• Published 17th Nov 2011
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Fallout: Equestria- The Last Sentinel - Adder1

It's hard to kill memories when you remember everything.

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Reflection Seventeen: Luna

Reflection Seventeen: Luna


The storyteller looked about the crowd and waited for them to fall quiet with that grim expression.

Well. Reaction seems about what I expected. Like I said, it probably answered many of your questions about me.

Can tell you now that the crowd in Stalliongrad was in an uproar after I showed them this photo. Xamuros especially. Rig just stared at me in shock. In fact, about the only two that didn't react to it at all were Chief Thunderhooves and Soraya.

He let out a sigh and flipped the photograph back around.

I told them exactly what I will tell you now: you all know how this story ends, that cruel truth. And that might give you even more answers. But like I said before, it's not the destination that counts.

It's the journey to it.

Now let me at least finish this... and then, you might just understand why I do what I do, why I've done what I've done.

* * *

Princess Luna. Princess... Luna. By the time I finally comprehended who was lying in bed with me and that she had been Nightingale all along, I felt a horrible sinking sensation deep inside. My heart hammered away and I panted in panic. I had to get out of there, and I had to get out of there now.

Okay. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Ignore how amazing her wings feel and... hohhhh, oh they were definitely amazing... so... so tingly and smooth and- no, no, no! Snap out of it! Deep breaths! Now. Let's try to do this quietly.

I slowly pulled my forelegs away from her and shimmied my way out from underneath her over the course of the next several painstaking minutes. Shifted my shoulders... then my back... then my waist... shoulders... back... waist. And all the while, I kept on silently praying, “Don't wake her up. Don't wake her up. Don't wake her up, and whatever you do, do not pass gas.” Now, praying to... who exactly?

I glanced at the alicorn lying atop me.

Worst time to think of that question. Ever.

Finally, I managed to slip out from underneath her and rolled over to the floor beside my bed. Rising, I let out a breath, relieved that I actually managed to pull it off. Now, though, I had to address the alicorn in the bedroom. Buck me, what was I going to do? She was royalty! A goddess!

I gathered myself, straightened out my thoughts. I needed to come up with what to do. I stole away downstairs and sat down in the flimsy, aluminum folding chair at my dinner table. Okay... what was I going to do? What the hay was I going to do?

I gripped my head between my hooves and drew in a deep breath. Only one other option when I needed help- I needed advice.

And so I picked up my phone.

* * *

“Nnnurgh... Frost? The hay you calling this early for? Granted, just got back from clubbing, but what's up?”

Hushed voice. “Zoleks, Zoleks, this is important. It's an emergency.”

Hushed voice. “Well, it better be considering you're whispering. Why don't you just call the police or something?”

“No no no, Zoleks, it's about Nightingale.”

“Okay... so you found out what the whole off thing was about her?”

“I did. I did, just... look... I know this is going to sound crazy, but Nightingale is Princess Luna!”

Pause. “Princess Luna.”


The Princess Luna.”


“... yeah, I'm hanging up.”

“What? No! No, Zoleks-”

Click. Ending tone.

* * *

“Zoleks!” I exclaimed quietly. Then, in a shriller tone- almost a squeak, “Zoleks!”

I set down the phone and let out a heavy sigh. Well buck.

I heard startled movement upstairs. “Frost?” I heard... Her call (The storyteller looked visibly pained as he mimicked her voice.). “Frost, where-” There was a pregnant pause. “Oh no...” A few seconds later, she galloped down the stairs and we locked eyes, both sharing the same shocked expression.

I swallowed. Well buck.

“Frost... don't...” Princess Luna whispered slowly.

But I was already sliding out of my seat, backing away, fearful.


I froze. She had the most... pitiful expression as she croaked out that simple word. Something inside me made me still, gulp, and stand firm.

The dark-blue alicorn before me bit her lip. She glanced about the room and nodded toward the door. Suddenly the feeling of being watched left, but before I could comment, she motioned toward the lumpy leather sofa off to the side. “May... may we sit and talk?”

* * *

The first few minutes were less “sit and talk” and more “sit quietly a pony's length apart from one another.” For a princess, she seemed rather uncomfortable and shy- even for a situation like this. Watching her for a few seconds, I decided to start first. “Your Highness-”

“Luna,” she corrected. “Please, just... if anything... call me Luna.”

I let out a deep breath. “Luna... why were you...” I realized that for once I had no idea how I was going to do this. Instead, I turned to her and asked, “Why?”

She smiled wanly, avoiding my gaze at first. “A thousand years is a long time, Frost. Up until recently, I've been trying to catch up on the times in the way I was used to- books.” She let out a soft chuckle and turned to me. “My sister finally convinced me to just go out into the world and see things for myself. I admit I was eager to find out just how the nightlife changed since so long ago, and what better a place than a Nightmare Night celebration in Ponyville? After all, it was the town of the very ponies who saved me from... well, you know.

“It's been a tradition since then- a different city every year, of course. There's so much to see. And...” she chuckled again, “still I turn to researching what has changed for most of the remainder of the year. That is, un...until my sister convinced me yet again to go on more escapades. After all, you hear and forget, see and remember, do... and understand. And so... I decided I wanted to see what I was missing with the 'nightclubs' I'd been hearing about. I admit, I'd been catching up on music a little more easily and I figured... why not Blaring Beats? O-Of course, I was only feeling the... no, that's not the right phrase. I was only testing the waters so to speak, and so I did it in disguise. And... well... here we are.”

I stared. “So... I met you on your first night out?”

“Other than Nightmare Night, yes,” she said with a tiny smile and a shy shrug. “And it was a most wonderful of nights...” She let out a sigh and frowned, looking away. “So... now you understand? The cold of what lies beyond our world- yours is nothing compared to it, miniscule. That's why I don't mind how cold you are.”

I nodded slowly to myself. Everything fell into place now. Everything from her disguised name to her appearance to her fascination with the night sky to... even her story. Skylark? Fascinated with the sun? That was Princess Celestia. And the reason I couldn't see through her lies was because she buried them in truth- just like how I did before. And the smile... no wonder. She was as expert a liar as I was- perhaps even, no... far more the expert than I was.

“Frost...?” she called, catching my attention once more. She let out a soft sigh and glanced away momentarily before going on. “I should have told you sooner, I realize. Hindsight, as they say, is twenty-twenty. It's just...” She let out a wan chuckle, “how was I supposed to react to all that? Being... possibly the only pony, perhaps the only person who wouldn't object to your cold? Love demands closeness, I know. But... how was I to break it to you what was truly going on? That... you... and me! Everything just went so fast- the dates, the dancing, the music, and... and the kiss! I... I just...” She bit her lip as she looked at me, eyes full, eyes pleading as she searched for something in my expression, in my gaze. “I just got caught up in it all. Frost... can you... can you say something? Please? Anything...”

I watched, letting the seconds tick by uncomfortably for her one by one as I tried to make up my mind. Everything I heard... it was so much to take in. It sounded less like a princess meeting and learning more about her royal subjects and more like somepony lost and confused trying to play catch-up. She didn't even sound like royalty, stutters, pauses, even the broken eye contact. And yet here she was, the Lunar Goddess. Her mane and tail flowed in ethereal fashion, rippling in an unseen current with the stars dotting them like the night sky itself. A goddess, and yet... so insecure. She seemed less like the Princess of the Night and more like...

