• Published 21st Oct 2014
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I Watch the Moon - zeus_tfc

Luna has been redeemed by the elements of harmony, but is finding that salvation is harder to come by. Perhaps the Moon, her prison for so very long, is truly where Luna belongs after all.

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Chapter 4: Lunacy

Luna stared at her Moon. Her bright, clear, clean Moon. She sat on her perch and basked for a moment in that gentle light before dropping from her place and gliding to the balcony of her room. She entered, securing the door behind her, and walked to the door leading out into the hallway. She paused, and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

Steeling herself, she pushed out into the hallway.

Luna felt… well… not good. No. Not good. Better, though. There was a faint glimmer of hope within her. It was a small fragile thing. It was the kind of hope that, had anyone seen it, would have been whisked away to the hospital and put on life support.

Regardless, it was there. And that was an improvement.

Luna wandered the hallways, narrowing in on her destination, but never simply trotting directly there. Instead, she wove her way back and forth, almost circling her way in like a buzzard.

Soon she was left no alternative. There lay the two rooms of the pony sisters, and the common room between them.

Carefully, softly, she knocked on a brightly colored door.

“Sister? Doth thou yet sleep?”

The only response was the sensation of magic, and the door opening just ajar.

Luna pushed her way into the dimly lit bedroom.

“Luna,” a soft voice called. “Are you well?”

“Fine, sister,” Luna assured her. “I just wanted to see thee before spending time with thy student.”

Luna tiptoed to Celestia’s bed. The Sun pony gazed at her worriedly.

“You’ve been very secretive and… jumpy about this. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Luna nodded.

“I… I’m going to show her something… personal.”

“Aaaah,” Celestia said with understanding. “You’re afraid she won’t like what she sees.”

“I’m certain she won’t,” clarified Luna. “I simply hope for… understanding.”

“I’m sure it will be fine. Twilight is most kindhearted. She’d wouldn’t reject you after you place so much trust in her.”

Celestia paused, looking uncertain.

“Luna,” she said hesitantly, “would you ever consider showing me?”

“I think it unwise, sister. Not that I don’t trust thee,” she added hurriedly, “but I fear it would hurt thee. Perhaps when thy guilt is assuaged, but for now, let it be.”

“I understand.” The sadness in her eyes betrayed her.

Luna nuzzled her sister, trying to ease the pain.

“Sleep well, sister.”

“Goodnight, Luna.”

Luna crept away more quietly that one might expect from one with hooves. She tiptoed to a separate door, and slipped through into the common room.

“Oh. Luna,” Twilight called as Luna shut the door behind her. “You surprised me.”

“I was just saying goodnight to Celestia.”

Twilight smiled.

“She was very curious about what we were doing,” Twilight said.

“As, I’m sure, you are.”

Luna took a deep breath, trying to quell the fluttering she was feeling inside. She willed her knees not to shake with moderate success.

“Twilight, I’d like to show you something, if you are willing.”

“Of course!” Twilight said without hesitation.

“Twilight, do you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you, why-”

Twilight's words halted as magic surrounded her. It completely encased her.

“There,” Luna said after a moment. “That should protect and sustain you for an hour. Probably two. That should be more than enough time.”

“But why?” Twilight asked, her voice distorted by the barrier. “Where are we going?”

“My Moon,” Luna answered.

She hurt when she saw Twilight stiffen.

“Peace, Twilight. Peace. There’s nothing there that can hurt you, and I won’t leave you.”

Twilight looked at her, eyes searching for who knew what. Whatever she sought, she must have found it, because she graced Luna with a smile, and nodded.

Luna nodded in return.

“Good. Then let us be off.”

Luna gathered her magic, twisting time and space just so. The world around them shimmered, followed by the brief sensation of falling.

Their vision cleared. They were on the Moon.

Luna glanced around before turning her attention to Twilight. They’d arrived exactly where she’d wished to, in the center of where she’d first landed when imprisoned here. The dust and soil was churned and disturbed in all directions. Hoofprints and ruts marred every surface.

Luna turned to Twilight.

“This is where I first arrived. What you see before you is my… temper tantrum. I exhausted my rage against the rocks and soil. I ranted and screamed my hate to the rocks and the sky, for all the good it did me.”

