• Published 19th Mar 2016
  • 2,288 Views, 93 Comments

Astrum Nova - Solaris Hemera



Twilight Sparkle lived in a perfect Equestria where everypony was cleanly segregated, Unicorns in major cities, Earth ponies in the outskirts and those barbaric pegasi far away from the mainland. So why did she feel that this was all ... wrong?

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Gathering Light

--------*Ω*--------

Lyra was not sure whether a Star-Swirl the Bearded Enthusiasts Club meeting at 1 a.m was her idea of a good time.

But there she was, trotting her way to Twilight's residence in the bracing night (or was it morning?) air, an icy wind biting into her coat, the first signs of winter subtly creeping everywhere. Perhaps she shouldn't have turned up in the first place – she was sorely regretting her decision. Approaching the large wooden doors of her friend's house, Lyra half-heartedly shuffled around on the welcome mat, before knocking.

"Hello? Sparkle?" she yelled. " You in there? There better be a sun-damned good reason why–"

" OOH LA LA! IT'S ZE DARLING HEARTSTRINGS!"

Jumping a little at the shock of the voice, Lyra swivelled her head, golden eyes shifting with curiosity. Finally, they rested upon a deep green silhouette waving her skinny forearms wildly around from a broken window a level above her, yelling in various degrees of bad Pranch.

"...Twilight? Is that you?"

"OUI!" The figure shouted.

Lyra paused.

"Why are you green?"

She could make out a wild grin on Twilight's shadowed face. "ALLOW ME TO LIFT YOU INTO MA MAISON! JUST LIKE A LITTLE PETITE BAGUETTE!"

"To what?"

Suddenly, she felt telekinetic energy wrap around her hoof, pulling her unsteadily into the air and locking her into her position. Twilight's. Oh no... ohnonono.But as soon as she zig-zagged upwards a good metre, the grip slipped from her body and a strange, terrifying second of falling tore her mouth into a scream, churning her stomach and flaring up her heart rate.

"OUAH, SORRY!"

Then all the air fired out of her mouth in a stream of gas as soon as the ground crushed her lungs. Scrambling up onto her hooves, Lyra ignored the sharp, stabbing pain racing up and down her body, instead choosing to glare at the giggling figure of Twilight, focusing hard on ignoring her dizziness and bright yellow dots all swirling around and around her head. The obviously drunk unicorn proceeded to pull a bottle to her mouth, before hurling it into the dark Canterlot streets below her. Lyra winced as she heard the bottle shatter. Littering is prohibited in Canterlot.

"Not funny, Sparkle! You know...ugh... ya can't hold your liquor at all," she squinted at Twilight. "Especially anti-hangover liquor."

Lyra snarled, tearing her gaze away from her drunk friend. "Forget it, I'm going home."

Turning, she immediately face-planted the ground, smashing her muzzle inwards. Howling, she felt herself rolling over, watching vague, colourful spots forming in her eyes, body filling with pain again. Falling two times in a couple of minutes was not doing any good to her. Instinctively, she reached for her muzzle, and it came away with splatters of crimson liquid. "UGH!"

She had tripped over a book.

It was tattered and old, spine half broken and pages flying about as if it had been thrown from a height. Lyra looked up at the glinting, jagged edges of Twilight's broken window. Levitating the object, she saw that the cover had Twilight's cutie mark emblazoned on it. Shaking her head, she sighed listlessly. Drunk Twilight can get pretty crazy sometimes. Honestly, I can't imagine Regular Twilight tossing a book out like that. Or well, dropping a friend from a metre for that matter.

She turned back and took a wistful look at the wildly waving Twilight.

"AU REVOIR, CHAÎNE DE COEUR!"

Ten minutes later, the journal was left at Twilight's doorsteps, freshly repaired and compiled by a mint-coloured former schoolmate of hers.

