• Published 27th Mar 2015
  • 2,943 Views, 102 Comments

Dusk Falls - NorrisThePony



Celestia discovers an eldritch conspiracy in the small beach town of Dusk Falls. Luna fights back growing feelings of jealousy and isolation.

  • ...
5
 102
 2,943

Welcome to Dusk Falls (I)

For nearly everypony who walks the earth, breathes the air, and relishes in the warmth of the sun, privacy is a luxury. It is a recluse of solitude that even the most sociable pony requires to prevent themselves from completely going off the deep end and drowning. For the ruler of a nation and eldest alicorn in Equestria, privacy doesn’t come easily. In fact, if it’s a luxury to a normal pony then to me, it’s like a nearly unobtainable relic in an adventure novel. Not only strange and mystical, but fictional to begin with.

Privacy was the whole reason I moved to Dusk Falls. Well, it was one of many reasons, to say it was the only one would be akin to deeming myself the worst ruler Equestria has ever seen, and that’s saying quite a lot considering the last two were homicidal tyrants. No, obviously there were other reasons; a desire to get to know my subjects more personally, a means to ease the strain and stress that ten straight hours of Day Court daily could invoke. And then there was the last reason, and perhaps the most important: my sister, and co-ruler of Equestria. She’s a mare that I have and always will love and respect dearly, but siblings fight and when you’re ultra-powerful alicorn rulers, they don’t often end prettily.

Where did our conflict begin from? I don’t really know, to be completely honest. Was it after the fall of the Crystal Empire roughly one hundred and fifty years ago? Perhaps. Regardless of how it had germinated, it had grown into quite the hideous garden of weeds in the years to follow.

I don’t think either of us really wished to go on hurting each other, and we both agreed that a solution had to be devised. Which is where the idea of one of us moving away was formed. My night-ruling sister had made her jealousy of the attention she was denied quite evident and clear, meaning I was the obvious candidate for our little experiment. It seemed so perfect, in fact, if it was not for the hell I’ve had to deal with involving this wretched little town, it perhaps would have worked quite well. I was to move away from the heart of Equestria while Luna takes the central throne in the Everfree, right there in the middle of all the action. Perfect. We both keep the same leadership, but the daily arguments and bickering about the most trivial matters cease.

I’ve seen what Luna can become when she is angry. I have seen her anger flare in times of war and I am slightly ashamed to admit that I am frightened of my own younger sister. Not that she ever harmed me nor even spoke a word of malice to a single hair on my multichromatic mane, but fear isn’t often built on the foundations of rationality.

A life amongst ponies has taught us both that relationships, even the supposedly inseparable bond of sibling-hood, are fragile and delicate. And me and Luna were no exception; while we may have been living amongst the walls of the Everfree Castle, designed to house Equestria’s alicorn sisters alone, it felt more like taking residence in a house of cards.

To have that house of cards topple...it was a prospect that terrified us both.

That’s about all that can be said about our current relationship. If you are expecting an extensive tale of sadness and woe about our epic, violent, unscrupulous rivalry, I apologize for any disappointment. For all intents and purposes this should be none of the sorts. There should be no action or betrayal, nor any recounts of life threatening perils and century old conspiracies.

For all intents and purposes. Yes, for all intents and purposes, Dusk Falls should have been the peaceful and prosperous town that the brochure advertised.

But alas, it was not.

The decision to move to Dusk Falls, of all the small towns in Equestria where I could experiment with a solitary lifestyle, was made quite intentionally on a complete whim. Luna had been insistent on mapping it out, finding the most suitable place after months of extensively tedious research and fervent planning. Late one evening, while I was still sipping my tea at the dinner table and reviewing some of the past day’s reports, Luna barged in carrying in her magic aura a bustling bee’s nest of brochures and advertisements gathered from every small town in a radius of a thousand miles.

“Celestia. Good evening,” she said earnestly, flooding my clean working area with the brochures. You could grind the Tree of Harmony into pulp and still probably not have enough paper to print out the documents Luna thrust upon me.

“Same to you, sister. Have you raised the moon?”

“Yes." Her answer came as a short, venomous snap, "You need not remind me to do my job, as I do no such thing to you. I’m not a forgetful foal.”

“Ah, so you’re saying that our fourteen hour night last month was intentional?”

That had certainly poked a gaping hole in her conviction. She blushed, irritably blew her mane out of her eyes, and pushed the pile of brochures closer to me.

“I trust you have been giving consideration as to potential places to carry out your...vacation…?” she asked, placing particular emphasis on the word, as though it implied some accursed evil.

“Luna, this isn’t the sort of thing that requires intense planning. It’s supposed to be relaxing.”

“Oh, is it?” she pondered sarcastically, “Silly me. I thought it was about showing our subjects that I am just as important a ruler as you.”

“Yes, Luna, I’m sorry. It is about that,” I sighed heavily, finally looking up from my document to give her an apologetic stare that had been perfected by centuries of turning down the wild requests of commoners in Day Court.

