• Published 14th Apr 2018
  • 2,796 Views, 236 Comments

Dear Faithful Student - Muramasa



Celestia has been alive for thousands upon thousands of years, and as a result, has had more than one student who have studied under her. When her long dead students appear in modern day Equestria in their youth, Twilight must discover why.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER THIRTEEN:
JUBILEE


Going through that portal was never fun.

It kinda felt like being swallowed by a really large wave at the beach. You get jostled around for what feels like an eternity, and you can't really do anything about it: you just have to desperately hold your breath as it beats you into submission before you finally have a chance to move your limbs and break to the surface.

That's what it felt like, and every time I surfaced from the portal with shortness of breath I always wondered why I go back and forth through it as casually as I often did. There was time enough for me to lie awake at night and ponder of every bad decision I've ever made, though: I had to get to Cobalt.

Unlike Violet, Cobalt had requested his own room for what I assumed served as a basis for his nefarious purposes. I knew where it was, though, having checked in on some of his early projects with Equestria's current technology, and so handing off the tech was the very first thing I planned to do when I got to Canterlot. I knew it would be late, of course--I had to take the train from Ponyville back to Canterlot, and so it was around 8ish when I got there--but as I'd mentioned to Fluttershy before I left the human world, I wasn't entirely sure if Cobalt ever really slept.

Even pushing open the double doors took strength I'd rather not have used, and I could hear my hoofsteps echo through the now mostly-empty palace. I wasn't expecting anyone to be in the throne room, so I was surprised to see Celestia and one of her guards chatting by her throne in the palace.

I hadn't seen the guard before, but I immediately knew her rank based on the color of her armor. While traditional guards were donned in gold, this pony wore a very muted orange, which denoted her as the Equestrian Guard's very highest rank: the Commanding Officer of the Sunspears. There were a few different ponies who held the title during my tenure as Celestia's student, but Twilight had informed me a while back that her brother took up the position for a considerable tenure not long after I'd escaped through the portal. She had a dark red coat and a golden mane and tail, from the looks of it, and there was a sword sheathed by her side that looked a bit different than the ones I'd seen most guards wear.

She bowed very deeply to Celestia before accepting what appeared to be a wrapped present from the monarch and turning away. As soon as she walked by me, and I got a good look at her face, I immediately knew what made that sword look different, and I waited until she was certainly out of the room before I turned to my former mentor to question her.

"The head of the guard is from Nippony?" I asked her, able to hear the interested shock carrying through my voice. I knew there were a few Equestrian guards from different places, but I had never heard of a foreigner making their way up to the top. Celestia nodded with a warm smile before looking back to the hallway the pony had exited from.

"Yes. Her name is Sakura, and she's been head of the Sunspears for about a year and a half now. They don't really do birthdays in Nippony, but it's hers today and I thought I would give her a gift for her service. Unless there is an emergency, she shouldn't bother you." She said the last part slyly, and I couldn't help but imagine the fierce persona the head of the Sunspears put on as I laughed along with her. When it died down, however, I quickly motioned to my saddlebag.

"Is Cobalt here? I have some goodies for him I know he's gonna love." If Celestia's smile was sly before, the new grin she wore upon her face was downright sadistic: I didn't think I'd ever seen such an evil genius look from Celestia, but the words that came out of her mouth shortly afterward gave it all the justification it needed.

"Cobalt has decided to go with Violet to a cafe downtown," she said simply. My jaw immediately dropped, and I rolled my eyes in annoyance as the laughter Celestia had been withholding began to break out in spades.

"I've been gone for a day!" I complained, throwing a hoof up in the air. That caused the Princess to laugh even harder, and we carried on in the fit for what seemed like forever before it finally died down. Eventually, Celestia waved her hoof in dismissal before speaking once more.

"I don't know if it's like that yet, exactly," she began. "Cobalt's always been a bit oblivious and I'd find it hard to believe that Violet is over her love from so long ago." My ears perked up at that last bit, and I found my mouth open ever-so-slightly, for real this time, at the revelation.

"Violet had a husband?" I asked, astonished. She hadn't mentioned anything about the subject during our time rooming together, and that was certainly an important detail about her life. Celestia shook her head in the negative, however, leaving me more confused before she cleared it all up.

