A Seemingly Familiar Tail

by Copper Springs

First published

Starswirl is a gifted unicorn and the star pupil of Princess Sunset Shimmer. She lives her days in the palace observatory with her dragon assistant. However soon Deepened Dusk will be free from her moon prison. What will our heroine do?

Long ago two alicorn Sisters ruled Equestria. One controlled the sun, the other the stars. It has been 1000 years since the younger sister was banished to moon after becoming Deepened Dusk. Now Starswirl, gifted unicorn and prized pupil of Princess Sunset Shimmer, believes that Deepened Dusk will return to seek revenge on Equestria. The only thing that can stop her are the Elements of Harmony, but they have been lost to time. Will she be able to find them in time with her new friends?

Chapter 0: Once Upon A Time...

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Once upon a time, chaos rained in the land known as Equestria. Peace was shrouded by the whims of the God of Chaos, the only thing they knew.

Desperate to receive salvation from him, the ponies sought help from the surrounding nations. When none answered their call, a lone unicorn was sent out to find help. This was their last ditch effort. When the unicorn didn’t return, many believed she had died. Others thought the God of Chaos was holding her prisoner.

Whatever the reason, they all knew the unicorn would never return. One day, the unicorn returned in the company of two brave ponies. The ponies’ appearance resembled that of the mythical alicorns, with the wings of pegasi and the horns of unicorns.

Where they hailed from or why they wanted to help the ponies of Equestria was a mystery. Many dismissed them as nothing more than fantasy in the beginning. They were only ever spotted from afar and were quickly gone before they could be approached, like ghosts or a mirage.

They traversed the land in search of something that could stop the God of Chaos. It was later learned that they searched for the Elements of Harmony, magical stones that were considered legends themselves.

Despite their efforts to remain hidden, news of their search spread far and wide. While many still believed it to only be rumor, it gave the ponies something they hadn't had for a very long time: hope.

One day, the unimaginable happened. The chaos stopped. What was once the epicenter of the madness, where the God of Chaos sat upon his throne, there was suddenly nothing. Nothing except the two alicorn sisters. None knew exactly how they stopped the God of Chaos, except perhaps the unicorn that had brought them to Equestria and accompanied them on their search for the Elements.

The two sisters were declared the new rulers by the people of the land, who were overjoyed by by their newfound freedom. Though it was never their intention, they accepted graciously. From that day forth, the two sisters ruled over Equestria together. Though many rose to oppose the newly formed nation, all were crushed under the great power the alicorn sisters possessed. Equestria soon found itself at the pinnacle of the magical world. The Elements of Harmony were never used on an outside foe again.

Through the harmony they established, the sisters protected the land and maintained balance between night and day. The elder sister would raise and lower the sun, while the younger would decorate the nights sky with stars.
The peace brought about by their rule was not meant to last, however. The younger sister eventually grew jealous of the older. Everypony basked in the beauty of her sister’s sunrises and sunsets and every moment in-between. While many a pony appreciated her night sky at dusk from time to time, everypony slept the night away until her sister brought the dawn, flushing out her beautiful stars.

Consumed by her anger, she transformed into Deepened Dusk. Nopony knows why she turned when she did, but all who saw her would never forget the sight of her pitch black wings. In her turbulent state of mind, she decided that if no one wanted to see her stars, then no one would see them ever again. She sent the stars raining down from the heavens onto the lands she once protected.

It wasn't long before her sister took note of the damage she was causing. The elder sister confronted her. Unfortunately, the elder sister soon found that talking was going to do nothing. Thus, the sisters fought in a battle that raged for many days and nights, though none were aware even as they looked to the skies.

Each sister vied for control of the stars, alternating between fighting high in the heavens and near the ground . They seemed evenly matched, and their fight left nothing but devastation in its wake.

The fight finally came to an end when the elder sister realized there was only one way to stop her sibling. With a heavy heart, she called upon the Elements of Harmony once more to launch one final attack.

