Prompts 1 and 3(maybe 2 kind of… I don’t know…)
Two sisters sat across from each other, silently. They were running out of options, and the residents of the land were growing tired of empty promises and conflicting decisions. Both of them knew what had to be done, but neither one wanting to say it. Finally, one of them broke the pause.
“What choice have we? If we do nothing there will be riots!”
“They are already rioting, sister. They need resolution and clear leadership, two things we have failed to give them.”
“If they have one pony to look to for guidance instead of two, then there may be peace here.”
“What are you saying? You would have one of us abdicate?”
“No…” Star Swirl muttered. He leafed through his books, searching for more accounts, more information, but every scrap he found corroborated the awful truth he’d first found.
“The Elements of Harmony had never been known to kill, even if that means eradicating a possessing spirit. If Celestia uses them on Luna… Nightmare Moon won’t be eliminated.”
Star Swirl’s reading candle flickered out, little more than a pool of wax inside its holder. The magician bumped his shins against the desk, cursing softly as he fumbled for another candle.
He brought it to his horn, about to cast a lighting spell, when a clap of thunder shook the castle. He rushed to the window, and beheld a scene he had witnessed many times. Celestia and her sister clashed, each blast of magic parrying the other. They were evenly matched, fittingly symbolic for a pair of twins who controlled opposing forces of nature.
“It has to end,” Star Swirl muttered. “I know it does. Luna… I’m so sorry.”
((Didn’t really get to finish, but this is as far as I got.))
Celestia trotted down the hallways of the palace. Every stone, every archway, all of it was familiar. Nothing had changed in the past decade. Banners hung from the wall, disguising the grey stone with colorful depictions of history. Celestia paused to gaze at one where the three old tribes were huddled together against the cold and smiled. It was hung exactly as it had been when this place was built. Overseen by herself, and by Luna.
With a firm shake of her head, Celestia moved on. It had been nearly ten years to the day since she’d had to betray her sister.
Not betray. Liberate.
Even as she thought them, Celestia didn’t believe the words. Instead she focused on the clopping of her feet as she made her way towards the throne room. It was afternoon and she’d just finished up with a nice tea break, ending exactly at one-zero-four and now she was off to join Luna in the afternoon court.
No, that was wrong. She was off to the afternoon court, just like always. Just like she had for every singly day except Sundays for the countless years before this. With or without Luna. It mattered not.
It should’ve been quiet. She knew that that was a ridiculous thing to expect. The wounded ponies wouldn’t simply stop groaning. There were plans to be made and organizing to do and supplies to order. Silence was a ridiculous thought. Still, she could not shake the feeling that the entire world should’ve gone mute. How could it continue to spin on without a care?
But she knew by now that that was the way the world worked. It cared little for the grief, however great, of its inhabitants. She stood in a sea of evidence, a battlefield that had seen the last victory in a long and bloody war. The thickest part of it, too, but of course her sister had never been one to shy away from a fight. Even twisted as she was, Luna was still Luna.
“Princess?” The tremulous voice belonged to a Unicorn mare, one who Celestia knew well. She stood in front of Celestia with a group of ponies behind her, no doubt survivors who were still in fighting condition. Concern was written on all of their faces.
“Are you all right?” Lilac Meadow’s voice faltered slightly as Celestia turned her blank gaze on the Unicorn, but soldiered on. “It’s just that… Well, you’ve been standing here a while and… You’re crying, Princess.”
Celestia blinked once, finally becoming aware of the wetness in her eyes. Slowly the Alicorn brought a hoof to her cheek and when she removed it discovered that she had been weeping. She held a momentary inner debate, but sorrow won out over strength and she found she could not even try to hide the despair.