“How long?” Twilight asked.

“I’m not sure. Decades? Certainly no more than a century. Time is difficult here. There are cycles and phases, but it is not easy to translate to days or years in Equestria. I tried to count the days for a while. In a fit of frustration, I destroyed my calendar. I gave up after that.”

Luna looked around, gathering her bearings.

“This way.”

Luna hesitated.

“Walking on the Moon is… different. The best way to travel quickly is something like a hop mixed with a slow gallop. If you’re unsure, I can carry you, but I don’t recommend your teleport. It might interfere with my barrier. That would be… unpleasant.”

Twilight looked at her uncertainly.

“Why don’t you allow me. This is a tour of my Moon, after all.”

Luna levitated Twilight onto her back.

“Grasp my mane. Now, hold on.”

With that, she hopped into the air. It took Twilight some time to understand the rhythm of the oddly loping gait. Luna was correct, in that it was somewhere between a hop and a gallop, but that didn’t come close to describing it. Added to that, was the fact that the Moon was just plain strange. There was no sensation of wind her her face. The only gauge of speed were the rocks flying by them. Even there, the Moon was deceptive. A small rock, which appeared to be only a few meters in front of them, refused to come closer no matter how quickly they travel toward it. Instead, it grew. It grew and grew. Eventually the illusion was broken, and when they finally passed it, it had grown into a boulder whose shadow easily swallowed them.

The churned landscape gradually smoothed. Now the surface was dotted by rocks and dunes, but no pony-made marks. Twilight realized they were traveling in a shallow groove through the landscape.

No, not a groove. A path. A road. A road Luna had worn from repeated trips to wherever they were headed.

Twilight looked ahead. She saw what she assumed was the destination, but struggled to make sense of it. It was… a pit. As they neared, the scope of the pit continued to amaze her. It was an enormous square pit, dug down into the lunar surface. Inset from the sides of the pit were odd ridges, no more than a meter high, forming a shallow box.

Luna left the path, choosing not to continue down into the pit, but instead traveled to the lip, allowing them to see down within.

“This is my castle,” Luna said.

“What?” gasped Twilight. “Y-your castle? What happened?”

“You misunderstand, Twilight,” Luna stated. “Nothing destroyed my castle. This is simply where I gave up building it.”

“You… you gave up?”

“Look about you, Twilight. Do you see building materials available? Wood for tools? Iron for carving stone? Coal for smelting? Water for mortar? Alone, with my magic all but absent, I did the only thing I could. I dug. I scraped the soil from the surface until I hit solid rock. Then I did my best to chisel it away to form the walls.”

Luna shook her head mournfully.

“A foal’s errand, but it passed the time.”

“Why foalish?”

“What subjects would visit my castle, Twilight? What servants would populate its halls? No, this was born of desperation, and perhaps madness. I have other places where the desperation to create drove me, but none hold nearly the folly, none show as clearly the madness as this… lunacy.”

The last word tasted like ashes as it left her mouth.

Luna shook her head, trying to free herself from the weight of the past pressing on her.

“There is one last place I would show you, Twilight. Hold tight.”

She turned and left, refusing to look back.

Luna crested the ridge, and began her descent. The soil and rocks here were darker. Bleaker. Down they traveled into the basin.

Twilight noted they were on another path as they hopped across the oddly shaped depression.

She felt Luna slow as they reached what she could only assume was the center.

Twilight decided she could risk speaking.

“What is this place?” she asked.

“This is Mare Tranquillitatis. The Sea of Tranquility.”

Luna stopped.

Twilight looked over Luna’s shoulder to see the path ended abruptly. At the end of the path was a slight depression. It wasn’t much more than a shallow divot, more or less round, marking the end of the path. It wasn’t even much bigger than the path itself. It was barely…

It was pony sized, Twilight realized.

“This is where I slept,” Luna said.

She picked Twilight up off her back, and set her on the path behind her.

“I don’t know if I realized what I was doing when I chose this place. I don’t know if I understood where I was, or if the name meant anything to me at that point, but this is where I did it. Where I gave in. Where I slept. Where I came back to every night.”

