This story focuses mainly on the court life and political trials of the Sun Goddess and ruler of all Equestria, Celestia, along with her sister, Luna. Due to the vagueness surrounding the life of what is essentially a side character to the show, many original characters appear to actually flesh out the court and to make the story move. Also, because Celestia is freakishly larger than all the other ponies in the show, I figured she must be a horse rather than a pony, and that there must therefore be other horses wandering around the world, so there will be a few of those. Aside from basically scratch building almost everything and filling in all the blanks like a derranged mad-libber, I have tried not to stray from the show's established canon.
I hope you enjoy things as they chug along to a start. Please feel free to share your opinion on my work if you feel so inclined. Criticism is how I learn.
It was a beautiful day in Equestria. Not just beautiful at the royal palace and Canterlot, not just in Ponyville so near to the capital, but all of Equestria enjoyed the same, exact gorgeous weather and gorgeous day. Order: complete and perfect. It had taken a lot of work initially, Celestia reflected, and a lot of fragile ecosystems had been put to the test, but after more than one thousand years of reigning as the supreme god of all ponykind, the thing had become an art.
With a small glimmer of joy in the depths of her heart, Celestia allowed herself a moment of pride for her efforts. Complacency is a danger, and one learns more from enemies than does one learn from friends and one's self, but from time to time the sun goddess felt she deserved a pat on the back from somebody who actually mattered. This was no small feat, where she was today, what with her many and varied opponents still poised to take her land and power at a moment's notice.
To the south, in desolated tropical wastelands, in areas dotted with volcanic activity and ripe with precious minerals, lived the dragons and their vile king, Nyarlathotep. An antediluvian creature more ancient than Celestia and indeed the very thought of ponies itself, Nyarlathotep was a cunning, cold-blooded monstrosity with a tongue sharper than his teeth and wit of equal match. The magic of the dragons was very old, and they depended upon it to survive – after all, as with Celestia's pegasi, it would be impossible to fly freely through the air without it, and she suspected they'd be lucky to control the fire in their lungs if some mystical power were not at work. Their magic was more firmly intertwined with their beings than with any of Equestria's other competitors, and she understood they were very good at it.
Meanwhile, in Equestria, her own sister had returned from exile, and had Celestia's ancient detractors seen how simply Luna was transformed from the notorious "Nightmare Moon" back into her old self, Celestia's careful political image may have been obliterated right then and there. Nyarlathotep had wasted no time in sending a polite letter of congratulations across the borders, reminding her of how distraught she had been over her loss and reminiscing about all the condolences that had been lauded on her throne after the imprisonment. He had commiserated that such turns of fortune are quite common to an immortal who bides her time, and wondered if Celestia still remembered the gift the dragons had sent her.
The offerings that had survived the test of time she had passed on to Luna. There were not many left, but the opulent Faberge egg sent by the dragons was among them. The judgement Celestia had doomed Luna to was difficult to pass, and seeing the young girl around the castle again had returned all the internal struggle to the pit of Celestia's stomach. Luna was free now, but the damage done to the girl's mind would take unknowable time to repair; Luna was behind the times by a millennium in terms of fashion, social acceptances, legal precedents, and political landscapes. Furthermore, she had always been an emotionally frail girl to some extent, constantly pining for attention and hoping to get noticed for her shy and gloomy magics. Being so detached from her people now more than ever was proving to be a personal devastation for her.
This morning, however, was a time for peaceful reflection. Celestia strode into her room from her marble balcony. Across the regal violet carpet lay a marvelous oaken desk, which Celestia opened with unseen mystical force. From within she drew a book and lay it open atop the masterfully engraved piece of furniture, flipping to the last page, whereupon the words "Dear Celestia," were emblazoned in clumsy chicken-scratch. Celestia had been meaning to read Twilight's latest addition to her 'Treatise on Friendship,' as Celestia jokingly referred to it, and had implanted it in this diary for that purpose the previous evening. It read:
Today I learned that, although friends are great, sometimes too much of a good thing can eventually become a frustrating thing. However, it's important to remember that the purpose of friends are to look after each other, and that although we may sometimes wish they wouldn't drive us up the wall all the time, you'll always want them near you in times of emergency, like when you have to put out a gigantic fire accidentally set by the mailman.
