• Published 12th Jan 2013
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Celestia Sleeps In - Admiral Biscuit



A dispute between Celestia and Luna leads to Celestia accidentally making contact with humans.

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Prologue

Celestia Sleeps In
Prologue
1-11-13
Admiral Biscuit

Towering over the organized chaos of a city coming to life, the golden spires of the Royal Castle gleamed in the new day's sun. One by one, ponies who were in the streets cast their eyes towards a balcony, high above the streets, on the easternmost tower of the castle. There, faintly visible, a single pearl-white alicorn stood sentry, her benevolent visage shining upon them. Some went about their business after a quick look; others simply basked in her glory. To a unicorn in a crisp suit, she was simply a reminder that he was almost due at a bank meeting; to a baker who stepped out of his store for a few minutes of meditation each morning, she was a symbol of all that Equestria stood for; to a night editor on the top floor of the newspaper building, she was a token of possibilities—both good and bad—for the news the coming day.


Princess Celestia watched as the rays of the morning sun cut across the city, illuminating it from the top down. She could see those ponies who stopped to view her, and those who simply gave her a glance and continued on their ways. She was hardly focused on her task; millennia of raising the sun each morning had made it second-nature to her. Instead, she observed the city slowly coming awake.

Like the mind of a dreamer, tradesponies had been working all night long. Policeponies and sewerponies and rubbishponies had been patrolling the streets, while fireponies and nurses and doctors had been sitting in their rooms, trading stories and jokes, both bored of the tedium and glad for it. Later, as Luna’s moon was high in the sky, the delieveryponies and bakers had trudged through the darkened streets, making their way to shops and offices, beginning the new day with fresh bread, fresh vegetables, and fresh news, all to be enjoyed at restaurants and cafes that were even now filling.

She enjoyed watching the city, how it had grown and transformed over the years. The ponies had changed, but the heart of the city had not—would not—as long as it remained her seat of power.

The sun firmly on its track, and her empire safe for another day, she finally stepped back from the balcony into her giant bedroom. As always, two senior Pegasus Guards were waiting there, and fell in line behind her, while her secretary stood off to the side, waiting for instructions. Celestia moved into the hall, her small entourage trailing her, and made her way to the dining hall.

As she sat, serving ponies buzzed around her, and she frowned a little, as she did every morning. It seemed unnecessary to have five of them to fetch a bowl of oatmeal, a small salad, and a tall glass of coffee, but the look of adoration on their faces kept her from saying anything.


With soft hooffalls, Luna moved up beside Celestia. “We have finished with our nightly routine,” she said softly. “As usual, we have no news of interest for thee. Lunar Court was deserted.” She sighed. “We spent the hours examining Cloudsdale’s budget. Didst thou know if they moved the weather factory but a thousand feet higher, they might cut their energy usage by a twelfth?”

Celesta turned to face Luna, setting her spoon back in her oatmeal. “Would they be able to collect the water they needed from reservoirs? Most villages are near maximum wingpower already to get the water high enough.”

Luna frowned, a tender carrot floating inches from her muzzle. “We do not know. We suppose they could descend when they needed more water. We are uncertain why they doth not. Perchance we may peruse the matter more tonight, should there be no pressing matters we must attend in the Lunar Court.”

Celestia nodded absently. While the sisters ate in a silence only occasionally interrupted by the serving-ponies, she wondered if she could create some kind of situation that could only be handled by the night court. She worried that perhaps Luna was becoming depressed by the lack of contact with other ponies, many whom still feared her. Her nocturnal lifestyle, of course, complicated matters.

“Go to bed, sister.” Celestia nuzzled her neck. “I will report to you at supper.”

Luna nodded and walked out of the dining room.

As she left, Celestia wondered if the ponies would get more accustomed to Luna if they were on the balcony together when the sun rose. She resolved to mention it at dinner.


Sitting through Solar Court, Celestia found her mind wandering. Most of the petitioners she heard every day were the same nobles, voicing the same complaints. After all these years, she was tired of it. She idly wondered if she could pass a law stating that nopony could visit the Solar Court more than a dozen times annually. Perhaps some kind of system whereby the more times one visited, the farther back one would have to be in line . . . she smiled, a little, thinking how the nobility would have a fit over such an edict.

