• Published 27th Apr 2014
  • 24,384 Views, 663 Comments

In the Sun's Shadow - Polaris501



The past always comes back to haunt the present, there is no escaping the inevitable. For decades, Celestia has kept a secret from her student. A secret she made out of pain, and through pain will be revealed for all to see; for Twilight Sparkle is

  • ...
19
 663
 24,384

Chapter 1: Among the Ashes

Ponyville

Four Hours After Tirek’s Defeat

Twilight


The town was filled with smoke, it clung to the air like a dark and smothering curtain, drowning out the light of the sun. The distasteful aroma of burnt wood drifted between the silent houses that stood sentinel over their fallen comrade. The wind was burdened with fragile gray fragments of paper that once carried knowledge and wisdom, their torn remains fluttering like forgotten memories in the unrelenting wind. Fire flickered like a taunting enemy, its unforgiving tongues tormenting the once mighty oak with deadly precision.

The Golden Oaks Library was burning.

Twilight Sparkle stood alone in front of the blazing inferno, her long shadow stretching as the sun set on the far off horizon. Any tears she had shed from her magenta eyes had evaporated long ago in the face her home’s torching, now she could only look on mournfully and wait for the fire to burn itself out.

It was no ordinary fire. The blaze that was claiming her home had sprung from Tirek’s twisted dark magic, a perversion of the combined stolen magical power of Equestria that the ancient horror had conjured with the intent of wiping Twilight off the face of Equestria.

Twilight had barely escaped with her life, for as soon as she had seen the burning darkness hurtling towards her she had single-mindedly rescued the only other living thing in her tree, her loyal companion Owlowiscious, and had thrown up a hasty magical shield before they were flung into the streets of Ponville from the force of the fiery destruction.

In the immediate explosion, the top half of the library where she had lived had incinerated instantaneously with the windows shattering from the shock wave. The ground floor which had contained thousands of books had combusted, the aged papers igniting in a beautiful yet terrible bonfire that cried out to the heavens as their embers floated into the smoke-filled sky. The laboratory underneath had superheated from the coals and fiery rain dropping from above, bringing ruin and ravaging flames to complete the task.

And even then, the fire did not stop.

It was not content to merely burn like a normal fire, as if that were not terrible enough. This fire had been mockingly summoned from the pits of Tarturus itself. The inferno resisted all attempts to eradicate its presence. Water, magic, anything that could be used to subjugate the blaze only added fuel to the flames. There was nothing that could be done.

But wait.

As the fire’s light reflected Twilight’s view, she dimly became aware of another pony approaching before the intruder sat beside her in silence. This mare’s shadow was far larger than Twilight’s, it seemingly swallowed the lavender alicorn’s dark reflection easily, not even appearing to try to overcast the smaller shadow.

Of course, this shadow belonged to arguably the largest influence on Twilight’s life, Princess Celestia.

“I…I’m so sorry Twilight.” The taller alicorn said solemnly, her white feathers ruffling uncomfortably at her snowy sides as the inferno consumed Twilight’s home before them.

Twilight didn’t look at her, choosing instead to remain gazing into the fire’s enrapturing sight, to look into her former mentor’s eyes would be to acknowledge that the destruction of her home had somehow been the sun alicorn’s fault.

“I messed up princess.” Twilight stated plainly, her words almost too quiet to hear under the waterfall of sound as wood crackled and burned in front of her. “Do you know what I did when I first saw him?”

“No, but-“

“I ran from him princess, I ran away, and I led him straight here. I should have known that the combined magic of four alicorns would be too powerful to miss. Because of my foolishness, I have lost my home.”

Twilight could no longer stand the sight of her beloved library burning, but couldn’t lift her tear-streaked face to meet Celestia either.

She stared at her hooves instead, trying to banish the branded memories of the rush of flames and the promise of death that had flown towards her from the centaur’s rampage.

“If I had even been a second later, or worse, if Spike had been inside…” Her timid voice trailed off, not even attempting to voice the morbid possibility.

The next thing Twilight knew, she was surrounded by a large white wall of feathers. Twilight could feel Celestia’s warm body as she embraced the smaller alicorn.

