• Published 17th Apr 2014
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The Luna Cypher - iisaw



Sequel to The Celestia Code. When the monsters created by the dark crystal engine escape their prison, it's up to Princess Twilight to deal with them. She gets help and advice from Princess Luna, but things don't go as planned.

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22 Secrets

Chapter Twenty Two
Secrets

So that was the plan. If we stayed out of the public eye, we could have our cake and eat it, too.[1] Equestria would be reassured that all was normal again, and Luna and I would be able to enjoy each other's company without panicking the populace.
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[1] Pinkie Pie's solution to that traditional problem of gluttony vs. the artistry of the baker was to bake two cakes: one to look at and one to eat. Of course, she always ended up eating both cakes, so it wasn't a very good solution.
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I didn't much like the idea of deception, but I couldn't deny that it was the best solution out of a host of unpleasant or unworkable ones.

Halfway across the upper terrace on my way to the Tower of the Moon, I became convinced it was what Luna herself had subtly suggested with her shadowy vanishing act. Ponies had some pretty sophisticated non-verbal ways of communicating. Just ask my mom.

Three-quarters of the way across the terrace, I began to wonder if all the events of the past year hadn't turned out exactly as Celestia had planned. The bitter and hateful Nightmare had still been a threat through the Dream Realm, even when she was unreachable within the Wheel of the Earth. Who else could have gone down there with a chance of bringing her out as anything other than a fully restored monster?

Celestia had obviously hidden aboard Solar Flare, disguised as a normal pony. I didn't think there was any way she could have reached us in time to rescue Luna otherwise. Had I really been too far into the collapsing portal for her magic to take hold of me? Had I really felt the slightest tug of her magic before the portal closed, or was that my hopeful imagination? Had she let me go, trusting that I would do pretty much what I had done?

No, surely not. Or was I really "Celestia's Little Terror?" The pony she trusted to solve the unsolvable. I confess the idea thrilled me just a bit. I made a mental note to worm my nickname out of my brother somehow. He'd surely know it, even if he didn't approve.

I paused and looked over the edge of the parapet toward Parliament Square. I couldn't help but reflect that every time my life showed any sort of stability or reliability, sudden drastic changes had overtaken me. When I grew complacent in my power and abilities, some new challenge would appear that would try me to my utmost. It felt a lot like the method the Red Queen had used to strengthen her ponies. Only personal.

There was quite a party going on in the square; I could hear the music and singing from where I stood. Colored lanterns had been strung above the rubble, and balloons floated on long lines along the High Street. It was a joyous celebration by a lot of happy and relieved ponies.

I might be disturbed by her methods, but I couldn't argue with Celestia's results. I turned back toward the tower as a thin waning crescent moon rose over the castle. It should have been a waxing quarter at this time of month, but allowances had to be made, I supposed.

Alone, Celestia had ruled Equestria in peace or victory for a thousand years. Though all the official histories said otherwise, she couldn't have managed that impressive feat by merely being the wise, motherly figure that was her public persona. Not many modern ponies know it, but griffins used to eat ponies, and the First Griffin War was partly the result of a famine in their homeland. Emperor Gustave certainly got a rude surprise when his armies swooped down on Canterlot, calling for the "mild and weak" Celestia to surrender her kingdom. Modern griffins blanch at the thought of eating any sapient species, and we all have Celestia to thank for that.

So why was I bothered by some necessary deception and one probably deserved death? Was it that it led me into even more deception? But it was for the good of Equestria, and the heroic tales of self-sacrifice that I loved as a filly might just as well be re-framed as sacrificing one's overly strict morals. I shook myself out of my inner argument and went on. I'd have plenty of time to obsess over it later.

The captain of Luna's guard stood watch at the entrance to her tower. He braced as I approached, head and neck held in a stiff posture of respect as I walked up to the door.

"Good evening, Captain Nightwing. The princess is expecting me."

He gave me a brief, tight nod. "Her Majesty requests that, if you bear bad news, you would be so kind as to leave her to her own thoughts tonight."

I gave him a slight smile. "I know my way up."

He relaxed just a bit and stepped to the side. As I passed by him, he said softly, "Thank you, Princess."

I didn't ask what he was thanking me for.

The two big onyx vases outside Luna's private chambers held large bouquets of asphodel and moon wort; their heavy scent filled the hallway. I raised the silver crescent knocker and rapped lightly. "It's me," I called out.

