• Published 26th Nov 2017
  • 1,335 Views, 45 Comments

Break of Day - Eroraf86

Celestia realizes just how hard Luna's job is ... and how important it is to NOT mess up.

  • ...

Counsel and Consolation

Luna's mouth watered as she gazed at the repast in front of her: a stack of four massive, fluffy pancakes, warm and dripping with butter and syrup, artfully topped with whipped cream and fresh berries; a breakfast truly fit for a princess. Inhaling the delicious scent, she gave her sister an appreciative smile. "By my stars, sister, if your cooking tastes half so good as it smells, then I have truly been depriving myself these past moons."

Celestia smiled warmly in return. "As I told Starlight Glimmer, sister, I really enjoy doing it." Lifting her fork and knife in her sun-hued aura, her smile turned into a smirk. "Besides, if I let you cook for us, we'd both starve."

Luna gasped and recoiled in well-feigned shock, holding a hoof to her chest. "You wound me, sister! 'Tis a lie! I recall distinctly a time when you were more than happy to subsist on my culinary achievements!"

"You mean other than during Discord's reign? Chocolate cotton candy soup does not count as cooking."

Luna rested her chin on her raised hoof, taking her sister's teasing in stride. "You're just mad you didn't come up with it first."

"My stomach was mad enough that you came up with it at all!"

The two regal sisters glared at each other for a moment, before lapsing into helpless giggles.

Celestia brushed a tear from her eye as she regained her composure. "Oh, I've missed this, Luna. I know our differing schedules still don't allow us much time together, but I'm glad you were willing to stay up and share breakfast with me."

Luna nodded pensively. "'Tis a pleasure, sister, one that I have also missed. We do not spend nearly enough time together as sisters, and I fear I may be partially to blame for that." She paused to stifle a yawn and blushed faintly. "Oh, pardon. Speaking of things being missed..."

Celestia tittered faintly. Still not an early riser, but I wouldn't have her any other way. "Well, I certainly won't be accused of keeping a princess from her beauty rest; as a princess myself, I should know how important that is. Now eat up, before your pancakes get cold!"

The rest of the meal passed in companionable silence, both sisters simply taking the time to enjoy each other's company. Finishing her plate of pancakes with a very un-princess-like lick, Luna slid back her seat and stood up, stifling another yawn. "Most excellent, sister. I shall have to avail myself of your culinary expertise more often. Now, if you will excuse me, I believe I hear my bed calling." She turned and began to trot towards the door.

"Luna, wait."

Luna stopped in her tracks and turned to face her sister again. All thoughts of sleep vanished at the expression on Celestia's face. All of a sudden, she seemed so ... vulnerable. That facial expression struck a chord with Luna—as the younger sister, she had often worn that same look over a thousand years ago, when they were but newly crowned princesses; and as the Mistress of Dreams, tasked with dispelling nightmares and counseling ponies troubled by them, she saw that face on almost a nightly basis.

It was the face of a frightened foal, one who had seen something terrible, seeking the wisdom and comforting strength of her loved ones to chase away the fear.

In short, it was an expression that had no business occupying the face of her big sister, and it was thus her duty to see that expression removed before she sought her chambers. She took a tentative step forward. "What troubles you, sister?"

Celestia glanced furtively around the room, ensuring there were no prying ears. "There's ... something I need to ask you about. Something that I believe only you can help me with."

Luna's ears pricked forward, realization lighting in her eyes. "Is this about your dream last night?"

Celestia's ears flattened. She softly pawed at the marble floor with one hoof. "You already knew?"

"I am the Mistress of Dreams, sister. Nothing in that realm escapes my notice." She cast her gaze downward, staring at her hoof as it tapped awkwardly against the floor. "Though, sometimes it might seem otherwise."

"Then why didn't you come to me last night?" Celestia was looking right at her now, her magenta eyes wide and searching, almost beseeching her for an explanation.

Luna sighed and took another step closer. "You were not the only one whose sleep was troubled last night. Both Twilight and her student were plagued by night terrors, most likely brought on by the previous night's ... incident." Both sisters shuddered faintly at the memory of their dark selves waging war against each other. "I first sensed your nightmare just as I was dispelling Starlight's. By the time I had finished consoling her, you had already awoken."

Celestia tilted her head slightly, considering. "Then why did you not come to me when I fell back asleep?"

"Your sleep was dreamless after that, sister. While I can only guess at the contents of your dream, it greatly taxed your mind and body, and inducing further dreams would have been counterproductive; your body decided it needed a chance to recover, and I respected that." Luna gave a wavering smile. "Besides, I trusted you. I knew that if you were truly distraught, you would bring it up eventually. You've always been sensible like that."

Celestia sighed and nodded. "I suppose you have a point, and I can't fault you for wanting to finish one job before starting the next." She straightened and grimaced slightly, bracing herself to recall the previous night's events. "Actually, it's not just the dream I'm concerned about, so much as what happened after..."

