Chapter Thirty One - Perpendicular Perspectives - Between Friends

Before I even knew what was happening, I found myself spinning about with somepony’s hooves wrapped around my barrel. And then, only once I was thoroughly sick to my stomach, I flew away from whoever was holding me until our forehooves met. My captor used what could only be earth pony magic to hold me to her as we spun.

Ah. My vision focused just long enough to see Luna in front of me and grinning like a madpony who had way more energy than I did right now.

“You did it! You did it! You really did it!” Luna exclaimed.

She pulled me in for a tight hug, resulting in the two of us spinning even faster and completely out of control. It took but a moment before we toppled over and tumbled across the ground. We came to a rest side by side some ways off from where we’d started, Luna giggling like a filly.

“Oh, Twilight, you have no idea how happy I am for you. No, of course you do. You must be even more excited than me!”

“Mhm,” I managed, content to do nothing more than lie down and relax.

“Twilight? Is something wrong?”

I turned my head toward Luna to find her gazing toward me.

“No. Well, yes. But mostly no. I’m just every kind of tired except magically tired. Today has been rough.”

“Rough? How so–” Luna’s eyes widened, and she froze. “Oh no. Twilight, what – what happened to your mane?”

“Well…” This was my moment to channel my inner Pinkie Pie. “First, Spike awakened Generosity, and then Dash ascended, and then I freaked out, and then I did some thinking and some more thinking, and then Chamomile awakened Loyalty, and then I awakened Friendship, and then I ascended, and then I went to the Æthereal Realm, and then I found out what happened to Sunset Shimmer, and then I had a talk with Cadance, and then I had a talk with Celestia, and then I made a deal with her, and then I teleported away, and then I changed my mane and tail to look like this, and then I collapsed.”

Luna sat up. Her eyebrow raised as she looked at me, silently telling me she hadn’t followed a word I’d said.

I got a little giggle out of Luna’s confusion. My head collapsed back on the ground as I finished, my eyes closing as well.

“Luna, if I went to sleep in a dream, would I get double the amount of rest?”

“Are you really that tired?” Luna asked.

At the same time, I felt something soft come into existence beneath my back and another something soft beneath my head. Finally, something wonderfully heavy and constrictive fell on top of me, and I snuggled into it.

I opened my eyes just a little bit to make sure I’d been given a bed, pillow, and blanket.

“I literally fell asleep on my hooves, Luna. I’m dead to the world.”

“Ah, my apologies for all the exercise earlier, then. Feel free to relax, although I’m afraid the answer to your question is no.”

I silently cursed to myself. I really wanted and needed to talk to Luna, but even that just felt like so much work right now.

Sensing my rather obvious distress, Luna offered, “Would you like me to return after you’ve had some rest?”

“I – yes. I’m sorry, Luna, but I need some time to recover. If you could come back in four hours or so, I’d really appreciate it.”

A hoof ran slowly and cautiously through my mane as Luna spoke. “Of course, Twilight. It’s enough to know you’re safe and sound. I can wait a few more hours. I have more than enough experience with waiting.”

“Feeling any better?” Luna asked.

“A little,” I answered. “Enough to talk, at least. But I think my body is going to sleep for two days straight, regardless of whatever else I might need to be doing.”

Nuzzling me, Luna said, “I certainly wouldn’t complain about that. It’s been too long since we were together like this.”

Yes, it had. But Luna’s affections felt…wrong, off, like she wasn’t putting her whole heart into it the way she usually did.

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

Luna bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. “I…don’t know. Is there?”

Oh. Oh, right. I’d rambled off a dozen things to Luna earlier, each one of which could be rather distressing all on their own. And then I’d basically told her to leave me alone. That was a little mean of me, but I really had needed time to let my brain reset.

So now that I’d had some rest, how did I feel about…well…everything? Yesterday had been high pressure to remain functional; my thoughts should be suspect until reexamined. And now I had the pony I needed to fill in a lot of my guesswork with real answers.

“I don’t know either, Luna,” I said. There was no way I was going to jump to conclusions or do anything I’d regret, not at this point. But at the same time, well, there was a lot we needed to work through. “Let’s just start with the petty stuff, I guess.”

“The petty stuff?” Luna echoed me, her voice pure confusion.

“Did you know Dash could ascend?”

“All ponies can ascend, Twi–”

I cut Luna off with a glare. It wasn’t often that I glared at her outside of games when she’d skirted the edge of the rules a little too closely. It remained a very effective move, judging by how Luna flinched.

“Please, Luna, straight answers. I’m tired; I spent yesterday dealing with Sunbutt – ponyfeathers – Celestia doing that half-truth crap to me, directly or indirectly; and I really just want to hear full truths from you right now. Please?”

I thought I saw Luna gulp, but I might’ve just been imagining it.

“Very well. You of all ponies deserve that. We will have no games or lessons this afternoon.”

Luna took a moment to do nothing and say nothing, not even to breath. It wouldn’t have been a stretch to describe her as a statue in that instant.

For my own part, I let out the breath I’d been unknowingly holding. I – I supposed I hadn’t been as sure Luna would be open with me as I’d thought…

“No, Twilight, I did not expect Rainbow Dash to ascend. If I heard you earlier correctly, that must have been…distressing, to say the least. I spent much of the past several hours chiding myself for overlooking that potential problem, that somepony other than you could ascend.”

“Alright,” I said with an accompanying nod. One answer down…and what felt like a million to go. “In that case, I don’t need to have words with you later about that. Or at least not too many, I guess.”

“‘Have words’?” Luna’s face flashed with obviously fake distress. “Oh Stars, I think I just dodged a bolt. Both Spike and Twinkleshine have told me on more than one occasion that your lectures can be quite the terrible fate.”

Hmph. It seemed I needed to have words with those two when I woke up.

“Anyway,” I began, ignoring Luna’s jab, “I guess this isn’t too relevant, but did you notice both of our ascensions? I’m just curious because I don’t remember you looking too surprised when I mentioned Dash’s ascension.”

Luna shook her head. “I can’t feel much of anything in banishment. I was just distracted by the…other matter.”

The other matter being Sunset, of course. Yes, I could imagine that would be distracting for Luna.

“Okay,” I began, trying my best to keep the strain out of my voice, “then there’s something else I have to know. No, there’s two somethings, one of which I really should’ve asked years ago. The last time you and Celestia fought, you two made a mess of the Everfree. How much are you willing to sacrifice to defeat her? And do you want to…”

It was my turn to gulp. I didn’t want to ask this question. I was sure I wouldn’t like the answer. But I had to. I couldn’t make any decisions if Luna didn’t answer it for me.

