• 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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Chapter 1 : What Could Go Wrong?

Celestia Sleeps In
Chapter 1: What Could Go Wrong?
Admiral Biscuit


Luna nodded, a small smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “Beatrix art most skilled at those magics, Twilight Sparkle.” She paused, considering whether or not to continue. When a second outburst from the purple unicorn was not forthcoming, she did. “We understand thou dost not have the best . . . relationship. However, we are certain she and thee can work past thine differences to further thy studies.” She tossed her head. “Goodnight, Twilight Sparkle.”

Fuming, Twilight stomped back towards her quarters, the tome Luna had given her now weighing like a lead ingot in her telekinetic field. She almost tossed it into the wall in her anger, but her respect for both books and the Lunar Princess stopped her.

Finally, she made it back to her room. It was the same small suite she had occupied before she moved to Ponyville, as tidy as ever. She frowned, thinking of Amberlocks, the servant pony who had kept it up, for no real purpose—the practical part of her thought it should have been reclaimed for Royal guests, although it was nice to have a familiar place to stay while she was in Canterlot.

She dropped the tome on the desk, smiling at the title. Practical Use of Illusion: A Primer. She'd never really done much with illusions in school, since they seemed impractical. She carefully took off her dress and hung it up in the nearly vacant closet, then went into her small attached bathroom. When she came back out, she looked around her room; satisfied that everything was in order, she flipped the book open and began carefully reading.

The first chapter was predictably long in promise and short on detail. Three unicorns had co-written the book; Lilly Lightly, an illusionist; Star Song, an oneiromancer; and a convicted con artist, whose name was only given as ‘Cinnamon.’ As tempted as she was to continue reading, she remembered Princess Luna’s warning about getting plenty of sleep, and knew that the diarch was no doubt going to keep a close eye on her. It was somewhat uncomfortable to be the object of such interest—especially as she now suspected that she could not keep her mind completely free from the Princess’—but she knew that they were right to not trust her completely.

She sighed, and closed the book. As she lay down in the familiar bed, she found herself imagining conjuring up illusions for an amazed audience, and wondered if Trixie had felt the same thrill of promise as she was reading through the very same book. And where had she practiced? Twilight knew that Trixie had not attended Celestia’s School for Talented Unicorns, and there were no other prestigious schools for unicorns that she knew of.

Pulling the covers up to her chin, she sighed, knowing sleep would be difficult tonight. She stared at the hoof-hewn rafters above her bed, wondering once again if the earth ponies who had carved them had expected their work to be seen by somepony dozens of generations later. What had their dreams been, as they went to the unfinished castle every day, knowing that it would not be completed in their lifetimes?

She rolled on her side, curling up tightly. Her forelegs felt empty without her doll. Every night when she went to sleep, she wondered what had become of it, but she had been too embarrassed about the whole situation in Ponyville to ask anypony about its whereabouts, and she had never gotten a replacement. Her parents had given it to her when she was just a year old—not that she remembered—and Miss Smarty Pants had been her constant companion.

Her parents. She remembered very well how happy they had been after she had been accepted to Celestia’s School. Her mother had been fussing over her, and her father had been—had been—is yelling at her.

“You’re just like your mother!” His angry amber eyes bore into her heart. “Always dreaming of being the greatest unicorn in all of Equestira. I suppose you’ll want to supplant the Princess, next?”

“But…but I—“

“Shut up!” He kicks a book at her. “Look where her dreams got her!”

She groans, a strange memory of sitting before a Judicial Council playing through her mind. Her mother is sitting at a table in front of them, a lead cone over her horn so she can’t use her magic. Her brick-colored pelt is neater than Twilight remembered it ever having been, and her platinum mane is neatly combed and her tail is braided. Twilight looks down, and she is holding her mother’s book in her hooves, clutching it like a security blanket. Her mother is sobbing into her hooves as the magistrate reads out the sentence.

“I have a foal!” she cries out, her voice breaking. “Who will care for her?”

“I want you out of my house, forever! The wheels of justice have crushed my wife, and my home, and they will crush you, too.” He punctuates his words by slamming the door in her face. Sobbing, she runs into the crowded Manehatten streets, her possessions reduced to the contents of her saddlebags.

Away from her angry father, she pulls her few belongings from her saddlebags. She has her blanket, her mother’s book, a few bits, and a bruised apple. Tears form in her eyes, she’s parentless and homeless, driven out of herd and home.

“Cheer up,” her mother’s voice is in her head. “As long as your horn works and you’ve got your wits about you, a unicorn can always make her way in the world. Remember what I’ve taught you."

Heart pounding, Twilight jerked awake. She was lying in her darkened bedroom. Groaning, she turned her head towards the window. It was still the middle of the night, but she suddenly didn’t feel tired at all. Her heart was racing, and she felt frightened, although of what she did not know. Resigned, she got out of bed and walked across the room, her hoofsteps echoing in the quiet chamber.

The book was where she had left it, the door was still closed, and the dress was still hung neatly in the closet. It didn’t feel like anypony had been in her room, and she knew that the guards were patrolling the corridor; she could faintly hear their hoofsteps.

She opened her window and looked outside, inviting in a frigid blast. She could see a few castle lights lit, and when she squinted, she could see that the guards at the main gate were still at their positions. She was sure nothing was amiss—it had just been a bad dream—but something felt more real about it than most of her dreams.

She was not a big believer in dream analysis—that was something that fell more in line with Pinkie Pie’s philosophy—but she knew that oneiromancy could be used to manipulate a dream. Was that it? Was somepony trying to affect her dreams? And if so, why? Was it Trixie, trying to reach out for a friendly hoof? Or was it Luna? And what was it that Princess Celestia needed research help with? She hadn’t had time to ask yesterday.

Frustrated, she went back to the desk. She flipped open the book and began scanning chapter titles, but nothing seemed as if it would help her.

She began dragging books over from the well-stocked shelves, quickly abandoning the desk in favor of the floor as the pile grew. Each of them brought back memories of the first time she’d read them, but none of them helped her now. She flattened her ears and pulled another dozen books from the shelf, when she suddenly saw the angry visage of Luna, her eyes blazing. Twilight's horn flickered, darkened, and the books fell to the floor with a soft thump. She lay her head down on her forelegs, closed her eyes, and promptly fell asleep.

She found herself standing in a forest glen, next to Princess Luna. She looked around at the thick firs, silently standing sentry around a moonlit pond. “Be thou wary, Twilight Sparkle. More is ahoof than you can imagine.”


