• Published 24th May 2015
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My Little Pony Bizarre Adventures - Part 1: Ponyville Central - LateBronyWriter



One Thousand years ago, the saints Celestia and Luna drew upon the power of the Red Stone of Aja to defeat the demon Discord. Now one thousand years later the Stone is destroyed, beginning the tale of six ponies and their quest to redeem the world.

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Chapter 27-Dreamweaver-Take 5

Dreamweaver-Take 5:


“AAAAAA!” Twilight awakes with a flash, her body rocketing upwards as she gasps for breath. She quickly looks at the room around her, everything completely normal in every way. From the comfort of her sleeping bag the mare can see her five friends, unharmed and still sleeping soundly in their beds. The mare tries to recollect what just happened, and this time the memories flow readily back into her mind, causing her to let out a deep sigh of relief. “Oh good, we’re back in the real world. What a relief.”

“Actually, no,” Twilight’s sleeping bag suddenly materializes back into a long slender worm with Princess Luna’s exact voice. “This is very much a dream.”

………..

“AAAAAA!” Twilight awakes with a flash, her body rocketing upwards as she gasps for breath. Surveying the room around her, the mare pinches herself on the shoulder, pleased when a sharp jab of pain courses through her body. “Well at least it’s not a dream.”

Slipping out of her sleeping bag the lavender mare looks around her, taking in the still beauty of the night, as well as her friends’ safe, sleeping forms. Trotting over to the nearest sleeping bag, the one she identifies as Applejack’s, she shakes the mare out of her slumber. “Alright Applejack, you’ve been sleeping for too long, rise and shine!”

However, despite her vigorous shaking, the orange farm mare does not move. “Applejack, this isn’t funny anymore. Applejack, what’s wrong?” With a small degree of caution the mare turns over the sleeping bag to get a better look of her friend, only to cry out in terror the next moment.

Looking her straight in the eye is the evilly-smiling Princess of the Night, Princess Luna. With barely restrained glee the Princess pops out of the sleeping bag, her body outfitted in a false goatee beard, a dark green baseball cap and tacky shirt. “Nope!” The Princess of the Night smiles maniacally. “Chuck Testa.”

………..

“AAAAAA!” Twilight awakes in a flash, her body rocketing upwards as she gasps for breath. This time she is much less pleased. “That wasn’t funny! Try that again and I’m telling everypony that you cried like a baby while you were in my mind scape!”

“You are no fun.” The Princess of the Night materializes out of thin air, a scowl upon her face. “You should be thankful that I decided to put you back in your sleeping bag. I could just as easily have left you on the cold stone floor.”

Twilight looks around, seeing that she is indeed tucked softly into her sleeping bag, the moonlight from the sky outside showering down on her. “Thanks, Princess. And that was pretty funny, but do you mind waking up my friends?”

“It shall be done, Twilight.” Closing her eyes the Princess of the Night lights her horn, gentle flakes of magic falling on the slumbering forms of her friends. The flakes dissolve into their skin with a pulsating glow as their bodies begin to wake and move. Awaking from their forced state of sleep, the forms of Twilight’s friends groggily stretch against their covers and slowly open their eyes. Sleepily, the five mares stretch out of their sleeping bags, their arms reaching for the sky as they wearily blink to clear the sandmare’s dust out of their eyes. Brushing off the last remnants of sleep, the five mares begins to return to their normal selves, their minds slowly remembering the events of the dream world as they notice the presence of the mare of the night in front of them. In recalling the events of their dreams, some mares react more strongly than others.

“Twilight! Watch out, it’s Nightmare Moon!!” Rarity yelps. Leaping out of her bag, the ivory mare points her hoof threateningly at the goddess without a trace of fear. “Get back you ruffian! Or I’ll…..”

Twilight places her hoof on Rarity’s outstretched arm. “Down, Rarity. Luna’s fine we jt had a… nice talk and she decided it would be best to talk things over rather than fighting.”

“Really!?” Dash asy with a disappointed tone. “But the fighting was awesome and cool! Do we have to make boring conversation?”

