Twilight Sparkle hummed to herself softly as she went about grooming herself after a long and well deserved bath. The brush moved along her body held in a telekinetic grip, the stiff bristles leaving behind an almost intoxicating feeling as they passed through the hairs of her coat. It was just what she needed to help ease the remaining tension from her confrontation with Discord the day before.
Warm sunlight filtered through the window from the morning sun, causing the polished stone of the floors and walls to glow with an unearthly radiance, further serving to relax the lavender unicorn. She sighed in contented euphoria as she levitated the brush back to the counter top. She checked herself over once more, appraising the luster of her coat in the mirror. She smiled, it was perfect. She checked brushing her coat off her mental checklist and moved on to the next step.
A polishing cloth hovered up from one of the saddle bags on the floor by the door. Turning her head slightly, she began to run it up and down her horn, following the spiral. Again, soothing waves flowed across her body as the soft cloth buffed the alicorn of her horn to a flawless shine. Finished and satisfied with the polish, she sent the cloth back through the air and into her saddle bag.
"Perfect," the young mare said, giving herself one last look-over before turning to exit the bathroom. She paused mid-turn, however, as something caught her eye. She wasn't sure what it was, but something seemed off. She repeated the turn, her eyes narrowing in focus as she checked over her body repeatedly. "What am I missing?" She muttered to herself.
There it was, her eyes zeroed in on a tuft of hair on her shoulder, toward the trailing end of the scapula. It stuck out at an odd angle, in defiance of the brushing she gave it earlier.
"Found you, you little..." Twilight announced, cutting off her insult as the brush once again zipped through the air on a mission, attacking the rebellious little hairs as Twilight turned to examine her opposite flank.
"Oh for the love of Celestia!" Twilight exclaimed loudly, there was another one, same place, opposite side. Another brush took off from the counter, she was not about to let all of her effort be wasted, especially when her friends and her were supposed to be present at an award ceremony in their honor at noon. Sure it was still hours away, but she wanted to relax before presenting herself to so many important ponies.
Her brushes were halted in their assault as her stomach let out a very unladylike growl. She tried to ignore it, it could certainly wait a bit longer. Her stomach was not to be denied, her barrel shaking as it grumbled again, more loudly this time.
"Okay, okay, I hear you," she shouted petulantly, turning on the tap and running the brushes under water. She smoothed her coat down, knowing it would only be a temporary fix. The brushes each gave a loud crack as they slammed down onto the counter top. "I'll be back to deal with you after breakfast," she grumbled with a glare at the wayward tuft of hair before finally leaving the bathroom.
Glancing to the basket at the foot of her bed and finding it empty, Twilight came to the conclusion that Spike, her dragon assistant, must have already left for breakfast. A nebulous cloud of energy sprang up around her horn as the door to her room opened with a mental push, admitting her passage into the halls of the palace. She moved at a brisk pace through the halls, turning corners with ease, familiarity with the walls of her former home hastening her trip.
She rounded one final corner and the voices of her friends floated down the all to her. She smiled, it sounded like their conversation was lively. It was a nice feeling, especially after the fiasco with Discord's return.
The thought of her friends splitting up and leaving Ponyville had chilled her to the bone. She hated being in those kinds of conflicts. Sure, she would always rise to the challenge and do her best for Equestria and Princess Celestia, but the tension and dread that she felt when faced with situations that could ruin everything forever just made her want to find someplace and hide until it passed.
However, everything turned out alright in the end. Discord was imprisoned once more, and Equestria was returned to the prosperous harmony it had enjoyed for thousands of years. She felt like she had when Nightmare Moon was returned to being Princess Luna. It was as if the future was laid out before her and even the most pressing of mundane matters were merely the smallest of hiccup on the path.
"I still can't believe I thought that stupid cloud was Cloudsdale," Rainbow Dash's voice became clear as Twilight entered the dining hall."And I really can't believe Fluttershy was the one that caught me!" Laughter rang out following Rainbow Dash's exclamation, and Twilight happily took in the sight of all of her friends surrounding a large table in the hall. Present also were Princesses Celestia and Luna, as well as Twilight's dragon assistant, Spike.
"That's because she was upset," Twilight announced, letting her presence be known. "I'm sure we all remember how she can get when she's upset."
"Of course, how could we forget," Rarity gushed, "after all, she even went as far as to scold the very dragon that had terrified her when she was upset." A general chorus of agreement echoed across the table as Twilight pulled herself up onto a chair.
"Twilight," Princess Celestia greeted her," yesterday was a dreadful trial, how are you this morning?"
"I'd be lying if I said I was perfect,"Twilight answered with a smile, "Yesterday was exhausting, but I'm happy everything worked out in the end." She happily accepted a plate from one of the servants. The plate was filled with a salad of mixed greens and several small sandwiches with various flowers, it looked delicious.
