Equestrian Legends Redux is a reboot of a popular MLPFIM roleplaying forum. We offer an extremely detailed sandbox world, a low minimum wordcount of 100, and a rapidly moving, far reaching plot. While you are just as welcome to play slice of life threads here, and they are encouraged between plot events, please know that Redux is very story driven, and considerably darker than the show.
Weather: Warm and sunny, but with a peculiar sort of silence to the air Date: September Tenth, 5150 Current Events: The Grand Galloping Gala Description: This biannual event was always intended to be one of celebration and delight, even if politics and stodginess did often get in the way. But this year, there is no doubt that the very nature of the Gala has been irrevocably altered. Begun by Princess Celestia after her Sister's banishment, now the Gala is being continued by Princess Luna after Celestia's death. This site appears best in Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers.
Before her rebirth, Celestia's memories are a muted, confused mess, faces worn away and voices long forgotten. They have the impure, greyscale quality of mortality. It pains her to recall them, because there is so much that is truly forgotten. Ever since she became what she remains today, she has never lost a memory to anything but force. Although it is almost absurdly easy to not think about something, the knowledge is there forever, etched rainbow bright on the inside of her skull, only waiting to be summoned. She often chooses not to remember things, because life is easier in that way, but with the exception of her infancy, she can never forget them.
And so the occasional recollection that she has forgotten them brings her such pain. She has betrayed the love of her family. If she even had a family. The days of Discord were LDIAGRHKT and hard enough to understand even when they were happening all around her.
But she thinks... she believes... she has memories of memories, moments of past recollection engraved in immortal stone of earlier travels through a long lost mortal mind, that tell her she was... was...
She had no wings, she knows that much, and little more, and even with centuries of experience flight is to her as unnatural as it is exhilarating, and she indulges in it only sparingly. It seems wrong, a betrayal of her birth, to take advantage of her wings too often.
If she had a horn, she cannot recall it, but she believes her sister did not, for Luna treats her magic as Celestia views her flight: something strange and valuable and not quite of herself.
For Celestia, though, magic is as easy as breathing. It surrounds her, pulling through the illusory glow of her mane, and ruffling the impossible strength of her feathers, and bringing to her the impressions of health or horror that bless or plague her land and her ponies. Perhaps she was a unicorn then, in those dim days, for everything that comes to her comes back to magic. The rich, subtle magic of the earth, twisting light and water into fruit and fowl. The raucous, roaring magic of the wind and weather, bringing changes of season and joy to hearts.
And of course, the magic that everypony regards as such. The spark and crack of energy flowing from an unknowable source and altering the world to the whims of its wielder.
Or perhaps she was an earth pony, towering strong and tall above those she chose to protect, an immovable object, as sturdy as the mountainside beneath the castle. It would have meant nothing in a time when mountains may as well have been butterflies, but it would have made an impression. And now, with the world ordered as it should be, what was she if not a gardener? She brought light and warmth, and beneath it the flowers bloomed and the animals flourished, and even her ponies, once so scared and so bitter, had matured into something beautiful.
Maybe her first gift had been growth, not magic.
Sometimes, though, she wonders if there was no before at all. Discord had done many impossible things at the height of his power. Conjuring goddesses from the void would not have been beyond him then, if it even was now. Without the submission of an entire world's population, he is not nearly so powerful as he once was. But it took only a single town-and two panicking princesses- to give him the strength to turn lawn to soap and clouds to confection.
In those days, he could have made them both as pretty little toys, more resilient than the usual, practically sparring partners. He could have fed them false selves and conjured reckonings to make them fight him. Perhaps he had grown bored with power. That would have been like him.
It is a thought that brings her the same pain, no matter how often she bears it. The idea that she is not like her little ponies. And how absurd it is for that to hurt her, because she isn't. She looks like them and she speaks like them, but beyond that there is no resemblance between the immortal sun princess and her mayfly subjects. But maybe once there was, and she clings to that belief in the way that some foals cling to their mother's legs when the first see her. When they first gaze upon the impossible thing that she is, with magic so lush that it leaks out through her mane into a dizzying rainbow that looks more like a void than a dance of lights, impossible depth spinning into eternity, with endlessly long legs, spindle thin and yet powerful enough to move mountains, wings impossibly large and every feather gleaming perfect, a coat so white that nothing can stain it but the dancing rainbow of her mane and tail that give her a pearl's sheen.
She is nothing like them, and she wants to be.
She wants to return to that impossibly vague brush of pink tail and golden coat that she cannot actually remember, though she likes to pretend she can.
Luna has always been distant from her subjects, adoring them from afar, scarred by the memories of death and death and countless death. She has no trust in any of them, fleeting as their lives are.
But Celestia revels in that, in how temporary they are. She bathes in it, tries with wild desperation to appreciate every moment of their short, short lives that they give to her so generously. She cannot be one of them, so she surrounds herself with them in a mad crash, and she pretends for so long that it almost seems true.
Luna cares for everypony, would protect them and praise them, but she loves no one, save perhaps Celestia herself. It is the only way she can find to stay sane.
