For Good

by Enderwinner

First published

The Princess sends the Mane 6 a message asking them to research her people, the alicorns

Princess Celestia sends a message to Twilight, asking for the help of her friends to do some research on her people, the Alicorns. Completing their mission, she asks Twilight to keep a secret for her, and sends the Mane 6 off on a quest to find a group of ponies who have been missing since before the formation of Equestria...

The Letter

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Princess Celestia paced slowly back and forth down the atrium that led to the storehouse of the Elements of Harmony. She paused, smiling at the stained glass depiction of herself and Luna defeating Discord.

‘Moondancer always made the best artwork.’ she thought to herself, turning away from the two thousand year old stained glass window. ‘I do miss her steady head and eye for detail.’

The slight clicking of hooves alerted the princess to the presence of another pony.

“What be thou doing down here, sister?” Luna asked.

Celestia smiled at her sister. The midnight blue alicorn was slowly returning to her cheerful self, following her millennia long banishment in the moon. “My dear sister,” she started, inclining her head slightly to remove her mane from her eyes. “I’m merely reliving old times. For old time’s sake.”

Luna followed her sister’s eyes to the Discord pane. “Thou thinks of times of yore indeed, sister,” she swished her translucent, blue sparkled tail. “Though, I would be in the wrong to not admit to some contriteness over thine and I’s relative powerlessness the more recent time the cur showed himself.”

Princess Celestia felt a pang of regret within her heart, but years of training in the court did not allow her to show it. “My student seems to be more than capable, it would appear.”

Luna nodded in agreement, switching her gaze over to the newest of the commissioned stained glass murals. “Aye, mine sister. The youthful Twilight Sparkle would seem to rival even Starswirl himself in magical abilities.” She glanced sadly back at her sister. “Yet, not even the combined powers could solve this. You know this, does thou not, mine sister?”

Celestia nodded her head yet again. “Yes, Luna. I know.”

Luna smiled grimly for a moment, then turned and faced the great door that sealed the vault of the Elements of Harmony. “Mayhap, then, mine sister, the time draws close that thou should speak of the present issue.”

In a rare moment of weakness, Celestia sighed. “Of course you are right, Luna. I plan to do so this afternoon. I’ve had Clockwork clear my appointments for the rest of the day.”

“This is most wise of you, sister,” Luna agreed, this time giving her elder sibling a smile of reassurance. “I feel thee will know best how to reply to the young Twilight Sparkle.” She shook her head, allowing her glimmering mane to shine in the light of the stained glass. “I for one, hold no envy toward the task ahead of thee.” She approached, and rested her head against Celestia’s. “Be strong, mine sister. For now, however, I must bid thee goodnight, as I must rest until the moon rises.”

Celestia closed her eyes at the touch of her sister’s head. “Rest will, Luna. And thank you.”

Luna merely nodded, before leaving. The soft clicking of her hooves, muffled by the carpet, slowly faded into nothing; leaving Celestia feeling more alone. Not that the feeling was all that uncommon. For a thousand years, Celestia alone had ruled over Equestria, protecting its borders, solving problems, and relegating duties to her loving subjects. But for all the love and affection her subjects could bring her, the reality of the situation was that sitting on her gilded throne had been a very lonely task. How many long nights had she spent sleepless, concerned over a crisis? How often had she longed for some sort of counsel, only to remember that her best counsellors were long gone?

At first, it had been easy. She and Luna defeated Discord, returning happiness throughout Equestria. The two young alicorns were shining beacons of hope for all the ponies of the land, and taking the shared throne of Canterlot had been a great honour. Ponies from the far reaches of Equestria came to swear their fealty to their new rulers.

But then Luna changed, and in a move that broke her heart more than she would ever admit, Celestia banished her one friend to the moon.

‘No, that’s not quite right.’ Celestia thought as she turned and walked down the soft, pink carpet that lined the hall of the Elements of Harmony’s wing of the castle. ‘Starswirl was there with me. He was a voice of reason in a time of trials.’

However, the reality was that, ultimately, Starswirl the Bearded, one of the greatest users of unicorn magic and most sage astrologer, was merely a unicorn. So after nearly 120 years of wise counsel, he passed on to join his ancestors. As had so many counsellors before him. Were she to admit it to herself, however, Celestia realised that his death was different from the others. After his death, she began to distance herself from those in her cabinet. Never again, did she form the closeness of the relationships, the friendships, that’d she’d possessed with that group of wise ponies.

Perhaps, in the end, that was what ultimately caused her to lose touch with the Elements of Harmony. The loss of Luna was a terrible burden to bear, but Celestia found herself relying on the friendships she forged with her advisors as a way to cope with the pain of losing Luna, and the guilt of being the one who ultimately banished her. But, after those ponies died, it became more and more apparent to the still young alicorn that she was different. Her friends would age and die much faster than she ever would. They would change and grow. She would remain the same. It was at this point, around 100 years into Luna’s time as the Mare in the Moon that Princess Celestia ceased to try to maintain friendships with anypony.

‘That,’ the princess thought as her hooves left the soft carpet and landed on the cool purple marble floor that lay out across her wing of the castle. ‘That is when I, too, lost touch with the Elements of Harmony.’

Looking down at the floor, Celestia thought of her student. Starswirl had prophecies about a group of young ponies would help free Luna from the darkness in her heart. On the day that Twilight Sparkle, a young unicorn from Canterlot, nearly destroyed the testing room of the Academy for Gifted Unicorns, Celestia knew that she’d found at least one of the chosen ones.