… she was scared, I realized. She was afraid. That's why she didn't tell me sooner.

I waited perhaps too long. She took in a deep breath, closed her eyes with her expression exhibiting nothing but calm, and stood. She was a princess again. But now that I knew there was a façade (It's all in the façade.), I could see past it and see her heart breaking “I should go. Forgive me, Frostbane Hokkaido Windchill. Farewell, and good night.”

“Wait,” I blurted out.

She was just starting to light up her horn with that same icy-blue glow as mine. Her aura collapsed and she turned back to me, the royal façade starting to crumble once more as she looking at me with eyes both full of hope and full of dread.

“First, call me Frost,” I said, chancing a weak smile.

She smiled back, the dread melting away. “And call me Luna.”

“Second, please...” I motioned to my side. “Please sit.”

She smiled wider, gratefully and sat back down at my side- though still at a distance. And then the smile was gone. “Frost, still... forgive me for not telling you the truth sooner.”

Time to test my theory. “I just want to know why you didn't tell me.”

She... Luna let out a soft sigh and grimaced tinnily. “I was... I was worried. I was afraid-” That's the word I was looking for, “-that I would hurt you and... and that it would hurt... me. I had an amazing time with you these past few nights, and when we kissed, I thought...”

I lifted a hoof and slowly... slowly, still not sure of myself, placed it on her shoulder to reassure her. I don't know why it took so long. I... I guess I was still afraid myself. Royalty... a goddess alive... but take away the flowing mane and tail, wings or the horn... she could be any other mare. The fact that she was bare of any of her royal attire completed the image.

“N-” I paused. “P-” Another pause. “Luna... I just want to know- how do you feel about... about us?”

“I'm still Nightingale, Frost,” she whispered, her entire body glowing a brilliant white before she reshaped into the midnight-black, silver-maned unicorn with that cute bob to her full, curly mane. “What I said to you- I meant it. I-I admit I was doubtful at first, but after all the music, the dancing, and... everything, I... ” She morphed back into the deep-blue alicorn with the flowing mane and tail, and a pregnant pause filled the air. “How do... you feel about us?”

I fully faced her, looking, searching. She faced me as well, and I could finally look into those eyes... they were unchanged. Cyan, and full of everything...

I let out a soft sigh and said, “I don't know... I mean... you're, well...”

Luna took my hooves in hers. “I gave you a chance, Frost. Will you return the favor?”

I kept looking into her eyes- and she into mine. I smiled softly. “Fair's only fair. I'm not sure if I'll ever be completely comfortable with this, but... I-I will.”

She let out a sigh and slumped, both drained and relieved, and suddenly pulled me close, throwing me over one shoulder and then the next as she suddenly belted out with enough force to rattle the floorboards, “Oh most blessed of nights! I thank thee-” Luna paused and let me go, covering her mouth with a hoof. “Ah... I mean... I thank you for your kind heart, Frost.”

I pulled away and stared at her, realizing that she'd done the same thing before repulsing Discord from Canterlot so long ago. “What... what was that?”

“Oh, ah... the Canterlot Augmented Pony Speech spell,” she coughed and glanced away, embarrassed. “Old habit. Forgive me.”

“Heh... let's try not to do that again,” I chuckled quietly. I could hear some of the neighbors rousing, muffled voices outside. “So, uh... back to bed?”

“Yes... that would be... nice,” Luna whispered as we stood, heading back up.

I breathed out a heavy sigh as I fell into bed- she as well as she slumped down beside me. She turned to face me and asked, “Will you be alright with this, Frost?”

I breathed out a misty sigh. “Well I'm no Shining Armor. An equinpologist and historian with... well, you?”

Princess Luna huffed, “Well... I'm unsure if this should exactly go public either, but... Frost?” I looked over to her. “Treat me as you would any other pony. Can you do that for me? Please?”

I let out a soft breath and cracked a thin smile. “Then c'mere,” I murmured, tugging her against me. Hohhh, those feathers...

Luna giggled this... cute, high-pitched giggle and inhaled deeply, relieved. She was still warm- comfortably warm- and as her tail drew closer to mine, it felt cool- comfortably cool. She tilted closer, her muzzle touching mine as if in askance, and... after a bit of hesitation, I obliged and gave her a gentle kiss. “Thank you...” she whispered.

I blushed, glancing away. Holy buck I just kissed Princess Luna on the lips. “Well... you know we're going to have to talk more until I'm completely comfortable with this, right?”

“Well yes... I didn't... completely expect you to just suddenly accept this,” she murmured. Then she giggled- oh that lovely giggle- again. “Though... that does mean more dating...”

I chuckled huskily, “Let's just talk it over some more after some sleep...”

“Now that... sounds... heavenly...”

That morning, I blinked awake to the sight of Luna casting some sort of spell, her eyes closed in concentration. The icy-blue pallor it cast over her was reflected in the glittering stars in her flowing mane. I couldn't help but watch, bewitched by her beauty, her serenity. Finally, the aura faded and she opened her eyes, smiling sweetly at me. “Good morning, Frost,” she greeted, timidly tilting closer.

I obliged and gave her a quick kiss and murmured back, “Good morning. What were you doing?”

“Setting the moon in wake of the new dawn,” she replied. “Normally, I would do it at the Lunar Dais in Canterlot Castle, but...” She lowered back down on top of me, “I would rather be here with you.”

I smiled and stroked down her back, awed by how silky her fur was. “Well... I'm not complaining. Prin... ah, Luna?”

“Yes, Frost?”

“Think we can have breakfast and maybe... I don't know, have a chat?” I offered.

“Of course,” Luna said, grinning wider and pulling away. “Though, ah, if it involves cooking... I suggest you do it in my stead.” Her smile turned apologetic at that.

I blinked and slipped out of bed with her. “Why is that?”

“Well... again, I have had to catch up on a millennium of technological innovations,” she coughed. “I got a bit ahead of myself when attempting to use the oven for a midnight snack to avoid waking the royal cooks. They are overworked, after all. However, I had no idea what an oven was or how it worked, so I figured it was a stove or such. Thus, I... piled in a few logs and... well...”

I just stared at her. “You lit a fire inside of an oven?”

“I did not know!” she babbled. “I-I mean, it looked like a modern stove or furnace or boiler or... something! I just figured we still used fires for cooking, and...” She sighs, “Anyway, that's why I don't trust myself with cooking anything anymore.”

“Well, I don't really have much for breakfast,” I said to her, scratching the back of my neck. “Just toast with nut butter or cereal. Nothing exactly extravagant. How about we head to Sugarcube Corner?”

“No, no!” Luna waved her hoof and smiled shyly. “Ah, toast sounds... nice.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positively,” she answered with a nod. “To be truthful, it's been a while since I've had such a simple breakfast. It would be a good... how do you say? Change of pace?”

I merely smiled.

