41w, 5dprecist pozdeji
...into the central study of the Canterlot Royal Palace. Princess Luna was trailing after her, levitating a bundle of scrolls between them both while frowning.
“Sister! I insist! You must read these!”
“I am busy at the moment, Luna,” Celestia said in a tight, angry voice. She trotted firmly towards a polished table covered in maps, data sheets, royal decrees, and architectural designs.
Outside the balcony window to her Palace study, half of Canterlot had fallen to ruin. Crumbled debris smoked as dozens of unicorns gathered in circles, conjuring water spells to stoke the flames. In the distance, several identical plumes of black vapor rose from random, battle-strewn spots in Equestria. The smoldering sky was buzzing with pegasus detachments who were working around the clock to put out the blazes.
“This is the fifth letter in a week!” Luna exclaimed, shuffling through the many sealed parchments in front of her. “How long must you ignore them? Or ignore me?!” She frowned, her eyes turning into boiling pools of blue fury. “Celestia, please answer me!”
“Dear Sister!” Celestia stomped her hoof, frowning at her. “Does it look like I have time to bother with anything else at the moment?!” She gestured towards the table full of important ledgers and memos. “Half of Equestria is still on fire. The damage dealt by Discord has been phenomenal, beyond anything you or I could have ever conceived! Renovating this landscape will take more than the power of the six elements, much less a single alicorn. If you care at all about me or about this land of ours, you will stop your inane nonsense and lend your skills to the cause of reconstruction at once!”
“Nonsense?!” Luna made a face. “Sister, this is about Glowing Jade! She is dying...”
“I knew that her time would come sooner than later,” Celestia said in a cold murmur as she perused the many complicated battle reports before her. “It is a miracle that she survived long enough to see peace restored to the land that Discord had so mercilessly ravaged. If anything, we should be rejoicing...”
“For once, I am not concerned about what we feel,” Luna said, her eyes round and imploring. “Beloved sister, answer me. Have you read a single letter that has been sent to us?”
Celestia said nothing. She continued with her frantic study of the latest marks made on the Equestrian map.
“It's Glowing Jade's family, Celestia,” Luna said. “They are asking us—no—begging that you and I go visit her at her death bed.”
“Luna, I loved Glowing Jade dearly,” Celestia calmly responded. “I still do. But long ago, we cut ties with my faithful apprentice for a reason. You and I cannot afford to be distracted by personal bias when the entire fate of Equestria is at stake. Utilizing the Rite of a Master's Journey—however contrived—has been necessary in preserving the fragile balance that has allowed the Elements of Harmony to be forged over the past three hundred years. I assure you, long after Glowing Jade is gone, her contributions to capturing the Element of Loyalty will not be forgotten, especially considering how timely it was in ensuring Discord's defeat.”
“Celestia, do you...” Luna dropped the scrolls like they were dead leaves. With an incredulous expression, she softly trotted towards her elder. “Do you even hear yourself? Glowing Jade mastered the Element of Loyalty for a reason. She saw such power within us, within you. Or, at least, she thought it was there. Now, in her time of desperation and darkness, we are to ignore her in such a way as she never fathomed forsaking us?”
“The letters were written by her family, were they not?” Celestia muttered. “I imagine they are far too easily clouded by their own emotions to accurately reflect her will—”
“Sister, these mortals and their emotions are the same! And they are just as fragile! Yes, Equestria has suffered great turmoil. Yes, there is a great deal of damage to be repaired. But you and I have thousands upon thousands of lifetimes to make things beautiful again. Glowing Jade and her family? They only have one, and it is about to come to a bitter end. Must we let them wallow in shadows alone?”
Celestia cast Luna a bitter glance. “You surprise me, Luna. Have you truly become so fickle to have gone back on your own wisdom? After all, the utilization of the Rite of a Master's Journey was your idea—”
“And I was wrong, sister!” Luna shouted. The shadows of the room doubled as she frowned. “I see that now! Why can't you?!”