This one baffled Celestia just a bit. Often, Twilight's letters came to Celestia without any real context or explanation, so it tended to come as a bit of a guessing game what may have spurred Twilight to write the things she did. Celestia looked forward to these letters as a kind of weekday funny papers, looking for the little jokes that might be read between the lines. This one was obvious enough at first. Clearly Twilight had gotten in some sort of fight with one of her friends, but what of the remaining portion about the mailman? Was it some sort of metaphor, or an inside joke? Perhaps a letter had been sent around town that was causing a conflagration of sorts.
She sighed and put the book away. It was charming to read about Twilight's simple social life sometimes, but there was an important emissary coming to visit Canterlot today, and before then Celestia wanted to visit Luna and see how she was doing. To that end, Celestia exited her room at a brisk trot, her steps light and graceful from centuries of practice. Down the halls she went, past the hustle and bustle of the castle's servants, who bowed their heads or curtsied politely as she swept by.
She reached the doorway to Luna's room and drew to a slow, having found the entrance darkened by a hulking figure. A massive war charger stood at attention before her, a muscular specimen drawing himself to a full height over a foot larger than Celestia. His fur was a solid black, save for a long white scar drawn across his profile and an image of a great shield upon his flank. His brow was furrowed in concentration as he stared into space at a point seven feet above Luna's personal manservant, Alfred, an aging but thoroughly understanding and reliable pony who was loitering patiently at the entryway.
"Oh, General Bucephalus!" Celestia announced.
The charger, minding notice of his goddess, took a deep but militant bow before her, dipping his head with considerable reverence. "My Lady Celestia," he replied.
Celestia angled her body shyly to the stallion and gazed at him through fluttering eyelashes. "I see you are protecting our Alfred from goblin incursions," she teased, "I trust the campaign is going well?"
Bucephalus shook his head, face remaining neutral. "No, mistress. I haven't spotted any goblins yet, and I'm sick of waiting on the damned things," he said, punctuating this with the stamp of a hoof and a proffered smile for comical emphasis, "But truth be told, I was actually planning on paying my respects to Lady Luna."
He jerked his head at Luna's quarters, shooting a brief but accusatory glare at the servant below him. "Apparently the court is excited about her, and I didn't want to be rude."
"Oh," Celestia replied. She glanced at Alfred, who was staring impassively at Bucephalus's upper thigh. "Well, I'm afraid Luna is spending some time in convalescence. Her ordeal has been a harrowing one, I assure you, but I'm certain she'll be more than happy to make your acquaintance in the near future."
Bucephalus drew himself to attention again and stood aside to allow Celestia to pass. The trouble with this horse was that he was a very direct individual, and at times the words 'soon' and 'eventually' had a way of sounding like 'right now' or 'as fast as I can possibly manage' to him. Celestia had once posed a competition, wherein she tied a magical knot and challenged her numerous suitors to untie it. She had said the knot represented her delicate heart, and whosoever could untangle it would be given due consideration for their romantic advances, but of course the whole thing was a trick to keep the colts entertained.
For years the puzzle went unsolved. Colt after colt found it impossible to determine the beginning from the end of the twine, and in reality there was no beginning or end because Celestia had simply turned the knot into one continuous strand. The knot's natural state was just a knot – there was no untying it because there was nothing to untie, and no magic expertise could surpass Celestia's own to alter the thing. However, one day Bucephalus decided he could do what none before him could, and requested the right to take the knot with him during one of his trips abroad.
Celestia granted him the request out of a sense of personal satisfaction. The knot trick had been keeping her suitors so busy that she was eager to support any tale of trial. However, on the very first day it was in his possession, Bucephalus placed the knot on a set of railroad tracks and ran it over with a train. He then set his men to work seeking out pieces of the knot wherever they had been scattered, berating them by shouting phrases like, "Do you want to lose a piece of Princess Celestia's heart? What kind of idiot lets a piece of the sun goddess's heart get lost!"
Any pieces he found to still be tangled or knotted were placed on the tracks and run over again, until at last the entire thing was in mutilated shreds. When Bucephalus returned to Celestia's court, he placed the destroyed mess on a golden pillow and laid it at Celestia's hooves. He had brought in Equestria's finest musicians to play a fanfare in honor of the event, and on that day he held his head high and proud, and announced with the triumph of a hero, "Objective completed, mistress." A light breeze through an open window had sent his mane flapping in the wind with the perfect timing.