--------*☆*--------

When Twilight came to, she was vaguely surprised that she didn't feel any grogginess, fatigue, or head implosions impairing her good mood. In fact, she felt... fine. Had she drunk her only bottle of anti-hangover liquor? It sure would explain why she didn't remember the entirety of the previous night.

Oh good, I'm purple again.

Shifting a little from her current position (slumped on a bookcase), she managed to get up on all four hooves, groaning as she attempted to stretch the ache out of her bones.

Then she trod upon a shard of glass.

Twilight blinked.

Only then did she realise that there was a gaping, jagged hole in the glass of her three-storey high, floor-to-ceiling window right in front of her. Twilight blinked again. Was it caused by Sunset? But Sunset didn't come home the previous night. Or at least, Twilight thought so.

Twilight proceeded to blink so hard that she saw splinters of a golden sun within her eyelids.

The journal.

Suddenly, her encounter with Celestia exploded into her mind in full force, and every detail slipped cleanly into place – her rage, her sorrow, her reason for drinking.

But, where the hay is the journal?!

A spark ignited in her head, and a vague, half-formed memory of her hurling a book out of a window flickered, before disappearing.

It was slowly dawning on her, like the warm rays of Celestia's (unfortunately, dying) sun rising above the horizon. Twilight galloped towards the hole, hoping against hope that it was still there.

Pleasedon'tletitbegone, Pleasedon'tletitbegone, Pleasedon'tletitbegone...

The journal was gone.

Twilight stuffed a hoof into her mouth, muffling the manic scream that echoed through the air. With a pair of terribly constricted pupils, she stuck her head out, pulling half her body out of the window with it, sweeping her gaze everywhere in search of the tiny brown book.

In her precarious position, blood was rushing to her head, filling her vision with an unhealthy dose of blurriness. Some of the jagged glass edges were digging into her torso, fueling her with even more adrenaline as she shoved even more of her body out of the window, hanging upside down and frantically scanning the area.

This was it.

If she had lost the book, she was going to willingly allow the last remaining blasts of Celestia's sun fire to flay her alive, maybe even allowing the masses to desecrate her mangled corpse. Because, if she lost the book...

"Does this say that the sun is dying, or the soon is dying? " a voice asked, a pleasant lilt rising the ends of her words. " I am at least half sure that the second interpretation isn't quite correct."

Twilight's ears perked up instantly, and her limp abdomen suddenly found the strength to pull her upper half skywards. "HEY! Could you pass me the book you're reading from? I think that's mine!"

The voice seemed to be coming from downstairs. "How about ... no?"

Perhaps this was one of Sunset's aristocratic acquaintances. They all seemed to share her mean streak.

"Okay," Twilight breathed, sliding back through her window. "Maybe you don't know the importance of this book, and I'm not going to tell you anyway because it's confidential. But it was given by Princess Celestia to me with specific instructions, and whoever you are, you seem like you don't quite know how to read. This immediately takes away whatever rights you have over the book!"

The voice huffed a very familiar huff. "Fine! If you really want the book that much, come get it! I'm downstairs, and I'm sure you know who I am, darling!"

Darling.

Oh, yes indeed did she know who the mare was.

Soon, she was galloping down the stairs, skidding to a stop at the base, and dashing to the living room sofa where Little Miss Arrogant was lounging on, mop and bucket leaning to the side nearby.

"You give the book back now... or I–I'll fire you!" she threatened, panting away.

Rarity proceeded to flip nonchalantly through the pages. "You don't have to worry about me gleaning information off this book. I really can't read! Anyways, if it really were top-secret, it wouldn't have been just sitting there near your door."

Rarity leaned forward conspiratorially.

"So I want to know what exactly this is all about." She continued. "And especially why this book is one huge charm."

"A... charm?"

"Yes! Can't you sense it? Perhaps, you just need to be a little better at magic, dear. Besides, why else would I pick up a book if I can't read?"

