• 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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VI. We the Fatherless, Lords in High Towers

Celestia walked in the gardens. The sun still hung in the sky, but in the back of her head she heard it like she did every day, saying--I am going, I am going--and without much effort on her part she kept it slowly falling in the sky.


In truth, the sun moved on its own. But the pace crawled, and ponies were not made for days that lasted weeks. Celestia rode the sun, and it rode her. She was the regulator of its light and heat, and in return it was the prod that kept her moving through an endless life.


Near endless, anyhow.


Luna was not with her. Cadance would be arriving in a few hours, if all went well, and then they would all have dinner together. It would be nice to have the family all in one place, as it were. Except for Twilight.


She cringed.


It had occurred to her when she had woken up this morning that after all of her tossing and turning, all her angst and waffling, that if Twilight somehow turned out to not be ageless… she had no idea what that would mean.


Which, of course, was par for the course. Questions of meaning concerning Twilight had become murkier than they had once been. More difficult to answer. Impossible, more like.


She thought, and decided that it didn’t matter in some ways. Twilight would be one of them, even if she aged and died a normal, mortal death. She would eat with her fellow princesses and share in their sorrows. Twilight would be privy to all they were privy to.


Because she was an alicorn, even if then there would be alicorns and alicorns, and Celestia could not bear to thrust her back below when she had breached and found sunlight and air.


It had been a long time since Celestia had really dwelled on a pony’s mortality before. Of course, she was always aware of it--old and young, they all passed--but she rarely dwelled upon the differences. Why should she? There was nothing she could do, and it only served to hurt her and drive them away. She had so little time to touch their lives, and the urgency of their going drove out her worry. She enjoyed ponies as they arrived, and as they passed before her.


Like she enjoyed the gardens, strolling through, as things came into view and then passed. It was worth noting that most of her thoughts on mortality over the centuries had taken place in these gardens, or in gardens like them. She wasn’t sure if it was just that gardens were picturesque and inviting in a contemplative way, or if she just associated them with death for some reason. Celestia hoped the former. Associating gardens with death was odd, even for her.


Her day had proceeded with an almost obscene normality. Rising early to corall the sun onto its proper course, breakfast with a sleepy Luna, and then the normal activities of court. Court was… well, enjoyable, though she was loathe to admit it. Celestia liked the satisfied feeling of getting something done, even if it was only a small something. She genuinely loved the morning meetings with her seneschal to discuss the day’s docket, watching him go on and on as she sipped at her tea. She heard it all, of course. Or, rather, Dawn heard it all and catalogued every bit of it.


Court was Court--the Outer Court, as she and Luna referred to it with a knowing smile. Petitioners made up her morning, and then the assembly before and after lunch, and then tea with the Royal Archivist. Celestia was sad to see Vellum go, but he was getting too old to do his duties and he’d made his decision. Still, she treasured the time they had to chat.


Perhaps that had been what had prompted her morbid thoughts. She had grown used to the signs of mortal decay--he had ten years left, she guessed. Perhaps twelve. No fewer than eight. Regardless, in a proverbial blink, he would be gone.


She made a sharp turn and listened to the sound of her own hoof falls.


She felt a tingling at the base of her skull, and then heard a voice in her ear like a whisper. Sister, I have some time before my work begins. Wouldst my company be of any use?


I would love to spend a few quiet moments together, Celestia sent back after recovering from her short, initial shock. The old lines of communication were not totally foreign to her, but she had not spoken directly to another’s mind in… oh, before Luna, it had been almost a century.


Celestia waited silently, admiring the only thing nearby that seemed to hold her eye. It was a statue of… who, again?


Before she could ponder the little burst of shame in her belly, Luna had arrived on tenebrous wings. She smiled, and they shared an embrace and a quick nuzzle before Celestia gestured down the path.


They did not need to talk. They would talk, obviously, but in a very real way it was not strictly necessary. “Did you sleep well, Luna?” Celestia asked, first to break the silence underneath the ambient afternoon.


“As much can be expected,” Luna replied, shaking her head. “Even after so many years, you still do not quite understand.” She softened the words with a smile. “But that’s alright. It is… different.”


“I recall that you used to do battle in the aether,” Celestia said with a hum. “At least a few times you barged into my dream to rest after some strenuous battle. Dusk loved when you did that. Noon was furious.”


