Everfree Forest, Cottage/Tree house Home,
A Day and 14 hours into Eternal Night,
To say Lilly was stunned was an understatement. She had just been out getting some more ingredients to finish her mother’s soup special when she heard the sounds of metal hooves on the ground. She recognized them as the Nightmare Sentinels and hid, going through the opposite route to her house.
Only to find a pony dragging itself below her floor-board and falling in exhaustion. Lilly assumed it was the Nightmare Sentinel’s doing and quickly moved to help the pony.
Getting a closer look so she could see the pony, Lilly noticed she was a lavender unicorn mare.
'What hast thou done to upset the Empress so?
"Do not...tell anypony...er-creature...'bout me..." The weak mare said before falling unconscious.
Lilly was worried, she knew the Sentinels were ruthless but not that much. The mare had clipped wings, cuts and bruises, she was unconscious and... wait...
Lilly took the opportunity to study the mare. She was definitely an alicorn with a stary mane and a six pointed star as a cutie mark, she wore an old style robe and a chest-plate. She was a taller stature than her and her wings faded into a dark blue at the tips.
Lilly began to panic, the mare fit the descriptions of their Princess, left to the Thestrals by their elders. She was pretty conflicted.
One one hoof, the elders had said that if Thestrals ever found the Princess they were to send her their way. On the other hoof, her Princess had told her not to inform anyone of her arrival.
She fell on her haunches, still thinking, she was a slow thinker and processor. Disobedience had gotten her exiled from her village to the Everfree, but her Princess’ command was more important second only to her Empress.
"Okay...Lilly, calm thyself... I know the PRINCESS IS LAYING BENEATH THY HOUSE BUT DO NOT PANIC!" Lilly told herself and ended up screaming. "Okay...okay...okay...just breath." She took a deep calming breath that would put the Love Princess’ 'technique' to shame. "Eeeee! But I can’t believe the Princess is here!"
A big goofy smile spread across her face, she did the best she could to lift Twilight. She got Twilight on her back with much effort but Twilight’s back legs still dragged on the floor.
Lilly hardly made it up the first flight of stairs. Her Tree house was made up with different platforms across three trees. They made it up to the first one, the living room, but still needed to walk up two more to get to her bedroom.
'Why can’t anything be easy for me? Must I really have made three flights of stairs? Stars forgive me but. Why is the Princess so Night-Damn HEAVY?!'
She sighed, giving into her fate and started once again walking up the flights. Each step was a fight but Lilly was winning the war.
'Perhaps I could take thy chest plate off! Surely thou would be less heavy...no, surely that would be some sort of offense. HGN!' *step* 'Perhaps I could...No that’s just dumb. HGN!’ *step*
That cycle continued until Lilly was at her bedroom. She slowly walked inside, her legs hurt, her back hurt, her neck hurt, her wings had fallen asleep and everything was miserable for her.
Until she finally got to her bed. She placed the sleeping Twilight as slowly as possible on her bed. She took off her saddle bags and placed them next to the end of her bed. She left the chest plate alone, again not wanting to leave her highness 'naked'.
"Now, to start healing your wounds."
Lilly forgot all about the soup she was going to make and went to her little study to get the herbs needed to quickly heal Twilight’s wounds and also some wet towels to get her cleaned up.
Twilight Capella Sparkle,
Twilight’s eyes fluttered open, she blinked a few times to get her eyes adjusted to the brighter lighting of the field she was in.
She looked around searching for anyone who would tell her where she was, but of course she was alone. She looked up at her night sky. How long had she been asleep for?
Her mind started darting around trying to find any calculation that would tell her of the time, her internal clock wasn’t working for some reason.
Her mind was brought out of her thinking spree when a star in her sky blinked out. Then another faded away. Twilight looked up in utter horror as her stars all started fading for they were all like children to her.
A presence she recognized all too well appeared behind her. Twilight’s eyes teared up and her face turned pleading, she looked behind her.
"Mother?!" Twilight’s face changed to true happiness as her mother was standing behind her, smiling and in her familiar shorter and less intimidating form.
"Twilight, I’m so sorry... We can’t talk too much. I managed to break free from the chains in Nightmare Moon’s mind and come to you in dreams."
"Then this is a dream." Twilight sighed in relief and looked back at her stars. One by one they started re-appearing as her mind crafted the skies. "Don’t worry mother, I WILL save you from her. Though I must ask, can you do this with other ponies?"
"Yes perhaps I can, only if I know the dream signature so that Nightmare Moon doesn’t discover the affair. Why my little star?"
"Could you send a message to my friends that are further away in Equestria? We need to use the Elements to free you before the week’s end."
"Your friends...Yes perhaps I could but it would take a while send out the signals."
Around them the world began to fade. Twilight, realizing the dream was nearing it’s end, jumped and hugged Luna as if it were the last time.
"I love you mother."
"I love you mo-"
Luna couldn’t finish her line before the dream ended. And Twilight was brought back to a rather painful reality.
With an un-gracious groan, Twilight’s eyes fluttered open. Almost right away, the candle’s light hit her eyes and almost blinded her. She fell back in discomfort and brought a hoof to her close eyes to massage them.
It was then, her mind decided to catch up to her body and everything started aching, some of her wounds felt as if non-diluted alcohol had been dropped on them...Oh wait.
"Ow! Ow! Ow! Aaaaah it burns!"