Twilight's face was beginning to slide gradually up the scale of purpleness. She would not lose her temper, no, not to Rarity. Briefly, she considered asking about where Rarity got her knowledge of charms from if she couldn't read, before realising that it would merely make her appear even more idiotic to the cleaning mare. She would have to resolve this... diplomatically. By explaining everything.

Besides, she was a mere cleaning mare and Twilight just needed somepony to confide in. At worst, she would just have to cast a binding oath on Rarity to never tell anypony about this.

"Alright, Rarity, you win this time," Twilight sighed. "I'll tell you why I have this book in the first place, and in return, you'll help me trigger the charm in the book. Deal?"

Twilight watched as Rarity's slightly manic gaze fell upon the journal, and Twilight recognised the look: the cleaning mare was tracing the magical signature of the charm-caster.

"Deal," she replied softly.

Twilight took a deep breath and settled beside Rarity.

--------*☆*--------

Celestia sat Twilight down onto the marble floor after the revelation, leaving her panting and gazing in horror at the sun princess.

"The sun is dying?" she attempted to clarify. She knew it was wrong to obfuscate stupidity, just for the sake of siphoning more information from her mentor, but she needed to know, she needed to stop it. Somehow, Celestia must have known the solution to this, right? Her mentor always knew! Celestia was omnipotent, a goddess. This was a test, just a test. But no, she can't deny this. Her sun was dying, she was dying, WHAT WILL BECOME OF EQUESTRIA?

"Twilight Sparkle, you have to calm down," Celestia said, not unkindly.

"CALM DOWN?!"

She knew she had gone from merely looking shaken to having a full-blown panic attack. Her irises had constricted into pinpricks, and her ears were flat against her skull. Her legs were trembling, she was about to give out. She had so many questions, her head was going to explode. Be rational, be rational, handle this like a princess would, but her princess was dying.

Suddenly, Celestia rested upon her haunches in front of Twilight.

"Every problem has a solution, and so does mine. I just need you to calm down, alright?" the princess muttered level-headedly.

Twilight hated being treated like a foal, but this time, her mentor's words had soothed her. She breathed, pressing her eyelids shut to squeeze out her tears, and then placing one green forehoof over another. "Okay, tell me then. Tell me how to stop you and your sun from dying."

Gently, Celestia levitated the journal up to Twilight's eye level, flipping through the pages faster than a hummingbird's wingbeat. Finally, she rested upon a page titled "the Elements of Harmony" accompanied by a detailed quill sketch of a strange looking crystalline tree, collections of baubles hanging down its crooked branches. It had five ... fruits, if Twilight wanted to be vague, but they looked more like gemstones embedded in the branches. Even more strangely, the most attention-grabbing trait of the tree was her cutie mark, a six-pointed star bursting outwards at the centre of the tree.

She met Celestia's eye, and the only thing she managed to receive from her gaze was a twinkle of excitement glinting off her lavender irises.

"The Elements of Harmony? But they... don't they form that barrier around Equestria? Can they save your sun too?"

"Well, the book offers some explanation about the Elements, and I fear that we have been using them wrongly for the past eons," Celestia replied uncertainly. "If this Twilight Sparkle can be trusted..."

The princess proceeded to leaf idly through the pages. "But research conducted on the Elements did indeed show that they are capable of displaying the traits that Alicorn Sparkle wrote about. Though, perhaps she may be exaggerating when she mentioned about the incidents where she had utilised the Elements to blast a disturbing amount of rainbow light at her foes."

Unicorn Sparkle sagged a little. Her supposed counterpart had certainly done a lot more in her life. Wincing, she allowed a little bit of jealousy weave into her, a budding little flame of hatred beginning to burn in her heart.

"Apparently, she also occasionally referred to herself as Princess Celestia's Faithful Ex-Student, though I had never taught her in my life."

Twilight's once tiny flame raged into a wildfire. "So, are you really planning to use the Elements for your sun then? Just blast the darn thing with rainbow light to keep it alive?"

