Within the Night Bringers.
A fan fiction by Twilight_Crow
Edited by PhilomenaSage
All My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is property of Hasbro, Inc.
3. Regal on the outside...
Luna had been letting her mind wander. Sometimes there was just nothing to think about, and she was unfocused and tired. Tired of the nothingness, tired of Nightmare Moon’s repetitive thoughts. She begged for some change, anything.
When was the last time I was pushed? That is... when was the last time the Moon was pushed? I really don’t remember. How long have I been in the Moon? A year?
Inadvertently, the Moon Princess turned her mind towards her other self thoughts. Nightmare was thinking on the eternal night, how it would have been glorious, how she despised Celestia for ruining everything...
Um, what bad timing, the crazy mare is gonna start thinking about revenge... When was the last time Celestia moved me... er the Moon... whatever? Did I miss it?
Nightmare Moon seemed to find comfort in her dark feelings. The evil mind let the anger guide her in a circle of neverending cursing monologues, useless plots, and imaginary revenge scenarios. It kept her busy.
Luna didn’t have that. Her wandering mind suddenly stuck itself contemplating her horrible situation, without anything to hang onto. No feelings, no thoughts that could distract her of her reality. She couldn’t stop thinking on how bad it was: stale, dull, dark and cold.
Surprisingly, Nightmare’s happy thoughts aren’t helping... and now she wants to... DO WHAT to Celestia?! Eeeeew... now I can’t take that image from my mind.
Think something happy Luna... anything but Celestia... she is not a happy thought anyway.
Wait... how is Celestia not a happy thought? She held the Element of Laughter. She was the joker, the prankster; the carefree, random and completely ridiculous pony. She liked to say silly stuff just for the sake of it. Sometimes she was very funny. Sometimes she was just silly, but she never cared if anypony laughed, she would do it.
She used to play me pranks all the time, that... well, she was never that mean...
Except perhaps that time she told me the castle was haunted, and went and made scary sounds at night. I was just terrified, couldn’t sleep. And when I did, it gave me nightmares. I remember Tia woke me up when she saw I was tossing and turning. That’s when she told me it had been a joke. It took me nothing to forgive her, I was just a tiny foal after all.
Luna found herself feeling better, her mind felt like smiling. She embraced those old memories of her sister; she had not thought about her in quite a while. Not about the tyrant that had hurt her so much, but her sister, the real Celestia. The filly that never took anything seriously.
Except helping others, making their lives better. From helping an old mare carrying her viands, to fixing a broken bridge. Some stuff she would even ask me for advice. Hehe, we used to make a great team. I had the knowledge, and she was the ingenious one. And we loved to help the community. Sometimes even against Father’s will.
When did everything change? Was it that day? When she took the responsibility of raising the sun every day. That was the first time I saw a glimpse of Princess Celestia, the regal alicorn. She took it so seriously, she was committed to it. And when something got inside her mind, not even the Elements would stop her.
Like ruling Equestria... But why Celestia? Why did you have to lose yourself pursuing your dreams? Was that even right?
Is there nothing left of young Tia? Mmm there was that last silly joke... and the Element did react. Maybe deep inside...
Equestria. Four days before the 1st Summer Sun Celebration.
It had been a year since “The Day the Dawn Returned”, and what a year. Everypony put their hearts and souls into the heavy job of rebuilding Equestria almost from scratch; she was no exception. To recover from the terrible events, she devoted herself to the task, only one problem at a time. Day by day things were getting better, the fruit of everypony’s work. As she found a moment to think about it, she somehow felt refreshed. One week ago the meeting with the Griffin Queen had been a total success. No one can beat you at diplomacy, Celly. The plan for transporting food from the Griffin mountain meadows into Equestria was approved only 3 days after. Go logistics team, I love you guys. Today the biggest problem in Equestria was no more.
The grass rations had started delivery to all towns since the day before, all thanks to the Royal Guard and the Farm Earth Ponies for Equestria Group. Those ponies, I should really give them a medal, mmm great idea! It will have to wait though, but eventually.
Princess Celestia, the Sun Goddess, Equestria’s bastion, and the over-controlling tyrant that almost destroyed everything she cared for and doesn’t deserve to be on the throne, but owes it to her ponies, was, believe it or not, in a great mood.