“Do you want to – to kill Celestia? I don’t want you to – to…”

Stars, I couldn’t say it! I didn’t want Luna to commit sororicide unless she really had absolutely no other choice. I didn’t know how Celestia planned to live with herself after it, but I couldn’t let Luna do that to herself.

And yet – and yet I knew what Luna was going to say. She just hadn’t said it yet.

I mustered up the courage to speak without thinking, and I spat out, “I-I can’t get behind killing alicorns, no matter how much they deserve it!”

Luna muttered some Old Equestrian curse I didn’t know, but the sound and tone made its intent clear.

A horrible image of wiping Cadance’s blood off my hooves flashed through my mind, and I whispered, “Much less your own sister…”

“Twilight, three times now in my life that mare has made me honestly and truly want to kill her, and each time I told myself not to. I told myself I would regret it someday.” Luna looked away from me, gritting her teeth as she sunk into a whisper herself, her mood spilling out and darkening my dream. “But yes, I want to.”

“But you won’t?” I squeaked.

A very tiny, silent nod was all the answer I got, which wasn’t exactly reassuring.

But at the same time, I – I could understand her feelings. My own thoughts toward Dash lately hadn’t been much different. I’d be lying to myself if I said I hadn’t wanted to murder her. I honestly didn’t know how I felt about her right now, but I knew what the right thing to do was, unfortunately.

Sigh… It was probably best not to dwell on my own admittedly less reasonable grudge right now; it wouldn’t accomplish anything useful. And besides, Luna really looked like she needed to be reminded there were ponies who loved her. Her problems were so much worse than mine.

I wrapped my forehoof around Luna’s. She jumped at my touch, but she didn’t flee as she had when I’d told her of Celestia’s plans. I drew her eyes toward mine and held them there until her features softened. I gave her a smile, and shortly after we shared a nuzzle.

Once we were finished, Luna said, “I never did thank you for your hug and words all those years ago. And most of all for your patience with me; I should’ve been responsible enough not to lose control of my anger like I did.”

Saying I just did what anypony would’ve – or rather should’ve – done probably wasn’t the right response here. If I were Luna, I wouldn’t want my appreciation thrown back in my face. Nor did Luna have much luck with ponies treating her right by default.

“So thank you.” Luna’s face contorted through a half-dozen emotions as she continued. “It – it helped me more than you know.”

“How so?” I blurted out before I really thought about it. Luna winced. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that.”

“No…” Luna started, words abandoning her. “I – there was nothing you could have said or done then to convince me to calm down, but…”

Luna turned away from me completely, face and body. I lifted a hoof to walk back in front of her, but I quickly thought better of it. It was insanely hard to notice with her coat color, but she was shivering. And something about her was radiating a ‘leave me alone’ vibe. It might’ve been a magical effect or something to do with our being in a dream.

“Twilight, I… No, I can’t just – I need to explain – but then you already know.” Luna descended into incoherent mumbling for some time. Finally, just as I was about to speak, she asked, “You still want to be called ‘Twilight’, right?”

“Of course I do,” I answered firmly, leaving no possibility for doubt. Of everything that I’d learned and thought yesterday, the one thing that I was absolutely sure of was that I wasn’t Sunset Shimmer.

I just barely heard Luna let out a sigh. “Twilight” – Luna’s tone overflowed with equal parts relief and dread, like my name was the last rock she could latch onto in a river just a few hooves shy of a waterfall – “I almost ruined everything that day.”

“Surely you didn’t think to go haunt Celestia’s dreams!” I asked.

That would have ruined everything, and it would’ve made Sunset’s death utterly pointless. Luna had only had one chance to surprise Celestia with her dream walking, and it had to happen after the elements were dealt with. Otherwise Celestia would have gone through the painstaking effort to keep them on her person at all times.

Magic poured into Luna’s hooves, and the ground groaned beneath her under the strain. “Worse.”

“Worse? What could you have done that would’ve been worse than that?”

Luna didn’t answer. Instead, more and more magic entered her hooves until the ground about her actually fractured. Dozens of long crevices were left in the wake of what must have been earth pony magic squeezing the ground.

“Twilight, I said I almost lost everything. Everything, Twilight, not just my life. When you touched me, when you spoke, you reminded me you existed.”

“You were…going to hurt me?” I asked hesitantly. It didn’t sound right, but Luna made it sound like she would’ve lost me somehow.

But that couldn’t be it. I would’ve forgiven Luna eventually; she hadn’t been in her right mind at the time. If I couldn’t forgive Luna for lashing out at the nearest pony to her when she was that upset, I could hardly tell Celestia what she’d done a thousand years ago was wrong; if I’d abandoned Luna over something so petty, I would’ve been equally responsible for her death, and if I thought that was right, then Celestia could justify killing Luna with any petty slight.

Not that it meant Luna could just go around hurting anypony with her life in their hooves, but it was an extreme situation and she would’ve apolo–

No.” Luna said, interrupting my thoughts. An awful coldness had entered her voice. “I was not going to hurt Twilight Sparkle, but I would’ve lost her all the same.”

What? But then how did being reminded I existed – my eyes widened and I unconsciously took a step away from Luna.

“There I was, far beyond furious with that mare, and who should happen to interrupt me but Sunset Shimmer, the weapon she’d spent decades affectionately grooming to destroy me. I wasn’t going to hurt you; I was going to break you. And in ways that would keep your mind from focusing long enough to take control of your dream. I’d already planned what to do first.”

I worked my tongue and jaw, but it was some time before I managed, “B-but you didn’t.”

Luna laughed once. It was short, dry, and filled with derision. I had no clue if it was directed at me or herself.

“No, I did not.” Luna’s voice picked up a pale shade of the fire and anger she’d had when I’d told her of Celestia’s plans. “How could I? I needed you to free me, and to have my freedom in your hooves, even by my own choice, that vexed me more.”

A silence feel between us. Luna ruffled her wings, but she otherwise didn’t move.

For my part, I really didn’t know what to say. Here I’d gone and thought something silly like my love and words had reached Luna back then and she’d left me for so long to cool down and reflect on her life. Obviously, I’d been living in a fairy tale.

