• 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 Days Before Nightmare Night

The diary of Glory of House Galaxy

Is this what I wanted?

Northwind and Brome assure me that things are proceeding as intended. They say these are the birthing pains of a better world for us all.

At first it was exciting — scheming behind the scenes, gathering gossip, playing Houses against one another to turns things our way — but little by little this has all become something more than a game. Something worrisome and stressful. Everypony is so tense, now. The air is charged, as though the Pegasi are withholding a storm. Nopony speaks casually, every step and move is measured. Every idle chat is a duel. Gardenia Glow’s so busy maneuvering that she’s scarcely ever in. I’m only getting my hair done three times a week, and I can hardly trust a stranger to do it, now can I?

The latest gossip says a whole kingdom in the North has been blasted off the face of the world. Was that because of us? Did somepony resort to forbidden war-magic because of all these plans within plans and schemes within schemes? Nopony seems to have any details, and it’s frustrating. And even worse, the loss of the Canterlotter diplomats present made several weeks of scheming fall right onto the rubbish tip.

I just wanted to follow my Cutie Mark, Diary! I was born to serve on a Council. I know it in my soul! That’s all I’ve ever longed for. My entire education and upbringing groomed me and prepared me to take my rightful place.

My Uncle and the Princesses are to blame for all this mistrust and chaos and politicking. If they hadn’t gone and changed everything, if things had stayed normal and right and good, I could be raising the Sun right now. Perhaps even that beastly Discord came calling because they gathered so much personal magic. Why, for all we know, Celestia and Luna could have called forth the Windigos themselves, to send us scampering forth under their hooves! It would have been meagre fare as far as schemes go, compared to the webs we’ve woven trying to oust them.

Yes. It’s clear. Laying things out for you has helped, Diary. We can’t stop now, even if I do have to let my favourite baker go because he’s the cousin of House Nebula’s heir. Everything we’re going through now is the Princesses’ fault, and unless we bring them down, they will never see punishment for it.

I must simply endure, for the greater good.

• • • • •

The private journal of Princess Celestia

Luna’s stopped coming out of her room at all, now.

She refuses food, and screams insults and accusations through the door whenever a hoofmaiden tries to beg her to reconsider. I know she’s suffering, but she’s also so angry — raging at our subjects, at me, and at herself.

I can’t stop thinking about what Sombra’s hex showed me. The magic is holding, keeping me awake even now, but I still see it sometimes. My mind wanders, and it’s like it’s happening again. Luna goes mad, and nothing I say can stop it. She tries to do something terrible, and I —


It’s three hours of afternoon court later, now, and I still feel anxious even thinking about it. No matter what she did, I could never do that. I just couldn’t. Could I? I’m shaking as I walk to another late lunch that will taste like ashes because of the magic sizzling in my nerves. I couldn’t. Not even to save every other Pony in the world. Never.

Please, make these thoughts stop. It’s not fair that I’ve stayed awake so long to escape these nightmares, only for them to slip into my mind anyway. Please, make it stop! Stop! I can’t! No matter what!

I can’t kill my sister. I can’t. Never! Never never never —


I have to go. It’s crowded in the grand hall, and looking back at these words, they look like the scrawlings of a madpony. Did I even write them? Perhaps I should tear out this page and burn it. If anypony saw this —

I have to go.

• • • • •

Gardenia Glow’s notebook

On a bed of clouds, a dozen castles’ height above Canterlot Mountain, everypony looks like teeming ants.

This is my first evening off in a fortnight, and I want to remember this feeling. Who knows how long it’s been since a Unicorn has seen a view like this? This cloud-walking spell I dug up dates back to ancient times. And more’s the pity.

Up here, looking down on it all — nobles, commoners, Princesses, paupers — you can see that nothing really matters in the end.

That came out wrong. It’s a warm thought, it really is. I can’t imagine how Pegasi manage to be so fearsome, with these views. Up here, you can see that all the squabbles and plots come out the same in the end. All these schemes won’t buy us one more day outside a tomb. We could be filling our lives with harmony and friendship. We could sing.

None of this is getting onto paper properly. Damn it all, not even looking over at him as he dozes is helping. It’s so clear in my head. In my heart. This feeling. I look down at our tiny little mountain, and nopony’s putting importance on anything important. Everypony’s rushing and scrambling to do nothing real. They’re working their hardest at hardly anything at all.

Heavens above, that was even worse. Just try to remember this, when you’re back down in less thin air. Remember this feeling. Remember looking down on it all, with his chest hot on your back. Down there, in the anthill. Remember, you silly lovestruck filly.

Remember.

• • • • •

Vanilla Custard’s Book of Gratitudes

O Dam of my Dam, O High-Kicking Filly, I thank You.

I thank You for opening my eyes to the decadence and blasphemy of my old life at Sweet Cream Estate. I know now that my comfort and ease came at too high a price.

I thank You for guiding me to Your faithful, who are like a new family to me. I have so many brothers and sisters, now. The young ones aren’t afraid to ask me for help at any hour of the day, and the elders all have so much advice to give me. So very much.

I thank You for giving me the strength to turn my back on blind, unhearing heretics like Puddinghead. Without You, I would still be in that fallen Pony’s home.

O Dam of my Dam, O Heavy-Bellied Mare, I thank You.

I thank You for Brome and her inspiring sermons. Whenever I begin to doubt, whenever I have uneasy questions, her words help keep me on Your sacred path. She has so much presence, sometimes it’s almost frightening.

I thank You for the songs and dances we share. Unclothed and unshod, as we should be, the exercise helps keep us all warm.

I thank You for our simple, natural fare at mealtimes. Who needs cakes and pies when Your great bounty is laid out before us, there for the grazing?

O Dam of my Dam, O Wise-Eyed Nag, I thank You.

• • • • •

Personal correspondence, from Star Swirl the Bearded to Whom it may Concern

It is said that some horrors are sights one cannot unsee.

It is true that bearing witness brings a burden under which some become crushed. It is true that terrible sights leave some blasted and hollowed, staring through the world into the nothingness beyond it. It is true that some bystanding Ponies suffer almost as badly as the victims they watch.

There is more to that phrase than the sufferings of the witnesses, however. Sights that cannot be unseen. For just as the unwitting and unwilling watcher cannot consent to what he sees, neither can the sight refuse to be seen. The damage is done.

I have seen so very much in my relatively short life. More than anypony else could have. I have arrogantly stepped beyond the reach of my years, and my hoofbeats upon history yet to be written have stirred and clouded the waters of the flowing river.

It is coming. The moment that swore me off further wanderings through time. The sight I cannot unsee.

Will it be as I saw it? Has the future been written? Or has the muddied river of time found a different course?

I am not the stallion who stepped hence and saw. I have not acted as I otherwise might have. Things have changed. But have I actually altered the course at all — or ensured that it comes to pass?

The Sisters have already seen so much. So much they can never unsee. And the worst may yet be to come.

I swear to all that’s holy, if I only had the power I would spare them from it. But I haven’t. I cannot save them. Just as I could not save Clover. I am just a sad old magus, weighed down by boastful bells and shameful memories and sights I can never, ever unsee.

I implore you, the one who finds this — no matter the library wing and the spellbooks, no matter my legacy, remember this about Star Swirl the Bearded:

In the end, I was neither wise, nor powerful, nor quick-witted enough to save the ones I cared about the most.

Star Swirl

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