• Published 19th Apr 2016
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Ageless, or Celestia Plays Dice With the Universe - Cynewulf

The prospect of Twilight being possibly ageless like she and her sister are unnerves Celestia, and she wants to know why.

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II. Nothingness Haunts Being

Consider Celestia sleeping. She does not sleep as mortals sleep. She sleeps as only Alicorns can.

Celestia stood before the tribunal. She did not cringe. In this, as in all things, she wore a careful mask of regal indifference, of a cool and impenetrable calm.

Noonday sneered at her. Dawn simply waited impassively. Dusk smiled warmly.

“What’s the case, Noony?” Dusk asked. Her voice was Celestia’s, but twisted in ways Celestia would never have adopted. Her voice was sensual--warm, yes, but beyond merely warm--inviting.

“This court has several cases before it,” Dawn said before Noon could respond. “Moving beyond the facts regarding the Schism--”

“We could never leave it behind,” Noon said, grinding her teeth. Her voice was raw. If Dusk was like pillow talk and Dawn like the crisp correctness of science itself, Noon’s voice was heat. Every time she spoke the court around them all seemed to waver, as if it might burst into flame. “We should never forget! We should have--”

Dusk reached over and stroked Noon’s hoof. Noonday was silenced, but she glowered.

Dawn simply waited and then continued. “As it stands, this court has heard oral arguments regarding that manner many times. Specifically, we have replayed that particular proceeding…” she glanced down at her notes. “One hundred, forty seven thousand, six--”

“Plenty of times,” Dusk said with a gentle smile. “Don’t you think?”

“I think plenty of things. I was not asked to think, but to inform. The docket before this court concerns the matter of one Twilight Sparkle. I merely wished to put our current proceeding in its proper context.”

“I know you did.”

Noonday’s blinding-hot gaze settled on Dusk. “Are you quite done? I believe the counsel is going to mewl at us for awhile.”

Celestia knew that this was her cue. She took a deep breath and spoke. “May it please the court?”

Noonday snorted. “Proceed, husk.”

Celestia had heard worse spoken of her before, and did not feel the wound. “I speak on behalf of myself today in regards to the special circumstances surrounding my former student and current friend, Twilight Sparkle--”

Dusk chuckled indulgently. “She’s so wonderful. I know we’re proud of her.”

“Her progress is astounding,” Dawn agreed.

Noonday’s eyes did not leave Celestia. “She is neurotic mess given the world on a silver plate, offered apotheosis in return for trinkets! The old failures will simply be multiplied in her.”

“--and today on behalf of myself I will prove to this court that it should rule in favor of a cautious middle course.” Celestia swallowed. Noonday’s eyes had unsettled her for a thousand years. It had been different, before. But the Inner Court was a part of who and what she was. “The experiments we perform on Twilight will mostly be of a cursory nature, and it will really be more important to familiarize her with what we already know then to hope for an expansion of knowledge. This court will be reminded of the ascension of Cadance, and that the walls of her spirit were as firm and as unscaleable as any mortal pony’s. This court will also remember the effects of her examination upon Cadance.”

“Poor dear…” Dusk sighed. “Oh, I wish I didn’t.”

“It was inevitable,” Dawn said. “Counsel, would you speculate for us as to the long-reaching effects of Cadance’s own apotheosis? We refer, of course, to the revelations of her own examination.”

“Agelessness sits poorly on the spirit of the unhappy and the happy alike,” Celestia said. In truth, the things that Cadance had learned that night with Celestia had left her a sobbing ruin for two days. But in the end, hadn’t she taken it well? In the short run, yes, it had left her heartbroken and confused. In the long run? “Cadance broke through the malaise rather easily, which surprised this Court at the time.”

“Cadance was well-adjusted, optimistic, and an eternal idealist,” Noonday said in her hot, harsh voice. It reminded Celestia of fangs and burning bodies. Mostly, it reminded her of war.

It should. Noonday wore her own armor--not the simple things she wore nowadays in ceremony but her true armor. The armor of the God Empress. Nightmare Moon’s attempt to copy it had been a base parody of the power it held simply by existing. When worn? Ponies revered her now, but in the ancient days she had been a god, and for good reason. Even if she loathed it.