"No. The Elements can only be wielded by six ponies who each display a virtue so powerful, the gems would latch themselves to the souls of the ponies. A part of their magic would remain in the Bearers' soul, blessing their respective Bearer with power that they cannot suppress or destroy for eternity, even if they relinquish the Elements themselves. Of course, such power comes with a price. The six ponies would be forced to face foe after foe, all threatening their homeland, fighting battles to defeat or reform the enemies with their Elements. And now, the 'enemy' that the Elements have to face is the death of the sun. I am hoping, that with the power of the Elements, we can somehow save the sun, and our world."

Her fire extinguished itself. Suddenly, she felt small amidst Celestia's determined gaze, her magenta eyes sweeping around the room and blazing with such a burning passion that the student suddenly shrank to the size of an ant. "Oh..."

"And what I'd like for you to do, Twilight, is to help me to gather the Elements. Refer to the journal. Learn its secrets, " Celestia instructed. "Get to know the other Twilight Sparkle."

Slowly, as if unwilling to part with the book, her mentor passed the book to Twilight. "Do not drop the book again."

Twilight nodded a little, before enveloping the book with her purple magic. Celestia gazed at her as she hesitantly leafed through the pages, fully aware that the princess was looking over her shoulder.

"And so, I'm not allowed to return to you until I discover the journal's secrets? Why?" she asked, bitterly.

"So that I know that you have changed. The discovery of the journal's secrets would help you along the way, help to band together the Elements of Harmony."

"And how would you know that I have discovered its secrets?"

Celestia's eyes turned vacant in thought. "When you return with true friends."

--------*♢*--------

" – And so I went straight home, got drunk in my misery and threw the book out of my window in a fit, where you found it," The mare rasped, before coughing a little. "Now, I think I need some water..."

Rarity could only blink strangely at the lavender-coated unicorn. And then a creeping awareness came back to her. She closed her gaping mouth. She wasn't sure what to think of this. Her mind had ceased to function.

The tension hanging in the air was almost palpable, morphing into something resembling awkwardness. She glimpsed at the mare, whose expression was completely unreadable. Rarity had to say something, fast. Gain some leverage. Paper over the awkwardness.

"So, what's your name?" she blurted out, a nervous grimace coming over her countenance.

Beautiful job, Rarity.

The mare's eyes widened, jaw hanging in shock. "Is that the first question you ask a pony when they reveal something like that to you? And more importantly, you mean you still don't know who I am?"

"Er..." – Rarity chose not to answer the first question – "I really don't know your name."

"B-but the insults? The snarking? What?"

"Darling, I do that to any Canterlot noble I meet, just to mess with them," Rarity chuckled. "Especially those who register for cleaning services under the name of Celestia, and then forget all about registering for cleaning services!"

She remembered spitting out her drink when her supervisor told her who signed up for their cleaning service. Originally, she was rather excited to take up cleaning 'Celestia's' residence, mainly because she had wanted to meet the princess impersonator in real life, hoping that she would be a rather... interesting pony, preferably an intrepid, down-to-earth unicorn who enjoyed fashion and books on the side. Turned out that what she got was a humourless Canterlot Noble who only registered under the name of Celestia to receive the best of cleaning services. Her supervisor managed to get him arrested for impersonation.

Then, a couple of months later, they had received an actual letter from Princess Celestia (Embarrassingly, her supervisor had had to read the letter out to her, as if she were a foal) telling her to offer her cleaning services to a house. This house. Obviously, she had burst in, cannons blazing and ready to insult the homeowner so hard that they would immediately fire her. She was so tired of stuffy nobles who viewed themselves as worthy of every good thing in the world. They had, after all, reduced her to nothing more than the mudwater unicorn who spoke with a poisoned tongue and a sharp accent that they all viewed her as. Nothing but an empty shell of who she used to be. But the feisty mudwater was her identity now, and her routine.