After a brief few minutes of washing up, we headed downstairs and I popped a few slices of bread in for-

“My word, what is this?” she asked, walking up to the appliance, eyes twinkling with curiosity.

“It's a toaster oven,” I answered.

“A toaster... and an oven in one?” the dark-blue alicorn gasped, astonished. “Pray tell, is this a recent development?”

I couldn't help but let out a husky chuckle. “No, it's been around since I was a foal. Saves money since it acts like both.”

“Ingenious...” Luna remarked, tilting and lowering her head to get a better look at the heating coils. “Absolutely ingenious.”

After I prepared a few slices for each of us and slathered them with peanut butter, we sat down at my table, eating quietly. The air of unease still filled the air. We failed to meet one another's eyes. I meant what I said before, but...

I just needed one question out of the way, I figured. Just one question. “Luna?”

“Yes, Frost?” Eye contact at last, eyes full of everything.

I breathed in deeply. “I want to know- what do you see in me?”

Luna inhaled deeply, taking a moment to wipe her mouth with a napkin. She glanced downward for a few moments before solemnly, quietly replying, “A thousand years is a long time, Frost. The punishment I received, I deserved. That, I cannot deny. But so much has changed- so much. Customs, ponies and people, technology- even the land itself. There are now sprawling cities where once were verdant forests or rolling hills. Rivers have carved away canyons and valleys, seas have dried up into deserts, and snow and ice have swallowed up an entire homeland.” She briefly looked up at me at that. Flashes of faded faces, so many faces glowing in candlelight made my heart clench. She glanced to the window at the ponies just starting their day, blissfully unaware of us. “The people especially have changed...”

She let out a sigh and continued, “I'm beating around the bush, aren't I? I suppose what I'm really trying to say is that after hearing your story, about your disillusionment with Manehattan and the dreadful truth that we must outgrow things and things must outgrow us, I couldn't help but feel a certain kinship with you in a way. No, that's not the right word...” The dark-blue alicorn frowned. “Connection. That would be more fitting, I suppose. I just saw a bit of myself in you. And, yes, I did pity you.” She chuckled softly, wanly, “I don't know how this all happened in just three days. I honestly can't say.” Another sigh. “Frost... what do you see in me?”

The storyteller let out a deep breath and chuckled huskily.

Hoo, right back at me. Heh...

“I can't say,” I answered, biting my lip. “Luna, I only just realized who you are. I know so little about you. I'm not sure I can answer that- at least not yet.”

Luna smiled. She had this gorgeous, shy, little smile. “Well I did say we'd have to do more dating, yes?”

I smiled back. “Eight o'-clock, then? I have work today.”

“Eight o'-clock sounds nice,” she said, standing up. “Though... perhaps six-o'clock would be better in this case. My treat this time. May we meet here?”

“Sure, sure,” I replied, following her.

The dark-blue alicorn gave a stout nod and gave me a quick nuzzle. “Again, for what it's worth, I humbly apologize. Perhaps I can make it up to you tonight. Fare thee well, Frost. Until then.”

Her horn flashed, and she was gone.

* * *

Before heading to work, I stopped by Sugarcube Corner and found a certain outrageously pink mare entertaining a few early morning customers. The way she had them going made me wonder if it was the coffee or her contagious energy. She paused upon seeing me and zipped on over, saying nothing but wearing a far too tiny and innocent a smile for her.

“You knew,” I charged her with an accusatory edge to my tone.

Pinkie remained silent and maintained that too-innocent smile... for all of three seconds. Her lip quivered- no, rippled- and her eyes watered and her face puckered up until she howled with laughter. Dammit, I couldn't even stay angry at her and cracked a smile myself. “Surpriiiiise!” she giggled.

“Why didn't you tell me?” I asked.

“One,” she replied, holding up a hoof for each point, “because it was more fun for me that way. Two, because it was more fun for you that way. Three, because if was more fun for her that way. And four, you would've found out anyway!”

… one, two, three, fo- how was she still standing?

“Well maybe, but you could've told me!” I protested, sprouting ice arms to gesture.

“But that would've ruined the fun for me and you and her!” she protested in turn, gesturing even wilder in a way that coiled her forelegs around her torso. They quickly unwound, propelling her backwards a few meters. Trotting back, she said, “But now you know, and so you’ll have time to really get to know one another! Besides, that'd be spoiling things! Like telling you things'll end in sunshine and rainbows!”

“... wha-?”

“Ohhhh, you'll find out eventually,” she giggled before trotting off to entertain the other guests.

* * *

Work for me may have ended at four o'clock, but the next two hours were spent fussing over the date. Royalty, royalty, royalty... how was I supposed to prepare for a date with royalty? Unless she... was planning to go as “Nightingale.” Then I was just fussing over nothing. Oh, but what if she went as herself? Just a spritz of deodorant, a bit of- should I use cologne? I probably should use- oh, I don't have any cologne. Comb my hair, gotta comb my hair, gotta comb my hair that wasn't straightening for some reason why aren't you straighteninnnnnnng?

“Forgive me, but don't you usually wear your hat?”

I only flinched to the sound of Luna's voice. Between her, Lyra, and Pinkie Pie, those sort of things hardly fazed me anymore- or at least not as much. I looked at her where was standing, just outside of my bathroom and murmured, “Well-”

“Well?” The dark-blue alicorn stepped closer, once again bare of her royal regalia. “Do you not recall my request, Frost Windchill? Please treat me as you would any other mare. Although tonight...” she chuckled softly, “tonight I will treat you like a proper Canterlot noble.”

I blinked. “Beg your pardon?”

“Frost, have you ever been teleported before?” she inquired.

“Ah... no,” I replied slowly. I had an idea of where this was headed.

“Well then.” Luna smiled at me. “We have a level surface, so that's good... best if you close your eyes the first time.” She paused, and I realized she was waiting on me. I obeyed, feeling a tad nervous. “Now, on three, alright?” I nodded. “Hold your breath now. Might make things a little easier. One. Two. Three.”

I heard her spell set off, which was followed by a strange sense of detachment and weightlessness. For a moment, I felt absolutely no sensation before feeling firm, cold stone beneath my hooves and a chilly breeze blowing gently through my fur. We were outside somewhere.

“Open your eyes, Frost,” Luna called softly. And so I did.

We were definitely within Canterlot Castle as I suspected. We were on a balcony high off the ground with a small dining table and chairs made from old-fashioned, wiry metal. It was my first time on castle grounds, and I was completely unprepared for the view before me as I was reminded we were on possibly the highest point in Equestria for a ground city. We could see dozens, perhaps hundreds of miles over the Equestrian Heartland, and the sun was setting, bathing the land in a splash of reds, oranges, and yellows that slowly darkened as dusk approached, mixed with the washes of wintry white. I looked to the opposite side of the balcony and found the moon starting to rise. Like only a few years ago, I witnessed the breathtaking moment of sun and moon exchanging hooves that could only be experienced in Canterlot, the blanket of day peeled away as the blanket of night drew down. The crimson, fire, and gold dulled to cooler, more subdued shades of their more vibrant colors as the cities and towns that dotted the landscape gradually turned on the lights. I realized that in the distance I could see Manehattan. It appeared like a mass of glowing, flowing sparks and embers mirrored by the slowly-appearing stars hanging in the sky above. I suddenly felt a pang of homesickness tugging at my heart.

