• Published 2nd Dec 2012
  • 14,650 Views, 189 Comments

Crucible - Luminary

Equestria, beset by the changeling invasion, must deal with a dawning golden age. Without Celestia.

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Seven - Luna: Shatter

Luna’s favorite was gracefully darting through the air not far from the palace, leaving ethereal rainbow ribbons behind her. A half dozen guards, who for their sakes had better have been off duty, were in playful pursuit, trying to get their hooves on her. They had little luck. Only a few moments after Luna began watching, two of the golden-armored figures in the distance went tumbling from the sky, thrown by the cyan mare after her unbelievably quick turns on the wing.

The dark alicorn didn’t spare even the rainbow-maned beauty more than that few seconds of attention. Let her play and spar. It was a very pegasus sort of respite. The princess had business to deal with, and that went before pleasure.

Luna hit the ground at speeds that would been shattering, if not for her earth pony magic strengthening the innate pegasus resistance to falls. Her hooves sank a half inch into dry ground. It didn’t slow her as she immediately stalked forward toward the colourful group of Elements who were watching Rainbow Dash outfly the pegasus guards far overhead. In particular, the poofy-haired pink pony at the center was Luna’s focus. Their eyes met. That pink thing had been watching her since she leapt off the palace balcony, as if tipped off by some strange intuition. Or maybe an itchy hoof, or somesuch nonsense. Following the thump of Luna’s landing she had the whole group’s curious attention. Pale blue magic levitated a rather nondescript, if thick, brown canvas sack in front of the party pony’s face, nearly hitting her. Luna opened the bag, revealing the hundreds of cheerful, tiny, multi-coloured pills inside, each one glowing with a pale white luminescence.

“EXPLAIN THIS!” Luna roared in the Royal Voice. It blew that pink mane and tail backward, and forced the filly back a step. Were she not an earth pony it would have sent her sprawling.

“Wow! Loud!” Pinkie Pie said in an impressed tone. “Heya Princess!” She looked into the sack. Her eyes widened and she bounced in place enthusiastically. “Ooooh! You found more of that candy! That’s like, as much as what I spent ALL DAY getting. Everyone could have two! Are you giving that to me for my party, Princess? Are you? The fun could definitely be doubled.”


“Huh?” Pinkie stopped her bouncing. Those little hops had been carrying her backward each time with the force of Luna’s voice, in any case. “That’s silly Princess.” The pink pony then gasped. “Oh! OH! Why didn’t anypony tell me it was opposite day?” She looked to her friends, her face all disappointment and scolding. “That’s kind of mean, guys.” Pinkie cleared her throat. “I totally didn’t get those not-great candies so I couldn’t give them out at the super-terrible party that isn’t happening tomorrow night to make everyone feel worse about what hasn’t been happening lately! And they’re going to make everyone just miserable! It’s going to be glum!”

“IT IS NOT OPPOSITE DAY, FOAL! EQUESTRIA IS ON THE BRINK, AND ITS HEROES ARE BUSY GATHERING UP THE MOST ILLEGAL, BLASPHEMOUS SUBSTANCE IN THE KINGDOM, INTENDING TO BEGUILE ITS INNOCENT CITIZENS WITH IT!” Luna poured every ounce of frustration in her out into that shout. Grass tore from the ground. Pinkie Pie was blown backward, head-over-tail. Her friends were sent tumbling and rolling to each side.

“Owie,” Pinkie complained, hoof on her head as she sat up onto her haunches. “And the Cakes say I need to learn to use my indoor voice.” The pony looked down at her mane, which had been blown out straight once more. She gave her head a vigorous shake, until her mane popped back into its usual cotton-candy mass. “I think you’ve got the wrong bag, Princess. I didn’t buy anything bad! I got this super-fantabulous candy that makes you really, really happy for hours. The first nice pony gave me one for free to try. He said it’s help me forget all the bad stuff happening lately. And did it ever!” She gathered her legs under her again and hopped forward. “Nothing so great would ever be illegal. Princess Celestia is a super-smart cookie, Twilight-smart, even, and even nicer than she is smart. She’d like stuff that makes ponies happy!”

Luna strode forward to meet the absurd pony. She didn’t stop until her muzzle bumped against the filly’s, stopping her bouncing and knocking back onto her haunches. Pinkie might have been an earth pony, but she was no goddess. The princess loomed over Pinkie. The day grew darker, even though the sky remained clear and the sun still shone ruddily over the western horizon. Luna’s eyes glowed with an angry light in counterpoint. “Thou hath profaned thy Princess! Thou has taken up with thieves and villains who dare to rip the sacred Moon Lily from the embrace of the earth! Thou hast taken the dearest gift that we may bestow upon our ponies, and seek to give it out in tainted, befouled form as foalish party favors!?”

Rarity, who had finally finished dusting herself off after the Canterlot Voice had so unceremoniously sent her tumbling, gasped in affront. “Pinkie Pie! Moon Drops! You were going to give out drugs at your party? I thought better of you!”

“What?” The pink pony shook her head quickly. “Nonono. Drugs are a big no-sirree-Bob for Pinkie Parties! No matter what Vinyl says! I read all those neat posters they put up.” Pinkie Pie lowered her voice into a poor imitation of a stallion, probably trying for a stern sound of authority. “Remember ponies! Real winners don’t... use... Drops. Oh.”

Pinkie folded back her ears. “Oh, wow. I was almost one of those bad ponies you hear about in the super-depressing section of the newspaper! Kingpin Pie, leader of Canterlot’s shadowy underbelly! Grammy Pie would come out of retirement to tan my flank until her wings fell off if she ever heard about that! I’m real sorry Prin-”

“Save thy bleating! If that was thine only transgression, we might forgive, but t’was not! Explain this!” Her telekinesis flicked a coin at the party pony. She took a certain immature satisfaction in the flinch when the golden bit bounced off Pinkie’s nose.

Pinkie Pie looked down at it with innocent curiosity. “It’s a gold bit,” Pinkie identified, proudly, as if she’d just won some game. She raised a hoof to give a little bobbing wave to each of her following words. It was a very Twilight-ish gesture, and the academic tone of voice only strengthened that connection. “You trade them to ponies for goods and services!”