It would never work, she decided. Ponies would never change. Ever since she became the alpha mare of her first herd, she had been pressed day after day with requests, questions, and permissions. As their society had advanced, the requests had become more complicated than ‘can we graze by the river today,’ but otherwise nothing had changed. Perhaps nothing ever would.

As she bade farewell to the last petitioner, she wondered if Equestrian society would collapse if she took a vacation. It probably would. A dark part of her mind imagined taking a weekend off and returning to find Canterlot in smoldering ruins, a new unicorn council ruling over the ashes.


The next morning, the sisters stood together on the balcony. Celestia noted with amusement that there were far more stares than usual. As she watched the streets fill up, she looked over at her sister who had a wistful look in her eye.

“We think we were not entirely wrong, a thousand years ago,” Luna commented.

“About the everlasting night?”

Luna nodded. Seeing the look on Celestia’s face, she raised a hoof. “Not about the eternal darkness, of course. We know thy ponies need your sun for thy crops to grow. We know that were we to prevent the sun from rising, starvation and eternal winter would destroy all Equestria.” She paused, considering her next words carefully. “But, so few of thy ponies enjoy our night, sister. We toil so maintaining our beautiful tapestry overhead, and shifting the shape of our moon, while it seems that all you do is set the sun on the same track every morn. The only variance is how many clouds the pegasi hath put in the sky. Yet, everypony would rather be out in the day.”

Celestia pondered her answer. There was no point in lying to Luna, for she would know the lie and brood on it. Instead, she said simply, “The sun is more important to their survival, Luna. You know that. There is little I can do with it without causing crops to wither or freeze. Imagine the panic in the streets if I were to raise the sun closer than usual one day, or send it on a different course across the sky. Perhaps if I had introduced some variation in the early years, ponies might have grown to expect it, but now it is too late.”

“We know, Tia,” Luna pouted. “It just seems unfair.” She looked down at the rapidly filling streets. “All thy ponies, sleeping through our night, arising as thy sunlight touchst thy beds.”

Celestia looked over at her sister. “Luna, as powerful as I am, there is only one thing that I alone in all of Equestria cannot do.”

Luna looked at Celestia thoughtfully for a few minutes. “We confess, we can think of naught.”

Celestia looked at Luna with a touch of sadness in her eyes. “I can never wake to the sun.”


For months, that thought gnawed at Celestia. Luna, if she wanted, could take a night off—that she wouldn’t was beside the point: she could. Celestia was easily able to send the moon through its track; a thousand years of practice and she was pretty good at it. Luna, however, was simply not powerful enough to control the sun, and likely wouldn’t be for centuries. The more she thought about it, the more it irked her. Very nearly all-powerful, yet there was just one little thing she could not do.

She noticed that after their conversation, Luna had moved her bed directly in line with a west-facing window, and arranged the drapes so that the sunlight hit her bed just about the time she usually woke, and while it annoyed Celestia, she let her little sister have that victory. Luna was unusually subtle about it; she never mentioned it, but she knew that Celestia knew, and that Celestia was bothered.

“There must be something I can do,” Celestia muttered out loud, startling the Guardponies. She looked at them, and simply stated, “I am going to the restricted section of the Archives. Direct anything urgent to my attention there.”

They nodded as she walked down the hall.


Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months. The simplest solution would have been to let somepony else raise the sun, as the Unicorn Council did in the days before Celestia ascended. However, given the chaos of the times, nopony had bothered to write down a very accurate account of how, exactly, one took control of the sun, and Celestia’s memories of the event were fragmented images of her sister lying half-dead, of her own coat stained gray with dried blood, sweat, and mud she thought was never going to come out. She had been maintaining nearly a dozen spells to keep her and her sister alive, and to keep the High Unicorn King at bay. As he had forced her to her knees, she had seen the now-or-never look in Luna’s eyes, and had dropped every spell, seized hold of her sister’s power, somehow, and blasted the unicorn into dust. That had been the last thing she remembered until her ponies had pulled her loose from the rubble. It wasn’t until hours later that anypony noticed that the sun wasn’t moving, and even longer still before she discovered that she could control it. Even now, she shivered at the memory.

In all their years together, the only time that the sisters had mentioned it since was when Celestia had asked Luna one afternoon how she got control of the moon.

