Princess Celestia reeled on to her hind legs in surprise. She looked down at the human female before her, with her long straight red hair and pale skin, and she looked like an impression of her mother.
“This must be a bad dream,” she pointed to the human before her with her left front hoof, “you’re not real! Where’s my Mother? What have you done with her? Change back to Mother!”
“I’m sorry Dawn, but I won’t,” the Maiden said, “you need to know this truth.”
“Leave me alone,” Princess Celestia yelled as she ran away from the red haired woman, but the woman simply ran after her and kept stride with her.
Princess Celestia then felt the woman riding on her back, and then she reared back again, trying to knock the woman off her. She felt something grinding into her teeth, and she realized that it was a bit that was in her mouth. She thrashed her head about, and kicked with all the might she had in her back legs, but try as she might, the red haired woman wouldn’t let go.
“I don’t want to do this Dawn! Please stop making me!”
Princess Celestia snorted in fury and put as much revulsion as she could into saying, “Get off of me, human!”
“No, your ponies need you! And right now they need you to listen to your Mother!”
“You’re not my Mother!”
“No, but I raised you. I cared for you, and provided for you. I loved you for as long as I was alive, and I still love you now! Even though you were never mine, I treated you and Dusk like you were my real daughters.” The red haired woman wrapped her arms around the neck of Princess Celestia, “Please, trust me now.”
Princess Celestia stopped bucking, and as she did, she felt the bit release and disappear from her mouth.
The Maiden came around to face her, “My dear Dawn, I know you’ve felt the pangs of this world’s death rattle, and I know that you thought they were the work of humanity. It’s not true, though. Not this time. We did destroy this world a millennia and a half ago, and we ended up destroying ourselves as well. But we created you and others so they could have the same opportunities that our kind so foolishly squandered. I have already told Dusk all this, as you know, and I’m leaving the same message with you that I gave her. Forgive yourself.”
“But I don’t feel guilty about anything,” Princess Celestia said.
“Not even your sister’s forced imprisonment? Or your inability to help your world without fear of accidentally destroying it?”
Princess Celestia looked down at her hooves, and scraped the ground, “Maybe.”
“My kind destroyed our world. If I had never forgiven myself for the part I played in that act, I would have never created you, and you would have never created the paradise you did. Learn from your mother; forgive yourself. Now go. Do what you were meant to do.”
The Maiden turned and began to walk back into the mist. “Wait!” Princess Celestia called out to her.
The Maiden turned, “Yes, my little pony?”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“Perhaps. In a little while.”
“Mother,” Princess Celestia weakly called out, “Can I have a hug?”
The Maiden’s mouth turned up in a smile.
She walked back to Princess Celestia, and gave her a large embrace. “I love you,” the woman said to the most powerful pony in all the land.
“I love you too Mommy,” said the daughter to her mother.
The Maiden faded, as did the rest of the mist and marble, and as Princess Celestia faded into soft darkness, she heard, “I’ll always be watching over you, my beautiful daughter.”