But now, her world has been thrown into a tailspin. She could almost imagine Equestria breaking down into utter chaos if new of the dying sun gets out. In her world of secrets and lies, Twilight's brutal truth nearly made her nauseous.

Rarity's train of thought derailed and crashed into a gorge as the unicorn before her cleared her throat.

"Anyways, my full name is Twilight Velvet Sparkle III, and I am the daughter of Twilight Comet Velvet and Night Light, sister of Shining Armour, and I can tell you my entire family line all the way up to Clover the Clever. So, please, don't doubt my lineage."

Upon saying then, Twilight seemed to wilt, as if bracing herself for more insults or questions. She looked as if she had faced instances where another Canterlot noble really had forced her to recite her entire family line.

Perhaps she should skip teasing Twilight about this. In the end, perhaps this tiny, mulberry-hued scholar was different from the rest of the aristocrats.

"Alright then," – Rarity shrugged – "Hello, Twilight."

Twilight blinked in shock. She seemed to do that a lot, actually.

"You – of all ponies – aren't gonna question my lineage?"

"Well, after all, I'm just your humble cleaning mare. I couldn't care less about whether you're related to a great magician or not," Rarity replied as nonchalantly as she could. She was, in fact, interested that Twilight had descended from Clover the Clever, but she shoved her questions right down her throat. "What I care about, however, is that you seem to be going on some epic adventure quest to save the sun!"

A blush crept along Twilight's muzzle. "Well... It's more of a fetch quest for the Princess. Y'know, get the Elements, blast it at the sun, yadda yadda... According to her, I'm already one, so I just need to get five more."

Her rapidly building mental image of a group of heroes wandering in vast plains and slaying monsters immediately shredded itself into pieces.

"Since you put it that way," Rarity huffed. "If it's a fetch quest, don't you have a main quest to tend to?"

"Er...what? I meant a fetch quest, as in a quest-like mission to fetch things for the Princess, and then be done with it. There's no main quest to this or anything! What did you think I meant?"

Rarity recalled Sweetie Belle forming her own games and playing them with her neighbours in their little hut, repeatedly sending a dirty-looking foal named Bulletin on 'Fetch Quests' to run errands for her. "Oh. Um..."

"Never mind," –Twilight levitated the book impatiently, gaining back her usual air and saving her from another awkward silence – "You promised me that you would help me trigger the book's charm?"

Rarity's lips curved into a grin. This surely was her usual territory. "With pleasure."

Seizing the book, she felt the familiar warmth of the charm within her telekinetic grip. Shutting her eyes, she slowly released her magic into the book, searching the composition of the pages for a hint of magical energy. You can do it, Rarity. Charms are your special talent, after all. Such a well-hidden spell. Where was it? It seemed like it was coming from everywhere, yet nowhere. Tenderly, she flipped the pages, weaving tendrils of her own magic into the parchment and feeling the words for magical signatures of any sort.

"Anything yet?"

"Please, do shut up Twilight."

"Sorry."

Rarity squeezed her eyes shut even tighter, almost seeing highlights of purple magic within her eyelids. Wait, they were purple highlights! Squealing, she traced her magic through the page over and over, searching for the core of the charm. Now, all she had to do was to find the magical signature of the caster and disguise her own! Gathering traces of the caster, she imagined sewing a patchwork quilt of purple magic together, carefully draping her own pale blue magic with the disguise, before allowing the charm to siphon her disguised tendril of magic. Any moment now...

You're not Twilight Sparkle.

Screaming, Rarity leapt away from the book, forcefully severing the connection and causing an electric blue mushroom cloud to bloom within her head, obscuring her vision with brilliantly vibrant mist. She impacted upon something hard, blinking rapidly as the fog intensified, clouding her sight with more and more blue until nothing was left.

"RARITY!"

And then all sound faded out.

Suddenly, she felt Twilight coming upon her, cradling her head. There was a silence for a while as Rarity's heart filled with mounting panic. A faint point of gleaming pink emerged out of the blue, and the fog seemed to dissipate around the focal point, clearing a corona of light for Rarity to see and hear out of.