"They never wed, or had children. They wanted to--and believe me, Sunset, they wanted to--but Violet was unable. His name was Slate, and he was a stone mason in Canterlot. He was a wonderful stallion, and they were inseparable." I looked to the ceiling in thought, trying to remember a time when Violet may have mentioned the name, but I simply could not.

"Did she outlive him?" I asked her simply. Again, she shook her head, and I nodded silently in acknowledgment.

"Slate was beside me at her bedside as she died. He passed on ten or so years later, but he made sure to visit her resting place in Hourton every year until he died. She... she does not know any of that, though. She hasn't said a word about him since she's been here, so I haven't had the opportunity to tell her." I could feel my face scrunch up in confusion, but before I could reply, Celestia spoke again in a softer voice.

"Of course, you're free to ask her about all of this yourself, as aside from me, you've gotten to know her best. I would recommend, though, that you approach it tactfully. She adored Slate, and she may not be speaking of him in an effort to be rid of him from her mind."

I nodded slowly at her words, taking in everything I'd heard. I certainly would ask her about it, but I'd make sure the time was right: Violet's love life was far from a pressing issue. Once again, though, Celestia interrupted my reflections, having done a bit of her own in the brief period of silence.

"You know, they're the only two people in this building that have the shared experience of what's happening to them," she began. "This could all just be a friendship out of common circumstance. I don't know." For the first time in a bit, I found myself giving off a short chuckle before raising my eyebrows to address the Princess.

"I'll be on the lookout and report back with any developments," I stated jokingly. We had another laugh--I dwelled a bit on how much I missed our banter, but not for too long--and before I knew it, the tiredness from dimensional traveling and city traveling began to weigh down on me all at once.

"Well, I'm gonna head up to my room," I began. Celestia nodded in agreement and slid off her throne, indicating that she planned on doing the very same thing. As we walked out of the throne room together, I decided very spontaneously that I had one last point of inquiry for the princess.

"Do you remember what cafe they went to?" I began. "I haven't gone out to eat yet downtown yet."


When I awoke, Violet wasn't there. I didn't know where she was, but when I looked to the counter to see my saddlebag empty, I gave a sigh of relief: it appeared the Violet didn't have too much fun last night, as she at least returned to the room and saw my note about giving the contents of the satchel to Cobalt.

I went through my traditional morning routine: I showered, brushed my teeth, straightened my mane to the best of my ability. I was already hungry, and so I grabbed my saddlebag and made sure the adequate amount of bits were in it before I headed downstairs.

The place was apparently called "The Bannermare", and it was a traditional Equestrian cafe. I was actually pretty excited: I hadn't eaten Equestrian food as a pony in quite some time, and Celestia had told me that the food was delicious and that she'd heard the decor was very charming (she'd never been able to eat out at a restaurant for years and she wasn't a fan of preventing other ponies by eating through renting a place out). As I headed downstairs, though, I saw a crowd began to gather by the door, and I assumed that either Fluttershy or Starlight Glimmer had arrived.

As it turns out, it was the both of them. They had only just begun to walk towards the rest of the crowd as I joined in, but everyone managed to go in for a hug with the two of them.

"Alright, alright!" I heard Starlight chirp from below the pile. It eventually cleared, and I was able to get a good look at the Equestrian counterpart to the person I'd just been talking to in another dimension yesterday.

She looked towards me almost immediately and gave me a sheepish smile. I walked up to her and held out my hoof, trying my best to match it.

"Hey there, Fluttershy," I greeted. "I'm Sunset Shimmer. I don't think we've technically met yet." Fluttershy took the hoofshake, but she leaned backward and began to mumble as she did so.

"I've heard a lot about you," she said, very softly. I heard her, but I'd already gone through this whole bit with a Fluttershy from a different dimension, and so I narrowed my eyes in an exaggerated manner and cupped a hoof to my ear as I leaned in.

"I'm sorry?" I replied, unable to hide my devilsh grin. At this point, I was teasing her, and a voice that called out behind me decided to give away the joke early.

"She knows what you said. Knock it off, Sunny." I turned around to find none other than the Princess of Friendship approaching, the grin on her visage very much matching mine. I rolled my eyes in fake annoyance as she passed me by, leaning her neck out for her friend to hug. Fluttershy obliged, and the two began to discuss Twilight's injury as Starlight turned to the rest of the group.