She smiled, shaking her head in thought. Sweet, neurotic Twilight Sparkle. Her student had faced more in her short life than most of Equestrian history. And yet... and yet Twilight was quite insecure in herself and her abilities.

‘Perhaps that is what makes her so special.’ Celestia thought, walking toward her chambers. ‘She and her friends don’t know how special they really are.’

She used her magic to open the door to her chambers, and summoned her quill and inkwell as she moved toward the ornate purple cashmere carpet. Sitting down, she allowed herself a brief moment to revel in the softness of the beautiful tapestry. The carpet itself had been a gift from the mayor of Yiliborough following a particularly good sheering season. The summer had been extremely warm in that mountainous town, so the sheep were all too willing to be sheered that season.

Settling down against a golden silk pillow, Celestia stretched her wings, then summoned a sheet of parchment.

“Best get this over with, old girl.” She said to herself, then began to write...

My most faithful student,

I hate to interrupt your studies on the magic of friendship, as I always enjoy the letters you send, and the letters of your friends. However, as I am wont to do, I have yet another mission for you and your friends. Something has come to my attention, and I feel your unique talents can help solve a bit of a mystery for me.

I need you and your friends to do some research on the history and legend of the alicorn. I’m sure your love for books can help you find the answers to this, but I would like to know what your friends know of it as well. Given the ancient nature of this subject, it interests me to know what the unicorns, the Earth Ponies, and the Pegasi all have to say on the topic.

I eagerly await your findings on the subject. If you have time, send me a letter on any lessons you and your friends learn about friendship during this quest. Then, once you feel you have an idea of the facts about the Alicorns, send me a letter, and you, your friends, and I will meet to discuss your findings.

Twilight Sparkle, you have always been my brightest star. I know how important my approval of you is to you, and I wanted you to know that you have my greatest confidence. Even if you find very little on the subject, know that it may be more knowledge than you realise. Best wishes on your search,

- Princess Celestia

Return Correspondences

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“Twilight, why are you reorganising the blarg!” Spike was interrupted as he coughed up Princess Celestia’s letter. He caught it as the wisps of dragon fire faded into the fine parchment the princess was so fond of using. “She always manages to do that when I’m in the middle of saying something,” he muttered, walking down the steps from his bed to the library.

Twilight Sparkle lay in the middle of a pile of books, looking slightly frantic.

“Spike!” She said. “I can’t remember which system of organisation I used last!” She explained, shaking her head. “I just know that numerically by date of publishing was horribly inefficient.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Twilight, why can’t you be like a normal pony and just make everything alphabetical by author?” He asked, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Anyway, you got a letter from the Princess.”

Twilight had started to levitate all of the books in an attempt to organise them, but they fell to the floor with a resounding crash as Spike mentioned the letter.

“Oh! The Princess! It must be important! She so rarely writes these days!” She exclaimed, summoning the letter to her.

“Maybe you should just leave them on the floor,” Spike muttered under his breath as Twilight read the letter. “I’d find stuff better, at any rate.”

Twilight’s eyes widened as she scanned the note. “Oh my. I have to go get the others!” She said, frantically rushing up the stairs. “Where did I put my bag?”

“On your bed!” Spike called, shaking his head at the mess around him.

Twilight grabbed a scarf to beat off the autumn chill. “Ok, I know Fluttershy and Rarity are at the spa, so they’ll be easy to find.” She said to herself. “Applejack is probably at the farm, and Pinkie’s at work, so the only one who’ll be hard to find will be Rainbow Dash.” She raced down the stairs and toward the door. “Sorry about the mess, Spike. Can you clean it up for me? Thanks!” She finished as she bolted out the door.

Spike sighed. “Oh well. At least I get to organise it the way that makes sense to me.”

After spending the afternoon gathering her friends and looking for Rainbow Dash, Twilight and company met in her study.

“Alright, alright,” Rainbow Dash said impatiently. “You got us all here, what’s going on?”

“I’ve received a letter from the princess,” Twilight explained. “She has a task for us.”

“I-I hope there isn’t another d-dragon around...” Fluttershy said anxiously.

Applejack put a hoof around the pink haired filly’s neck. “Now, Sugarcube, don’t you fret about that. I’m certain that you can be just as strong as you were with the last dragon.”

Twilight smiled. “Don’t worry, Fluttershy, it isn’t a dragon this time.”

“Well, then what is it?” Rainbow Dash demanded.

“She wants us to do some research on her people,” Twilight explained. “Then she wants us to come to Canterlot to explain our findings.”

Rarity’s eyes lit up at ‘Canterlot.’ “Canterlot? Oh, well, that’s enough motivation for me!”

Rainbow Dash looked less than enthused. “Research. Like... books and stuff? Boring!”

Applejack gave Rainbow Dash a sour look. “Rainbow, a little hard work never killed anyone.”

“Yeah, but why try? Plus, research involves books and sitting and ulg!”

Twilight held up a hoof. “Wait a minute, Rainbow, it’s not all books.”

“It’s not?” Applejack asked.

Twilight shook her head. “No. Um, let me explain. The princess wants us to learn as much as we can about
the Princess’ people.”

“The princess’ people?” Rarity asked. “The winged unicorns?”

“The princess has wings?!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

The other five ponies and Spike gave their frizzy haired friend a confused look, then went back to their discussion.