“Even now, strange events are occurring of which we have no sight.” The Princess turned towards the gardens. “We are blocked from the mind of the showmare. We see her in the realm of the dreaming, but she is out of our focus. We believe something is foiling us.”

“It isn’t Princess Celestia, is it?”

Luna shook her head, and looked at Twilight sadly. “When we dream, we dream of our father. “

Twilight frowned. “Have you asked Celestia about that?”

“Twould be most unwise.” She sank down to her haunches and gazed into the reflecting pond, pushing her silver-shod hoof back and forth in the water.

“We are not like other ponies, Twilight Sparkle. Who watches our dreams? Who?”

She woke up a couple of hours later, confused and disoriented. Her belly was cold and her neck ached. When she opened her eyes, she couldn’t understand how she’d fallen asleep on the floor, surrounded by a pile of books.

“Usually I’m at my desk when that happens,” she muttered. She wiped a bit of drool off the corner of her mouth, and chuckled. She hastily re-shelved the books, each one going to its own place on the shelf. As soon as she had finished, she took a long shower, holding her sore neck under the hot water until her muscles finally relaxed.

She dried herself off with a thick terrycloth towel, and left it draped across her back while she brushed her mane into order. Finally deciding she was presentable, she hung the towel neatly on the towel rack—perfectly centered, with each half the exact same length—gave herself a last critical look in the mirror, and trotted downstairs to the dining hall.

The alicorn diarchs were there, Celestia with a plate of cinnamon rolls, and Luna with a more sensible bowl of oatmeal.

Celestia looked up and spotted Twilight. “Ah, my faithful student. So good of you to join us for breakfast. Please, have a seat.”

Twilight nodded, and trotted over to Princess Celestia. Sitting down, she looked accusingly at Luna. “You were in my dreams last night—you made me fall asleep.”

“We told thee thou wert to sleep. We told thee we would know.”

Celestia nodded. “She had my permission, Twilight. I want you to be in top shape. The spells you are going to learn are very difficult, and I know you do not get along with Trixie. I was a bit reluctant to have her serve as your instructor, but my sister assured me that there was nopony more qualified. Nevertheless, there will always be two Unicorn Guards within earshot of you when you are with Trixie, and they shall accompany you to and from her chambers.” She ate another cinnamon roll and looked at Luna. “Is there anything you wish to add?”

Luna nodded. “First, Twilight Sparkle, Beatrix art thy teacher. Thou wilt do as she instructs. We have her bond she will do naught to cause thee harm. Dost thou accede?


“Second—thou wilt practice oneirourgy solely with Beatrix, and thou art never to utilize those spells on anypony, especially thineself.”

“You can cast those spells on yourself?” Twilight looked at Luna curiously. “But—how would you do that? And why? You couldn’t fool yourself with your own dream, could you?”

Luna sighed. “Regrettably, thou canst deceive thyself with thine own desires. Such an event usually endith quite badly.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “Insanity is not unknown. Thou hath a capable instructor. Follow her lead, and thou shalt be unharmed.”

As Twilight left, Celestia turned to her sister. “I hope she can find whatever’s wrong with that unicorn. I have had no luck.”

“Thou hast placed great faith in your student.” Luna twirled her spoon around absently. “We think that thou hast used her as thine own stalking pony, but to what end?”

“She is probably the smartest pony since Clover the Clever,” Celestia continued, as if she had not heard.

Luna frowned, remembering Clover gasping for breath, lifeblood flowing across the filthy flagstones at the foot of the Unicorn stronghold. “And we remember full well where that got Clover. Sister, I believe that thou art—“

“Your Highness.” The page bowed. “Forgive me, but Prince Blueblood has requested your presence immedeatly. He declined to give me any further information, stating that his concern was only to be heard by your ears.”

Celestia sighed. “Again?” She set the last cinnamon roll back on her plate. “I’m sorry, Luna. But I need to dissuade him of whatever foolish notion has got his mind this time.”

“Perhaps we shall talk more at dinner?”


Twilight frowned as the Unicorn Guards lead her deeper into the bowels of the castle. This was not where she had spent time as a filly—while it was true that her tastes ran more towards windowless rooms filled with books than wide open spaces, she never liked thinking of the darker side of government—where secret deals were reached, where political prisoners were kept, where questioning and possibly even torture took place.

The two Guards led her down a long hallway, lined with rough-cut wooden doors with a eye-level grilles. Finally reaching the end of the hallway, they paused in front of an oaken door, with a bas-relief of Trixie’s cutie mark in the center. With his younger partner a ponylength behind Twilight, the senior stallion advanced and knocked politely.

“Trixie is coming.” The door was enveloped in a pale lavender glow, and swung open.

Trixie’s beautiful platinum mane hung limply around her horn, and there were bags under her eyes. Her everpresent smirk was gone, and her fur was matted as if she hadn’t been grooming herself. Twilight took a half-step back, and Trixie lowered her head. “Trixie apologizes for her appearance. She has been working hard at making lessons for Twilight Sparkle.” She waved a hoof. “Please, come inside.”

Twilight stepped into a small chamber. It looked to have been freshly whitewashed, and the furnishings appeared to be very expensive. A huge mahogany desk took up the center of the room. Its rich varnished top held but a single teacup with a small chip out of its rim, sitting on a china saucer.

The walls were decorated with hanging tapestries, and centered behind the desk was a framed poster advertising Trixie’s show, which hung slightly askew. Twilight unconsciously focused her magic on it, nudging it straight, not seeing the bright gleam in the blue unicorn’s eye as she did so.

“Sit down,” Trixie offered, waving a hoof at the fancy velvet couch. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Get your dirty hooves off the rug! Twilight shuddered, remembering her mother’s angry shout. She unwillingly looked down at her hooves—not a speck of dirt to be seen, but still…. “I’d rather stand,” she muttered.

“Suit yourself,” Trixie said with an unusually large smile. “Trixie apologizes that her office is no doubt not as nice as those to which you are accustomed.”

“Hmm?” Twilight looked around. “Oh, no, it’s very nice.” She waved a hoof absently. “It, um, the furniture is very well-made.”

“Quite,” she said bitterly. “There apparently weren’t any rooms open upstairs for a unicorn of Trixie’s . . . station.” She cleared her throat absently. “Now, Princess Luna tells me Trixie is to teach you all she knows of illusion. Very well. We shall begin by having you produce a duplicate of this teacup.” She grabbed it in her telekinetic field and lowered it to the floor. “Twilight should focus her mind on the teacup, and simply produce a duplicate next to it.”

