The gentle sweeping of a crisp morning breeze against my face gradually pushes back the tides of unconsciousness. For a single, blissful moment, all is well. Languidly, I stretch out, basking in the rays of the Princess’s sun.
Princess Celestia had a sister.
My eyes spring open. I’m scrambling to my hooves in an instant, splashing around furiously as I try to gain my footing.
With a massive amount of effort, I still my flailing legs and take stock of the situation. My analysis reveals:
1) The sun appears to have risen approximately twenty-four minutes ago
2) I am in the East Garden Courtyard of Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns
Princess Celestia had a sister?
4) There is nopony else in the courtyard
5) I am half-lying in the Starswirl memorial fountain
6) My glasses are over there
7) My saddlebag is nowhere in sight
I levitate my glasses onto my face and then freeze again. There is no music. No melodies accompany the glowing of my horn. The courtyard is silent, except for the gentle splashing of the fountain around me.
I’m not sure if this development is good or bad. On one hoof, it suggests that whatever “Scholar” did to me has worn off, but it also means that retracing my steps back to the tower will be difficult, since I let the music lead me the first time and I can no longer hear it.
I bite my lip. I need to retrace my steps, if only to retrieve my saddlebag. But I’m also hungry, and my desire to visit the library is matched only by my eagerness to re-examine Historian.
Okay, okay. This is doable.
Course of action:
1) Acquire Historian
2) Acquire food
3) Re-locate source of music
4) Examine area
5) Retrieve saddlebag
7) Make next course of action
Confident in my plan, I straighten up and clamber out of the fountain. After levitating all of the water droplets off of my coat (a clever trick Twilight and I came up with a few summers ago), I trot briskly into the awakening halls of Princess Celestia’s School.
Did Celestia’s sister have a school?
In these dawn-bound moments, with most of the students either visiting home or still asleep, it’s easy to picture the empty halls as belonging to some other school, lost somewhere in the depths of Equestrian history with its forgotten Princess. Did she have students? Were her classrooms thickly carpeted, or tiled and covered with rushes? Where was it? Could it still be standing today?
Could I find it?
As I slip into the cafeteria and grab an apple and breakfast bar, I can’t help but entertain thoughts of uncovering such a magnificent piece of Equestrian history. An entire school—by Morari’s mane, even the ruins of one—would be momentous. And the accompanying article I would pen, weaving my use of “Scholar” and Historian into one glorious argument proving the existence of the Royal Pony Sisters—I can practically see the works cited page already!
And oh, the look on Twilight’s face would be a real treat. It would almost be too good; while she’s off learning magical theorems that nopony without royal tutoring could hope to understand, I’m uncovering things about her mentor that she never even dreamed of!
At the very least, it would give me a few talking points when the weekly “Princess Celestia is so _____” conversation comes up (the blank is usually filled with some variation of the word ‘wonderful’).
Is this what Scholar does?
Not only is it an interesting thought, it actually makes for a fairly satisfying explanation. If Mage Meadowbrook wanted to preserve a piece of Equestrian history that he suspected might be lost, “Scholar” could be the means by which he intended to accomplish it. Rather than maintain a written record of the beginning of Princess Celestia’s reign, Meadowbrook could simply remember it and preserve that memory it in a spell.
The spell could be placed upon an object, and if the magical seal holding the memory in said object begins to leak… The interference could be detected as music?
Hmm. There’s a missing piece—multifunction spells are extremely, extremely rare. There are more professors at the School that believe in curses than there are those that believe in the feasibility of designing an incantation that could perform more than one function. Housing a memory in an object is one thing, and accessing said memory is literally the opposite of that one thing. Besides, “Scholar” was labeled as uncast, so it can’t have been used to store—
I blink, and look up from the drawer I’m rummaging through. Why am I rummaging through a drawer? Historian’s under my pillow.
Before I can turn to my bed, Twinkleshine’s face is blocking my view, brows furrowed over her pale blue eyes. They’re almost the same color as the younger princess’ in the vision, though Twinkleshine’s gaze admittedly lacks the unsettling silence that the princess possessed. No, there are no deep reserves on ancient fury in my roommate’s eyes, only bristling irritation and—
“Moondancer? Are you okay?”
