Luna’s hooves echoed throughout the long hall, the only light the soft luminance of the stars. Her eyes traced the features depicted in every painting she passed. All of them had been friends, family or trusted vassals. A warm smile graced her face. Her mind drifted to all her loved ones she would see again. “Once the last star shines it’s last, we will meet again in the endless fields,” she spoke.
She knew what was ahead, but she kept up her steady advance. She had to remember what she had lost, what her sister was capable of.
Luna looked up, facing the ten body lengths of barren warped stone. A part of the cost of her corruption, she had learnt something terrible. So terrible it had driven her to madness. Luna did not know what sort of evil sorcery or foul incantation it was. She only knew that even after the Elements of Harmony restored her sanity, her sister still had to burn the knowledge away. It was the only way to prevent her from falling to the madness once more.
The heat of the lingering solar magic burnt her hooves as she stepped on. The smoke rising from her hooves was no concern to her. Her eyes were on the walls, where she knew a painting should hang. Instead, there were shadows, hints of what might have been. Enough to know she had lost over a hundred treasured friends.
She would never regain the memories she had lost to her sister’s mental blade. All those she had cared enough for that she painted their likeness here, lost to her. When I see you again, please forgive me. She prayed to the departed souls. She had long ago pledged to never forget any worthy of finding their likeness here. Her actions all those moons ago had led to that promise being broken.
Leaving the burning desert carved into her hall of memories, Luna moved to more recent images. The first Twilight and her friends. Little Pipsqueak and some of the foals that helped her find herself once more. Each of her Nightguard had their place here, as all such, willing to offer their lives for her, should. There were others and some blank places waiting for those she would add later.
She left the hall, that endlessly grew with each year of her life. Luna inhaled the fresh night air, looking down from her tower. The obsidian plains below held the stars and her moon under their surface. The dark sky above lit by the orbs of the world's dreams, the colour depicting the type of dream.
She hopped up, balancing on the narrow railing, perched, wings spread, enjoying the wild feel of the air. Reaching a hoof into her own shadow, she removed a bright blue ball with stars on it. Shaking her head with an amused smile, she threw it as far as her Alicorn strength would allow. “Fetch,” she commanded.
The Tantabus exploded from her shadow chasing after her ball.
In her darkened room, Luna looked up from her reclined position on her bed. Her Nightchosen before her having just finished reporting Twilight’s reaction. That Twilight had refused the summons was only to be expected, it was a test to see how she would react. That she did not attack the Nightguards reflected well on her recovering mental state.
The counter invitation on the other hoof was something unpredicted. She smiled. It is far more enjoyable when the unexpected happens. Even if we… I must rise earlier than I would wish. She thought, considering the interruption to her planned training for her Tantabus.
Catlike, she slunk out of bed, her animate mane reaching and ringing a bell summoning her body servants. With a flick of her wing, she dismissed her Nightchosen back to their duties.
She did not even need to say a word as her two thestral servants stepped from the shadows and followed her into the bathing room. She did not need a bath, but she should look her best. A Princess always looks their best. She thought bitterly, wishing she could have thrown one or two of her modern instructors off the Canterhorn. I could even have the Tantabus ‘fetch’ them before they hit the ground. She thought with a fanged smile.
Mentally she instructed the Tantabus to relay the required deployments for her visit. A particularly bright set of Stars from her mane slipped into her shadow and faded from the room.
Luna slipped into the water, letting her eyes fall closed as she was cleaned.
Luna seeped out of the shadows into her sister’s richly appointed office. Placing a golden tome dramatically on the desk as she sat down opposite her sister.
“Good day Luna.”
Luna looked at the book before her. “So, she, as a unicorn, performed a six-way split?
Celestia tilted her head as if to say ‘how do you know’? Luna's response of a slight grin saying ‘I have my ways and I'm not telling’.
“She performed beyond even what I can do in a single casting. She became six fully realised fragments, each fully independent. To make things worse, each even had their unique cutie mark.” Celestia said before she looked down with regretful eyes at the tome. “It is always fatal when cast by a mortal, and there is no way to undo it. No way exists for a shattered mortal soul to be put back together.”
Luna could see that her sister’s attention was fading, memories began to veil reality from her. Luna’s hoof knocked upon the desk, Celestia’s eyes refocused. Good she is not hiding behind her mask, she must have it doing paperwork again. Luna thought.
“Are you sure she could not have survived long enough to be useful? Perhaps until she ascended? That would have allowed her to recover. Luna challenged.
“No… it was the worse case. They were each interacting with each other, growing, tearing her mind apart. The damage to her wellspring kept increasing. She, they had days to live at most, minutes at worst.” Celestia’s eyes hardened with resolve, daring Luna to disagree. “I had to do something immediately.”
“Then I would have come to the same conclusion.” Luna nodded gravely.
Celestia looked relieved as if the weight of the world had been lifted from her wings. The first hints of a sad smile teased the edge of her muzzle.
“Though if the Elements of Harmony were not at stake, I would have chosen a different solution.”
“And in that less dire case what would you have done?” Celestia asked.
“I would have picked the most suitable of Twilight’s creations and left them the body,” Luna answered.
“And the other five?”
“I would have invited them to my Bastion of course...”