Twilight could no longer hold it in.

She wept.

It was not the crying of young filly, nor was it from any pain or injury. It was the despair of a mare who had just lost her home, of a pony that had just faced one of the greatest monsters of Tarturus by herself, of a friend that almost lost those she held dear to herself.

But among the tears were sighs of relief.

While Tirek had been terrible, it could have been much, much worse. But thankfully, nopony had died because although Tirek drained them of their magic, in his malevolence, he had decided to keep them alive so he could gloat over his victory later. A mistake on his part that Twilight was thankful for.

Twilight leaned into Celestia’s warm fur as more tears fell like starlight down her muzzle. A hoof was gently soothing her back as she cried.

They didn’t exchange any words, but none were needed. Twilight knew very well the sacrifices Celestia had made when protecting Equestria, banishing Luna and the millennium afterwards being the greatest of them all. There was nopony else that Twilight knew that could fully comprehend what all had happened.

And for that, Twilight was grateful.

For a few minutes or hours she stayed there, finding solace in the white alicorn’s warm embrace. It was like when she had been a filly in the castle, and the thunder from a storm had frightened her. Then also she had found peace with Celestia, having cried almost uncontrollably until Celestia had found her in a bundled mess on her bed. Rather than just try to calm her, as what Twilight had expected as a filly, Celestia had surprised her by laying by her side and offering a protective wing. Twilight had slept peacefully that night, so many years ago.

A slight nudging of the white plumage awoke Twilight from her brief bout of nostalgia, and she gently extricated herself from the princess to see what she wanted.

Twilight could see that Celestia was looking over at the ruins of her library, and Twilight reluctantly followed her gaze.

The fire was finally dying out.

Leaving naught but ashes in their wake.

Twilight walked cautiously towards what had been her home, the soft crunching of soot could be dimly heard underneath her hooves.

Slowly, she walked through the burnt remains, sorting through different lumps of wreckage. It was slow work, but slowly she sifted through everything, sending up great plumes of ash as the burnt wood was moved about.

Few things had been spared.

Her bed was gone, and so was Spike’s basket. All the books she had ever had were nothing but distant memories now. All the clothes she had possessed, her Winter-Wrap up vest, her Gala dress, even her coronation gown were all gone, having been vaporized along with her wardrobe. Her telescopes were just heaps of molten wreck, the iron and glass warped beyond recognition. All her laboratory equipment was fried, having met the same fate as the telescopes, with the addition of the wires melting into slag from the heat of the inferno.

She was sorting through wreckage from underneath the remains of a window and its frame when she found it.

Her scrapbook.

She had started making it before Spike had hatched, filling it with photos of Shining, Cadance, her parents, and herself when she was a blank-flank filly. After she had gained her Cutie-mark, bits of Spike’s shell and Twilight’s first picture with Celestia were added to it.

Years of photos and tidbits of her childhood had been crafted into it. Photos, trinkets, and her own writing littered the pages. After she moved to Ponyville, pictures of her friends and details of their adventures together were added to her scrapbook.

All her letters from Celestia had been in there too.

More tears threatened to overflow as she gently picked up the scrapbook, hoping to salvage something.

To her horror, even the cautious hold of magic was too much for it.

It crumbled into a small gray pile at her hooves.

Her scrapbook, which was one of her most treasured possessions was nothing but ash.

Ash.

Twilight sniffled and tried to hold back the waves of depression that threatened to crush her. She cast a mournful gaze over the burnt skeleton of the tree and turned away, no longer wishing to suffer from her loss.

She trotted slowly towards the edge of town, making her way towards the new addition to the landscape. Twilight barely heard Celestia start following her as she made her way to her castle.

My Castle…

Twilight lifted her head as the two alicorns walked and looked closely at it.

The thick crystals that made up the stonework had a pearly sheen that reflected the light. At the time of sunset, it glowed much like the fading sun itself, reflecting the bright orange hues into a mesmerizing display of significance. It was shaped like a tree, in fact, Twilight thought it took the shape of the Tree of Harmony itself. In the upper “branches” of the castle traditional stonework was shaped to reveal tall towers and large chambers. Little windows were dotted all across its surface. Gold could be seen cresting different adornments that highlighted the beauty of the castle.

