was; the inside was indeed a mere husk save for a candle that burned abnormally bright and was embedded into the base of the pumpkin, the left side of the head had a strange growth that had actual veins which etched towards the eye socket.
A tear stained her dark coat, "…Silas?" There was a moment's pause before the skeleton responded.
"MY, LOOK AT HOW YOU'VE GROWN, PRINCESS LUNA…" his voice, despite it's haunting quality, was exactly the same as the one that belonged to the first human to set foot in Equstria. Luna jumped on him and did her best to embrace him in a hug which he made easier by returning the gesture. The moment would have been sweeter had the guards not had a collective panic attack at the sight of their ruler hugging a skeletal abomination. Luna waved them off before allowing Silas to rise. He towered head and shoulders over her which was a strange experience since she and her sister usually won out in contests of height.
"Wh-What happened to you?" she stammered, bracing herself for whatever answer may come.
Everypony gasped, except for Ironsides, who had been wrapped up in playing with the small mouse Luna had given him to hold and had missed the vast majority of the conversation at hoof. Noticing that everypony was suddenly quite, he leaned over to an awe-stuck Star Swirl (who had also emerged from Celestia's feather cage).
"Psst, Star Swirl, what's everypony look so shocked about?"
The bearded wizard didn't remove his gaze from the impossible being that now dominated the entire scene, "He's dead…but that's impossible. No, his bones are showing and he's missing his HEAD for goodness sake…" said Star Swirl, more to himself than the misinformed commander.
"That's terrible…OH MY GOSH THE CAKE!" Ironsides bolted over the large culinary masterpiece and began to vigorously rearrange the cake with a flurry of rapid wing movements. Pleased with the alterations, he pushed the cart it rested on over to Silas and spun it around so it faced him. The original 'WELCOME!' had been x-ed out and replaced with 'SO SORRY YOU DIED!'
Princess Luna now wore a shocked expression akin to the ones everypony else had when she hugged the phantasmal giant, she had hoped that Ironsides wouldn't pull something like this at such a delicate time, but he did. She turned and looked up at the statuesque face, she prayed that the frozen smile genuinely reflected his emotions.
There was a long pause, Luna and Ironsides both starting to inch away from the Horseless Headless Horseman as he continued to stare blankly at the highly decorated pastry. Finally, his eerie voice rang out once more.
"'SO SORRY YOU DIED'…?" He withdrew the horrific Headtaker from behind his back and ran his index and middle fingers across it's chipped blade. The axe glowed brighter with the purple aura and made low growling noise as he did so, seemingly reacting to it's master's touch and awoke from some sort of slumber.
"HEADSSS!" it hissed as the late Mr. Mann rose it high over his faux noggin for a hammer-shot.
"No!" shouted Luna and Celestia as one. Commander Ironsides covered his eyes with his ivory wings and prepared to pass on…
*SHUNK* *SHILK* *SPLOT*
Luna couldn't look, she didn't want to see one of her favorite Royal Guards turned into a macabre stain on her favorite balcony.
"Mmm, delicious! My complements to the chef, oh wait, that's me!" said Ironsides, sounding rather lively for somepony who just took a battle axe to the face. Luna opened her eyes and her jaw to almost impossible lengths. Silas had indeed brought his mighty weapon down, but into the freshly made welcoming/belated funeral cake, he was even starting to cut pieces for everypony who had lined up for the spellbinding pastry.
The Lunar Deity shot him a confused look, "Y-You're not mad?"
"ARE YOU JOKING? 'SO SORRY YOU DIED'? THAT'S ONE OF THE MOST ENTERTAINING THINGS I'VE HEARD IN A LONG TIME!" He let loose a terrifying laugh that chilled Luna to her bones, although it was indeed Silas, his new form was something she was going to have to work at getting used to. He handed her a plate of cake, which she took in her own hooves instead of her magic (although she did relay on it to properly wield her fork) and took a bite of the rich strawberry cake.