Five falling stars marked the battle’s end. These stars shot in all different directions from the epicenter of the battle, the sisters’ castle. Later, they became known as the last fallen stars and are said to bring good luck to any who finds them.
Rising from the ruins of the castle, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, was the elder alicorn. The moon rose behind her, glowing with the intensity of all the stars combined. Upon the moon’s face was the silhouette of a mare. From that day forth, the lone alicorn became known as the Phoenix Queen, savior of all the lands, and Deepened Dusk became the Mare in the Moon.

However, this is not the end of our tale. Deepened Dusk is not gone for good. She bides her time, waiting for the day she will be to bring down the stars once more. It has been prophesied that on the thousandth year of the Phoenician calendar -- one thousand years after her imprisonment-- on the Autumn equinox, the stars, still loyal to their former master, will aid Deepened Dusk in her escape, and she will rain vengeance upon the land.

Chapter 1: Starswirl

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“And she will rain vengeance upon the land!” The young mare looked up from her book she had been translating and looked at the calendar. “The thousandth year...that's this year. And the Autumn equinox is just over a week away!” The dark blue unicorn began to worriedly pace in front of her window. The sunlight caught the golden stripe in her otherwise silver mane. “Okay, first things first. Tell the princess. Ember! Ember!” The mare called up the stairs.

“Coming!” Came her assistant’s voice. A few seconds later a small blue dragon with curved horns on the sides of her head flew down from the second floor of the observatory. “I finished wrapping Moon Dancer's gift.” Ember placed the present she had been holding on a table. “What's wrong Starswirl?” She asked, noticing the mare’s distress.

“Look at this!” Starswirl levitated the book and the translation to her. Ember skimmed over the story as Starswirl began to dig in a drawer for a quill.

“Deepened Dusk?” Ember questioned.

“Yes! She is going to return on the Fall equinox in just nine days! Ah ha!” She pulled out a quill. “We have to inform Princess Sunset immediately. Here.” She levitated the quill and a blank sheet of parchment over to Ember.

“Come on Starswirl. Isn't that just an old mare's tale? Plus you might have translated it wrong.” Starswirl looked aghast at the accusation. “Besides, you know the princess doesn't put much stock in prophecies.” She glared at the little dragon in annoyance.

“I am aware. Would you please write?”

“Fine.” Ember rolled her eyes and dipped the quill in an inkwell.

“Thank you. Now then. ‘Dear Princess Sunset. I am afraid that I must inform you that Equestria may be on the brink of disaster. I believe that in nine days time on the Autumn equinox, Deepened Dusk will escape her moon prison and once again try to fell the stars. We must prepare. Your faithful student, Starswirl.”

“Faithful...student...Starswirl. Done.” She rolled up the parchment and sent it off with a breath of fire. “I wouldn't hold your breath though.” The unicorn rolled her eyes.

“Now would you assist me in looking for a book on the Elements of Harmony? If they were used to defeated her once, they can be used to do it again.” She began pulling books from the nearest wall length bookshelf. Ember signed.

“So I assume we aren't going to Moon Dancer’s party then?” Ember asked, crestfallen.

“This is no time to think about parties, Ember.” Starswirl said, not sparing a moment from her search.

“Fine.” Ember begrudgingly started searching the higher shelves. She couldn't help but wonder if Starswirl was making a big deal about this just to avoid the party. After a few minutes of searching, Ember gave a fiery burp and a letter appeared as the flames died. “Huh. That was faster than expected.” She flew down to Starswirl.

“See, I knew she would listen. What does it say?”

“It says,” she unrolled the parchment and started to read it in her best impression of the princess. “ ‘My dearest student Starswirl. I am aware of the prophecy that you speak of. Please come see me. I am in the conference room. Signed, Sunset’ The conference room. That's odd. Do you think she has guests?” Ember looked up. Starswirl was already halfway to the door levitating her hat and cloak off the hook by the door.

“Come on Ember. We do not want to keep the Princess waiting.”

* * *

The clopping of Starswirl's hoofs on the marble floor echoed through the empty corridor. Ember was riding on the unicorn's back.