Minuette’s unusually reserved voice breaks through my thoughts, clearing my mind and slamming me firmly into the present.
I smile sheepishly. “Heh, sorry everypony! Had, uh, the craziest night researching…” I trail off, mentally scrambling for a feasible research topic.
Luckily, I don’t need one. Minuette’s smile springs back to life, and she and Lyra nod eagerly.
“Oh, of course! We figured you were at the library when you didn’t show up last night. We didn’t see Twilight all day, were you with her? Oh, I bet the two of you spent the entire night in the stacks, didn’t you?”
While Minuette chatters on, I notice that Twinkleshine is eyeing me warily. The set of her brow suggests she isn’t quite convinced by my excuse, but she turns back to the book on her pillow and I relax a bit.
“So, are you excited for your birthday?”
I force a smile across my face and nod to Minuette. “I… yeah! It’ll be great—uh, thanks again, for the, the party and… stuff…” Turning back to my bed, I grab my spare saddlebag and stuff Historian into it, followed by plenty of paper and my breakfast. Behind me, Minuette continues the conversation at full speed. She never has needed two ponies to have a full discussion.
“Can you believe it’s less than a week away? I mean, the Summer Sun Celebration always seems to sneak up on us, but somehow it feels like it’s even sooner than normal this year!” she giggles. “Maybe time flies when you’re around people you like, yeah? Heh, Mom always told me friendship was magical.”
Courtesy dictates that I contribute something to the conversation. I hum at my bag, reshuffling the papers into a neater stack. “You… should look into that. Somepony—might have been Clover?—always lamented the lack of study dedicated—dedicated to the magic of friendship…”
“Hmm.” Minuette mulls it over. Before she can speak again, I magic my bag onto my back, tighten the strap, and bolt for the door.
“Lots of research to do, gotta run, seeyoulater,” I blurt. Twinkleshine starts to say something, but her voice fades as the door closes behind me, and I’m down the hall and around the corner before she has the chance to open it.
I scarf down my apple and breakfast bar as I trot back through the School, heading for the courtyard from yesterday. Even without the music to serve as a magical navigation system, it’s my best bet to relocate the source of the memory.
As it turns out, I needn’t have bothered. The moment I set hoof in the courtyard, a feeling of familiarity sweeps over my mind. My steps seem to have acquired a vague sense of gravity, of inevitability. I don’t need to worry about trying to retrace my steps; I just know where I’m going. It’s as though a path has been laid out before me, and my journey from courtyard to hallway to cramped passageways and secret doors is no less inevitable than the courses of the stars.
The abandoned section of Canterlot Castle is exactly as I remember it—a forgotten memory, suspended amidst dust and stale air as time rolled on past. It makes me feel young; the hallway I tiphoof through exudes an atmosphere of stately patience—it has stood in the shadow of Canterlot for decades before my birth, and it will continue to do so long after I no longer exist.
Making a mental note to more closely examine the paintings and trinkets lining the hallway before I leave, I hurry to the spiral staircase awaiting me. My horseshoes clink softly against the stone steps, but I can scarcely hear the sound over my pounding heart. My eyes scrunch shut. This is it.
I step out of the stairwell.
Nothing. No song, no magical flashback, nothing. The swirling vat of magical energy that devoured my consciousness is not there; my horn detects only the slightest dusting of magic upon the wall facing me. Carefully, I open my eyes and peek at it.
Hanging over the rough stone surface is the single most magnificent tapestry I have ever seen. It is enormous—easily as twice as long as I am tall, and three times as wide. The sheer size of it is dazzling, but the design...
Two embroidered alicorns adorn the tapestry, standing tail to tail with wings flared and horns lifted. One white, one blue—it's easy to recognize them as the same Royal Pony Sisters that every Equestrian standard is emblazoned with. Some ponies believe that the sisters were the country's first princesses, while others hold that they weren't sisters at all, but rival conquerors vying for control of a newborn country.
