Equestria from Dust

Celestia awakens to see an empty world, white sandstone stretching the horizon. She wanders the world as she builds it from her imagination, filling it with life, but as time passes, the world that she created begins to seem like little more than a lucid dream, conjured from the dust.

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6. Part 6: Ruling

Ruling

 

 

 

 

 

Equestria from Dust, by soundslikeponies

 

 

 

 

“Did you ever think they would act in such a way?” Luna asks.

Celestia looks down from atop their mountain at the scene before her. Two armies clad in armor stand facing off with one another over a great distance. The soldiers on either side stand alert; this is what they train for—and they are professionals at what they do.

Luna paces back and forth restlessly along the cliff. “They tear each other apart like wolves. They act no different than the animals, but you saw fit to give them far greater power—power of thought—than any animal.”

Celestia turns to her. “I never intended them to turn out like this,” she hisses.

“I have grown sick,” Luna says, glaring at her. “—Sick from watching these ponies war, and destroy, and kill, and ruin what we worked so hard to build!”

“What would you have me do?” Celestia barks. “Would you have me destroy them? I can not find it in my heart to be so cruel.”

“I would have you stop them.”

“Revealing us?” Celestia asks, raising an eyebrow.

Luna’s nostrils flare and she raises her chin. “If that is what it takes.”

A low rumble draws their attention to the field below. The two armies stomp their hooves into the dirt, creating a thunderous echo that fills the valley.

“We can not govern them,” Celestia states firmly. “They will never grow on their own if we do.”

Luna nods her head towards the battlefield. “Look at them,” she says, scowling. “They are infants. They are temperamental and theyneed guidance.” Furrowing her eyebrows, she gives Celestia a stubborn glare. “You are allowing them to suffer at their own hooves needlessly.”

“And how would you make them listen? Through force—through intimidation?”

“Yes.”

Ruffling her wings and turning back to the battlefield, Celestia snorts. “That kind of rule wouldn’t change any of this. You haven’t thought this through.”

Luna’s eyes narrow. “And you have?”

Celestia glances down at the ground and her shoulders slump. “Yes,” she says quietly.

Luna steps back from her tone. She looks down at the two armies about to clash. “I can not stay here and watch this,” she says, taking off into the sky.

Celestia watches her go before turning back to the battle, watching the armies clash. She feels an invisible weight on her shoulders watching them, and the cries and yells coming up from the field form a knot in her stomach.

With great difficulty, she turns her back on the scene and flies to catch up with Luna. The darker alicorn flies ahead, increasing her speed whenever Celestia increases hers and keepings a distance between them. Celestia sighs, knowing that the tension that had been steadily growing between them will only worsen now.

She follows Luna north as the landscape changes to white beneath them. Snowfall blankets the hills and trees, and Celestia against the falling snow and cold winds, spotting a town of only a dozen houses down below.

Luna angles towards a nearby mountain. They always stay in mountains. Earth and unicorn ponies rarely climb them, and pegasus ponies don’t frequent the world beneath the clouds.

Landing on a plateau near the top of the mountain, Luna folds her wings away and walks towards a rock overhang sheltering a part of the cliff from the snow.

Celestia lands behind her, the snow crunching under her hooves, and shakes her wings before tucking them to her sides.

Luna doesn’t even glance at her, her eyebrows still furrowed together in an ill mood. Silently, she walks to the dry ground, lies down, and shuts her eyes.

Celestia hesitates back by the cliffside. The buildings in the town down below glow orange through the white snow fog, candle light coming from their windows and lantern light from wooden posts outside their doors. Only a pair of ponies persist to work outside in the snow: a unicorn and his son, the father holding an axe with his magic and the son placing blocks of wood for him to split on a stump. Both are shivering.

Turning away from it, Celestia goes to rest with Luna, who shuffles away once she gets close. Celestia lies down with a frown, closes her eyes, and tries to fall asleep.

But she can’t.

She lingers on the border, slipping in and out of consciousness, and she does not know whether it is because of the biting cold or the shouts of the battlefield still echoing in her ear. Shivering, she glances over at Luna to see her sleeping calmly, her features relaxed and the scowl gone from them.

