The last solstice
Chapter 19: A small victory
Celestia looked up from the book she was 읽기 and glanced at the window. The Sun was about the plummet behind the tall mountains on the horizon, its 주황색, 오렌지 rays shone into the Princesses room. It was still warm, but the autumn coolness was already lurking in the background, the white alicorn could feel its soft touch in the evening breeze. Her vision wandered to the wallclock and Celestia acknowledged with satisfaction, that she calculated the time perfectly 의해 the position of the fiery orb above. Of course, her mild and short-lived joy was not visible from the outside. The royal blue stallion at the 표, 테이블 didn’t notice anything; he was 로스트 in a book too. After a few seconds, Nocturnal Mirage sensed the alicorn’s gaze on him and looked up from the book. Their eyes met and interlocked for a brief moment, then they both looked elsewhere.
“Isn’t it time for 당신 to go?” the sun goddess asked neutrally, turning a page.
“Huh?” Mirage replied abstractedly, checking the time. “Um… no. My partner got sick, so I took his shift.”
Celestia didn’t respond, just nodded her head a little. These were the first words they’ve said to each other in days. Despite the fact that their 읽기 sessions continued and the Solar Princess invited Mirage to 가입하기 her every afternoon, the blue earth 조랑말 still could not get closer to her. Even though Celestia provided excellent tomes from her large, varied collection to the stallion’s enjoyment, it seemed she was not ready 또는 unwilling to take the 다음 step on the difficult path of recovery. Mirage tried to lure her into a conversation after the 일 of the failed assassination attempt on Luna, but the Princess snapped him up quite sternly.
“SILENCE!!! Not a single word! I don’t want to know!!!” she yelled angrily.
“But…” the cobalt 조랑말 began.
“No buts! I have no power over the things happening in the Kingdom, and it is neither my responsibility, nor my concern anymore!” the solar alicorn declared and her features turned steely. “I know that my sister and my niece are alive and nopony else got hurt. That’s 더 많이 than enough for me!”
“With all due respect, how can 당신 say that?! You’re…” Mirage risked another attempt.
“A Princess?” Celestia countered, 쓴, 쓰라린 tones of despise whirling in her voice. “Maybe I was a Princess long ago... But I can never be the mare I once were!”
She shook her head a bit; her long sparkly mane floated away from her scars for a glimpse and her wings fluttered uncontrollably. Mirage caved in and did not push the limits anymore. He understood, the Princess was even in a deeper crisis than he initially thought. The stallion stayed quiet and Celestia calmed down in the silence. The interestingly mismatched pair met up every afternoon of every day, only to read together. Most of the time, the snow white alicorn remained mute, often communicating with simple signals and gestures. When Mirage observed the Princess and noted every change in her behavior, even the slightest one.
At first, Celestia was frightened, anxious and frustrated, at least according to her body language. It seemed she needed somepony, but she wanted to reject this concept at the same time. But as some time passed by, she got used to the stallion’s presence, and felt 더 많이 comfortably when he was around, although she still reserved to the minimal amount of interaction. This was not beneficial for the greater purpose, because several days were wasted without any progress. Mirage knew the clock is ticking and if he wants the slightest chance to convince the sun goddess to meet with Luna and use her powers to restore the balance, he must get closer to Celestia’s core.
However, the royal blue stallion was unwilling to risk what he already achieved. The Princess has accepted him. Not as a subject, not as a conversation partner, she just accepted his existence and his presence, which was a good start. It was good, but not good enough and Mirage knew he cannot allow the situation to stay at its present state. He spent many sleepless nights with thinking of different methods which would force Celestia out of this numbness. One night, he was startled from his sleep in the late hours. The earth 조랑말 quickly sat up in his bed.
“That’s it!” he called out excitedly, with a spark in his 에메랄드 eyes. “It’s so simple! Why haven’t I thought of it before?”
In that moment he was certain his plan will work, but as the hours passed 의해 the spiky weed of doubt pullulated in his mind. Mirage paced around his room up in the Ivory Tower and thought it over, analyzing the possible outcomes of his actions. He put everything on one card. This was the only way not to arouse Celestia’s suspicions and to test the value of their odd relationship. After lunch, the stallion trotted down and requested an audience with Luna. He was granted permission in less than a minute. He summoned upon all of his courage when he approached the Princess of the Night and bowed before her.
