• Published 28th Feb 2018
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Full Circle - Sotharan

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Part VI: Full Circle || Chapter 50: Valor and Honor

Since it was where everything had begun with Sunset years ago, the girls decided there was no better place to celebrate and hang out with Twilight than right next to the Portal. A huge picnic was prepared, and just before noon, the seven of them met and spread a thick picnic blanket on the ground.

“We didn’t choose this location to make you feel bad about the statute, Twilight,” Sunset explained to her. “It’s just that this is where it all began. The epicenter, if you will.”

“What is it?” Twilight asked with intense interest as she sat down on the blanket. Fluttershy handed her Angel Bunny again, who she began to pet absentmindedly.

“A gateway to another world,” said Sunset, unable to keep her voice from becoming slightly dramatic. “My world, to be more precise.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “YOU’RE…you’re…an alien?” she asked.

Rainbow and Pinkie started to laugh uncontrollably. Sunset knew she’d never hear the end of the jokes, and gave the two a sour look. She turned back to Twilight. “In a matter of speaking, I suppose, but not exactly. The truth is, I’m not sure if I’d call the place I’m from a parallel universe or an alternate reality. Might be something for you and me to research together. But I can tell you this – there’s a lot of similarity between the two worlds.” Sunset sat down next to Twilight. “The planet I come from is called Equus, and I come from the Principality of Equestria.”

Twilight shook her head in amazement. “But we live in…Equestria County!”

“Oh, I’m just getting started. Our capitol city is called Canterlot, for one thing. We have an atmosphere, land, oceans and seas, trees and grasses, clouds and weather. The lifeforms of my world are made of organic matter, breathe air, need water to live, and have the same senses as the lifeforms here. We even mostly have four limbs, a body, a neck, and a head with two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth, just like most lifeforms here. We have two sexes and reproduce sexually. And most of the laws of physics and math seem to be the same or at least very similar.”

“That is incredible!” Twilight exclaimed, almost unable to contain her excitement.

“So, now for some of the differences. For starters, I wasn’t born looking like this,” Sunset said a bit more warily.

“You…aren’t human?” Twiligth boggled.

“It’s complicated. I’m quite certain I’m human right now. I’ve been tested – pretty thoroughly – and have 23 pairs of human chromosomes and all the organs are in the right place. I eat human food, sleep, drink – everything.”

“So…I don’t understand.”

“To be honest, I don’t fully understand either. You see, one of the things the portal does is change your form when you pass through.”

Twilight was shaking her head. “I don’t believe it.”

“That’s because it’s a magical effect, not one related to physical laws, as far as I can tell.”

“So it’s a magical portal!” Twilight breathed. “I mean…I never would have believed that before, but now…”

“Now you have to believe,” said Sunset knowingly, “because you’ve experienced magic for yourself – a pretty huge amount of it, frankly.”

Twilight’s head fell.

“Hey,” said Sunset gently. “Not trying to remind you of the past. It’s just reality, that’s all. We all forgive you, and in our group, we don’t kid around with forgiveness.”

The other girls nodded vehemently.

Twilight smiled and seemed to be reassured. “Thanks,” she said in a small voice, with true gratitude.

“I’ll tell you a lot more about why a little later,” said Sunset.

Twilight looked at her quizzically.

“Let’s just say you aren’t the first person we’ve had adventures with who’s messed up a bit and had to come back from it, and leave it at that for now,” Sunset said, with a somewhat rueful smile. The other girls chuckled, but smiled at Sunset fondly.

Twilight looked at Sunset intensely, seeming to grasp that Sunset herself might be one of those people. Let me show you there’s another way…just as someone else once did for me – Sunset’s words in the Orb came back to Twilight. She nodded – she’d let the matter rest for now.

“Ok,” Sunset continued, seeming to gather herself up for something uncomfortable. “So, I’m human now, but on my homeworld…I’m…ahem…equine.” She scratched the back of her neck and looked away.

Twilight just stared for a moment. Then, she started nodding with a knowing smile. “Ok. Ok. I get it. This is the part where you play tricks on the new girl. Teasing and all that. Nice one!” she said to Sunset. “You almost had me going there!”

Sunset just returned Twilight’s stare.

Twilight faltered. “You’re…you’re serious, aren’t you?”

Sunset nodded. “Yep.”

Twilight’s mouth moved wordlessly.

“C’mon, Twi. Is it so hard to believe? On my homeworld, equines are sapient. We’re the dominant lifeform.”

Twilight seemed to shake herself and blinked a few times. “Ok. I…guess…why not?”

“Besides, we know you don’t have a lot of experience with friendship,” Sunset pointed out kindly. “We won’t be teasing you too much until you’re more comfortable. At least, I won’t be,” she said, giving warning looks to Rainbow and Pinkie. They looked up at the sky and whistled with elaborately feigned innocence. Applejack snickered as Rarity shook her head. Fluttershy just smiled warmly.

“Oh, uh, thanks,” Twilight said a bit uncertainly.

“Right,” said Sunset. “To continue, there are three main tribes of my kind. We’re ponies, frankly, and we have earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns.”

Twilight’s academic curiosity began to overtake her again. “Ok – what are the differences?”

“Earth ponies are like what you’d call regular ponies here. Pegasi have wings and can fly, and unicorns have a horn.”

“Amazing,” Twilight said, just shaking her head.

“So that’s one major difference between the two worlds – the dominant lifeform. The other major difference is the presence of magic. To be honest, I’m not sure if magic in my world is based on something like physics here, but, over there, it does go reliably by certain laws and rules and can be studied and used in an intentional fashion.”

Twilight was nodding with interest.

“Each pony tribe has its own special kind of magic. Earth ponies have a tie to the land. They can make things grow, and they have much greater strength and endurance than the other tribes. They’re also very industrious, and often have special gifts with crafting and inventing. Pegasi, in all honesty, are too heavy to fly with the size of wings that they have – their magic lets them fly. They can also control weather.”

Twilight continued to be amazed.

“The last tribe is the one I belong to,” Sunset began.