Something restless inside Celestia stirs. She gets up and steps out from under the overhang. The sky, darkened with the absence of the moon and stars, lets out a low wailing sound as its winds carry a blizzard. Celestia checks her magic; the sun hasn’t even fully set.

Celestia looks down to see most of the lights in the village have gone out. Only a scarce number of lanterns remain lit—the windows of the homes they sit in front of dark.

Opening her wings, Celestia flies down to the village, landing in the soft snow of the fields around it. She looks at it for a while, making sure nopony is up, before walking towards its houses. The roofs are white—covered in snow—and held up by stone brick walls.

Celestia wanders to the center of the village and stops to look around. It feels strange standing in a town, even if nopony is around. A whistling breeze rolls by, whipping her mane in her face. She walks over to one of the homes with a lantern out front, peering inside a window. Two ponies lie wrapped in each others hooves under a large wool blanket.

There’s a crunch of snow—hoofsteps that aren’t hers behind her—and she turns around to see the unicorn’s son from earlier, staring at her and levitating a lantern.

“Hello?” he asks hesitantly, looking at Celestia’s wings and horn.

Celestia freezes, averting her eyes from his.

“Do you have wings and a horn?” he persists, stepping closer to her.

“Yes.”

The unicorn blinks, a grin spreading across his lips. “Oh, I’ve never seen anyone with both before!” he says, smiling at her. His smile fades, replaced by a curious look. “Do you have a name?”

“Celestia,” Celestia answers.

The wind picks up. Celestia looks up at the sky, before noticing the unicorn is shivering. “Why are you outside?” she asks, curious.

“Need more firewood from the crib,” the unicorn says, his teeth chattering as he points to a small shed just behind Celestia. “Blankets aren’t thick enough, and my dad hasn’t been well as of late.”

“Is he sick?”

The unicorn shakes his head. “Just old.” He walks past Celestia to the crib, opening it up and grabbing a cloth sling from inside to carry the logs.

Celestia looks around at the homes. “How many ponies live here?”

He worked as he talked, levitating logs onto the sling. “There’s the Stones and the Pears, the Waxs and the Smiths—they’re the large family, they own three houses—and the roofer, who never tells anypony where he came from. Some of the kids make up stories, about how he—” The unicorn cuts off. “Sorry, I’m rambling. I need to get back before the fire dies.”

He bites the sling by its handles, carrying half a dozen logs in it as he walks back past Celestia.

“Wait,” Celestia calls.

He stops and turns to look at her.

Celestia’s horn glows and the dim flame in the lantern the unicorn is holding brightens, becoming twice as big and bright yellow. “Use this to light the fire, it will keep you and your father warm.”

The unicorn looks at the lantern in surprise before turning and nodding gratefully to her. He turns and runs back home, almost as if he’s afraid the enchanted flame Celestia gave him will disappear if he doesn’t use it quick.

Celestia flies away from the village before the unicorn tries to come back. A warmth fills up her chest and a smile tugs at her lips—the first genuine one she’s had in years. Spreading her wings, she turns to fly back to the mountain, the freezing gales pecking at her feathers as she skims the mountain slope, climbing up to the overhang where Luna still lies. Snow obscures her vision, but she still knows the landscape intimately from creating it long ago.

Rising up over the cliff she had left, she stops and hovers, seeing Luna standing, her coat stark amidst the white snow.

“Welcome back, sister,” she says, a smirk plastered on her face. “Have a pleasant night time stroll?”

Gliding down, Celestia sees the look in Luna’s eye and knows she saw everything. “I met a pony,” she says evenly. “I have never really met one before.”

“Well of course not, we aren’t supposed to,” Luna says. “That was your rule, remember?”

“It was, but I grew curious.” Celestia bows her head. “I am sorry. It was rude of me to make a rule for both of us and then break it.”

“The unicorn, did you see his expression when you gave him that flame?”

Celestia smiles, the warmth returning. “Yes.”

