• Published 19th Feb 2012
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Solar Flare - Dragryphon

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Solar Flare Part 1

SOLAR FLARE
A SURVIVOR’S EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE WAR OF THE NIGHT
Written by Dragryphon
Continued from the epilogue of Warmth for the Night

This text is a gift to my wonderful daughters. May it record your many happy memories, and even the sad ones, so that if you may ever read it, the happier ones will seem that much more so. I have imbued this tome with powerful magic. No ink will ever touch its pages. No quill will ever scratch against them. It will record, by itself, your histories. Your achievements. Your love for each other. May your years of service to our nation of Equestria be the best it has ever had. Your mother and I will not be long upon this earth. Just as our ancestors left for the higher plane, so shall we. In our place, we leave you our kingdom. Our livelihood. Our lives. May you bring long lasting prosperity to your home. Long live the Daughters of Equestria.

______________

A brief bit of knowledge about the race of alicorns. The earth can only support a minuscule amount at one time. They are gods within their own right, beings not from the mortal plane of existence. Their home plane is all but a mystery. Usually, there are upwards of only four or five, and always at the least two. One for the day, and one for the night. It has been this way for millenia. They are the rulers of all of ponykind, but for only a few thousand years do they rule before they Ascend, leaving behind a new duo to take their place. This history begins with the previous rulers’ Ascension, and the new rulers’ rise to power. Thus begin the histories of Celestia and Luna.

_______________

“Luna! Lunaaaa!” yelled Celestia as she burst into her little sister’s quarters. The pink-maned white-coated alicorn was panting heavily from sprinting. It was nearly time for the Ascension and Luna was probably hiding like a filly again!

Scanning Luna’s bedroom, nothing appeared to be out of place. It was decorated in dark colors: blues, violets, and blacks adorned every surface. The pegasus down bed lay made, the floor’s woven carpet was clear, and even the desk lay neatly organized. Luna’s selection of quills were arranged nicely in a row, and her parchment was stacked, ready to use. The ink pot was plugged with a cork to prevent it from drying out, and Luna’s prized abacus had been reset and was ready to use.

Celestia cocked her ears, thinking she had caught a small sound. Moving further into the room, she proceeded towards the back where a lavish washroom was located. Peering within, she saw see her sister facing the large mirror upon one wall, sniffling and giving tiny sobs. Sighing, she walked into the tiled room and lay her neck over her younger sibling’s in a hug. “Come, Luna. If we’re too late, we’ll miss the Ascension, and we’ll never get to say our last goodbye. You know we can’t stop it or delay it from happening...”

Luna leaned into the hug and gave a large sniff, wiping the tears from her eyes with a hoof. “I know, Celly, but I don’t want mother and father to leave. I don’t even know if I’m ready to assume the duties of the night.”

“I know, dear sister. I don’t wish them to leave, either, but we can’t stop this. They said they had been called back, and that it is our turn to rule. I’m scared, too, but we must go! We’ll only know regret if they leave without us there. Come, come.” Leaning down, Celestia pushed her nose against Luna’s flank, despite her sister’s stubbornness to stay sat.

Then, an idea hit her and a mischievous grin spread across her face. “I’ll tickle you again. Tickle tickle tickle!” Celestia slipped a foreleg around Luna and tickled a hooftip against her belly, eliciting a shriek of surprise from her sister.

Luna sprang up with a playful, “Nooooo!” and darted off, Celestia pursuing her out of the room and into the corridors, already feeling in a better mood. “I’m gonna getcha! I’m gonna getcha! And when I do, I’m going to pin you down and tickle you without mercy!”

Luna, her eyes already drying, giggled and put on more speed. She was slower than her sister, but she knew how Celly always hung back a bit, just to give her a fighting chance. “You have to catch me first, before I get to mom and dad!” Their parents were ‘base’, where Luna was safe until the game began again.

“You’ll need to find them first, silly! And by the time you do, I’ll have caught you!” Celestia exclaimed, half a ponylength behind her sister. She stretched her neck out and nosed against Luna’s flank, another playful shriek coming from her in response. Let’s hope this keeps my sister’s mind off things, and gets her to mother and father before they go.

Luna turned her head and stuck her tongue out at Celestia before taking a sharp turn down another corridor, bursting in through a couple open doors into Everfree Castle’s audience chambers. The throne at the top contained two more alicorns: their parents, Queen Sol and King Altair of Equestria. One was rose in color with a gently sloping nose and a pair of bright green eyes, while the other a charcoal grey, had a sturdier build of body, and his crimson eyes seemed to pierce through anything they stared at. Luna ran up the steps to the throne and planted a hoof against her mother’s flank, looking back at Celestia with a wide grin, “I win!”

Celestia herself galloped up next to her father and stuck her tongue out at Luna, to the bemusement of both their parents.

“My children, we have guests,” Queen Sol admonished her daughters, causing the two fillies to start and hide behind the two elder alicorns. Beyond the throne, an entire crowd of ponies of all types and sizes lay watching. A few were even giggling at the sisters’ antics, while others just rolled their eyes.

King Altair leaned down and gave Celestia a brief nuzzle of affection, “To our sides, my wonderful daughters, the ceremony begins.”

The two alicorn fillies immediately switched places as they had practiced, Luna at Altair’s flank, and Celestia at her mother’s. Raising their heads to the sky, the rulers’ horns began to emit vibrant light, Altair’s an inky black and Sol’s a pure, bright white.

