• Published 13th Feb 2016
  • 1,435 Views, 19 Comments

Ashes - Ice Star

In the ruins of a world they were never truly a part of two fillies travel with only each other as company, yet the elder starts to have doubts about their destination and wonders if everypony she loves is doomed to leave her. (EFNW '16 Finalist)

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Chapter 2: Baby Sister Where Are You?

There are not any stars out tonight, and clouds are covering the moon. Most foals would be scared by this, the idea of camping out with no fire in such cold weather also reinforces the fear they would feel, and We could only imagine how quickly they would long for the glow of a citadel or even a hearth's fire. Except, We are not most foals. Despite Our eleven-year-old appearance, We are well over one thousand years of age, and weary of the wilds in Our heart. Walls, warmth, routine, and more sound were so much lovelier and less... lonely... than this young, fresh world.

We cannot sleep. Instead, We sit around where We wish a fire was, running Our hooves through the hairs of Our mane and pushing the thoughts of flames away from Our mind and quick magic. Our mane is already twice as long as Us and its pastel hues are one of the few things visible in this cool, grim darkness that causes Us to shiver a little. Its lower half sparkles and waves somewhat, and the same goes for Our tail. Yet we still do not have our cutie mark, which is somewhat disheartening.

It is too bad there can be no fire, although the reason is for stealth. Luna's magic could cause stones to strike and embers to spring much more than We trusted Our flame in this darkness, yet We felt that We yearned for both right now. Luna swore she saw a hoofprint that was preserved in the mud nearby. They are not recent enough to satisfy mortal ponies but when Our sister told Us this, it took Our breath away. After all these years... could the two of us really be so close? How We would love to see anypony at all, to know their face! It makes Our heart quiver.

We stare at the sight of rising and falling shapes across from Us, a pile of blankets hiding Our sister. We do not need to pull away the quilts to know that her mane is most likely matted from sleep, and that her snores are loud to Us. They have always been so.

Luna is a very good scout, even if she rarely talks.


We wonder where the ponies were heading all those years ago. This preserved hoofstep was not the first sign of the northward movements that we had come across. Why north? We used to have a map, though it had worn down to scraps from overuse, as delicate and as fine as sand before the wind swept them away one day, centuries ago. Despite this, We had memorized its depictions with a cartographer's eye and We knew we were both in an area called Vanhoover Marsh, a swampy area too inhospitable for most... if anypony had been here. There were no towns, and We doubt that even the area's famous witch doctors still roam here, for it is too quiet, so the doctors must only be in stories now. It seems that wherever We camp the world is silent, as if holding its breath and waiting for something... We cannot imagine what. Sometimes, silence hurts and loneliness aches worse than any cut or scrape, and for so much longer too. Luna claims not to feel such things.

Sometimes, We find enormous heaps of ashes the size of cottages lying around, wet with snow and marsh goo, and surrounded by what were once trees and gardens. Magic hums softly about them, like whispers of preservation, but it is sorcery that We could not know, nor Luna. The magic out here, and everything else... We were not taught this. Perhaps Luna gleans something out of all these things, with that odd sparkle in her eye, but We have no knowing. Luna teaches herself a little, and it gets us by, but her talent for magic feels so wasted. What We would do to get her and... I... some sort of teacher...

Luna explores the area far more than Us. We wonder if she has seen the ashes as well? Sometimes, We hide just how many there are from her, or try to. There are those that we have found together. Was there a fire in a nearby village? We have found nothing of the sort, no burned husks of teetering and sorrowful buildings, only ashes that fall through Our hooves so quickly We find Ourself wondering if it is a silent plea to forget the mysterious sight We have seen. We have long stopped asking Luna if she knows if they are new or as old as we two are, and tried to pretend We are content with the softness of our hooves sinking into them, trailing ashes away...


A while before, when We had just come into this part of the land, the mud puddles, logs, and mosses all dusted in snow were a sheer delight to our sister and Ourself. There was always something new for Luna to squeal with sheer delight over, and the snowball fights We had with her were delightful. The most recent thing was frozen frogs.