Twilight looked at the cup, a confused expression on her face. “This—this isn’t any more challenging than magic kindergarten. You just want me to make an illusion of the cup?”

“No.” Trixie glared at Twilight. “No, you must make an exact duplicate of the cup, not simply an image of it. Trixie must be unable to discern your cup and her cup.” She angled her head upwards. “Now, go to it.”

Twilight opened her saddlebag, and pulled out the book Luna had given her. She began flipping through the book, not seeing Trixie’s pupils shrink. The showmare moved back a few steps, took a deep breath, and closed her eyes. “You will not need that book, Twilight Sparkle. Trixie does not know how to teach out of a book. Trixie will teach you those lessons the way Trixie learned them, by example, and by—” she sighed heavily “—sharing magical fields.”

The day seemed to last forever. Each cup that Twilight produced failed to meet Trixie’s demanding standards. Sometimes the illusion fell apart when Trixie grabbed at the cup with her telekinesis, or it failed to produce a satisfactory sound when nudged with her hoof. She even spit in it once, frowning as the floor darkened under the cup.

Finally, stomach growling with hunger, Twilight managed to produce what she felt was the perfect replica. She had managed to get the smell right, give it the proper weight and texture, added a handle that could be gripped by magic, weaved a small field to close the bottom, and added an aural component to her spell. Trixie examined it carefully, running it through her usual battery of tests, finally levitating it and her own cup to eye height, the two of them slowly spinning in her magical aura.

“Trixie is impressed, Twilight Sparkle. You are, indeed, a powerful unicorn, and a quick study.” Suddenly, unexpectedly, she dropped the cups, smiling as hers shattered, while Twilight’s duplicate bounced unharmed. “But you are not as good as the Great and Powerful Trixie. She is—“ A knock at the door interrupted her.

“Dinnertime,” came the muffled voice from outside.

“We shall try again tomorrow,” the showmare stated. “Now Trixie must dine, and she supposes Twilight must as well.”

Twilight nodded, and left, accompanied by her two now-familiar Unicorn Guards.

Dinner was mercifully brief; it was an informal affair, and Twilight was allowed to sit at one of the common tables. Of course, that didn’t stop other ponies from staring at her, but since she had her muzzle buried in a book, she didn’t notice.

As soon as it was over, she made her way to the Princess’ office, to avoid accidentally striking up a conversation with anypony. She felt she deserved the time to unwind, after a full day of dealing with Trixie’s enormous ego.

Twilight closed the book when a Royal Guard opened the doors for Celestia. Spotting Twilight, she immediately began explaining her dilemma.

“I told Luna that the one thing I could not do is sleep in until the sun wakes me,” the Princess said, a wistful look in her eye. “And, naturally, she moved her bed so that the setting sun strikes her when it is time to rise.”

Twilight smiled. It was no different than she would have done to her brother.

“So, I decided that perhaps there was some way that I could sleep in, but in months of study, I have come up with no answers. I do not believe Luna is strong enough to control the sun, except perhaps by opposition with the moon, as she did when she returned as Nightmare Moon. She might not even have that much power when she is not corrupted by the Nightmare Regalia, and I certainly would not want to experiment with that.

“Although it is possible for a group of powerful unicorns to raise the sun, I can think of none who would do it, nor do I know how I could give them control of the sun, or get it back again, so that option is out.”

“In my astromomy class, Professor Clopernicus taught me that many of the stars have planets of their own,” Twilight mused. “Might it be possible to visit one of them?”

“If a suitable planet were found, yes.” Princess Celestia looked thoughtful. “My thoughts did wander in that direction. Starswirl the Bearded came up with a way to hold a teleport spell open, so that it acts more like a channel than a point-to-point spell, and he designed it with a safeguard so that when the field collapses, it returns the caster, and anypony who is marked with the caster, to their point of origin.” She sighed. “I used a slightly modified version of the spell myself, once, a long time ago, and it worked well enough.”

“Can it stack with other spells? Could a force-bubble be added to it?”

Celestia nodded. “I believe so. Starswirl’s spells were typically designed that way. He considered them to be more of building blocks, rather than a finished product. ‘With this basic tome of spells, a skillful unicorn can do anything her mind desires.’ That was the introduction to his second book. Equestrian society certainly owes much to his research.”

“So you have the how, just not the where.” Twilight danced around on her hooves. “Oh, this is exciting. Do you have a copy of the spell that I could study?”

Celestia floated over a scroll. Twilight examined it eagerly, before rolling it back up. “I will need more time to study the spell tonight, and maybe do a little research in the library.”

“The archives are open to you, as always,” Celestia said. “I am sure you would rather spend your time there than at another formal dinner.”

Twilight nodded.

“Hereafter, I will have dinner sent up to your room, then.” She paused. “How did your studies with Trixie go?”

Twilight concentrated, and a teacup—unsurprisingly, exactly like the teacup she had seen in Trixie’s chambers—appeared in front of Celestia’s gold-shod hoof. The princess looked at it, then leaned down and sniffed it carefully. She picked it up with her horn, and floated it right in front of her face, turning it around slowly, studying it from all angles. Finally, she stuck out her tongue and licked it, then dropped it, where it struck the ground with a quiet thunk.

“That was very good,” she said. “It almost appeared real. I doubt there are many ponies who would have seen the slight magical aura it had.”

Twilight’s ears drooped. “I didn’t see the slight magical aura.”

“I have had much more experience.” Celestia’s horn flashed, and the cup vanished. “Now, I must prepare to meet a delegation from Baltimare. Feel free to tell your guards if you need anything.”

Twilight nodded absently, her mind already on the scroll.

The week dragged on. Twilight had finally graduated from the teacup and moved on to the desk, which barely fit in Trixie’s cramped quarters, and then to a potted plant, which had mysteriously appeared one morning. Twilight smiled as she imagined Trixie tugging it down the hallway. If the showmare was impressed with Twilight’s progress, she gave no sign.

While her failure to please her instructor normally would have gnawed at Twilight, her every free hour was spent helping research Princess Celestia’s spell. She fell into a routine, working from breakfast to supper without a break, eating a quick dinner in her room, studying until the Archivist kicked her out of the library. She would return to her room and take notes on what she’d learned, both from Trixie and from the Royal Archives, until she felt sleep overtake her, at which point she’d collapse into bed for a few hours, resuming her work long before sunrise.