“I left,” Luna picked up where she’d stopped, “unable to trust myself with you, making excuses to myself about how it would hurt you and your teacher more later if I did; torture doesn’t have to be physical, and the irony was delicious. I was ready to come back the following morning, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Your hug and your voice were gnawing at my mind. There was something that I had to remember, something fundamentally important.”

Er… That counted as my love reaching her. Kind of.

“When the haze finally cleared, I recalled my decision the year prior.” Luna pointed toward her mane with a hoof, still refusing to properly face me. “I resolved to stay away until I truly remembered who you were and put your past behind me, until I could trust myself to never make that mistake again, until I was fit to be in your company.”

“I-I see.”

I really wished I could have said something more eloquent. It wasn’t everyday Princess Luna, Alicorn of the Night and Goddess of the Stars, said she was unworthy to be in your presence. That was one big gargantuan apology. But still…


I nearly gasped as Luna turned around. Her face was plainly a nervous mess, and there were actual tears in her eyes. I’d never ever seen her cry – no, I’d seen her cry once before, but only when she’d found out about the mare in the moon.

“–I owe you one timely rescue from insanity, an apology, and a promise that I will do better. If – if you will continue to put up with me.”

“What? No!” I trotted forward to close the distance between us. “I mean, of course I will! No! No! I mean, I don’t put up with you! Luna, I’m not going to abandon you ever! If you ever got so bad that I felt I had to, I’d try to help you instead, not leave. I…”

My voice dropped to a whisper, and I stopped just short of Luna. “I don’t appreciate even the thought of being” – I gulped – “t-tortured. But you didn’t. And you grew from it, right?”

I locked eyes with Luna, and she visibly kept herself from looking away.

“I don’t know,” Luna said, her voice matching mine in volume. “I’m very old, Twilight. It’s not easy to change at my age.”

I opened my mouth to make a suggestion, but Luna cut me off.

“If you’re about to suggest I grow up again with a more plastic brain, I can’t do that while banished, nor do I know if that will work for alicorns.”

“Oh.” So much for that idea then.

“But I’ve…” Luna fell into silence, clearly struggling with whatever she wanted to say.

I leaned forward into a nuzzle. “It’s alright,” I cooed. “We all have to start from somewhere, and you’re tried your best so far, right?”

Luna had taken half a season off from teaching me to work out her problems. That was a pretty significant chunk of time, even if I should’ve been teaching myself while she was gone. Those five weeks could’ve made the difference between me ascending and not ascending, in theory. That was the difference between Luna living and dying. That said an awful lot to me all on its own.

Finally returning my nuzzle, Luna let out a long sigh. “I suppose. But I…I know I’ve rearranged my – my priorities.”

A slight increase in the pressure on my neck was all the hint I received that Luna was both physically and emotionally leaning on me for support right now. But…why? What exactly about admitting she’d changed her priorities was so much more difficult than anything else she’d already said?

“What’s wrong, Luna?” I asked as one of my forehooves found its way across her withers

Sadly, Luna merely tensed up, so I tried running my hoof through her mane the way she always did for me. I wasn’t tall enough to do it right, and Luna’s mane was…weird, to say the least, but I liked to think it helped.

My ears perked up as I just barely heard Luna mumble something.

“Hmm?” I asked as I leaned back to properly hear her.

“I’m done,” Luna whispered again. “I’m done with her. Maybe in a thousand years I’ll get nostalgic and change my mind, but I’m done. She’s not worth it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m an only child. It was time and past time the pony who actually cared about me got the attention and regard she deserved.”

O-oh my. I – I didn’t know what to say.

Luna shuddered as she let out an impossibly long breath. “There. I said it.”

This time I knew exactly what to do. I leaned forward again and held Luna tightly. Giving up on Celestia, even when Luna hated her enough to want to kill her, had to be one of the hardest things she’d ever done. I could barely imagine ever doing the same with Cadance.

After sufficient hugging, Luna said, “Thank you, Twilight. After everything I had to do to get you, I really don’t deserve you.”

A frown passed over my face, but I removed it before Luna and I separated. We’d get to that horrible mess soon enough, just not right now. I wasn’t going to ruin this moment with that. Instead, I gave Luna a smile straight from the heart.

“Thanks for telling me all that. But I’m kind of confused on one thing.” I pointed to my mane as Luna had done earlier. “What was the decision?”

“Ah, sorry,” Luna began, wiping away the tears in her coat with a hoof, “that might have been a little vague. I was referring to the Hearth’s Warming Eve when I gave you a feather.”

I cocked my head to the side. “When you said you hoped I’d ascend and give you one of mine?” What part of that was a decision?

Oh ponyfeathers. Luna’s face warped into disbelief.

“Okay, what am I missing?” I asked. I’d like to hope it wasn’t anything too big, but context was screaming that was a futile hope.

“How do you not know? The Alicorn of Love helped raise you. And then you spent more than half a decade in close quarters with a pair of pegasi you married.”

“Is…” The answer to this question was almost certainly going to sting. “Is this maybe social incompetence on par with not noticing Dash had the talent to ascend?”

Luna facehoofed. “This goes far beyond a little egocentricity. Twilight, your homework is to read a few romance novels and war epics written by pegasi.”

Now I was getting a little annoyed. “Alright, I get it. I need to work on my casual interpersonal skills. I’d already figured that out yesterday. What cultural subtext did I miss?”

Luna sighed and mumbled, “I’d hardly call it subtext,” before continuing with more of a lecturing tone. “When a pegasus gives you a primary feather, it’s a vow of – of…of… Stars, what’s the modern word?” Luna once more reached far afield into some ancient sounding foreign language for a swear I couldn’t recognize. “It’s approximately a vow of love and fraternity. In essence, I’d told you, ‘I will not abandon you under any circumstances.’”

Oh stars, did I have egg on my face.

“I thought you knew that…” Luna trailed off with an exaggerated quivering lip.

“Well, I mean, I sort of kind of remember thinking something vaguely along that line, like ‘I’ll see you to the end of this safely so you can give me a feather, too’ or something approximating that. I, um, here.” I plucked one of my own primary feathers, wincing slightly, and then presented it to Luna. “I have natural alicorn feathers now, and I pretty much said the exact same thing to you a few minutes ago. Do you want it?”

“It’s the giving that matters,” Luna said as her magic wrapped around my feather, “not the taking. But I will gladly accept this, and all that it means. Thank you.” My feather came to a rest in Luna’s mane, sticking up just behind her left ear and rising upward higher than the peak of her tiara.

