• Published 27th Mar 2018
  • 3,257 Views, 141 Comments

Lunangrad - Cynewulf

Luna, newly returned from her exile, takes Twilight along on a pilgrimage into her own past.

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I. Be Comfortable, Creature

Canterlot always did this to her, didn’t it? It always reached deep down and tugged at all of her memories.

Luna’s letter had been markedly different from what Twilight had come to expect. She had switched from her usual manner to a very formal one, shedding the turns of phrase, the playful word games, and the occasional lapse into other languages that so marked her correspondence. At first it had troubled her, but she had decided it was merely Luna settling into her role. That was a good thing. A Princess should be comfortable switching between roles. Not that she knew much about being a princess.

Idly, Twilight wondered what Luna remembered whenever she explored a brand new Equestria. What did she think of Canterlot? It had only been a small settlement around an old fort when she’d… Left. That was the politest way that Twilight knew how to phrase that. What would it be like to come back home and find that not only was your home gone, but that the city it had been inside of was gone, that everypony had moved away, and that hardly anyone remembered that there had ever even been such a city? Did she walk through Canterlot and see flashes of her old life in the faces of the ponies she passed, the architecture that reached up towards the mountain sky?

Or did she just miss it, and not see anything but a city she could never think of as home?

Twilight shook her head. That was a bit bleak.

Perhaps Luna’s missive had put her in such a mood. Or perhaps it was just natural to find oneself being a bit melancholy after a long absence from childhood’s home.

The the summons had been ambiguous though not entirely devoid of information. Luna had been on something of a homecoming tour in the wake of her return, exploring the great cities of Equestria and greeting the ponies there as a Princess is wont to do. She had been given the keys to half a dozen cities, and had tasted the wine and produce of the provinces and seen the ways in which ponies lived in a bright new world. Twilight had been under the impression that her tour had ended several months ago, but apparently it had not. Luna had one last city to see.

Lunangrad. Twilight knew little about it, and she had discovered quickly that her ignorance was almost universal. Her Ponyville neighbors knew precious little about it, and the books in her library had only been helpful to a point.

It was a lonely city, far from any other civilization in the northern province. The closest city was Stalliongrad, and between the two beacons of light and warmth there were only rough roads. Its connection to the principality at large was tenuous in more sense than one: geographic isolation bred other sorts of isolation. Perhaps it was a product of rough terrain and dreadful storms that buffeted the Lunaga river basin and kept it frozen six months out of the year; perhaps it was the aftereffects of Chaotic magic and Discord’s tenure as master of the continent, as some sources speculated; perhaps it had always been this way--whatever the cause, Lunangrad had very little in common with anypony and any place. Its ponies were a hard and stoic sort, not given to song or story. They shared few, if any, of the customs and holidays of their southern neighbors, and some sources suggested that they had once been completely independent of Equestria. Somehow this had changed, but the histories were at a loss to explain how or why the altogether unfriendly and uninterested citizens of the bleak northern sentinel had thrown in their lot with the united tribes.

Twilight hoped that it was exaggeration. Sometimes the old writers were a bit… judgey, especially about differences between tribes. Back then, ponies weren’t accustomed to playing nice with everyone, and she tried to keep that in mind. Besides, ponies changed! Maybe Lunangrad was a much happier place now! Though it was probably still cold, so she had packed her warmest clothes.

The gate to the palace was also as she remembered it being the first day she had arrived at it. The guards bowed slightly and let her in, and she thanked them as she passed.

Around her, the palace bustled. Within her was a similar energy, as if five dozen small Twilights were rushing from shelf to shelf, working out what lay ahead of her.

Why invite her? Going to Lunangrad, the tour of the country, all of that… those things made sense. She had thought it was a good idea as soon as she had heard that the tour was in the works: what better after a long absence then to both adjust oneself to a new world, and have it reacquainted with you? But in all of that, why invite Twilight Sparkle?

It wasn’t as if she had any sort of ideas about herself as worthless or not deserving. Twilight tried to be modest, but she had studied as the personal student of the Princess, and her family was technically an old and storied one. She had corresponded with some of Equestria’s most learned ponies, and held her ground with them all. Twilight was a scholar for all seasons.

But did Luna need a scholar? What could a scholar bring to her in this situation that she didn’t already know, and far more intimately? For harmony’s sake, Luna probably knew everything she did and more! She’d probably lived it herself.

She almost ran into a poor servant on her way to the throne room, and apologized absently. Introspection would get her nowhere. She would just need to find the sisters and see what waited for her.

She had expected Luna to be waiting, but instead she found Celestia finishing up court for the day in the throne room.

Twilight remembered court. She had attended several times as a filly, and had found it to be an altogether dull exercise. Anything that tore her from her books and the privacy of her observatory had been agony, and the idiocy of listening to every yokel with a gripe had added grievous insult to her inequine injury.

Although she had changed since then, Twilight felt she would never find something like holding court fun. She waited near the door as the last petitioner of the day completed his presentation, with Celestia promising a modest sum from her personal royal coffers to help his project. The stallion left with a spring in his steps and a bright, confident smile, and Twilight couldn’t help but smile along with him.

Her smile only grew when Celestia rose from her throne and announced that her court was officially closed to the public. The scattered townsponies who had wandered in to see what the day had to offer shuffled away as Celestia’s platoon of attendants and scribes scurried back to the comfort of their office burrows. Soon, only Celestia herself and Twilight remained in the great hall.

“Twilight, my faithful student,” Celestia approached and offered Twilight a hug. “It is good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too, Princess!” Twilight accepted the hug with cheer.

Celestia nuzzled her student and then winked at Twilight. “I believe it’s almost time for lunch! Will you walk with me whilst I pay my chef a visit? Not that he’ll be happy to have the palace’s most gluttonous inhabitant like a barbarian at his gate.”

Twilight chuckled. “Petit Pan? Of course!”

Celestia grinned and ushered Twilight along with her towards the kitchens.