For once, Trixie’s office was clear. There were no stray objects on the desk, no potted plants shoved into a corner. Trixie’s fur was combed, although her mane was still unstyled. She seemed suspiciously cheerful.

“Today we are going outside, to the conservatory,” Trixie announced.

Twilight sighed. In her sleep-deprived state, she couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for anything. At least they could get there without venturing onto the frigid castle grounds.

“Twilight’s illusions have progressed satisfactorily, and now it is time for Trixie to begin to teach her to combine it with a light form of onieromancy. Trixie is certain you will get the hang of it eventually.

As the trotted through the hallways of the castle, Twilight moved next to Trixie. “What did the Princess mean about fooling yourself with onieromancy?”

The showpony sighed. “Trixie would rather not talk about that right now. Trixie is trying to get her mind clear so that she can teach you about illusion magic as it relates to other creatures.”

As they stepped out of the castle proper and into the conservatory, she waved a hoof. “Watch and be amazed as the Great and Powerful Trixie shows you how to fool a squirrel.”

Twilight looked at her. “Seriously?”

Trixie shrugged. “Hay, you have to start with something. Squirrels aren’t too smart, and there isn’t much they desire.” She sat down on the grass. “All right. First, we are going to just do traditional illusions. I want you to lure squirrels over here with illusiory acorns.”

Twilight sighed, and started concentrating.

It was much more difficult than Twilight had imagined. To her mind, the acorn she created was perfect—perhaps slightly oversized, but that might be more enticing—yet it attracted no squirrels. As the minutes wore on, Twilight began to wonder if there were any in the trees at all. After an hour, she voiced her opinion.

“There are tree rats, Twilight Sparkle.” The blue unicorn looked disdainfully at a tree. “Trixie can see them.” She began to point her hoof at various trees, indicating where the squirrels were. “Twilight Sparkle’s acorn is not attractive enough to bring them down, Trixie supposes.”

Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “Not attractive enough?” She tapped the acorn with a hoof, then looked up at a tree. “If there are squirrels in the trees, how come I haven’t seen any?”

Trixie’s head snapped around. “You—you can’t see them?” She looked back at the tree thoughtfully. “There’s one right there.” A beam of light lanced out from her horn.

“Are you right on it?” Trixie looked at Twilight curiously, and then nodded.

Fluttershy, forgive me. Twilight reached out with her magic, and yanked a chittering squirrel out of his nest. She brought him right in front of her face, turning him slowly in her field, as he gave up on making angry noises and fixed her with a burning stare. She ignored it.

A part of her mind was suggesting that this was simply an illusion by Trixie, and she intended to experiment. She hit it for a moment with a sleep spell, followed immediately with Spike’s favorite spell, Number 25. Nudging it back awake, she watched as it grabbed the ends of its new moustache in its tiny paws and began chattering at her again.

While Trixie was looking at the spectacle, Twilight discretely cast a very much reduced Want It Need It spell on her illusory acorn, and turned the squirrel so it could see the acorn. She was unsurprised as the squirrel suddenly tensed in her horn’s aura. Dropping it, she watched it grab the acorn and scamper up the tree.

She dispelled the acorn, figuring that without a target, the Want It Need It spell would fizzle. A sudden flurry of activity from the trees proved her wrong.

“What are those squirrels doing?” Trixie stared intently at the tree. “They all seem to be mobbing the one you were just holding.”

Apparently, the spell transferred onto the squirrel. I wish him luck. At least I only put a two minute duration on the spell this time. “Umm, I don’t know.” Twilight looked at Trixie with her best innocent look.

“Are they presenting?” Trixie tore her eyes away from the tree. “Ugh, it’s not even the right season. Stupid tree rats.”

“How did you know the squirrel was there?” Twilight was satisfied that it had not been an illusion; as good as Trixie might have been, there was no way she could have guessed what spells Twilight was going to cast, especially since she used the Want It Need It without Trixie even seeing.

Trixie shrugged. “They’re brighter than the tree. Kind of a reddish-brown. They really stand out.” She frowned, seeing the look of bewilderment on Twilight’s face. “They stand out from the weave?” Suddenly, she smiled, a familiar spark glinting in her light lavender eyes. “I never thought—Twilight, you don’t have any earth ponies in your bloodline, do you?”

“If they are, they’re a long way back.” Twilight looked at her. “Why, what has that got to do with anything?”

“There’s a certain aura that all living things give off,” she explained. “Earth ponies can see it, and feel it. That’s why they’re so good at growing things, and taking care of animals.

“I’m surprised you can’t see it, though, with the talent you have in magic.” She chuckled again. “And so studious, too. I bet you must be really frustrated by some of the things earth ponies can do that you can’t explain. You’ve got quite the blind spot, Twilight.”

“I can do it!” Twilight furrowed her brow. “Now that I know it’s there, I know I can find it. Just give me a second—“ She lowered her head and squinted as her horn lit up with a bright glow. She began grunting, until Trixie put a foreleg on her back.

“Stop. You won’t accomplish anything like that.”

Twilight looked back up, desperation etched on her face.

“Follow Trixie. Trixie will show you.”

Twilight was seated on a bench, while Trixie stood on the cobblestone path next to her. “Close your eyes,” she orderd. “And take long, deep breaths.”

“I don’t see what this will accomplish.”

“Trust me, Twilight. Trixie knows what she is doing. She may not be a scholar, but she knows about pony psychology.”

“Fine.” Twilight closed her eyes, and began taking deep breaths.

“Imagine a pond,” Trixie said softly, her voice low and melodious. “It is a small, shallow pond. It is perfectly calm. There is no wind blowing. The sky is clear. The pond is calm. There are no waves on the pond. It is smooth, like glass. It is a mirror. The sky is perfectly reflected in the pond.

“You are standing next to the pond. The grass is thick, and you can feel it touch your fetlocks. It is bright green, and very thick. It smells nice.

“You toss a pebble into the pond. You see ripples spread outward, and touch the shore. They make little wavelets, and then bounce back, crossing over other ripples. They make small, shifting geometric patterns. You can see the sun reflect off them, off every one of them.

“You watch as the water calms again. Now it is just flat glass. Now it is just a mirror. You see nothing but the pond. The pond is the sky. The sky is the pond.”

Trixie paused for a moment. Twilight’s breathing was shallow, almost imperceptible. Her horn was faintly glowing with magical energy, although it had no focus and was simply drifting off in small sparks. Her eyes were half-open, but unfocused.