I was broken from my moment of bitter nostalgia as Luna finished raising her moon and, to my surprise, hummed softly and began to sing.

The storyteller drew in a deep breath and closed his eyes.

Now the hour has come at last.
The soft and fading light
has crossed the west horizon
and has bidden us good niiiight-
and what a lovely night it is
to walk a moonlit field,
to see the softer shades
that are by starlight now revealed...

A thousand years have come to pass,
the winds of change have blown.
Now the ponies of the land
have made the night their owwwwn-
bringing light to dark to play
b'low my watchful moon,
could it have been my mistake
to judge them all too soon?”

He let out another sigh.

Singing's in our blood, folks.

Luna sighed softly, smiling... I couldn't tell if it was sadly or proudly. She turned to me and smiled, “Let us dine.” She did a double-take and looked me up and down. “Hm. You look nice without your hat, do you know that?”

The storyteller smiled softly.

And from that point on, my trusty fedora was no more.

I smiled back and we seated ourselves. “Why thank you.” As she magicked a silky tablecloth, a pair of candles, and silverware onto the table, I inquired, “Does anypony know we're up here?”

“Only a few,” she replied with a soft chuckle. “Rest assured, Frost- none of them will be bothering us.” I opened my mouth to ask something. “And no, they won't raise a fuss about this.” Mouth closed now. She teleported a pair of pasta dishes out. “Here we are.”

“Wow.” I stared. “That looks delicious. What is it?”

“Penne pasta with kale and sliced carrots, all drizzled with a lemon-cashew sauce,” Luna replied, smiling. “Is champagne alright with you?”

“Yes, definitely,” I answered as we began to eat. It was... heavenly, to say the least. The food, the drink, the scenery, Luna... after a spell, I decided to get straight to it. “So, first things first, I'd like to know a bit more about you. Fair's fair, after all. You know all about me, but... you? So little is known of you or your sister. Hardly anything shows up in history.” I decided to omit the part about Nightmare Moon out of the picture.

Luna sighed softly, “And with good reason. It is better that way, I suppose- ponies viewing us as divine, all-powerful.” She grimaced briefly. “Frost, I will grant that request. It is only fair, as you say. But-” She held up a hoof, “-not a word of this to anypony, anyone else? Understood?”

“You have my word,” I replied, maintaining eye contact.

The storyteller nickered.

Well. I'm about to break it yet again. Folks, this will change how you view Princess Luna and Princess Celestia. It will change how you view them as goddesses. But I hope that it will be for the better.

“You may have a hard to accepting this,” Luna said quietly, avoiding eye contact, “but most of what I told you was true.”

I had stopped eating by now. “I'm sorry?”

She inhaled deeply. “There was a time, Frost, when I was not called 'Princess Luna' but 'Nightingale'.”

The storyteller paused as murmurs ran through the audience, waiting for it to die down.

Luna said no more for the time being and let it all sink in. Even with all those years of learning and practicing proper etiquette, I found myself gawking at her. The gears slowly turned in my head, and finally I asked, “Wait... you mean to tell me that...?”

She nodded. “Yes. Neither I nor my sister were born as alicorns. Once...” Her form glowed a bright white before she shapeshifted into the midnight-black, blue-maned unicorn mare I had first known her as, “this was what I looked like. Well, perhaps... this is what I would have looked up if I had a chance to grow up properly. I suspect you wish to know the whole story, Frost. I shall not deny you that. That is, unless you wish otherwise?”

“No, no...” I replied with a shake of the head, still shocked. “Please continue.”

“Again, much of what I told you was true- including how my sister and I earned our cutie-marks. Skylark and I were just normal fillies back then, myself a unicorn and my sister a pegasus. We were both once just like everypony else. We were born in Neighples, and we lived a normal, perhaps privileged lifestyle. We were not poor, nor did we eat like the nobles did in Everfree. To be truthful, our lives were mostly uninteresting.

“Then Discord came along.

“Few know how Discord came to be. Only my sister and I remain as witnesses. Do you know how Starswirl the Bearded came to be known as one of the most powerful unicorns ever? It was his creation of the amniomorphic spell, a spell that allowed the caster to completely alter the biology of a living being- even one's own. You created new life. It wasn't some shapeshifting spell. It changed what an animal- or person- fundamentally was. It's an extremely powerful spell.

“It's also an extremely unstable spell. Unless performed correctly with the utmost concentration, the subject's mind could be permanently altered. One slip, one mistake, and... so much potential lost.

“I know you Northerners. Perhaps my sister knows you better as she remained, but... your kind has remarkable magical prowess. Who else could have cultivated crops, wrestled the weather, made the ethereal earthly in such a dynamic environment but your kind? Northerners were- perhaps still are- a very proud people. It's not hard to imagine coming from a people where advancement of a single pony race rather than cooperation between all three was doctrine for a number of years. The Far North and the Covenant of Equestria as it was called back then were partners in trading, yes, but also fierce competitors- in unicorn magic especially. Once Starswirl created the amniomorphic spell, many a unicorn tried their hoof at it. None were as skilled as Starswirl, and this upset the Northerners greatly. When an Equestrian pony such as he threatened Northerner pride, well...”

Luna looked at me almost as if to make sure I was still listening before letting out a sigh. “Frost, let it be clear that no other animal, no other being in the world has as much capacity for good as equinekind.

“Let it also be clear that no other animal, no other being in the world has as much capacity for evil.

“My sister and I chose not to remember his name. It is better for what he did to remain forever lost, scattered among the sands of time. But he grew so jealous of Starswirl the Bearded that he decided to ensure Northerner magic superiority. Neither I nor my sister know what darkness in his heart seized him and made him commit such cruelty. Perhaps he merely intended it to be a prank. Whatever the case, it does not excuse his actions. He sneaked his way into his quarters and cast an amniomorphic spell.

“You may be wondering why Starswirl the Bearded is so famous, having a wing of the Royal Library named after him, and yet among the most obscure unicorns at the same time. We even know his apprentice Clover the Clever better. Well I told you that my sister and I were not born alicorns. We were created.

“So, too, was Discord- formerly known as Starswirl the Bearded.”

It was as if the night silenced itself in wake of the revelation, the entire world holding her breath. I could have dropped a pin from atop the balcony and heard it from all the way below. It was broken only by one sound- my shaky, hard swallow. I felt a chill settle over me- one far greater than one I'll ever be able to conjure.

“It must have been torture.” Luna continued. “Pure torture. To become something completely different from oneself was one thing, but to be turned into an amalgam of thirteen different species? And that's only on the outside! I dare not fathom how many more he may be... that felon, that nameless felon broke Starswirl. Nay, 'broke' implies that it can be fixed. He annihilated the bright mind we knew as Starswirl, leaving behind a new, twisted persona. Fitting, now that I think on it- a chaotic chimera of so many different animals. What other name would have been as fitting as ‘Discord?’

