• Published 1st Aug 2012
  • 2,079 Views, 53 Comments

The Garden Beyond - Autumn Wind

The tale of the Imprisoned Sister has been told and retold for centuries, but no Little Pony knows of it as it unfolded in realms far and above. What is the moon to do when her mother and guide loses her way?

  • ...

The Night's Garden

Soon after Mother returned to Equestria to set the next part of her plan in motion, the power that she had granted the stars and I began manifesting more concretely. I felt more and more energized by Mother’s power, and filled with cheer. Basking in the crisp breeze, I strolled by the stream, examining my reflection.

I saw Mother’s sharp eyes looking back at me, only to realise that they were in fact my own. I had inherited her piercing stare. Much like the Sentinels, I could now see far and clear into the darkness, making out infinitesimal detail amongst the Garden’s foliage.

I stopped and stretched, extending my wings to their fullest extent in order to work out a few kinks. I grinned as I acknowledged their new form. Just like the Messengers, I had traded my feathers for leathery membrane, and all of the speed and agility that came with it.

I plucked a flower from the ground with the faintest spark of my magic. It was a sweet-smelling bloom with petals of the purest white. “Hm... this will not do,” I thought aloud. I couldn’t look anything less than perfect for the glorious night. My aura engulfed the plant, reaching to the very depths of its essence. In the blink of an eye, the flower’s petals were now as black as Mother’s new sky above our heads. Perfect, I thought, cradling the flower in my magical grasp and tucking it behind my right ear. Mother had seen fit to endow the Artisans and I with a vast quantity of dark magic, and there was no telling what great deeds we would be capable of. One last glance at my reflection confirmed that this new Moon was looking fantastic.

It was time to pay the Little Ponies another visit. I closed my eyes and focused, looking beyond the Garden and to Equestria. Surely, the Little Ponies would be adulating our wonderful new night.

To my great frustration, they were not. Everywhere in Liberty Woods, whether in the peripheral villages or in Canterlot Castle itself, the Little Ponies remained hidden within their homes, occasionally casting worried glances outside.

A single colt was sitting outside in a field near a barn. It was the same Little Pony I had guided, some days ago. I recognized his eyes, but his smile was gone. He stared at our dark sky with utmost dread. Perhaps the poor dear had not yet gotten used to the darkness. I shone reassuringly for him.

His eyes went wide with fear. He ran and hid inside the small country house. After everything we’d done for him, he was snubbing us? Ungrateful little whelp.

So be it. The Little Ponies could push us away all they wanted. They would come around once they realised what joy and peace the eternal night could bring them.

They could stay locked up in their homes, for all I cared. I was not going to let such trivialities distract me from enjoying the company of my precious little siblings.

As I returned to the Garden, Sun’s voice echoed through my consciousness. “Sister!”

Speaking of trivialities. As I watched my brother’s hideous light burst out from behind a tall hill, I could not help but roll my eyes. Of course, he would have to come and shatter such a peaceful moment.

He was a mess. A panting, stumbling, exhausted mess. His eyes were sunken and lifeless, his feathers were in disarray, and his once passionate flame had been reduced to a mere flicker. The titan had fallen, and this burnt-out husk had taken his place.

I could have lorded all of my newfound power over him, humiliated him like he had done to me all these years by forcing me into his shadow, but I was above such things. I was better than him.

Sun stopped in front of me, exhausted from what might have been a long gallop. He eyed me over in silence. Perhaps my new form was intimidating him. For the first time, my stare was level with his.

“Leave us, Brother,” I ordered, dismissively tapping a hoof against his chest in order to shove him back. “The Garden now belongs to the stars and I.”

He stumbled back, almost falling on his rear. “W-what are you saying, Sister?” he stammered, baffled. Of course, I couldn’t expect him to understand things on the first try. The only thing he was good for was lighting the Little Ponies’ world, and going by the latest events, that much would soon be unneeded. “It has been three cycles since you have last slept,” he said. “Are you not weary?”

“On the contrary, Sun,” I said, turning my back on him. “I have never felt so alive.”

“But what of the stars?” he tried to reason, that fool. “They need their rest!”

“Do they now?” I retorted, waving a hoof in disinterest. “You may want to turn around and ask them yourself?”

