A Humanised Pony Tale: The Princess in the High Tower
The late night breeze was cold against Luna's face as she gazed down from the window of her chamber high in one of the tallest towers of Canterlot Castle. It blew in around her, setting the tapestries on the walls of her bedroom flapping fitfully. Far below, she could see all of Equestria, covered in darkness, and she watched as one by one the pretty yellow lights of the inhabitants' houses scattered across the blue and grey landscape winked out, leaving everything dark and still.
She looked up at the moon – a mere sliver of anaemic yellow against the black sky, barely brighter than the tiny trembling stars that encircled it, and she thought back to how it had been so different once, a thousand years ago. Her moon had glowed fiercely then, fierce and beautiful, and Equestria had enjoyed a night-time wonderland where everything her light touched sparkled with an aura of blue-silver.
Whenever the people of Equestria told the legend of how she and her older sister Celestia had fallen to quarrelling, they always mentioned how it was she, Luna, who had grown angry and resentful that the people preferred to play during Celestia's day, ignoring her own beautiful night. But it hadn't truly happened that way. There had always been those who had loved her night, living their whole lives within it. And Luna had loved them back.
She looked down at Ponyville. It was late, and every light had been extinguished – except for one tiny yellow light remained.
"Whoever you are," Luna whispered, "Thank you for enjoying my night."
Those endless nights spent looking down across the land, the stars about her head like a crown, covering it with her blue-silver light! Luna sighed. The moon that Celestia had made, the prison she had been trapped in for ten centuries, was a mere shadow of what HER moon had been. But everyone had forgotten that, forgotten it long, long ago.
Sister, she prayed. I wish you would let me shine again!
Everyone thought that she and Celestia had been reconciled – that Princess Celestia, in her boundless mercy and compassion had forgiven Luna and welcomed back to her side her beloved little sister.
But in truth they were far from reconciled. Luna suspected – but she feared saying it out loud, as her sister could hear anything that was said in Canterlot Castle – that it had been Twilight Sparkle's presence that had kept Celestia from destroying her off hand when they had met in the ruined Temple of the Two Sisters, after Luna's vengeful avatar Nightmare Moon had been stripped from her by the Elements of Harmony. Celestia had stayed her hand – but her mercy was like her heart, cold and empty.
Luna wiped away a tear. This room is no different from my prison of a thousand years. Oh, I wish I could dance again, just one more time, up there among the stars like I once did!
And she remembered how, when the world had been young and Day and Night had shared the world twice a day, she and Celestia had met and spent those seemingly endless twilight hours in each other's arms. Or had that all been a dream, a sweet, cruel dream born of those thousand years trapped within the moon?
Luna sighed and turned herself away from the arched window to her bed chamber. Her gilded cage! The four-poster bed with its quilt of blue and silver, interwoven with stars and moons. Her precious telescope on its stand, from which she spent day after day looking down upon Equestria, and next to it the chart of the night sky, with all its swirling constellations, which she had designed at the beginning of time itself. And not to forget those gorgeous tapestries, a present of her dear sister, which had woven on them the story of the Two Sisters! She laughed bitterly whenever she looked at the tapestries, caught up in the mountain breeze, their tassels fluttering as if to taunt her. So like her sister to have decorated her prison with pieces of art, beautiful beyond words, designed to remind her every day of what had happened to her – a velvet-covered knife twisted in her heart!
Bu the telescope made her sadder still. It brought the night sky down to her, but she couldn't touch it. She couldn't feel the star dust between her naked toes, the winds of the ionosphere in her dark hair, the aurora sparking at her fingertips as she danced! The telescope, another example of her sister's cruel kindnesses. But how she loved that telescope! With it she could look down at the lives of the inhabitants of Equestria, into the lives of her people.
My people! They will be my people again, she thought. The tears welled up in her eyes as she wondered if anyone still remembered her, still thought of her.