All at once, light began to flood the chamber from the skylights, as if an immense light source had appeared directly overhead. Outside the skylights, the sky was a deep blue, not a thing within it. No clouds, no birds, not even the occasional pegasus. As the light began to focus upon the throne, all of the alicorns sat up straighter.

Altair cleared his throat and let his gaze slide across the crowd. “For three millenia we have gracefully ruled Equestria. And for three millenia, you have been faithful to us. We now ask that you do the same for our daughters. By the Power invested in me, King Altair, God of the Night, Bringer of the Dark, I relinquish my throne to my daughter, Princess Luna. She shall be entrusted fully with the Night, and will gain the titles of Goddess of the Night and Bringer of the Dark upon our departure.” His speech was short, as the actual speech had been weeks prior.

“And I, Queen Sol, Goddess of the Day, Herald of the Light, do hereby relinquish my throne to my daughter, Princess Celestia. Whereupon our departure she shall gain the titles Goddess of the Day and Herald of the Light. May our daughters rule with fairness and benevolence for millenia to come.”

Their horns glowed brighter, and the crowns upon their brows vanished. Upon Luna’s and Celestia’s head, crowns sprang into being, crafted to their ideals. Celestia’s a golden with a gem studded upon the front, and Luna’s of a more simplistic nature, a dark violet crown.

A cheer went through the crowd, and everypony upon the throne smiled back at them. Stepping back to the sides, Sol and Altair nodded towards their daughters. Luna swallowed and peered over at Celestia with trepidation. Her sister gave a reassuring smile in return, then, as one, the two fillies took the throne, an even louder cheer echoing throughout the chamber. Ponies of all types began to line up at the base of the stairs to give the new throne their well-wishes.

And while the smiles upon their faces seemed real, the four alicorns at the top of the dais were anything but happy and smiling within.

______________

“There are several things we must tell you before we Ascend, my dear daughters, Celestia and Luna,” Sol said in the ex-rulers’ private chambers. Celestia was clinging to Sol’s forelegs, while Luna hid beneath Altair’s chest. Sol glanced over to her mate, who nodded before she continued.

“We leave many things within your care. One set of objects being the Elements of Harmony. The magics of the Elements: Benevolence, Truth, Mirth, Allegiance, Charity, and Power, we leave to you. Please, my lovely daughters, do not use them except in the greatest of need. In the lower levels of the castle also hold rooms containing dangerous artifacts that we were unable to safely disable or destroy. We leave upon you the duty to confiscate any magical item created that could be destructive. They stay near the Core’s chamber, so as to be shielded by the same wards the Core has. Remember to trust your ministers, too. They know what to do, learn from them, and from experience.”

Altair stood there, listening to his love list things off one by one as he leaned down to nuzzle at Luna lovingly. Quiet, little Luna. He worried for her, always so shy and reserved, trying to stay out of the way of everyone else. She always seemed so lonely, and he wondered if she could handle the long nights. “You’ll be fine, little one. You’ll have your sister there.” Luna smiled at her father and rubbed her muzzle against his. “And Celestia?”

The white alicorn raised her head, staring back at her parents, “Yes, father?”

Altair smiled warmly and reached past Luna to nuzzle gently at Celestia as well. “I leave Luna within your care, as her elder sister. I thus set you this task, Celestia. Take care of her, as we cannot.” Altair carefully maneuvered himself so that Luna was no longer beneath him. He blinked his crimson eyes at the two, then pushed his head against Luna’s flank to move her to Celestia. “You are both the only pony each other truly has. Thus are the hardships of ruling.”

Princess Celestia draped her neck over Luna’s, dropping a wing over the night alicorn’s side, the two of them watching as Sol and Altair took a few steps back into the middle of the bedchamber. The two fillies knew what was coming next, and tears began to stream down their cheeks. The wing over Luna’s back was not only meant to comfort her, but to also hold her in place. This was the Ascension, the moment in time when an alicorn was called back to their home plane, to live and watch over the ponies of Equestria. A new alicorn is not taken to the higher plane right away, instead living the first few millenia of their life in Equestria, to live and learn, to grow, and to mature. But eventually, all alicorns must leave Equestria, joining their kind in the higher realm, and for Celestia and Luna’s parents, that time had arrived.

Celestia’s voice cracked as she spoke, “G-Goodbye mother....Goodbye F-father...W-We’ll m-m-miss you...”

Luna’s quiet sobs next to her did not help the mood, and Celestia could feel her trying to tug away, to go to their parents. Luna’s eyes were wide, and whispers came from her mouth. The white alicorn could have sworn she heard, “Please....Please don’t go...I don’t want to be alone...”

A bright light began to shine within the room, from their parents horns, and as it grew brighter, the two elder alicorns said in unison, “Goodbye, lights of our hearts. We will wait for you in Haven, we will not forget you, and we love you with all our being. Remember all that we have taught you, all that we have left to you, and all that we meant to you.”

As the light grew painfully brilliant, the two sisters had to avert their eyes, the radiance filling the room. Several long seconds passed before it dimmed, then vanished completely. Blinking the spots and tears from their eyes, the sisters glanced to where their parents had been and saw nothing. They were gone.

Luna let out an anguished cry and managed to pull herself from Celestia’s grasp, dashing over to the place where the two elders had been. The scream of sorrow that Luna let loose broke Celestia’s heart. Walking over to her sister, Celestia settled down beside her younger sister, the white alicorn pulling Luna against her side. I guess I am her mother and sister now. She has nopony else. My poor dearest sister, I will always be here for you.
Tears began to soak Celestia’s cheeks as she cried alongside her younger sister. Hours passed, and dusk approached before either of them spoke again.