The beautiful, white alicorn gleamed, her colorful hair floating in the invisible sun winds, a smile on her face. She stared at the window of her office on Canterlot Castle wondering how could she make the sunset better. Let’s see, more orange, lots of orange... yes, nice.
As she felt the warmth of her sun’s last rays, her smile grew. So peaceful. She felt the calm of the evening soothe her. The stress is gone.
A red unicorn mare with a white mane entered the room; her cutie mark was a butterfly, a daisy and a violet. “Good evening, your Majesty.”
“My dear Resourceful, how are you tonight?” Celestia’s smile became gentler as she talked to her personal assistant.
For a moment the mare stopped and stared at the Princess. “Very well, thank you... you seem, happy?”
The Princess put a hoof in her mouth as she let a small chuckle escape. “And why wouldn’t I?” she said while using her magic to take a scroll from her desk and show it to Resourceful.
The unicorn’s eyes grew big. “This can’t be, the new rations reached Manehatten already?” She smiled as she kept reading. “The FEPE had been helping with the new rations?”
Celestia gave a very content nod. Squeeeeeee!
Resourceful gave the biggest smile she could. “That is so wonderful!”
I knooooooow, right!? Inner Celestia jumped. “Yes it is,” said the Princess with her usual calm, then she let a sigh escape. “And you wouldn’t believe how happy I am that Captain Silverwing let them help as soon as they ask to, instead of sending me a memo.”
“That would have been silly, the FEPE has been helping with so many things since they formed: rebuilding, managing food rations, even security.”
Silly? It would have been utterly moronic. “Well, you know, some ponies think that every decision still has to get my approval before taken. Just during my journey back to Canterlot, the weather department sent me an urgent memo, about approving the use of all their patrols in the containment of that horrible storm front 31...” Or was it 32? Dumb new numeric system.
“I think you mean storm front 32, the one that almost wiped out Stableside. They decided to call it a hura... cune, or something like that.”
The Princess blushed and put a stern face. Darn it, Celly, you are supposed to know these things. “Yes, that one... obviously I was busy with the Equine-Griffin treaty...”
“Obviously, your Majesty. That is why the weather department was created in the first place. It’s their job to deal with these matters.” Resourceful put a lot of emphasis on their, and smiled wickedly at the Princess. “And you are right, it was common sense to send all weather patrols there. Mayor Breeze didn’t go and ask if she should evacuate town.”
Celestia looked only a bit concerned, but inside she felt kind of panicked. I should have known about this. I should have known about this. I should have known about this. I should have done... I should have... She took a deep breath and turned towards her window again. Resourceful did the same.
“Actually, your Majesty, all of this is part of my report for tonight, so you didn’t have to know all the details about it until... well, now.”
After a moment both mares turned to look at each other. Celestia’s slight frown was answered by the most joyful smile. The Princess felt a weight lift off her back.
She knows what I was thinking... and she is teasing me... oh you evil mare... the sky bless you. Celestia regained her composure and smiled again. “Ehem, of course. Surely that means my little ponies were perfectly capable to get everything under control. Otherwise this would have been treated as a major emergency.”
“You are correct, your Majesty; ultimately the whole weather team was sent. They had a few problems at first, but Rain Drop found a way to counterattack the hura... can?”
“I knew she would make a good head for the weather department.” Such a clever pony and a passionate researcher, just like... freeze... now go back to the conversation.
“I totally agree, I’m sure you’ll find her report on the events very interesting to read. To summarize, they lost no pony, thank Goodness. Stableside was damaged but according to Rain Drop, it could have been worse. On the bad side, I must tell you that she thinks that we are going to have a few more of this hu-er big storms, before the weather can be stabilised. She is already planning measurements to be taken.”
Celestia gave a nod, “Very well, about the town...”
“Ahead of you, your Majesty. The Mayor send a petition for help with the town repairs. As you know, we have no extra hoofs at the moment, but I sent Hoof Craft to quantify the damage. I personally will talk with the FEPE to see if they can help as soon as he sends his report. If you agree of course, Princess.”