Celestia's jaw fell. Her eyes narrowed upon this angry alicorn suddenly standing in front of her. “What has gotten into you? I cannot afford to have you losing control of your passion in this time of—”
“Discord nearly tore this land asunder! That is what has happened!” Luna said in a deep, angry voice. “You and I are the only Equestrian souls old enough to remember what it was like to breathe the crisp, golden air of Creation. In just half a decade alone, nearly all of that burned in ash and chaos. Never in my darkest of dreams could I have imagined our Father's land coming to an end, and yet it almost did!”
“Is there a moment when it will travail upon you to tell me something I do not know?”
“It is not a matter of what you do not know, sister!” Luna snarled. “It is what you do not feel! What you fail to see! You have been deeply courageous and strong these last few centuries, but I do not like the price that it has cost you, that it has cost me! I feel as though this is all my fault!”
“And why should you feel guilty for the preservation of this kingdom?” Celestia replied, her voice growing louder to match Luna's. “Sister, what we have done throughout the years with the apprentices in our employ: it has saved this land from eternal darkness! Everything you have feared, we have avoided because of our necessary aloofness—”
“Not everything I've feared, dear sister,” Luna said in a suddenly sad voice. She inhaled deeply and pointed out the window towards the ruins beyond. “There is more to that land out there than security and preservation!”
“Please, Luna...” Celestia sighed and ran a hoof over her brow. “I have important business to attend. I have magic spells to cast and—”
“That will be a hollow magic,” Luna said bluntly.
Celestia glared at her. “I beg your pardon?”
“Father was right when he told us that there will always be magic,” Luna said. “However, magic is empty without the love and companionship of these fragile mortals who make it something worthy of respect. I did not always think that this was the case. But after losing so much, I now understand what we are meant to preserve in this world. We are letting it slip from us, Celestia. We risk becoming as blind and insensitive as Discord himself at this rate. Without the communion of souls, magic will be as dead to this world as the blackness between stars.”
“I fear your eternal shepherding of the night's sky has made you put too much weight into darkness,” Celestia said with a slight chuckle. She turned away...
But Luna yanked her back, forcing their eyes to meet. “You think I do not know that?” The younger alicorn's frown was vicious. “You think I do not see you, day after day, century after century, millennium after millennium, enjoying the wealth of Equestrian life in the glory of the sun? The same glory that has been robbed from me by the very nature of my nocturnal task? You have it in your hooves to be a beacon of inspiration to these mortals, Celestia. Long ago, I suggested that you maintain a divine distance. I was concerned for the well-being of my sister. But now, after Discord has nearly turned this world to the same dust it was before Father breathed upon it, I know that you and I do not deserve any concern or pity. It's these souls, Celestia. It's these souls who deserve joy and glory for the meager lengths of their days. And what have we done to assure that over the eons? What have you done? I swear, if I had the same opportunities you do to reach out to these royal subjects and show them the true light of existence—”
“You would do what, beloved sister?” Celestia coolly retorted. “I fear your jealousy has driven your senses mad.”
Luna's teeth showed. The world outside suddenly fluctuated in wavering bands of twilight. Guard ponies and firefighting unicorns gasped in fright. Even Celestia was startled as she gazed out at the darkening sky, only to see the distortion vanishing as soon as it had begun.
“There are fates worse than madness,” Luna said, her voice briefly taking a ghostly tone. She calmed and closed her glowing eyes as she said, “Judge me as you wish for my jealousy, dear sister, but do not forget to look at yourself as well. I fear for the direction towards which our rule is heading. Magic, for all of its complexities, is but a word. Even in the brightest sunlight, there can be terrible darkness. I do not want to lose you to it.”
“Then don't,” Celestia said in a quiet breath, her eyes locked on Luna's melancholic expression. “Join with me. Stay with me. Help me rebuild this sundered kingdom.”
Luna opened her eyes. A tear fell down her cheek. “I cannot,” she said, and trotted out of the Palace room. “I have an old, dying friend to visit.”
Celestia stood alone, flanked by the fluttering sheets of her endless, royal duties. Solemnly, she turned around...