Celestia loves them all, recklessly, perfectly, painfully aware of how much a tragedy every one of their deaths is, how they weigh eternal on her soul. But she loves them anyway, because they love her too, though she could have become a monster, though she could have become a tyrant or a madmare like Discord before her. They love her, and for them, she will give everything. Her magic, her heart, her very life if such were called for.
Isn't that what love is? Being willing to do anything, just to keep them safe and happy?
“Princess Celestia?” Twilight peered in through the princess' bedroom door, unsure if she was intruding on something important.
“Oh!” Celestia whipped her head around in the direction of the voice. Celestia had been sitting on a rug, staring out the window at the landscape and mountains beyond. She smiled when she saw who it was. “I didn't hear you come in. How can I help you, my faithful student?”
Twilight gingerly stepped inside the princess' private quarters, closing the door behind her. Celestia's smile faded, and her expression was replaced with a quizzical look. “I must speak with you privately, if you have the time.” Twilight's voice was soft, almost timid. Celestia could tell that something wasn't right.
“I always have time for you, Twilight. Come.” she gestured by her side.
Celestia watched as Twilight approached, her slow steps lacking their usual gusto. Twilight did as she was bid and sat beside the princess, though she wouldn't meet her gaze. Twilight pawed at the floor with a hoof, fidgeting slightly. Celestia simply waited, wondering what could be bothering her pupil. Twilight cleared her throat, and Celestia's ears perked in anticipation.
“It's about—“ Twilight paused nervously. “—something Discord said.” Twilight sighed, still unsure of herself. Maybe she should just leave and come back another day—or simply never ask at all. But she was ever so curious, and perhaps even a bit frightened, about what the answer might be or even how Celestia might react.
Celestia herself sighed and gave a small smile, her eyes continuing to rove over Twilight's face. She wrapped a wing around her in a comforting embrace. “You don't have to worry about him, Twilight. What he did—it was hard on everypony. But I promise you, he's not—“
All of a sudden, in a seeming burst of courage, Twilight turned her face toward Celestia, looking her straight in the eyes. “H—Have you ever t—turned anypony into stone?” Just as quickly, Twilight covered her mouth with her hooves, and turned away from the princess. Her body was shaking, her mind racing through a hundred punishments she could receive for being so impudent.
The smile faded instantly from Celestia's face, and she stared blankly at Twilight for a moment before slowly removing her wing and tucking it neatly to her side. Twilight flinched, expecting a rebuttal, but there was none. She slowly turned her head toward the princess, watching her out of the corner of her eye, still fearful.
Celestia had turned away, glancing about the room as if she might find some escape, or to ensure that somepony else was not watching. Then she turned back toward Twilight, but her eyes stopped before she reached her pupil, instead fixating on the floor. She stared at the woodwork, perhaps hoping to find a suitable answer there, but realizing the truth was best left unavoided.
Celestia gave a heavy sigh, and paused a moment before she spoke. “Yes, Twilight.”
Twilight turned to face her mentor, immediately seeing the defeated look on Celestia's face. “But—but why princess? You're always so kind and understanding and generous and caring an—“
Celestia raised a hoof to stop her. Then she turned to Twilight, her face trying to be all seriousness, but Twilight could see a hint of sadness.
“I wasn't always.”
Twilight felt conflicted. She'd practically spent her whole life with the princess. She was never short on patience or understanding or kindness. But Twilight had expected an answer opposite to what she had been given. She had expected Celestia to smile, perhaps laugh even, at such a notion. She wasn't supposed to confirm Discord's words, she was supposed to debunk them!
But, thinking about past events, there was that whole banishment ordeal. Princess Luna had been banished for a thousand years, and she was Celestia's sister. If Celestia was willing to give such a harsh punishment to somepony so close to her, what deeds was she capable of doing to other ponies in Equestria?
There had been silence in the room for several minutes. Celestia finally looked over at Twilight, and could see that she was deep in thought. Celestia never would have brought up past incidents if she could help it. Everypony made mistakes that they regretted—even she.
Twilight looked up at Celestia, and their eyes locked. “But princess—why?”
Again, Celestia looked away, staring out toward the horizon. Her eyes closed as she focused, her face contorting as she worked to bring back long buried memories. The princess opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it again. Instead, she stood up, approaching Twilight slowly with a grim look on her face. Twilight's expression changed from scared to relieved, as she realized the princess was not angry. She stood, awaiting the princess, before she couldn't contain herself.
Twilight rushed forward, pressing herself against Celestia's chest. Celestia was surprised at first, but gently wrapped her wings around her student. They stayed like this for a few minutes, and when Twilight looked up at her, the princess saw fresh tears on her face.
“I—I'm sorry! I'm sorry I asked! I didn't realize—I didn't think—“
“Shh...” Celestia whispered, smiling down at the purple unicorn. With one wing, she wiped Twilight's tears away, while the other stroked her back soothingly. “You did nothing wrong.” Princess Celestia thought hard before she spoke again. “Do you—do you really want to know, Twilight? Do you really want to know why—” she hesitated. “—why I would turn anypony to—to stone?” Her expression was firm and resolute, prepared for whichever answer Twilight gave.