A small little frown fell onto my face. Lavender didn’t go nearly as well with Luna mane as I’d have hoped. At least her mane only looked transparent, though; it would’ve been incredibly awkward if my entire feather were visible in it instead of just the part sticking out.

Wait a second… My frown deepened as my mind stumbled over something Luna had said.

“Luna, you said giving me your feather was a decision. What were you deciding between? Not abandoning me and…what? Abandoning me?”

There was that ancient curse again. “I’d hoped you wouldn’t notice that.”

“I’m right?” I screeched.

“Wait, don’t let that busy little mind of yours run off yet. Look, I… Before I got to know you, I was expecting to be teaching approximately a young Sunset Shimmer. If that was what I’d gotten, I likely would’ve distanced myself from you after everything was over in, well, one way or another.”

By one way or another, Luna probably meant if I annoyed her, I would’ve been taking a thousand plus year nap with Sunbutt. Which, I supposed, wouldn’t be so bad. Everypony but Cadance and Luna would be long gone when I woke up, but I’d still be alive and well, which is more than I could say of what Celestia would do.

Not that it wouldn’t be bad; it just wouldn’t be terrible. Luna and I probably needed to work on how she dealt with her problems sometime in the next few years. I couldn’t really tell if she just had a skewed sense of scale as an alicorn or if she just needed some help adjusting to a more modern – and reasonable – way of solving interpersonal and or judicial problems.

“But instead I got Twilight Sparkle,” Luna continued. “I spent many years trying to determine exactly what to do with you, all the while growing more and more attached as I came to know you as your own pony. When I gave you my feather, I stopped avoiding the truth. I finally decided to stop pretending I needed to ask that question.”

Ah, that was alright, then. Well, it wasn’t actually alright that it took Luna so long to know she wanted me around just as much as I wanted her around, but better late than never, I supposed. Some ponies went their whole lives without admitting their feelings to their friends or love interests. Considering the complicating factors between us for Luna, I could understand her struggling to accept that she liked me.

And in hindsight, offering ascension to an eight-year-old filly you’d just met was a little crazy. Luna would’ve needed time to get to know me well enough to know if she actually wanted me around her forever, regardless of whatever her plans required. It wasn’t like I could reasonably expect to have been her best friend when we first met. That just wasn’t how friendship worked.

“Then what about my other question?” I asked. “The one about what you’re willing to lose for us to win.”

The question wasn’t ultimately as important as everything else we’d discussed and still needed to discuss, but it did need to be answered. If Luna was worried she might lose it and destroy part of or all of Equus, I needed to know so I could be ready to hold her in check.

“I…” Luna began, only to trail off into a pregnant silence.

Had Luna really never thought about this before? Had she really never weighed the value of everything? Had she not calculated what she would be willing to destroy or throw away?

I couldn’t believe she hadn’t, so what was going on in her mind?

“At one time, I could have answered that,” Luna began, her voice starting as nothing more than a whisper. “But I don’t know anymore, which is more than a little distressing. Too many things have changed for my old thoughts to be considered truth. Certainly not you, though.”

I fought an eye roll off. “Well, as glad as I am to be on that rather exclusive list, we’re going to talk about this in detail later. I don’t want us to rule over a wasteland or a country terrified of us.”

I’d need to decide what exactly I was willing to lose as well. I hadn’t thought much on the matter myself. Mostly, I’d always assumed Luna would just go out there and win the fight for us while Cadance and I sat off on the sidelines. That was probably still true – plus or minus that other alicorn – but I needed to answer the question in advance, or I could hesitate at a fatal moment.

“Fair enough,” Luna said with a nod. “Now if I might ask a question, do you happen to know exactly what Rainbow Dash is an alicorn of?”

I shook my head. “No idea. I collapsed before I could even talk to her post-ascension. I only had an hour or so of alicorn time myself. I really meant it when I said I was exhausted.”

“That’s fine. I more or less figured that out when you actually asked me to leave and let you rest. I’d expected either hugging or screaming, not whining for five more minutes.”

“I did no such thing!” I huffed. Not that there was anything wrong with asking for five more minutes of sleep. Morning ponies were the worst kind of pony.

Luna just chuckled.

“I have other questions,” I said sharply. Luna’s laughter abruptly cut off: a small victory. “I guess the one I’m both most and least concerned with is what happened to Twilight Sparkle.”

I was most concerned because I didn’t want to have two ponies suffer for my continued existence, and I was least concerned because Luna had already claimed the original Twilight Sparkle was happy.

Frowning, Luna replied, “I don’t suppose you would appreciate me telling you your life story?”

No. I just watched most of the prologue to my life story in the Æthereal Realm. I don’t need a recap of the sequel, too.”

“Ah! So that’s how you figured it out.”

Well, I probably would’ve deduced what had happened to Mother soon enough even without the Æthereal Realm’s help. I’d already figured out something was strange with Luna’s story of what had happened to her. It shouldn’t have taken me too long to put all the pieces together after that if I really sat down to think about it.

“Not primarily, but yeah. Speaking of which, were you ever going to tell me how I was born? Who my…mother was?” It still felt a little weird to call Sunset that even after getting some rest, but it also felt like the right thing to do. “I – I know you thought those windows during the ascension process were memories and probably assumed I would’ve have Sunset’s. They’re actually more like glimpses into the past. But either way, it was a big risk not telling me.”

Those last few words came out angrier than I’d intended, but I let them stand.

Luna sighed, “Yes, I know.” Then shortly after, a weak smile graced her face.

“To answer your original question, Aurora is the adoptive second daughter of Marble Sketch and Inkwell, a sculptor and a writer respectively who live in a small town just outside Manehattan. She skipped a few grades in her earlier years in education, and she’s now in her senior year at Manehattan University with a full scholarship. She’s due to graduate at the beginning of summer with a degree in history and…some kind of degree in library science.”

Luna’s brows scrunched together for a moment. “I can’t seem to remember what library science degrees are called. Anyway, she has a rather cushy job lined up for her in the Canterlot Archives come this fall, although I hear she’s expressed regrets about moving so far from her family.”

So…Aurora. I tested the name once just to get a feel for it. It was a nice name. I wouldn’t have minded having it myself. It would’ve been a good name for a princess. It certainly sounded more royal than Twilight Sparkle.

“Is she happy?” I asked. It sounded like she loved her family and that her family loved her back, but I had to ask. Anything less would be horribly irresponsible.

