A dark and stormy night: the perfect time to tamper with the universe's laws. Or so Celestia thought to herself. She couldn't explain why, despite her long years, but something just felt... right... about the whole thing. Maybe years of loneliness had finally driven her off the deep end? No, she was still quite sane. It wasn't like she was totally alone either. Sure, she had grovelling servants at her beck and call, but they were always far too formal for her tastes.
"Dear sister," Her Royal Highness, Princess Celestia of Equestria, Regent of the Sun spoke to a dusty old painting on the wall. "In twenty short years, you will return with well-deserved indignation. Curse Nightmare for twisting you like he did!" She slammed a hoof into the wall, knocking the picture of the smiling alicorn off balance. She frowned slightly and nudged it back into place with her muzzle.
The ancient mare closed her eyes and sighed, inhaling the scent of the oils from the painting as she breathed. "Don't you worry though; your big sister has a plan." A curt, and frankly creepy, smile spread across her face, thankful no pony was up at this time of night. Turning away from the face of her little sister, she began to trot down the hall, humming a happy tune to herself that echoed off the hallowed halls of Canterlot.
For years now, she had been reading up on a series of ancient and complicated spells. She had memorized all the steps, all the requirements, everything she would need. It would be much easier if she could get a volunteer, but she didn't like the idea of destroying a living pony for her own selfish needs. Besides, not just anypony would do. No commoner could ever hope to help her beloved little sister.
Trotting downstairs, past the darkest, most dank dungeon she possessed, she came to a dead-end. With a pink glow of her horn, the stone turned to wood and yielded to her, swinging open to reveal more stairs, leading to the lowest level of Canterlot. Torches magically came to life, illuminating the winding staircase as she descended. The air down here was musky and cool despite the summer's heat, cold enough for her to see her own breath as she came to the bottom.
She felt a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature as she clopped her way into the dark, dim room. Down here, she had stored the most evil of tomes and the worst of all spells she could find. Normally, she wouldn't dare step hoof down here, but desperate times called for desperate measures. Her mane and tail wafted in the omnipresent solar wind, hoofsteps echoing off the walls as she gathered the supplies.
A bucket of clay, a pail of water, a sculptor's chisel: all would be used to finish her creation. Using her magic, the princess of the sun unlocked a cupboard and levitated her masterpiece in the centre of the room. Years of hard work and patience were about to come to a head, at long last. Sure, she was no Pony d'Angelo: that much was for certain. Still, she beamed at her creation and hoped for it to beam back at her.
She was a unicorn mare made of naught but clay, with a straight and orderly mane and tail. It had taken the princess the better part of a century to get her this far, learning all about sculpting the entire way. In some ways, she would miss her little hobby, but in others she would be happy to finally finish her off once and for all. Celestia hummed to herself as she worked, giving the mare some more definition in her face, etching lines in her cheek from her smiling face.
In her mind, she imagined the little unicorn springing to life, hugging her like the mother she never had. Well, actually, she would be her mother anyway, so it all worked out nicely. A chuckle and a smile snuck past her lips at the thought, warmth spreading through her body that steeled her from the chill of the room. Bit by bit, the chunks of soft clay fell onto the floor at her hooves, the utensils moving to her magical whims.
Tonight would be the night; she could feel it. After about an hour of combing over the unicorn's details, the princess stepped back to admire her work. If it weren't for the clay, a pony could mistake her for being real; just as she hoped. "I do believe you are my greatest creation, little one." Celestia spoke to her clay mare. "Even more impressive then Canterlot itself, I would say."
The Princess beamed with more pride then when she took control of the sun from her mother those six thousand years ago. If only she could be here today to see her greatest triumph! Not only had she created a masterpiece sculpture, but soon she would create the perfect vessel for her dear Luna's spirit to be poured into. Then, she could kill Nightmare Moon with nothing to hold her back, and finally apologize for not paying enough attention to her beloved sister.