“Don’t you see how we could help them? Our magic is a thousand times theirs, and we can help them with spells they could not ever dream of casting. We already keep the moon and sun in cycle, enabling life itself. Imagine what we could do to make their lives better—”

“—And you must have seen how they hate their rulers, their tyrants, their kings!” Celestia yells. Her voice echoes across the hills. Luna stands across from her quietly, unfazed by her outburst. Celestia’s shoulders slump. “They do not want to be ruled.”

“No, no they don’t. But they do want to be guided.” Luna gives her a stern look, like she’s being childish. Celestia feels childish. “If we go about this right, we could be like parents to them. Raising them and teaching them.”

“I’m sorry, but the answer is still no.”

Luna grinds her teeth, turning and walking back to the overhang. “I’m finding it hard to trust your judgement in this, but I will.”

As Luna goes back to rest, Celestia breathes a sigh of relief, turning to look down the mountain side. The blizzard is picking up, and for a brief moment she wonders whether the unicorn she met is warm enough in this weather. The fire she gave him will dwindle by morning and despite the harsh cold, it is still early winter.

“Have you frozen stiff, Celestia?” Luna asks from under the overhang.

Luna only uses her name when she’s mad at her. “I will think of something to put your mind at ease,” Celestia says in an attempt to soothe her.

Luna nods as Celestia trots over to the overhang, but her eyes say she does not believe her. Celestia lies down beside her. A midnight wing extends to wrap around her, and she turns to see Luna looking defiantly away from her.

“You look cold,” Luna says, staring at the rock wall of the overhang.

“Thank you,” Celestia mutters. She shifts her haunches and rests her head on her forehooves.

“I wonder if that boy will tell anypony else what he saw,” Luna says, glancing at Celestia out of the corner of her eye.

Celestia shifts her head and her eyebrows furrow together. “I am in doubt that anyone would believe him.”

“Ponies have greatly exaggerated their myths about the windigoes, the dragons, and the ursas. I wonder if we’ll show up in a pony folk tale a few years from now.” Luna stifles a giggle, nudging Celestia in the shoulder. “You may have exposed our existence.”

“No harm will come of tales told around a table full of cider jugs,” Celestia says, shaking her head at Luna’s imagination.

“No, I suppose not,” Luna says, a hint of disappointment in her voice.

The two of them huddle together in the cold, listening to the howling winds toss the snow about with fury. The night seems to last forever, and Celestia stays up long after Luna falls asleep, wondering how the ponies in the village survive in such a harsh environment.

She considers for a moment, using the same fire spell that she gave to the colt down in the village, but she dashes the idea; the cold can’t kill her, and the light may wake up Luna. Yet, it serves as an unwanted reminder of her time spent alone, before the sun, when the world was so very dark and cold.

She thinks about shutting her eyes, but then remembers she can’t sleep. And so she lies there for hours at Luna’s side with Luna’s wing wrapped around her, thinking, because it’s all she can do.

She suddenly notices something. Her hooves are black. She glances at Luna, making sure she’s still asleep, and examines her hooves, wondering if they are frostbitten and if so, how it had happened.

And then a startled cry catches in her throat as the blackness spreads slowly up her limbs. She can feel it crawling beneath her skin. It moves like like a pair of snakes travelling along her forehooves up to her chest, and her stomach drops as she realizes it’s headed for her heart.

It digs into her chest and Celestia feels it touch her heart. Clenching her eyes shut and taking a deep breath, she braces herself for pain.

But after what feels like an eternity of holding her eyes shut, nothing happens. Celestia lets out the breath she’s holding and gasps for air, staring at her hooves and her chest for any sign of black spots, but finds none.

She looks around the rock walls of the overhang, and outside at the snow, wondering if she’s dreaming. Luna’s snores came in a steady rhythm, and the cold nipped her, as real and pervasive as ever.

Celestia gives one last look at her hooves, half expecting the black poison to suddenly come back, but it doesn’t.

She stays wide awake for the rest of the night, right up until the morning sun.

Luna stirs beside her, letting out a yawn and stretching her wings, removing the one she had wrapped around Celestia. She glances at Celestia, giving her a look. “Sister? Are you alright?”

“Yes,” Celestia lies. She takes a deep breath to steady herself. “I’ve been thinking about what you said.”

