Millennium Eclipse: Chronicles of Luna's Fall, chapter 2
A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfiction
By Lucky Stampede
DISCLAIMER:This is a non-profit fan-made work of prose. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the property of Hasbro. Please support the official release.
Author's Note: Patience is a virtue. Expect 60K+ words of virtue. Credit to Doctor Who for the prophecy.
Uploader's note: This fic is the labor of Lucky Stampede, my friend who asked me to host his story on my account. So please direct all praise to him, not me.
Luna flew southwest through the night sky towards the shining spires of Canterlot, eggs safely in tow. She scanned the ground below, watching the nightly dance of predator and prey with detached interest. As she approached the core of Equestria the lands grew lusher and more verdant. It was slow going with the eggs, but with the wind in her mane, the cool of the night, and the beauty of the stars above, she was enjoying herself. As she hit the pasture lands, Luna drifted due south, taking a long route back to the castle, over Trottingham and the Marewood Forest, gliding low over the city and woods.
None who looked up would see her. As she swept down over the road between Trottingham and the Marewood Forest, the princess gasped. Midway between the town of Trottingham and the Marewood Forest, two ponies lay unmoving on the road. Gently, she came in for a landing. She set down the eggs and rushed to their aid, soon seeing other figures around them. Wolves.
"Thou wouldst break our ancient pact and prey on ponies?" she shouted at the wolves.
Lightning raked the sky and the wind stirred the trees of the nearby forest. The wolves all shrank back from the furious alicorn. Luna bent over the prone ponies and realized she recognize them. In passing, but they were familiar to her. Nobles. Scions of her sister, members of the court of Canterlot. What were they doing so far out here? They had nothing on them either, no bits, no jewelry, no fine clothing.
Luna turned towards the cowering wolves, speaking in the voice of Night that only the nocturnal creatures could hear. "What knowest thou of this?"
The response was not one that could be understood on the level of language. Vocally it was a chorus of growls, but it formed a series of images, merely instinctual descriptions of what the wolves had seen. Two ponies trotting down the trail. Assaulted from all sides by green-cloaked figures. Left dead or unconscious on the ground. The scent of blood, instinct overpowering ancient bonds. Wolves moving in to easy prey.
Luna scowled at the wolves as they cowered together. The largest and strongest was standing at the front of the pack, ready to accept whatever judgement she dispensed. It bared its teeth and growled at her, but it was halfhearted. Almost a whimper.
"Thou art not responsible for this atrocity, but do not touch these ponies. Guard them from other predators until morning, then howl until the guards of Trottingham come. We will deal with this outrage ourselves."
The wolves nodded, and bowed to her authority over the Night. Luna was torn. On the one hand, these eggs needed to get back to the castle. On the other, something needed to be done right now. In the end, duty won, and she left her wolves to their task. She trusted the guards of Trottingham to handle the bodies. Luna gathered the eggs with her magic and flew back to Equestria to report this to her sister.
At Canterlot, Luna left the eggs with the gameskeeper and sought out her sister. By now, the sun was beginning to rise. She wandered the castle grounds, looking for Celestia but not following any particular course. Her path brought her towards the willow pond, where she tripped over a small pegasus filly.
The filly was lying on the grass and blended in with her surroundings perfectly. Her coat was a light green and her mane a thickly braided dark green, looking for all the world like a pile of moss.
"Oh, Princess Luna..." the filly said in a delicate voice, "...I'm sorry for startling you."
"It's...quite alright...Mistletoe, is it? Thou werest nigh unto invisible there. Thy hair shouldst perhaps have some red or..." she surpressed a shudder, "...pink, for greater visibility."
Mistletoe cocked her head to one side and asked, "Do you not like pink?"
"Err..no, we like pink just fine it's...just...not for us." The dark princess smiled. Or at least showed her teeth.
Mistletoe giggled, "That's a good idea, Princess! Thank you!"
"Think nothing of it...what pray werest thou doing there, anyway?"
"I was just watching the grass grow," Mistletoe said with complete earnestness.
Luna blinked. Several times.
"Thou...werest...is that not tiresome?"
"Sometimes, but then I go to sleep and when I awaken it's grown even more." The filly smiled serenely.
"Perhaps thou shouldest watch bamboo? We hear it grows quite fast."
