• Published 2nd Nov 2020
  • 187 Views, 25 Comments

Ostraca - Reese

An anthology of bits and pieces and fragments of writing, of various levels of completeness and quality. I hope that, if you look, you'll find at least something of interest to you.

  • ...

An Old Alicorn Problem

Author's Note:

So, yeah, this is pretty much completely unedited at this point, because I did not have time to write it right now but did anyway. Inspiration for writing, you hit me so rarely; why can you not be better-timed?
Well, anyway, what's done is done, so, hey, new horsewords! This isn't particularly meant to be canon to anything else, just a notion I thought might be interesting to explore, inspired by something I read recently, and actually maybe managed to get enough of a scene together for that exploration. Sooo... enjoy?

Oh, yes, and some inspiration for Antlerntis was taken from the excellent work of Carabas -- though it's only a brief mention here, and the name isn't even quite the same. Still, thought maybe I ought to mention it just in case.

"Thank you for coming, Twilight."

"Of course, Princess Celestia. And Princess Luna. You both, ah, look pretty serious."

The newly-bewigned librarian settled herself, nervously, onto the cushion across the table from the indeed rather seriously-looking elder alicorns. The room was small, at least on Princess-scale, windowless, and deep in Canterlot Castle, and Twilight could tell it was heavily warded, including with some she did not recognize. Wards which both Celestia and Luna now appeared to be checking over again.

Then the Princesses -- other Princesses? -- sighed, and looked at each other as if trying to decide who would speak first.

"Now that you are an alicorn," eventually said Celestia, ending Twilight's fidgeting, "it is time you were told... something, which so far I have only had to tell Cadance. When she ascended. Well. Some time after, as with you, once I got her to Canterlot; I was able to ascertain that she wasn't in any immediate danger, so..."

"Nightmare Moon," broke in Luna bluntly, "is not a unique phenomenon. And yes," she continued with gritted teeth, "is. For though she has been beaten back, and though we are on guard, she can never be destroyed, not with the world as it is. The same with her equivalents for our sister, Princess Cadance -- and now, you."

Twilight gulped.

"So... it's just... something alicorns have? That we could go, uh..." She gave up trying to find a polite way to put it and simply barrelled on, "At any time?"

"It's not something spontaneous," Celestia answered warmly. "It is something one... falls to. We must be on guard, but there are... warning signs, if... one sees them."

Her sister wordlessly hugged her with a wing, then spoke to Twilight again. "When an ordinary pony gives in to their more harmful impulses, it is likely to hurt them and those close to them, but only with what capabilities they already possess. With alicorns... You are a curious mare, Twilight Sparkle, and well-read in magical lore. What do you know of..." and with a sneer, "demonology?"

Twilight blinked, then blanched. "Luna, I would never-- is that what-- did--"

"You would not, and I did not. Even at most my foolish, I would not touch that most baleful of sciences!"

And this time, the sisterly hug passed the other way. Luna sighed, and Celestia continued, "Unfortunately, Twilight, as alicorns, unlike normal ponies, we do not need to attempt to contact demons, or have others set them on us. Newly set them on us. But there is a reason why you have only, I hope, encountered even a mention of it in the restricted sections of the Royal Library? And obeyed the strict instructions not to spread word of it?"

Twilight nodded, rapidly.

"Good to know," Luna muttered, "that at least our efforts to stamp it out seem to still in be effect."

"That you must be on guard against your own personal, literal demons is only a part of the secret we have called you to hear here today," said Celestia. "That knowledge is... modern, really, in that I only really understood the extent of it after..."

"Nightmare Moon," filled in Luna. Celestia nodded sadly.

"I looked into what had happened, of course. And learned how present the risk truly was. But as for the connection... that is much, much older. And relates to the origin of my sister and I, and the nature of alicorns as a whole."

Twilight was not sure whether she was more feeling incredible eagerness at the knowledge apparently about to be revealed to her, or deep dread at the context. The sisters exchanged a look again, and Luna nodded. She then straightened, and spoke.

