Someday, in the distant future, the events of that day would have two different names, depending on who you asked, or what book you read. To most of Equestria, it would be known as 'The Battle at Canterlot', while in the small town of Ponyville, it would be known as 'The Reckoning.' Neither of the names chosen for the whole fiasco were wrong, but neither did they get across how seriously it impacted history. For the first time, a commoner was put into a position of absolute authority over the country.
A couple of days after that pivotal event found the new princess cooped up in her old dorm room, hidden as best as she could under the covers. The sudden increase in size, and lack of new blankets left the goddess exposed to the bitterly warm glow of the sun... her sun. She fought the temptation to just turn it off and stop that tantalizingly warm orb from haunting her with the memories of that day: a day she would never forget.
Why had she done that? Was this punishment for rising against her and hurting her so? Maybe she just wanted to see her squirm under the pressure and come crying back to her? If she didn't think she would kill her on-sight, Eos would have been more than happy to grovel before her and beg for forgiveness. Alas, she simply did not have the nerve to face Celestia... or Sol, now.
Shortly after she regained her senses, Eos became relieved to hear that her mentor could still be saved. Lingering remnants of divinity in Celestia's body gave her a window of time, not more then a minute, before the heat of the sun would roast her, and the vacuum of space steal her breath. She wasted no time in returning her from the sun: if she hesitated for a moment longer, she would have simply retrieved a corpse. Celestia's body was burned to a crisp, her once ivory coat charcoaled into onyx. The doctor was summoned and he whisked her away before the new goddess could apologize, never mind give back her power.
From there, guards escorted her back to her old dorm and locked her inside. She did not object and spent the better part of the afternoon and well into the night sobbing into her pillow over what she did. To her surprise, Princess Luna knocked on her door very late that night and told her something that shook her to the core. Celestia wanted her to rule in her stead while she recovered. The next day was spent with the Regent of the Moon in a magical room at the heart of Canterlot. In there, Luna taught her how to raise the sun, and some other spells she might need.
A knock sounded on her door, snapping her out of her daydreams. There could be only one pony in all the land standing on the other end. "Twilight," said Princess Luna. "It's time for the public address. I'll do all the talking, but you need to at least be there. It's your duty. Dry your eyes and come out." Twilight moaned and rolled onto her other side, tears still dripping off her muzzle. She stayed like that for several minutes until she heard the door open with a quiet click, soft hoofsteps telling her Luna entered the room.
"Now, Eos," she added with a gentle, yet commanding tone uncommon for the indigo alicorn.
"Fine," she responded, her voice cracking from lack of use and all the crying she had done. She slowly got to her hooves, standing tall over the princess of the moon, but walked behind her like the submissive traitor she was. Eos could feel the burning eyes of everypony upon her as they walked to the entrance hall. Luna and Sol jointly wrote off the whole event as Nightmare possessing Twilight in order to destroy the solar princess. In fact, the purpose of this press conference was to publicly state so, and that Eos would look after things while the rightful Regent of the Sun recovered.
Eos could tell that no pony who worked in the castle bought the story. She kept her head lowered in shame, doing her best not to start crying again as they somberly walked down the halls and into the room. Members of the press took a myriad of photos of the temporary princess as she followed silently behind Luna, each burning her like a bolt of lightning. Time seemed to slow as their judging eyes bore into her soulless body like a dentist's drill into a tooth.
"Fillies and Gentlecolts of the press," Luna spoke into the microphone. Twilight shuffled awkwardly behind her, trying to remain hidden and failing. "Two days ago, Canterlot was attacked by the evil spirit known to us as 'Nightmare.' In order to do so, he possessed the body of my sister's personal student, Twilight Sparkle. However, at the last minute, the evil spirit was conquered... but not before severely wounding sixteen valiant guards, and sending three others into critical condition by his hooves."
Eos felt her attention slip as Luna rambled on, still playing the events of the day over in her mind. She couldn't help herself, or her newfound self-hating attitude. Why did the princess not order her execution? It would be a far more kind punishment then letting her live with the unbearable guilt that haunted her so. Just have her killed and make everypony happy... it was not like she had any friends.
"...And so," Luna continued as Eos regained her attention. "Princess Celestia has mandated that her student, Twilight Sparkle, take over her duties of Regent of the Sun until she is fully healed from the encounter. Until my sister has recovered, Twilight shall assume the royal title of 'Princess Eos.' Please, show her the same respect and consideration as you would my sister. Thank you."