Whatever the story, one thing everypony agrees on is that the Royal Pony Sisters are ancient history. If they lived at all, they would have been born hundreds and hundreds of years ago. They are legends—there's only been one ruling Princess of Equestria for centuries.
So why is it that a vision (magical transcription? memory?) of the Royal Sisters contains an unmistakably younger Princess Celestia?
And what happened to the Dreamwalker?
Something in the younger sister’s eye seems to glint at me, almost invitingly. Before I can stop myself, I’ve extended a hoof and pressed it to the ethereal fabric of the tapestry.
The tapestry is as soft as the dawn—nay, as soft as the deepest velvet of the night sky. Its very color seems to have a texture. Deep and alive, the navy lurking behind the younger Sister bleeds and blooms as it stretches across my field of view. It engulfs my sight, and all I can do is marvel at how soft it looks.
The surge of magic that overwhelms my mind carries with it the bitter taste of regret.
The steady murmur of conversation winds through the bustle of the afternoon court. Merchants, dignitaries, and petitioners alike all chatter amicably, sneaking the occasional glance at the raised dais dominating the room. The leftmost seat remains empty, the blue marble glinting dully in the radiance of the other throne's Princess.
She is nodding. A pensive expression rests upon her face as a petitioner outlines his request in a halting, timid stutter. His speech grows more confident the longer he speaks, gaining strength from the Dawnbringer's regal serenity much in the same way that nightmare-frayed nerves are soothed by the sun's reassuring light.
Before the stallion reaches his conclusion, however, a pompous fanfare trills through the air, silencing the crowd. The petitioner trails off as the Dawnbringer casts her gaze across the hall, where a guardspony steps forward, striking his spear against the polished floor. In a deep tone that resonates with the echoes of the Royal Canterlot Voice, he bellows,
“Announcing Her Royal Highness, the Keeper of Dreams; Guardian of the Continicium; Watcher of Stars; Royal Sister to Her Majesty, The Princess Celestia; Bearer of the Moon; and Keeper of the Throne of Equestria, Princess Luna."
The doors swing open, and the Princess of the Night glides into the throne room, garbed in full regalia. The shadow-wrought tiara adorns her upheld head, but it is hardly the most breathtaking of her decorations.
Diamonds glisten amidst her proudly-flared wings, nestled between dusky-blue feathers like the stars interspersed within her billowing mane. A mixture of pearls, diamonds, and sapphires is scattered across the flared hem of her gown, which dances between blues and violets in an iridescent mimicry of the nighttime sky. It trails upon the ground behind her, shushing gently with each movement she makes. The fluting on her horn—filed so finely as to appear scalloped—bears a thin trail of glitter from temple to tip in the same stardust that shimmers upon her eyelids.
The disquieting stillness in her eyes has not changed, though, and the petitioners do not bow their heads entirely out of respect. The Dreamwalker pays them no attention; her gaze is locked upon the Dawnbringer's stiff form.
"Hail, Celestia of the Rising Sun!" The Night-Princess' sweeping curtsey is liquid moonlight—dreamlike in its frosty elegance. "How fare you in the twilight?"
The Sun Sister glances at the afternoon sun, still far above the horizon, before cautiously replying, "I am well. To what occasion do I owe the pleasure of thy company, Sister?"
The Dreamwalker straightens, loftily asking, "Need We an excuse to seek your audience, Highness? Or merely a petition?" She trots to the front of the hall, curtsies again, then retreats to stand in the line of townsponies waiting to speak with the Princess. They stare at her unabashedly.
"Thou knowest I will never make thee wait, Luna," the Dawnbringer says uncertainly. "Come; take thy seat and speak thy mind. What troubles hast thou?"
"No troubles, Highness," she replies, stepping once more to the dais. Her voice lilts with the easy frivolity of a daydream, but a frozen wasteland lurks in her eyes. "We would merely ask a boon of your most generous self."
A small smile tugs at the lips of the Sun Princess. "Then merely ask it, sister mine, and should it be within my power to grant, it shall be thine."
The Dreamwalker doesn’t miss a beat. "I implore nightfall, Princess. Lower the sun."