“You can feel a slight breeze on your fur. You can hear a soft rustling of leaves. It makes you calm. The sun is shining on your back. It is warm. You feel warm.” Trixie paused again, and very quietly shifted her weight, until her shoulder was just touching Twilight’s. “You can feel a friend right next to you, just touching your right shoulder.” As she spoke, she began to lean a little closer, until they were fully in contact. “You are very relaxed. You can feel your own heartbeat, and your friend’s. You can feel her breathe.” She began to slowly match her breathing to Twilight’s. “You can feel her breaths, and your own together. You are her, and she is you.”

Trixie concentrated for a moment, mingling her magic with Twilight’s, slightly augmenting it, and giving it direction. They had been doing this a little, when Twilight was struggling, since Trixie was much better at demonstrations than scholarly instruction, so it was not too difficult for Trixie to latch onto Twilight’s magic and add a little focus to it. The trick, of course, was to do so without startling Twilight, who was hypersensitive to her own magical field, given her propensity for magic.

While continuing to talk, Trixie fully interlocked their two magical fields, effectively joining the two unicorns. When she was certain she was in full control of both auras, she began to slowly draw Twilight out of her trance.

“You begin to lift your eyelids. They are very heavy. Each eyelid is a paving stone. You cannot raise them more than an inch. You can make out vague shapes of trees around you. You lift your eyelid another half inch. You can see the tree more clearly. It has very thick, wrinkled bark. You can see the high spots of the bark very easily. They have a faint yellow-green highlight to them. You lift your head slowly. It is very heavy. You have paving stones for eyelids. You follow the highlights up. You can see them branch into the tree’s limbs. You lift your head a little more. The highlights lead into the leaves. You can see them in the leaves like veins. You open your eyes a little bit more. You can see a very faint yellow-green aura coming off the leaves. You know that is the tree breathing.

“You open your eyes a little bit more. You can see a bird in the branches of the tree. The bird has a bright blue glow. You can see it more brightly than the sky. It stands out from the branches. You open your eyes further, and you can see more birds. They are all different shades of blue. You watch as one of them takes off. He leaves a slight blue trail, like smoke. You see it slowly drift through the air, until it breaks apart.

“Your eyelids feel light, now, and you can open them fully.” Trixie began to pull back her magic. Twilight’s eyes opened wide, and she began to look around in wonder. For a moment, her jaw hung open, but when she focused on a tree branch Trixie could see by her expression that she had just lost sight of the auras.

“You kind of have to look without really focusing,” Trixie said. “At least, that’s what my father told me. But you saw it, you know it’s there.”

“That wasn’t just me,” Twilight said. “I felt a little bit of your magic, right at the beginning.”

“I did help,” Trixie confessed. “I don’t think you could have done it on your own, not knowing what you were looking for. Now that you know, you should be able to practice. Suddenly, Trixie remembered she was shoulder-to-shoulder with Twilight. She took a guilty step to the side, face reddening.

“You have to do it without forcing it.” She looked at Twilight thoughtfully. “Trixie knows if you force it, you might just make an illusion of what you think you should see. The more you practice, though, the easier it will get.”

“And you can identify creatures this way, too?”

“It’s not exact,” Trixie admitted. “Yes, each one has a unique aura, but sometimes it’s a little difficult to separate it from the background clutter, unless it’s a fairly magical creature. Ponies stand out really well; they’re much easier to spot, and some magical predators, like dragons and manticores do, too.”

“Does it work through objects?”

Trixie looked at the castle for a minute in silence. “I can tell you that Princess Luna appears to be moving through the hallway from her room, and Princess Celestia is in the throne room. The other ponies don’t have enough of an aura to easily spot, besides the Guards that are on the perimeter.” She chuckled. “Their armor makes them a lot easier to see.”

“How far away does it work?”

“As far as I can see.”

“But it’s cluttered, the farther out you go?”

Trixie nodded. “From a distance, the Everfree forest’s features are indistinguishable, just as with eyesight. It’s just a faint aura over everything.”

“Can you see it at night?”

“Of course. The trees and animals keep on living all night long, don’t they?” Her stomach rumbled, and she looked at Twilight impatiently. “It is almost Trixie’s dinnertime.” She started trotting towards the castle proper.

“My friend Applejack doesn’t seem to be able to see any better in the dark than I can,” Twilight commented as they walked through the hallway.

“I don’t think earth ponies can see it like a unicorn can,” Trixie mused. “Trixie can’t see what anypony else sees, of course. But my father said it’s more like a feeling to him. If you blindfolded Applejack, Trixie wagers she could go slowly through a forest without any difficulty, if the path was smooth. How should Trixie know? She didn’t graduate from a fancy unicorn school.” Trixie turned and walked down the hallway toward her room, while Twilight just stood in the hall, lost in thought. A germ of an idea was coming to her, and she wanted to wait until it was fully formed before she moved.

Back in her room, eating a daisy sandwich and bowl of hothouse clover, she kept thinking of Pinkie Pie shouting “Twitchy tail! Twitchy tail!” and diving for cover. There wasn’t anything about to fall, of course, so why did that stick in her head?

She remembered when she’d tried to test Pinkie’s so-called ‘Pinkie Sense,’ and hadn’t gotten anywhere with any of her instruments. But what if Pinkie was just hypersensitive to the background fields of Equestria, the interference that her own instruments were so carefully calibrated to ignore? Perhaps this had been staring her in the face all along, and she just hadn’t seen it. She certainly couldn’t rely on Pinkie for an explanation; it seemed half the time Pinkie didn’t know why she did what she did.

Clearly, what was called for was a test. Even if Twilight couldn’t reliably see these so-called magical fields that every living creature gave off, if Trixie really could, then she would be able to identify, say, an object in a box.

Inspiration striking her, Twilight galloped to her room. She had a plan,and it was time to prepare a test.

“Luna will make certain there is no chicanery,” Princess Celestia said. “Despite her objections, she agreed to go forward with this test.” She and Twilight were standing on one of the many castle balconies, looking over the north side of the castle. Just barely in eyeshot, three paper boxes were set on the frozen river, hardly perceptible unless one knew where to look.

“I need to watch what she’s doing,” Twilight commented, going over to a telescope aimed at the large patio off the dining hall. “I won’t say that I don’t trust her—since you and Luna seem to—but in my experience, she has a history of being, um, overly boastful, and I know she’s good enough at illusion to make me believe I’m seeing what she wants me to see. You should stay back from the edge of the balcony; I don’t want her to spot you.” As soon as she spoke, she grimaced, remembering that if Trixie really could easily spot magical auras, she’d know the Princess was there, even through the stone.

