• Published 10th Mar 2014
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How Equestria Was Made - Feo Takahari



Two sisters find an empty snow globe. At a touch, it fills with light and life--but darkness lurks within it as well . . .

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The Sacrifice

Late that night, Polly gently knocked at the door to Annie’s room. Thankfully, Annie was still awake--Polly hadn’t been looking forward to waking her up.

“You’re going back, aren’t you?” Polly asked without preamble. “Even though Celestia and Luna can run it all without us, you’re going back.”

“I need to check,” Annie insisted. “What if something goes wrong?”

Polly stretched to her full height, looking down at Annie. “I could hide the snow globe, you know. I could put it somewhere you’d never find it.”

Annie stood up on the bed, matching Polly’s height. “You won’t.”

Polly sat down on the bed next to Annie and exhaled heavily. “Annie, I have three things to tell you. Remember that IQ test Mom and Dad had you take last year? That’s one thing--I’ll tell you what score you got.”

“Sis, what are you--”

“The average is a hundred. A hundred and thirty means you’re a genius. It doesn’t go higher than a hundred and sixty. That’s how high you scored.”

Still standing, Annie looked down at the bedspread. It caught Polly’s eye, too--it was plastered with pictures of little pink ponies.

“Yes, you’re a kid,” Polly admitted, “but you’re smarter than me, and I can’t keep up with you. That’s one thing you need to understand.” She reached into her pocket--awkwardly, given that she was still sitting--and pulled out her cell phone. Flicking it on, she offered it to Annie. “The second is that we’re both in way over our heads.”

There were six tabs open, ranging from Wikipedia pages to newspaper articles to a hideous thing in red Gothic letters on a black background. All six had something to do with monster sightings, presenting blurred photos and shaky testimonies of things that shouldn’t be. They ranged in time from less than five years ago to more than a century past, but all of them were within a hundred miles of Polly and Annie’s house.

Annie sat back down and examined the pages, skipping from screen to screen. “It looked just like that two-legged rabbit from that movie . . . He smiled, but his teeth were long and pointed . . . These female monsters ignore human women, but they tell men to come closer, and if they do, they . . .” Annie wrinkled her nose. “Ew. Ew. EW! Who would make up something like that?”

“I don’t think they’re made up,” Polly said. “Just like Equestria isn’t made up.”

“But they’re not really connected,” Annie said. “They’re just random urban legends.”

“I found the last one just a couple hours ago,” Polly said. “It’s the one that made me certain.”

The final page didn’t have much to it--just a brief note that had supposedly been found thirty years ago in a house where the owner had gone missing. It was a confession of sorts, describing how he’d found . . .

“. . . A snow globe,” Annie read aloud.

He hadn’t created a whole world, just a single perfect island. He’d ruled over it as a king, and his subjects--all young, beautiful women--had done absolutely everything he’d wished of them. But in time, they’d found minds and wills of their own, and they’d come to hate this outsider who controlled and degraded them.

I’m gonna wipe it all clean, the note finished. Destroy the whole island, and kill all those-- Annie skipped over a string of insults and profanities. But if they get me, I want whoever finds this to know not to so much as touch that snow globe. It’s not worth it.

“Nobody ever found the snow globe,” Polly said, “but that urban legend about monster women started around the same time as this. The red-haired one sounds a lot like his ‘wife,’ doesn’t she? I think she found a way out.”

For the first time that Polly could remember, Annie looked absolutely gobsmacked. “Are you saying Discord could have . . . Jeez.”

“Maybe,” Polly said. “I don’t know how it works, though. Maybe he could only get out if we somehow let him out.”

“Or maybe he could have figured it out if we’d left him alone long enough,” Annie suggested. She handed the phone back. “This doesn’t really change anything. We just need to be even more careful.”

“One of us needs to keep checking back,” Polly said, “but it doesn’t have to be you. That’s the third thing I need you to understand. You matter more than me.”

Annie looked like she’d been slapped in the face. “You can’t say that, Sis! You’ve done so much to help Equestria . . .”

“I’m normal,” Polly said. “Average. If Mom and Dad didn’t have money, I’d grow up to be a waitress. Instead, I’ll probably go to business school and work as a middle manager in an office somewhere. My life won’t mean anything. Annie, there’s so much you could do--in this world, not Equestria. Don’t throw it all away.”

Annie seemed to have run out of shocked expressions. Instead, her mouth made a narrow line, and her tone was completely even. “You envy me. You see little broken Annie who jumps when someone touches her shoulder, and you want to be just like me.”

“I don’t want to be you,” Polly said. “You’re already you, and that’s good enough. You need to keep being you--not Annie the Just, not Princess Luna, just plain old Annie.”

Annie stared at her, then slowly began to shake in place. She broke into a full-throated laugh that lasted almost a minute. “Do you--do you--” She put a hand to her mouth until she calmed. “Do you have any idea how much I wish I were you? Sis, how many friends do you have?”

