At this height the whole plain was visible, and it seemed, the whole land. Her sight skimmed the grassy hills, the fringe of forests and those lakes afar, spent more time on those tiny houses still the color of fields, of wheat. At this height where clouds could touché the sides of mountains her sun dominated, reduced the plants to shrubs and branches between the cracks of rocks. All was fresh, a little wet as her quiet walk made her approach the ponds of water and their thousands of streams. She turned a last time to look at the plain away, so quiet, as if a painting never to change.
Upstream was the waterfall hurling wild on each side of cliffs, making stone sweat and breaking on it, a vast curtain in waves that smashed down and waved what flora there was around. The alicorn hopped and hovered gently on a rock where the ponds would join in one vast surface, its current strong polishing the pebbles. Her hoof shoed tempted the surface, felt it cold. In another hop she reached the other side, as if an oasis preserved under the mountain's shadow, where bushes higher, almost like trees, were hiding their many bunches of flowers. All this green after all this grey made her gentle white coat as her tall wings brighten and shine.
She gasped at a gasp when a stallion head raised and both surprised felt like caught. "Blueblood?" The princess asked, amused as he hastily brushed his golden mane.
"My aunt." He found some composure. "This is no place for a princess."
"Is it for a prince?" She smiled, and as they asked each other he explained, it was his first time coming here, a sudden urge to discover the surroundings. Celestia nodded, already her eyes had found this soft touch so concerned, that could pierce hearts. She simply laid down on the grass, her muzzle near the water to feel its humidity. "I almost never come here." It was too cold, too lonely she added as her voice drifted like the current.
The prince shrugged, he didn't like it either, neither did his bow and neck and yet, he added, the place was so savage, and he couldn't tell why. His look was for the waterfall crushing its mass straight down in a constant roar, something as old as his aunt he guessed aloud. The princess let that remark slide, only her face saddened and she said, she was actually older.
"Now, please, my aunt," he wouldn't believe her. "The legend says it is as old as Equestria. Born from the remaining ice." And he pondered, she could be older after all.
"A constant reminder of old feuds" Celestia answered, put her cheek on her leg. She had overseen the writing of that legend.
Added to the stream was a breeze that the rocks excited, that would wave leaves and soften their manes. She felt it strengthen, rose as this magic trail approached too thin to be seen, stopped and rolled over her head. The scroll fell, caught by her glow but she hadn't expected the envelope which fell in the grass. "Nothing important?" The prince asked, rubbing his hoof a few steps away. She was reading, recognized Spike's pawwriting then rolled it back, let it fall too. It took some seconds for the stallion to consider that her aunt was lost in thoughts, and he thought, she was Celestia, so he kept rubbing his hoof and looking around at all those flowers, their petals dense.
Her trouble had waned, erased by her gentle smile. All that was left was the flow of her colorful mane, of her colorful tail in the shadows of the mountain. In those shadows her wings were wings and her horn just a horn, her grace just the grace of anypony. But she was standing, the princess made some steps, walked away from the two letters to face the stream falling afar by the edge, in another waterfall breaking asunder. The feathers slashed the air, then fluttered and wide and majestic, in a hop she left that bushy side of the waterfall. Blueblood frowned, not even a goodbye for him and he returned to his flowers, careless for what she had left behind.
"Goodness! Princess Luna, it's a pleasure!"
She smiled back at the shop owner, offered a bit for a fruit. Her eyes tired, blinking, the young princess returned to her guards near the center of the place so different in the day, with just the stone as cold colored by the crowd of ponies.
A moment later she was almost asleep on that same stone, her coiffure covering the face as she curled and the two night guards, looking stern, sit at her sides. She could still feel the day's warmth, that touch of light on her back and the many voices but, the fruit in her hooves, she murmured for a short pause. Ponies passing by would stop and look, surprised, and she could hear their rumors, and she would smile. Before her the guards as cold as night in their deep armors kept looking in the distance, watching over an alley near the end of the place where, for a minute almost, the filly was, observing. None would move but for Luna to turn and let her back leg hanging, yawning in lethargy.
Then she felt her guards tense, other rumors which forced her out of her fatigue. A shadow flew over her, making Luna open her eyes and look over in the sky at her sister landing in a wide circle, touching the ground before her.