“Nocturnal Mirage! What a surprise! I didn’t expect 당신 so soon. What brings 당신 here?” Luna asked.
“Princess, I need a favor. It is very important and if successful it might be a small victory for our cause.” the cobalt earth 조랑말 replied, still bowing his head.
“Speak then!” the moon goddess said.
Mirage looked her in the eye and braced himself for the alicorn’s fury.
“I need to leave.”
The Princess of the Sun lay on her sofa with a good book and a glass of red wine. After a while she noticed she cannot pay attention to the text. She had to read a page twice to fully comprehend the contents. Celestia found that lapse in her concentration odd. The part of the reason she read so much was because the cruel voices let her be when her mind was occupied with something else, yet she almost never had a problem with understanding a book. The white alicorn looked around the room, but she did not know what she was searching for at first. She accidentally glanced at the clock. It’s 4 PM! The Guard should have been here at least two hours ago… Strange… he’s always punctual…
the solar goddess thought, although the absence of the stallion did not hold any relevance to her. She kept herself busy for the rest of the 일 and did not think of Nocturnal Mirage. Yet, she was expecting him to show up the 다음 day. When he didn’t, Celestia felt a little annoyed. The emotion quickly passed through her soul and she kept doing the daily routines of her lonely life. On the third day, the Princess gazed at the door immovably, and couldn’t understand why, but she thought the door will open, revealing Mirage who will trot inside. It did not happen, which left a 쓴, 쓰라린 taste in Celestia’s mouth at the evening. She felt frustrated and… offended, but she suppressed the negative emotions.
On the fourth day, the solar alicorn even prepared a large book for Mirage to read, but the cobalt earth 조랑말 still hasn’t given any sign of life. Then she heard a quiet noise at the door. Celestia slowly walked there and perked up the ear, listening carefully. When she peeked outside through the keyhole she saw a brown pegasus stallion in front of her door.
“Hmm. His partner must have gotten better.” the sun goddess muttered.
This set her mind at ease for a while. But her suspicions resurrected with new strength one and a half week later. There was still no sign of Nocturnal Mirage.
“How dare he to neglect his Princess like this?!” the white alicorn paced around her room getting 더 많이 and 더 많이 furious. “I allowed him to enter my room! I allowed him to read my books! I allowed him to lay eyes upon me! I allowed him to see my hideous form!!! AND HE DISAPPEARS JUST LIKE THAT?!!!” Aww, would 당신 look at that! Ain’t that cute? The murderer misses the guard!
A scornful voice remarked in her head. A voice Celestia knew all too well.
“No! Not again!” the Solar Princess yelled in frustration and angst. Did 당신 really think we’d let 당신 go after what you've done? Ha ha ha ha ha!
“Stay away from me!” Celestia groaned, rubbing her temple, but it was no use.
The last 월 was the longest period of time without the voices in ten years. The alicorn of the Sun fell into the illusion of living without them. She almost forgot what it was like, but now the voices returned with renewed intensity, whispering to her ears louder and louder. Did 당신 forget their screams? The look in their eyes? The smell of the burning flesh?
“NOOO!!! LEAVE ME ALONE! I DIDN’T KNOW! I DIDN’T KNOW!!!” Celestia screamed in horror as her past found her once again and her inner demons kept chanting louder and louder. Murderer, murderer, murderer, MURDERER, MURDERER, MURDERER!!!!
Nocturnal Mirage was slowly padding on the road to Canterlot. He enjoyed the warm breeze cuddling his senses, bristling up his dark blue coat. His tried saddlebag was filled with a few personal items he brought from his flat in Ponyville. The cobalt stallion had to admit, it was a relaxing leave for true, yet that was only a side effect of his plan. He tried not to think about the dark future in case he fails and Pinkie Pie and her 프렌즈 managed to redirect his thoughts effectively. The time flew fast, when he was in Ponyville and one 일 when he woke up, a sudden urge overwhelmed him. Mirage knew he had to go, however he wished to stay among his friends.