One of the sandwiches hovered up before her mouth and she took a bite. Daffodils and daisies, one of her favorites. Staying as a royal guest certainly had its perks. She continued to eat as she looked around the table to her friends. They all seemed to be in good humor as they ate and chatted with one another.
Across the table Spike was talking animatedly with Pinkie Pie as he ate from a bowl of assorted gemstones. To her left were Rarity and Fluttershy, talking quietly as they ate their meals. At the foot of the table Applejack was talking to Rainbow Dash about an upcoming rodeo. She smiled, everything was getting back to normal, and even though she was still tired from yesterday's events, she knew she would be just fine.
Her eyes wandered to the Princesses sitting to her right, at the head of the table. Celestia was currently savoring a salad similar to the one Twilight was eating, her eyes closed as she appreciated the flavors. Luna, however, seemed to be incredibly tense. Now that Twilight thought about it she hadn't spoken yet, and she did not hear her voice when she was coming down the halls to this room.
"Princess Luna?" Twilight asked, in an attempt to engage the quiet princess in conversation.
Luna was startled that somepony had directed their attention to her. She hadn't missed the awkward glances or the lack of interaction with her. She understood that it would take a long time to reconcile with her subjects after her time as Nightmare Moon.
She then smiled, at least somepony was willing to make the effort. Better not to make herself a pariah in an attempt to give the ponies time to accept the fact that she was back and in no way a threat. She drew herself up straight and faced Twilight Sparkle.
"Yes, Twilight Sparkle?" she asked amicably, her soft smile reaching her eyes. The effect on the ponies in the room was immediate, as all conversation stopped and all eyes were now on Princess Luna. Needless to say, everypony was stunned at the explosive volume of her voice. Celestia stifled a chuckle with a hoof in amusement at the frazzled ponies.
"Sister," she said, "I do believe you startled everypony." Luna looked confused, and turned toward her sister.
"How so?" Luna asked, "I merely answered a question directed at me by your prized student." Celestia could only titter softly at her sister's lack of comprehension.
"Wow!" Pinkie shouted, face manic with glee, "she can yell so loud!" Luna's attention moved from her sister back to the ponies assembled around the table.
"We were not yelling," Luna corrected, "We were merely acknowledging young Twilight Sparkle's query. We do not understand why our subjects seem so surprised." Again, everypony was stunned into silence at the explosive volume.
"Luna," Celestia began, her smile giving lie to the sternness of her voice, "we are among friends, its perfectly within reason for you to speak to them as you speak to me." Luna again addressed her sister.
"But it is not proper," Luna argued, looking scandalized, "when a princess addresses her subjects nothing less than traditional royal Canterlot voice and personal reference should be allowed. We represent every pony in Equestria when we speak to anypony other than ourselves."
"Times have changed, little sister," Celestia explained, "We no longer live in an age of intense international negotiations. Rulers of neighboring countries no longer scrutinize one another in every aspect of life, hoping to find a weakness. Treaties and trade have solidified international alliances, and we can enjoy a more personal relationship with the ponies we rule now." Luna nodded in understanding, as though they had had this discussion on several occasions by now.
"I will... try, sister," Luna acquiesced, and turned once more to Twilight Sparkle. "Ahem," she coughed lightly, her cheeks heating up at the thought of how she was about to shatter proper conduct. "Yes, Twilight Sparkle?" Her pleasant smile was only marginally marred by a small tick in one of her eyes.
Twilight, for her part, merely smoothed down her frazzled mane and, with a quick glance at Princess Celestia for assurance, addressed the dark mare.
"I was only wondering if something was the matter," Twilight offered, "you looked awfully tense, I thought that something might be wrong." Twilight hoped she hadn't stepped over any invisible boundaries with the question. She had lived most of her life in the company of Princess Celestia, and as such enjoyed a more personal interaction with royalty. With the sudden exposition of the thousand year gap in culture, she wasn't so sure of herself.
Luna was quiet for a moment, apparently wrestling with the concept of having other ponies other than her sister in a small circle of ponies she could be more at ease with. Finally, she seemed to come to a conclusion.
"It is- it is a small matter," Luna finally allowed herself to speak, correcting the volume of her voice mid-sentence," We, that is, I thank you for your concern, Twilight Sparkle. What has been occupying our- my thoughts lately is the distance with which our- my subjects have maintained from us- me." Luna seemed to be struggling with how much she should say, she looked to Celestia, who gave a nod of encouragement and continued. "...I fear that my time as Nightmare Moon will take an eternity to fade from the minds of the ponies around me."
Twilight understood now why Luna had been so quiet, she looked at her friends who were all wearing shamed faces. They had also kept a wall up between them and Luna for the same reasons, and now their attitude was laid bare for everyone to see.
"It shouldn't," Applejack said, and everyone looked at her, horrified at the statement. "Aw hayseed, that came out wrong. What ah meant to say was that its an important lesson that everypony should remember. But that don't meant we shoulda' held it against ya. It was wrong for us to do that, Ah'm sorry." She explained, bowing her head in apology.
