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Chapter 3

One very illuminating lesson on abacus use and maintenance and several hours of peaceful study later, Twilight and Luna left the library. Twilight could still hardly believe it as Luna had challenged to beat her with a calculator - and then won hoofs down. All with the help of beads and her own mental faculties she had computed things Twilight had wanted to write down before even getting to the calculator. For the first time in a very, very long time Twilight felt, well, stupid. She often felt foalish, out of place or embarrassed. She had never been made to feel stupid.

Luna had meant only to show off a little though, and Twilight held nothing against her. The younger princess had little enough to be proud of as it was. And that little display had helped the Princess make several insights to current tax regulations. Twilight was honored that the Princess had turned to her several times through the night, using her to clarify what the books could not. And she had gotten her own studying done besides, quite happy to find a seat elsewhere on the table and go through her current subject of medicinal magics. She had had to force Luna to take a break, however, around midnight to eat. It was only as the princess picked listlessly at some bread that Twilight remembered she wasn't feeling well. Still, she had managed the rest of the night without trouble.

Now as they headed out, Twilight tried to stifle a yawn. It wasn't enough though, and caught the princess's eye.

"You've done so much, Twilight Sparkle. I shouldn't have kept you so long."

"No, no." Twilight insisted as she had throughout the night. "I enjoyed it. Besides, I've always been a bit of night owl."

"You realize that I'm going to lower the moon now? You've been up the entire day and night!"

Twilight hadn't in fact realized the time. Still, the smile she gave the princess was sincere, and she kept her head up.
"It won't be the first time. Please, princess, allow me to stay just a little longer, to see you lower the moon."

"Hmm, you sound as if I were your mother to send you to bed." Luna said, her usually serious tone of speech once again getting playful for a few moments. "I am glad to have you, but you needn't worry. It is much easier to lower the moon then to raise it. That is why, ah, she had to use such magic to refuse the moon its course."

Twilight nodded, but the princess's words did nothing to abate her worry. She had never managed to approach the subject with Luna throughout the night, out of a mix of awkwardness in bringing it up and respect for the princess. But if it could hold any information to help the princess, Twilight needed to know more about Nightmare Moon. She had watched the princess struggle to keep her focus, and levitating even simple things seemed to tax her unduly. Whatever ailed the princess, it was no simple sickness. She did not sneeze, she did not cough or moan. But she seemed weakened, drained.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" Twilight asked. To her surprise, Luna began to laugh. It was soft but full of joy. A thought flashed across Twilight's mind that Luna must have a wonderful singing voice. The notion was gone as soon as it came, barely noticed. She turned to Luna in confusion.

"You rescue me from my prison, the prison I built myself. Reunite me with my loving sister and forgive me all my trespasses. Now you watch over me with all the attention a mother would give her filly, and you ask to help!" Luna giggled. Twilight didn't know princesses could giggle. She felt embarrassed by the praise heaped on her and looked away. She was surprised by the soft brush against her back. She looked up to see Luna had extended a wing to her.

"Your friends are lucky to have you. And I am honored to be worth your attention."

"Princess, i-it is my honor, after all-"

"I know, I know. Celly tells me I do myself a disservice. I am a princess. What does that mean, Twilight?"

"Being a princess?" Twilight didn't understand. She realized Luna's wing still lingered against her. She really couldn't tell how to feel about that.

"To me it means I have a duty to fulfill. A duty I have failed for a thousand years, and still fail every day. Please, do not praise me for what I have not done. It is a hollow title, not worth the mention, and it shames me to hear my name spoken alongside my sister's." she removed her wing, folding it tightly to her side once more. Twilight said nothing. It felt like the darkness of night was closing in on her, seeping through her skin and into her, laden with isolation and sorrow.

She let Luna walk out onto the balcony alone this time. From what she understood, there was a natural tempo to the skies that both sisters followed, yet it was still theirs to manipulate. It in fact needed their manipulation, perhaps not steady enough. And the twilight was apparently the worst time for it, as far as she could see. She knew Celestia's and Luna's magic stemmed from the same source, her mentor had told her as much, yet they were polar opposites. As one's domain waned and the other's took over, the natural order was strained, requiring constant guidance. Thus came the practices of raising and lowering the sun and moon. Twilight could only imagine the strain Celestia had put herself monitoring magics so at odds with her own talents. And for a thousand years! No wonder Luna felt guilt bear down on her.