“Is it not obvious?” Luna said bitterly, waiving a hoof at her coat. “Thou art light, we are dark; thou hast the sun, we the night.” And it was not long after that she had been forced to either kill Luna or banish her to the moon, and after a thousand years she still had not decided if she had made the correct decision, or been swayed by emotion. Clearly, it was not a subject she was planning to ever bring up with her sister again.

It was unfortunate, though, she thought, as she waded through tomes and scrolls. Luna had always been the theoretician. Celestia never really understand the fine points of how her magic worked, she just relied on her instincts and emotions, while Luna was colder and more calculating. While it was true that thousands of years of practice had left Celestia the most skilled unicorn in Equestria, at heart she was a pegasus, decisive but impatient. Had it not been for her sister’s subtle jabs, she surely would have let the matter rest; as it was, every time she felt like quitting the project, she simply went to her sister’s chambers, took one look at the bed, and renewed her research, even though her hopes were falling like the leaves on the trees.


My Faithful Student Twilight Sparkle:

I am writing this letter at the behest of my sister, who wishes you to come to Canterlot for Hearth’s Warming Eve. She feels that the weeks afterward would provide a good time to teach you some of the magic which you experienced firsthoof in the Crystal Empire, as many of them are especially potent during the cold winter days and long winter nights. I feel that Spike should be able to attend the library himself for several weeks; should he need assistance, the kind Ms. Fluttershy would undoubtedly be willing, especially as many of her animal friends are hibernating or have flown south for the winter. Should you have time, there is a small research project which you may be able to help me with, as well.
Princess Celestia

Twilight read the letter for the tenth time since Spike had belched it forth. Each time it seemed it had revealed some new bit of information, if the growing pile of books was any indication. Spike had a sudden, probably not entirely inaccurate vision of every shelf in the library being empty, and an increasingly frustrated purple unicorn attempting to stuff them all in her saddlebags, and decided he had to put a stop to this before it got out of control.

“Sure is a lot of books,” he mused, lifting a thin lavender book titled Theoretical Research in Neuroponynomic Decision-Making. “Probably be a challenge to carry them all.”

“Mm-hmm,” she muttered, not really listening.

He tossed it back on the pile. “Bet they have a newer copy at the Canterlot Library.” He traced a claw over the crossed-out Royal Library stamp on the book, looking at her deliberately as he did so. “Might wonder when you got there why you’d bothered to bring it at all.” He hooked a claw into the spine of another book—also a Royal Library discard—and pulled it towards himself. “Of course, that’s Future Twilight’s problem.”

She stopped in her tracks, and looked at him thoughtfully. “I guess Past Twilight could still learn a thing or two from Future Twilight.” Chuckling, she began to levitate books back to the shelf. Eventually, the two of them managed to reduce the pile to three books, plus her journal and a notebook, which left her ample room for quills, ink, hat, scarf, boots, and the simple dress Rarity had made for her birthday, in case she was invited to any formal events. With a promise from both Fluttershy and Rarity to keep an eye on the library and on Spike, she set off on the train to Canterlot.


As the railway carriage swayed through the gently-falling snow, she pondered what Princess Celestia might need help with. She could think of nothing that she had firsthoof experience with except, perhaps, the Elements of Harmony, which had lain unused for centuries before she and her friends had defeated Nightmare Moon. Normally she would have been a nervous wreck by the time the train arrived in Canterlot—especially since none of her friends were traveling with her, so she had only her own council to keep—but her worry was tempered by an eagerness to learn more of the magic she had felt in the Crystal Empire. She knew it was dangerous, but as a good student of magic, knew that it also had potential power for good, if used properly. It was not unlike the mixed nature of protective spells: she had used a force-bubble to keep the Cutie Mark Crusaders out of the library during their brief stint as yellow journalists—which was, in retrospect, rather selfish—while her brother had used the same spell in his failed attempt to protect Canterlot from the changelings.

Twilight chuckled as she looked down at her journal. Already, she had written several pages of notes in black ink on ways in which the spells King Sombra had used might benefit ponies, while other pages, filled out in red ink, listed potential research projects that the Princess might have in mind, along with best ways to approach them. Since in neither case did she have any salient facts, it was pure idle speculation, no more useful than Pinkie Pie’s crystal ball.

She frowned as the note of the locomotive’s exhaust changed, and then was plunged into darkness. She flattened her ears and slapped her hoof down on her journal, unaware of having done so, as she looked around the dim railcar quickly in the pulsing aura which surrounded the dancing quill in front of her face, then let out a relieved snort as the train emerged from the tunnel a moment later.

