Lunar Rebirth

“Fear not, Tia dear, for this is not our end. Watch for the mare, of darkened coat and deadened eyes. When she doth stands beside thee, so too shall we once more.”
These were the last words spoken by Luna before she passed from the world, the injuries from her battle with the Nightmare proving to be too much for her. With her passing, her stars fell from the sky, and the night became barren and empty, devoid of all but the moon above.
Now, a millennium later, a young mare by the name of Selena finds herself forced into a position she never thought she would ever be in. Celestia claims that she is Luna reincarnated, the nobles of Canterlot claim that she is a fraud, and a mysterious mare haunts her dreams. Will this blind mare take her place beside Celestia, or will she meet the same fate as the Lunar Princess before her?

http://www.fimfiction.net/story/175085/lunar-rebirth

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1. Prologue: Nightfall

—1000 years prior

 

 

Celestia staggered to her hooves, hissing in pain as she put weight on her twisted ankle. Blood dripped from her muzzle, marring her white coat, which was covered in the grime of battle. A large gash ran down the side of her head, causing one of her eyes to be forced shut. Around her, the earth was scarred and blackened. Debris from the southern tower littered the ground, looking more like broken tombstones in the gloom of night than actual pieces of architect;  a grim reminder of the battle that had been fought there not minutes ago. The once magnificent tower was now reduced to nothing more than a rocky foundation, a few wooden beams rising into the air, the ends of which were smoking slightly. Part of the tower had collapsed upon the outer rampart, demolishing part of the Everfree Forest as well, leaving uprooted trees lying here and there, their branches destroyed.

Celestia groaned as she took a step forward, her cracked ribs grinding together. The battle had been long and fierce; her home was in ruins, and her body was covered in numerous injuries sustained during her fight. Her once monstrous reserve of magic had been reduced to barely that of a foal’s. Her usually majestic mane now hung limply across her gouge-covered back in long, pink strands.

She was in pain, she was exhausted, but she was triumphant!

Standing on trembling legs, the Solar Princess turned her one good eye towards the moon, her vision unfocused slightly due to fatigue. The moon hung low in the sky, illuminating the ruined castle in harsh moonlight. Upon its pale face, standing out in stark contrast against the small, celestial body, was the dark imprint of the head of a mare: Nightmare Moon, sealed within the surface of the moon. A fitting end for the vile temptress. The great and terrible mistress of the dark, now sealed, helpless, within the moon, forced to look down upon the very lands she had tried to conquer.

The creature, Nightmare Moon—Darkness Reincarnated—had attacked the Everfree Castle in a hope to claim all of Equestria for herself. Waiting until Celestia's sun had set for the day, the Nightmare had attacked when the Solar Princess had been the most vulnerable.

Celestia had been on her way to the bathhouse, eager for a relaxing dip within the heated pool after a long day at court, when the alarm had been sounded. She barely had time to turn before the Nightmare was upon her, spells flying down the hallway, destroying all that they touched. Celestia had managed to erect a shield in time to defend herself. Her faithful maid, however, was not so lucky.

Celestia hadn't had any time to mourn the loss of her old friend before she was forced to retaliate against the Nightmare. Despite the initial surprise of the sudden attack, Celestia had managed to hold her own against the Darkness, even pushing Nightmare Moon from the castle and into the open. While she fought against the Mare of Darkness, the Royal Guards had fought against Nightmare's forces: evil demons spawned within the very pits of Tartarus itself.

Celestia wasn’t sure how many of her loyal guards had given their lives in her name this night, but she was certain that they had been victorious in their defense of the Keep. Even now, with the loss of their leader, the demons were retreating back from whence they came. By the sounds in the distance, Celestia knew that the fighting had all but finished, and her soldiers were now searching the wreckage for wounded.

She allowed a small smile to touch her split lip, as her thoughts turned to her little ponies. Despite any injuries that her guards may have received during the fight, she was sure—no, positive—that they would be combing the ruined castle, ignoring their own pain and discomfort as they helped any and all of those still trapped inside.