After a moment, the door swung inward, revealing the dimly lit chamber. Luna stood by the window that overlooked the city, her head turned toward me over her shoulder. She was leaning slightly forward and her near hind hoof was cocked at exactly the right angle.

"Oh, 'tis good to hear thee laugh, Twilight!" she said as she came to greet me.

Our wings and forelegs wrapped and intertwined as I said, "And it's good to know you haven't lost your subtle and wicked sense of humor."

"Nary a pony alive today would credit it, but I bore the Element of Laughter once upon a time."

We held each other for a while, then I said, "Our relationship has faced a lot of challenges, and there are certainly going to be many more in the future. Do you think it will matter if we add another one to the pile?"

"As long as we bear the burden together, my love," Luna said softly, her lips brushing my neck.

It wasn't so bad, really. So what if she was a mare? Love is love, isn't it? Can't a pony grow toward acceptance with an act of will?

After another moment, Luna spoke again. "I am the Mare of the Night, the Princess of Dark Places, and the Mistress of Secrets; it will be no hardship to me to hide the truth, to play at disguises and deceptions with thee."

"Oh, so you know what I decided?"

"I do," Luna confirmed. "Do I not? 'Tis not but the only way to satisfy all involved. But what of thee? Will not the clandestine meetings be a burden? Wilt thou not feel discomfort when we go amongst our subjects disguised?"

I chuckled. "It might be a relief to just be a normal pony every once in awhile."

Luna nodded. "Normal, but not ordinary. I will not let thee reduce thy beauty for the sake of dissemblement."

That made me laugh again. "Is that a real word?" My somber, introspective mood was rapidly dissolving.

"Wouldst thou doubt me? Oh, cruel and heartless lover! How canst thou be so calumtationish?"

I had an absolute fit of snorting laughter. "Okay, first thing tomorrow, I'm buying a Middle Equish dictionary!"

"Fie! Reunited we are, after a long and torturous absence, and thou thinkest of naught but reading? Mayhaps I can change thy mind."

That's when Luna's teasing took on a much more physical aspect. She stepped away from me, and I felt the cool and silky flow of her magic as she shifted her shape. Before me stood a silver-gray unicorn stallion with an ebony mane and tail. He was luxuriously muscled, but lithe and supple instead of bulky. "Tell me, Twilight," he... uh... she said in a baritone as rich as melted chocolate, "what do you read in my eyes?"

Oh, Stars and Moon! Those half-lidded turquoise eyes held an invitation that was unmistakable. My throat, heart, and belly all competed to see which one could perform the most convoluted internal gymnastics. I said something brilliant like, "Guh," and sat down hard. They aren't common or frequent, but there are times when I really wish I could turn off my brain for an hour or so, and that was one of them.

Luna sensed my distress and became herself again in an instant. "Forgive me! I didst not intend—"

I held up a hoof and made a little squeaky noise in place of coherent speech. Then, after I had collected myself and cleared my throat, I said, "No, that was... was... wow. It's just that I think I'd like to take it a bit slow at first. If that's okay with you?"

"Of course, Twilight." Luna nodded earnestly. "Wouldst thou have preferred wings?"

I managed not to make another dumb little squeak, and said, "No... yes... maybe... I don't really know!"

"Slow, then," Luna said, smiling gently. "We have all the time we could want, now."

"Oh, right," I gasped out. "Time! I arranged for a dinner party that's supposed to start in about a half hour. You should come. I mean we should go. Together. Go together."

"Thou art adorable when flustered, my love." She nibbled gently on one of my ears.

"Stop that!"

Luna tilted her head questioningly.

"I mean... stop making me go all melty and goopy inside!"

She chuckled and tossed her mane. "'Tis sweet revenge for all those times I looked upon thee with longing sans hope, my dear, brilliant, beautiful—"

"Dinner!" I shouted in desperation. "Either we go down to dinner right now, or nopony's going to see the two of us for a month!"

A slow, evil smile crept across Luna's face. "Dinner... for now," she said.

= = =

"You invited Chrysalis?!" Applejack quietly hissed at me, trying not to lose sight of the changeling queen-in-exile where she chatted with Jigsaw and Sesseressia on the other side of the dining hall. The big table in the center of the room had been set, but the first course hadn't been served, and the little tables along the walls held a large assortment of appetizers. Everypony orbited the dinner table, sampling and grazing.

I briefly considered the best way to phrase it so that Applejack could empathize with my motives. "I've got some scores to settle, and as long as I've been away, I thought it would be best not to delay any longer."