Twilight squinted in pain and let herself drop pack down to the bed. Her clipped wings aching at the slightest touch. Twilight shook her head, if she was going to get to the bottom of what happened she would need to fight through the pain.
She got up in a flash, much to her body’s protests. She winced at her pain but lets her body grow accustomed to it. She took a deep intake of air and opened her eyes.
The lights almost blinded her again but she was expecting it that time and it had less of an effect. After blinking multiple times and squinting a bit, her eyes grew very much accustom.
She went to take a step but she found herself incredibly dizzy and her legs shaking. It didn’t take a detective to deduce it was better for her to sit back down on the bed.
The sounds of a door opening alerted her to the new pony. A white Thestral mare with a light pink mane and dark pink draconic eyes stumbled into view.
When Lilly saw the very awake Twilight staring at her with fear and attempting to get back up, she threw herself to the ground in a low bow.
"Y-Y...Thy royal highness! I am so sorry, I meant no offense!" Lilly muttered something underneath her breath un-catchable to Twilight. "My name is Night Lilly ,thy royal highness, I found thou?...thee?.. near our cottage and gave thee refuge. I followed thy command and did not tell any creature of thy presence. Please if thou will banish me at least allow me to pick a star! I like Polaris! Or...maybe Venus...Can you send people to the planets? Hm...maybe Mercury would be more cozy."
"Umm...Miss...Night was it?" Twilight tried to interrupt Lilly’s rant but it was basically impossible.
"But Mercury is too hot, Venus too but it would be less right?"
"Miss Night we shalt not banish thee for thy kindness." Twilight tried as calmly as possible despite her patience running low.
"Wait...Pardon? Thou won’t?" Lilly asked with disbelief.
"Now we shalt not punish thee in any way." Twilight said in a reassuring tone. "In fact, we art thankful! Without thee we surely would’ve ended up capture by mother." Twilight gave a sad smile and nodded. "Now, we art very sorry for inconveniencing thee and we shalt take our leave." She went to get up but she almost fell again.
"Your Highness!” Lilly hurried over to her side supporting her. "You mustn’t get up! You’re too weak!"
Lilly put her back to bed and handed her a bowl of food she had been carrying.
"Thank thee miss Night but we really must get going if we art to arrive in Appleloosa before...What is now the equivalent to sundown."
"Your Highness, Appleloosa is a few hours fly walk from here. I truly encourage you to reconsider and remain here until you are in condition to-" Lilly had forgotten to use the old dialect, something that Twilight noticed but didn’t mind.
"Yes Miss Night," Twilight intervened. "We understand that we art in no condition for a dangerous journey. Whoever, we do not wish to inconvenience thee any further. Once we art able to walk we shalt leave thee. Thou must understand we art in a great hurry and must travel across Equestria in a weeks time."
"Y-Yes of course your highness! I apologize for questioning you." Lilly bowed low trying to be as small as possible.
"Do not fret! Thou hast done nothing wrong." Twilight took the spoon with her magic and took a big sip from the soup. Her face lit up. "T-This is..."
"Is something wrong your highness?! D-Did I put in too many spices?" Lilly looked frantically at Twilight trying to see what was wrong, her keen eye not catching anything.
"Miss Night thy soup is incredible! We truly should have thou teach the royal cooks!"
"W-wait what?" Lilly looked shocked for a moment before beaming with excitement. "Oh! I’m so glad her highness liked it! It is my mother’s recipe, she is the real cook."
"Oh? Thy mother taught you? Then we must meet her someday. Does she live nearby?" Twilight started devouring her soup, she was as hungry as a dragon was greedy.
Lilly gave a sad sigh. "No I’m afraid not, she lives back in the Thestral-Lands to the south."
"Thestral-Lands? Last we remember, Thestrals lived in Equestria along with non-nocturnal ponies."
"Well your highness, when you and her highness Princess Lu- er I mean Empress Nightmare Moon disappeared, Thestrals were hunted down." Twilight’s face went from shock to indignation. "P-please do not get the wrong idea, Princess Celestia did her best to ensure our safety. She privately made refuges in the Equestrian border to keep us safe and they eventually became towns and then cities devoted to Thestrals."
"If we may ask, why does thou not live along side them?"
"I...uh...I disobeyed the Elders, they wanted to support Nightmare Moon but I remembered hearing storied of the kind and patient Princess Luna, a harsh contrast to her...I told them my opinions and they weren’t happy. They ended up banishing me."
Twilight gasped, processing the apparent cruelty of the Elders. She and Luna had spoken with the current Elders’ predecessors and they were kind, understanding and wise. Of course the had their darker side, but only when it was needed.
Twilight was also impressed at Lilly’s judgement and at how fair it seemed to be. She smiled and an idead came to mind.
"We apologize, we didn’t wish to rekindle any nasty memories. If it would make thee feel better, you art correct, Mother was cursed into becoming Nightmare Moon and the lunacy came along the curse." Twilight finished the last of her soup and levitated the bowl to a nearby table.
Lilly was going to say something before Twilight interrupted her. "We art going to Appleloosa to try and find one of the 'pieces' to freeing her and return harmony to the land. Unfortunately, the others art spread out across Equestria. Thou hast a noble heart and we’re right in thy judgement. Those art qualities deserving of respect and admiration even from Elders. We would be honored if thou were to join us and save the land and the stars.