Lest We Forget

by I Thought I Was Toast

First published

Today is the day We died, one thousand years ago. 'Tis time We attended the funeral.

Proper Thestrals don't celebrate the Summer Sun Celebration. They never have; they never will, for thestrals never forget.

Deep in the heart of Mount Canter, the dirge of the Nightmother calls them, and they answer it every year. This year, however, is the year after Princess Luna returned. There is little reason to hold a funeral for the living, and yet they do so all the same.

They must always remember; they must never forget; Honor and tradition demands it.

Editors: Dreams of Ponies
Level Dasher

Submission for the Imposing Sovereigns II Contest
My prompt was Luna and The Old.

She was as Bright as the Stars and as Dark as the Void

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The first thing We noticed was the lack of stars.

Hundreds of paper lanterns hung along every street—crossing roads, connecting buildings, stringing even the darkest of alleys until there was no hint of shadows. Fireworks burst in the sky, while foals ran around twirling sparklers and tossing cherry bombs.

Light was everywhere, and Our canvas suffered for it. The sky was black and empty, just waiting for Tia to bring the morn.


We ruffled Our wings, glancing down at the younger of the guards trailing Our every step. Both thestrals were forced to cover their eyes with how bright it was—black spectacles granting them an even more formidable appearance than usual.

“Specialist Penumbra?”

“Are you alright?” The mare squirmed under her thick black cloak as her older companion lowered his glasses to glower at her.

“We are as fine as one could expect.” We hastily donned Our most diplomatic smile.

“Are you sure, Your Highness? We could always—”

“We are sure, Specialist.”

Tia had warned Us. Our defeat, Our fall, Our failure… ‘twas a grand and time-honored celebration for all our little ponies. We would not—could not—ruin this night, however egregious it may seem.

Penumbra’s ears folded back at Our words, yet she nodded all the same. The corporal arched a brow at Us—his shaded gaze looking askance at his fellow guard. We shook Our head to quell any lectures he might be thinking of giving her, and gamely continued onwards.

“We suppose it is only fair to begin the celebration with a good, stiff drink. Come. Let us find the mead.”

“Huh! Mommy! Look! It’s da Princess!”

A single step from the gate and diplomacy turned to sincerity as one of the foals cantering through the streets ran up. One became two became three, and We laughed at the small swarm of younglings as they asked Us a million questions.

Most were about where sister dearest was, and yet a few stood out in the din.

“Why do stars twinkle like diamonds?!”

“Can you make the moon do loopty loops?!”

“Is it true you’re made of cheese?!”

“Are you here to raise the sun for us?!”

“Hah!” We winced at the last, but hid it with another laugh. “Us, raise the sun? Tell Us, little one.” Leaning down, We smiled true once more as every foal jostled to meet Our gaze. “Would it really be the Summer Sun Celebration if We raised the sun?”

“Uh… Yes?” The colt who had asked looked anywhere but at me.

“Nuh-uh!” The filly next to him was much more brash, but the filly next to her was even brasher.

“What do you mean, ‘No?!’”

“What do you mean, ‘What do you mean?!’ She’s not Princess Celestia!”

“So? Princess Luna is best princess! Of course she can do it!”





“Nuh-uh!” The little one defending Us turned from glaring at his friend to beam at Us. “Go on, Princess! Tell him I’m right!”

“We—” Our mouth barely had a chance to open.

“See! She agrees with me!”

“Children.” We reached out a hoof to stop them, but the fight continued. “Children?” We were ignored again, and other ponies were starting to gather. They laughed and flashed their portable portrait painters at Us.

How incompetant We must have seemed, unable to quell a small fight between fillies.

If Tia were here, this never would have happened.

“Children!” As the word bellowed forth, everypony scattered until We were left with naught but an empty street and several tipped-over tents.

Elsewhere, the celebration carried on; the screams were joyous and free of fear.

“Perhaps… it would be best for us to take our mead inside the castle.” We turned to retreat back inside. “Guards, come.”

There was a moment of hesitation between the two as they looked between each other, yet they came—as they always did—and We smiled.

Some things never changed.

“Princess.” As expected, it was Penumbra who broke the steady echo of our hoofsteps in the empty halls as she broke into a canter for a moment to pull abreast with Us. “I’m sorry for earlier, but are you sure you want to stay inside? The foals looked like they were having fun until you… scattered them.”

“Were you not the one who hesitated when We were ready to venture forth before?” We looked down and smiled wanly.

“Well, yes, but…” The mare looked down. “I was worried things would go worse than that…. Are you sure?”