Luna raises a singular eyebrow, her ears swiveling to face Celestia. “And?”

“I still don’t know,” Celestia admitted. “I want to visit the village down the mountain again, and meet talk with the colt who I met last night. I have a few questions I wish to ask him.”

Luna wrinkles her nose, giving Celestia a puzzled look. “What would you hope to gain from that.”

Celestia gazes out from the overhang, off the mountain and into the endless blizzard. “I’m not sure.”

“I’ll be going with you,” Luna says, folding her wings at her sides. “Discreetly, of course.”

Celestia shifts, uncomfortable with the idea, but nods her consent. “Very well.”

Celestia walks to the edge of the mountain, peering down the side of it towards the village, though it’s whited out with snow. A moment of silence passes between them. Luna walks up beside her, giving her a sidelong glance.

“When do you plan to travel down?” she asks.

“At dark.”

“So only a few hours, then,” Luna replies, laughing slightly at her own joke. She stops when she realizes Celestia isn’t laughing with her. She gives her sister a glare. “I’m trying my best to relieve the tension that’s built between us. The least you could do is help.”

Celestia isn’t listening. She’s staring at the sky with a frown on her lips. “How long do you think this blizzard will last?”

Luna looks up, then shrugs. “I do not know. I have seen blizzards last a fortnight this far north. Why? What makes you ask?”

“I’m not sure,” Celestia answers truthfully.

Luna chews her lip, looking up at the clouds and stretching her wings and neck. “Will you come flying with me to pass the time? My limbs feel stiff.”

“I think I’d like to walk, actually,” Celestia says, glancing back at the mountain trail leading past the overhang they slept under, and down the mountain. “Just down the mountain and in the forest below.”

“I have no qualms with walking instead,” Luna says as she folds her wings away.

Celestia turns and begins walking down the mountain trail with Luna following close behind. The path narrows as they go down and the winds pick up. Soon they’re forced to travel single file along the cliff.

It’s a long and winding path down the peak, and the wind and ice try to push them off at every turn. It isn’t until they near the base of the mountain that the path is wide enough for both of them and that the wind is tame enough to speak over.

Luna stops and looks back at the mountain, before turning back to Celestia and the forest. “Flying from mountain to mountain... I almost forgot what it was like to stand on the ground.”

“It does give things a slightly more humble perspective,” Celestia says, glancing around the trees as they walk. “I’d missed the forests. Seeing them from overhead is not the same. It makes me want to visit the jungle canopy once more.”

“We could visit that cave you took me to so long ago, where you hatched the first dragon.”

“Yes...” Celestia says none too enthusiastically. The place doesn’t hold fond memories for her.

“What inspired you to create that dragon egg so long ago?” Luna asks, stealing a glance at her.

Celestia opens her mouth to speaks, but then closes it again. What did give me the idea to create it? Was it that dream? “I... I can’t remember.” Why can’t I remember?

Luna snorts and sends her a flat look. “I find that really hard to believe.”

“It’s the truth,” Celestia says, staring at the snow as she walks. “I don’t know why I thought of it.”

“You... really don’t know?” Luna laughs bitterly. “I was always extremely jealous of that creation above your others. Life. It was amazing to me at the time, and you don’t even remember how you thought of it. It felt like everything we had made so far was a lead up to it.”

“Sorry.”

Sighing, Luna shakes her head. “I’ve known you for so long, it feels like I’ll never understand the way your mind works.”

“Wouldn’t it be boring if you did?” Celestia asks genuinely, only to receive a cutting laugh from Luna.

“You are right, sister, it would. But I would like to see eye to eye with you on this matter of exposing ourselves, because I still simply can’t. The reasons you gave me... they don’t sound like good reasons at all. It doesn’t seem like you to be so illogical and adamant.”

Celestia walks over to a tree sticking up out of the snow and rests a hoof on it, staring up at its sagging, winter-covered branches. “Do you consider yourself perfect, Luna?”

Luna blinks, caught off guard by the question. “Certainly not. Why?”

Celestia stops and turns to look her in the eye. “I’m afraid of how much influence and how much power we hold. Are you really not?”

