• Published 15th Sep 2012
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An Old Mare's Tale - realbrickwall

What really happened one thousand years ago

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Chapter 4

In the remains of a broken table, Flash Burn stood atop the body of a dark grey pegasus, pressing a single armor-clad hoof into one of his wings. The downed pony screamed piteously, and Flash pulled her hoof back to see that there was a smear of blood along its bottom.

“My wing! You broke my wing!” the pegasus screamed, choked-back tears in his voice. Flash Burn had never really seen his face before, and looking at it now, she could hardly believe her eyes. The notorious ‘Dark Blur’ hardly looked like any kind of hardened criminal. He was a handsome young stallion, who looked like he had never been in a fight in his life. She felt like she had just broken the body of a child. Flash fought to recall memories of the grey pegasus stealing valuable pieces of art and causing havoc for a great number of ponies.

“You are under arrest for grand theft, disturbing the peace, destruction of property, inciting mass panic, and resisting arrest. If you attempt escape again, I will not hesitate to break more.” Flash pressed her head in to try and get the criminal to make eye contact, but his eyes were firmly shut in pain and fear. She decided to look somewhere else before she started to feel guilty about her sudden assault, and the first thing she saw was a very familiar earth pony. “Glory?!”

“Captain, what is going on here?” Morning Glory was affecting a tone of respect that Flash found highly unusual. Then she realized that it was the sort that a civilian would normally take with an officer of the law.

“This pony is a criminal that I’ve been chasing for a while now. I’m bringing him in for questioning.” Flash looked down. “Is that an apron? You work HERE?!”

“Yes, I do.” There was a slight pause, and Flash felt herself avoiding eye contact with the earth pony. “It’s not that sort of establishment any more, dear, not since long before I was born.” She felt relieved. Morning Glory’s personal habits tended to bother her a bit, but that would have been much, much worse than anything she’d heard before.

“Okay, good.” She noticed that most of her weight was still on top of the other pegasus. “Have you seen this man before?”

“A few times, I suppose. I always thought he was just another customer.”

“I see.” Flash looked down. There really was nothing that seemed menacing about the other pegasus. “Did he ever tell you his name?”

“I’m afraid not.” Morning Glory started moving the pieces of table out of the way. “Really, there was nothing unusual about him.”

“Well, we’ll find out soon enough.” Flash prodded the pegasus to make sure he was still conscious. “This one doesn’t seem like he’ll be hard to get answers from.”

“You won’t hurt him, will you?” Flash looked up and noticed that her friend had an unusual look of concern on her face.

“…no, we won’t. Torture of any sort is more illegal than anything he’s done. Unless we thought he was connected to a muder or something, it wouldn’t even be considered.”

“Oh, good.” Morning Glory took an audible breath. “I hate to think of such horrible things being done to anypony.”

“Right.” Flash felt like something was off, but she chalked it up to paranoia. In a situation like this, acting on a snap judgment could be dangerous to innocent ponies. “Somepony gallop to the nearest guard station and alert them that Dark Blur has been restrained and is at this location.”

“It’s…” came a raspy voice from beneath her. The pegasus was trying to turn his head, but Flash Burn’s hoof was keeping it down. “It’s THE…Dark-“

“Quiet!” Flash increased the pressure on the young pegasus’ head. “Glory, you don’t have any rope here, do you?” Morning Glory shook her head. “Well, great. Keeping him pinned here is going to be a pain.”

“Oh, I doubt you have to worry. He can’t run nearly as fast as he can fly.”

“Still, I’d rather not have to bother-“ Flash shifted her gaze from the other pegasus to her friend. “How do you know?”

Glory stammered, “Oh, I have seen him before, and I suppose, well-oh, how wonderful, the guards are already here!” Flash turned her head and saw two ponies in guard uniforms walk in. However, the next thing she saw was a pink mane billowing into the door, followed by a familiar face.

“Princess Celestia?” both Flash and Glory cried out. The princess walked very slowly into the room. Her face was calm, but serious.

“What is going on here?”

Twilight Sage and Shimmerdust sat on opposite sides of the strange tube that now sat between them. It looked unfinished on the outside, but both ponies knew that the inside was a good deal more complex.