A choirs of voices surrounded them as the inquisitive ponies shouted questions, each screaming for recognition. However, the two princesses quickly turned away from them, leaving a representative to try and satisfy their hunger for answers. The two quickly trotted back to Twilight's old room, now flanked by guards. Luna shut the door swiftly behind her. "All right," she sighed. "I know you're melancholy, but you've got to talk about it, or else you'll destroy yourself by keeping it bottled up."
"Oh, Luna!" she cried, wrapping the princess in her hooves, sobbing into her neck. "I'm so sorry! Why did I do all those terrible things? Why did I have to hurt my friends and you and... and your sister like that!?" The midnight alicorn brought herself closer to the sobbing Twilight, gently stroking her back in comfort. "She must hate me! She's probably going to have me executed when she's feeling better!"
"Shh," Luna whispered. "It's all right. My sister would never do such a thing to you. Not in a million years."
"Well, she should!" Eos replied hysterically, breaking off the hug. "I attacked her and nearly killed her! I... I'm... my life is worthless. I'm a monster who shouldn't be alive right now. I deserve to die. The world would be a better place without me in it! I WISH I WAS DEAD!!!"
Slap! Her face stung and her mind reeled from the sudden force of the strike, twisting her head around to face her window. Ponyville lay beyond it, bathed in the afternoon light. She brought a hoof to her cheek to try and soothe the stinging sensation where Luna back-hoofed her.
"TWILIGHT SPARKLE! DON'T YOU EVER DARE SAY THAT AGAIN!" Luna shouted, not caring if anypony heard. In her normally warm and cheerful eyes, Eos saw flashes of Nightmare Moon as they burned in indignation. "If you were supposed to be dead, you would have died already! What would your friends say if they could see you now? What about Spike? Or Celestia? What about your MOTHER, Twilight, or your SISTER?"
"T-Trixie?" Twilight murmured, stymied. "How did you...?"
"That's not important right now, Twilight," Luna pressed. "What is important is that you let this go. Sure, you did a terrible thing, but that's just something else you and my sister now have in common. She's done FAR worse than you ever will, but does she wish herself dead? NO! She heeds the lessons of the past and uses them to make a better future!"
Eos felt like an utter foal before the princess of the moon. Just as she was about to let loose another cascade of tears, she felt a gentle nuzzle against her face. Those soft, minty eyes gazed back into her lavender ones, calming her down once more. The two ponies embraced each other again, a silent pact forming between them to keep what was just said between them forevermore.
Although she did not see Celestia all week, Twilight (or rather Eos) slowly got herself into the rhythm of a ruling princess of Equestria. Mornings were early, as she needed to be up, literally, for the sunrise. For the most part, Luna helped her by lending her own experience and power to aid in waking and putting the stubborn sun to bed. That morning, however, Eos would be completely alone. She pulled her blankets aside and walked over to a window facing the morning horizon.
The temporary Regent of the Sun stepped out onto the balcony, opening the door with her teeth. One thing she was not expecting when she turned into this new form was to lose the ability to perform more delicate tasks with her magic. At the moment, if she tried to open the window, she would probably rip it off its hinges and shatter all the glass. Luna said that it was normal for this to happen, and with practice she would be able to do those magics again. In the meantime, she focused her energies on the horizon before her.
Her horn dazzled as she shut her eyes, picturing the immortal sun cresting the horizon in her mind's eye. She reached out with an ethereal force to the sleeping giant, warmth cascading as the bottom of her ghostly hoof made contact. Eos screwed up her face, having not concentrated so hard since the Ursa Incident. Sweat ran down her face as she grunted in effort, feeling the fiery titan slowly begin to lose its grip. After what seemed like an eternity, the sun finally peeked over the horizon of Equestria, bathing its new mistress in the red glow of dawn.
Eos opened her eyes and beheld her own work: she had raised the sun, and all by herself! She panted heavily and let the first smile in over a week break across her muzzle. Reaching up with a hoof, she swiped the sweat off her brow and slowly made her way down to breakfast, stomach grumbling angrily at the great exertion she put herself through. Raising the sun felt like she just lifted over one hundred Ursa Minors, all at the same time.