“You’re a UNICORN?!” Twilight exclaimed, stars beginning in her eyes.

Sunset seemed a bit surprised and stunned. “Um, yes,” she admitted.

“I’ve always wanted to meet a unicorn!” Twilight breathed, starting to vibrate with happiness. The other girls began to giggle. Twilight seemed to recover some of her composure. “I mean, obviously I love science and all, but I love fantasy and imagination too. I think a lot of little girls in our world dream of unicorns and things like that. I uh…have some old posters on my wall and stuff. And books.”

Rarity was nodding. “You’re quite right, darling. I too have been very pleased to meet a real live unicorn – though admittedly she doesn’t look like one at the moment.”

“Ooo!” Twilight cried. “What do you look like? I mean, the real you. I mean…”

Sunset laughed. “I know what you mean, Twi. Ok. Look, I’ve got a picture on my phone. I had one taken the last time I went back for a visit – I’m just glad the phone worked in the other world. Here,” Sunset looked around furtively – she hadn’t released the picture to the general school population. “That’s…that’s me.”

Twilight peered at the phone, her eyes slowly widening. After a moment, her lips began to quiver, and it became clear she was fighting a smile. “Well. That’s…very interesting.” Around her, all the other girls except Sunset began to giggle and titter.

Sunset sighed with a resigned expression. “Go on. Say it.”

“Ummm…” Twilight hedged.

“Seriously, Twi. I’ve heard it all before. Just get it out of your system.”

Twilight looked around to see that all other girls seemed to be giving her permission. “Well,” she began, “you just look kind of…cartoony.” She grimaced, bracing for an angry outburst.

Sunset just shook the phone at her a little. “Yeah, and?”

Twilight was fighting hard not to chuckle now. “And…you’re…really cute!” she exclaimed, finally allowing herself to giggle.

Sunset sighed again as the rest of the girls burst out laughing, except for Rarity, who just smiled affectionately, and Fluttershy, who agreed eagerly: “I think she’s just adorable!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sunset agreed grumpily, folding her arms. “I’m friggin’ cute as button. Moving on.”

Twilight tried to get her train of though back on track. “So, is that the only thing about unicorns? The horn?”

“No,” said Sunset. “Out of the three tribes, we are the only one that can use magic at will. We focus it through our horns. Now different unicorns have different levels of ability – most of us can only use telekinetic spells, call light, shoot energy bolts – that’s how we defend ourselves – and use one or two other spells or effects that are unique to each unicorn. But some of us have much more ability. I promise I’m not bragging – it’s just the truth – I belong to that group. That’s how I know so much about how magic works, at least on Equus. Here in the human world, magic isn’t a native force. It seems to work differently here, and I’m still learning about that.”

“Sunset is being quite modest, Twilight darling,” Rarity interjected. “She is basically founding a new field of study, but she is uniquely equipped for that. You see, before she came here, she was recognized, as I understand it, as having one of the highest magical potentials in her entire country. Maybe one of the highest in her country’s entire history.”

“Wow, so you’re like a sorcerer or a wizard or something? An archmage?!” Twilight said, the stars appearing in her eyes again.

Sunset blushed and seemed a bit uncomfortable again. “It’s…complicated. I’ll explain more. If I were still in Equestria, I’d probably be equivalent to a magical journeyman, but I studied under the greatest master on my entire world, as her personal apprentice.”

“That is so cool!” Twilight gushed.

“Yes,” said Sunset, “which leads me to describe the final tribe of my kind. That master is an alicorn.”

“Alicorn? Isn’t that the word used to describe what a unicorn’s horn is made of?” Twilight asked.

“Yes, but it also refers to a very rare and special kind of pony. On Equus, alicorns have the nature of all three tribes. They look like winged unicorns, but they also have earth pony magic. They are usually larger than all other types of pony, and much longer lived. I think the greatest two may be immortal. They are our rulers – we have a diarchy, you see.”

“A diarchy!” Twilight echoed, “Fascinating!”

“The master under whom I studied is the eldest of the two ruling alicorns – the High Princess of Equestria, which is the main country on my world. And that brings up what may be the most amazing thing about all of this, and it’s part of why I think there’s a special relationship between this world and my homeworld. I’ve already mentioned that some of the places have the same names – but it’s much more than just that. You see, many ponies – perhaps all – have a counterpart here on Earth. Including the High Princess.”

Twilight froze. “Wow,” she said, her eyes widening. “Sunset, the implications of that…”

“I know,” Sunset agreed. “It’s a bit unsettling and can be very strange to deal with.”

“Uh oh,” Twilight said, a look of realization spreading across her features. “You guys know so much about me already because…”

“That’s right, Twi,” Sunset said uncomfortably. “You have a counterpart, and we know her. Quite well, actually.”

“Oh dear,” said Twilight, suddenly going pale.

“Now darling,” said Rarity reassuringly. “There’s nothing to worry about. We know you aren’t her. We can keep the two of you apart in our minds. And she’s very nice. Perhaps you’ll get to meet her, if you want?” she said, looking to Sunset for confirmation.

“Probably. I need to ask pony Twilight if she thinks it would be a good idea. We don’t want to cause a paradox or something, but I really don’t think that will be an issue. The two worlds have separate timelines, so I don’t think there are any causality issues, and I know I’m not made of antimatter, for example.”

Twilight seemed to be recovering a little. “Do you know any other…counterparts?”

“Oh yes,” Sunset said. “My mom’s and my aunt’s, and the counterparts of the other girls here.”

“Wow. Ok,” Twilight breathed shaking her head.

“We’ve got a lot to tell you, Twi,” Sunset said. “That’s the beginning. There’s not too much other weirdness – the rest of it is just the story of how I came here and how we all met. But we might as well tell her everything,” Sunset finished, addressing the rest of her friends.

“If she’s up for it,” Applejack agreed.

“Maybe…maybe I can have a bit of break to process all this,” Twilight proposed. “It’s not every day you learn you have an interdimensional equine…twin?”