"Well howdy, everyone!" she said, waving her hoof frantically. "I assume nothing's changed while I've been gone?" I, always very much excited to give Starlight Glimmer a hard time, raised my eyebrows as I approached her.

"Funny you mention it, I woke up this morning and found that my cutie mark was missing. You have anything to do with that?" That drew a quick laugh from the group, and Starlight playfully shoved me on the shoulder as I walked on past her. I turned around quickly and gave her hug, of course, and she returned it gladly with a bit of chuckle. I waited for a retort, but in vein: in a bit of an unusual circumstance for Starlight in the brief time I'd known her, she opted to take the higher road and say nothing. I was dissapointed, but that made me no less happy to see Starlight come back to the castle, and I began to head for the door as the others grouped up to chat.

"Glad to see you again," she said softly after we broke up our embrace. Before I left for good, I turned to the rest of the group and, while waving, spoke a final request.

"I'm gonna go get some food. If anypony sees Cobalt, tell him he needs to come talk to me when I'm back." They all nodded affirmatively before going back to their respective conversations, and I adjusted my saddlebag one last time before spltting the castle's double doors and heading into the beast of downtown Canterlot.


Celestia was right. The place was really nice.

It wasn't fancy or anything, but the atmosphere was very comfortable. Various pieces of scrap art hung on the walls and ceiling, and the tables were made to look like metal bolted together. There were some pieces of regular art dotted here and there, too, and the menus had that fancy script writing that all those hipster restaurants have. It looked like the standard artsy cafe, but I missed those in the human world, and so I welcomed the opprotunity to eat here with open... uh, hooves? Forelegs?

I guess one thing doesn't change across dimensions.

It wasn't long before the waitress, a tall pegasus mare with a light blue coat and a yellow mane and tail, came over to my table and set a menu down in front of me.

"Hello, welcome to the Bannermare! I'm Lily, and I'll be your server this afternoon. Have you been here before?" I shook my head in the negative, and her fake smile got a little more genuine as she continued.

"Well, it's always nice to see some new faces. We have our menu here and the sides are on the back. Can I start you off with something to drink?" After glancing over the menu for a second, I leaned back in my chair and turned to face her.

"Do you have any GPAs?" The waitress immediately nodded her head in the affirmative, and she flipped the menu over to show me a drink list that I had missed on my first overview of the sheet.

"We have quite a few GPAs, actually. I'm not really a fan of pale ale myself, but I know Griffonian Coastal is the favorite amongst all the employees here, and most of our customers." I immediately nodded in response--Griffonian Coastal had always been my favorite, and I'd really asked the question in an effort to not embarrass myself if the brand longer existed for whatever reason.

"It's earned its reputation. I'll do that." Lily nodded in understanding as she jotted it down very quickly with a pen in her wing.

"Alright, then! I'll be back with that soon and give you some time to look over the menu." I nodded absentmindedly as she walked away, leaving myself alone with the decor once more.

I leaned back in my chair and began to think. It was very nice to have this time to myself, but it wouldn't be long before I walked out of here and back to the palace to discuss Cobalt and I's little project (well, mostly his). I also wanted to catch up with Starlight now that she was back, and I made it a goal that I was going to at least try and become the best friends I could be with the other girls. I didn't know if it would be the same as it was back in the human world, but it was worth a shot, as I never really felt better than when I was with my six best friends.

I decided on my meal fairly quickly, and it was in the middle of my thoughts whilst waiting for Lily to return when I suddenly saw her.

Two tables down from me, through a veil of ponies chatting away with their food, was a very peculiar unicorn mare. She had a silver coat that seemingly glinted in the light and a long light black mane that was styled in a similar controlled-chaos like Rainbow Dash's, but there were two features that immediately stuck out about her.

The first was her tattoos, which were likely magically administered. Tattoos were relatively uncommon in Equestria, but this mare had sleeves running up all four of her legs, it seemed, though from what I could see her legs were the only place she had them. The tattoos were black like her mane, and they were very cool and unique ornate patterns that sometimes changed shape and thickness until they curled off faintly right where her torso met her legs. She probably attracted odd stares wherever she went, I'm sure, but it seemed like the ponies around her had already done so.