“Luna...Luna, our duties. We can’t lay here all night. I have to take the day away to make way for the night...Come, little sister, maybe you can paint a portrait of them, to remember, to never forget them,” Celestia cooed softly, helping the silent Luna to her feet.

Luna nodded begrudgingly, and the two alicorns made their way out of their parents’ former bedchambers to take on their duties.

And thus, the rule of King Altair and Queen Sol ended, and the rule of Princesses Celestia and Luna began...

_____________

A week later, Luna stood in front of the windows of her bedchamber, an easel placed in front of her. Upon the easel sat a large painting of her parents; it was quite accurate, and done in a lavish design. Luna had always been the artist, and Celestia the thinker. She used her magic to tweak various things upon the portrait with a brush: adding a smidgen of grey there, maybe a bit more red for Altair’s eyes, a touch-up here, aaand...

The doors to her chamber opened, admitting her elder sister into the room. Luna turned, a smile upon her face as she set down the palette and brushes, running over to nestle in against her sibling. “Celly! I’m nearly done with the painting! It looks wonderful so far! Your idea to paint it was great, and I can’t wait for you to see it when I’m finished!” Luna stared up at Celestia expectantly.

Celestia giggled softly and nudged lovingly at her sister’s nose, “Dearest sister, I would love to see your painting, but not as of yet. I came to you about something else.”

Luna’s face fell, then perked back up at the good mood within Celly’s voice. Her eyes probably asked the question, as Celestia replied, “I have been thinking, about our day and night. They seem....Barren. Empty. Devoid of anything, including...” Celestia peered over at Luna’s portrait of their parents before replying again. “Art. We have the power, little sister, why can’t we design our skies as we think they should be, rather than endless blue and black fields that nopony but the pegasi take notice of?”

Luna took a step back from her sister, deep in thought. Decorate our skies? Can we do that? Can I do that!? But the night is meant to be dark, how would ponies see what I have done wi-Wait...What if I...? Ideas sprang to Luna’s mind, causing her to spring around in glee! “Yes! We should! I have the perfect ideas already for how to personalize my night sky!” It still felt so strange for her to call the night sky hers.

Bursting out in a wide grin, Celestia laughed in return and shook her mane, “As do I! My idea is that we take a part of ourselves and use it for the skies! Oh, I can just imagine now, a bright globe of flame high in the sky, looking down over everypony. It will become warmer, and the day brighter...Oh! And crops will benefit more, too!”

“And I am thinking the same. A globe of cool light, just enough light for night travelers to see by, yet not too much it leaves ponies unable to sleep! And...And...” Luna brightened further and continued, “Little diamonds of light, like pinpricks, made into all sorts of fanciful shapes, so many we couldn’t possibly name them all. What a wonderful idea, Celly!”

Celestia smiled as she walked over to the open window to gaze up at the blue sky. The empty blue sky. I knew this would cheer her up. She’s stayed mostly within her room this past week, working on that painting. Ponies have been wondering where she had gone. “I shall get started, then, dear sister.”

Celestia’s horn began to emit a pure light as she reached deep inside of herself for that piece she had set aside, that piece that would be her addition to the day. Grasping it, she infused it with her magic, watching it burst into life. As Luna looked on in awe, a large orb extruded itself from her sister’s horn and began to drift away, seeping recklessly into the sky before vanishing into the distance.

“Where did it go?” Luna asked, before a sudden flare in the sky caught her eye. The sky brightened, flashing a bright, hot white before fading back to its familiar liquid blue as something new appeared. A great fiery sphere, casting its glorious radiance down upon all of Equestria.

“....I shall name her....Sol....The warmth of my heart...”

_____________

Luna had stayed up later into the night, way past her usual time to sleep. She had heard the whispers in the court, the awe and love the sun had generated for them. They loved the warmth, the extra light, and even farmers had come forth to express their gratitude to Celestia.

The alicorn was excited to begin her own work, ideas blooming within her mind as she stared out the window of her bedchambers. Closing her eyes, Luna felt her consciousness seep into the night sky, and spread out amongst it. All of Equestria lie below her. The hemisphere that was Equestria, the world she knew, lay beneath her in all its vast entirety. She could see all the ponies who had stayed awake, wanting to see what she would do with the night sky.

She imagined her father, an alicorn who did not need to show a lot of affection to his daughters for them to know that he loved them. He was strong, and was silent except when he needed to speak, having left most of the talking in the past to his beloved mate. And then she imagined that strength, that cool embrace, her father in the sky before her, and a new light burst into being.

But she did not feel that it was complete.

Taking the palette of her mind, Luna began to paint it, all sorts of whites, greys and blacks. In her mind’s eye, it looked rugged, tempered in the fires of the sun’s warmth.

But, Luna realized something. This sphere she could feel, could touch and hold if she wished to. This celestial body was not her father, and would discredit his name. So she named this celestial body Luna, after herself.

The alicorn was not close to being finished. She was not a minimalist artist. Oh no, she had the entire sky to paint, and so she created the stars, diamonds that hung onto the sky and glinted down to those below, arranging them into pictures and patterns for the ponies on the ground to appreciate.

One of these pictures was an alicorn, a very familiar alicorn, one who the moon was supposed to be named after. And the eye...the eye of this alicorn she named Altair.

_____________

Ponies were lined up nearly out of the Everfree Castle’s audience chambers, wishing to speak with the new princesses.The hall was abuzz with talk about the sisters’ beautiful creations: the sun, the moon, and the stars. The entire court could speak about nothing but them.

