“I need some time alone.” The words echoed in Twilight Sparkle’s ears. Twilight sat unmoving in the middle of the library. Luna had just climbed to the balcony and took flight without saying anything else. Twilight could not help but think her friend’s emotional state was entirely her fault. The lavender Unicorn had unearthed a heap of memories in the Alicorn that she had not wanted to visit again. Twilight wondered why Luna would have even tried to answer her question if it was going to have such an effect on her. Twilight knew Luna trusted her. She had said she wanted to share her secrets with her, unlike Celestia. Was that why Luna was willing to risk remembering such pain? Was Luna trying to be closer to Twilight than her sister? Twilight’s ears drooped. It certainly was possible. Even though Celestia had forgiven Luna and welcomed her back to Equestria, Twilight had always suspected that their sibling relationship had never fully recovered. Twilight knew it made sense, Luna had let such despair and envy in her heart the dark magics of Nightmare Moon had taken hold of the lunar princess. And Celestia was forced to banish the beast to the moon.
Twilight could not imagine how guilty Celestia would have felt, or how much resentment Luna could have harbored. When the two Alicorns were in the same room, they tolerated and respected each other, they were friendly enough. In a way, it was touching. Twilight smiled slightly. They had been through so much and they still tried to salvage their relationship. Then, as Twilight realized something, her eyes had begun to tear up. Perhaps they tried so hard because there was no pony else. Luna had said there were only two Alicorns left in existence. They were so alone. And immortality is a long time to be alone. And what had she done? She had poked and prodded at wounds that were still fresh. The reminder of the moon, Luna’s own personal nightmare, it was too much for the mare to bear. And Twilight had been responsible for making her relive it. Twilight lived in a world where the power of friendship could cut through madness and chaos instantly, she knew that better than anypony. Yet she had just tormented her friend to satisfy curiosity. Why had she asked that? The answer soon verbalized itself.
“Well,” Discord’s face appeared in the mirror that was mounted near the washroom. “That was creepy. You really upset h….” Twilight smashed her hoof through the mirror and shattered it. The glass hit the floor and scattered into fragments. “Ok! You’re mad, we’ll talk later….”
Luna was flying in circles above the trees of Everfree Forest. Regardless of what she had told Twilight upon leaving, the truth was Luna did not want to be alone. However her mind was racing and her thoughts were getting the best of her. She felt that if she did not leave she would have said something very stupid. The flashbacks of the exile were still fresh in her mind and it brought to light a truth she had been desperately trying to ignore. Luna was tired of being alone. She wanted somepony who would be by her side. Not an attendant Celestia had assigned her to keep her “in check”, like Storm Dancer. She wanted somepony who actually understood her and could comfort her through the darkness. Twilight had just done that. She really did want to share her past with her. She kept so much bottled up inside and needed somepony to listen. Twilight had done that too. But it had become abundantly clear that her feelings for Twilight had extended beyond friendship. Yet in the brief moment of her flashback she felt a prick of rage creep up. How could anypony have feelings for something that was so monstrous?
Luna landed in the thick of the woods. She walked along the ground, her head hung low. The Everfree Forest had grown dark. She had remembered when it had not come out this far, but that was eras ago, even before her banishment. It had grown back larger each time. Luna had always guessed it was the world’s way of trying to heal. Each time Celestia had tried to burn it down, Everfree would take a bit more land as it grew anew. Finally Celestia must have given up. However it was so much more dismal now. Luna remembered when she and Celestia would walk the paths in the heart of the forest as fillies. They would chat and laugh and even sing in the tongue of the ancients. Back when mother and father had been alive. She contemplated. She felt a pull at her hooves, as if they were yearning to walk in a particular direction. Glancing around, she came to a slow realization. “I know this place. It’s… close by… if it’s still there.” She walked slowly down the moonlit path, her eyes searching furiously in the surroundings. Then she found it. It was covered in vines and overgrowth. The stone had chipped in several places, and the gnomon had long sense fallen off, but there it was. Her mind filled in the missing details, and she could see the old sundial in all its glory. When it was light clearing, back in a whole other age, when she was still young. Luna felt the memories rush over her. And for the second time this morning she could feel memory lane taking her mind on a ride, back when she and her sister spoke in the ancient language:
An Alicorn with a pink mane and white coat stood with her fierce eyes fixed on the sundial. Its gnomon cast no shadow for it was high noon, and it had been for weeks. Selena, the younger blue coated Alicorn, was nuzzled against the neck of her sister, Helia. It was the only form of comfort she could offer Helia. But the taller Alicorn simply ignored her and focused on the sundial. Time had stopped for the world. The sun had been slowly burning the land for days. Nights did not exist. They had not for weeks. Soon all the water would dry up and there would be no way to stop the fires. Helia let out a scream in anger. She turned to face her sister, “Selena! We cannot give up hope now! Not when we have come this far!”
