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'Dearest Luna...' - Celestia's writing translated from Early Modern Equish
Five years... it has been five years since the war with the rebelling nobles has started and four since I last wrote in you, yet it seems as if the end is not even remotely in sight. Dearest journal, I do not know about my foes, though I suspect that in this case they shared a similar viewpoint, but I had expected this war to last but a year, maybe two, before it ended one way or the other. However...
That is not what has happened. Instead, it has dragged on for the past five years with the borders between the lines having become something of a nopony's land with near continual skirmishes between the two sides. I am only thankful that the nobles could not trust each other enough to raise one of their own to the leadership of the rebels. Instead, they sometimes backbite and fight amongst themselves as they do with me! But if they had united behind a single leader, I do not believe that I would still be here writing, or if I was it would be as either a puppet or a prisoner in some tower.
You may remember, journal, about my idea? Where in groups of pegasi would drop the thunder balls, now nearly universally known as "Grand Aids" among my troops? They have met with some success. A few of the pegasi met with unfortunate ends when they did not release the Grand Aids in time and they exploded nearby, but for the most part they have worked as was expected. They have caused my enemies to expend much more ponies in attempts to prevent such raids. They have also done damage to the enemy's storehouses and fortifications, especially when one pegasi of a pair drops vials filled with flammable oils and alcohols so that with the Grand Aids, fires can start.
Also, Huánghūn's family has introduced a new invention to even the odds some more. They call it a Hwacha or "Fire Arrow". A name most apt as it uses arrows propelled by fire much like fireworks. These have extremely long ranges akin to what only the best long bow archers can achieve, but in numbers far beyond what should be possible. I personally saw a test where one shot out a hundred arrows far enough away that only a pegasus could identify who the ponies might be by their face.
There is some debate as to how we might use them though. Some think that we should bring them up to the front line to increase the damage that we can do to opposing forces during battle, possibly using them to target the enemy's pegasi. Others believe that they would be most effective in being used on our fortifications, freeing up archers for use elsewhere. I believe that I shall use them for the second for now, as we may have problems producing them in the numbers that we need for the front lines for a while, as well as training the crews for them...
I... I cannot believe that I am writing these words but... my friend, Huánghūn... She's... dead.
Huánghūn is dead.
And as I sit here and write these words through my grief, I realize that she had truly foretold how she would die. For you see, I was away at a battle just past the border when Canterlot had been attacked. It seems that for the past few weeks that one of the nobles had small groups of their troops sneak across the border all along it's length. Eventually, a few thousand gathered close to the bottom of the mountain. From there, they made their way up to what they believed to be a nearly undefended fortress.
You may be thinking that she died when they took Canterlot or perhaps in the fighting to retake it, but no.
Seeing the danger, she ordered her House to gather up as many scattered troops, even those yet still in training and others to hold Canterlot after sealing the gate and while one of the commanders sent one of his fastest pegasi to where I was to warn me. Meanwhile, her and her remaining siblings left to meet the coming troops on the narrow mountain pass. I can almost imagine the reactions of the troops as they came around the bend to see eight elderly looking beings who were facing them. They most likely would have been amused at the thought that such old ones thought that they could stop them...
Right up until Huánghūn and her siblings attacked.
While old, they were powerful and had the experience behind them to use it. I heard the tales of how they held back the entire army for a time, just enough for Canterlot to prepare and not be overtaken. In the open, they might well have been quickly killed after they were surrounded. On a narrow, winding mountain road with one side being a sheer cliff? They left behind a mountain of dead soldiers and a demoralized army.
Even as they fell, they took many with them. And from what I have been told, Huánghūn was the last to fall, having fought through the soldiers until she reached the one who lead them, blood streaming from her many wounds. Then she grasped him in an embrace before she used her magic to pull as many of the troops to her as she could...
And then flung herself off the mountain and carried them with her to their doom.
The army was then stalled for a time before they restarted their march and came to the walls. There they were met by the stalwart defenders, with many of their number decimated by the hwacha as they approached. Three times they tried to mount the walls and three times they were repelled. They retreated leaving behind mounds of the dead and dying.
It was then that soldiers from the bottom of the mountain under the command of Oldblood's son, Blueblood, slammed into their rear. The attackers now found themselves trapped between two forces and fighting to escape, when the gates of Canterlot opened and the Guard inside charged out to meet them. The attackers asked for no quarter...