Celestia could remember a certain incident back when Discord had been defeated. Her then Captain of the Guard, Glimmering Shield, had suffered severe injuries during the battle against the Mad God’s chaotic forces. Despite having four broken ribs, a cracked horn, dislocated hip, and broken leg, Glimmering Shield had spent five hours pulling the wounded from the battlefield before Celestia had caught wind of her Captain’s injuries.

Celestia had had to stun Glimmering Shield in order to get her to accept medical attention, and she was forced to strap the unicorn to her bed in order to prevent her from leaving during her recovery. Glimmering Shield had thankfully survived, but was forced to walk with a permanent limp due to her delay in seeking medical attention. When later asked by a younger guard if she regretted her actions that day, Glimmering had simply replied that she “only regretted that the Solar Princess had learned about her injuries before she could have saved more lives”.

After that confession, Celestia had noticed a startling increase in the loyalty and dedication of the guards, each seemingly trying to best Glimmering's devotion to the Crown and her fellow guards. Even after all these years, her guards still retained that same level of commitment. She would have to make sure that they received medical attention, even if she had to order them to leave off searching the castle herself.

But that was for later.

Tearing her gaze away from the moon, Celestia glanced down at the six gems slowly orbiting her battered body. They glinted in the darkness with inner power, illuminating her surroundings in a warm, inviting light. Each gem seemed to pulse with magical power, each one ready to be called upon again if need be.

Integrity, Celestia thought as each gem slowly passed in front of her in turn. Hospitality, Devotion, Kindness, Jollity, Magic. The Elements of Harmony. Powerful artifacts delivered to her sister and her by the Tree of Harmony itself in order to combat Discord, they had been kept in stasis since the Mad God's downfall. Hoping to live in peace, the Royal Sisters had prayed that they would never need to use the Elements again.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans and Celestia was forced to call upon them once again in order to imprison the Nightmare within her lunar gulag.

Wielding the Elements alone had been taxing upon Celestia's body and mind, but in the end the Solar Princess was happy with the outcome. Even now, after having used most of the energy the Elements had stored up over the years, Celestia could still feel the magical power flowing from the gems, washing over her body and soothing some of her pains. Such power, such magical reserves, and she had barely been able to defeat the Nightmare. Celestia was just glad that Nightmare’s pride had dictated that she fight Celestia alone.

It looks like Luna was right, Celestia thought as the gems continued to circle her. The Elements were enough to seal the Nightmare away—LUNA!”

Celestia’s eye widened as her mind processed what she had just thought. Rearing back with a loud, panicked whinny, the Solar Princess took off across the grounds, the Elements following faithfully behind. Her twisted ankle was ignored in her haste, the pain temporarily forgotten. Her wings, rendered useless by the Nightmare, flapped weakly by her sides as she ran, leaving a trail of bloodied white feathers behind her.

Reaching the rampart, Celestia leapt through a large hole in the wall caused by a rampaging demon. Her hooves pounded against the blood-soaked ground as she landed, her injured ankle nearly causing her leg to buckle under her weight. She quickly skirted around the fallen bodies of ponies and demons alike, careful as to not have her hooves become tangled in the mangled corpses of the dead.

Foam formed around her lips as Celestia panted, her sides heaving. She galloped down the path to the castle’s main gates, the debris from the Keep scattered upon the ground in front of her, blocking the route. Relentlessly, Celestia forced her way through, shoving and pushing her body through the blockage. The sharpened edges of the rock and brick cut into her flesh, but she was oblivious to the pain in her desperation.

Finally making her way to the Keep, Celestia forced her way through the main entrance way, the large golden doors cracked and soot-covered. The archway above the entrance had collapsed, large stone blocks strewn around the entrance hall. Shards of colored glass littered the floor, remnants of the large stained glass windows that lined the hall.

Rushing along on numbed hooves, Celestia gasped for breath, sucking in great lungfuls of air. The Elements of Harmony, still faithfully circling her, provided her with enough light to see by. She nearly stumbled as her hooves slid against the glass shards, but managed to stay upright. Her ankle twinged in pain, but Celestia didn’t care. There, at the far end of the battle-damaged hall, was her destination: the throne room.

The massive golden doors were askew, dangling upon their hinges, their surface dented and scarred. A large crack ran down one of the doors, nearly splitting it in two.

