The Luna Cypher

by iisaw

6 A Novice Celebrant

Chapter Six
A Novice Celebrant

I threw myself into the sky and cleared the top of the great crystal star in less than a second—and then realized I had no idea where Luna had gone. Canterlot? Somehow I didn't think so. After a scene like the one with her sister, the last place she'd want to be was in the palace they shared.

I circled slowly, trying to come up with any solid idea. What had she said before she left? Nothing, really. I had been the one talking. I had been saying, "It's all nonsense! I would never..." I groaned. I had been trying to deny the rumor, not the possibility! But Luna must have thought I was denying any affection for her. My circles tightened and sped up in reflection of my frantic thoughts.

She'd want to be far away from her sister and me. Someplace high and lonely. My gaze lifted to the sharp crags of Rambling Rock Ridge, the jagged peaks beyond the Everfree, black against the starlit sky, tall, cold, and lonely. The perfect place.

I changed course with a tight snap-roll that I never would have been able to do if I had been thinking about it and headed for the peaks. All I had to do was spot a midnight blue alicorn somewhere in a range of black basalt crags at midnight. Simple, really. Spells. What spells would help? Yeah—what could I come up with that would find an ancient, magical goddess that didn't want to be found?

I flew on, racking my brain. Okay, time for lateral thinking. What would my friends do? Pinkie Pie could probably pop up right where any pony might be hiding—but usually only if the pony was hiding from her. Try as I might, there was just no way I could think like Pinkie. Okay then, Fluttershy? No. Rainbow Dash? She didn't go in much for thinking. She was a mare of action. So maybe Rarity—wait. Action. That's what I needed. I couldn't out-magic Luna, but that was me thinking like a unicorn. What would a pegasus of action do?

It only took a minute to come up with a plan. I darted around the sky, gathering up as many moisture-laden clouds as I could find. Then, I merged them, shoved the whole mass over the first mountain peak, and gave it a good wallop. It threw a couple of little lightening bolts and began a light rain.

I darted under the cloud and scanned the mountainside below. Nothing. So, I pushed the cloud further down the range a while, scanning the crags. Again, I saw no reaction from the slopes beneath. I kept on pushing the cloud and searching. The cloud diminished as I went on until it approached the point where I would have to go and gather more clouds to continue. I was just about to break off when I spotted it: the brief pulse of a shield spell. Luna didn't want to get wet. I shoved the cloud away and dropped toward the mountain.

Luna was near the top of the ridge and when she saw me coming, tried to teleport away. I had expected that and was prepared for it. I sent a counter spell at her interstitial entry vortex, disrupting it. The feedback wrenched at me so badly that I floundered sideways through the air and nearly hit the vertical rock of the peak face-first. I flopped down next to Luna in the worst landing since the first month I'd gotten wings and gasped out, "Wait! Just let me say one thing and then you can go... or I will go and leave you alone... or whatever you like!"

Luna said nothing, but her horn didn't glow, and she didn't step toward the cliff edge. She raised her head and gazed down her muzzle at me from narrowed eyes, unsmiling.

I opened my mouth but my throat locked up. I coughed and shook my head angrily. This was no time to choke! Luna raised an imperious eyebrow and that broke the dam. "I don't care! Celestia said you planned this out and it's inappropriate and I don't care! Whatever happened before, whatever the differences in our experience, whatever you did... It doesn't matter. I want to be with you. I want to give us a chance."

Luna closed her eyes and bowed her head. After an excruciatingly long pause that must have been the better part of a second, she replied in a shaky voice, "Please, Twilight, I beg thee be certain."

"Of everything?" I asked, shaking my head. "I can't be. It's too soon, too new. But I am certain that I want to spend more time with you. I want to be close to you and maybe even intimate..." I trailed off and cleared my throat nervously. "I don't know, but I want to find out."

"Then…" There was a slight tremble in her voice and she paused, smiling softly. "Then, shall we make the discovery together?"

Luna, big, powerful, intimidating Luna, was nervous and hopeful and trying so hard to hide it. It was absolutely adorable.  I lit my horn and a moment later, we appeared back on the balcony of my bedchamber. The moon was sinking toward the horizon and the fields and streets below were dark and nearly deserted.

I took a hesitant step closer to her and lifted my head. I really didn't know what to say, but Luna rescued me with a kiss. It was just a gentle press of her soft lips to mine, but it sent a tingle down my spine.

I stepped closer until our chests pressed together and we had to turn and arch our necks. Unlike the previous evening, Luna's touch could in no way be mistaken for that of a mother upon her child. After another long, sweet kiss, she lifted my chin and brushed her lips along the line of my jaw. Then she lowered her mouth and began to nibble gently at my throat. I shivered as her mane fell across neck and back, its cool undulations adding another layer of sensation to my already overwhelmed senses.