“We are quite sure, lieutenant.” We sighed. “This is Our sister’s holiday; We sully the tradition just by attending.”

“That’s not true!” Penumbra’s tail cracked like a whip as she huffed. “The foals were enjoying your company! So what if you startled them?” She elbowed her older companion. “Come on, Barbie! Back me up!”

“I told you not to call me that.” Lieutenant Barbed Retort growled in the back of his throat. “However—” His stony facade cracked for a moment as his face crinkled. “—Specialist Penumbra is right, Princess. You deserve to celebrate the festival like everypony else.”

“Forgive Us, but We are not interested in enjoying Ourselves tonight of all nights.” Our whicker-snort brought the guards up short. “We only ventured forth because Our sister insisted upon it.”

“Really, Princess?” Penumbra looked to Barbed and jerked her head towards Us.

“Indeed.” We sighed. “After everything We put Our sister through… it feels wrong to celebrate.”

“But…” Barbed’s face puckered as Penumbra grinned like an impish rapscallion and jumped in front of Us.

“You know, Princess.” Ignoring the lieutenant’s hiss to fall back in line, Penumbra bowed deeply. “Not everypony parties until dawn during the Summer Sun Celebration.”

“We…” Pausing at the look Barbed was giving Penumbra, We frowned. “What nightmares hide in the shadows between ye?”

“Nothing, Princess. I’m just about to win a bet.” Penumbra fluttered her lashes at her fellow guard.

“Specialist, you are gliding on dangerous winds right now.” The lieutenant growled and stomped his hoof, the sound echoing through the halls around us. “Our orders were to escort the Princess to the Summer Sun Celebration.”

“Our orders—” Penumbra stomped in kind as she flared her wings. “—were to make sure Princess Luna enjoyed herself.”

“What orders?” Our frown grew. “The Night Guard answers to Us first and foremost.”

Barbed winced and bit his lip. “It is… Undercity business, Princess. You needn’t worry.”

“As Princess of the Night, We believe it is Our concern, Lieutenant.” Our gaze softened as We looked to Penumbra. “Pray tell Us, what were these orders?”

“It’s just like I said, Princess!” The specialist snapped a salute even as she stuck her tongue out at the rock-jawed lieutenant. “Direct from the Court of Stars, our orders were to make sure you enjoyed yourself tonight! Far be it from me to question my superiors, Your Highness, but they are convinced you need to go daydweller on us.”

“We beg thy pardon?”

“Oh, for the love of…” Barbed Retort sighed. “I told you it’s not like that, Specialist.”

“And you expect me to believe that, Barbie?” Penumbra laughed. “You lot worry she’ll relapse if she just sits and broods any more about what she did, and I get that.” Her laugh cut off abruptly as she scowled with even more ferocity than Us at Barbed. “You all act like the Nightmother is made of glass, like the slightest chip will break her forever.

The officer winced and took a step back as We arched Our brow at him.

“Lieutenant?” We offered one last chance, and Barbed’s stony facade broke.

“It is… rare for thestrals to celebrate the Summer Sun Celebration, Your Highness.” He relented through gritted teeth. His ears flattened against his head; his gaze fell to the floor. Each word had to tear its way from his throat as if it were the last. “Einbruch der Dunkelheit is about remembering your fall in our own way, and it is not the happy-go-lucky madness the daydwellers pull every year. There was a debate among the lords if we should invite you, and they felt it would be better to wait a few years to do so.”

“We see.” The whisper was a thousand times louder than the most evocative Royal Canterlot Voice.

“Princess, please.” Barbed’s eyes squeezed shut as if even the floor wasn’t good enough for him. “Please don’t take it like that. We would love for you to join us. Truly! We just—”

“You think Us weak.”

“Wha— No, Princess! No!” Barbed’s eyes burst back open as he forced himself to look up. “It’s not like that at all! You’ve been through so much because of us—because we failed you.”

“You say that as if We were not the one who turned on ye, Lieutenant.” With a sigh, We shook Our head. “We were the one who turned on Our sister; We were the one to halt the sun; We were the one who abandoned Our little ponies for the promise of everlasting night, and ‘tis Us who should always take the blame.”

“Great!” It was a matter of debate who blinked harder as Penumbra stepped between the two of us. “Does that mean you’re interested in celebrating down under with the rest of the Undercity? Because there will be plenty of time to brood over who’s at fault down in the caves.”

Looking up and off towards where Our tower waited, Our brow furrowed as We chewed Our lip. “You say this… Nightfall is a holiday for remembrance?”