As she neared the battered doors, the Solar Princess could not help the strangled cry that escaped her lips, “LUNA!” Pushing the very last of her magic down the length of her horn, Celestia blasted the throne room doors open, staggering through the archway as they thudded to the floor on either side of her. The floor reverberated beneath her hooves, the loud noise echoing around the large room, but she ignored it.

LUNA!” Celestia cried again, glancing around frantically at the debris, her stomach slowly rising into her throat. The ebony throne upon the raised steps lay in a heap of rubble, the golden throne beside it left untouched. Moonlight streamed through a large hole in the ceiling, the stars twinkling mockingly at the Solar Princess as her despair grew steadily. Please, please don’t let us be too late!

“Luna,” Celestia sobbed as she cast around for any signs of the Lunar Princess. Choking back tears, she staggered through the rubble, continuing to search desperately. The longer she looked, the more and more her heart sunk in her chest.

“Please, Luna,” Celestia whispered, blinking back tears. “Thou hast to be here somewhere!”

A low groan caused Celestia’s head to whip around, and she winced as her neck cracked. Scrambling over a large chunk of the ceiling, Celestia made to leap down the other side but froze, her one good eye opening wide in horror. Her mouth opened, her lower jaw quivering as Celestia’s heart broke.

There, on the other side of the pile of debris, was Luna, the Nocturnal Ruler. Her body was in a pitiful state, her wings bent, the bones broken in several places. She was lying in a pool of her own blood, her chest rising and falling with each ragged breath she took. Her legs were spread at awkward angles, white bone sticking out against her dark coat. Her mane was limp, the blue hair dyed dark with blood. Her horn had been shattered, the jagged appendage sparking uselessly.

It was painfully clear that the once proud ruler’s body was broken: her life slowly ebbing from its shattered shell.

“No, no, no, no,” Celestia whimpered as she clattered down the pile of wreckage. At the sound of her voice, Luna’s ears perked up. Groaning, the broken princess tried to lift her head, but whinnied in pain as it fell back to the ground.

As Celestia reached Luna’s body, she collapsed to her knees beside her, tears flowing from both her open and closed eyes. The Elements’ orbit widened slightly in order to encompass both alicorns.

As if sensing the other mare’s presence, Luna’s eyes cracked up, the once bright, cyan orbs fogged over. Gazing up at Celestia, the Lunar Princess cracked a smile, her white teeth stained with blood.

“...’lo Tia,” she mumbled, her voice hoarse.

“Luna,” Celestia whispered, taking care to not let her tears land upon the broken mare’s wounds. “Thou looks terrible.” The minute the words left her mouth, Celestia winced, raising a hoof to her mouth. More tears sprung to her eyes as she realized what she had just said.

Luna just laughed, although it sounded more like a pained wheeze. Blood specs flew from her mouth, and her laughter soon turned to a heaving cough.

“Tis true,” she croaked. “Thy ceiling dost not make a good cushion for us to land upon. Though, we canst see from here that thou hast vanquished the Nightmare and sealed her upon our very moon.” Luna tried to laugh again, but stopped as her breath rattled in her throat.

“Stay thine merriment,” Celestia commanded, her face etched with worry. “Our healers shall soon be here, and shall make thee well again.”

“Nay,” Luna rasped, her expression sobering. “We fear that this be the end for us, my fere.”

“No,” Celestia sobbed, shaking her head desperately. “We pray thee, dost not leave us here, alone.”

Luna just gazed up apologetically at the mare above her, a pained expression on her face. “We are sorry, Tia, but hitherto shalt we go, but no further.”

And that was when the floodgates opened, and all of the Solar Princess’s pain and sorrow came rushing forth. Celestia let out a mewling cry, lowering her head as tears flowed down her cheeks. She closed her eye in an attempt to regain control of her emotions. However, her cries only increased when she reopened it and saw the broken alicorn before her.

“Please,” she begged. “Please, there must be something—anything—that we canst do in order to save thee.” Movement beside her caught Celestia’s eyes, and she turned her head. Her eye lit up when she saw the ever-circling gems.