“I—I don't know. Are you sure that—are you sure that you're ready?” Twilight stepped back, examining Celestia up and down with her eyes to be sure she was alright. Celestia turned, moving back to her original position and settling herself onto the floor, her eyes now barely level with the bottom of the window.
“I was never ready.” Celestia began. “The throne was given to me when I was far too young and inexperienced. Times were a lot different then. I ruled with an iron hoof. It was really the only way I knew how. At the time—well, it was after the incident with Nightmare Moon. I was angry with myself, and I took it out on everypony else—in the most cruel way. Even those beyond pony lands heard my name and feared it. I was not a princess then. I was a tyrant.” Celestia flinched at the word, an indication that it was one she was all too familiar with.
“Twilight, I have to show you something. I can't really explain it. You'll just have to see.” Celestia reached a hoof toward Twilight, who was still across the room.
The purple mare edged forward, gulping visibly. She wasn't sure of what was about to happen, or what she would see. But she had a feeling it wasn't going to be pretty. Upon reaching Celestia, she cautiously placed her hoof onto that of the white Alicorn. Nothing happened.
“Twilight.” Celestia looked at her seriously. “What you're going to see is a memory—My memory. Try to remember that it's not real, and there's nothing you can do to change it. It's in the past.”
Twilight nodded, still unsure. But, she knew this was what she had come her for. She wanted an answer, and this was how she was going to get it. Twilight slowly closed her eyes, wondering what secret Celestia was going to reveal—and what others she might be hiding.
Twilight Sparkle suddenly found herself far beyond the castle, in a town that looked much like Ponyville. Before her stood Princess Celestia with several guards, and Twilight almost called to her teacher—when she remembered that this was not real. One of the guards was hauling an empty cart. Twilight wondered what it was for, but assumed all would be made clear in due time.
They were all standing in front of a house, the guards surrounding it on all sides. Twilight moved forward to be closer to Celestia, but as she did so one of the guard's headed for the front door. He would have bumped into Twilight—except that he walked right through her instead. At first, Twilight was confused and frightened, before she realized that she was not a tangible part of the memory, and was not restricted by objects or ponies in her way.
The unicorn guard pounded on the door with a hoof. Twilight could hear scuffling inside, and she peered her head into the building to see what was going on. A mare and stallion were hurriedly pushing three foals underneath a bed in the second room of the small house. Twilight was quite bewildered by these actions, but she continued to observe.
She clearly heard the guard outside as he yelled, “OPEN UP, IN THE NAME OF CELESTIA! ALL MEMBERS OF THIS HOUSEHOLD ARE UNDER ARREST, BY ORDER OF THE PRINCESS!”
Twilight gasped, backing into a corner. She turned toward the family, and her breath caught in her throat at the sight. The mare and stallion were holding each other close, standing in front of the bed under which the foals could clearly be seen from Twilight's viewpoint.
She turned toward the door again as somepony banged against it. A second bang, and she saw the back legs of the earth pony who had kicked the door in disappear. Then, Celestia herself appeared in the doorway.
For once, Twilight was really and truly terrified of the princess. Her eyes stared down at all those before her, a permanent glare on her face. Her expression mirrored her eyes, showing nothing but contempt and hatred.
She moved to the next room, where the couple were quivering. Her cold eyes bored right through them, and Twilight felt herself shiver. She knew what was coming—but nothing could have prepared her for the nature of the outcome.
“Please your highness! We haven't done anything wrong!” The stallion cried out. “Please, have mercy!”
His wife (Twilight assumed) had kept her face buried into his fur, not even daring to look at the princess' menacing gaze. He had a hoof wrapped protectively around her, but Twilight knew that even if Celestia had been powerless, she was still much bigger and stronger. Yet this stallion, in the face of all odds, dared to raise his voice against her.
Celestia continued to glare down at them. The only sound in the room was Celestia's irritated breathing, and the shaky breaths of the other ponies present. Twilight could feel herself growing nervous as the seconds ticked by, even though she was not in any danger.
“No.” Celestia said flatly.
Before they even had time to react, Celestia's horn glowed. Twilight flinched at the burst of magical energy, though she did not feel it. The couple were thrown away from each other, but as soon as they regained their senses, they got up and made a beeline for each other.
But they never made it. Their hooves became like lead, the stone slowly creeping up their bodies. They each reached out a hoof to each other, their wide eyes longing for a last touch. And that is how they stayed, two ponies frozen in time.
“GUARDS!” she roared, so loudly that Twilight was sure the walls shook. The guard who had first knocked on the door appeared almost immediately, followed by three others. He saluted stiffly, awaiting orders, and the other guards followed suit.
“Bring them with us.” Celestia stepped aside to reveal the pair. “I want to put them in the garden, as an example.” She stared at them for a moment, and then her eyes moved to underneath the bed, where the foals still lay.
Twilight gasped. She couldn't—she wouldn't! But Celestia, whether or not she had seen them, turned and left the building.
The guards just stared for a moment, their features blank. Twilight saw one of them shed a tear, and then quickly wipe it away. Even the leader was still for a few moments, before he took a shaky step forward.