The second thing was her eyes. She truly was gorgeous, but her eyes were particularly striking: they were bright red, and like her coat, they seemed to glint and gleam with the light. It was almost hypnotic, really, and I was only getting a bit of a look due to the fact that they were currently buried in a book that she levitated not far from her face with a golden aura. The only thing beside her was a single cup of what appeared to be coffee, and it looked as if she hadn't even touched it.

I had never seen this mare in my entire life, and yet I somehow knew exactly who she was.

"Did you decide on what you wanted?" came a voice from my side. I jumped from my seat almost immediately, and I could feel my face begin to wash with red as I quickly spoke to the waitress before she could apologize.

"I'm sorry, you just scared me a little. I'd like the double hayburger with everything on it, extra pickles, and a side of sunflowers." Lily nodded attentively before gesturing beside me, and I turned to find the pale ale I'd requested resting neatly on a coaster.

"I, uh, put your drink right there for you. Will that be all?" I nodded quickly before leaning in and lowering my voice to almost a whisper, gesturing over to the mare at the middle of the room.

"Yeah, it will, but I think I'm gonna move over to where that mare is sitting. She's a friend of mine from CSGU, and I haven't seen her in a while, so I'm gonna surprise her." Lying was perhaps one of my greater talents, and so the waitress's smile widened to reach her ears as she immediately bought my story.

"Aww, that's so cool! I'll bring it over to that table when it's ready for you." She closed her notepad and walked away swiftly, and I watched her blend into the crowd before quickly grabbing the pale ale with magic and shuffling over to where she was.

When I quickly pulled out the chair in front of her and sat down recklessly, making sure to set my drink down a bit more carefully, she immediately pulled her book down to reveal an angrily confused look spread across her countenance.

"Uh, excuse me--"

"Silver Jubilee?" I asked, staring her directly in the eyes. The anger slowly seeped out from her gaze once I spoke her name, but the confusion lasted just a bit longer before her visage turned grave as she pulled a bookmark from a place I couldn't see and slipped it in between the pages.

"You must be with Celestia," she said simply as she set the book down. Her voice was in about the same pitch as mine was, but it sounded far more mature. When she turned to me, I saw a sternness in her eyes that immediately told me loads about her personality: she didn't seem to be the outgoing and abrasive type like I first imagined she'd be when Celestia called her "rough around the edges", but rather calm and collected, a serene air surrounding her every motion. In this case, though, she made one thing apparent just from her facial expressions, and that was the fact she wanted nothing to do with me.

"I doubt she wants to talk to me, so you're wasting your time. Go away." She went to reach for her book again, but I was faster, grabbing it with my aura and putting it in my saddlebag that I'd hung on the chair behind me. Her mouth fell open slightly as I closed the latch, staring her down all the while.

I was Sunset Shimmer, and this mare was coming back to the palace whether she liked it or not.

"She does want to see you, very much so. She told us specifically you were 'incredibly gifted and compassionate'," In truth, I wasn't so sure about that first part--Celestia was very dodgy about what happened to Silver and she visibly winced at almost every drop of her name--but she did say the second verbatim, and those words were enough to cause Silver to drop her head to the side and slowly begin to flush red with embarrassment.

"So she hasn't told you," she began cryptically. I narrowed my eyebrows at those words, but she didn't give me a chance to react as she turned back to me with the same resolve as before.

"Look, I don't know why you know who I am, or how Celestia knows I'm alive again, but I suggest you leave. There'd be nothing but trouble if I walked back into that palace. Leave me alone." I had started to shake my head in the negative before she ended her sentence, and I could see her eyebrows slowly but surely slant into anger.

"We know who you are and that you're alive because you aren't the only apprentice it's happening to." That was enough to get her into shock, and all the anger and stoicism she'd held in her gaze moments prior evaporated pretty quickly into dumbstruck disbelief.

"All of Celestia's dead apprentices have returned from the grave, yourself included. And the current ones alive, myself and the Princess of Friendship, Twilight Sparkle, were drawn here to Canterlot by means we can't explain. We need your help, Silver. We need to figure out what's happening." For a second, I thought I had her, but my little persuasion check failed: she mimicked my headshake from moments ago, and that embarrassed flush and her inability to look me in the eye returned as she replied.

"No, you don't understand. I... I did something, a while ago. And I regretted it from the moment I did it, and Celestia probably thinks it's her fault and she probably won't forgive me for it, and so I can't see her. I can't go back." Celestia's words echoed in my brain at that moment, that Silver had "died untimely", but I raised my eyebrows and rose my hoof in a bewildered gesture before shot back.