“She does look exactly like you when she comes here,” Fluttershy admitted.

“Except for the glasses – I haven’t figured that out yet. Anyway, absolutely we can take a break,” said Sunset. “In fact, I’m famished. Why don’t we eat?”

Surprisingly, Twilight found she had quite an appetite after learning so much worldview-changing information. As they ate their lunch, Sunset and the other girls continued to tell the story of how Sunset had come to this world and how she had started out as the enemy of the other five. They told Twilight about the Fall Formal, after which Twilight felt a new kinship with Sunset, and they also told her about the Battle of the Bands and told her she’d be meeting the seaponies too, at some point. Lastly Sunset told her about her return to Equestria, her reunion with her old teacher, and how she came to know her pony grandparents and other pony family members. Twilight was particularly astonished to learn that Sunset’s human, adopted mother was counterpart to Sunset’s old teacher, who was, of course, the very High Princess Sunset had mentioned earlier. She was also amazed to learn that her own counterpart was a Princess too.

Eventually, relative silence fell, and Sunset took the opportunity to eat some of her sandwich. Suddenly, she felt a surge of magic. Looking across the picnic blanket, she could tell by the startled, confused reactions of Rarity and Twilight that they could feel it too. I’ll need to teach those two a few things, she promised herself. She turned around to face the portal, noting to her joy that it was not only active again but open, and someone was coming through. With a purple flash, Princess Twilight herself was discharged from the portal right into Sunset’s waiting arms. This time, Sunset was ready, and simply gave her friend a happy hug.

Twilight seemed out of breath. She returned Sunset’s hug only briefly, then held her away a bit so they could talk. “I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner! I didn't get your messages until just now because I was caught in this time travel loop and, honestly, it was the strangest thing that's ever happened to me!” she said, huffing and puffing.

Then, just over Sunset’s shoulder she noticed her counterpart, who had stood up and was waving at her awkwardly. The only sound that could be heard was Pinkie slurping her drink.

Make that the second strangest,” the princess said, her eyes getting very wide.

“Well, this is a promising sign,” Sunset said matter-of-factly. “You’re both standing here, within about six feet of each other, and the world isn’t ending. Which is good, because I’m really glad to see you.”

Princess Twilight was shaking her head in confusion.

“Sounds like you had an adventure, Twi,” Sunset continued. “Well, as you probably guessed from my journal entries, we had one here too.”

“I guess you must have,” the princess agreed, her eyes still on human Twilight, who had mustered up the courage to try to smile warmly.

“Let’s start with introductions, since that’s the polite thing to do,” Sunset said with a nod to Rarity as the rest of her friends got to their feet. She turned to human Twilight. “Twilight of the human world, I’d like to introduce you to the Twilight of the equine world. This is Twilight Sparkle, the Princess of Friendship and our very, very good friend.”

Tentatively, the two Twilights took a few steps toward each other. Warily, they each stretched out a hand. With one final hesitation, they grasped each others’ hands. The world continued to fail to end. “It’s nice to meet you,” the princess said in wonder.

“You, too,” human Twilight agreed.

There were a few moments of silence.

Then, the scientific squeeing began. Sunset and her friends watched in amusement as the two girls nearly began to talk over each other about the amanzing things they were learning and how it all needed to be catalogued and organized and systematically reviewed. With lots of checklists.

Sunset turned to to the others. “See? Nothing to worry about. They’re going to get along just fine.” Rainbow was doubled over with laughter as the Twilights were already discussing the theoretical intersection between quantum theory and thaumic resonance at such a high level that it used only words containing at least six syllables.

Sunset let it go on for a moment or two, then gently took the Princess’s arm. “Hey, can I talk with you for a minute? I promise, we’ll give you two plenty of time to get to know each other.”

“Oh! Of course!” Princess Twilight started slightly. “One moment,” she said to her counterpart.

Leaving human Twilight with their friends, Sunset pulled the Princess aside for a more private conversation. “Hey. What happened? I’ve been trying to reach you for days.”

“Oh Sunset, I’m so sorry. Like I said, I’ve been through…wait – did you try to reach anypony else?”

“Well yeah. Every...pony.”

Princess Twilight paused. “Sunset, I literally came as soon as I got your messages – there was a time distortion thingy, and I bet…”

“Oh shoot! I better send them all messages right now!” Sunset cried, dashing over to her bookbag and pulling out all the journals. Sure enough, the other three were flashing red. She opened them one by one and wrote a quick message to Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadance that she was ok and that Princess Twilight had come and was with her. The other girls watched with interest, chatting amongst themselves. After about 10 minutes, Sunset had sufficiently placated her relations that they were willing to wait for explanations. Sunset, of course, couldn’t provide them. She looked up at Princess Twilight. “They all want to know what the Tartarus happened. I don’t know what to tell them.”

Twilight sat down across from her human counterpart. “I guess I may as well tell you all. You see, about 6 months ago, we – my friends in Equestria – your counterparts – met another pony named Starlight Glimmer…”

It took Princess Twilight about half an hour to relate her adventures across several alternate Equestrias, and how, at last, she had convinced Starlight Glimmer to lay aside her plot for vengeance by offering her hoof in friendship.

Sunset was shaking her head with an affectionate smirk. “You’ve sure got a way with ponies, Princess.”

Twilight ran her fingers through her hair, a bit embarrassed. “It is getting to be a bit of a habit,” she began, but was suddenly interrupted by human Twilight.

“Then it was YOU!” she cried, pointing at the Princess. “It has to have been you!”

Princess Twilight just stared, startled.

“You want to explain what you’re gettin’ at, sugarcube?” Applejack drawled.

“When we were in that white light – Sunset and I,” she turned to Sunset. “You offered me your hand, and you said you wanted to show me another way, just like someone else had once done for you! She was referring to you, wasn’t she?” she cried, pointing at the Princess.

The Princess continued to be frozen, not quite sure how to answer.

“Don’t worry, Princess,” said Sunset to her. “We’ve told her most of my story. She just put two and two together.”

Human Twilight sighed with relief and sat down.

