Twilight skimmed through the diary. Luna had fallen asleep; willing oneself strong only went so far, especially when sick, and she needed to be ready to guide the moon down. She lay at Twilight's feet, a book as a pillow. A voice in Twilight's head had been telling her to just lay down beside her, keep her warm....Twilight had never been smitten before, and surprised herself constantly with the thoughts that ran through her head. But she turned it all into fuel for her study. To figure out what was making Luna sick. Something told her to keep going through the diary. At some point, she had decided, she was going to have to introduce Luna and Rarity to each other for real, given the Princess's professed love of gems (how would the night sky look in rubies, not diamonds, she asked her diary at one point) and pretty things in general. It was also uncanny at times reading about Luna trying to study or practice magic (studying being much more hands on when you were inventing literally everything) while life kept interrupting. A thousand years and more besides stretched between Luna and Twilight, yet more kindred spirits than they could not be found.
Most immediately important was the talk of the golems. Both sisters loved their creations, and gave them ever more complex tasks, along with making them more refined to carry out these tasks. But the diary was beginning to take an odd turn.
'I don't understand why Celestia won't leave the elements of harmony alone. Earth, Sky and Heaven gave them to us, and I guess she still misses them. But I don't like them. Celestia was always more energetic, and while it's good to see her studying, I think she's missing something. The elements feel...wrong. Incomplete? Something, dear diary. I don't know what she wants to do with them'
A few pages later, Twilight found this entry. 'Celestia's done something to some of the golems. She's messing with the elements all the time. I don't like it, but when I said something about it, she wouldn't listen. "Imagine Luna. Imagine what they could do. We need to stop playing with little foal's toys." what is she after? I went back to my studies. I like my golems. They're quiet, and they help out. But...I guess I'm still lonely. Maybe I could teach them to talk?'
Ambition. Celestia had had ambition, like Twilight had never seen. It was only the two of them and all the golems they could make. Celestia wanted them to be more, and she thought the elements of harmony (minus the element of magic) could help. But Luna had known there was another. Twilight remembered Luna's words that first day. Could they really have been dangerous? Twilight was beginning to see what happened to the golems.
"Uhhh....Twilight?" Luna's voice was so unsteady. Twilight looked down. Luna was barely awake, her eyes refusing to focus. She looked horrid.
"Could you...get me something to eat?"
"Luna! Are you alright?" the question was worthless, but Twilight couldn't help but ask. Luna gave a smile.
"I'm going to be strong. But...I just need to get my energy up." she tried to lift her head, but couldn't manage and dropped it back down. Twilight felt worse than that time a cockatrice had turned her body to stone. Now it was like she had been turned to ice. Luna was getting worse, much worse. Twilight had to do something. But she hadn't learned anything. Well, that wasn't true. The effect was magical. But no spell was at work, not that either of them could see. It didn't come from within Luna. Maybe if they would disrupt the magic, yet....
"Luna...do you trust me?"
Luna looked up in confusion, but when she saw Twilight's face, she smiled. They both knew the answer, but Twilight still wanted to here her say it.
With a nod of her head, Twilight began the spell. Her horn glowed much brighter than usual. The two of them began to glow, and with a flash, both disappeared.
Twilight cast out her mind. Every visit made things easier. Position didn't make sense, but energy did, and there was a way to navigate the plane through that. Honestly she had blundered so much her first couple times it was more luck than skill that the books had remained intact. She found Luna. Like a filly trying to learn to swim, Luna was flailing mentally in this strange medium. And like the practiced mother, Twilight reached out and steadied her. They traded thoughts not quite words, but the sentiment of their 'conversation' was easy to understand.
"Where? What?" Luna's confusion reigned over all else.
"Don't worry." Twilight soothed her. "This is what I'm talking about. If you focus, you can feel things with your mind. You have something like a form. It's similar to when our horns met."
The mention of that brought a little bit of embarrassment to the surface of Luna's consciousness. Still, her fear calmed and she took her first strokes into the water.
"Yes, I can see. But with even less structure. How are you doing that, Twilight?"
"You, you feel like part of this world. I can barely see where you end."
"Lines are blurry, but trust me, I feel distinct."
"Hmm. I wonder...you remember me talking about how I can move through the darkness, and sister the light?"