Now, Luna had been exposed to nearly every substance on Earth while her parents were creating it, but never before had this much sugar been in her system all at the same time. The Moon Princess herself was usually calm and collected unless the situation allowed her to act otherwise, but she tended to be much more hyper than Celestia. As the lone bite of cake mixed with the six or seven cups of punch Luna had indulged in while waiting for Silas, a surge of energy began to spread throughout her body from her hooves to the tips of her regal wings.
"PRINCESS LUNA? ARE YOU-" Silas wasn't able to finish his sentence before Luna said something so rapidly he wasn't even sure she knew what she said. She suddenly rocketed upwards at super-sonic speeds, leaving a trail of stardust as her mane and tail struggled to maintain their flow and stay attached to her body as she began to fly laps around the mountain.
As the party began to pick up, Celestia took this chance to talk with her old friend (and before Star Swirl could bombard him with questions). To her surprise, the Horseless Headless Horseman spoke the first query, "PRINCESS, HOW LONG WAS I AWAY FROM EQUESTRIA?"
At first Celestia thought he was just reminiscing about the 'good old days' when she caught him starring at her with his hallow eyes and waiting patiently for an answer.
"Well, I suppose it was a long time to keep track of. Honestly, Luna and I had thought you had perished sometime ago…" she said, looking up at Silas with an apologetic smile.
"DON'T WORRY YOURSELF ABOUT IT, BEING DEAD ISN'T AS BAD AS THEY SAY, IT'S MORE ABRUPT THAN ANYTHING…WELL, DEATH WAS, LIVING IN DEATH IS JUST NUMBING…" he sighed, his dropped shoulders betraying his permanent smile. "PRINCESS, WHEN YOU SAID 'A LONG TIME', HOW LONG WAS I GONE EXACTLY?" his voice was now very impatient as he leaned closer to the nervous Sun Deity.
Celestia was about to answer when Silas held up a hand that gave her pause; he removed his orange cranium, the eternal wick dying down as he did so. Celestia's question as to why he manually tore his head off was answered in the form of her sister-turned-rocket roaring over the Horseman's shoulders, shouting an apology as she arced at a nearly impossible angle for another lap around Canterlot:
Celestia gave an annoyed cough before giving her answer to the infernal lumberjack as he screwed his head on straight, "Sorry about her, she tends to get…excited when she has too many sweets. To answer your question, the last time you were in Equestria was over two hundred years ago."
The answer shook him to his dark core. He fell hard against his chair as it creaked violently trying to support the glowing zombie. "TWO HUNDRED YEARS!? THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE…I…I…WAS ONLY AWAY FROM THIS MAGICAL PLACE FOR NARY TWO DECADES! ACTUALLY, WAIT; WHEN I RETURNED HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME AFTER ACCIDENTALLY ARRIVING HERE AND MEETING YOU TW- HEH, I NEVER PROPERLY APOLOGIZED FOR PLACING HANDS ON THE ROYAL FLANK…"
Celestia blushed and hastily waved him off, "It's fine, really! No harm done. Just, DON'T mention it." She gestured to a couple of guards that had overheard the conversation and were starting to scheme on how they might remove his head permanently.
He nodded, "RIGHT…AS I WAS SAYING, WHEN I RETURNED TO AMERICA, I HAD ONLY BEEN GONE FOR A FEW DAYS. THEY HADN'T EVEN STARTED SENDING OUT MISSING PERSON ADDS YET. THEY THOUGHT I HAD DIED IN THE EXPLOSION AS WELL." He squeezed the nonexistent bridge of his nose, why did everyone assume that he expires every time he leaves a room in an unconventional manner?
Now it was Celestia's turn to wear a shocked expression. "A few DAYS? But you stayed with us for months! How can this be?"