“That would only give them a few years…”
“Yes, but I would have made sure they were full, happy years. When their time came, my farewell gift to them would be the sweetest of dreams as an escort to their final fate.”
“You could do that while ruling the nation single-hoofed and preparing for the return of a powerful foe?”
“Don't mince your words, sister mine. You mean my return. If I had to, I would have made a fragment to tend to them.”
“You always were too free with creating them.”
“And you always too…”
“We are straying from the point. What should be done about Twilight,” Celestia interrupted.
“I am already doing what I can, sister. From the dreams of her friends, I know she is hurting, and I believe I know why. Once she understands what that sacrifice bought Equestria, you may be surprised how quickly she stops hating you.”
“For once, I think it is you who are being too optimistic.”
“Perhaps. Sister a question if you will. Did you not think she would pay the price willingly? If you, her mentor, her Princess had told her that her sacrifice would save Equestria, could she even have refused?” Luna’s eyes locked on to her sister’s. “I have looked into her dreams. She fears not that she might need to give her life, nay she fears for those she would leave behind. She regrets she may not be able to say goodbye.”
“She is a better pony than either of us,” Celestia said.
Luna nodded. “By how our charges judge such things, yes.” Luna picked up the book with her hoof. “Do you know how her teacher got this book?”
Celestia shook her head. “No, I thought it was long secured in the restricted section.”
“Do you even know why they took such drastic action just because they disliked her?”
“It did seem out of character, but there was no trace of mind magic and he… decided to escape my judgement in a rather permanent fashion.”
“Hmm… Did it ever occur to you that this might have been my doing?" Luna said depositing the book within the ethereal depths of her shadow.
“You were banished to the moon.”
“And yet I still had access to dreams, I could even influence those marked by my night. His was a moon on a scroll, yes?”
“Are you saying you caused… ” Celestia said, the temperature in the room increasing.
“No. I have no way of remembering, now do I?” Luna glared at her sister. “What I am saying is I could have. All it would have taken is for me to enter his dreams and show him just the right things. Whisper just the right words. And he would have done it.”
Luna saw the name on Celestia’s lips ‘Sunset’. Good, maybe she will learn to show a little more compassion to her tools. She thought. She considered what she knew of the Sunset situation. Perhaps sister is right suspecting me of that too.
“As for acquiring the book, all it would have taken is one of my thestrals and the smallest blessing of my power.” Luna placed her hooves on the desk and loomed towards her sister ending muzzle to muzzle. “What would you have done without the Element of Magic? Could you have even faced me in open battle, knowing it would only hasten Discords escape?”
As Celestia’s mouth started to open to respond, Luna sat back speaking first. “It would have been such a simple plan with no risk to me at all,” she said, waving a hoof nonchalantly.
“Do you think you did?” Celestia’s voice was a frail whisper.
“Do I think I did it? I don't know.” Luna smiled “But it does sound like one of mine. Everypony gets what they want, and it destroys them.” She could feel the need to smile, but she held it back.
Her sister just looked at her. Luna could almost see the game pieces being moved behind those ancient eyes.
“The teacher got to run that silly little test. Twilight’s wish for a new way to impress you, granted. And finally the icing on the cake, you got the proof that Twilight was the most powerful unicorn ever. You had found the one fated to be the Alicorn of Magic.” Luna let her power darken the room for just an eye blink. “Everypony got what they wanted, but only I won,” she said letting a hint of a purr into her last three words.
Luna thought better of showing her fangs that would be pushing just that little bit too far. Celestia was shaking with both fear and anger it seemed.
Celestia waved a hoof for Luna to depart from her presence. “I have duties that require my attention.” Luna could see the muscles in her sister’s neck strain as she fought back a harsher response.
Luna smoothly rose and turned to leave. “Even though thou hast taken far more than a thousand years from me, I will still help thee in this. Because despite myself, I still love thee sister.”
Even without looking back, Luna knew her sister's anger had just evaporated. Sleep well sister mine, for once, I have a party to go to. They even told me the perfect gift to bring. She thought. A smile crossed her muzzle. And this gift will do more to mend my friend's heart than you ever could.
Getting Twilight's parents and Spike to attend had only taken one word, ‘Twilight’.
It always did her mood a world of good being around her ponies, those with marks dedicated to her night, to know that Twilight came from such a line. Luna sincerely hoped she had not been responsible for her first incarnations death.
"So why is the first thing we hear about Twilight being back is this invitation?" Spike asked as Night Light and Twilight Velvet rushed around making ready to depart.
There was only one answer that could not be questioned. "Pinkie Pie I assume" it was not a lie. Luna had made a choice to only send Shining and Cadance because of the chance of conflict breaking out. Especially if Celestia had returned last night. If it were not for the invitation, she would have left it to Twilight to reach out to her family.
Once everypony was ready, Luna spoke to them. “Be mindful with your daughter, she has endured much. Her flesh may have mended, but her spirit still has a longer journey. It would be most unwise to press her.”
A single teleport had taken all of them to just outside Twilight's home. The joys of an unburdened wellspring. That would have set sister dearest back more than a month, and that is not even an hour's worth for me. Luna thought with relish.
Luna took her first step towards the door. A surge of magic rippled ahead of her, a magenta aura almost ripping the doors from their mountings.
“Mum, Dad, Spike!” Twilight cried out, her aura pulling the three to her as she embraced them. A few tears falling from her eyes.