"Applejack is right," Rarity agreed, "I just cannot believe I would behave in such an uncouth manner, snubbing a pony just for something as simple as a faux pas."
"Water under the bridge," Rainbow Dash said, with a horizontal swipe of her hoof.
"Everyone gets a little crazy when they think they lost all of their friends!" Pinkie Pie offered, "especially when we think they don't like us anymore." Fluttershy nodded in agreement, taking strength from her friends.
"It was wrong of us, we're sorry." Fluttershy managed to squeak out. Twilight looked around at her friends and smiled. They were all good ponies, she was glad to have them as friends. Then she started to chuckle, even though their expressions had managed t return to normal, all of them still wore their surprise in their manes and wings.
Applejack's hat had fallen halfway off her head and Rarity's mane had come apart, loose curls sticking out at odd angles. Fluttershy's mane now nearly covered both of her eyes, while Pinkie Pie's mane was even more of an explosion of curls than before. Rainbow Dash's feathers were all out of sorts, like somepony thought it would be fun to try and statically charge a balloon with her wings.
They all looked around at each other for a moment, confused at Twilight's antics, before they realized their appearances. They joined in with Twilight's laughter, each pointing out something funny about one of their friends' disheveled look. Twilight continued to laugh with them glad she sorted out her mane so quickly after Luna's outburst.
"And look at Twilight!" Pinkie shouted, shocking Twilight. She was certain she had straightened her mane. She began to reach up to feel if there were any hairs out of place.
"Oh my, yes, just look at Twilight," Rarity laughed, turning to Twilight. "Trying to impersonate Rainbow now, are we?" Twilight thought for a moment, confused at the words of her friends. Impersonating Rainbow Dash? How? She looked at the prismatic pegasus trying to discern the meaning to her friends' words.
'Okay let's see here,' Twilight thought to herself, 'Dash's mane is as unruly as ever, so that can't be what they're talking about. The only things that are messed up are her wings.' With that thought Twilight reached a hoof over her shoulder and felt it. That same tuft of fur that had eluded her earlier that morning was once again rebelling.
With a frustrated sigh she reached around to the opposite shoulder and felt an identical unruly mess of hair sticking out there as well. She tried to smooth them down amidst the laughing of her friends. It wasn't helping, though. Every time she brushed over the offending hairs they seemed to have sprung back up, refusing to obey her calming hoof.
"I don't get it," Twilight grumbled aloud, "I've been trying to get my coat to lay flat all morning, and these two spots just wont lie down." She tried to smooth them a few more times in futility, the traitorous hairs continued to stand. She was interrupted by Rarity's hoof over top her own.
"Let me help you, darling," she said, as she began to help smooth Twilight's coat. "My, your coat is ever so smooth, Twilight. Whatever did you use to make it feel so silky?" Rarity stopped in her efforts to help tame Twilight's coat and began to feel the tuft on her shoulder.
"I didn't use anything special," Twilight offered by way of an explanation, or lack thereof.
"Its Down." Fluttershy's voice floated through the laughter, barely audible.
"I'm sorry, dear, what was that?" Rarity asked, having not quite heard her soft spoken friend. She turned her head to face the long maned pegasus, still absently stroking Twilight's coat.
"I said its down," Fluttershy clarified. Rarity became confused at the statement, her hoof poking experimentally lower towards Twilight's barrel, eliciting a squeak from the lavender unicorn.
"Down where, Fluttershy?" Rarity asked, poking Twilight's side once more, followed by another squeak and this time accompanied by an involuntary twitch from the bookworm. "I don't see what you're talking about I'm afraid," Rarity said, prodding Twilight's ribs, "her coat seems fairly normal down here, nice and tamed. Not like these silky hairs at all."
By now Twilight wiggled away from the other unicorn, wheezing slightly in an attempt to keep from laughing out loud. Her squeaks had drawn attention from the other ponies gathered around the table.
"No, not down there, it is down," Fluttershy attempted to clarify once more. Rarity only seemed to look more confused.
"That doesn't make a lick of sense, sugarcube," Applejack said.
"Ooh, ooh, I know!" Pinkie Pie enthused, waiving a hoof in the air as though they were attending school. "Maybe she was so shocked by Princess Luna's voice she needs to ground herself! And the ground is all the way down there!" The pink earth pony ran over to a window and pointed down at the ground outside. Rainbow Dash looked at the aptly named party pony and shook her head.
"That also doesn't make any sense." She said flatly. "What are you talking about Fluttershy?" Fluttershy shook her head in quiet annoyance at her friends' actions and pointed once more to the wispy hairs sticking out of Twilight's coat.
"Those hairs," Fluttershy said.
"These hairs?" Twilight asked, pointing to the tufts for clarification.