If she didn't have the attention of every soul in the throne room before her request, she certainly has it now. The Sun Sister sits frozen upon her throne, speechless, so the younger continues, "Your sun is too harsh upon the winter landscape; the pegasi struggle merely to keep the snow frozen beneath its rays." She gestures to the gelid slush caked upon the threshold. "Winter is a time for rest, for slumber—and that is Our domain. Lower the sun, Princess, and gift Equestria with the respite it needs."
The smile has fled the Dawnbringer's face. For a small eternity, the only movement in the throne room is the gentle rippling of the two princesses' cosmic manes.
"A longer night?" the older alicorn asks, at last.
"Aye," the younger confirms.
"Spring is almost upon us, when the sun shall be needed once more. Be this solely for the duration of winter?" The Sun Sister's gaze possesses the penetrative power of a spear made of magefire.
Undaunted, the Princess of the Night draws herself to her full height and nods regally.
Hesitantly, the Dawnbringer rises. "Thy request is not unreasonable. Thou thinkest as a Princess, Sister. I commend thy foresight." She lifts her head to the vaulted ceiling, then hastily adds, "Let it not be said that a Princess of Equestria was denied within Her own hall."
The slender ivory horn bursts into flame.
Never once taking her eyes from the Princess of the Night, the Dawnbringer slowly begins lowering her charge. The petitioners stare as the shadows stretch and distort against the tiled floor, prematurely roused by the accelerated sunset. The throne room darkens, until the only light in the chamber dances from the Sun Princess' flickering horn. It casts her face in heavenly light—rays of soft gold shimmer through her mane, electric with power.
The Dreamwalker's magical aura is so subtle, the townsponies do not immediately notice the silver-blue haze caressing her tapered horn. The moon slinks in with the nighttime sky, cresting the horizon with naught but a translucent arcane shimmer to herald its rising. The Night-Princess halts it at the apex of its climb, her horn-glow fading into the moonlight just as her older sister’s magic dissipates.
With mechanical precision, two guards dip wooden staves into the braziers flanking the door and begin to light the torches. The townsponies seize the distraction with a fervor, eyes desperately latching on to the stallions' methodical movements in a feeble attempt to ignore the uneasy stillness that lingers in the air.
The silence is strained, fragile, and it cracks under the weight of the star-shine seeping through the window-glass.
"Wilt thou be joining us?" The Dawnbringer asks, gesturing to the throne at her side, before faltering. "Or should it be thy permission I seek? 'Tis hardly my court to preside over, now." She chuckles hesitantly.
A smug smile waxes across the Night-Princess' face. "Do stay, Highness. Many moons have shone upon a hall bereft of your wisdom." Mounting the steps and settling upon her throne, she calls out to the petitioners, "Hear ye, hear ye! Let the Court of Stars commence!"
Under the Dawnbringer's quiet gaze, the uncertain townsponies shuffle to the shadowed dais with their petitions. The Dreamwalker hears their grievances, addresses them curtly but fairly, and sends them on their way. The petitioners escape to their homes, unable to shake the nagging impression that they have been cheated.
When all have been heard, the throne room is as empty and cold as the wasteland in the Dreamwalker’s eyes.
The scene slides from my vision easily, slipping away into the shadows until I see nothing but a mare seated on a throne of black-cut stone. Then I blink, and that’s gone, too. The ice in her eyes is not so easily forgotten, however, and as reality fully reasserts its hold upon my mind, I find that I cannot look at the Night-Princess upon the tapestry. Instead, my gaze wanders over to the white alicorn.
There's so much to process, so many theories, so many reasons for me to trade this forgotten place for the well-preserved ranks of the library, and yet I cannot stop staring at the oldest Pony Sister. It is a testament to the tapestry-weaver's skill how utterly enthralled her delicate features hold me—the spitting image of Princess Celestia (though with significantly less hair), wearing youthful gaiety upon her brow rather than the gentle, regal composure she bears in this age.
I reluctantly tear my eyes away from the Princess, spare one final glance for the mare of mystery beside her, and force my tingling hooves to carry me toward the staircase. With wobbly, unsteady steps, I make my way to the most reliable bastion of information available to me, sorting out my research as I go.