"Once again, sister," the tone Celestia used achieved to wake up the young alicorn, "I would need your help."
The princess of day mentioned the letters, ready to show it when she realized her oversight. One was from Spike, and the other, an envelope, only the guards noticed. "I understand" Luna said in a stern tone, then rolled back on the stone to bite in her fruit, lick the juice on her lips. She confirmed, she knew what it meant, and she wasn't worried. Neither was her older sister, and in her soft voice the pure alicorn added, she was relieved to see her react so calmly. But she had to make sure nothing would happen to the elements.
"Do not worry, sister." Luna answered in her cold voice. "I will take care of everything."
Her determined face then melted to slumber, she took another bite then closed her eyes and stretching, asked for a few more minutes. Once only one alicorn remained the crowd came back, lulling her with their taps of hooves and their happy tones. Only the alley was deserted, the only quiet place in a city full of life.
From afar Canterlot offered its towers of white, tall walls of golden gates hiding the streets or the gardens. The train whistled, turned to take the first tunnel and all faded to dark, for some time, as steam would breathe on the sides and warm the air until they emerged, the sky greeted them with but few clouds to hamper the sun. Steel wheels spitted sparks on the rails, on the slope, they turned before a second whistle and shortly after, emerging once again at some higher point the train discovered the city closer, its vast gardens on the edge and before it raised by a bridge over the water, a large turn leading to the train station. In the wagons most passengers were eager to arrive, tried to see even from there if someone they knew was waiting on the tiny platform.
It approached and the station bell rang for its arrival. Slowly and slowly the locomotive braked, halted all of its wagons aligned and the doors opened, ponies pressed on both directions confounding in excuses as they stepped on each other.
She reached the platform, tried the ground around her and waited for the crowd to calm all around. To a pony who passed she stopped her and asked, if it was Canterlot. "Uh uh" the mare answered with a bit of concern, before leaving the blazing mare. A few bumped into her, not by fault, she walked away by a few steps before halting, ears up searching around for some marks. The train was a beast growling for departure, she heard water hissing as it flowed over the steel beast, heard a colt complaining that the travel had been rough. When the platform stopped trembling, those waves like tiny earthquakes as all turned quiet the mare finally let go of the ticket between her teeth.
Then Victory felt it, someone observing her. It wouldn't show under her blindfold, her frown, a smirk and she clenched her teeth. She didn't like it, she couldn't like it, because she felt observed but felt no presence. It was where all ponies had gone, where she could hear rumors of the city that the walls wouldn't mute. She almost perceived the flow of a cloak.
"Excuse me brave lady" a gentle, detached stallion asked her. "Would you know if miss Rarity was onboard this train?"
She turned to face the voice, listened and guessed his breath, at his side a pony with lighter hooves. He adjusted his monocle, waited patiently for her answer as the consort pawed, something like disdain. "Sche wasn't" the blazing mare let go, she was certain of that. She was with her friends, playing by the river, back in Ponyville.
"What a pity" the stallion nodded. "When I heard this rumor, that an important pony was coming, I immediately thought it was her." And he guessed, it would be for another time. "Thank you kindly for your time."
Victory nodded, turned to walk away.
"One more thing, if I may." He asked in a warm voice. "It is the first time I hear this accent. Could you tell me where you come from?"
For a second the mare faced him again and the consort, at his side, seemed to fret. She turned her head, said, from Canterlot. And suddenly she felt the need to ask him, if there were guards on the platform. The stallion smiled, she could feel his smile, she could know it, in his mild voice confirmed there were, and his answer was something of a compliment, something of an old nobility. The blazing mare thanked him, turned and feeling her way, went towards the gate, towards the city. She heard him follow and ask if she wanted some company. It meant, someone to guide her, but she refused: "Myn Queene wol gyde me."
"Your que…" a thought crossed his mind. "I must apologize, I didn't even ask for your name."
But she was already tired of him, in a grunt the mare forced her pace, her toes striding on the paved streets. It struck him, those toes so sharp, those heavy hooves and the black cape sliding on her back, he felt a shiver along his spine. It was the pony the prince had mentioned, a living tale that he watched walking away, blindfolded.