“Well? Have you been considering places?”

“No,” I confessed. Reluctantly I turned my attention from my report to the first brochure I found and pointed at it. “There. Looks beautiful.”

“Fillydelphia? Celestia, that one horse town is a disgraceful dump.”

“Right. Then there.” Without looking, I motioned at another flyer, which I later realized was a second Fillydelphia one.

“Are you not taking this seriously, Celestia?! Is this another of your attempts at eternally embarrassing me in front of our subjects?”

“Luna, I am incredibly busy right now!” I snapped, viciously cracking my document so that it was once again open in front of me and obscuring all else. I followed this with a violent sip of my tea, an action also perfected through centuries of repetition.

Wordlessly Luna whipped around and started storming off, leaving the trash she had brought in scattered across our table. If I had mastered the art of looking stoic and unmovable, my sister had mastered the intricacies of invoking as much entitlement, respect, and fear as possible, sometimes simply through her walk alone. As a result, she was incapable of simply entering and exiting a room without making a show from it.

When she was halfway out I sighed and called after her.

“Fine, Luna, we’ll do this now.”

There it was again. Luna’s characteristic aggressive stomp. She should give seminars on it, I know plenty of ponies that would like to be able to command that much presence simply by walking. However, in contrast to her walk and previously snappy tone, she spoke much softer and quieter as she sat down on the cushion directly across the table from me.

“Now...you are sure you want to do this, right?” she leaned forward as she spoke, eyes widening with slight sorrow.

“Do I want to move away from you? Hardly. Do I want to keep fighting with you, and watching our resentment towards each other keep growing? Even less so.”

Luna nodded slowly, and shyly began turning a brochure around and around in her magic. Despite her outwardly hostile looking appearance and mannerisms, my sister can be really meek and mellow when you're simply sitting down with her.

"I feel the same," she agreed, looking at the floor. "I fear I'll miss your company when you have moved away."

I chuckled lightly at this, which was enough to break Luna's gaze with the ground and at least meet my eyes.

"I'm not exiling myself, Lulu! It's not like I'm not going to let you visit me!"

She perked up at that, if only by a quick and sudden sparkle of relief in her eyes. Had she seriously thought that I was going to attempt to cut her off from my life entirely?

“Of course you can visit!” I said, “Just because we might disagree more often then we agree on matters doesn’t remove the fact that we’re sisters!”

“Oh I know. Still, once or twice every several months is a stark contrast to what we’ve always known. But it’s only for a few years, so I suppose it matters little.”

Still she kept that paper in her magic, it must have made a hundred revolutions in the short time since she had picked it up. Over and over I saw the same cliché picture of an orange sunset and the flipside, which was blank with lines across half of it. I couldn’t read the title of the town it was for but I did take a little interest in a strange, intricate looking wheel-like structure pictured against the orange and black.

“Hey Luna...what’s that one for?” I pointed a hoof at it and instantly she stopped spinning it and examined it for a brief moment, and then shrugged and floated it over to me.

“Dusk Falls, it says.”

“Interesting…” I murmured under my breath. In complete honesty, I was actually pretty intrigued at this point. Turning it over to the glossy white side, I instantly realized that it wasn’t a brochure at all but instead a postcard that had somehow gotten mixed up with everything else. On the back it contained a brief paragraph describing the town, making frequent, thrilled sounding mentions of the ‘Ferris Wheel’ proudly emblazoned across its front.

"Interesting," I said again, and this time Luna heard.

“Yes?!” Luna exclaimed excitedly. “Truthfully?”

Truthfully indeed. While I didn’t care much for the cliché nature of the picture itself, the town being advertised looked nothing short of amazing. It was a marvel in pony development and innovation, both a place of amusement and luxury. A ‘town of the future, rooted in traditions of the past,’ according to the postcard.

Having spent shy of a year in Dusk Falls, I can indeed testify that the slogan was accurate. Frighteningly so.

I reread the description several times, the hilariously poetic wording forcing a smile across my face despite how irritated with work and with Luna I presently was. While I pretended to be interested across the following several hours as Luna provided me with every other possible option, internally I knew that my decision had already been made. Dusk Falls would be the place, why I did not and presently do not know. Is it because I liked the look of the town? Perhaps I liked the idea of so much knowledge and hard work being put into mere enjoyment for its residents. Or perhaps even then I sensed something odd and secretive about Dusk Falls that piqued my curiosity. Whatever the reason, I knew that before long Luna would be getting an identical postcard, one that had been sent by myself while lounging under the warm maritime sun.

ii

There’s no eponymous waterfall in Dusk Falls, or at least, there is no waterfall that is actually called ‘Dusk Falls’. The naming of the town is one of Equestria’s great mysteries, and subject to much ridicule and only half-jokingly curious speculation amongst its residents.