She almost felt pity for a moment, since she would basically be creating a life for the sole purpose of dying. But then she reminded herself that the mare staring at her would have no destiny and no spirit. Celestia perked up a little bit at this rationalization. Besides, she could be honest with her so that it wouldn't hurt the filly. That would make everything morally right... right? With a shake of her head, the princess shook off the moral dilemma; she had more important things to take care of right now.
"Right," the mover of the sun spoke. She closed her eyes in focus, the most difficult part still ahead. Out of another cupboard, a stick of white chalk floated out and began to draw an intricate archaic design on the cold stone floor. Meanwhile, a small dagger emerged from the same place, floating over lazily to its mistress. Celestia poured her heart into the chalk. If even one symbol was out of place, it could have potentially disastrous results.
Several minutes passed as she manipulated the chalk, working it down to nothing more but a stub by the time she finished. The circle around the two figures was composed of complex sigils, meant to focus and amplify her godly magic of the sun. Not even she could create life like her great-great-grandfather, so she needed to resort to this. The white runes began to glow as the princess radiated magic into it, growing brighter and brighter still until the darkest corners of the room became lit.
Cautiously, Princess Celestia stepped over to the clay pony, dagger drifting behind her. She smiled, still elated by her work and raised the dagger to her long forehoof. She winced slightly as she felt the cool metal blade pierce her flesh, crimson blood trickling down the tempered steel. Extracting it with a prick, she held the wound over her clay creation, and let a few drops of royal blood dribble onto her back and on her face. Satisfied, she stepped back and summoned some bandages to wrap around the voluntary wound.
"So it begins," Celestia started, raising her voice so that it reached the top of the high vaulted ceiling. She welded her eyes shut once more in concentration, uttering an incantation in a long-dead language. Her voice echoed off the walls of the empty room, nearly throwing her concentration off as she tried to recite the complicated spell purely from memory. Her majesty expected this, as she planned everything out five steps ahead and kept countless back-ups for each plan.
Celestia's eyes opened, her kind purple eyes replaced with an eerie white glow, obscuring them from behind a veil of magic. The magic circle became blindingly bright, but the princess remained transfixed on the clay pony. She dived deep into her body and felt the source of her magic, calling upon the sun itself. With the limitless energy of a billion explosions, her horn rocketed energy towards the inanimate pony.
The next thing Princess Celestia knew, she was lying on the cold, damp floor of the vault, exhausted, but still able to move. Had it worked? Did she actually do it? Straining her ears she heard raspy breathing that wasn't her own, but there were groans and moans as well. A strange musk, more prominent then the usual, hung in the air. It smelled familiar, but she couldn't recall no matter how hard she tried. Her eyes fluttered open, and the sight before her eyes nearly made her vomit.
Lying in the middle of the circle was a twitching mass of flesh and bone. It gurgled sickly as blood escaped various openings in its pink and bloodied body. The whole mass twitched with a groan that pierced the princesses' heart. Celestia pulled herself off the ground and considered the mass. It was alive, but deformed. She must have messed up the form quadrant of the circle. She took a deep breath and stepped lively around the quivering mass.
Sure enough, she found the problem and quickly erased the offending runes before going back to where she once stood, ignoring the abomination before her. "Take two," she spoke into the nothingness before summoning her strength again. The princess found the second run through of the spell wasn't as taxing on her as the first, but still passed out after she cast it.
This time, in the middle of the circle was a miniature version of the pony she crafted. She was a beautiful filly with a purple coat and navy blue mane, sleeping soundly and happily on the floor. Celestia could not suppress a grin that spread over her face at her success. Sure, she hoped for a full-grown unicorn and not a foal, but it was a far sight better than her first attempt. Ah well, she would grow.
But then the gears in her brain clicked. A new fully grown Unicorn in the castle could easily be explained, but a foal? That would raise far too many questions then she found herself comfortable with. This simply wouldn't do at all, and she wasn't sure where she went wrong this time. The princess needed to act, and fast. Already, she could feel the moon getting low in the night sky.