Yet now she hardly speaks, instead gazing at all with those large eyes of hers with a look We cannot discern. Perhaps We hardly speak because we need no words to communicate having been together, alone, for so long. Yet, We have always liked conversation, and have tried to make it over anything. Quiet burns Our ears, ah!

If We are alone, We risk talking to ponies that are not there, telling Ourself that there is a village in Our head, friends and little voices to talk with, all with names and talents, and they love Us, smiling at Us and giving Us warm feelings that doubt-whispers in the dark do not.

Though inside one of these puddles, We found a long rusted metal rod one end of which was stuck into a thick splinter of wood. We yanked it out with Our magic, for it was stuck fast, and heard a snap, the most earsplitting noise in weeks. It was an ax, although about half of the head was missing and it appeared to have been what had made the snapping noise. The remainder of this weapon was still stuck in the rotting wood.

We claimed it as Our own.

A century ago, the ax would have scared Us, but not anymore. Now it confused Us. What was a war ax, old and with a trace of an old power still in its handle, doing embedded in a tree? Did Luna think the same?


We had grown much since leaving that castle: no longer were We a small filly who was barely tall enough to scramble into a chair in a grand study as Luna still had to do when we both left that place. Our wings were fully fledged, but with them, We flew with lots of power but were also too noisy and they still had not seemed to have reached their full size. Though, flying stirred Our heart more than magic. The rest of Us was growing quite nicely, We imagined we would be quite pretty as an adult if it were not for Our coat, which due to the colder climate and slow pacing of Our travels and living had grown as fuzzy and wild as a bear's fur.

Our legs were a bit of a problem... they shot up so fast! Were We to walk in the clouds next? We were wobbling everywhere We went, and stumbling over things like a complete klutz (or like Luna as a foal) and had to tell her to stop laughing because it was rude and not funny at all! How were We supposed to run, with skinny, oversized legs?! This is why flying was better! No proper princess could, how very unladylike it was!

Yet, Our legs were not Our biggest problem.

There was also magic and learning. Luna and ourself could both read and write, knew what magic was, navigate, speak properly, and defend ourselves decently (although Luna might be just a bit better with the whole in-the-moment battle thing, whereas We liked to avoid such matters where possible). Both of us could play chess, name plants, make medicine, and many, many, many other things all these years had piled on us two fillies, but...

We had a few problems when it came to form in magic. We had so many problems with trying to grasp form-versus-power, although Luna and Ourself clearly had the power part down. Things caught on fire if We were too excited or too angry, and of course, our form was awful considering neither of us knew how to teach ourselves everything, and We were too scared to try some of these things. How could Luna and Ourself do anything with neither teacher nor teaching materials? To not be able to help her with something she loved so clearly hurt, and We did not want her magic to be wild forever.

There were still other issues...

We did not want to travel like this for much longer. There was no other way of putting it.

We missed civilization, and here We were possibly only mere years away from finding ponies, We just had to be! While Luna... well, other than her being quiet it was hard to talk to her, but how could We break it to her that... her parents were not coming back or that We were planning to... leave...?

No, We were not going to leave her or abandon her, that is what Luna's parents did and We are not them, We will not desert her. We cannot since We are all she has left, she is all We have too, and mothers that are good and nice do not ever leave their precious babies all alone...

We would make a plan. A plan to ensure that nothing went wrong and that we were not separated. After all, We were a strategist and nothing could break the bond of two sisters as close as Luna and Celestia.

We laid back on the log that we were keeping watch on and waiting for this awful starless night to be over and wondering if the sun would continue to remain a washy mess of red, pink, yellow, and orange. The years had not been kind to it since we left the Everfree, guiding Luna along with Our voice. Maybe one day there would be an Alicorn who would raise the sun, instead of Luna's parents who just tilted stuff as far as We cared to remember; they spun the world.