Luna levitated the coin upward to set it hovering in front of Pinkie Pie’s eyes. She made the ‘heads’ side face the smaller earth pony, an embossed portrait of Celestia’s head in profile. “Mine sister’s coin doth not feature a party hat!” And sure enough, instead of the Crown of the Sun, the pony on the coin had a conical party hat over her horn. Luna vaulted into a hover a few feet in the air, so she could point accusingly at Pinkie with one shod hoof. The Goddess’ eyes brightened, and the temperature of the air on the practice field seemed to drop in time with it, until ponies found their breath steaming in the air. Clouds began to swirl into existence thickly enough to begin to block the setting sun, finishing the task of throwing the field into gloomy darkness. “IT WAS THINE DOING, WASN’T IT? THOU WAS NOT CONTENT TO INSULT ME, BUT TO PAY FOR THINE BLASPHEMOUS ACQUISITIONS WITH THESE! THOU DEIGNED TO BREAK NOT ONLY THE LAW OF PONYKIND, BUT THE LAWS OF ALL MAGIC! THOU USED THINE FOUL, UNHOLY POWERS TO SOMEHOW CONJURE THE UNCONJURABLE METAL. DIDN’T THOU!?”

Pinkie Pie actually cowered, flinching back and tripping to land on her side. She stared at Luna, quivering, with wide, watery eyes. That is, until she seemed to find a reserve of will. Upon seeing that familiar look, Rarity galloped forward, throwing decorum to the wind to get between Pinkie and the outraged Princess before the party pony could begin the opening refrain of whatever song was rattling around in her poofy-maned head. Applejack wasn’t far behind. Even Fluttershy crept forward behind the farm pony, head low, though she was clearly trying to remain unnoticed. “Princess, stop! This is all terribly silly. We all know well that it’s impossible to create gold with magic, no matter how tragically fabulous an outfit would look with gold trim or accoutrements. Pinkie isn’t even a unicorn! I do believe the stress of these last few days has...”

“Nay!” Luna bellowed, if at a mercifully less bone-shaking, ear-rupturing volume. That it was Rarity that had spoken up caused some small degree of hesitation. “We had thought you heroes and exemplars of the High Virtues! We thought you friends! Instead we find that the greatest of thee, Magic, is a murderer, and Laughter is as Discord in pony form! We shudder to think what other darkness the Bearers host! This cannot be borne!”

Luna alighted upon the ground once more with slow menace. The ground shook subtly with her anger. The air pulsed with it. The Bearers stood with wide-eyed, unnatural terror, each frozen in place by the weight of her divine presence. We are not Celestia. Not gentle and soft! Let them see the terrible wrath of a scorned goddess unveiled!

“Pinkamena. Diane. Pie.” Luna took no small pleasure in drawing out that name. The party pony whimpered, ears back, shrinking away with each added word. Her hair seemed to lose its gravity-snubbing lift, falling straight, as if crushed down as much as her mind had been with Luna’s magic, will and Voice. No mortal pony upon the field dared to move. Even the pegasi guards hovering to watch the previous sparring found themselves losing altitude as their wings seemed to lose the strength to hold them aloft. Each slow step the goddess took was like thunder, and had the quivering filly sinking lower toward the ground. A dark part of Luna reveled in it. We had feared this little mortal creature? She is a deadly danger, but not to a Goddess. Laughter’s will is crushed in the face of our divine majesty no less than the rest.

In the face of her victory, she could be magnanimous. She towered over the shaking filly, but allowed her Voice to lose some of its dreadful power. “We are not without mercy. Our Sister wouldst think ill of us to be rash. However, without Her at our side, we cannot take the risks with thee that She seemed to favor. There cannot be allowed another who would toy with the nature of this world. Equestria must be safe under my wing. So thou shalt slumber in the peaceful, dreamless sleep of stone, beside the one who shares thy crimes.” Luna gathered her powers, horn igniting, the sleeping moon below the horizon answering her call, if weakly. The cool, steady power of her alicorn aspect filled her. Binding Discord might have required the Elements of Harmony, but this would not. That mindless submission to her will proved that she had acted soon enough for her powers to suffice on this creature. “Sleep, dear Laughter. We shall be gentle with thee, for the favor of freedom thou gave us, even if we cannot risk to return the gift,” she cooed, voice soft, to offer a last bit of comfort as she prepared to release her power. “Close thine eyes. Put aside thy frantic energy. It will not hurt. This we promise thee.”

“S-stop it!” a small voice squeaked to her right. Luna glanced over, finding Kindness, of all ponies, pushing herself up to her hooves one quivering inch at a time. The delicate, demure creature looked as if she was about to break into pieces. The goddess paused in rapt fascination as her powers were defied. That distant interest lasted only until her gaze met the gentle pony’s.

Luna’s world became those lovely blue-green eyes. Her blood suddenly filled with ice, colder than the bite of the moon’s airless surface. A great yawning mass bore down on her soul. Something too great and terrible to name or describe. She was helpless in its dread presence, an insignificant speck batted about by insurmountable, unknowable forces.

Kindness found new strength, surging to her hooves, closing in on the paralyzed goddess. Luna didn’t process any of it. All she knew was those horrible, beautiful eyes. They seemed to grow as the pegasus neared, stretching across the horizon. The weight of their baleful gaze made the once-mighty alicorn’s knees tremble and lock, to keep her from collapsing.

The voice was worse. It wasn’t meek and soft, it was ragged, razor iron. It burst through the god like hurled glass, tearing her will to tatters. “You big bully! You do not, I repeat, do not get to say that about the sweetest, most wonderful pony in all of Equestria! Celestia would be ashamed of you!”

Tears gathered in Luna’s eyes as the emptiness of guilt and shame suddenly swallowed up her insides. She’s right. What have I done? I’m a horrible Princess. Those tears escaped her eyes to pour down her cheeks. A ragged sob escaped her throat for the first time since she was barely a filly herself. She needed her Sister so badly then. But for once, her big Sister wasn’t there to comfort her, to brush her tears away from her cheeks, to fold her in those strong wings and nuzzle her until it was better. Celly, forgive me!

But why should she? She didn’t deserve her Sister’s forgiveness. She had never felt more sure of anything else before, at least since those dark whispers had spoken to her about how much she deserved the dominion that had been ‘stolen’ from her by her Sister.

If anything could freeze her further, it was that flash of memory.

Hot anger and electrifying terror welled up inside of her in equal quantities. Kindness, who had been about to reach out to take the goddess’ head in her hooves, intent on comforting her, was suddenly taken aback by a narrowing of eyes. That tiny movement nearly exhausted the goddess of the night.

We shall not be controlled! We are the mistress of our own will! Never shall it bend again!

Luna stretched out her divinity in a panic. Alicorn powers seized her Sister’s Sun. It burned to the touch, and all but slipped through her hooves with its strange intangibility. Luna poured all her strength down against it in a fury, and drove it down across the horizon even so, while at the same time exercising the effortless raising of her own far more comfortingly cool and solid Moon. Its silvery power poured through her in a rush, helping to cut through the frost in her veins and clearing the fog from her mind.

