Cold Hearted

She is the last. All her kin are gone. They'd either been blown apart by the Friendship spell so many ages ago or, in the case of her sister, changed their diet from hate to love. Cryoxia is the last of the windigos, but she is determined to be different, to never go back to those days ever again.
She'll make friendship from hate. She'll adopt an alicorn foal as her sister. She'll take physical form and learn how to move the celestial orbs with her mind. Celestial... has a nice ring to it. And she'll ally with the other nations in the world, establish friendship and preach harmony, no matter how they may diminish her food source. She'll make a world so wonderful that it will starve her to death.
Or die trying.

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2. Worth Melting For

Twilight Sparkle

 

What do I do what do I do what do I do?!

What should she do what should she do what should she do? Celestia! Changeling! Windigo! Lies! Truth! How was that possible? Twilight thought windigos were extinct, the only reason she recognized maybe-Celestia was because she'd seen drawings of them from way back when.

From where she'd teleported she galloped around haphazardly. What should she do?! There was a windigo in the castle! One that claimed to be Celestia! Something which explained so much. It didn't explain anything at all!

In the middle of a random hallway, Twilight suddenly knew what she needed. A list! Graphs! Charts! She wheeled around and sprinted towards her old room in Canterlot. No! She stopped and turned around. There were writing materials in the library. But the windigo was there! Room! Library! Room! Library! What was she going to do?!

No. She had to calm down. The first thing she needed to do was calm down. Reclining against a wall and weaving a Somepony Else's Problem field around herself, Twilight Sparkle began to perform Cadance's breathing exercises. In and out, in and out. Alright. What was the plan? What did she know?

When performing her spell designed to reveal changelings, Twilight had revealed Celestia to be a windigo, or at least a windigo pretending to be Celestia. The implication of changelings and windigos being similar enough to both be affected by her spell was fascinating, but that was for later. So, what were the possibilities? Option one: A windigo had replaced Celestia. That meant Celestia was hidden away somewhere, or worse, and that one of the leaders of the nation had been replaced by a... a monster that fed off of hatred, whose kind had nearly driven ponykind extinct in the past.

Or, option two: Celestia was secretly a windigo. That just raised further questions, such as 'how' or 'why had she kept it hidden from her'? She could understand keeping that from the population at large, but she thought Celestia would have trusted her more. And if she was one, then why had she always acted in such an un-windigo manner? Not that Twilight had previous experience with the winter demons, but what historical records remained pointed in the opposite direction of Celestia's behavior when it came to them.

But what could she do? How could she figure it out? If it was Option One, then she was on a time limit. The windigo could be harming ponies right then, so she had to go stop it. But if it was Option Two, she'd be attacking her mentor and friend. Could she take the risk? Could she alert the guard? No, bad idea. There were no measures in place to take down a windigo since nopony knew what they were capable of, if that was even the right course of action. But who would know?

Luna! Luna would surely know. Right? Right! And if she didn't, then surely she'd lend her aid in getting to the bottom of the matter. But what if Luna was also a windigo? Who could she trust, who could she go to? Discord?! She was still sore over the tatzelwurm.

No. She had to stay calm. Paranoia would get her nowhere. She could go to Princess Luna and cast the spell on her. If she turned out to also be a windigo, then Twilight would remain calm, allow Luna to explain herself, and place a ton of protective wards on herself. If not, then perfect! Princess Luna could help her. Right. She dispelled her S.E.P. field and took off, making a beeline for Luna's chambers. She just hoped that she wouldn't be too cranky about being woken up: Twilight put a little more strength behind her passive shields just in case.

Before long, she made it to the dark blue door that led to the Nightbringer's bedroom. She knocked once to be polite, then opened it.

Much to Twilight's surprise, Luna wasn't asleep but rather laid on her bed, a novel floating before her. Without looking at her, Luna said, "Ah, what brings thee here, sister?"

"Um."

The book dropped. "Oh, Twilight! I'm sorry, I didn't think it was you. Please, come in. Aren't you supposed to be with my sister right now?" The sudden change from old Equestrian to modern was jarring. Did Luna just do it around Celestia?

"About that! Um, would you happen to know if Celestia is, well, there's no easy way to put this, a windigo?"

Luna shot out of bed and slammed the door closed. "WHAT?! How do you know that?"