"Does one of them scores involve the big bug gettin' her hide whupped?" Applejack asked, with the beginnings of a grin.

"I know you don't like her, but I really do owe her for the trouble I caused her."

"Twi—"

"Just watch her face. I'm sure you will enjoy it."

I left Applejack and walked around the big table, trading a few words with my friends as they mingled and sampled the hors d'oeuvres set out on silver trays around the periphery of the room. I passed Luna and Rarity, who stopped talking to each other and put on bright, innocent expressions as I passed by. Palace intrigue, no doubt.

"Your Majesty. Jigsaw. Sessi," I said as I approached them. As far as I knew, all that Chrysalis ruled was a little part of the Blueblood estate, a few score changelings, and a couple of shady businesses, but it was simple politeness to go along with her self-styled title.

"Twi!" Jigsaw beamed, and we exchanged hugs. "It's so good to see you back. I was worried sick, but I guess it's going to take a twenty-ton tombstone to keep you down!"

"I'm sure I could scrape up the bits to pay for one, if you find yourself short of cash," Chrysalis offered. Sesseressia chuckled.

"It's good to see you, too," I replied to Jigsaw while ignoring Chrysalis' jab. "Do you think you could excuse us for a minute or two? State business."

Jigsaw glanced between Chrysalis and I with a frankly disbelieving expression and then said, "Sure thing, Twi. I'll be right over there if you need anything."

"Like bandages or burn cream," Sesseressia said out of the corner of her mouth as she went by.

When they had trotted out of earshot, I turned to Chrysalis, who was frowning at me warily, and asked, "You haven't forgotten my promise to you, have you?" I glanced down at her legs. Sure enough, the holes were small. Some were barely dimples.

Chrysalis lifted her lip just enough to reveal the tip of one long incisor. "I don't expect you to honor it."

I wanted to say, "That's because you think I'm like you," but bit it back. Instead, I said, "What I can do is offer you a couple of options, now that I know what you really want."

"What do you mean by that? I've told you what I want."

"No, I've thought this out. You don't want to stay a changeling. As an alicorn, you could use your shape-shifting magic to be anything you wanted, even your current changeling body. You'd shed the curse in an instant if you weren't afraid of losing its other effect."

Chrysalis raised her chin and her eyes narrowed in anger. She sneered slightly as she asked, "What options?"

"I can reinforce the curse. From recent experience, I'm pretty sure I can find a way to use energy from the Wheel of the Earth to lock it onto you like a magic straitjacket."

"You..." Chrysalis struggled with her own face for a second and then gave up, settling into a pathetically hopeful expression. "Can you really do it?"

I nodded. "You'll be able to be with Blueblood all the time, but I'm pretty sure the technique will limit you in another important way."

Chrysalis' expression began to harden again. "Explain."

"The magic would have to be designed to keep you from changing. At all."

I heard Applejack snort from all the way across the room. She had been watching. At least somepony was enjoying the situation. I didn't find the queen-in-exile's shocked and enraged face quite as hilarious.

Before Chrysalis could do something foolish, I went on. "Maybe you'll be able to use your alicorn magic to cast an illusion or glamor that will make you look different, but it won't be the true transformation you're used to." I paused for a second as her face went through a dozen different expressions and finally settled on cold disdain. "I'm sorry, but your choice comes down to living apart from your friend for most of the time or losing your ability to change shape."

"But..." She was obviously thinking furiously. "If I allow the curse to be lifted and I become my old self, you could lock me into that body, couldn't you?"

"Sorry, it won't work that way. I can only preserve what's already there. The curse itself is what's keeping you eternally young. You've got to choose one or the other."

She looked away from me and didn't reply for a long time. Just when I was thinking I ought to leave, she spoke again. "Or I could become mortal again." She turned to look at me haughtily. "For him."

Just the fact that she was considering it impressed me deeply. "Believe it or not, I understand that, and I sympathize. Let me know what you decide, and I'll do my best to help you. Of course, I really haven't had time to research the problem properly. There may be another way... or several ways."

I couldn't read her expression or get any clue from her voice as to whether she was joking or not when she said, "I've had the opportunity to kill you several times and failed to take advantage of those situations. I really can't decide if that's a good thing or not."

I gave her a flat stare in return. "I had a lot of time to think when I was trapped in the world, and I thought about a couple of things you said to me in my castle and on board Solar Flare. I got the strangest idea that maybe you knew what the Nightmare had done to me."