With that power she took hold of the very underpinnings of reality and tore.

Light and colour rushed out of the field, a mere side effect to the true loss. Meaning left the world as well. Grass, clouds, even other ponies became nothing but inert, inscrutable objects to the senses, blank and confusing. The ambition to even make the attempt at comprehension was impossible to gather, in any case. Pegasi began to listlessly drift downward, settling where they landed. Those that had begun to rise from their bowing, when Fluttershy locked Luna in the Stare and broke her spell, gave up the effort as the light of reason went out of their eyes. Fluttershy’s reaction was the most extreme. She fell from her thankfully low hover, face pressed to the ground, eyes open but staring blankly at nothing.

The Realm of Dreams was a place of spirit. From there the shining souls of ponykind reached to touch upon material reality, tethering themselves to simple, crude flesh. Luna formed the rising moon’s strength into a wall between the two worlds that defined her existence. It was a novel working of spellcraft, but alicorn magic was a thing of instinct and symbol, not study and academics. It was within her domain, so she dictated the new shape reality would take, and it became law. Across that barrier the connection between body and soul became tenuous. The greatest gifts of the soul: magic, reason, and virtue, became impossible. The yard gained a silence it had lacked since Luna’s bombastic entrance. Nothing with a mind more complex than an insect or less willful than a goddess could function normally when barely holding onto its very soul.

As it turned out, however, aggression could still be a fairly viable alternative to intellect in such a situation.

A prismatic flash slammed into Luna’s face and chest like a cannon ball. Her muzzle snapped down painfully. A wet crack echoed through the stillness of the yard as a rib as tough as tempered steel snapped under cyan hooves. For the second time in less than a week Luna found herself bouncing and skidding across the ground at speed. Meaning and thought flooded back into the world as the night princess’s focus broke.

Luna’s body held up to the abuse of the tumble as well as her dream body had. Doubtless the pegasus that clung to her didn’t, but it didn’t seem to matter. The goddess was far more dazed this time, when she found herself on her back. A mild burst of new pain as a hoof slammed into her muzzle startled her.

“What the buck are you thinking, Princess!? You’re supposed to be one of the good guys!” a scratchy voice screamed at her, sounding angry and betrayed. Luna blinked, fixing her bleary attention on the familiar rainbow maned mare above her.

The pain in her chest was a novel thing. Not even her purification by the Elements had hurt, exactly. Her memory had to stretch beyond the millennium of isolation to find pain more serious than vague discomfort. This was piercing, unpleasant and got worse as she took in a breath to refill what had been knocked from her lungs. Somehow that honest discomfort built upon the renewed moon-born vitality thrumming through her, sharpening her focus. Gathering her thoughts from scratch was an illuminating experience. Fresh shame poured through the goddess, far more naturally this time. She hadn’t been thinking at all. Everything had been a haze of anger and pent up despair. She had found an excuse to release her building frustrations, a problem even her then-waning power could solve. Being able to decisively deal with an issue had felt very, very good. Kindness had been right about one thing: Celestia would have been ashamed. She hadn’t been the master of her own will after all. The Nightmare had always been one for quick, final judgements. Ponies had quickly learned to fear her ‘justice’ during the war. Luna felt ill at the thought.

Was that all it took to have her relapse to old ways of thinking? Fatigue, the absence of her night, a few annoying nobles and a healthy dose of fear?

Above her, her savage savior looked like she was getting ready to strike her again. Luna heard the groans of ponies starting to rise, and the clatter of armor as guards noticed the little cyan pegasus atop their fallen goddess and sprung into action. Said goddess didn’t have eyes for such things.

Her horn ignited, taking hold of the mane behind Rainbow Dash’s head. “Thou hast indeed earned thy reward again,” she found herself huskily whispering. She pulled the pegasus down and kissed her lips, hard enough to practically hurt, and with no small measure of gratitude. Rainbow tried to pull away at first, shocked. The pain was intense as a hoof dug against Luna’s broken rib. That Dash could use her hooves at all after striking Luna at that speed was miracle enough to earn a passing moment of awed confusion. Anypony but an earth pony should have shattered their own legs hitting a goddess hard enough to break her bones.

It is distinctly proper that we should have such a remarkable suitor. Luna decided.

Thankfully for Luna’s chest, Rainbow’s tension abated after a few moments. That satisfied the goddess enough to release her. The pegasus’ fierce blush was hot enough to show clearly through her coat. “Ohmygosh!” she breathlessly murmured, bringing a hoof to her mouth. Those magenta eyes were distinctly cute when wide with surprise and confusion, Luna mused. The banality of the thought in this situation nearly made laughter bubble up from the Princess of the Night. Unfortunately the moment was diminished somewhat when a retreating Rainbow smacked her head against the flat of a guard’s leaf-shaped spear blade that Luna held in her horn’s grip. The pegasus flinched and ducked her head down, peering back over her shoulder. Her eyes went wide. That spear was one of nearly a dozen in a cloud around the pegasus, which Luna had turned aside. Some had been thrown with careful accuracy, others belonged to charging guards who had, for the most part, released them when their goddess had taken hold.

Rainbow went pale under her coat when she realized exactly how close to death she had come. The vanishing of the blush as a result made Luna huff in disappointment. She levitated the weapons away, burying their tips into the ground nearby, if only because Dash seemed to be about to throw her hooves into the air in surrender, and seeing the filly give up would ruin some of the magic.

“Peace,” Luna raised a hoof to cover her injured chest at a new flare of pain when she spoke. It wasn’t crippling, just irritating. It took more than a single broken bone to give pause to an alicorn. “Peace, Rainbow Dash. Only thou of all ponies couldst somehow manage to do us a great service by pummeling us. We begin to worry that thine cutie mark will soon change to an image of thee towering over us in victorious dominance. Yon bolt of lightning is far less scandalous.”

Dash squeaked in dismay, wings fluttering as she hopped back off of Luna in a great hurry. She wore an aghast look, at first, one that deepened to embarrassed horror when the implication of Luna’s words became clearer. The goddess could watch the progress of her expression as her mind went back to that dream.

The display was interrupted as a new wave of guards arrived. Most moved to surround Luna in a solid wall of stallion flesh and armor. Others closed in on the Element bearers, especially Rainbow Dash. They weren’t going to be taking any chances with their remaining Goddess, not after Celestia. The thrown spears were proof enough of that. It took the most dire of circumstances to urge any pony toward deadly action, even the drilled and trained Guard.