“The Elements,” she cried, laughing shakily as hope rose in her chest. “We canst use them to heal thee, my fere! They hast sealed the Nightmare within thine moon, and they still hast power to spare! Thou shalt be well again, and shall continue to live, to be with us! We shall—”

Celestia ceased her rambling as Luna placed her trembling hoof upon the Solar Princess’s. Smiling sadly, she shook her head.

“It would be all for naught,” she rasped. “Tia, there is naught thee canst do now.”

Swallowing, Celestia looked down at Luna’s hoof, her lips trembling. With a soft whinny, Celestia grasped Luna’s hoof in her own and gently raised it to her face. Nuzzling the hoof, Celestia quietly cried, her tears matting Luna’s dark fetlocks.

“It’s all our fault,” she whispered as she continued to nuzzle the hoof. “It’s all our fault that this hast happen.”

“Do not blame thyself,” Luna rasped, raising her head slightly to glare at Celestia. “It is no fault of your own. We chose to stand against the Nightmare with thee, and now we reap that which we hath wrought.”

Groaning, Luna lowered her head again, the pool of blood rippling slightly as she laid it back upon the ground.

“The life is leaving us, my fere. We shall not be with thee for much longer.” Celestia opened her mouth to say something, but Luna stopped her with a flick of her ear. “Nay, prithee, let us speak. We don’t have much energy left within our broken body.” Celestia paused, but nodded her head, continuing to lovingly nuzzle the dark hoof in her grasp. This caused a small smile to touch Luna’s lips.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, the Lunar Princess winced as her broken ribs shifted. More blood flowed from her nostrils and mouth, her breaths coming in short, ragged bursts as her lungs slowly filled with blood.

Opening her eyes again, Luna glanced up at Celestia with dimmed eyes.

“Fear not, Tia dear, for this is not our end. Watch for the mare, of darkened coat and deadened eyes. When she doth stands beside thee, so too shall we once more.” As Luna spoke, her voice cracking in pain, the Elements glowed brightly, a burst of energy erupting from them for a split second before they fell silent, content to continue to circle the pair of alicorns.

As her eyes began to close, Luna squeezed Celestia’s hoof weakly in her own.

“Be at peace, Tia. May your days be calm, and your sun stay strong. May our memory ease your pain, and may your sorrows be brief. Know naught of heartache, nor fear, nor gloom.” Luna’s voice grew softer as she spoke, the light slowly leaving her eyes.

“I love you,” she croaked, tears welling up in her dim, cyan eyes. “I’ll miss you…” Luna moved her jaw, attempting to say something more, but she only managed to release one last ragged breath before her eyes closed, and the life left her battered body. The Elements dimmed slightly, silently mourning for the loss of the princess.

When the hoof in her grasp went limp, Celestia glance up, looking tearfully at the dark alicorn.

“Luna?” she whimpered, rubbing Luna’s hoof against her cheek. “Luna?”

Reaching out a trembling hoof, Celestia placed it upon Luna’s cheek. The Lunar Princess’s face was still, a peaceful smile upon her lips. Tears streamed down the Solar Princess’s cheeks as she absentmindedly stroke Luna’s face with her hoof.

“Luna,” she whispered, her voice cracking. “Luna, wake up. Thou hast to wake up. Luna… please, thou can’t leave me.”

Dropping Luna’s hoof, Celestia lifted her head, glancing around the throne room frantically, desperately.

HELP!” she screamed, her voice echoing around the ruined room. “SOMEPONY! ANYPONY! PLEASE… h-help!” As her voice continued to echo around the room, mocking the distraught princess, Celestia turned her gaze back to her fallen companion, lifting a hoof to her lips. Violent sobs racked her body, her good eye now puffy and red.

Her heart thudded in her chest, feeling as though it had split in two. This couldn’t be happening, this wasn’t happening. It had to be a nightmare. She had fallen asleep during court, and would wake any second now, and find that Luna was still alive and happy. She would trot up to Celestia, that mischievous glint in her brilliant cyan eyes signifying that she had another prank in store for the Solar Princess.

Celestia’s body continued to tremble violently as she looked down at Luna’s body, trying desperately to convince herself that this wasn’t real. Shutting her eye tight, Celestia gritted her teeth, trying to fight back her pain and despair.