Upon the throne, two alicorns beamed at all the attention, proud of their creations. The ponies who enjoyed them greatly outnumbered the whispers of the dissenters.

Celestia knew she could not please everypony; the population of the Everfree forest, Everfree city, and all of Equestria was far too diverse to allow a single unanimous opinion.

As she finished talking with one of the more recent well-wishers, a gong sounded throughout the hall, indicating the end of court with the Princesses.

Luna breathed a heavy sigh of relief as the line finally disintegrated, some ponies staying to mingle with each other in the audience chamber while others simply went home. “Celly, why do we have to hold court? While I enjoy the attention my night gets, if I hear one more pony tell me that it could be sooo much better with their ideas, I’ll scream!”

Her sister shook her head and stretched out her large, alabaster wings before refolding them to her back. She really wanted to take them for a fly in her sun, but her duties have prevented such a thing from happening so far. “They’ll die down soon enough, Luna. Remember, mother and father warned us that many ponies would only come to us to seek things for themselves. It...is something we may have to get used to. Ugh, I can’t imagine the trouble we’re going to have.” Celestia rolled her eyes and wrapped her sister within one white wing, then blinked as Luna yawned. “Are you alright, sister?”

Yawning again, Luna nodded, “I’m just tired. I was up most of last night decorating my sky. I only had a few hours of sleep, otherwise. I also have more ideas of what to do with my night, and, well.... another idea of mine that I want to talk to you about tomorrow, too. I call it the Continuous Universal Talent Integration of Equestria Mark. It is very interesting, you should like it. I just need more time to to figure it completely out.”

“Well, alright. Until then, I suggest you get to your bedchamber and get some sleep, dearest. I’d like to see what you have ready for Equestria tonight!” Celestia chuckled.

Yeees, mother!”, Luna crowed, rolling her eyes and sticking her tongue out at her sister. Then, giggling, she ran down the throne’s stairs and past the guards stationed at their base before Celestia could retaliate with a swipe of her wing.

_______________

Having slept until sunset, Luna’s consciousness was back in the sky, placing more stars throughout her canvas. Every once in a while, she decided to place a differently colored gem in the sky, but while Luna was happy with her art, she was as yet unsatisfied. What if I make them real? Gems are fine....But what if I made them like Celly’s sun? Yes! That should do! Flexing her magic over the night, Luna watched as the stars darted off, spreading through the cosmos.

Making sure they kept their shape from her viewpoint, she watched them place themselves, some bright, others dim, depending on their distance and luminosity. Still, something was not.....Aha! Something for the ponies to enjoy! Summoning tiny gems of light, Luna sent them streaking down over the night sky. First one, then three, then dozens as the night sky lit up with them. And I shall call this a meteor shower! A perfect tribute to the stars, and especially to Altair.

The Goddess of the Night and Moon located her father’s star, one of the brightest in the sky. I hope you are proud of me, father, proud of what I have done with your night. I hope I have done right by you...

Her consciousness retreated back to her body, feeling strangely empty from no longer encompassing the night sky. She had never known Altair could do this, and now she knew why he had mostly been awake during the night.

Heading to her pegasus down-filled bed, Luna set her crown down upon the nearby nightstand before slipping beneath the covers. She did not feel too tired, but she needed her sleep for the next day.

______________

Luna....Lunaaaa....Wake up, little sister.....

The voice brought Luna out of her dreams, and she opened her eyes to see....A face! Oh sister, a face in her face! In fact, it was her sister’s face, which did not help in the least! Luna scrabbled off the side of the bed, clunking down upon the floor as her covers draped over her, pulled with the alicorn’s fall.

“Oh! Sorry, Luna! I did not mean to scare you! I was worried, it’s nearly noon and you were still asleep!” she exclaimed, peering over the edge of the bed at her sister.

Luna slipped the covers down over herself as she stared at Celestia in wide-eyed shock. “N-noon!? B-but it only feels like I slept a few hours! I’ve been so tired during the day lately, but during the night, it seems I have no end to my energy! Oh, Celly, I’m sorry for sleeping in, I did not mean to...”

“Ohhh....I am just not terribly good at apologizing. Am I?” She hung her head as she balled up the sheets and threw them back atop her bed, nearly smacking Celestia in the face with them.

Neatly dodging the ball of bedcovers, Celestia warmly smiled to her sister. “There is no need to apologize, dear sister. I rose the sun myself this morning, took care of morning deeds, and later you can repay me by helping with court. But, I had another thing I wanted to ask. What is this idea you have about ‘CUTIE Marks’?”

The comment about the court elicited a groan from Luna, but she stood upon her hooves before replying, “Cutie Marks...Oh! My Continuous Universal Talent Integration of Equestria Mark. Oh, well...” Luna ran over to her desk, then produced a parchment with a drawing upon it over to her sister. “Celly, this is the Continuous Universal Talent Integration of Equestria Mark...” Celestia looked expectantly at Luna, which drew a sigh from the younger sister’s lips. “Fiiine, the ‘cutie mark’.”

The drawing showed a basic sketch of a pony. In fact it looked like Luna herself. Her hindquarters were circled, and within the circle, a blotch with a crescent moon were drawn. “I think all ponies should have a mark upon their hips that shows what they are best at. Or their best talent, in other words. Just imagine what kinds would appear, and each the great pride of their owner!”

Celestia’s eyes lit up as she imagined a golden many-rayed sun upon her hip, and she clapped her hooves together enthusiastically. “Yes! That is so delightful! I already know what I wish for mine to be! And you have yours, so do the spell, sister! Do it do it do it!” Celestia was nearly bouncing around the room at this point, stupefying Luna into freezing, who had very rarely seen her sister act this way.