“I want you to explain this all again,” Celestia muttered. “I have an uncomfortable feeling about this spying going on in the castle, especially directed at one of my guests.”

“Of course. I think that—wait a minute, here she comes.” Twilight watched as Trixie stepped on the patio with a slightly annoyed look, and made her way over to the telescope set up there. A Unicorn Guard was right behind her, saying something, although of course Twilight couldn’t tell what, given the distance.

Trixie looked through the telescope for a minute, adjusted the focus, causally swept it through a very small arc, and then said something to the Guard and walked back inside.

Twilight stepped back from the telescope, but kept watching the balcony until there was a soft knock at the door. A moment later, Celestia handed over a folded piece of paper.

“I want you to watch those three boxes,” Twilight said. “I am going to open this note, and see which box she has indicated. Then, I am going to teleport there, but leave the note behind. I will open the box that she has identified, and you will verify after I have opened the box that I went to the correct one, as described in the note. Then, we will ask the commander of the Pegasus Guard if the plant I bring back—if it is in the box—is the same plant he put in the box.”

Seeing Celestia’s skeptical look, Twilight said, “I have a bit of a wager riding on this, so I want to make sure it’s fair. When I get back, I will explain to you exactly what the point of all this is.”

“Very well, Twilight.” Celestia stepped to the telescope. “You may read the note.” She watched as Twilight appeared in a magenta flash next to the three boxes, opened the westernmost box, and then disappeared, holding a small fern in her telekinetic field.

She flashed back into the room a moment later. Celestia lifted the note off the floor, and read it. “It says west box, fern.”

Twilight clapped her hooves together. “So far, so good. Summon the Pegasus commander, to be sure, but I’ll tell you what I am thinking. Trixie can, somehow, see the aura of living things, possibly because of her ancestry, although of course further study would be required to prove or disprove that theory. Apparently, she can see them while obscured, through a telescope. I had the commander put a plant in one of the boxes, but he was not to tell me which box, nor what kind of plant. He was to mark it so that he would know it. I arranged for a note to be given to Trixie, to see if she could identify which box and what kind of plant.

“If my theory is correct, Princess, Trixie could look through a telescope and, with Luna’s guidance and my own, quickly identify which planets might have simple life on them. That would narrow our search very quickly, then we could just send an exploratory team out to that planet, using Starswirl’s spell, to verify that it is suitable.”

Celestia brightened. “Trixie’s father is an earth pony. . . . Twilight Sparkle, you may just be a genius.”

“I can’t see the auras reliably, yet, but I bet Trixie can teach me.”

Celestia raised a hoof. “I believe I will let Trixie locate a suitable planet.”

Twilight flattened her ears, and shuffled backwards a step, lowering her head. “I—Princess, I don’t think—I mean, are you sure that is wise? What if she somehow sabotages the spell? What if you open a portal to—to space?”

The Princess chuckled. “My faithful student, surely you don’t propose to suggest that I would be foolish enough to just teleport anywhere on the word of a single pony? If a suitable place is found, then it would be explored, first, before I would travel. And I certainly wouldn’t travel alone.”

“Oh.” She looked up. “I mean, of course you wouldn’t. But Trixie—she’s not to be trusted. There’s something about her that—“

“Twilight, I assure you, I have the situation with Trixie well in hoof. She is . . . well-looked-after in the castle. I can assure you of that. Nonetheless, do not tell her or anypony else of this plan. I will make sure she is aware when other preparations are taken care of.

“Now, I suspect that you forgot breakfast in your excitement?”

“Sorry, Princess.”

“A good breakfast is the foundation of a good day, or so my chefs tell me.” Celestia smiled. “Come, let us get to the dining hall. My secretary tells me that they have prepared éclairs this morning, and I would regret if my sister ate them all.”

Her second week at the castle flew by, even though as a condition of her wager with the showmare, Twilight had to refer to her as ‘The Great and Powerful.’ Trixie had begun to teach Twilight how to craft illusions that worked on the mind of a creature, and while they were still limited to squirrels, she was making very good progress.

In the evening, she would spend a couple of hours with Princess Celestia, practicing Starswirl’s gate spell, as well as weaving other spells with it, to be sure of its stability. Celestia occasionally threw offensive spells at the shield, to see if they would affect the underlying matrix, and when that produced no unexpected results, began throwing physical objects at it. With the help of the Unicorn Guards, they also tested the fail-safe mechanism of the spell, collapsing it when somepony was at the destination, as well as when somepony was partway through. In all cases, the traveler was returned unharmed to the starting point. Twilight felt like a foal again, practicing spells alongside Princess Celestia.

A detachment of Unicorn Guards watched them patiently; on the last night of Twilight’s stay in Canterlot, two of them also successfully managed to cast the spell.

As she packed her bags to go back to Ponyville, Twilight found herself whistling happily. She had learned new magic from Trixie and both of the Princesses, and gotten to spend hours with Princess Celestia. Even Luna’s normally cool demeanor had warmed to Twilight, and although they were not—and probably never would be—as close as she was to Celestia or her friends in Ponyville, they were closer than before.

She went to the train station, belly full of the marvelous banana-nut bran muffins that the kitchen staff prepared, with a feeling of contented certainty that everything was perfect with the world. She’d even thought to bring a couple of extras, carefully wrapped in a napkin, for her persistent mailmare.

As she sat down in the rail carriage, she smiled. Even her last week with Trixie had gone well. Perhaps it was because she was learning the spells so well, or perhaps it was just that she had gotten used to the showmare’s eccentricities. Still, it would be nice to be back in the library, and to spend time with her friends. Pinkie Pie wanted to teach her to ice skate, and Rainbow Dash desperately needed a bit of fair competition in her Rainbow-vs-everypony snowball fights.

The winter passed quickly. Twilight dutifully practiced her illusion spells, and read the book that Princess Luna had given her cover to cover nearly a dozen times. She was surprised to find that Rarity was interested in it, as well. The two unicorns were sat by the fire, the book open on the floor in front of Twilight.

“I still don’t exactly understand the part about aversion,” Rarity muttered. She shifted her weight on her satin cushion as she levitated the book over. “Isn’t the point of an illusion for it to be manipulated?”

Twilight shook her head. “Cinnamon says that a pony can’t always put all six perceptible attributes into an illusion, and when she cannot, it is best to avoid failure of the illusion by putting an aspect of aversion into the spell.”