Chrysalis shrugged and looked away. "I really don't care enough about your affairs to delve into them that deeply."

I let myself smile, just a little bit. She was lying and I wanted her to know I knew while pretending to believe her.[2] "Oh, that's good. Because I made a promise to myself down there that I would hate to have to fulfill. My reputation might never recover." I turned and trotted off, feeling a little bit ashamed of myself for my little implied threat. I wondered if the Nightmare had left a trace of meanness in me along with her magic. Which was another thing I had to deal with. But not tonight, I told myself.
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[2] It actually makes sense, if you give it a little bit of thought. No experienced courtier would even blink at such an ordinary dance of obfuscation.
----------

Since Rarity had arranged the dinner with the palace staff, it was a bit more formal than I had intended. Little name cards had been set out at each place at the table. Luna was at the head, of course, and Chrysalis was at the foot, as befitted a visiting monarch. I was at Luna's right hoof and Sesseressia was in the respective position near Chrysalis. I guess ex-generals rated in the same way as ex-queens. I was a little bit apprehensive about where my friends would be placed. Most wouldn't care, but Rarity and Rainbow Dash getting into an argument about who was above who in the Order of Precedence was something I cringed to think of.

Fortunately, the staff hadn't been able to decide, so Jigsaw was to the left of Chrysalis, and all the rest of the places were simply marked "Honorable Ponyville Guest." Rarity, who was the only one of my friends really conscious of such things, sat at Luna's left. The rest just plopped down in the spaces nearest to them when the first course was served, except for Spike, who sat next to me out of habit, I guess.

Most of the talk during dinner was simple catching-up, which was incredibly relaxing. I think I must have told the girls a dozen times how good it was to be with them again, but I still couldn't convey how thankful I was.

There were no secrets from them, of course. When I told them that Luna and I were going to be keeping our continuing relationship quiet, they had varying reactions. One shared by most of them was a quick glance at Chrysalis. Most of them still thought of her as an enemy, and no doubt wondered why in the world I was letting her in on our secret.[3]
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[3] Given her innate "talent" and her close connection to Equestrian royalty, there was no way I'd keep it from her for long. Besides, if I treated her like a friend, she might well become one... At least it would confuse her to no end. At the very least, she wouldn't consider my secret something she could blackmail me over.
----------

Rarity was initially distressed but then warmed to the idea. "A clandestine love-affair is very romantic! But won't you ever be able to be seen in public together?"

Pinkie Pie, who had gotten a fedora and a trench coat from someplace, leaned over the table with a carrot canapé stuck in the corner of her mouth. "Naw, they're on the QT, see?" she rasped out in a deep voice. "Keepin' it on the down-low, slippin' it by Johnny Law, pullin' the wool over—"

Rarity pulled Pinkie's hat down over her face and put another half-dozen canapés in her mouth. "I think we get the idea, dear."

"Someday, maybe," I told her. "But for now, we will disguise ourselves if we want to go out together."

When the dessert course arrived, Spike's tongue dropped out of his mouth and unfurled half way across the table. Pinkie had been true to her promise. Presented on a large serving cart, the gem cake was enormous and glittered so brightly that it was hard to look at. In its shadow were an assortment of wonderful little pastries for those of us with less geologic tastes.

"Manners, Spike," I told him out of the corner of my mouth. He nodded in response, but I doubt he'd really heard me. Or maybe he did; he didn't actually burrow into the cake.

The party was just on the verge of breaking up when Chrysalis stalked over toward me. I instinctively readied a series of spells and then felt foolish for doing so. I did not, however, drop the matrix forms from my mind.

"Thank you for the dinner, Twilight Sparkle," she said.

"You're welcome, Chrysalis," I replied, cautiously.

"I've made a decision."

"Oh?"

"Yes. I have decided to do without your help. I rather enjoy having you indebted to me. I will show you how true royalty behaves, and very possibly the next time you return to Canterlot, you will be in my shadow!" She then gave me a full, carnivorous grin and swept out of the hall.

"What was she goin' on about?" Applejack asked.

"I'm not certain," I said. "But I doubt I'm going to like it when I find out for sure."

"She's just jealous," a voice whispered in my ear. I turned to find Jigsaw standing there. "She's gotten used to being an important pony in town, and I think your dramatic return has got her a bit worried her star will wane."

I snorted out a laugh at the thought that suddenly popped into my mind.

Sesseressia frowned. "Don't dismiss her so lightly, Twilight Sparkle. Even without her swarm, she is still formidable."

