• Published 29th Mar 2016
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A New Age - SaddlesoapOpera

Long, long ago, the Royal Pony Sisters Celestia and Luna defeated Discord, and almost everypony was relieved. Almost everypony.

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Three Months Before The Vanishing

Praetor Northwind’s memoirs

The rescued Earth mare spoke at last tonight, nearly two months after I’d found her. She has almost fully recovered from her ordeal, having returned to the rugged build and robust vitality of her kind.

She told me her name is Brome, and from the way she spoke she is what passes for a Spear-Sage among the grounded folk. There was reverent wisdom in her words. We discussed the state of the nation, and she agreed that the populace’s complacent blindness to danger had allowed the Demon to wreak the havoc he did.

When Brome explained the origins of the relics the Alicorns had used in defeating Discord, my worries about those two were confirmed. They faced a single national peril, their first, and they resorted to plundering a sacred site to overcome it. The ancient magic in those wild woods was what drew ponykind to these lands, she said.

To what terrible extremes might the Sisters go when confronted with the next danger? Would they cast down the temples of Eyrie Peak? Dive down and rob the hidden Sea Folk of their blessed Pearl?

The honour in warfare comes from defending cloud and kin. True warriors spill their own blood and their foes’, that the innocent might stay whole. The Alicorns’ destructive tactics could leave our nation naught but storm-scarred skies under a blasted waste. If Celestia and Luna lack the strength to defend us with their own power, then why have we ceded rulership to them? If they lack the wisdom and grace to spare holy ground, how can we trust them to speak for us?

We claimed this land together, three tribes as one, without their aid. Our greatest heroes banished the Windigos with not an Alicorn among them.

If Brome and I see the truth of matters, others must as well. She is well enough to travel, now — we will set out at dawn for Canterlot Mountain, and seek out allies among the Unicorns.

Three tribes united to settle this land. Now we shall do so again to reclaim it.

• • • • •

The secret diary of Princess Luna

Sombra surprised me today, Diary.

He confessed to me that he wasn’t born to royal blood of the Crystal Empire in the North. He said there was a revolution, and the old line was pushed out. Sombra stepped in to keep the peace just a few years ago, and his subjects have insisted he stay in power. He said that he held this back because he was ashamed of the trouble in his homeland, compared to the peace and harmony created by we Alicorns.

I felt as though there was more to the story than he let on, so I shared our own recent troubles in dealing with the Demon, Discord. No land is perfect, I told him.

Happily, he respected my honesty and opened up further. He said the rebellion spread a lot of anger and bitterness, and some Ponies wouldn’t listen to reason. He said that sometimes, to make a level foundation to build a strong future on, one has to break down, not just build up.

He said that sometimes you get more respect if you’re not just loved, but feared as well.

And although I haven’t seen many servants on my visits, I have to admit that they love him and fear him. Nopony questions him. They all do whatever he says, without delay. They bow and scrape and praise him, obeying so quickly and quietly that we barely even lay eyes on them. And the Crystal Empire is beautiful and peaceful and full of powerful magic. The open skies are so cloudless and the towers and spires reflect my starry nights so perfectly that it’s like the whole empire was made just for me.

Have I been looking at things the wrong way, back home? Would the court respect me more if I made them MORE scared, not less? Would Celie? After all, isn’t that what mature mares do — take charge?

When there’s time in our schedules, maybe I’ll have a firmer talk with Celie.

• • • • •

The diary of Glory, Young Lady of House Galaxy

I finally understand my Uncle, Diary.

Even though we haven’t spoken in weeks, not since before the … unpleasantness … things have changed. And irony of ironies, it’s all thanks to that dead and buried half-blood.

You see, Mother sent me to clean out Clover’s laboratory one floor down from Star Swirl’s. Can you imagine? Me! Tidying and boxing somepony’s personal effects like some commoner hoofmaiden! Mother insisted, though. She said it would show generosity and character, and that it was important to smooth things over with Uncle. Honestly, I can’t imagine why he was so upset over the library naming. Mother and Auntie saved him from making a horrendous mistake.

But I digress.