“There really isn’t much written in pony lore about Alicorns,” Twilight explained. “I think there are a few things that were written by Starswirl the Bearded about them, but other than that, there isn’t much.”

“Oh! I know! I can ask Mrs. Cake about them!” Pinkie exclaimed. “I bet she’d know!”

“That’s a good idea, Pinkie!” Twilight praised. “I was thinking about asking Zecora if she knew anything.”

“Then what should we do?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking impatient again.

Rarity stepped in. “Why don’t you and Fluttershy go to Cloudsdale and see if there’s anyone who can tell us about the Alicorns.”


“Oh, I know.” Fluttershy started. She trailed off when she realised everyone was looking at her. “Um... what I mean is... if we wanted to... we could go talk to the Oracle. She knows all the stories from a long time ago.”

“Granny Smith might know something, too.” Applejack added. “I could go ask her.”

“It can be an asking story-telling party!” Pinkie said, skipping. “I’ll go right now!” She said, darting out the door.

Rarity looked a bit concerned. “I better go with her, just to make sure she’s asking the right questions.”

Twilight smiled. “Thanks, Rarity.”

Rarity smiled brightly and trotted toward the door. “Coming, Spiky-wiky?” She called over her shoulders.

Spike’s eyes lit up. “Coming, Rarity.” He said, half-floating across the floor after her.

The remaining four ponies smiled knowingly at each other.

“Well, it’s settled then,” Twilight said with some finality. “Fluttershy and Rainbow will go to Cloudsdale and see the Oracle. Applejack and I will go talk to Granny Smith and Zecora. How about we all meet back here tomorrow?”

“Sounds good to me,” Fluttershy said.

Rainbow Dash put a hoof around Fluttershy’s shoulders. “Well, it’s you and me, kid. Off to home!”

Fluttershy smiled back. “Well, I’m glad you’re coming with me. You can do all the talking.” She said quietly as the pair of pegasi strode out of Twilight’s tree home.

Applejack glanced over at Twilight and shrugged. “So... Big Apple Acres or Zecora’s first?” She asked.

Twilight was about to answer, but was interrupted by her stomach growling.

“Landsakes,” Applejack exclaimed. “Granny Smith should be makin’ lunch soon. How’s that sound?”

“Wonderful.” Twilight replied sheepishly. “I think I forgot to eat breakfast.”

Pinkie Pie’s Quest

Pinkie Pie skipped her way down the street toward Sugarcube Corner.

“I’m going to learn something new and go and eat some cupcakes!” she sang happily, drawing puzzled looks from other ponies on the street.

Skipping into the shop, her eyes widened with delight as she gazed upon the variety of cakes and sweets that lay before her.

“Mmm! Cupcakes!” She cried, racing toward the cupcake counter. She then stopped herself. “No! I’m on an important mission. I must ask Mrs. Cake something.”

“Ask me what, Dearie?” Mrs. Cake asked, rounding the corner from the bakery’s kitchen with a plate of cookies.

Pinkie’s eyes widened a moment at the sweets, then she shook her head. “Princess Celestia wants us to learn as much as we can about... about...” She trailed off, trying to remember what she was supposed to be learning about.

Mrs. Cake smiled gently at her young helper. “What did it start with?”

Pinkie pursed her lips and looked thoughtful. “Um... A! A something. I think it ended in corn.”

Mrs. Cake looked puzzled. “The princess wants you to learn all you can about acorns?”

“Acorns!” Pinkie exclaimed. “I knew it was something edible!” She rushed over to Mrs. Cake and dramatically fell to the floor in front of her. “Please, teach me all you know of acorns, Mrs. Cake!”

Mrs. Cake tried her best not to chuckle at Pinkie Pie’s antics. “Well, I’m more than willing to help the princess in whatever she needs.”

Spike and Rarity’s Quest: 5 minutes later

“I’m so excited that we’ll be able to go back to Canterlot! Oh, how I do so belong there!” Rarity exclaimed, sighing.

Spike smiled at the white unicorn. “Well, Rarity, I’m happy so long as you’re happy. But it would be nice to be home for a while.” He admitted. “At least there I can find restaurants that serve gems!”

Rarity laughed brightly. “I am sorry, Spike, that you don’t get to eat your favourite foods very often here in Ponyville,” she patted his head gently with her hoof. “I know that the leftovers I give you from my shop probably only whet your appetite.”

Spike blushed. “Oh, it’s alright. They come from you, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Now it was Rarity’s turn to blush. “Really, now, Spike. It’s nothing. Come on, let’s see what Pinkie’s up to. Hopefully she remembers what she’s supposed to be doing.”

The pair wandered through the fairly busy streets of Ponyville toward Sugarcube Corner. The town was less a bustle of activity now that autumn was settling in, and the slight chill in the air made the entire place smell crisp. They had nearly reached their destination when a blur of pink rocketed out of the front doors.

“Pinkie Pie, slow down!” Rarity called after her friend.

Pinkie slowed and turned, twitching all the while. “Oh, hi Rarity, Spike. I can’t stop now! I’m on a secret mission.”

Rarity and Spike exchanged glances. “Um, Pinkie, darling, what did you learn from Mrs. Cake?”

Pinkie gasped. “How did you know I was talking to her? Who sent you? Are you a counter spy?!” She demanded.