"Even when Equestria was young was long-lost Antlerntis mere myth, lost to the countless years of chaos brought by its greatest creation, and yet myth even to the Antlernteans was the land of our birth, its very name in these present days found only in the most esoteric of lore: Alicoria. From the homeland of the alicorns did our kind spread, working many wonders across the face of Equus of that age and living in ease and plenty, for all had magic of my sister and I, and Harmony was strong with them. Heartsongs were not welcome miracles, coming now and then for reasons unclear, but the highest art. By songs were islands risen from the sea, and cities from the land, mountains smoothed to gentle hills and great peaks risen from the flat lands. Blooming forests sprouted from tunda, and palaces of ice took form from song-called desert snow. And all took joy in the works of all others."

"And yet," said Celestia, as Luna sank back and Twilight listened raptly, "it was surely not the paradise it would sound like, for... something went wrong. I know not why we, the alicorns, did it, for my sister and I were foals at the time, and... it is... difficult, to think back to those days. Our minds then were not as they were after the fall. Perhaps it was an honest mistake, or a well-intentioned attempt to help our... predecessors. Perhaps part of the change in pony nature of the fall makes the way of things before seem better in memory than it was in truth, and it was indeed the same sort of quest for yet more power we might suspect from the more disharmonious modern ponies."

"But whatever the reason," said Luna, "a door was opened that should not have been. Freedom offered, and a pact struck. Those 'predecessors' of which my sister spoke -- they are the beings now known as demons. According to certain accounts, they were once beings of an even earlier era, as old or older to Alicoria as Alicoria is to your age, Twilight Sparkle. Beings who so strayed from Harmony that they were locked away, unable to move with the world and so shut away from it, where they could do no harm. And that, that was the door that was opened. And at that stroke, whatever that oh-so-foolish pact might have been, the demons descended upon us, and pushed Harmony away. And we went mad, all at once. You faced Nightmare Moon, Twilight Sparkle. Imagine millions upon millions of alicorns, more than all the thinking peoples of the modern world combined, all with her power, and all with madnesses akin to hers but contending with each other."

Twilight imagined, and then imagined very hard a nice picnic she'd had recently with her friends instead.

"There were some surviving alicorns, when it passed," Celestia said sadly. "My sister and I among them, obviously, but there were not many, and the numbers dwindled over the following millennia. Every now and then, another was born, or ascended -- but while some may remain in one form or another of hiding still, as Luna and I did for much of that time, it is also possible that, until Cadance, we were the last."

"Though we suspect that Chrysalis may have been one, once. There are an uncomfortable number of similarities."

Celestia nodded. "This is, of course, a great deal more that happened, which we shall perhaps talk more of later -- but that is the summary, of the fate of the old alicorns, and the reentry of demons to the world. They will prey on anyone they can find means to, which is why we attempt to keep those means limited, but ever since the fall of Alicoria, they appear to have had a special connection to alicorns, even those not born until long, long after."

"And that, Twilight, is why you must be particularly cautious. I do not advise keeping this entirely secret for your friends, for perhaps if I had been more open with my about this history, or Celestia with hers, I would not have... provided the additional information on the phenomenon I to my shame did. In those days, when we had only recently, by our reckoning, not only emerged from hiding but taken up rulership, to which we were not accustomed, or in retrospect truly prepared for, we thought to keep this ancient blight a secret to all."

"Exactly what you tell your friends is up to you -- but hold fast to them, and to Harmony, if ever you feel yourself slipping away. You have the two of us, as well, and Cadance, as we now all have each other. I am sorry that this burden now falls upon you as well, my faithful student, but I know you can bear it."

Twilight managed a nod, a somewhat wavery smile, and something of a humming noise. Celestia slid a red plastic bucket out from under the table with her magic, towards Twilight, and the latter managed another smile, then bent over. After some unpleasant noise, and Twilight also being given a glass of water, the slightly-better-looking librarian spoke. "...I did wonder what the bucket was for. Right. Right, okay, so." She took a deep breath, bringing a forehoof to and away from her chest. Then she pulled up a notepad and quill. "Alright. I've got some questions on details, and... then I'm going to need to figure out how to explain this to my friends."