Luna stepped forward, and settled into the divot, curling herself up into a ball and closing her eyes. It was perfectly shaped and sized for her.

Of course it was, Twilight rebuked herself. It was formed by her repeated visits, shaped little by little as she settled down to sleep each night.

She watched Luna lie there for just a moment.


Luna opened her eyes.

“Just… just give me a moment. Please.”

Luna, for her part, alternately relished and abhorred the familiar sensations of the Moon. As she lay there, the cold soil leached away her warmth. The abrasive surface scratched at her skin and coat.

It felt so familiar, so cursedly alluring, it would be easy to just lose herself here. To go back to the routine that defined her for centuries.

But she couldn’t.

She promised.

Slowly, Luna stood.

She shook off the dust clinging to her, and turned to face Twilight’s worried expression.

“There you have it. The two-bit tour of my Moon. Let us leave the mare before we return.”

Twilight followed wordlessly in Luna’s wake, trying to process all she’d seen.

Luna only spoke again once they’d returned to the common room.

Once they’d landed, Twilight shook off the feeling of the barrier after its removal. It hadn’t been restrictive, exactly, but it did confer the sensation of weight, and the sense that it was there, confining her.

“Twilight,” Luna addressed her, “it is late, and I’m sure you are tired. I’ll come see you in the morning before you depart to Ponyville.”

Twilight faced the Moon mare, a grave expression on her face.

“Luna, I know I can’t understand what you went through, but…”

Emotion choked the words from Twilight’s throat. She fought to free them.

“I know that seeing those things again must have hurt. What I’m trying to say is, thank you for showing me.”

“Twilight Sparkle, you once spoke of friendship. You have now seen the worst of me. You have seen the Nightmare. You have seen my waspish temper. You have seen my Moon, and the madness it contains. Would you still seek friendship with me despite all you have witnessed?”

Twilight looked at her with that sweet, honest, innocent face, and didn’t even hesitate.

“Of course!” she smiled at Luna. “Of course I’m your friend.”

Luna walked up and pulled Twilight into an embrace.

“Then I am thine, Twilight Sparkle. I am thy friend until thou rightfully tires of me.”

“That will never happen, Luna,” Twilight swore as Luna released her.

“Never is a word no pony should use,” Luna warned. “Regardless, I thank thee. Now, off to bed with thee. I’ll see thee in the morning.”

Luna watched Twilight leave, feeling lighter than she had in ages. It left her with one problem. What was she to do with her evening? She could go back to her perch, but for the first time since her return, she had no desire to. Technically she should be standing guard over Equestria, and holding court. The fact that Equestria required little in the way of guarding, and that no pony really attended her court with any seriousness made both options less than appetizing.

Luna decided to do something she hadn’t done in over a thousand years.

Cause mischief.

Luna’s first stop, she decided, should be the kitchens. The white and yellow daisies they’d been feasting on for breakfast were delicious, but lacking a certain something. Pizzaz. It was time to change that.

It was time to let them know who they were dealing with.

Luna smiled. It was an unfamiliar feeling, that gleeful, manic smile, but it felt good. Oh. Oh yes. It felt good.

“Excuse me,” Luna said, dropping from her perch on the chandelier so that she was hanging upside down from it.

“AAAYYYIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE!!!” the maid screamed.

“Aside from my bedroom, which I will grant you,” Luna continued nonchalantly, “what do you think is the scariest place in the palace?”

“P-p-princess?” the maid stuttered.

“The scariest place in the palace. Palace grounds included.”

“Uh… the kitchen it pretty scary,” she said uncertainly. “The head cook can be really-”

“No, no. That won’t work at all. You can’t get a good haunting in a busy kitchen. What else?”

“The-the palace laundry? It’s usually hot, and always damp, and…”

“Oh, yes,” Luna rolled her eyes and swung gently on the chandelier. “A haunted laundry. All the other palaces will be so jealous. Think, mare! There must be some place here that is suitable. A long abandoned tower? A deep whispered-about dungeon? A well where some love-scorned mare fell in and drowned? Anything?”

“W-well… there’s a mausoleum in the older section of the palace cemetery,” she offered.