“And Boringlestia was boring.”


“I am rather boring, aren’t I? I was just noticing that the other day.”


Luna’s eyes slid over to her for a brief second. “If you meant that, I might be concerned that my teasing had gone too far,” she replied lightly. “Dawn is boring, but Dusk is nice. They balance out. Noonday is a bitch, so you’re more--”


Celestia snorted. “Thank you, Luna, you always know how to lighten my mood.”


“You seemed to be in good spirits without me.”


Celestia blinked. “You know, I am. How odd.”


“It’s almost as if the world will not end with one purple alicorn,” Luna said.


“Almost. She’ll be here soon. Cadance will be here sooner. I was thinking about having dinner together, actually. It’s a bit like having the family together again.”


It was Luna’s turn to snort with amusement. “She’s your niece, not mine! Learning one another has truly been a delight, even if our first steps were unsure. ‘Tis why I am not as worried as you, dear sister, about the potential of yon Twilight. She would also be a delight to teach the dance.”


Celestia saw herself, suddenly, sitting with Twilight in the Solarium. How many lessons had they taken there, or mornings spent in comfortable silence with books laid out before them? But Twilight was no longer a foal but grown and come into her own, an alicorn in the company of alicorns. And there was Cadance, beside her, writing--there was Luna, yawning, her face settling into a smile…


“Yes, it would be a dance,” Celestia said distantly.


“How was the Court of Love?” Luna asked. “I was near to fainting this bright morn, and hesitated to ask, ‘lest you escape me when I dropped my face into my plate to snore.”


Celestia snickered. “Oh, Luna, I would have have been able to tuck you in again.”


“You never did that.”


“Oh, I did a few times.”


“Ugh.”


Celestia giggled. She couldn’t help it--the laughter simply flowed out of her. Despite everything, it had been a satisfying day, and she was in good spirits. Perhaps this too was her panic, like the warmth before hypothermia finishes its work.


Or maybe it had just been a good day, and she had begun to make peace with herself.


Probably not. The sisters walked on.


“You know, Cadance mentioned you had restored her old dreaming to her,” Celestia said with practiced casual air.


Luna’s ears twitched. “She did. I confess that I was so… unsure of her, then. A part of me felt as if I had been replaced. Yet even when I realized that your heart still held room for me, there was suddenly a pony who claimed kinship with me whom I knew not. I was cast into a lingering dismay. When she inquired after my work in the Aether, I realized that I had wronged her.”


“It was good that you realized that early,” Celestia said. “She is a wonderful mare.”


“And I am proud to call her niece. Though I do wonder--will she always call us thus?”


“What else would she call us?”


“I had thought… with time…” Luna’s ears folded back. “Perhaps was foolish of me, but I had a passing fancy she might one day call us sister. ‘Twould be a new thing to be a big sister.”


Celestia blinked. She smiled.


She moved closer and hugged Luna fiercely. “You’ll make me feel old,” she said with a high whine that dissolved into laughter. “I have thought of that too, truth be told. With time, perhaps.”


“Learn anything else in the Court of Love?” Luna asked with a raised eyebrow.


“Oh, this and that,” Celestia shot back, but the smirk with which she answered failed. “I left with much to think about, and a few firm words from my niece regarding being honest with myself. I was… I was actually wanting to speak with you before dinner, regarding a small favor.”


“For thee, half our principality,” Luna said.


“I was wondering if you might return my… my old normal dreams to me.”


Luna watched her. She held up a hoof and they stopped in the hedge garden.


“I am overjoyed,” Luna began slowly. “I cannot hope to express the joy that wells within me at these words… but of what sort? I could give you natural dreams, like Cadance. I could strive to deliver to you only pleasant dreams... “


Celestia watched her sister piece together her own words with curiosity. Watching ponies think had become a past time for her.


“You aren’t trying to escape your Court for too long, are you?” Luna asked at last. “That can be dangerous.”


“No. No, I know must go back to be at peace. But sometimes... “ Celestia shrugged.


Luna hugged her. “Consider it done. I shall deliver to you the dreams you have deserved and been without.”









Dinner was a small affair, but it was large in her heart.