No need to get all worked up, Twilight, she reminded herself. If the train was passing through tunnels, then it was closer to Canterlot than she thought. She carefully capped the ink bottle and slid it back into her saddlebags, blotted her journal and folded it shut, putting it in the opposite side from the ink. She wrapped a small piece of stained cotton around the tip of her quill, and put it away, as well, then went to the small bathroom in the car. Thankful that she had remembered to put a brush on her packing-for-a-trip-to-Canterlot checklist, she got her mane and tail in order, finishing as the train began to slow for the outer guardpost. She remembered when she was a filly, the train hadn’t slowed here, but several attempts on the throne over the last few years—even if all had failed—had caused the guards to become a lot more serious than they had been when she was young, helped along by Shining’s demand for perfection.

Regardless of the brevity of the stop and detached professionalism of the Royal Guard, Twilight felt violated as the train continued its journey onward—personal student of the Princess or not, Twilight had to submit to the same scrutiny as anypony else who traveled into Canterlot by rail these days. Her resentment was offset by the memory of dozens of doppelganger Twilights confronting Rainbow Dash; the Guard certainly had reason to believe that even a familiar face could be a changeling.

The train finally squealed into Canterlot station and sighed a long hiss of escaping steam. As soon as the conductor opened the door, Twilight trotted out, passing the booths selling snacks and trinkets without a glance, her eyes fixed on the ivory towers of the castle.


In what seemed like no time at all, she had been poked and prodded with both unicorn magic and plain old hoof, and was finally inside the castle, being trailed by two Unicorn Guards, both of whom normally lead dignitaries around and were unused to having to quickly trot to keep up with a single-minded pony who ignored every decorative tapestry, stained glass window, and marble statue in her quest to reach Princess Celestia’s chambers with as little wasted time as possible.

With a familiarity of the castle that the guards envied, she skipped the normal route, preferring service hallways for their directness whenever possible, and occasionally going up a flight of stairs to one hallway, then back down at the other end, to avoid some obstacle that she expected would slow her. The group eventually arrived at the doors outside Celestia’s private office, where she was going over end-of-year paperwork with the Royal Castellan and Royal Bailiff, ponies both well-known to Twilight.

When she entered, Celestia looked up and beamed at Twilight, then got back to her discussion. As impatient as Twilight was, she couldn’t help but listen to the complicated workings of the castle. It directly employed hundreds of service ponies, three companies of the Royal Guard, and had its own post office; the Castellan and Bailiff were responsible for keeping them all in order and performing their tasks. She had once drawn out a chart of who was responsible for what, after listening in on a similar briefing. It had taken her days, and two trips to the library for additional research, and she had been chagrined when the Castellan had, with just a casual glance at her chart, corrected dozens of mistakes, and written in an entire branch, under the watchful eye of the High Marshal, of which she had been completely unaware.

As the meeting went on, clerks came and went, placing papers gently on the table beside Twilight, bowing respectfully as they entered and exited. The Princess smiled at each one, hardly breaking the thread of her conversation. Twilight knew that the Celestia knew the names of each one of the ponies in her employ, and their mates and children’s names as well, and she wondered how she kept it all straight in her head.

Eventually, the two finished going through the books, and closed them carefully, the Castellan helpfully levitating one into the Bailiff’s saddlebag. With deep bows, they were gone.

The Princess came around the desk, and, dropping all formality, nuzzled Twilight gently on the neck. “My faithful student. How is Ponyville? Did you have a pleasant Hearth’s Warming?”

“It was wonderful,” she smiled. “The girls and I got together at Rarity’s this year. At first we thought Rainbow Dash wasn’t going to show up, because Fluttershy said there was a pageant in Cloudsdale, but she did, and she brought Scootaloo with her, too.” She paused. “Did you see the pageant in Canterlot this year?”

Celestia shook her head. “I never go to those. I find them—“ she paused, realizing she had said a little too much. “Uncomfortable.” She scraped a hoof awkwardly across the polished granite floor. “I feel that my presence might detract from the performance,. Everypony would be more interested in me than the actors.”

