Princess Celestia: A Brief History

by Amber Spark

Hysterics in the Hallway

Sunset didn’t need to speak with the Castle guards. One of them nodded at her as she waved them through. After Twilight’s little episode, both of them were obviously fighting smiles.
Then again, Sunset had been rolling around on the cobbles, gasping for breath.
Sunset could have pointed out that Princess Celestia had likely seen the entire thing. It wouldn’t have surprised her if the Princess of the Sun had actually heard the whole thing, too. After all, she was an immortal alicorn demigoddess. However, Twilight probably would have just fainted from shock.
Despite the delicious irony of the option, Sunset decided to be graceful.
At least, for now.
As they walked through the immense courtyard before the Castle itself, Twilight’s head spun as if she was trying to look at everything at once. Sunset could see the questions forming on her muzzle, only for her eyes to catch something else, and her train of thought to be derailed once again.
She couldn’t help but let out a giggle at Twilight’s antics. She’d forgotten how few ponies ever got to see inside the gate of Canterlot Castle, though they might live in Canterlot their whole lives. Through Twilight’s perspective, Sunset could see the Castle in a new light.
She looked up at the immense turrets and towers, the wide spiraling ramps and stairways, the skybridges, and the gardens. Banners flew in the light breeze at the top of every tower. White stone mixed with gray accents, all while shimmering gold topped almost everything in sight. Magnificent, showing the power of the Princess who dwelled there without being gaudy. Well, without being terribly gaudy. In the end, the place was just so massive Sunset had trouble giving any description that truly gave it justice.
A little less than a millennium old, the Castle looked almost brand-new. While the Castle had grown over the Princess’s solitary reign, the central keep was still the same. That was where they were heading.
A pair of guards flanked the immense wooden doors, each emblazoned with the sigil of the Princess of the Sun wrapped in delicate etchings of vines and leaves. The two unicorns nodded to Sunset and Twilight. The younger unicorn let out a little squee at the sight of them.
“Miss Shimmer,” the left guard said. “We are to inform you the Princess will receive you and your guest in the West Gardens.”
“Thank you,” Sunset said. “Come on, Twilight. We can duck through the Hall of History to get there.”
“Hall of… History?” Twilight whispered in reverent awe.
As the guards swung open the doors, Sunset smirked at Twilight. “Well, we can either spend all our time in there or we can see Princess Celestia. What would you like to do?”
Inarticulate squeaking came from Twilight’s general direction. Sunset’s smirk grew into a grin. “That’s what I thought.”
Sunset nodded to a few of the servants. Thankfully, none of them bowed to her. Every time a new pony was brought on, they always bowed the first time they saw her, no matter how many times she told the staff’s leadership. It always reminded her of the pony she tried to keep chained in the back of her head. The bowing was something she would want.
Yeah. You’re not worthy of that. Used to be. Will be someday again. But not now.
Sunset rolled her eyes. Seriously. This is beyond old. Go away!
Twilight barely looked at any of the ponies, though. Her legs were working on automatic as her eyes swiveled in their sockets. Her gaze locked onto every tapestry and stained glass window as if she planned on reproducing them from memory later. For all Sunset knew, she was planning on doing just that. Maybe she was taking mental notes. It wouldn’t surprise her.
Actually, it surprised Sunset Twilight wasn’t taking physical notes.
They could have gone around the exterior of the castle and through Sunset’s favorite grove of apple trees to get to the West Gardens. Yet, she knew without a doubt Twilight would love to see the Hall of History, even if only in passing. Anypony who lived and breathed books as Twilight did in the Royal Canterlot Archives would simply adore it.
The first thing that caught everypony’s attention—and Twilight was no exception—was the stained glass portrait of a draconequus tormenting the ponies of Equestria. Twilight galloped up to it, staring at the monster as if it might suddenly burst to life.
“Discord…” Twilight murmured. “It is true there’s a statue of him in the Sculpture Gardens?”
Sunset stepped beside her and nodded.
“Why would a monster that plunged Equestria into chaos have a sculpture enshrined at the Castle?” Twilight’s eyes still hadn’t left the stained glass. “That never made sense to me.”
“The Princess doesn’t like to talk about Discord,” Sunset admitted. “I think it’s a painful subject for her. Personally, I think she hated the fact that it took her so long to find a way to defeat him.”
“Well, she didn’t do it alone,” Twilight pointed out. “Her sister was with her.”
