• Published 13th Feb 2012
  • 6,509 Views, 103 Comments

Our Lot, Our Life - KiroTalon

Twilight visits Celestia and Luna to learn why she seems to have stopped aging.

  • ...

Elements and Alicorns

“Ooh,” Twilight involuntarily murmured, a chill running up her spine. “So the Elements of Harmony are actually artifacts created by Cosmos himself?”

“Indeed they are. Now, understand that these Elements are extremely powerful, but are also very difficult to wield. Only those who embody the spirit of one of the Elements can wear or even touch the relics without harm.”

“But Spike wore one of the elements when we faced Discord for the first time. How did he not get...harmed?”

Celestia smiled warmly, a twinkle flashing in her eyes. “Can you think of anyone more loyal than your...what is it you call him? Number One Assistant?”

Twilight thought about this and giggled softly. “No, I suppose not.”

“There can be more than one soul with the fortitude of spirit to bear an Element at a time. Had he attempted to wear...or had foisted upon him,” the Princess added with a knowing smirk, “any other Element, he would have found it physically unbearable.”

“I see.”

“Now, in all of history, the elements have only been used successfully four times. Twice in your lifetime, to defeat Discord and Nightmare Moon, and twice more in my lifetime, also to defeat Discord and Nightmare Moon.”

“So does that mean you and Luna represent Elements of Harmony, too?”

Both alicorns nodded. Celestia said, “I, like you, once embodied the spirit of Magic.”

“And I,” Luna said, “the element of loyalty.”

“Loyalty?” Twilight exclaimed, stunned. “How could you have represented the element of loyalty? You tried to overthrow your sister!”

Luna looked at her hooves, regret etched across her face. “I know. Discord was a powerful enemy, and though there were no physical casualties, some wounds were deeper, more difficult to withstand, and impossible to see.” The princess glanced sideways at Twilight. “Surely you understand what it’s like to be affected by a Draconequus’ power.”

Twilight opened her mouth, then closed it as Luna’s words sank in. Yes, she did understand. She had been discorded for only a few minutes, and the memories still haunted her. The overwhelming despair, the awful disconnection from her friends, the sense of hopelessness. If Luna had been the element of loyalty, and had somehow been discorded without anypony’s knowledge...

“Yes, Twilight,” Celestia interrupted her train of thought, reading her mind in the expression on her face. “Before we began the coup against the Discordian tyranny, Luna was without equal in her loyalty. She was my dearest friend and closest ally. It was she who took the first step in the revolution, risking everything to spread the word and collect additional members to our cause. When the final confrontation came to pass, she personally ensured that she was the target of all Discord’s wrath, and as such, she was the only element to be affected beyond recovery by his power.”

“So Nightmare Moon was...”

“An inevitable result,” Celestia said, a shadow of sadness crossing her face. “She hid it well at first. So well that when we were working with the unicorn disenchanters to undo the damage the Draconequi had done, she managed to convince everypony that she had been unaffected at all. She was even able to resist the effects for several centuries, but over time, everypony succumbs to that terrible magic. Had we known earlier, we might have been able to reverse the spell, to save her, but her stubbornness and pride prevented her from seeking help until there was nothing we could do but stand helplessly by as she morphed into Nightmare Moon before our eyes. It was fortunate,” Celestia said in a solemn tone, “that a new bearer had stepped in to replace her when her affliction had rendered her unable to effectively wield the Element of Loyalty any longer.”

“How exactly does that work? You mentioned there could be more than one capable bearer at a time, but you didn’t really explain it.” Twilight asked. “How could the spirit of Loyalty just...leap from one pony to another?”

“It is less well-defined than that, Twilight. Being the embodiment of one of the Elements is neither permanent nor predestined. It is the fruit of a personal quest, one that results in the decision to pursue that element as completely and dutifully as possible. For example, consider Applejack. When she was a filly, she was likely to have lied and fibbed as much as any other filly her age would. That is simply part of being young and selfish, as we all were. However, as she grew into a young mare, she began to cherish honesty, and soon made it a personal quest to always be honest, as much as she could. As you well know, she was not always completely truthful; she lied from time to time, usually for the benefit of others, but when the truth was necessary, she would always return to that. It was the same for Rainbow Dash, for Rarity, and for all of your friends. The ability to wield the Elements requires only that dedication, and anyone with sufficient dedication could, presumably, wield them safely and effectively.”