“That felon created a god. A very, very angry god. I believe that you and Discord have met in a sense. We all have, recently. Make no mistake- it is not with glee nor humor as sick as it is that he did what he did. It was with mercifully slow-burning fury. The felon was the first victim, perhaps a deserving one. But the entire world soon fell under what we call the Age of Chaos.

“Discord was and is by all means invincible and immortal. No creature such as he could function under the laws of biology. Nay, he lived through the laws of magic, and magic is a manner of beast as fickle as Discord himself. Nopony, no one could kill him. We were all completely at his mercy for ten years.

“I was but a little filly when it all started, my sister just into marehood. His... 'fun' was lighthearted at first. It resembled material you may find on cartoons or comics nowadays. But all gods grow tired, grow hungrier for something fresh and exciting.

“And Discord was a very, very angry god.

“Do you know what they say about pain? You cannot bottle it up. You have to let it out eventually, it feels good to do so. Some people, like Discord, choose to dull their pain by inflicting it upon others.

“Take every disaster, every war, every tragedy equinekind has and will ever experience and nothing will ever amount to the pain and misery inflicted by Discord during his bloodthirsty cycles. Unimaginable torture to which I dare not even begin to describe- every single moment. And he kept all of us alive. You can’t play with a toy that's broken, and he similarly couldn't enjoy the screams of the dead.”

Luna inhaled deeply and leaned against the table, forming a steeple with her forehooves as she narrowed her eyes. “Let it be said that my sister and I love equinekind and all of its many wonders and intricacies. I dare say we've almost removed the word 'hate' from our vocabulary. We forgive the criminal, the sinner, the wrongdoer and offer the path of redemption. So bear that in mind when I tell you I... hate... Discord. I would gladly give an eye for an eye for all the pain, all the horrors, all the unimaginable torture he put us through and give it tenfold if not for the fact that he would probably scoff in my face and enjoy it all.” The deep-blue alicorn grimaced and coughed politely. “And, ah, also because it would be unsightly to those who witnessed it.

“I'm sure you've reached the conclusion already, Frost, but I'll lay it kind and clear- my sister and I were created by Discord. Earth pony, unicorn, and pegasus with their combined magic in one? Who could have created much less conceived such a notion other than Discord?”

Luna paused and looked at me. “It's a lot to take in, isn't it?”

I breathed out a heavy, misty sigh as I leaned back in my seat. “Oh definitely.”

“Perhaps we can talk more later, then,” she offered, idly spearing her pasta with her fork.

“No, no!” I smiled to her. “Please continue. You have the long-dead historian in me interested now.”

She breathed out a sigh and set down her silverware. “I...” Another pause, another sigh. “Very well. I promised I would tell you. Fair's fair.” She glanced downward. “For... some reason still unknown to me, Discord took a liking to my sister and to me. I thank fate for at least showing us enough mercy that his fancy for us was not of the... carnal... sort. He never stooped to that at the very least, if anything. Discord was in one of his calmer cycles at the time. He wanted to create something beautiful for once, as he claimed. Nothing absurd or macabre or twisted- just something beautiful, something easy on his mismatched eyes.”

“So he experimented on us as he did the rest. It was mercifully painless- but torture for the both of us nonetheless. We were changed into so many strange creatures- combined with griffins, zebras, dolphins, dogs- until he finally settled with Occam's Razor and simply combined all three pony races in one.

“By now, you've probably noticed the disparity between my cutie-marks,” Luna said as she glowed brightly once more and shapeshifted back to her alicorn form. “The moment that Discord changed us into new ponies, he obliterated our past identities. We were completely different ponies from that point on, including our destinies.”

Luna grimaced for a moment. “Losing my cutie-mark the way I did... it was something I wouldn't wish upon anypony. I was positively jubilant to have earned my mark so early and so close to my birthday. To have discovered that I no longer had it and that my destiny had forever changed, that... it filled me with dread, not knowing where my life would take me- especially when someone like Discord fancied me.

“Skylark and I were not alone in our desire to destroy Discord. Many had tried, and many were punished for it. It was well understood by then that in order to defeat a creature that fundamentally operated on magic, one must also use magic- fight fire with fire, as they say. It was just a matter of what kind of magic could defeat him. One school of thought believed that one could use another amniomorphic spell to render Discord harmless- such as by turning him into a field mouse or gnat or some other trivial thing. All attempts were unsuccessful. Discord was and still is the epitome of amniomorphism. He could not be harmed by such a thing. That left one school of thought, that one must use the opposite to defeat Discord. The opposite of disorder is order- in other words...” She looked at me expectantly.

“Harmony,” I whispered.

She nodded. “Precisely. Though... what is harmony? Or order? That was the great debate at the time, as the very nature of what is 'right' or what is 'ordered' is subjective. I dare not go into the details, but after much deliberation and much brooding, my sister and I came up with the answer. It was not a sense of 'order' or 'reasoning' that we needed to fight Discord but a sense of righteousness that he lacked. Righteousness... another way of saying 'virtue'.

“As a modern-day Mancer, you know firsthoof the immense power of being able to control a physical element, Frost. Physical elements are one thing. Spiritual elements are a completely different animal, operating by their own rules. We looked into what brought ponies together to live, work, fight alongside one another. In the end, it came down to six virtues.

“Honesty, in which all facts, all fouls are laid bare.

“Kindness, in which a gentle touch, a gentle word can bring a soothing sensation.

“Laughter, in which friends revel in to lift spirits soaring through air.

“Generosity, in which we must learn to help others in their time of need anytime, anywhere.

“Loyalty, in which we stand side by side no matter the temptation.

“And magic, in which we all share.

“These Six Virtues of Friendship are our own. Griffins, zebras, dragons, mules, buffalo- no other people hold them so dear. They are inherently our own, our Elements of Harmony. My sister and I helped birth them, and so they were ours to wield to defeat Discord, catching him when he least expected- while in reverie of his work.

“It was a beautiful thing to watch- a cascade of rainbow-hued energy undoing all wrongs Discord wrought.” She glanced down over herself. “Well... almost all wrongs. To this day, Discord's mad creations still linger- myself and my sister, for instance. The minotaurs remained, and the ability for all equines to... mingle with one another did as well. Fitting, I suppose, that Discord be petrified. He cannot be killed, and so he remains immortal- but contained. I cannot help but feel as if the punishment should have been greater for such a demon, such a cruel tyrant... but I suppose I am content with it.

“It should come as no surprise what happened next to a historian such as yourself. Ponies practiced hero worship since the infancy of our people. It is why ponies such as High Chancellor Puddinghead, Secretary-General Smart Cookie, Queen Platinum, Arch-Mage Clover the Clever, Supreme General Hurricane, and...” she coughed, “Commander Pansy were revered in ancient times. Many followed their wake- Skyfall the Swift, Lady Vanguard, and Starswirl the Bearded before his fall from glory. Ourselves? We... we were changed by Discord, forever changed. We barely resembled our former selves. No longer was my sister the belligerent mare who got into more school fights than the stallions, and no longer was I the adventurous, solitary filly who knew more constellations by name than friends in class. Ponies were so eager to worship us and celebrate our triumph over Discord, and so were crowned and so we adopted the namesakes you now know us by- Princess Celestia,” She pressed a hoof to her chest, “and Princess Luna.”