It was just the three of them--Cadance, Luna, and herself. The royal dining chamber went unused, and they had instead retired to Celestia’s personal quarters to eat on her impressive balcony. There was no talk of the oncoming, looming day. There was talk of Twilight, but never once did they lapse into an uncomfortable, worried silence.


Celestia recognized the mood, of course. She had led the armies of a nascent empire into the fires of war many times when the world was younger. Before that, she had traveled the world with Luna as vagrant adventurers, singing before their little campfire and braving a bright new world.


So she knew what it felt like to be on the eve of battle and be glad. Some ponies had prepared by grooming each other, others by eating large meals. Some by naps. Alicorns prepared with a bottle of sweet red wine shared among family, apparently.


Celestia had found that, blessedly, alcohol still had its way with the alicorn’s physiology. Sure, she needed much more of the stuff to achieve the same effect--but that was from simple body mass. No, an Alicorn could certainly be drunk.


She was mildly drunk.


But in a fun way, and not in a terrible way. She was very certain of this. She was just so… so happy. Her niece and her sister in one place, here together, and all of her worries banished for a little while. Dusk was cooing in her ear that she could just hug them forever. Noon was disgusted. Dawn admitted that it was pleasant but worried any time she was not completely and utterly in control.


And Celestia? Celestia thought less and less that she was in control of anything in the way Dawn demanded.


The three alicorns giggled over some inane bit of palace gossip that was forgotten almost as soon as it had been presented. But it was memories of Twilight that had brought the greatest laughs. Twilight had come up naturally, and somehow they had talked of her without a drop of angst. It was hard to angst when Cadance was describing in detail every embarrassing thing a young Twilight had ever done.


“Oh, I should tell you about Lulu when we were in Caliborn,” Celestia said breathlessly, only to find herself shushed.


“Sister,” Luna hissed, “thou made to us an oath most solemn regarding the harrowing events of that day!”


“Oh, Auntie, now I have to know.”


“No, you pink devils are all against me. Young niece, why wouldst thee turn against your beloved Luna, when my sister sits as such a target for your arrows?” Luna waved an unstable leg at her. “Shouldn’t you check for chinks in the armor of her love?”


Cadance had an instant reaction. Her head snapped back around to find Celestia. Her whole body tensed, as if waiting for her aunt to explode in fury.


Celestia’s Court was torn. Noonday was furious--how dare the traitor speak of her private affairs! The Dawn was embarrassed. The Dusk was always up for chatting about Twilight. And Celestia herself? Celestia snorted with laughter.


If anyone could drag her feelings into the open, certainly Luna had the right. Not that she would let her little sister off easy after this, oh no. She would make the most of tonight, and let the coming day be damned.


Cadance had taken to Celestia’s lessons on reading ponies almost frighteningly well. She understood immediately. No, more than that, she stood up on only slightly wobbly legs and put her hooves together. She tried her best impression of a much younger Twilight’s best manipulatively importunate face and donned her former favorite filly’s persona. “Oh, princess!” she said.


And of course Celestia could almost imagine it. She giggled.


Luna drained her glass. It had not been on its last legs. “Mayhaps the maiden will come traipsing to your room, sister, hoping that you might teach her the ways of alicorns.”


“Oh, goodness, if only she’d been here when she needed to learn how to preen!”


Celestia felt her face flush--was that the alcohol?--and thought about it. “I wouldn’t… I wouldn’t have made a move,” she said, shaking her head. “Twilight should be approached with words. She likes words.”


“Ugh, she used to read under her covers until four in the morning,” Cadance groused.


“Oh, I like that idea. Night time is good for reading with candles,” Luna said and then giggled.


“But what would you have said, hm?” Cadance leaned in again. She did the Twilight impression. “Princess… what is being an alicorn like?”


Celestia wanted to laugh but Cadance had stepped right off the cliff. She had thought of this before. She smiled, stood, and made a sweeping gesture. “You would mock me, Cadance of Cloudsdale, but I tell you the truth: you have stumbled upon the most sacred of symposiums, and you will have a speech worthy of them!”


Luna sat up straighter. “Oh, are we to the speeches now? Bravo!”


Celestia cleared her throat, and then she began.

Author's Note:

For she sees that even wise mares die...
But a mare in her pomp will not endure;
She is like the beasts that perish.