Once I’d hurried through the unwholesome task of magicking Clover’s frumpy vestments into a bag for burning, I happened upon a collection of her notes. Well, since nothing she’d learned could have been new to Uncle, and she left no heir, and her dirt-poor kin have no family prestige nor interest in spellcraft, I decided to take possession of the folios as my House’s property.

Within those crudely written pages, I came to realize my Uncle’s plans.

Time is like a flowing river, not a woven cord. That is the key. With foreknowledge of the future, it becomes possible to spoil a victory by pursuing it. Events unfold as they are meant to, like the scenes of a stage-play, and trying to reveal the ending too soon ruins the production. At last, I understand.

Everything my Uncle has done has been for a reason. All of the things that have so obsessed me, all of his cruelty and unfairness, all of my dashed hopes and crushed dreams — it’s all been for the sake of the play. It was not yet time for me to stand centre-stage.

But now, now I see. As I look over these notes, as I study these spell-diagrams, everything makes sense — even the mysterious, hooded Unicorn mare who gave me the library plans. I am fate’s foal. I am the daughter of destiny.

I am the culmination of House Galaxy’s greatness, tempered by my tribulations and strengthened by my suffering. My Marks drive me to work wonders, and at long, long last, I can soothe their maddening urgings. Everything happens for a reason, Diary. Everything. My moment is coming, I can feel it.

Nothing will stand in my way!

• • • • •

Personal correspondence, from Young Lord Almandine to Lord Chrysoprase

Dear Father,

Why aren’t we fighting anymore?

Just a few days ago, you said that Sombra was a madpony! You said his magic was tainted, that it could corrupt the whole Empire — the whole WORLD! There were many Ponies who felt the same way. Those who wanted to resist his rule. I know, I saw them! I stayed up before bed and peeked in on your meeting. I know you were planning to confront the King.

But now… nopony is saying anything. Nopony is doing anything. You haven’t been back to the manor for days. You just hide in the chalet, away from the crystal aura, out in the cold. What happened to make you flee like that? Nopony was hurt. Everypony is still around. They aren’t the same, though. None of you are. It’s like you’re just shadows of the brave Crystal Ponies I’ve always looked up to.

Uncle Jasper was my crystaller. You and he have more courage than anypony I’ve ever known. And now he’s as empty and quiet and cowardly as you are. What happened to you?

What did Sombra do to you?

• • • • •

Personal correspondence, from Brome the Exile to Glory of House Galaxy

Dear Lady Glory,

I know this contact is unsolicited, but please do not punish the servant who delivered this missive. She said you would be able to understand that we act for the greater good. Read on, and you will soon understand. You see, young Lady, my fellows and I stride a grand and sacred path toward a destiny of crucial import — one which you can share with us.

This land faces a fearsome threat, and driven, powerful and resourceful Ponies like yourself are desperately needed to combat it. Sadly, the Three Tribes sit now under the oppressive shadow of a Demonic presence. Not the Spirit of Chaos, whose terrors were so naked and blatant, but the more seductive and duplicitous beasts who struck him down: the Alicorn Sisters.

By claiming the sunrise and sunset with their unholy arts, they have taken away the life's work of many. By stealing ancient relics in order to bind Discord, they have forced us to trade torment for blasphemy. By towering above us in their gaudy and chimerical perfection, mingling all three tribes at once, they are no less obscene than the mismatched fiend they cast down.

For Equestria to truly be free, for us to live as the Thrice-Blessed Mare decrees, and for the Three Tribes to coexist in harmony... Celestia and Luna must be dethroned. The Earth Ponies tend the ground. The Pegasi shepherd the skies. We must return the stewardship of the heavens above to the Unicorns, and restore the balance. And we need your help to do so.

This missive was written with the juice of moon's-breath berries — these words will fade to nothing within minutes now that you have exposed them to light. All that will remain will be the knowledge that you have the chance to make a difference. An opportunity to set things right. If you are willing to accept this sacred calling, follow the road down Canterlot Mountain to the lowlands, and enter the blessed forest by the eastern path come moonrise tonight. We will await you there.

We have much to discuss.