“I see my contribution to this event is appreciated,” Luna said, smiling. Her heart warmed, knowing how much this meant to her friend.
Twilight nodded, gratitude clear in her shimmering eyes. A flick of her wing granted Luna permission to enter. Luna nodded back accepting, advancing into the crowd.
Walk with me. She mentally sent to Cadance, who moments later followed. Both of them were more than practised enough to navigate the crowds. Meeting and greeting as needed, small talk escaping their lips as easily as air. As far as anypony else would be able to tell there would be no hint of their mental conversation. Only two Alicorns gracing this party.
Aunty… do you know what Celestia did to Twilight? Cadance sent.
How could she?
It was six doomed minds or all life that required the light of the sun to survive. How could she not?
Cadance halted walking and looked at her.
Luna continued. The crown is never an easy burden, you will find your own challenges. I hope they are kinder to you than my sister’s were to her.
Cadance took a steady breath. She left a bucking mess.
Luna nodded. And cleaning said mess falls to us.
She hurt Twilight, a lot. The ponies that care for her are the only thing keeping her from doing something rash.
Then it is good you are here. Have you learnt anything about Manehatten?
Yes… it was a trap. Cadance’s gaze hardened, Luna could feel the extra power in her hoof falls, the Earthpony magic pulsing through the ground. She was… just look. Cadance sent, offering to let Luna look deeper into her mind.
Luna accepted, gently peering into Cadance’s mind seeking what she was recalling. She noticed the thickness and new potency to Cadance’s mental defences but formed no words in her mind not wanting her to overhear.
A scroll read in a wooden room. All of the details were on the scroll, so that was what Cadance wanted to show her. As Luna read anger built within her, outraged filled her mind. This was no mere attack, they butchered her like a Griffon cuts their meat. Luna thought with enough force to make Cadance recoil. When I get my hooves on them…
Calm down, Aunty. Cadance intruded, poking her with a wingtip.
Luna could feel the flares of Alicorn power coming from both Cadance and herself. Impressive and quick thinking, counteracting my emanation with your own. She took a deep breath to calm her emotions, covering them with the cool of her night. Twilight is made of stronger stuff than I thought if she could go through all of that and still write that report.
Cadance’s wings repositioned, clearly hiding a shudder. Luna removed some of the ice from her mental tone. Are you faring well?
Other than residue build up in my horn, I am fine Aunty.
I was wondering how you were dealing with that now that you are in the Empire.
Would you be able to help?
Of course, should you not seek my sister's aid as normal?
… She has never done anything about it.
It was Luna’s turn to pause. She told me she was taking care of it… Is this another thing she did not teach her Diplomat?
Cadance nodded. I only just found out that’s why my horn hurts when ponies teleport near me.
Luna wrapped a wing over Cadance’s back. Then once we are done here, I will tend to you, and I challenge you not to enjoy it.
Excuse me, Aunty, I think Twilight is going to need me. Cadance looked over to her sister-in-law. Twilight's eyes fixed on Cadance. Cadance headed over towards Shining Armor. Twilight’s horn lit as it gathered power.
Luna nodded and moved to where the younger ponies were playing. She felt the pulse of magic as Twilight teleported herself and her parents right next to Cadance.
Using her magic, Luna enhanced the games Pinkie had set up. Animating parts, adding illusions and drawing on her memories of the dreams of the young ones to make sure they had a good time.
Twilight’s daughter seemed to be avoiding Luna. Little Star played with the CMC and Spike as they moved freely but never got close enough for conversation. Each time they neared Star would direct them to a different attraction or just teleport them away.
Twilight will introduce us later. Luna thought as she returned to playing with the foals, they were such bright sparks of joy. To be unaware of how harsh the world can be, treasure it while you can.
After some time Luna settled enjoying the simple but exceedingly good food offerings, complemented by whatever it was she was drinking. Taking Celestia’s lessons to heart, she let time wash past her, appreciating every moment but lingering on none of them. Perhaps I will base some dreams on this party. She mused.
Time passed, only her connection to the moon letting her know how long. Without it, she would have had no idea if it had been an hour or a year.
Unexpectedly she started glowing, she tensed, power rushing to her horn. She noticed it was the familiar glow of her lineage spell that washed over her. The intense glow indicating she was the target’s parent or child. Luna starred in bemusement at her glowing foreleg. This is impossible. She thought. There is no pony alive that the spell could be cast on to make me glow like this.
A filly bursting from a teleport and wrapping their hooves around Luna’s neck was either the least dangerous assassin or Twilight's daughter. If it were an attack, she would have been defeated. Her only reaction was her hoof moving to help support Star’s weight a full second after the impact.
“Mummy, Mummy, I found another Mummy!” Star’s joyful voice was powerful enough to push Luna’s mane back.
Luna could feel all the eyes in the room as they turned on her. The long years of her life allowed her to keep her poise, but they could do nothing to hide the shock she felt.
Looking to where her senses told her Twilight was, she met the mares dumbstruck eyes. For a long moment, both mares just stood there.
Star lit her horn and in a flash of magenta light, Twilight was teleported right in front of Luna, Star’s aura pulling her closer so the little filly could hug both of them.
The smaller Alicorn was still frozen, her only reaction being tiny twitches and flicks of her ears.