“Ummm, Celly...? You can calm down now, I’ll...Uhhh, do mine first, then do yours. And then we can see about doing it for the rest of Equestria and releasing a statement about it. You know, if you want to. I am a little worried what everypony else will think, really.” She stepped back over to her desk, taking the drawing with her and setting it aside as she looked over the spell she had written down upon another piece of parchment.

Calming her hyperactivity, Celestia drew near and watched over Luna’s shoulder, memorizing the spell with her. It did not seem to be too difficult, just repetitious to a certain extent. She stepped back as an expression of intense concentration appeared upon her sister’s face, the glow upon her horn matching the one appearing on both sides of her flank. It seemed to take a good bit longer than expected, but just as Celestia began to think that the spell was a failure, a flash from her sister’s rear drew her eyes, the mark that she had drawn on the parchment flashing upon her flank before fading into view.

Slumping a bit from the fatigue of casting that spell, Luna immediately perked up as she saw what lay on both sides of her flank. A blotch of starry sky with a crescent moon, exactly as she had imagined it would be! This time, it was her turn to dance around her bedchambers, causing Celestia to overly exaggerate an eye roll, before bursting into a small fit of giggles.

“Okay, me next!” Celestia jogged her way over to Luna’s desk, taking another moment to look over the spell before beginning hers for herself. Once again, it took a few moments for it to take effect before Celestia’s own mark came into being. A many-rayed golden sun which highly matched her coat, it was everything she had imagined it to be.

For the next several minutes, both sisters pranced about the room, excited and prideful about their new identification marks, even taking several long seconds at times to just stare back at their flanks. Their Continuous Universal Talent Integration of Equestria Marks...er, sorry, CUTIE Marks as Celestia was want to call them, were mystifying, having turned their fur into a representation of their best skill.

Of course, their elation eventually faded, only to be replaced by an excitement to share their marks with the rest of Equestria.

“Celly, I don’t think I have enough power to do a spell this large throughout Equestria, not for everypony. Painting my sky and raising the moon are one thing, but something like this...?” Luna hung her head as her excitement briefly left her, before coming back with a vengeance! “What about the Core? Do you think we could use that to bolster our magics? It does control all the passive and automatic magics the palace and surrounding city have!”

Celestia laughed and nodded, “Yes, I agree! We should do so! I think that is what it is there for, to help us. Come!” And with that, Luna’s sister sprinted out of the room, followed closely by her younger sister. They dashed through the halls, nearly running into no small number of ponies about their business, and even the guards themselves, who barely raised an eyebrow at the alicorn sisters’ antics.

Down corridors and stairs they went, the levels becoming more abandoned and unused the deeper they went until finally, at the furthest depths of the castle, they came to a simple stone hallway with doors along either side and a massive room at the end. Luna peered at each of the doors, the palpable sensation of strong magics coming from either side of the sisters, and especially from up ahead. “What’s in the doors to either side, Celly? The magic from them feels....wrong.”

Celestia looked to either side of themselves as they trudged forth, “I presume it must be the rooms the magical items are sealed in. Some are said to be too dangerous to touch, or even look at without protection. I would prefer if you didn’t go near any of them, Luna. I don’t want to lose you as my only sister. Or see you turn into a horrible beast with a thousand tentacles!” Celestia teased, a twinkle in her eye.

“Or a thousand horns and wings, Celly?” Luna retorted, a smug expression upon her face.
“Oh, that would be absolutely horrifying! Even worse than you look right now,” her sister jibed, poking Luna in the breast with a hoof.
As they neared the chamber, Luna blew air out from between her lips. “That’s nothing, Celly. There’s nothing more scary than you with bedmane in the morning. I still have nightmares about that!”

“Hey! It isn’t my fault that I-” Celestia paused. They were within the room, which appeared much different from the plain stone corridor. The room was a large dome, with alabaster walls, and in the center of the room hung, suspended in thin air, an impossibly large crystal, a luminescent glow emanating from its center. They had arrived at the Core. “Alright...Ummm....I forgot what we’re supposed to do with it, Luna. I think it was to open ourselves up to it, as if we were expecting a hug?”

Staring up at the Core in awe, Luna replied, “Like we’re expecting a hug? Really? No no, I paid attention in class, Celly. We’re supposed to connect our magic to it, and through it. We form the spell and the Core aids us in giving the power we need.”

Celestia turned her head with a sheepish look, a dawn of understanding upon her face. “Well, should you be the one to do this, then, sister?”

The midnight alicorn walked into the middle of the room, staring straight up at the Core before bobbing her head, “I know the spell best, so I should.” Her horn began to radiate a deep violet glow, which then speared upward into the Core itself. Luna slowly filled it with her consciousness, and it filled hers in return. She could see how it connected with all the magics in Everfree City and Castle, even down to the magical torches lining the walls in corridors. And the magical power it held! Its presence filled her to bursting but hers was not yet even a drop within its bucket! The flow was exhilarating, and she nearly lost herself within it. She remembered the task at hand, and formed the spell within her mind. Luna felt the Core take a hold of it, analyze it, then add its power to her own.

All at once, a power wave of light spread outward from the core and across the sky, blanketing all of Equestria. Where it touched, ponies of all types stared in fascination as a picture of their best talent appeared upon their flank. The only ponies left out were the fillies and colts who had yet to find what they enjoyed and were best at.