“But who do you think is here?” Ember persisted. “I mean someone has to be visiting the Princess. She only uses the Conference room to entertain guests. Maybe it's an emissary from Saddle Arabia!”

“I do not know Ember,” Starswirl said in exasperation. “And frankly, I do not care. We are meeting the Princess to discuss Deepened Dusk, not to help her entertain guests.”

“Oh come on Star! You aren't just a little curious?”

“No. Now shush. We're here.” They rounded a corner and came to the conference room doors. Two palace guards were standing on either side of the door. One was a pegasus and one a unicorn. Other than that they looked almost identical due to the enchantments on their armor. They each held a spear across the entryway. They were chatting about something, but fell silent when they spotted the pair approaching them.

“Ahem.” Starswirl stopped in front of them and gave a slight nod. The guards gave each other a bemused glance. “Mage Apprentice Starswirl and her dragon assistant Ember. Come to speak to her majesty, Princess Sunset Shimmer,” Starswirl said in her most formal tone. The guards were trying to hold back their laughter. Ember was openly giggling.

“Yes. Ahem.” The unicorn guard spoke up. “The Princess told us you were coming. Go right in.” They moved the spears out of the way. Starswirl was clearly annoyed at their lack of formality, but proceeded anyway. She was not prepared for what she saw when she opened the door.

The conference room was a large round room. While it was now called a conference room, it had originally been built as a war room. In the center was a large round table that depicted a map of Equestria and its surrounding neighbors. Normally the map was flat. However, Starswirl quickly noted that on this occasion the table was filled with holographs of the various mountains and cities that made up Equestria. That was not the most surprising thing going on in the room. At what could be considered the head of the table was a slightly ornate chair. This is where the Princess usually sat. Sunset was instead pacing around on the table. A clipboard of parchment floated in front of her. She scribbled on it as she muttered to herself, occasionally glancing down at the table and making a measurement of some kind.

Princess Sunset was the tallest pony Starswirl had ever met. Her coat was a beautiful pale orange with a darker orange patch behind her cutie mark. Her cutie mark was a sun that was a swirl of reds and yellows that matched her mane. Today she had her mane tied up, but that did not stop it from blowing in nonexistent wind like it always did. Atop her head, just behind her horn, she wore a crown made of obsidian with a few rubies and other jewels. She wore matching obsidian shoes on her hoofs.

All around the table were simple chairs. Most were empty except for three. To the right of the head seat sat a light pink mare that Starswirl knew well. Her blue eyes matched the blue highlight in her otherwise purple hair. She wore a crystal crown just behind her horn. Princess Flurry Heart, ruler of the Crystal Empire in the North. She had once been a pegasus, an orphan raised in the castle. Then a few years ago she earned her Alicorn status when she saved the Crystal Empire from its former dictator, King Sombra. She was talking to the armored unicorn next to her. Starswirl realized with a start that it was her brother Clover, captain of the royal guard. The light brown unicorn’s attention was torn between the discussion and moving mini battle figures around on the table so they wouldn't get stepped on by the pacing princess. Sitting to the other side of the head chair was a purple dragon with green spikes. He was small for a dragon, only a bit bigger than Princess Sunset. In one claw he held some sort of staff. The other claw he held over his mouth, clearly trying not to laugh at the situation.

Before Starswirl could say anything to get Princess Sunsets attention, Ember let's out an audible gasp. She launched herself off of Starswirl's back and flew over to the dragon. “Dragon Lord Spike!” She squealed in excitement.

Ah, thought Starswirl, that is why he looks familiar. Starswirl had met the Dragon Lord once before a few years ago and only briefly. She mostly remembered thinking that he looked small for a Dragon Lord. He had visited the Princess a few times since, but Starswirl wasn't really that interested in politics. Ember loved it when he visited. She didn't know many dragons and she deeply admired the Dragon Lord. Once he had told her she would make an excellent knight and now she practiced with the royal guards any chance she got.