The dark-blue alicorn breathed out sharply and glanced downward. “Well drat. I went all long-winded again and now our food's cold. Apologies.”

“No, no, that... that was a wonderful story!” I said quickly, offering an encouraging smile. “Thank you.”

Luna returned my smile and our food steamed gently as she momentarily lit her horn. “I hope you understand now why we chose to omit our histories, Frost- and why none of this must be known by anypony, anyone else.”

I paused, trying to withhold a frown. In truth, I didn't. And she noticed.

“Multiple reasons, actually,” she said. “You see, Frost... one, ponies- people- view us as goddesses. Even if we really aren't, they still do. Perhaps you as well. Gods don't have origin stories, with few exceptions. It is easier to assume that they simply were, that they simply existed- no premise, no prologue. Two, because that time in history was time neither I nor my sister wish to revisit. The less talked of it, the better.

“And three,” she added in a hushed tone, “because we weren't always the good Samaritans you want to see us as. I don't speak of just Nightmare Moon, and I don't speak of only myself. Being immortal means time can drag on, and when time drags on, one can get weary and tiresome of the status quo. My sister have I have long learned since that we cannot allow ourselves to stoop so low ever again. But know this, Frost...”

She had a deadly look in those eyes.

“We are equine, and like all equines, we are not perfect, and we were both drawn to temptations of flesh and blood. After all, Discord was once equine. My sister and I are not proud of what we did, nor for how long we let it last. We would prefer that it, like the fate of Starswirl the Bearded and the name of that felon, be lost to the sands of time. I will not speak any more on the matter.”

* * *

After we finished dinner, Luna and I sat together before the balcony, looking over the softer shades of the starlit Heartland. I was still uneasy after those last few words, and she sensed it. I don't think she knew or realized back then, but that last reason struck home for me. Like her, I had my own regrets. I'd made my own mistakes. I knew the temptation of power and became addicted to it, lavished in it. It wasn't until it all came crumbling down around me that I realized the monster I created- and the monster I became. After all, you will never see the light if you refuse to leave shade.

But there was one difference- I rose to power with ill intent. She didn't.

She sighed, “I believe I was what you call a 'killjoy,' was I not?”

I opted not to reply to that, still too lost in my own thoughts.

She let out a sigh and rest a hoof on my shoulder. “One more point I was trying to make, one that I've been trying to convey since early this morning: I am- truly- just another pony. More powerful, longer-lived and wiser because of it, yes, but I'm still just another mare.”

“I know,” I whispered, turning to her to do the same. “I know.” I pulled her into an embrace, reveling in her subtle warmth as she returned it. I tried to find the right words, but after something like that, all I could manage was: “I respect you, Luna. I... I truly respect you. I don't think anypony else in this day and age could have gone through what you had.”

“... does that mean we can keep dating?” she asked.

The storyteller chuckled softly, wanly.

Of all questions, folks, that was the first she asked. I merely smiled. “Definitely just another mare.” I hugged her tighter and answered, “Yes, absolutely.”

She just... let out this cute, delighted squeak of joy and hauled me up onto her shoulder. “Oh! Ah... ahem.” She set me back down. “Pushing it?”

“Maybe a little,” I chuckled softly.“You know, it seems just about time to head over to Blaring Beats...” I offered her a hoof. “Shall we?

Luna smiled wide and shapeshifted back into her old self, taking my hoof. “I'd love to.” And then we teleported away.

* * *

Woohoo!” Pinkie cheered, leaping into the air as we all headed back out together. “Can't wait for tomorrow night!” She zipped over to me and Luna... well, Nightingale. “You are coming back tomorrow night, right?”

“Most likely,” I answered, glancing at the dark unicorn at my side. “That is, unless we have other plans.”

“They don't involve hands, do they?” Lyra asked, eying me suspiciously. Then she snickered, “Oh just foaling around! Don't give me that look!”

“Well, we'll see what happens,” Luna chuckled softly. “This has become a new favorite pastime for me after all.”

“Works for me!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Good night, you too! Now scoodly-loodly-doo!” And she proceeded to scoodly-loodly-doo away.

“Catch you later, you two!” Lyra waved as she trotted off.

I stood and waved for a bit before turning to Luna. “So... uh... guess I'll be heading back now.”

“Oh no you don't,” she said, grinning. “Tonight, you're coming with me.”

I like to think of myself as a smooth fellow with a good sense of tact. Well, after she said that, I was left gawking at her. Not a proud moment. “W-Wait, you mean... is that even allowed?”

She smirked and arced an eyebrow, sending my heart aflutter with that expression. “Did you forget who you're talking to?”

I opened my mouth, hesitated, then answered, “You have a point there.”

She giggled and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. “Of course I do.”

Then came that still-jarring sense of detachment before we ended up in what appeared to be her royal quarters. The first thing I immediately noticed was the warm, soft carpet underneath my hooves- and I mean incredibly soft. I actually let out a yelp of surprise and pranced around in place before my overexcited nerves calmed down, allowing me to take in the rest of the room around me. The next thing that caught my attention was the source of that warmth- the crackling, column-flanked fireplace that served as the sole light source aside from the glittering stars and the moon that shone through the large, vaulted windows that ran down along the length of the spacious room. The room itself was surprisingly bare, painted in soft shades of blue that matched the pony beside me as she shapeshifted back to her royal form. Aside from the fireplace and a set of Prench doors that led to a balcony, there was little in the way of decoration. It was, however, dominated by an impressive four-poster bed that was- to my amusement- covered in a piles of books. Tucked off in the corner was a small nook with a large, wooden desk likewise crammed with books and a bulky terminal monitor- her private study, perhaps.

“Oh dear oh dear oh dear,” Luna muttered, clicking her tongue and striding quickly over to the stacks of tomes, wrapping all of them at once and arranging them into neat piles off to the side of her desk. “I thought I'd cleaned these up... apologies for the mess.”

You?” I chuckled in a sarcastic tone. “Princess Luna? Messy? Some royalty you are.”

The dark-blue alicorn smiled sheepishly and settled down in bed with a sigh. “My point exactly.” She craned her neck, arcing a brow at me. “Frost, you can join me, you know. No need to be shy. “

“I know... it's just this carpet's so soft...” I murmured, coughing awkwardly. “I don't want to move...”

She let out a soft, regal giggle that she contained by keeping her mouth closed. “Oh you haven't seen anything yet...” I let out a yelp as the world tinted a slight, shimmering blue. I realized that she had enveloped me in her magical aura and lifted me off the floor. This wasn't something I'd had done to me since I was an unruly foal- and I reflexively flailed like one in both surprise and protest until she set me down beside her.

“OhmyGoddessesyou'reright,” I belted out in a sigh afterward, feeling her aura leave me. Her bed was soft- velvety soft. I practically sank into the cloud-like, cushioned surface, eyes rolling back in pure bliss. It was only after seconds had passed that I realized what I said and bolted up to look at her.