Luna did not raise into the air this time. She seemed collect herself. Twilight took a second glance. Not collect herself - she seemed to be collecting the shadows around her. Twilight's eyes strained to make sense of what they were seeing. The shadows behaved something like a fluid, something like a gas, broiling and sliding towards the moon princess. Yet these words were too strong, gave the darkness more of a presence than it had. Only when Twilight stared at the Princess's back could she make out something approaching an outline. The darkness at first seemed just a cloak, but the closer Twilight looked the more she saw the darkness weave its way as part of Luna's being. It was in between the strands of her hair, under her feathers and inside a coat. She was less a pony and more an extension of the night itself. Twilight sat in awe.

She didn't even realize the moon had dipped below the horizon until Luna gasped sharply. It was perhaps her first breath the entire time. The darkness dissipated around her. Twilight rushed to her side as the Princess got on all four hooves and wobbled, unable to catch her footing.

"Twilight?" Luna's voice was so quite Twilight would have mistaken it for Fluttershy's. "Perhaps there is something more you can yet do for me."

"Yes?" Twilight asked. To her surprise, Luna then stumbled and fell against her. She remained on her hooves, if only thanks to Twilight propping her up. Twilight paused, unclear what to do. Luna nodded towards the hall. Twilight cautiously took a few steps, and Luna followed along, using her for support.

It was slow going through the dark halls, and Twilight hoped they would make it before the castle awoke and everyone could see them like this. She kept her eyes forward, very determined not to glance at the weakened pony resting on her. It just wasn't proper, she told herself. She wanted to give Luna her privacy to be weak.

"The great and terrible Nightmare Moon..." Luna mumbled. She began to laugh at something Twilight couldn't even fathom. It was not a joyful giggle as before; it was almost terrifying. A mocking laugh, cruel even, and directed at herself. Twilight suddenly very much wished that Princess Celestia would hurry up and raise the sun - she suddenly very much felt the need for a little bit of light.

"Imprisoned...banished...imprisoned in the place banished to...." Luna's mumbling became less coherent. Twilight admitted she was a bit frightened, trying to convince herself it was for the princess's sake. Finally she allowed herself to glance over at Luna. Luna's eyes were mostly closed, her hooves dragged against the ground. Her lips moved constantly even though Twilight only occasionally heard a word or two. It didn't seem likely she knew where she was. This was confirmed as she had to nudge the Princess to take a corner. She very carefully guided Luna back towards her room. Guards were just beginning to roam the halls, along with a few of the clerical staff and other functionaries. Twilight tried to hurry along, feeling indecent. Fortunately, either no one noticed or no one cared, for at the least Twilight didn't notice any glances shot her way. She thanked her lucky stars (not noticing the irony at the time) they made it back to her room without interruption.

"Please, Princess, into bed..." Twilight whispered.

"Stars as my blanket..." Luna replied. Twilight managed to nudge her towards the bed and Luna took the hint. She clambered in and even got herself under the covers. Feeling that any sense of propriety had been suspended, she put a hoof to the Princess's forehead.

"Yow." she said with a frown. It wasn't actually painful, but it was no small wonder the Princess was so discombobulated. Twilight magicked another glass of water.

"Princess, try to drink." she pleaded, holding the glass right to Luna's lips. Luna's gaze slid over to the glass, and for a moment she just stared at it blankly. Finally she leaned forward, and Twilight helped her drink. She drained the glass, and a second later her head hit the pillow.

"Don't worry Princess." Twilight said quietly, putting the glass aside. She took a look around the room. Since absolutely nothing had been touched, not even the desk, Twilight was sure the Princess wouldn't mind her using it so long as she cleared up for herself.

"Just need to...ahhh..." Twilight tried to stifle another yawn. She trotted over to the desk, and looked around. It had been used she realized, just tidied very meticulously. A slightly open drawer beneath caught her attention, and opening it up Twilight found a couple ink wells, a dozen quills and just as many sharpened pencils. A second drawer (Twilight's curiosity overcoming her sense of privacy) revealed papers, a small book, and two more abacuses.