“As a result,” the princess continued, “there could be several ponies at one time who could possess an Element. It is one of these ponies who took over for Luna when she was no longer fit to wear her element.”

“Okay, so that’s how you...banished Nightmare Moon?” Twilight said, cringing at the bluntness of the phrase.

“Yes,” Celestia said, “but there is a more important event that you must learn of that occurred before that. You see, with the fall of the Draconequine Empire, the world of Equestria was left in ruinous chaos. The damage done would never repair itself, and even our most powerful unicorns--”

“Us,” Luna said, grinning broadly.

Celestia sighed, but smiled. “Yes, even Luna and I were not able to reverse the effects of centuries of Discord. We needed greater power, and there was only one source of power we knew of that was greater than ourselves.”

“The Deicorns,” Twilight said, enthralled. She had read countless histories and mythologies, but had never heard the merest whisper of anything the princess was recounting. A small, academic part of her was skeptical of the tale, wondering how so much of history could have passed unrecorded by the ancients, but she resolved to wait until the princess had finished speaking before--politely--seeking proof.

“Precisely,” Celestia nodded. “Naturally, we were dubious of contacting Asha, as she had never shown any interest in the affairs of ponies, but Cosmos had proven sympathetic to us, and so Luna and I--the de facto co-rulers of the new Equestria--began a quest to find him. The next two years were...adventurous, to say the least, and most certainly a story for another time, but in the end, we finally made our way to the summit of Mount Sleipnir. We waited in the bitter cold and wind for three full days, watching the chaos of the world sweeping by unabated, the sun and moon rising and setting at random, the weather raging out of control, and the wild predators that now reside in the Everfree Forest roaming freely across Ponyville. Then, as the third day came to a close, the sun and moon both set at the same time, plunging the mountaintop into a deep, impenetrable darkness neither of us could see through. Our magic failed us, and we clung to one another in fear for our lives as a raging wind encircled us, deafening and threatening to push us off the peak. Then, in an instant, everything was still and silent, and in front of us, bathed in a warm, perfectly white light, was the Deicorn Cosmos.”

“You’ve seen him in person?” Twilight asked, stunned.

Luna nodded. “Indeed.”

“What’s he like? What does he look like? Wow...a Deicorn...I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.”

“Magnificent.” Luna smiled. “He is amazing in all possible ways. His armor flickers and roils like the fiercest of the stars. His coat is the night sky; you can see the stars twinkling in it. His hooves are blacker than night, so dark they make everything around them seem to glow. His wings don’t flap; they simply flow through the air, but you can feel the wind rushing off of them when he’s standing in front of you. His mane and tail flicker like a raging fire, but only put off the gentlest of warmth. His eyes don’t look directly at yours, but you can feel his gaze piercing through you just the same. When he speaks, you feel his voice more than you hear it. It was incredible...and unsettling. Not because he seemed like he was angry or hostile, but just because when you meet somepony that powerful, well...”

Twilight smiled, remembering the first time she’d seen Celestia up close at the Summer Sun Celebration. “Yeah, I guess anypony can be intimidated, even an alicorn.”

“Oh, we weren’t alicorns,” Celestia said, shaking her head. “Not yet, anyway. At the time we met Cosmos, we were still just unicorns, like you. Powerful to be sure, as any unicorn who wielded the Elements would be, but unicorns all the same.” She held up a hoof to stay Twilight from asking the obvious question and continued. “When Cosmos appeared to us, we explained our plight to him and begged for his assistance, but of course he knew everything we told him about, and had already divined a solution for us.”

“You see,” Luna picked up the story, “he still didn’t want to directly interfere. He was of the opinion that if the ponies couldn’t overcome our problems on our own, we were no longer worthy of his gifts, and he was willing to allow us to fade back to what we had originally been. Still, he knew that some of our problems were beyond our current ability to control, so he imbued us with one more gift to help put things right again. He made us into Alicorns.”

“He made you into alicorns? How?”

Luna shrugged. “Power that substantial is hard to really comprehend, even for us. As best either of us can remember, he touched his horn to ours, and we...changed. It’s hard to really describe. It’s something you can feel, deep in your soul. The magic penetrates every inch of your body, and the sensation is so intense that you might call it pain if you had to call it anything, but it isn’t painful. It isn’t anything you can really explain to somepony else. One instant, you can see, hear, and feel everything in the universe. The next moment, you wake up and stretch your wings for the first time.” She chuckled softly. “As you can imagine, that was an interesting experience.”

“Did he convert you both at the same time?”