Twilight opened her mouth, about to ask how, exactly, the pagents made Celestia feel uncomfortable, but the look on the Princess’ face stopped her. Her expression was as impassive as always, but there was a faraway look in her eyes, a brief flicker of terrible loss, perhaps, and then she brightened, waiting for Twilight to say whatever it was she was about to say. For a moment that felt like forever, both were at a loss.

“Sooo . . . you mentioned in your letter that Princess Luna wishes to teach me some of King Sombra’s magic?”

“Yes!” Celestia’s eager response didn’t go unnoticed by Twilight. “King Sombra…Luna is, well, rather good at understanding the magical theories behind his powers. I must confess, I had broached the subject with her quite some time ago, shortly after we suspected that the Crystal Empire was about to reappear, but she was concerned that some of its corrupting nature might cause you problems. Of course, I do not mean to offend you by saying this, I am just stating what her concerns were.”

Twilight nodded. “If I may ask, what made her change her mind?”

“She and I were pleased with the way you dealt with King Sombra and the Crystal Empire, utilizing your friend’s abilities to help locate the Crystal Heart and distract the crystal ponies from their fears, your loyalty to Spike, and especially your willingness to turn aside personal glory in favor of the larger goal of preventing his return to power. Spike, Princess Cadence, and your brother all spoke highly of your integrity, and we both felt that it was time to see what else your mind might have to offer Equestrian society.” The Princess looked at the two unicorn guards, who had remained in the room. “If you two will escort Ms. Sparkle to her quarters, and allow her to prepare for dinner, we will meet in the dining hall.” She turned back to Twilight. “Princess Luna will be there as well, and I am hoping you would grace us with your presence at the High Table. I am afraid that you will have to wait to begin your studies until later, but we do have other ponies with whom we must converse.”

Twilight nodded. “I brought my favorite dress.” She felt like shouting it out, she was so thankful she had included it on her list.


The unicorn fumed as the mare-in-waiting fussed over her dress. She began shifting her weight from hoof to hoof, until a smoldering look from the servant made her stop guiltily. When she was a foal, she hadn’t dealt with any of the boring formality of being a Very Important Pony, she had just whiled away the hours in the library or the garden or the observatory or wherever else her curiosity had taken her. As she had not been, at the time, a member of a significant noble house, nopony had taken notice of her unless she was underhoof. Much of that had changed the moment Shining Armor had married Princess Cadance and become Prince Mi Amore Cadenza, Captain of the Royal Guard and Protector of the Crystal Empire. She was now very much in the spotlight whenever she came to Canterlot, although fortunately nopony had been willing to follow her home to Ponyville, where the locals—with the exception of Rarity—had little interest in the events of Canterlot. She was not used to being waited on horn and hoof, or having to conform to boring rules of etiquette.

She finally found her way to the dining hall, and was utterly mortified to discover that she was to be announced by a herald, and led to her place by a page. She hoped that her blush was hidden by her lavender coat. However, she forgot her misery when she was seated next to Fancypants, a unicorn who was everything everypony wished Blueblood was. Twilight smiled, knowing that Princess Celestia had deliberately had her put there, since his presence would instantly erase any social faux-pas she should happen to make.

He smiled warmly as she was seated. “I remember that dress,” he whispered. “One of Miss Rarity’s finer creations, I do believe.”

She chuckled. “She must have made dozens of similar dresses before she got sick of them and sold the design to a tailor in Canterlot.”

“And now he’s competing with another fashion house that’s selling knockoffs.” Fancypants smiled brightly. “I bought one of her first dresses for Fleur, although I must say that yours looks the best of them all. It’s nice to see that you still wear it. It is no longer ‘the thing’ for the up-and-coming, I’m afraid.” He looked critically at the overly lacy dress that his marefriend was currently wearing. “I must say, there is so much more honesty in that dress, and it looks as if you have such freedom of movement.”

“It isn’t inappropriate for such an occasion?” Twilight cast a worried look at all the ponies seated at their tables, staring at the High Table while pretending not to.

He waved a hoof dismissively. “Of course not. The Princesses have been wearing the same thing for as long as anypony can remember, and nopony criticizes them for lack of fashion.” He took a sip of his wine. “Well, perhaps Hoity-Toity, but really, he would complain about anypony’s clothes.”