"How many of these does she need?" Twilight asked herself. A thought crossed through her head that with three abacuses or so, Luna could probably re-derive all the calculus that had been developed in the last thousand years. She pushed that thought aside, closing the drawers. She squeezed her eyes shut, and with a flash of her horn a couple of books appeared in front of her on the table.

"Oh good, I got the right ones this time." Twilight said, rubbing one eye. "Now...let's see...." she opened one book to where she had left a small silk bookmark, and got to work.

---

"No....don't raise the sun yet...." Twilight mumbled, feeling herself waking up against her will.

I'm afraid you're far too late to stop me, my faithful student."

"Wha-huh?" Twilight raised her head. Celestia removed the hoof that had nudged the young unicorn awake.

"Princess Celestia!" she realized, eyes going wide. "I'm so sorry, I must have overslept, and I, I..." she looked around, realizing where she was. Princess Luna's room, at her desk to be precise. Twilight spared a glance at her book. Good, she hadn't drooled on it. She had trained herself not to most of the time.

"I hope sister didn't keep you up." Celestia said, a smile on her face. Twilight was quick to shake her head.

"No, not at all. I insisted. I never, I didn't mean to fall asleep."

"One cannot be a day and night pony. You've missed most of the morning."

"Yeah Twilight! Where were you?" Twilight looked down to find her draconic assistant tapping his foot. Twilight smiled at his indignation.

"I'm sorry Spike. I guess I got carried away studying last night." she turned back to Celestia, but forgot what she was going to say. Celestia's eyes were on her sister. Twilight turned to look; Luna was sleeping but restless, her brow furrowed as she tossed about. Twilight feared what nightmares Luna could dream up.

"She has a fever." Twilight said. "I think it just came on last night."

"How was she?" Celestia asked. Spike caught on to the sudden turn in conversation and tried to peer up at Luna.

"Weak, but quite lively." Twilight couldn't help but smile as she thought back to Luna's passion for both mathematics and history. Celestia nodded and sighed. She seemed so old for once. How much did she have to watch over? How many did she already care for?

"Perhaps I shall speak with her later about helping with the moon." Celestia suggested. "She will need her rest."

"I, I'm sure it's just a passing fever." Twilight said, though she knew her words to be empty. Nonetheless, Celestia looked warmed by them. She turned to Twilight with a pleasant smile, her face so serene that Twilight caught herself wondering how she had ever thought of the Princess as looking old.

"She isn't the only pony in need of rest. I will have breakfast - or at this point, perhaps lunch - sent to your room. I must return to my duties, but perhaps we will be able to speak more later."

"But Princess-!"

"Now Twilight, come along. It will do nopony any good for you to wear yourself sick over Luna. I'm sure she'd agree."

Twilight knew that the younger princess would, but still she hesitated, biting her lip. Still, how was one to argue with a goddess, especially one who took such pains as Celestia did for her? Twilight reluctantly followed at Celestia's heels, and Spike followed at hers.

Twilight hadn't even really looked at her room before now. It was nearly a mirror image of Luna's, only with a smaller bed and lighter curtains. Spike had already done his best setting up, which mostly entailed organizing every book Twilight had. Stacks no greater than six, four for certain marked tomes, so as not to cause undue stress. The stacks about the floor and desk would naturally be in dewey decimal order. Aside from the occasional fit of mad studying or unexpected arrival of Rainbow Dash through her window/balcony/wall, Twilight took her library ownership seriously and always treated books with care. Of course, most of these books weren't hers to take, but Twilight thought of it as checking them out. She fully intended to pay herself any late fees she incurred.

"Don't worry, my little pony. Get some rest." Celestia told her. Twilight nodded, feeling her lids get heavier. After Celestia left, Twilight sat down right there on the floor and let out a yawn.

"Great, and what am I supposed to do?" Spike complained. "I don't even have any chores." he turned to Twilight. Twilight's gaze was blank for a moment.

"Twilight? Twi!" Spike snapped his fingers in front of Twilight's face. She found herself shaking her head, trying to clear her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and finally focused.

"I can't go to sleep. Not now." she said. "There's got to be something I can do to help. I don't even know if anything I've learned about diseases and medicine applies! No one's studied alicorns that much."