"I HAVE A THEORY ABOUT THAT-"
"Oh oh OH! What was the reason!?" said Pinkie, snapping Celestia out of her trance she had slipped into while telling her story. As Celestia's magenta eyes refocused on the overly hyped-up pink party pony staring eagerly up at her, she felt her damp fur amplifying the slight breeze in the elegant room enough to cause shivers all down her back. She had been more involved in recounting her tale than she thought; the pillow she was resting her delicate body upon was clenched tightly in her forelegs and she was drenched in sweat. If that wasn't enough, Twilight's face bore a concerned look for her teacher.
"Princess? Are you alright?" said the lavender unicorn as she brushed her mane out of her eyes. Twilight hadn't seen her mentor this frazzled since Discord had first stolen the Elements of Harmony from the Royal Vault. Twilight really didn't know how to react; she had read a few books on the subject of consulting distressed ponies (although past experience had taught her that books don't always hold the answers she sought) but she had always gone to Celestia for comfort. Fortunately, Twilight had the master of ceremonies with her who (more or less) knew how to cheer up the centuries-old Sun Goddess.
"Aw, it's okay Princess! Turn that frown upside-down, that big meanie-beanie isn't here! He was just in your really cool story, oh, which reminds me; WHAT HAPPENS NEXT???" Pinkie's snout bumped the alicorn's as her eyes bugged unnaturally far out of her head with anticipation. Twilight meeped as she tried to make herself as small as she could, unsure as to how Celestia would react. The Princess' eyes shrank slightly before returning to normal. She picked up Pinkie with her yellow aura and placed her gently on her own feather filled seat.
"Honestly, Ms. Pie; I don't recall much from that point onward", Pinkie's jaw fell open as she fell back on her seat and groaned with annoyance at not being able to hear the conclusion of the fable, "but, Luna did have a conversation with the HHH before-" She was cut off by the large double doors being thrown open as Quick-Fix and Over-Dose came galloping in and bowed in unison.
"Mein Prinzessin! Come quick, Luna haz awakened! She vishes to speak wiz you!" cried Quick-Fix, already turning to soar back to the Moon Goddess' side. Over-Dose could only nod in agreement of his colleague as his horn warmed up for a teleportation spell.
"Jah!" said the blue unicorn as he vanished with a flash.
The three mares left in the room all looked at each other for a split second before Twilight and Princess Celestia followed suit, teleporting themselves to Luna's room.
As they opened their eyes, they saw that Pinkie had somehow beaten them, and Quick-Fix, across the extensive palace and was already at Luna's bedside.
Luna's room reflected her cherished night sky and was almost as dark. The Lunar Princess was lying in an oversized bed covered with the finest black silk sheets in all of Equestria on one of the softest mattresses made with preened feathers off of the twin deities that they had shed over the millennia. Her feather bed was was completely surrounded by twelve hoof high curtains that had been magically enhanced to shield whosoever dwells within it's confines from any assault the sun might bring forth through the stained glass window (save crashing through it and destroying the planet). Her room was more of the same; all shades of black and dark sapphire, with contrasting bright white stars dotted around the chamber with a massive mural of the moon, exactly like it's master's Cutie Mark. She had a desk near the bed, crowded with numerous scrolls and books piled all around, on top of, and in the ebony drawers. There was a small space in the center for the spotless mirror and a brush and glasses, hay, Princesses need to look their best at all times, even when studying (which was something Celestia had taught to Twilight within her first week of being her student).
The teacher-student pair trotted across the black opal floor and joined Pinkie at the hoof of Luna's bed, she was propped up against an array of throw pillows with a white earth stallion holding a hoof to her horn while watching the clock on Luna's bed stand.
"Ah, Solemn, I was beginning to wonder where you had run off to," said Celestia as the third member of the Clinical Trial Team (along with Over-Dose and Quick-Fix) turned and bowed before her. He had a short black mane that was neatly cut high on the back of his neck, he wore a medical coat like the other two medics that also ran right down to his crossed syringe Cutie Mark, but sported a collared shirt underneath with pocket squares on his left side.