Over the next several minutes, she related the events of last night—the voice in her dream, the sudden surge of power, the gruesome devastation she wrought with that power; then the shock of her awakening, the fire, her guards' quick action; and finally, the frightening implications of her guards' description of her transformed self, a form that was all too familiar. Luna listened silently, her expression gradually shifting, from curiosity, to shock, disgust, horror, and back to shock, before finally settling on deep contemplation as she processed what she had heard. "A frightening tale indeed. And you are certain of what your guards saw?"

Celestia sighed. "I wish I wasn't. When I explained Starlight's dream in court yesterday, I only gave the general details. I never described Daybreaker's appearance fully, just that she was like a more fiery, destructive version of myself. Had that been all that my guards had told me last night, I might have believed that they merely saw the flames and jumped to conclusions." She shook her head. "My guards' description was far more detailed. The slitted eyes, the predatory fangs, even the way her fiery mane flowed... Every detail was an exact match. What they saw last night ... what I turned into ... there can be no doubt."

"Most intriguing. I have seen many instances of sleep-casting, but never one involving a physical transformation. The fire I might be able to accept, given the events of your nightmare, but this..." Luna paced back and forth, eyes narrowed in concentration. "There is something else at work here. Something I just can't put my hoof on..." She continued pacing, muttering softly to herself as she considered the possibilities.

Minutes passed.

Celestia couldn't take it anymore. "Luna?" Her sister gave no sign that she had heard. "LUNA!" The Mistress of Dreams squawked in alarm, tripped over her own hooves, and landed face-first on the marble tiles. Celestia rolled her eyes, stifling a snicker. "As amusing as it is to watch you wear a hole in the floor, I have a very busy schedule today. If you have any answers, I would love to hear them."

Luna stood and shook herself out, then glared at her sister. "A fine attitude that is, for one seeking my help."

Celestia, realizing her mistake, sighed and massaged her temples. "I'm sorry I snapped like that, Luna. I guess I'm still a bit on edge from last night, and recalling it just now didn't exactly help." She stepped forward and nuzzled her sister. "If you need more time to think, that's fine, but I really do have to be going now. I'm already late for my first appointment."

Luna nodded. "I understand perfectly, sister. Go and attend to your duties. I shall consider this matter further once I retire for the day." At Celestia's quizzical look, she elaborated. "As you may know, dreams serve in part as a tool for the mind to conduct experiments and sort through memories. Some ponies are able to control this aspect of dreams, using their time asleep to find solutions to nagging problems." Seeing her elder sister's comprehension, she smiled and winked. "Who better to utilize dreams for problem solving than the Mistress of Dreams herself?"

Celestia chuckled softly. "Ah yes, how could I have forgotten? Twilight used to love doing that when she was my student. 'Dreamstorming', I believe she called it." She nodded. "Very well, then I hope your sleep today is both restful and productive. Shall we meet and discuss this further over dinner tonight?"

"Indeed we shall. Several possibilities already present themselves; it is my hope that by this evening, I shall have narrowed them down sufficiently for us to take action." She stifled a yawn. "Now, if you will excuse me, I will retire. I wish you well in your duties, sister." She turned and trotted out the door, then paused and looked back. "Oh, and sister? It might be best to keep this between ourselves for the time being. I believe your little story yesterday gave your nephew quite the scare."

Celestia snorted. "Blueblood's scared of his own shadow these days. But I agree, sister; our switching places for a day was disruptive enough, let alone this fiasco. I don't even want to imagine the chaos if this got out to the nobles."

"Chaos" was putting it mildly.

Celestia sat stiffly on her throne, resisting the urge to clamp her hooves over her ears. Yesterday's shouting match now seemed trivial by comparison. She didn't know how, or who, though she had some guesses for both; but somehow, some loose-lipped individual within the castle had gotten wind of her transformation. Naturally, all of Canterlot knew the whole story—or at least, some exaggerated variation thereof—before noon.

She would have words with her guards tonight, and find the pony responsible. A month of latrine duty would be too good for him. Maybe she would let Luna decide his punishment; she was always the creative one when it came to such things.

At least today wasn't a total repeat of yesterday—no, it was much worse. Everywhere she went, ponies trembled in her presence. Most of them tried to hide it, but their eyes showed the truth. With few exceptions, her beloved subjects no longer loved her as they once had.

They feared her.

It didn't matter what she said. It didn't matter what she did. The damage had been done. They had heard the reports of her evil self, the rumors of her transformation the previous night, and those rumors had taken root like weeds in their minds. Some did manage to uproot the rumors in their own minds, those ponies who truly knew their beloved princess and refused to be swayed by mere words; were it not for them, she might not have kept her composure this long.

But the others—certain disreputable specimens of the nobility foremost among them—they saw in this moment an opportunity, a chance to prove the alicorns dangerous and unfit for rule, a chance for the noble unicorns to reclaim their rightful place at the top of society. And always, there were rabble-rousers, makers of mischief, otherwise stable ponies who wanted nothing more than to watch the world burn.