Thankfully for her, she knew exactly what she would do. She quickly trotted over to the sleeping foal and closed her eyes in concentration. The princess' horn came to life again and felt all over the sleeping little pony before her. And happily, the filly contained no physical anomalies, meaning the process was a complete success despite the lack of age. Prodding into the sleeping pony, however, the princess saw something she didn't account for; the pony had overwhelming magic, where a void of spirit should have been, and would be unsuitable to hold her sister.
Her attempt to cheat the universe had failed.
It was too late to take it back though. This would simply have to do for now. The Princess had to make a last-minute change to her plan, but if it meant keeping her subjects safe, then so be it. Celestia concentrated one last time on the young filly, almost ready to pass out again as she was. A white light enveloped the golem-filly, her purple coat sparkling in the dimly lit room. Her spell was two-fold; one to keep her asleep and alive, the second... well, that needed to be seen.
Using the last bit of magic she could spare, Princess Celestia teleported in a wink of light, appearing back in her royal chambers. It was almost time to lower the moon and make way for the dawn, the storm of the previous night having finally cleared. If any pony came around, she would tell them that she simply wasn't feeling well today and couldn't perform her usual duties. "Have a good day, my darling little sister," Celestia spoke as her horn glowed once more, the rest of her strength spent on raising the sun.
Exhausted, the Princess of Equestria climbed onto her soft bed. The pillows and mattress were stuffed with solidified clouds, causing her to melt into her bed with a content sigh as the wisps of sleep quickly swept around the majestic alicorn. Glimmering in the early morning light, the frame of her gilded bed sparkled intently, meant to impress despite that few would ever see this royal sanctuary. She shut her eyes and quickly fell asleep, dreaming of the reunion with Luna, who she missed more than anything else.
Over the next couple of days, the Princess became aloof and detached from her subjects. Her mind raced with methods to revise her plan, since her creation was unable to hold a spirit like she intended. It was a minor set-back, given the time she still had, even if it wasn't a lot to a being like her. Eventually, she settled on a plan, granted it was a big gamble and would leave a lot to chance. Sadly, if she wanted her Luna back, it would have to do.
Celestia pondered hard about whom to give the unicorn foal in the basement to. They would need to be married and be close enough to her to trust with the truth. Only two names sprung to mind as she pretended to pay attention to some random colt blathering on about... well, she had forgotten what exactly. She smiled to herself, the stallion taking it as a positive reaction to his idea, or whatever it was. It didn't matter, she could request the minutes later.
As soon as the petitioner turned tail and left her throne room, she motioned to one of her royal messengers to approach. The colt was of strong build, boasting a yellow coat and an aqua mane. It was refreshing to see such bright colourations on ponies these days. He bowed low as he finished climbing the steps, like all the others. "What can I do for you, your highness?" he asked.
"Go out and find Mrs Shimmer Tail and Mr Night Wind," Princess Celestia started. "Tell them to meet me in my office as soon as possible. They are residents of Canterlot and reside at number thirty-five Oat Crescent."
The messenger quirked a brow at the odd request, since the princess rarely summoned ponies who did not already reside in the castle. Still, despite the confusion, an order was an order and with another bow, he replied, "It will be done, your majesty." With that, he too turned tail and left the throne room.
With all of her appointments finished for the day, the Princess retired to her office for the night. Along the way, an advisor trotted along-side, and slightly behind her, briefing her on the latest news from Parliament. She played nice and pretended to care what he had to say, but in reality her mind was elsewhere. It wasn't long before she and her small entourage came to her study. "If you'll excuse me, I wish to be alone for now," she spoke to the advisor. He gave a quick bow and trotted off, hoof steps echoing as he went.
She opened the wooden double doors with her magic and stepped inside her office. The room, on first entry, proved uncharacteristically dark, red velvet curtains drawn across three massive windows on the opposite wall. As she stepped beyond the threshold of door, the curtains sprung open, bathing the room in the afternoon light of the sun. In front of the windows sat the focal point of the room; a large, darkly stained desk made of a long-extinct wood. Carved into the legs on the sides were figures of all the different kinds of ponies, and anything related to the sun.