" –Never thought a backfiring charm could be so serious, for heck's sake, your eyes turned brilliant blue, pupils and all! Did you even remember to disguise your– "

"Twilight, your book can talk. It wants you, and specifically you, to unlock the charm. "

Rarity shifted her eyes in order to capture Twilight withing her slowly expanding range of vision, only to see Twilight with her horn still ignited and jaw slack. "The charm in your book appeared powerful enough to keep itself well-hidden within the fibres of parchment and was fully capable of recognising my magical signature beneath the disguise. It then decided to unceremoniously throw me out of the connection. Don't worry too much, however, the magical signature of the charm seemed to be a slightly altered version of yours anyway, so you shouldn't have too much of an issue. "

She could now see and hear everything, despite a couple of blue spots in her vision. Blinking rapidly, she focused her gaze on Twilight, who looked thoroughly confounded.

"Thank you for clearing the backfire, by the way. I would have turned blind if it weren't for your spell," Rarity muttered hesitantly.

Honestly, her heart was still pounding from the strength of the charm, nearly threatening to leap out of her chest cavity.

"Well, don't thank me. The usual spell should take less than a second to completely clear the fog, but I can't cast the entirety of that spell, with my defective magic and all, so..." –Twilight shook her head– "Anyway, you can leave if you want. If what you said earlier about the charm was true, I think I'll just unlock it myself."

"Nonsense! I'm staying here, " Rarity snapped resolutely, resting upon her haunches. "There has to be a reason why the charm is so well-guarded and so I want to see what spell it's hiding."

"Okay then, if you say so," Twilight replied, arching her eyebrows. "Anything else I should know about the charm before I try to trigger it?"

Rarity thought for a moment, recreating her few moments of connection within her mind. She bit her lip. "Well... yes actually. It seemed intelligent, and I think that by activating it, it would allow access to a lot more hidden charms in the pages. It is somewhat of a Gateway Amulet. And, um, by the way, there is a very, very high chance that Alicorn Twilight was the one who cast that charm, from the looks of the signature."

"Yeah, yeah, since she's so great and all," Twilight sighed bitterly. "Seriously, is there anything she didn't do?"

"Ramble jealously about her alicorn counterpart, perhaps."

The seething purple unicorn before her shot her a glare and proceeded to light her horn, pointing it at the journal. Then, she closed her eyes, and a tiny arcane circle on the page flared to life, rotating slowly. Rarity gazed upon the sight with slight curiosity. She had never seen a charm so powerful that it actually manifested on the container itself.

"Come on...come on..." Rarity heard Twilight whisper, watching as the unicorn's horn glowed brighter and brighter.

ACCESS GRANTED. MAIN CHANNEL LOG ACTIVE. WELCOME, TWILIGHT SIXLE, TO THE MAIN CHANNEL LOG. YOU HAVE FIVE KEYS LEFT TO FIND. RARITHREE ATTEMPTED TO ACCESS THE MAIN CHANNEL WITHOUT KEY 3: ACCESS DENIED. UNKNOWN-36 PRECEDED REPAIRS FOR CHARM NUMBERS 33, 74, 342 AND OTHER PHYSICAL DAMAGE: NO ACCESS TO MAIN CHANNEL REQUESTED. BACKUP 2,491,519,250 INITIATED.

Twilight disconnected , blinking rapidly as she backed away from the charm, which had gone silent.

"Did you hear that? What was it? And it said all of that garbage in some demented version of your voice!" Rarity squealed, eyeing suspiciously at the journal.

A hungry light filled Twilight's eyes as she tapped her hoof on her chin.

"Judging by what it said, it is a log charm. I've even got somepony to cast it on my Star-Swirl the Bearded Enthusiasts Record Book some time ago! It records all of the activities performed on the object for the day each time it is touched, as a safety measure."