And none was given.
By the time I arrived at the head of the reinforcements, fully expecting to find that the city had fallen, the battle had reached it's forgone conclusion. Almost all the attacking force had died. Once I found out about Huánghūn, I went looking for her...
I found her broken body at the very bottom of the mountain, the bodies of those she took with her around it. I then saw the expression on her face... It was one of peace and triumph. it was the expression of one who knew that she had given it all and in doing so, cleared all debts that she had held.
It was hours later that they found me as I cradled her head to my chest and cried...
Four days... four days since Huánghūn died. We lost one of the undisputed genii of our times that day, possibly one whom will always be considered up there with Clover and Starswirl And I lost one of my best friends. I have cried until my tears have stopped as I looked out over my balcony. Every time, my thoughts always turned back to the same thing:
How had I failed my little ponies so badly? How had I failed my friend so badly that she lost her life because of it...?
All I can think is that I had grown overconfident in my power and my recent victories against the rebels. I had not foreseen the possibility of one doing what he had done. it was so far outside my experience for one to think so far outside the box. Yes, I know that my advisors and Generals have all told me that I could never have expected this, but that does not help the twisting feeling of failure that lies within my gut. I must never let myself fall into such a thought trap again, lest that time becomes my last. The cost of such would be simply too high to contemplate.
As my newest item in my quarters will show me each day when I see it. For Huánghūn in her will bequeathed me the tea set over which her and I had so many of our conversations over. It now sits upon my desk and even now, I wish that she was still here to provide much needed advice and conversation.
I shall, however, make sure to keep an eye on her family as I promised her. Over my lifetime, I have learned to trust my instincts and what they have told me. In this case, they tell me that her family will play a role in events to come. How and in which way, I don't know yet. I am also reminded of how Huánghūn had told me that one of her blood would be instrumental to defeating a returned Sombra. Yes, I believe that I shall keep a closer eye on her family in the years ahead.
Though I am glad to say that her and her siblings sacrifice will not be in either vain nor forgotten for a long time. Indeed, even as I sit here and write in you, journal, the stories surrounding their last stand are only growing with each retelling. They are also spreading throughout my lands. And then, at their funeral, many hundreds turned up to show their thanks for their sacrifice. It... brought a tear to my eye that. I feel as if this will help bring even more acceptance of those who we share this land with whom may not be ponies, but only time will tell.
Yes, I know that I am rambling and that I really shouldn't be but... I... I'm sorry, journal. I just can't help myself...
It has been several months since the "Battle of Canterlot" as some are calling it, and I do believe that the noble who planned it has struck again. And in this case, he has copied my idea for the "Bolts of Wonder", the pegasi who have been using the Grand Aids. In this case though, the pegasi drop vials filled with a potion that produces the most foul oder imaginable. So foul it is, that one if too close will choke on the fumes and be disorientated from them.
I have directed my spymasters to work to find out whom this noble is. Once they do, they're to do whatever they can to stop him. Since one so clever is a threat and could turn the tide of the war in the rebel's favors. I must find him or her and put an end to them...
You may remember, dear journal, how I had spoken about one of the nobles? One whom was quite clever and thought outside the box on a matter of issues? And who I had ordered my spymasters to find and silence? As it turned out, that order was unneeded as someone has beaten me to the hoof!
It was one of the more junior nobles as it has turned out who was responsible. But during a dinner, he drank himself to death... or so they say. I have my suspicions that it was not as it seemed and he was killed. Perhaps one of the other nobles thought him too dangerous to them and a threat? Or maybe they were envious of him? In either case, I no longer have to worry about him as now the bones of his principality are being picked clean by those scavengers that he had called "Allies".
Once more, the nobles prove that they are an enemy to themselves greater then I could ever be. And they also prove that if they were to win, things would turn very badly in a short time for the common pony. No, if I was not sure before this war, I am now. The nobles cannot be trusted, wrapped up in their games they are.
Speaking of the nobility, I have received word from those in the outer portions of the nation that they are gearing up to fight. Apparently the nobles have focused in on my to the near exclusion of the outer portions of Equestria. Actually... I should be honest to you at least, my journal...
They have attacked the outer portions of the nation, but they have mostly used what I believe are their worst troops to do so. Ones whom have barely made a dent in said territories due to their size along with the various... issues of the nobles' troops. It being the place where they sent those who had fallen out of favor for incompetence and so forth.