Despite her earlier protests, Princess Celestia, through her sister, maintained that Twilight eat her meals in the Royal Dining Room. It was an honour reserved only for the two sisters, and their guests. Even with her status as Celestia's personal protégé, she would have never been allowed inside in all her life. At first, she tried to argue about it, but it soon became apparent that neither of them would take 'no' as an acceptable answer from her.
The purple alicorn approached the gilded ash doors, a pair of unicorn guards opening them for her using their magic. Inside, she still could not believe the sight that met her eyes. The floors of the room sparkled in high-polish that tinted the marble a fascinating green. Elaborate designs done in tiny rivers of gold were embedded into the strange marble. Oak panels on the wall reflected scenes from time immortal, telling stories through pictures, recalling a time when most ponies didn't know how to read.
A large fireplace of pink granite sat against the longest wall of the rectangular room, the opposite leading into the dedicated kitchen beyond a pair of swinging doors. In the hearth roared a fire, illuminating the room in a warm glow as it offered no windows to the outside world. A long table sat in the middle, countless floral decorations resting on the white-clothed, rectangular, mahogany table. At either end sat two elaborate high-backed chairs with an emblem of either sun or moon on top. Each had luxurious purple velvet padding filled with solidified clouds.
Twilight simply could not bring herself to sit in Celestia's chair, opting for one of the less luxurious guest chairs that sat on the sides. As soon as her flank made contact, a vividly red servant unicorn appeared at her side. Luna had once addressed her as 'Sable,' so she would do the same. After politely placing her order for breakfast, the midnight alicorn herself walked into the room and greeted her with a smile. "Good Morning, Eos. You did an excellent job of raising the sun this morning. Celestia told me to tell you that she is proud of you."
"Mmm," the lavender mare replied, looking into her bowl of cereal. As if her teacher could ever be proud of anything she ever did ever again.
"We've got a big day ahead of us," Luna continued. "They finished fixing the throne room last night, so you can start to hold court." Eos suddenly looked at her with great fear in her eyes. "I'll be with you the entire time for support and advice, if you need it." The sight of the smiling princess wiped a little of the fear from the lavender pony's mind as she finished her breakfast.
Holding court proved to be everything she had ever expected: it was dull and ultimately pointless. Granted, there were few ponies coming to see her, so they got some of the servants to come in with requests or problems of their own. With the princess of the moon at her side, Eos felt a confidence boost she desperately needed. It did not hurt that Luna refused to hold her hoof through the whole ordeal either. But, there was a theme to those two weeks: everypony was gearing up for the thousand and first Summer Sun Celebration.
Eos paced nervously in the tent that morning, weary from having slept so little. Nerves, combined with an early start, conspired to keep her from the gentle wisps of dreamland. Not that she felt she deserved a peaceful night's sleep anyway. For the first time in nearly three weeks, she would have to face a crowd of ponies. A sigh escaped her lips, quite alone in the tent to prepare herself for the Summer Sun Celebration.
"How are you holding up, Eos?" Luna said as she slowly pushed the flap of the tent aside.
"Don't call me that, please," she replied. "I don't deserve any other name or title. I'm Twilight Sparkle: a mare who hurt those closest to her." Unseen by the moping pony, the princess of the moon rolled her eyes and walked over to her.
"I'm sorry, Twilight. Everypony makes mistakes. I am no different, nor is Celestia."
"I get it, I get it!" Twilight shouted. "You keep saying the same thing over and over! Stop treating me like a little foal! I don't need you going on like a broken record!"
"All right, I'm sorry," the princess apologized. "Remember those breathing exercises and calm down. I know you're feeling a little stressed right now."
"A LITTLE!?" she huffed. Twilight closed her eyes and started taking deep breaths, feeling the stress lift off her back a little with each breath. "I'm sorry. I know you're only trying to help me, and I appreciate it."
"Oh, it's my pleasure. You helped me be rid of my inner darkness, so helping you control yours is the LEAST I could do," the midnight mare smiled. The two ponies stood in there for the longest time, listening to the clamour of others approaching the stage behind them. Morning birds chirped into the pre-dawn sky, the smell of dew building on the grass reaching their nostrils.
"So, what did you want, Princess Luna?" Twilight asked politely.