"Yes, they are down." the cream colored pegasus confirmed.
"Where?" Twilight was now thoroughly confused.
"There." Fluttershy answered, pointing once more and wondering why this was so difficult.
"On my barrel?"
"No, your shoulder."
"My shoulder is down?"
"Some of it."
"Only some of it?"
"Yes, only some of it, I thought you knew that by now."
"Argh!" Twilight was becoming frustrated, if nopony cleared this up soon she thought she might just ignite in flames once more. Taking a calming breath, she swiped at the air, pantomiming shooing away her frustration. Okay, she thought, let's not make this more difficult to understand. Fluttershy keeps talking about down, but when we try to ask where, she says we are wrong. That makes it a what?
"Let me rephrase the question then," Twilight said after her moment of thought. " What is wrong with the hair on my shoulder?"
"It is down." Fluttershy clarified once more, her voice growing more agitated.
"That makes no sense," Twilight stated, "hair can't be a direction."
"Of course not," Fluttershy agreed, "but I'm not talking about a direction."
"What are you talking about Fluttershy?" Rainbow Dash interrupted, "Twilight can't have down, she's not a pegasus, she's a unicorn."
"But that's what they are," Fluttershy insisted, before shrinking back in realization of her assertiveness. She continued in a more apologetic tone, "I see it all the time on baby birds. It looks exactly the same."
Celestia gasped, drawing everypony's attention. Her gaze swept quickly across the room taking in her sister, the six assembled heroes, one dragon assistant and finally a single hoofmaiden.
"Rosy Dawn." Celestia called, causing the hoofmaiden to stiffen before turning to address her ruler with a deep bow.
"Yes, Princess?" The unicorn mare asked meekly.
"Everything you just bore witness to is from this moment on to be considered a state secret. To whisper it to anypony without my, or my sister's permission will be considered treason, now please alert the medical staff and have them meet me in my study in half an hour."
"Yes, Princess." Dawn acknowledged before striding quickly out of the dining hall. As she left Celestia cast a meaningful glance to Luna, who nodded in return.
"Everypony, please let us leave the dining hall and retire to my personal study, it seems as if there is an urgent matter we must discuss. Thankfully, in light of the recent disaster, court has been suspended for several days, as ponies set their affairs back in order." Celestia stood from where she sat, and led her sister and the confused ponies out of the room.
"What's going on, Princess?" Twilight asked as she moved quickly up by her teacher's side, concern at Celestia's abruptness easily casting aside any frustration she felt at Fluttershy's earlier antics.
"We will speak more when we reach my study, but suffice to say that something has been recently brought to my attention, something I had not considered might happen following the events of yesterday." Celestia explained vaguely as they walked. Twilight nodded in understanding. Celestia knew that there were more ears than necessary in the halls of the castle, only in her study could she be open and honest without fear that somepony might overhear something they are not supposed to.
Twilight looked back to her friends, noticing their concern as they followed. Twilight laughed internally at their concern. This wasn't the first time Celestia had felt the sudden need to go to her study for a private discussion, the only thing that concerned her was the request for the medical staff. Before long, the group arrived outside Celestia's study.
"Please everypony make yourself comfortable," Celestia offered, spreading a wing to usher the assembled ponies into the spacious room. As they passed by her into the room, Celestia turned to look down the hall. She waited for a moment before the hoofmaiden from earlier came cantering around the corner toward the room. Said mare gasped in horrid realization that the Princess had just caught her cantering through the halls, she slowed quickly and walked gracefully toward Celestia.
"My princess, the medical staff is gathering their things and will be here shortly." Rosy Dawn informed the princess with a bow.
"Excellent, miss Dawn," Celestia answered, "please fetch some tea for my guests." With that request, Celestia finally turned to enter the room.
The Study consisted of a large room, with several plush cushions around a table where her guests were currently sitting. Vast windows allowed a generous amount of sunlight to enter the room, warming the well-lit space into an almost intoxicating atmosphere of comfort. A soft carpet muffled her hoof falls as she made her way next to Twilight Sparkle, where she sat on a particularly large and comfortable cushion.
Twilight looked around the room, nostalgia pulling at her mind, taking her back to more relaxed times when she was simply Princess Celestia's personal protege, before her time as the Element of Magic. Times seemed simpler then with her and Princess sitting at the table going over obscure arcane texts, Celestia's attention centered on her. How she missed those days.
She looked at her mentor, who seemed to be sitting in quiet thought. Twilight knew that she was considering how to approach a subject. She remembered that look on her beloved teacher's face, having seen it several times. Twilight remembered fondly the look on Celestia's face, when something difficult to talk about would keep the alicorn silent for much longer than normal.
She had to keep herself from laughing when she remembered the longest time that Celestia wore such a face. It was back when she received the talk that all mares received when they moved on in life from filly to mare. Celestia had gone through several cups of tea, before she spoke, and several more had been had before she even begun to approach the subject of 'the talk.'