Spike rolled his eyes. “Pinkie, we just wanted to know what you learned so we have something to say when we meet with Twilight tomorrow,” he explained. There were days his pink friend’s antics drove him just the slightest bit crazy.

Rarity made her best pouty face and snuggled up to Pinkie. “Pinkie, dear, please tell us? We’re just dying to know!”

Pinkie shook her head. “No, it’s a secret for Twilight’s eyes only. Or is it ears? Nose? Agh! I’ve said too much!” She cried, leaping into a nearby barrel.

Spike snorted softly. “Well, I don’t think we’re going to get much done here. Let’s head back to Twilight’s library. Maybe we can put the books back and find some things in there. Twilight never did end up looking in her books for answers.” His face fell slightly. “Then again, they are all over the floor...”

Rarity shrugged. “No matter, my dear Spikey. We’ll just have to reorganise it for her.” She said, giving Pinkie’s barrel one last puzzled look.

“I would think that someone, somewhere would have to have written something about the alicorns. I mean, there used to be more, weren’t there?” Spike asked.

Rarity shrugged. “I don’t know, Spike. I always thought that the Princess’ mother was a unicorn and her father was a pegasus. That would make the most sense to me.”

“Well, considering they aren’t alive for us to ask them, maybe you’re right. But I think checking the books might be helpful.”

“Might be helpful for what?” A familiar voice asked.

Spike and Rarity looked up from their conversation and smiled at Cheerilee. The maroon earth pony looked intrigued.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you two,” she said. “But it sounded like you two were looking for something.”

Rarity nodded. “It’s alright, Cheerilee. The princess wrote us a letter, asking us to learn about her people, the alicorns.”

“The alicorns?” Cheerilee asked. “I wonder why she did that?”

Spike shrugged. “Cause it’s been a while since she’s seen her people?” he offered.

Cheerilee smiled. “Maybe, Spike, maybe.” She looked thoughtful a moment. “If you wanted to look for more information about the different pony tribes, maybe you should start with some of the old legends?”

“Thank you for the suggestion, Cheerilee,” Rarity said, nodding her head. “Come on Spike, now we have something to look for!”

“In the middle of a mess,” Spike grumbled.

“Oh, Rarity, wait a moment, please,” Cheerilee said, stopping the pair from heading home once again. “I just remembered, there’s a gem covered tapestry in Canterlot depicting the pony tribes. Maybe you can look for it the next time you’re there.”

“That was very kind of you, Cheerilee. Thank you so much!” Rarity replied.

“No problem, you two. Good luck on your search!”

Spike and Rarity ambled their way back toward the Library, hoping to find more information there. As they walked, Spike took the opportunity to admire his filly friend. While he’d told her that he had the deepest crush on her, he hadn’t quite gotten around to telling her that he’d liked her since he first saw her.

He’d always thought her white as snow colour and flowing purple mane made her the loveliest pony he’d ever seen. It was love at first sight, and oh, how he was stricken! Which, he supposed, made him all the prouder that she seemed to be spending more time with him as of late, and that it was rare for her to be without the fire ruby necklace she’d made from his gift. Spike was so lost in thought that he nearly walked into the tree house’s door.

“Oh, careful Spike,” Rarity chided, opening the door for him. “Now, let’s see about those books,” she started, following him into Twilight’s main room. “Oh my...”

Despite the meeting of their friends, Twilight somehow managed to avoid picking up her books.

“Well, this simply won’t do,” Rarity said, shaking her head. “Spike, let’s pick these up first. Where should we start?”

Spike looked around and placed his hands on his hips. “Hmm... Well, Twilight did mention that she was planning on reorganising her shelves... again.” He said with an air of annoyance. “Oh! I know!” He said, dashing over to a small bureau with several drawers in it. “This should help!”

Opening one of the narrow drawers, he began to rifle through the papers. Rarity gracefully followed him over to the bureau, and glanced over his shoulder. “What is it?”

Spike smiled wryly. “Well, this is a library. This is the original way it was organised before we moved in,” he explained. “For some reason, Twilight had trouble using that system.”

“Which system was that?” Rarity asked. “I would think that it must have been very strange indeed for Twilight to not understand it.”

Spike laughed. “Oh, you know Twilight,” he said, chuckling. “It was originally organised in alphabetical order.” He explained. “This drawer tells you what book goes where.”

Rarity looked puzzled a moment. “Wait... it was in alphabetical order? Then why was it such a trial for her to find the book on the Elements of Harmony?”

Spike shrugged helplessly. “Who knows. If I read off the titles, can you put them back?” He asked. “I can tell you which ones might be helpful as we go.”

Rarity nodded. “No problem. Nothing a little tidying up magic can’t fix. Where do we start?”

Spike pulled out the first card, and then fell over laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

Spike gasped, then showed her the card. It read: ‘Book 1: Alicornia Mythos by Starswirl the Bearded.

Rarity giggled. “Well, shall I put it in the research pile?” She asked before falling over and joining Spike in a gigglefest.

Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy’s Quest

Fluttershy struggled to keep up with her rainbow haired friend as the pair flew toward the majestic cloud city of Cloudsdale.

“Hurry up, Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash called, looping in place.

“I’m coming.” Fluttershy called back patiently. She took a moment to look at the skyscrapers of clouds that made up the beautiful floating city. “Don’t get too far ahead.”

Rainbow Dash slowed and started trotting on the clouded streets. “So where is this Oracle anyway?” She asked.