“As happy as a pony can be expected to be,” Luna said. “She’s not locked in a state of pure magical bliss.”

I didn’t really need the weak attempt at humor right now, but oh well. Twi – Aurora was happy and well taken care of. That was what really mattered. I could live with what Luna had described. But I had one more question.

“So how much have you interfered in her life?”

It didn’t really matter too much if some invisible hoof made things more pleasant for Aurora, but I didn’t want to risk messing her life up any more than we already had. At least not without her permission.

“As little as I could, but I do have a stallion subtly seeing to it that she wants for nothing.” Then after a brief pause, Luna added, “Beyond a healthy level of wanting in a pony’s life, of course. I didn’t just hoof over everything to her on a silver platter.”

Well, we wouldn’t want to turn her into a spoiled brat.

“Although I did do her a few very unnecessary favors,” Luna continued. “Her grades were beyond good enough to get a full ride to any college she wanted, but I saved her the hassle of writing scholarship applications. I’ve heard that they’ve become quite tedious over the years. I also had one or two couples who might perhaps have not given her the life she deserved chased off before they could adopt her.”

Luna stopped to chuckle to herself, and I couldn’t help wondering how exactly she’d made that happen. It didn’t exactly sound on the up and up. But whatever. That was hardly an issue anymore.

“Other than that,” Luna finished, “I’ve had no significant presence in her life.”

“I see.”

I breathed deeply, once in and once out. Yes, Luna had taken care of Aurora very well. That did wonders to ease my mind: one less pony that had to suffer for me to exist. She had a good life and, from the sound of it, a good family. What more could a pony ask for?

“Thank you, Luna,” I said, slightly bowing.

Luna tried to interrupt with, “No, Twilight, please don’t,” but I wasn’t having it.

“Thank you for taking good care of my sister. I – I really don’t know how my parents will react, or if I can bring myself to tell them” – I kept myself from biting on my lip; this wasn’t the time to worry about that – “but I’d like to thank you on their behalf too.”

“I did what I did for Aurora as an apology, that it might make up a little bit for what I’d done. I didn’t do it to be thanked. It’s nothing I should be thanked for. I was merely minimizing the damage. After centuries of ruling, it’s something you learn to do instinctively.”

Maybe Luna had a point, but it couldn’t just be instinct. Luna had gone above and beyond what she’d had to do to just ‘minimize the damage’. She could’ve just dumped Aurora anywhere, and she would’ve had as fair of a life as any other pony. Luna hadn’t had to go out of her way to make sure she’d be happy and well taken care of.

A moment passed as we both digested each others words, and a thought registered in my mind.

“Actually, do they know? Did you tell my parents?”

Luna looked down at her hooves for a second or two before responding.

“No, I didn’t tell your parents. All four of you – your brother included – were put under a minor suggestion spell for a season to overlook any unusual behavior on your part, and that was that. Ponies change quickly at the age you started at.”

And that brought a thousand other questions to my mind, but there was another dangling question that needed to be answered first.

“Still, you could’ve just left Aurora in an orphanage and called it good, so thank you. But that leaves the question of when the buck–”

No, no, that was Sunset talking. Swearing wasn’t a habit I intended to keep. I just needed to wait for her memories to settle into the back of my mind, and then that little quirk would go away, just like any other bad habits I’d picked up today.

Mother laughed at me. “Ha! Yeah right. You’re stuck with me, you know.

I really needed to stop that. I really, really didn’t need to be developing a split personality.

“Ehem.” I locked eyes with Luna once more. “When were you going to tell me I was born from Sunset Shimmer?”

Luna opened her mouth. And then she closed it.

Please tell me your answer isn’t never.”

“No.” Luna then repeated herself more firmly. “No. I intended to tell you before you ascended, but… Before the Canterlot disaster–”

I winced.

“Sorry, let me rephrase that. Before your last Hearth’s Warming on Equus, I’d played with the idea of telling you. I was going to introduce the idea to you slowly, testing how you might react as I went. I started by telling you who Sunset Shimmer properly was.” Luna took a huge, sluggish deep breath. “And that was as far as I got. Your reaction to Pupa’s condition, which was a reasonably similar situation, wasn’t exactly positive.”

“Wait.” I only expected one answer to this question, but I had to ask it, or it would prey on my mind forever. “Did you engineer that disaster just so you could see how I’d react to Cadance messing with a pony’s – er, a changeling’s mind?”

“Of course not,” Luna said, and I let out the breath I’d been holding. “I don’t go looking for trouble, Twilight. I just have practice turning setbacks to other uses. You might notice that our opponent did the same; my niece was forced to take her magic lessons seriously, even if her progress remained fairly slow.”

My muzzle hung open for a moment or two before I pulled it shut.

How could I have missed that? I hadn’t given it a single thought. Cadance had taken the blame on herself all by herself, yes, but she didn’t decide the punishment. It’d felt like a natural consequence, not one with an agenda.

Ugh. I’d been so sloppy. That should have been obvious. How long was I going to be so terrible at this before I reached Luna’s level?

But wait. Celestia stopped Cadance from working too hard later on. How did that fit?

Well, no, that was obvious. Cadance had been on a pretty self-destructive path at the time. A broken alicorn was far less useful than one who couldn’t fight or defend herself. That made sense.

“After that disaster,” Luna continued, “I shelved the matter. I told myself I would wait until you were older and more mature. Then I told myself I would wait until you were ready to ascend. Then when your secret was discovered, I nearly revealed the matter to you, but I told myself it wouldn’t do to seem like I was only telling you from fear of somepony else doing so first. Always I found an excuse to put it off until later.”

“I suppose that’s better than nothing,” I grumbled. At least Luna had actually taken the first step to tell me. That was…something.

“Perhaps, but I was making excuses. I couldn’t bear the risk of losing you, let alone what that would have done to my plans, and I was a fool. I should’ve had this entire conversation with you years ago.”

Yes, she should have. Luna really should – and probably did – know better than to fall victim to this kind of procrastination. It was a horribly unsatisfying excuse, but…not one I couldn’t at least understand. I’d done the same thing with Twinkleshine when we were young, although with much lower stakes.

But Luna would have to do better with me. I was old enough now, and I knew what Luna was capable of when pressed. She wouldn’t ever have to hide anything from me again without a real reason.