The dinner flew by, Twilight fully engrossed in dialogue with Fancypants and Fleur de Lis, to the point that she hardly noticed what she was eating. She was amused to discover that, unlike nasty rumors to the contrary, Fleur was a fascinating conversationalist who had a mind like a steel trap, often gently reminding Fancypants of details or facts he had forgotten. When the meal was finally over, the Head Table was escorted out first, and led to a separate chamber where everypony bade their goodbyes, until nopony was left but Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.

It was with surprising quickness that Celestia turned Twilight over to Luna, and then headed out the door, but to be fair, she still had some other matters that required her personal attention.

Luna led Twilight towards the aptly named lunar wing of the castle. Here was where the balconies with their telescopes ringed the central tower, pointed heavenward, where the stellar charts were stored and studied, and where Twilight had spent many a night observing the night sky and learning the names of the stars and galaxies that were so far from their own, as well as the nearer stellar objects which fell under Princess Luna’s control.


At the very top of a rarely-visited corridor, a pair of giant doors stood open, with two Lunar Guards flanking the entrance. Twilight paused—their bat-like wings had always made her uncomfortable—before following the Princess into her outer chambers.

They were not unlike Princess Celestia’s, although rather than the simple formality of her office, there were charts and papers tacked up to the walls, covered with Princess Luna’s immaculate copperplate printing. Half of the documents were concerned with thaumaturgical theory—a subject very near and dear to Twilight’s heart—while the other half concerned the running of Equestria.

“Be seated,” the Princess instructed, pointing at a low bench. As soon as Twilight sat, Luna moved beside her, although she remained standing, looking at her cluttered desk rather than Twilight. “What we are about to teach thee will be very difficult for a pony of thy nature to learn—mayst, perchance, turn out to be impossible. We are sorry to say that although thou canst learn theory from this tome, thou art quite unlikely to be able to successfully cast any of the spells with just book knowledge.

“Princess, please. Could you drop the formality here? Remember, I told you that the other ponies weren’t used to it. Even if it makes you comfortable, it’s just us two here.”

“Twilight Sparkle, thou hast become too comfortable with thy station. Despite the fact that our sister believes that thou art her prize student, we fear that she hath grown too close to thyself, perchance thinking of thee as her own foal. We believe that she hath forgotten the sacrifices that we hath made—ours and hers—to bring forth Equestria from Discord, and we wish thou wouldst at least converse with us in the manner which we deserve, especially here in our House.”

Twilight’s ears flattened, and she hung her head. Luna moved her head close, her breath hot on the unicorn’s neck. “We do not wish to be harsh to thee, Twilight Sparkle. Thou hast Celestia’s favor, and we believe she is a good judge of a pony’s character. We know her every thought is for the betterment of Equestrian society, even though it sometimes hurts those whom she holds the closest.”

Taking a step back, the Princess continued. “We have arranged for a tutor to run thee through orasurgy, but first, we would like to show thee an example. Art thou familiar with oneirourgy?”

“Don’t you mean oramancy and oneiromancy? The Modern Unicorn’s Guide to Magic says—“

Luna stomped the floor, eyes flashing in anger. “We rue and lament the butchering of the Royal Canterlot language that was allowed whilst we were languishing on the moon. Had we been present, we would have torn the fur from those ignorant professors one hair at a time. We did not rise up in rebellion to have every ignorant jackanape befoul our glorious speech into the garbled rubbish it has become.” As Twilight’s eyes widened, Luna took a deep breath. “Very well, we suppose we must adapt to the times. Art thou familiar with—“ she made face “—oneiromancy?”

Twilight smiled. “The manipulation of dreams. Naturally, a magic in which you would be skilled, Princess.”

“Quite so,” she said dryly. “It doth cover a much larger field than that, as thou shalt see. In a sense, tis a very specific field of the branch of . . . oramancy, although it draws on a few other related fields. Now, we would like thee to imagine a specific object that thou wouldst very much desire to possess.” She paused for a moment. “Is it clear in thy mind?”

Twilight nodded.

“Tell me, what is it?”

The Everfree Forest and why every bloody thing turns up there by Glint Eastwither.”

Princess Luna rolled her eyes. “Very well. If thou wouldst be so kind as to carefully observe.” She turned towards her crowded desk. In her horn’s aura, papers began moving about, until a thick tome floated across the room, landing in front of Twilight, who eagerly grabbed it with her own magic. She flipped the book open, then frowned.
“Princess, this isn’t Eastwither’s book. The title page’s all wrong.” She flipped a few more pages. “The introduction is missing. Plus, it should be written in simplified Unicorn, rather than R.C. Unicorn script.” She looked up at the alicorn. “Is this some kind of a trick?”