Why aren’t you on the throne? “Yes, it seems like the best course of action, thanks Resourceful. Now if you excuse me for a moment, the sun needs to be set.” The sun bearer turned her full attention to her window and looked to the western sky. She extended one hoof towards Resourceful and asked, “What time is it?”
The unicorn stared at the clock intently and waited for the Princess to give her the signal. Celestia lowered her hoof. “Precisely four minutes before seven,” answered the mare.
Why huh wha... Horseapples... soooo close. Tomorrow give him a softer nudge. The Princess just gave a long sigh and kept staring until the clock marked seven o’clock; then her magic glowed in her horn and the sun slowly disappeared from the sky.
“Princess, I know that it has to do with the new calendar, but I’ve been wanting to ask, what is this about?”
“Summer,” she said absentmindedly. “In the new calendar’s summer,” Celestia looked at her assistant, “the sun shall remain in the sky for about fourteen hours. I’ve been trying to push it in the morning in a way that it takes it that precise time to hit the horizon again.” It’s the least you can do Celly, get it right, for her... freeze... now...
Resourceful’s eyes opened wide. “That is amazing! Wait, you raised the sun at five o’clock, that means...”
… get your failure remarked. “That I failed by four minutes, yes.”
“Some may say that is good enough, especially since the official restart of the celestial bodies is still four days away. You don’t need to get it perfect just yet, Princess.”
Inner Celestia choked with panic. FOUR DAYS!? NO!... Wait. Don’t panic, or at least don’t look panicked. What do I usually do to not look panicked?
The regal alicorn turned slowly, smiled softly, crooked an eyebrow and calmly said, “Four days? So soon?”
“Maybe you forgot, the first summer solstice and the celestial restart were rescheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of The Day the Dawn Returned. We even jumped some days of this new calendar we are using to assure that.”
I remember alright... I should really consider making everypony forget that accursed day. “Oh that is true, it slipped my mind; with the travel to the Griffin Kingdoms, and everything.”
“It makes sense...”
The Princess stood still, looking thoughtful. In her mind, an imaginary Princess Celestia grinned madly, while casting a memory spell over all of Equestria.
“Er, Princess I think you should... raise the moon now.”
She came back to her senses and looked out the window. The sky was a dark blue canvas, completely empty. “Of course.” Celestia got closer to the window. Darn you moon why can’t you just... raise yourself... A memory in her mind flashed, “Wouldn’t that be fun Tia, that they could move by themselves...” Freeze... now raise the moon Celly, don’t think, just do it.
The moon rose and stood still, as if suspended on the horizon. The night-bringer made an angry huff and used her magic to grab a notebook from inside one of her desk’s drawers. She skimmed through it and, finally, the unicorn magic put the moon on its way. Scattered through the sky, a bunch of stars appeared. Not terribly bad.
Celestia went behind her desk, sat down, and threw her notebook in the drawer. “Done, where were we, Resourceful?”
The mare had been quietly watching her Princess. “I had forgotten. The new calendar committee wants to discuss something with you. It’s about the festivities for The Day the Dawn Returned.”
And back with that day. “Festivities? I told them I didn’t think those were a good idea. Equestria is still filled with problems.” Isn’t it enough that I let them put the summer solstice that day?
“I know, your Majesty.” The unicorn took a seat on one of the cushions in front of the desk. “But they insist. They say it would raise the spirits of everypony, and... I agree with them.”
The Princess gave her a stern look. “You do?”
“Yes, and I promised them to talk to you about it. Please, listen to me, your Majesty.”
Celestia closed her eyes. She remembered hearing similar words before. “Just listen to me Tia, please.” Freeze... now... listen. “Go ahead,” the princess said solemnly.
“I know... why you don’t want to celebrate that day,” Resourceful replied calmly.
And I know you know. How sweet of you to remind me. Oh, we’re just the best of friends, you and I. Now can we just forget about it? ”...”
Resourceful sighed, took a deep breath, then looked at Celestia in her eyes. “Princess Celestia, you are being selfish, again.”
Me? Selfish? I’m the most unselfish pony in all of Equestria. I just don’t want anypony to celebrate... “Maybe I am, but please understand, if I accept, they will force me to celebrate the day I...” Freeze...