As much as I was enjoying myself, there was still a part of me that was unsure, and more than a little scared, of where we were heading. I think Luna must have felt my uncertainty, because she lifted her head, shifting from a strong, dominant posture to a more relaxed position by my side. She nuzzled me slowly as she carefully shifted her head, taking great care with her long, wickedly-sharp horn.

I timidly began to kiss and nibble at the powerful arch of her neck and was rewarded with a long sigh of pleasure from her as I worked my way around her poll and the base of her ears.

Luna extended one wing and brushed the tips of her soft primaries over my shoulders and down the length of my back. It felt wonderful but I found myself tensing up and holding my breath. I wasn't sure I was ready for—well, I wasn't even sure what, exactly, it was I wasn't ready for.

Among the racy books that Rarity had lent me, the few that were about two mares falling in love were so metaphorical about sex that they were useless as guides. One had the heroine "surrendering" herself and letting her lover take the lead. But others strongly intimated that a completely passive partner wasn't very satisfying. I just didn't have much of a clue as to what would be appropriate and pleasing. Yes, I'm a grown mare and I knew generally what might be expected of me. But to act without some sort of detailed idea of the techniques involved was like telling a fledgling pegasus that flying is just "moving your wings" and then chucking her off a cliff and letting her sort it all out on the way down.

And I was nowhere near sure I was ready to take that step, anyway.

Luna was so wonderful about it. She lay down on my bed, motioned me to lie next to her, and then just spooned with me. She nestled her head against mine, and moved her caressing wing over the less intimate parts of my anatomy. It wasn't that she had lost interest. Oh stars, that certainly wasn't true!

"Shal Ic speake fram oold bokes yn sondrye oold tonges thet suche langage uppan mine owne tonge wil, paraventure, mayke yt swete?" she whispered into my ear. "Than shal yt be beter fyt to gyft thee gret blisse and joye whan Ic, æt laste, mayst drynke of thee."

Have I mentioned that Luna tends to slip into archaic speech when she gets a little emotional? Well, a seduction line in full-blown Old Equuish both thrilled and terrified me.

"That sounds... wonderful," I gasped, and realized I was trembling. "But... maybe not right now?"

Luna made a sound deep in her throat that was something like a sigh mingled with a chuckle, and she settled her cheek against mine. Her wing curved around me and just held me. We stayed like that for quite a while before I got the courage to speak.



"I... I am so happy right now, I have no way to express it. Just saying your name makes me... well... sort of dizzy."

She didn't pull her head away from mine enough for a kiss; she just sort of nibbled at the corner of my mouth with her lips. I went all warm and gooey inside and nearly forgot what I had wanted to say.

"I... I want to... to... oh, I don't really want you to stop that, but I can't concentrate on what I want to say."

She drew away slightly, an entirely wicked grin on her face. "Prithee, share thy thoughts with me, my dearest Twilight."

Oh, there was no doubt; infatuation or love, I had it bad. Just that crooked little smile made me gasp and shiver. I swallowed and tried to sound like something other than a nervous little filly. "I want to... to make you happy, Luna. But I... no, please let me get this out! It's so hard to come right out and say it, but I think it's important. You see, I'm... I'm woefully inexperienced in the entire area of physical romance. Completely inexperienced, in fact. I don't think I'm ready for that yet, but when I am, you'll… You'll have to... to... teach me what to do. I may be clumsy and not do the right things at first, but I'll try really hard, and all you have to do is tell me what you want and I'll do my best to—"

She cut off my babbling in the loveliest way possible. Several moments later, when she broke off the kiss, she smiled again, but it was definitely wistful rather than mischievous. "When you are ready, we shall learn together, Twilight."

My happiness-sodden brain took an inexcusably long time to puzzle out what she had implied. "Wait," I frowned, "do you mean... That's impossible! There must have been uncounted stallions... or mares that were eager to—"

Yes, it came out all wrong, but Luna laughed it off. "I am not such a slave to carnal desire as that, Twilight!"

"Sorry! Sorry! But you know what I mean. You're so beautiful, and you could have your choice of anypony you wanted! Didn't you ever...?"

"Oh, aye! A thousand times, yet never once." Her mischievous grin was back. "Look not askance, dear Twilight! Before my exile, ponies thought of me as the Dark Presence, the Slayer in the Night, and She Who Walks in the Shadows of Sleep: I was feared by all but my sister. What pony born of mare would seek my embrace? Yet in their sleep, desire prowls the minds of ponies like wolves in a dark forest, where fear may turn the heart to undiscovered ways... paths whereon a pony might seek the darkness she would flee in life... all roads which I have walked in darkest dreams. For all that I have never felt the touch of love beneath the sun and starless sky, I know desire's aspect and scent right well. I have touched pleasure wherever I fancied, and yet am pure as moonlight newly made."