Rarity approached the journal, processing the information about log charms. She supposed that it is a classic example of the Canterlot Upperclass style of things: great technologies and spells created just to benefit the aristocrats.

"Except usually, they don't talk out aloud, and they definitely don't assign weird names to each pony (Sixle, Rarithree and Unknown-36? Seriously?). But for this particular log charm, I think it's placed really powerful, and in addition, placed on another complex spell grid... the main channel thingy." Twilight rambled, scurrying closer to the book. "In that case, I think we did activate the charm! And judging that there are more than 342 charms in this book alone, you were right, the log charm also doubled as a Gateway Amulet."

"Well, then, I'm just going to... ah, play along," –Rarity managed a wan smile– "What now?"

"We open the journal and try to trigger every darn charm in its pages," Twilight suggested. "This book is probably more potent than all the talisman-cored heat generators throughout Northern Manehattan combined, and we should try to know as much as we can. Only then can we start gathering the Elements of Harmony. I have a feeling that there's more to the Elements than simply gathering six ponies together to have a fun time. If only Princess Celestia could have been more specific..."

"We?" Rarity asked, tentatively. She could hardly believe her ears.

"Yeah. We. You've helped a lot so far, and maybe you can help even more," Twilight continued smoothly, her expression as smooth and flat as glass. "Keep in mind, though. This isn't an offer for friendship. We'll just form a mutual alliance in trying to unlock all the journal's charms, and you'll help me with finding all the bearers of the Elements of Harmony. In return, I will give you a share of bits from the Royal Treasury and erase your status as a mudwater."

Her heart sank. She could believe her ears. The above proposal was hardly warm or inviting, but Rarity smiled anyway. "I agree to your proposal."

With that, Twilight's face broke into the most relieved smile that Rarity had ever seen. "Thanks. Official alliance?"

The unicorn's right forehoof was stuck out. Rarity reached out too, hooking her limb in a hoof shake and hoping that her smile reached her eyes. For the second time that day, she struck a deal. "Official alliance."

--------*♛*--------

You wear your heavy crown of black, and sit upon the throne of might,

She slammed her hoof onto the table, eyes watering as she leaned backwards, dry pills slithering their way down her throat. They left an intense bitterness in her mouth and throat, almost burning her taste buds with the thickness of the herbs. Then the pain started. "Shit. Shit!"

"Ma'am! Ma'am, do you need some water?"

The servant skittered towards her, offering a glass of clear water. She shook her head, shutting her eyes to alleviate the pounding headache that was crawling its way around in her head, writhing snakes of agony which refused to abate. This servant was new, wasn't he?

"No! It's perfectly fine!" she managed to grunt, flashing a nervous grin at the trembling earth pony stallion. No, not a stallion. He was still very much a colt, one at the cusp of adolescence.

A silver cape of nighttime, woven with shattered starlight,

The colt nearly dropped the water. He fumbled a little, attempting to stabilise the cup atop his hoof before sparing a hasty bow, rushing right out her office. With that, her grin faded, and she collapsed on the carpeted ground, feeling the impact replacing her previous pain with a new one.

New pain was always better.

And then, as per usual, she heaved and threw up a mouthful of fluids, staining her mouth with a strange combination of bitterness and the metallic slickness of her blood. Eyeing her vomit, she groaned. Rolling over, she forced a telekinetic grip onto her own belly, and the rest of her stomach's contents emptied itself out, along with the two black pills of poison. With quiet satisfaction, she got back up, shivering with glee as her headache slowly ebbed away. Tomorrow, she would have to do this again, though. And the next day. And the day after. An eternity of daily pain and vomiting.


She had done this for so long that even the original reason for this daily routine was long lost to her.

But that's alright. She would go through her round of pills, sit through work, then go through her pain again. She would never break her routine.

Never.

Ever.

But in the end, you sing your song, left broken, Gathering Light.

Author's Note:

Next chapter: At the Crux

Expect lots of Sunset