Celestia shook her head. “No, he changed me first, as I was the elder, and in my own mind, more capable of adjusting to whatever changes he wrought. It took only an instant. His horn caressed mine, there was a flash of light, and when the light faded, I was lying on the snow, completely transformed. I remember the same sequence occurring when he changed Luna, although there was no flash of light. Instead, she was shrouded in an impenetrable darkness that slowly wafted away when the transformation was complete.”

“So that’s how you fixed the damage Discord had done?”

“Eventually. At first, we weren’t sure how it was supposed to help,” Luna said. “We didn’t understand what he had done. As far as we could tell, he’d just combined the abilities of the three types of ponies and given them to us. It took some time to realize just what that meant. It wasn’t just all the powers of the three pony types, it was true, seamless synergy. You see, earth ponies are very strong and have great endurance, but they are typically slower than Pegasi, and while they do possess some passive magic, they can’t directly control it. Pegasi are very fast and can, of course, fly, but that is the extent of their magical power. It’s less passive than the earth ponies’, but no less specific. Unicorns are fragile and slow, but their magical power is both active and immense. But when you unite these three forces, you have an intensely strong unicorn who can fly without magic, who doesn’t tire, and who has the combined magic of three ponies. It takes some time for that magic to fully awaken, but when you finally unlock your true potential, you can do extraordinary things, including, as you might have guessed, something as impossible as controlling the sun and the moon.”

Celestia took over again. “We spent the first several weeks simply getting used to our new powers, flying wildly around the mountaintop for hours on end, rearranging whole cliff faces with pure magical power, and generally enjoying ourselves as any young pony granted new and incredible abilities would. Then, when the pleasure of wanton amusement wore off, we finally came together to discuss a plan of action. It was at this moment that we both realized our cutie marks had been removed.”

“Wait,” Twilight interrupted for the first time in a while. “Your cutie mark hasn’t always been the sun?”

Celestia shook her head. “No, and Luna’s was not originally the crescent moon it now is. Originally I had a field of six-pointed stars. Each one looked very much like yours, in fact.”


Celestia nodded. “Of course. My special talent--like yours--was magic, and the six-pointed star represents that. Luna’s cutie mark, on the other hoof, was a shield. As a genuinely loyal and dedicated member of the resistance, her special talent was unusually broad.” Celestia smiled warmly at her sister. “She was a defender. The quintessential representation of those sworn to protect. Everypony was her dearest friend, every attack on them was a personal affront to her, and when it came to blows, her defensive magic was unmatched and unassailable. Without her efforts, we would have been devastated in the final confrontation against Discord.”

Twilight breathed a barely audible sigh of wonder as she tried to imagine Luna in combat. Then, she stopped breathing altogether as she realized that Celestia’s special talent had been magic, just like hers! She had always assumed, with good reason, that Celestia’s special talent was raising the sun, and that Luna’s had been raising the moon. In her wildest of fantasies, she could never have conceived that either pony could have had any other talent, let alone that her beloved teacher and mentor could have shared hers exactly. Slowly, small pieces of the past several years began to slide into place. Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns was the only school directly endorsed by the princess, and she made a point of visiting it regularly to make certain it was up to par. The princess had also made a special point of tutoring her personally, and in light of the fact that she must have seen Twilight’s cutie mark, and realized it was so similar to her own original cutie mark, it made perfect sense. The sheer amount of nostalgia the princess must have felt upon seeing another unicorn so like her younger, forgotten self must have been at once exhilarating and sobering. Twilight contemplated asking her about this directly, but ultimately decided that this was not the time. There was still a great deal of the story missing, and she noted with some consternation that none of this seemed to have anything to do with her or her apparent immortality. Celestia had paused upon finishing her explanation, and Twilight realized that both princesses were staring intently at her.

“You seem to be deep in thought, Twilight,” Celestia said, curious. “May I ask what about?”

Twilight shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “It’s just hard to imagine either of you without your cutie marks, or at least, without those cutie marks. I guess I just assumed you’d always been alicorns. Wait, does that mean you were mortal once, too?”

Celestia nodded. “A very, very long time ago, yes.”

“So does being an alicorn make you immortal, or was that a separate effect that Cosmos also granted you?”

“Neither,” Luna said. “As it happens, simply being touched by a Deicorn at all will grant immortality. This is something that we did not learn of until much later, though. Initially, we assumed we still had only one life to use our powers, so we immediately began the monumental effort of cleaning up the mess the Draconequi had created.”