“If it means anything to you,” Luna said, “the only lies I’ve ever told you were related to Sunset Shimmer in one way or another.” Luna cleared her throat. “Well, excepting the setups for harmless pranks or jokes, but–”

“–those don’t count,” the two of us finished together, one of us very grumpily.

Whatever. I closed my eyes and attempted to clear my mind for a moment. It wasn’t exactly something I ever had much luck with, but I sometimes found the frustration of failing at it sometimes diverted my frustration with other things: in this case, Luna.

It wasn’t like it benefited Luna for me to have found out the way I had. She’d made an innocent mistake, even if she really shouldn’t have. I understood her lame excuse. It was stupid and frustrating, but I could relate. Still, I wasn’t going to let her forget this.

Seriously, I’d been old enough to cope with my origins for forever now. All she had to do was write me a letter saying, ‘Hey, Twilight, you’re made of recycled pony.’

Okay, maybe it wouldn’t have been that simple, but still. Was it really that hard? Chrysalis already knew, so Luna could’ve even simply delegated responsibility if she really couldn’t have brought herself to do it herself.

Ugh. Whatever. “Fine. I don’t care. I mean, I do, but be more prompt with this kind of stuff in the future, okay? Please don’t keep secrets from me anymore. Not without a valid reason, like when I was trying to awaken the elements.”

“I… Stars, how did it go?” Luna scratched her head with a wing until inspiration hit her. “Oh. I Pinkie Promise I won’t. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.”

I raised an eyebrow. I wasn’t even going to ask how Luna had managed to learn that from Pinkie Pie.

“Twilight, this honestly has bothered me for years, and I feel terrible for not telling you myself.”

After Luna had said her part, I asked, “Should I be expecting any more surprises?”

“About you or recent events? No. At least none that I can foresee. But I could certainly spin you a historical yarn or two that would shock you, if you wish.”

“Maybe some other time.”

While shocking historical tales certainly did sound interesting, I’d had more than enough surprises and mental strain for the year, and maybe even for the decade.

“Alright,” I sighed. “I guess my next question is just pure morbid curiosity. You mentioned a minor suggestion spell. And I assume the Quartz pony you’ve mentioned before got involved, probably acting as a mare named Crystal.”

Luna nodded silently.

“And the big favor you owed him was from – from him assassinating Sunset.”

Luna nodded again.

“I mean, I can guess the general approach, but what did you do to Sunset exactly?” What did you do to me?

“Yes, you would want to know that, wouldn’t you?” Luna let out a long sigh. “Very well. The suggestion spell we – that is Quartz used was a befuddlement spell, one step removed from a geas yet not dark magic. As I said before, it wore off soon enough, its purpose served. You adapted to your new life as much as your family adapted to you.”

“I didn’t!”

Luna looked at me with an eyebrow raised.

“I – I didn’t adapt to my new life. It was the only life I’d ever known. I was just…being me.” That was a fundamentally important distinction to make.

Ever so slightly, a smile crept onto Luna’s face. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that. Which leads me to how we actually did the deed, as they say.”

“Um…” This was kind of not too relevant, but it bore mentioning for Future Luna’s sake. “I think ‘do the deed’ is a sexual phrase now.”

Luna’s head titled to the side. “Really?”

“Well, I mean, I don’t really know. The thought came from Su – Mother, not me.” Shrugging, I added, “I personally thought the phrase was only used how you used it”

After one false start, Luna asked, “How do you mean? Does Sunset Shimmer somehow have a separate train of thought independent of your own in your head?”

“No, no, no,” I said, vigorously waving my hoof back and forth. “I mean, sometimes I pretend she’s talking to me, but she’s not.”

Luna opened her mouth, but I interjected, “I checked.”

Getting a nod from Luna, I continued, “I watched – relived all of her memories available to me in the Æthereal Realm, and there were a lot. They’re all in here” – I pointed to my head – “now, and they seem to work like ordinary memories in terms of recallability. I don’t know what effects taking them all in had on me, but for example, I trip over Celestia and Sunbutt sometimes.”

Just for an instant, it looked like Luna wanted to frown and laugh at the same time, but she played it off as a hum.

“Well, I trust you will tell me if you need any help coping with the memory intake. Sunset Shimmer was approximately twice your age at the end. I imagine it must be quite a burden.”

I shrugged again. Only time would tell for sure. “I’m managing. I might be able to get a research paper or two out of this as well.”

This time Luna did giggle. “Yes. Yes, you’ll be just fine.”

I was being serious…

“But all of those memories,” Luna said, her tone growing more somber, “we purged them from your mind. It took us weeks; we couldn’t risk damaging your brain. We removed nearly all of your explicit memory, that is facts and events. However, we left as much of your implicit memory intact as we could.”

My face paled, and my stomach grew uneasy. “My implicit memory? B-but doesn’t that cover…”

“Quirks?” Luna guessed. “Some, yes, although I’m not an expert. Of the two of us, Quartz knows far more about biological alchemy. But yes, from what I know of her, you did retain a small, but non-trivial, chunk of what made Sunset Shimmer Sunset Shimmer. I don’t know who likes butterscotch more of the two of you.”

I shook my head. “She does, but that’s not at all what I meant. I already realized that. What I meant… What I meant…” In a tiny voice Fluttershy would be proud of, I whispered, “What about Procedural memory? Muscle memory? M-magical memory?”

“Yes? We did try to keep much of that intact. It would be hard to explain why Twilight Sparkle suddenly found herself in need of potty training, let alone walking and talking.”

No, no, no. That wasn’t it at all. “Luna, you don’t understand. So much of me – my identity, my self-image, my self-confidence – is tied up in being a genius. If I’m just running off of Sunset’s hard work, if I’m just unconsciously remembering how to do everything, then what have I even done? Nothing. Nothing. I’m just a little pony who was given wings without even working for it. Worse than Dash! She at least worked hard, even if all that hard work wasn’t to ascend. And – and – oh stars, how can I be worse than Dash! I–”

Luna’s hoof stopped my rambling dead in its tracks.

“Twilight, I didn’t catch half of what you said, but I believe I understood the general thrust of your words. Let me show you a few ponies.”

Horn glowing, Luna removed her hoof from my muzzle. The spell she was casting was just a simple illusion, nothing fancy. Between the two of us and off to the side, she created the image of a brown, brown, and brown earth pony. I’d say he was covered in mud, but I honestly couldn’t tell if that was just how his mane, tail, and coat naturally looked.