Fluttershy shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. My mother used to tell me about her when I was a little filly. Maybe we should ask the mayor?” She suggested.

Walking down the fluffy streets, the pair made their way toward the mayor’s home.

“Are you sure the Oracle is still alive?” Rainbow Dash asked, shifting back and forth impatiently.

Fluttershy looked thoughtful a moment. “Hmm, well...” She trailed off. “I know that someone always carries on the storytelling traditions of the pegasus tribe. My mother said there has always been an Oracle who passed down our history from times of old.”

Rainbow Dash looked confused. “Why did everypony tell stories? Couldn’t they have written them down in a book?”

Fluttershy rolled her eyes. “Oh, Dash. How many clouds do you know of that keep ink well?”

The rainbow haired pegasus looked pensive a moment. “Oh! None! Huh, I guess I see your point. So where is this Oracle supposed to be anyway?”

Fluttershy chuckled politely. “I don’t know. We were going to see the mayor?”

“Oh, yeah. I knew that. Come on!” Rainbow Dash replied, launching herself once again the direction of the town centre. Fluttershy followed dutifully behind.

Reaching the steps of Cloudsdale town hall, the pair made their way up toward the great cumulus doors. Or rather, Fluttershy made her way up the stairs as Rainbow Dash flittered her way to the top and waited for her friend. They were just about to go through those massive doors when, to their surprise, they opened. A dusky blue stallion nearly ran them over as he raced out.

“Oh, sorry girls!” He said, narrowly missing Rainbow Dash. “Are you two here to see the mayor?”

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Yeah? What’s it to you?”

The stallion coughed. “The mayor’s out at the moment. What did you want to see him about?” He asked. “I’m his secretary.”

“Oh,” Fluttershy said breathlessly. “Um, well, we... er...”

Rainbow Dash put a hoof on Fluttershy’s shoulder. “We wanted to see the Oracle. We don’t really know where she is, but we’re on a mission from the princess.”

The mayor’s secretary looked surprised. “The princess you say? Well, I’m assuming you two know where the weather factory is, right?” The pair nodded. “Next to the factory is a small cloud temple. It’s easy to miss. That’s where the Oracle lives,” he explained, starting off toward the stadium. “Just be polite, ladies. Sorry, I have to meet up with the mayor.”

“Thank you!” Fluttershy called after the secretary softly.

Rainbow Dash sighed. “Well, ready to get this over with?”

Fluttershy nodded as she followed her friend over the town toward the weather factory. Flying overhead, the two pegasi were able to see the small temple that the secretary told them about.

“That’s the temple?” Rainbow Dash said incredulously. “It’s so...”

“Little,” Fluttershy finished for her, gracefully floating down toward the humble building’s steps.

Compared to the majestic stadium and the Parthenon-like beauty of the mayor’s home, the small temple was nothing impressive. However, it did contain a small garden of blooming balloon flowers, which attracted a few brave butterflies. The exterior resembled Fluttershy’s country cottage more closely than it did any temple that Rainbow Dash had ever seen. Fluttershy, on the other hand, was more awed by the butterflies than by the relatively meek appearance of the temple.

“Oh, aren’t those butterflies just fabulous?” Fluttershy asked, trotting over to the balloon flowers. “I’ve never seen butterflies this high before!” She exclaimed.

Rainbow Dash snorted. “Yeah, well, let’s find this Oracle so we can ask her about the Princess and her people. I wonder if we should just knock.”

“Knock ye may, Loyalty, but one merely needs to look around to see what is being sought.” A voice answered.

Fluttershy looked around the balloon flower plant. Before her stood a silver mare with a golden mane. Her cutie mark was that of a scroll sealed by a golden pocket watch. But most unusual about her was the eyes. The Oracle’s eyes were the colour of the rainbow, but contained no pupils.

“She’s blind!” Rainbow Dash blurted out before silencing herself by covering her mouth with her hooves.

“I’m sorry,” Fluttershy said in response. “I thought... maybe... if you could... that you might be able to tell us about something.”

The Oracle turned her blind eyes toward the yellow filly. “Kindness Fluttershy: I do have some answers you seek. But I fear that not all of your questions will be answered here. You seek knowledge on the alicorn: the great ones among ponies. If you have time, I will tell you a tale,”

“Oh, we have time. Thank you very much, Miss Oracle,” Fluttershy replied.

The Oracle turned to Rainbow Dash. “Loyalty Rainbow Dash, you may want to get comfortable. While your flight skills are the stuff of legend, your attention span requires some growing up.”

Rainbow Dash pouted slightly, but settled down at the Oracle’s feet. “I don’t mean to be rude, but why did you call me Loyalty?”

The Oracle looked down at the rainbow haired filly. “Loyalty is the element of harmony that you are connected with. Kindness is connected to Fluttershy. I am addressing you by that which I see.”

“That which you see?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Not all things blind are without sight.” The Oracle explained. “I may not see the figures of ponies, but I can see their hearts, and the magic that lies within.” She cocked her head to the side slightly. “Does that answer your question?”

Rainbow Dash looked confused. “I guess. So you see magic?”

“Yes, Loyalty. I see the magic in all ponies. The magic within you and within your friends burns quite brightly, however. Suffice it to say, you two are torches in a world of candles.” The Oracle said cryptically. “Now, you sought the tale of the Alicorn. Shall I begin?”

Fluttershy nuzzled herself into the clouds a bit. “Yes, please.”