The urge kept growing and growing, becoming 더 많이 powerful as the 일 passed. The royal blue earth 조랑말 missed the last Airship flight to Canterlot, so he had to travel 의해 train. He said goodbye to Pinkie and the others, who accompanied him to the train station. They seem so happy… if only they knew I might have sealed Equestria’s fate for good!
the thought quickly passed through his mind.
When the train arrived to the capital a few hours later, he covered the remaining distance to the 성 on hoof. Yet, he hesitated once the majestic, tall building was in his field of vision. The stallion looked up to the highest tower that was bathing in the 주황색, 오렌지 sunlight. He gazed at the ivory walls for a few 분 until an intense pain struck him in the chest. He snatched to his 심장 with an instinctive motion, but a moment later, the pain was gone. Mirage looked around carefully. He was alone on the road, nopony else but him.
“What the hay…” he murmured, and furrowed a brow.
The cobalt 조랑말 quickened the pace and reached the 성 within minutes. He reported for duty and raced up to the Ivory Tower as fast as he could. When he heard the screams of the Princess he knew he might have waited for too long with his return. There was a brown pegasus at the door, perplexity and angst written all over his features. Mirage never saw him before. Must be new here.
“You can go now. I’ll take it from here.” Mirage said formally.
“Is that… normal? Why is she screaming like that?” the pegasus asked in utter confusion.
“Unfortunately yes. She does that sometimes. You’ll get used to it. Now go.”
The winged 조랑말 nodded and left the Ivory Tower with a relieved sigh. Mirage waited for a couple 더 많이 minutes; he didn’t want to risk entering Celestia’s suite when somepony might see it. The cobalt earth 조랑말 paused for a moment when he touched the knob. He heard sounds of breaking glass from inside and the familiar cold shiver traveled down his spine because of Celestia’s ghoulish screams. Then he turned the knob; the door gave in to his push, and Mirage entered. He found the 도서관, 라이브러리 room intact. Even in her insanity she looks after her books…
the stallion thought and proceeded to the other room.
The premise was all messed up, the valuable old wooden furniture was turned upside down and there was garbage everywhere on the floor. Papers, quills, plastic glasses, boxes, shagpiles, and white feathers from Celestia’s wings.
As Mirage suspected, the Princess was in her bedroom. The royal blue 조랑말 spotted her silhouette first. Uncanny, very unsettling noises escaped her mouth as she grinded her teeth in anguish. Mirage moved closer with careful steps until he could see Celestia’s features. Her matted hair whirled around her in disturbingly dark colors, with red, yellow, green and 담홍색, 핑크 flashes, like if it was the inside of a weird storm cloud. Her body was shiny and fat drops of sweat rolled down on her blushed cheeks and neck, like if she had a high fever.
The white alicorn sat in front of the wall, bobbing back and forth. Her wings were open and there was something shiny in her scarred hoof. Only in this moment Mirage realized the screeching noise he heard was coming from this object. It was a piece of a shattered mirror and Celestia was carving something in the wall. The stallion knew before he read it. I’m not a monste
She wasn’t finished with the last letter, but this side of the bedroom 벽 was full of these grim engravings.
“Princess.” Mirage said quietly.
Celestia didn’t react; she was trying to finish her “creation” fanatically.
“Princess!” the earth 조랑말 called out sturdily.
The sun goddess picked her head up and gazed at Mirage. There was that mad flame again, dancing in her purple iris. Celestia sprung up rapidly and pierced her vision into the stallions.
“You!” she growled and took a menacing step toward Mirage.
Then her expression changed. The grimace of rage has melted away from her face only to give place to a surprised, unbelieving look. The Solar Princess looked around the room and perked up the ear.
“They’re fading away… I can’t hear them!” she exclaimed in excitement and dropped the piece of the mirror.
Mirage remained silent, for he didn’t have any idea what was Celestia talking about, but observed her features and noticed the change. The flickering 불, 화재 in her eyes dissolved and the 색깔 of her mane and tail turned to 주황색, 오렌지 with blurry sky blue streaks.
“I can’t hear them! They’re gone!” Celestia repeated and her eyes widened.
She suddenly grabbed Mirage’s shoulders, her muzzle being only a few inches away from his. She seemed to be recognizing the stallion only in this moment.