Celestia was not ignorant of these individuals; the fact that Equestria still stood was proof of that. But when the better part of the nobility sided with the agents of Chaos against her, there was little that she could do. Her calls for order went unheeded; the guards who were meant to maintain order were drawn into the quarrel. Even the Princess of the Sun was powerless against this madness.

Powerless... Just like all those other times...

Unbidden, a torrent of memories arose. Nightmare Moon... Discord... The changelings... Sombra... Tirek... All the great threats that had faced Equestria over the last eleven centuries... And each time, she had lost, or had come close to losing, something or someone most dear to her...

Because I wasn't strong enough...

NO! She gritted her teeth and clenched her eyes against the voice, the voice that was her own. I did what had to be done. I couldn't do anything more, even if I wanted to! I got my sister back, though it took a thousand years. Discord was reformed, and later helped save us from the changelings, who also became our allies. The Crystal Empire returned, and Sombra was destroyed. Tirek was returned to Tartarus. Everything worked out in the end!

At what cost? How many ponies, how long must they suffer for the sake of your pacifism?

Be silent! Her mane flickered erratically. BE SILENT! The quarrel grew ever louder, mirroring her own.

"SILENCE!!!" Windows shattered and eardrums ruptured as the full force of the Royal Canterlot Voice shook the mountain. Guards and nobles alike cried out and flung themselves to the ground, clamping their hooves over their aching ears; those closest to the throne scrambled backward, beating frantically at the flames rising from their clothes, their pristine fur scorched to ashes.

A choked voice spoke from the throne, though they dared not raise their eyes to meet its source. "Court is canceled. Get out."

They needed no second bidding.

As the stunned masses stumbled out to seek treatment for their injuries, a few individuals lingered for a moment at the door, questioning what had just happened. One such individual, a well-to-do unicorn with what once was a snow-white coat and azure mane, risked a glance back at where, just moments before, the Princess of the Sun had sat, calm and regal as ever. What he saw in that moment would haunt him for weeks to come.

The golden throne of Equestria was a smoldering ruin, its metal sagging and misshapen from the heat, the plush cushions and nearby wall hangings now a mess of smoking tatters. An immense white alicorn sat upon it, fire flowing from her neck and cascading over her shoulder. Her eyes, slitted golden orbs in a black abyss, gazed downward at the devastation she had wrought; her elongated, predatory teeth were clenched in a grimace. A tear, and then another, fell from her slitted eyes, meeting their end with a loud hiss on the scorching metal.

Fearsome though her form was, the eyes told a different story: fear, and confusion; grief, and regret. There was no doubt in his mind: that was no monster, seated upon the ruined throne.

This was a frightened child, all that remained of his beloved princess.

Shuddering and shaking his head, Fancy Pants slowly trotted out of the throne room. As the massive golden doors thudded to behind him, he almost missed the pop and flash of amber light from within.

He shivered and uttered a short prayer. All-mother Faust preserve us.

Author's Note:

Writing is hard when there's so much other stuff to do. So many other good fanfics... So many videos on YouTube... So much to explore in Octopath Traveler...

But hey, it's the journey that matters, right?

You know the drill, no promises schedule-wise, but I hope this was worth the wait.

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Comments ( 21 )

I'd say it was.

Glad to hear it! Thanks for your feedback.

Unfortunately, it'll probably be a couple months before you find out. Once I've survived my qualifying exam, I need to go back and do some significant revisions to what I've written so far.

Still, I'm glad you're enjoying it so far! :twilightsmile: Thanks for faving and commenting.

Good story update soon.

That's the plan. :twilightsmile: Gimme a month or so to tackle some edits, and we'll get that ball rolling again.

Okay. And check out my story Recovering friendship when you get a chance. I

9381103 You are welcome! Just finished the last published chapter and I'm looking forward to more, even if it's just edits. Furthermore, really good job on both Celestia's inner conflict and her interactions with other characters, it all flows really naturally :twilightsmile: And by the way, you have there some very interesting bits of lore. I think I have to go now and see if I can find a picture of Celestia sitting in a jacuzzi full of fire/lava!

Well, this is distressing...

Eagerly looking forward to more, whenever it may come.

Hopefully won't be much longer. Grad school isn't exactly conducive to writing, but I've been going over some edits in my head. I want to fix what I've already written before working on the next chapter.

Many thanks for the comment, FoME-senpai. It means a lot to me. Hopefully, this will motivate me enough to get my plot moving.

Can't wait to read more of this.

Can't wait to write more of this!

I'm tracking this. I don't care how long it takes for the next chapter to come out, I'm going to wait. And I'm good at waiting.

Not to mention that this story is too good to be left hanging like this.

Please finish this. This story is amazingly good.

Any updates on the next chapter?

It’s in my head, just have to get over my fear of failure and write it down. Current objective is end of the month. Thanks for sticking around!

That’s fine bud, just making sure there’s still a chance of you actually completing it so I’m not getting my hopes up for nothing. I’m actually really curious in seeing how Luna will react to this.

Still routing for ya bud

Guess were still waiting for the next chapter lol love it all so far

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