There was one person, though, beyond all others that she hoped knew of her, who she hoped thought of her. Luna would spend her days peering through the telescope, scanning from one side of Equestria to the other, from the Ocean to the Everfree Forest, looking for any sign of her, until her eyes burned and her neck ached from bending over the eyepiece.
The thought of her made tears finally overwhelm Luna, and she threw herself on the bed's starry quilt, burying her wet face in the deep pillows, sobs gripping her whole body. That was the worst part of Celestia's revenge. She wouldn't tell her where she was.
"Celestia!" Luna called out to her sister. She knew she could hear her. She could hear anything spoken within the domain of the castle. "Celestia!"
The answer came almost immediately, emanating from the very walls of her bedroom, as if Celestia's voice was the voice of Canterlot Castle itself." Yes, Luna? What do you want, my beloved little sister?"
"Celestia! Celestia, please!" she prayed. She, a goddess, reduced to praying to her own sister! She knew Celestia must be laughing, laughing at her powerlessness– that light, bright laugh that echoed hollow in her empty heart. "You know what I want! It's the only thing I want. Please let me see her! Please…."
"You know that that can never happen, Luna," Celestia replied. "She is no longer part of you. She is my daughter now, and mine alone."
"She is part of both of us!" Luna shouted, jumping up from the bed and staring balefully down at the cold stone floor. Somewhere below her, through all the walls of stone, she knew that Celestia was sitting on her throne and smiling. "She's just as much me as she is you! We made her that way! That beautiful twilight evening we spent together, fashioning her out of our love for each other..." Tears spilled down her face and spattered darkly on the stone. "You betrayed me! You brought her to life while I was imprisoned. You promised you wouldn't. You stole her from me!" she whispered.
"I stole her from Nightmare Moon," replied Celestia simply. "To protect her from your rage. I could not allow you to contaminate my innocent child with the evil in your vengeful heart. You understand that, don't you, my precious little sister? "
"She's mine! Mine as well!" Luna was screaming now, and she tore at the hated tapestries with her nails and threw her telescope to the floor with a clang of dented metal and a crash of shattering lenses. "If you won't let me see her, just kill me! Destroy me utterly!" She fell to the floor. "I know you can do it. I know you want to do it. Annihilate me. Make everyone forget that I ever existed. It makes no difference to me."
"Oh, but I could never do that to you, Luna," Celestia's reply was sad, but within the sadness was a spark of dark humour. "For you are my sweet baby sister, and I love you. And I shall always love you – until the end of time itself."
Luna's eyes ached, raw from crying, and she clawed at the floor, her nails digging into her palms and dripping blood over her clenched fists, smearing the grey stone red. "Celestia. Please. Please. Let me see our daughter," She brought her mouth close to floor and whispered, almost too soft for herself to hear. "Let me hold her once. Just once… just once…."
And far below her, in the absolute centre of the castle and the world itself, where she sat on the monolithic throne of Equestria, Princess Celestia heard her sister's whispered plea. And with a thin smile, like the cut of a dagger across her mouth, she replied "No."
Far below, in Ponyville, only one person in the dark and silent town was awake. Twilight Sparkle sat at her desk in the library, the windows thrown wide so that the night breeze could blow against her face. She loved these quiet hours of the night, when everyone was asleep and there were no distractions – especially from a certain little green-haired boy!
She put her favourite silver-blue bookmark in the tome of magic she was studying, leaned back in her chair and gazed through the window. Far off, in the darkness, she could see the black shape of Canterlot Castle high up on the mountain peak, and even there, in the centre of Equestria, the lights were out and everything seemed still. Wait! Almost every light. There was a single window still lit up - far up, in one of the highest towers in the castle. Perhaps it was Celestia's bed chamber?
Twilight sighed, and chewed thoughtfully on the end of the pencil in her hand. There was a terrible ache in her heart, as if something was missing. "Oh Princess Celestia," she murmured. "Are you awake as well? Do you miss me?" The little point of light seemed to flicker as she asked. "Because I miss you. You ARE so like a mother to me, after all."
The light suddenly went out. And Twilight went back to reading her book in the silent solitude of the night.