“I have no idea what just happened,” Princess Twilight said warily.

“Well, darling, we haven’t told you about our little adventure yet, have we?” Rarity pointed out.

Another half hour later and Princess Twilight had been brought up to speed. She turned to Sunset at the end. “Well you’re one to talk,” she deadpanned.

“What? What did I do?” Sunset protested.

“First the Sirens, and now my own counterpart. You’re getting to be quite the reformer yourself, Ms. Shimmer.”

Sunset blushed and looked at her hands. “I…guess you’re right.”

“And I couldn’t be more proud,” Princess Twilight continued more softly.

That was enough for Sunset’s eyes to fill with tears. “Dang it, Twi!” she complained with a sniff, but they all laughed happily.

“Well,” Applejack said, standing up, “the afternoon’s gettin’ on. What say we all head over to the farm and hang out for a while? Ah like picnics and all as well as anyone, but my rear’s getting’ mighty sore from sittin’ on the asphault here, blanket or no blanket.”

“A capital idea, darling,” Rarity agreed in support.

“And Ah think a huge cookout’s in order for this evening, too,” Applejack added. The rest of her friends cheered.

On the drive to Applejack’s farm Sunset and Princess Twilight continued to confer about the events of the previous few days. They were riding with Applejack in her pickup. Applejack was content just to listen. It was fun to watch the two of them together.

Twilight was giving them more details of her conflict with Starlight Glimmer when Sunset suddenly interrupted. “Wait, wait, wait, waaaaaait a minute!”

Twilight seemed surprised, but did pause.

“You said you fought her to a standstill?” Sunset asked, incredulous.

Twilight seemed confused. “Uh, yeah. That’s what I said.”

Sunset was shaking her head. “That doesn’t make any sense, Twi.”

“What do you mean?”

Sunset gave Twilight a look. “Seriously?”

Twilight shook her head in her turn. “What? What is it? I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

Sunset blinked at her a couple times, then decided Twilight was being honest, so she just came right out and said it. “Twilight, you’re an alicorn. It shouldn’t have even been a contest!”

Twilight blushed slightly. “Oh. Uh, well, I, uh…”

“Twilight? I’ve sensed your power signature. You’re at least 50% stronger than any unicorn I’ve ever sensed – including myself,” Sunset said pointedly.

Twilight looked at Applejack furtively, then leaned closer to Sunset. “Would you keep it down?” she hissed. “I don’t like bragging about my power level!”

Applejack, having overhead, smirked knowingly. Sunset gave Twilight a withering look. “Twi. You’ve earned it. And you wouldn’t be bragging – you don’t have that in you! It’s just a matter of magical fact!”

It was Twilight’s turn to blink at Sunset a few times, but then she decided to hear Sunset out.

Sunset was thinking furiously. “You said you fought her before, right? And that time, she actually defeated you and stole your cutie mark?”

Twilight looked a bit embarrassed, but nodded.

Sunset nodded back, digested this, and then her face lit up. “Twi! I think I’ve figured it out. It all makes sense now!”


“Yes! And it’s nothing to be ashamed of!” Sunset turned and looked Twilight in the eye. “It goes back to our different destinies – because they’re different, we were trained differently. Come on, help me out. Tell me about the curriculum you had from my Mom.”

Over the next few minutes, Twilight and Sunset compared nearly every course they’d had from Princess Celestia during their respective apprenticeships and found that they’d had only about half their classes in common.

“As I suspected,” Sunset concluded triumphantly. “This also explains why we hardly saw each other, even though our times as her personal students almost completely overlapped!”

“True,” Twilight agreed, “but there’s something I’m hoping you’ll explain. I understand that you and I are somewhat different in what we are meant to do, but you clearly have figured out something that I haven’t!”

Sunset leaned toward Twilight, putting a hand on her shoulder. “It’s ok, Twilight. Think about it. What did Mom need you to be able to do? She needed you to be able to wield the Elements of Harmony – not just against Aunt Luna, but against every opponent who would come after. She knew that once you had been bound to the Element of Magic, that wouldn’t just go away. You’d be an Element Bearer for years, maybe generations, and she needed you to have…” Sunset said with a leading smile.

Knowledge!” Twilight cried with realization.

“Yes! She needed you to be extremely widely read. To have heard of nearly every magical thing that has ever existed, every magical school, every magical being – so that whatever you faced, you would be able to figure out its weakness and overcome it – even if you didn’t do so right away, or with brute force. Twilight, you’re a Loremistress. That’s how she trained you!”

Twilight was shaking her head. “I never knew. I mean, the old courses of study haven’t been used in hundreds of years. If you’re right, I’m the first one since…I don’t know how long.”

“I’m sure I’m right. But you’re still young, Twi, just like I am. You and I both have some holes, necessarily, in our training. Loremistresses, for example, aren’t known for their skill in personal magical combat.”

“Which is probably how Starlight was able to beat me the first time, and fight me to a standstill the second time.”

“But she didn’t win in the end, Twi,” Sunset pointed out. “You still won, you just won with your brain and your heart instead of with raw power. That’s legit, and it’s what you were trained to do.”

“Thanks, Sunset. But I think I see your point. Now that I’ve…fulfilled, or am fulfilling, my destiny, it might be time for me to see to a few of those holes in my education. Actually, now that you mention it, Celestia herself hinted at it a couple months ago when she came to see you.”


“Yes. When she came through the portal, she landed on her feet after executing some really impressive rolls and footwork. I landed on my face, like I almost always do. She hinted that I needed some new kind of training.”

“Well, since you appear to have the time and the opportunity, yeah, Twi, I’d say start learning more about how to fight in general, and duel specifically. It could come in handy.” Sunset said.

“I’ll look into it. But I will say this – Starlight is exceptional, just like you are, and like I was as a unicorn. She’s really, really strong.”

“I believe it,” Sunset said, nodding. “She sounds cool. Like she has a lot of potential. I’d be glad to know her – maybe I can help her through the transition. You know, help her with regret, and learning how to believe that others can forgive her and care for her.”