“Twilight?” Luna asked in a calm voice. There was no response from the mare. Is she in shock? Luna wondered.
“I have two Princesses as Mummies!” Star cheered, a foreleg hugging each of them. Pinkie cheered in response, jumping up and down in the crowd.
Luna sat, taking the weight of Star with her wing, allowing the enforced hug to be less precarious for the energetic filly. There was no hint of the hesitation or the fear that had caused Star to avoid her. Every feature of the adorable little foal spoke only of how overjoyed she was.
In whisper-speak Luna questioned the lavender Alicorn. “Twilight Sparkle, perchance was there a dalliance We were unaware of? Not that we would have refused such a boon to one of our saviours such as thyself…” She said. Luna thought back to her outings, taking other forms to escape the chains of her duty for a time. If Twilight did the same is it possible we ‘encountered’ each other and simply did not realise?
Luna’s words broke through Twilight’s shock. She blushed as her eyes met Luna’s. There was a desire in her gaze that she seemed desperate to hide. Many different things were flashing behind her eyes, unlike Celestia's carefully moving game pieces, this seemed more like Twilight was having an argument with herself.
“What’s a dalliance?” Star responded. How did a unicorn hear that? Luna thought.
Twilight’s blush became volcanic as a few motes of fire danced along her mane. She teleported a dictionary to Star. “Luna… do you happen to know how reliable that spell is? I looked at the spell work, and it seems fairly competent.”
“Completely, but I am more interested in who cast my spell upon you Little Star?” Luna inquired.
“Sweetie Belle said it brought good luck to entire families.” Star started meekly before her smile returned. “It worked!”
“So,” Twilight said.
Cadance would you be so kind as to bring Sweetie Belle here. Luna’s mental communication carried an edge of command.
“Yes, we seem to both be the parents of this adorable little foal,” Luna said, smiling warmly at Star. A foal, me with a foal. She could hardly believe it. She ran every single check she could think of to prove she was not in a dream. Even retreating into her Bastion for a moment.
Twilight’s horn was lit, her stance was fearful. Her wings ready to take flight and unless Luna was mistaken, she had her horn prepared to cast a teleport. “So… umm… Princess Luna… what,” she said.
“We will talk soon,” Luna said, turning to face the approaching ponies. Cadance led Rarity, and the requested Sweetie Belle. The glowing Alicorns and Luna’s now official bearing had cleared plenty of open space around them for the three ponies to join them.
In the background, Pinkie was darting around changing the party banners, she was getting some of the other ponies to help. Sister is going to be jealous of me, Luna thought with humour as she read one congratulating her on finding out she had a filly. It still amazed her how Pinky could be ready for any sort of event with zero notice.
“Princess Luna,” Rarity said, bowing.
Luna nodded, “You are here acting as young Sweetie Belle's guardian?
“Yes, your highness.”
“Be at ease, she has done nothing wrong, I simply have a few questions.” Luna keeping her best friendly smile, turned to Sweetie Belle. “I have not seen that spell for a very long time, might I ask how you learnt it and why you cast it on your friend?” Luna said, nodding towards Little Star, still held by her wing.
“The nice stallion gave me this,” Sweetie said, her aura lifting a rune encrusted gem from her mane. “He said it was a good luck spell and to cast it on Star as his gift for the party.”
A magenta aura snatched the gem from Sweetie. “A spell gem.” Twilight declared. Star teleported to Twilight, examining the gem was just as much an interest to her as her mother. Luna kept her smile at that part off her face.
“I read about these…” Star impossibly responded yet again in Whisper-speak. Mother and daughter kept talking back and forth about magic theory, unheard by any but the Alicorns.
“Can you point out the stallion?” Luna asked.
In the corner of her vision, Luna notice Cadance looking distracted, she was concentrating on something.
Sweetie looked around before shaking her head. “He's not here.”
“Are you able to describe him?”
Sweetie paused, then her expression became confused. “He was just sort of... normal looking.”
“He must have been using an I'm-Not-Important spell,” Star spoke up, looking up from the scroll she was writing on.
Nopony here has any negative intent towards Star or Twilight. There are two ponies over in the corner that don’t trust you. But that is the worse here, I can’t sense any threat here. Cadance mentally reported.
Luna looked into her shadow, bundled everything she had just found out into a dream spell and gave it to her Pet. The weight of the Tantabus left her shadow, darting off unseen to relay the short dream to her guards outside.
“My clever, Little Star,” Twilight said her aura pulling Star into a hug. The two lavender mares turned their attention back to the gem. Twilight spoke in whisper-speak. “Do you see these marks here, and here? That means this was made by modern tools. Six percent less efficient when it comes to using the Gem, but takes less than a quarter of the time to create.”
Except for Pinkie, Twilight's friends and family moved closer, the shock of the reveal now long faded.
“You know when you said it was not that simple, I was expecting one of your non-pony friends… Not... Not Princess Luna,” Twilight Velvet said to Twilight.
“Hehe,” Twilight tried to laugh. “Well…”
Luna raised a single imperious eyebrow looking at Velvet.
“Not that that's a problem you Highness,” Velvet said bowing hastily. “It, it just is unexpected.”
Night Light pressed against Velvet’s side clearly lending support even if he had no words to add.
“Are you really the… other parent of Twilight's filly here?” Applejack asked.