He stood again, readjusted his glasses and immediately returned to checking Luna for any other ailments, "Forgive me, Princess, but I must keep mein concentration on Princess Luna," said Solemn, his accent obviously from the same region as the other doctors but much softer and less abrasive. Celestia nodded, she preferred that her doctors held their sacred duty over social parodical, even when addressing her. The three medics continued their busy work while Pinkie got as close to Luna as she could to ask her a VERY important question;
"Princess! Please, you HAVE to tell me the rest of the story!"
Luna, who hadn't been apart of 'the story' raised and eyebrow at her glowing sister while the Clinical Trial Team shot dirty looks at the whimpering earth mare now clinging desperately to Luna's covers.
"The Silas Mann story," said Celestia bluntly.
"Ah, at what point did you get to?" asked Luna as she further propped herself up.
"The party when he first arrived, but I think we should hurry things along and skip the unfortunate business with the Diamond Dogs…" Celestia's throat went dry, those poor dogs had no idea what they were up against. Twilight tapped a hoof to her chin as she tried to remember her Equestrian history, the Diamond Dogs had tried to ransack Canterlot at one point but were repelled by Ironsides and his battalion. But that made no sense to Twilight. Sure enough, she was no military strategist, but how did the Royal Guards (who had been unsuccessful at stopping the zealous miners on the outskirts of Equestria, let alone the capital city) suddenly halt the raiders AND have them surrender within the same hour?
"Uh, Princess?" started Twilight as the two alicorns who shared that title turned to face her, "I'm actually sort of curious of how you shut down the Diamond Dog rampage, if you don't mind my asking…"
Celestia and Luna glanced at one another, worry clearly visible in their large eyes. Luna sighed and nodded, she gestured for the medical trio to see themselves out, which they did after a quick round of bows.
"Ms. Pie, would you kindly fetch the small red scroll out of my closet?" said Luna, her voice was still shaky from her ordeal the night before.
Pinkie shook her head up and down as her cotton candy mane bobbed with her. She hopped, skipped, and jumped over to Luna's closet. She slid back sliding screen and began to rummage about through multiple dresses and various other articles of clothing before noticing something red towards the back. Thinking it to be the scroll she was hunting for, she grabbed one end of it and gave it a tug. To her surprise, it hardly budged, buried far beneath piles of other books and scrolls that Luna had been meaning to read but hadn't gotten around to.
Narrowing her eyes, she once again took hold of the perpetrator with her herbivore teeth and pulled back as hard as her hyper-active body would allow. She rolled backwards and crashed into Twilight as they both landed in a heap. Twilight's violet eyes spun in her head, she pushed the semi-conscience party-goer off of her and gasped at what Pinkie had unearthed within Luna's closet; a stack of rather fancy hats…that were on FIRE.
Luna tried to say something, but her sore throat made her hesitate and Twilight had already sprung into action, stamping the fire out as quickly as she could. With the smoldering embers starting to flicker in and out, she turned to Luna.
"Forgive me, Princess! I didn't mean to destroy your hats! I just…I didn't want them to- *FOOM* GAAAAH!" Twilight didn't get a chance to finish her apology as the once thought defeated flames returned en mass, causing her to launch high into the air and landed behind Celestia, who couldn't help but smile.
Pinkie trotted over to the mystical tower of hats and blew out the flames like a candle, only to have them reignite once again. She repeated this action numerous times, and each and every time the undead fire would spring back to life almost as soon as she did so.
As Twilight watched what would become an eternal war if left alone long enough, she dislodged the small crimson parchment from her tail that had fallen out of the towering hat inferno and levitated it to Luna's waiting hooves.
"Thank you, Twilight. Ms. Pie, you can stop that now, those flames are eternal and very stubborn about remaining lit," said Luna as she unbound the black lace keeping the scroll in a cylindrical shape.
Pinkie stopped mid-inhale and released it as a small belch. "Oops, 'scuse me. So how come the fire isn't all hot and burny?" said the now very curious earth pony.
"It's a particle effect, it's really more for show than anything. Think of it like…like…" Celestia searched for something the little ponies could compare the strange fiery headpiece with, "Ah! Like how the Wonderbolts have a trail of lightning and storm clouds that billow behind them."