"Oh no, I prefer trees and grass. Much slower." She turned back to the grass and continued to stare intently at it.
The silence stretched on until Luna finally broke it by saying, "Mistletoe, hast thou seen Princess Celestia?"
"Oh, she normally comes visit me here. She's one of my best friends. Hey, you can wait with me! That willow tree needs to be watched. I think it's growing slower than the one beside it."
Luna sighed and joined Mistletoe in watching the plants grow. The wind whistled gently through the willows, scattering a few leaves. She didn't see any growth but found it very restful. For a moment, she found herself relaxing and not thinking about what had happened that night. She didn't even notice when her sister arrived and cleared her throat.
"CELLY!" squealed the green filly, as she ran over and rubbed up against the alicorn's long legs.
"Sister," said Luna, standing up.
"Loyal Luna, looks like you have made a new friend. She already has you watching the plants, I see." Celestia smiled at them both.
Luna replied, "Yes, sister. She is...a special pony."
Celestia nodded and said, "If only you knew how special she was."
She took aside her sister for a moment and asked, "Celestia, I am not questioning your judgment, only your reasons. Why have you as late made a habit of bringing orphans into the castle?"
"Pure altruism, Luna," Celestia said slyly.
The midnight alicorn narrowed her eyes, "Somehow, I fail to believe that. You always have an agenda."
"Oh, you'll see. You'll love it I'm sure." Celestia smiled.
Luna shook her head and resigned herself. "Tis no use trying to get any more out of you."
Concern crossed Celestia's face. "It is not like you to give up so quickly. What's wrong, Luna? Did your meeting with Nightflame not go well?"
Her younger sister told Celestia almost the entire story. She left out the statues of their parents in the mountain ruins. Celestia listened intently as she discussed the encounter with Nightflame, and grew very concerned when she discussed the Marewood Forest bandits.
She told of how the ponies had been left to their deaths along the road and Celestia gasped and reared back when she described them. "I know those ponies! Wine and Mead Cask. They were my...several times great grandchildren!"
"As are most of the nobles. What is to be done, Tia?"
Celestia was lost in thought for a moment. "Such things are not unheard of. It is shameful how many ponies are pushed to desperation on the fringes, and from there always comes unhappiness and with it, violence."
Luna sighed. "Sister, we've spent centuries building Harmony in Equestria. Do they not take our lessons of the Elements to heart?"
"They do, mostly..." Celestia said. By now they had wandered further into the grounds, past the rose bushes, vinyards, and hedge maze, and by now they were well away from most of the groundskeepers. "Sometimes it is simply too hard to love and tolerate others. Sometimes ponies feel they are not worthy of the same."
"I did not see that. I saw ponies dead from base greed."
Celestia closed her eyes and seemed lost in thought for a moment. "We could have the Sheriff of Trottingham take care of this. He is a good pony. Very fair."
Luna shook her head. "No...I think we need to take care of this ourselves. Make an example."
Celestia smiled obscurely. "That's a good idea. We should see who we're dealing with first, though. Share my Sight for a moment, and let us find out more about these cloaked bandits."
Luna nodded, and the two sisters moved together and touched horns. Celestia extended her Sight into the sun, and cast it down through the suns rays towards Trottingham. The sun's gaze scoured the city, sweeping from building to building, until it spotted a mare in a large green cloak.
"There!" Luna said. "That is one of the cloaks the wolves saw."
"Hush, sister." Celestia said, keeping her eyes closed, "Do not break concentration."
The unwavering gaze of the sun followed the green-cloaked mare into a bakery. Through the wide windows they watched as she purchased a large quantity of bread and carried it out. She stopped at several shops in turn, until her saddlebags were burdened and she trotted back into Trottingham Woods.
Luna stirred and stamped her hoof, "We should gather the guards and the chariots. Chase her and her companions down while we still can.."
It was hard tracking her through the woods. The sunlight was dappled and barely filtered through the trees. When it became too difficult, Luna took control and watched through the shadows. Together they traded off and followed her. The younger sister furrowed her brow and focused more, stamping her hooves and shifting side to side. Celestia admonished her to remain calm, and Luna went still, as the bandit reached a shaded clearing.