“It’s never really been a thought,” Luna admits as she shakes her head.

“I wanted us to take a break and I wanted us not to interfere with ponykind because I’m afraid of the potential we have to ruin everything.” Celestia takes a step towards Luna, and Luna takes a step back. “We can easily destroy all life on earth. Doesn’t that frighten you in the slightest?”

“W-well I’ve never really thought of it. But why would we ever do that in the first place? I know you’d never do that, and I wouldn’t either. Both of us are in complete control of our powers.”

Celestia froze, touching the spot over her heart where the blackness had seeped into her skin. “I... I don’t think I’m in complete control of my powers.” She looks up at Luna, seeing a small amount of fear in her sister’s eyes at hearing those words. “I don’t think I ever will be.”

Luna lets out a shaky laugh. “But how? Even now you’re capable of far more than me with your magic. I’ve always been trying to catch up to you.” She gives Celestia an apprehensive glance. “Should I be... worried?”

Celestia stiffens and stares down at the snow. “I don’t know.” She feels a hoof on her shoulder and looks up to see Luna staring at her.

“If you are ever in danger please—” She bit her lip, swallowing a lump caught in her throat. “Please ask for my help. I can help.”

Celestia leans her forehead against Luna’s, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, releasing it as a shudder. “I will,” she promises.

The two of them stand with their foreheads rested against each other in the blizzard winds, their coats becoming dusted with snow. Tears trickle down her cheeks, freezing against her coat before they fall. Luna raises a hoof and rests it on her shoulder, looking Celestia in the eyes.

Swallowing, Celestia sniffles and raises her head, looking at Luna and giving her a nod. “Thank you.”

Luna rubs her shoulder. “Don’t be afraid of being afraid, Sister.”

Celestia closes her eyes for a moment. She looks up at the tree tops, watching snowflakes fall all around her. Silently she and Luna begin to walk through the forest again, leaving tracks that blemish the otherwise untouched carpet of snow.

They walk for the whole day, speaking little more to each other, neither of them wanting to break the peace settled over the forest. Even the winds die down to let the forest fall silent, snow dancing down from the clouds and whiting the ground.

Celestia glances up at the sky to see the sky turning a darker grey, the sun no longer behind it, lighting it. They arrive at the pony village after nightfall. Everything is settled and quiet and only a few lanterns remain lit outside their homes, the rest snuffed out by the cold and wind.

She turns to Luna. “Please wait here.”

Luna nods, her eyes shifting between Celestia and the village. “Take care.” She turns and gives Celestia one last glance before her dark coat disappeared into the night.

Celestia walks forward, slowing down as she nears the houses and the dim glow coming from the village. She glances back at the forest, wondering if she’ll catch some sign of Luna watching her, but the dark and snow make it impossible to see that far.

The sound of a wooden door shutting against stone reaches her. Her head and ears swivel to the direction of the sound, spotting the unicorn colt from the night before, standing outside his home and shivering. Celestia creeps up to the shadow of a house and peeks around its corner at him.

The colt trudges in a familiar direction, towards the wood crib, carrying a sling between his teeth. His steps are slow and tired and his body is shaking like a leaf.

Carefully, Celestia follows him, matching her hoofsteps to his and masking the crunch of the snow under her hooves. She follows him around to the back of his house, leaning out around the corner to see him put the sling down in the snow.

He clenches his eyes shut and a dim pulsing light comes from his horn as he undoes the latch. He shuts his eyes again, surrounding a log from the wood shed in a faint light, slowly moving it from the crib and dropping it onto the sling. He cuts his magic, panting from the effort it took just to move a log.

Celestia frowns at seeing him struggle. Looking closely, she notices some of his bones are showing through his coat.

The unicorn turns looks at the wood pile, shutting his eyes and trying to move another log. It shifts, but doesn’t move far. Scowling, he opens his mouth wide and awkwardly tries to bite the log to move it from the pile that way. He succeeds, partially, spitting the log out onto the snow before moving it onto the sling with his hooves.

It’s painful to watch.