"Studied who now?" Spike asked. Twilight sighed, sounding impatient.

"Alicorns. Like the princesses? You can't just cross a pegasus pony and a unicorn, after all. Princess Celestia never spoke much about it, but apparently there used to be other alicorns. It's all just legends and fairy tales though. Maybe if I could just get my hooves on some records, if there were any historical mention of alicorn society or history, or even physiology!" Twilight hung her head. "I doubt I'll find so much as a footnote in the entire library."

"Well, what if it's not in the library?" Spike asked.

"Huh?" Twilight's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?"

"These books would be old, right? Like old old. Like old old old-"

"Spike."

"Sorry. Anyway, remember that time you had me track down that book on pre-Canterlot Equestrian folklore? The original copy? And I had to go down into the basement to find the archives?"

"The archives!" Twilight perked up. "Oh how could I have been so stupid! Of course, there, if there was anything at all...." she paused, and suddenly her entire expression dropped. "Oh, wait. We had to get Princess Celestia's permission and a special key just to look at the copy, and they wouldn't even let me turn the pages myself..."

"And they made me sit outside in case I 'accidentally set the books aflame'" Spike said with a roll of his eyes. "Like I'd make that mistake more than four times."

"Uh huh." Twilight was barely listening. She was torn in two directions internally. Princess Celestia had told her to stay here, even had lunch on the way for her. She'd be so disappointed if Twilight exhausted herself before they got another chance to talk. Then there was also the fact that they'd probably have to find some way to get to the archives without the sun princess's permission. But she had seen how pained Luna was to fulfill her role, to try to make up for what she felt she had to. If she wasn't able to raise the moon - not by virtue of imprisonment or anything but simply unable to - Twilight could only imagine how heartbroken she would be. Twilight knew Celestia cared. But so did Luna.

"Spike, I'm going to need you to stay here." Twilight said with resolve. Spike just gave her a questioning glance.

"Someone's going to need to take my food when it comes or they'll know I'm out." she explained.

"But Twilight, aren't you hungry?" he asked. "When was the last time you ate?"

"That's not important right now Spike." Twilight told him, already heading for the door. "If anyone asks, I'm sound asleep."

"Wow, good thing you're not the element of honesty." Spike retorted.

"Honesty is more than just words." Twilight retorted. "It's about intent. And I intend to help Princess Luna."

"Even despite what Princess Celestia said to you?" Spike asked. Twilight, half out the door, paused. She felt pained by the question, by what Spike was getting at. Was she really going to go through with this? Still, Celestia hadn't been there, to see Luna work. And Luna would never tell Celestia how troubled she was, Twilight knew. It was up to her. So she forced herself through the doorway, and with a nod, shut the door behind her. Spike sighed.

"Hope she doesn't expect me to save her any of that lunch." Spike said to himself. Maybe he could busy himself constructing a Twilight replica in pillows for when somepony came by.

---

While the main floors of the castle were all built with the open world and sunlight in mind, as one descended into the basement carved out of the mountainside it soon became an entirely different world. The walls were gray stone and the ceilings were very low; the lack of windows meant that small, magically lit lanterns were the only source of light. Down here there was no night and day, only an even mix of pale shadows and dim light. It was not a part of the castle meant for dignitaries or guests or the public, so little value was placed on aesthetics. Twilight only knew the way thanks to her studies of the architecture and layout of the castle. She passed by several maintenance rooms, one with its door open just a crack.

"...asleep now.." came a voice from inside the room. Twilight was a little startled, but immediately admonished herself for thinking she'd be alone down here, what with all it took to keep the castle running. She brought her steps to a tiptoe so as not to disturb whoever was conversing inside.

"...would she.....finally....real ruler." Twilight only half caught the mumbles, but her ear picked up at what she heard. What was that? She was just behind the door now, and her curiosity forced her to stop and listen.

"It's taking too long, she's putting herself at risk."

"I think she knows what she's doing."

"Why now?"

"Had to be sooner rather than later, nopony would suspect."

"She could just-"

"Oh shut up. Look what happened last time. No, this time will go much smoother."

"I suppose you're right"

"Now shut up before somepony comes, right?"

