“…But legend says on the shortest day of the thousandth year of younger’s reign, the moon and the sun shall join as one, and the older sister shall trot in Equestria once more.” Saga read back, the tiny scroll clutched in her massive paw. The princess’s little dragon had grown quite a bit in the years that had passed after her hatching, no longer was she Luna’s little baby dragon, she was closing in on her adult size (though dragons never truly stopped, their growth patterns did tend to take a dip once they grew to adult hood). It almost made Luna sad in a way…but she supposed every parent felt like that when their baby grows up…though not everypony’s baby grows up to be nearly 4 times their height. Saga frowned quietly, looking down at Luna, who sat quietly in the castle court yard, waiting for the dragoness’s opinion. Finally Saga sighed.
“Princess, you do realize that only leaves you roughly eight hundred and fifty years to prepare for this right?” She says, laying her head down next to Luna, blinking one electric blue eye at her.
“Are you sure she’ll be….rehabilitated in that time?”
“Oh of course she will Saga! 1000 years is a very long time to be away from home, I’m sure she’ll be longing to get back! Besides, I’ve been making progress with her; she’ll be back to her old self in no time!” Saga seemed to sense that Luna was lying to her, but Luna hid it very well behind a mask of confidence. Oh she was so glad the element of Honesty had picked her sister all those years ago, otherwise this would be insanely difficult to pull off. Saga let out a heavy sigh, smoke puffing from her nostrils in a tiny cloud.
“Alright princess…I trust you” Luna sighs softly, and changes the subject at a frightening speed.
“So how goes the construction project?” She asks, smiling up at the dragoness. Saga had, of course, been ‘promoted’ to Royal Overseer of the Princess’s personal projects. The dragoness had seemed a bit sad when she had been given the new job, but she couldn’t exactly stay a scribe forever, heck she couldn’t even hold a quill properly anymore!
“Oh very well, the builders say it’ll be finished and ready to move in by the end of the week.”
“Wonderful!” She smiles, lying down silently in the crook beneath Saga’s wing.
The two were quiet for a long time, just listening to the crickets chirp, the gentle breeze brushing across their skin, the sun starting to dip beyond the castle walls. Luna smiles slightly and gently pats Saga. This had been the best part of forming the Equestrian council, just having a little free time was wonderful and everpony seemed to love the idea of having a say, no matter how small, in the way the royal house ran things. Everypony was happy and things were right with the world…well almost everypony was happy, Luna could think of one in particular who wasn’t. Letting out a sigh Luna got to her hooves, giving Saga a soft peck on the cheek.
“I think I’m going to turn in early for the night.” She said, heading back towards the palace, her mane twinkling, her horn glowing slightly as she sends the crescent moon on its journey upwards into the sky.
“Alright” Saga said yawning a bit herself.
“See ya in the morning your highness” With a soft swoosh Saga had taken off, heading higher to the mountain summit where Luna had carved out a little cave for her. Luna smirked to herself as she watched, it was always a little hard for her to see her go; she always felt a little feeling of dread as a voice whispered in her ear ‘What if she never comes back?’
“Oh well it could be worse” She mused, turning back to the castle halls.
“At least she doesn’t snore”
Up to the towers, the guards either saluting or bowing to her as she passed. She smiles softly, two or three generations and still such respect. Sometimes it was wonderful to be a princess.
She paused quietly as a young filly ran out from one of the castle’s bedchambers, a little wooden carriage clutched between her teeth. Luna slipped into the shadows to watch as a colt, roughly the same age, ran right out after her. Both ponies were earth ponies, the little girl a soft midnight blue with a mane of bright orange and red, the colt, a light yellow with just a hint of brown in his coat and a mane a darker mix of red and orange. One of the councilpony’s children no doubt. The princess continued to watch, smiling in a slightly nostalgic fashion from the shadows as the colt whined.
“Star Whistle, give it back! That’s mine!” Star naturally spit it out into her forehooves, skidding to a stop and clutching the wagon to her chest.