“ENOUGH!” One word was all Luna managed in the Royal Canterlot Voice. A spike of pain from her chest convinced her that it would have to be sufficient. “Leave them be. Valiant Rainbow Dash was right to chastise her Goddess. Help us up.” The guardstallions hurried to comply, helping to lift her to her hooves, as if she was made of glass. The way she held a leg across her visibly dented chest probably didn’t help matters.

One of the guard lieutenants called for a medic for their Princess. Luna shook her head quickly. It did strange things to her sense of balance. The strike to her head had been no less jarring than the one to her ribs. “Fret not, dear protector.” She wished she could remember the name of that senior soldier. His voice and manner was familiar. Apparently the hoof to the head didn’t magically impart Celestia’s uncanny gift for conjuring up the most obscure names. “Our Sister was struck down in a way most dire. We don’t fear a broken bone. It shall set itself in a few moments.”

The lunar goddess glanced toward the four elements who had endured her fury. It wasn’t a sight that filled her with any measure of the pride she had felt during her high emotions. The straight-maned Laughter was quivering and curled into a tight ball while Honesty awkwardly stroked her back with a hoof, and shot daggers at the Princess with her eyes between comforting words to her friend. Kindness was holding one of her eyes, which had likely struck earth or been scratched by grass when they were so blankly open after Luna forced away the Dream Realm. Drawing so deeply on its powers as Kindness had been during that psychic display, Luna wasn’t surprised that she was hit hardest by its loss. Tears were pouring thickly down those butter-coloured cheeks. Her open eye was haunted, and wouldn’t look toward her tormentor. Rarity wasn’t even sparing glares for Luna, instead she was gently trying to coax Fluttershy into letting her inspect that injured eye.

As for Rainbow Dash, she seemed no more impressed than Luna was at the sight of the others. In fact, she seemed to be getting over her embarrassment with a rising, righteous anger. For the moment, the wall of spears between her and the goddess deterred her, but by the look in her eyes, it might not for long. With all that had happened with Celestia, Luna couldn’t be sure her guards would continue to heed her calls for calm if Dash attacked again.

“Thy adherence to thine Virtue is commendable, fair Rainbow Dash. However, thou need not scold thine ruler further. We know that we... overreacted.” Luna added a contrite lowering of her head and a folding of her ears to try to convince her. The pegasus seemed vaguely suspicious, but at least that killing look in those striking magenta eyes had ebbed to a mere desire to maim.

Stiffly, partly because her injury throbbed unpleasantly with each step and partly because of awkward embarrassment, Luna limped toward the group of recovering Elements. Unsurprisingly, the less injured pair stepped forward. Honesty wore a look of hard anger, Rarity a cool disappointment. The kind that Celestia would level on her. Luna visibly cringed under it, by pure instinct.

“Ah think you’ve done enough damage for one day, Princess,” Honesty drawled in a brutal levelness. “Ah’d reckon that you’ve scared poor Pinkie enough to make yer point. Nightmare Moon didn’t get her half as bad.”

That sick feeling returned when her alter ego was mentioned. Oh, she had been capable of doing things far worse than simply shattering a pony’s will as the Nightmare. But she hadn’t turned anything close to her full powers on the future Elements back then. Since she had assumed they had posed no threat, she’d played with them, like a cat batting at a mouse. Today they had seen an alicorn in fright and anger. There was no giggling away a goddess.

“Applejack is quite right, I’m afraid,” Rarity added, twisting the knife of Honesty’s words. “Threatening to treat Pinkie like that villain, Discord. It was unworthy of you. I don’t know what you did to Fluttershy when things went...” The white unicorn seemed to struggle to find a word to describe the experience of nearly being disconnected from one’s soul. Luna didn’t envy her the task. “...cold? Empty? But you had no right at all to hurt her.”

That, at least, lit a flame within Luna’s chest. It was a refuge from shame, but a thin one. “We will not be controlled again!” she began with that anger, but it burned away too quickly. The goddess breathed a sigh. Her voice lost its fire. “We did not mean to harm her. We meant to stop that invasion of hers in the only sure way we knew. It was too much like the Nightmare when...” Luna trailed off into silence, but she could see pity and some measure of understanding in Rarity’s eyes. It was something both comforting and bitter to the alicorn. With a new breath she looked toward the farm mare. “We seek to do no more harm. As Lady Rarity said, it was unworthy of us to act as we did.”

As she started forward between the two mares, Rarity stepped to the side to make room. It was a sign of trust that the princess was grateful for. Honesty didn’t stop her, at least, but the alicorn had to step around her. She thought to go to Fluttershy, who seemed more aware, if barely, but the filly squeaked and scrambled back in terror, wings so tight to her sides that they shook from the effort. Luna didn’t have the heart to pursue her. Her desire to erase some of her shame was difficult enough as it was. So instead she walked closer to the pink mare, still curled tight into that protective ball, like a terrified foal.

Luna lay herself down a few paces away from the party pony. “Pinkie Pie?” Luna whispered, questioningly. The named pony just curled up all the tighter. The lunar goddess began to reach out with her deeper senses. It was so effortless during the night that it was all but automatic. She stopped herself, in what she knew was cowardice, before she could see any deeper than the mundane. She didn’t want to see the damage she had inflicted on Laughter’s psyche with her brutal lack of care. Mental magics were not something to be used as a cudgel. It was too easy to scar a pony’s mentality, sometimes even permanently. She had gleefully focused all her divine will on crushing this absurd little pony, and she had broken, just as expected. “We... I am sorry. It wasn’t really you that I was angry with. It was all...” Luna stopped, giving her head a shake. “There’s no excuse. I acted unforgivably.”

There was no response at all from the filly. Luna suppressed a cringe. At this rate she would have no choice but to actually inspect the damage she had done. A hopeful thought at the back of her mind pointed out that Cadance’s aspect was far more in line with such a task. But that hope died in the fires of logic quickly enough. Cadance was barely a foal of an alicorn. Her powers were impressive, but very immature. Of course, as Twilight had discovered when facing Discord, there were ways to begin to heal psychic damage that weren’t magical.

“P-perhaps I could make it up to you in part by attending your party?” the dark goddess offered with a measure of awkwardness. It seemed like something that might at least get a response from the catatonic pony. “I could gather a few true Moon Lilies to bestow upon some of your guests?”

The reaction was dramatic. Pinkie Pie shot up into the air with a gasp, her mane positively exploding outward. Luna flinched backward, night-blue mist steaming from her pelt as her body naturally prepared to flee into intangibility.