1) Who is the mare with the mane of stars? Princess Luna?
2) Is she really the sister of Princess Celestia?
3) How old is Princess Celestia?
4) Why aren't fillies and colts taught that Princess Celestia is one of the Royal Pony Sisters?
5) Has Princess Celestia even mentioned having a sister?
6) Why did the Royal Pony Sisters have so many blasted titles?
7) Why was a vision (two visions??) of the two Sisters locked up in a tapestry?
8) How many visions are in there, anyway?
9) How does Mage Meadowbrook fit into all this?
And perhaps most importantly,
10) What happened to the younger Sister?
The sign at the entrance of the library informs me that closing time is at eight this evening, rather than the usual two in the morning. It’s still early in the afternoon, though, and I have plenty of time to find—to find—well…
Where do I even begin?
The immense shelves of the Royal Canterlot Library stare down at me, ominous and so full of resources that I scarcely know what to do with myself. After a moment of internal debate, I decide that the easiest course of action would be to research Princess Celestia’s reign. I’m pretty confident that I can find some old texts about her rule, so if I just find one of those and work backwards in time… eventually I should get to the time of the Royal Pony Sisters, right? Off to the biographical section I trot.
Source 1: A Brief Retelling of the Eighth Century, by J. Trotmire
“While this is not the first instance of our ruler turning to her subjects for assistance, rather than her guard or the E.U.P., it marks a turning point in the Princess’ approach to national crises. Whereas Her Highness would previously accompany her civilian warriors on their journey, the Water Wisp Drought of 784 saw her remain in her seat of power in Canterlot, from which she continued to direct the activity of the Pegasus Cloud-Hunting forces—”
Okay, so Princess Celestia used to be more adventurous? She’s probably mellowed out with age. Twilight would kill me for the thought, but there it is. I wonder if we have any records of any older adventurers.
Source 2: Heroes and Hairpieces: an examination of the correlation between Equestrian manestyles and matters of national importance, by Sir Macaroni III.
Source 3: The Ballad of Sir Cuirass, by Trusty Page
So was the Princess he adventured with Celestia or Luna? Maybe Luna ruled for a time and then Celestia took control from her?
That would certainly explain why nopony learned about Princess Luna in school. It also fits with the story of the Royal Pony Sisters vying for control of Equestria. I just need a description of the Princess of Sir Cuirass’s time. I glance across the reading room at the nearest window. Dust motes swirl around, caught in a shaft of afternoon sun. I still have time.
Of course, I could just try to secure an audience with Princess Celestia and ask her about the other Princess, but the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration means that the only way I’d see her before next month would be if Twilight helped arrange something. I shake my head. Not only does asking Twilight for help negate half the point of the research, I’m not so sure that confronting my seemingly-immortal ruler with questions about her long-forgotten kin (competition?) is in my best interests. Gritting my teeth, I turn back to the stacks.
This shouldn’t take too long.
Source 23: My Crown and Sun, by somepony whose name changes from Polar Frost to Daybreak to Sunkissed Flower at various points in the narrative
With a sigh, I bury my face in my hooves. Historians aren’t being kind to me.
Historian! Holy hay, I’m dull sometimes.
I glance surreptitiously around the library. The nearest pony is a middle-aged stallion on the other end of the room, bent over his own stack of books. Satisfied that I’m relatively safe from prying eyes, I pull Meadowbrook’s masterpiece out of my saddlebag and flip it open.
The bulk of the equations remain nonsense, that’s for sure. But when I come across the page that held the incantation for “Scholar,” I’m torn between smiling and cursing, because answers are staring me right in the face.
"Scholar" was transcribed over one of the artifacts. I remember it clearly now, and while I manage to suppress the delighted snicker that threatens to break the quiet of the library, I am powerless to stop a slow smile from stretching across my face, because the artifact in question happens to be an elaborately-designed tapestry that I recognize instantly.