“Sister we have come nowhere! We have done the unforgivable. They are dying. They are all dying and we cannot help. All this power and we can do nothing. And we will live on, won’t we? We’ll live on here in this empty, static world!”
“NO!” The Alicorn’s voice echoed and the all birds left the forest terrified by the way the speech shook the earth. “We will find a way. We must! They are free now and so are we! We must lead them Selena!” The Alicorn turned to the sundial and stamped her hoof.
“Helia… we have killed them. Was it worth it?”
“If we are not strong enough we will become strong enough! We have the Elements! We are Alicorns! If the sun will not move, I will force it to!”
“You’ve gone mad with sorrow, Sister!”
“No, I am in command!” Helia focused every ounce of her magic into her horn. She reached out to the burning orb in the sky. She poured her essence into its soul and pleaded for it to move. No, she demanded that it move. She forced her will upon it. But the sun was not to be trifled with. It did not wish to be tamed. Fire danced in the Alicorn’s eyes. Helia’s body began to burn. It cried out in pain as the sun retaliated and struggled. Smoke rose from around her. Her insides melted under the heat. Selena watched in horror as her sister’s beautiful pink mane burst into fire. The sun screamed and hissed at the Alicorn. It shouted lines of loathing into her mind. It clawed at her soul and it kicked at her thoughts. The fire consumed her tail from the tip as it burned away. The sun pleaded Helia to burn with it, to die alongside it. The sun twitched high in the sky, its last action before it perished. Its soul was extinguished and replaced by the Alicorn’s own more determined one. In a moment of blinding light and an explosion of sound, Helia’s mane and tail were reborn as a billowing plain of the morning sky. Ponies of all tribes looked to the sky in awe. They rushed to the sundial and bowed before the Alicorn. Helia rose to the sky and spread her wings, her shape eclipsing the power that she had just vanquished. She was in control. “Oh, once great sphere your soul is not your own anymore! Your powers now are mine to command! You will bow before she who controls the heavenly bodies!”
Selena gasped, “Helia!”
“No my dear Selena, I am not Helia anymore than this world is dying! I am the goddess of the golden sun now! I am she who commands the power of life and death itself! The Mistress of Order! The harbinger of harmony! I am the subjugator of the celestial world! Yes! I am Celestia, princess of the sun! Savior of the Known World!” All around Unicorns, Pegasi, and Earth ponies bowed in reverence as the sun set behind Celestia. The world began to cool. The ponies cheered and showered her with gifts of gold and silver. “Rest now, my little ponies. For when the sun rises tomorrow, with the first new dawn in weeks, we shall toil until the world is restored! Yes, now the world is ours to command! We rule the clouds! We shall tame the earth to our bidding! We shall create a new world to live in! A world of harmony and order! A world where ponies are in command of their own destiny! It is possible! I have tamed the sun and together we shall tame the earth! Equines from everywhere shall join in my joyous kingdom! We shall call it Equestria! The time of ponydom is now! The time for our utopia is upon us! When the first new dawn breaks, our new age begins!”
“And that is how Equestria was made,” Luna sighed. She placed her cheek on the old stone of the sundial and cried softly. She remembered from that day on, her sister was everything to the ponies. She was incapable of wrong. She gave them everything she promised: hope, harmony, and order… a utopia. Then Luna ruined it. She had shattered the façade and let the ugly truth be revealed. Celestia always got what she wanted. If she wanted it, she would force it to be. Luna could not understand why she could not do the same. Now she felt her heart twinge. Luna sighed, “Should I even tell her? Is it even worth it? She’ll just reject me….” Luna cringed for a moment as her eyes morphed into green slits. He coat blackened and her height increased.
Nightmare Moon stamped her feet, “We must be strong! We can make her love us! I have to power to…” The Alicorn shrunk in size and returned to her meeker state.
“Twilight would not love us if we were you…” Luna said somberly.
Nightmare Moon scoffed as she stood back up, “I must act! We desire her so! We cannot let her simply fade like the others.”
Luna fell back to the ground, “I know. But we can’t force her. We’ve tried that before. Look where it got us…”
Nightmare Moon shuddered, “I do not like this. I am conflicted. There is always a way if we are strong. Sister told us that. We must get the object of our desires. We deserve to have it!”
Luna stood up and shook her head, “It’s not about what we deserve. We forfeited that long ago with our selfishness. What we desire now is to let her be happy. That means she can never learn our truth.”
Nightmare Moon frowned, “We do not desire to live a lie with her.”
Luna cried softly, “So we can never be truly be close to her. It would not be fair for her to place her love in this character we play.”