“Hmmm. A mausoleum eh? That just might work.” Luna mused, letting the chandelier continue its pendulum-like movement.

“P-princess Luna? Work for what?”

Had the blood not been continuously rushing to Luna’s head, she might have thought better of her next actions. Then again, considering her manic mood, she might not.

“Princess? PRINCESS?!? SOON the Equestria will know me not as PRINCESS… but as LUNA!!!!!”

She straightened, raising her fore hooves over her head as if raging against the sky. Unfortunately, in her inverted position, they were actually under her head.

It didn’t take long for her to realize her error.

Her hind hooves, now lacking the support of her fore, lost whatever purchase they had on the chandelier, and Luna dropped, unceremoniously, on her head.

“Ouch,” she murmured, righting herself.


“I’m okay!” she assured her. “Sorry to have detained you. Must be off. Things to do, you understand.”

The maid bowed hastily and scuttled away as fast as she could without being extremely obvious.

Luna watched her panicked retreat for a moment, feeling some of that cold emptiness begin to sap her manic energy.

She shook herself, trying to forestall the gloom threatening her. She didn’t have time for it. Not today.

Today she had things to do.

Morning saw a weary, but mildly cheerful Luna waiting for Celestia on their ritual balcony

“Good morning, Luna,” Celestia smiled at her sister.

“Good morning, Celestia,” Luna replied.

Celestia sniffed the air, taking in the smell of morning before taking her usual place on the balcony.

“Is… is there something different this morning?” she asked.

Luna fought to keep from reacting.

“Whatever dost thou mean, sister?”

“I don’t know. Something just seems… off.”

Luna cursed internally. She should have expected Celestia to sense something, but the illusion was so perfect. So subtle.

“There is nothing amiss, sister. Nothing could escape me under the light of my Moon.”

Celestia looked skeptical, but nodded her agreement. She took her place, and made ready for their ritual.

Luna sighed quietly in relief. The Sun’s rays were about to destroy her carefully placed illusion. Her plan wouldn’t work if Celestia banished it early.

Setting the illusion had been the hard part. It was a perfect copy of the palace over the real one, down to the last mossy rock. It had been difficult in two regards. One, in scope. She’d covered the entire eastern side of the palace, top to bottom. Second, in detail. It helped that she could see the palace as she created the duplicate layer over the top, but even the slightest missed detail could be catastrophic.

No, it simply wouldn’t do to ruin her work early.

Besides, the trick wasn’t in the illusion. It was in how it would be undone.

Luna gathered her magic as she felt Celestia do the same. The Moon dipped to the horizon. The horizon brightened with the approaching Sun.

Slowly, the Sun broke the horizon, and the first rays of morning lit the sky.

Finally, the rays of the Sun hit the top of the castle, working their way down as the Sun rose.

Where the Sun hit, the illusion ended, but, as in all things, the magic was in the execution.

The illusion didn’t just end. It dissolved. As the rays worked their way down the castle, it was like an outer layer was dissolving away in an effervescent rainbow, leaving the real castle solidly underneath.

The effect was perfect.

Soon the whole castle was awash in swirls of color bubbling away and disappearing into the aether.

The ritual ended, and the pony sisters turned to face each other.

Luna braced herself for Celestia’s reaction.

At first it was nothing more than a raised eyebrow.

“So,” Celestial began. “I see somepony’s been busy.”

The reaction was rather underwhelming.

“Well,” Luna began, scraping the stone floor with her hoof, “I-”

That was as far as she got before Celestia tackled her, wrapping forelegs and wings around her in an embrace.

“Oh, Luna. That was beautiful!”

Luna felt her face heat.

“Twas a minor illusion. Nothing more.”

“No, Luna. That was wonderful,” Celestia assured her. “Ponies will be talking about that for months!”

Luna giggled. It was an unfamiliar, but not entirely unpleasant experience.

“One hopes. That should give me ample time to think of my next trick.”

Celestia nuzzled her fondly.

“Let’s go eat.”