It was magnificent.

But it was not home.

Of course, Twilight was not ungrateful or anything, and she knew that eventually she would love this place just as much as the old library. But nothing could immediately replace the familiarity of the ruined tree. The sounds of the creaking stairs, the smell of the kitchen, the homely hearth where she and Spike spent many a cold winter’s night, or the different dents and scratches from different misadventures.

Sighing heavily as nostalgia threatened to overtake her, she finally reached the base of the monolith.

The doors were huge, and they were emblazoned with detailed artwork that flowed into a breathtaking picture of a graceful tree. Twilight pushed them open with her magic, and light poured out into the street as she made her way in, Celestia following closely behind.

They were in the long hallway that led to the throne room, tall colulmns of crystal dominating the walls.

The empty walls.

Althought the castle had come with rooms built in, it did not provide any furnishing for its new residents to use. No beds, desks, tables, chairs, or even simple tableware were to be found.

“It’s beautiful Twilight.” Celestia whispered, her voice echoing along the dark and empty hallway.

Twilight glanced up at the other alicorn next to her and scrunched up her face a little.

“Yes it is. But it’s completely empty, and I literally have nothing to put in it. Nothing!”

The last word came out as a shout that bounced up and down the stonework, enunciating the emptiness of the space between its walls.
Celestia looked down at her patiently and gave a small and sympathetic smile.

“I know, and furthermore I know nothing will replace what you have lost. But I can at least help with get settled in here now.”

Twilight’s ears flickered as her mind picked up pace and her mood lifted considerably.

“Thanks princess.”

“Twilight, I truly wish you would stop calling me that. 'Tia would be nice, or Celestia if you must."

“Sorry, it’s just…well…habit I suppose.

“I see.”

“That aside, I know just how to help you get started with this place.” Celestia continued, the smile having become more genuine now.

“Oh?”

"The old castle in the Everfree is, as you are aware of, a complete ruin that could collapse any day now. But I know that the library inside is mostly intact and the books there salvageable. I know you will give them a much better home here.”

Twilight had to suppress her impulse to squeal like a filly and jump around for joy.

“Really?! Oh I can’t wait, I know just where I’ll…oh…uh…I actually…don’t know where to put them.” Twilight felt heat rise into her cheeks in abashment. “I…haven’t actually explored this place yet.”

Celestia chuckled a little, sounding much like the gentle bells of Hearths Warming Eve.

“I understand, you and everypony else have been very busy.” Her brow scrunched a little as Celestia looked up back to the empty castle. “Speaking of everypony else, where are your friends, and Spike for that matter?”

Twilight’s giddiness faded a little as she too looked down the hallway, thinking back over where her friends were.

“Oh, well…I didn’t want Spike to…to be sad or unhappy. He already a little bit since I told him what happened, but I think seeing it for himself would have just made him more so. He’s staying at Rarity’s tonight or more until I get some food and furnishings for this place.” Twilight looked above her at the unexplored labyrinth above her. “Or until I’m not afraid of him getting lost in here.”

Celestia gently laughed again and waited for the rest of Twilight’s answer, sitting down on the marble floor.

“Applejack is with her family, they’re all recovering from Tirek taking their magic, as well as replanting the apple trees they lost from his forest fires.” Twilight began counting down the list, naming each friend. “Rainbow Dash got called in by Wonderbolt High Command, they’re searching Equestria for anypony that may have gotten hurt or injured because of having their magic drained. Pinkie Pie decided to go visit her family at their rock farm to check on them, she’s also been busy trying to cheer up any colts or fillies that have gotten scared or frightened.” Twilight chuckled a little, remembering her pink friend’s antics. “Fluttershy is back at her cottage, comforting as many animals as she can as Tirek’s forest fires left many of her animal friends homeless.”

Twilight sighed again, the events of the day coming back in sharper detail with every recollection. Despite the long celebration after
Tirek’s defeat, there were many consequences that would still need to be dealt with.

Celestia gave Twilight a questioning gaze and her eyes crinkled as she frowned a little.