But back to the word they have sent me. From what they have written my it seems that they have used the time given to fortify themselves and prepare their forces. Even now, they're getting ready to punch through the rebel's forces until they can meet up with mine. We only need a spot to do so. I shall have to give great thought as to how we might accomplish this for it shall take cunning and misdirection to do so.
Part of me wonders however as to why they might ally with me in this? Surely they have not forgotten the war in which my Sister, their main patron, had fought and been defeated in. Or the reprisals they had suffered from those who had claimed to be under my flag...
Perhaps that is it? Since those same ponies are now rebelling against me they see a way for revenge? Or is there something deeper going on here? I remember a report from one of my spymasters as to how there were rumors to the effect that my sister's former Guard has fled into the wilderness of the outer reaches. At the time I had scoffed and dismissed them as just that, rumors. After all, what position would they possibly have been in even if they had? But now that I know that they still operate... even within the shadows, I must wonder is they have a hoof in it?
After all, I suspect that the Night Guard see the nobles as a threat to both them and Luna. They of all know what might happen if the nobles should win and rule when their patron returns. There is also the fact that I believe that they blame those same nobles for their Princess' fall into darkness, though I think that I myself am at greater fault.
Or is their purpose something baser?
If I was to lose to the nobles, they would turn toward the outer regions after a time. By themselves, they might well hold for a time, but they would fall in the end to the larger forces of the nobles. And with their personal views on non-ponies, it is highly likely that those regions with a high non-pony population would suffer the most under the tender mercies of the nobility. But as long as I am here on the throne, they know that I can offer then protections from the ravages of the nobles through the power of my own troops.
In either case, I cannot complain. If this works out well, then it should give me much breathing room. I doubt that I shall be able to put down the rebellion, even with their help. But a break would be very much welcome. And while I will wonder as to their motives, curse those backbiting traitors who even now make me wonder about everypony, I shall not allow myself to look a gift dragon in the mouth, lest doing so causes it to be angered at my disrespect and breath it's fire onto me...
Winter... the snow covers every thing in view though it is blackened by soot near the blacksmiths as they continue their work to build weapons and armor.
You know, journal, I had overheard one of my younger soldiers asking why the fighting stops in the winter since us ponies can control the weather. Ah, to be young and not know the answers to such things. While it is true that we can control the weather, it is only over a small area. A team of pegasi can control the weather for many miles, but the amount needed as the area enlarges grows exponentially. For while some need to control the clouds and the wind, others are needed to create the clouds or to collect the broken up remains to be transported elsewhere. When my sister and I warred over that winter, it was extremely harsh and hard to do so. Even full flights of pegasi could only calm the weather enough for battle for just a few hours before it settled back into normal winter.
And doing so left our pegasi both exhausted and unfit for battle. Something that neither I nor the nobles, for all our hatred toward one another, would contemplate for what could be a minor advantage at best. The winter months also allow us to regather our strength when possible.
Though that is not all that I am to write about! You may remember, dear journal, about how after her... defeat... I had gathered up my sister's notes. After I began raising the moon, I have found that I have had trouble sleeping. I had been up many a night just wandering the halls caught up in what might have been. Eventually though, I turned to my sister's notes in an attempt to understand what may have caused her transformation into the being known as "Nightmare Moon".
Most of her notes were well ordered as expected of her. She was always a bit fussy about how things were sorted. But as I looked through them, I found them to have become more and more disorganized as time went on. I believe that this was a sign of her declining mental condition, with another sign shown by her writing about a mysterious voice who she considered a muse. I must admit that I am rather... disturbed by some of what I read. But, to my amazement, there were spells in there that I have never known about. She must have delved deep into the arcane for some of them.
Of current interest to me is what she called a "Splitting" spell. During the war between us, I had heard reports as to how she could split herself into multiple ponies, of any of the three tribes. Usually just one if she needed to order her troops elsewhere. I had, of course, dismissed such a spell as a rumor. It went well against much that I have learned of magic. Creating a living thing for a short time from an inanimate object is one thing, splitting off a portion of yourself though?
