• 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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One Month Before The Vanishing

Personal Correspondence, from Vanilla Custard to Chancellor Puddinghead

Dear Puddinghead,

I’m not coming home, so don’t bother asking me to.

You told me we’re living in a great new homeland. You said we’re free from the monsters and free to live happy lives. You said everypony can follow their Cutie Marks in peace. But now I know those were all lies.

Nothing is any better now than it was in the old country. We’re still being exploited, only now instead of Pegasi and Unicorns, the ones doing the exploiting are false idols with wings AND horns. Unnatural things that will never die, never go back to the good earth.

You collect goods and gold from hardworking, honest Earth Ponies and give it to the Alicorns. You watch the Princesses take the Unicorns’ purpose away and leave them lazy and corrupt. You let them stunt the conquering reach of the Pegasi so they take out their aggression on us. You’ve fallen from the true path. There isn’t peace among the Three Tribes — we’ve just all been enslaved together!

Just because I’m your foal, it doesn’t mean I will let you lead me astray. The Thrice-Blessed Mare will smile on me in life, and guide me wisely, and accept me when my time comes. If you don’t change your ways, that will never happen for you. For you, there’ll just be nothing.

There is a rite on the night of the New Moon, in the eastern pasture-lands. If you want to be a part of my life, then cast off your shoes and trappings and join us there. Honour the Dam of your Dam, skyclad under the stars. If you show up, we can be a family again.

If you don’t, consider this goodbye.


Vanilla

• • • • •

Personal Correspondence, from King Sombra to Princess Luna

My beloved Princess of the Night,

I composed this reply the very moment I received your missive. This flame-sending is truly a blessing — it allows us to stay in touch instantly, even when we are apart! I have learned so much amazing magic from you, my dear.

I am so pleased to hear that you laid down the law with your elder sister. Power only respects power, and now that you have displayed yours, I am sure Celestia will back down. She doesn’t understand you. She doesn’t understand us. Her precious light blinds her. She could never know the secrets and pleasures of the shadows as we have.

Your latest gift just arrived — a thousand thanks, my darling. You are helping me transform my Empire into a worthy testament to the beauty and splendour of the night. The mysteries of the Crystal Heart are within my grasp, I can feel it. Your love and devotion have shown me the way. Soon its power will be mine, and the whole world will come to know the majesty of the night!

We’re so close, my love. I just need a few more. Perhaps double this last shipment? You’ve been so generous, so caring. I know I can trust you to see this through.

To the nameless depths with any who do not recognize your worth, beloved. They mean nothing. As far as I am concerned, you are the only Princess that Equestria needs.

When next the Black Moon would rise, let it lie — your day-loving sister will not notice if you leave it to slumber and spend those dark, delightful days by my side. Stay with me then, my Princess of the Night. I cannot bear our constant partings much longer. Stay with me. We will bask in the wonders of the dark together until the crescent calls.

Yours, ever faithful,


Sombra

• • • • •

Gardenia Glow’s notebook

REMINDER — Young Lady Glory’s new dress will be ready on the sixth of the month. Tell new seamstress about what House Scintilla’s heir did then. She’ll tell everypony.

NOTE — Candle Glow is working for Young Lady Glory’s second cousin Sunbeam of House Majesty. Who is her Dam? Sunbeam is too young to have a grown filly already, even one Glow-born. Maybe Gossip that she’s Celestia’s? Possible double benefit there if we can pin down real Dam and apply pressure. Let Young Lady know about this.

REMINDER — Seashell has some Earth business on the New Moon, and Brome will be busy then, too. Reschedule Young Lady’s meeting, and call in different hoofmaiden to prepare Young Lady’s bath on those nights.

REMINDER — Check on moon's-breath bushes, press more ripe berries in the dark-room. Double-check curtains.

IMPORTANT — Northwind visits in three days. Have that herbal wing balm ready by then. He’ll want a massage after his long flight. Ask him about wars, Pegasi love talking about wars. And get mane done before then, too. Older Pegasi like a short mane. No perfume, though. Rainwater rinse, maybe? He’d like that for sure.