"Oh!" Luna realized. "I just wanted to tell you that my sister is feeling well enough to watch in the audience! She should be up to having her power restored tomorrow, after you get a good night's sleep!" The colour from Eos's face drained as the news washed over her. The princess was in the audience? Did she come to watch her fail, or to make sure her stress did not make her snap again? A part of her mind told her to put herself together: Celestia wasn't like that.
The warning horn sounded, startling the purple alicorn from her thoughts. "Oh," she said. "I guess it's time, right? Um... do I have to do that silly 'fly-up-and-flare-yourself' thing she usually does?" Twilight sighted when she saw the midnight mare nod her head.
"It's a little silly, I know," she soothed. "But it would be boring for everypony if you just stood there and lit your horn up, you know?"
"Yeah, I suppose so," the purple mare smiled, recalling the first time she saw the princess raise the sun.
Luna stepped graciously off to the side as they approached the rear steps to the platform. The entire routine had been embedded into Twilight's head by both her own memories and through explanation via papers from Celestia. Although she was still new to raising the sun, the princess could fell it bend to her will a little more easily with every time she made it crest Equestria's horizon.
She only had a quick moment to scan the crowd in front of her as she stepped onto the large stage, a dozen guards blowing that familiar tune into their Trumpets. However, near the front, she spotted a pony with a coat as white as the snow, and a mane of dazzling, yet simple pink. Twilight bit her lower lip slightly in trepidation, her own mane wafting gently in the solar breeze.
The powerful pair of wings flanking her side spread to their full flare, her long horn dazzling in soft purple light as she took to the air in a powerful stroke. Already, she could feel the warmth and power of the sun cascade into her as her ethereal will made contact with the giant. She could feel her teacher's stare bore into her, wondering in the back of her mind what she was feeling at the sight.
Sure enough, the whole event went off without a hitch. Although, Eos looked far more tired then Celestia ever did. She wiped the sweat off her brow and grabbed a quick nap in the tent behind the stage before facing the music and going out to mingle with the ponies. Most of the common ponies did not really mind the temporary shift in power as many of them were too thrilled with the fact that she was a commoner to care. Noble ponies, on the other hoof... well, it was not like Twilight ever really cared what they thought anyway. Sadly, she did not see her teacher again for the whole day.
Upon the day after the Celebration, Twilight walked up to Celestia's chambers. Only on one occasion had she been this terrified to approach these doors. She was but a little filly, new to the castle and its ways that day so many years ago. Eos tensed up as she stopped dead before those white pieces of wood, guards in golden armour flanking it as usual. She swallowed hard and approached the dual portals, knocking softly in case the mare beyond could not handle loud noises. "Enter," spoke a soft voice from beyond.
She gently placed a hoof on the long, golden handle and pushed down, opening the doors with a click. Light flooded into the room from the doors, curtains drawn over the windows to cast it into darkness. As soon as she passed across the threshold, the doors shut automatically. A large fireplace sat before her in the circular room, a white form resting upon a pile of pillows in front of it. Eos bowed her head low as she approached.
"So, do you want to take care of business first, or would you rather chat for a while before?" Sol asked, her purple eyes gazing into the lavender alicorn. Her face was unreadable in the silhouette of the fireplace.
"If you mean giving back what's rightfully yours, then I'd like to do that first, Princess," Eos responded, head still in a deep bow. The flower scent she remembered from the princess's chambers ignited memories of happier days in her mind... days where her only friend was her dragon assistant.
"All right," she replied. A beam of white light shot forward from her stump of a horn, connecting with her student's. A wave of warmth swept over the two mares as the light embraced their entire beings. Unlike last time, the warmth carried something else, something elusive to the purple pony, but quite present. After a few moments, the warmth faded. The student opened her eyes to see the world once more from her familiar vantage point, the goddess before her flaring her wings.
Twilight shut her eyes, allowing warm tears to pass as she pressed herself into the floor, awaiting any punishment the divine teacher felt worthy of her treachery. Her body rocked with spasms and shook in fear as light overtook the room, unable to see the princess had merely opened the curtains. "Twilight Sparkle," she addressed. "Please, do not be afraid of me. I'm not angry at you for what you did, but I will confess myself... disappointed."
