• Published 13th Feb 2012
  • 6,460 Views, 103 Comments

Our Lot, Our Life - KiroTalon



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

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Revelation

Twilight felt a tightness in the back of her throat at Celestia’s admission. “Princess...”

“Celestia, please,” the alicorn corrected her.

“Celestia,” Twilight started again, “I...I don’t know what to say. Of course I remember that day. That was the day I fell in love with magic. I watched you raise the sun, and I was transfixed. My parents never did anything that...incredible with their magic. I’m sure they were both very powerful in their own right, but to see you effortlessly drawing the sun itself above the horizon was amazing to me. I knew I could never be that powerful, but I sure wanted to try.”

Celestia chuckled softly. “Don’t sell yourself short, Twilight. You may be surprised what you may someday be able to accomplish.”

Twilight smiled. “Well, under your instruction, I’ve already come further than I ever imagined I could.”

“Twilight, you would have come this far with or without my help. You are an exceptional mage, and have been for as long as I’ve known you,” Celestia said. “Do you know what the entrance exam for the academy usually is?”

Twilight was puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“You didn’t think all the school’s students have to hatch a dragon, do you?” Celestia laughed. “Twilight, dragon eggs are rarer than phoenix eggs, and the phoenixes in Equestria only mate once a millennium.”

“Well,” Twilight said, blushing slightly, “I knew that, but I just figured the exam was random, and hatching a dragon was just my exam.”

“You’re half right,” Celestia said. “In fact, the exam is normally very straightforward. I know even the most gifted young unicorns have limited magical power, so the exam is usually just having them write their name on the chalkboard with their telekinesis. It’s supposed to test their endurance, control, and precision, not necessarily their power.”

“But you had been guaranteed admission for years, Twilight. I had contacted your parents shortly after the Summer Sun Celebration, inviting them to enroll you in the academy with my blessing. They were understandably surprised, but more than happy to accept. I watched you develop from a distance, and even I was stunned with your progress. I couldn’t wait for you to reach the enrollment age so I could start teaching you directly and watch you grow and prosper in front of my eyes. By the time you actually came to the academy to take the exam, you had already vastly exceeded even our most talented second year students, and I was eager to see just how much power you truly possessed. Dragon eggs require an extremely strong surge of magic to hatch. Normally the mother will provide this when the time is right, but Spike’s egg was an orphan. I had initially planned to hatch it myself, but when you arrived, I was suddenly curious to see just how much power you could muster when it truly mattered.”

“So I told the ponies who proctored your exam to act as though they were unimpressed by any amount of magic you could produce unless you managed to hatch the egg. They were somewhat concerned by this, because they know as well as I do that hatching a dragon egg is a feat nigh impossible for any unicorn, let alone a filly who didn’t even have her cutie mark yet, but I assured them that you would be admitted regardless of your performance. I just wanted to see what you could do.”

Twilight’s mouth opened slightly in surprise. “Wait, so...so I didn’t have to hatch the egg at all? I still would’ve been allowed to attend the academy?”

Celestia nodded. “Oh, absolutely. Your name had been on our roster for years. Twilight, you were a phenom. You still are.” The purple unicorn blushed and smiled sheepishly. “We knew you were more than talented enough to excel at the school, we just weren’t sure how much. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t really expect you to be able to hatch Spike’s egg.”

“I almost didn’t,” Twilight said, the incident still vividly etched into her memory. “I thought I had blown my chance at getting in altogether.”

Celestia looked away. “I’m sorry for that, Twilight. I didn’t really consider how upsetting that might be to you if you thought you were going to be turned away, but--”

“Oh, princess, please don’t worry!” Twilight interrupted her. “Sure, I was upset at first, but when you came in and told me you wanted me to be your personal student, I forgot all about it.”

The alicorn smiled. “Well, I hadn’t initially intended to come in to your exam at all, but when it became obvious that your magic was, shall we say, getting away from you?” Twilight blushed. “Well, I had to come in to make certain you didn’t hurt yourself or anypony else. As soon as I saw you had not only successfully hatched Spike’s egg, but had managed unintentionally to cast numerous extremely high-caliber spells that you couldn’t possibly have had any previous practice with, I knew you were exactly the unicorn I had been searching for the past nine centuries. That feeling only intensified over the years as you grew and learned under my tutelage, frequently surprising me with your remarkable skill and mastery of even the most complex magical theory. Eventually, it came time to decide whether you would be able to withstand Nightmare Moon’s wrath when she returned.” Celestia paused for a moment as if trying to decide how best to continue. “Twilight,” she finally said, “do you remember one night, perhaps two years before you left for Ponyville, when I invited you to join me in the Arcane Solar for some particularly high-level study?”

