It had seemed like a very inconspicuous day. Twilight Sparkle, being the thorough and organized pony she was, decided to create a new way for organizing the books in the Ponyville Library. If this works well enough, she giddily thought to herself, maybe the Royal Library in Canterlot can adopt it, too! Speaking of Canterlot, where are those books I owe back there?
She had acquired a lot of books from the Royal Library; the librarians there had no time or borrow limit, knowing ponies from all over Equestria would come to borrow books for various projects and research. In fact, the only rules were that you had to contribute to the library for each book beyond the first; and keep a current address on file, as they may send ponies your way if they're looking for a particular book that is checked out under your name. The books' checkout cards were enchanted such that when they changed possession, the ledger in the library would be updated, along with the date of transfer.
Twilight, however, had long since finished with her books on Star Swirl the Bearded. All but one, that is: a contemporary biography on him, written by his two daughters, Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl. She had scheduled it for the day of the Smartypants Doll Incident, but had been so wrapped up in the stress of the day that she completely forgot about it. She had wanted to get Star Swirl's mannerisms down to a tee, for her costume to be perfect, and to pay homage to one of Equestria's greatest magic researchers of history. He had quickly become one of her motivational heroes the last year of study in magical college, after she learned that he single-hoofedly created or refined a vast majority of the spells they were taught in school (which she, being Twilight Sparkle, figured out to be 1217 out of 1375, or 88.51%, give or take a few decimals).
Twilight always scheduled a free day, but she usually used that day, today, to get any organization and reading she missed because of unexpected changes in her schedule done. She preferred it that way; free time during scheduled days was often enough that she wouldn't get burned out, but scarce enough that she didn't feel it was cheating to spend it with friends. However, these days were her alone time; now that Spike had somepony that he had a crush on, it was a hay of a lot easier to get him to be gone all day. She had used to be forced to make up lists of menial tasks for him in Canterlot; now, she'd just lend him to Rarity for the day.
Throughout all this thinking on how things were now, she had gotten all the books organized by the new system without consciously focusing on doing so. Now the only things left to do are post notifications detailing the new system and catch up on my reading. I'd suppose I should start on the Canterlot books first; it'll give me a good excuse to request an audience with both Princesses Celestia and Luna. Like I really need one, she added with a smug grin. Yes, being the favorite student of the ruler of the entire kingdom had its perks. Where did Spike put that cider mix?
With a fresh cup of instant apple cider, Twilight snuggled herself into the comfy pillow she left by the now-roaring fireplace. The stuff Applejack made last year, while made with the best intentions, and had nearly all the alcohol removed, had still been too strong for the lavender pony, and so, not wanting to hurt her friend, she had had box of instant cider discreetly shipped to her from Canterlot, letting Spike drink Applejack's home-brew concoction.
The book she had chosen first was Star Swirl's biography, entitled A Bright Star: The Life and Times of Star Swirl, from Those Who Knew Him Best, Unabridged First Edition. Twilight rolled her eyes. The title was a bit heavy-hoofed, but it was probably the publisher that decided to give it that subtitle. She activated her horn, hoping to Celestia the innards of the book weren't as bad as the cover.
What she found, past the front matter, was that the book itself was written in Old Equestrian, although there were clearly Germaneic influences. So Star Swirl was alive around the time Germaney and Equestria were forming alliances, she pondered, twelve years of history lessons suddenly coming to life. After this, she decided to look a bit more into world history, as well as etymology; there were letters she'd never even seen before, which fascinated her.
Hwær Stihtung wæs wunaþ, Hé scán gelíc ein Sæsteorra tō Ūs.
Tō Ūre Æce Fæder.
Just the dedication was a challenge. Thankfully, she had prepared a spell for such an occasion, though she had only used it for Modern Griffin to Equestrian. She had no idea whether or not it would work, but at least the spell wasn't harmful to the literature at all, as all it did was enabled one's eyes read the words in a language you could yourself process. Concentrating even harder, she formed the incantation's words in her mind. A flash of light later, and the dedication page was a lot easier on her mind.
Where Providence was wont, He shone like a Star, guiding Us.
To our Eternal Daddy.
Twilight smiled; after reading that, it didn't matter if the book came off as sappy. It was written by Daddy's Little Girls, after all. She gleefully turned the page and took a sip of cider. This was going to be interesting, after all.
This book held a lot of discrepancies between Star Swirl's life and what "history" books had to say about it. First off, he was not born on the day that became the Summer Sun Celebration, but around it. To a lower-middle-class family, at that! He didn't even attend primary school, as his family was too poor to actually afford it, yet too rich for the Unicorn government to actually sponsor him. Star Swirl wanted to be a traveling performer, and actually got his cutie mark stargazing while trying to come up with new material for his act. As for his daughters, they were orphans. He found them in his travels, after having been on the road for twenty years, and accumulating enough money that he could afford to put on charity shows whenever he stopped by a place with an orphanage. "Swirling Comet," as his stage name went, especially liked visiting unicorn orphanages; he'd show the foals some simple magic tricks after the show. They'd all get a kick out of it.