Twilight smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that. I’ll make sure you two meet and get to know each other. But Sunset, if I’m a Loremistress, what were you trained as?”

Sunset thought for a moment. “Twi, I’m not absolutely sure yet, but, looking at the things Celestia taught me, and the things she hinted at the last time I asked her about my destiny, I think she trained me as a Battlemage.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “A Battlemage!”

Sunset nodded soberly. “Think about it, Twi. I’m good at magical combat. My training included lots of dueling. Lots of tactical and strategic assessment. How to lead, both in combat and not. Planning. How to gather and use intelligence. It’s part of why I was so…horribly effective when I was…”

Twilight decided to cut that train of thought right off. “That’s the past, Sunset. What it’s meant since then is that you keep your head under pressure. You’re brave – not afraid of taking risks. You’ve got incredible determination. You recognize threats and you act to neutralize them. And you have little patience with actions that bring into question the accomplishment of the mission, especially if they endanger others.”

Sunset paused, a little sadly. “You’re thinking of when I lost my temper with human Twilight.”

Twilight nodded. “I think you’re being too hard on yourself about that. I think she needed a good chewing out.” Beside her, Applejack was nodding – her first contribution to the conversation. “And look what happened. Even though you gave her a piece of your mind, she still released the magic in an irresponsible fashion. Though I do recognize that she was coerced. And that coercion…was not cool.” Applejack nodded even more vehemently.

“No, it wasn’t cool at all. I want Twilight to forgive herself and move forward. She gave in to her curiosity and the coercion, but what she did was nowhere near as bad as what I did. If there’s anyone to be extremely angry with, however, it’s Cinch!” Sunset growled.

“Agreed. But you understand my point, right Sunset? If you’re right – if Celestia really did train you as a Battlemage – well, there are going to be some times where you’re going to have to use your command voice. And not be ashamed of it.”

Sunset sighed. “Maybe. I’ll keep it in mind. I just…didn’t want to hurt her.”

“But you didn’t. Not in the end, anyway. From what you’ve told me, you were kind and compassionate. You offered her the very same thing that I was privileged to offer you. You did the right thing, Sunset, and because of that, you’ve gained a new friend. One who will always be true to you. I just know it.”

Sunset smiled happily. “You and the Celestias. You all just have a way of putting things that…helps me to feel so much better.”

“That’s what friends, and parents for that matter, are for. We all need someone to give a little perspective.”

Upon arrival at Applejack’s farm, a game of pickup Ultimate Frisbee began. The initial participants were Applejack, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Fluttershy. Rarity, the two Twilights, and Sunset all decided they’d like to relax, at least at first. They got big lawn chairs and laid them way back to get some sun. Sunset started writing in her various journals, giving her pony mother, aunt, and cousin more details on what had happened both to her and to Princess Twilight.

They’d only been relaxing for about half an hour when Princess Twilight suddenly leapt to her feet with a cry. It was a sign of how on edge Sunset still was that she immediately leapt up too. “What is it, Twi?” she demanded intensely, almost crouching into a fighting stance.

But Princess Twilight just grinned. “Oh, Sunset, I just had the best idea. But I have to run back to Equestria for a bit. I won’t be gone long – just a few hours. Trust me – this will be worth it!”

Sunset took a step back, looking at Twilight quizzically. “Uh, ok. Uh, sure!” She looked at her friends in confusion. They all shook their heads, except Pinkie, who shrugged her shoulders.

“I’ll be back in time for the festivities this evening!” promised Twilight with a wink. “Rares, could you give me a quick lift back to the portal?”

“Certainly, darling.”

The girls passed the day happily, introducing human Twilight to various games and activities that they enjoyed doing together. It was one of the best days of her life. Toward evening, as she watched Applejack, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Fluttershy continue the game of Ultimate, she sighed. Sunset and Rarity were sitting with her, and both noticed her sigh.

“You ok, Twi?” Sunset asked.

Twilight broke into a huge smile. “I’m so ok. I’m more ok than I’ve ever been. Don’t get me wrong – I still love research and study and all of that. But…now I know what I’ve been missing out on. And I couldn’t be happier that I’ve learned the truth.”

Sunset couldn’t hide her own sappy smile at first. She quickly looked up at some passing clouds, her face turning red. Rarity winked at her.

“C’mon, Twi,” said Sunset, trying to restore her dignity. “It’s high time we joined the game.” To her surprise, Twilight agreed and started to stand up, when they noticed Principal Celestia’s car driving up the long gravel road leading to the farmhouse. “Mom?” Sunset wondered out loud. “What’s she doing here?” She started toward the front of the farmhouse, Rarity and Twilight in tow.

The other girls had noticed as well, and all of them were converging on Principal Celestia’s car. Apple Bloom, Big Mac, and Granny Smith came out of the farmhouse and stood on the porch, watching. Celestia’s car came to a stop, and, to everyone’s surprise, not only Celestia got out, but Luna too, and Princess Twilight.

“Hi everyone! I’m back,” she said happily.

“Twilight. I thought I was going to get you when you were ready to return,” said Rarity in confusion.

“Hehe, sorry about that, Rares. I decided that Celestia and Luna should really be here for this. You see, we’re going to have a bit of a ceremony.”

“A CEREMONY!” shouted Pinkie. “Is that like a party?!”

“Not exactly, Pinkie – though ceremonies often lead to parties, if they’re happy ceremonies. Which this one will be.”

Pinkie suddenly appeared directly next to Princess Twilight. “Twilight, are you saying there should be a post-ceremony party?” she asked, fluttering her eyelashes.

Twilight laughed a deep, heartfelt laugh. “Yes, Pinkie, that would be entirely appropriate!”

Pinkie bounced away happily, taking her place amongst her friends.

“So,” said Twilight. “Let’s kick this off. I apologize in advance that this is somewhat…impromptu, but I just can’t stand waiting any longer. I’m kind of excited. Ok, I’m really excited.” She pulled some paper out from a pocket, and Luna handed her a wooden box. “I’ve only recently learned that I can do this, being a new Princess and all, and so…it’s a little rough around the edges.” She laughed awkwardly. Everyone present smiled affectionately at her – they all loved her so much they found her foibles amusing.