Celestia rounded the desk, one of the few things in this world older then her, and sat behind it, examining the room in a passing glance. A marble fireplace sat to her left in the middle of the room, not as intricate as the desk, but still rather impressive in the designs on the face. On top of it sat many pictures in gilded frames, some of them rather horrid in quality, but she loved them all the same. Of every student she ever had, the princess would select the best drawing they made and mount it so that she could always see it and remember them.
Along the walls of the office sat portraits of family members; her mother and father, and all the previous Regents of the Sun. Missing from the collection was a picture of her dear sister, but having her in here would distract her from her work. Along the sides of the room sat countless drawers for paperwork and other various tools she needed for her trade. The walls themselves were a bright, yet bearable yellow and the floor carpeted in royal blue.
On top of the ancient desk, Celestia liked to keep it relatively clean. Most of the space was dedicated to papers in her "to-do" pile and others in her "finished" pile. Other then papers, the only thing she kept on her desk lay a bottle of ink and a quill. The desk was for business, the rest of the room could have personal flare to it. In front of the desk sat a small coffee table the princess kept mainly for visitors to place drinks or various other items they brought with them. Today, however, a vase with a single sunflower in it sat on the small table.
All too soon, a rapping came upon her door, she could gather a guess, but etiquette demanded she at least ask. "Yes, what is it?" Celestia spoke to the oak doors.
"Mrs Shimmer Tail and Mr Night Wind to see you, your highness," the guard replied.
"Show them in," the princess finished, straightening the piles of papers and laying down her quill hastily. The two unicorns showed themselves inside and bowed to her. The female of the pair had a white coat, although not as bright as hers, with baby blue eyes and a two-tone mane of white and purple. Her flank bore the mark of three purple stars while her husband bore the mark of two crescent moons, the smaller inside the larger. The stallion sported amber eyes, a deep blue coat that reminded her somewhat of her sister, and a deeper blue mane.
The pair looked, quite frankly, confused by her summon and rightly so. As soon as the door shut, the princess closed the curtains, activating a spell that would trap all sound inside the room, the fireplace springing to life. The two looked a little startled by the sudden bursts of magic, but sat in front of the desk, flanking the coffee table. "I'm so glad you could both come on such short notice," Princess Celestia started. "I'm sorry if I startled you, but this is a sensitive matter. It must not leave this room and, in fact, cannot even be discussed between the two of you once you leave. Understood?"
The mare and the colt looked stunned for a second, but quickly nodded their heads in understanding. "So, why did you call us here, Princess?" The colt of the pair asked.
"I will make a long story short," the princess started. "A couple of nights ago, I tried something I shouldn't have. I created life through magical means for an important purpose. However, things didn't go quite as planned. I planned to make a grown mare, but instead I obtained a newborn foal. I know you and Shimmer here are trustworthy, so I'm hoping you'd take this foal in and raise her like your own."
The mare looked wide-eyed when the princess finished her spiel and looked at her husband, considering. Although no words passed between the two, Celestia could tell they debated in silence and she kept it for them. Before long, Shimmer Tail spoke. "We're not sure if we're ready, or able to raise a foal, Princess. I mean, we're flattered you thought of us, but we're not sure if we can do it."
"I have faith in you both. Besides, sooner or later, I expect this foal to discover and become very interested in magic. When she starts to show this potential, try to enroll her at the academy and you won't have to worry about her anymore," the Regent of the Sun replied.
"Well..." the mare spoke. "I suppose we could grow to love her." She cast a nervous glance at her husband who nodded in confirmation.
"Excellent," the princess nodded. Her eyes closed as her horn dazzled for a brief moment. "When you get home, you'll find the filly asleep in a cradle. I turned your spare room into her room, if you don't mind. Please, it's important that you take good care of her."
"We will, your majesty," the colt voiced and nodded. Together, the two backed out of her study, the curtains still drawn.