Luna was reluctant to release the power in her grasp, it was so very addicting. But, she had to do so, and she felt herself drain back into her own body, wobbly kneed from not only the amount of power that had flown through her, but also from the fatigue of the spell itself. Celestia was there within a second, bracing herself against her sister and keeping her from falling.

“Did it work, do all our little ponies have cutie marks...?” Celestia asked.

Wavering, Luna felt her strength returning by the second until she was able to stand on her own without fear of toppling over. “I-I think so. Oh, Celly, the Core, it was so wonderful! The power it gave me! It made me feel like I could do anything! Is that what mother and father always felt coursing through their veins? Power of that magnitude?”

“I wouldn’t know, dearest sister. I felt nothing as I was not connected to it. Here, let us go, court begins soon and we do not wish to be late for it,” Celestia reinforced, pulling herself away from her younger sister as she began to walk out of the chamber and down the hallway.

Letting out an ugh and sticking a hoof to her mouth in a gagging motion, Luna followed her elder sibling. She so did not want to deal with court right now. She wanted to run, to play, to just have fun. But...She was a princess now, a ruler of Equestria. This was her duty. Luna wasn’t so deep in her thoughts when she felt something pull at her mind. Ahead of her, Celestia was beginning the climb up the stone steps to the next level, while beside her, in the direction the mental tugging was coming from, was one of the doors leading to the stash of magical items deemed too dangerous to be used.

No, Celly told me I must never go in these rooms, she would be so mad if she knew I had disobeyed her. The pull, however, became more urgent, as if there was a pony stuck within. What if there is?

Curious, the alicorn pushed open the surprisingly unlocked door and walked inside. It was nothing more than a small room, the walls lined with shelves that had all manner of objects of every shape and size stacked upon them. Yet Luna ignored them. The tug of the trapped pony was gone, instead being replaced by a pull of pure power. There, where her eyes were locked, sat an onyx statue of a pony, no bigger than her hoof. No, not a pony, something seemed strange about it. She could not put her hoof on it, she knew it was a pony, but it felt like it should be an alicorn, the ghost of an image persisting as Luna crept up to the object, ignoring all the other items around her. She wanted to touch it so much. To feel its power course through her.

Raising her hoof, the filly alicorn daintily touched the fragile looking item, and was immediately thrown back against the partially open door, slamming it shut. The pain in her hoof was excruciating, but in the time it took for her daze to be gone, it had all but vanished. The onyx pony was still there, but the image of an alicorn was gone.

I shouldn’t be in here, what was I thinking!? Oh, Celly is going to kill me! She turned to the door to open it, only to find out it was locked. W-Whaaa? It was unlocked a second ago! She pounded upon the thick wood with her hooves, but the door didn’t budge an inch.

“Celly! Cellyyyyy!” Luna cried in obvious fright, still pounding upon the door with all her might. She even tried her magic to unlock it, but the wards within the room were too powerful, and all her horn did was fizzle pathetically. “Cellyyyyyyyy!”

She leaned back against the door, staring at all the objects in the room before her eyes settled back upon the onyx figurine. She could have sworn it was smaller. No, she was right, it had been smaller, and was getting larger by the second.
As tears began to streak down Luna’s cheeks, she heard the sounds of the door being unlocked from the outside, she took a step back just as it opened, inches from smacking her in the face.

“Sister, how did you get in here!? WHY were you in here!? I told you not to ever go into these rooms!” Celestia had a look of anger upon her face, causing Luna to shrink back upon herself and curl up upon the floor. It did not help that she had already been terrified of being trapped in the room, and Celestia’s anger only scared her more.

However, seeing Luna so frightened cooled Celestia’s ire, and she leaned down to give her sister a loving nuzzle, “Come on, we’re not supposed to be in these rooms, not until we can handle anything that comes at us.”

Nodding just a bit, Luna began to follow Celestia out of the room, tears still clouding her eyes. She sniffed a bit and wiped her face before turning around to take one last look back at the onyx statuette. It was the size it had been before and she could swear that she had felt something when she touched it...

______________

The Court was made of the same self-serving ponies, well-wishers, and voyeurs who wished to see the new rulers as last time, meaning it was downright boring for Luna, and at times, extremely frustrating. It did not help that the ponies kept thinking it was Celestia’s idea, and her doing that the marks on their flanks came about. Celestia, of course, corrected them, and gave her the credit, but it did not help. It also did not help that her moods were dark today. Luna kept having thoughts of how unappreciative the ponies were of her designs. Of all her hard work.

And it was true! For every five ponies who loved the sun, barely one would say they enjoyed her night, if they even mentioned her night at all!

She was tired, and it was only mid afternoon, but she had to hold the facade that she was happy to see everypony that came up to the shared throne. Why am I so tired? I slept until noon, and while the spells I’d been doing were fatiguing, it was only the fatigue of casting, and nothing more. It quickly went away. And... Luna suddenly felt a wave of dizziness, and her eyelids grew heavy. Maybe I should retire...Maybe those spells took a lot more out of me than I’d thought.
Waiting until the current well-wisher had left, Luna spoke to her sister quietly, “Celly...? I’m just about ready to collapse, I need to retire.”

The night alicorn’s sister could easily hear the tiredness in her voice, and nodded, smiling over at her. “I’ll take care of court and our duties for the rest of the day, dearest sister. Go, get your rest, you’ve done a lot for Equestria today.”
“Thank you, sis...” Luna gave her sister a tired kiss upon the cheek, which rose a blush to Celestia’s face, before walking off down the side steps and out of sight through one of the side doorways. It did not take her long to reach her quarters, and as Luna was snuggling deep into her covers and started to fall asleep, a thought wormed its way into her head. What if Celly doesn’t actually care about me? What if she only puts up with me? What if that’s what everypony does? Luna didn’t pay any mind to the fact that such worries were so unlike her, she was too tired, and without another thought she drifted off to sleep.