"Well...perhaps this realm is natural to you. Perhaps this is tied to your magics."
"Perhaps. How do you feel?"
"I feel..." Luna paused. Twilight could feel her turn inwards.
"I feel better already. But...not myself."
"Let me check something." Twilight said. She began to test Luna's form. The lunar pony was more distinct, being a mix of magic and flesh, and magic unlike any around the realm. Body and mind were not so clearly separated, and Twilight wasn't sure what she was looking at. That didn't stop her from finding what she was after.
"A spell - oh no!" Twilight probed the filigree web she found around Luna, somewhere around her lower consciousness. It crumbled apart at her touch, disintegrating into the background. Twilight scrambled to catch a piece. She could almost make out the magic. It was something she had seen before, but...it was gone before she had a chance.
"What was that? I felt something briefly." Luna asked.
"..." Twilight didn't know how to say it. However, she still was no expert at this realm and left her emotions bubbling on the surface of her mind.
"Oh...Oh by the Earth and Sky." Luna said. Well, at least Twilight knew what a goddess swore by. She didn't know if the remorse she felt was hers, Luna's, or both.
"Someone's trying to kill you. And they nearly succeeded. Whatever that was, I think it was drawing your energy off."
"No...no..." Luna was terribly shaken. Twilight brought forth what she always held inside her, regardless of the situation. It wasn't hers, so much as something her friends had given her. Really it had been the greatest lesson Pinkie Pie had taught her. She brought up the laughter inside her. Not a chortle or a giggle, of course. It was the joy inside her, a joy that would survive any darkness or trouble because she knew that it was that very joy that would see her through. She shared this inner laughter with Luna. Like a balm over a wound, it began to soothe the troubled Princess. It didn't eliminate the fear and distress, but it allowed Luna to think straight.
"Thank you, Twilight. I needn't fear so with you nearby, I must remember that. Yet, what are we to do? I, I was just beginning to believe I had a chance to help serve this nation again. Who would hate me so?"
"I don't know. I really...I don't know." Twilight told her, sadly. "For now, you're safe. The spell fell apart. Whoever it was will probably try again, but we can tell Princess Celestia."
"Yes, of course. Celly will know what to do. We just need to get through the night."
"I'm learning more about how this place works. I think I'm getting better at time, but I can look out for when it's time to lower the moon."
"Thank you Twilight. I feel you could manage it on your own, if the need arises."
"I...I don't want to take that from you."
"You're not. But thank you, my love. I feel better here."
"It should replenish your magic. It takes effort to work spells here, yet it otherwise feels so pleasant..."
"I do wonder, Twilight, if you are not somehow linked to this domain."
"Perhaps? I don't know." Twilight said.
"So, what shall we do? I can guess time will pass easier here, but there are still hours."
Twilight paused. A voice inside her that she had been ignoring for the past couple hours was creating quite a clamor.
"...Twilight?" Luna asked, no doubt sensing Twilight's mix of feelings.
"I have some ideas." Twilight told her. She used their mental link to open herself, her true emotions. She could feel shock initially from Luna - and then all her emotions were returned in full force.
Time immeasurable passed for the two ponies. Twilight allowed Luna to see inside her to her core. Fear and insecurity swarmed about, she admitted this. And Luna showed her her own fear. They were in the same position, both afraid above all else to do wrong to the other. This soothed Twilight, and the fear gave way to warm acceptance heated by a passion below. Luna had inspired her and her heart. She let this soft heat wash over Luna, and felt the other pony's delight. Yet she wanted more than that. There was still something between them. When Twilight brought this up, she felt Luna recoil then stop. She turned back to Twilight. She gave cautious approval, a wish only for kindness and gentleness. Twilight agreed, and reached into Luna. The inner sanctum of her soul was still sealed. Twilight wrapped herself in her love for Luna it was fresh and untested, still soft and gentle. The chains of sorrow inside Luna's heart gave way to Twilight. She touched Luna at her core, feeling the dark smoothness of isolation. Luna gave a mental gasp. Twilight was not deterred by this wall, but went no further. She extended the invitation, and Luna accepted it. The darkness trembled, and the final locks were undone on her heart. Twilight found herself as in a sauna, the wet heat of passion soaking into her. She felt Luna's elation, and returned it in kind, until the two mixed and were inseparable, indistinguishable in origin. She was in true union with the goddess.