“No way! You’ve been hogging it all day! I wanna play with it!”
“Daddy gave it to me for getting my cutie mark and you know it! Now give it back!” Luna glances at the colt’s flank, a little brown wheel set into his coat just below his tail.
“So? It’s not fair that you should get everything just because you got some silly little mark on your flank!” Her brother snickers.
“You’re just saying that because you don’t have one” He said snidely, tilting his hindquarters towards his sister so that the candle light caught his cutie mark. Star glared at the colt.
“Why would I want some stupid wagon wheel on my butt anyways? You think you’re so cool just cause you got your cutie mark, Axel, but I still got potential! You have no idea what my cutie mark’s gonna be! It could be something so much cooler than yours that….that…” Star faltered, and Axel seized on the moment of weakness
“Please! You probably won’t even get yours! Can you just imagine what it’d be like, being mom’s age and not even having your cutie mark?” This had the desired effect, of course, Star’s eyes immediately filled with tears.
“I-I will too get one! No pony ever j-just m-misses getting their c-cutie mark!” She said, though fear clearly flitted across her face. What if she didn’t get her cutie mark? What if she were just a blank flank forever? Luna could see the thoughts and fears swirling in Star Whistle’s mind as if her face were made of glass, and it was for that exact reason that Luna felt the need to put her hoof down. She stepped out from the shadows, walking right up to the pair. She cleared her throat rather loudly.
“Ahem. Sorry to intrude” “P-princess!” Both youngsters squeaked in response. Standing so still you might’ve thought the mere sight of Luna had turned them to stone. Luna sighs and gently reaches out with her magic, levitating the wagon up and out of Star’s forelegs and over to her brother. She then turned her attention back to Star Whistle, quietly squatting down next to her.
“Do you know how old I was when I got my cutie mark?” She asks the filly gently. Star slowly shook her head, her eyes wide.
“I was 14 years old” Star’s eyes widened, most fillies got their cutie marks when they were 7 or 8, 11 at the latest.
“That’s right. Now I want you to think about this my little pony. When I was your age, you know what I always wanted to be?” Again the filly shook her head. Luna smiled gently
“I wanted to be just like you. Every day I was told exactly what I was going to do, taught how to act, and made to focus on what they hoped would be my special talent, I never got the chance to experiment, that’s why you got to enjoy it while you can. Princesses are nothing special. Princesses are the same day in and day out, I’ve come to accept that, but you little filly, you have all the potential in the world, and you should be out enjoying that gift instead of putting so much importance on a silly little mark or somepony else’s toy.”
“But…” Star squeaked, glancing at her brother, still standing in the doorway
“But” Luna continues
“If you really want something that’s all yours, something you can play with whenever you like so you won’t have to take that little wagon of your brother’s…” Luna’s face broke into a wide grin, she pulled a small lock of her own mane free, the little wispy star filled lock moving within her hoof, trying to rejoin the rest on her head. The filly watched with awe as Luna’s horn began to glow, the bit of mane freezing suddenly, glowing softly as it twists into something new in Luna’s hoof.
Within seconds the bit of mane had changed into a single cylindrical shape, silver now but it still somehow managed to glitter and sparkle, as if the stars were still inside of it. Luna brought the newly made flute to her lips and gave a gentle blow, playing one long sweet note before handing it over to the filly. Luna fondly tosses the filly’s mane before getting back up.
She left the two in the hall way. She couldn’t see, but she could practically feel Star grinning at Axel as the two went back into their family’s bed chambers.
Luna continued to climb the stair case, reaching her own bedchambers just as the moon managed to peek over the castle walls. She glances out her windows at it, just once, before silently walking over to her bookshelf, gently tugging on the spine of a book simply titled “Harmony”. Within the room there was a soft ‘click’ before her bed slowly rose up, just enough to reveal a spiral staircase heading back down, down into the seemingly solid tower. Descending the stairs, torches springing to life ahead of her as she walks, the princess leaves her bed chambers behind and enters a large circular room, dominated by a stone column with 5 arms branching from it, each holding a perfectly smooth stone orb.
