• Published 6th Apr 2013
  • 4,782 Views, 186 Comments

The Seventh - Arvaus



An impossible creature finds herself in a world which already knows everything about her. Slowly, she learns about the true nature of her own reality, her world's place in the cosmos, and herself.

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7 - Dawning

Celestia soared high above the landscape in the evening light. Now that the past few days’ rain had died down she was finally able to explore again, and the princess had taken full advantage of this opportunity.

One of the many new places she had come across was a narrow wooded valley; a deep gulley cut into the earth by a small stream. Something about the harsh terrain and ancient, twisted trees had reminded her of the Everfree forest, and the familiarity had been strangely comforting.

Partly because of this, and also just to get a bit of variation, she had decided to return there for the night. Banking left, she spiralled slowly down towards the valley below her, slowing to a hover above the treeline and lowering herself through to the woodland floor.

If anything, this spot was much more suitable for her than the woods she had been sleeping in over the past few nights. It was a lot further from the nearest settlement and the landscape was much less passable, so the odds of a human discovering her during the night was significantly reduced. It wasn’t too isolated, though; it would only take about an hour for her to fly back for her meeting with Aaron the next day.

As she walked through the trees, looking for somewhere to settle down, she began to wonder what she was even going to do when they met again. It wasn’t like she needed his help to survive, after all. She had managed so far, and she refused to believe that she’d need to do so for much longer. Twilight and the others would find her eventually.

It was getting close to two weeks, though, and there had been no sign of rescue yet. What would happen if rescue never came? She realised that at some point she would have to start considering what to do in the long term. Perhaps she would eventually have to reveal her presence here. That would take a lot of careful planning, though.

And what about Equestria? What effect would her absence have there? Of course the nation had managed with only one ruler before, but the ponies were still only just beginning to accept Luna back. Things would not be easy, at least at first.

Drawing her thoughts back to this world, Celestia spotted a patch of soft moss nestled in a gap between two large rocks. It was almost completely dark now, so she settled down on the makeshift bed and closed her eyes.

As she was drifting off to sleep, she heard the sound of a branch snapping in the distance. She chuckled to herself; sleeping in the company of wild animals had taken some getting used to. One morning she had woken to find a spider crawling across her nose; hardly a pleasant experience, but the reminder of how out of place she must seem – a princess sleeping in a forest – had still amused her.

As the woods went quiet again, the silence disturbed only by the quiet babbling of the stream, she curled up and let herself fall asleep.

~ ~ ~

Celestia was in her bedroom in Canterlot castle. Rolling over on the soft bed, she looked at the carriage clock on the mantlepiece and saw that it was nearly ten in the morning. She had overslept!

She leapt out of bed and stumbled out onto the balcony, but the sun had already risen. Luna must have decided to do it for her.

Going back inside she went over to the dresser to prepare herself for the day, but for some reason her tiara was missing. A bit confused, she went over to the door and headed out into the rest of the castle.

The corridor was long and deserted. The sun’s light shone in beams through the windows along the left-hand wall, in a peculiar contrast to the dark banners bearing the sign of the moon which hung on the other wall.

She walked along, trying to remember the way down to the dining hall, but the corridor seemed new and unfamiliar. There were numerous doors along the right-hand wall, but the signs on them were all in a strange, angular script she didn’t understand.

“Good morning, Celestia,” Prince Blueblood said as he emerged from one of the doors further along. He walked up to her and gave a small bow. “It’s wonderful to have you back,” he continued. “I was concerned that our little squash tournament would have to go unfinished!”

“Good morning, Blueblood,” Celestia replied with a nod. “Have you seen my sister?” she asked.

The prince looked over his shoulder uneasily, saying nothing for a few seconds. “She is hard to see,” he said, turning back to face her. “I think she may be in the dining hall, though. You may still catch breakfast if you hurry,” he added. “The chef made pancakes today!

“Did you hear that?” he said suddenly, his composure changing in an instant. He stared in shock at something behind Celestia. She looked round to see what it was, but there was nothing behind her. She turned again, and the rest of the corridor was deserted as well.