“Well,” spoke up Shimmerdust, “I think we got it. I’ll need to pick up something to use as knobs, but the inner mechanisms are just like you said they should be, and the lenses are definitely right.”

“Yes,” said Sage, not taking his eyes off it. “It’s finally real. Tonight will be glorious.”

“So what did you bring all the books for?” Sage looked to his side. Indeed, they had only opened five of the books he’d brought along, and those were only to double check the information Sage had already memorize.

Sage sighed. “I suppose now I have to tell you the real reason I came out here.” He walked back over towards the cart and dug around in it.

“Real reason?” Shimmerdust tilted her head.

Twilight Sage finally pulled out a very old-looking tome and set it down. “I was translating this old tome when I found something amazing.” He flipped the book open to a page that looked like a formula so complex that even a pony who spoke the old tongue would be completely lost.

“Funny symbols?”

“It’s a spell, Shimmer. And not just any spell. This spell can calibrate a unicorn’s magic to temporarily increase their power! This could let me use magic!”

Shimmerdust stood to her hooves. “But don’t you need magic to cast the spell in the first place?”

“And that’s why I’m here. I don’t have magic, but you do.” Sage pushed the book towards Shimmerdust.

“Oh, Sage. I can’t even read that. I’m certain I couldn’t cast it.”

“Yes, well, there’s a lot of preliminary reading and calculations to do. The spell here is a sort of shorthand for a number of processes. But, I’m sure that if we go over it all, you can do it.”

“I just don’t know. Sage, every time you’ve tried something to get magic, it’s wound up with failure and a story that I’m not allowed to tell to any of our friends.”

Sage leaned in, “Come on, dear. This is my childhood dream. You’re the only pony I can trust with this.”

“What about the princesses?”

Sage looked to the side. “I don’t want them to know that I never really got over having no magic.”

“Eh, we kinda had it figured out already.” Sage froze. The voice coming from behind him was far too familiar. He slowly turned his head, and surely enough, Luna’s smiling face was poking out from the cart of books.

“P-princess? How did you? Why?”

“Me and Celestia were playing around, and now I’m hiding. I’m surprised she hadn’t stopped by here already.”

“How long have you been in there?”

“Like five minutes.” Sage saw that Luna was now looking behind him. “What’s with your belle?” He turned and noticed that Shimmerdust was looking wide-eyed at the book pile.


“They gave birth. And I missed it.” Sage put his hoof to his face.

“No, dear, Princess Luna is a master of teleportation.”

“Oh. That makes a lot more sense.” Shimmerdust went back to looking at the book.

“So, since I already know, maybe I can take a look at the spell?”

Sage sighed. “I don’t see why not.” Luna jumped out of the pile, sending books everywhere. She went to the book, standing opposite from Shimmerdust.

“You know you’re reading it upside-down, right?”

“But I think it makes more sense this way.” Shimmerdust was moving her head back and forth, like she was trying to make sense of a magic-eye puzzle. Both Luna and Sage sighed.

“Well, Princess, how does it look?”

“Hard. You need to have a really good sense of a pony’s magic to use it. I mean, it’s supposed to be used on yourself.” The princess suddenly stood up straight. “Heeeey! I have an awesome idea!”

Sage raised his eyebrow. “You do?”

“I can practice this spell on myself! Maybe if I use it, I’ll become a fully-ascended goddess, or something.”

“A what?”

Luna shook her head. “It takes many centuries for a goddess’ magic to concentrate enough to give her full power. Right now, I’m kinda, like, half a goddess. So is Celestia, but she’s older than me, so she’s closer to ascending.”

“Princess, the spell only lasts a day.”

“But that’s the best part! Look, I’ve had misadventures trying to speed up my ascension long before you were born. But this is temporary, so it’s not going to screw with the natural order, right? I get to be the big cheese for a day, Celestia gets to take a break, and I learn a spell that you can get magic from. Everypony wins!” Luna reared up on her hind legs and clapped her front two hooves together in delight.

“Well…if you really think that’s best, Princess.”

Princess Luna’s horn began glowing as she sank into concentration. “Just gimme a few minutes.”