With her normal level of enthusiasm Pinkie Pie bounces up on Princess Luna, who is obviously scared half to death by the pink mare’s behavior. “Best. Dream. EVER! Can we do it again? Can we? Can we? ‘Cause that was the best dream fight sequence ever! But maybe this time we can do without the whole ‘trapped in your dreams without the ability to wake up’ cause other than that that was a super cool dream! Oh do you control all dreams? I mean, I know that you are the night or something like that, and that reminds me of a funny story about when I met bat mare at comic con…..”

“In the name of the glorious moon! Make it stop!” The Princess recoils from the pink party pony like a vampire from garlic.

Ignoring the display of silliness, the rest of the group trots up to Twilight, each one with a confused look on their faces. “Twi?” Applejack slaps her Stetson on her head as she approaches. “What just happened? Are we still dreamin’? ‘Cause this don’t feel like a dream.”

Moving the pink pony a safe distance away from her, the Princess of the Night trots over to Twilight and the rest of the group. “It…..” Princess Luna breathes out as she falls to the floor. “It is over….. There is no more reason for conflict.”

Every mares’ eyes blink once, as if unable to believe that the mare that just wanted them to be trapped forever just surrendered on a whim. It would be as expected as a boot to the head, or chocolate rain. Yet the demeanor of the Princess, as well as Twilight’s willingness to stand so close to the monarch of the night without fear, is enough to at least dissuade the others from a fight. That is, everypony except for Rainbow Dash.

“It’s over when I say it’s over! I’m not letting you catch your breath for a moment!” With a quick burst of speed the pegasus prepares to hit the goddess yet again with her Valkyrie. Yet Dash’s sudden advance is once again stopped by the powerful jaws of a lavender mare grasping her tail. “Oh come on! Is this going to be happening all time? Is it? This had better not become a running gag!”

Twilight spits out a few stray hairs from her mouth as she turns to the cerulean mare, who is still in mid-flight. “Dash, there’s no reason to fight! Luna isn’t a bad guy!”

“Of course she’s a bad guy!” Dash yells as she flies right up into Luna’s face. “You tried to crush Twilight and Pinkie like a pancake. And to top it off, you nearly took our heads off in that fight just now! You nearly killed us, and that’s what bag guy does! They try to kill the good guys.”

All eyes on the room focus on the dark blue mare as she begins to chuckle lightly. This laughter is quickly cut off by the scowl of the rainbow speedster, and Princess Luna clears her throat and resumes her conversation. “Forgive me, Dashie, was it? I found your accusations… humorous? Is that what ponies these days say? I meant no disrespect on your part.”

“Well excuse me for not laughing, but I don’t think trying to kill us is very ‘humorous’,” Dash says while making air quotes, hovering in mid-air all the while.

Luna continues to chuckle a bit. “Forgive me, Dashie, but believe me when I say that you were perfectly safe. After all, it is impossible to die in a dream. Would I have ‘taken your head off’, you would have merely woken up or, since you were being held in your dreams by my Stand, you would have been knocked senseless for a time.”

“I knew it!” Pinkie shouts, “See, Twilight! We had nothing to worry about. We were in no danger at all! Isn’t that silly?”

“The pink one is correct,” Luna points out to the others as she continues, “only dark and evil magic can kill one in a dream, and I used none of it on you. My only intent was to determine what you were after and what your loyalty to my sister was; that is why I trapped you in the dreamscape. It was not an act of malice, but an act of caution.”

The Princess of the Night straightens her posture as she looks upon the ponies before her. “And as I said before, I only intended to hold you as long as I deemed that you were a threat to me.” Princess Luna, monarch of the night, turns to face the lavender mare with an unreadable expression on her muzzle. “And from what I learned from Twilight, such caution was unfounded. I must say I am very impressed with you, Twilight Sparkle; you are resourceful, cool under fire, and possess a very potent Stand ability. We had thought that the art of mind linking was lost, so rare it had become.”

The lavender mare’s face flushes with embarrassment from the praise. “Thank you, Princess, but it really wasn’t me alone.” Twilight gestures to her friends with a broad sweeping gesture. “If it wasn’t for my friends I could have never gotten this far; they’re really the reason I'm standing here today.”