Luna chuckled, and the book vanished. “Twas but a simple illusion. More tactile than most unicorns could manage, but we do have the advantage of centuries of practice. Thou didst readily see the flaws in our illusion—we have never seen the book, so we had to take our best guess at what it might look like.

“Now, we ask thee to think of another thing that thou wishst to possess, but this time do not speak it out loud, just concentrate on it.” Again, she gave the purple unicorn a moment to think.

Twilight opened her eyes, and looked at the desk expectantly, but it was unchanged. She looked up at the Princess.

“We think thou shalt find it over there,” Luna said, pointing vaguely behind Twilight with a hoof.

The unicorn turned. Eyes widening, she leapt off the bench, running over to a small desk. A tiny part of her mind was insisting that the desk hadn’t been there before, but the rest of her brain said it must have been; it was here now.

Sitting in the center of the desk was Clover the Clever’s original diary, the title clearly recognizable to Twilight, although it was written in Old Equestrian, a language with which she was not particularly familiar. She eagerly sat in front of the desk, and began to page through the book, running her eyes across the cramped writing. Even if she couldn’t understand it, she would study until she did. She was certain that this book held the secrets she needed to know to advance her studies.

“Twilight Sparkle.”

“Busy reading.”

Luna smiled a slightly wicked smile that would have sent shivers up Twilight’s spine, if she had seen it. Luna watched the unicorn crouch hunched over, facing the wall, her horn a glowing aura around nothing at all, staring fixedly into the center of it, her pupils tracing back and forth.

“Twilight Sparkle, look at us.”

Unwillingly, she looked up. She gasped; for a moment, she was looking into the face of Nightmare Moon, and then she blinked, and it was just Luna. She looked back down, but the journal was gone. Puzzled, she looked back at the Princess.

“That book would have given thee no knowledge, no matter how long thou studied,” Luna said softly. “Twas no more real than thy vision of our sister dismissing thee for thy failure to succeed in the north, or thy friend Rarity dragging around a boulder she believed to be a gigantic diamond.

“Unlike our illusion of the first book, this time we left the spell far less specific. Twas more a mental illusion than tactile, and thou seest what thou desired.”

“But I could have learned from it,” Twilight whined. “Bring it back!”

“There is naught in that book that twere not already in thy mind.” She looked at the unicorn sternly. “How should there be? If anypony else saw the book, twould be uninteresting. Were thee to grant it to anypony at the Royal College, they would be unable to make anything of it, although thy mind might suggest that they had.”

“If I fixated on it long enough, it could drive me mad,” Twilight mused. Luna nodded. “Yes, I can see how such magic could be quite dangerous. Why are you teaching it to me? I want to learn, I do, but shouldn’t it be locked away, where nopony can study it?”

Luna sat down and looked Twilight in the eye. “Twilight, we wish it could. Perhaps our sister believes that it is possible to lock one’s problems away, but we believe thou knowst it is not. Discord and our . . . King Sombra were both able to use mental magic against thee, and we just did as well. In all three cases, thou wert deceived, at least briefly. We and our sister hope that if thou knowst how the magic works, thou shalt be able to resist.”

Luna stood, and levitated the book on magical theory over to Twilight. “Now, we must take our leave. Our duties must be performed. Read through the first chapter of the book, but then we must insist that sleep take thee.” She looked at the unicorn threateningly. “We shall know if thou hast not. On the morrow thou shall meet thy tutor, and we desire that thou shall be alert and rested.”

Twilight bowed, and walked toward the door. “Who is my tutor? Is it somepony I know?”

Luna smiled broadly. “Tis one of the realm’s finest practitioners of orasurgy—oramancy—a unicorn who hast learned to meld epithymurgy and oneirophobia.

“Beatrix Lulamoon.”

Author's Note:

My Little Pony, and all characters contained therein, are the property of Hasbro and the glorious Lauren Faust.
Proofread and edited by Woonsocket Wrench,who read it and didn't murder me. (thanks!)
The unworthy author takes full responsibility for any and all errors in this work.
This work may be shared in any format, so long as the author is creditied.

Notes and references for this chapter can be found in my blog, HERE.