“A Pinkie Princess Party!?” Somehow the party pony managed to stay up into the air long enough to both gasp and shout those words. Gravity seemed to take a brief holiday at the apex of the jump, only to catch itself and reassert its existence a few seconds later. The sight did little to settle Luna’s nerves, especially given that none of her night-sharpened senses could find any magic being used to produce the effect.

Can’t she avoid appearing as a reality-twisting abomination at least so long as I’m trying to be apologetic? Luna groused to herself, once her heart stopped threatening to take advantage of the weakness in her ribs to escape her chest. How is it that I can still long for the days of the chicken suit?

“We can appear briefly. For only as long as the duties of a troubled state can allow,” Luna clarified, carefully, with all the magnanimous serenity she could muster.

Pinkie didn’t seem to be listening to the caveat. She bounced up and down happily, thankfully not abusing the laws of physics this time. Luna checked to make sure, and found it absurd that she felt she needed to do so. “This is going to be the bestest party ever. I need to go change the flyers. Oh! And the name. And I need Princess Luna decorations. What’s your favorite kind of food? Cupcakes? Cakes? Danishes? Turnovers? Cupcakes?”

And on and on it went. At some point Pinkie, who didn’t actually seem to stop for answers, decided her presence was desperately needed elsewhere. She bounced over to Fluttershy and nudged her with her nose. “Come on, silly filly, I need someone to fly up to take down the old decorations.” A few more bumps seemed to almost miraculously get Fluttershy out of her own near catatonia and up onto steady hooves.

“O-okay,” that pillow-soft voice of the yellow pegasus murmured, almost below hearing. “Um.” Pinkie nudged her forward another step with a nosebump to her haunch. She shied away from the touch. “Pinkie, could you... um... stop doing that? If that’s okay?”

“We gotta move, sister!” the party pony explained brightly. She applied another nudge, and was answered with a surprised little ‘eep’. “No time to waste! I don’t have a party cannon packed with Moony stuff. And I mean, really, I should have. We came to Canterlot and everything. I had a ‘Welcome Back Chrysalis, Be Our Friend Instead of Invading’ cannon all ready. A ‘Tea Party with Celestia’ one too. Even a ‘Congrats on the Engagement to the Pony of your Dreams’ one for Rarity, because you never know. Oh! Have you made up with the animals in the garden yet, because I’ve got...”

Luna watched the whole exchange incredulously, until Pinkie went out of sight with Fluttershy. Applejack started off after them, giving Luna a wary look along the way. One of Luna’s ears flicked as she heard the gentle swish of hooves on grass coming up beside her. The sound was too perfectly even to be anyone but Rarity. Her guess was confirmed when that cultured voice spoke up, “Really? She travels around with an engagement party ready for me? I’m not sure if I should be flattered, but it is sweet. Hardly what one would expect of a villain, is it Princess?”

Luna ignored the ever so slight bite in those final words, though she supposed they weren’t undeserved. “Tell us, Lady Rarity, did Pinkie Pie have any luggage when she arrived?”

“Hmm?” Rarity paused for a moment after that questioning sound, perhaps expecting an explanation for the sudden, unusual inquiry. None was forthcoming. “No, I don’t recall any. Pinkie always travels light, and I don’t doubt that they were rather in a hurry after hearing that Princess Celestia had been injured.”

Luna glanced sidelong at the unicorn. “And yet, despite that, she has decor and artillery with her. We don’t doubt their existence, either. We have seen them, in rank upon rank. Out of reach of this world. Or so they should be.” The alicorn turned and began back toward the palace. She stopped after a few paces, and looked back toward the unicorn. Rarity was clearly deep in thought, undoubtedly dreaming up something to say. “In truth, we believe what you have said, that there is no evil yet in Laughter. It doth not worry us what she intends, only what she already does. ‘Tis our belief that one does not twist the very underpinnings of the world without becoming twisted in turn. Celestia has the will and discipline to resist. Those of free nature? It hath always turned toward disaster. Discord was once an unassuming and mostly-harmless creature too. We failed to act decisively then, and in doing so nearly wrought the end of our world. And then, of course, there was us. Remember what we said of our fae nature in our youth.”

“It’s nothing like that. It’s just Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie,” Rarity weakly offered, as Luna began to walk away once more. The alicorn knew the refrain by now. It littered every report of unusual activity in Ponyville. It didn’t even make the Princess pause.

* * *

Sleep was a sweet thing indeed. Luna had been without any real rest for days. She could go without it for longer, but normally she wasn’t keeping her magical reserves near to empty and poisoning herself. And normally the moon rose to fill her with power each night. Still, it was deliciously indulgent to sleep during the night, soaking her in the cool energies of her aspect. The Dream Realm had improved as well, with the raising of the bright, silvery moon over it. The ghost-shapes of buildings were more defined. A starscape of sleeping ponies, grateful for the darkness after days of perpetual sunset, graced the ground as far as the goddess could see, ensuring she could flit around Canterlot with perfect ease. The dreamers crowded into an area, the less difficult it became to travel through, in the Realm. One could move through cities at night in nearly instant flashes. Long, empty stretches of wilderness were like moving through a pool of molasses in comparison.

Her sister slept, but didn’t really dream. At best she dwelt in feverish hallucination. What should have been a radiant, profound presence was little more than an angrily glowing mist within her tower. Luna folded nebulous wings around it, and breathed what peace she could into that spirit. It was an unfamiliar thing, trying to work into that roiling madness, instead of proper dreaming. She couldn’t immerse herself in it, or peer into it. But at least her efforts seemed to calm it toward a more placid state. It would all be so much easier if there was some monster she could pour her anger out upon to save her sister. Instead her target had been a bright pink filly who was only trying to help by lightening the mood in Canterlot.

With that reminder, the alicorn flung her senses widely, a pulse of awareness that surged through the shadow city. Her gaze settled onto a building near the edge of Canterlot. It wasn’t a residence or place in high use by the citizenry. It should have been barely a presence in the Realm. Instead it was more solid than anything else for miles. The cloud of intent that was Luna seeped out through the tower walls. Some of the protection enspelled into stone and mortar would have bled into the Dream World normally, but Twilight had left them in a ragged state and they offered no resistance. It was something else to be remedied upon waking. It would be an irritating problem, given that it was best if few people were exposed to seeing Celestia in her deathly condition, and moving her to allow work on the tower was ill-advised.