“Come on, you heard her. Let's get these two outside so they can be loaded.” All of the guards followed suit, moving slowly forward. They poked and prodded and ran their hooves over the still, stone bodies in disbelief.
“Here, you two.” said the apparent captain. He lifted one of the statues with his magic. “Carefully carry this one. We'll get the other.” He indicated to the fourth guard. The two earth stallions stood next to each other, ready for the heavy load. One statue was placed upon their backs, and they made their way outside to the waiting cart.
“This isn't right and you know it!” the fourth guard said, a little too loudly. The unicorn hadn't picked up the second statue yet, as he was recovering from the exertion lifting the first.
“Keep quiet!” he said. He glanced about the room, making sure there was nopony around to hear. None of the guards had noticed the foals.
“But what she's doing, it's—it's tyranny!” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
The unicorn guard slapped the pegasus across the face. “I told you to shut your trap!” He glared at him angrily. But then his face softened, watching the other guard rub his face with his hoof, and seeing the red mark he had left. His voice grew quiet as well as he said, “She'll hear you. Do you want to end up like them?” He gestured to the statue before him.
“Look, I've got a family, and maybe you do too. I'm going to do what I have to to provide for them and keep them safe.” The unicorn said firmly. He picked up the statue, and the Pegasus moved next to him.
“But what if they had a family?” The other guard said, pausing before they left the room.
“I guess they're on their own now.” the unicorn replied.
As they left the room and began to turn towards the door, the unicorn guard glanced over, checking over the room once again. He had thought he was just being paranoid—but his eyes were drawn to a quick movement under the bed.
He stared down at three sets of eyes, his heart leaping into his throat in surprise. He hadn't entirely meant what he had said before. He figured if these ponies did have any other family, they were old enough to take care of themselves, or being taken care of somewhere else. Punishing adults was one thing—but these foals wouldn't have anypony to take care of them.
The unicorn guard stood aghast, before his partner prodded him to move forward. The guard turned away sharply, deciding not to alert Celestia of the foals presence. If she found them, their chance of survival was zero. If she didn't—their chances were still slim, but there were other ponies around in other houses. Somepony would take care of them, he told himself.
Twilight stared at the helpless foals, all of them still too shocked to cry. The smallest one broke free of the others, crawling out from under the bed. The apparent oldest of the three grabbed at her hoof in an attempt to stop her, yelling for her to come back. Then he, too, left the refuge, followed by the last.
Twilight stepped outside to observe once again, her stomach already in knots. She was in disbelief that Celestia was capable of such deeds. She had always been nothing but kind and generous to Twilight. But now the unicorn was seeing an entirely different side to her mentor.
The foals all rushed outside, one right after another. The youngest cried out, “Momma! Momma!”, her tears finally bubbling to the surface. The oldest wrapped a hoof around her, holding her close. Celestia continued on, pretending not to hear.
Each of the guards in turn looked back, each cursing themselves for doing nothing. There were things in life that they all valued more, whether it was their own lives, or the lives of their families. Even if they had done something, they would just suffer a similar fate as those they were bringing back to the castle. Standing up for what was right would do no good. It was not worth it.
Twilight found herself in Celestia's private quarters again, staring up at the princess as she slowly breathed out, bringing herself back to reality as well. She looked down at Twilight, her eyes sad, but the unicorn could no longer see the loving face of her teacher. All she saw was a menacing glare.
Twilight backed away, shock and horror written across her features.
“Twilight?” Princess Celestia said, concerned. She stood, taking a tentative step toward her student.
Twilight backed up more quickly, smacking her rump into a vanity and causing the contents on top to jostle. She looked up in surprise, both at the sudden noise and at the sudden impact. Glancing to the side, Twilight spotted the door, and began backing up towards it, keeping her eyes on Celestia.
“Monster.” Twilight whispered.
“Twilight, please—“ Celestia hadn't heard her, and began approaching again.
“Y—You're a monster! Stay away from me!” she yelled.
Celestia stopped dead in her tracks.
Tears began to fall down Twilight's face as she reached the door, flinging it open. She gave a long look at Celestia, trying to find the pony she once knew. But with a shake of her head, she disappeared.
After a moment, her head peered around the door at Celestia. “How could you?” she said, her voice cracking, before she turned and ran as fast as she could down the hallway.
Celestia stood dumbfounded. She waited so badly to chase after Twilight—to try and explain. But she knew there was no excuses for her past sins. They were her burden to bear, for as long as she lived. She had tried to hard to bury those memories, both in her own mind and from the history books. But she could never truly forget. Princess Celestia awoke one morning, just as she always did, ready to tackle the affairs of the day. Something nagged at the back of her mind, something that she was forgetting today. She ran through a list of current affairs, things she needed to tend to—but none of them were satisfying the feeling.
As she stepped out of her room, however, she noticed a peculiar box sitting outside her door. There was a blue ribbon around the box, and a tag attached. Celestia levitated the tag closer to her face in order to read what was written on it.
Happy Birthday Celestia Love, Luna
It suddenly clicked in Celestia's mind. Today was her birthday. Of course, she'd stopped celebrating her own birthday long ago. There was far too much to do to take a day off. Anyway, she got invited to and hosted enough parties and events during the year to make up for that. Celestia had nearly forgotten that she actually had a birthday... It had been so long. So many years had passed...