Twilight heard movement, and in a panic, started the only spell for the situation. She winked out moments before the door opened. More a credit to her luck than her skill, she appeared around the corner of where she had been heading. Her heart was in her throat, particularly unpleasant given its pounding. Twilight tried to make sense of what she heard.

"It couldn't be." she told herself. There was a misunderstanding here, there'd have to be. It'd turn out she had overheard two guards moonlighting as actors and practicing their lines. Or perhaps some elaborate game. It couldn't actually be....that somepony was plotting something.

'Look what happened last time' the words played themselves over and over in Twilight's head. They were only eventually drowned out by the ringing that had developed in her ears. The last time there had been a plot against the throne of Equestria....the only time there had been a plot against the throne....

It couldn't be! It simply couldn't. Somepony was up to something. Perhaps they were stealing from the castle, or forging documents, or something. Twilight had a bitter taste in her mouth realizing these were her ideal scenarios. But nothing there suggested the princesses were in danger. Except Luna was mysteriously ill, and now Celestia's attention and magics were even more taxed than usual. Twilight swallowed. She needed to find those archives!

Twilight really wished she had put some thought into a camouflage spell. She was jumpy now and didn't want to be seen. First there was the fact that while technically not anywhere she wasn't allowed to be (yet), the sun princess's' personal student was gather notice down here. Twilight didn't want word getting back to Celestia. Then there was the fact that if - and that was if, she shouldn't jump to conclusions - there was in fact some movement against Equestria's royalty, once again Twilight did not want to be noticed down here, where whatever plot (maybe) was happening.

Twilight reached the room she knew to be the archives. It wasn't guarded, and for a few reasons. It was low priority, deep within the castle, and then there was the little fact that it the door was sealed magically and was otherwise all but impenetrable. Twilight knew this was the turning point. Go back now, and she had taken a jaunt around the castle, most definitely with enough time to spare for a nap before Princess Celestia returned. Go through with this, and not only was she breaking the princess' trust, but maybe one or two laws while she was at it. Twilight thought back to Spike's words, and wondered what Applejack would say.

"Shame on ya.'" Imaginary Applejack said to Twilight. "Fer even thinkin' y' could just hit the hay while y've got friends needin' ya." Okay, perhaps imaginary Applejack had an even thicker accent than her real world counterpart. She still had a point. Twilight nodded. Doors really didn't make a difference when one could just pop in.

Twilight cast the spell with something approaching practiced ease. She tried to open her eyes, expecting to see the room. Only something went wrong. Something felt weird. It didn't seem like she had eyes. Or any sort of body really. Twilight stifled the rising panic. She could feel something. She had never wondered how exactly her teleportation spell worked, but apparently it moved her somewhere, through something. And now, she guessed, she was stuck in that somewhere in between points in reality. Twilight could feel a barrier, a pressure of some sort, holding her back. The door wasn't just warded, she realized, but so was the entire room. If she lost focus, it would fling her back out where she had started from – only her continued casting of the spell kept forcing her against the barrier. Twilight mustered her resolve. She had come this far, she would not be denied now. Thinking back to how she had traced Luna's spell last night, Twilight began to mentally probe the ward. An old, solid spell like a stone wall. Yet Twilight could feel a spiderweb of fractures. Images began to form in her mind as she tried to make sense of the spell. A wall, yes, and the fractures were not random. They were symbols, writing, the language of the spell written into its raw magical energy, giving that energy form and purpose. Twilight imagined she still had a horn, and began to scratch off one of the symbols.

The spell shuddered and died as Twilight broke its ancient circuits. She found herself flung forward into reality, tumbling against the floor. Laying on her side she gasped for air, glad she even had lungs to do so with. Whatever her teleportation spell was, it was far greater than she had imagined. Here she had apparently been entering another plane of existence - often so she could do things like get a leg up on her friends or save herself a trip into town.

Twilight shook these thoughts from her head. There was no time for that now. The spell had been broken, and Twilight didn't know what that meant or if it was noticeable, but she quickly decided not to stick around too long and find out. She picked herself up off the floor and looked around. The archives were one long room with a low ceiling, pillars of bookshelves as regularly spaced as a library's. Apart from that there were several papers mounted on plaques and books in display cases, along with tightly sealed chests along the walls. Twilight glanced to the nearest shelf. The books appeared to be only loosely organized by genre and alphabet, judging from what she saw. Twilight took a deep breath - and immediately sneezed. The air here was more dust than air, so old and stale her mouth was already dry. A wry thought passed through Twilight's mind that it had been a good decision on the archivist's part not to let Spike in.