“It’s not only that, Princess. It’s not only about that day, but about many things. Like the night, and the moon, and the whole new calendar project. You are neglecting things that need your attention. Admit it, you are avoiding everything that reminds you of Princess Lu...”
“DON’T YOU DARE!” the alicorn roared, glaring at the little pony.
The unicorn didn’t even flinch. There she was, calmly staring at her with those deep blue eyes. Very few ponies could sustain Celestia’s gaze; Resourceful was one of them. It was not about power, not even about will; it was about caring. Her assistant was staring at her because she knew. She knew something was wrong. She could see through the Princess’ usually perfect facade. Just like a year ago.
That was when Celestia realised in how bad a state Equestria was. She had hurt her sister deeply, and practically made her run away. Then she had tried to control everything by herself, as usual, but she couldn’t. That’s when she found out the truth: she was a terrible ruler and, at that point, she had no idea what she was doing. She kept pretending before everypony, but this pony in front of her dared to face her. This pony challenged the Princess, just with her eyes. And right now she is doing it again. You can’t beat her Celly, because just like that day, she is right, deep inside... something hurts.
The busted Princess lowered her stare and spoke sadly. “My dear friend, you are right... I can’t stand even the smallest thought of her.”
“Are you trying to forget your little sister?”
Celestia thought over her answer carefully. “I neglected her, I hurt her, and then... banished her forever to the moon with my own hooves.” How can you live with yourself Celly?
“Excuse me for saying this, Princess, but what you did was your fault not the Night Princess’s. Except the banishing part, she didn’t leave you many choices there. Still, forgetting about her is just as wrong. For what you’ve told me, she doesn’t deserve that.”
“I... I...” the alicorn’s eyes were teary, her voice a tad high and quiet. “I sent her... to the moon!”
“What were your options? You could have killed her, but you didn’t.”
Celestia huffed. “Would you be able to kill your own sister?”
“No, but that is the point. While there is life, there is hope, or so I’ve read. I’m not trying to sound wise or anything, but you both are immortal Goddesses, so while she will never die for real, if you forget her, then there won’t be hope, because her memory would die.”
The Princess looked at her assistant with wide eyes. Forever was indeed a long time. But magic and immortality were mighty allies. And now I can count on my friends too. Yes friendship, friendship is the most powerful thing I can posses.
Celestia shed a tear and smiled at her friend. “You are right, while there is life there is hope. I must not forget... no, I don’t want to forget Luna, but... it hurts.”
Resourceful gave the Princess a little smile. “Time can heal that.” Then she laughed, “Wait a moment, aren’t you supposed to be the mighty and wise pony? You should know about this.”
The ancient alicorn suppressed a little chuckle and tried to sound wise. “Oh I do. I just pretend I don’t remember, so my loyal subjects can learn for themselves.”
Resourceful raised an eyebrow, and stared at her friend. Then, out of nowhere, they both giggled.
After sharing the moment, Celestia said deeply and sincerely, “Thank you, Resourceful.”
The unicorn just bowed her head at the Princess and smiled, before changing to a stern look. “There is still the matter of The Day the Dawn Returned.”
Okay, no more panic, but I still hate that day... The Princess put her hooves together on her desk and closed her eyes in thought for a moment. “I... I will accept the celebration, and the rising of the sun event.”
Resourceful smiled slightly. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, what else can I do? You are right, these festivities can raise morale. Times are getting better, true, but there’s still hard times ahead. My little ponies need something like this.” And I’ll get a pretext to drink a bottle of wine... Oh, right, there are no grape crops... buck.
Three days before the 1st Summer Sun Celebration.
It was early in the afternoon and Princess Celestia walked through the hallways of Canterlot Castle. Even through those hard times, the brilliance and beauty of the castle ornaments and tapestries looked just the same as the day they were put there. The ones that remained, that is.
During the last few months the Princess had been avoiding what was called the Night Wing of the castle. Today, however, she had decided to walk through it on her way to the library. It wasn’t as she remembered. Where were the moon motifs? The star tapestries? True, the Night Wing had always been very small, but now it seemed as if it had just disappeared. Celestia frowned.