“What?” Sun blurted out, turning around to find that he was now surrounded by the entire horde of the stars, all of them regarding their older brother with a disdainful look. Intimidated, Sun slowly backed away, only to bump against me. Shocked, he whipped around. To my great disgust, his far-too-bright tail brushed against my chest.

“Sister! What is going on with you all? This isn’t right! The Garden is dying where we stand!”

I burst into laughter. “Oh, Brother, you are so ridiculous. Dying? Please. The Garden has never been so alive. It is no longer parched beneath your light, and is all the better for it.”

Sun was unamused. Obviously, I could not count on him to see reason. “Have you gone blind, sister? Do you not feel it? The grass beneath your hooves. The trees around you. Look at them.”

I humored him, if only to get him out of my way. The grass was black and still, a wide and flat expanse of the utmost tranquility. The trees drooped somewhat lower than usual. They were merely offering us shelter. Sun was jealous and making excuses, that much was obvious. “You have sufficiently wasted my time, Brother. Begone!”

“But, Sister—”

“Leave Moon alone!” one Artisan shouted. “Yeah!” a Sentinel added. “Leave us alone!” Shortly, the entire mob of stars was shouting, heckling my brother with all the vitriol they could muster. “We just want to play and you refuse to let us! You take all the attention for yourself! It’s not fair that the ponies love you more than Moon! Go away!”

“Very well,” Sun muttered, defeated. “I hoped it would not come to this, but I know when there is nothing more for me to do. I cannot begin to comprehend what has taken over you, Moon, but you are not yourself right now. Once you return, I trust you will know where to find me.” Sun sighed and began to turn away, but stopped and looked at me one last time before leaving. “Please do not forget my words, Moon. You are my sister, and I love you.”

“Brother...” I whispered beneath my breath, stunned by those last words.

No! another part of me snarled. I refuse to let Sun’s delusions draw me away from Mother’s magnificent work! I was the figurehead of our glorious new night, and I would make her proud. If Sun still thought he could get me to back out now, he was a fool.

Still out of breath from shouting at my brother, I ambled over and took a sip of the stream’s fresh water. I closed my eyes and focused on nothing but the refreshing feelings that flowed through me.

When I reopened my eyes, the stars had already scattered and returned to their games. I elected to go for a calming walk and let my emotions wind down.

No more than a few dozen steps later, I noticed a bright little fluffy tail poking out of a bush. Chuckling, I glanced around for any watchful stars, then bent down and whispered to the plant. “They will have a much harder time finding you if you tuck your tail in, Capella.”

“Shhhhh!” the Sentinel whispered back with a giggle as she reeled the offending appendage in. “Bellatrix said she could find me anywhere, and I want to prove her wrong.”

“Oh!” I whispered back in mock surprise. “Here, allow me to help you.” Abandoning my walk, I laid down in the soft grass and pretended to take a nap. Perhaps my sleeping presence would make Bellatrix wary of waking me up, or perhaps she would guess the ruse and find Capella faster. Either way, I knew either result would lead to much amusement on both of their parts.

The Garden’s soft rustling, the stream’s burbling and, soon, Capella’s peaceful breathing as she dozed off slowly lulled my mind to rest. My deception became reality.

Unlike the slumber the stars and I would partake in during the day thanks to Mother’s song, simple naps were a much lesser thing, merely a question of comfort and refreshment. While we may have granted dreams to the Little Ponies, we did not have them ourselves. We would merely wake up, sometime later, rejuvenated.

Most of the time, at least.

“Sister! Sister!” An Artisan’s panicked voice shook me awake. This time, it seemed, rejuvenation would not be present. Grogginess, however, definitely was.

“What is it, Acrux?” I asked as I slowly opened my eyes.

Pain ensued.

I raised one of my wings to shield myself from an unknown source of bright light. “What is going on, Little Brother? Is this glare the reason you have come to see me?”

“It is, Sister,” the Artisan responded, a tint of worry in his coltish voice. “We wanted to let you sleep and handle it ourselves, but we know not what to do. A wish has appeared, and while it looks normal to us Artisans and Messengers, the Sentinels are dazzled by it, it hurts their eyes too much to approach.”

“It is not merely the Sentinels,” I commented. “I cannot bear to look at it either.”