Sunset nodded again. “That’s probably the other reason she doesn’t like to talk about it. While Princess Celestia is more than happy to talk about modern politics and near-history… going that far back in the past isn’t something she enjoys doing.”
“You’ve asked her?” Twilight finally turned to Sunset.
“Of course.”
“Can you imagine that?” Twilight murmured as she moved on to the next stained window. It showed the first contact between the griffons and the ponies of Equestria. “Living for over a thousand years? Seeing the nation of Equestria founded? For pony’s sake, she’s one of only members of a completely unique race! Nopony knows if there are any other alicorns still left in the world! Well, natural-born ones, I mean.”
“Honestly? No. I’ve tried. Makes me wonder just what she’s gone through to have so many secrets.”
“You’re right, I—why are you smiling at me like that?”
Sunset froze. She hadn’t even realized she’d been staring at Twilight. She tried to fight the blush, but failed miserably.
Why am I constantly blushing around this pony?
“Sorry.” Sunset poked at the checked tile. “It’s been a while since I’ve brought a friend over here. The last pony to get as excited as you about all of this was Moon Dancer. And honestly? You’re way past her at this point.”
“Well, yeah.” Sunset looked up and smiled a bit wider. “Most ponies just sort of accept Princess Celestia as this force, this unknowable goddess. They’re so used to the mystery around her, they don’t ask questions. With me, it’s different. I’ve spent over a decade with her. With you… I don’t know, I just think your curiosity is refreshing.”
Twilight opened her mouth to say something only to have a low bell thrum through the Hall of History.
“What’s that?”
“Oh, just the half-hour chime.” Sunset waved a hoof. “Nothing to be worried about.”
“Half-hour? You mean it’s already half past one?” Twilight squeaked and trotted in place. “We’re late, aren’t we? Oh for the love of Celestia… I mean…”
Sunset snorted.
“We can’t be late to see her! What will she think of me? She’ll think I’m a horrible pony! She’ll think I’m one of those ponies who are… who are…”
The next word was spoken with such dread and horror, Sunset half-expected eldritch abominations to leap from the shadows and devour them whole.
That tears it. She’s certifiably nuts.
Sunset wasn’t quite sure if she was thinking that or if her angry little pony was thinking that. Maybe they both were. A chilling thought.
“Twilight,” Sunset began slowly, trying not to make things worse on the prancing unicorn. “You’re not going to be tardy.”
“But the guard said the Princess was waiting out in the West Castle Gardens and who knows how long we’ve kept her waiting since I think it was about one since we—oh my gosh your class was at one, wasn’t it and we’re over a half hour late she’s going to banish me—”
Hoof, meet mouth.
Twilight froze as Sunset once again physically silenced her.
“The Princess is there with Philomena, her pet phoenix. She always spends a little time after lunch with Philomena before going back to the Day Court.”
This, evidently, was not the right thing to say. Twilight’s eyes went even wider and she backpedaled, escaping Sunset’s silencing hoof.
“You mean I’m holding up the entire Canterlot government bureaucracy by making her even later for court? No, that can’t happen! My parents will kill me! They’ll disown me, and the Princess will be required to—”
“Twilight, look out!”
Twilight backpedaled right into a pedestal against the wall with the speed of a taxipony at full gallop. There was a large bowl on the pedestal. Sunset knew it well, as she’d filled it many times before. She also knew it could easily fall if it hadn’t been placed in its holder just so.
The bowl tipped over and Sunset could do nothing but watch as about a gallon of freezing water dumped on Twilight’s head.
As the bowl rolled to a stop a few feet away, Sunset stared at Twilight.
Her glasses had fallen off, revealing enormous violet eyes beneath them. Her mane was plastered to her head. Her saddlebags were soaked. Her tail was a sopping mess. Her coat was several shades darker than usual. Water dripped off her muzzle, and from the tips of her ears, which twitched sporadically left and right. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, before settling on open while her eyes were locked on somewhere behind Sunset, probably in that wonderful land called Mortification.
Maybe it was the fact that she’d been rolling on the ground laughing her tail off at Twilight only a few minutes ago, but Sunset actually managed to keep herself from anything more than a little smile—though she was fighting the monstrous giggling fit that threatened to overtake her.
“Please…” she said through chattering teeth. “Please tell me that wasn’t holy water from the birthplace of Celestia brought back by pilgrims in the earliest days of Equestria…”
Sunset stared at her.
“It’s for Philomena. She likes her water ice cold. Has bowls all over the Castle. She’s a strange bird.”
“Oh. Good.”
She slumped over.