The nearest waterfall to the town are Crystalline Falls, which can be seen from just about anywhere in the town, for they tumble from far above, over a protruding cliff-face three hundred feet up. But Crystalline Falls have never at any point in history been referred to by any other name, and certainly not as Dusk Falls. Besides, such a name for a beach town is odd to begin with, the presence of the falls aside.

When looking at a map, a pony would easily be able to spot Dusk Falls simply by moving their hoof at a slight diagonal from the former site of the Crystal Empire to the east coast of Equestria. There, about two hundred miles north of Manehattan, lay the Crimson Coast, so named for its vivid sunsets of orange and red. Along the Crimson Coast, the summers were blistering yet the winters were cold and consumed three months of every year. The entire coast is actually closer to the Crystal Empire than it is to Manehattan, but sailboats have made the distance between the few beach towns almost negligible.

The climate and landscape of Dusk Falls are rivaled only by the beauty of the town itself. A pony could walk into the town after traversing green fields and tall, towering mountains, and before they even reached the beach they would notice that palm trees had since replaced the coniferous pines that made up the surrounding forest. Through that walk, they would pass colourful yet simply constructed buildings and houses, their sidings of bright red, green, or yellow looking freshly painted almost eternally. The only consistency in their colouring was the plain white trim used on the windows and entranceway thresholds of the houses.

But the town truly blossomed at its fullest beauty when one reached the boardwalk. Forming an L-shape, it stretched for some distance across the beach, before turning at a sharp right angle and continuing on into the sea for another hundred feet. All along the side opposite the beach lay beautifully coloured shops and restaurants, with the omnipresent Ferris Wheel looming above it all, like a cozy, frigid little town built in the beautiful shadows of the tallest mountains far north. On a beautiful night, the luminescent spectrum of magically charged lights lining the shops and Ferris Wheel like a Hearth’s Warming Eve tree shone up into the night and lit the lapsing waves in a magnificent, rippling rainbow.

It was on such a moonless and motionless night that a lone chariot carrying myself and my sister swiftly streaked across the skies, passing through a deep ravine filled with lush forests of pine far, far below, a thousand outlines standing in unkempt rows across the vast distance where we had flown from . Soon, we were passing a protruding cliff-face ahead, from which tumbled the town’s tall waterfall into a small lake that would later flow into the ocean. The chariot was being pulled by two strong pegasi belonging to my Royal Guard, their magnificent white coats almost (but not quite!) as regal as my own. Presently, they would be the only two members of my guard stationed in Dusk Falls, and I aimed to keep it that way. I hadn’t come here expecting any sort of entourage, the whole point was to be leaving the royalty lifestyle behind. Luna didn’t like it one bit, and badgered me the entire chariot ride in.

“It’s foolhardy, is what it is,” she lectured, pointing at the guards ahead who I have no doubt were capable of hearing every word my sister spoke. “Two pegasi, protecting the Ruler of Equestria? It’s preposterous, Tia! You’re just asking for trouble!”

“Luna, we aren’t talking about me moving to the Changeling Empire here. It’s Dusk Falls. The most harmful ponies here are aggressive street vendors trying to sell me hay fries.”

“I..I assure you I mean no offense to your guards,” Luna blushed and spoke this sentence a little louder, probably realizing herself that they were in earshot and not wanting to offend them. “I'm sure you two are perfectly capable...but Tia, this doesn’t sit well with me.”

“What trouble do you think could possibly befall Dusk Falls that I, the Princess of the Sun, couldn’t handle herself?”

“I know,” Luna rubbed her temples with a hoof. “I just want you to be safe, Celestia.”

A grin cracked across my face and I gave Luna a loving nuzzle.

“Thank you, little sis, but that’s my job,” I chuckled, and Luna blew her mane whipping in the wind out of her face and pushed me away lightly. Perhaps it was because we were both aware of the fact that by night’s end, we would be six hundred miles away from each other, but it seemed like all of our rivalry and resentment between each other died away on that chariot ride.

I partially wish it hadn’t, for it made saying our farewells to each other all the more difficult. I’d like to say that we began saying goodbye when we were actually...parting ways...but even as the chariot passed the town and made a graceful arc over the ocean while losing altitude, I started to feel a slight tugging in my chest as the thought of what was actually happening fully sunk in. As we continued descending towards the boardwalk below, all my happiness at the prospect of such a drastic and exciting change to my life simmered away, to be replaced with a bitter sense of hopelessness, like the last traces of a beautiful starry night sky being enveloped by the persistent dominance of a growing number of black clouds.

Then again, I'd known this part would be hard. It was the farewell stage, but once it was past I would be fine. I would settle into the relaxing lifestyle of Dusk Falls and before I knew it a year will have passed and I’d be reluctant to go back to Canterlot, the way I thought I would be when me and Luna were planning this whole ordeal.

And as for our relationship...only time would tell us how it changed. We’d tried everything to no avail, and if this didn’t work I truly had no clue what our next course of action would be.