It had been too, too long since Celestia was forced to take those drastic measures. A thousand tiring Years, Wondering if She could have done things differently. She rarely slept, Ate only as much as She needed. She knew Ponies, but it wasn’t the same. Their Companionship was short lived, Not like the bond They had shared. A thousand Years, Any day now. When they last spoke, there was nothing but Hate in Her eyes. It cut Her, But She deserved it. If Celestia had only been stronger, Wiser, If there had been ANY other way, She’d of taken it… She only had Her short lived Citizens, and ‘Relatives’ who were just inbred reminders of all Her failures. She had, recently, taken on a Student. A Unicorn filly with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and Bright eyes. As shameful as it was, She sometimes thought of Her Loyal, little student as a replacement for all She lost.
Soon they would meet again. Would She even be able to look Her in the Eye? She had to try to apologize, just once more. One hoof in front of the other, Celestia walked up to the dark Alicorn, Convincing Herself to not turn back. Surprisingly, when Their eyes met, They were tired, without any of the Anger She had been expecting. “Princess, You’re crying.” Of course She was How could She not? She looked the same as She did a thousand Years ago, and would look, a thousand years in the future. Just because She couldn’t fight Her own battles. “It’s okay…” She didn’t deserve pity, Celestia had done so much that couldn’t be undone. “I’m sorry, My most faithful Student.”
Commentary from Donny’s Boy
I like the subversion of expectations—that the Nightmare Moon-resembling pony here is Twilight, not Luna. I also like the line, “Princess, you’re crying.” I do think a bit of expansion, including just what the falling out between Twi and Celestia involved, would have been nice, though.
Screams echoed through the night air, but were drowned out by the explosion that tore through the Castle of the Two Sisters. The blast sent chunks of masonry to rain upon the forest nearby, shaking the very foundations of the fortress so badly that colonnades and walls came tumbling down. Ponies, nobles, knights, and commoners alike, all rushed out of the rapidly escalating battleground in a frenzied rush, pausing only for the briefest of moments to pick one another up as they fled into the Everfree Forest. Rising over the cries and falling stone came the sound of laughter. It’s source was an alicorn, her fur and feathers as black as the void itself, rising up from the explosion’s origin on strong wingstrokes. All who looked upon her knew despair for she was neither their beloved princess of the sun nor their forgotten princess of the night. Her horrific, maniacal laughter continued as she spiraled upwards on the thermal draft, sending the ponies below scattering into the night in a blind terror.
Princess Luna took a deep breath as she sat down in the center of her room, looking out the window at the soft glow of twilight. She hesitated before closing her eyes. She always meditated with her eyes closed, but she felt anxious at the thought of it.
She took another breath and shook her head. She was only appreciating the view of the sunset out the window. Nothing more. When she shut her eyes she let out her breath in a long sigh, emptying herself and letting her mind focus.
Her duty as a princess was to serve her subjects. Though she was royal, though she guided them and protected them and ruled them, all of it was for them. Her rule was for no benefit of her own, for no glory or pleasure of her own. It was proper that she did not receive those things, as they would only distract her from her true purpose. The princess’s nature was to love rather than be loved.
Luna furrowed her brow and took another deep breath as words flashed through her mind, and she felt a shiver all over her body. It was nothing. It was only her own weakness.
Edge was not a soldier. But her unwavering determination made others think of her a decorated captain. Awakened by the cries of orders and shuffling suits of armor, Edge forced herself out of bed.
I’m going to be late, she thought as she looked at the window facing her bed. Or not. Has the Summer Sun Festival even begun?
The skies were dark. Still night, without any hint of sunrise. Edge continued to get out of bed. Princess Celestia needed the proposal for a new addition to residential plaza when she convened with Canterlot’s Assembly. As a Royal City Planner, the Princess relied on her for when Canterlot needed to expand or renovate.
Edge lit a lantern and placed it on a tilted table. She unrolled a large piece of parchment that spanned the length of the desk, took a stick of charcoal, and then sketched the cityscape of Canterlot. On it were two new buildings surrounding an open space.
A far-off rumble caused Edge’s arm to jerk upwards. She scowled when she noticed a thick, out of place line on her paper. What happened outside?