The Oracle nodded. “Alright, our tale begins....”

Long ago, before Equestria formed, as you know, Discord ruled the world. This was before Princess Celestia and Princess Luna began their rule. In those days, all of pony kind had barely resolved their issues that we hear about on Winter Hearth’s Eve. You see, despite the fact that the ponies learned to work together, they still lived somewhat separate lives. The Unicorns founded Canterlot, the Earth Ponies still wandered the land not settling anywhere, and the Pegasus, Cloudsdale. There was little intermingling between the tribes, and, as a result, some bitterness and frustrations still existed between ponies. This problem, combined with a poor harvest, is what allowed Discord to thrive.

The fiendish Discord twisted the land into an abomination. The pegasus tribe could no longer control the weather. The unicorn’s magic no longer worked to manipulate the elements of nature. And the earth ponies, their harvests could no longer sustained the ponies. As you may have seen when you faced Discord yourself, the entire world was turned upside down.

After a five hundred year reign of suffering, two unicorn sisters were born. These two sisters you know as the Princesses. But they were not always Alicorns. Earth Pony and Unicorn legend tells that the two princesses saw the suffering of the ponies and came to rescue them. However, the tales of these ponies seem to have lost some details along the way.

The elder sister, Celestia, was an honest, generous pony whose kindness knew no bounds. The younger, Luna, was loyal to all her friends, as well as her sister, and provided many a laugh, despite the dark times of Discord. As you may have noticed, these two sisters possessed within themselves the 5 best known Elements of Harmony: Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Loyalty and Laughter. But, alas, they were missing a crucial component: magic.

The two sisters spent their early years secretly seeking knowledge of the flame of friendship. They talked to the oldest, wisest, and most knowledgeable ponies they could find, but none seemed to know exactly what caused the flame of friendship that thawed the land. It was not until they came to Moondancer, a brave unicorn pony, that they got their first lead.

Sage Moondancer directed them to the Oracle at the time. She taught them the spell to create wings, and the pair of sisters flew off to Cloudsdale. The Oracle told them that it was the fires of friendship that sparked the flames. Puzzled, the pair left the Oracle with their answer, but not the knowledge to understand it.

It was then that the pair heard of an attack by Discord on Canterlot. Discord was furious that two ponies were seeking a way to overthrow his rule, and had somehow learned that Moondancer was behind it. In a rage, he began to attack the fair city of Canterlot, and set the inhabitants against one another.

Distraught, the sisters flew back home. The pair used their magic to attack Discord, but to no avail. Each sister fought by themselves, but the powers within them weren’t enough. Discord dealt a severe blow to Luna, causing Celestia to protect her younger sibling. Luna begged for Celestia to save herself, but Celestia refused.

“I will not abandon my sister, my friend!” Celestia declared.

Discord towered over the two ponies, about to deal a final blow to the pair of them when a bright light shown from their horns. The Princesses used their magic to attack Discord, and turned him into stone. Incapacitated, Equestria began to return to normal.

But the battle had taken its toll on Luna. The younger sibling was gravely wounded, but Princess Celestia refused to give up. She realised that the Elements of Harmony had appeared around them. Drawing on all her strength, she used her magic to infuse the Elements within herself and within Luna. Their wounds healed, but other changes took place as well.

The pair grew taller. They sprouted wings. Their horns and magical abilities enhanced. The other ponies took this to be a sign, that something magical had happened to the two of them. They immediately crowned them Princesses of the land. The rest, as they say, is history...

Rainbow Dash looked puzzled as the Oracle finished her tale.

“Wait,” she said. “So, the Princess became what she is because she took the Elements of Harmony into
herself? Why didn’t anything happen to us when we got them?” She asked.

The Oracle turned her sightless eyes towards the rainbow haired filly. “That, Loyalty, I do not know. As I said, I have answers, but not all. What I do know is this: you and your friends are interlinked more deeply than you know. However, you all will have to make a difficult choice in the coming days.” She said cryptically. “Now that my tale is complete, you should return to Ponyville.” The Oracle finished, turning and walking toward the temple’s door.

“Thank you,” Fluttershy whispered to the Oracle’s retreating back.

Rainbow Dash shook her head. “I wonder what she meant by that. Come on, let’s get back to Twilight’s.” She said, darting around and blazing down toward the earth.

Fluttershy glanced on last time at the butterflies around the balloon flowers, and quietly followed her friend.

Twilight Sparkle and Applejack’s Quest

“I’m sorry Granny Smith wasn’t much more help, Twilight,” Applejack said sullenly as the pair hiked their way through the Everfree Forest. Much to her chagrin, Applejack’s kindly grandmother didn’t know much about the alicorns or the magic behind the Elements of Harmony. However, the sandwiches were quite delicious.

Twilight smiled back at her blonde maned friend. “Your Grandmare always seems to know just the right things to say. Besides, lunch was delicious,” she admitted. “And I’m sure Granny Smith is right: Zecora will probably know more than she would.”

Applejack looked uncertain. “If you say so, Twi,” she said, frowning. “I know that Zecora’s got all sorts of Zebra magic and stuff that we ponies don’t quite understand, but I don’t know how much her people know about pony folk. Princesses or otherwise.”

“Oh, nonsense,” Twilight replied. “The Zebras may be from far away, but they’ve always had ambassadors in Canterlot. At least, as far back as anyone can remember. I’m sure she knows at least something.”