Luna gave a surprised jolt as the wheels of the chariot made contact and we were both lurched forwards a little. I think her surprise was caused less by the impact of the chariot’s wheels and more by what it signified. We looked at each other as we landed, I gave her a sheepish grin and she instantly blushed and looked away in response.

Already ponies were beginning to crowd around the chariot, chattering excitedly as we stepped off. The second our hooves made contact with the wooden street, they all bowed respectfully, until me, my sister, and my two royal guards were the only ones standing.

“Hello, residents of Dusk Falls!” I announced proudly. Dusk Fallians? Dusk Fallites? Whatever, I would find that out later. “Please, pay me and my sister no mind…”

Slowly they relaxed and broke from their bow, but their curious eyes were all fixated intently on their two rulers setting foot in Dusk Falls for the first time.

“...for as of today...I am a resident of Dusk Falls, just like everyone—”

“Ahem!” Luna cut in peevishly. “What my sister means to say is that she is now living here…”

She gave me an aggressive glare, and I could already see that what I had not wanted to happen was officially happening. We were fighting. Again.

“...and continuing her reign over Equestria with no interruption whatsoever.”

Quite obviously, Luna was automatically seizing control of the situation, apparently feeling I was unfit to deal with it. I couldn’t really blame her, considering I had done the same to her countless times in the past with matters much graver than what was currently happening now. Nevertheless, Luna seemed to be trying to make my entrance into Dusk Falls life as quiet and low-key as possible, as if expecting ponies would be too foolish to realize back in Equestria’s core that one of two of their rulers had disappeared.

Ahead the crowd seemed to be parting ways to let somepony through. From a distance I could see that he was a younger unicorn, perhaps twenty five years of age, with a charcoal mane only slightly darker in colour to his grey coat. His mane was carefully slicked back, giving him an official look.

From the corner of my vision, I saw Luna’s eyes grow wide with surprise and realization as she too looked at the approaching stallion. Her mouth opened a little in disbelief and she promptly turned to look at me with her wild eyes.

“He looks...he looks just like…”

Luna didn’t finish her sentence, she instead trailed off the second she caught sight of my raised eyebrow and doubting face. Of course I knew who she was thinking of, but...well, perhaps there’s no way to say it politely, but my sister is prompt to making rash and impulsive decisions. That has always been quite the issue with her, and this to me was no exception.

Quite simply put, Luna tried to find meaning and unveil secrets in ponies that possessed no secrets whatsoever. Considering she had once wielded the Element of Honesty, it was quite strange for her to be so irrationally paranoid of the intentions of other ponies, especially mortal ones that posed no threat to her.

The stallion was bowing in front of us now, a much sloppier affair than the other ponies, as if he was doing it simply out of courtesy whilst internally scoffing at its necessity. Something told me instantly that he was some sort of figure of importance, or he at least saw himself as such. For somepony to feel this way, whilst standing in the presence of two mares who’d seen the earth’s creation and would live long after his own mortal end...to be completely honest, I think I instantly despised this stallion right then and there.

Coming out of his bow, I suddenly realized I’d seen this pony’s photo before, too. The second he said his name, I understood why.

“Greeting, Your Majesties!” he spoke in a vaguely Manehattan accent that made him sound like some sort of mob-boss in those plays Luna used to drag me to, back before...it began.

“Welcome to Dusk Falls! I can’t begin to express how amazed I was when I heard that Princess Celestia, of all ponies in Equestria, was moving into my town!"

"Our town," Luna growled. "Everything under the sun and moon is ours, peasant."

Visibly cringing at Luna's behaviour, I swiftly saw that if I didn't jump in Luna might throw him into the ocean or something. I don't remember when she started calling ponies "peasants" or exploiting the royal "We," but it was something that I'd found greatly troubling in the past and attempted to call her out on it. The end result had always been the same; arguments that quickly escalated to screaming battles, the slamming of doors, followed by two sisters avoiding each-others eyes for the rest of the day and into the next. She claimed she was princess and she could say whatever she damn well pleased, which was true, but far from the urbane behaviour I tried to emphasize. True, perhaps it wasn’t really my place to judge how she should act, and looking back I now wish I was less direct and commanding about it. I must have looked dreadfully hypocritical.

The suave looking stallion ignored Luna (yes, ignored Equestria’s co-ruler) and looked straight up into my eyes confidently. He was actually pretty tall for a mere unicorn, with a long horn that I had no doubt was capable of producing some powerful magic assuming he was adept in its practice.

“You must be the Mayor of this fine town,” I said, stepping forward and, with a glare, Luna stepped backwards in response.

“That I am, Your Majesty. Mayor Kleos, at your service.”

Luna snorted behind me, and with a quick motion of her hoof told me she needed to tell me something in private. Reluctantly, I gave the Mayor a sheepish grin and ducked backwards, next to Luna.

“What is it, Luna?” I hissed once we were both next to the chariot and out of immediate earshot to everypony but my guards, “You’re being incredibly rude!”