“Of course,” Twilight smiled, her eyes sparkling at the memory. “How could I ever forget?” The Arcane Solar was the most magically tuned area of the castle. All of Canterlot was interwoven with small amounts of magic--some spells were just to keep it from sliding down the mountain face, others were defensive spells meant to ward off dragons or other invading forces--but the castle itself was a humming nucleus of arcane power, and the crux of all the magic in castle was the Arcane Solar. It was so powerful, in fact, that no one but the princesses were allowed to enter it without express permission and an escort. At the time, being invited inside had been Twilight’s dearest and most private dream. “It’s still the only time I’ve ever been there.”

Celestia and Luna shared a brief knowing glance, but said nothing about it as Celestia continued. “Well, the Arcane Solar is more than we have always let on. It is most certainly the heart of all magic here in Equestria, but that is only because it is also a conduit to a far greater power. That power is the reason I took you there that night, and the reason I suggested that perhaps we could spend the night in the tower.”

“Wait...you don’t mean...?” Twilight’s breath suddenly caught in her throat as she dared to imagine what the princess was suggesting.

The alicorn nodded shallowly, confirming what she knew Twilight had already realized. “Yes, Twilight. The Arcane Solar is Cosmos’ link to this world.”

Twilight’s jaw fell open in shock. “Then I...we were...”

“After you fell asleep, he visited us, just for a moment or two. He confirmed my hope that you would be able to oppose Nightmare Moon, but also my fear that you were too young, too fragile, and not nearly powerful enough to withstand her wrath. He knew that if she even contemplated a lethal spell, you would have no defense against it, no matter how strong your magic or your connection to the elements.” Twilight started to speak, but Celestia quickly cut her off, eager to finish the explanation before letting the unicorn interrupt. “I promise I begged him for some alternative, not wishing to change you or your life in any way, especially without your consent and understanding, but he would not be moved. He assured me that if I let you face Nightmare Moon as you were, you would be killed. She would likely be defeated, if only through magical backlash from the elements and your attempts to wield them, but at the cost of the lives of all six element bearers. This was not a price I was willing to pay.”

“So instead, you just let him...CHANGE me?” Twilight said, her voice louder and more high-pitched than she wanted it to be. “Without asking?”

“There was not time to ask, Twilight,” Celestia said, her voice suddenly firm. “And he did not change you. He merely touched you. You didn’t need any more power than you already had, you simply needed to be protected from hers. Please try to understand, Twilight, if there had been any alternative, I would have pursued it. To the ends of the earth, I would have followed any lead I thought may have allowed me to preserve both your life and leave you unaltered, but there wasn’t one. I had exhausted all options hundreds of years before you were born.”

“There was an alternative!” Twilight said, her voice strengthening into an accusing yell. “You could have let me die with my friends!”

“Twilight--”

“You knew how hard it is to live forever! You knew how hard it is to watch everyone you love and care about dying around you, unable to follow them even if you try!”

“Twilight, you didn’t--”

“Of course I did!” she cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I tried a dozen times, a dozen different ways! I didn’t want to live forever, to agonize for the rest of eternity over relationships that had ended a hundred or a thousand years ago, to miss my friends for centuries! After Applejack died, I...I couldn’t stand it any more. I couldn’t imagine living without Trixie, and I...I tried jumping off the edge of Ghastly Gorge.” The tears were flowing fast now, blurring her vision and thickening her voice. “I wanted it to look like an accident, like I had just stepped too close to the edge and fallen in, but...but it didn’t matter,” she finished, sniffing. “I woke up just a few hours later, not even hurt.”

Celestia looked at her hooves, her face lined with pain. “Yes, that’s...that’s what happens. We can’t be killed because our injuries are never permanent. They mend quickly, and we feel only the slightest pain, if any.”

“I’ve noticed,” Twilight spat, venom in each word. She regretted her tone almost immediately .“I mean...I’ve noticed,” she repeated, softening her voice as much as she could manage. “It’s...sometimes it’s nice, but...”

“No, I understand, Twilight. I know how you feel.”