It was honestly the most embarrassing thing Twilight had ever gone through, but also one of her fondest memories. That Celestia had taken time out of her busy schedule to discuss something honestly view shattering with the young filly had touched her more than anything. She could look back now and laugh at the horrified expression she must have worn on her face as Celestia explained about the birds and the bees.
Rosy Dawn entered during the silence, and gently placed a cup of tea before everypony present. She bowed to the princesses before stepping out of the room, and closing the door behind her. The lack of hoof falls alerted Twilight to the fact that the hoofmaiden was likely standing just outside the door, most likely to be within earshot should anypony need something from her.
"Where should we begin, Luna?" Celestia finally asked after a long silence. Luna turned to regard her sister for a moment before answering.
"Perhaps, sister, it would be easiest to begin with the first fall of Discord, and our discovery of the Elements of Harmony." Luna offered. Celestia nodded in agreement.
"Not the shortest of tales, but most likely the best in this situation." Celestia, finally turned from her sister and faced the gathered ponies. "Very well, as we wait for the medical ponies to make their way here, I will tell you the tale of the first fall of Discord."
"Discord, as you found, was a draconequus of terrible power. He was able to alter reality to suit his whims. His reign was decidedly more ordered than the insanity he wrought upon Ponyville yesterday, but it was no less malicious."
"Discord rarely altered reality to the extent he did recently, preferring the chaos of a distrustful court. He loved to make ponies squabble and fight with one another. It was not a good time for Equestria."
A knock at the door of the study interrupted the tale. Everypony turned to watch as several ponies admitted themselves entry into the room, each with a low bow. With a glow of her horn Celestia plucked two hairs from twilight's coat, and a small shaving from one of her hooves, each eliciting a squeak of protest from the lavender unicorn. None of the doctors seem to have noticed as they were already rummaging through the medical equipment they had brought with them.
Two of the doctors were earth ponies, both had coats and manes in earth tones and their cutie marks were obscured by the lab coats they wore. The third doctor was attired in similar clothing, however he was a unicorn of deep midnight blue with a mane of black.
"Ah, good you have arrived." Celestia offered the items procured from Twilight's person to the doctors. "Please tell me what you can about these hairs and hoof shaving." The doctors nodded in agreement before they took the proffered items.
The hairs and hoof shaving were examined by the two earth pony doctors through a microscope before being offered to a unicorn, who closed his eyes as he levitated the samples before his face. He must have been examining them magically as he set them back on the table without ever opening his eyes.
"What have you discovered?" Princess Celestia asked, every other pony except for Luna quiet in confusion. The earth ponies spoke first.
"One of the hairs was your average pony hair. From the coat, most likely, unless somepony keeps their mane extraordinarily short. The other was undoubtedly a pegasus down feather, also rather typical of most pegasus feathers. The shaving is either from a hoof or unicorn's horn. The only thing remarkable from the samples is that they all share the same color." The unicorn with them seemed to be nodding in agreement with each statement, as though they were confirming his thoughts.
"I agree with my colleagues, though I do have some more light to shed on the properties of the samples." He offered, "While the fact that they are all the same color is quite the coincidence, it is unlikely that they all come from the same pony. This is made plain by the fact that all three samples are made of alicorn, like a unicorn's horn. The magic they possess suggests they are indeed a pegasus down feather, an earth pony hoof shaving, and the hair, I'm guessing comes from princess Luna, most likely a hair bleached lightly by the sun." Luna had to stifle a light giggle at the comparison.
"Thank you," Celestia said, "you may take your leave now, and please keep the most strict confidence of the subject of discussion here." The doctors nodded, then excused themselves and exited the room. Celestia turned once more to regard the assembled ponies. "I suppose that answered that question. Our suspicions have been confirmed, sister." Luna nodded as though it need not have been said aloud. "Well, I suppose I shall continue my story."
"As I was saying, that was a decidedly dark time for Equestria. Around five hundred years after the beginning of his reign, I was born to a prominent unicorn family here in Canterlot. Not long after that Luna was born, before I got my own cutie mark, even."
"We were both very gifted as far as unicorns go, and were both very young when we were chosen to head the Cosmic Council. I was head of the Dawn Raisers, Luna was head of the Dream Bringers. Each group raised and lowered the Sun and Moon respectively."
"Being so high up in the Cosmic Council allowed Luna and I access to the towers of Discord's castle, deep in what is now the Everfree Forest. There we would go every evening and morning, each with a group of twenty gifted unicorns to do our duty and raise and lower the sun and moon."
"Luna was the first to see them, the Elements of Harmony. She noticed odd stones in the courtyard of Discords castle, and thanks to our magical aptitude we were able to sense the magic stored deeply within them, something that escaped the notice of all the others."