It was not my idea, it was Blue Blood’s... But he was just talking on behalf of everypony in Canterlot.
After talking with Resourceful last night, it was obvious to her why she had just concede to these changes without any further consideration. But it is so wrong. However, she couldn’t change her mind now, not about that nor about many other measures that had been taking effect for months; like banner changing, anthem changing, etc. The mare stopped walking. No, none of that really matters. Don’t you remember, Celly? Luna didn’t care about that stuff. Actually, she didn’t even like the decor. Celestia restarted her walking. It felt nice, to think about her without recoiling. There are things that she would be fuming about though. Like having her name removed from the library she built here.
The white alicorn arrived at that same library; the plaque on top of the entrance was indeed blank. The silvery crescent moon engraved at the doors had not been removed though. She caressed it with her hoof. I shall keep this... even if I have to enchant it.
She stepped through the doors and into the library that, during the last months, had been used as an office and conference hall for the new calendar committee.
The Princess walked along the first rows of bookcases and turned the corner. She stopped as she was received with a view that, just yesterday, she couldn’t stand. There’s no panic... Celestia grinned, a very proud yet a bit insane smile. “Huzzah,” she said in a whisper as she raised a hoof to the air. I’m the queen of the world!... That was redundant. Still.
She heard voices close by. The meeting surely hadn’t started long ago. The mare walked silently towards the wall across the room. In that corner of the library some desks and chairs had been put together as an improvised office. There were papers and books spread across the desks; some had been magically anchored so nopony could disrupt them while the owner was not there.
As she finally reached the farthest wall, Celestia stared at what looked like a big, odd tapestry, but it was made of paper. It had drawn distinctive rows and columns of small rectangles; each one had a number, and a lot of information written in it. There were also scribblings all over the paper. Notes, diagrams, references to numbered notebooks which were safely kept on a bookcase right beside it. On the lower right corner of the paper in big numbers read “360.” In the upper left cornered read “New Calendar. By: The pony who saved Equestria.” There was a completely noticeable change in the writing style.
Celestia touched the paper gently and stared at it. “Sorry I neglected you... again,” she said softly.
A couple of the voices coming from the meeting taking place at the center of the library grew in intensity. This called the Princess’ attention. She got closer and immediately noticed that an argument was going on. Celestia decided to watch from the back of the last bookshelf. If I go in there now, they will stop talking, and start acting like quiet, innocent little lambs.
She gently moved a couple of books so she had a better view of the ponies. The full committee seemed to be there. About a dozen ponies were seated around a long table that was, in fact, several tables put together. Sitting on the furthest head of the table was a white unicorn, a seasoned stallion with a small grey mustache and a crown cutie mark. He spoke some words trying to calm down the arguing ponies, to no avail. Right in the middle of the table were two angry mares. A white pegasus with a blue mane was hovering face to face with a green unicorn that remained sitting, her mane brown with a golden stripe.
“No, no. This has nothing to do with that,” the pegasus spatted angrily. “I made the calculations myself. Do you really think I would just drop some random changes into the project without doing any research?”
The unicorn rolled her eyes. “It’s not your research I don’t trust, it’s your source.”
“I just told you! I used the notebook as a guide but I did the work myself.”
“Sorry, but I won’t accept it, Snowflake. Nothing good can come from that crazy night-hag’s notes. I know others agree with me,” said the green unicorn, while sending glances to the others. Half of them nodded in agreement, some just seemed annoyed by the argument; the rest stood quiet.
CRAZY NIGHT-HAG!?... I’LL SHOW YOU A HAG YOU... The Princess looked at the chair that supported the green unicorn and smiled mischievously. No no, don’t get mad... breathe Celly, calm yourself. You are the Princess, always centered, always in control. And Nightmare Moon was kind of a hag, and that’s who everypony remembers.
“You don’t understand, Tree Top.” Snowflake’s tone was calmer now. “The Night Princess was an extraordinary researcher and mathematician. Even if she did become... evil afterwards, her works...”
“Afterwards?” interrupted Tree Top. “Everypony knows the creepy mare had always been a bit touched. Then, on that one day, the real Princess had to put her on her place; she discovered just how useless she was, and finally cracked compleeeAAAH!”
