• Published 14th Aug 2017
  • 5,733 Views, 86 Comments

Ghosts of A Different Kind - TerraeAntiqua

Celestia watched as an injured colt was rushed to the hospital wing of the castle, clinging to life by a thread. Luna battles her demons as she tries to help the colt heal from his, all so that he may continue to live.

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As the Day Gives Way to Night

Year 7, Return Of Luna
14th of Discordia
Late Evening, Canterlot Castle

It was late in the evening, though Celestia knew it would be a few candles[1] yet before she had to "lower" the sun. In truth, though she was hailed and praised as a solar deity, she did not truly move the sun (she was praised for doing so anyway, even by astronomers). She instead kept her eyes upon the planets which orbit the burning star, including Equus. She kept their orbits stable. She kept their cores spinning. She was responsible for keeping Equus from becoming tidally locked, forever to burn on one side and freeze on the other. In times past, it took several unicorns to accomplish this task, just to spin their own planet and its core (though they hadn't known that's what they were doing), and in times past, ponies had not the capability to measure time as accurately as ponies did now. Their measurement system nowadays was more of a keepsake. A thing left over from those times when candles were the sole method of keeping track of ones business throughout the day.

It may have been Celestia who could accomplish the task that it had once taken ten or more unicorns to do, but not without the help of her sister, Luna, who kept the orbits of not only the moon connected to Equus (named Selene after one of the night alicorn's more ancient aliases), but all of the moons, asteroids, dwarf planets and outlying comets of the system. She and Celestia together made the seasons possible. They, together, held the balance that Discord had disrupted and toyed with as if the cosmos were his playground.

When Luna had been sent to the moon, it had been up to her to manage the entirety of their solar system. All seven planets, seventy-two moons, and thousands of asteroids. Every nudge, spin, and twist. What would only take up one or two half candles[2] worth of her time had then took many. Her sister had prided herself on her work for good reason. The lunar goddess had always been the better at multitasking, of the two of them.

While Day Court had ended a while ago and the evening meal was to begin any moment now, the 18 hands[3] tall alicorn found herself wandering through the castle gardens. As per usual, her personal guard trailed after her in lockstep, always keeping a few paces behind her, always keeping alert to their surroundings.

Black Hawk, the lone thestral among the group of four, was the first to detect that something was amiss. Celestia herself noted a disturbance in the ambient magic around them and raised a shield around herself and her guard. There was a loud, rumbling bang accompanied by a bright flash of light, as if the ground has been struck by lightning, before a swirling, toxic green portal teared the very air apart.

It is parallel to the ground, the sun goddess thought as she assessed the situation. The unicorn of her guard, a stallion who went by Signal Flare, had already begun to gather magic within his horn before he paused at the rise of his princess's wing.

Whatever will come through will either be flying up or falling down.

The portal grew bigger, the air around the garden grew thin, and yet with little theatrics a lone figure fell from the portal.

Celestia was distantly aware that Signal Flare and Black Hawk had the other two guards leave to find the Captain of the Guard, and or her sister. She was aware of the portal snapping shut and all the air rush back in a wave of wind that bit at her eyes and nose. The alicorn was also aware that the figure falling was limp. Unconscious.

It took only a heartbeat for her to lower her shield and give a sharp word to Signal Flare who cast a strong telekinesis on the falling form, now identifiable as a pony, to slow their fall and have them land safely on the ground in front of her.

The little fact that this pony possessed both wings and a horn wasn't important, in the face of his injuries. None of her guards reacted to seeing the sight, though they may have been thinking something along the lines of having been both blessed and cursed, to be a witness to this.

Shards of broken crystal ice dug into both wings. Broken pieces of armor made of the same material hung loose on his frame or, like the shards, dug into his coat. His helmet was cracked as well and that was not counting the actual wounds. Despite the anomaly that brought him here and the uncertainty surrounding him, this alicorn was young. A colt, at best.

A colt who would die if not given medical care.

"Buck it." There were days, weeks, maybe even months old scars, one in particular that looked like a lightning bolt struck his back. She couldn't pay those any mind at the moment, least her thoughts be driven to what having such scars implied and threaten the careful composure that she, just now, broke in order to curse.

She cast several spells in quick succession. One to teleport a gurney from the hospital wing and lift him as gently as she could manage onto it. Another to scan for illness and internal bleeding. Thankfully there was neither, yet.

"Treasured Heart and her team are ready to receive the patient, your highness."

A third to track his vitals and alert her if anything were to take a turn for the worst.

"Teleporting him may prove fatal, with his injuries."

"It would be at least five wicks[4] if we didn't take care to not aggravate his wounds further by bumping into someone or something. A quarter candle[5] at most if we did and if the way was clear of ponies." Black Hawk paced as he thought through their options, "We could always wait here for one of the staff to pick him up, but we don't know how much time we have."

"Black Hawk, you take the lead and clear out the area ahead for Signal Flare and the gurney." Celestia replied, already moving back to the castle as her guards responded with efficiency and speed.