“Unless this is a dream or Discord is playing a rather cruel joke on us, yes,” Luna answered, smiling as she turned her eyes to Star again. “But just to be sure.” Luna lit her horn, dispelling the original spell and recasting it herself. After receiving the same results, she nodded.
Star’s aura enveloped her whole family. Luna had to fight back her combat training as multiple ponies were thrown at her. They only slowed at the last second ending in a pony pile of a hug centred on Little Star.
The sounds of minor complaint and discomfort of the mortal ponies could be heard as Twilight giggled. “You need to be a little more careful when doing that to non-Alicorns.”
“Sorry everypony,” Star said.
Everypony extracted themselves from the pony pile settling into more comfortable positions. Star claiming a place between Luna and Twilight.
“How I have a daughter is the pertinent question, Twilight.”
Cadance cast a sound barrier around the group, Luna nodded her thanks.
“Well... “ Twilight took a calming breath. “You remember when we…” Twilight's jaw twitched. “You remember when you returned from the moon?”
“Luna do you know how foals wellsprings are formed?” Cadance asked.
“It is from the meeting of the parent’s wellspring during an act of intimacy,” Luna answered.
“Well… apparently zapping somepony with a Harmony Rainbow counts too,” Twilight cut in.
Luna could feel a wide grin spread across her face. “So this is Harmony blessed? Am I truly forgiven for my transgressions?” She looked with awe at Star.
“Mummy Luna,” Star called out pouncing her muzzle.
“You’re not angry? Twilight asked.
“Angry, angry, how could we be angry?” Luna asked. “What is vexing me is where you have been hiding this adorable one?”
Star giggled as Luna used her aura to tickled her.
“Have you heard of MSFS?” Cadance asked.
Luna shook her head. What is it with ponies these days and their acronyms.
“Magically Suppressed Foal Syndrome,” Cadance explained.
Twilight paled. “Do you mean if I… If I did not…” She stopped speaking, looking at Star. She leaned closer, wrapping Star in a hug pressing against Luna in the process.
Twilight’s shaking and horrified expression spoke volumes of how serious this could be. Luna shifted her wing, concealing her friends destress from the other ponies in the room. Twilight leant into the embrace, still focused entirely on Star.
Cadance placed a gentle hoof on Twilight's back before contacting Luna mentally. It is when a mother’s wellspring is too strong for the foal to separate from and grow their own body. Without the right medical magic, the foals soul ends up being… consumed by the mother. I had to take a potion to avoid it.
Luna's concealing wing pulled Twilight into a hug. Just the thought of being the death of one’s own foal even before they were born was most unpleasant.
“Luna, as the Princess of Love I ask you for your intentions towards Little Star,” Cadance said, assuming her official visage.
Luna nuzzled Star. “If she accepts, I will gladly take on my role as her mother and officially recognise her as my daughter.”
Cadance nodded, turning to Twilight.
“You know my answer, as complicated as this all is. She is our daughter.” Twilight said, looking at Luna. Her eyes rapidly cycling through emotions.
“This means I will have to inform Celestia…” Cadance said.
“Do you have to?” Twilight asked pleadingly.
“She is the eldest Princess, and because of who we are. This is a matter of state.” Luna regretfully said.
“Wait a minute, just need to check something,” Twilight said, lighting her horn.
A sizeable legal tome flew into the room forcing ponies to dodge aside as it raced over to Twilight and snapped open. Twilight eyes rapidly danced from page to page. The book slammed closed with an echoing boom.
With a few strands of her mane popping up, she called out. “Spike! Spike!” Noticing the sound bubble, she pushed her head through it and tried again. “Spike! Spike! I need you to send a message to Princess Celestia right now!”
Spike came running, gem dust still on his muzzle. He had a scroll all ready in claw, prepared to take a letter. Twilight's aura pulled him into the bubble. “Ready,” he said one part eager two parts worried.
Twilight dictated “Celestia, I am borrowing all the legal books from the restricted section of the archive. No need to be alarmed.” The sound of Spikes quill seeming overly loud within the spell.
“PS. Also proving why you need to update your wards. If you want to know where they need improvement, see my ward improvements report version six, page twenty-three and go from there.”
Spike finished the last word. “Send it,” Twilight commanded.
Spike exhaled his green flames burning the scroll and sending it on it’s way to Celestia.
Twilight stepped back from the hug, gaining a bit of distance before her horn lit. Multiple spell arrays forming in the air rotating around her horn. Twilight started muttering numbers and complicated equations, eyes moving rapidly as if she was reading something in front of her.
Star teleported onto Luna’s back and started taking notes, watching her mother’s feat of spellcraft.
This was clearly a higher dimensional spell, an extremely complex one at that. Luna dared not do anything to interrupt Twilight, the amount of power was extreme for anypony other than an Alicorn.
The spell stopped making sense to her after the seventh dimension arrays were added. Luna looked Cadance and mentally sent. Leave, this will not be comfortable with your condition.
Cadance dropped the sound spell and reached for Star with her aura. “But I want to stay here…” Star whined but did not struggle as she was placed on Cadance’s back.
“We can watch from over there,” Cadance said, moving away to the far side of the room.
“Ponies, it would be wise to give Twilight Sparkle adequate space,” Luna spoke in the Royal Canterlot Voice.
