• 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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VII. The Weight of Glory: The Boast of Celestia

Celestia, standing proud and trembling, the wine working its work as she will soon work her own. The moon is high in the sky, the stars are beautiful, and this is a true symposium. Luna loved the wild and beautiful clashing of brilliant and violent minds among the savage warrior poets of the ancient pegasi, and it was she who maneuvered the little family thusly.

Every symposium began--traditionally--with a raid of some sort. The food must be acquired, not merely bought. Then comes the eating, then the drinking and eating, and then the speeches. They skipped the final carnal acts these days, usually, outside of comfortable company. Luna was sore on that point, but it was for the best.

And what speeches. Be not fooled--they were boasts. The long lists of pride in the mouths of the hotblooded knights of the air, that they had done such and fought such, that they were strong on the wing and that their legs bore the weight of all time with gladness.

Attend to Celestia, who with as much gravitas as she can muster addresses the crowd that tries not to giggle. Luna finds wine somewhere in Celestia’s apartments and brings it forth to refill her own goblet and to quietly and lovingly bully a usually more moderate Cadance into continuing the joy of their sodden companionship. It’s a tradition, after all. Cadance of Cloudsdale finds that she can’t argue with that.

Twilight Sparkle, my dearest and most beloved of students, I have seen things you would not believe.

The great Solar fleet moored over Ghastly Gorge in the savage dawn! Grand battleships in their colorful displays, pennants streaming in a grateful wind… I’ve seen the greatest sunrise of all of recorded history, and the glory of those before ever a unicorn lifted a quill to write down his pedestrian day for posterity. I have seen every sunrise for thousands of years, and can recall them all for you--were I gifted as my sister, could paint them from memory and you would weep at their glory!

Twilight Sparkle, most beloved student and friend, I have seen things stranger still.

I have seen the edges of the maps. I have, myself, expanded those edges. I walked in strange vales which see no sunlight, and in blasted heaths which know no moon. Thousands of years leaves one with more time than mortal minds can ken, and in that time I have walked all the measures of all musics, and heard the song whistle in the tall grass in the western steppes. I stood before the walls of morning and have paid respects to the tragedy of the walls of night.

Have you even in your dreams seen the Far Shore, at the end of the Earth? Have you set out across it, till the waves became the shining numinous Field of Arbol? For I and my sister have, and one day Cadance shall. And one day you shall. You ask me what it means to be what I and my sister are, and I tell you that it means to see those things which normal ponies can not comprehend and to know your place among them--small, yes, but to know all of the measures of the music.

Oh, and what songs you will hear, in the blind infinities. And what songs you will hear, years and years to come, here on earth!

I have walked the nine paths of Malhuer and sang all fourteen verses of the Lay of Bell-Toris before the crag where he supposedly first composed them as he hid. Two thousand years of wandering and I have trod upon every single inch of the world and found it always new and always fresh.

Joy wants eternity, Twilight Sparkle, most beautiful of my students!

To be an alicorn is to know this. You live for the endless lack of repition. And let me be clear, I have found no repetition! Nothing is the same, whatever they say! It all spirals, it all flows! Nothing remains constant. Perhaps not even I do.

I have read every book you hold dear, Twilight, because I had the Time. I have spoken to every single noteworthy individual of the last millennium, because Time could find no holds for its claws in me. For every friend, for every joy that time has torn from me, I have found a dozen more. For every great loss I have suffered, I have overcome because Time could not keep me from it.

And the greatest secret is that I have done only what you will do, and what my little ponies do every day.

But I? I have done it so long that to me Time has become less of the villain in the shadows and something of a friendly enemy. I have met it, and it is mine. It’s assaults have backfired. Every attack upon my person I have learned to transmute into further glory.

That is but a taste of what it means to be an alicorn, Twilight. You shall continue, and death and darkness and all things bent from the truth shall learn also to fear you, even come late as you are.

Author's Note:

In his book In Parenthesis, David Jones has Greatcoat Dai, that doomed Welsh soldier of the Empire, give a speech. It is an obvious and almost hamfisted echo of the great boasts of Celtic legend, but it becomes something more. The first time I read it I had to go back and read it three more times because what started as merely bluster becomes transmuted into a stunning boast of all mankind against all other breaking. It is Christ and Cuchulain together in a bloody melange before Dai himself joins the ranks of Humanity's dead in the forests of World War I.

It was a good book.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

That's from C. S. Lewis' "The Weight of Glory" which was delivered in the Oxford University Church one June night in 1941. It's probably the heart of the whole damn thing for me. I should read it again some time.