“So. Let me start by saying this is an awards ceremony!” Pinkie, Rainbow, and Rarity all squeed. Fluttershy looked embarrassed, AJ looked calm and collected, and Sunset just looked confused. “But I love you all, and I don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt, so let me start with a couple disclaimers.” She looked at her counterpart. “Human Twilight – you’ve just joined this group. I can’t give you any awards yet, but let me say this. I have every confidence – not so much because you’re like me, but because of the new friends who surround you and want to take care of you – that your day will come. Maybe even sooner than you think. Ok? Don’t be discouraged. You’re going to do just fine!”

Human Twilight blushed, but there was a genuine smile on her face.

“Ok? No worries. Alright, onward!” Twilight shuffled her papers a bit and appeared to be reading from them. Sunset smirked fondly at her, but Twilight didn’t notice. “First, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, and Fluttershy, please step forward!” The five girls, grinning with anticipation, formed a line in front of Twilight. Twilight looked at Sunset and extended her arm, beckoning. Confused, Sunset came over to her, and yelped as Twilight pulled her into a side hug. “This first one’s gonna be a little tough for you, so just be patient,” Twilight whispered to her.

“For standing with me on the night of the Fall Formal, thick or thin, even at the risk of your own lives, even when you hardly knew me,” she said, looking each of the five girls in the eye, “by the authority delegated to me by Celestia Solaris, High Princess of Equestria, Empress of the Crystal Empire, and Mistress of the Sun, I name each of you an honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Royal Order of the Noonday Sun!”

Sunset gasped.

“Uh, what does that mean?” Rainbow asked.

“It means you’re knights now. Knights of the highest degree of the highest order in all Equestria!” Sunset breathed, looking at Twilight in amazement.

The five girls froze – even Pinkie. The degree to which Twilight was honoring them was not lost on any of them. Rarity gasped too, her hands flying to her mouth.

“Yes,” said Twilight. “You’ve earned it. It’s high time your valour was recognized.” She gave Sunset a comforting squeeze, then stepped forward to Applejack, who was first in line on Twilight’s right. Luna followed her, holding the wooden box. “Applejack, you have acted in line with the highest traditions of honor and valour in Equestrian history. Therefore, I name you an honorary Knight of Equestria, of the highest order, and the highest degree.” Luna took a brilliant golden many-pointed star from the wooden box and handed it to Twilight, who then pinned it to Applejack’s shirt. “You have my gratitude, and that of the Two Sisters, forever,” she finished.

Applejack was moved nearly to tears. “Good gracious, Twilight. Ah have no idea what to say!”

“You don’t need to say anything, Dame Applejack.” Twilight squeezed Applejack’s shoulder, and proceeded to Rainbow, who was next in line. In each case she proclaimed the same thing, and pinned the golden star on each shirt. Rarity almost fainted. Pinkie almost couldn’t hold still. Fluttershy almost couldn’t take it. Twilight went back to stand in front of the group, shouldering up to Sunset again, who, to Twilight’s relief, seemed only happy and not sad or depressed.

She looked at the five girls mischieviously. “I’m just getting started!” The five girls looked at each other with various exclamations of amazement. Twilight used the momentary distraction to reassure Sunset again. “Hang in there. Your time is coming.”

Twilight’s voice rang out again over the small gathering. “All right you five. Brace yourselves! Your valor didn’t stop the night of the Fall Formal. When it came time to stand against the Sirens, you, once again at the risk of your own lives, stood with me and subdued them. For your heroism that day, I, again by delegation from Princess Celestia, name you Dames Commander of the Most Royal Order of the Noonday Sun!”

The five girls looked at each other in confusion as Sunset gasped again.

“Uh, Twilight,” asked Applejack, raising her hand.

“Why yes, Dame Applejack?” Twilight asked happily.

“Uh…what does that mean?”

“It’s the next step down from the first one you got,” said Sunset. “But it’s still really high, and it’s really rare to get both of them!”

“Oh,” said Rainbow, looking satisfied. “Ok then.”

Once again Twilight went down the row, putting slightly smaller golden multi-pointed stars on each of their shirts, just to the left of and below the Stars of the Grand Cross. Then she went back in front of the five girls again, and whispered to Sunset again. “Just a little longer. I’m getting to you.”

“Twilight, stop worrying! I’m having a great time!” Sunset hissed, with an honest smile.

This time, Princess Twilight beckoned to her counterpart. Human Twilight came up to her. “Hey,” said the Princess, “this next one isn’t intended to make you feel bad, either. I just want to recognize their bravery, ok?”

“Don’t worry, pony me,” human Twilight said with a soft smile. “I understand.”

Then Twilight turned to the five again. “And one final recognition. In keeping with the standards that you yourselves have set, yesterday you stood with Sunset against a new challenge, saving the lives of many CHS and Crystal Prep students even though yours were at risk. Therefore, I award each of you the degree of Dames Commander of the Most Royal Order of the Noonday Sun, second award!”

“We get another one?” Pinkie said, confused.

“Yes!” Twilight cried. “Another one!” And she went down the line again, but this time instead of pinning a new star to their shirts, she affixed a gold bar just above the smaller star. “The gold bar means you’ve gotten the award under it twice,” she explained, and went back to stand in front of them.

Twilight took a deep breath. The she spoke in a loud voice. “Sunset Shimmer, front and center!”

Sunset obediently came and stood in front of Twilight, between her and the five girls. “I…don’t need anything, Twilight,” she said, blushing and trying not to get embarrassed.

“Enough!” Twilight cried, managing to look both firm and playful at the same time.

Sunset decided to play along. “As you wish, Your Highness,” she said, with a bow from her shoulders.

Twilight suddenly became very serious. “Sunset Shimmer. While it is true that you and I did not meet…under the best circumstances, things have changed between us, and very much for the better.” Twilight paused, then continued. “I can honestly say that you have become one of my very best friends, and I can say with equal honesty that I’m glad – so very glad – that you are in my life.”