“Oh, I’m being rude?!” Luna whispered angrily in response, and pointed an accusing hoof at the Mayor of Dusk Falls peering at us curiously. “Are you telling me this inconsiderate foal is the Mayor of this place?”

“Luna, you really need to be more trusting of ponies. You base everything on first impressions.”

“Is that so unwise? Do you know what my first impression of him is? Who he reminds me of, with his posh behavior and conceited attitude?” she mouthed his name, as if she feared he would hear her say it. “Sombra.”

“Oh come on—”

“No, seriously Celestia! You remember the way that unicorn acted? He was only moderately rude and arrogant, and look what he became! All I’m saying is—”


“Listen to yourself, Luna. You’re paranoid. You sound like a fool.”

I regretted the words the second they left my mouth, but I wasn’t about to back down and give my sister the impression that her behaviour was acceptable. Luna rose an eyebrow and let out an offended ‘humph!’’ before turning away and focusing her attention on anything other than myself. I too sighed irritably, leaving my sister by the chariot and pacing back to Mayor Kleos.

What kind of name is Kleos, anyway? I pondered, the thought automatically vocalizing itself in Luna’s annoyed voice. Is that an inherited name? Surely not, it’d be akin to naming your child ‘greatness’ or ‘hero.’ No, I imagined it was a not-so-humble, self-instated title that he had given himself. Charming.

“I’m sorry about my sister,” I said, offering a hoof which he promptly shook. “We’re both a little tense and nervous about...well, this.

“I completely understand,” the Mayor grinned welcomingly. “Think nothing of it.”

“We shan’t,” Luna was beside me again, her voice icy and cold. She hadn’t even heard the sentence Mayor Kleos was responding to, instead simply assuming it was irrelevant enough to warrant disregarding. “Now, We don’t have all night! Where will Our sister be staying?”

Okay, at this point I humbly request you to please believe me...my sister isn’t always as grumpy as one would think from what they have read here. There was a time when she was boisterous and enthusiastic, as well as easily bored and even more easily entertained. She was stern and strict with guards when she was inspecting their behavior and training them in the art of combat, but playful and lively the second the moment for somberness had passed. Compared to my Royal Guard, I think that her bat ponies had a lot of fun, and a respect for their princess that went beyond duty and obligation. Luna was silly and likeable...there was a reason she wielded the Element of Laughter. But recently her behavior seemed to have taken a dark turn, her fervor and spirit being replaced with bitter stoicism caused by stress and jealousy. The change I had seen was almost unfathomably abrupt and terrifyingly opposite from what I’d come to know as my younger sister.

“Celestia!” Luna’s yelling voice suddenly jerked me to my senses and I realized I was presently standing completely by myself in the middle of the boardwalk with at least a dozen little ponies staring at me. Mayor Kleos and Luna were both by my chariot, Luna once again sitting in the left side while the Mayor spoke with the two pegasi drawing the carriage.

I trotted over and sat back in the chariot next to my sister, where we both avoided each other’s glances and instead looked in the directions relative to our side of the chariot. In my case, I saw the sparkling light of the magically illuminated buildings dancing across the rippling waves of the ocean about a dozen feet below.

“...that’s right, just a little bit past the lighthouse,” Kleos was telling my pegasi, undoubtedly of the location of my new home. Most of it had all been handled through agreements scrawled onto parchment and mailed across long distances, but I was quite curious all the same as to what my request for a small and private house would entail. The chance of me getting a mansion despite my request was almost a guarantee, and I had seen at least a few large manors when my chariot had soared over the town coming in.

But past the lighthouse I hadn’t yet seen. For all I knew a castle could by lying in wait for me there, and not the small beachside cabin I’d been expecting. At least it would be far from the actual town to warrant a bit of privacy and silence.

“Perhaps we can make an attempt at another first-encounter tomorrow,” I said to Kleos, the prospect of a tomorrow and how foreign it would be sounding strange the second it entered my mind. “For now, I’m quite keen to be settled in.”

“Of course, of course,” The Mayor grinned, giving us another bow and following it with a polite nod to Luna. “Have a safe ride back to Equestria, Your Majesty.”

He came out of his bow and turned, trotting away before Luna had a chance to respond, not that she did anyways.

“I don’t like him at all,” Luna muttered to me as we took off. “Have I mentioned?”

“Oh come now, sister. You’re just making things difficult.”

“Yes, I suppose that’s all I’m good for, isn’t it? Making your life difficult? Don’t listen to me if you want, but this whole town feels...sinister.”

“Luna, we saw the boardwalk and the roofs of buildings, from a bird’s eye view, by the light of the stars. How can you possibly make that claim?” I chuckled in an attempt to sound less confrontational, but I suppose it was a ploy not strong enough to disguise my patronizing remarks. “Can you sense the evil in the air? Perhaps wafting in from the peaceful palm trees by the sea?”

“Obviously not,” Luna said shortly. “I’m just thinking cautiously.”