My eyes snap to the tapestry’s text section, where a daunting block of arcane equations awaits me. I take a deep breath. I can do this. I’m best friends with Twilight Sparkle. This’ll just be like debating theory with her, only I can stop and look back over the parts I don’t totally understand. I levitate over the nearest copy of Advanced Magical Theory and set my shoulders. Pulling out some scrap parchment, I throw myself into detangling the spellwork with a vengeance.
The afternoon sun sinks into the treeline.
Earth magic-based structural spell? Or is it an arcane—arcanoconducting charm? Why would anypony… Whatever. Skip. Come back later. Okay, this one looks simpler.
The stallion at the other end of the room packs up his pen and notepad and stacks his books onto the resorting cart.
Fiber enhancement spells. One for strength. A color refinement charm. Not sure what that one is, but it looks like a fire resistance charm that’s been spliced onto some sort of magical channeling framework.
My parchment grows more and more inkstained as I scribble down my findings, until the thick paper is etched with quill strokes and filled with my cramped, hasty writing. I’m still not even close to being halfway finished.
What the actual what is this? Okay… that tiny section kinda resembles Morari’s holding charm, though the accessory enchantment is too complicated for most of the things a holding charm would contain…
Another stack of paper. The rustling of the pages is almost loud in the deep silence of the library.
There’s a hole in the fabric of this enchantment. No… Wait. There’s a third-order stability matrix right beside it. So, not a hole. An entry point. For another spell? Definitely another spell. “Scholar?” Maybe. I’m missing something.
My hornlight gives the pages of Historian an almost otherworldly feeling. My place in the century seems to slip; the stillness of this night could belong to any age, any era, and the mysteries surrounding me are old. I flip back to the page where I first heard mention of “Scholar.”
The unknown artifact stares up at me ominously, clad in its armor of equations. I don’t know whether it’s the lateness of the hour, or some side effect of “Scholar,” but a flash of intuition sparks through my mind, alighting my synapses with understanding. The mess of calculations scrawled across the page is suddenly as familiar as my dog-eared copy of Clover’s Magic and Meditations.
Oh. This is a memory preservation spell.
I suspected it could be, of course, but it’s one thing to suspect, and another thing to see the evidence. A thought extraction here, a mental stabilizing charm there, a chronological formalizing matrix—it all fits. I don’t know what the unknown artifact is (the picture remains, in essence, a giant scribble), but I know what it does. Even better, I know it’s tied to the tapestry and “Scholar.”
Grinning, I turn to my master list and begin to form conclusions.
1) The tapestry itself is enhanced with a number of strengthening and longevity spells, but no preservation spells
2) The strengthening spells seem to be designed to withstand the strength of extremely high-energy magic, likely alicorn magic
3) The holding charm upon it is meant to contain something far more volatile than a vision: a memory
4) Meadowbrook’s unknown artifact contains a memory-encoding spell of some sort (Maybe the unknown artifact is the memory-encoding spell? Do spells qualify as artifacts?)
5) Scholar must be an accessibility spell that allows the memory to be viewe—
“Somepony’s up early.”
I all but jump out of my seat, upsetting my notes and sending parchment flying across the library table. A soft orange glow envelops the mass of paper and sets it back down, concealing Historian beneath the stack. I look up, blinking, into the bemused face of Professor Sharp Wit.
“Good eve—morning,” I croak.
“Good morning to you,” she responds, smiling. I return it hesitantly, trying to gauge whether suspicion lurks behind the crinkling of her eyes. “I take it you’re getting a head start on that research project of yours?”
The safest thing to do is nod, so I tilt my chin and bob my head up and down enthusiastically. My throat possesses the hallmark stickiness of an all-nighter; I wonder if I can clear it quietly. It’s not that I’m worried about getting in trouble, per se—this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been caught staying overnight in the library—I just…
Huh. Why do I feel guilty? Am I just being defensive of the research in case somepony tries to plagiarize? Or is it just because I got Meadowbrook’s journal from Twilight instead of applying to examine it?
That must be it. I’m needlessly stressing over something that’s beyond my control. It’s not like anyone’s going to reprimand Twilight Sparkle, personal student of Princess Celestia, for using her special library privileges to check out a book and loan it to her frie—to her classmate. For all the librarian knows, the Princess could have specifically recommended the book to us. I’ve got nothing to worry about.