_______________

As the days and nights passed, Celestia and Luna began to form a noticeable routine, as much of one as they could get out of their differing sleep schedules, anyway. Their schedules differed so much, in fact, that Luna had to sleep entirely during the day and be awake at night. The only times the two were able to see each other was in the morning at breakfast, later that evening at dinner, and in the few twilight hours at dawn and dusk when they would both be awake. Celestia presumed it must be because of their different affinities to light and dark, even going so far to say that she felt the same way during the night as Luna did during the daytime: she could barely keep her eyes open at all.

The nights wore upon Luna, and they were lonely without her sister. At first, her court had seen many ponies, as those who wanted to personally thank her for the night came to do so. Of course, there were the usual selfish ponies as well, and even a petitioner or two, but as a week went by, then two, and then a month, they died down to barely anything. The second month, she was lucky to see even three ponies a night. By the third, maybe three a week. Around the fourth month, Luna just had to see for herself what exactly was going on.

During the first month, the goddess had painted her sky every night, filling it with more and more detail until it looked like a mosaic of shapes made by her stars. She even had a river of stars going across the whole of the night sky. And still, few ponies told her of how much they loved her night, yet it was often that she heard of how popular her elder sister’s court was, and of how many ponies that came just to thank her sister for the wonderful sun.

The past few months, a little voice had filled Luna’s ears, telling her how much she was unappreciated, and how her wonderful night went unnoticed. How even her own sister barely wanted anything to do with her, going so far as to only see her at dusk and dawn, when they raised the sun and moon respectively. It was never enough these days. She was always so alone. Was this how father felt when he held the night within his hooves? The ever present loneliness? Did he ever manage to somehow get rid of that tiredness he must have felt during the day? He must have, he was always so strong...Father...Why did you leave me alone...?

Luna sat upon her throne, looking up through the audience chamber’s skylight at her canvas. Her moon was barely a slice of a crescent, mirroring her current mood. Even the guards who normally stood around the chambers during the day were asleep.

Stepping down from the throne, Luna briskly walked across the marble flooring of the throne room, and then out of the doors into the large garden that surrounded the entire castle. It was a warm night, the height of summer, but the Bringer of Night did not care. She had to see. Had to see for herself.

Spreading her large wings, Luna took to the air, the moons upon her flank and new breastplate shining from the light of the one in the sky. Her sister had matching breastplates made for them, with their marks upon the front. It had been a delightful gift, until her inner voice had reminded Luna of everything that was going on. It soured quickly when she realized it was probably a gift meant to mollify her.

Below her, as she gained altitude, the entirety of the castle spread out before her, and then the city itself. She could see a light here or there, either from a flame or a magical lantern, but everywhere else, all throughout the city of Everfree, it lay dark. No... With powerful thrusts of her wings, Luna pushed herself to her limit as she raced for the nearest settlements. They were quite small, the one she was approaching named Ponyville. Once again, dark as the night had been before she had painted it.

No matter what town she flew over, they were dark, with maybe a single light showing a pony up late, probably studying. It had taken her most of the night to do her search, and she landed back in front of the castle in a stormy mood. No, no...What if I am just too late? What if they are awake the first few hours of my night to study and be in awe of it? Yes, yes, I shall do that! Tomorrow, I shall do another flyover at the beginning of my night. But the voice in her head, that ever present voice, insisted that she not get her hopes up.

The next night, Luna flew out once again, flying over Everfree and the neighboring towns and villages. This time, the sight of many lights of various types burning below set her hopes high, but as the night went on she watched them flicker out and die one by one. By the time it was midnight, her night was as dark and alone as it had been the night before.

_____________

The next morning, Luna was already eating her breakfast in the dining hall when Celestia came in. The Sun Goddess immediately knew there was something wrong. It almost seemed as if a black cloud hung over her little sister. She did not say anything though, as this wasn’t the first time Luna had been in one of her moods.

As she levitated bites of pancakes that seemed almost as light and fluffy as clouds to her mouth, Celestia kept taking sidelong glances at her sister. I-I should say something. She always seems so lonely, but I don’t know what I can do to help...Mother had warned me that she may become lonely and withdrawn, but not so angry!

However, Luna noticed each of the stares her elder sibling gave her, grinding her teeth until finally she shouted, “WHAT!?”, snapping her teeth inches from Celestia’s face, causing her elder sister to recoil in shock. A moment of silence went by before Luna stood and snorted, “That’s what I thought.”

Galloping off out of the dining hall, the Goddess of the Moon could hear Celestia calling out behind her. No, not this time. This time I will take matters into my own hooves.

______________

What is going on with her...? My dearest sister, the other half of my heart, what pains you so? I am sorry I cannot be there for you through the entire night. I am not yet strong enough to overcome the lethargic nature our opposites cause...Please be alright... Celestia was at the door of the dining hall, yearning for her sister to come back. To talk with her. To tell her what was wrong. She wished to offer her sister a shoulder to cry on, and a few hours where they could at least be together.

Throughout the entire day, Celestia’s thoughts chased her. She was so worried for Luna, worried that her silence at breakfast may have made things worse. Her mannerisms at court were half-assed, and matters at hand with her court’s ministers were done without giving much thought to them.

Even at dinner, Luna was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t in her bed, though that may have been emptied shortly before.