Opening her eye again, Celestia stared down at Luna silently, her expression blank. Suddenly, her heart shattered, pain and sorrow flooding her very soul at the loss of her nocturnal counterpart.

Clenching her eyes shut, Celestia threw her head back and screamed, the force of her misery shaking the very foundations of the ruined castle. Everypony within a mile of the castle heard the princess’s cry; everypony felt her pain, and everypony wept with her.

Celestia continued to weep, even as the moon set, plunging the world into darkness. Without their mistress to control them, the stars began to wink out of existence, leaving behind an empty void of blackness. The night became devoid of light, the gloom only illuminated by the fires that still raged around the broken castle.

The sun did not rise that morning, nor the morning after, leaving the ponies of Equestria to mourn the loss of their princess within the darkness of her night.

The Sun would not rise for several days as it mourned the loss of its Moon, just like its earthly counterpart below.

 



 

 

 

  LUNAR REBIRTH 

 

 

~ ~ ~ ~ by MadMaxtheBlack ~ ~ ~ ~

 

 

 

One dark night, nearly a millennium later, four frightened ponies slid silently through the frozen waters of Saddle Lake, heading for Canterlot. To their left, along the shores of the lake, they could spy a small snow-covered village, the lights from the homes illuminating the starless night.

Carefully, the ferrymare, a brown earth pony, drew her oar through the water, pushing the boat along. Standing in the stern of the boat, she glanced around nervously, her face hidden behind her cloak. In the bow of the boat, two cloaked unicorns and a pegasus huddled, trying to remain unseen.

One of the unicorns, a mare with a sky blue coat, clutched a small bundle to her chest, shielding it from the winter chill. Beside her, her stallion—a dark violet unicorn—held her close, almost protectively. The pegasus was in the very front of the boat, using his hooves to push wayward pieces of ice from their path.

Above the group, a full moon shone down proudly, providing them with enough light to see by.

“We’ll have to run the boat aground on the far side of the lake,” the ferrymare whispered to her companions as the far shore of Saddle Lake came into view. “We can then proceed to Canterlot on hoof.”

“We paid you to take us directly to Canterlot,” the unicorn stallion hissed.

“Unless one of you unicorns can lift my boat up a waterfall, we have to walk to our destination,” the ferrymare growled, her eyes narrowing.

“Will you both be quiet?” the pegasus snapped, turning to look back at them. “We’ll be spotted!” The group fell silent, all expect the bundle in the unicorn mare’s grasp, which immediately started to wail. Frantically, the mare cooing softly to the bundle, rocking it in her hooves.

“Hush, little one,” she pleaded, glancing up at the ferrymare, who was giving her a dirty look. The unicorn stallion leaned over and began to whisper sweet nothings into the bundle, which immediately stopped crying.

“This is more than I agreed to,” the ferrymare grumbled, her oar cutting through the still waters.

“Just get us to Canterlot,” the unicorn stallion sighed, looking up from the bundle. “You’ll get the rest of your pay, and we’ll be out of your mane.” With that, the boat fell silent.

A few minutes later, the boat’s bottom scraped against the lakebed as the ferrymare pushed them ashore. Using her oar to vault herself onto the snowy shore, the earth pony turned and motioned to the others with her hoof.

“Quickly, before somepony sees—”

“It’s rather cold for you to be out this time of night, isn’t it?” The ferrymare whipped around with a loud squeak as two-dozen Royal Guards emerged from the blackness, their golden armor glinting in the moonlight as they all leveled spears at the four travelers. Instinctively, the unicorn stallion moved in front of his mare, shielding her from the wall of spears.

As the guards slowly herded the four ponies together, the sound of snow crunching beneath hooves filled the air, and a dark, looming shape appeared out of the blackness. The eyes of all four travelers widened in horror as they looked up at the massive unicorn that materialized before them.

“Archduke Black Spark,” the ferrymare moaned in despair, her ears splaying backwards as her heart dropped out of her chest.