Applejack didn’t look convinced as she dodged around a patch of poison joke. No need to get into that mess again.

“Well, what if the Zebra folk don’t know much more about magic than us Earth ponies?” Applejack asked again.

Twilight looked thoughtful a moment as the pair walked. “Well, the Earth ponies always depended on the Unicorns and the Pegasus to take care of the magic. The Zebra’s didn’t have that luxury, so a lot of their magic depends on potions. And maybe more. I’ve honestly never asked Zecora,” Twilight admitted. “And there’s very little in my books about it, either.”

Applejack smirked. “Whoa Nelly. Heaven forbid you can’t find something in them there fancy books of yours.”

Twilight chuckled politely as the pair reached Zecora’s hut. As usual, the place was covered with all sorts of free growing plants, and an ominous odour wafted around the place.

“Is she cooking dinner or doing the wash?” Applejack asked.

“Probably a potion for something,” Twilight replied, knocking on her friend’s door.

“Ah, I hear a knock of three, and I wonder who that could be?” Zecora called from within her hut.

“It’s me, Zecora. I brought Applejack with me,” Twilight replied as the zebra opened her door.

“Twilight Sparkle, it’s good to see you,” Zecora replied. “And of course, Applejack, too. Why don’t you come inside, and with me you can confide the tale that has brought you here. I’m always free to lend an ear.”

Twilight smiled as she glanced around Zecora’s mask decorated abode. “The Princess asked us to learn what we could about her people,” she explained.

Applejack nodded. “Yeah, we’re supposed to learn something about them so we can report our findings to her.”

Zecora raised an eyebrow in surprise. “By the Princess with her wings and horn, you seek the tale of the alicorn!” She exclaimed. “Though limited my knowledge be, I shall recount my knowledge to thee.”

Twilight smiled at her friend. “Thank you very much, Zecora. We don’t know much about the alicorns themselves. Honestly, I don’t even know if there are any books on th subject!”

Zecora nodded sagely. “The tale I’ll spin is not new, but it is the tale I know to be true. The Alicorn is far above most pony folk, within them deep magical powers awoke. But their powers are limited by the stars, you see. For the alicorn is granted immortality. Hence why Princess Celestia has had a thousand year reign, without a break or heirs to claim the throne that is hers, as well as that of her sister.”

Applejack scrunched her nose up. “Stars? What do the stars have to do with it?”

“Oh, I know. A lot of unicorn magic is tied to the ways the stars are aligned. Starswirl the Bearded was one of the first to discover that unicorn magic follows the patterns of the planets. His studies in astrology helped provide many theories as to why our magic sometimes feels stronger during our birth month,” Twilight explained. “I mean, stars have always had an impact on our lives. Look at the prophecy I found that proved that Princess Luna would be released from her imprisonment on the moon. That was a Starswirl prophecy that was based on his astrological studies.”

“So you’re telling me that somehow the way the stars and planets are aligned affects our lives?” Applejack scoffed. “That seems like a bunch of hooey to me.”

“Do not be so quick to scoff at that which you don’t understand,” Zecora cautioned. “You never know when that knowledge will be useful to have in hand.” The zebra turned and nodded sagely to Twilight Sparkle. “Look to the stars for answers to the quest that the princess gave, for I fear her reasons for this quest may be quite grave.”

Twilight frowned. “Thank you, Zecora. I’ll make sure to do that once I get back to Ponyville. Come on, Applejack,”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Applejack said, nodding to Zecora as the pair of ponies made their way out of Zecora’s hut and toward the path to Ponyville.

Applejack blew her blond forelock out of her eyes. “I still don’t get what’s so important about the stars. I always thought that astrological stuff was just a bunch of nonsense,” she admitted.

“Hmm, well... how do I explain this?” Twilight asked, looking pensive. “Your birthday is in May, so that makes you a Taurus.”

“Uh huh,” Applejack replied. “And this affects me... how exactly?”

“Well, at the very least, it means that you’re very loyal, somewhat possessive of those who are close to you, rather stingy, but quite honest.” Twilight replied, smirking.

Applejack gave her friend a puzzled look. “Now are you just saying that because you know me and you’re pulling my hoof, or is that supposed to be true of every Taurus?”

“Well, there are major variations based on where the moon and other planets were when you were born, but essentially everypony born from late April to early May is sort of like that. But the stars only tell you what your most basic self is like. It’s up to you and your life experiences to shape who you really are.” Twilight explained. “You and I are rather special in our group of friends because we both were born under Earth signs.”

“You mean there’s some sort of pony sign associated with that?” Applejack asked. “I think your fancy book learning is going to go over my head.”

Twilight pursed her lips as she thought of a way to explain basic astrology to her friend. “Well, there are four elements in astrology: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. Because we have 12 months in a year, there are three signs in each element. You are a Taurus, and I’m a Virgo, which are both earth signs. Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity all have fire signs. Heh, oddly enough, they form a grand Trine together. Actually,” Twilight said, putting a hoof to her lip. “I think that you, Spike and I also make one, because he’s a Capricorn. Fluttershy is sort of the odd pony out because she’s a Pisces. It’s a water sign, and one which really precludes ponies to be quite shy.”

Applejack chuckled brightly. “So there’s a reason the filly’s afraid of her own shadow? The poor dear.”

Twilight smiled. “Well, like I said, not everything has to do with one’s planets. Life also effects you as well,”

“I know that, Sugarcube,” Applejack replied. “Now let’s head back home. I can’t wait to see what everypony’s learned!”