"If she really wants to overshadow me, she's going to have to save the kingdom several times over! That's a threat I can live with. Besides... friendly rivalry is a big step up for us."

"She may not see it that way."

"Yes, I suppose you're right, Sessi, but if she gets to be too much of a bother, I've got a magic mirror I can dump her into. If it was good enough for Starswirl, it's good enough for me."

My remark was greeted by several puzzled looks, but I didn't bother to explain.

We said our various goodbyes, and I excavated a semi-comatose Spike from the remains of his cake, passing him over to Fluttershy.

"He's going to be pretty cranky when he wakes up with a sour stomach and a sugar hangover. Are you sure you want to nurse him through it?"

"Oh, yes! I don't mind at all. I have my traveling kit with me and I wouldn't want for you two to have to..." She paused and glanced between Luna and I. "I mean that it would be too... uhm... for you two to..." She trailed off and her face rapidly became a delightful shade of pink.

I gave her a quick hug. "Thank you, Fluttershy. I'll come by to check on him tomorrow morning."

Luna and I left the hall and had just emerged into the palace forecourt when there came a hissing noise from beside the doorway.

"Pssst!" A lumpy shadow moved toward us from the shadows, and resolved itself into Pinkie Pie, still in her trench coat and fedora. "Youse guys needs some disguises?"

Pinkie held out two pair of glasses with heavy fake eyebrows and large pink noses attached.

It was Luna who replied. "Thank you, Pinkie, but I think I can manage to keep us shielded from prying eyes." She did something then; not overt magic, but I could feel the exercise of her power.

A bat landed on her withers. Then another. Then another and another. I felt a tickle on my back and realized that the bats were landing on me, too. I had a long moment's struggle not to freak out, holding completely still as Luna and I were covered in bats that smoothly transformed into dark hooded cloaks.

Pinkie dropped her glasses.

I tried to keep my skin from shivering off of me while I realized that odd gender roles weren't the only thing I was going to have to get used to if I was going to share my life with Luna. But I couldn't help it; my flesh still crawled.

The cloaks did more than make us dark figures in the night; some inherent magic kept us nearly invisible. We walked right past a steward as we crossed the terrace, brightly lit by the full moon, and he didn't so much as glance at us. To my relief, when we reached the entrance to the Tower of the Moon, our cloaks fell apart and flew away.

= = =

We had breakfast in bed, laughing and chatting and snuggling and... just like normal ponies.

"I shall have to arrange things so that I can visit you in Ponyville as often as possible. Perhaps you should acquire a handsome new neighbor who travels frequently?"

I smiled. "Yes, and maybe you can hire a new hoofmaiden or servant. Maybe a messenger to explain long absences?"

"Yes," she said. "Something like that would suffice. We need not be apart for more than a few days." I stiffened slightly at her words and she felt it. "What is the matter, Twilight?"

"It's something I've been thinking about. No, don't worry! I don't want to be away from you for a second, but I think it may be necessary."

Luna frowned. "How so?"

I sighed. I didn't want reality to intrude on our blissful time together, but my relentless brain wouldn't let go of the matter. "It's that I keep being surprised by things lately, and I think it's because I don't know enough about—"

"'Tis not the mention I made of certain uses of weathervanes? 'Twas but a jest, I assure thee!"

I laughed and smacked her gently on the shoulder with a wingtip. "No! I'm being serious here! Though it really is about my innocence. I was shocked about the way Celestia controls the realm, when I really shouldn't have been. I was horrified by how unscrupulous some of the merchants, nobles, and politicians are, and disgusted by how quickly they tried to turn a crisis to their own advantage." I sighed and flopped back onto my pillow. "If I'm going to be any sort of effective ruler, I have to learn more about how the world really works. And by that, I mean the entire world, not just the kingdom."

"Ah." Luna said, her smile fading a bit. "And that means more than studying from books, does it not?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I think maybe I've got to see more of the world. To go and meet with the peoples of other lands. That's going to take me away from you for long stretches from time to time."

Luna looked me in the face for a long while. Her smile had entirely vanished. Finally, she said, "There is more of thy concern in this matter than thou speakest, my love. Is't aught that thou fear to let fall upon mine ears?"

"Oh, Stars and Moon, I love it when you 'thou' me!"

Luna leaned over and bit me very gently on the nose. "There will be a surfeit of thous if only thou wilt speak to me of thy troubles." She was pretending to be playful, but I could tell she was really concerned.