The Princess of the Night looks among the gathered mares, each one of them possessing the loyalty to follow a friend into the darkness of the Everfree, the courage to laugh definitely when faced with the power of a god and the kindness to give her, the creature once known as Nightmare Moon, a second chance. With a glad smile the Princess clops her hoof on the ground as she applauds their bravery. “Indeed, these are some very good friends, Sparkle; you are lucky to have them by your side in such an hour of need. Were it not for your combined teamwork you would doubtless still be trapped in my realm of dreams. More importantly, you have shown me that my sister does indeed still care about me, and for that I thank you, Stardust Crusaders.” With a curt bow the Princess bends her knees, bringing her head down to the level of the common ponies, an act of reverence as old as time itself.

“Does that mean you’ll make up with Princess Celestia?” Twilight’s eyes sparkle with the glow of hope.

The Princess’ mood does a one eighty as Twilight mentions the name of her sister, going from confident and in control to shocked and uncertain. “We……. I am not sure, Sparkle. That depends upon my sister’s intentions, and what she plans to do with the sacred power of the Holy Corpse.”

Rarity leans over, whispering In Applejack’s ear. “What a Drama Queen.” However, the ivory mare receives no response from her compatriot.

The room grows silent as if the mere weight of the words ‘Holy Corpse’ is enough to awe the ponies present into dumbfounded submission. The words alone seem to carry enough weight to buckle the world and everything in it as the dark blue goddess looks out the window, watching the moon as it reaches its zenith. “For one thousand years, nay, for longer than I have been imprisoned I have suffered thanks to its influence. You were able to glean a few of said details from my diary, were you not, Sparkle? About how my sister and I harnessed the power of the Red Stone of Aja, about how we attempted to use the Stone’s power and unlock the secrets of Harmony?”

The moonbeams seem to fall through the window like sunlight, illuminating the supple form of the goddess as well as her inner sorrows. “I have seen into your mind, Twilight, and you are a very intelligent mare; and I owe you more than words can say for saving me from the Nightmare that consumed my sanity. But you know nothing of the Corpse, or its power. And you know nothing of the shadow that hangs over mine sister’s Throne.”

Trotting gracefully over to the window, the cobalt mare turns her back on the group as she continues to stare back up at the moon. “Tell me, Twilight, do you know what the Red Stones are? Or better yet, the identity behind these Strange Stones that you are collecting?”

Twilight puts her amazing mind to work as she begins to piece together what little she knows about the mysterious Red Stones. “Well, it’s an artifact of amazing power that can amplify magic and do almost impossible things? And you and Celestia found it and used it to defeat Discord. But I have no idea what the Strange Stones are…… Are they a rarer version of the Red Stone? Or a byproduct?”

The Princess lets slip a small grin as she looks out at the stars. “Wrong on all counts. For starters, what you call the Strange Stones and the Holy Corpse are one and the same.” Twilight gasps as the lunar monarch continues. “It is the Corpse that possesses the power to bend time and space, not the Red Stones of Aja. When the circle overloaded, the Corpse itself was scattered into pieces along with its outer shell, the Red Stones. These ‘Strange Stones’ are what everypony, including my sister, are truly after; not the Red Stones.”

“What? But why? What?” Twilight asks.

With no small amount of decorum Luna clears her throat. “You could think of the Red Stone as the blood of the Corpse. It is a byproduct of its existence that is continually produced. Think clearly of it, Twilight; much of the Red Stone is harvested, lost and used, so how is there always more of it?” Luna turns away from the window to face the group. “The answer is simple: the Red Stone is a mere container for the power of the Holy Corpse. It is merely a battery that is produced by the Corpse and as such it possesses a pittance of its divine power.”

“So, since the Holy Corpse can produce Red Stones….” Twilight mulls over the problem in her head. “….. Ponies want it because with it you could create an army of Stand users, who can heal from the most mortal wounds?”