NOTE — House Nebula is inviting Princesses to the next ball. Luna won’t come because she’s never available in the evenings. Gossip to the Lady’s maid that Luna doesn’t want to come? Sunbeam isn’t invited because of the thing with the Young Lord last fall. Gossip to Candle Glow that Celestia took her place on the guest list?

V. IMPORTANT — Zebra diplomats in Canterlot next week. Find out who they are staying with, and who is serving them. Can’t let things go smoothly.

REMINDER — Minister of Agriculture visiting the House soon. Get favourite tea. Keep cat away — allergies. Listen for reactions to pressure from Pegasi.

• • • • •

The private journal of Princess Celestia

Luna and I had a fight tonight.

We almost never speak these days, and I finally found out why:

She has a lover.

She said he’s the ruler of the Empire in the North — has she really been there every time I’ve looked for her and failed to find her? It would take up nearly her every waking hour just making the trips, even with magic!

The servants have been worried, too. She’d made so much progress, but now she’s been scarier than ever! I almost didn’t find out about it, too. The poor maids have been so frightened that they haven’t said a word. I had to corner one and demand answers, and even then she panicked so badly that it took nearly an hour to get her to calm down and confess her fears.

And then there’s the matter of the mines. I’ve gotten reports of whole veins of crystal being dug out by night crews, but none of the storehouses or laboratories have gotten any extra deliveries. Has Luna been trading with the Empire without telling me?

I tried to ask her those questions, and more. It was so rare for us to meet up that I had to rush things. I pressed her. I had to try and understand. And she—

She screamed at me. She used the Royal Canterlot Voice, roaring as loud as a Dragon. She said I envied her. She said I wanted to take her stallion away. Her magic blazed so hard that it actually knocked me over! She took off after that. I got up and followed her.

She flew to the greenhouse. She hovered above it, and shouted again. She kept using the Voice — her words echoed off the towers. She told me that the night belongs to her. She told me to stay out of her business.

And then she blasted the greenhouse to smithereens.

I can see the smouldering ruins from my window now, as I write this by hornlight. All I can smell is the stink of burnt night-blooms.

What should I do? We’d almost recovered after Discord, and now everything’s coming apart. The courtiers have been squabbling so much lately, the Pegasi are invoking laws that date back centuries, it seems like every farming town is up in arms over something, and now this.

I was so focused on Luna that I’ve let Equestria slip into this terrible state. If I keep trying to fix things with the Unicorns and Pegasi and Earth Ponies now, will Luna get worse? She’s never around, and it would take so much time to follow her to the Empire. How can we mend things? This distance between us hurts so much. What if I can’t be a good sister and a good Princess at the same time?

No. I have to try. I’ll send a messenger to find out more about the Empire and its King. I’ll sleep less, and find the time to keep an eye on Luna. I’ll see to all these crises and settle them as best I can. I have to. Everypony’s depending on me.

I can’t let them down.

• • • • •

Personal Correspondence, from Senator Gale to General Firefly

Hail, General Firefly.

According to my research, the Praetor was right. The Lex Pluvia was never rescinded, only left unenforced. After the Demon’s attack, we have every right to invoke it once more. It’s obvious that Equestria is not as clear-skied as it had seemed after the defeat of the Windigos. Dangers remain, and we can’t become complacent.

The Unicorns see only themselves, and the Earth Ponies’ toil keeps them distracted. If we have to maintain a vigil while also managing the rains and snows, it’s only fair that we demand a proper tithe. The rapacity that some of our number showed before the Hearth’s Warming was counterproductive, but that doesn’t mean we should labour without reward.

If the farmers and gardeners among the Earth Ponies and the vintners and herbalists among the Unicorns can’t grasp the simple idea of honest pay for honest work, then let a dry spell teach them the value of a raindrop.

I know you have trained some of the tribe’s best warriors, Firefly — put them to use now in helping us keep Equestria safe from its enemies. Before the next moon, I want to see golden grounder wheat piled high on our silver clouds.


Fly swift and true, friend.


Gale