I stared at her for a long, long time. "But... but... you came back. And ponies know you now. They aren't afraid... or not most of them, anyway. Are you really—"

She stood up and the night air felt cold against my side where we had been touching.

"No! Wait! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to—"

She stopped me with a raised hoof. "'Tis well, Twilight. The fault, if such it is, lies with me." She paced to the balcony's edge and looked out over the dark forest beyond Ponyville. "I am a pony of a different age. Though I strive to match my gait to the modern world, I carry in my heart the old ways. I speak not of prudery, but of pride, for I am a princess, divine. The stamp of my hoof brings thunder from a clear sky and the moon dances at my command. 'Tis an emotion I struggle to suppress, and my sister ever reminds me that it is a flaw, but the truth, though it may speak ill of my character, is that I have considered nopony worthy of my regard beyond a dalliance in the Dreamlands." She turned to look at me then, and there was sadness and hope in her eyes. "Nopony but thee, Twilight."

There was this tiny part of my brain that was rebelling at the surge of feelings her words kindled in me, and not just because the Nightmare had flung such an accusation earlier. As a princess, I had a duty to serve and guide my subjects. I may be more gifted and powerful than most, but I am not better than they. Hubris was a deadly flaw in a monarch and—and—I suddenly realized that I cared less about all that than I cared for Luna. I ruthlessly trampled my doubts and reveled in my own pride and joy. She loved me! That was all that mattered. The Goddess of the Moon found me worthy of her love and nothing could make me happier.

I grabbed her with my magic and dragged her over to me in a manner completely inappropriate for the treatment of a Divine Highness. We tumbled down together, laughing and touching and kissing.

We became so involved with each other that we lost track of the time and the moon was a teensy bit late in setting. Once again, I twined my magic with Luna's and she guided my touch on the celestial mechanism, revealing to me more secrets of the intricate apparatus of the heavens.

The blazing sun rose almost instantly after moonset and the day quickly grew uncomfortably hot.

"Looks like I'll be in the market for a sun hat," I groaned.

Luna gave me a look.

"I don't care," I told her. "Okay... maybe I do care... a little. So maybe there was a bit of deception involved. Celestia will just have to accept it." I made a mental note to order a couple of slinky dresses from Rarity and practice that thing that Jigsaw did with her hips in front of a mirror until I got good at it.

"Deception," Luna sighed. "I strove to deceive myself and denied my heart as long as I could. I spoke to thee of love but only to push thee toward another... to put thee beyond my reach and end the matter. But that evening a year gone, when you spoke in jest before my chamber... when you spoke of your friend Jigsaw... it was like a knife in my belly, Twilight! I knew then that I did not want to lose thee to another. And that is when I began my campaign to deceive thee."

"I guess I really can't blame you... and I'm certainly not complaining about how it all worked out... but why didn't you just say something? I would have... well... I guess I don't know how I would have reacted back then, but I...."

"That is the crux of the matter, Twilight. I have never courted anypony before and I did not know, either. And what I did not know, I feared. And so I deceived thee. I meddled in thy affairs so that thou wouldst be prevented from giving thy affection to another. I used every excuse to aid thee and give thee counsel and simply be with thee. And when the message came to Canterlot with news of battle looming, I could think of nothing else but fighting by thy side. I begged my sister to stay her hoof and let me alone accompany thee."

Luna paused and squeezed her eyes shut, the muscles along her jaw tightening. After a moment, she drew in a shuddering breath and looked at me again. "And I see now how wrong I was in many things I did, but most particularly that last, selfish act, and I beg thee to forgive me. I put all at risk for a selfish desire to be thy comrade-in-arms. I know well how battle may create a bond between ponies and I did not consider the matter further. Those ponies... thy friend... all hurt for the sake of my whim and disregard! Of course my sister is furious! She is right to be so. Last evening, she beseeched me, in the name of Harmony, to abjure my foolish intent. She said that our moment together in thy cabin was nothing but a need for comfort after a disaster that I had caused. She told me that I was lucky to have escaped hurting thee more deeply than could be mended. She drew from me a promise to leave thee to thine own way in life and meddle no more!"

"You... you came here last night to... break up with me? I mean, even before we had gotten together?"

Luna gave me a tortured look. "If not for Pinkie Pie, I would have flung my farewells at thee and fled." She shook her head and dropped her gaze to her hooves. "And now I am forsworn. Though I cannot regret it, 'tis a wound to my honor and pride."

"No it isn't!" I sat bolt upright, surprising myself with the force of my reaction. "My 'own way' in life is to share it with you! Whatever you did or said in the past to influence or manipulate me, you aren't doing it any longer, so you have kept your promise to Celestia. And the battle was... yeah, it came close to being a horrible disaster, but I was the one who organized the whole thing, so it's my fault! Would it have gone better if the mighty Celestia Sol Invictus was there to hold my hoof? Yeah, no doubt... but I am not a foal any more! I have to manage my own affairs without constantly being propped up by Celestia!"