"You see, it was Discord who created the Elements of Harmony. He was stealing all of the Laughter, Honesty, Generosity, Loyalty and Kindness from all of the ponies across Equestria. They were gathered in the stones, and sealed there with powerful magic. He did this to keep all of the ponies from ever becoming friendly enough with one another to defy him."
"It took Luna and I several years to discover the sympathetic response the stones had with one another when magic was applied. We brought our findings to the Cosmic Council, and in clandestine effort we created the Tiara that would later be associated with the Element of Magic."
"The next evening, when it was time to lower the Sun and raise the Moon, we took the Tiara of Magic to Discord's castle. Luna used a spark of magic to cause all of the Elements to resonate with one another and then channeled their power from her to me. I used the Tiara of Magic to amplify their power and we caught Discord unaware. With not even a battle, Discord's reign was ended."
"Luna and I were left changed from the battle, however. The tremendous amount of magic that was channeled through us had left an effect. You see, the Elements were gathered from all ponies across Equestria, not just the unicorns. Each Element was suffused with the magic inherent in unicorns, earth ponies and pegasi."
"We became Equestria's first and only alacorns. We had chosen the name alacorn from ancient equus. Ala for wing and corn for horn. Over time, because of the phonetic similarity, it eventually became known as alicorn instead."
Celestia finished the story with the brief explanation of the use of alicorn to mean winged unicorn as well as the substance a unicorn's horn was made of. Twilight finished her tea in quiet awe. She had never considered her mentor's origin before. She wondered why she had never thought of something like that before. There were pegasus and unicorn couples often enough, but there had only ever been two alicorns.
"And that brings us to the events of today. You see, the original elements of harmony were all but destroyed when Luna returned as Nightmare Moon. When the stones shattered, the magics from the many different ponies dissipated." Celestia cast an apologetic look to Luna, who merely waved away the topic. "Luckily, Twilight, your friends were all virtually paragons of each of the elements, enough to bring the elements out of their stone prisons and manifest them as those spectacular jeweled chokers."
"I had thought there was little to no chance of today's events happening, as the stone prisons themselves held the essence of the different ponies' magics. But again, as luck would have it, your friends are a veritable cornucopia of pony variety."
Twilight nodded casting a fond glance at her friends, who had brought her so far. Then something dawned on her: it was Celestia's reference of today's events. What had she meant? With a strange feeling of apprehension, Twilight turned to her beloved mentor and asked.
"And what happened today?"
"Ah, Twilight, my faithful student," Celestia laughed, "I should have suspected the day we met that you would eventually rise up and join Luna and I as the third alicorn in Equestria. Your name even seems somewhat prophetic in light of today's events."
Twilight's brain sputtered to a stop at those words. Join Princesses Celestia and Luna as an alicorn? Was that even possible? Very slowly the gears in her head began turning again, though they were functioning about as well as a fifty year old clock missing a few gears and never having been oiled.
What would this mean for her studies in magic? The missing gears fell into place. Of course, not requiring sleep would certainly make it easier to study. Her lessons would certainly benefit from that. Benefit her lessons? That was certainly the oil the gears in her head needed. Her heart rate quickened and excitement began to vibrate through her entire being.
Would she be able to perform magic on the same scale that Celestia was able to? The thought of so much ability at the tip of her horn made her giddy. There would of course have to be many sessions spent learning her new limits, and after she learned her limits, she would have to spend her time learning fine control. Time would be easy to make for such sessions, seeing as how she'd have to move back to Canterlot now.
As quickly as the excitement had come, though it was replaced with something else. As Twilight looked around the table at the awed faces her friends wore as the looked back at her, Twilight could only feel apprehension. Would she have to leave her friends behind and join the two ruling sisters in Canterlot? The thought of being so far from her friends gripped her heart, squeezing and twisting in her chest. It was unbearable.
"That's great, Twi," Applejack offered in the awkward silence, voice wavering with held back tears. "Ah mean, Ah sure will miss you, bein' away from Ponyville an' all. But Ah'll always be able to tell everypony that you were one of mah best friends." Twilight could feel hot tears begin to spill down her face at Applejack's words, her throat and nasal passages began to constrict with the increased blood flow. Her friends looked equally distressed.
Rarity suddenly began to sob dramatically, while Fluttershy began to whimper. Pinkie Pie looked put out and Rainbow Dash was sniffing rapidly and grimacing her tears away. Sniffling she turned to look at Princess Celestia.
"Why would she leave Ponyville?" Celestia asked, feigning confusion. "It was my understanding that Twilight quite enjoyed running the library in Ponyville." The feeling of pressure in Twilight's sinuses began to ease as she continued to listen to her princess.
"You don't think Luna and I would force my dear student to sit through the same dismal court sessions we do every day, do you?" Celestia asked in amusement.
"Certainly it is a fate I would never wish on a friend, and duty begs we keep it out of the hands of our enemies, torturous though it be." Luna agreed.