Although it had caused her nothing but pain to do so, Luna had gone back to her foal hood home about 30 years ago to retrieve the elements. Though they were no more than paper weights at the moment she felt rather…rude for leaving the things in the ruins of the castle, the 6 and she had been through a lot together.
The princess let out a sigh and gently rubs the closest of the orbs. So many times she wished they’d return to life, so many times she wished she’d come down to see the stone flaking away and see the magic once again coursing through them, but every time she returned here she was only met with disappointment and worry.
“We’ll be moving soon” she tells the orbs.
“And you all will be right in the middle of the whole place, dead center, perfect for seeing and being seen. You’ll find somepony else you like…I just know it.” As always the stone orbs stayed completely silent, impassive. Luna mentally shook herself.
“Come on Luna….you gotta stop doing this….one of these days you’re going to name one of these things and take it out on a date…” She smiles a bit to herself and heads back up the stairs, the torches extinguishing themselves as she passes each. Back up into her bed chambers, lowering her bed back to the floor with a soft glowing of her horn. She removes her tiara, necklace, and shoes, silently placing them on the floor next to her bed before dropping back into the space between dreams.
Luna looks up at her sister’s dream star, still incased in an icy shell. She had not entered her sister’s dreams in a century and she was really starting to worry….with this strong of a shield against her who knows what was going on inside her sister’s mind. The anger had to be festering, and taking root…she had to help her sister, despite the consequences. So with that in mind for the first time in well over a hundred years she turns from her sister’s star and begins to walk through the swirling blizzard of dreams.
“Sister…forgive me for what I’m about to do.” She mutters as she reaches the star she was looking for, another one that, like her sisters, was perfectly still, though that’s where the similarities ended. This star looked…odd…it was constantly shifting, as if trying to make up its mind on whether or not it wanted to explode or not. Occasionally a bit of star stuff would burst from the star, sending tiny snowflakes into the other ponies’ dreams beyond. Luna steadied herself with a shake breath before taking the leap.
The dream’s interior was pretty much as she expected; fields of blue grass, long legged jackalopes galloping past, violet skies, birds swimming through a nearby lake of pudding, fishing singing in a celery tree, and a pink maned pony in red and black spandex playing whack-a-mole with an oversized mallet and actual moles. She waited silently in the middle of the azure field; waiting for the dreamer to make his appearance… she didn’t have to wait long.
She was barely there for 5 minutes before an eagle’s claw, wearing a glove with knives sewn on the fingers, rested on her left shoulder, someone’s beard tickling her right shoulder.
“How sweet…dark meat” the voice whispered. Luna let out an exasperated sigh.
“Hello Discord” The Draconequus snapped his fingers disappearing and reappearing in front of Luna.
“Well isn’t this a surprise? The almighty ruler of Equestria has seen fit to grace my humble dreams” He bows low
“To what do I owe this extreme pleasure? Gardening tips? Want to discuss the weather? Do you want to see my chili recipe?” He was mocking Luna, that much was obvious, but Luna just indulged him for a little while until he finally fell silent.
“Discord listen-“ She began, only to be interrupted by a click of his fingers, several pairs of ears popping up all over him.
“I’m all ears!” Luna frowned at the pun.
“Oh come now moon butt, you used to be such fun! What’s gotten into you?” With another snap of his fingers the scene shifted, they were standing on a roof top in the middle of a dark and very gloomy looking city, all made of steel, brick, and glass. Discord disappeared from her view for the briefest of moments so she could look out at the smoggy world before he reappeared, inches from her face, his mane green, his face white, with a crooked red smile painted over his snaggletoothed mouth, his new appearance dominating her field of vision.