“No, you’re being paranoid, Luna, and it needs to stop. I can take care of myself, alright? It’s not your place to protect me from evil that is not present.”

Luna said nothing in reply, and the rest of the chariot ride passed in relatively awkward silence. Most of it was spent flying over dark ocean and grey sands, but a blinding beacon of light that was the lighthouse ahead captured both of our attention as we tore past it. For but a split-second the shape of our chariot was broadcast for every seafaring pony to see as we passed in front of the lighthouse, slowly curving with the beach below. We looked to be entering some sort of bay that opened to the south-west, and I would later find out that it was entitled Harmony Bay.

Harmony Bay was the site where much of the water from across the eastern half of Equestria flowed into the ocean, even rivers flowing from landmarks like Neighagra Falls ended their journey at Harmony Bay. It was an area of immense importance and hardly anybody knew of it. Sadly, I must admit that even I had no idea that I was living in a bay filled with the water of dozens of different Equestrian watersystems.

As we tore over the rippling water below, I suddenly realized that I would do good to eventually become acquainted with the two royal guards. After all, they would be the only ones in the town for the majority of the year, and if I was going to be dragging them into the middle of nowhere for a year then I might as well make them feel welcome. Perhaps I would invite them to dinner sometime after settling in. It would be the least I could do.

The rapidly flowing water was an omnipresent din audible even from our great height and over the sound of the wind whipping past us at rapid speeds. The rushing rivers’ looping babbling was a juxtaposing contrast to the slow, repeated drawl of the lapsing ocean waves of the beach. Perhaps I was feeling particularly poetic that night, but it reminded me a bit of the changes in Luna’s character, and how she had gone from so boisterous and active to so stern and immovable, so bound by rules and responsibility that she was hardly even recognizable anymore.

Hardly even Luna.

In the distance, a lone rectangle of torchlight peeked its way through the darkness, a large window on a tall looking but relatively small house. Its roof was angled sharply like an inverted letter 'V,' and painted a hot pink. The actual house looked to be made out of logs that had been painted a beautiful white.

My first impression as I beheld my new home when my chariot started descending was that it was perfect. Small, isolated, surrounded by both palms and pines. We landed by a small and narrow path that snaked its way back to Dusk Falls, the lighthouse, and someplace else that I did not know.

"It's quite small," Luna observed as she stepped off the chariot first, standing in front of the log house and examining it critically. "If you wanted isolation, you certainly got your wish."

So I did. Even with the lighthouse's sweeping beam of light periodically sweeping across the sky, nearly every pony in Equestria could spontaneously cease to exist and I doubt I would ever notice from the porch of my new home. It was only a fifteen minute walk back to Dusk Falls, but the town was still completely out of sight, sound, and mind. Instead, my only company in Harmony Bay was the gentle sloshing of the ocean waves, and faint rustling of palm leafs dancing in the calm midnight wind. If there really was anything sinister about Dusk Falls, I definitely received no early warning from their repeated drone.

The lonely white beach-house was everything I could possibly have wanted. Well, mostly everything, the pink roof wouldn't have been my first colour choice to go against the white logs, but I suppose that was a minor complaint. I would probably have it painted eventually, red or perhaps dark green.

A small porch snaked its way across the front of the house, along the left wall, and finally ending before the right wall began, facing the ocean. It was here that I would frequently relax in the evenings, drinking tea and looking out at the orange water, after I lowered the sun and Luna's moon rose behind me. Those had been the calm evenings during my first few months after moving in, before life in Dusk Falls took a turn for the worst.

Luna led the way down the path and towards the house, but stopped at the steps to the porch to let me go first into my new home. I left the two guards to unload my things from the chariot and trotted down the path, bounding up the three stairs in one leap and landing on the wooden porch.

"Domus Caelestis," Luna whispered, torchlight mirrored in her eyes wide with curiosity. Her words roughly translated to Celestial Home. "This place needs a name, I think."

"Yes, but I was thinking of something more subtle," I said as I slowly eased the pink, round door open. It had been left unlocked by the ponies preparing the home for my stay, undoubtedly the same ones who had lit the torches and filled my cupboards with the necessities of domestic life.

"Pink Sunset," Luna suggested, and this time allowed herself a light giggle. She probably meant the name as a sarcastic jibe, as if the brilliant and silly pink roof was my choosing, and I don't believe I was ever supposed to actually like it. To this day, though, if someone were to receive a letter from Princess Celestia, the return address would read as 1 Pink Sunset, Dusk Falls.

Without any further hesitation, I pushed the door the rest of the way open and slowly started into Pink Sunset, Luna close on my hooves. As evidenced by its exterior, the house had an immensely tall roof, angled sharply in the shape of the letter A. Immediately upon entering, we were in the main room of Pink Sunset, which housed a tall, grey brick fireplace to the right, tall bookshelves and a desk to the left, and a round, rustic looking wooden table in the middle. The back wall was all window, giving me a clear view of both the back porch and the beach thirty feet down. At high tides, I could probably drop a stone straight down from my porch and be greeted with a resolute splash.