The Archduke cut an intimidating figure in the moonlight. Standing nearly a head taller than all others present, the white unicorn stared down at the trembling ponies with disdain, his lip pulled back in a silent sneer. His slick, black mane hung down the side of his face, a black and red striped chaperon hat placed above his horn.

Tearing his blue eyes from the four travelers, the Archduke glanced over at one of the guards.

“Take these... gypsies to the palace dungeons immediately, along with the rest of the trash,” he ordered, his baritone voice loud and clear. The guard saluted before pulling out a pair of iron shackles from his saddlebags. Moving forward, the guard quickly began to shackle the travelers, binding the wings of the pegasus and the horn of the unicorn stallion.

As he did that, another guard approached the beached boat and began to pour oil over it. Stepping back, she picked up a lit torch and tossed it into the oil-soaked boat. Instantly, it went up in flames, the burning inferno casting a flickering light around the area.

As the guard approached the unicorn mare, he pause, staring at the bundle in her hooves.

“What have you got there?” he growled, pointing at the bundle.

The mare instinctively cradled the object closer to her chest, protecting it from view.

“It seems we have a thief on our hooves as well,” Archduke Black Spark growled. He snorted as he glared at the mare, his breath escaping in a torrent of mist from his nostrils. The mare stared up at him, silently pleading for mercy. Black Spark cocked his head to the side, his cold eyes narrowing. “Take it from her.”

The guard moved to do so, but at the Archduke’s words, the mare took off down the beach, sprinting for her life, the bundle held in her magic. Her companions yelled after her, urging her to escape, to flee and find shelter.

“After her, you imbeciles,” Black Spark roared, pointing at the fleeing mare. “Don’t let her get away!” Half a dozen guards surged forward and gave chase, following the mare's tracks in the snow.

Ahead of them, her cloak flapping wildly as she ran, the mare bounded through the snow. The bundle, hovering beside her head, squirmed and kicked, a loud, keening wail coming from its folds. Chancing a quick glance back behind her, the mare’s eyes widened and she whinnied in fear as she saw the guards closing in on her. Turning her head back around, she put on an extra burst of speed, trying to get some distance between herself and her pursuers.

Suddenly, the frozen lake beside her began to shrink, the shores closing in on each other as they became the mouth of a river. An old wooden bridge materialized out of the darkness, connecting the two sides of the river together. Without a second thought, the mare thundered across the bridge, disturbing the snow that was resting on the wooden railings in the processes. The clatter of hooves behind her told her that the guards were still on her tail.

Foam began to collect around the corners of the mare’s mouth as she gasped for air, her eyes darting here and there in a desperate search for a hiding place. The village in the distance slowly grew nearer as she made a beeline for the shelter the buildings provided.

Reaching the edge of the village, the mare dashed over fences and through yards, trying to lose her pursuers. Quickly ducking down a dark alleyway, she vaulted over a spiked iron fence. As she landed on the other side, her back hoof hit a patch of ice hidden beneath the blanket of snow. Her leg immediately shot out from under her and she fell, hard, on her side. The pain that flared up in her barrel and in her hoof caused the mare’s magic to flicker out. The bundle tumbled through the air, landing in a snowdrift with a soft thump. Instantly, the bundle fell silent, its wails ceasing.

Shakily, the mare staggered to her hooves, wincing as she placed weight upon her back hoof. Glancing around, she searched for her bundle.

“No, no, no, no,” she whimpered, tears forming in her eyes as the wind pulled at her cloak. She tried to take a few steps forward, but collapsed with a pained whinny as her hoof failed to support her weight. Lifting her head, the mare looked around helplessly.

“Selena,” she cried, trying to push herself back up, onto her hooves. “Selena!” Unable to get her hooves underneath her, the unicorn mare just lay there, sobbing into the snow.

With a clatter of hooves and armor, the guards that were chasing her descended upon the prone mare. Shackles were immediately clasped to her hooves and she howled in pain as they forced her injured hoof into place. One of the guards glanced around, a small frown touching her otherwise emotionless face.

“Sir,” she said, turning to look at her superior. “The package isn’t here.”

“She must have ditched it in some back alleyway while she was running,” the officer growled, glaring down at the bound mare. She just laid there, her eyes closed as her tears slowly froze upon her face.