An Alicorn just for the sun? Could there be an Alicorn for the moon as well? No, We think it would be just one who controls both, and they would be very nice because the sun is warm and smiles at Us and the moon makes the night not-scary. Would that make eclipses more common? We think we saw an eclipse once when We were really little, although Luna would not remember it, she was so young! But, We recall Our eyes stinging; We had to look away and cover Luna's eyes with Our hooves.

Perhaps there would also be an Alicorn for the stars?

No, stars are just tiny suns really far away. Everypony knows you cannot have an Alicorn for the stars.

We closed Our eyes, tired from days of merely feigning sleep, and dreamed about a sun weeping tears of gold over something it did that made the moon sad, while the moon was sad as well. We could not understand what was going on. The entire thing seemed like a story that We would have come up with as a foal, and drawn out with the thick crayons We shared with Luna all those years ago. We had them in the time before Luna too, when her mother was big, round, and tired a lot and all Celly stop asking questions. Luna's father told Us to play with Our baby dolls a lot, but those memories are not super clear. Sharing crayons with Luna was always better than not having her.


"Tia! Wake up!"

We continued to stay asleep and pretended not to hear. We are asleep, Luna, and cannot hear a word you say.

Luna's voice stopped and Our mind really did start to go back to sleep... Our sister always woke up at the worst of times!

"OH MY!" she sang out, "What have we here? Could it be Celestia's breakfast? Well, let Us see... there is some fresh clover—"

Luna how did you get that? We have been in the marshes for a while now.

"—oh, it also appears that there are some mint leaves—"

Oh, Luna stop. Please stop. You know We love the mint leaves.

"—some standard grass here—"

What are you planning?

"—but could it be... gasp, oh golly, gracious, by Our stars it is — toast!" She really did burst into song with the last word, using her beautiful singing voice as if 'toast' was an aria.


We looked over at Luna who was smiling her trademark goofy grin, this time with a snarkier touch, a bit of dried clover stuck into her teeth, clearly pleased We had fallen for her trick. Were We to scold her for being snarky, or being impolite and forgetting her manners?

"We see that you were not asleep after all."

"We wish We were."

"We ate all your clover."

We noticed. "Princesses do not talk with their mouths full."

She swallowed the stolen clover. "Since when do We have to follow your 'Princesses Do and Do Not' code all the time?"

This is what We are worried about. We are worried that she will grow up a messy feral filly because We are all she has got. Here she is, in mortal years she would be eight years old, for she looks it and our kind age peculiarly. Yet, she has spent almost all her life running about the wilderness wide-eyed in wonder and drinking it all in... and We want to pull her back from drowning.

We cannot do everything for her, though We try.

We really do.


"Tia?" Luna asked, as We traveled through more marsh.

Tan and dark green grass blended with a dusting of frost, and pools of dark inky water were abundant. In those pools, glowing white fish swam at night, leaping out every so often to snatch fireflies and powder-winged moths. The gnarled and long-rooted silver-trunked trees whose boughs were draped with moss had begun to grow less thick until We could see We had come to the last clump of a forest. Soon, after a hoofful more moonrises, We would likely not see a forest as much... and after that... the even colder lands awaited us.

The sky was barren of clouds right now, and We could see hawks circling high in the sky. A lone gust of wind made its way across the land, reminding us both of just how lonely it could be sometimes, or at least it reminded Us. Luna liked this.

We looked at Our sister, trying not to think of what was in front of us, but rather of how we wanted things to eventually end. Forget the journey, the going-place matters more."Yes, Luna. What is it?"

"It would be wise to let Us scout ahead, Tia."

Ever since Luna was able to fly, she had evolved far beyond what We could teach her regarding the subject. She had become as quiet as an owl when she flew, yet as fierce as a hawk. Luna could also perform just as many aerial feats: dives, loops, you name it. We flew more than her, but for Us it was a fun thing, or to get across water in order not to be messy.

We smiled, watching as she soared into the sky, and wondered as she glided so high above if she saw the same world her big sister saw, the world it would be a crime to let her see because it would break her if she knew that We were the only family she would likely ever have. We wanted to erase that world, never let her know, and that way, it could just be Luna, Celestia, and a whole bunch of ponies, happy forever.

