There was no griffon invasion. It was only an air raid. One of several.
The raids did little material damage to Equestria. A steel mill in Manehattan was destroyed, as was a power plant in Trottingham. Two city blocks in the nice part of Canterlot burned to the ground. A weather factory in Cloudsdale was slightly damaged, but several griffons were captured in the process.
Twilight’s actions saved many lives, but while she got everypony in Ponyville to safety, the town itself burned to the ground. It wasn’t a strategic target, but that had never been the point of the raid. It was a statement about a war in the North, and about what it would mean if Equestria remained involved.
The next morning, Light found herself sitting in front of Twilight’s castle. The building itself still stood. The fire had done it no damage, and the magical crystal had already started to regenerate the hole left by the bomb. But the interior decorations—the wooden fixtures, the cloth banners, books—they were all gone.
Ashes swirled around her.
The sound of ponies made her turn her head to the left. In the distance, she could see Twilight with her new friends: Kizmet, Flare, Rack-Spin, Linden, and Flash Bang. They were talking. Then some of them were crying. Then Twilight hugged all of them, using both forelegs and her wings to get in a really good group hug.
After they were done, she trotted over Light’s way.
“They just found Linden’s brother under some rubble. He’s okay,” she said. “That’s the last missing pony, so it looks like that’s it. We were very, very lucky.”
Light cast her eyes over Ponyville. Other than the castle, not a single building stood. Nothing but ruins.
“I was thinking, we should check on your house. The outskirts weren’t hit so hard, it might have survived.” Twilight tilted her head. “Do you want to teleport out there?”
“You’re never going to hire a replacement for Spike.” Light continued to look at the castle instead of Twilight. “You’re going to forget your friendship lessons. Go back to liking tea instead of coffee because you don’t know any better.”
A gust of wind blew a cloud of ashes around them. Light needed a moment to cough. “Do you even care?”
“I care. Yeah.” Twilight bit her lip and looked at the castle as well. “But not as much as I care about Linden’s brother surviving. I’ll probably be upset later.”
“No, you won’t.” Light sniffled. “You’ll forget you’re supposed to be upset.”
Silence hung between them for a time. They both looked at the castle.
“I have a spell that can turn an alicorn back into a regular pony,” Twilight said.
Light’s head snapped to the right, looking at the pony beside her. Twilight continued to stare at the castle, and she spoke. “Everypony keeps forgetting that I’m a gifted wizard. I guess it’s because I look young. Heh. But, after I realized what being an alicorn meant, I was horrified. Disgusted. I threw myself into my work, doing everything I could to research a cure. I knew I had to find a way to reverse Celestia’s magic before I stopped remembering why I wanted it.”
She lifted a hoof to the air, tracing the outline of a book. The real book had burned. “That was the book I showed you. The one with the note on the cover. Never use. See, after I finished it, I thought about it very carefully. Then I put that note on the cover, and put it into storage. The note is there because it’s normal for sixteen year olds to worry about where they’re going in life. I’ve taken that book out of storage… I don’t know. Maybe a dozen times? And every time, I see that note, and I remember writing it.”
Twilight’s eyes turned far away. “I remember leaving a note to myself. Because I knew I’d forget. Never use this. But I didn’t understand why I left the note. The note reminded me of the decision, but it didn’t remind me why I made it. But now I remember.”
Her voice barely above a whisper, Light asked, “Why?”
“Because it’s not about me learning the same friendship lesson over and over. It’s about them getting to learn it once.” In the distance, she pointed to her friends, who were still talking among themselves.
“Everypony tells me that alicorns are divine. That I have a magical destiny. And I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I don’t want this air raid to define their lives. I don’t want Flare to grow up to be a soldier, and I don’t want Kizmet to stop being a pacifist, and I don’t want Linden to grow up possessive of her brother because she’s afraid he’ll get hurt. I’m sorry that everypony you know is suffering. I feel the same way, sometimes. The world is a terrible place.”
She swallowed. “But I think that if ponies believe in friendship, if they believe in each other and support each other, the world can become better. I know it’s terrible and I don’t know why it’s as bad as it is. But I believe what I do will make it better one day. And that’s why I have to be what I am. This is what Equestria needs me to be. This is what those five wonderful young ponies need me to be.”
She licked her lips. “There are other things I dream of doing. Things I’ll never do. And there are places my friends will go that I’ll never go. But I have what I need to be happy. And I think, if I had my wits, I would still be happy. And if there are days I want more than I have.” She let out a breath. “Then that’s life.”
Twilight sniffled and rubbed her nose. “Now come on. Let’s go see if your house burned down.”