“And what about you Twilight? What are you going to do?”

Twilight shifted around uncomfortably, all too aware of Celestia’s knowing stare.

“Don’t tell me,” Celestia began “That you are staying here by yourself tonight.”

Twilight guiltily nodded her head in affirmation of the statement, avoiding Celestia’s eyes.

“Twilight, you shouldn’t be by yourself, especially after today.” Celestia paused and her face lit up in a smile. “Why don’t you come back with me to Canterlot. Just for tonight.”

Twilight thought it over. Spike would be fine at Rarity’s, and the prospect of staying by herself in the castle with nothing to sleep on did seem like a dim prospect indeed. Perhaps going back to her hometown would be nice, even if it was just for an evening.

“Thanks princess, I really appreciate that. I’ll be more than glad to come with you.”
The smile on Celestia’s face just seemed to grow, and she turned back towards the entrance and used her own magic to open the doors.

“Well, we should be on our way. I think Luna should be back any moment now.”

“What has she been doing?” Twilight asked, following Celestia out the door, the cool night air caressing her coat.

“She’s making sure the nobles aren’t panicking over today’s events, but more importantly, she’s taking care of Canterlot and informing everpony of what has transpired.”

Celestia sat down on the grass in front of the castle, peering up into the starlit sky and searching for her sister. Something about what she had said didn’t quite sit well with Twilight, and it took her a moment for her to realize what it was.

“Wait, shouldn’t you be doing that? Not that I mean I don’t think Luna should or can do it, but it seems like something that you would be doing too.”

Twilight gazed up at Celestia with a questioning look and was surprised to see Celestia returning her look with a bright smile.

“I’m doing something more important at the moment.”

“What?”

Celestia reached out and booped Twilight’s muzzle with a hoof.

“Making sure you are alright.”

Twilight blushed, but the smile that spread across her face felt more genuine than any other smile she had given today.

“Thanks, but—“

Celestia stopped her sentence by covering her mouth with a feather tip.

“Don’t say you’re not that important Twilight, for that would be the understatement of the last millennium.”

Celestia lowered her wing and looked back up at the sky, seemingly oblivious as Twilight wiped a few grateful tears from her eyes with her own wings.

“Oh.” Celestia said, her voice softer than a whisper. “There’s Luna now.”

Twilight glanced up quickly just in time to see Luna’s sleek blue chariot land quietly in front of them, two Lunar Pegasi in their silver armor pulling it. It was the same chariot Luna had used when Twilight first truly met her, the Nightmare Night of a couple years back.

Luna herself looked tired and disheveled, but her face smiled nonetheless as she caught sight of them.

“Tia, Twilight, it is so good to see you both, it has been a most tiresome day.”

“Thanks for coming and getting us Luna.”

Celestia stepped up into the chariot and Twilight followed.

“Are you coming back with us to Canterlot Twilight?”

“Yes,” Twilight said, “Just for tonight though, the castle is, well…”

Luna nodded when Twilight didn’t finish, and she then signaled to the guards and they began flying up into the sky towards the mountain, pulling the chariot along with them. The wind picked up in strength as they gained altitude and picked up speed. Twilight could see that Luna wore a sympathetic face, etched with some worry.

“It’s the library isn’t it?”

Twilight only nodded.

“Fear not my friend, I understand your predicament quite well. I will send the Royal Artesian to start outfitting your new castle.”

Twilight wondered why Luna would understand her situation, and then she realized that Luna had lost everything too when the old Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters had been mostly destroyed, and she too had to move into a new castle when she returned from her banishment.

“Thanks Luna, I really appreciate it.”

“Think nothing of it! We are friends and fellow princesses after all!” Luna smiled at Twilight again until she returned her attention to Canterlot. The chariot had just flown over the outer walls of the city.

Twilight looked down, searching for her parents’ house when she felt Celestia nuzzling her.

“What do you plan on doing with your new castle?” she asked, genuine curiosity radiating from her.