Luna was staring at me- and I right back. Then she let out a chuckle, and I relaxed as she snuggled up close to me. “Well, I'm certainly your goddess right now...”

I blinked.

“... oh dear, that came out wrong, didn't it?”

I nodded.

“W-Well, you know what I meant,” she stammered, blushing. “Anyway...” Luna breathed out a sigh and nuzzled against the crook of my neck. “Frost, be honest with me- are you still uncomfortable with... well, us?”

In spite of myself, I glanced upward briefly and gave her a kiss, stroking down her slender form. “Stop worrying. The only reasons I'd be uncomfortable after tonight are one: this is a really, really, really posh arrangement you have here, and two: to still have your sanity and your sense of morality after all you've been through, I less feel uncomfortable and more unworthy.” I paused, checking myself. “Although maybe we're moving a little fast.”

“Well perhaps,” Luna murmured. “Thank you, Frost. I... I know that we still need to work on-”

I cut her off with a nuzzle. “And stop being so insecure about this. I want this. You want this. Let's see where things take us. Alright?”

She breathed out a soft, satisfied sigh and nodded. “Wonderful... most wonderful.” She drew up her wings around me in a feathery cocoon- of which I was very, very delighted- and snuggled closer. “Good night, Frost.”

“Good... night... Lunaaaa...” I breathed out blissfully. I was in heaven. Soft, tingly, feathery heaven.

* * *

I awoke to the sound of throat-clearing. Throat-clearing is usually not a good thing to wake up to.

Especially when it comes from somepony wearing a rather intense expression.

Especially when that “somepony” is Princess Celestia, adorned in her regal attire.

“We need to talk,” she whispered in a way that made me feel incredibly, incredibly tiny. I could only nod and reluctantly pull away from my feathery fortress. My body protested each step as my hooves practically glided across the velvety carpet. But you did not keep Princess Celestia waiting.

I followed her quietly out the door, and we mercifully avoided waking Luna up. We were in a hallway that seemed to be the princess' quarters adjoined by a corridor, completely bereft of guards. The colors and stylized designs decorating the wall contrasted more and more the further down one walked- from dark shades and starry nights to the radiant colors of twilight and finally the clear skies of a sunny day. Gone was the soft carpet, replaced instead by cold, clacking marble tiles. It was some time past daybreak, which meant that Luna had woken up before I did in order to make way for her sister's sun.

It also meant that I might have overstayed my welcome if the stern-faced alicorn before me was any indication.

To my surprise, she actually led me into her royal quarters. I was surprised by the contrast. By comparison, Luna's bedroom was humongous. It almost seemed cramped with a low, vaulted ceiling with a skylight serving as the sole source of light. Her bed was certainly larger than most I'd seen, but it still had a sense of modesty. The grandfather clock opposite the door caught my attention as well. Aside from the edges of its frame, its case was mostly made of glass, leaving the internal mechanisms completely exposed. The half-seconds it counted beat by in almost deafening manner in the congested room. Just like her sister, she had a desk, but it was again much smaller and had far fewer books lying around. I noted that the floor was tiled much like the outside- cold, almost hostile. This couldn't have been the sun princess' room, could it? Perhaps they'd traded rooms and changed the murals outside to fit? I didn't know. All I knew was that it felt dreadful to be in here, especially with what was most likely an angry goddess.

“So,” she finally spoke, turning to me with her wings flared out dominantly and those pale magenta eyes boring into me, “you're the one who my sister is interested in. You're the one who's gotten her addicted to those 'raves' and distracted her from her royal duties. And you're the one who dared treat her like a normal pony.”

I gulped. Oh buck me so hard, I was in deeeeeep.

Princess Celestia maintained her expression, drew in a breath... and then softened her gaze, broke her muzzle into a smile, and tucked in her wings. “Well done.”

I blinked once, twice. Then I slowly began to teeter and finally fell sideways to the floor, relieved, so very relieved.

Hello, ground, old friend. It’s been a long time.

The white, regal alicorn chuckled softly and helped me up- physically helped me up with her own hooves. “Apologies. I couldn't help but take it that far. I just couldn’t resist.”

Don't be mad at her, Frost. Don't be mad at her. Don't. Be. Mad. At her. “Ah... thank you?” I managed. Good job. At least you didn't sound angry.

“Relax,” she said soothingly like a dove to a mate, floating her royal attire off onto her desk piece by piece. “I bear no ill will- honest. Just an innocent joke.” When she was finished, she surprisingly looked... well, normal. With the golden, glittering jewelry gone, she looked almost fragile, I would say. “So here we meet again, Frost Windchill. I'll admit, ponies like you don't come often. A modern-day Mancer, a double major in... equinpology and history I believe?” When I nodded, she continued. “And a Northerner unicorn with photographic memory- perfect photographic memory. One of a kind. Still, I never expected that we'd meet again quite like this.” She motioned to the bed. “Have a seat.”

I awkwardly sat down beside her on the side of the bed. It felt like one of those times my father talked to me like this with how motherly she seemed. “So, did you wish to speak with me, Your High-”

“Oh none of that,” she interrupted and chuckled. “Please. Just Celestia. May as well, considering you're dating my sister. And yes, I did wish to speak with you.”

“What about?” I inquired.

“Well to start, I'd like to thank you for getting Luna away from her desk,” she replied with a smile. “I can't tell you how relieved I was that she actually wanted to go back out the next night. Oh, she told you that I convinced her to try out Blaring Beats in the first place, correct?”

“Yes, yes she did,” I answered.

“And you wouldn't believe how much it took to convince her,” she laughed. “She enjoys that kind of music, but I swear she's so shy sometimes. She'd rather try to learn from books or from the terminal rather than experience it for herself. Firsthoof experience is the best teacher, but oh do I wish she'd realize it! Up until this week, her only outings were during Nightmare Night.”

“So what you're saying is...” I started.

“... that you're the one who convinced her to get out of her comfort zone and have fun doing it?” Celestia finished. “Certainly, and I'm glad for that. Though... I wasn't quite expecting that you would have fallen for one another.” Looking at me, she merely smiled. “Don't fret. I don't see it as a bad thing.”

“You mean you're alright with the idea that I'm dating your sister?” I asked.

“If I wasn't, we wouldn't be having this conversation,” she said. “We've lived for millennia, Frost. Both of us have had plenty of lovers in the past, and if you think it's awkward or even unseemly for you to be associated with royalty in this way, believe me- both of us have fallen in love with ponies of worse social standing than yourself.” Suddenly, she frowned. “I do want to be frank with you on this, however- don't give any reason to see it as a bad thing.”

“Of course, Y-” I coughed, “Celestia.”

“I also want to make a request,” the white-furred alicorn added. “I don't object that you and Luna go to nightclubs such as Blaring Beats- in fact, more power to you if you make it a habit for her. But I fear that she is growing more and more distant from the ponies of Equestria despite the recent boom in nightly activities that once were done only during day. Sure, she's made plenty of headway on updating our laws and statutes now that she's returned- she seems to find those administrative things almost enjoyable, by the way- but that's no way to express interest in your subjects. I request that you help Luna experience the world during both night and day- in a nutshell, get her out of her room and away from her books and that terminal, and get her to explore this new world.”