I sighed again. "I can't help but believe there has got to be a better way to govern the kingdom. A way without so allowing so much self-service and deception among the oligarchs. I want to find one. Maybe I can do that by seeing for myself what works best in other nations. And maybe, by piecing together all the best bits I can find, I can create a better system."

Luna was quiet for a time. "Will not my sister have something to say on the matter?"

"Oh, I'm sure of that. But if there's a better way, she will be open to it, won't she? Especially if it takes some of the burden off of her back. I..." I nuzzled Luna's cheek and said in a lower voice, "Maybe it's because I'm so happy with you, but I hate it that she thinks she must be 'above it all' for the sake of the kingdom. I want her to be happy, too."

Another long pause. "As do I," was all Luna said.

I leaned against her and said nothing for a while. I was just thinking that it was about time we got up and started on the business of the day when Luna spoke again.

"You still have the magic of the Nightmare within you. Do you have plans for that, too?"

"I'm not going to keep it within me," I told her. "I don't think it's tainted, but there is an outside chance. And considering the way I got it..." I shuddered. "But it has to go somewhere, and I'm thinking of trying to bind it into an amulet or maybe a set of artifacts. It would come in handy in places where I couldn't use my own innate magic."

"They might be fearsome weapons, might they not?"

I frowned in puzzlement. "I don't want to make weapons! Luna, what do you think I'm planning?"

She shrugged. "If you judge my sister's reign in the manner that she and I judged our mother's—"

My jaw dropped. "What? No, no, no! I love her! You can't think I would do something like that!"

Luna gave me an appraising look. "But if you happen upon a superior means of ruling and Celestia refuses to consider it?"

"No," I said, emphatically. "If it isn't good enough to be convincing in and of itself, then it probably isn't worth considering. I would never use force to—"

"As did I? Twice now, as I recall. Perhaps thrice or more if you account my part in the overthrow of Sombra or the casting down of Discord. Mayhaps Celestia will not be content to be put out to pasture."

I was convinced by then that Luna was messing with me, and put on an exaggerated pouty face. "But those other guys were totally evil!"

Luna smiled and then chuckled. "True enough, my love!" She got out of bed and shook herself, shuffling her wings neatly against her sides. "Let us see to your friends and ailing dragon whelp. Matters of revolution can wait for another day."

"Never going to happen, I promise!"

She tossed her head. "Say as much in another century or so. Thy mind may be of a different cast by then."

I ran into a mental brick wall. Had she forgotten? "Uhm... Luna? I'm not going to be around in another—"

She interrupted me with a cheerful laugh and said, "Cast thy gaze upon thine own shoulder, my love!" She nodded to my right.

I rolled slightly onto my left side and curved my neck around but couldn't see anything remarkable. I looked back at Luna in puzzlement.

"Thy scar is gone."

It was true. Even if it had been slowly healing all the while I had been trapped in the Wheel of the Earth, there should have been some sign of it, but my hide was smooth and perfect.

"I think thou didst not merely shape the Red Queen's magic, but rather opened thyself to it and guided it in channel within thyself. Do I have the right of it?"

"Yes, but—"

"Thou hast taken into thyself the Fire of the World and didst not perish. What changes it has wrought within thee, I can feel within thy aura." A slow smile spread across her face and her eyes glittered with joy. She spun on dancing hooves and trotted out of the bedchamber. "Come, my sweet innocent! Forever awaits us!"

"Luna?" I untangled myself from the bedsheets and rolled onto my hooves. "Wait! You mean I'm actually..." I scurried through the door and caught a glimpse of Luna's sparkling tail as she rounded the corner at the far end of the hall. I slipped on the polished marble floor and had to flap awkwardly to avoid a face-plant. The sudden gust of air pulled an old tapestry depicting long-dead heroes from the wall and it fell across my neck and withers.

"Luna, wait!"

I shook off the dusty old thing and broke into a gallop toward eternity.

= = =

=

Author's Note:

I owe a debt of thanks to AcademicPony and statoose that would dwarf an Ursa Major. This would have been a much poorer story without their help.

Thanks to PresentPerfect for the print edition editing! Speaking of that, instructions on how to get a hardback or casewrap print copy is available here: The Luna Cypher in Book format.

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Comments ( 101 )

Was... Was that a Hard Reset reference?

:pinkiegasp:

5145517 Yes, it most certainly was.

The two big onyx vases outside Luna's private chambers held large bouquets of asphodel and moon wort; their heavy scent filled the hallway.