Other than my bedroom, which was the wall immediately beside me in the entrance-way, and a bathroom next to the study area with the bookshelves, Pink Sunset was this one singular living room. And although as far as typical houses go it looked quite large from the exterior, once inside it was clear that in reality the best word to describe Pink Sunset would be "cozy."

"Okay, I changed my mind," Luna said, peering up at an intricate wooden chandelier hanging over the round dining table. "I like this place."

"As do I," I said with a gleeful grin, instantly trotting further on into the house. The ocean was magnificently displayed no matter where in the house you were, and the crackling of the fire instantly reinforced the cozy style of the beach house.

The house was for the most part barren of anything decorating the walls, but that would be something that I would swiftly remedy. Likewise, the bookshelves were in drastic need of...well, books, which believe me I had in spades. They covered nearly sixty percent of the leftmost wall, but I had little doubt I would be able to fill them up. Books were basically the only thing other than the royal regalia I was wearing that I left Equestria with.

“So this is it,” I heard Luna mutter, and I noticed she was still standing in the open doorway, all hooves but one still resting on the wooden porch outside. “This is farewell.”

“You’re welcome to stay tonight,” I said, knowing she wouldn’t. “It’s a long flight back to Equestria, Luna. You’ll be flying until dawn.”

“Flying helps me think,” Luna said. “And I think we’ll both have a lot to think about tonight.”

“I’ll put some tea on for us at least.” I said assertively, taking my first steps towards the kitchen by the fireplace. Before I even reached them, the cupboard doors were being flung open by my magic as I searched for both the kettle and the bags of tea.

“Ah, looks like they just left me with black tea, Lulu! Hope you don’t mind the caffeine this late!”

Of course she wouldn’t. Practically every moment Luna spent not sleeping was instead spent with her muzzle in a coffee mug, driving her for a few hours into the day before she eventually slept the rest of the afternoon away and awoke to raise the moon. I never understood why she didn’t simply raise the moon and go to sleep, but she insisted that the night was her duty and to sleep through it would be to insult its beauty.

“Luna? Do you want tea or not?”

“No thank you, Celly,” Luna’s voice finally rung out,“You’re right, I should be gone soon if I hope to be back in Equestria before my first day ruling alone.”

“For the love of Equestria, Lulu, an hour off your hooves wouldn’t kill you!” I floated the teapot onto the fireplace to boil as I headed back to the entrance of the house where my sister was still waiting.

Luna didn’t say anything in response, but looked down sadly at her hooves as if contemplating the literal implications of what I’d just said. Finally, she sighed and took a step into Pink Sunset, lightly kicking the door closed behind her. Next, she removed her silver hoofwear, which I realized would probably mar my fragile hardwood floor. Sheepishly, I did the same and dropped them down next to where Luna had placed hers on a round, green and brown area rug in the entrance-way.

There were two cushions facing the burning fire, and me and Luna each took one and stared into the roaring flames. Neither of us spoke, aside from Luna muttering a distant “thank you” as I poured the boiling water into her teacup.

“I implore you to stay safe here, Celestia,” she eventually said, the words a barely audible whisper. “I can’t shake the feeling that something is amiss.”

I opened my mouth with critical words almost escaping my tongue, but in a lapse of reason I closed it again and nodded slowly.

“Thank you for your concern, Luna.” I said after a pause of several seconds.

“I hope this works,” her voice echoed from the depths of the teacup as she lifted it to her lips.

“Me too,” I agreed, swallowing some of the cooling tea myself. If it didn’t work…

No, it would work. It had to.

“Promise me you’ll write at least,” Luna said.

“As long as you do,” I replied evenly. “Weekly.”

“Of course,” she said, and smiled for the first time all evening...perhaps all week. “How else will I inform you of my drastic changes to Equestria?”

She was joking, of course, but those words had an uncomfortable level of vivid truth to them that would eventually echo through the nation for centuries.

At the time, though, I laughed and smiled, for at that time we were simply two sisters, relishing in a nice fire’s warmth (not that it was needed) and drinking some fine, delicious tea. In that moment there were no subjects, there was no Equestria or Dusk Falls, no fear or jealousy or unfairness. Just two mares at peace. And we both knew that it would only last for a few hours, but we could at least enjoy it while it did.

With the ice between us finally broken, we continued talking for hours. Luna voiced her nervousness at ruling alone for the first time, and I comforted her and told her that if anypony was capable of ruling a nation, it was her even more so than me. I didn’t necessarily believe it to be true, but truthfully I thought Equestria would be fine in her hooves. And it was, for the entirety of my time in Dusk Falls. Luna didn’t dwell any longer on her discomfort with me being alone, but as she looked through the kitchen window at the guards just barely visible beside my door, I could tell she was thinking about it.