"Remember, you can't discuss this. Not even between yourselves once you leave this room. Understand?" She smiled as the two unicorns nodded in reply. Celestia's horn glowed once more as the curtains opened and the door unlocked, the new adoptive parents off to say hello to their new daughter. At last, the princess breathed a sigh of relief. She'd be free of worrying about that little mass in the darkest basement of the castle.
Days and weeks quickly turned into months and years for the ancient alicorn as she continued down her slow river of life. It only seemed like yesterday that she became re-united with the small unicorn she created, given the name 'Twilight Sparkle' by her adoptive parents. Now that she had her under her watchful gaze, the princess glowed when she realized how good a student she was and how hard she aimed to please her.
Celestia sat in the bathtub, enjoying a good bubble bath, and a trashy novel. Call it a guilty little pleasure, but she had grown fond of those stories, just like how she had grown fond of her gol... of her student. The warm water released the tension in her muscles, allowing her to feel more relaxed than she had in ages. She deserved a little time to herself, especially since the next day would be the eve of the one thousandth Summer Sun Celebration.
Feeling extremely relaxed, the princess closed her eyes and let herself sink further into the tub, muzzle barely above the surface of the bubbly water. Suddenly, a wisp of green smoke nosily entered her bathroom and appeared before her in the form of a letter. The princess managed to catch the scroll before it landed in the water with her magic, emerging from the pleasantly warm water with a sigh.
Twilight was a wonderful student, but sometimes she could simply be too nosey for her own good. Unfurling the letter, the princess wondered what in this world simply couldn't wait.
My dearest teacher, the letter started.
My continuing studies of pony magic have lead me to discover that... something really bad is about to happen. For you see, the mythical Mare in the Moon is, in fact, Nightmare Moon, and she's about to return to Equestria and bring with her eternal night. Something must be done to make sure this terrible prophecy does not come true! I await your quick response.
Your faithful student,
Celestia attributed the first sentence to Spike's lack of vocabulary, as something more like 'threshold' or 'precipice' suited her student more. Still, it made her beam at just how easily she managed to connect the dots about the story of the Elements of Harmony and the Mare in the Moon. Never mind how she figured out just how close her release was. Normally, she'd let something like this stew, at least until her bath finished, but this time, she summoned a new scroll, quill and ink and sent her a hasty reply to stop nosing in those dusty old books.
It was about time that Twilight joined the other bearers of the Elements of Harmony in Ponyville. She tried to relax again, but the princess found she couldn't stop her mind from buzzing. Her bath utterly ruined, Celestia jumped out of the draining tub and dried off with a sigh. How could she send her early without rousing suspicion? The cogs turned again as she entered her bedroom, she could always appoint her the overseer for the preparations... yes, that would do nicely.
If she was one to brag, Celestia would boast to any pony she knew about the simple elegance of her final plan. How foolish she had been when she first created that golem... when she first made Twilight. But she couldn't scold herself too much over that, as the young unicorn reminded the princess of herself when she was a few millennia younger. The princess had it all arranged so that most of the bearers would have a job to do for the celebration, and that she would have to meet them all before the day was out... except, of course for the Element of Laughter, as she would probably find Twilight on her own.
Standing in the midst of the Ponyville Mayor's Office, the princess awaited the big event. Many would think of this as raising the sun for the small congregation, but no pony really knew her real anxiety, save one. The office was a modest little room for a modest little town, dimly lit by the moonlight. The princess of the sun could see the usual filing cabinets, calendars, papers, quills and the like scattered in their various spots of the room, this mayor obviously one for protocol and tidiness.
Looking out the large window behind the desk, the princess watched helplessly as the four stars began to draw closer to the moon with increasing haste, eager to revive their felled mistress. For the first time in centuries, Celestia allowed a frown to cross her regal face, her head lowered in shame as she remembered her failure those many years ago. However, unseen by the mourning princess, the stars had finally converged, the moon flashing quickly, erasing the Mare in the Moon from existence.