It was hard to tell for how long they were simply giddy with emotion, but they were both ponies not well suited to simply revel in mindless joy for long. They finally began to calm, and the psychic pillow talk ensued. Twilight showed memories of her friends to Luna, retelling the stories with all their detail. Luna had no stories to tell, but would share knowledge she often couldn't remember learning. As she did so, things came back to her. She talked about the origin of the stars and how she occasionally relit them, and it came to her the first time Heaven brought her to see the stars up close. At Twilight's egging, Luna showed her a memory of herself as a filly, viewed through a still-water pond. When Twilight was done giggling, Luna prodded her until she returned the favor.
Twilight's mind drifted to thoughts of reality. She had not truly forgotten the situation, and knew that all the time they had spent here could well have translated into a night's worth outside. Reluctantly, she expressed this sentiment to Luna.
"Luna...I think I should go check."
"Already? It can't be time."
Twilight laughed a little at her. "Even here it's been a while. How long have we spent...doing, I don't know what to even call it."
"Neither do I, but whatever it was it was, to be honest, magical."
"Haha." Twilight gave the mental equivalent of a nuzzle to Luna. "Still, let me check. I think if I tweak my spell I can find my way out onto the balcony."
"Alright. Please don't be long."
"I promise." Twilight told her. She moved through the energy field tentatively. Her spell felt different here - like she was ordering the world around her. She was creating a pathway for herself, almost a tunnel. She slid back into the real world.
"Ah-ha!" she said with pride. She was right where she wanted to be. She looked around. The moon was low in the sky. Twilight took focus, her horn shimmering purple - not its usual bright glow, but something but more like Luna's. The leylines of the night sky became apparent to her. The moon was beginning to stutter, its path weakening, order unraveling. They were a little late for a perfectly smooth transition, but Twilight was sure she they could manage it together. She looked herself over as well, wanting to make sure that an extended stay in wherever that was was actually healthy for a pony. Her coat was ruffled and her mane a mess, her pink stripe spread out to give her hair a more evenly fading color. She flexed her legs, finding them stiff but not painful. She nodded at what she saw, everything was fine. She winked back into the plane.
"Luna?" she prodded the other pony.
"How is everything?"
"Good, but we should hurry."
"Alright. Lead the way." she clung to Twilight. Twilight prepared the spell again and guided Luna through.
"Whew." Luna sighed when they reached the balcony. She stretched each leg out and looked around. She grinned at Twilight.
"What?" Twilight asked, wondering if Luna had forgotten how dangerous their situation was.
"You look so scruffy! My goodness, pardon me. I suppose I'm still giddy after all that."
"Trust me, you're no better off." Twilight pointed. Luna glanced around and discovered most of her vision was blocked by her mane. The unruly blue hair had gone everywhere, curling into her eyes, down the side of her face, and up into the air. Her tail looked like one big cotton ball at that.
"Hah, I suppose we both look like we've taken quite a romp!" Luna said. Twilight blushed, which confused Luna. She tilted her head, her expression asking for an explanation.
"That, uh, it's..." Twilight had to remember that technically, Luna's language was just a bit outdated.
"I'll explain later. We should get to work. Oh, I mean...do you still need me to...?"
"It would make me feel safer." Luna said. "I'm not at my best yet."
"Alright." Twilight nodded. They both sat down to face the moon. They lowered their horns in tandem. Luna's gave off it's bluish-night glow, and Twilight's a lighter purple. Both spells grew in power, the magic around their horns becoming more real, more solid. Twilight could feel Luna's magic adjacent to her own. Luna was reaching out, and Twilight allowed it to intertwine with her own. Together they reached the night sky. There was magic to unravel this time, and more to bolster. The stars had to be sent to sleep - still there, but hidden to allow the day sky to shine evenly. Luna got started on the moon itself while Twilight began to prepare for the coming sun. It wasn't as intensive, but they had to be thorough lest they leave the night lingering in the sky. When the work was over, both ponies were tired, but not as much so as after raising the moon. Twilight sighed as she came back into her head.
"Okay?" she asked Luna. Luna nodded and yawned.
"Don't worry, I am tired but I will hardly pass out once more. How are you?"
"Me? I'm fine." Twilight asked, confused at the question. Luna gave her a worried glance.