The next morning...

Twilight Sparkle had just finished washing her face when the first knock on her door happened.

“Spike, can you get that?” she called down the stairs from her loft.

“Just a minute!” Her dragon helper called back.

Spike opened the door and smiled at Fluttershy.

“Oh, I hope I’m not too late... or early... um,” the yellow pegasus said, biting her lip.

“Nope, you’re right on time, Fluttershy. Come on in,” Spike replied, standing aside to let his friend in. “Twilight’ll be down in a minute.”

Fluttershy settled herself down on the cool wood floor of Twilight’s library. “How was your search, Spike?” She asked.

Spike chuckled. “It went pretty well. The hardest part was putting the library back together, but I had Rarity to help me. That was nice. We found one book, so Rarity took it home last night to read. But, from what I could tell, it was rather short.”

“Oh, well, that was very nice of Rarity to help you,” Fluttershy replied. “It’s so nice that she makes time for you.”

Spike blushed and scratched the back of his head. “Aww, shucks. Well, how was your trip to the... the...?”

“Oracle?” Fluttershy asked, helpfully.

“Yeah. That.”

Fluttershy flopped her bangs out of her eyes. “The Oracle was very nice. She apologised a lot for not being able to help us more.” She sighed. “But she did have a lovely garden.”

“A garden? In the sky?” Spike asked skeptically.

Fluttershy nodded. “Mmhmm. Balloon flowers grow on the clouds, and she had a lovely little garden near the temple she lived in. I’ve never seem butterflies fly that high before.”

Spike’s reply was interrupted by another knock at the door. Spike got up to let Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Applejack in.

“Morning, Spike,” Applejack greeted. “I brought us some of Granny’s apple fritters for breakfast!” She said, pulling the satchel off her back and tossing it on the floor.

Rarity winced slightly at Applejack’s lack of propriety, and quickly used her magic to lift up Applejack’s satchel. “I’ll go grab a plate from the kitchen,” she said, trotting off toward Twilight’s small kitchen. “Oh, and good morning all.”

“Did everyone learn something? Oo! Apple fritters! I think I learned a lot about acorns! Mrs. Cake is an amazing teacher!” Pinkie Pie started, rambling as she was wont to do.

“Twilight and I learned a lot from Zecora,” Applejack said, looking puzzled. “What do you mean you learned a lot about acorns?”

By this point, Rarity had returned with the plate of apple fritters, and Pinkie’s attention was directed elsewhere.

Rarity smiled as Pinkie scarfed down on the plate of fritters. “Pinkie, dear, do remember to leave a few for us,” she said, moving a book table to the middle of the room and setting the plate down.

Pinkie looked surprised. “OMIGOSH!” She exclaimed. “I forgot, be right back!” She said, darting out of the Library.

Applejack shook her head. “Where does she get all that energy?”

“It’s the sugar,” Spike deadpanned.

The ponies laughed together as Twilight Sparkle made her way down the stairs to the study.

“Good morning everypony,” she greeted. “I saw Pinkie Pie left, but do we know where Rainbow Dash is?”

The ponies looked around at each other and shrugged.

Rarity sighed. “She probably slept late again. However, we have Fluttershy here to report for her,” she added, putting a hoof around the yellow pegasus’ shoulder. Fluttershy blushed slightly, and said nothing.

“DOOOOOOOOOUGHNUUUUUTTSSSSSSS!” Pinkie Pie called from outside before barrelling into the study with two boxes of pastry treats.

“Ooh! More breakfast!” Twilight replied, magically summoning a doughnut and an apple fritter. “So... what have we learned?”

An hour later, the ponies all looked confused. Aside from a slight interruption by Rainbow Dash crashing into the library, they’d all covered what they had learned on their quests.

“Ulg, I feel like we didn’t learn anything,” Rainbow Dash moaned.

Applejack rolled her eyes. “We learned something, sugarcube. It’s up to us to figure out what it all means,” she replied.

Twilight Sparkle nodded. “I just feel badly that we didn’t learn more. All we know is that the alicorns are somehow linked to the stars and the Elements of Harmony.”

“Which, of course, makes sense,” Rarity added. “The Princesses have always been rather powerful practitioners of magic. And from what the book said, there have only been two of them in recorded history.”

Fluttershy nodded. “Um, yes. Or... well...” she trailed off as the others looked at her. “Um... the oracle didn’t mention anything about other princesses...”

“What about my information on acorns?” Pinkie Pie asked. “Wasn’t that helpful?”

“Um, Pinkie? We were supposed to be learning about alicorns. Not acorns,” Rainbow Dash replied, face hoofing.

Pinkie looked slightly disappointed, then brighten just as quickly. “Oh well, at least when we report to the princess, I can bring her a wonderful acorn souffle!”

Twilight smiled. “That’ll be lovely, Pinkie.” She turned to Spike. “Spike, take a letter. I have a feeling we’ll be having a meeting with the princess soon.”

“You got it,” Spike replied, grabbing a quill and piece of parchment.

Dear Princess Celestia,

As you predicted, we learned a lot about the alicorns on our mission. But, like you said, there were still more questions that need to be answered. We know that the alicorns are somehow linked through magic to the Elements of Harmony, and that the stars affect their powers and how they came into being. I wish we could have learned more. Your faithful students,

- Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy and Spike.