Oh, how good it is to see someone taking the time to see their botany makes sense! Thank you!!!

That danged weathervane! :rainbowlaugh:

The freaking weathervanes, they're everywhere.

And that's one way to wake up. "By the way, you're immortal now." :twilightoops:

Immortal? Very nice, actually didn't see that coming. The Twiluna is now indefinite!

Good tying up, I wonder what awaits in the epilogue.

I shook off the dusty old thing and broke into a gallop toward eternity.

Oh, sure, it had to be the last sentence of the last chapter of the entire dang thing! :twilightangry2: And it was such a beautiful sentence too...

disguised and a normal pony.

as a normal pony, maybe?

It should have been a waxing quarter at this time of month,

Luna loves you, Twilight. Don't push it.

Love is love, isn't it?

Numquam obliviscaris.

Okay, first thing tomorrow, I'm buying a Middle Equish dictionary!

As am I.

Thou art adorable when flustered, my love.

Not the word I would use, but it works.

Stop making me go all melty and goopy inside!

Is that a real word?

Jigsaw and Sesseressia

Even in our history, there was a time when such a relationship would be frowned upon. Perhaps, in time, Eqeustria can learn? It is as you said: Amor est amor.

'll be right over there if you need anything.

Do you think the cold in Homeland is enough to kill? Jigsaw, go find out.

She had been watching

At least she can follow orders.

Don't dismiss her so lightly, Twilight Sparkle. Even without her swarm, she is still formidable.

Yeah, but I'm TWILIGHT FUCKING SPARKLE.

I'm done, I'm done! Jeez, no need to get hostile.

"'Tis not the mention I made of certain uses of weathervanes? 'Twas but a jest, I assure thee!"

Ah! You went there, yes you did! :rainbowkiss:

Weathervane reference? Nice!

I wonder just for what task the Queen has chosen to grant Twilight immortality? Why do I think it is somehow related to her need to find a better way? Then there is the issue of Chrysalis. If she cannot rule the Hive, I suspect that she intends that she will rule Canterlot via the new place she has forged for herself at Blueblood's side. Finally, there is the issue of Luna and just what the future holds for her and Twilight

The quest has just begun and the future grows ever more shadowy with the unknowns. Overall, this is not the end, nor is it the beginning of the end. It is, rather, the end of the beginning.

My throat, heart, and belly all competed to see which one could preform the most convoluted internal gymnastics.

perform

I arraigned for a dinner party that's supposed to start in about a half hour.

arranged. That's like... the fifth time? Sixth? More?

She nibbled gently a one of my ears.

on, not a

Applejack quietly hissed at me, trying not to loose sight of the changeling queen-in-exile

lose sight, not loose.

In its shadow were an assortment of wonderful little pastries for those of us with less geologic tastes.

assortment is singular. Thus, In its shadow WAS an assortment.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Another horrifying revelation! D:

Gotta say though, I usually hate stories where Twilight's forced to confront Celestia being duplicitous or manipulative, yet this one doesn't bother me at all.

"'Tis not the mention I made of certain uses of weathervanes? 'Twas but a jest, I assure thee!"

I recognise this from somewhere, but I can't remember where, I'ts driving me crazy. It has something to do with Pinkie, I think, or Dashie. Argh...I can't remember!

I want to say Admiral Biscuit, but I don't know why.

:twilightangry2:

Though I got the spatula thing.

6732285
Eakin's Hard Reset features the inventive use of weather vanes. You probably remember it from that.

Ugh, Chryssie has to become mortal and Twilight gains immortality. So unfair.

At least Chryssie will have tons of fun owning Twilight in terms of court intrigue.

7402508
Oops! :twilightoops: Fix'd now. I must have accidentally hit Ctrl+v there when transferring the chapter from my master doc. Thanks for the correction! :twilightsmile:

So goooood. Not as good as the celestia code but still very good. You know what they say tho. The second story is never as good as the first one.

Really digging it that you decided to make Twilight immortal.

7491331
Yeah, the "Sophomore Slump" is what the pros call it. I hope you like the third one better; I think it's a much better book.

keeping your LEET likes in tact, but in this instance maybe that's not a good thing :fluttercry:

Got my copies of The Luna Cypher and The Twilight Enigma. Loving all the gay in The Luna Cypher so far, I'm about halfway through. <3

Cute gay ponies > *

While I still have enjoyed this story very much and can even get behind having Chrysalis date Blueblood, I am not so much condoning having me be intimate with Twilight. I really had to skip reading over some of those saucy "my love"s ...