It was increasingly tempting to teleport to Hoofington and reduce a few changelings to bits of frozen, shattered chitin. Or at least to return to Manehatten to show the flag in the face of the mobs of changeling-hunting vigilante ponies that had returned to the streets since hearing about Celestia’s injury. She should have been doing it for weeks, but now she dared not go further than a few moments away from her Sister, for fear that she would take a turn for the worse. For a moment the alicorn wondered, with a certain malicious glee, if changelings dreamed. She could make it so that they never awoke, all without leaving her bed in the Palace. It was a cathartic thought, but taking her astral self that far from her physical body would make her next to impossible to rouse. She had torn herself up with guilt when Celestia had received a comparative scratch at Chrysalis’ hooves while she’d been elsewhere. If her Ssister died due to her being off ripping the souls (if the half-witted creatures had them!) of changeling drones from their bodies to make herself feel better, Luna would never recover.

Her destination was far closer. She could wake instantly. As she took tangible form she began to hope that some functionary really would wake her up. She’d rather hear that Blueblood had tried to sell Canterlot to the gryphons than to walk into the building she was forcing herself to enter.

It had all the appearance of a normal warehouse. One like many near the train yard. A plaque with a logo of waving stalks of grain had been partially covered up by a banner adorned with three balloons of familiar placement and colour. That she could make out such detail in a simple physical object in this world made the goddess suppress a shudder.

Physical objects only ever had a tenuous meaning in the realm of thought. What little solidity they gained was due to the feelings and intentions of the ones who interacted with them, lending them form. The builder of a structure, in designing and meticulously constructing it, infused it with a bit of themselves. The love of a family or the focus of employees strengthened that impression. The warehouse was a dry, utilitarian building that likely earned little love or passion, or even hatred. It should have been nigh-invisible. Yet somehow a flighty pink pony, barely more than a filly, had poured enough meaning into the place to make the walls nearly opaque and naturally coloured in a world of ethereal blues and greens.

And my hooves are making sounds again! Ugh! There isn’t even gravity to hold them down!

The thought made Luna pause and make a little hop forward. When she found herself slowing, then falling at the apex of the small jump she wanted to throw her hooves up in the air in dismay. There wasn’t gravity in the Realm of Dreams. But there was here. It was no less disturbing to Luna than the thought of gravity shutting off in the Material Realm.

Luna steeled herself and moved forward, staring straight ahead and trying to ignore the clop of hooves on stone. It didn’t work. Each one made her want to scream that much more.

Finding Pinkie Pie sitting on her haunches at the center of the cavernous space of the warehouse was at least something else to focus on. Her mane and tail were once again in that oddly straight style that Luna had briefly seen during her foalish tantrum. They were quite luxuriantly long like that, almost brushing the ground, but somehow it seemed terribly uncharacteristic. That was until Pinkie turned to look at her as she neared. The tear-reddened eyes, filled with sullen anger, fit well enough with the style.

Luna froze when those eyes locked onto her. “What do you want?” Pinkie Pie bitterly spat out those words. It was a jarring change from her normal demeanor.

The alicorn who had faced down dragons, monsters and gods of chaos took a moment to compose herself before speaking to one of her subjects. “What has become of thou, Pinkie Pie?”

“What became of me?” the filly repeated. She rose up onto her hooves. She stalked forward, brashly shoving her muzzle up in front of Luna’s. The alicorn recoiled. “What became of me? You did!” her screaming was shrill.

“It’s just so easy, huh? A harmless little party pony you can kick around to feel better?” Pinkie made a kicking motion with her front hooves to illustrate. It was hardly anything like a powerful buck of back hooves, but it struck Luna just above the fetlock in a tender spot. When sudden, sharp pain shot up her leg, she yelped. Immediately finding herself unbalanced in that strange gravity, her front pitched down and she fell unceremoniously on her face, rear in the air, in front of the filly. She tried to scramble up to her hooves, but a hoof pressed down on the back of her neck. It felt like a lead weight. She struggled and flailed, wings beating, a useless gesture given there wasn’t really air in the dreamscape. That hoof just seemed to press all the harder, until Luna felt like her bones should be creaking with strain. Somehow her lungs burned, as if the pressure on her throat was actually keeping her from breathing. It was an absurd thought, given that it wasn’t necessary in that realm. Even so, greyness began to impinge on the edges of her vision. Weakness filtered through her muscles.

The goddess tried to rejoin her sleeping form, to flee into wakefulness. She felt tension, but she didn’t move from that spot. Her body likewise wouldn’t shed its artificial solidity. Like the building, she was being held in some kind of material form. Panicked eyes looked up to meet the pink pony’s. Power swelled within her, answering her call. It gathered in her horn, ready to lash out with devastating effect. But instead of calling up blades of cold, deadly light, the alicorn stopped struggling, slumping down limply in surrender. The pressure on her neck eased. She took a gasp and filled her lungs with something that felt like air. Relief came quick and sweet. Pinkie’s voice was a growl from above. “Not fun being scared and helpless, is it?

The prostrate dream goddess shuddered. “N-no,” she croaked, her voice rough, “it isn’t.”

The hoof lifted from the back of her neck. The spot ached fiercely. Luna didn’t rise, but just panted for breath, as strength slowly return to her limbs. She watched Pinkie turn and begin to walk away, dismissively. That long tail nearly batted her across the face. It seemed to carry a greyer tinge to it than normal, almost like a pony in the early stages of being twisted by Discord. In other words, a pony suffering from some measure of spiritual injury. It would manifest far more clearly here. Luna wished she could blame her old nemesis for it, but she knew all too well who was responsible.

Luna coughed, a foreleg rubbing at her throat as she picked herself up unsteadily. Her voice was clearer this time. “We want to make amends to thee.”

Pinkie stopped and looked back. Her eyes were narrowed and sullen once more, but not enraged, at least. “I told you. Come to my party. I’m working my flank off getting it ready. Make a few ponies smile. Seems like nobody has done that for days. That’s all I really want.”

* * *

Canterlot. Several months previous.

Luna trotted to a quick, pounding rhythm, albeit one only she could hear. The beat seemed to have burned itself into her mind, courtesy of a white unicorn with electric blue hair and absurd glasses. Her name had been even stranger. Both of them! Luna still wasn’t sure what Vinyl was, or why one would Scratch it. Likewise she was sure that most ponies didn’t put numbers in their names. Her music had been rather more memorable than her skills in bed. She’d been enthusiastic, at least! But there was only so much that one could expect from a pony who had never been with other mares before. Ponies made all sorts of exceptions when the chance to be with a goddess came up, Luna had found.

Still, it had all been so much easier when mares would wear a sprig of lilies behind their ear to show their leanings. It was a bit too much to expect that some traditions of value wouldn’t get lost after a thousand years.