Both Twilight and Pinkie thought about what she had said; it was true that the lightning they discharged never seemed to harm anypony and did make their air shows even more spectacular.
"…that was a hat that Silas gave me before- well, I suppose I should answer your question, Twilight." Luna unfolded the blood-red scroll and began to run her eyes across it's surface. "The Diamond Dogs indeed had the upper appendage when it came to combat; being larger than most full-grown stallions and being able to escape and move around underground freely made them hard to catch…but not for a monster like the Horseless Headless Horseman. When the raiders entered the city, he made first contact, somehow ripping them from the earth like stubborn vegetables. He promised he wouldn't hurt any of them…he…" tears began to form in the corners of her eyes, "he broke that promise two hundred and sixty eight times!" Luna could no longer hold back her tears, the scroll rolled off of her elegant sheets and onto the floor, and it was all Celestia could do to climb up next to her and wrap her in her heavily wings.
It was some time before Luna cooled down enough to speak again, this time being cradled by the two massive wings eased her speech. "Anyway, he came to me the next day, and asked me what was wrong. I told him I never wanted to see him again after what he did, and I was also mad because the special harvest moon I had been planning was overlooked by the battle. He sympathized with me, apparently, his older brother overshadowed him too and took all of the credit for their store, Mann Co." Celestia held her sister tighter, already knowing the next part of this tragedy, or at least it's outcome. "He offered me power, power that would get my nights noticed. He said all I had to do in return was help him overthrow Tia…I-I was so tired and angry of nopony enjoying my nights other than my astronomers that I appointed, I just couldn't refuse. That's…that's how I became Nightmare Moon."
Twilight and Pinkie (to a greater extent) gasped as this new wealth of knowledge was thrust upon them, neither pony could have thought in their wildest dreams that a HUMAN was the cause of Princess Luna's downfall. Luna acknowledged their shocked faces with a sigh, but as she looked up, her eyes shown with such intensity that even Celestia was taken aback.
"B-But how did he give you this power? Are humans really that powerful?" stammered Twilight.
"No," said the Princess from the safety of her sister's feathery embrace, "humans are not born magic nor do all but a hoof full have the ability to practice it. He bestowed that curse upon my person with that infernal axe he carries with him everywhere he goes; the Headtaker." Luna looked like she was about ready to spit she was so furious at the mere mention of the offending implement, "It talks too, that's also what gives Silas his unholy abilities, I imagine that if we separate them, we might have a chance at sending him back from whence he came!"
Pinkie bounded onto the bed and bounced higher than she thought she would, landing ungracefully on her snout. Everypony else gave a quick chuckle as Pinkie shook her head and righted herself. "Is that how you sent that big jerk back to his house last time, you took away the Bread-breaker?"
"Headtaker," corrected Twilight.
"Yeah, that too. So, didja?" said Pinkie who was becoming increasingly aware of how comfy the bed she had crashed on was and began to sink into the fluffy mattress.
Luna and Celestia looked at each other, "No, we didn't have to," said Celestia, allowing her tired sibling to rest in her wondrously soothing feather down, "when Luna confronted me, she explained that the Horseman had grown too power-hungry and would soon try to overthrow Luna once he got the chance. When he finally arrived in the throne room after terrorizing the guards, we double-teamed him with the Elements of Harmony and banished him back to Mann Manor, together. Sadly, I was also forced to banish Nightmare Moon to the moon not one hour later…but's that all over now." She nuzzled her little sister and they both shared a smile they sorely needed.
Luna's smile soon faded back to her all too-familiar frown of concern, "That still doesn't explain how he made it back to Equestria; something to do with that energy disturbance must be the key…"
Pinkie nodded, " Yeah, and Pyro didn't seem to happy about getting thrown into Everfree like that either," she said as she wondered what sort of flambé would most likely cheer up the firebug.
"Wait, what? WHO!?"