I nodded, already thinking of a few ideas. “I can definitely do that, yes.”

Celestia nodded in turn. “Good.” She then exhaled a soft sigh and turned away. “I'm glad.”

I canted my head at her. “Celestia?”

She inhaled deeply. “May I... oh, I may as well just up and say it, Frost. I'm desperate for Luna to regain her place in the world and especially her confidence. Nightmare Night is a time when she can cut loose and have fun, but why should that be the only time? Just because it's now expected of her?” She shook her head.

“I did not intend to punish Luna so long ago.” She continued. “Understand that. If there were any other option, I would have taken it, but as the situation was, there was no other option. That... thing dominated my sister, tormented her, and turned her desire into a relentless, violent obsession. Only time could weaken Its hold on Luna, and so I imprisoned It... and her... in her moon.

“And it worked. It wasted away without a chance to exercise Its might, and Its mind was left to wander away from Its singular goal with a millennium of idleness while all those years passed by for Luna as if a dream. It's no wonder that It was only able to render a squad of Day Guards unconscious rather than maim them, resorting to illusion and trickery thereafter.

“It's gone now, and my sister is back,” Celestia said with a sigh. “That's all that mattered to me. But my punishment for It also went to my sister.” She turned her head up to the skylight. “I sang her a lullaby every night, you know. Every night... a thousand years, Frost... a thousand years. Cities, whole civilizations rose and fell, water eroded and carved away canyons and valleys, hills rose from plains, mountains rose from hills, and ponies, people... they too changed. And almost everypony, everyone she knew is long gone. I don't know if it would be better to introduce her to her old friends' descendants or not.

“Luna was punished along with It. She may not have languished or suffered within her moon, but on her return...” She lowered her head. “She was frustrated, unable to comprehend the events and changes that happened in her absence and desperately tried to make sense of it, blundering about, learning the wrong things for the wrong time... her very first Nightmare Night back, she thought we were still speaking Old Equestrian.” She shook her head. “She continues to suffer to this day, trying to play catch-up with a world rolling away faster and faster each day, a punishment one-thousand-eleven years...” She looked over at the clock and its deafening clicks, “five months, twenty-five days, one hour, five minutes, and fifty-five seconds in the making. And still going. I regret what I had to do, but I had no choice...”

I realized with a dreadful sinking of the heart the significance of all the things wrong with Celestia's room. The cramped quarters, the cold floor, the limited view of the skylight that doubtlessly aligned with the moon at its highest point in the night sky... this was her way of penance for her actions.

Her bedroom was a cell.

“... oh, well now I've soured the mood,” Celestia murmured, frowning. She turned back to me, chancing a small smile, and asked, “So, steering for sunnier skies, what exactly do you do for a living?”

I blinked, not expecting this- whiplash for the emotions. “Well, I perform some equinpological work from time to time whenever time and/or resources permit. Otherwise, I'm... admittedly the watercolt for Ponyville's Toadstool Tabletop.”

“Oh, that delightful little cafe,” she chuckled softly. “A very creative premise, yes. Aren't you a double major equinpology and history, though?”

“Well, history, as it turns out, isn't too profitable unless you go for becoming a historian, a museum curator, or a teacher,” I responded. “To be honest, I don't really see myself being good at any but the last, and I'd rather not have to dip into the family coffer for graduate school.”

“Really now?” Celestia smiled benevolently down upon me as only she could. “Why, with your unique magic and your academic record, I firmly believe you could easily obtain a full scholarship for the graduate program at my school.”

“I don't know...” I murmured.

She cleared her throat. “Well I firmly believe...”

I got the message that time and smiled back.

“Do make your decision soon, though,” the white-furred alicorn chuckled softly. “Winter quarter starts the second week of January. Now, I believe my sister might be wanting you. Poor dear, still thinks that ponies including herself can get by on only three hours of sleep and still be able to perform administrative duties to the degree that she can... she certainly needs more rest than that. Now run along.”

“Alright,” I said, somewhat giddy. “Alright. Thank you!”

As I started out, Celestia called, “Oh, one last thing!” I turned to her, and she smiled slyly. “She absolutely adores endearing names, including her original one.”

I grinned back. “Thank you.” And then I headed back.

My body was ready this time, mercifully. This time, neither the velvety carpet nor the cloud-like bed impeded me from reaching Luna as she slept, stealthily slipping in and wrapping my forelegs around her from behind. Perfect.

Or... so I thought.

Luna inhaled deeply and tilted her head back to nuzzle my cheek. “So how did it go? What did she ask?”

“Went pretty well, and she just asked me some simple questions is all,” I answered with a defeated sigh. “We'll talk more later. For now, let's just enjoy this...” Pause for dramatic effect, “Lulu...”

The dark-blue alicorn let out a gasp and flashed her eyes open. “She told you my weakness, didn't she?”

“Mmmmmm-hm!” I chuckled huskily, giving her a kiss.

“How dare she!” she scoffed. “Well, good thing I already know yours...”

Oh colt.

I could only babble incoherently in bliss as she extended her wings and brushed them against my sides, snuggling closer with her. When the world's best form of torture ended, she arced a brow and smirked in that amazing expression. “Fair's fair.”

“Fair's fair,” I mumbled in accord. “So... I actually have something to ask you.”

“Hm?” Luna tilted her head at me. “What is it, Frost?”

“If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to invite you to join me for this year's Northern Lights Festival in Manehattan,” I told her. “I go every year, and I don't plan on missing out on this one.”

Luna bit her lip, mulling over the idea.

“Luna, do you know what Manehattan's known for?” I asked with a grin.

“The nightclubs?” She likewise grinned.


“You know what? I think I'll give it a shot.”

I'll admit it, folks. I squeed.

* * *

Footnote: Frost- Level Up! Level 17 Reached!
Perk added: Surpriiiiiiiiiise!- Between Pinkie, Lyra, and Luna, it's gotten a bit harder to catch you off-guard. You take 25% less damage from sneak attack critical hits.

Unlockables added: Soundtrack- Don't Wake Her Up

Soundtrack- Call me Luna (Special Thanks to Lazer726)

Soundtrack- Theme of the Princess of the Night, Luna (Special Thanks to Lazer726)

Inspirational Music- The Moon Rises by Ponyphonic

Soundtrack- Apotheosis

Soundtrack- Frost and Luna (Special Thanks to Lazer726)

Inspirational Music- Lullaby for a Princess by Polyphonic

Author's Note:

Hoo... finally. I think more time was spent fussing over being able to capture Princess Luna in a proper fashion while still keeping a more unique flavor for her as opposed to just writing the whole installment out. My thanks to the usual suspects- Kkat, the FoE community, and especially Lazer726 for the help with pre-reading. My thanks to you as well for reading. Please leave some feedback if possible. It definitely wasn't easy writing this, and while there are places I want to keep for the sake of telling my own story (though there's nothing new under the sun), I do make mistakes. Thank you. And remember- musical suggestions are always welcomed!

Also, don't forget the Ask Frost Windchill tumblr (www.askfrostwindchill.tumblr.com)! Until next time, folks.

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