“We both do,” Luna said. “Remember how I told you we didn’t realize that being touched by a Deicorn makes you immortal?” Twilight blinked. She had not remembered this. “Well, it took us a couple centuries to figure it out. Cosmos never did tell us directly, and it wasn’t until we realized that the only Draconequis we couldn’t actually kill--Discord--was supposed to have been hoof-crafted by Asha, who had then allowed him to craft additional Draconequi at will. We reasoned then that it must be a trait shared by anyone who had been touched by one of the Deicorns.” The blue alicorn’s eyes darkened slightly. “So I understand your anger and frustration, but please remember that we’ve both been there with you. We know what it’s like to watch our friends dying around us, never growing old, never suffering major injury...unable to kill ourselves even if we try...” she added, her voice suddenly much softer and her eyes drifting down to the cushion between them. “I assure you, we know exactly what you’re going through.”

Twilight felt her face growing hot. “I’m sorry...I didn’t think--”

“It’s alright, Twilight,” the blue alicorn interrupted her gently. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it. I just wanted to try and impress upon you that we’re not trying to excuse or dismiss anything you’re going through or have been through, because in every possible way, we’ve already been there, often many times before.”

“Of course,” Twilight said. A moment of silence stretched between the three ponies before Twilight managed to muster the courage to ask, “Does...does it get easier?”

A sad smile graced Celestia’s lips. “Yes...and no. Each loss hurts as much as the last, but you learn how to manage the pain, to feel it without letting it overwhelm you. You learn to focus on positive memories, and rejoice in the opportunity to make many more friends than anyone else will ever have. I have lost many friends, but I have also had the privilege of making many more, as well.” The smile broadened, and any vestiges of sadness dissipated. “And for that, I am extremely grateful.”

“So...it’s worth it?”

“Worth it?” Celestia repeated, tapping her chin with a thoughtful hoof. “I suppose that depends. If I had the option, would I have sacrificed immortality for a shorter life with my friends? Maybe. I have had many centuries now to live eternally, and I have since come to appreciate the many, many unique opportunities such a life provides. I would imagine that so dedicated a student as yourself would particularly enjoy the ability to spend all of eternity in diligent study, both in the archives and in person.”

Twilight blinked. She had not considered this. The prospect of centuries upon centuries to pore over all the many thousands of volumes locked away in the Grand Archives sent a thrill down her spine. Twilight had, once upon a time, lamented the fact that even if she lived to be a thousand, she would never read all the books she wanted to. Even at the pace she typically read, Twilight always found her list of ‘Books to Read’ grew substantially more quickly than she could chip away at it. Now, at least, she could be content in the knowledge that no matter how long that list became, she would never want for time to work at it. It was a surprisingly exhilarating realization, and provided a silver lining to what Twilight had, until now, considered a complete and utter disaster. “Yeah,” she said, smiling a little. “Yeah, I think I’d like that a lot, actually.”

Celestia beamed. “I thought you might. As it happens, I try to spend as much of my free time as I can reading through the Archives, and I have barely begun to scratch the surface. There is a wealth of material there, just waiting for somepony more...dedicated than I to enjoy.”

The purple unicorn chuckled lightly. “Well, I guess I should get started then, huh?”

“Eventually,” Celestia said, “but your story isn’t over yet, my little pony. You see, Cosmos made me promise something when I brought you to him the first time. He made me promise that I would bring you back to meet him again when you were ready.”

“Wait...bring me back...to meet him?” Twilight’s mouth fell open. “He made you promise?”

Celestia nodded. “Very much so. He made it quite clear that he wanted to speak to you in person someday when you were better able to comprehend what he had to say.”

“And what, exactly, does he want to talk to me about?”

Celestia shrugged. “I don’t know. He didn’t share any more than that desire with me. I have my suspicions, but I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up...or to concern you unnecessarily,” she added, with a hint of tension in her voice.

A tiny shock of fear arced down Twilight’s back at this. What could Celestia be thinking Cosmos might say that would concern her? Was it possible he might be disappointed in her, that he had granted her immortality expecting her gratitude, and would be displeased to her that she was less than thankful? Maybe his gift had been a temporary one, meant only to last as long as Twilight was needed to face the more dangerous threats to Equestrian safety, and now that these had all been defeated, he was going to rescind it and let her die? Twilight wasn’t altogether certain what to think about this possibility.

She didn’t have time to ponder it for long. “Twilight,” Celestia said, interrupting her mildly panicked contemplation, “I believe that time has come. I think you are ready to meet Cosmos for yourself. You deserve the opportunity to ask him any questions you have. I assure you that he will be more than willing to answer them completely, and honestly.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Wait, that time...you mean right now?”

The princess nodded. “Yes, Twilight. Would you like to accompany me to the Arcane Solar?”

“I...I guess so.”