Eventually, the sky’s colour started seeping its way through the darkness and I felt the tell-tale light tug of magic from the sun as it willed me to raise it. I rose, astounded by the fact that it was almost dawn already. Luna rose to her feet and stretched, before wordlessly starting towards the front door. When I finally followed her, she already had her silver hipposandals on and was stretching her wings in anticipation for the long flight home. I stood like a statue, watching her as if in a trance.

“Well, sister…” she said, and to my shock leapt forward and gave me an awkward yet well-meant hug. “I suppose this is farewell.”

“Indeed it is. Good luck, Luna. I know you’ll be fine.”

She nodded nearly inconspicuously, and we roughly broke our embrace and resumed our standing positions. There’s really no subtle way to free yourself from a sibling hug, it usually just happens in an overwhelming flood of discomfort and blushing on both our parts.

“Goodbye, Celestia. I hope you enjoy your new life.”

“The same to you,” I said, and then, “If you’re right about this place...if anything seems amiss even in the slightest, I promise I’ll let you know.”

Luna gave an understanding nod, and without another word, turned and stepped out onto the porch. She unfurled her wings, and her horn burst to life as she lowered the moon. Before it was even below the horizon, she had already taken off and disappeared into the dying darkness of the early morning.

It would be three months before me and Luna spoke in person again.

I stared in silence for several minutes at the patch of sky where Luna had vanished, and the tickling sensation in my horn eventually grew to be an unpleasant annoyance. I decided I really should raise the sun. But before I went back into the house and closed the door, there was still one more thing left to do.

“Well, welcome to Dusk Falls,” I turned on my heels to face the two stoic guards. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking my tea as I did, because I surely would have choked a little in surprise when I realized that one of them was a mare.

There are absolutely no restrictions based on any sort of gender nor race in the Royal Guard whatsoever. Luna and I would never even for a moment stand for that. Equestria had gone through long periods of war and strife between unicorns, earth ponies, and pegasi, and that was before Equestria was actually a nation and we alicorns were even in the picture. Not long after we were recognized as rulers when we defeated Discord, did Equestria truly become a proper nation founded on a concept of equality. Even if the wars had ended long ago, there was still a lot of work to be done when Luna and I took the throne.

Nevertheless, even today the truth of the matter still remained that the Royal Guard was largely made up of strong, burly unicorn stallions. Sadly, it was almost exclusively this way. So then my surprise at my appointed guard was quite joyous that evening.

Neither of the guards actually vocally responded to my greeting, instead they saluted and kept staring straight ahead. The stallion, a pegasus with a coat too dark to be white but too light to be blue was the first to salute, and the younger, bleached whitish-pink mare with the indigo mane instantly followed suit nervously.

I’d had a greeting on my mind, and had been planning to ask their names and request the formalities and saluting and other arbitrary nonsense to follow my sister back to Equestria, but my words vanished as soon as I looked at them standing like statues on either side of the large round door.

“I...I, uh...have a sun to raise,” I sheepishly muttered, and trotted into the house before my own guard could see the regal alicorn Princess of the Sun blush like the embarrassed school-filly I felt like.

The candles and torches had since burned into a puddle of wax, but as my horn sputtered to life, the traces of morning sunlight danced through the huge, towering windows on the ocean facing wall. It was dawn, and I wouldn’t be getting any sleep on my first day in Dusk Falls, but I doubt my excitement would have permitted me so anyways.

The sunlight broke from the other side of the tall cliff from which the town’s waterfalls tumbled downwards, hidden from me by the tall pine tree forest between me and the town. The morning light catching the sparkling water would soon form a brilliant rainbow the way it almost always did when the sun rose over Dusk Falls. It would be some time before the sun itself was no longer obscured by the tall cliff, but its light knew no limits. The motionless, mirror-like surface of the Crimson Coast waters, true to their namesake, turned to a fiery red as I guided the great celestial body upwards. Eventually, with its orbit set in motion, it started ascending without my aid. When it did, I was finally permitted to stop the flow of magic, heave an immense yawn, empty the cold tea from my cup, and start scrounging my cupboards for coffee to help me through my first day in Dusk Falls.

As I sat down and watched the sky's gradual illumination, the words of warning Luna had spoken first surfaced in my mind, but only for a moment before they vanished the way she had into the night. I think before I even finished my morning cup of coffee, any fear and nervousness I had before dissipated to make way for anticipation and excitement, and the prospect of a fresh, new start on a type of life that I had dreamed of reverting back to in the immature recesses of my mind where such sunny daydreams were allowed to flourish.

Forgetting Luna's warnings of Dusk Falls' dark secrets was probably the first great mistake I made over my first year in the seemingly peaceful town by the sea. For out past the joyous eternal celebrations of the boardwalk nightlife, and below the twilight's red rippling waves, and even within the walls of the boxy, freshly painted houses with the pretty white trim, evil really was germinating, and Equestria's ways of peace would be threatened once again.