There was nothing to it but to begin searching, and Twilight was in her element. She sized up entire shelves in just a glance, scanning past the titles on each faded spine with out a second glance. It was still slow going given the volume of books to go through, and the fact that Twilight wasn't even sure what would or wouldn't be helpful. Her tired eyes caught a yellowed scroll set aside on a pedestal. It was still clearly legible.

"And thus when the terrible battle was over, the moon made way for the sun, forced down by the mighty and terrible magic of Harmony. And to her sister did the elder Goddess turn, and saw that her efforts had been in vain. With the magic fading around her, Princess Celestia did imprison Princess Luna and banish her to the moon..." Twilight stopped reading. A story she had read a hundred times or more. Well, the wording was off. It hit Twilight that this may have well been a first hand account, or at least that of someone who lived during that era. It was certainly off from what Twilight had learned - from the sound of it, the elements of harmony had been used to actually lower the moon, whereas Twilight had always heard it that Celestia had lowered the moon of her own after banishing Nightmare Moon. Something else niggled at Twilight's mind about that scroll, but she pushed it aside. Her want for factual accuracy would have to wait for another time.

After what seemed like forever, Twilight began to come across just what she had hoped for. 'On the Magic of Alicorns', a surprisingly slender tome with a red leather binding, floated behind her. She'd collect a few promising leads to go over at once, in case any were a bust. Unfortunately, after that she hit a bit of a dry spell. Most of the books down here were still collections of fairly tales and myths about alicorns. There was one 'biography of the ascending goddesses.' that caught her eye, but if she wanted to learn more about the Princess' past she knew all she had to do was ask them. She was almost ready to give up when she caught sight of a tome on the bottom shelf titled 'The four ponies of Equestria'. Picking it up and turning to the first page, the subtitle explained it was 'An objective comparison of the roles, magics and strengths of the four types of ponies in the land of Equestria'. Twilight had never heard anyone speak as if all four types had magic - that was only unicorns, clearly. Still, it was the best she could do, and it looked like it would at least cover more than just an alicorn's spells. She kept it next to the first book. She glanced back to see if any other similar tome was nearby, and was surprised to find that the portion of the back wall of the shelf she had revealed was no back wall at all. Leaning down to look closer, Twilight realized there was a small book that had been jammed behind the others, including the tome she had just removed. She had to remove a couple other books to get it free. Floating it up to inspect it, Twilight couldn't make sense of the book. It had no title, no mark. It was barely big enough to hold a shopping list, looking all of a page thick. Most curious, it looked like it was bound in a black cloth, the material holding its shape yet soft, folding to the touch. Twilight was too intrigued to ignore it, and tucked it in with the others.

Before she could continue with search, something hit Twilight. Not literally, but internally, a coldness seemed to grip her innards. She looked toward the door, now in the distance. Something was aware the spell had been broken. Something had been triggered, and now some angry presence bore down on her. Twilight hadn't felt like this since she had stared a full grown dragon face to face. She needed to be gone, now. The spell was already on her horn before she thought to cast it. And she vanished.

Twilight didn't know when she had time to formulate the thought, but it came to her to try to pause before the spell was finished. She stopped herself, mid-teleport, and found herself back in that strange not-space as before. Only this time she was here voluntarily. She mentally probed for the books. They were here...only not. They felt ghostly, unreal, like she was dreaming their existence. In other words, to Twilight, they felt like magic did in the real world. But they were here, wherever here was. And Twilight felt she could find them again. She had no reason to believe she had been caught, no reason to suspect they knew it was her, but she wasn't going to run that risk after all she had been through to get these. She could still feel her levitation magic on them, and that marked them in her mind. She could maintain the spell - she hoped. So she continued on without the books.

To her surprise, she didn't land in her room. She didn't know if it was from her detour (which now seemed unreal to her, as dreamlike as the real world had been a second ago) or from her panic in casting the spell, but she was in Luna's room. That surprised her. What really startled her, however, was Princess Celestia was in the room as well, checking Luna's temperature as she slept fitfully.