The Spell must have been involved in this, why her parents left. When We were younger the thought had never occurred to Us, yet now We know that The Spell — that was how Luna's mother and father said it to Us, big and scary — explained to Us so long ago must have turned one leaf on that family tree to ashes.

Despite our somber thoughts, We continued smiling as We watched Our sister dart amongst the clouds, the painted smile as sincere as their farewell had seemed. We sat down and waited for Luna to come to tell Us what she had learned and once more found Ourself swept up in how We wished things could end, thoughts seeming so much more vivid than mere daydreams — the kind We scolded Luna for getting lost in.


Luna had grown almost as much as We had, probably more. She too, had become taller (shorter than Us and much better proportioned, no gawkiness for her). Yet, We were unsure of her exact height due to having no ponies as a comparison. She was thin and lithe and moved so silently it scared Us. Her wings were also fully fledged, but just like the rest of her they were not yet fully grown. None of her was.

She was too heavy for me to carry now.

Or give piggyback rides to.

Due to the cold, her coat had grown thick and wild, some patches turning a curious blue like the night sky before all of these sick nights, the kind of blue from back when the sky was dark and vivid. Her mane and tail were the same, having only grown a bit longer with a few strands now shot through with a dark purple, and We trimmed them carefully.

We could only guess at this rather than have a certain answer, We had always presumed it was that the cold had turned bits of Luna's mane dark, just as the night had always given her the cat-pupil eyes that saw in the dark, like her mother had.

While We waited, I pulled a few flowers out of Our slightly undersized brown saddlepack. Luna and Ourself had them ever since We started out on this expedition, working scraps of magic on them to keep them intact. Before, they had been new looking and oversized. Yet, now they were patched and mended hundreds of times over, too small, and had tarnished buckles. Luna, unlike Us, was able to fit her weapon — a dagger as twisted and bent as a snake inside — while attempting to shrink Our ax in order to do so had mixed results... and We had more than a few cuts from it.

She had found the dagger just lying about the same way We had found our ax. We wonder, does she worry about these things as much as We do?

We did not see the need to give her a real weapon though, she was Our baby sister, and baby sisters do not need weapons. It was Our job to protect her, Ours alone.


No matter how much We waited Luna did not come back that night. Of course, We did not sleep, how could We? Our baby was gone! We thought that maybe she just got a bit lost. If We stayed in one place for a little while, she would find her way back at some point. She had done that before. Except that just made Us panic even more because this never happened at such a late time before, and could this be Our fault?

Where was Our sister?

Was she hurt? Could she be scared? Maybe even lost, big-time lost?

Why wasn't she here?!

When we saw the first rays of dawn, that shaky sun wobbling into the sky, We knew we had to find her. Taking the first deep breath We had attempted in hours, We looked around trying to note any detail that would help us find this spot again.

We would find her, We would not be alone.

There is really nothing scarier than being alone...


We had headed off in the direction she flew, We decided to stay on Our hooves, since it could have been weather that had blown her off course. It was cloudy out, the big puffy gray things were eating up the sky. It would have been foolish to fly...

Soon it began to rain, and We shivered under Our thick coat, Our mane soon began forming thick, frizzy clumps that caused Us to trip and stumble over those stupid legs. More than once, Our mane and tail were caught in burrs and thorns. We had to cut the locks free from the thorns using Our ax in fear that Our magic would ignite something... even Ourself, and then that hungry, empty feeling could start again, the one that sprang from when We used fire...

Luna, where are you?

We still kept going in spite of all this. Our legs became heavy with wet fur and mud. We were shivering and cold and miserable, inside and out. All We want is to find Our Luna, We thought, lifting Our forehoof once more, in one of the many steps taken in this frantic search. Any of Our efforts to create a small shimmering ward above Us, a glimmer of gold in this disaster were in vain because no matter where We stepped, We ended up soaked.

We fell face-first into a boggy pool, which made Our stomach churn.