“This is Iron Hammer. He was born just after the end of the Discordian Era. He was a master engineer and heralded as a genius. His rather mundane upbringing didn’t get in the way of his goals, and whenever he hit a setback, he redoubled his efforts. Several fundamental architectural designs were once credited to his name, including the arch.”

At Luna’s words, a few simple buildings spawned into existence around us. Arches were a common feature on them.

“But…it’s an arch,” I protested. “You can see them naturally form in the Badlands. It’s so trivial, anypony could just use the concept. You’re making stuff up.”

Luna frowned at me. “Twilight, many things are not trivial before somepony first notices them. When Discord fell, most ponies didn’t know how old they were. Not because the sun and moon cycled randomly, oh no. They couldn’t count high enough. They literally couldn’t count to thirty, twenty, or sometimes even ten. If you wanted to know how old somepony was, you asked what order ponies in the herd were born in.”

“You’re…exaggerating.” Even as I said the words, they felt hollow and false.

“Twilight” – Luna’s forehoof came up and squeezed my withers – “the terrifying thing is I’m not.”

And I knew she wasn’t, too. Luna just held me and bore a small frown until I nodded. After I did, she walked over to one of the buildings to rub a hoof along an arch.

“The terrible thing about knowledge is if nopony passes it on, it disappears. Yes, there were small bands of ponies, myself included, who preserved some knowledge. I helped fight to maintain an orderly cycle of the sun and moon, which is a non-trivial magical task. But most ponies…”

Luna shook her head slowly back and forth. She didn’t even look at me; she just gazed at the stone in front of her. “Most knew nothing. I lived in a ‘house’ made of rocks and tree branches. Discord or his magic destroyed anything bigger or more structured eventually. We didn’t even have hewn stone to build with!”

“You’re – you’re serious?” I asked, but both Luna and I knew I didn’t need that answered. It really did sound like my own personal Tartarus. How could ponies live like that? “I really don’t know what to say…”

“There’s nothing to say. Discord was a monster. I imprisoned him. He’s been suffering his punishment for nearly two millennia now. If I have my way, he’ll stay imprisoned unto the end of time. And I’m trying to make a different point.”

Luna’s illusions faded, and in their place rose another pony. This time it was a yellow pegasus mare in full armor, blades attached to the ends of her wings. I’d trained under Luna, if not as seriously as Chamomile, and still this mare sent shivers down my spine at the mere sight.

“Lion Heart. Not exactly the name you’d expect of a mare, but there you go.”

Armies upon armies encircled us, frozen mid-battle. If I tried to look closely at anything, I found myself unable to focus my eyes, a mark of incomplete illusions. It was the big picture that mattered here, not the details.

“She was a psychopath. I say that now, fifteen-hundred years later when the word exists. She was all but born to her position, both in terms of educational opportunities and in terms of political connections. In her day, she was a war hero, a general, a cunning strategist, and a dear friend. She was a genius in the field and reportedly quite talented in bed.” Luna’s grin faded as she continued, “She refused my own advances, I’m afraid. I…lost her to a failed ascension.”

“I – I’m sorry for your loss.” I really hoped I wouldn’t ever be in Luna’s position, having to permanently lose a friend, but I likely would be in a century or two.

“I’ve moved on,” Luna said as her illusions disappeared again. “It hurts a little from time to time, but I’ve adjusted as we all do, mortal or immortal. I cannot save everypony by myself.”

No, but we were princesses, and that was rapidly becoming a very appealing fact. We could fund research to work toward a solution to mortality that didn’t require ascension. I’d have to make it a priority to find out what ponies were already working on and where more funding could be used.

Still, that was another problem for another day.

Luna sighed. “It was probably for the best, in all honesty. Having an Alicorn of War would be asking for trouble.”

Luna created yet another pony. This time she’d made a white coated unicorn filly without a cutie mark.

“After you moved to Ponyville, a number of ponies loyal to us moved with you over time, and most of them have remained there. On a number of occasions, I’ve heard rather remarkable news about the ponies who live in the village, and in particular about this little filly. Care to guess what her special talent is going to be?”

“You know?”

“I have a good guess.” As she spoke, Luna’s horn glowed again, and an indistinct sound of music reached me.

“You know there’s like a million instruments, Luna. I don’t know, does she play the balalaika?”

Luna snickered before she could control herself. “Do you even know what a balalaika is?”

“Vaguely.” It had strings, and it was like a cello. Probably.

“Well at any rate, you’re wrong,” Luna replied, rolling her eyes. “No, this little filly’s name is Sweetie Belle. Apparently she has a very nice singing voice and a gift for musical theory. I plan to send her a scholarship to a music school soon after she earns her cutie mark.”

Well that sounded a little familiar. “Catch them while they’re young?”

“Indeed. I know the concept of a court musician fell out of style two centuries ago, but I would like to see it revived. However, that was not the point I wished to bring up. In her field, Sweetie Belle may just have as much raw talent as you. She’s gotten quite far on her own with absolutely zero formal education in music, and it’s little more than a hobby for her at the moment.”

I’d try not to take that as an insult. And I really shouldn’t. I was trying to be nicer to ponies. Mostly my friends, but strangers, too, I supposed. The first thing that came to mind when somepony said there was somepony as talented as me shouldn’t be, ‘In music? Who cares?’

In fact, an Alicorn of Music could be a pretty great thing, at least so long as she never asked me to dance with her. Arty alicorns might even be the best thing since sliced bread, considering how much color they could add to life.

Ooh! And maybe background music would follow her wherever she went. That would be pretty exciting.

“So, Twilight, what makes a genius?”

“What?” I hadn’t quite been ready for the question, being too absorbed in conditioning myself to think more positively.

“What makes a genius?” Luna repeated herself. “What might all three of these ponies have in common?”

“I…don’t know. They all have different backgrounds, educations, and…well…everything.” There was the hard worker from the dirt age, the privileged blue blood, and the humble prodigy. “I don’t really get what point you’re trying to make.”

Ever so slowly, Luna smirked.

“They don’t have anything in common?” I guessed.

“Well, they’re all ponies, but yes, more or less. They have little to nothing in common as a group, except one thing.”

“A goal?” I hazarded. That was a big part of what got me to where I was today.

But apparently that was wrong. Luna chuckled before finally getting around to continuing her explanation.

“They were all born lucky. They were born in the right environment, at the right time, with just the right initial brain configuration.”

“That…sounds wrong,” I said.

“What about your brother?”