She began to openly sob in front of her mentor, somehow that idea being far worse to her than outright anger. Celestia let out a sigh as she approached the filly, her horn already rebuilding itself. "I understand why you did what you did, and for what it's worth, I'm sorry that I deceived you for so long. I wanted to tell you for a long time, but I grew uneasy about the possible outcomes, and became complacent in the lie. This is entirely my fault."
"N-no, Princess Celestia," the student replied. "This is my fault; I failed to listen to reason and let my emotions and stress get the best of me, instead of stepping back and evaluating the situation dispassionately."
"Twilight, I appreciate the sentiment, but that would have been too much to expect from you in light of the circumstances." A frown flashed across her royal face as she laid down beside her student, much like for her sister a little more than a year previous. "All I ask is that you walk away from this having learned two important lessons... and a few smaller ones as well."
The purple pony blinked in surprise, no longer sobbing, yet tears still streamed down her eyes, looking into the lavender pools of her teachers. "The first lesson: Learn from the mistakes of the past, be it your own or your ancestors. It is as simple as it sounds, my faithful student, and I know you've shown me your understanding of it well. But the next might be a little harder to grasp. A part of growing up is learning that the idols you've gilded with gold are nothing but granite underneath. Can you tell me what that means?"
She racked her brain for a few seconds, pondering the teacher's words carefully. "It means..." she trailed. "That a part of growing up is learning that... that your mentors... your parents, teachers, and elders... aren't perfect. That they're flawed and are able to make the same mistakes and possess the same prejudices that a young pony can?"
Celestia beamed back at her precious student... her little filly. "That's exactly right, Twilight. So you see, we're both in the wrong here, and I'm deeply sorry for it. I'm sure we can agree that getting beaten and nearly killed by my student is punishment enough for me. As for you, I'd say living with these memories will suffice nicely for one with a gentle heart like yours. However, I must warn you, Twilight... if you ever go berserk again, I have entrusted the mayor of Ponyville with a device that will block your magic. At least until you've calmed down."
"That... that's less then I deserve, princess," the filly sighed. "I don't think I should be your student anymore. I don't deserve to be in the same kingdom as you, never mind the same room! Why are you always so nice to me, no matter what I do? I'm a spiritless monster: an abomination to the universe!"
The mover of the sun shook her head, a dead serious look the likes of which the student had never seen before on her face. "Twilight, right now, I am speaking to you mare-to-mare, not goddess-to-subject or teacher-to-student. Until we leave this room, consider me an equal in your eyes." With that, the princess stood to her full height, an explosion of golden flames erupting around her.
The student cried out in shock and horror, quickly getting to her hooves and backing into the wall. It was rather difficult to see the mighty goddess as anypony's equal at that moment. As the flames quickly died, a sight she never expected manifested. That same pure-white pony with the pink mane stood before her, lacking wings: a unicorn like herself, right down to their height. "You might find this amusing, but you do have a spirit, Twilight."
"How can I?" she asked, almost shouting, "I'm not a pony! I wasn't even born! Give me a single good explanation!"
"I can give you three," Sol calmly replied. "First, with some encouragement from my dear sister, you snapped back to reality and instantly regretted what you did. A soulless monster would never care enough to experience regret and they would be immune to her spell."
"Second reason: you have a cutie mark. As everypony knows, a cutie mark only appears when a pony has learned their special talent. What nopony else knows, however, is that a cutie mark can only form when that pony has a complete, if not fully developed, spirit. You see, I was ignorant of something critical all those years ago. Ponies are not born with spirits, but rather they are forged from the fires of our lives. As we live and grow, they develop and change over time."
"I guess that sort of makes sen-"
"Final reason," she interrupted. "If you didn't have a spirit, you never would have been able to steal my divinity. Every pony with a spirit has a god or goddess inside them, lacking only the spark to awaken them. It's a contingency plan the creators put in place in case the royal bloodline should ever die. Eos is as much a part of you as your magic or your hoof, and is not something to be feared. I'm not sure what will happen now that she has been awakened, but I will make time to investigate this matter."
Twilight did not notice the unicorn burst into gilded flames again as she pondered her words. They made a lot of sense to her, now that she thought about it. Maybe she was not quite the soulless monster she thought she was, but she still felt like it. A new sense of shame overwhelmed her as she lowered her head to the floor again. She had flown off the handle for no reason, now that she thought about it. The revelation didn't change anything, except maybe caution her to watch her stress levels... but that was something she knew already.