Or so I had thought. She had seemingly found an ancient pool deep underneath Everfree Glade which had the power of creating clones of a pony, as long as they said an spell. The pony did not even need to be a unicorn! Such a artifact I shall investigate myself once I have the time to. But as to the spell, Luna had created it after much study of this "Mirror Pool". The effects of the spell means it can split off a portion of a alicorn's power from one of the three types that we use, and create a pony of that type. The pony in question would have all of the alicorn's memories and mindset, while the alicorn can control it if needed though usually it acts on it's own with some input from a subconscious link. And if it dies, it's body turns back into magic and returns to the alicorn in a flash of light.
Before her fall, it seems that Luna had used it extensively to study, often splitting herself into three ponies: An Earth Pony, a Unicorn, and a Pegasus. By doing so, she was able to cover much more then she could have otherwise.
There is a drawback though. By splitting oneself, what is left is weakened. If I was to split my pegasus portion from myself, I would keep my wings, but it would be much harder to fly. I would also find myself having issues with standing on clouds or even manipulating the weather. There is also the fact that the longer the split goes on and more splits created, the more likely that the ponies created by the spell will diverge from the original. But while there is the danger that her mind having been split so often could have had something to do with her fall, the spell is much too useful to me right now to ignore.
I know of ways to get around issues with a lack of magic, mainly the crystals on my peytral and shoes as well as crown. Most do not know but I store quite a bit of magic within them which I can call upon when needed. With that, creating a unicorn split would help much. I can send her in my place to the front to lead while I stay in Canterlot... Yes, that will do nicely. And I don't need to explain why as I have many principalities under my control. I can easily come up with something and none would question my.
All I need is a name...
Hmm... For some odd reason, "Sunny Day Skies" tickles my fancy greatly... perhaps as a Captain...
In any case, it will take me much of the winter to both master the spell to the level that I need and to get things in order for the "Captain" to make her appearance...
It is now high summer and three months since "Captain Sunny Day Skies" appeared. There was some grumbling as to her appearing seemingly out of nowhere, but I explained that she had my complete trust. As for where she was supposed to come from, I used the excuse that she had been on a mission in the badlands to the south. As they had no reason to doubt me, they swallowed it. As to her, I gave her a group of ponies who I veted over the winter. Each one is best at what they do and completely loyal. Especially as they were all orphans who grew up in the Guard who had no connections to the nobles.
This spell truly is a masterful piece of work and I cannot state how proud I am of Luna for having created it. Even now, if I close my eyes and focus, I can see out of my split's eyes and use her senses. I can even communicate with her mentally. Right now though, she is asleep in a tent near the front lines. When she is asleep, the amount of energy that she uses is low enough that most flows back to me. Even when she eats, the excess energy not needed to keep her going flows back to me.
However, the spell did have some odd bits that I had not expected. For example, the Captain, knowing that she cannot die, has a habit so far of rushing into situations where a normal pony would hesitate to do so. She has also taken on some aspects of my dear sister somehow. Mainly in how she treats her fellow troops. However, she does give me exactly what I needed which was eyes on the battlefields on the borders.
Be that as it may, I also look forward to studying this spell much deeper. I am currently taking many notes on the spell and how it works. Perhaps... Journal, I have not admitted this but I have plans for after this war. Once things calm down, I wish to speak with my sister, but the only way that I might have is to go to the moon and meet her there. However, to do so means leaving Equestria for a time. I could not do so before, but if I can figure out a way to do so with this clone spell... Perhaps creating a perfect split so that I can make a double to take my place for the needed time...
Finally, the time has come to break the nobility. They are starting to break apart under the strain of the war to the point where they are dealing with small rebellions within their lands as some of the ponies under them go hungry. As saddened as I am that such is happening, part of me is glad. For this shall make the next series of battles easier since more of their troops will be drawn off by the rebellions.
I have already positioned several troops of my own in various places to draw off many more while my spymasters have managed to "Leak" information telling them where I'm going to strike... Sadly for them, it's in exactly the wrong spot.
If all goes well, then three weeks from today, the armies from the outer regions will attack and the main force will manage to pierce the rebel's positions in the north-west. Those areas have been truly weakened over the past few years and the nobles there are on their last legs. I shall meet up with them and together we will split their forces in half.
That is the plan anyways. And to make sure that it works, I shall be heading to the front myself. If need be, I will be the one to make the needed hole. Afterwards, with the reinforcements from the outer regions, we will launch attacks upon the weaker of the nobles.
This should be the blow that breaks the rebel's backs and end this war, once and for all. Or that is the hope, anyways. I can only hope that all goes well...