Professor Sharp Wit’s gentle interruption of “Moondancer?” draws me out of my fret-fest with an excellent reminder that I still have a life outside of Historian that needs to be worried about.
“Sorry! So sawwww—” a rogue yawn hijacks my apology. The Professor shakes her head, still smiling.
“Get out of here and get to bed, you foal. You’re supposed to be taking a break.” She swats me playfully with the scroll she’s carrying.
I try to grin. It probably comes off as a grimace. Suppressing another yawn, I reply, “I am taking a break, Professor. This is just recreational. Really!”
She doesn’t buy it. Heaving a sigh, she shakes her head.
“You’re killing me, Moondancer. You know you can’t technically start on your independent research project until you get approval. And I know—” she overrides my protestations with a stern look I recognize from class. “Decisions for approval don’t come out until next week. They’re called research permissions for a reason.”
I scratch my head, doing my best to look sheepish. “Just… Doing some preliminary stuff. Getting a feel for Equestria during that time period.” I proffer up Ancient Equestrian Etiquette (Source 18; Princess of the time was distant and prone to bouts of seclusion) as evidence. “Can you believe that in the 200s, fillies and gentlecolts of the high court would spend a fifth of their yearly salary solely on outfits for the Summer Sun Celebration?”
“I can indeed. The festivities could last for weeks, back then.” She taps the scroll against the table. “Say, why don’t I go drop off this letter of recommendation to the head of the independent study program while you wrap it up here, then we go out for lunch and catch up?” She flashes me a smile.
I freeze. I want to have lunch with her (brunch? Or is it actually lunchtime already?) but…
“Letter of recommendation?” I tentatively prod.
She winks at me. “Yep! I’ll just have Dr. Deduction’s secretary slip it in with your research request. Though I could have her just place it directly on his desk. Corsiva and I go way back.”
My stomach drops with the realization that I didn’t submit a request.
I need to get out of here.
Oh no ohno I didn’t apply for research permissions I completely forgot about the deadline and Dr. Deduction is a stickler for due dates oh nono.
Professor Sharp Wit is still here, still smiling at me like everything’s alright, like I didn’t completely blow my chance to study this legitimately. I need to do something. Think think thinkthink.
“Sure!” I blurt. “That sounds great! I’ll just—” I gesture wildly to the mess of scholarly material spread out before me. “Yeah.”
“Sounds like a plan, then! Be right back.”
Oh no oh no okay think. I’m so close to understanding this. Think. I need more time. I need more time to finish cracking this.
I swallow the nausea that threatens to bring back my last meal (when was that? Yesterday?) and take a deep breath.
1) Get Historian and my notes packed up safely
2) Avoid confrontation with Professor Sharp Wit; her professorship means she’ll be unable to resist the urge to enforce academic integrity and will probably confiscate Historian plus my notes and then they’ll find out about “Scholar” and I need more time
3) Escape the library?
Flee to a distant jungle where I can work on my studies in peace? No, that won’t work; library won’t mail books to me
5) Just get out of here
Standing up, I stuff my notes into my bag by hoof, tossing the rest of the library books into a stack at the end of the table. I throw my saddlebag over my back and edge towards the nearest aisle. With a quick check to ensure the Professor isn’t storming toward me with an academic honesty council on her hoofs, I dart into the walkway and half-walk, half-trot throught the shelves.
When I burst out of the stacks, it takes all of my will to reduce my pace. With painfully slow steps, I walk across the carpeted lobby, nodding jerkily at the librarian when she waves at me. Ten paces away from the door, seven, four, and out!
The air outside is hot and bright; it’s a far cry from the dimness of my self-imposed academic isolation. Cursing my glasses and their stupid reflectivity, I’m forced to squint as I briskly trot toward the School. I don’t even make it halfway to the sidewalk before I skid to a halt.
No, not the school. The Professor knows my room number. I need somewhere I can lay low and study this in peace.
My head turns to the none-too-distant spires of Canterlot Castle.
Somehow, I know the tapestry is waiting for me.