Polly realized her mouth was gaping open, and she hastily closed it. Then she remembered that she needed to say something. “A few.”

“How many friends do I have?”

“Clover was your friend.”

This time, Annie only chuckled quietly. It was over almost as soon as it started. “That’s my point. Do you know why I like the Pony Princesses so much? It’s because they’re always kind and always accepting--they never hurt each other or make fun of each other like humans do. But I’m human, so I should at least be able to talk to humans. Instead, I had to make a whole new world, full of ponies instead of people, just so I could make a friend! You said you’re not smart. Maybe you’re right, but your life will be a hell of a lot better than mine.”

“Annie, you can’t keep doing this to yourself,” Polly attempted. “You--”

“Get out of my room, Polly,” Annie said.

“But--”

“Go!”

Polly went. She shoved the door open, but closed it gently and quietly.

She heard Annie one last time before the door shut completely. “Equestria needs me. But I need Equestria, too.”

-- -- -- --

For a goddess, incarnation was simple. Had Annie wished it, she could easily have imagined herself a new body and a new life, hers to live until death or boredom. But living means doing things--eating, drinking, talking--and Annie was not in a state to do anything at all.

Incarnation was simple, but possession was simpler. The body was already there, and all she had to do was hide herself away in it. The mind was much like her own, but it was separate from her, and it acted while she merely watched. And so, peering out from behind Princess Luna’s eyes, Annie saw days turn into nights and nights turn into days.

She could go back any time she wanted. She knew only a few seconds had passed in the human world. But why would she want to? Back there, she’d need to pretend to be alive. Here, she could simply be a ghost.

There was little change in the pattern of the days. Celestia made plans and passed judgment. She did her best to include Luna, but the short-tempered, impetuous princess was worse than useless at any diplomatic function, and she soon exiled herself from Celestia’s presence. The only task she still performed was raising the moon, and she was unsure if Celestia even needed her for that.

Lacking a purpose at the court, Luna took to visiting villages in person, looking for wrongs to right and criminals to punish. But she found that the locals had no use for her brand of justice, and they feared her far more than the villains she hunted. A part of her wanted to show them what true fear was . . . But she simply packed up and returned to court.

Day by day, serving no purpose. Envying the adoration the ponies gave Celestia. Wishing that somepony loved her that much.

Entire months blurred into a single moment of pain.

-- -- -- --

There was no prior warning when Luna completely snapped. She was angry, of course, but no angrier than usual. And then suddenly, apropos of nothing--“Tell me, sister, do you love me?”

At that moment, Celestia was sitting on her throne, treating with a dignitary from the deer tribes to the east. She stared at Luna without getting up, literally and metaphorically looking down on her. “Luna, this is not the time for--”

“When is the time?” Luna demanded. “The court can wait for now. It could wait forever if you so wished. Do you love me?”

The dignitary looked nervously between them, then silently headed for the door. His entourage followed. This wasn’t something they wanted to be caught up in. Only a hooffull of royal guards remained in the throne room, and with a quick gesture from Celestia, they departed as well.

With no mortal eyes upon her, Celestia was free to lean back on her throne and sigh. “I’m sorry, Luna. I know I have neglected you. But you must understand that I love you very much. I just wish I had some way to help you.”

Luna climbed the stairs to the throne, the better to look Celestia in the eye. “Then leave the court. At least for a year. Make a royal vacation of it! I’ll stay to watch over our little ponies, and maybe then they will adore me like they adore you.”

“You know I can’t do that, Luna,” Celestia said. “You mean well, but you cannot rule on your own. You push too harshly where a delicate touch is needed.”

“Am I to be your shadow forever?” Luna demanded.

“That’s not what I--”

Luna’s hoof nearly impacted with Celestia’s face, but Celestia teleported away just in time.

Somewhere in the depths of Luna’s mind, a quiet little voice thought, What?

From the front of the throne room, Celestia stared at Luna, more confused than angry. “Have you gone mad?” she demanded.

“I’ve finally gone sane,” Luna replied.

Luna, what are you doing? the little voice demanded.

Slowly, Celestia edged towards Luna.

“Not another step!” Luna shouted. Then, a touch less firmly, “Did you really expect me to sit idly by while they all basked in your precious light? There can only be one princess in Equestria--”

Luna, stop it, the little voice said. You don’t want to do this.

“--And that princess will be me!”

The window behind the throne shattered, and light poured into the room. Then Luna called upon the power within herself--the only power she still possessed--and up in the sky, the moon shifted out of orbit, moving to eclipse the sun.

Darkness poured into Luna, transforming her body and soul. Deep inside her, Annie silently screamed in a terror born of recognition.

Rage. Hatred. Jealousy of her sister, who stood in the light while she walked in the shadows. All of it was in Luna, but none of it was native to her. Like everything else in Equestria, it had come from the mind of its creator.