“I read that, too, darling, and no offense meant, but what does it mean?”

“Well, I suppose when you make an illusion of one of your ensembles on somepony, you are just trying to see how it looks on her. You don’t want her to try and take it off, or bite a ruffle to see how it tastes.”

“Hmm, yes.” Rarity nodded. “But I would hardly use such a spell on a ruffian that would try to bite a dress.”

“But if you were trying to fool somepony into thinking that they were actually wearing the dress? Surely you have a good feel for the weight and movement of the fabric, and the way the colors behave, but it would be simpler to weave the illusion without benefit of smell or taste.”

“Well, I suppose that’s true.” She snorted. “Still, unlike Cinnamon, I am hardly likely to be using my spells like some criminal, deceiving ponies into believing what isn’t real.”

“That’s what it means. Because illusion spells aren’t always used on cooperating ponies. They can be used for a magical defense as well. Did you know that Starswirl first proposed using them thus during the Ponic Wars? When the Princess’ compound was in danger of being overrun, Starswirl made an illusory—” Twilight’s voice trailed off as she noticed that Rarity’s eyes were glazing over.. “Come on, let’s practice. See who can fool Spike with a fake gem.”

Rarity clapped her hooves together. “Oh, you are on.”

A slightly miffed dragon answered the insistent knocking on the library door. “Sheesh, we’re closed, we’ve been closed for hours, and somepony has the gall to be knocking….” His words died in his throat as he stared into the stern eyes of a Unicorn Guard.

“Twilight Sparkle.”

“Heh heh, sure, right away.” He turned slightly. “Twilight! Royal Guards!” Wincing as the unicorn teleported right next to him, Spike gave an awkward smile at the stoic guard, then ran off before he got turned back into an egg or something.

“Ms. Twilight Sparkle, I have been sent by Her Royal Highness Princess Celestia to instruct you to pack your bags for a short trip to Canterlot. Her Royal Highness wishes me to inform you that she is nearly ready to cast her spell. A detachment of Pegasus Guards is waiting with the Royal Chariot for you.”

“Will I be back for Winter Wrap-Up? It’s in two days.”

The Guard shook his head. “Unlikely. Her Royal Highness is aware of the role you play in Winter Wrap-Up, and has asked me to act in your stead. I understand you have a checklist?”

“Just give me a few minutes,” Twilight muttered. “Spike!”

Details attended to, Twilight mused as she was flown towards Canterlot why the Princess would have acted in such haste. She hadn’t even gotten a letter indicating that preparations had been completed. She hoped that she had packed everything she would need—her saddlebags were practically bursting with the books she’d felt would be most useful for a trip to another world. She hated to miss Winter Wrap-Up, but it would be worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

She blushed, remembering that one of her resources for packing had been the Daring Do series. Still, what kind of books were there that speculated about other worlds besides adventure novels? Oh, it would be so exciting. There would be new plants, and maybe even animals. Why, just what she could fit into her sample tubes would provide her with months of study!

“I am sorry to have summoned you in without due warning.” The Princess paced around her chambers. “It seems that the world we have located is nearly at their Summer Solstice, while we are just shy of our own equinox. I am sure you can see how that works to our benefit. Moreover, as is tradition, all Royal functions are suspended for the duration of the Wrap-Up. Therefore, nopony will be suspicious if I am not seen for a little while.”

“Oh, this is going to be so exciting!” Twilight had to restrain herself from hopping around like a foal. “I just can’t wait to see another world.”

“I fear you will have to.”

“What do you mean?”

The Princess looked at Twilight slightly sadly. “I would love to have you by my side, truly I would. However, Princess Luna was quite insistent that it not be so, and her reasoning is sound. She believes that if the spell were to go awry, you are the only unicorn in Equestria who might be able to mount a rescue. She also believes that if I should somehow lose my connection with the sun—even briefly—that she and you can, in tandem, correct its course, if needed. Of course, neither of us expects that to happen, but it is best to be prepared.”

Seeing the look on Twilight’s face, the Princess leaned down and nuzzled her. “I know this comes as quite a blow, especially after all the work we did together.”

Twilight sniffled. “I—of course, Princess. I must do as you say.”

The alicorn reached a wing across Twilight’s back. “There will be future trips after your return. But for now, I would rather have you near my sister. I worry about her. You two are getting close; I think you would do well to wait together.”

“I hope it was not an easy decision to make,” Twilight whispered. “But I do see the logic, as much as I wish I did not.” She looked up into Celestia’s placid eyes. “It would have been easier if I had my friends with me.”

The Princess chuckled. “I believe that Mayor Mare would have mounted a challenge, if I had summoned your friends as well. With nopony to lead any of the teams, she probably would have seceded from the Equestria and joined the buffalo or something.” Her face turned serious. “I can assure you that there are detachments of Unicorn and Pegasus Guards, ready to bring your friends here at a moment’s notice, by any means necessary. As selfish as this expedition seems to my sister, I have taken every precaution. We will leave tomorrow night, just after moonrise.”

The next afternoon, the Princess gathered together her traveling companions, Twilight, and Princess Luna in her office. Twilight was surprised to see that besides a dozen stern-looking Royal Guards—half of them unicorns, and half pegasi—was a familiar unicorn.

“What’s Lyra doing here?” she whispered to Luna.

“Dost thou know not Lyra Heartstrings art the youngest competing unicorn grandmaster duellist ever, as well as an auxillary member of the Royal Guard?”

Twilight shook her head.

“Did thou wonder not why Lyra Heartstrings often follows thee about?”

Twilight looked at the Princess, a confused expression on her face.

“Certes, thou thinkst not that our sister would let as powerful a unicorn as thee go about unattended? She hath learned many bitter lessons in her years. She did send Lyra Heartstrings to Ponyville a full year before her faithful student.

As the briefing continued, Luna suddenly leaned over to Twilight. “We wish our sister could have waited but a little. This project seems over hasty. We worry—”

Luna was cut off as Celestia began to address the group. She briefed the Unicorn and Pegasus Guards—six of each—on their positions and responsibilities, and explained that when she was asleep, or if she were somehow incapacitated, Lyra was to act as their commander. That statement caused a little grumbling among the stallions, until Lyra reminded them that she was a member of the Auxillary Guard.

Despite her eagerness to learn, Twilight found herself distracted. She was still disappointed that she would not be going. Logically, of course, she accepted it, but emotionally was a different matter. She was also worried about the lunar diarch—by the rigid set of her jaw and unblinking eyes, the alicorn seemed to be holding back something, but Twilight wasn’t sure what.