“But it is what we desire… But so is her happiness. We are so conflicted.” Nightmare Moon clenched her jaw. Her eyes widened as she realized her only option, “We must keep up this façade. It is the only path that best serves us.”
Luna stood up and wiped her tears, “It’s the path that best serves her….” She walked back to the sundial and gave it a soft kiss. She took to the sky, flying over the old Castle of the Two Sisters.
Storm Dancer was looking at the morning sky. It had been a hectic morning. First there had been a manticore, a sea serpent, and then several flowers that snapped at him. The Castle of the Two Sisters had been a sight for sore eyes. He was glad that his errand was finished. He was certain that Celestia would be proud of him. Perhaps he would get promoted so he would not have to serve that brooding, rude, spoiled brat of a sister the princess had. He could certainly see himself as Celestia’s number one aid and attendant. After all, he was full of the best qualifications. He understood the intricacies of politics, his time in the military had given him an excellent insight to loyalty, and his enthusiasm was unmatched. He was a horseshoe-in to replace Rivensilt as Celestia’s right hand pony. He had to be, after all Celestia had given him a specific mission. It must have been of great importance because it was for Celestia’s protégée. He had certainly earned it, playing hoof-stallion to that whinny mare. However, he would be lying to himself if he did not have any doubt.
Rising Star was just as qualified as him, and she had pedigree behind her actions as well. She was a member of one of the oldest noble families in Equestria, the Heartstrings family. Rising Star was also a horseshoe-in to get the promotion as well. Storm Dancer sighed. What he needed was an edge. He needed an ace in the hole. Frankly, he needed a miracle. Just then, as if in some manner of random chance had suddenly aligned favorably, he saw a shape streak across the sky. It was a very large Pegasus. No, she was too large for that, and she had a very distinct mane. It was undeniably the bane of his existence, Princess Luna. Flying above Everfree Forest. Princess Luna. Flying above Everfree Forest. When she was supposed to be in Griffica.
“Oh, you’ve slipped up for the last time, princess. Your sister trusted you and you slipped up.” He could not believe his luck! He could return to Celestia with the etching she had requested and the news that her sister had been lying to her! Well, he could, but Celestia would not believe him. He had cried wolf too many times. “Princess Celestia, Nightmare Moon left the castle with a carriage and she cast some sort of spell on the carriage pullers! They were turned in to hideous monsters with bat wings! What? Costumes for Nightmare Night? But she left without your permission! Oh, her holiday, her rules?” Then there was that other time, “Princess Celestia, Nightmare Moon is trying to create eternal night again! Proof? Well, she was rearranging the stars! She was pushing them all over Ponyville! That’s something to be concerned about, right? No…? New constellation… Of your protégée… Oh. Well… she’s still using a lot of stars….” Or there was that one time, “Princess Celestia! Princess Luna is staging a coup! Of course I’m sure! She has kept the moon in the sky for too long! Oh, right… Winter Solstice… Rising Star barrowed my calendar and hasn’t returned it yet…” Then there was that time he had been so sure, “Princess Celestia! Your highness! Your sister has made it rain fire and rocks! Requested permission for a meteor shower over Ponyville? Scheduled three months ago?” And then there was the other time, “Princess Celestia! The princess of the night is terrorizing Appaloosa! She is burning buildings down!” Actually, that last one had worked in his favor, there were several angry witnesses.
He needed proof this time, hard evidence. It should not be too hard to find, Luna was never very discrete. It looked like she was headed to Ponyville. Well that was not really a surprise. Everything worthwhile seemed to be happening in Ponyville. “Princess Luna. I will stop you from your web of deceit to the good princess. I will prove my worth to her by exposing Equestria’s greatest foe! I will do so or my name isn’t Storm Dancer!” He shook a hoof in the air and then took off towards Ponyville.
Luna knocked her hoof on the door to the library balcony. Twilight’s ears perked up. The balcony was high off the ground and only a Pegasus could reach it. It was far too early for Rainbow Dash to be awake and Fluttershy never really flies anywhere. Twilight knew that meant it could only be one other pony. She raced up the stairs and flung the doors open to the balcony. Luna stood with her hooves crossed and her head hung in embarrassment. She smiled sheepishly at Twilight. She wanted to tell her how she felt so badly. Her eyes flickered to slits for a brief moment as her desires got the best of her. Thankfully she was able to suppress the change with a small cough. This was just the way it had to be, there was no other solution that would not end up with the lavender Unicorn hating the Alicorn. “I’m sorry for running off like that.”
Twilight gave Luna a big hug, “You need to stop apologizing so much! You had every right to be upset. I’m just glad you’re feeling better now.”
In the far distance, Twilight could hear a subtle laughing sound followed by a male voice whispering, “Personal change? Self-restraint? That’s a first, Selena. Maybe there’s hope for you yet. Just maybe.” Discord chuckled.