Perhaps it was really because Luna hadn't been here to celebrate with her. A birthday just wouldn't have been the same without—Well, that was in the past now. What was done was done, and anyway... today should be happy. If Luna wanted to celebrate her birthday, than that's what Celestia would do. She could use a day off, in any case.
Celestia realized that she had been lost in thought and was still holding the mysterious package aloft. She pulled off the bow, and it fell lightly to the floor. Lifting the lid, Celestia saw a blue lump of something. Pulling it out, she could see that it was a scarf. A rather long one at that too.
It was a dark blue, exactly the color of her sister. There were white crescent moons adorning each end, melded carefully in with the rest of the scarf. It wasn't sewn, but... Celestia couldn't remember the correct term for this type of material craft. She examined the tassels at the each end... The entire thing was well made and quite beautiful. But where had Luna gotten it, exactly?
Celestia found herself at the doors of the dining hall. She'd been so wrapped up in examining the gift that she hadn't realized she'd subconsciously made her way to her routine destination. Well, breakfast first, and then there was the matter of—No. No working today. Everything could wait. Everything would wait.
Celestia took the scarf and wrapped it around her neck. The castle wasn't particularly chilly, but it wasn't exactly warm, either. Besides, it was the perfect time of year for scarves, even if it wasn't normal attire for Celestia to wear. Celestia had tailors asking—no, begging to make her all manner of custom outfits and accessories—but to each she declined. She had no need to wear frilly outfits or expensive jewels. Everypony knew that she was the ruler of Equestria, and there was no need to flaunt that.
She pushed open the doors, and was surprised to see Luna already at the breakfast table. Luna's head swiveled around as she heard the ancient door squeak on it's hinges, announcing the new arrival. She looked a bit surprised to see her sister, though exactly why she wasn't sure.
Celestia made her way to the table, noticing Luna picking at a bowl of oatmeal. She took a seat directly across from her sister. It would be easier to talk that way. The table was lavishly adorned with fruits and breads and even pastries...but Luna had chosen such a simple thing for herself.
“G-Good morning, Celestia.” Luna stammered quietly, staring at a silver spoon she was swiveling around the bowl.
Celestia wasn't sure what he sister's silence meant. She'd given her this wonderful birthday present, and was now strangely silent... Well, perhaps she'd come around. Celestia began to gather different fares from around the table. But the silence persisted, and Celestia couldn't stand not knowing why.
“Luna, oatmeal? Are you crazy?” Celestia blurted.
Luna stopped her merry-go-round motion and looked up at Celestia. Then she simply shrugged, laying the spoon down inside the bowl, but returning her eyes back to it. Celestia was about to suggest that Luna try one of the tastier pieces on the table when her sister spoke first.
“You don't have to wear that you know.” Luna mumbled.
Celestia paused, her mouth open in anticipation of a raspberry pastry she was levitating before her mouth. She set it down on her plate, her complete focus on Luna now.
“Why wouldn't I want to wear it?” Celestia asked, confused. “It's perfectly lovely, Luna. Wherever did you get it?”
“I—I made it.” Luna's head drifted up slowly to meet her sister's gaze. “I was making it just for myself, for practice. You know that I used to like crocheting, and it's been awhile since I've been able to do it... But I just got so excited that I made it far too long before I even realized it, and then I remembered that it was your birthday. And since I couldn't wear it anymore I just thought it might be nice to give it to you, but it really isn't your color and there are probably loads of mistakes on it and—and—and you don't even wear scarves!” Luna's voice had been steadily raising as she'd gone on her rant, and she breathed just a bit faster than normal from her sudden explosion of words.
“Luna, you are being ridiculous!” Celestia said. “The scarf is beautiful. I will treasure it always! And it's absolutely the best time to wear it, seeing as it's Fall. And you know what else Luna? WE are going to have cake!” Celestia clapped her forehooves together, and an attendant quickly came to her side. Celestia whispered something in his ear, and he trotted off quickly. Celestia scooted the bowl of oatmeal away from Luna and pushed her own plate away.
“But—“ Luna protested, reaching for the breakfast that had been snatched from her, even if she hadn't been eating it.
“And—“ Celestia apparently hadn't finished. “—we are going to celebrate YOUR birthday!” She pointed a hoof at her sister at this statement, smirking. Luna herself looked at Celestia in surprise.
“But it's not—“
“Doesn't matter.” Celestia interrupted. “I've had far too many. And you've celebrated far too few.”
Luna opened her mouth, and then closed it, sighing. “Alright.”
Celestia beamed, but she could see that Luna still wasn't into the whole thing. She tapped a hoof on her chin, thinking. Then her face lit up as she thought of the perfect thing. “I know! We'll go down into Canterlot! You haven't had a chance to see it yet. You'll love it Luna! I can never find enough excuses to get out of this castle to see it myself either. So it will be fun for the both of us!” Celestia was grinning. She could also see the tiniest bit of a smile creeping up on Luna's face.