Me, Annie realized. All of it was me. Discord was Danny, hurting whoever he wanted whenever he wanted. I felt cold and alone, so that’s why the windigoes were cold. Everything that hurt ponies--everything wrong with this world--it’s here because I brought it here.

The thing that had been Luna laughed bitterly, her mouth wide open to reveal a carnivore’s fangs. Inside her head, Annie almost joined her.

Fight it, Annie demanded. This is me, not you. Don’t let me control you.

Wordlessly, Luna tore apart the throne room, beams of raw magic shredding the ceiling to expose more of the night sky. Advancing through a cloud of dust, she found and fired on Celestia, who dodged without returning the attack.

“Luna, I will not fight you,” Celestia pleaded. “You must lower the moon! It is your duty!”

Listen to her, Luna, Annie begged. You have to--

“Luna?” the creature asked, sounding genuinely confused. “I am Nightmare Moon! I have but one royal duty now--to destroy you!”

So much for that. Out of options, Annie tried to retreat. She’d be better off helping Celestia than trying to talk to the Nightmare.

For the first time, Annie realized that she was stuck. Not in the sense of a fly in a web, nor in the sense of a mouse in a trap. She was stuck to the Nightmare in the same sense that one’s arm is stuck to one’s torso--and with the same sense of proportion. She couldn’t even tell where it ended and she began.

She wasn’t sure if there was still a difference.

“And where do you think you're going?” the Nightmare demanded. Annie thought at first it was referring to her, but no, Celestia had been trying to escape as well. The Nightmare followed her through a hole in the ceiling, firing bolt after bolt across the night sky.

Annie stretched her soul like taffy, and the very tip of it touched Celestia’s. You have to stop her, Annie ordered. Only you can. Do whatever it takes.

Then a lucky shot struck home, and with an agonized scream, Celestia fell.

For a full thirty seconds, the Nightmare hung in the air. For the first fifteen, she laughed. For the next fifteen, she waited.

Sure enough, one shot wasn’t enough for the princess of the day. She rose up again, surrounded by . . . the magic crystals?

The Nightmare fired a shot. Celestia fired a bigger one. They met in midair, but the Nightmare’s was pushed back.

A rainbow of light surrounded her, and then all Annie knew was pain.

-- -- -- --

Annie awoke face-down in grey dust. The first thing she realized was that she was human again. The second . . .

“I’m on the moon?”

“We’re in the moon,” the Nightmare explained. “But you’re in my head, too. This isn’t real, but it’s close enough to hurt you.”

Annie took her time rising to her feet, trying to size up the situation. She could see Equestria hanging in the sky, but she had had no way of getting back to it. The ground was the same in every direction, gray and dusty, pockmarked with craters--nothing to run to or from. As for the Nightmare, she looked none the worse for wear.

“Are you gonna ask me to join you so we can rule together?” Annie asked.

“You would say no,” the Nightmare said. “So I won’t ask. I’ll order.”

She rushed forward and kicked Annie in the head.

Annie sprawled backwards on the ground, but she got to her feet quickly enough. “That hurt, you--”

The Nightmare kicked her in the head again. This time, she lay there, unmoving, and was kicked again.

“You’re me,” the Nightmare said. “You know what I want. You know everyone I want to hurt. Bring me to the human world, and you can watch them all suffer.”

This was all imaginary, wasn’t it? So perhaps Annie could imagine things into it. She thought of a kitchen knife, sharp enough to cut through meat. She tried to feel it in her hand, and when it was solid, she swung it upwards.

It passed through the Nightmare like she was a cloud of smoke. “That was a good try,” the Nightmare said. Then she kicked Annie in the head again.

Annie let the knife clatter to the ground. This was pointless. Unless . . .

“Why are you just kicking me?” Annie asked. “Why not stick your horn through my heart? Or blast me with magic?”

“You’re me,” the Nightmare said. “I can’t just kill you.” She kicked Annie again.

Annie lifted the knife again. Before the Nightmare could kick it away, she brought it down on the fingers of her own left hand.

There wasn’t any blood. In a rush of pain and a flash of light, the fingers simply disintegrated. That part of Annie’s soul was lost.

As they vanished, the Nightmare screamed.

Annie cut and cut, slicing herself away piece by piece. With every lost chunk, the Nightmare shrank as well. The pain seared through her, but it was all right. Pain was natural. It was a part of who she was.

As less and less was left, she cut more randomly and jaggedly. She barely remembered why she was doing this, but she knew she couldn’t stop.

In the end, little was left but a small, round blur. Only the cutting arm made it any different from the soul of a pony or a griffon.

“I’m sorry,” came a voice from the blur. “P . . . P . . .” She couldn’t remember the name. “Sis . . . I won’t let her hurt you.”

Then the arm severed itself, and Annie ceased to be.

Author's Note:

This chapter was edited by Rakni and Razalon.

So, how about that Teen--Violence rating? *Runs and hides*