He picks up another log, struggling with its weight slightly as he moves it out of the crib. Once the tip of it’s free, it swings down, its weight pulling him down with it. He drops it with a loud grunt, reaching a hoof up to his mouth and pulling it away to find blood on his fetlocks. He spits out a splinter and some blood into the snow, looking at the spot where it lands and shaking his head.

Celestia surrounds three of the logs from the crib with her magic. The unicorn’s head snaps around to stare at them as she moves them out of the wood shelter and lowers them onto the sling.

The colt looks behind him, spotting where Celestia is watching at him from. He spits blood onto the snow once more and lowers his hoof from his mouth. “You visited again,” he says, smiling despite the obvious pain.

Celestia stays silent.

The colt glances at the sling. “Well, uh, thank you for helping me again.”

“Why don’t you use your hooves to retrieve the logs?”

The colt blinks at the suddenness of her question. “Um, I would, but I don’t think I’m strong enough to stand on two hooves right now.” He lets out a nervous chuckle. “We have to try to make the food last as long as we can—what little there is of it. We had a few bad crops this fall, and my father was—”

“The blizzard is going to worsen.” Celestia interrupts. “Your village will most likely die in the cold.”

The colt’s face falls, the words he wants to say dying in his throat. He looks down at the snow, swallowing. “I know...” he says, his voice barely above a whisper. “But what can any of us do?”

Celestia says nothing for a while, averting her eyes from the colt’s. “...Nothing.”

The colt paws at the ground with his front hooves, smearing the blood he spat on the snow into a light pink streak. “We’ve all known we’re going to die ever since the harvest,” he says quietly. “We’re doing what we can with our time left and spending it with our families.”

A quiet passes between them, and the wind picks up slightly.

“Can I ask you a question?” the colt asks, staring up at Celestia.

“Yes.”

“Are you a princess?”

Celestia chuckles, looking down at the colt with a benevolent smile. “No.”

“Oh.” He looks down at the ground, flattening his ears against his head bashfully. “You looked like you might be, but then again I’ve never seen a princess.”

“I’ve distanced myself from most other ponies.”

The colt peers up at Celestia. “But you’re not like most other ponies, are you?”

“No,” Celestia said, shaking her head. “I am not.”

Celestia notices the colt’s lips are turning blue. Her horn lights up, radiating heat in the area around them.

The colt’s shivering stops and he stares up at her horn with a wide-eyed look.

She smiles at him. “Better?”

“Oh, yes! Very much so!” He laughs and looks down at the snow around his legs, watching the surface of it turn to water. He looks back up at her with a grateful smile. “Thank you.”

Celestia nods to him.

Suddenly his smile fades and he looks back down. “Being warm won’t change the fact that all our food’s running out.”

“No,” Celestia says, “I guess it won’t.”

The colt gives her a sidelong glance, his eyes flickering between her horn and her wings. “What exactly are you?” he asks. A blush springs up to his face as he realizes what he just asked. “I-I mean, you’ve been out in this cold, which would have killed any normal pony. You’re tall, and your magic isn’t like any unicorn’s that I’ve ever seen... What are you?”

Celestia hesitates for a moment before answering, her gaze drifting back towards the forest. “I’m an alicorn. I raise and lower the sun.”

The little colt stares at her, his mouth agape, pointing a hoof at her. “R-really?!” He nearly stumbles trying to bow, his head dipping down until his muzzle is nearly kissing the snow.

Celestia shifts slightly, reaching down down and touching the colts head. “Please rise. I feel uncomfortable being bowed to.”

He nods and scampers to his hooves. “That explains the warmth and the fire magic you gave me!”

“I can do more than just that.”

The colt looks up at her with wide eyes that hold something she hasn’t seen on him before: hope. “Can you save my village?”

Celestia opens and closes her mouth. “I... I don’t know.” The words don’t feel like her own, and it doesn’t feel like she’s the one saying them.

“Oh...” A small trail of blood and drizzle trails down his chin, and Celestia realizes he doesn’t want to spit in front of her.

“Does it hurt?” she asks.

He glances up at her and then at the blood trailing down his chin. He nods wordlessly.

Closing her eyes, Celestia concentrates on the feeling of her magic. The white light emitted from her horn turns to a mint green, and a glow of the same colour surrounds the colt’s mouth.