“Yes, Princess.” Both Penumbra and Barbed bowed their heads.

“Then… We think We shall attend.” With a nod, We turned to head for one of the entrances to the catacombs.

“Yes!” Penumbra leapt into the air and did a loop before taking the lead. “This is gonna be great. I’m actually looking forward to going for once now.”

“Oh?” We half-smiled. “Is there a reason for Us to be worried?”

“Nah. I’m just a daydweller at heart.” Penumbra waved her hoof and smiled. “My mom died when I was young, and my dad was a pegasus in the Day Guard. I grew up going to Summer Sun Celebrations, so I kind of find the whole thing needlessly depressing.” She laughed as Barbed Retort snorted. “You strike me as the sort who’d enjoy it, though, Princess. Half the time I sit in on Night Court, you just sit and brood like a gargoyle.”

“The Princess does not—” Barbed’s jaw clicked shut audibly as We chuckled.

“My sister has said much the same, the few times she has watched.”

“Great minds think alike!” Penumbra took a deep breath as we finally came upon the entrance to the caves beneath Canterlot. “Alright, fair warning, Princess.” Her wings rustled as she schooled her expression back into the stone wall of a trained guard. “We’re expected to be somber and quiet from here on out, so no Royal Canterlot Voice.”

“Wearing black would also be preferable, Princess.” The furrow to Barbed’s brow was microscopic as he stood at attention a few hands behind Us; his voice ground in Our ears like gravel. “It is not mandatory, however.”

“Hrmmm…” Our gaze trailed up and down Our companions’ cloaks. “Well, We certainly do not wish to make a scene.” A simple illusion spell wove Us a cloak of shadows and moonshine. “Will this suffice?”

“It’s perfect, Princess.” No smile graced Penumbra’s lips this time. She merely bowed her head.

Pulling the torch that slid the wall open, we began our descent into the heart of Mount Canter. Our hooves should have echoed even more here than they had in the empty halls of the castle, yet the caves were dark, oppressive, and silent. Our coat tingled with the feel of thestral magic as the shadows bore down on us like a heavy fog; horn light barely kept it more than a few hands at bay.

“Please put out the light, Princess.” Barbed’s growl was soft and muted. “It might offend somepony. Just follow the torches and you will be fine.”

Torches? Was that what that pinprick of silver light was in the distance?

Our eyes slowly adjusted as we made our way down to what was indeed a torch with cool, white-silver flames, and We smiled as We finally recognized it. “Celestia told Us nopony used moonfire anymore.”

“Your sister hasn’t had time to mourn with us for the last fifty years.” Barbed Retort’s frown softened for a moment as he watched the flame. “My grandfather told me Canterlot used to mirror the night sky above when he was a foal. Solfire was expensive and only used during the Summer Sun Celebration, but now…” He sighed. “Now, the reverse is true, and we only break out the moonfire for truly special occasions.”

“‘Tis truly a shame.” We shook Our head. “And yet, We are glad for the change. Moonfire was never bright enough to replace the sun when We invented it a thousand years ago.” We reached a hoof out to feel the cold flame. “So long as somepony remembers.”

Barbed looked away. “So long as somepony remembers….”

“Still think this was a mistake, Barbie?” Penumbra’s face could be taken for granite, yet We could hear the smile even if she hid it.

There was another torch just in sight of the first one, and so it continued from one drop of light to the next. We could make out the vague outlines of stalactites and stalagmites jutting forth like teeth all around us, as well as the gaping holes where the caves branched off in other directions. The last torch rested at a bend in the shaft, and as we rounded it We had to stifle Our gasp at the sight of the temple district of the Undercity spreading out above and below us.

The stalagmites and stalactites were truly titanous here—large enough to rival the spires of Canterlot, and all carved into a series of gothic cathedrals almost as large as the castle above. Statues of heroes past watched as gargoyles on the ledges of balconies; candles flickered as silver stars in every window.

More torches lit the way to the temple in the very center, passing through a courtyard and around a monolithic tombstone. Barbed and Penumbra paused before it, bowing their heads in reverence to whatever hero had deserved such a mighty effigy.

“Honored Nightmother, protect us. Honored Nightmother, guide us. Watch us from your throne in the shadowlands, and know that everything we do, we do out of love for you.” Reaching into his cloak, Barbed pulled out a small stone and added it to the piles of pebbles surrounding the grave. “You are never alone.”

Stars above. The grave wasn’t for a hero of ages past.

It was for Us.