Celestia spent the rest of her free hours searching all the hiding spots in Everfree Castle that she knew Luna to have hidden within in the past, but she was nowhere to be found.

As she felt the moon begin to rise, Celestia raised her horn and lowered her sun to make way for it. She could feel her younger sister’s magic at work, far above the castle of Everfree, and Celestia knew that she was out flying. I hope it’s to think, to clear her mind...Be well, my dear sister...

_____________

Luna was indeed thinking, but not in the way Celestia imagined. The Night Goddess soared in the air above Everfree, the city and forest stretching out in all directions below her. I need to find a way that will get all of ponykind to recognize me, recognize and enjoy my night! Not to simply sleep during it! What if I...No...I can’t do anything too drastic, sister would be disappointed in me.

Her inner voice answered with a sneer, “Your sister? The same one that abandoned you to this lonely duty? The one who kept looking at you strangely this morning? The one who tries to ‘help’ and yet does nothing that actually would do so!? That sister?”

That’s right...She hasn’t helped me at all with this, only told me to wait, that it would get better! And it hasn’t! It has only gotten worse! The knowledge that everypony in the land ignores my night was the last straw!

“The last straw, indeed. And what better way to make Equestria love your night than to give them nothing but such? An everlasting night that will shroud the land, forcing everypony to take notice of your painted skies, to study it, to love it!”

The voice within her mind was hitting all of Luna’s tender spots, all her hopes, everything that would resonate with her. And it was working. But...How do I do that? Each of us makes way for the other at dawn and dusk, and even if I refused to lower the moon, the sun would still rise!
“Leave that to me. If you trust me, of course, dear Luna. I am, after all, you, and if you cannot trust yourself, then who can you trust? Hmmm?”

I...I don’t know. What do you have in mind?

“Oh, dear, sweet Luna. Have you forgotten? The Core is ours now. Its magnificent powers ours to take, to hold, and to use. Give that power to me, and I will show you how to be the ruler everypony loves. You will never be alone again. All ponies would exclaim at the wonders of your rule. You would have your choice of a mate from countless suiters, and even our dear sister, Celestia, would come crawling back to us, begging us to teach her to be as loved as we were. And we would. We would teach her. And for her cooperation, we would allow her sun to be seen again. At our sufferance, of course.” The voice enticed her, as a parent would a child with the promise of sweets.

The future Luna imagined was wonderful. Surrounded by friends of all types, lovers awaiting her within her bed, and a line of suiters asking for her hoof outside the door stretching out beyond the castle’s gates. And Celly, dear sister Celestia, would love her again. Be there for her again. Just this thought alone brought tears to Luna’s eyes, which were quickly dried by the winds as she soared through the air.

I-I-I....accept...What do you wish me to do...? Luna swore she could feel a malevolent glee rise within the part of her that talked back, but she ignored it. This was herself she was talking to, after all.

“We need the Core.”

________________

As Luna walked down the hallway she had been in months ago, she took note of the door that she had somehow managed to enter months before. However, she gave it no more than a passing glance as she carried on down the hall. The mare, as she was now, had more important things to do, and as she entered the Core’s chamber, she knew what the first thing on the list was.

The Moon Goddess didn’t need to hear her voice’s instructions to know how to do it. She stood beneath the Core and sent a lance of magical energy up into it, creating a magical channel through which her essence passed into the Core. It returned the favor. Power filled her to the brim, and she swore she could hear the voice laughing inside her mind.

“Now, all you need to do is hand me the power, and I will show you how to use it, dear Luna,” her mind’s voice said. She didn’t think much about it, and opened a conduit to the part of her mind she knew the voice resided in. But as she flooded it with power, a blast of darkness reverberated about within her head, causing her to shriek in agony. A pure, unadulterated pain which only increased in intensity.

“Celly! Nooo! Noooooo! CELLY!” Those words broke the silence in the Core’s chamber, echoing down the hallways of the lower levels. But, alas, they fell upon nopony’s ears.

A distorted mix of sobbing and agony-induced shrieking could be heard, Luna’s voice crying out in pain and terror before being abruptly cut off, leaving only dead silence as the Core’s pure white light turned an ominous blood-red. After a few long seconds, a dark, maniacal laughter began to fill the chamber...

_____________

Twilight Sparkle pulled away from the tome before her and rubbed at her eyes, surprised to find them wet with tears. The clock on the wall said it was nearly midnight. She could not go on any further with the history of the Princesses. Not tonight. She already had enough to think about.

The tome had been difficult to translate from Ancient Equestrian, but so far, it had been worth it, showing the early lives of her teacher and Princess Celestia’s sister. Alicorns are not a race from this plane of existence, though? I find that to be a bit far fetched. There are things this tome has not yet answered, and tomorrow, after a night’s rest, I intend to find out more. Oh, poor Princess Luna...I cannot imagine the things you went through...

As Twilight turned in for the night, snuffing the light orb she had magicked and crawling beneath her covers, she failed to notice a soft blue ripple, fading in and out in the corner, just near the base of the ceiling. A surveillance spell, hanging just out of sight, just as it had been the entire day.






(A/N) Thanks once again to Sali, who has edited this story. In other news, I’m looking for a quick picture done for this story, and would be in the debt of anypony who did one such.

(E/N) It’s been a wonderful experience, working on this story with Dragry, in addition to the one directly before this. I look forward to the next two (I think it’s two) parts to this story. It’s by far my favorite representation of Luna and Celestia so far and I’m glad to help shape them in what little way I can.

PS: It’s dark down here and I’m hungry. Please send food! ;o;