Suddenly, the chair under the unicorn broke and she hit the floor with a hard thump, falling on her back. There were a few contained laughs.
“You ok ma’am?” asked a big yellow stallion with a red mane, as he raised from his chair, right beside the fallen green mare.
“Yes... I think... Ugh, stupid old chairs,” answered the poor unicorn. The big earth pony pushed his head under Tree Top and easily raised the pony to her hooves.
“Thanks, Apple Crop,” said a very blushed mare.
“Not’a problem ma’am.”
Snowflake kept her hooves over her mouth, desperately trying to stop her chuckling.
“Did you have enough?” said the white unicorn using a strong commanding tone. “Please ladies. You know this committee has the future of Equestria in its hooves. We can’t let discrepancies between its members interfere. There are decisions to be made.”
“WE TOTALLY AGREE, MY DEAR DUKE BLUE BLOOD.”
Everypony turned their heads and watched as the ruler of Equestria walked from in-between the bookshelves and got closer to them.
Standing tall, check. Wings spread, check. Deep stare and soft smile, check. As usual, I look regal. As usual they will bow too much...
Everypony stood up and lowered their heads, almost touching the floor. Snowflake the pegasus flew towards the other head of the table, landed beside her chair and bowed deeply before the Princess. The alicorn nodded gently in response.
Now, Royal Canterlot Voice, low volume version, check.
“Rise, our little ponies.” Celestia had been practicing this new voice. It still boomed through the library, but it was a lot more gentle. It works like a charm, they seem more comfortable... maybe If I just talk normally... but, the Voice is traditional... er I’ll think about that later.
Everypony stood up and return to their seats. Apple Crop politely offered his chair to Tree Top.
“These last months have been hard. We’ve been forced to put aside our participation in the new calendar committee far too long. For that we apologize to all of its members,” Celestia talked while walking towards Blue Blood. “We need to thank you, dear nephew, for taking our place during this time. You did a great job. Now, if the members of the committee will excuse us, we need to have a word with you.”
“Of course, aunt Celestia.” With a gentle nod towards the other ponies, the unicorn stood up.
The Duke followed the Princess into the bookshelves of the library. They got far enough for nopony to listen to them. Be completely honest, Celly, he deserves it. Celestia spoke with her normal voice. “I’m sorry, Blue.”
The blond unicorn furrowed his brow at the alicorn. “Um... for what...”
“I’m amazed how you’ve been keeping all the nobles at bay.” Blue Blood tried to say something but the Princess raised a hoof to keep him quiet. “I’m not sure how you’re convincing them to abandon all their banal petitions during these hard times, but I know how it is. You talk to them, persuade them. Still, they always try again. When it was me, there was a point I had to... yell at them... hard... which I shouldn’t have.” Though it was fun. “The point is, as the leader of Canterlot nobles and spokespony of all landlords, I know you are a really busy pony and you are already doing a lot for me.
“And yet, you found the time to replace me in the matters that I was... avoiding. You have been a great help during this last year Blue, and I will always, always be thankful.”
The seasoned unicorn opened his mouth to say something, but closed it again. He seemed to be at a loss of words.
“Now,” continued Celestia, “I’ve decided to take over my duties. You don’t need to worry about the reorganization of Canterlot Castle any more, nor about the restructuring of Equestria’s tax department. And of course I’ll retake my place as moderator and final voice of the new calendar committee.”
The noble pony raised an eyebrow, and gave his aunt a skeptical look.
“Luna,” said the Princess calmly.
Blue Blood opened his eyes widely. He seemed surprised.
Celestia continued, “I know. I’ve been so childish. I’m so sorry. But that is over. This is my sister’s project and I want to be part of it. No, I need to be part of it. Nopony ever understood her as I do... most ponies don’t even trust her.”
The stallion shook his head.
“But they trust me. I’ll do this.”
The Duke gave the Princess a reassuring smile.
“Well then, It is time to get back to work.” The white alicorn started walking towards the center of the library, then stopped for a moment, and turned her head to her nephew. “It’s always a pleasure to chat with you, Blue.” She gave him a small grin.
He smiled at her, almost a smirk. Then he just shrugged and walked towards the exit.