She continued down the corridor, which seemed to stretch on forever. It was definitely Canterlot Castle, but she couldn’t place it anywhere.

Then she heard laughter echoing from an open door ahead. She cantered down to the door and ran through, and found herself standing in the castle’s grand dining hall.

The long table running down the centre of the room was overflowing with food: plates piled high with toast, croissants and pancakes, huge bowls of fruit salad, a spectrum of jams from orange to crystal berry, and massive pitchers of ice-cold fruit juice. Celestia suddenly realised how hungry she was. It felt like she hadn’t eaten in weeks.

“Auntie! You're back!” Princess Cadance called from further along the table. She and Shining Armor were sitting there sharing a bowl of strawberries.

Cadance jumped up and ran over to give Celestia a hug. “I missed you,” she said, smiling up at her aunt. “It’s been really quiet without you around. Come and have some breakfast,” she said, leading Celestia back over to the table. “Chef put on a special selection for you.”

She led Celestia to a place that had been set across from her and her husband. Laid out on the table was a plate of turf, with a bowl of heather and a glass of muddy water next to it.

Celestia stared down at the uninviting selection, giving it a wary sniff. Her stomach gave a deafening growl. She glanced back along the rest of the table, which was suddenly completely empty.

“Are you sure you should be eating that?” Cadance asked. “It doesn’t look very good for you.”

“I am a pony,” Celestia said, sitting down defiantly. “I can manage perfectly fine on grass.”

“Are you sure?” Cadance persisted. “You don’t look very well.”

Shining Armor chuckled. “Twily’s been really excited since you got back,” he said. “It’s a good thing she managed to find your mistake in the spell.”

“My mistake?” Celestia asked. “But I—”

“And who’d have thought the seventh Element would turn out to be that?” he continued, laughing. “It’s so obvious when you think about it now!”

“Turn out to be what—”

“Of course, we had to make the bearer a prince,” Cadance said dismissively. She gestured over to a tall stallion who was standing against the far wall.

“Good morning, Celestia,” he said.

“Good morning, Chestnut,” she replied.

“He’s been great to have around,” Cadance continued, “now that you’re not ruling over Equestria any more.”

Celestia looked back at Cadance. “What do you mean?”

Blueblood sat down next to Celestia and started helping himself to a bowl of fruit salad. “Well, you were managing so well on your own we decided we would do the same,” he said. “You left Luna with a lot to deal with, so we’ve all been helping out, but I don’t think the kingdom’s ever been stronger than it is now!”

“Where is my sister?” Celestia asked.

The other occupants of the room shared confused glances.

“She was in court last time I saw her,” Cadance said uneasily. “But she’s hidden at the moment. You shouldn’t disturb her.”

Celestia got up and walked back to the door. “I don’t care,” she said. “I wish to speak with my sister, and—”

“Did you hear that?” Shining Armor said.

“Hear what?” Celestia asked. She looked back at the dining hall. Cadance and Shining Armor were alone again, and were staring up at the ceiling in shock. She followed their gaze, but couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. When she looked back down again the dining hall was empty and silent.

Celestia was starting to feel impatient. Nopony seemed to want her to see Luna. Why were they keeping her from her own sister?

She made her way over to the door, opening it and peering out into the corridor. It looked the same as before: long and empty.

She raised her hoof to step across the threshold, but was pushed back when Twilight Sparkle arrived in front of her, followed by a pair of guards. They pushed her back into the dining hall and locked the door behind them.

“Where are you going, Celestia?” Twilight asked, her voice stern.

“I wish to speak with my sister,” she replied.

“You know you can’t do that,” Twilight said, shaking her head. “She’s not here right now.”

“I was told she was—”

“Oh, I’m so glad you’re back,” Twilight said, suddenly excited. She ran forward and gave Celestia a hug. “It’s great that you were able to find a way back all on your own!”

Celestia backed away, looking down at Twilight in confusion. “But I thought you repaired the spell!”