We found one of Dad's old journals after he passed, the book stated in an aside. He said he never would forget the day he met us, just like we him. You wouldn't believe the amount of shock My sister and I had when, a few days later, he showed up, said he was retiring, and wanted to adopt two fillies. But Dad was like that: once he set his mind on something, he stuck to it. It took him three months to convince the headmistress that his intentions were good; he actually had all his things moved from the countryside cottage to a flat. After that, when he finally got a chance to state that he wanted us, of all the fillies in the orphanage, the mistress told him no. All in all, it took about a year for us, the freaks that got teased by everypony, to finally be released into his custody. Lulu was with Dad when he passed, and told me his final words were "You two were definitely worth it."
Twilight was only halfway through the book, but that aside had forced her to stop. She went to sip some more cider–then heard the mug hit the ground as it clicked in her mind. Lulu? Isn't that a nickname Princess Celestia reserves for–her mind refused to let her finish that thought. Impossible, nopony considers them freaks. Twilight then remembers the time frame: Star Swirl had been alive during the founding of Equestria! He had worked as the advisor to Princess Platinum for about ten years, until she released him on (fairly) good terms, according to the literature in front of her.
Now she knew what she had to do–it was going to eat her alive otherwise. She pulled out a quill and started on the most important letter not directly related to her studies she had ever written to Celestia.
Dear Princess Celestia,
I am writing you because of a–let's call it a discrepancy–in my studies. Princess Luna once remarked on my Night Mare Night costume for its accuracy toward Star Swirl the Bearded. I found a book written in Old Equestrian (with some Germaneic influences, but this letter is not about the book's etymology), and, after I casted a translation spell, it says that Star Swirl had two daughters, Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl. Do you know of any books on them? I'd like to know more about them.
Your faithful student,
There, Twilight thought to herself. That should be nonchalant enough to not send up any red flags in case my hunch is wrong, if they were in fact traitors or something. She then decided it was time to find Owloyscious, as she couldn't wait for the morning. Rolling the letter up, she placed the scroll in the firm, steady beak and pet the owl before he departed. She watched until she could no longer see him, then returned to the book. She then proceeded to read for another hour before deciding she was too tired to continue.
Twilight begrudgingly crawled into bed, disappointed that she didn't receive an answer. She was confident, though, that the princess would have one for her in the morning. Her last thought as she drifted off to sleep was that she would have one interesting memoir when her turn came to write one. Maybe I can get Princess Luna to be my biographer.
"Oh, dear me," Celestia said to nopony in particular. She had been awakened by the soft flutter of owl wings as Owloyscious had flown over her bed to set the letter on her night stand. The letter seemed, on the surface, to be not urgent at all–which had been a red flag for Celestia from the time she read it. As much as she loved her student, even she had to admit Twilight could be overly dramatic at times. Still, she usually knew how to use that adrenaline properly. If you discount the whole Tardy Incident, that is.
It was the content of the letter that had elicited the utterance from Celestia, however; two names that she had forgotten long ago, with memories locked away even longer. She felt hotness on her cheeks and knew that she was crying. Crying? I forgot I could even do that, Celestia mused bitterly. She quickly cleared her eyes and got up. It was time to find her sister; after all, she had just as much a hoof in telling the story as Sun Swirl did. The names that were all but forgotten; they feel good to say, even if just to myself.
"Luna! Might I interrupt Night Court for a moment? My student has found some urgent discrepancy regarding Star Swirl the Bearded."
"Celestia! You'd dare to interrupt this year's nightlife service tax codes being ratified for some history lesson?"
"It concerns Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl!"
"Oh, dear me. Night Court is now in recess for an hour! Please, everypony, this is a pressing matter indeed."
As the large throne room emptied for the hour, Moon Swirl–No! My name is Luna now–looked over at her sister with dread. Just how much does Twilight Sparkle know? Does she know how our–how Star Swirl died? Celestia gave nothing away, as usual.
When only the Moon and the Sun remained, save some of their most trusted guards, Luna started sobbing softly. Celestia, ever the big sister, put a wing over her shoulder to comfort her and unraveled the letter, allowing Luna to read it. After doing so, she returned the scroll to its rightful place with a teleporting pop–on her private, hidden bookshelf in a location in the royal library that only a unicorn could find, but only a pegasus could reach. Still, if any more like she and her sister were born, they'd teach them about the location.
Upon reading the letter, Luna relaxed a little bit, though she was still concerned. While it maintained Twilight's cordial, almost formal tone of writing, it still seemed. . .off. It was as though Twilight was scared of something and was purposely trying to cover it up. Tia might not see it as readily as I or anypony else of the night would, though. For now, however, I'll play along.
Only one thing was certain: the crimes of the past were being brought from the shadows into the light. Will we be able to handle it, though? Luna somberly thought as the remainder of the hour wound down and Celestia had left her to herself. She had suggested they bring Twilight in, and, albeit warily, Luna agreed, as it was the best way to get the whole story out. So Day Court was to be canceled and Twilight transported directly to Celestia's chamber so the three of them could talk uninterrupted. And she was to bring that book. The truth that everypony had forgotten about, the same truth of which the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant so desperately tried to remind them.