The sun was near to setting. It cast a warm orange light through the enormous arching windows on Luna’s chosen path toward Celestia’s room. She hadn’t come home last night, and she’d already missed dinner. Still, there was time to have a bit of tea before the raising of the moon and presiding over her own rather sparsely attended Court.

Luna flashed the armored stallions outside of Celestia’s door a bright smile as she came around the corner. Her horn lit, and she beat a specific pattern on her sister’s door before one of the guards could. Two beats, a pause, another beat, then a shorter pause before the last. The code for Luna’s arrival. Truthfully, the moon goddess found it a little contrived. Her own guards knocked once and poked their heads in to announce any guests. It’s not as if the Royal Sisters had to fear some assassin. Discord was imprisoned. The rest of the world trembled at their hooves.

Golden light enveloped the door as Celestia’s magic opened it in welcome. Luna trotted inside to find that her sister had obviously felt her presence approaching. She was daintily pouring tea into a waiting cup, opposite her own. The air carried a lovely, warm, minty smell. Peppermint tea. Celestia didn’t really care for it, but it was Luna’s favorite.

“My wayward sister returns.” The sun goddess’s voice was even warmer and more welcoming than the scent. Luna more than happily made her way over and gave her big sister’s cheek a nuzzle. “And in good spirits too. Have fun in Manehatten?”

“The City that Never Sleeps. They name it well.” Luna settled down on the opposite side of the small, round table from her sister. It was near one of the room’s windows. The moon goddess thoughtfully glanced out of it. “Thou remembers that I loved the shadowed and enchanted places of the world. Our subjects would walk the forests by moonlight to find me.” The dark alicorn looked to her sister, levitating up her teacup. “Now I begin to think they’ll start looking in the meadhalls and festivals of the cities. Hast thou ever been to a celebration called a ‘rave’, ‘Tia?”

Celestia laughed. It was an indescribably wonderful sound. Luna had no idea how something that was sure to have taken a thousand years of practice could sound so genuine. Then again, perhaps that’s because it was. She could feel some hint of the amusement and affection radiating from her sister. “Once. In the guise of a pegasus. It’s a relatively new phenomenon. And it isn’t the sort of place where ponies would expect to see me.”

Luna scrunched up her nose in distaste and shook her head. “I don’t understand this Virgin Goddess image at all. Thou was the head mare of a nation, and thou didst enjoy it. A harem of a dozen stallions waiting upon thy whim. What happened to the bawdy, blood-streaked warrior mare taking her spoils in eager stallions after we brought Pegasopolis in line?”

The memory seemed to bring a wistful look to look to Celestia’s face. Luna could sense the nostalgia there. “Those were simpler times. Somewhere along the way things got... complicated.”

“No. Still easy,” Luna countered, almost boastfully, before taking a demure little sip from her teacup.

“You don’t have a thousand years of expectation to deal with. Or the risk of starting up a new Royal line. I can’t even imagine the mess that would cause with the nobility. They’re still smarting about Cadance, and she isn’t even a blood relation.” Celestia canted her head slightly to one side, in a thoughtful look. “Then again, maybe I’m jumping to conclusions about it being impossible for you to start political trouble with a child? Nightmare Moon seemed a bit more... open minded, during the war. Maybe you’ve seen the light?”

Luna’s face took on a queasy look. “Ugh. Nay, don’t mention that. Ever again. Please. If thou were to ever see me with a stallion again, take it as the most horrible of signs. Thou shouldst go gather the Elements of Harmony with no delay. There’s no better proof that I wasn’t myself. It would be as strange as seeing thee with a mare.”

The dark alicorn missed the enigmatic look that came over Celestia’s features after that last sentence. She was studying the liquid in her cup with all the appearance of studiousness. Mention of Nightmare Moon always put Luna into a subdued, introspective sort of mood.

“Well, I’m glad you could spare me a bit of time between pretty rave ponies.” Celestia leaned over and, with playful scolding, nipped Luna’s ear. It made the younger goddess jump a little, almost dropping her tea.

“It isn’t like that! Nobody could come before thee! I just-”

Celestia laughed and shook her head, holding out a hoof to stop her sister’s quick reassurances. “I know, Lulu. I love you too. You deserve to have a bit of fun. It sounds like you’ve been fitting in better in Manehattan than here. I’m happy for you.” Celestia rose up onto her hooves. “But while I do have you, I want to show you something.”

The white alicorn led her sister in front of a tall mirror, and urged her to sit in front of it. Self-consciously, she lifted a dark hoof to brush at her starry mane. Celestia’s bright, colourful and imposingly large presence made her feel a bit underwhelming. The younger sister was just about to ask what Celestia wanted to show her when the mirror rippled. “A scrying mirror? Why dost thou have one in thy room?” Colour and shapes were starting to leech into the mirror from the edges. A scrying mirror was a tool of divination, allowing a pony to see distant locations by projecting an invisible, magical eye. Their creation was rather strictly regulated, for obvious reasons. Luna looked up over her shoulder. Her tone was flat. “By thine bed. Really, ‘Tia?”

The Sun Princess rolled her eyes. “Even if I did use it for that--which I most certainly do not--it would be the least my subjects could do for me, if they expect me to be chaste and proper for centuries. Now hush.”

The colours in the mirror began to swirl together to construct the image of a pony. A particular pony. The predominant colour seemed to be a garish, screaming pink.

“Laughter? Has some misfortune befallen Ponyville?”

“No. I was just checking to make sure Twilight and her friends hadn’t burned it down, or ensorcelled the townsfolk... again. Now hush, it’s better with sound.” Celestia’s horn glowed, feeding more power into the spell matrix of the mirror. The image of that marching pink pony sharpened. Sound began to emerge from the mirror’s surface. Something rich and musical, in fact.

“..name is Pinkie Pie. Hello! And I am here to say...”

“Is she singing? Where is the music coming from, does she have musicians following her?”

“Oh, I didn’t notice that before. I’m getting too used to movies, with their added musical scores. No, I don’t think so. I never saw any.”

“Didst thou know she sang a song that somehow broke one of the Nightmare’s fear spells? Truly. It shattered. And hurt when it did. It was like having Starswirl deliver one of his counterspells via a buck to the nose.” Luna rubbed her nose against the back of a forelimb in memory.

“Twilight transcribed the lyrics, yes. Very tragic for Nightmare Moon. But really Lulu, you’re missing it.”

“Because cheering up my friends is just what Pinkie’s here to do!”

“Did she just throw those foals?”


“Fine, fine.”