“I, uh...I might like that.” One corner of Luna's mouth lifted, much as she tried to hide it. Celestia beamed down at her sister, not even trying to hide her own excitement.
And then there was cake. It was nothing really extravagant, and the cooks had whipped it up surprisingly fast. It was just a round cake, although it was a bit larger than average. On top were the words Happy Birthday Princess Luna. There was a single small blue candle, as requested by Celestia. The frosting was a dark blue, much like the color of Luna herself. The wording was white, a perfect contrast against the dark background. Luna gasped when she saw it.
“But it's still not—“
“I meant it when I said we were going to celebrate YOUR birthday. I'm just sorry that the cake couldn't be more extravagant.” Celestia said, solemn.
“No—no it's perfect!” Luna's face lit up.
Celestia smiled down at her sister, glad that she'd finally struck the 'happy Luna' chord. She quickly cut out two generous slices of cake, although Luna's seemed significantly bigger. As Luna grabbed a fork, she glanced across the table, where Celestia was already chowing down on her slice, free of silverware. Celestia looked up and noticed the confused look from her sister.
Luna glanced at the fork she held in the air for a moment. But then she tossed it behind herself, shoving her muzzle onto her plate. This really was a lot of cake... Then again, it had been a long time since she had any cake. She gulped it down with gusto, and when she was finished, she cleaned her plate of any frosting or crumbs. She really was acting like such a foal... But she didn't care, and neither did Celestia. It made her happy just to see Luna happy.
Luna licked around her lips, her tongue making happy smacking sounds. Celestia, giggled, covering her mouth with a hoof.
“What?” Luna asked, her smile replaced by curiosity.
“Oh, nothing Luna.” Celestia made her way around the table to her sister. “Just that you missed a spot. Right HERE.” Her tongue made a slurping sound as it ran up Luna's cheek. The blue pony let out a squeal of surprise as she shivered. Celestia just grinned down at her.
“T-That tickled!” Luna exclaimed. But then she burst into laughter, amused by her sister's foal-like antics. She wasn't sure if it was just an act to make her feel better, or if Celestia was really having fun herself. Luna rubbed a hoof against her face, attempting to clean off the slobbery mess.
Then she groaned. “Oooooh, I think I ate too much cake.” she leaned back and rubbed her belly. “Well then...” a sly smirk spread across Celestia's face, “...if you can't walk...” she suddenly slipped her neck under Luna, using her head to push her onto her back, “...I'll just have to carry you!”
She began to walk towards the door, but Luna started to flail in protest. “I can walk myself!” she flapped her wings, and Celestia felt Luna's weight leave her backside. She promptly landed on the ground next to Celestia, and after dusting herself off, pranced forward with her head held high. But Celestia could see the sly smirk on Luna's face through her high-and-mighty act.
“Hey, Lulu! Oh little Lulu!” Celestia called, following after her.
Luna stiffened at the nickname, pausing before the double doors that led to the hall. “D—Don't call me that!” she stammered, turning to Celestia with a blush.
“Why not, Lu?” Celestia shortened the name this time.
“B—Because Tia—“ Luna quickly covered her mouth with her hooves at her slip-up on her sister's name. “I—I mean Celestia. We're not kids anymore, so it's not funny.” But her argument was weak rather than angry.
Celestia bent down and nuzzled her sister. “Okay. I promise I won't call you that...” she suddenly threw open the double doors, racing through the front hall to the entrance of the castle, and calling back over her shoulder, “...in public! Come on Lu!”
Luna stamped a hoof before chasing after Celestia. She caught up, just as Celestia opened the door to reveal the city of Canterlot spread out before them. Luna blinked in the sudden flash of sunlight beaming into the hall, shading her face with a wing.
Wow, Canterlot was huge, Luna thought. Canterlot hadn't even existed a thousand years ago. There were so many cities and towns that Luna didn't recognize. Equestria had once been her home, but nowadays she felt like a stranger in a foreign land.
“You know what, I've changed my mind.” Luna turned to walk back inside.
But Celestia was too quick, and she grabbed onto Luna's tail with her teeth, pulling her out the door. “No you don't.” Celestia managed around a mouthful of hair.
“Gah!” Luna exclaimed, attempting to pull away. But Celestia was bigger and stronger, so it was no use. She stopped in her struggle, allowing herself to be dragged down the first flight of steps, and giving a blustery sigh in defeat.
Celestia let go, satisfied, but Luna stayed put on the ground. “Come on Luna!” Celestia stuffed her nose under her sister's belly, urging her to get up. Try as she might to stay in a pouting mood, Luna began to giggle.
“H—Hey, that tickles too!” she hopped away from Celestia. But her sister was satisfied; at least she was standing.
“Well, I wouldn't have had to do that if you had just walked like you claimed you were so capable of.” Celestia said sarcastically.
Luna stood, a scowl on her face now. But she looked into the wise, kind eyes of her sister, and couldn't help but smile. It started out small and reluctant, but quickly spread across her face into a wide grin. She rushed forward, pressing her head against Celestia's chest.
Celestia bent down to wrap her neck around Luna in an embrace. They stood like that for a moment, sharing in the joy of finally being together again. Then Celestia straightened, turning toward the marvelous city of Canterlot. “Come on, let's go.”