"Though you have been away from Canterlot for a very long time, and I do find myself missing your presence," Celestia explained, "there simply is no precedent that states that all alicorns must rule Equestria. You are more than welcome to stay with your friends." Her tears banished at Celestia's words, Twilight turned to regard the smiling faces of her friends.
"However, I would prefer if you were to stay in Canterlot for the duration of your ascendance." Celestia continued. "Your friends are free to visit at any time, and a room will forever be available to them here at the palace. Of course, as a newly uplifted alicorn, you will need to learn the magics available to non-unicorns." Twilight turned to look at her friends, already knowing what the Princess was about to suggest.
"Of course," Celestia clapped her hooves together in an excited manner, as though something had just occurred to her. "I just had a wonderful idea. I think the granddaughter of one of Ponyville's founding earth ponies would be the best teacher of the connection earth ponies share with nature." Applejack nodded at the Princess' offer.
"Along with that, perhaps our most recent best young flier would be willing to tutor you in pegasus magic, namely flying and weather manipulation?" She asked peering at Rainbow Dash, who just smiled somewhat obliviously back at the alicorn. There was a moment of silence before Applejack translated.
"She's askin' if you want to teach Twi how to fly." Applejack explained. Rainbow Dash looked at her for a moment before comprehension dawned on her face.
"Oh, OH," Dash's face lit up in understanding and she nodded, "of course, didn't even have to ask. I mean, I would never leave my friends hangin'; especially an egg-headed one that might hurt herself trying to learn how to fly on her own." Rainbow Dash turned to the princesses next, as a thought occurred to her. "When will her wings grow in, anyway?"
The royal sisters looked at each other for a moment at that question, as though they were unsure how to answer.
"That is something we are unsure of." Celestia answered. Luna continued for her sister.
"Discord had been gathering pony harmony and magic for over five hundred years," Luna offered before continuing her explanation. "The pony magic stored within the Elements of Harmony was tremendously potent, and our transformation was nearly instantaneous. It would be too early to say whether or not Twilight might spontaneously change, or if it would be a gradual metamorphosis. The only thing that is certain now, is the fact that Twilight Sparkle is indeed now an alicorn. How long it will take for her to fully mature remains to be seen." Celestia nodded at her sister's appraisal of the situation, and smiled softly at Twilight Sparkle.
"Because of the rarity of such a change, we would need to examine all elements involved."Celestia explained to her pupil. Twilight nodded in understanding; Celestia was now treating this as a lesson, giving her an opportunity to become an active part of the flow of events, rather than a passive victim.
"I guess to that end," Twilight began, uncertainly. Celestia nodded her encouragement to the young lavender mare, urging her to continue. "Since we already now what caused your change to happen so quickly, we need to understand the magics involved in my change."
"What would you propose we do, my student?" Celestia asked, falling easily back into her role as mentor. Twilight smiled at the familiar play between her and her beloved teacher.
"In that case, the direct cause of all three transformations comes from the use Elements of Harmony, and a sort of piggy-back effect with the magic of the pony types involved in their creation and use," Twilight ventured, to the supportive nods Celestia continued to give. "I think the first step should be for my friends and I to use the Elements, so we may study the piggy-back effect, and the amount of residual pony magic left behind by their use."
"An excellent suggestion, Twilight," Celestia praised, "and something I believe we should investigate at the earliest possible moment." She then looked to a sundial in the center of the table. "However, the earliest possible moment might not be until tonight, we have barely an hour before the award ceremony honoring your triumph over Discord." Twilight nodded, having nearly forgotten the ceremony in the excitement of further learning and experimentation. Celestia clapped her hooves together and called out, "Rosy Dawn!"
The door to the study opened quickly, permitting entry to the hoofmaiden.
"Yes, Princess?" The young mare asked, bowing low once more. Twilight idly wondered if the constant bowing caused any strain to her back and joints.
"The award ceremony is to begin in an hour," Celestia explained. "There will be many ponies in attendance, and the events of today should be apparent to at least a few of the attending unicorns. I wish them not to be aware."
"Of course Princess," Rosy responded, "I will ensure that Twilight Sparkle will appear to all as an ordinary unicorn." Celestia giggled at the response.
"Ever have you been among the most observant," Celestia stated fondly, "please make it so." Rosy Dawn bowed once more before approaching Twilight Sparkle.
"Please come with me, my lady," Rosy requested before leading Twilight Sparkle out of the study. Celestia was already directing her friends to return to their rooms to prepare for the ceremony, so Twilight followed the hoofmaiden quietly out of the room.
"So," Twilight began, following Rosy through the halls back to her own room. "How are you going to hide this?" Rosy smiled apologetically at Twilight before answering.
"My talent lends itself to discretion," Rosy explained, "and it would be best if we did not discuss this in the halls." Again Twilight was left slightly irked at the need for secrecy. She recalled how in years past situations like this would crop up from time to time, and she hated not being able to discuss things openly.