“...All I really need’s a smile, smile smile, from these happy friends of mine!”

Luna focused back on the mirror, and was surprised to find that the image had flattened into shades of purple and pink. She blinked and leaned forward to tap a hoof against the frame. It returned to normalcy, showing Pinkie skipping with several other foals. “Ahh, it must have been some kind of interference. We have repaired it.”

Celestia laughed again. The sound had gotten no less sweet, to Luna's ears, in all the times she since her return. “It does that every time, Lulu. This is just a recording of the original scrying. Something was affecting the spell’s sensor at the source.”

“Given the colours, perhaps it was Twilight Sparkle playing with thee. T’was the colours of her mane and coat, if I’m not...” Luna paused and blinked, leaning closer to the image.

“...is always Pinkie’s dream! Hoofbump!”

Luna recoiled as hooves suddenly appeared close to the foreground of the image. The puzzling part was that it appeared to be the hooves of Laughter and the bronze coloured pegasus foal currently skipping. “That rope is animating itself. There’s no aura of magical energy around it at all. That’s impossible. We are more sure than ever that your student is making a joke at thine expense. She must have noticed thy mirror’s sensor floating about.”

“...turn that sad frown upside-down!”

Luna pointed a hoof triumphantly as the image twirled around in front of Honesty’s sister. “See, she just spun it about.”

Celestia shook her head. “I try not to underestimate my faithful student’s skills, but I don’t think that’s the case. For one, it isn’t like her to play a trick on me. Not only that, I couldn’t feel any outside magic directly on my spell. I don’t have your natural deftness with magic, Lulu, but there aren’t many that could fool me so well. The mirror was made to pierce illusions, so simply laying out an image for it isn’t likely, either.”

A shiver travelled down Luna’s spine. “Discord?” she ventured, pupils shrinking in fear at the thought. “Our best spells always slipped from him, while he could twist our magic as he willed, even without our notice.”

Celestia once more gave a negative gesture. “No. Thankfully not. The Elements are still holding him well. I think it’s Pinkie Pie herself. Watch this next part closely.”

By all appearances the next image was taken at night. It was dark, and the pink party pony was wearing a sorrowful look.

“It's true, some days are dark and lonely, and maybe you feel sad, but Pinkie will be there to show you that it isn't that bad!”

Luna watched with incredulity as one Pinkie Pie helped a second out of that darkness. “An illusion of a second Laughter? Nay, thou said the mirror was made to pierce illusions.” The younger sister paused. “She made a copy of herself? Is that possible?”

“Well, it could be a time-displaced version of herself too. Or a duplicate from the Mirror Pool, though as far as I know it hasn’t been disturbed in decades. But yes, many things have been discovered in the last thousand years. Both duplication and time travel spells are under lock and key. But she isn’t using unicorn magic, in any case. There’s not one single visible aura to be found.”

"...makes my whole life worthwhile! And that's when I talk to my friends and get them to smile!"

The sisters watched the song in silence. Or rather, Luna watched, and Celestia watched her sister, no doubt delighting in her shock. The image in the mirror randomly jumped between perspectives, giving the overwhelming impression that it was being played with for effect. For purely aesthetic reasons.

“Laughter knows she’s being watched,” Luna concluded, after watching the pink pony pop her head in and out of the viewpoint of the mirror. Not even the fact that the feat would likely require teleportation phased the younger deity at that point. “She’s made a performance out of it. How could she know?” The darker alicorn still visibly recoiled when the rest of the town broke into the refrain for the song. “They’re all doing it? What absurdity is this?”

Celestia raised a prim, shod hoof to cover a small laugh. “Oh? The strangers suddenly breaking into song? That’s been happening with our little ponies for over three centuries now. I was in a panic for months after it started. I don’t think the crowd knows I was watching, but I agree with you otherwise, I think Pinkie Pie was singing to me. Or maybe even to us.”

Luna looked from the mirror to her sister and back again, looking distinctly lost. Her sister must have sensed her indecision on which impossibility to address first, because the taller alicorn leaned down to nuzzle her behind an ear. “It’s Harmony, dear Sister. Maybe music has some special place. Maybe they’ve all just been taking the Hearth’s Warming Eve song’s line about singing to heart. You’d have seen it for yourself if you’d attended the last Gala. The Bearers started quite the catchy tune that gained its own dozen-pony chorus. But even the most humble pony can spark off the effect.”

The younger sister studied Celestia, searching her face for signs that she was performing one of her little pranks. A thousand years ago, staring at her long enough would eventually get her twitching in discomfort and spilling the truth. It didn’t work these days. Celestia had become a thing of iron willpower, with a imperturbable mask to match, but Luna gave it her best anyway, narrowing her eyes.

Celestia playfully tapped the end of her sister’s nose with a hoof. Boop. “No, I’m serious. I’ll show you later. We’ll get one of the servants to burst into song in the marketplace or something. You can even write the lyrics yourself. The others ponies don’t even need to know the words beforehand.” She reached for the mirror next, which had returned to its normal reflection, and tapped on it in turn. “Okay, let’s watch it again, without the interruptions. If you think what you see here is impossible, wait until I tell you about something called the ‘Pinkie Sense’.”

* * *

Luna hung in the air a great distance away from the warehouse. Her wings were tucked at her sides, and her legs curled, as if she was laying upon a cloud, but nothing was below to suspend her. The absence of gravity was a reassurance that she was basking in lavishly, like a foal clinging to their favorite blanket. She watched the changes with patient eyes. Small alterations to the exterior faded into view. A pair of spotlights were added, impinging like a tumor upon reality. The warehouse windows filled with light and colour.

What art thou, Pinkie Pie?

The goddess’ wings rustled as they twitched with quiet unease.

Yes, I’m sorry. No, thou didn’t deserve what was done to thee. ‘Tia was right about holding sacrosanct the souls of ponykind. Such fragile things, they are. But my thoughts have not changed, I find, on any other matter concerning thee.

With a sigh, unheard in the silent realm, Luna willed her mind to release the image of her body, allowing it to sublimate into mist, light and the stuff of spirit. Formless, she flew back toward the palace, to lose herself in somepony’s else’s pleasant dreams. She had only a few hours to rest and regain her equilibrium before she would have to go search the lowlands and slopes for Moon Lilies to bring to Pinkie Pie’s celebration. They would need to be harvested after a few hours of soaking up moonlight, and the party would be happening immediately after the following sunset. No matter what she felt, the honor of a goddess was no trifling thing. She had a promise to keep, and a great deal of new tarnish to remove from the Equestrian Crown.

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