"How could I be so foalish? I... this makes complete sense to me, pr- I mean, Celestia. But... why are you so nice to me? I'm sure anypony else that I almost... murdered... would want me executed for my crimes. Why are you letting me off so easy?"
"Come here, Twilight," Celestia motioned with a hoof. She smiled as her student obeyed her request, and climbed onto the pile of pillows in front of her. The princess's horn continued to shimmer, almost restored to its full length. Once on the pile, the Regent of the Sun joined her, resting alongside her. "I'm not exactly sure how to say this, and I'm not sure how you'll react, but I've wanted to tell you this for years."
"Tell me what, princess?"
"Remember our fight? How I kept trying to say something to you at the end of it?"
"Yes," she nodded, looking sadly into a pillow.
"Well... I was... um... trying to tell you that I... well... wow, this is harder to do when your life isn't on the line, isn't it?" she laughed at the situation, sounding like dozens of beautiful church bells. "I'm sorry. I was trying to tell you... I love you, Twilight. At first, I wasn't sure of it, but as time passed on, and I watched you grow, I became certain. I love you, like how a mother loves her filly. I always have, and... and with every accomplishment you achieve, I find myself more proud of you then I could ever say."
The purple mare lay there in silence for what felt like an eternity. Did... did the most powerful being in all of Equestria just say that she loved HER, Twilight Sparkle, even after all she did to her? Yet... as impossible as it sounded, the filly knew, deep down, that she had always seen the princess as a motherly figure. Those cold nights where she tucked her in, tea with her in the private gardens, stopping everything in her busy schedule to calm her when she was upset: everything fit.
"But..." she voiced uneasily, "The book said that... well, Golems have a familiar relationship with their makers. I feel like I love you too... but that could just be the spell that animates me."
"Not a chance," Celestia smiled warmly, "When I made you, I cast two spells on you. The first was to ensure you stayed alive and asleep while I figured out what to do with you. The second spell, however, broke that clause you spoke of. I didn't want you to feel anything for me that was against your free will."
New tears welled up in the filly's eyes then. Unlike any other time during this whole episode, they were not tears of pain, anger, or sorrow, but of unbridled joy. Quite suddenly, the princess felt something warm pressing against her. Looking to her side, she saw the tearful filly nuzzling tightly into her. "I... I love you too... Mom." It was a simple sentence, but one that the princess longed to hear for over twenty years. She draped a wing over the filly... her filly... and wrapped her neck around her, eyes glistening with tears.
The pair stayed like that for well over an hour, neither moving or speaking, simply embracing each other as mother and foal for the first time, neither wanting to spoil the moment. However, the princess noticed the sun beginning to arch towards the horizon and broke the silence. "Now, remember, Twilight... Shimmer Tail is as much your mom as I am, and Trixie is still your sister. Do not forget about them simply on my account."
Twilight looked into her eyes, wide in shock once more. "H-how did you know she's my..."
"Oh, my precious pony," the princess smiled, "Your mother's been my good friend for years! How could she not tell me? It... it hurt me when I heard that they didn't accept her into the academy with you. I tried to pull some strings, but they all broke. So, I gave your mom the idea to make those dolls for you two so that, in some small way, you would always be together."
"Th-thank you," the purple pony sniffed.
"Not at all, dear. Now, unless I am mistaken, your chariot should be ready to take you home to Ponyville by now."
"Oh. Right." Twilight crawled out from under her wing and over to the door, somewhat hesitant to return home. By then, news had spread about the fire that swept over twenty percent of the town, injuring several ponies in the process. Just as she was about to open the door with her magic, she heard a soft, deliberate cough behind her. Turning around, she saw the princess standing at full height.
"One last thing, Twilight," she said. "Please, keep what was just said to yourself. There are ponies out there who might try to hurt you to get at me. I would rather die than have that happen to you. Oh, and I left a note for you in the chariot. Open it when you get into the air. I'm afraid I can't see you off."
The purple mare started to the door once more, just about to open it with her magic, since she could feel her power was back to its normal levels. However, a through crossed her mind: one that had been bugging her for the past fortnight. "Um, Princess Celestia?" she paused, turning to her mentor.
"Yes, Twilight?" she replied, curious as to what her student wished to add.