A fourth spell to alert her when he woke up. Assuming, praying, that he would make it through the night.

A quick glance at the sky told her that the evening meal would start soon, which meant Luna would just be waking up and greeted with the pandemonium that was sure to be going on right about now.

Well, they could talk about it soon enough. She might even get some more paperwork done while waiting for news about the colt.

Harmony only knew that she wouldn't be getting any rest tonight.

Luna had not met her for the evening meal.

Her guards have not seen the moon goddess outside of her rooms all day.

Selene had yet to rise and it had been a quarter candle late ten wicks ago.

Celestia found herself pacing on her balcony, glancing up once to see the empty balcony belonging to her sister, again to the west where the sun sat unwavering, and a third time to the east where the moon had yet to be seen.

The solar diarch should just set the planet and its celestial satellite on their course and be done with it. She should then go to see what was wrong with her sister because surely it could not just be her being late to rise this night. It could not be so simple as that.

More pacing and another several wicks flickered by as Celestia fought with herself to do what needed to be done over emotions and centuries old scars rubbed raw.

Releasing her pent up magic, the alicorn gave Equus the push it needed to keep on spinning for another day and reached out to the silvery orb, nudging it to continue on the path that had been set for it and not slow or sync up to the planet's own rotation.

Most of the other celestial bodies in the system only needed a check-up, as it were, and no guidance beyond keeping the dangerous asteroids at bay and making sure no moon swung out of orbit.

Discord may be on their side now, but that didn't mean that he wasn't above pulling something like that just for kicks and giggles.

With this task done, Celestia pulled back, letting her consciousness dive back into body. Gold plated horseshoes clinked against the tile floor as she made her way out of her tower and into the one her sister occupied. Mortal Law made it so she could not have just flown over to Luna's balcony herself and entered the other alicorn's chambers from there. It was her sister's right to privacy, if nothing else. Divine Law, however, demanded that no semi-immortal, ageless, or immortal being intrude upon another's domain without due cause (the inability to perform their duties, for example), or consent.

Two thestrals, Amber Arc and Star Map if she remembered correctly, stood at the large double doors to Luna's rooms. They both saluted her before Star Map spoke.

"The Princess has yet to make her appearance still, Your Highness. If you had not arrived when you did, one of us would have taken it upon ourselves to check on her." The alicorn of the day gave a nod of her head, and after a moment of tense silence, stepped inside.

The whole tower was dark, lit only by dim candlelight. The decorations adorning the walls were gemstones of all colors set into the wall to create murals similar to the ones in the hallway that Celestia favored. One was dedicated to Luna's purification from the Nightmare, Twilight and her friends all present and accounted for. A second one showed her thestrals coming out of their self imposed exile to rejoin the country not even a year after Luna returned. A third showed pieces of Twilight and company facing off against Discord, against Chrysalis and her army, against Sombra. Another showed three little fillies that Luna had come to know and treasure over the years. On and on it went, both walls being covered with no space wasted.

The decorations and artwork within the night themed alicorn's bedroom was no different, though smaller on some occasions if only so it would fit. Nocturnal plant life grew in pots in one part of the circular room, only to have a knocked over pile of books break the otherwise peaceful, perhaps even meditative space. In fact, most of the room was littered with papers, half unrolled scrolls, a telescope that Luna must've either just pulled out or forgotten to put away from the previous night.

Where as Celestia's rooms were the height of order with nothing out of place, Luna's was...the opposite.

Luna herself was sitting in the middle of the room, eyes closed, horn aglow with icy silver magic, her face contorted with concentration. Papers fluttered in a breeze that came in from the open balcony doors, her mane and tail appearing far more like deep space that so far only the two sisters have seen. Hundreds of thousands of stars, different gas clouds glowing a myriad of colors in their light.

Was Luna working this early?

Was somepony having a nightmare that was so dark or sad that it needed this level of attention?

Celestia for the second time that day found her mind in a struggle. This time on whether or not to call out to her sister and disturb her work, or to leave her be and postpone Night Court for a later time.

It was only a single wick later though, that Luna pulled out of whatever trance she'd been in with a gasp and a strangled neigh that never got past a whimper.

"Luna?" There were tears, "Luna are you alright?" The dark coated alicorn looked at her with haunted eyes.

"Where is the colt, Tia?"

"In the hospital wing." Hadn't she known already where he was? Hadn't one of the guards or castle staff let her know? Or had she been in here the whole time, deaf to the world as she walked through the Dreaming? That, to Celestia, seemed like the most likely option but...

Luna's next words came out in a rush as she rose and began to gather yet more magic in her horn, "Join us if you wish, then, but we must see him."

It took all of half a wick for her to let the guards outside know where Luna had gone, before igniting her horn and following her sister in a brief flash of light.

Author's Note:

[1] candle - one hour
[2] half candle - 30 minutes
[3] hands - used to measure actual horse height, one hand is about four inches
[4] wick - one minute
[5] quarter candle - 15 minutes