“What are you doing here, Dragon Lord?” Ember asked excitedly. Embers outburst had gotten everyone's attention. Their tasks temporarily forgotten, Starswirl decided to take advantage. She cleared her throat to get their attention.

“Ahem! It is quite an honor to see you, Princess Flurry Heart,” she bowed to the alicorn, “Dragon Lord Spike.” She bowed to the dragon.

“Spike is just fine,” Spike told her. Ember gave the Dragon Lord a deep curtsy and both of them broke out in a fit of laughter. Starswirl ignored this. She turned to Princess Sunset, still standing on the table. She gave the deepest bow.

“I have come as you requested, your majesty.”

“Hmm? Oh! Yes, right, the letter.” Sunset carefully put down her clipboard and pen and stepped off the table. “You know you don't have to be so formal Starswirl.” Starswirl gave a vague hmph and a swish of her tail.

“Yes. Well, as you know I came becau-” Starswirl was cut off as Clover barreled into her, crushing her in a hug.

“Stars! I haven't seen you you in forever!” The armored colt proclaimed, not letting up on the hug.

“Can't breath,” Starswirl managed to choke out.

“Oops. Sorry.” Clover released her. Starswirl readjusted her hat as she glared at her brother. It was true she hadn't seen the colt in a while. He had been rather busy lately, not that she was complaining. His golden mane was messier than usual. His armor, different than the guards outside, covered his cutie mark. She turned back to Princess Sunset who had begun to scribble on her clipboard again. She took a deep breath, prepared to convince the Princess of the looming danger, even if it took all night.

“Princess Sunset! Deepened Dusk is going to break out of her moon prison in less than two weeks! When she does she is going to try to destroy Equestria using the stars! We need to come up with a plan to stop her!” The Princess put her clipboard down again.

“Actually, Starswirl, that's why I called these two here.” She nodded to her guests.

“Wait, you actually believe the prophecy is right?” Starswirl was surprised.

“I know that it is a possibility. It has been a thousand years since Dusk was banished to the moon, and it is true that the magic that keeps her their is weakening. I like to be prepared for all possibilities.” The alicorn Princess returned to her clipboard.

“That is wonderful!” Starswirl said cheerfully. “What can I do to help? Perhaps look for protection and barrier spells. I will start in the Lulamoon section of the library.” She began pacing.

“Actually Starswirl,” Flurry Heart cut into her train of thought, “that's what me and Clover are doing. As you know the Crystal Heart has powerful protection magic-”

“And shield spells are my specialty,” Chainmail interrupted. Flurry Heart scrunched her nose in annoyance.

“So,” she continued, “if we can combine the magic from the Crystal Heart with the right spells, we should be able to protect Equestria from any falling stars. At least, for a little while.” A concerned look crossed her face.

“We've been combing the library for the last couple weeks,” Clover spoke up again. Starswirl now noticed the bags under her brother’s eyes.

“Oh.” Starswirl's face fell.

“There is something I need you to do for me, Starswirl,” Sunset said. Starswirl's ears perked up. “I've been so busy with this that I haven't been able to look in on the preparations for the Fall Festival. Do you think you could do that for me?”

“Oh. Sure.” Starswirl was crestfallen.

“Great! Now I know I had the information for the Festival somewhere. Where did I put it.” She brought one hoof to her chin, thinking.

“Um Sunset,” Spike spoke up. “I think you were writing on the plans.”

“Hmm?” She picked up her clipboard and rifled through the papers. She chuckled. “Seems you're right. Silly me. Here you go Starswirl.” She took the papers off of her clipboard and floated them over to her. Starswirl grabbed them with her magic and gave them a once over. The Princess had used the back of the Fall Festival plans as scratch paper.

“Princess, I hate to question you, but do you truly think it wise to go through with the Festival?”

“Dusk’s return is only one possibility. It isn't certain. Cancelling the Festival will only cause panic. Now I need new paper.” The princess began looking for fresh paper, clearly done with the conversation.

“Of course your majesty.” She gave a final bow to the Princess. “Come on Ember.” She magically pulled the small dragon over to her and exited the room.