"Um... why did you let me rule Equestria these past three weeks? I know Luna can raise the sun as well as the moon... I mean, you did both for a thousand years. So, why have me do it?"
"There are two reasons, Twilight. Firstly, I wanted you to better experience what life is like for me, and what better way then by walking a mile in my hoofsteps? Secondly, I figured you might appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, since I know how much you love to study pony magic. Even if you didn't like most of my duties, I could tell from your face yesterday that you liked bringing the dawn, as it utilizes ancient magic once used by the creators themselves."
"Well, I suppose it did feel kind of nice," she replied with a blush on her cheeks.
The princess smiled back at her little filly. "Yes, I know. Although you can't touch the sun anymore, I allow you the right to use any other spells you might have learned from Luna. You have earned them and I doubt you will misuse them."
"All right, see you later, Princess," the filly chirped as the door opened behind her. "And... thank you. For everything." The door shut in front of her face with a gentle click, mother and foal looking into each other's eyes until the very end.
Later, on the chariot, she found the letter in an envelope addressed to her in the princess' hoofwriting bearing her name on it. It was tucked into a small slot for visitors to keep their papers during the longer flights, like when foreign dignitaries arrived at Port Noble from lands across the sea. Carefully opening it with her magic, the mare read the contents to herself.
My Dear Twilight,
I apologize for not talking to you about the incident until right before you left, but I felt the need for you to have some time to yourself to cool down and reflect on the situation. If I have told you of this note's existence, then our little chat went very well indeed. However, on the off chance you are snooping around in a bored stupor, I urge you, but don't expect you, to stop reading here and have a safe flight.
With every day and every letter, you remind me more and more of myself at your (relatively speaking) tender young age. I cannot tell you how proud I am of you, even when we were fighting I felt that same pride swell in my heart. Even if you had killed me outright, I feel you would have made an excellent ruler of Equestria. You see, when I took power, I strove to be the best, most powerful princess in all history. That urge and lust for power only worsened when my mother, Queen Notia, fell ill with a terrible disease that robbed her of her mental faculties. At the time, I thought she forgot me and my sister intentionally.
For the longest time I was angry at her, and the world. This led me to do unspeakable horrors and kill many innocent ponies. In fact, the bitterness that overtook Luna and turned her into Nightmare Moon was entirely my own fault, and I didn't realize it until about two hundred years after the fact. I still haven't forgiven myself for doing all those horrible things, but the trick is learning how to live with it.
I apologize again as I seem to be rambling: another trait we have in common, my beloved daughter. Do not worry about your friends. I am sure if they are really all you say in your letters, they will welcome you home in earnest. That said, please continue to send me your reports on the magic of friendship. Luna and I don't get to spend a lot of time together, and your letters are one of those few occasions we can share.
I would also ask that if you tell any ponies about our relationship, please ensure it is kept to your inner circle: namely Spike, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie. Also, please have no worries about blowing up at them again: just remember Aunt Luna's breathing exercises and you will be fine. You have grown into a smart and beautiful mare, Twilight. I have no doubts that everything will work out in the end.
Looking forward to your next report,
A couple of minutes passed, but it felt more like a couple of seconds to the unicorn as the chariot began to fly low overhead the town of Ponyville. Several buildings were blackened, and more tents then she remembered occupied the town square. The magnitude of her little... episode did not really sink in until she saw those buildings lying in ruins. She shrunk into the chariot as she thought she saw a streak of rainbow out of the corner of her eye.
"Ms. Sparkle? We're here," spoke one of the Pegasus ponies pulling the golden chariot. They had been on the ground for a minute or two before he spoke, as the purple mare thought that by hiding, they would think she disembarked and take her back to Canterlot.
Alas, they were not easily fooled as they refused to budge. "Okay, thank you, sirs," she replied in barely more than a whisper. Reluctantly, she stepped off the transport, cringing as she heard it roll away almost instantly. In a second, she felt dozens of eyes fall on her, gazing into her as if willing her to die right then and there. She bit her lower lip, the sweat already beginning to run down her face.
With all the courage she could find, the lavender mare began walking through the streets of the town. Not once did Twilight lift her head, too ashamed to face any of the innocent ponies she may have hurt during her rampage. She could hear nasty whispers between ponies behind her, spreading rumours though the town's celebrated network of gossips.