It seemed the ponies of Ponyville remembered the ‘lesson-zero’ event. Some galloped, most simply trotted to the exit, making their way to safety. Only her family and friends did not retreat.
Twilight cast her spell, all the arrays collapsed down to a single point, and in a crack, her horn went out.
“Fifty-nine, fifty-eight…” She counted down the minute, second by second.
The countdown cleared all but the bravest ponies from the room. Pinkie’s shouting before running out of the room “It's going to do something!” might have helped.
As the count neared its end, the sound of Twilight’s voice and Star’s quills were the only sounds. Precisely on time with the flash of a teleport and the accompanying pop of displaced air. A large number of old tomes teleported in, forming walls of books around Twilight.
Twilight’s aura lifted all the books, forming them into a ring around her in the air. Each book opening to the first page as they started to rotate around her, each advanced one page per rotation.
Scrolls teleported in around her as a dozen quills set to work taking notes.
“Yes, Luna?” Twilight responded without looking from her work.
“How did you get these books here?”
“Celestia only uses wards rated to protect against spells using up to the sixth dimension. So that is all normal teleportation and extra-dimensional storage spells. What I did was constructed a virtual eleven-dimensional spell by combining two high order spells.”
Luna’s eyes widened at hearing Twilight casually describing impossible spellcraft as if it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“Now when my spell came in to contract with the ward, the first six dimensions were caught by the ward. That part of the spell then collapses in such a way to leave a breach just large enough. Thus leaving the way clear for my fifth-dimensional target discriminating teleportation spell that was tagging along.”
Twilight smiled with pride. “All it takes is a few advanced mathematical transformations applied to hybrid Translocation spell theory. She had better take my reports seriously now, and she said no pony could do it. Ha.”
“So you used numbers, to breach my Sisters strongest wards?”
“Yes, naturally it would be impossible for anypony to brute force their way through Celestia’s ward.”
“Might I ask what you are looking for?”
“Hmm? Oh, I am just looking into if we have any other options other than us getting married, me being executed or exiled.” Twilight said before mumbling. “Don’t want to give Celestia a legal reason to kill me after all.”
“Married?” Luna blinked. Me married? To Twilight? For the first time Luna looked at Twilight, really looked at her. Taking in her developing Alicorn body. We are already friends… and she is appealing. Then, her muttered words registered. She thinks my sister wants to kill her? Luna thought in alarm.
Twilight nodded and floated her pages of notes over to Luna. Luna ended her musing and accepted the notes in her aura. They were very thorough, even going into lengthy detail about the legalities of Alicorn Fragments and who was responsible for their actions. Everything to do with what the law says should happen to two unwed Princesses with a foal.
“Is Celestia a Bad Pony?” Star asked from the back of the approaching Cadance.
All eyes were now on Star, One by one, the books were placed back on the ground, and Twilight's horn dimmed.
Twilight’s eyes darkened, Cadance’s wing draped reassuringly over her back.
“My sister is not a Bad Pony as you put it… She has merely made some mistakes.”
Twilight growled, her mane rippling with hot flames. Cadance’s wing recoiled, fortunately unburnt. Twilight’s friends backed off but only seemed concerned. Shining fell back, first to his guard training, standing ready, his horn lit. Velvet and Nightlight jumped back nearly falling over, fearful of the sudden outburst. Star sat calmly drawing and taking notes.
“Mis…” Twilight started, Cadance cutting her off with a gentle hoof.
“Twilight,” Cadance said reassuringly placing a hoof on her shoulder.
Twilight took a deep breath letting the flames die. “Sorry…” She said sheepishly, looking to her worried parents.
“Some of your anger is justified, but If you are to hate my Sister, hate her for the truth and not your fears,” Luna said to Twilight. Turning to the others, she continued. “We Alicorns will return shortly, we have things to discuss that are not for mortal ears.”
Cadance nuzzled Shining and moved up to Luna, offering Twilight’s parents a reassuring smile. Cadance’s wing poked Luna. “No need to be so dramatic Aunty, the three of us just need to have a little chat in private.”
Luna nodded, “We entrust our daughter’s care to you until our return.”
“Star can you look after my friends?” Twilight asked, leaning closer to her child, she whispered. “I would feel much safer if you were here to protect them.”
Star nodded seriously accepting her mission. A flash of magic and a helm and cape appeared on Star, both laced with an impressive amount of defensive magic. “The Bad ponies won’t get them,” she declared.
Twilight smiled proudly at her. “I have faith in you my Little Star.” She then looked up at Luna and nodded,
With how powerful and well equipped Star seemed, that faith was well placed. In a fair fight, she could likely take four of my Nightguard if she knows even a single offensive spell. Luna thought.
Cadance kissed Shining before leading the two other Alicorns out of the room.
Cadance led them to a dull section of wall in the middle of nowhere. “Twilight if you would.”
“How…Oh, ok.” Twilight said before knocking on the wall in an intricate pattern. The wall rotated, revealing a secret room. Twilight trotted in, teleporting a blanket over some wrapped boxes.
Once all the ponies where inside Twilight closed the door.
“Twilight, this was the catalyst of thy forbears end,” Luna said, extracting the Golden tome from her shadow and using her prehensile mane to offer it to Twilight.