Celestia released her, and they made their way to the dining room. As they walked, Luna observed her sister’s transition from ‘Celestia’ to ‘Princess Celestia’. As always, it started gradually. The warm smile on her face morphed into a pleasant, albeit aloof, expression. The twinkle of humor in her eyes receded until Luna was sure she was the only one who’d detect it. Her gait stiffened into a formal walk.

It was a trick Luna sometimes envied, being able to so easily hide your true thoughts and emotions. The bloodless warfare of politics all but demanded it. Luna herself had never mastered it. She was too vocal. Too easily riled. Too temperamental. Too Luna.

Well, today she’d see how secure her public face really was.

There seemed to be some sort of disagreement going on when Luna and Celestia entered the dining room. The palace cook and the butler were whispering excitedly, gesturing furiously with hoof and head.

Luna suppressed a smile. The smile broke free when she saw Twilight seated in at a table.

It was shaping up to be a lovely morning.

“Good morning, Twilight,” Luna greeted her. “I trust thou rested well?”

Luna ignored Celestia’s raised eyebrow.

“Yes, thank you, Luna,” Twilight answered.

Princess Luna,” Celestia interrupted from behind her.

Luna frowned.

“Luna,” she stressed to Twilight.


With a sharp snap, Luna raised her wing to block Celestia’s view of their conversation.

“Twilight Sparkle, I have trusted thee with my very worst. Shall we let titles now drive a gulf between us? If I am thy friend, call me Luna, and let me worry about my sister.”

Twilight’s eyes looked troubled. They sought something in Luna’s own.

Twilight smiled. It was an uncertain smile, but a smile nonetheless.

“Of course, Luna.”

Satisfied, Luna retracted her wing, and went to go sit with her sister at the head table to await breakfast.

She caught the slightly furrowed brow as she settled herself next to Celestia.

“We’ll discuss this later, in private,” Celestia warned.

“At length,” Luna retorted.

The argument between the chef and the butler seemed to be over, if not entirely resolved, as the butler made his way to the head table.

“Y-your Majesties,” he began, “there-there appears there wa-was a m-mix-up with this m-morning’s breakfast.”

“Mix-up?” Celestia asked with an arched eyebrow. “We won’t be having daisies this morning?”

“Daisies. Yes,” the butler said, wringing his hooves. “Daisies we shall have, but somehow… somehow they have been b-b-b-b…. S-somehow they have been b-b-b-b…. They have been b-baked into c-cakes.”

“Cakes” Celestia said, her face losing all expression. “We’re having cake for breakfast.”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Celestia beamed a real, honest smile.

“Very well, kind sir. Please carry on.”

Luna tried to keep her expression benignly pleasant as she’d Celestia do so often, though she was sure she fooled nopony. The amused glance Celestia shot her confirmed it.

Still, they had cake for breakfast. That had to be worth something, hadn’t it?

Twilight was having an odd morning. Truth be told, it started last night when she’d visited Luna’s Moon. Staring at that wasteland, that horrible descent from madness into despair that lasted a thousand years, Twilight had realized how deep the hurts ran in Luna. She realized her cleansing, her redemption at the hands of the elements, was only the beginning of the healing process.

She also realized how much it cost Luna to share that with her. How much she trusted Twilight to show that. Twilight couldn’t imagine what she’d done to deserve that trust, but she swore to herself she’d do her best to be worthy of it.

Which led to this morning. This decidedly strange morning.

First there had been the excited whisperings around the palace. At dawn there had apparently been some strange magic cast which delighted the few early morning witnesses to no end. Twilight was sad to have missed it. The only thing she could get out of people was some vague description of a swirl of rainbows.

Then there had been Luna.

Princess Celestia had always remained aloof with everypony, Twilight included. Through all her mentoring and discussions, she’d never let her guard drop. Twilight always attributed that to her being a princess, and needs to be removed from her subjects. When she’d met Luna for the second time, she’d thought her assumptions confirmed. Luna was more than aloof. She was distant. Cold. Unmoving. Unyielding. Uncaring.

Now, all of that was gone.

When Luna spoke, there was a warmth in her voice. She spoke as a friend spoke, despite her odd speech. She’d even hugged her last night, and not a public ‘hug but not too close’ hug, but a real, intimate, personal embrace.