The clearing was full of makeshift lean-tos, tents, and treehouses. There were guard stations posted around it, ponied by pegasi. All present wore green cloaks that blended in well with the foliage, even in broad daylight. The cloaks covered their cutie marks and their otherwise brightly colored fur. Most were earth ponies, but there were a couple pegasi and unicorns as well. The pony they had been following pulled back her hood, revealing herself as a light green, almost white colored unicorn. She had a bright crimson mane the red hue of a rose.
"Friends! I have returned, and bring a feast!"
It hardly qualified as a feast. It was barely enough food for every pony present, and more revealed themselves. Foals came out of the huts to greet here. There were cries of "Rose!" all around from foals and adults alike. The crowd gathered around, looks of anticipation and joy on their faces as she distributed the bounty. The foals ate first, fillies and mares next, then the colts, and finally the stallions. Rose Thorn did not eat at all.
One pony, a tall skinny earth stallion, walked up to her after everypony broke off to eat, and said, "Dear Rose Thorn, if I may, despite our great bounty from this escapade, we are barely bringing in enough food for our foals, let alone us stallions. Granted, the forest's bounty allows us to eat, but not well. We should take a more aggressive stance in dealing with Trottingham, and the nobility of Canterlot."
"I know your opinion, Soaring Call, I just disagree with it," said Rose. "I do appreciate you providing this for us, but we will not make enemies of Equestria or the Princesses."
"Well, it was not entirely my doing," Soaring Call said. "I must give proper credit to my compatriots, Golden Shine and Stone Hammer. They were truly the architects of our current abundance. "
Luna bristled at this, and broke the concentration.
Celestia sighed and said, "So, does that change your perspective?
"A bit, sister," Luna acknowledged.
"You see? Every pony does things for a reason."
"That does not change that two ponies died because of those bandits."
"No, it does not." Celestia nodded assent and said, "We don't always see the consequences of our actions. Likewise, we don't always know why ponies make the choices they do."
"Your compassion knows no bounds," Luna said dryly.
"Still, if you wish, I can gather the guards to avenge my kin. Now that we know their location, we can go in force to the bandit camp. Our pegasi will bombard them from above while our combat unicorns dismantle their homes and turn every twig into a weapon. Their foals will be taken in protective custody and every adult pony tried and probably executed for their crimes."
Luna stood, slack jawed and gaping at her sister.
"Just kidding." Celestia laughed. "Come on, you know I would not do that."
Luna scratched at the dirt and paced, "I do, but...we have to do something."
"I try not to take part in the day to day affairs of ponies. We should be an example, not rulers."
"Easy for you to say, Sister," the younger princess said darkly, "You are both, and I am barely either."
Celestia wandered over to a nearby stream, that eventually fed into the willow pond. She dipped her snout in the water and took a drink. It was a moment before she looked up, then turned back to her sister.
"Luna," she finally said. "What if I leave this task to you?"
The younger alicorn reared slightly, one hoof off the ground. "Me? But I'm..."
"My sister," Celestia said, smiling faintly. "You are my co-ruler and equal. You are almost fully mature. You should have your own court, your own friends, your own lovers and your own foals."
Celestia got a sly look and leaned in close, "Oh, you did not think the nobles came from nowhere, did you sister?"
The younger sister rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I wish there weren't so many of them..."
Celestia just said "Estrus is a harsh mistress..."
Luna remembered the recent deaths and looked down, but Celestia walked over and nuzzled her gently.
"Luna. I already have forgiven the bandits. Please try the same."
"I will, Tia." She said and nuzzled her older sister back.
Luna pondered her next move, scowling deeply. She was in a strong position and could press forward with ease, but something seemed off. She had missed something vital, she just couldn't figure out what it was.
"So what did she say next?" the old grey pony asked as he moved his chess piece.
"She told us to come visit thee, for our weekly game," she said as she promoted a pawn. She looked up at her opponent and smiled smugly.
Starswirl frowned. "I thought you enjoyed our games?"
"Oh, no...of course we do!" She was quick to clarify. "We just thought the bandits should be handled with haste, to which she said 'friendship is more important.' We could not believest it. It was our own flesh and blood. Distant, but.."
Starswirl nodded. "I've worked with you both all my life, as most of my line has. I understand what she was saying. Friendship is magic after all. Besides, would it not be best to go in your full power at night?"
He made one more move that put her in mate.
"But...we hath two princesses!"