Hesitantly taking it into her aura Twilight drew it closer. She opened it and began to read.
Cadance simply observed the two of them. By how her gaze was slightly unfocused, she was using her gift to see into the heart of ponies.
“Why did she test me with this spell?” Twilight was clearly forcing her voice to be calm, it came across as icy. Twilight was far easier to read, not having Cadance’s years of diplomatic training. So sister left different gaps in your training.
“She did not…”
Twilight glared at Luna.
“Peace, peace dear, Twilight. Listen, and you shall learn the truth,” Luna said, laying down, her shadow formed into cushions.
“One of your instructors at my sister's school hated you. Did you know you were meant to fail to hatch Spike’s egg? It was meant to be an impossible task, one by which the teachers could assess your reaction.”
“And this was given to me as an impossible test?”
“Yes, he was insistent that unless you underwent such an ordeal, you had no place being in the school. That nopony that had not been tested such should be trusted with magic at all.”
“Where is he?” Twilight growled, her eyes blazing with power.
“Unfortunately he is long departed from this life.”
“Then how did you find this out? Did Celestia tell you?” Twilight asked, doubt evident.
“Some, but I confirmed it with my Nightguard, they were here spying and waiting on my return,” Luna said, she could see Twilight’s keen mind taking in all the implications.
Twilight summoned cushions for both her and Cadance from a pocket. Cadance winced.
“Sorry,” Twilight said, laying down as she closed the book. Cadance setting down next to her ready to provide any needed comfort.
“The spell has no function to recombine the soul of the caster. It relies on the fact that Alicorn souls can take care of it on their own.”
Twilight flicked back and forth between a few pages. “In fact, if it were not for the communication links this spell would have instantly killed us, Me?” Twilight shook her head. “There really was no way... no way.” Twilight trailed off looking at the text.
“No dear Twilight this book, This tome of ancient knowledge was a poisoned chalice. It was the perfect tool to assassinate the Element of Magic.”
Twilight glared at the book, opening it to the first page she began writing.
This spell is a trap, casting it will kill any mortal caster when it ends. Any copies of this spell must have this warning. By order of HRH Princess Twilight Sparkle.
Twilight smiled, offering the book back to Luna.
Cadance draped a wing over Twilight. “That was very responsible of you, Twilight.”
“My sister is to blame for the seals and her many manipulations. But as for your first incarnation’s death, her only crime is negligence. She should have noticed what you were learning and stopped you in the weeks it would have taken you to learn.
“Luna. I could cast this now. Maybe a few moments to make sure I have a few things triple checked.”
“Yes and by all accounts my… the original had a superior grasp of magic…”
Luna was amazed. “I could not learn that spell even with a whole year of study.”
“Well, it's not very well written. I could write it up using half the space, making it three times as easy to learn.” Twilight’s aura pulled the book back to her. Scrolls and quills appeared as Twilight set to work. The task before her doing more to calm Twilight that any of Luna's words.
Twilight began humming a hauntingly familiar tune. Both her head and quill bobbed in time, Cadance joined in adding the words.
Luna felt a few tears form in her eyes, it took a few long breaths for her to calm herself and let herself enjoy her most treasured memory. The feel of her mother’s loving embrace, of nightmares being chased away by the words of the Lullaby.
Minutes later, Twilight looked up, offering the improved spell diagram and instructions. Her warning in larger letters at the top of the first page.
The complex and incomprehensible arcane mess had been transformed into clear, concise instructions. It will still take time to learn, but it is now possible. Luna thought. “This is truly the same spell?” Luna asked.
Twilight nodded with pride.
You know that song. Cadance mentally stated, keen eyes looking deep into Luna’s own.
Yes… my mother used to sing it. Luna responded.
The sound of Twilight’s hoof travelling circles on the crystal floor announced her uncertainty. “So, Luna? What do we do now?” She asked.
“If you both wish to acknowledge Star… then there will be another Canterlot wedding,” Cadance said.
Twilight looked at Luna, again things were moving behind those eyes.
“I am not averse to the idea,” Luna said. “Do you all agree?” she said, leaning closer to Twilight.
“What do you mean?” Twilight asked, leaning away from her.
“I can tell when my sister is conferring with her fragments, and you are far less adept at concealing such things.”
Twilight sat still for a good ten seconds, eyes unfocused not paying any attention to the outside world. “Four are in agreement, one is abstaining.”
“You know what will be expected on our wedding night?” Luna let her eyes trail over Twilight's form, a hungry look in her eyes now. A daughter and an immortal bride, all for the low cost of one thousand years on the moon and knowing the pain of my victims… a bargain. She thought as she teased Twilight.
“I look forward to it.” Twilight purred, as she leaned in gently biting Luna’s ear with a fang. “We don’t have to wait…”
Twilight’s invitation was as tantalising as it was unexpected. Luna’s wings fought to open as an enticing warmth entered her flesh where Twilight’s mane brushed against her neck.
“Yes you do,” Cadance interjected, pushing the two apart with her wings.
Warm flames were rippling along Twilight's mane.
“What did I say about letting Twilight stay in charge?” Cadance said sternly.
As the flames died, Twilight blushed. “I was… Nova was… just suggesting things,” Twilight said doing her best to keep her eyes away from Luna.
Luna glanced to Cadance before looking to Twilight. “How far have your lessons dealing with fragments progressed?”