"Are we talking about the same Celestia here? I stole the Element of Magic, turned into a she-demon and almost enslaved an entire dimension. I sat down for dinner with her and a stroll in the garden the other week. Whatever you did, I'm know she's forgiven you by now." Silver smiled for the first time in her conversation, though it was a small grin indicating that I'd piqued her interest with the tale.

"I'm impressed. 'Almost', though?" I leaned back in my chair and shrugged.

"Everypony has a plan until they get punched in the mouth, and I got punched in the mouth pretty damn hard." Being hit directly in the everywhere by the Elements of Harmony was still by far the most painful thing I had ever experienced in my lifetime (enough to prevent me from merely thinking about something mildly immoral) , but I wasn't about to tell her that: I had to act tough at the moment. Regardless, her amused glance dropped as she sighed deeply and looked down to the floor in a defeated manner.

"This is different," she began. "I, uh..." She trailed off, and before had a chance to defend herself, I let fly one last pitch.

"Celestia is perhaps the most forgiving and compassionate mare I know," I began. "Again, I don't know what you did, exactly, but you seem far from a bad mare, Silver. I've done some really bad things. A mare named Starlight Glimmer did some really bad things, and she just graduated from being the protege of the Princess of Friendship, who she used to despise. Both of us don't deserve any good in our lives for what we've done, but Celestia and her sister Luna have accepted us wholeheartedly for who we are and turned us into better mares as a result. We really need you, Silver, to figure out what in Tartarus is going on, and I know for a fact that Celestia needs you, too."

I began to hear a faint tapping noise from under the table, and I realized quickly that it was Silver's nervousness manifesting itself. It was the start of a long silence, and I could see her mind racing as she decided what to do with herself. I, on the other hand, was doing some thinking of my own, as I was being tripped up by the fact that Silver was keeping her past so close to the hip. She seemed very reserved, sure, but I didn't get the vibe that she was some evil mastermind in her past, and I am absolutely sure Celestia would have warned us if Silver was a danger to us and the people around her, just as she did with Melody Waltz and, eventually, Zephyr.

It begged a very simple question.

What did you do, Silver Jubilee? Something that... Celestia might think is her fault?

It took her what felt like forever. I could see her living in her own little world, staring downward at nothing in particular. Eventually, after I'd taken a few sips of my ale, she looked up to me with that fierce determination that had so defined her in the five minutes I'd known her.

"Something is happening, and it looks like, want it or not, I'm a part of it. So... I guess I'll--"

"Aaaaaannnnddd here's your hayburger!" Came a voice that was far too excited for the action it was performing. Lily swept down with my plate, placing the food directly in front of me. Silver's mouth was still open from when she had been talking, and the waitress looked between us with the smile she'd held the entire time I'd seen her.

"Do you want ketchup?" she asked me. I shook my head in the negative, and she nodded in acknowledgment before telling me to holler if I needed anything else. I watched her once more as she disappeared before turning back to Silver.

"I'm, uh, sorry about that. You were saying?" Silver chuckled--I could tell just by the sound that she didn't do it that often--and nodded in the affirmative as she spoke.

"Yeah, I guess I am." She said it in a way that still seemed conflicted, and although I was in the midst of biting my hayburger (it was fantastic, by the way), I made sure to grab one of her hoofs and speak from my heart once I was done.

"I didn't see Celestia for about two years after I had some sense knocked into me. I know it's hard, but she can help. Nopony knows us better." Silver said nothing in response, instead opting to lean back in her chair. She was right: whatever it was, it was different than what had happened to Zephyr and I (from what I understood, Melody Waltz never really had a grace to fall from). I planned to fill her in on that whole situation on the walk back.

Eventually, she did speak up, nodding her head idly as she began.

"...maybe you're right. I don't know, but it's at least worth a shot." She looked forward to me, her face entirely stoic and unreadable. "There is one more thing, though."

I finished the swig of my drink I'd been taking before leaning back in my chair, cocking my head to the side in confusion.

"What's up?" I asked her. I saw the corner of her mouth curl into a slight grin as she used a hoof to gesture to my saddlebag hanging on the chair.

"Can I, uh, have my book back?"

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