The endless tick of the clock, the ceaseless march of the days, the torrent of the years; after so very long, they all became so very meaningless.
She had seen empires rise, grow, fall, turn to dust and then rise again all over again so many times that she had, at one time, considered it something of a pastime of hers. To watch mortal ponies struggle to be remembered, to be important, to grasp even the tiniest fraction of true and cosmic greatness... only to watch them fail at every chance, as they always had. She was far older than they realized, so very much older than they even imagined. When the planet was still burning and molten, she and her sister flew tirelessly over the oceans of lava; when the land cooled and the seas formed, they instilled the sparks that would one-day make the world what it was: She, the spark of life; her sister, the spark of magic. Together, they had watched them grow with a keen interest; though her sister seemed to take a more childish glee in watching them grow. It was her right, as the younger, but it still baffled her at the time.
That didn't change once intelligence was gained by these creatures that they had spawned, or the others made as side-projects should their first fail at some point. They were still as violent and skittish as when they were simple animals; indeed, had they not intervened at her sister's begging, they probably would have died several times by now. That was the price of instilling a spark of magic into a world: It had a life all it's own, a life that could- and had- grow out of control very quickly. Now creatures of pure magic were running around, and their creations were very lacking in ways to deal with them, even with her sister giving them strength beyond what the would have naturally had.
Seeing her sister so upset by this had lead to her putting her prodigious mind to the task of saving them.
Though they had done nothing to earn them, the one thing that she could do to help them was to share the gifts that made her and her sister so special. But there was still selfishness within her at the time; she and her sister would still be unique to get both gifts; some would get horns, some would get wings, some would remain unchanged from what her sister had done to them. But that was all she would do for them; everything else would be up to them again.
Oh, that had been an interesting few centuries; watching the gifted ones abuse their power over the ones her sister had altered. And she would, however shamefully now, admit to feeling pride in pointing out the shortcomings of the things they had made; feeling so very superior to them for it.
Then came the shades of ice, the ones they gave the name 'Windigo' to, and the land became ice beneath them as their hate grew. The creatures fed into it, of course, but she had never expected their power to increase past their own; nor for them to be able to trap them within their ice.
When the fire came and melted their prison, she was almost overwhelmed by the sheer emotion it contained. Her sister and her had never embraced tighter before that day; and, to her shock and amazement, the source of the flame that had freed them came not from another being like themselves, but from three little ponies; three little ponies of different types who had refused to fall into hatred and bickering like their fellows.
They couldn't help themselves, flying out to meet these three saviors who had surpassed even their divine power.
Oh, such sweet memories the next few decades were. That had been a wonderful beginning to a wonderful age. The Age of Equestria; they had lived and walked among ponies, among their new friends; she found herself finally sharing in her sister's foal-like glee and wonder at all the things beings like this could accomplish, most of all the ones that still remained unblessed. They made such things with their hooves, possessed such dexterity with such a limited appendage, that she felt no shame in admitting she found herself favoring them.
And it pained her to this day that her careless words had started something so horrible.
That one phrase, that one casual utterance of 'Earth Ponies are my favorites'; it was enough to start the dominoes falling. They began to strut around with the arrogance that she had once displayed, claiming superiority from her favor; not taking this kindly, the Unicorns and the Pegasi began to argue their superiority; and it just get escalating. For a time, while things were looking grimmer and grimmer, she and her sister feared they may summon the Windigos once more; but now, what answered this time was so, so much worse than any ice shade could have ever been.
She shuddered still to think of the name: Discord; the physical embodiment of all things chaotic and the source of Disharmony. And he wasted no time in thanking her for summoning him to this new land.
Underestimating him had been a grave mistake, she could see that in hindsight. It had been so long since anything had rivaled her and her sister in might that she didn't even consider the possibility that he might outclass her. However, he wasn't putting much effort into dealing with her at the time; her sister was able to revert her back from being the stuffed toy he'd turned her into and they'd fled before he could turn his gaze back to her again.
It was here that she finally saw what was truly wonderful about these little ponies that she and her sister had made. Even in the face of a creature whose very existence spat in the face of reality and warped it to his twisted whims and ideals, they still fought back. Many fell; some were so twisted and warped by the chaos beast that it became a kindness to put them out of their misery; some were just... gone. Discord had dubbed them boring and just willed them away, never to be seen again. And still, ponies fought on; every sentient creature they had made (quite the impressive list, if she did say so herself) fought against the chaos, spitting his poisonous words back at him and not letting him sow the seeds of his work so long as their last glimmer of hope remained.
It was then that the unicorns proved their worth; using all their magics, some even giving their very life force, to create six magical trinkets with which to combat the chaos. The embodiments of all the virtues that they held dear.
Honesty: To hold firm and never back down when faced with tempting lies.
Laughter: To find the fleeting joy in life when things seemed darkest.
Loyalty: To never abandon your ideals or your fellow being.
Generosity: To give when it was hardest, so that you may yet inspire someone to be better.
Kindness: To show mercy when it was needed, and to place others above yourself.
And Magic: The very same spark that her sister had put into the world at its conception; along with all the hope for the world she had put into it.