“Come on now! Why so serious!” From a few feet away Luna heard a female voice with a distinct manehatten accent say
“You tell ‘er Mistah D! Ya need to lighten up red!” Luna sighs
“Discord, seriously, we need to talk!” “Ugh! Fine!” He snaps his fingers again, the scene shifted again, the two of them were sitting on a table, floating high in the air without any sort of support. He waves his hand slowly in front of his face, his skin returned to its normal color, and a monocle appeared in front of his left eye, a curly mustache appeared on his face and a top hat popped into existence on his head. He quietly sipped some tea in front of him, the china disappearing with every tiny sip.
“I’m listening” Discord said in a very proper manner. Luna just sighed, recognizing this situation to be as close as she could possibly get, she began to speak.
“Discord…look…you know how I feel about you-“ She began, only to be interrupted
“Careful with that wording, we don’t want people to mistake this for a shipping fic.”
“…shipping fic…Never mind I don’t want to know. Look, Discord, it’s no secret that I don’t exactly like you” Discord interrupted her once more.
“Well let’s see, you and your sister turned me into a statue in the middle of my recital, let a bird nest in my mouth for a week, and then your sister used me as a bat when she was attempting to murder you so I did sense a tiny bit of dislike.”
“To be fair you did use a nine iron to send me halfway across the continent so, the first two were warranted to a point…But anyway… I need your help”
Discord raised one large bushy eyebrow
“Oh dear, my help? Allow me to answer you in the best way I possibly can!” He then took a piece of paper, began to write on it, scribbling a megaphone, which then let out a “NO!” with such force it nearly sent her flying. Luna, rubbing her ear with a hoof was quick to respond.
“Look! I’m not asking you to do it for nothing! I’m willing to pay for it.”
“Pay? I’m a piece of granite; you’re going to have to offer quite a hefty sum.”
“I’m willing to offer my hoof-“she began
“Okay now you’re going into cupcakes territory and that’s a big nono!”
“in friendship!” She finished, a vein pulsing in her forehead.
“Hmm…friendship you say…nah what else you got?”
Luna rolls her eyes.
“You think that’s the only thing I would offer? I’m willing to commute your sentence to time served, and offer you a job outside of the little task I want you to help me with” Discord rubbed his chin.
“Hmm…” He muttered softly
“Okay you have my attention”
“I’m building a school” Luna said softly
“And I’d like you to teach; both in the drama department, and the study of chaos based magic.” Luna pauses to let the spirit speak.
“And what makes you think I’d like to teach a bunch of snot nosed foals what I know?”
“Well for starters you’d be given a very legitimate chance to show off without anypony, myself included, telling you not to. Not only that but you’d also be meeting likeminded ponies who want to learn your ways and, make all of Equestria that tiny bit more…chaotic.” Luna paused, letting this sink in a little bit before she continued.
"I’m also willing to throw in a holiday celebrating you… I was thinking something in the spring, something like ponies playing pranks on each other all day, culminating in a big feast at the end of the day on candied treats, what do you think?”
Discord continued to contemplate all this for a few long seconds before he shrugs
“Okay, I’ll bite, what’s the catch?”
"Well I do have a few ground rules”
“Not so big on those”
Luna sighs and nods.
“I didn’t think you would be…regardless, you agree to them, or I’m not letting you out.”
“Fine…lemme hear them.”
"First, no warping reality, at least outside the confines of your classes, the only time you’re allowed to do that is on your holiday, I’ll give you a little bit of leeway on the school grounds, but that’s as far as you get. Second, if you have a problem with a student you send them to me, you don’t rectify it by making them act like a dog or by turning them into a desk. And third…if you do this for me I’ll owe you one, I’d consider you my friend, and you have to honor our friendship…I’m willing to try if you are, Discord.” She reached her hoof across the table
“Do we have a deal then?”
Discord taps his chin and after a moment beams. He grabs her hoof, just as her horn flashes lightly. Discord let out a loud yelp as the joybuzzer that Luna had just created zaps him. Luna gave him a cheeky grin that to be perfectly honest stunned him.
“Moon-butt, I think this is gonna be the start of a beautiful friendship!” He said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
~~One week later~~
“And it is with great honor” Luna said, standing in front of the gates to her school, her staff standing tall next to her, a line of press ponies gathered taking down her every word.