Luna shakes her head in disappointment. “Twilight, you answer too quickly. The Stone itself is of little consequence. Beyond its ability to restore wounds and utilize Stands, its power is completely inconsequential when compared to the value of the Holy Corpse.”

“Um, don’t mind the super-tough athlete here,” Dash says while flexing her muscles, “but I think an army of invincible super-cool Stand users is pretty hard to beat. I mean, why have some rotting old corpse when you can have super powers!?”

At this Luna instantly narrows her eyes, malice radiating off of her very coat as Dash gulps back her fear. “Even the power of an entire army of one thousand Stand users is no match for the Corpse’s power. Do not be so proud of your Stand power that you have manifested that you think yourself invincible. The ability to destroy matter with a single touch is insignificant next to the power of the Corpse.”

As if stopping to remember a painful and far off forgotten memory, the lunar Princess sighs deeply. “During Discord’s reign my sister and I discovered the power of the Red Stones and attempted to use it to do exactly what you said, create an army of Stand users. Over two hundred strong and fiercely loyal to our cause, we all attacked Discord at once. We determined that not even he could defend against us all.”

“And what happened?” Dash asks, genuinely curious.

“Discord turned them all into chocolate, and ate each and every one of them, one by one, as they screamed for mercy in their minds. My sister and I were the only ones who were spared.” Lune growls as her teeth clench in rage. “The sick monster told us to bring more next time.”

Luna rises on her hooves, towering over the rest of the ponies in attendance. “That is the power the Holy Corpse crushed in an instant. That is the monumental power that it can muster; The Corpse’s power is beyond even an Alicorn’s understanding.”

Luna bows her head in shame. “Indeed, many of our experiments were successful to a degree. By drilling to the center of the Stone we discovered a living core, crystallized by magic, and that this core was the real power that was able to tap into a force known as Harmony.” Luna raises her head, gesturing with her hooves as she struggles to convey the advanced magical theory behind an earth shattering abnormality in simple terms.

“To put it in simple terms,” Luna continues, “the power of Harmony is the power of order, probability and fate. I hypothesized once that the corpse can accomplish such amazing feats by rewriting the rules of our world, making what one wishes a reality and turning fiction to truth.”

“Yet despite how little we knew about its workings, the results were clear.” Luna looks out the window with a pained expression. “That, by wielding the Corpse a pony could achieve the impossible and remake the world according to their own desires. They could alter probability, change the laws of physics, and bend the souls of others to suit their needs. And though both my sister and I were terrified by such a power, we saw great potential in it as well.”

“A power that can change reality itself….” Rarity mouths, “so one could, hypothetically, bring back the dead? I understand your caution in using such a power, but what happened that changed your mind?”

“The Everfree disaster happened.” Luna points her hoof out of the window at the twisted landscape beyond. “Discord was cruel to many a pony; however, oceans of chocolate and houses made of gingerbread insured that nopony starved. Indeed most ponies were beneath his notice. When he was defeated his magic went with him and our subjects began to starve. Therefore we resolved to test the power of harmony by using it to accelerate the growth of our crops.”

Again the Princess of the Night gestures out the window at the dark twisted landscape beyond the castle grounds. “As you can see, it did not go as planned. Or rather it worked far too well and in a way we did not expect. Harmony was once again turned on itself in a cataclysm that nearly destroyed our small kingdom. It was from then on that I feared the power that we had no true control over. And it was that lack of control that lead to the discovery of a certain method of harnessing its power.”

“The Arcanum,” Twilight finishes, anticipating Luna’s words.

“That is correct, Sparkle,“ Luna confirms with a curt nod of her head. “That is the reason we use advanced Arcanum to control the Corpse’s power, because uncontrolled the power could run wild or, worse yet, twist the possessor’s desires into something monstrous. I do not know……..”

The Princess stops, as if thinking of the right way to phrase her next few words. “……. That is, I did not know how Celestia managed to use the Corpse’s power against Discord without it destroying her; but like any magic, the more powerful it is the more control is necessary.”