Twilight thought it over. While she had enjoyed her time as the librarian of Ponyville, Twilight knew that the town’s council would soon order the construction of a new one. While she was reluctant to give up her position as librarian, she realized that her Royal Duties had left little time for her to actually sit down and be a librarian. Twilight wanted what was best for the town, and a new library and librarian would certainly be for the best. As Twilight finally felt ready to truly don the mantle of princess, she would throw herself into it, whole heartedly.

But what to do with the castle?

“I think…I think when it's ready, I’ll have an Open House at the castle.”

Luna frowned in confusion as she did not recognize the term.

“Do you mean that you’ll keep your doors open? or—“

“It means Twilight will throw a party to show everyone her new home.” Celestia interrupted, giggling at Luna’s confusion.

“Oh.” Luna replied, wilting a little. “Like the Gala? I have seen funerals with more spirit in them.”

“Oh no!” Twilight replied, banishing the embarrassing memories of the Gala three years back. “Nothing like that! I’m sure Pinkie would love to plan it, and I’ll invite the Apple Family to cater the food. The Cakes can provide dessert from Sugercube Corner.” She spotted a familiar building underneath them as they flew by. “Perhaps Pony Joe’s too.”

Twilight could see Luna perk up a bit from the ways her ears flickered back into giving her full attention.

“Pinkie you say? Hhhmmm…Such festivities do indeed sound promising.”

“Oh yes, I’ll be sure to come as well. It sounds lovely Twilight, and it’ll give you a good opportunity to know your new home better.” Celestia said sweetly, looking down at Twilight with a proud and supportive smile.

Twilight looked over the side of the chariot and saw a three story house with a built in observatory on the top.

“Gents?” Twilight asked, addressing the two Lunar Pegasi. They continued to look forward but their ears flickered in recognition of her. “Could you please land by that house with the observatory? This is my stop.”

Celestia looked over Twilight’s shoulder, peering down at the house below. The chariot descending to the street in front of it.

“Oh.” She said, a small bit of surprise in her tone. “You want to stay with your parents?”

“Yes, it has been far too long since I last saw them, and I know Shining is staying here tonight with Cadence before they travel back to the Crystal Empire tomorrow.” From the corner of her eye, Twilight got a quick look at her former mentor.

Was it her imagination, or did Celestia look disappointed?

Looking up at the taller mare quickly, Twilight could see that Celestia wore a neutral but polite expression as she looked down on her parent’s house.

Luna interrupted Twilight’s staring with a compliment.

“Ah yes, Lord Night Light and Lady Velvet of House Armor. They are most pleasant ponies, and one of the few among the nobility that I could call noble. You are most certainly blessed to have such wonderful parents Twilight.” She laughed a little, the sound like wind chimes. “When I first met Lord Night Light, after I returned, he was one of the few nobles who accepted me immediately, granted though, he was very excited to speak with me. He kept rambling about the constellations and asking questions about the phases of the moon and different star patterns, he would have kept me there answering his questions if Lady Velvet had not pulled him away.”

Twilight laughed at Luna’s memory of her father and stepped out into the street, the chariot having landed a moment ago.

“Thank you sirs.” Twilight said, giving a nod of thanks to the guards that had pulled the chariot. She then turned towards Celestia and Luna who were still sitting in the chariot.

“Good night, I’ll see you both in the morning.” She paused. “Oh and Celestia?”

“Yes?”

“Thanks, for…for being there for me.”

A golden smile flitted across Celestia’s muzzle.

“Twilight, I’ll always be there for you.”

As soon as the words left her lips, the chariot took off and ascended back into the starlit sky, leaving Twilight on the ground. She watched as it flew towards Canterlot Castle before turning around and knocking on the door.

“Mom? I’m home!”

Author's Note:

Enjoy! I know this has been awhile in coming out, and you have my most sincerest apologies for making you wait. You all will be glad to know then, that with that time I have been developing a story plot and I hope you will all enjoy it since I have quite a few surprises down the road. 1) First of all, this chapter was more to establish the time the storyline starts from, and also start bits of the story, more conflict and excitement will happen soon, just please bear with me. 2) The Season 4 Finale gave me a lot to work with, so I am glad I waited until it was aired. Comments are appreciated but please remain civil towards me and your fellow commenters. Enjoy!