Naturally, she had refused to accept him as a romantic partner on the basis that Bucephalus had annihilated her fragile and delicate heart in the process of untangling it. She would have laughed, too – the very idea that a colt would so valiantly destroy her metaphorical heart in a single-minded effort to achieve a literal goal was a thing that sent the fillies into laughing fits around the castle for days – but with the knot destroyed Celestia was forced to once again deal with her suitors, including Bucephalus himself, the old fashioned way. The single act had spoken volumes about the colt's personality and ambitions to Celestia, and now here he was with who knew what in mind for a meeting with Luna.
"Actually," Celestia ventured, "I'm glad that you're here, Bruce." Celestia ruffled her wings coyly at the stallion. She felt it helped to add a touch of tenderness to the use of pet names. "You see, there's a diplomat here to visit from Kadath."
Bucephalus glowered at the name 'Kadath' as it passed Celestia's lips. His stance took on a guarded aura of duty.
"And, well, do you remember the last time we had an important diplomat," Celestia continued, "and Incitatus was there, and he wore those..."
Celestia turned her head and blushed, but then glanced back at the war horse with eyes large and innocent. Bucephalus snorted and tumbled out of his tenseness with a grin. "On his dangly bits," he finished, "Yes, I remember that. Quite the fashion statement."
"Yes," Celestia replied.
"Pretty bold," Bucephalus pressed.
"Mmhmm," Celestia placated.
"Really did bring out the color in his -"
"I was wondering," Celestia hurried, "If you might be a dear and see to it that he doesn't do something like that again? I'd ask a servant, but you know how Incitatus can be."
Celestia flipped a wing bashfully at the colt. "I think he'd be much more likely to respect a gentlecolt of your stature. After all, if you can protect us from goblins, then I'm sure you can just as easily protect us all from Incitatus."
"From his dangly bits," Bucephalus tried, smirking ear to ear at his goddess's apparent embarrassment to the subject.
The truth was that Celestia was at least ten times older than even the wildest of most people's grandmothers, and by this time in her life she'd seen and heard just about everything from as far as innuendo to flat out sexual assault. Celestia was not one to wallow in ephemeral pleasures, but some foreigners did think that an orgy was a brilliant attempt to welcome visitors from afar, after all, and Celestia could probably tell Bucephalus things that would turn even his weathered and darkened face the color of a strawberry. Still, though, men like Bucephalus rarely changed even after a hundred generations, and they expected such daintiness and desired to protect it. So for him and his pride, Celestia squeaked a delicate and flustered, "Please."
"I'll see to it, you majesty," Bucephalus submitted. The stallion offered a polite bow, then took his leave.
"Heavens, I thought he'd never go," mumbled Alfred as Bucephalus vanished from earshot, "He'd been waiting for about a half hour now."
"I doubt he had any rash plans," Celestia speculated.
"Of course not," Alfred replied, "but you do have such a way with him. Lady Luna gave fright after merely laying eyes on the brute."
Celestia waved a hoof dismissively. "Ah, yes, but you know, Bucephalus is not of a unique sort. Show him the carrot and not the stick, as they say. With a colt like that, you could beat him with the stick, but he'd snatch it away from you and strike you in return. Toss the carrot off a cliff, on the other hand, and you'll never see him again! Always looking for the payoff."
"A bit austere for a suitor, if I were permitted to say," said Alfred.
"Dear," Celestia confided, "I have been courted by far worse suitors than Bucephalus. Besides, his confidence, however overwhelming, is good for the morale of our armed forces. Now if you would, please, I'd like to speak with my sister."
Alfred knocked at the door behind him with a hoof, then pushed it open and stepped inside. A few moments later he returned. "Lady Luna is ready to see you now, Lady Celestia," he reported.
Celestia thanked Alfred and entered Luna's room. Surrounded by beautiful portraits, lavish rugs, and one glimmering Faberge egg the size of a pony's head, stood Luna, her mauve hackles on end and her eyes sunken with fatigue. "Is he gone?" Luna asked from her sorry state.
"Who? Bucephalus? Yes, he's gone," Celestia assured.
Luna bounded to her sister's side and peaked beneath Celestia's wing at the doorway. "Oh, thank heavens!" She exclaimed, "I heard someone talking to Alfred about me, and when I looked out the door to see who it was, I saw a massive black stallion with a horrible scar on his face, and... and..."