The colt gasps and takes a step back in alarm, staring at the green glow around his muzzle. Celestia opens her eyes and gazes at him softly with a warm, caring smile. Meeting her stare, the colt calms down, his eyes darting between her and the luminescent glow around his muzzle.

The glow from Celestia’s horn fades back to white, leaving the unicorn colt reaching up and touching his muzzle.

He licks the roof of his mouth. “It’s gone!” he exclaims, staring up at her with the same awed look as when she gifted him the fire.

“Please try to be more careful in the future,” Celestia tsks.

“Y-yes Princess!”

“I am not a princess,” Celestia says, letting out a huff at having to remind him.

The young unicorn shuffles his hooves, casting his eyes downward. “Oh, right. S-sorry.”

Celestia tips his chin up, planting a chaste kiss on his forehead. “I need to go now.”

She turns and begins walking away, the colt staring after her with his mouth hanging open. He gallops after her rather weakly, his hooves trudging through the high snow and his steps fumbling with urgency. “Wait!”

Celestia pauses and looks back at him.

He throws himself at her hooves. “Please, please save my village.”

Celestia looks down at him, his hooves wrapped around one of hers desperately. She hears the crunch of snow behind her and turns to see Luna walk up beside her, appearing out of the night like a shadow. Luna merely gives her a nod and looks at the colt.

Celestia glances between the colt and Luna, her ears point straight up and her coat hair bristles. The colt’s grip around her leg loosens slightly as he spots Luna, and he looks at her curiously.

“What do you choose to do, Celestia?” Luna asks, staring expectantly at her. “Will you stand by and watch this town die as you have for so many before it?”

“I...” Celestia stares at the colt wrapped around her legs, letting out a sigh. “No, I can not.”

The colt’s eyes light up, looking up at her. His eyes sparkle with pure joy and he hugs her leg tightly, sniffling with tears in the corner of his eyes. “Thank you, miss, from the bottom of my heart.”

Celestia looks over her shoulder at Luna and sees her sister walking up to her side.

“I am here to help,” Luna says, standing at Celestia’s side.

Giving Luna a grateful nod, Celestia turns to the frozen village. Icicles the size of a pony hang from shingles and entire walls are encased in ice. Magic springs to life like a beacon atop Celestia’s horn, the flare from it covering the entire village in light. In the sky, the clouds looming overhead part, opening the village to the night sky and the moonlight. The colt at Celestia’s hooves stares up at the moon in awe.

Luna steps up beside Celestia, her horn glowing with forest green magic.

Celestia’s magic turns the bright yellow of the sun, expanding in a dome shape to cover the entire village and the fields surrounding it. Snow withers and melts under her magic, and ponies in their homes begin to wake and take notice of what’s going on around them, peering out the windows at the two sources of the bright, glowing lights.

With the snow clear, Luna begins to seep her magic into the frozen earth the village sits on, causing sprouts and grass to grow out of it. The carpet of green quickly spreads across the town and its outlying fields, where apple trees begin to rapidly grow up out of the earth, ripe fruit springing up on their branches, along with bushels full of berries, carrots, and healthy leaf plants.

Celestia and Luna cut their magic, and for a while after doing so the entire village stays silent. Ponies stare out of their windows, looking at the grass and crops that sprung out of the ground with disbelief.

Slowly, they begin filtering out of their homes, inspecting the grass beneath their hooves and testing that it is real.

The unicorn colt finally lets go of Celestia’s leg, running up to the rest of the villagers. “The alicorns! The alicorns saved the town!” he shouted, pointing back at Celestia and Luna.

The boy’s father limps out of his home to his son’s side, wrapping his hoof around him and looking at the sisters. “How can we ever repay you?”

“We don’t seek recompense,” Celestia says assuredly, glancing at Luna. “We are just trying to help.”

The father’s legs shake, tears coming to his eyes, and he kneels down before the two of them. “Thank you.”

The rest of the townsfolk follow in his example, kneeling before Celestia and Luna.

“Please,” Celestia says, motioning for them to rise. “Just eat.”

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