Along the way back to the library, the mare saw the fruits of her destructive labours. Sugarcube Corner had been reduced to a pile of black rubble... what little had not been blasted away, at any rate. Countless other businesses and homes sat around, burned to cinders or otherwise uninhabitable. Ponies still rummaged through the ruins, trying to salvage any valuables that may have survived the wave of fire.
The former princess shuddered as she walked past a window, thinking that she saw Eos reflect in it for a brief second. Did her counterpart feel as sorry as she did for the destruction that they... she caused? Twilight took a deep breath to calm herself and continued along her way, the buildings becoming less burned the closer she got to her home. All she had to do was make it into the library without incident and she could duck in there for as long as she needed.
Thankfully, no pony vandalized or burnt her library down in revenge against her atrocities. She took a deep breath and sighed as she approached the door, all the windows as black as night. Did Spike refuse to come back, or did he simply run away, much like when he thought she replaced him with her owl? Using her magic, the lavender pony quietly opened the door and slipped into the comforting blackness inside.
Twilight jumped and gave a loud shout at the sudden noise and light shining in her eyes. A quick shake of her head dislodged the ringing from her ears, opening her eyes to drink in the sight before her. Six figures, five pony mares and a baby dragon, all stood in front of her under a purple, star-struck banner which said, 'Welcome home, Twilight!' Before she could even get a word out, they all ponypiled on her in a massive group hug, telling them how much they all missed her.
"You... you all... forgive me?" she stuttered after they all climbed off her.
"Well, of course we do, darling," Rarity chirped, "We read that book that set you off, and we came to realize that snapping like that simply wasn't your idea."
"Yeah," interjected Rainbow Dash, "And I probably would have done worse if I thought any of you were... you know... touching foals."
"Or how you though I was getting stuff for Pinkie to make you into a stew with," added Spike with a nod.
"Wait," the purple pony silenced. "How did you know...?"
"Oh, that's easy!" Pinkie Pie cheered, jumping up suddenly in front of her, "The princess wrote us all letters about how you were sorry and that you never would have done any of that in your right mind and also how you saw us in horrible, horrible ways, like Rarity running a funeral parlour or Fluttershy with demonic bunnies and all that! How could you think I would want to make you into cupcakes, Twilight? I mean, HELLO, ponies would taste awful! Not to mention how hard it would be for me to disguise the meat since we're all herbivores, and I doubt hot sauce would do the trick, unless you had a WHOLE TUB for each cupcake but that would be a hot sauce tub with frosting recipe..."
"So... yeah," Applejack spoke over the rambling pink party pony, "The princess sent us all letters, an' explained everythin' to us, includin' what you though you saw. Princess Luna told her all about what you two spoke of, an' all that. So, we know you didn't mean anythin' by any of that, sugarcube."
"Um..." the yellow Pegasus mumbled, "We really, really missed you, Twilight. So... um... can I ask you something?"
"Sure, Fluttershy, of course you can," the lavender mare replied.
"Um... what was it like... you know... to raise the sun and sit in Princess Celestia's spot while she... you know... recovered. Not! Not that you have to answer... if you don't want to...never mind. Just... forget I said anything."
"I don't mind. It was weird and awkward, not to mention the overwhelming guilt I felt for all the things I did that day. Make no mistake," Twilight started to address every pony present, "I'm happy beyond my wildest dreams that you've all found the heart to forgive me. Yet, I don't think I could ever forgive myself for what I did, and I wouldn't blame everypony else if they never forgave me either."
"Come on, Twilight!" Spike suddenly shouted, "Give them time, and they'll forgive you too! Now, this wouldn't be much of a party if we didn't have some fun!" He gave her a big hug with his newly healed arm. It stung a little bit, but it did not matter to him one bit. Twilight was back, so his family was whole again.
And so, after some persuasion, the party kicked off in earnest. For a few precious hours, the purple unicorn forgot about all the hurt and suffering she caused. Over the following days and weeks, the Element of Magic would learn to live with what she had done, and learn from her mistakes. In time, things would return to normal for the town of Ponyville, and all who inhabited it.
Yet, life would never be the same for its librarian. For one who had tasted the poison of murderous fury, the ambrosia of divine power, and the pure joie de vivre of knowing she had a soul that was loved intimately by its creator, life could never be normal again. Then again, being normal was never an option Twilight considered.
--- The End ---