The old wizard laughed. "I could spin your play style into a metaphor for your approach to life, but I think you've heard enough aphorisms from your sister for today."
Luna scowled, and batted her Alicorn down so hard it went to the floor. She crossed her hooves foalishly, huffed and said, "We at least thank thee for that."
"So much older than I, and yet so immature," he said, not unkindly. Starswirl IV was an old pony, from a long line of sorcerers to the Princesses. He wore a large, battered hat that festooned with bells that had been passed down through the ages, and a similar robe. He lacked his more famous ancestor's great beard, though he did have a small tuft of grey on his chin.
"Eternal youth can do that to a pony," Luna said with a chuckle.
Starswirl chuckled. "Indeed. I remember back when I was but a foal, apprenticed to my father, learning the ways of magic. You were just the same as you are now, spending all your time in this library...and yet I doubt you have even read half the books in here."
"Speaking of which.." Luna said. "We heard of a book, the Book of Gloom. We believe it has some information we seek."
Starswirl started. "The Book of Gloom? Did...Celestia tell you about that?"
Luna raised an eyebrow, "No...it was Nightflame, the Dragon. So sister of mine knows of it?"
Starswirl sighed. "Yes. She does. When Equestria was founded there were many threats, and as you were but a filly, your sister battled most of them. The Witches of Gloom were among the worst."
"They must hath been really bad ponies." Luna asked.
"Not even ponies," he said, switching quickly into lecture mode. "They were...something else. From another world, it's left the Book of Gloom behind, and it is stored in the locked section of the library."
He looked at the chess board, and clapped his hooves. "And since you lost again, it's your turn to clean up."
"What is in this book?" Luna said, using her telekinesis to put away the pieces. "Is it even safe to read?"
"It's safe. There's no enchantments on it that I can tell. It's just your typical mixture of spells, formulae, prophecies, and insane ravings." He walked over towards a locked and barred door of heavy oak and iron bandings. "I can show it to you, it's quite a sobering read."
"We would appreciate that, Starswirl."
Starswirl unlocked the door, and looked around. There were a lot of books in the forbidden vault that Luna had never seen before, but he quickly found the only one that she was interested in and levitated it over to her. She took control and levitated it over to a podium, and quickly leafed through the distasteful tome.
There were all sorts of spells in here. Dark magic that could do things even beyond her godlike power, but she knew there had to be a price. The dead could be raised, the living prevented from death. Entire lands could be destroyed by a living tidal wave called Smooze. There were ravings against everything that might be considered good or decent in the world. The rants against ice cream were almost surreal in their vehemence.
Finally, she found what she was looking for. The Prophecy of Gloom. The End of Equestria:
Castles fall when alicorns go to war
Night will rise and strike the sun
When alicorns go to war
Friendship lies and true love dies
Light will fall and the dark will rise
When alicorns go to war
The battle's won but count the cost
Heroes fall and the princess lost
When alicorns go to war
She stared at the page for a while. "Starswirl...what say thee on this?"
Starswirl trotted over and read the passage himself, lips mouthing the words as he scowled.
"Well...I would not let it trouble you. I've read it before and I do not put much stock in it." He shook his head, "Prophecies need not come true, and trying to act on them one way or another can bring them about. It is best to act of your own initiative and not let your life be guided by the ravings of witches."
Luna closed the book. "We're troubled nonetheless. The dragon Nightflame told us not only of this book, but of the prophecy specifically."
He scratched his beard with a hoof. It was smaller than his more famous ancestor's, yet still notable on a pony. "That is worrying. Well, even if the prophecy is true, the clause of the prophecy is clearly that alicorns go to war. Equestria has had war in the past, with griffins, zebras, and others, but..."
"Never hath me nor my sister taken the field in true war." She thought of the bandit camp, and how she was tasked to deal with them. "Thou don't thinkest the bandits hath a role this?"
"No, that is too easy...prophecy is never straightforward. Regardless, I would advise you take an even hand, my liege. Be as gentle with them as you can."
The princess cocked her head to one side, "We thoughtest thou said not to let prophecy guide our lives?"
"I would give the same advice regardless." Starswirl IV bowed, and said "I enjoyed our game Princess. Next time, just protect your leader better."
Realization hit Luna, and she smiled. "Thou art a genius, Starswirl!"
"Erm, yes. Of course! Uhh...Princess, what did I say?"