“Lessons? Celestia has been actively keeping us from learning about our abilities,” Twilight said using a wing to include Cadance.
“You have five fragments, how?” Luna asked.
“Two... Two survived…Nova and Grey. Then there is myself, Celestia’s creation and...” Twilight started before being cut off.
“I would like to invite all of you into my Bastion,” Cadance stated.
“That is a strange request niece,” Luna said eyes narrowing.
“It is the only place this meeting can happen,” she responded.
“Do we have to do this?” Twilight asked meekly.
“You two may be getting married, I think she deserves to know,” Cadance said.
“Luna… will you Pinkie Promise not to tell Celestia anything you find out?” There was genuine fear in Twilights quavering tone.
Luna looked to Cadance who nodded she should comply. “As you wish Twilight.” Luna huffed then performed the motions and the words.
Cadance presented her lit horn, Twilight touched her horn to it just before Luna followed suit.
Luna opened the eyes of her mental construct, finding herself resting on a large silken bed, the warm bodies of multiple ponies around her. She spent a long moment just enjoying it. Raising her head and looking around it appeared they were in Cadance’s chambers all of then spilled messily on her bed.
There was Twilight, Twilight with thestral like features, Cadance, a Crystal Pegasus and an unknown beautiful blue-coated silver maned Alicorn the same size as her.
The bat-winged Twilight spoke. “You can decide where we enter with that spell, we did not all need to turn up in your bed.”
“Are you saying that this is not a dream come true for you, Night?” The enchanting voice of the silver maned Alicorn teased, looking to Cadance and then Luna.
Night extracted herself from the pony pile.
“Do you have any fragments you want to bring Aunty?” Cadance asked.
Well, that explains things Luna thought. “None that would be appropriate,” she said regretting her only fragment was the Tantarbus.
“So introductions?” Cadance said.
“First an explanation,” Twilight corrected, rolling to face Luna. “Luna… you know that the Elements of Harmony like healing and redeeming ponies?”
“Yes, I am very aware of that Twilight, and you will always have my thanks for it.”
Twilight took a deep breath and with Cadance’s approving look, and the silver maned Alicorn’s wing hug, she found the strength to keep going. “I have had Nightmare Moon under my care since the girls and I freed you from her.”
My freedom burdened you with that? Luna thought with regret.
Twilight gestured with a hoof to Night. “Might I introduce you to the former Nightmare.”
In a flurry of motion, Luna rolled out of bed lighting her horn, every fibre of her body thrumming with power as she readied for battle.
The blue mare moved to shield Night with an outstretched wing. “You get to be redeemed, Discord and even ender of the world several times over Starlight, gets to be redeemed with just a slap on the hoof. What right do you have to deny Night?” She said, voice full of righteous indignation, her own horn lit with silver energy.
“Please don’t fight. The Tree of Harmony set the whole thing up. Getting me to teach Nightmare Moon the value of friendship over all these years and even our foal.” Twilight said, smiling. “Night is the only reason I am even alive now, she rescued both myself and our daughter.”
Our daughter. Luna thought, she owed her newly discovered daughter’s life to this monster?
Twilight slowly rose from the bed, taking place between the two battle-ready Alicorns. Now with a clear view, Luna could see in this mental space, Twilight’s form was different. Each body part seemed to not quite match the others. Golden threads of Celestia’s power held her together, like a repaired cloth doll.
One tug on that power and before her ascension Twilight would have died, even now it would cripple her. Why, sister? Did you fear Twilight that much? Luna thought.
“Are you two going to behave or do I need to get the guard involved?” The Crystal Pegasus asked, moving up and hovering next to Twilight.
The silver maned mare let the light fade from her horn. “Nice to meet you Lulu, I was looking forward to this encounter.” She said sadly. “The name I have claimed is Sweet Dreams, and I was a fragment of Night. Now I am bonded with Twilight.”
Looking to Cadance, who was still upon the bed looking calm, Luna let her horn dim. Stretching and assuming a neutral stance she spoke. “I offer my thanks for saving Twilight and my Da...”
“Our Daughter.” Night corrected.
“All of Twilight’s guests care for Little Star. Aunty you are going to have to accept them all if you want Twilight and Star to be a part of your life.” Cadance spoke.
“Legally an Alicorn and their hosted fragments are one individual,” Twilight said quietly.
Luna sat on her haunches. Accept the Nightmare? Marry the Nightmare? She thought with disbelief.
Dreams moved closer. “Lulu you wanted love, admiration, to be valued. Do you know how much of that can be found in the gaze of just one little foal?”
Night trotted up beside Dreams. “Having nothing but Twilight’s life to watch for years, gave me a lot more to think about than our time on the moon, plotting revenge,” Night said.
Twilight walked in front of Luna. “Do you trust me?” She asked softly.
Luna nodded “With my life.”
Twilight smiled, “Then trust me, the Nightmare is only a threat to those who would harm our loved ones. Night and Dreams are my sword and shield.”
Twilight moved in, wrapping her wings around Luna as best as her smaller size would allow. “We are all going to be family,” she said, nuzzling her.
“Well I have a letter to write,” Cadance said.
“Oh to be able to see Tia’s reaction when she reads about this.” Dreams laughed.
Luna's face twitched, she couldn't help herself, she joined in.