"T-The disguise spell," she stammered. "This one." She briefly let her horn flare and the magic washed outwards, engulfing the room. Much to her relief, Princess Luna was unchanged. "It, it turned her into a windigo, and I don't know if it's really her or one of them took her place and I thought they were extinct so - "

"Twilight, quiet." Luna took a deep breath, and let it out. Her horn lit up and her royal garments floated over, the taller alicorn slipping into them. "First, Celestia is in fact a windigo. If you left her there on her own, she may be hurt. We're going. You were in the library, yes?"

Dumbly, Twilight nodded. Celestia was a windigo? And Luna wasn't? Weren't they sisters? Were they adopted?

"Good," Luna said. "Then we'll walk there, and I'll look for any trace of her magic in case she moved elsewhere. Follow me."

With a flick of magic, the door opened and a privacy dome formed around the two of them. Twilight followed the Night Princess out of her room and closed the door behind them. "So, how is that even possible? I mean, a windigo? I thought all of them were destroyed when - "

"She got away," Luna explained. "I was a filly back then, and she stumbled into my house looking for somepony. Apparently I, being an alicorn, interested her." She chuckled as they turned a corner. "She never made any attempt to deceive me, of course. We'd both lost our families quite recently and were both in a dark place," Luna said, her voice dipping. ", so after a few weeks of dancing around the issue we sort of adopted each other. Her more than me. I was just a foal at the time, remember."

"Uh huh?" This was all... rather world shattering. So it was option two. But why did Celestia never tell her? Did she not trust her? And, and the way she'd just run out on Celestia like that! What if she really was hurt? Oh alicorns, she felt like she was going to throw up...

"You wouldn't have recognized Tia back then. All moody and liable to bite your head off." Luna gave a wistful sigh as they approached the library. "It's amazing what changes can occur in so many years, is it not?" She paused, her horn flashing brighter. "Hmm, she must've passed by here recently. I think she left the library after the incident." Luna turned to follow some invisible trail that only she could see. Twilight extended her own magical senses, but picked up nothing. "Hmm, yes, I think she went back to her chambers. Follow me, Twilight."

Twilight did, trying to process the information she'd learned in the past... barely an hour. Celestia was secretly a windigo, and was Luna's sister only by adoption. A windigo. Twilight was not hung up on the 'evil' thing so much anymore, now that Luna had vouched for her. But it was still such a shock, such a change in Celestia's nature...

Luna led her over to Celestia's private chambers, and paused. "Twilight, stay out here. I need to go in and talk to her first, okay? Then I'll come out so you can talk to her."

She nodded weakly and then moved to sit against the wall while Princess Luna's form shimmered into mist, slipped under the door, and probably rematerialized inside.

Twilight exhaled shakily and tried to calm her thoughts. Twilight tried to put herself in Princess Celestia's horseshoes. She had to feed off hatred to survive. She was in old Equestria, and ponies were her food source. Then she met one pony like she'd never seen, an 'alicorn'. Presumably her heart had been softened by the pony, then she spent centuries... centuries... alright, so putting herself in Celestia's horseshoes wasn't as easy as she thought.

What was she going to do? It was fairly obvious she was going to confront Celestia fairly soon, but what could she possibly say? Windigo or not, it was clear that this was Celestia, the mare who took her on as a foal, taught her practically everything she knew, who was practically a second mother to her. Probably.

Should she be angry? Disappointed, forgiving? Distrustful, accusing her of brainwashing Luna and replacing the real Celestia? It felt so wrong to feel... well, any of those towards Celestia. Twilight wasn't even entirely certain how she herself felt.

After maybe twenty minutes, Princess Luna's starry form slid out from under the door and coalesced back into a pony. "Twilight Sparkle, my sister is ready to speak with you now. I hope you two will come to an understanding regarding this... revelation of hers?"

"I don't know," she said cautiously. "I mean, she's a windigo, but she's Celestia, and I don't know what to think! How does she feed herself? Does she have the emotion conjured? I don't know of any spell that can create emotion out of thin air, just encourage and amplify what exists, so either way she'd need a pony - "

"Twilight, you need to understand this. My sister does feed off ponies, but she does it so little."

"So she hurts - "

"She's starving herself, Twilight," the Nightbringer said sharply, making Twilight's mouth close. "Every day she rules this country she starves herself for the good of the people. She's always, always hungry, but she puts up with it because she loves our little ponies. She's still the same self-sacrificing Celestia you grew up around. Please remember that."

Twilight bit her lip and nodded. "Alright. I'll go in."

She stepped towards the door and, closing her eyes, opened it with a burst of telekinesis. She trotted in and closed it behind her, shivering. The air inside was cold, and the culprit was obvious; the door to balcony, and therefore the winter cold, was open.