I tilted my head to the side in confusion.

“What has he accomplished? He went to the most prestigious school in Equestria and graduated at the top of his class; his magical talents don’t measure up to yours, but they cannot be overlooked; he’s the captain of the day guard; he’s about to marry an alicorn; and I could go on for some time still. If he were born four centuries ago, he would’ve become one of the most celebrated officers in history.”

But in a peaceful Equestria, who even cared? The day guard was just another policing organization at this point, and only a wingful of ponies looked up to them.

“That still sounds wrong…”

“I think you mean that sounds unfair,” Luna returned.

I nodded. That was a much a better way to put it, but that also meant there was the obvious counterargument.

“But the universe doesn’t care if it’s fair,” I said weakly.

“Indeed. All we can do for our ponies is to provide them with the very best environment to grow in as possible.”

Funny how Luna said ‘our’ ponies, implicitly saddling me with the burden of a nation I probably wasn’t technically a princess of yet. I… More and more I found reasons to want it, but Luna had just casually placed an awful lot of responsibility on me. Raising and educating one dragon had been hard enough with teaching two unicorn fillies on the side, let alone millions of ponies.

“But the point I wish to get across to you,” Luna continued, “is that you are a genius. Perhaps you have a double dose of luck, but never doubt that you have worked hard. Whatever Sunset Shimmer did for you in advance, it does not invalidate your own efforts.”

Luna finally remembered to dismiss her last illusion and the music as she moved to stand beside me. Her wing wrapped over me, and I snuggled into her.

“Twilight, I’ve seen you go through spells Sunset Shimmer knew nothing about in a day. You are frighteningly intelligent. So much so that I sometimes wonder if Quartz had a hoof in it somehow.”

Well, I supposed while he was busy wiping Sunset’s memories and generally reshaping her however he wanted, it wouldn’t be a stretch to mess with the brain even further. But…it did sound pretty far-fetched. The brain was absurdly complicated, even for alchemy. It could do a lot, but fine modifications like that was a little much, although perhaps not in a thousand years from now.

Not that it wasn’t a blush-inducing compliment.

Luna smiled down at me and said, “I very much look forward to the day when the differences between our ages and experiences even out and we can truly call each other equals. And that day will come; you need have no fear of that. You’re clever, and perceptive, and always willing to put in the extra effort, and–”

“Fine! I get it! I get what you’re trying to say.” Not that it or the huge blush on my face made me feel much better. “It’s still not fair, though.”

Luna let out a tired sigh. “Yes, I know. But perhaps you can try to make things better as a princess.”

Well, I did have a few ideas already to start with. I supposed–

“Besides, it comes with the domain. I’m sure the world will forget about your magical talent soon enough and will call you the Princess of Books.”

I shoved Luna away in a huff, eliciting nothing more than a giggle from her.

Once her fit was finally over, Luna said, “Now we should probably get back to your actual question. I wouldn’t want you to accuse me of trying to dodge answering it.”

That would be a good idea. “We’d just covered the memory spells.”

“Mhm. There were four other things that we did, plus or minus a slew of supporting spells for detail work.” Luna finally fluttered back to her hooves in front of me. “We cast three major alchemy spells. The first gave you your appearance.”

“Straightforward,” I commented. That was pretty obvious. “The second was an age spell?”

“Indeed. The third one was…a bit of a personal request.”

I raised an eyebrow. Mom and Dad had pictures of me – of Aurora when she was still with them, and I’d never noticed anything odd about them. It was just barely possible they were all doctored, but whatever Luna had asked for must’ve been non-visual.

“Have you not guessed yet?” Luna asked. “Twilight, there’s something very different about you from most ponies. Something you take for granted.”

Oh, ponyfeathers. The last time Luna had said something like that to me, the answer had been embarrassingly obvious. So what was different about me compared to a randomly selected pony?

It couldn’t be gender. It couldn’t be color. It was a little unusual to have three hues in my mane and tail, but Aurora had already had them. I wasn’t particularly tall or short. Intelligent would be a stupid answer, and if Luna were actually looking for that, she needed a slap or something.

Ugh… I was approaching this wrong. What was different about me that Luna would find useful slash desirable? Or rather what would Luna want in a pony? That was a better question to ask.

I facehoofed. “I’m nocturnal.”

“Correct. I know that’s caused you inconvenience in your life, and for that I apologize.”

“It’s fine,” I said with a wave of my hoof. “I like the night independent of you. It’s the best time of the day.”

“Well, I’m glad you still think so.” Luna paused, but she added, “You’re making this much easier for me than I was expecting.”

“You’re being open and transparent with me.” I paused just to make sure what I was about to say was true, or at least to check if it felt right. And it did. “I think that’s all I really need right now.”

Luna opened her mouth, but I interrupted her before she could say anything.

“But don’t get me wrong,” I added with enough force to make sure there was no room for doubt. “There are things we are going to be talking about at length, but…I mostly just want answers tonight.”

This time I let Luna have her chance to speak. “Whatever you wish. I wouldn’t want you to drive yourself mad with worry.”

Heh. I gave Luna a wan smile. “I think I used up nearly all the panic, worry, and anger a pony is allowed in their life yesterday. Or is it still today?”

“It’s yesterday by now, Twilight. You slept through midnight already.”

“Alright, I used them all up yesterday. I have to be careful with what little I have left. I have to dish them out in tiny little allotments at appropriate times.”

“Ah, well in that case,” Luna began with a cruel smile forming quickly, “maybe I’ll just have to annoy you and give you exams until those emotions come back.”

Ugh. I could feel the headache forming already.

“Oh, by the way,” I began, “as long as we’re talking about this stuff, you didn’t get the color of Aurora’s magic right. It was off a shade or two.”

“Yes… Well…” Luna’s head sank down to her hooves. “That’s the other major thing we did to you.”

Well that hardly sounded ominous. I was just going to pretend Luna had phrased that in a more neutral manner.

“You will not like this, I’m sure.” Luna took a deep breath, and then she raised her head to look at me again. “We…crippled you.”


I wiggled my legs one at a time and even my wings, too. They all seemed equally not crippled as compared to before my ascension. Well actually, even in my dream, I could feel earth pony magic coursing through each limb, so technically they were now better than ever. Uncrippled? Anti-crippled?

“Not your limbs, Twilight, your magic.”

My smile faded in slow motion. My eyes widened. “M-my magic?”

Luna nodded.

I hit her in the face.