And this morning, she’d contradicted her sister. In public. On allowing Twilight to simply call her ‘Luna’.

Twilight wasn’t sure what to think.

Part of her wondered if she should have expected more with her relationship with Princess Celestia. She was her mentor. Her teacher. Her friend, she thought. Why wasn’t she so warm when she spoke?

Part of her wondered if she really wanted that. Yearlings looked to their parents with absolute trust and unconditional love. Their parents weren’t ponies, but omnipotent, infallible, and unquestionably trustworthy protectors. It was only when they grew up they understood that their parents were fallible ponies like everyone else.

Princess Celestia ruled Equestria with a kind benevolence. Did Twilight want to shatter her trust that she could protect them from anything, just so they could have a little closer relationship?

It was a dilemma.

And now they were having cake for breakfast.

She’d expected a simple mixture of white and yellow daisies, perhaps with some sweet rolls, as had been Princess Celestia’s routine for as long as Twilight could remember.

When the cakes were carried out, Twilight’s eyes went wide. They were tall, many-layered spectacles.

And as for daisies…

Daisies were everywhere. They were sandwiched between the layers. They were set in the frosting decorating the outsides. There were petals folded into the batter. They were not, however, the usual white and yellow. They were a riot of blues, purples and reds.

It was delightful.

It was extravagant.

It was delicious.

As Twilight stared at her empty plate, suppressing the urge to lick it clean of crumbs and frosting, she caught sight of the butler creeping up to the Princesses.

Twilight couldn’t make out the hushed conversation that ensued, but she couldn’t fail to note Princess Celestia’s raised eyebrow, her suspicious glances at Luna, or Luna’s feeble attempts at keeping a straight face.

“Very well. Let us see to this disturbance,” Princess Celestia said finally. “Coming Luna?”

“Goest on ahead. I shall finish my cake and meet thee.”

Princess Celestia stared at Luna, simply waiting. Luna shrank under the gaze, but said nothing.

Wordlessly, Princess Celestia turned to follow the butler out of the hall.

Twilight’s and Luna’s eyes met. Luna flicked her gaze to Princess Celestia. Then she did it again. The third time, Twilight got the message.

“I’ll go with you, Princess Celestia,” she chirped, hopping from her seat.

Princess Celestia nodded with a smile.

Twilight realized quickly she had no idea what she was getting into. The group trotted out to a door Twilight had never used. It opened out to the palace grounds where the butler handed them off to the groundskeeper. The groundskeeper took them past the gardens, and through an iron gate.

The gate was impressive. Black wrought iron stretched up three ponies high, gathering in a peaked arch. At the top the bars gave way to leaves and flowers meticulously shaped by hammer and die. The gate was set in a heavy stone wall. Though moss and decaying mortar marred the stacked stone wall in places, it was obvious that the wall was well-maintained. Spots where the mortar had been re-pointed, clearly showing clean white where it was otherwise a dirty gray, marked repairs as far as the eye could see.

Twilight stiffened as they passed into the walled area. It hadn’t occurred to her at first, but now it was obvious. What need was there of a walled area outdoors? What could possibly be there? A private garden? No, not on the palace grounds. It could only be one thing.

It was a graveyard.

Twilight felt a chill wash across her skin. It was silly, she knew, but it was there all the same.

Twilight followed the groundskeeper and Princess Celestia deeper into the cemetery. Bright, new, clean grave markers made way for older, weather worn markers. further back, the foliage became more overgrown, and the names on the markers illegible. Trees and overgrowth dimmed the light and blocked the Sun.

Twilight shivered, and hastened her steps, not wanting to be left behind, and needing to be closer to the Princess. Her eyes darted back and forth, wary of anything that might waylay them on the path. In Canterlot. On the palace grounds.

Twilight shook her head, feeling foalish.

So busy berating herself was she, that she almost ran into Princess Celestia’s rump as she stopped quickly.

Sheepishly, she peered around the Princess to see what had halted them.

Before them was a mausoleum of some long-forgotten noble family. The mausoleum itself was impressive, but hardly worth the trip. No, what brought them on their trek was perched on top.