Our ears flattened as We gave the courtyard a second look. Many of the pebbles had been carved with runes or images, while others had been shaped into small tokens and shapes. Even the plainest were smooth and polished to a finish so fine that their owners must have tended to them.

“Are there… no statues like in the days of old?”

“There are in the other cathedrals, Princess.” Penumbra lifted her head up to smile wanly at us. “But this one is a place for brooding old bats looking to remember better times.”

“You thought We were dead.” We looked between our guards and the miniature graveyard. “But the Nightmare—”

“—was not you.” Barbed retreated into the hood of his cloak to hide his scowl. “We mourned your death like the murder it was. A thousand years later, and we still mourn—even now that you’ve returned.”

“Why?” Such a simple word, and yet it barely escaped as a whisper.

“Because we loved you; because everypony else forgets; because now history might one day repeat if we do not remind ourselves.”

“We would never.” Our head reared back as We nickered and pawed at the stone beneath Us.

“No, you won’t.” Barbed looked away. “Forgive me, Princess.”

“What Barbie means—” Penumbra walked up to rest a hoof on her partner’s shoulders. “—is that there’s a thousand years of love and grief waiting for you inside. Everypony topside might be celebrating how Princess Celestia defeated Nightmare Moon, but the thestrals never forgot what Equestria lost. My dad had never even heard of you until he met my mom, you know? He thought the Mare in the Moon was just a myth.”

She shook her head, ears splaying back as her voice hitched. “I— I almost did, too, with how young I was when Mom died. Dad and I spent weeks down here apologizing to her when you came back, so please… don’t take it the wrong way.”

“Every year for a thousand years, and ye never forgot….” Even as Our heart still twisted it soared. Biting Our lip, We too looked away. “Now We know how Celestia feels. ‘Tis truly like looking in a mirror. How did We ever miss the depth of your devotion a thousand years ago?

“Thank you.” Our smile was brief—wavering.

Barbed looked up; his voice wavered. “Princess?”

Penumbra coughed, and he back pedaled away from her into a salute. Back rigid, scowl returned, he growled something incomprehensible and hustled into the temple proper.

“Big babies, the lot of them.” For the first time since we began our descent, Penumbra showed her fangs as she smiled. “Even if they try to hide it. Thank you for understanding, Princess. I knew you would.”

“The night is not yet over, Specialist.” Our gaze followed after Barbed for a moment. “But something tells Us you will be a rich mare by the time the sun rises.”

“Heh. As if I’d actually bet money on this.”

We arched Our brow. “But you said—”

“Not that kind of bet, Princess.” The smile became a smirk. “Just a hunch and a bunch of ponies who were all blind as bats. Next time any thestral gives me guano for not believing in you as a filly, I’ll have some horseapples of my own to sling back. Now, let’s get going before Barbie thinks we bailed.”

“As you wish.” Bowing Our head, We entered the cathedral.

As large as the entry hall was, it led to a chapel that was small, unassuming, and empty. Another tombstone stood in the back as the altar, and Barbed was kneeled there as he waited for us. He stood as a glacier, and motioned for us to follow him through the archway in the back.

We had to duck through in order to continue on to a much larger and more fitting room. The semicircular dome was the entrance to an enormous pit—a maw in the darkness—which sat rimmed by more gargoyles and a staircase. The walls of the stairs were exquisitely carved, and We had to pause to rest one hoof on them as a tear trickled down our face.

“You really did remember everything, didn’t you?”

The tale of Our battle with the red queen and the bandersnatch was naught but legend and myth when We had been banished. To see it here, preserved in stone…

We had to resist galloping down the rest of the stairs to see what else had been recorded. Hundreds of stories at the very least, if what We could see of the pit’s depth was accurate.

“Careful, Princess.” Barbed ran his own hoof over the carvings. “It’s deeper than it looks. Every deed, every legend, every story—good and bad—all of them were kept here.” He sighed. “The Seven Thousand Steps of the Sevenfold Sins are more than just praise for your triumphs.”

“How did you even—” Our voice caught in Our throat as We reached a carving that was clearly the Tree of Harmony. “We never told anypony else about the tree. Tia told you of the tree?”

“Your sister told us everything, Princess. She wanted to remember as much as we did.”

“Stars above, you even have the battle with the alfalfa monster. She gets sick just thinking about that fight.”

“What part of ‘everything’ didn’t you get?” Penumbra glided next to me despite Barbed’s glare. “It’s a loooooong way down.”

