Chapter III ~ Thinking Too Much
Twilight wasn’t sure how to feel about Canterlot.
Not that she had any idea why. By all accounts, Canterlot should’ve felt more natural to her than her own two wings. She had lived with Celestia for a wide margin of her short life, she’d devoted unending hours of her fillyhood to studying Canterlot geography and culture, and she’d come to accrue an intimate, unparalleled knowledge of the bowels of Celestia’s castle, of which even the castle guards sometimes found themselves secretly jealous.
That’s not to say that visiting Canterlot didn’t feel nostalgic, certainly, it did, it just… didn’t feel like home, anymore. Ponyville long-since filled that niche in her life. In fact, if she were honest with herself, she’d started to draw weary of visiting Canterlot ever since moving to Ponyville. Whether it be a hostile Changeling takeover, ancient power-sapping centaurs, or Discord being, well, Discord, something always seemed to go both horrifically and formulaically wrong whenever she visited.
“Then again,”, she thought, “things tend to go horribly awry even when I don’t leave Ponyville, so that might be kind of a moot point.”
Twilight couldn’t help but begin to reflect upon how quickly Ponyville had grown on her. Of course, she routinely found herself stunned by Canterlot’s chic, elegance, and panache, but Ponyville had such a quaint, picturesque atmosphere that she found invariably enticing. It certainly wasn’t just her own appreciation for rustic lifestyle, as even devout city ponies like Rarity found themselves drawn to its scenic charm. It had this way of making you feel at home, no matter how far from home away you may’ve been.
She looked at the clock. She still had a while to go before she reached her destination. She was anxious to finally arrive in Canterlot, despite the fact that she had no idea what she would do once she got there.
“Hopefully, sleep.” She thought, biting back a bitter chuckle, and glaring metaphorical daggers upward as she wasted the alluring serenity of the night sky.
In truth, she thought, sleeping would probably be the farthest thing from her mind upon arriving, but she knew that Celestia would certainly be courteous enough to extend the offer anyway. In general, this whole situation left her with an unnerving loss for approaches. She wasn’t used to dealing with the business of immortals. Sure, Princess Celestia had enlisted her and her friends’ help many times before in dealing with just such beings, but Twilight found that doing something for someone is a lot easier than doing something for someone.
“Ugh, even in my own head, I’m not making sense.” She muttered, vocally punctuating her irritation with a thick, weighted sigh.
She was thinking too much. She needed to stop obsessing over whatever was upsetting Luna, or she knew that her entire visit would soon begin to hinge upon it. Maybe, in her downtime, she could catch up on a few books she wanted to re-read. She’d finally gotten around to starting Mane Austen’s definitive classic, Pride and Prejudice, a while ago, but had put it down at around half-way because of its unflattering, if uncomfortably realistic, portrayal of mares at the time. Still, she knew that she should at least finish the book before drawing conclusions. Or, maybe she could turn this into a case study! After how many times she and her friends had saved the world's collective flank, she was positive that Luna wouldn't mind humoring Twilight’s harmless whim.
Try as she might, her thoughts once again drifted to the Princess of the Night, and what could be ailing her. Frankly, Twilight had no idea what to expect. She had always known Luna as a powerful, strong-willed pony, even before coming face-to-face with Nightmare Moon. If something really had been wrong with Luna, then Twilight hadn't noticed. If anything, she thought that Luna was doing better than ever. The Tantabus had been vanquished, she was regularly appearing at royal events again, and, as far as Twilight knew, Luna’s “Royal Canterlot Voice" had been laid to rest, alongside its archaic lexicon. Frankly, even if something was upsetting Princess Luna, Twilight didn't think she would even know what to do. How do you go about comforting an immortal? Are their emotions as easily quelled as a normal pony's? She'd witnessed Princess Celestia's melancholy apropos of her sister's banishment, but that was just about it. She was nearly as jubilant as the very sun she commanded. Was that true of Luna, though? Twilight didn't feel like she knew Luna well enough to say, and, if she was honest, that bothered her a little.
Not that she felt entitled to know of each facet and nuance of Princess Luna’s life, or anything creepy like that. Maybe she had just been spoiled by the years of mutual, unwavering, unreserved trust that she and Celestia had. Celestia had always been unrepentantly motherly to her and, loathe as Twilight was to admit it, Twilight drew no scarcity of pride from that fact. It wasn’t a truth that she was proud of, and no-one, not even Spike, knew it, but it had served as an invaluable pick-me-up for a long time, and it was one that she didn’t think she could afford to discard yet. Then again, why should she? There was nothing inherently censurable about it as long as she didn’t flaunt it, was there?
Once more, she rebuked herself for thinking too much.
Luna wasn’t sure what to think.
She felt no ire against the Princess of Friendship, nor the… eccentric company she kept. Far from it, she felt forever indebted to Twilight Sparkle, and her fellow former bearers of the Elements of Harmony. Had they not banded together when they did, Luna knew not what would have become of both herself and her sister, and she didn’t want to think about it. That wasn’t even going into detail about personal favors, such as the Nightmare Night fiasco and the Tantabus incident. No, Luna could never bring herself to revile the Princess of Friendship. It wasn’t her fault that she was being summoned here, she was just being a faithful pupil.
If anypony, Luna knew that Celestia was the one to blame.
But what blame was her sister culpable of? Luna chided herself. Being a doting older sister? Caring for the mental welfare of her only family? Celestia, however obtuse her methods, her intentions had always shone with crystalline purity, how then could Luna feasibly reproach her?
The answer was, she wouldn’t.
No, she would brood for a brief while, and find a way to get over it, just as she always did when they quarreled. It just wasn’t worth it, not when Luna knew how justified Celestia’s trepidation was. Were Luna to ever slip into old habits, where would the Elements of Harmony be to stop her? Not that her sister would ever admit to harboring such fears, but Luna could tell. It wasn’t unreasonable, and, if Luna were being honest, she could admit to holding similar fears as well. It was only a natural disquiet. It would be imprudence of immeasurable caliber to not consider both herself and her past discourses worthy of perusal.
“Enough of my maudlin,” She thought. “I can indulge in fruitless lugubriosity later. Forthwith, I must be prepared to indulge our guest. Tis my fault the poor mare is dragged out to this cesspool of sanctimony, so shall I accommodate her. Yea verily, I cannot succumb to reclusion at this time.”
With newfound resolve, or, as much as she could manage to feign, she began wearily attending to the other matters at hand.