“My sister, always the knowledgeable one, thought that there were still secrets about the Corpse; and so we left together to sift through the ruins of the Castle of Dreams, where the spirits of the Eight Great Saints protected the Corpse.” Luna says calmly. “It was on this second trip to the ancient temple that my sister and I discovered that the Corpse’s power was far too great to control normally. To protect the Corpse’s power from growing out of control, the eight sages of old invented a special magic circle that would prevent its power from escaping, which they called a Greater Arcanum. “

“Thus with this discovery my sister and I came to an arrangement,” Luna states while gripping the stone windowsill with such intensity that one would think she was supporting her entire weight upon it. “We agreed together that the Corpse’s power should not be invoked until we had a working understanding of how we could use its power without it harming us and without any chance of its powers harming others. By using a model of the Arcanum from the temple in which we found the Corpse, we were able to seal its power away.”

The Princess glances across the room, looking at one of the ruined white tapestries depicting the rising sun. “Or so I thought,” the Princess growls as the stone windowsill breaks down under her iron grip.

“That……” The lunar Princess hesitates, struggling with a single word. “That was when I learned the horrible truth, that I had been betrayed from the start.”

“Woah woah, back up. Betrayed?” Dash asks, “by who?”

“You remember that diary entry do you not, Sparkle?” The lavender unicorn nods while Luna continues. “Then you know of my….. moodiness. The reason that Celestia was able to use the Corpse in the first place against Discord was because the Corpse CHOSE her to wield its incredible power.”

“Wait a second!” Pinkie jumps in, “Now i’m not normally the voice of reason in a conversation, but how could a dead body choose a pony? I mean it’s not like this corpse thingy is a zombie!” Pinkie's eyes widen in fear. “Oh my gosh! Are we collecting pieces of a Zombie? Please please tell me we’re not gathering pieces of a zombie, Princess Luna. I don’t want a super old and musty dead pony eating my brains! I’m still using them!”

Twilight Sparkle rolls her eyes at such an inane question. “No, Pinkie, the Corpse is not a zombie. I think what Luna is getting at is, even though the Corpse itself is dead, it still possesses a semblance of life; that was what my tests confirmed at least.”

“Then your tests were accurate, Twilight,” Luna says with a great deal of surprise in her voice. “Yes, the creature that once was the Holy Corpse is long dead, however the spirit of the creature still guides the one who possesses it. No doubt you have heard it talking to you at one time or another.”

“That’s right!” Rarity speaks up, “it gave me my Stand power, because I asked for it!”

“Ah think it gave us all a Stand power of some kind,” Applejack says, “an more importantly it brought mah sister out of a coma when everythin else failed.”

“It brought you sister out of a coma?!” Luna exclaims as look of grief crosses her muzzle. “Then that is grave news indeed, already it has regained much of it’s power, even in it’s shattered state..”

“What!? But it cured mah sister, How in Sam Hill is that a bad thing?” Applejack asks, scratching her head.

Luna takes a deep breath, calming her growing frustration at the group’s interruptions as she begins to speak again. “When my sister was chosen by the Corpse she gained, in addition to the ability to use the Corpse without requiring an Arcanum, the ability to manipulate probability by drawing on the Corpse’s power. And by using this power she was able to manipulate probability so that she could never fail at anything.”

The princess of the night composes herself as she tries to look back on her past with impartial logic and not the seething envy she felt for her only family at that point in time. “My sister literally became perfect: she would succeed at any magic spell, she would always make the perfect impression on any pony that she met, and she would always succeed in the best possible way at anything she set her mind to, all without ever trying to she would succeed every time that I had failed.”

Luna’s hoof clenches, gripping the floor beneath her to the point that it splinters and cracks, her teeth grinding against each other. “Despite my protests, she used the power without my knowledge under my very nose for decades, all her promises and all it took was a little power to tempt her to abandon everything that she stood for.”

“But that’s a good thing, right?” Fluttershy cuts in. The entire group looks over to the previously silent yellow pegasus. “I mean, it was nice that she was making peace with other nations and being such an important pony; shouldn’t she use a power if it helps her make good decisions for her nation?”