Luna's eyes had gone wide and she started to say something, but I steamrollered right over her. "And I have some news that might surprise you and her! If it was Celestia who had offered to come along instead of you, I would have turned her down! I would have gone blithely into battle with a false sense of confidence in my own plans and power and a lot of us would have ended up dead!"

I leaned over Luna and poked her hard in the chest with an outstretched hoof. "So, my ponies are all alive because you came along! Equestria isn't swarming with nightmarish creatures because of you! I think I only took you along because I had a crush on you, even though I hadn't consciously realized it, and you made the difference between ruin and victory!"

"Sweet velvet night," Luna said softly. "Thou art magnificent when thou art angry."

"What?" My train of thought derailed and tumbled off the trestle into a deep chasm of shock and embarrassment. "I... really? I thought... I..."

Luna pulled me down into a hug and mantled her wings around us. In the cool darkness she whispered, "Thou hast given me a full heart and forgiven me for my thoughtless pride, beloved Twilight. Were I a poet, I could not find the words to thank thee, far less the ones to praise thy spirit and thy courage. For that and more, my kisses must suffice."

Wow. That certainly sounded like poetry to me. I was pretty much overwhelmed by—everything, so I turned my brain off and just enjoyed the moment for what it was. Pinkie Pie would have been proud of me.

After a while, we disentangled ourselves and got out of bed. I called for a hoofmaiden and sent her to ask the girls and Spike if they would like to have breakfast with us. Then Luna and I settled down together at a low table. I couldn't keep from yawning hugely. I supposed I would have to get used to being up late into the night, but right then, I was running very low on energy.

Spike arrived quickly, took one look at Luna, me, and the rumpled bed, then blushed deeply and began shuffling his feet while attempting to simultaneously look and not look at us. There were things that all of us would have to get used to.

"Uh... Periwinkle asked me to tell you there was a note on Jigsaw's door that said she'd skin anypony who woke her before noon." Spike told me, addressing the wall about two feet to my left.

"I'm not surprised," I chuckled. "Would you get some stationary, please? I need to send a letter to Celestia."

"Okay." He went to my little desk and brought out paper, ink, and quill.

"My Dearest Celestia," I dictated. "Please do not be angry with Luna or me. She has told me everything and I have done the same for her. There is no need to be concerned, because the more time I spend with Luna, the more certain I am that a relationship with her could make me very happy. I know that this will change a great many things and important decisions will need to be made. I cannot believe that anything bad can come of such wonderful feelings, but I don't quite know how we should proceed, and I would welcome and greatly value your council. Your Loving Friend, Twilight Sparkle."


"What is it, Spike?"

"That's kinda mushy, isn't it? I mean, it is Princess Celestia you're writing to."

I chuckled. "Yes, well, I'm feeling very 'mushy' this morning, my number one assistant! In fact, I think you need a very mushy hug." I levitated him over the table and into my forelegs, nuzzling his stiff little crest of spines. He grumbled and protested, but not very forcefully.

I relented and set him down. "Send it, Spike! Before I ask you to draw little hearts all over it!"

"Jeeze," he mumbled. "Being in love sure makes you act funny." He burned the scroll and the smoke whirled out the window, on its way to Canterlot.

I started a bit at the L-word. I hadn't gotten to the point where I was certain that love was what I was feeling. But when Spike said it, it was like a jolt of electricity that made me tingle all over.

The sound of hooffalls and cheerful voices in the corridor heralded the arrival of Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. The others' voices lowered in volume as they approached my door, but Pinkie's was still loud and clear. "Luna totally booted me out of the bedroom, guys! It was so cute!"

"I am not cute," Luna grumbled under her breath. "I am beautiful and fearsome."

I briefly nuzzled the corner of her jaw and turned to face the door. I was incredibly nervous all of a sudden.

"Uhmn... hi girls," I said as they appeared in the doorway. "So I guess you've heard the news?"

Pinkie Pie was grinning her head off. Applejack was, well, she was looking stunned is the best word I could use to describe her expression. Rarity had sort of a wistful smile on her face as she came forward to hug me. "Darling, I think they've heard the news in Zebrica by now. I am so happy for you both!"

"So..." Applejack said slowly. "What happens now?"

I smiled at her and yawned again. "Breakfast is on its way. I'd like to... well, get some advice from you girls. Then, maybe a couple hours sleep before my meeting at one. And then..." I looked over at my beautiful Luna, gazing back at me. "I have no idea. I just know it will be wonderful!"

As a prophecy, it was completely accurate… just woefully incomplete.

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