It seemed only fitting that her sister be the one to wield that one in particular, though Kindness and Generosity were her own choices after that. She, herself, insisted on Laughter and Honesty; though was hesitant to claim loyalty. She had never done anything to earn that virtue, as her sister had done with all three of hers, and was fearful that it wouldn't accept her using it.
However, she also knew that she must; for the good of this land that had become their home, and to stop the suffering that Discord was bringing upon their wonderful little ponies. Though she still let out an audible sigh of relief when the virtue didn't reject her.
She gave a half-hearted chuckle to herself; the name for those trinkets was thought up more as a joke than anything. If Discord was to represent Disharmony, then the things that opposed him would, logically, be harmony. And, for some reason, 'Virtues of Harmony' didn't seem to roll off the tongue as well as 'Elements of Harmony'; so that was the name they decided upon. And, with three apiece, she and her sister rode out to meet Discord once more.
However, in the years that his 'rule' had gone on, he had long since grown lax when it came to usurpers to his throne. When she and her sister had arrived to challenge him, that arrogance was his undoing. Instead of doing anything to stop them, he actually broke into a song about his greatness and the pathetic nature of ponies and of her and her sister. Now; there was not a day she didn't regret acting sooner, still believing there was something in that song pushed her beloved sister just enough to sow seeds of discontent in her.
Still, she didn't give him the time for a proper reaction. In the middle of a particularly dramatic part of the song, she finally acted; the magical blast of the Elements, combined with the strength of the bond the two of them shared, turned the chimera-like creature into a stone statue before he could even react to having his song interrupted. And, just like that, the era of Discord was finally brought to an end.
Then came an unintended surprise: She and her sister were asked to take the vacant throne.
While it was true that, thanks to their powerful magics, they had taken over for the unicorns in maintaining the day and night cycle, and that they still far surpassed just about every creature in the whole of the world they had started, the thought of them being deities had left their mind in their time among ponies. However, they had also become a symbol; the ones that had beaten Discord; representative of the three pony types and sources of hope.
It was then that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna began their rule over the nation of Equestria.
The regent of the sun finally opened her eyes. There was a long and painful history to her and her sister; and going over it was simply too much for her right now. Even remembering how she once was was a painful experience right now; it broke her heart to remember that she was once so callous and heartless as to consider watching mortal civilizations die over time to be a way to kill time between the eons. That she had once laughed at the fact that some of them were killing each other over petty concerns.
Her time among those early ponies, before Discord had changed the both of them so very much.
It was their first time having friends outside of each other; and the first time dealing with the problems that mortal friends presented. They'd watched them grow old, while they stayed the same, convincing themselves that, even though they'd seen it so many times in the past without reaction, that the ponies they had befriended simply wouldn't die. Even as their aged to the point that they could barely walk without help, they continued to lie to themselves that they would be fine. They lied and lied and lied, right up until the last breath left their first friend's chest.
They hadn't taken it well. Luna had bawled for hours, while she'd just stood there for a long time; eventually, it was just so painful to them that neither of them was thinking straight and they decided to do the unthinkable: They had tried to bring their friend back to life.
And they succeeded, making everything that followed so very much worse. He had begged them to return him to death, he had screamed in agony at the movement of the corpse he'd awoken in, he had broken down crying about how this isn't what he'd wanted. He never once tried to harm them, never once became a danger to anypony else in spite of the maddening agony he must have felt for the days he existed in that state. That made their eventual decision to honor his request and return him to the sleep of death all the more painful; but, with his last moment of undeath, he did give them a heartfelt 'thank you', which eased the sting of it a tiny bit.
After that, they both swore to never defy death again, no matter how much they wanted.
To this day, the images that had been burned into her mind still came to her mind as she watched yet another pony die, reminding her of what would happen if she ever dared try again. And she had been begged by many a grieving family member to bring back a family member, Luna having missed out on most of this thanks to her relatively recent return, and had to turn them all down. Some of those ponies hated her for it, thinking that she could just do things like that on a whim and simply chose not to for some selfish reason; she would let them think as such, just to avoid telling them the truth.
There was so much about the history of Equestria that she kept hidden from her precious little ponies; almost all of the details regarding the time of Discord had been taken out, to avoid them learning of the horrors the beast now loose in their home was capable So much more was expunged from the royal archives regarding their role in early pony culture. It was just too much for them to have known; best to let them fill in the gaps as they saw fit, ponies were good at that.
The sound of laughter broke her from the train of thought she'd been following for the better part of an hour and the Alicorn caster her gaze- curiously- out one of the few windows in the palace that opened.
One of the guards had brought his child to the palace and was showing the still young and wonder filled filly around. It was enough to bring a small smile to the mare's face. She didn't even pretend that she didn't view her subjects as her children; and, as a mother, she went above and beyond to make sure they had almost everything thing they wanted. She prided herself on being a somewhat doting 'parent', and there was always room under her wing for another.
She spread those massive wings of hers now, jumping from an open air balcony and lazily gliding down to meet the foal. There were so many wonderful things for her to see, and Celestia wanted to make sure she saw as many of them as possible.