“Arcturus and Vega went to take a better look,” Acrux reported, “but we could not find a solution. What should we do?”

I felt out for the wish with my magic, and indeed, it was no different than any we had ever treated. “I do not know what is causing such light, Acrux, but to treat the wishes is our most important task. We will handle it as best as we can, and then try to figure out the cause of this strange phenomenon.”

Still shielding myself, I had Acrux fetch a Messenger while I called a Sentinel to attention. Once we had gathered Spica and Pollux, I explained the situation to them.

Pollux told me that the light was too bright, too painful to his eyes. I motioned for him to climb on my back and shielded him with my wing as we fought towards the source. Spica and Acrux followed closely, unaffected but quite concerned.

Unusual phenomena aside, we had to do our work, and it did not matter whether or not the Little Ponies appreciated it. By continuing to give them hope, we would eventually win them over.

Once Pollux touched the wish, still averting his eyes, he merely needed to touch hooves with Spica. In turn, she exchanged the same with Acrux.

Though I could not see well, I felt Acrux’s magic seep into the wish and give it power. However, something felt wrong. The magic was not what it should have been. I could not quite understand it, but I could feel an unsettling shiver running along my neck.

“It is ready, Spica,” Acrux said, passing the wish, now a full-fledged dream, back.

Spica took the wish. By her flinching and wincing at its contact, I could tell that she, too, had felt its strange emanations. Acrux, oddly, seemed not to notice. She looked up to me in confusion.

“Go ahead, little sister. We will sort things out once this is done.” I nodded and forced myself to smile reassuringly despite my apprehensions.

Spica unfolded her new wings and, with a powerful stroke, launched into the sky. She had no problem taking off, at first, but the climb seemed like another issue entirely. I knew all Messengers could easily reach the high skies of the Garden, Spica included.

“Is everything okay, Spica?” I asked, concerned.

Struggling to flutter upwards, she was slowly climbing in a spiral, with far harsher wing beats than should have been necessary. “My wings hurt!” she cried. “I do not think I can— Ah!” Spica squealed in pain and lost control of her wings, plummeting to the ground.

I was able to catch her at the last moment, and set her down on my back. “Worry not. We will see this wish off, even if I have to take you up there myself,” I promised.

Spica sniffled, folded her wings back, and clung to me, wrapping her forelegs around my neck. “Thank you, Sister...” she said.

“Hold on tight!” I took off with no issues. Flying was a natural instinct to the Messengers and I, no different than walking or running. However, when I began the high climb, I began struggling much as Spica had. I beat my leathery wings as hard as I could. Hissing through clenched teeth in exhaustion and soreness, I fought my way up to the sky, where Spica carefully sent the wish away.

As its brightness finally faded, I let myself glide down to the ground, panting. I could not understand what was happening. Why had this climb been so hard? I had been using my new wings all night without incident; why were they failing me now?

An unsettling feeling startled me out of my reflections.

I trembled and felt shivers wash over me. The stars around me seemed oblivious. I excused myself and stepped away. I did not wish to frighten the little ones.

In the land below, I had sensed a young filly shooting awake in her bed and bursting into tears.

A nightmare. We, the bringers of hope, had given a Little Pony a nightmare.

Clenching my teeth, I sped up to a canter, then a trot, and finally a gallop.

Shame on us.

Things slowly became clear. The light. The unsettling feeling. The difficult climb. The filly’s cries.

Mother had wanted the Sentinels to see better in the night, to have the best of vision even in the purest of darknesses.

She had not accounted for the wishes’ bright light.

Mother had wanted to give the Messengers fast wings to cut through the breeze and move quickly.

She had not accounted for the high climbs that only dream sending required.

Mother had wanted to pass on her dark magic to the Artisans, to make them more powerful.

She had not accounted for the joy and gentle touch that dreams called for.

In wanting to make us better, she had crippled us, made our prime task an impossible ordeal.

“Mother...” I whispered beneath my breath, taking off at a gallop with nary an explanation to the stars. “How could you not see this...”

With a flap of my wings, I took off into the distance. I had to find him. I had to find my brother.

I had to find Sun.

Author's Note:

Not the longest chapter in the fic, but I couldn't add much without bloating it or kicking in the next sequence of events, which wouldn't have felt right.

Hope you're enjoying the fic up to now!