Sunset’s hands turned white as she clenched them, trying to keep from crying.

“You have learned your lessons well. When we faced the Sirens, it was you – not me – who realized that they were trying to divide us, and so it was you who called us back to each other. And then, in the middle of the final battle, when it appeared that all was lost, you, at the risk of your own life, took up the microphone and defied the Sirens. You led us then, Sunset. You lifted us back onto our feet and gave us the victory. And it was you who then led us to show the Sirens compassion, just as compassion had been shown to you.”

Now tears were rolling down Sunset’s cheeks, though she was just able to keep her composure.

“Now,” said Twilight, speaking to all the others, “Sunset is an Equestrian subject, so the award that I am about to give her is not honorary – it’s real. Thus, the receiving of the award will be…a little different.” She turned and looked at Principal Celestia, who reached into her car and drew out something long and black and gold. She brought it to Twilight, who took it from her with a little bow.

Sunset could not contain herself – she knew well what that object was. “Sweet Faust – that’s…”

“Yes, Sunset,” said Twilight. “This is Solar Flare – the personal weapon of the Sovereign of Equestria. Princess Celestia lent it to me today for this purpose.” And, with great dignity, Twilight drew the sword with a ring. She held it aloft, and the rays of the setting sun glinted on it, red and orange. “Kneel, my friend,” she commanded gently.

Sunset, struggling to avoid weeping, went down on one knee. Twilight stepped forward, and touched the flat of the blade to each of Sunset’s shoulders. “Sunset Shimmer, for thy valor and intrepidity, by the authority delegated to me by Celestia Solaris, High Princess of Equestria, Empress of the Crystal Empire, and Mistress of the Sun, I dub thee Dame Sunset Shimmer, Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the Noonday Sun, with all the rights and privileges thereunto pertaining, to date from this day forward, until the ending of the world.”

Sunset couldn’t speak. She just looked up at Twilight almost without comprehension, as tears continued to stream down her face.

Again assisted by Luna, Twilight took another great golden star from the wooden box. “Rise, my friend,” she said, and Sunset got to her feet. Twilight pinned the star on her chest. “And I give you a second award of the same degree and the same order,” Twilight then cried triumphantly. She lifted another gold bar from the wooden box that Luna still held and pinned it to Sunset’s chest just above the Star of the Grand Cross. “Again, without regard for your own life, you confronted my counterpart, successfully invoked the Elements of Harmony, and, instead of destroying her, you offered her your hand in friendship and welcomed her into our company. Just as the hand of friendship was once offered to you! And in doing so, you saved not one, but two worlds. Therefore, I publically declare before these presents what you and I have known privately since the Battle of the Bands: that which you did leading up to and including the Fall Formal is officially pardoned, and your exile is formally ended! You, and your friends, are Heroines of Equestria!” Twilight finished with a great cry.

The group hug couldn’t be delayed any longer. Twilight caught Sunset up, then the five other girls glommed onto the two of them. Celestia and Luna laughed aloud and joined in, and Sunset, with her last bit of composure, extended her arm to human Twilight and beckoned. She seemed a little hesitant, but when she got close enough, Sunset grabbed her and yanked her into the group embrace, laughing with joy.

Author's Note:

Twilight and Rarity’s interest in unicorns is more intense than the other girls because their counterparts are unicorns. It’s a subconscious echo of the interdimensional tie between Earth and Equus.

Ok, so my DnD is showing again. I figure that Princess Twilight and Sunset are both mages, but they are different kinds. Also, I like the idea of different traditional courses of study depending on a unicorn’s particular magical gifts. So, Twilight’s a Loremistress and Sunset’s a Battlemage. I think these sublcasses suit them. I don't have any pre-existing build in mind, so don't go looking for one and assume it's the one I mean.

I’m not sure of the exact political relationship between Equestria and the Crystal Empire, but I figure since Cadance is in charge of it, and she’s junior to Celestia, that that makes Cadance Celestia’s vassal. It also makes Celestia an Empress, because she’s in charge of more than one country. To be very technical, Cadance holds the Crystal Empire in fief as Celestia’s vassal. Cadance was an Equestrian Princess before she was given the Crystal Empire as a fief, so it’s not a principality like Equestria. If Cadance wasn’t a Princess in her own right, she’d probably be the Crystal Empire’s governor-general or viceroy.

I figure Equestria HAS to have Orders of Chivalry. It was fun making the HuMane 6 knights. I largely follow the British Honours System, because I’m most familiar with it. The Most Noble and Ancient Order of the Noonday Sun has five degrees: Member, Officer, Commander, Knight Commander, and Knight Grand Cross. Only the highest two degrees confer knighthood.

Here's the promised timeline: https://www.fimfiction.net/blog/842650/the-timeline

So that’s it. I’ve started on a sequel. I hope it won’t take another 19 months.

Comments ( 212 )

It you are going to put romance in this story, will it it be Sunlight? I mean of course Sunset Shimmer with Princess Twilight right?

Comment posted by Sotharan deleted Mar 1st, 2018
Comment posted by Sotharan deleted Mar 1st, 2018

Yay! Thanks for the comment!

It's kinda long. People might (hopefully) be still reading...

Romance will be for the sequel, and I won’t reveal any shipping ahead of time

Good. I wanted it to be...I hope that means you liked it!

I'll keep that in mind -- thanks!

I haven't even finished reading yet, I'm only three chapters in. But I can already tell I'm going to be reading for the rest of the night. I can't put this down!! Thank you so much for taking all that time to write this story, a proper novel-length story, about this topic. It's an incredible achievement and very well-written to boot. Congratulations. You deserve my follow! (And is it alright if I advertise this story on my user page? It definitely deserves more attention!)