Eventually, the group moved into the great hall, about midway between the dias with the throne, and the large doors which led into the room. After one last check of equipment, Celestia’s horn began to glow. Bright rays of light shot from her horn to Lyra and the Guards, and then she closed her eyes, concentrating. A moment later, the entire hall lit up like noontime. Twilight squinted her eyes, while Luna took a step backwards, dropping to her haunches at the base of the throne. In a flash, nothing but the afterimages of the group remained. A faint shimmering showed where the group had been.

Twilight turned an ear as she heard a faint pop of collapsing air, and spun her head just in time to see the flare of energy from Luna teleporting away fade out.

She remained in the hall for nearly an hour, watching the shifting magical energies cast their light onto the walls. Finally noticing the harsh shadows of the moonlight, she stepped towards a window—carefully skirting the enchanted carpet—and looked out. The moon seemed brighter than usual.

Frowning at Luna’s mercurial nature, she began to try to puzzle out the enigma of the younger diarch. As the moon slowly rose out of her sight, she came to no conclusions. Celestia had never mentioned her sister until Twilight and her friends had freed the alicorn from her curse. Thinking about that made her grumble; she still felt betrayed by the way Celestia had seemed to dismiss her concerns, even if it had been for a good purpose in the end.

It felt as if there was something more here, though. Her relationship with Luna seemed to have gone downhill since her brother and Princess Cadance had gotten married, and only recently was beginning to rise. The more she thought about it, the more she wondered. It was convenient—perhaps too convenient—that Luna had somehow entirely missed the changeling invasion, failing to arrive on the palace grounds until after the second attempt at the wedding. And her attitude towards Twilight had been a little bit frostier than normal, especially when Princess Celestia had sent Twilight and her friends to the Crystal Empire….

In fact, she was acting much like the changeling Princess Cadance had.

And Princess Celestia had just willingly left Equestria.

What if she wanted to teach me onieromancy so that I would provide Celestia with the solution to interplanetary travel? Maybe she knew that the Princess would be suspicious if the suggestion came from her. Maybe she deliberately chose Trixie as my teacher because she knew we would have such a difficult time getting along that I wouldn’t think of this until it was too late. Suddenly snapping out of her reverie, Twilight looked around the darkening hall. Deal with Trixie first, then Luna. She charged her horn, and teleported to Trixie’s room.

Or tried to. Her spell failed, somehow blocked. It might be too late already.

She galloped out of the great hall, sparks flying from her shoes. Ponies in the halls jumped out of her way as she charged past, teleporting to the bottom of flights of stairs to save time.

As she reached the long hallway which contained Trixie’s room, a pair of Unicorn Guards stepped out, spears crossed. “You can’t go down—“ one of them began, but she just teleported past him. Hardly thinking about it, she tossed a deflection hemisphere behind her, in case they tried to stop her magically, while counting the doors.

Reaching Trixie’s, she stopped, utterly flummoxed. No longer the carved oaken edifice it had been, it was a simple wooden door, a thick grille of iron bars at muzzle height, exactly like all the others. She looked inside, risking a brief flare of light. There were no chairs, no desk, just rough stone walls and a straw-covered floor. In the far corner of the room, a huddled shape lay covered with a blanket.

I may already be too late. Twilight, hearing the Guards get closer, teleported herself back towards the dining hall, then began to run up the stairs towards the lunar wing. She knew that most of her magic wouldn’t work near the Princess’ chambers.

As she passed the throne room, she heard a faint noise, and skidded to a stop. Stepping back, she looked in and saw Luna prostrated at the base of the dais, facing the empty space that Celestia had last occupied. Spotting Twilight, her head snapped up.

“Get thee gone! We did not summon thee to our presence!”


Luna slowly got to her hooves, and began to move towards Twilight. Her eyes flashed white, and Twilight was horrified to see she was wearing her barding.


Lyra looked over at the sleeping Celestia, then back at the Guards. They were arranged in a tight ring, eyes facing outwards, ears up, fully alert. She smiled. She enjoyed living in Ponyville and her long conversations with Bon Bon, oftentimes about nothing at all. On the other hoof, sometimes it was nice to enjoy a bit of peace, and it was certainly enjoyable to be among professionals. None of the Guards had said a single word since they had left.

She turned to look over the water, the sand underhoof being the only annoyance of this otherwise perfect night. She had seen a few things during the night which had been inexplicable, but had perceived none of them as a threat. She knew that there were going to be events happening here on this foreign world that she was unused to. Now the sky was lightening, and soon the sun would rise.

Suddenly, her ears perked up. She heard some noise from the woods, and whatever it was, it sounded large. She could tell by the way that the Guards were shifting their weight that they heard it too.

A calm descended upon her. This was no different than a magical duel, really. She felt the energies flowing through her, centered on her horn, and in an instant had prepared herself for whatever might come.

As she watched, a shadowy form, much taller than herself, slowly came over the rise. It hadn’t spotted them yet, but it would at any moment.

Three years ago, Twilight would have either frozen where she stood, or run in terror. But after having defeated Nightmare Moon once, the familiar sight did not frighten her, but instead brought sadness. She stepped forward, and widened her stance. A magenta beam shot from her horn, striking Luna square in the chest. For a moment, her barding lit, before fading to its normal onyx. More importantly, she did not revert to the form of a changeling, which was a great relief to the unicorn.

Much to her surprise, the alicorn suddenly collapsed. Her eyes returned to their normal blue, and tears began to flow. Concerned and confused, Twilight ran over to her.

“Always, we have felt the presence of our father and our sister,” she muttered between sobs. Twilight began nuzzling her neck, one part of her mind filled with wonder that she was actually comforting a Princess. “We had great difficulty adjusting to his absence.” It was not a time for questions, nor false assurances. Twilight kept touching the Princess, reassuring her with her presence. She absently wondered if it would calm Luna if she were to try and groom her mane, but that thought lead to wondering if she even could groom Luna’s mane.

“Our sister stayed close, and that helped us a great deal. But now even she is gone.”

“She will return in time for sunrise.” Twilight looked into Luna’s eyes.

“Will she? Or is it too late for that which has been done to be undone?” The princess lowered her head. “What if she does not return? What if we had secretly desired that she would never return?”

Author's Note:

Thanks to my parents for pre-reading
Also, thanks to Woonsocket Wrench for the same

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