Luna lowered her voice to a shouting whisper as Celestia craned her neck down to Luna's level. "And he was completely naked!" Luna cried.
Celestia snorted as she resisted a laugh. "Really?" she said in mock surprise. "Exactly how naked are we talking, here?"
Luna looked her sister in the eyes. "Celestia, it isn't funny!" She protested.
"But Luna! Most ponies spend most of the day naked, excluding a few ribbons and bows here and there. It's not exactly uncommon!"
Luna paced away, sulking. "Yes, but not around the castle! All the servants wear clothes! Alfred wears a butler saddle, and all the maids wear maid saddles!"
"You're being ridiculous, Luna!" Celestia chided. She struck a pose and spread her wings for the purpose of examination. "You and I wear scantly more than anyone else. You know how uncomfortable our regal garments used to be. These days, most ponies are perfectly happy with a more casual look, even around the castle."
Luna glared at Celestia, defiance still there but melting before logic and social progression. "Well you should make a law," she said. "Besides, he really was scary. I thought he was an executioner or something!"
Celestia frowned. Before Luna had been banished, there had been a great number of ponies calling for her beheading. The things Luna had done as Nightmare Moon were unspeakable. Celestia had done her best to burn the historical records and to force everything into obscure legend. Without that effort, even one thousand years later Equestria's ponies would still be living in mortal fear of Luna's return; an unhinged goddess was not a thing easily forgotten or forgiven.
"Don't speak like that," Celestia said, her voice softened by the sobering memory. "Nobody is going to execute you."
Luna appeared troubled. She looked frustrated, tired, and stressed. As the two fillies gazed at one other, Celestia couldn't help but feel there was an immense gulf between them. Luna's castle was in ruins, virtually nobody in Equestria knew who she was or recognized her divinity, and the poor girl was entirely without cause or confidence. For a millennium, ponies had simply allowed night to occur naturally and without guidance. There were no orchestrations of the stars and was no careful angling of the moon for certain holidays. The idea that the world even needed a Luna had been utterly lost to time.
"Have you been making any friends?" Celestia asked.
Luna nodded her head. "I'm friends with Alfred!" She said.
"I mean anyone closer to your... age?" Celestia tried again, "Or maybe a filly?"
It was difficult to place exactly who Luna should be friends with. Celestia still wasn't sure if Luna could be considered an adult, and she did not know how much Luna remembered about being Nightmare Moon or anything of the passing years she had spent imprisoned.
"Well I've been trying to stay up longer in the mornings so I can meet ponies," Luna began to fret, "but ponies are grumpy in the mornings and I don't want to upset anyone!"
It was an honest difficulty for any goddess of the night, especially if her potential playmates should really be in bed while she was awake.
"It's ok," Celestia soothed, "I just want you to try to make one friend. That's all. Can you do that for me, please?"
"I don't think they'll like me," Luna protested, dancing in place awkwardly beneath Celestia's concern. She evaded eye contact to the best of her ability, but it was hard to make believable excuses by staring at her own hooves.
"Luna," Celestia said, stepping forwards to nuzzle the poor filly, "Ponies have been looking up at the moon for centuries in awe. They write poetry about the moon, and in a way about our little Luna! I'm sure anyone would be excited to meet you!"
A dark fog rolled over Luna's face. "It's not even about the moon," Luna grumbled, "The moon's just a stupid rock. They write poetry about the sunlight reflecting off the moon."
Celestia exhaled a deep and sorrowful sigh. "Luna," she said, "If you make even one friend, I'm sure things will turn out alright. If you make friends with one pony, then that pony can introduce you to her friends, and they'll introduce you to other ponies as well. Just promise me you'll make one friend!"
"Ok," Luna agreed passively. "I'll try."
With that, the two sisters said their farewells for the day. Luna settled down to bed, and Celestia left for her courtroom. It was the eternal problem with their relationship, and the reason why Luna's suffering had slipped under Celestia's notice when it spiraled into jealousy and madness centuries ago. Ever since Luna's rampage and the cries for the death of the throne in the streets, Celestia had been wondering how it all happened. How did everything fall apart for Luna the way it did? Celestia had her various theories, but above all else, she felt that the most important thing was finding happiness for her sister now. That, she suspected, must have somehow been one of the catalytic contributors to everything.