“Just forget it. We’ve got her, and that’s all that matters.” The guard turned and motioned to the rest of the guards. “Get her up and march her back to the Archduke. She and the others are in for a nice long stay in Canterlot’s dungeons.”

The mare sobbed broken heartedly as she was hauled to her hooves. Forcefully, the guards marched her back through the streets, ignoring her pained whimpers as she was forced to put pressure upon her twisted hoof. As they headed back towards the lake, the mare cast one last desperate glance over her shoulders, her eyes scanning the snow for any sign of the bundle. As she was led out of sight, the mare couldn’t help the long, mewling cry that tore itself from her throat, and as she was marched to her doom, she couldn’t stop the tears that flowed down her cheeks.

“SELENA!”

 

~ ~ ~ ~ > > < < ~ ~ ~ ~

 

The village was silent, everypony asleep in their warm beds, the embers of dying fires crackling in the fireplace, warming the home against the winter chill. None seemed to have been roused but the sound of the scuffle outside.

The full moon shone down upon the village, illuminating the quiet little town from its position high in the starless sky.

It had watched as the four ponies had slowly cut across the half-frozen lake, trying to be as silent as possible. It had sensed fear in their movements—fear of being discovered—but it also had sensed hope.

It had watched as the ponies clad in gold had surrounded the first four, trapping them along the shore of the lake. The fear that the trapped ponies had for the large white pony was not lost upon the moon, and it felt sorrow for them.

It had watched as the smaller unicorn mare had run, trying to escape her fate. She had been strong-willed, her spirit full of motherly love and kindness.

It had even watched as the chase came to a sudden end, the mare beaten and broken, lead in chains back to the waiting caravan. But something was wrong, the moon was sure of it. The burden the mare had been carrying—protecting, even—was not with her when she had been captured. It had vanished.

The moon searched the snow-covered ground far below it. After several minutes, the moon cheered silently to itself. It had found the small bundle of cloth, embedded in a deep snowdrift. However, the golden-clad ponies apparently could not see it. They were leaving, leaving the bundle all alone and lost within its snowy bed.

This would not do, thought the moon as its light grew steadily brighter. This would simply not do at all…

 

~ ~ ~ ~ > > < < ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Warm Care groaned.

He groaned for several reasons. He groaned because of his old age, his stiff joints, his arthritis, the lumpy mattress beneath him. All of those were reasons to cause him to groan, but they were not the main reasons for his groaning now. No, the main reason he groaned was that the moonlight streaming through his window had awoken him in the wee hours of the morning.

“Blasted moon,” he grumbled, though a small smile touched his lips. “You couldn’t even let me sleep tonight, could you? You just had to wake me so that I could witness your beauty.”

Pushing his old withered body from the bed, the dark gray earth pony winced as his hooves touched the cold floor. The fire in the fireplace, located on the far side of his room, had long since been reduced to embers, and the winter chill was slowly sneaking in. Slowly, he made his way out of his bedroom, making sure to close the door quietly behind him. Walking down the hall, he carefully descended the old, rickety steps at the far end.

Walking past several closed doors, Warm Care soon entered the main entrance hall for the building. Slipping through a side door, the old stallion entered the kitchen. After a few minutes, he reemerged, a steaming mug of hot chocolate accompanying him on his journey.

Reentering the main hall, Warm Care made his way towards the front door. Sliding the rusted bolt back, the old pony swung the creaky door slowly open. A blast of cold air immediately blew inside, causing Warm Care to shiver. Ignoring the cold, the old earth pony stepped out into the night air, breathing deeply.

“Never in my long life has this sight ever grown old,” he sighed as he gazed happily up at the moon. It glowed brightly against the pure black backdrop of the night sky, the dark mare imprinted upon its surface looking down upon him.

Sipping from his steaming mug, Warm Care stood in the road, enjoying the view the moon provided, despite the cold. This was one of his few guilty pleasures. Whenever he couldn’t sleep—or was woken before the sun had risen—he would always make himself something warm to drink and stand outside, basking in the light of the moon.