“All magic has a cost, Fluttershy, no matter what kind of magic it is,” The Princess responds sadly. “All good things come at a cost, and that is the primary reason that I feared the power of the Corpse. It seemed to create so much good but it didn’t appear to have a noticeable observable drawback.”

“I was……. jealous of my sister’s success and popularity,” Luna admits with a twinge of sorrow. “She succeeded where I failed at every turn, thanks to her power, and everypony loved her for it. In order to cover my own troubles getting the common pony to accept me, I delved deeper into my own studies of the Corpse. One day I hit a snag with my own studies so I borrowed my sister’s notes on the Corpse, and what I found shocked me: she was using its power under my very nose all this time.”

Luna paces tirelessly back and forth as she makes her argument. “I knew that something was wrong with Celestia’s power. All magic has a cost so it was almost blasphemous that a power could only bring fortune to a pony, with no drawbacks. After weeks of research I was able to deduce how her magic worked: through balance.”

“Balance?” Twilight asks.

The Princess of the Night flares her wings with purpose, dramatically making a point. “Yes, Twilight, balance. Her magic could give a pony infinitely good luck by depriving a pony of their own fortunes. In other words, by using this power she was stealing the ‘good luck’ from a pony, while giving them her ‘bad luck’. She would succeed at everything and be loved by everypony unconditionally, but in exchange another pony would fail at everything and be hated by everypony she met.” The Princess of the Night brushes at her teary eyes with her wingtips as she gives Twilight very angry glare. “And thou canst surely guess who was given all of Celly’s bad luck?”

Twilight puts her hoof to her mouth in shock. “You don’t mean….”

“Yes, Twilight, the more Celestia used her power, the more that I suffered as a result,” Luna claims with equal parts sadness and anger. “Every time she succeeded in her diplomacy and earned the praise of other ponies, I would make a mistake and be hated for it. After years of this I began to be despised by the common pony, until the point that I simply stopped trying to earn their affections, delving more and more into my own research.”

“And worse yet, from her notes I discovered that, in secret, my sister had reverse-engineered her own power to create an Arcanum of her own. It is a power that would encompass an entire nation, our nation, creating a practical paradise. It was a power that would prevent any kind of calamity from befalling our nation. Wars, famine, disasters, anything that could be avoided through accident and fate would be avoided,” Luna states with grim certainty, “but at the cost of others outside the spell’s radius suffering such misfortunes.”

“Wait a second!” Twilight interrupts, “now look, I may get this whole manipulation of time space caused by the power of a mythic artifact……”

“Well that’s good, because I sure don’t!” Pinkie exclaims.

“……. But how can any degree of magic do that!?” Twilight yells, infuriated by the idea of something beyond her comprehension. “I mean, first you’d have to judge the outcome you would want from every situation happening in an entire nation. Then you would have to change that outcome with magic. And then you would have to do that for every living thing in Equestria simultaneously! Just how does that even work?”

“It was truly a difficult feat to deduce, even with mine best research, but If you are having trouble thinking of it…..” The Princess rubs her head, wracking her brain in an effort to describe alternate timelines and time space manipulation in a way that farmers and fashion designers can understand. “…… Ah yes! THat shall do nicely! Well, think of it like that dice game, Dragons and Dungeons.”

“Dungeons and Dragons,” Twilight corrects.

“Whatever, let us say that every pony in the land of Equestria has a saving throw against attacks, disease, accident and corruption. Just like how in Dungeon and Dragons players have score for an armor class, fortitude, reflex and will.”

“Okaaaayyyyyyyyy,” Twilight says, “But how do you know about Dungeons and Dragons if you were trapped on the….”

“Anyways!” The Princess smiles, confident that her explanation is going smoothly. “Celestia’s power allowed her to manipulate probability so that she would roll a twenty-sided die and every time it would come up twenty, allowing her to succeed at everything, but at the cost of somepony else rolling a one.”

Everypony ‘ohs’ and nods as they begin to understand the Princess’s point. Glad that her explanation is so well received, the Princess of the Night continues. “However the circle she designed would use this power over a larger area, which means it was much weaker. Therefore, instead of everypony getting an automatic success, everypony gets a modifier making it more likely that a pony won’t get sick, get hurt, or make a bad decision. So think of it as giving everypony in Equestria a +12 modifier to every saving throw and armor class, making it much more unlikely that bad things would happen.”