Twilight looked around the familiar room, and was all of a sudden overwhelmed with nostalgia. She remembered this place. She remembered prancing around as a filly, eagerly devouring the heavy tomes Celestia kept for herself. She remembered the tall, off-white alicorn pushing her away from some of the more adult books, and she had no idea why for several years. She remembered the bed, the table with papers piled on top of it, the pictures of various ponies on the walls. Celestia's royal trappings were in an undignified pile on the bed.

The fireplace was lit, and even through the cold Twilight could feel its warmth on her face. She looked towards it and gasped.

There was Princess Celestia laying down, one forehoof crossed over the other. The Princess's body faced the fireplace, but her head was turned to look right at Twilight.

She'd largely regained her 'pony form', but there were still notable differences. Her eyes, for starters. Instead of magenta, the irises were the same brilliant, glowing blue that Twilight had seen in the library, blue fog spilling out of the eyes like Sombra's dark magic. From seemingly random spots along her body filaments of teal mist writhed around, like a pillow with the stuffing half pulled out of it. Celestia's horn didn't have the usual spirals a pony's horn did, and was instead inlaid with fluorescent runes all along its length with a plume of mist spewing from the tip. And there was Celestia's mane; while her tail was normal, her mane was a flowing mass of some incomprehensibly cold liquid.

As she walked further in Celestia gave her a weak smile, which Twilight returned.

Twilight trotted next to her and laid down, also crossing her forelegs and looking at the fire, relishing in the warmth. She turned to the Princess.

"Celestia, I'm - "

"Twilight it's all my - "

They paused, and Celestia motioned for her to go first. "Celestia, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have just ran out on you like that. The least I could've done was hear you out, but I panicked and I just left you there after I hurt you." She lowered her head and splayed her ears back. "I'm sorry."

"Twilight, you have nothing to apologize for." Celestia moved a foreleg over to Twilight's, but then thought better of it and pulled it back. "You had no idea that your spell would change me back. I didn't either until you explained how it would work, and I wasn't fast enough to tell you to wait." She lowered her head. "I can hardly blame you for teleporting away, I can't imagine what sort of shock it must have been to you."

She nodded. "It was a surprise, but it's still, um, it's still you. That much is obvious. But I have to ask why."

"Why what?"

"Why did you never tell me?! I mean, keeping it a secret from Equestria I can understand, not everypony would be so understanding, but I thought, I thought." She bit her lip. It was hard to accuse Celestia of anything, but this was something that had to be done to clear the air. "I thought you trusted me enough. Ever since you took me under your wing, you've taught me time and again the importance of honesty, of coming clean to those you care for, and now to find out something like this?"

Celestia winced and looked away. "You're right, Twilight. You're absolutely right. I should have told you. I should have trusted in you more than I did, but I was afraid. Only Luna's ever known my secret, and for the thousand years she was gone nopony else knew. I grew used to nopony knowing. When Luna came back, her casual quips behind closed doors about my true nature? Even that felt foreign." Celestia lowered her head. In the meantime, the mist seeping from her horn fell down and covered her horn, seeping into it. The runes on it vanished and were replaced by the typical spirals.

"So it was strange enough to have Luna knowing, meaning you didn't want to tell me because that would feel even stranger," Twilight muttered, looking into the fireplace. "I guess I can understand that. Princess, does... anypony else know?"

"No," she said guiltily. She extended her forelegs and rested her head on them. "No. Not my niece, not my nephew, nopony else. I should probably write Cadance, she at least deserves to know." Celestia chuckled a little. "Though I can imagine the look on her face when she learns her aunt is the last member of a species that feeds on the opposite of her specialty."

"Wait," Twilight said, her head shooting up. "Last? You're an endling? For how long?"

"Ever since the tribes merged, I suppose. A great many of my kin went to that cave, and even in those times with such abundant food our numbers weren't incredibly high." She lifted her head back up to look down at Twilight again.  "It's possible that others escaped the Friendship spell, but if they're still alive to this day then they are keeping an extremely low profile for me not to be able to detect the tell-tale signs of a windigo."

"But - !"

"Twilight," Celestia said sternly as some of her ghostly strands of magic pulled back into her coat. "It's not much of an issue. Discord's the only one of his kind, yet he never lets it depress him does he?"

"That's different! He's the only one because he's the first draconequus. All of your people..." She didn't need to add 'died'.

Princess Celestia sighed. "Not all of them. My sister - blood sister, not Luna - is still alive, though she's not a windigo anymore."

Her ears perked. "Really? Who?"