“You loved it,” Noonday said. “You know they were right. The fields of slaughter proved it, false face. But my question goes ahead: Cadance was well-adjusted. Our student is a neurotic mess with far too much faith in your false gestalt face. She does not have the natural defenses that Cadance has. What do you say to this?”

Celestia pursed her lips. Dawn looked at her with a flat stare over half-rimmed glasses, as if bored. Dusk smiled encouragingly, voluptuous as always. The Noonday warrior wanted blood. Her own, technically.

“I say that to call Twilight ‘nuerotic’ is not only insulting but inaccurate,” Celestia began slowly. “Twilight is given to nervousness. She is high-strung. This court--”

“Has held her in the middle of her pathetic panic attacks,” Noonday cut in.

“At last count, the record shows that we held her ourselves during or after eleven in her ten years of tutelage, and once since she was a journeymare,” Dawn supplied.

“--is well aware of just how prone she is to overreaction and self-defeating behaviors. One could argue the same of myself--”

“Your denial does you no good, Celestia,” Dusk said with sadness, her beautiful, soulful eyes themselves a blessing.

“--but Twilight has proven to be more than capable of self-improvement and self-evaluation. When offered help by myself or Cadance, Twilight learned to control her rising panic and I know that this court is proud of her efforts.”

“Do not speak for me, Great Lie,” seethed Noonday. “No shadows stand before my eyes, and I see through your silvertongue. Twilight Sparkle is dangerous.”

“I’m afraid you’re right, Celestia,” Dusk said. “But not for the reasons you think.”

Dawn: “There are several possibilities.”

And Dusk leaned in. “The Inner Court should adjourn--Luna is coming to speak with you before dawn, and we want to have tea ready. Even the warrior likes tea,” she added with a laugh.

Celestia found herself upon her bed. Her chest felt tight, and she took a long, shaky breath before rising.

When Luna arrived exactly five minutes after Celestia’s waking, she found her older sister sitting on the balcony with tea for two set out perfectly. There were even scones. It was ridiculous, but Celestia had said many times that old age took so much away that she was allowed her frivolities.

Luna sat without a greeting. The tea smelled nice, at least.

“It’s a lovely night,” Celestia said, her voice soft.

“Yes, it is.”

“I must thank you. The sun is riding me hard, and I was spared it’s quest for the night by your timely intervention.”

“Why am I not surprised to hear you say that, dearest sister?” Luna asked, and with a heavy sigh took the cup allotted her and poured tea. She stared down at it. “I prefer coffee.”

“Coffee is terrible.”

“Tea is pretense with added water.”

Celestia smirked, but did not turn. “That was a blow well struck. You should remember that one.”

“I do not keep score as much, these days.” A pause. “Mostly because it is so boring to be yet again reminded how woefully lacking you are. I enjoy the advantage. It pleases me more to imagine you might one day outdo me in wit.”

“Now you’re overselling it. Never overexert yourself,” Celestia chided without an ounce of real emotion.

“Sister, I know how this conversation will proceed, but love compels me. Will you not speak of the trials?”

“I am not sure what to speak of.”

Luna bit her lip and considered her avenue of attack. “I was… not with you, when our…” Her hesitation was nauseating, but hard to overcome. “Our niece. I was not present for her trial, and so I confess that I may yet be ignorant. I was under the impression that it was harmless.”

“Oh, physically? It is completely harmless. A tickle,” Celestia added with another smirk. “Cadance cried for two days straight. I remember the difficulty of covering for her--she’d torn one of Shining Armor’s letters to shreds in her panic. The poor colt leapt to the obvious conclusion when she did not write him back.”

Luna’s brow furrowed. “I believe I am missing something.”

“You are. Ascension is…” Celestia swallowed. “I am ashamed,” she said, her voice suddenly small. “I want to make this about Twilight, but it is about me.” She shuddered, and when Luna tried to prompt her, she would say no more.

Author's Note:

Chapter title is from Sartre but he's dead so no one cares which book