“Well.” Applejack scratches her head. “Now Ah suppose that makes sense.”

“But at the same time…..” The Princess breathes out a long exhale in preparation for breaking the bad news. “…this magic would give everypony and living thing not in Equestria a -12 modifier, making it far more likely that they would suffer. And Celestia was using this magic on a national scale without my consent or knowledge, to crush our enemies while bolstering our own nation’s ponies.”

“When I discovered this knowledge, I was….. angry,” the Princess admits with no small amount of shame. “Nay, I was enraged, furious; I confronted her on her backstabbing betrayal, I accused her of treason, of being a fiend, of hating me.”

“Needless to say Celestia was stunned, she thought I was overreacting, at least until I showed her my findings and what I had stolen from her own private journal.”

Luna breaks her monologue to look into the eyes of the stunned lavender unicorn. “Now I know from your memories, Twilight, that my sister was telling the truth oh so long ago.” Luna looks at her hooves sadly. “Celestia really had no idea that her use of her power was causing me to suffer like it did. But at that time I thought that it was an excuse to torment me, that she was trying to get rid of me so she alone could rule our nation. I was twisted up by my own jealousy and my hatred of the common pony that we ignored the truth that was right in front of our eyes.”

“A-And so,” Luna says with rueful countenance, “I foolishly tapped into my intense hatred for my sister, into the darkness of my own psyche. I prayed a dark prayer that I might receive the power to destroy my sister, to destroy everything, and that darkness consumed me utterly.”

The Princess of the Night looks to the moon outside, remembering that day so long ago as if it were yesterday. “And you all know the rest. Celestia drew upon the power of the Corpse to seal me away where nopony else could reach me. And for a thousand years I languished in my hatred, until my return.”

The group stands completely silent, unable to even think up a response for the immense tale of tragedy and regret that seems too surreal to be truth. Yet everything that Luna has told them, beyond being crazy and absurd, makes far too much sense for any of them to refute with certainty. Yet, if what the Princess of the Night says is true, it changes everything, the nature of their quest, who they can trust and the nature of the monarch who has ruled over their very nation for one thousand years. Everything would change if they accepted what Luna said was the truth, and that thought alone is enough to encourage doubt, even if it they know their doubts are unfounded.

“So….” Fluttershy asks tensely, knowing her words have the potential to spark a flame war between her friends. “So this magic circle, that Celestia made….. did she ever use it?”

“Yes, yes she did, Fluttershy, in fact she had just finished applying its power across the whole of our nation when I had given into the Nightmare,” Luna states, “and I suspect it has been active ever since.”

“But….” Twilight protests, “But you don’t know that for sure! There’s no proof; besides, Celestia would never….”

“If it meant that her little ponies would live lives full of joy and happiness, do you not think that my sister would use such a power?” Luna asks, as doubt begins to fill Twilight’s mind. “True, there is no solid proof currently in our possession that she has been using it, but look at the world in the past one thousand years since I have been gone. Equestria’s size has quadrupled, stretching from sea to shining sea. Major birth defects and illnesses are at an unnatural low, and there has not been a war or other natural disaster of any scope since I had been banished.”

Rarity mulls over this new knowledge. “All the while, the nations around Equestria have been growing weaker and more divided while we grow stronger. I’m sorry to say, Twilight, but things certainly point to the use of this Arcanum.”

“But the Princess is super nice!” Pinkie pipes up, “She wouldn’t use some kind of scary magic if it made other ponies unhappy!”

“I’m with Pinkie one hundred percent on this,” Twilight states with certainty, her confidence masking her doubt. “I know the Princess better than any pony in this room, save Princess Luna of course. And I don’t believe that she would ever resort to…….. whatever it is that you’re accusing her of!”