Celestia's smile grew wry. "You've actually met. She rather ungracefully crashed your brother's wedding with an invasion."

Her jaw dropped. "The changeling queen? Chrysalis? She's your sister?" Today was just full of world-shattering revelations wasn't it?

"Younger sister, actually." She closed her eyes and sighed wistfully. "Always wanted to make me so proud, to prove that she was capable and didn't need 'big sis Cryo' giving her free meals. She was always the odd one out among us. Always going on and on about how we could be better than we were, how feeding on love would encourage the emotion, and the ponies wouldn't even want to stop us. How much better it would be for both parties involved. Everyflurry thought it was a fool idea back then." Everyflurry? "But she showed us, didn't she?"

"Wait, she used to be a windigo? But, so if feeding on love changes a windigo into a changeling, then - "

"No, Twilight," she said sternly. "When a windigo feeds on love, they die. It is poison to us. Crystalis wasn't the first windigo to get that idea in her head, but everyflurry else who tried to do so died. Until the wedding I didn't even know she still lived, I assumed she either died in the Friendship spell or in her attempts to gain nourishment from love." She sighed. "Apparently she was succesful; she's good friends with the diamond dog Alpha Pack, with all the food she and her people could ever need."

"Then why did she invade?" Twilight asked, fearing they were steadily drifting off topic. "How did she not die when she ate love?"

Another strand of Celestia's demon magic sank back into her coat. "I suspect she knew of my plight; no doubt with her own emotion senses she knew who I really was." Her plight. She's starving. "Despite her actions, I believe her true motive was to... help me, if she's anything like she was back then. To show that she is strong, capable, that she could beat me in a fight now that she had love magic to counter my hatred spells. Twilight, you're a younger sister. Tell me, how much does Shining's approval mean to you?"

She rubbed a forehoof and smiled. "A lot. He was my role model for a lot of my foalhood years, everything I aspired to be. Him telling me I did well was second only to mom and dad doing so."

"Then you can imagine what it would be like for my sister to not have it, or at least to think she didn't. I don't agree with her methods, not at all, but her reasons are touching."

There was a tense silence. "You're hungry, aren't you?" Twilight asked. "Luna said - "

"She would say that, wouldn't she?" Celestia sighed. "Yes Twilight, I am. There's so little hatred in Equestria, even when I take disguise and amplify it. It's usually better in the winter: ponies don't get suspicious of the cold as quickly and I can spend more time feeding off a group before having to move on. It's enough to power my magic and then some; I am a magical construct after all, so the rules are a little different. But even with my windigo metabolism it's just never enough." The tone of voice was so distinctly that of Celestia, even with the meekness, that it was impossible for Twilight to imagine the windigo not being her.

However the image of her mentor, the benevolent and graceful Princess Celestia, draining the hatred of ponies to sustain herself was unwelcome in her mind's eye. "So, why can't you just do what, uh, the changeling queen did and become a changeling? There's got to be a lot of love to eat, even if you just take a little from everypony."

"I don't know how!" she half-wailed. "Every other windigo who tried what she did was vaporized from the inside out. I was separated from her before she could make her attempt, and we aren't exactly on friendly terms right now so I can't just ask her how she did it."

Twilight found her hoof instinctively reaching over to Celestia, but it brushed against a whiff of windigo magic. She withdrew it with a yelp as the cold nipped at her.

"Oh Twilight, I'm sorry! I'm still having some trouble with my disguise after, you know."

Her eyes widened. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"Well, the spell was rather unpleasant, and I'm still having a hard time pulling together another body."

"I'm so sorry!" she insisted. "The revelation spell was supposed to be painless, not crippling! I'm sorry, I don't know why it would do that!"

"It's alright, Twilight. You didn't know. It probably hurt me because you oriented it around love magic, which is somewhat of an antithesis for me."

She nodded, picturing the magical formulae in her head. "That's probably it," she mused. "Sorry, Celestia."

"You couldn't have known, Twilight," the taller 'alicorn' said. Her left eye pulled in the mist and reverted to magenta.

They lapsed into silence afterwards, Celestia slowly getting her magic to work again and Twilight going over everything that she'd learned. "Twilight, are we... okay?" By then, the only visible trace of her windigo nature was the off-blue, transparent mane. "I'd hate for something like this to put a strain on our relationship."

In response, she leaned over and gently nuzzled into Celestia's coat. "We're okay." It was weird to be the one reassuring the Princess, but Twilight powered through. "I could never hold a grudge against you, Princess." She pulled away. "I'm still a little sore you didn't tell me, though."

"Sorry," she muttered.