"Twilight, you have still been up the whole night and more. You're bending space itself. How do you do it?"
"I..." Twilight looked down at her hooves. She could feel exhaustion, now that she looked. But there was a distance to her tiredness, she was holding it at bay. She couldn't help but smile.
"I guess it's just, when there's something I need to do, I don't like to stop until I'm done."
"Something I've certainly learned these past few days. Let us both get some rest then."
Twilight nodded in agreement. Held at bay or not, her tiredness was real and she didn't want to pass out again either. They turned away from the balcony. A thought struck her.
"Hold on one second." with that, she vanished. It was actually a teleport this time, and she popped right back to Luna. She had Luna's diary floating besides her. Luna nodded.
"Good idea. Did you get far?"
"I think you were right about the elements of harmony. I don't know though. While we walk back, why don't we?"
"Yes, lets." Luna replied. Twilight flipped open deeper in the book. She read aloud as they trotted back.
"I tried to talk Celestia out of it, but she doesn't listen to me anymore." Twilight and Luna traded a worried glance. "She spends all her time with the elements. I wanted to tell her that they weren't necessary. That golems were more than just dolls, and we didn't need the elements. I don't think she cares. I think she's forgotten why she was studying to begin with."
Twilight swallowed, frightened by what she read. She flipped ahead a couple pages.
" 'You've named your toys. How cute' she said. I didn't tell her that Star Shine named herself. I want her to think they're just toys, then maybe she'll ignore them. I found, a, I can barely write it! I found a broken golem near where she makes her home. Not broken - dead. I was afraid to move it, but Helios urged me. It was an earth golem, so we returned it to the earth. I wonder if it felt anything. I don't know what she's after. But I fear my nightmares will be worse than usual tonight."
Luna shivered. Twilight could barely make sense of the words on the page. What had happened?
"Twilight!" Twilight looked up as she was called. Spike was running towards her, arms waving wildly.
"Spike, what's the matter?" Twilight asked, putting the book aside for the moment. Spike panted heavily and stopped right in front of them to catch his breath, hands on his knees.
"The guards are going crazy! What did you do?"
"They only let me go after they were sure I couldn't tell them where you were. What did you do? They're really angry."
Twilight and Luna shared a glance. Luna bit her lip briefly.
"It couldn't be..." she said.
"I don't know, but for now...Spike, stay close."
"Huh?" was all Spike had time to ask. They flashed out of existence. When he next looked, they were surrounded by musty books.
"The library's back room?" he asked. Twilight looked around.
"I panicked. Luna, we need to hide you."
"And do what? You don't really think, it couldn't be...?"
"What's going on?" Spike asked. Both ponies ignored him.
"I think we need to read that diary." Twilight said. Luna nodded, so Twilight opened it further in. She decided to look near the back, finding the last entry. The writing was shaking.
"I found the spell. Curse the elements! I don't know what's happened. My Celly is gone. She's completely gone. She goes about now with her hooves gilded in gold, magic radiating from her mane. And she was responsible for my nightmares! I nearly didn't find the spell, but Star Shine spoke to one of Celestia's golems and found out. I can still feel it inside me though. She wanted control. Now she's controlling me. I can feel it inside me, laughing at me. It's winning. I know it is. It's been too long, it's too deep inside me. There's only one thing I can do. I'm going to let it win. But I'm not going to let Celly win. She never figured it out. Why my golems aren't golems anymore. Why they can think for themselves, feel for themselves. I'm going to free her golems, before she uses them to destroy this land. All it takes is a spark..."
Twilight looked up from the book. She could feel Celestia's presence. They had been found out. It was no surprise really. Spike was just wide eyes, stunned at what he had heard.
"Spike! Hide!" Twilight hissed.
"In the bookshelf. Hide, and don't come out. Now!" Spike jumped at her words and ran deeper into the room. Twilight turned to Luna.
"What are we going to do. I...I can't believe it, yet...it's so familiar."
"Stay here." Twilight told her. "I-I'll think of something." she turned towards the door.
"Twilight!" Luna cried. Twilight paused, but didn't turn around. She walked out the door. Below the balcony, in the middle of the room, Celestia stood. She was already looking up, waiting for Twilight. She gave the same serene smile as always.
"Hello, my faithful student."