“OOOOOoooooOOOOOOOOOooooooOOOoooOOOoooOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” the ghost cried.

What a ghost it was.

It wore a white sheet with eye-holes cut into the fabric, and it held a length of chain which it rattled as it moaned.

It was the most ridiculous thing Twilight had ever seen.

“Good grief,” Princess Celestia muttered.

“OOoooooooooooOOoOooOOOOOOOOOOOOoooo!” the ghost cried, rattling its chain.

“Really, Luna,” Princess Celestia addressed the figure. “I’m actually a bit disappointed. The Palace was lovely. The cake was delicious, and a nice touch, but this? Come down from there.”

Twilight looked at the ghost. Now that the princess mentioned it, it was rather Luna-sized. The voice could be Luna’s also.

“OOOooOoOOOOOoooooOOOooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOO???” the ghost exclaimed.

“Really, Luna, now you’re just embarrassing yourself,” Princess Celestia said. “Take off that sheet and come down from there.”

“Sister?” Luna’s voice came from behind them.

Princess Celestia whipped around.

“Luna? Then who’s…”

“OOOOooooOOOooOOooooOOOOOOOOOOooooooooo!!” the ghost said.

“Do you like her? I hired her to give the cemetery a bit more color,” Luna told them.

“Hired who?” Twilight asked. “Somepony from town?”

“Oh, no,” assured Luna. “She’s a ghost.”

“B-b-but… but…” Twilight stuttered.

“I wrote up a contract and everything,” Luna told them, levitating up a scroll. “One new white sheet and three feet of new chain every six months, and all the souls she can eat.”

“Luna, you know as well as I do that ghosts don’t-” Princess Celestia started.

“SHHHHHHHH!” hissed Luna, stepping forward and gesturing abruptly with her hoof. “She doesn’t know that yet. How do you think I got her so cheap?”

Princess Celestia stared at Luna, aghast. Twilight looked back and forth between the two. Luna sat there, looking innocently pleased with herself. Princess Celestia’s left eye started twitching.

Twilight could feel something building. Whatever it was, it was going to be big when it broke.

The tension grew.

Then Princess Celestia began to chuckle.

The chuckle grew. Then it grew some more. Eventually it was a full laugh. Princess Celestia’s eyes began to tear, and she doubled over as the laughter wracked her whole body.

Twilight looked on, unsure what to make of this. She looked back at the ghost. She was ridiculous, sitting there in the white sheet. A real ghost? Under a white sheet, holding three feet of chain? Which she negotiated for in a contract?

Twilight felt like the absurdity was going to break her brain. It was as bad as being around Pinkie Pie when she was being particularly Pinkie-like.

Twilight shook her head and felt the laughter catching on with her.

Luna smiled and stepped forward to her sister.

“Do you like her?

Princess Celestia couldn’t catch her breath enough to speak, and only nodded as the laughter continued.

“Do… do you have any more surprises in store?” the princess asked as her laughing fit began to taper off.

“Not today, sister. The illusion on the castle took time, as did the contract negotiations.”

The admission looked like it was about to send Princess Celestia over the edge again, but somehow she managed to reign in her mirth.

I believe we should get going,” Luna said. “If we tarry too long, Twilight is liable to miss her train.”

Princess Celestia nodded, rubbing tears from her eyes, and panting slightly. She glanced at the white figure on top of the mausoleum, and a snort escaped before she managed to get her hooves to her mouth. Quickly she turned and headed down the path, desperate to put space between her and the ghost before she lost composure again.

The group made their way back to the palace. Upon entering, Luna turned to Twilight and Princess Celestia.

“I am late to my bed. Twilight, I shall see thee again.”

“Luna,” Princess Celestia called as Luna turned away.

“Sister,” Twilight heard Luna whisper, “thou hast been neglecting thy protege. Value the time while it lasts.”

Princess Celestia frowned, but nodded.

“Well, Twilight,” Princess Celestia said, “why don’t I see you to your train?”

Yes, Twilight thought, it was definitely an odd morning. Good, she decided. Very good, but odd.

Author's Note:

Finally, four chapters in, Luna calls Twilight 'friend'.
End of story, right?


Let the games begin.