After a few minutes, having finished his hot beverage, Warm Care turned to head back inside. As he did so, the wind died down to barely a breeze, an eerie calm falling across the village. Warm Care paused, his old, fur-filled ears perking up as a faint sound suddenly made its presence known. It was soft, barely noticeable, but Warm Care was able to hear it nonetheless.

The wailing cry of a foal was being carried upon the wind.

“Now, who could be out at this time of night,” Warm Care asked. “Besides me, of course,” he added with a soft chuckle. Placing his empty mug upon the front step, Warm Care turned and made his way slowly out into the snow.

Using his old ears as best he could, Warm Care tried to determine the directions the cries were coming from.

“Hello?” he cried out into the night. “Is there anypony out there? Do you need help?” As the crying grew louder, Warm Care glanced around, searching for any signs of a pony out and about in the winter cold. There was nothing but snow, however, to his searching eye.

Suddenly, the old stallion stumbled slightly. Glancing down, he saw the snow in front of him was trampled, packed down in some places and disturbed in others. Tracks in the snow led off into the distance, heading for the lake. It looked like a group of ponies had passed through recently.

The wailing suddenly started up again, and Warm Care jumped at the noise. Glancing around, the old stallion’s brow creased in confusion as he saw the crying was coming from a nearby snowdrift. Carefully approaching the pile, Warm Care brushed a hoof through the snow, revealing a bundle of cloth.

Gently picking up the squirming bundle, Warm Care peeled back a layer of cloth, revealing what the bundle held. His old heart immediately melted and he placed a hoof over his mouth, his ears splaying backwards.

What kind of pony would abandon such a young, beautiful thing like this? he thought as he gazed down at the small foal in his grasp. The poor thing is practically frozen solid.

Holding the freezing foal closer to his chest, Warm Care smiled softly as the young thing wiggled weakly, trying to get closer to this new source of warmth. The foal—a filly, by the looks of it—had a dark blue coat, nearly black in color. Locks of dark blue hair framed a small horn on top of her head.

As Warm Care continued to hold her, the filly continued to wail weakly, her eyes shut tight in distress.

“Shhh, it’s okay, little one,” the old earth pony cooed softly. “I’ve got you. Everything’s going to be fine.” At the sound of his voice, the filly stopped crying. Sniffling, she slowly opened her eyes.

Warm Care jerked his head back, inhaling sharply at the sight of the filly’s eyes. Twin milky-blue orbs stared up at him, unseeing. The irises almost blended perfectly with the whites of the filly's eyes. It was painfully clear to Warm Care that the filly in his hooves was completely blind.

Bile rose in the stallion’s throat as he gazed down at the filly. How could anypony abandon a foal like this, especially one that was blind? Did her parents just not want her? Was she just tossed aside, unloved, by parents that could not be bothered with a handicapped foal?

Warm Care shook his head slowly, unconsciously holding the filly closer to his chest. It didn’t matter now. He had found her, and he was going to take care of her. Looking back down at the blind filly, Warm Care blinked in surprise as something else caught his eye. There, wrapped loosely around the filly’s neck, was a light blue collar. A closer look showed that black letters had been stitched into the fabric.

A smile slowly spread across Warm Care’s muzzle as he read the words.

“Hello, Selena,” he whispered to the filly. At the sound of her name, the filly cooed happily. This just caused Warm Care to chuckle. “Come on, let’s get your body warmed up and something tasty in your belly, little one.” Turning, Warm Care carefully made his way back down the road, shielding the filly from the cold.

Walking up the steps to his home, Warm Care gingerly picked up his mug in his teeth. Pushing open the door, the stallion made to enter the old building, but paused for a moment. Glancing back over his shoulder, the old pony shot the glowing moon a quick look, laughing softly to himself. With that, he entered the building and closed the door behind him, blocking out the winter chill.

The force of the closing door caused the sign above the door to swing slowly back and forth, disturbing the snow that rested upon it. As the white cover fell to the earth, the writing on the sign was revealed once more.

 

~PONYVILLE ORPHANAGE~

 

As the sign slowly stopped swinging, the village slowly returned to its undisturbed state, its inhabitants asleep in their warm beds.

High above, the moon continued to glow softly, almost smiling down on the small town of Ponyville.

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