Twilight, unwilling to allow any possibility that her mentor guilty of any crime, states, “The long peace is probably due to her shrewd governance, and less illness is probably due to advancements in medical magics! At the least she probably only used its power to prevent major wars or disasters which would destroy the nation, and only when there were no other options available.”

“So ya admit that you believe that she could use it,” Applejack points out.

“Yes! I mean no! I mean, URGH!” Twilight yells out her rising frustrations “The point is I trust the Princess, and I believe that she would never use a power that would doom other living, sentient creatures to a perpetual cycle of suffering,” the lavender unicorn states with faltering certainty. “Even if it would save the lives of countless ponies…… even if it would stop all wars and illnesses…….. even if it would save the lives of those that she loved……..”

All arguments in the room stop, as a deep silence pervades the entire foyer. The sound of a pin dropping could cut the tension in the room as all begin to accept the possibility with an open mind that the ruler of their nation, a figure universally revered by everypony in the land, could be in fact the greatest purveyor of genocide the world has ever known.

“.......Enough of this second-guessing, bickering between ourselves will achieve nothing.” Luna breaks the silence with her royal voice, filling the faltering ponies in the room with will and confidence. “There is one way that we might know for sure. One thing that could tell us beyond the shadow of a doubt whether or not my sister is innocent.” Luna turns as she begins to walk out of the room. “The Holy Corpse itself might be able to tell us the truth of mine sister’s innocence or guilt.”

“Wait!” The sound of a rough voice stops the cobalt Goddess in her tracks as every head in the room turns to the Prismatic speedster, hooves gripping the ground like a vice. “So what you’re telling me,” Dash says with suppressed anger under every word, “Is that the Princess, that Princess Celestia, has been using some cursed magic circle to make ponies NOT living in Equestria suffer for over one thousand years?!”

Dash, unable to hold back her anger at the injustice of it all, yells, “And now you want us to ask some dead corpse if she’s some murderer? That the ruler who raises the sun and moon is some kind of super villain who kills innocent creatures so that she can rule her nation with an iron hoof or something?!”

“Of course she wouldn’t do that!” Twilight exclaims in protest, “The Princess would never hurt others if she knew what the magic of the Corpse was doing! That’s what Luna just finished telling us!” Twilight walks right up to the cerulean pegasus’s face. “How could you even suspect the Princess of such a thing? What is wrong with you, Dash? Did you forget what happened the last time that you let your baseless paranoia get a hold of you?”

“Well just cause some of us have been kissing the Princess’s flank all their lives it doesn’t mean that we all believe every word that come out of her mouth!” Dash pushes back on the lavender unicorn’s advancing horn. “Or are you just so in love with the Princess’ fat flank that you don’t mind if she’s the one messing up the world!?”

“HOW. DARE. YOU.” Twilight growls as she pushes back on the cerulean mare. The two ponies look ready to come to blows, Twilight’s horn sparkling and Dash’s feathers rustling, both ponies ready to attack at a moment’s notice.

“ENOUGH!” a voice of thunder booms, overpowering the objections of everypony in the group and causing a still quiet to encompass the room. All eyes turn to the Princes of the Night as the roar of her Royal Canterlot Voice dies down. “We do not know which path my sister has taken, or her intentions; that is what we are investigating with level heads. Do not let petty infighting divide us from our purpose or our bonds of friendship.” With grace and self-restraint befitting the Princess of the Night, Luna turns on her hooves once more, walking out the door “Now if you are done fighting like foals, we suggest that thou follow us.”

Twilight and Dash break their standoff, their eyes looking at everything except the mare next to them, their postures and gazes reflecting their own shame for turning on each other so easily. Rarity places her hoof on Twilight's, snapping her out of her daze as she walks wordlessly behind the monarch of the night. Wiping the errant tears from her eyes the lavender mare quickly rushes out of the room, eager to put some distance from her problems even while she is running on a crash course towards them. A similarly distraught Dash follows suit, followed by Pinkie, Applejack, and Fluttershy, who all move their hooves as sluggishly as possible. And without further a word the rest of the group slowly follows the Princess through the dark passages of the castle as they are dragged towards their unavoidable destiny.

Author's Note:

To Be Continued →

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