She quietly followed the rose colored hoofmaiden through the halls, turning this way and that. They finally approached her room, and they both entered quickly.
Rosy Dawn turned abruptly to face Twilight as soon as the door closed. She was smiling, and Twilight knew that smile well. Rosy was being helpful to a pony she admired, Twilight wore a similar expression through much of her childhood with Celestia.
"I am sorry, miss Sparkle," Rosy apologized, "but given the nature of the grapevine in the castle and the sensitivity of the situation at hoof, we could not speak of what I am about to perform." Rosy's horn lit up and Twilight's brushes zipped out of the bathroom and began to brush Twilight from horn to hoof.
"As I said before, my talent lends itself to discretion," Rosy explained amidst the soothing brushing. She turned and presented her flank to Twilight, displaying her cutie mark. "It is part of the reason I am always in the presence of Princesses Celestia and Luna. My unicorn magic is most effective when I use it to alter appearance to disguise." Her cutie mark depicted the smiling and frowning masks of the Alogo ponies of antiquity: Thalia and Melponyne.
"What's more is that any alterations I may make to a pony's appearance is nigh undetectable." She continued. "There have been several occasions where I had to disguise our princesses' ire after a particularly troubling court session."
Almost miraculously, Twilight noted, the down on her shoulders lay flat and orderly. They were nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding coat. Rosy hummed as she worked, then clicked her tongue as she took in Twilight's appearance.
"It seems we'll have to do something about your hooves as well." Rosy spoke to herself, before directing a brush towards Twilight's hooves. Twilight looked down at her own hooves and had to suppress a gasp of amazement. Her hooves gleamed in their flawlessness, as though she were one of the elite earth ponies that lived in Canterlot, having never done an honest day's hard work.
The brushes moved rapidly back and forth across her hooves, scuffing them ever so slightly removing the gleam and causing them to look as they had before.
"Now," Rosy cautioned, "I am unsure as to how long the disguise will last. For the princesses I can cause an effect that will last for two hours at most. Seeing as how you are newly risen, perhaps it will last longer. I have also never diminished an alicorn's appearance before, so that is another factor I am unable to judge." Rosy guided Twilight before a vanity.
"Please tell me what you think." Rosy requested. Twilight was amazed, to say the least. She looked as though she had just stepped out of the spa back in Ponyville, but still within the bounds of traditional pony beauty. Her coat and mane were expertly groomed and glossy, but lacked the radiance that Celestia and Luna's carried. The light scuffing to her hooves gave them a polished look, but they lacked the gleam of an alicorn's hooves. She looked perfect for the ceremony.
The door to her room opened at that point, and Twilight turned to see Spike letting himself into the room.
"Wow, Twilight," Spike whistled in appreciation, "lookin' good. You do good work, Rosy." Rosy, giggled at Spike's appraisal and bowed in modesty.
"I always try my best, it helps when the canvas is of the highest quality." Rosy answered, "now if you'll excuse me, I must be getting back to Princess Celestia." Rosy excused herself from the room, and left Twilight alone with Spike.
"I knew you had it in you," Spike exclaimed with pride, "an alicorn! I told you you were the most gifted unicorn in Ponyville." Spike's smug expression caused Twilight to laugh.
"Oh, Spike," Twilight responded, "I hardly did this on my own. I have my friends to thank for this. Speaking of the girls, we had better get going, the ceremony will start soon." Twilight lowered her rump so that Spike would be able to climb atop her back. As soon as the baby dragon was situated, They made their way out of the room, and to the Hall of the Sun and Moon.
Outside the hall, Twilight met her friends, all expertly groomed by the expert staff on hand.
"There you are, sugarcube," Applejack greeted, "you were almost late." Twilight was overcome with a feeling of gratitude towards her friends. She reached out and gathered them all into a group hug.
"Thank you girls," Twilight said, voice thick with emotion. "I wouldn't be here today without you."
"Anytime," Rainbow Dash offered, "by your side for all time."
"We'll always be your friends," Fluttershy said. Pinkie Pie nodded enthusiastically in agreement.
"We have to throw a party as soon as we can!"
"Just think of it as a gift from us to you." Rarity said, ever generous.
"Thanks girls," Twilight thanked her friends again, "I'll do my best to deserve it." Anything else to be said would have to wait, as at that moment a great fanfare ripped through the air. The friends all lined up as the doors opened, ushering them in to start the ceremony.
Chapter 1 end.
I had posted this story on Fimfiction, but I had never posted it on Fanfiction. It seems to have gotten generally good reviews on Fimfiction, but that's a site specifically for Bronies. This is mostly a feel good story, thought there will be a plot... as soon as I think of one(joking). Don't worry, I'm still working on Cryo, as well as doing a little work on Harry Potter and the Dragon's Breath. Thanks for giving it a look, and tell me what you think.