Still putting this personal issue aside, have some congratulations on a job well done.

7617086
Not eveypony's cup of tea, I will admit. Much more adventure and less intimacy in the sequel, I assure you!

I honestly have mixed feelings about this one. I can only say for sure one thing - romance, probably, is one of the better major parts in this fic.

Celestia turned to me and looked me straight in the eyes. "She is older than you... much, much older. She has conceived a desire for a relationship with you, and... there is no nice way of saying this... manipulated events to make it come about."

"But... But she never even suggested anything," I gasped out, casting my mind back though all our past times together, searching for something that would either support or refute Celestia's claim.

"She deceived you, Twilight! For a score of moons, she has subtly guided you away from other ponies you showed interest in. She pushed you toward others she knew would disappoint you. She planned for your friendship to become something much more intimate, and she interfered in your life for her own selfish desire!"

I find that rich, coming from you, Celestia!

7658119
:rainbowlaugh: Sisters... what ya gonna do?

Well, that was... different than the original. I was really off-put at first, especially by the lack of Jigsaw and being thrown immediately into action scenes before getting invested, but the story got really really GOOD. That's seriously the best thing I have read in a very long time. I read the whole thing in one sitting, not counting snack breaks and a short nap.

Comment posted by JKL deleted Jan 4th, 2017

I don't usually delete comments, but the poisonous, homophobic tone of the one above really got to me. :twilightangry2:

Okay... I really love "The Celestia Code" and even favored it. But this... I don't know. This whole Luna romance come straight from nowhere and a massive turn off for me. It's just like someone swap "The Celestia Code" Twilight for someone else. I'm not sure if I want to read further. Sorry (not that author cares, of course).

7853169
The Tuna is central to the book, so yeah... the rest probably won't be your cup of tea. If you're looking for plain old adventure, try Hard Reset by Eakin, The Moonstone Cup by Cyanide, or The Immortal Game by AestheticB.

EDIT: Oh yeah, The Wind Thief by Cold in Gardez is really good, too.

7853193
In general I don't have any problems with romance, slice of life and other genres like this... It's just... for some reason it's simply won't `click` with me. It's hard to put into words... "Code" captivated me from chapter one and "Cypher'... well... not. Sorry, really.

7853215
No worries! Different tastes and all that. Life's too short to waste time on books you don't enjoy.

7908322
:pinkiehappy: People[1] are amazing, intricate, self-contradictory, fantastical creatures, that don't fit in tiny little boxes with simplistic labels on them... thank all the fates!
----------
[1] And by "people" I mean darn near any sapient beings, anywhere.

7909492
You're observations are spot-on! And your questions will be answered... eventually. :twilightsmile:

7911149
Yes, you did! :raritywink:

...but the way she dismissed everyone else's concerns was.

Absolutely! Huge clue there... which got taken by some readers as evidence that I was bad at writing Twi's character. Yes, she was out of character... but there was a reason!

And Luna... yeah... :fluttercry:

Wow. This one felt very different from the first but is an equally excellent read. Took me a bit to shift from mystery to adventure/romance but the ending was worth it.

It's not a happily ever after. Things are good. And going to get better. Twi and luna certainly have some things to work on. But i mean that's relationships for you. And the end was fitting also i see why there is another book. Wish me luck with that one.

7908946 it's unfortunate though. Twilight would probably appreciate it if they were neatly organized into boxes.
7911739 yeah. I think i caught a lot of it because i had just finished code. I was still in the mystery headspace so i picked up on a lot of the subtler stuff and was more suspicious of things than jugemental...

Even then a few thingss snuck up on me and that made it all the better... anyways off to the next tale.

7912364
Good luck with the next one! I hope you enjoy extended Twilight freak-outs! :twilightoops:

I added this to my "read later" stories...a long time ago.

I am now experiencing a twinge of archive panic.

Why is it over... :pinkiesad2:

Anyway, knowing the title of the 4th story in this series, I'm gonna predict that Chrysalis becomes Skyla. Let's continue on to see if I am right.

8005502
You are quite correct! :twilightsmile:

Another wonderful piece as always, thank you.

8024205
You're very welcome! :twilightsmile:

8045193 heard that joke a million times before...



Still funny ;)

8144957
Wow! Thank you so much! :twilightsmile:

8145593
Fix'd, thank you!

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