Try not to scream, We thought at that moment, feeling grosser and wetter than ever as sludge wormed across Our face and chilled Our bones.

Thankfully, We did not.

We cried instead, for never in Our life could barely We remember a time without Our Luna, Our sweet baby sister. We had no friends. She was Our entire world. There were so few times in Our mind that never had her, and those that did not were... bare. When We first saw Luna, it was better than first seeing stars. She was so small and cute. We wanted to play with her like a real baby instead of one of Our dolls, and she could be the best little sister ever. We could tell each other secrets and We could show her how to play with toys right because all Luna's cousins were big or no fun. Now, We had to take care of her.

Still crying, We heaved Ourself out of the mud, and rolled over into a scratchy patch of grass next to it. Our muzzle tasted like mud.

Luna, We swear that—


You can only teleport somewhere you have been before, and a couple of other things only big ponies know, and We have been to countless places. The Everfree Forest, where We were born. The many other places where We traveled, some of which blended together. The clover field where We found out the truth...

All of which were better than here, yet We would not allow this to become known as the marsh where We lost Luna. Good ponies do not lose their babies.

We rubbed the mud free from Our eyelids and face as best as We could with Our equally muddy hooves, and pushed ourself out of the cold water. Using magic was not as habitual for Us as it was for Luna.

Our sister will be found, and it will be by Us.

We kept going out of sheer determination, noticing that Our coat was alight with the magical golden fire We had seen around Us during any burst of anger, joy, and other equally fiery feelings that We usually tried to bury. It kept Us warm and dried the rain, which had begun to clear up, revealing a gloomy sky, but there were still mud stains on Our coat.

This time we decided to fly.



Our throat hurt and ached terribly from calling out so her name much. At least the terrain had not changed much, although the coat of snow that covered everything had become denser and the winds much chillier. The trees we began to see now varied from those hollow trunks to tall conifers scattered across the land in small groves in which the ground was not visible. The post-rain sky which was gray and still overcast, gave the whole place a desolate feel.

We called her name out again.

No response.


The sky was beginning to turn black, and even though the glow of Our fire was accented by such circumstances, it was not bright enough for Us to continue... in fact, it looked a bit dimmer.

We felt utterly diminished. We do not think we could have cast any sort of wereflame right now even if We tried. If this fierce magic fire fed off Our emotions, would not We further exhaust Ourself by burning such a fuel? We landed in one of the conifer clearings We had seen, Our flame of determination now only a flickering cloak. We fell over onto Our side and curled up into a ball.

Up in the oil-dark sky, a few white spots of light were even tinier and duller than Our fire managed to glow.

We had stopped wishing on stars when We not only believed it was babyish to do so, but also when the stars seemed only like beads of white compared to what they used to be. The years since Our time in the Everfree had been very mean to them. Our wishes never came true, anyway, but if We were to do such a thing We suppose We would wish not to be alone.

There were no dreams that night.


"Are you a Princess?" chirped a voice.

Hmm? We opened an eye, and even those little fuzzy black dots were everywhere as We tried to locate the speaker.

"Luna, is that you?" Our voice was barely a murmur.

"I am not a Luna. Are you a Luna?"

Opening the other eye, we sat up, brushing a few bits of mud and thorny bits out of my coat. In one of the trees, a fledgling bird rested on one of the branches.

We didn't know what kind of bird he or she was, just that they were glowing orange, red, and yellow.

"Are you a princess?" the bird repeated, "You look like a princess?"

"Yes, we are a princess."

The bird tilted its head. "Princess who?"

"We are Princess Celestia. How did you know we were a princess?"

"My mother told me a story about an olive-coated horned and winged one named Etna. Mother said she was a princess."

"An Alicorn named Etna? Sorry, but We do not know her. Who are you, little bird?

"I am Philomena!" she said with a chirp before flying onto my back. "Imma a phoenix."

A phoenix? One of the legendary flame-birds who are almost indestructible?

"Where are you from, Philomena?"