“The vigil has also already started, so the rest of the torches are out.” Barbed poked his head out and looked down. “You may want to cast a night vision spell if you need one, Princess.”

“The night is Our domain, Lieutenant. Our eyes may not adapt as fast as yours, but We would be a poor princess indeed if We could not enjoy all the wonders hidden deep within the darkness. Let us carry on, so We may see what lies below.”

The last torch had faded above us long ago as we ponderously descended into the heart of the temple. The stories engraved on the wall drew Us like a moth to flame, and our journey was slowed from the many stops we took to appreciate the masterpiece.

Even as the stories began to detail Our fall to Nightmare Moon, We could hardly look away. The memories of those stories were tainted for Us. Yet, as Our Guards told each tale as we passed them, We saw every bitter memory in a new and tragic light.

What a foal We had been to ignore the thestrals so.

Their quiet devotion. Their undying loyalty. There had been no cheering throngs nor toadying sycophants, but they had loved Us all the same.

“We’re almost there, Princess.” Barbed bowed his head as We pulled Ourselves away from the wall once again. “If you could please refrain from talking from here on out?”

We nodded Our assent, unsure if We should answer vocally. All that remained of Our fall was the story of Our final clash against Celestia; ‘twas the one story We had no wish to see. We brushed past it, hastily trotting down the last of the stairs to stare at what had to be the final hallway.

The archway dwarfed even Our sister, looming thrice Our height above us. Statues lined the walls, and We blinked, for We knew these ponies. They were the ones who followed Us all the way to the end—the soldiers, the generals, the warriors. The army of Nightmare Moon stood tall and proud around us, and they were joined by their own pebbles and tokens much like Our tombstone above.

It was Our turn to bow Our head, several sniffles breaking Our vow of silence.

We had no tokens to give, though, and that burned Us. With everything We had seen tonight—with everything those immortalized here had done—they deserved more than We had given them in life.

Pawing at the ground, We reached out and called. We called as the old and noble rock farmers did, and the earth itself answered. Pebbles flowed out of the earth around us like bubbles rising up from water for air. They were smooth, round, and white as the moon We shepherded, and there was one for every statue.

Penumbra and Barbed wordlessly helped Us deliver them all by hoof so that Our horn would not break the sanctity of the darkness. Barbed added a few pebbles of his own to the mass, his face hidden as he paid respect to several statues more than others.

Penumbra placed no pebbles of her own, but she commiserated with her fellow guard as he paid his dues. A hoof on his shoulder; the gentle brush of a wing; seeing them thus left Us feeling hollow with a sudden yearning for Our sister.

When the job was finally finished, we continued on. The silence weighed heavy upon Us even as it felt like a weight had been lifted from Our shoulders; the end of the hall now stood before us.

There was no door barring the massive arch, merely a darkness so leaden and unnatural that it hid what lay beyond from sight. With a deep breath, We ruffled Our wings and stepped through, Our eyes taking eons to adjust with how thick the magic was.

Our guards were forced to wait for Us—as they always did—huddling somewhat closer to Us than protocol demanded.

The silence was loud— Neigh! Deafening! And Our ears flattened as the emptiness exploded without sound. As Our eyes began to make out the murky outlines of the room, We found out why.

Every thestral in attendance had turned to stare at Us. Their slitted eyes were wide with shock; their mouths moved yet no sound came out. The air was still, and yet thousands of wordless questions bombarded Us as Our most loyal subjects watched warily—bodies tense, almost ready to flee.

The crypt they sat in barely registered as We stared back at them in kind. They clung to tombstones on the ground; they hung from tombstones up above. The sheer intensity of the macabre display was absurd at best and disturbing at worst, and a small voice in the back of Our head was whispering something about unhealthy obsessions and traditions.

It was soundly thrashed by the majority as We smiled and prostrated Ourselves before them.

“Thank you.”

If the silence was deafening, Our whisper was world shattering. The nearest thestrals actually fell back on their haunches as it hit them, and more parted to the side as We rose to move deeper into the sanctum. Like the courtyard above, the tomb for Us stood in the center, and it dwarfed the surrounding stones.

It… felt wrong to touch it, however. We could not claim it as a seat of Our own.

Instead, We rested before it with the closest onlookers; We settled for watching and waiting as Our guards stood still as stone behind Us.

Our vigil lasted through the night with nary a screep or peep. Even the foals were oddly quiet. There was naught but the silent darkness as everypony stood guard over a long dead princess.

And then We felt Celestia reach up and ask Moon to make way for Sun. Our horn lit in response to join her, our magics mingling as we coaxed her down. Little sister made way for big.