Celestia didn't need to look: she could feel the new presence in the room with her. It seeped whispers of cold midnight, enveloping her. "It's been a long time, hasn't it, Celestia," came a low and harsh voice echoing controlled rage. She didn't look... she couldn't look at the mare her beloved little sister had become, for she wasn't her darling Luna then. "No witty reprise? No sneak attack? I daresay the years have made you weaker then I imagined."
"I do have something to say to you, Nightmare Moon," the princess started with great control, still not turning to her to save face. If she could see the tears dripping off her muzzle, she'd never live it down. "Do not underestimate the purple unicorn."
The next thing she knew, Celestia heard a chorus of insane laughter, and a flash of bright light. What struck her first about her new surroundings was the sudden heat. A curt smile appeared on her lips, as she laughed at the irony; so much like her beloved little sister. She stood on a platform made of magic, standing above a sea of roaring energy and below a curtain of stars. The only thing stopping her from bursting into flames from the sheer heat of the sun was her divinity and immortality.
So she stood for hours and hours, not moving a single inch. Below her, the sun roared in all its mighty glory, though no pony back home could see it due to Nightmare Moon. Although she only stood there for a couple of hours, they felt like eons to the princess. She could never imagine how much worse it had been for Luna; not only the time, but how close home was. From here, the world was but a blue dot, to Luna, it would have been a massive blue sphere, taunting her mercilessly.
At long last, Celestia felt the oppressive magic finally lift, but she stood still, allowing a few minutes for her to recompose herself, wiping new tears off her muzzle. She tuned her ears to where she knew the final battle took place, looking for a good point to make a theatrical entrance. The princess let a light smile replace her frown as she heard the young foals comment each other on the new adornments thay had acquired.
"Gee, Twilight," spoke the Element of Honesty. "I thought you were just spoutin' a lot of hooey, but I reckon we really do represent the Elements of Friendship!"
That was her cue, using her magic; she sent her omnipotent voice screaming through space and towards the young fillies. "Indeed, you do." Like Nightmare Moon before her, the princess concentrated with all her might, raising the sun to peek over the horizon of Equestria and appeared before the young ponies in a ball of brilliant sunlight that briefly overshadowed the sun itself, literally beaming with pride at the student.
As she emerged from the sphere of magic, she flared her wings, the other ponies bowing to her as Twilight ran over to her and embraced her. Although she couldn't say so, Celestia had never felt such pride before in her life. It took all her strength to stop tears of joy from leaving her eyes yet; she would save those for her sweet sister. Twilight had worked so hard that she decided to answer her question truthfully, telling her how she saw Nightmare Moon's return and how she had to make some friends and allow true friendship into her heart to stop her.
"... now if only another will, as well," Celestia spoke sadly, drifting from her spiel. "Princess Luna." Over on the other side of the room, the familiar blue alicorn opened her eyes with a gasp at the voice of her older sister. Her eyes narrowed in sick anticipation of what her sister would do to her for being such a fool... for letting such darkness take hold over her heart and twist her so.
"It has been a thousand years since I have seen you like this. It's time to put our differences behind us." The princess of the sun got down and laid in front of Luna, to show her how sorry she was without making her crane her head up to see the tears forming in her purple eyes. "We were meant to rule together, little sister." The ponies behind them exclaimed softly at this revelation. It only served to remind them of exactly how much time had passed; that their relationship had been smudged by time's hoof.
"Will you accept my friendship?" Celestia begged, standing to her full height once more, ignoring the others. Right here, right now, only the two alicorns existed, everything else in another universe entirely.
After what felt like another millennium, Luna finally looked her in the eyes, tears slipping down her midnight cheeks. "I'm so sorry!" The princess of the moon exclaimed, jumping up to meet her, embracing her lovingly. "I missed you so much, big sister!" It was the straw that broke the pony's back; a cascade of tears slipped down Celestia's alabaster face, the happiest she had been in over one thousand years.
"I've missed you too." More sincere words were never spoken before, or since.
At last, they were together. At last, she could finally be happy. At last, they were a family again, and she could look to the future in all its glory.
Or so she thought.