Some advice, your story is likely not going to get many views or upvotes, even if it’s good, because of how you dumped it. Putting a 200k word story up all at once means it will briefly appear under new postings and then disappear never to reach front page again leaving most to never see it. In order to maximize the number of people who could see and read it, post it one chapter at a time spaced days apart on a consistent schedule, since it’s already completed, and that way it will appear under updates every time you add a chapter. This will give it the most front page time and allow more people to notice, read and vote on it. The more votes also plays a role in how many people read it. It would be a shame for you to work over a year on this story and it not have a chance because of how people find stories on this site. Just some advice to make sure your story gets that chance.

I love a good Sunset road to redemption story and this was one of the best I've read. This is going into Favorites and i look forward to the sequel.

Thanks! It's similar to a couple others, but I think I made it bad without making it unrecoverable. And it was fun to depict how the sisters made up.

As I say in the Author's Notes, I was pleasantly surprised how PInkie pretty much wrote herself. She and that fourth wall...

I'm tempted to leave it like that, since it's kinda funny...but I'll fix it. Thanks!

Lol, that joke happened to me and Rarity at the same time. I had her say it, then I realized how bad a joke it would be given that Sunset's...well, equine, so I had to make Rarity embarrassed about it and have the other girls laugh.

Thank you so much -- I'm flattered, in large part because I've enjoyed your stories as well.

Please feel free to advertise. Thanks so much for the support!

Wow, I finally finished and I feel so satisfied. This story just kept getting better and better. I will advertise it for sure!!

All right, I took me two (2) days, but I finish the story.... And it was worth it. This story kept me reading, over and over until I finish it. I loved every moment, there was tears, laughter, and many emotions. I loved it, plain and simple. And it makes me want to wait for more stories from you,too. And I will wait, because you gain an fan!~

Wow... I'm finally done reading this story.

What a ride it was. This was great stuff. I'm quite impressed with all of it - and very happy that I found this and read all the way through! :pinkiehappy:

Thank you, I am honored. And I am pretty sure I will finish that sequel (already has like 30K words...).

Please do, and thank you very much!

I really, really appreciated your comments. Thanks for reading!

No problem, I was more than happy to leave them. :twilightsmile: Like I said, this was a great read; I'm happy to have found this story. And I saw that there's going to be a sequel? I will definitely keep my eyes open for that! :pinkiehappy:

Great! I hope that continues.

Lol, I like the idea that the two sisters still have a fun/excessive side to them.

It really does!

Thank you so much for the compliments! Yes, when I wrote that scene where Sunset calls her "mom" for the first time -- It just seemed right, and I'm glad you liked it.

I'm glad you liked the theory about Sunset's change of heart, too, though as a physician I have to say that your idea is good too! Maybe the "truth" involved both mechanisms. :yay:

Thank you! Yeah, Sunset did overextend a bit there -- it's that darn fire inside her -- she just doesn't give up!

Good! Yeah, Anon-A-Miss is a tough one, and I think my reasons for not including it are reasonable (and right, darn it!). I really do like some of the fanfics that deal with it, though.

I can't wait for the sequel keep up the good work.

P.S. If I didn't see that you were righting a sequel then I would have had to invoke some very ancient deities to "convince" you.


Thanks so much for your encouragement, and I'll keep working on the sequel. I might even add some updates to this story.

YAY! More chapters!

This story is even better on my second read through!

I agree, and I'm glad someone noticed the reference!

Lol, in reality, probably nowhere all that scandalous. In my head, I imagined them at a bar (at a nice restaurant). Sunset was just too tired to join them that particular night (maybe she and her friends had had an extra busy day) so they decided to go somewhere a bit more adult than they would have if Sunset had been with them.

Not sure I understand the SciTwi origin question -- please elaborate.

I hope it was clear, however, that Celestia tried to reassure Sunset that the scenario where Celestia is starting to die and that Sunset would need to succeed her was NOT what Celestia meant.

Good catch on the "out of hand". It should have been hoof. I fixed it.


Cause of Death: Feels.

Murder Weapon: Full Circle

Suspect: Sotharan

Really though, this was an absolutely amazing fic. Took me a while to get through it, but, lo and behold, I did. Great Job! And a sequel? Please!

I somehow didn't get a notification for this, so I apologize for the late reply. But, what I mean is this: Twilight is descended from Celestia, as are both of her parents. But, the human world only came into having a Celestia recently. I know the human counterparts of everypony exists, but Sunset can only be related to the pony counterparts, not the human versions, since the original relation was Celestia herself. So, unless there was another Celestia from a long time ago that they all were descended from, none of them should share that common ancestor, as she did not exist.

Right, so, full disclosure -- my trig is 25 years ago. I was lucky to recognize it as a trig question at all. So while I meant the same question as in the movie, I didn't realize Sunset hadn't been given enough info.

Which begs the question -- is the writing on Twilight's board any different? Cinch was judging this section, and maybe she wrote the questions on the boards. Knowing that CHS could actually win the first event if Sunset won (or that they could even tie), could she have given Sunset less information than she gave Twilight?

Not that I insist Sunset is as smart as Twilight -- I think they are both very intelligent, but I give a slight edge to Twilight. Sunset has other gifts and is more well rounded over all. On an ADND 3.5 scale, I'd give Sunset a 19 INT and Twilight a 20.

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for your feedback! I'm working on the sequel, and I'll probably add a few chapters to this one to explain the fate of the seaponies.

I get what you're saying now, and I think this is just something where we'll have to suspend disbelief. After all, how can human Celestia be pony Celestia's counterpart at all, since they are nearly 1,000 years apart in age? There are a few fun ways to speculate on how it could work though: :raritywink:

1. Human Celestia is a genetic reincarnation of an ancestor who was identical to pony Celestia a la Gaheris and Telemachus Rhade from Andromeda. :pinkiegasp:
2. A Higher Power could be involved a la https://www.fimfiction.net/story/359157/6/the-eye-that-floats-silent-and-unblinking-in-sunset-shimmers-kitchen/eyepilogue. "The Eyeball sensed another's hand in this, and wanted no part at all." :twilightoops:
3. This: https://www.fimfiction.net/story/282050/principal-celestias-family-reunion. :trollestia:

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