"Ah, there you are Twilight." Celestia said calmly, turning to her. Twilight shivered, from what she could tell it was just nerves. "And your assistant was so adamant you be left to sleep." there was no telling from her tone of voice whether she knew anything or not. Twilight was going to assume the worst, however.

"I'm sorry Princess. I wish I had responded sooner."

"I appreciate such dedication." Princess Celestia told. If she knew anything, it looked like she wasn't going to say anything. "But I don't think sister is in any state to raise the moon. I know she'll never admit it, however."

"She...feels she has a lot to work for, Princess." Twilight responded. If she could only get to studying, maybe before tonight she would be able to....Twilight didn't know what she thought she could do. But it had to be something!

"I have a task for you, my little pony." Celestia said, her eyes on her sister. "I must be away to tend to another meeting, but I hope you can convince my sister to come see me when she awakes. We will need to discuss plans for her wellness - I fear the castle may not be the best for her right now."

Did Celestia know? That would explain the guards. Things began to click into place for Twilight. She had to know, or at least suspect. Not enough to stop it (whatever it was) but enough to act. Twilight needed to tell her about the conversation, about when - she bit her tongue. About when she had been skulking about? Near where someone had clearly already found out about a magically sealed room had been broken into? Celestia didn't need to know, she clearly already had a plan in mind.

"Try to convince her to take the night off, my little pony. Please?" Celestia turned back to Twilight, and the young pony was moved by the sun princess's  expression. She wore her concern openly, accentuated by a long-holding weariness. Twilight nodded. She would make her deeds up to her mentor. Even if she didn't know there was anything wrong.

"Thank you. And don't forget to rest yourself." Celestia bent down and briefly nuzzled her pupil. Twilight closed her eyes - such closeness to Celestia always left her feeling tranquil, regardless of the circumstances. The goddess turned around and sighed.

"And now I am off to discuss security with the bookkeepers and librarians." she said. Twilight perked up.

"Security?"

"Yes." Celestia looked over her shoulder, her face serene and unreadable. "Something's got the archivist quite upset."
I take a few liberties with Twilight's character, but then again, so do the show's writer. I did always like her, because after the pilot she actually shows herself as a matter of course to be extremely loyal and dedicated to her friends, and everypony takes it for granted. Also note that I'm slowly learning subtlety and build up. More than half of you have probably figured out the obvious, but I promise there's more here than you'd probably think. I hope. If I've done it right.
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:iconkellen1111:
kellen1111 Featured By Owner May 19, 2013
Oh my celestia, that was really good. You my friend are really good at writing.
Reply
:iconreverendmav:
ReverendMav Featured By Owner May 14, 2013
Bravo, compelling read ![link]
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:iconvanaheimer:
Vanaheimer Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
Twilight would make a ruddy excellent thief.
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:iconzepherion:
Zepherion Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2011
Good Story So Far.. But You Are Aware "Alicorn" Is The Substance A Unicorn's Horn Is Made Of, Right?

"Pegacorn" Is The Word For A Unicorn/Pegasus Cross-Breed.
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:iconangelkitty17:
Angelkitty17 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
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:iconaverystrange:
AVeryStrange Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2011
So you're being exact about the definition of Alicorn but then using a completely made up word as if it was legitimate? Language is what we make of it, and Alicorn has gained a definition - a winged unicorn.
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:iconzepherion:
Zepherion Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2012
Considering All Words Are "Made Up", That Could Apply For Any Word Ever Made.

If Something Already Has A Name, You Can't Just CHANGE It. Especially Into Something That ALREADY Exists.

Actually. If A Winged Unicorn Is An "Alicorn". What Does That Make The Substance That A Unicorn's Horn Is Made Of? Is That A "Pegacorn" Now?
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:iconhermeschildofrain:
HermesChildOfRain Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2012  Student Artist
everyone calls them Alicorns i even call them that, and its just the other definition for Alicorn,
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:iconzepherion:
Zepherion Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2012
There Is No "Other" Definition For Alicorn. There's The Actual One, And The Broken "Brony" Version.

Only Bronies Call Pegacorns "Alicorn", ONLY BRONIES.
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:iconhermeschildofrain:
HermesChildOfRain Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2012  Student Artist
ok grumpy
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