With a final heave, Luna pushed the last stone from her clearing into the surrounding ring and sat on the ground, sweating. She looked long around at the rocks, the gray rocks that stretched as far as the eye could see. She couldn’t sit down for long. She stood up and walked across the clearing, then back, then across again, crossing back and forth every which way feverishly. She looked around at the rocks again.
“A dog came in the kitchen,” she sang to herself, “and stole a crust of bread … Then cook up with a ladle, and beat him till he was—” She stopped, suddenly self conscious.
“Aw, I liked the sound of that one,” said the Nightmare.
“You’re here again,” said Luna.
“You’re here again,” said the Nightmare.
“Just like every day.”
“Just like every day.”
The two sat quietly for a moment.
The best definition of a pony is: a being that goes on four legs and is ungrateful.
The prompt goes up in three hours, at 3:00pm Pacific, 6:00pm Eastern.
The forest was alive.
It had acres upon acres of lush growth. It had trees, twisted in strange and lively shapes, draped with thick green foliage. It had swamps, gurgling with decay and renewal. It had mosses, coating even the rocks, spreading life everywhere it could gain hold. It had creatures, large and small, strong and swift, ferocious and tremulous.
The forest was wild.
Civilisation was forgotten here. No hoof shaped the forest. Roots broke through the millennia-old cobbles of long-lost palaces. Plants, animals, weather, and magic alike ran loose, unshaped and unpredictable.
The forest was lonely.
Princess Luna sat across the table, eyeing the piles of disorganized papers stacked on a small metal tray. She focused her gaze at the slender dragon-like creature. How a dragon could see in such a dim light— or have the need to have a desk too small for him to fit his legs under— was beyond her. A dragon that could grant wishes? It seemed more like a fairy tale for fillies and colts.
But the dragon acted quite seriously.
“You’re a good soul,” the dragon grumbled, “so that means you can purchase just about anything. And that includes dominance of any land you choose, including Equestria. There’s just no refunds at that point.”
Princess Luna smiled, but that quickly gave way to a conflicted stare. Then the guards report of strange happenings in the cave inside the mountains wasn’t a lie.
“You say that I can acquire dominance immediately. But how can you possibly do that? Nomination for new cabinet members and the transition period takes more than three months.” she asked testily. “You’re but a dragon.”
The night sky shuddered under her breath and Luna enjoyed the sensation. Constellations roiled and churned under the most delicate of her touches, while the moon dimmed or brightened at her command. It was nice to know that something still remained under her control.
The younger of the two immortal diarchs who ruled over Equestria stood upon one of the many deserted parapets of the Castle of the Two Sisters, providing her with a view unimpeded by the dense foliage of the Everfree Forest. It was one of the reasons she and Celestia had chosen the location for the seat of their rule.
The young alicorn’s face darkened at the thought of her sibling. A sharp intake of her breath left the stars dancing in place, quivering under her control of them.
They had agreed together that the castle was to forever remain under their joint rule, a symbol of their unity. And for a time, it had. The castle had once withstood siege by the forces of chaos itself and had played host to many momentous treaties. But no longer. For Celestia, most beloved in all of Equestria, had decided otherwise.
Under the cold night, Twilight Sparkle felt her heart burn. The air was thick, gentile, but her breath seemed to draw fire. Drumbeats pounded in her chest. Violent. Balling water trickled from her head and flowed freely down her cheeks. She could not tell if they were tears or if it was sweat.
She forced her eyes to close. She felt the pain of the edges of her eyes twist and compress. Even under her eyelids, the landscape of the isolated night flashed brilliantly before her.
Stars dotted the Canterlot sky. The Moon, with its gentile face, granted Equestria the reprieve of the Sun’s blinding light. Night mist curled and played amongst itself.
And yet, Twilight Sparkle heard crying.
She felt her hooves move, though she herself was immobile. Unwilling to step outside the fortress of her blanket.
Her hooves tapped against the cold stone of the castle floor.
She forced her eyes shut. They were already closed. But this was not a dream, she knew. There was another word for what she had experienced. She dared not speak its name, for such a word drew evil spirits to the pony unfortunate— or foolhardy enough to speak the word aloud.