"Some place that is very sandy. There are many mountains, some of which breathe fire and are secretly just big, stony dragons. When I had hatched, it looked like more than the mountain-breath had hurt the sands. I found holes everywhere! One day when all my feathers came in, Mom told me to fly to the north and not stop until the ground was covered in lots of white and the air nipped at me."

"You mean snow?"

"Yes! So I flew because my mother sounded scared. I kept flying for who knows how long — I also slept a lot and hid when it was cold, but do not tell anybody, okay? Please do not tell my momma. Until I saw what looked like a princess from Mother's story so I went to wake up and she turned out to be you."

Philomena had bright eyes that twinkled as she told her story and seemed to be quite cheeky. We liked her right away. She reminded Us of—

"What do you plan to do next, Philomena? After you find land completely covered in snow?"

"Eat everything. I shall consume all!"

We did not think about too much. "Isn't it hard traveling alone?"

"I would ask you the same thing, Celestia-princess."

We gulped. "Well you see, We were traveling with Our sister, Luna. We are heading north too, but she got lost when she went off to scout territory and We cannot find her anywhere..."

"Can I help look?" Philomena asked eagerly.

"Well... on one condition."

Philomena looked a little worried at this. "What is this condition, Celestia-princess?"

"You agree to travel with the two of us."

"Like a sister? Like Luna-princess?"

"Yes," We replied.

"How many worms do I get to eat?"

"All of them."

"Wheee!" she chirped, "I'm in Celestia-princess. Now let's go find that sister of yours!"

We sat up and stretched a bit before Philomena and Ourself soared into the air, as the sun made its way into the sky. Our coat was glowing with happiness, helped in part by Philomena's optimism. We were not lonely anymore.


Small gusts of wind carried snowflakes across the marsh, which was now becoming more and more like a tundra. Marshy pools became streams riddled with ice, and ranks of the barely present evergreens from before filled the snowy plain. Among those trees stood Our sister. A spot of blood was on her face, and leg, there was a minor cut on her cheek. There was a rather fierce look in her eyes, that I had never seen before and it scared me. In her aura, she held an old battered sword hilt and only the hilt, for from it a saw-like blade of glowing turquoise magic scraped the tip of the snow, one she had charged through the battered old thing.

Her eyes lit up when she saw us both. "Tia, you will never guess what happened!"

We cantered up to her and hugged her, Philomena flying behind Us.

What had happened to Our baby sister? We were supposed to protect her so she did not end up like this.

We did not want to let go. Yet at the same time, We were not even sure if We were hugging Our little Luna anymore.

Author's Note:

[Revised for print on 7/25/2023]

Just a note~

Tia is 11, and Luna is 8. Both are insanely fluffy and adorable. :heart:

And here's a picture of Luna and toast.

Comments ( 14 )

Love the turmoil here and how Tia is so close to her sister

Thanks! This is a favorite of my older stories.

Can you tell me “where” is the wrong spell and Eragon reference? I didn’t noticed...

Also, why Tia wasn’t hugging her Luna anymore? What happened to Luna? How she has changed? (In short please, I don’t wanna read sequel :)

Great story, 9/10

Luna no longer fits Celestia’s perception of her.

It’s in the chapter title.

Ah, yeah, now I see, thanks :)

Still this story has unique atmosphere, that even after reading mysterious feeling still lingers...

Thank you! I try to incorporate that feeling like into a lot of my stories.

We would make a plan. A plan to ensure that nothing went wrong and that we were not separated. After all, We were a strategist and nothing could break the bond of two sisters as close as Luna and Celestia.


f o r e s h a d o w i n g
it hurts :)

Lovely imagery. Very suspenseful. Wondering about the clover field where Celestia found out the truth. Is there an order I should read these things?

The clover field was in The Dark Side of the Sun, which you already commented on. That's all it is referencing.

Ohhh, now I remember it. It was a reference to Celestia accepting that her parents weren't coming back. I should've gotten that.

Yeah, sorry that wasn't clear enough for you. :twilightsheepish:

Lovely and deep story!

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