“What do you mean?” Twilight said, laughing. “Why would you need my help with anything? Or anypony else’s, for that matter?”

“Where is my sister?” Celestia asked again.

“She’s away,” Twilight responded, walking past Celestia and heading over to the dining table. “She’s behind the wall. You won’t be able to talk to her.”

“But I need to speak with her!” Celestia shouted, slamming her hoof down on the table and knocking over Twilight’s juice.

Twilight looked back up at her with a sad expression.

“Please, Celestia,” she said. “Some things just aren’t possible. You’ll have to let go eventually.”

“I’m not ready yet,” Celestia sighed. Her body started to feel heavy, her legs buckling under her.

“Did you hear that?” Twilight asked. She looked round in confusion, then stared down at the floor.

Celestia looked down as well, but still couldn’t see anything.

When she looked up the long table had disappeared. Everypony was in the dining hall again, circled around her. A large number of guards joined them in the circle, completely cutting her off from the door.

“You should not be here,” Blueblood said.

“It’s dangerous,” Shining Armor continued.

The circle started moving in towards her.

“But this is my home!” Celestia shouted, whirling around in panic.

“This is not your home,” Twilight said.

“You should leave,” Cadance added.

There was the sound of a twig snapping behind her. Celestia spun round, searching for the source of the alien sound.

“There it was,” the group said in unison.

Suddenly there was a distant explosion, something hit her side, and a blinding rush of pain tore the dream apart.

~ ~ ~

…true true friend helps a friend in need…

Aaron lay in bed and fumbled around in the dark, knocking things off his bedside table as he tried to find his phone.

“Who on earth would be calling at this hour?” he grumbled. Eventually he found the phone lying on the floor by his bed and held it up, shielding his eyes from the glow of the screen as he tried to read the caller ID.

“‘Spare phone’,” he read. “I don’t think I’m calling myself—”

Realisation dawned and Aaron sat bolt upright, suddenly wide awake.

“Celestia! Is that you?” he said, trying not to shout, as he answered the call.

“Yes, Aaron, it is,” she replied.

“Where are you?” Aaron asked. “I’m hearing a lot of wind.”

“I am flying.”

“Ah.”

There was a long pause as Aaron sat waiting for Celestia to say something. Eventually he gave up and asked, “is something wrong?”

There was a sigh from Celestia’s end. “I believe I have been attacked,” she said.

Jumping in surprise for the second time that minute, Aaron leapt out of bed and woke his laptop up, hurriedly searching through news sites.

“By who?” he asked, still trying not to shout out and wake his housemates. “Where were you?”

“I was sleeping in woodland a little way north from here,” she explained, “when a number of humans – two I think – fired something at me. I do not know why, but—”

“…Evidence of illegal poaching on the moors,’” Aaron said, reading from a news article he had just found. “Why didn’t I check for that?” he groaned, burying his head in his hand.

“Do not blame yourself, Aaron,” Celestia said. “I would prefer to look after myself, and not have you worrying over me.”

Aaron wasn’t listening, and was busy digging through his cupboards. “Do you need any first aid?” he said. “I think I’ve got a kit in here somewhere, and… and I could bring a tent with me, maybe. Poachers wouldn’t attack a camp site. I could get to where we met in about an hour, and—”

“Aaron, please,” Celestia said, cutting him off forcefully. “I assure you, I am fine,” she continued. “My magic protected me from being injured, and I will be fine until we meet tomorrow. I do not require assistance.”

“You’re sure?”

“I am.”

Despite being unable to see her, Aaron found it hard to believe Celestia. He could hear her laboured breathing, and she did not sound okay. She was holding something back… again.

“This is getting ridiculous,” he said, sitting down and massaging his forehead with his free hand. “Celestia, If you’re not hurt, you don’t need anything, and we’re meeting tomorrow anyway… then why did you call me?”

Again, there was a long pause, but Aaron waited this time. Eventually, Celestia gave a deep sigh and said, “your company would be appreciated,” before hanging up.