"But you know, I really think you should tell the rest of your family. They deserve to know, don't they?"

"They do," Celestia muttered. She took a deep, shaking breath, and then stood. "Alright. I'll pen the letters right away. Oh and Twilight?"

"Hmm?"

The windigo in disguise smiled. "Your spell was very well produced." The first streaks of color began to flow back into her mane, slowly at first, but then all at once it surged through and the mane of some unidentified, thermally-contained liquid was replaced by the ethereal aurora Twilight was familiar with, leaving no evidence that Celestia was anything other than an alicorn.

Twilight tried suppressing a laugh, which made it snerk out of her nostrils. She too stood on her legs. "Thank you, Celestia."

"Anyway, I'm afraid that the world did not just stop for us. You have a meeting with my sister - Luna, not Chrysalis so don't get any ideas - about the alignment of Pollaus and Beatlegeese. And I..." Celestia smiled. "Apparently I have some letters to write."

"Okay. Goodbye, Celestia." She leaned in and shared one more hug with Celestia, then left her chambers. Twilight closed the door behind her, and let out a shaky breath.

A worried smile tugged at her face when she was confronted by Princess Luna, who'd waited outside and was doing a very poor job of hiding the fact that she'd been listening with her ear pressed to the door; its fur was matted. "Is everything good?"

Twilight nodded. "It's still her, like you said." But Princess Celestia had admitted she was always hungry, and Luna had corroborated the story beforehoof. Maybe she could do something about that...

 

***-_***_-***-_***_-***-_***_-***

 

 

Celestia

 

Celestia was giddy. After the tug of war of emotions, first with Twilight's horror, then Lulu's reassurances, and then Twilight coming to sit down and talk things over with her, she was positively ecstatic! She felt like a little wisp again. Celestia felt like dancing, like she could create an ice age!

She flopped down onto her bed, giggling madly. Twilight said they were okay. She still wanted to be friends with her! She still trusted her. A hundred thousand nightmares banished in half an hour, and Celestia felt like she was on top of the world.

After a few moments, she got a hold of herself and her achingly empty stomach stopped heaving with near-laughter. Alright. She had things to do. She pulled herself off her bed and over to her desk. She lit up her horn with blue magic - she didn't yet have the control to disguise it as gold - and assembled the materials for a letter. Her good feeling was slowly replaced by jittery nervousness, bubbling around her stomach. She'd never willingly told a pony her secret in her life. Twilight found it out on her own and Luna saw her true form when they met.

But Twilight was right. She owed it to her niece to at least tell her the truth. She started penning the letter.

 

Dearest Cadance,

 

I hope this letter finds you in good health. I'd like you and Shining to come over so I can have a talk with you. No, you're not in trouble, please relax. There's simply a secret about myself that I have recently been persuaded into sharing with you. You and your husband are my family and you deserve to know the truth, whether or not it brings about changes in our relationship. Please respond with a time that you two are able to come visit, or a time I could come to your empire.

Your Aunt,

Celestia

 

She levitated over a stamp and pushed it down, leaving the Seal of the Sun on the letter's bottom. She folded up the letter into a pale-gold envelope, addressed it to Cadance, stamped it again, and then set it on the Outgoing pile of paperwork for the various ponies working under her to sort out. She tensed, and had to fight down the urge to grab the letter and turn it to ash. She had to tell them. As somepony who preached harmony and honesty, she would be a hypocrite not to tell those close to her.

And maybe one day, the entire world.

Maybe not that much.

Celestia took a deep breath. There was still a lot of paperwork to go through; a princess's job was never done. But before that, an idea wiggled into her mind. Perhaps, perhaps something good would come out of it. She prepared another letter, her quill moving rapidly across the surface.

 

Crystalis,

 

It's been a while since we last truly spoke, far too long I fear. I won't ask why you took so long to contact me, and why your contact came in such a form on such a date. But I feel that perhaps we should set a time and a place to meet up, just the two of us. Would five miles north of the Deadened Mountain, seven at night on

 

Celestia checked her calendar.

 

December 22nd be suitable? For all the bad blood our nations have between them, I do miss you. So how about it?

 

Big sis,

Cryoxia.

 

She stamped the letter, sealed it in an envelope addressed to the changeling hive, stamped that as well, and set it on the Outgoing bin along with the letter to Cadance. With that done, Celestia took a moment to take a deep breath. She steadied her nerves, and nodded to herself.

"Alright," she whispered. "Alright. I can do this." She shook off her anxiety and turned to the door. She had a meeting with Blueblood to create.

 
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