“That I officially open the doors to the Lunar University for National Academics!” She cuts the ribbon in front of the giant wrought iron gates to a smattering of polite applause.
“Enrollment will start tomorrow.” Luna said nodding gently, silently trotting into the school. The mare walking up towards the castle steps looked very different than the princess everypony knew. Her mane had been tamed and pulled back into a neat little bun, a pair of red rimmed glasses were perched on the end of her nose. This had been Discord’s idea naturally, he thought she ought to look the part of a head mistress…Speaking of Discord, the Draconequus skated backwards on the dirt path, moving past her just so he could speak.
“L.U.N.A is the name of this place? You cannot be serious!” Luna simple smirks at him
“Who says I can’t have a little vanity?” She said cheekily, before her tone turned a bit more serious
“Thanks again for helping me with her…you have no idea what that means to me.”
Discord simply shrugged.
“Well when you have a friend who needs help breaking up some crystal who are ya to say no?”
Luna almost stopped dead in her tracks, a memory fragment floating to the forefront of her mind at the word ‘crystals’. A flash of green, her sister’s scream…crystals…She regained her composure and nods slowly.
“Don’t mention it”
Hours later, when Luna finally turned in for the night and peeked into her sister’s mind again she found it just as she had when she last saw it; Dark, hot, and full of snappy biting things in the darkness. With a new idea in mind Luna began to take off, searching for a specific strand of memory. She plucked it free from the dream’s fabric, following it until she found its source.
Almost two hundred and seventy years prior…Her sister and she had been visiting the crystal empire. Their neighbors were enjoying a year of unexpected prosperity; it was as if they had struck a crystal geyser! Luna had thought the whole thing was completely normal at the time; all kingdoms had their economic highs and lows, particularly when a new pony sits on the seat of power (as was the case with the crystal ponies, after the untimely death of their previous ruler Queen Safira). Celestia on the other hoof was a bit more…suspicious. She had made an excuse for Luna, telling the new king, Sombra, that she had to stay behind in Equestria, so that Luna could do some undercover work while Celestia held the Emperor’s attention. The shadow princess had easily slipped passed Sombra’s guards, and had found her way to the mines.
The crystal ponies….hundreds of them…chained and forced to work until exhaustion took them, until they no longer felt the whips Sombra’s guards flogged them with. Luna had raced back to her sister, bursting into the dining hall in the middle of dinner. She accused Sombra of building the work camp and forcing his citizens into slavery, a practice that had been outlawed in every civilized country nearly 700 hundred years prior. Sombra, dropping all facades said
“So what if I did? They are bound to me as their king! If I want them to service me in the mines that is exactly what they are to do! I am going to build the crystal empire, greater and more powerful than it ever was before!”
“There is more to ruling than power and money” Celestia had said, making her way to her sister’s side.
“A good ruler is compassionate; a good ruler loves his citizens, a good ruler-“ Sombra had grown tired of the solar princess’s speech, his horn had flashed a bright green color, his eyes hidden behind a magical glow. He shot a single bolt of bright green energy, straight at Luna.
“Luna!” Celestia cried, slamming her sister sideways, and taking the bolt herself. Luna was stunned, and in that moment she had thought her sister was dead. In that moment she had lost herself. She flung herself at Sombra with the fury of a mare possessed. He was very lucky she didn’t kill him before her sister got back to her hooves, singed but otherwise unharmed. The two had used their combined magic to banish the shadow king, turning him into living shadow himself and sealing him beneath the northern ice. What they didn’t realize at the time was Sombra had taken precaution against such an event. He had linked the Crystal Empire and its citizens to himself, when he disappeared beneath the ice and snow, so too did they.
Back in the present Luna sat bolt upright in bed, the sun just peeking over the horizon, making the tears on her cheeks glisten and twinkle. Something had happened that day that caused her sister to change…she didn’t know what but she knew why…and it was her fault. It was all her fault. Luna sobbed softly, laying back down on her side.