As dawn came, a lance of light shot down from the ceiling to hit Our tomb, and the light reflected and refracted through the room. The darkness was banished; the weight was lifted; instead, there was fire and pain.

We closed Our eyes without thinking. We blinked.

Almost every thestral merely sat there and stared. The little ones cried out and looked away. They buried their heads in their parents’ chests, and they sniffled and clutched and cried.

The adults, however, looked on through the pain. One occasionally blinked or squinted for a brief respite, but they sat and they stood vigil over their princess as they had every year—as they had every night one thousand years ago. For the longest day of the year, they sat in silence and shared their pain as the sun above us fought to banish the dark below.

Our heart soared so high even as it twisted again and again and again. ‘Twas like it had burned up in the sun. So high had it flown, and so too did it plummet in kind.

The contrast. The conflict. The desire to shout for them to stop—to scream that We were here, and that We loved them. It tore Us apart inside, and brought tears to Our eyes. We smiled a smile both empty and full. Our sobbing laugh echoed through the room like broken glass.

A thousand years of pain and grief had been carved into this room. It was only fitting for it now to carve into Us.

We couldn’t take it.

Not all at once.

Not all alone.

Every thestral there was so close and yet they were a million moons away, and—

And Penumbra had moved forward to huddle close to Us once more.

She wrapped her hoof around Our shoulders, and We latched onto her to wail like a foal. We were so sorry. We were wrong. We were unworthy of their love and devotion. Everything We tried to say was lost in a cleansing wave of sorrow and angst, and so, We swept her into Our hooves, burying Our wet muzzle into her chest.

It was the year before all over again, and that thought only made Us yearn to see Celestia all the more.

We knew not how long we wept. Time was meaningless as we all commiserated. Few brave souls dared come close, and fewer still joined Penumbra in comforting me. Several foals snuck away from parents to offer blankets and toys.

They were blind as bats as the sun lanced down, yet they heard Us and did not care. Little chirps and clicks led them stumbling to Us as We cried, and every one that joined the ponypile helped Our heart soar a little once again.

Eventually, We silenced Our blubbering and took joy in the presence of the others pressed in and around Us. Our wings spread wide to enfold everypony, and We gave a hiccupy giggle as a few squeaks of protest broke what remained of the silence. It had meant pushing them away for a moment, and the foals had not liked that one bit. They snuggled even closer now that they were beneath Our wings, and that gave Us the courage to stand vigil once again.

We sat there for hours and watched as they did, for it was their tradition, and We had intruded enough on it already. Only near the end did We intervene, granting them a brief bit of respite as We sent out the call to lower Sun five minutes early.

Almost nopony but Celestia and Us would notice.

Big sister made way for little; Sun made way for Moon. The silence in the room finally broke as the thestrals around Us murmured softly to themselves.

Nopony rose to greet the night, however. There was somehow still more to come. They were waiting.

Exactly five minutes later, one of the largest and most imposing thestrals We’d ever seen descended from the ceiling to Our tomb. His armor was ancient and worn, barely fitting him with his size. His helm—

We gasped as he finally swept around to land before us, and We finally received a proper view. Our hoof reached out, and yet We could not touch, for he would surely turn to dust.

“Dusk Fang?”

The ghost of the general bowed before Us, his smile as stony and microscopic as ever. “‘Twas better to fall beside you, old friend, than see you waste away on the moon.”

No…. The general was dead and gone. We had seen him fall. The pony before us still lived. The likeness was impeccable, though. Family, perhaps? Illusion?

Our heart twinged at the sight, yet We had already dove through the fires of Tartarus once today. Instead, We smiled and bowed Our head in return. “We would expect nothing less from Our dearest and most devoted friend. Rest in peace knowing your final words were heard, General, and that We finally understand.”

His smile grew by an eighth of an inch, and the pony—whoever he was—nodded and leapt back into the air.

His voice was strong, reverberant, and shook the very earth as he opened his mouth to lead everypony in a dirge unlike any We’d heard before. ‘Twas unearthly and enchanting—a true masterpiece of the soundless song—and We had never felt so blessed for being an alicorn than at that moment.

No daydweller could ever hear their sublime notes, and something about that left Our head spinning and sent Our heart up and over the moon. We almost laughed as the song skipped a beat as We joined in, yet We restrained Ourselves, as doing such was sure to be the height of impropriety.

Our heart still twinged, the pain still stung, but—whether We were worthy or not—We knew We were never truly alone.