Celestia sat back upon her throne. Chasing Luna around had been fun, but seeing an arrest in progress reminded her that she still had work to do. She closed her eyes and began reviewing her remaining duties in her mind. There were five new laws that she needed to review and ratify, all of them excruciatingly long and full of unrelated addendums and minutiae. She was scheduled to visit the charity hospital in the lower quarter. At sunset, there was a knighting ceremony for some noble’s brat, a mere formality that was a mockery of the old purpose of such practices. She calculated the amount of time she had. Even with speed-reading, and her powerful mind, the laws would take a good two hours. She needed to be at the hospital in an hour and a half. The knighting ceremony would last until her normal bedtime. She either needed to skip dinner or miss out on sleep. Celestia stifled a growl and wished that she kept her schedule on paper, so that she could throw it in the air and maybe tear it to pieces. Releasing the frustration as a sigh, she began to step down from the throne, when she heard hoofsteps at the entrance.

“Flash?” The guard pony walked up to the throne and bowed.

“Your Majesty, I need to see the prisoner. Do you know where he is now, Your Majesty?”

“That young man is in the hospital, having that broken wing you gave him healed.” Celestia’s voice was devoid of any anger, but Flash Burn still averted her eyes.

“I-Your Majesty, I needed to stop him before he could start moving. His flying is too good, Your Majesty.”

“It may not be anymore. Healing wings is no easy business, even for unicorns. If it broke the wrong way, he may never fly the same again.” Flash Burn sank lower to the ground. “But why are you concerned? I thought he was quite the notorious criminal, wasn’t he?”

Flash closed her eyes. “Yes, Your Majesty, but…I’m not sure how to say it. I’ve seen hundreds of criminals, Your Majesty, and all of them had wickedness in your eyes. I saw this colt’s eyes…and I don’t know. I just don’t know.” Celestia stepped forward and brushed her head against the pegasus’.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Flash. But perhaps you shouldn’t see him. He’ll be there tomorrow, and you really need to take a break. I think you should call it quits for the day.”

“I can’t, Your Majesty,” Flash Burn said standing upright once more, “We have that knighting ceremony for Lord Pearl Comb’s son, remember?” The princess winced as if she’d just been smacked.

“Right, well, just promise me you’ll take it easy until then. I can tell when a pony’s had a longer day than the hours should allow.” They gazed into each others’ eyes. They were both far too tired.

“I understand, Your Majesty. I’ll see you in a few hours, Your Majesty.” The captain trotted off, leaving Celestia alone again.

“And now I have 50 minutes to get work done,” Celestia groaned.

“I pronounce you Lord Pearl Wine.” Princess Luna and Princess Celestia lifted their horns from the young stallion’s shoulders. His eyes were full of emotion, as if this was something he was lucky to have. Celestia felt a tiny bit of joy in that, though her own expression remained placid. “You may rise.” The new Lord stood and slowly walked away from the throne, as the quiet but pervasive applause of his family and their allies filled the throne room. Soon, the other ponies were adjourning to the banquet room. Celestia moved to follow them, but she noticed her sister going in the opposite direction.

“Luna? Where are you going? You normally like these banquets more than I do, with all the gossip that goes on.”

Luna turned and gave her sister a smile. “Oh, I just thought I’d get some work done. It’s not like anypony will notice I’m gone.”

“They will, Luna, and they might take offense. Just come for an hour?”

“Sorry, sis, but there’s a lot to do. Just tell them that I was called away to something, okay?”

Celestia sighed. “Fine. Just remember that you have to hold court tonight.”

Luna stopped dead in her tracks. “Crap!” she yelled, loud enough to echo in the throne room. Celestia felt herself blush, and she lowered her head.

“Language, Luna,” she whispered, as if it would make ponies less likely to hear what had already been said. Luna began walking off with loud, angry hoofsteps.

“You’re lucky that you made me promise,” she whined. And, yet, up to her chambers she went. Celestia turned to the banquet, wondering what she would use as an excuse. At least it would be sometime until anypony asked her.

“Oh, Princess, where has your sister gone?” asked a younger mare.

Celestia grinned to hide her nervousness. “Uh…she had to…wash her hair?” The mare’s bewildered face clearly indicated that she hadn’t bought it, but she said nothing and went to join the party.

Celestia lowered her voice to a mutter. “Crap.”