The Growing Years

This story is a sequel to A Different Perspective
Both the House of Path and Herd Path enjoy strong growth in the years following their establishment. Like all such things though, they both have their highlights and lowlights. These are vignettes in the lives of the children of Twilight, Path, Free, & Roseclaw, from foals to young adults.
This is a series of stand-alone stories of events that occur after the events of A Different Perspective, which I strongly recommend that you read first.
My collaborator, AlaskaIsCold, has written some of these and I mostly just edited them.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/296939/the-growing-years

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16. It's About Time!

Weeks passed since the Lunar Festival, and Luna had her work more than cut out for her. Although he was trying with all the determination that earned him his title, Champion was having a hard time adjusting to life in Equestria. For starters he wouldn’t give himself a different name. Champion’s name was not in fact Champion Twenty. That just signified that he was the champion of the trials, and that he had won twenty times in a row. His real name was Nox Terrorem which, while true to his roots, did little to soothe the panic of the Solar Guards. Luna still shuddered every time she recalled the inauspicious moment when he had encountered her sister. Some of the Solar Guards were still recovering. Nox was assigned as Luna’s personal guard along with Leatherwing. The ambiguous title made things worse when a few Solar Guards tried to pull rank on him.

Luna and Celestia happened to be talking during the closing moments of the Night Court, when they saw a flood of Solar Guards move down a hallway, heading toward the barracks and then down a side hallway. There was also a large movement of Lunar Guards heading in the same direction.

“Ever have a feeling that something is happening under your nose?” Celestia commented dryly to her sister.

“It has been a while since the guard rivalries were sparked; maybe Nox lit the fire? 'Tis good to have a healthy rivalry as the need to one-up each other keeps them fit, but if another brawl has broken out...” Luna rolled her eyes slightly and sighed.

Celestia grinned widely. “Well, you’re still on duty at the moment, so you get to take care of it!” Before Luna could protest, Celestia teleported away, most likely to her room.

Luna groaned and teleported herself to the barracks. She had been expecting a minor scuffle, but not the all-out riot that was happening. Thestrals and Solar ponies were involved in a massive brawl, and the stench of alcohol was overwhelming. In the center of the brawl were the two who had apparently started everything – Nox and Leatherwing. Luna groaned; she would have words with them later, but first things first. She took a deep breath and bellowed out in the Royal Canterlot Voice: “CEASE THIS AT ONCE!

Everyone froze in their place and looked at Luna with trepidation.

“Thestrals – all those on duty, go back to your posts. All others, go to your barracks. My sister and I will have stern words with you all in the morning! Anypony still in this room in three seconds will be on latrine cleaning duty for a month. GO!” Her horn lit up threateningly as the Guards of both shifts hastily departed, leaving the recreation area completely abandoned. Luna sighed and started walking back to her quarters, grumbling, “They are the best that Equestria has to offer, but sometimes they act like drunk college foals.”

As she reached her room, she noticed that her crystal transceiver was chirping. She hastened over to it and picked it up. “Hello? Princess Luna speaking.” She couldn’t help but grin when she heard Free Agent on the line.

“Hi, Luna! Are you free for a short talk as well as a request?”

“Night Court has finished, and I have little to do aside from paperwork. I would welcome a respite.”

The griffon chuckled and said, “I doubt this will be a respite, but it won't involve stuffy nobles, I can tell you that much. Twilight is fretting over it, so I told her I would ask you about what's going on.”

Luna blinked a few times and started to worry. “Hast thou a problem?”

“It's Destined, actually. It's nothing bad, or at least we don’t think so. It's not like he's fighting anyone or anything, but you know how he's always liked meditating after you taught him years ago? Well, he's been meditating for about a week straight now. Every now and then his horn lights up, but we don’t know what’s going on. He seems to be really into it.”

She blinked, more startled than worried. “A week continuously? Please tell me that he has taken breaks?”

Free started to chuckle nervously. “If he has, we haven't seen him take them. Twilight and Rose are currently curled around him....”

Luna cut Free off as he was about to continue talking. “This is not good. I thought that I had taught him better than that. It is possible that he has lost himself, or at the very least become so disconnected from his sense of time that he has no idea that he needs to focus back on the real world.”

Free tried to soothe the worrying alicorn. “I don’t think it's nearly so dire. I'm thinking he might have just lost track of time. I was thinking that if he was deep enough in a trance, could you see him in the dreamscape?”

Luna paused to think a moment before responding. “It would depend on the type of meditation he has been doing. The dreamscape is not the same thing, although it is possible that he could have crossed over as his body tired. In any event, 'tis worth a try.”

Free perked up a bit. “Thanks! And also, the students are asking about when you are going to come back. The seniors especially loved your astronomy classes, and the stories about them have spread. There are people asking Path when are you going to be a guest instructor again?”

Luna smiled, flattered by the request. “My duties in Canterlot have eased up once more, so tell Path to send a suggested timetable to me so that I can work it into my schedule. As a member of House Path, I feel it's my obligation to teach more often, and of course it's a good excuse to visit my herd more often.”

Free replied, “I agree. We all miss you, but we know that you have your royal duties.”

Luna mused to herself, “'Tis ironic – I once did wish to be the sole princess of Equestria, but now I find myself wishing more time free of the responsibilities of rule. But enough of my wishful thinking – I would like to attempt to commune with my student.”

Free chuckled. “Okay! I’ll call you later then, Luna?”

Luna smiled. “Agreed. Farewell, Free.” She shut down the comm and headed for her bedroom after instructing the Night Guard that she wished not to be disturbed. After making herself comfortable on her bed, she easily slipped into the dream realm and searched for evidence of Destined's presence. With a sigh of relief, she found it and passed into his dreamscape.

The dreamscape was bland to say the least. The alicorn was just floating in a black void, his horn lighting up occasionally as he concentrated on something. He was currently too focused to notice Luna’s entry into his dreamscape. The closer she got to Destined, the slower her perception and movement became. It was as if the dreamscape had some kind of complexity that had yet to be made known to her.

Luna studied the dreamscape for a while without interruption. It was never wise to barge in on someone without at least a partial understanding of the situation, but this one was defying her analysis. However, it did not seem to be threatening, so she eventually floated up beside Destined and quietly said, “Good evening, student.”

Destined was distracted from his task, and he blinked a few times before looking at Luna with a smile, his horn still brightly lit. “Hi, Auntie! How are you doing today?”

Luna noticed that his eyes were glowing a bright white. Clearly he was channeling something. “I am fine, dear nephew. May I ask thee what thou art doing?”

Instead of answering, he replied, “Can I ask you something?”

Luna smiled encouragingly. “Of course.”

“Time – what do you think of it?”

Luna considered the question. “Thou hast chosen a complex subject to discuss. 'Tis a property of the universe, and is as vast as the sky and as fleeting as a moment. We are bound to it, and yet manipulate it in many ways. So tell me, dear Destined, which of these aspects dost intrigue thee right now?”

Destined smiled as he floated at her side. “Time, space, and how we perceive it. Everyone sees time as a line, only flowing in one direction. But then I was reading Twilight’s old friendship reports and a few things really interested me, especially causality and the illusion of choice. So I started to model it to try to figure out what it might be like. It... it's very hard to explain time travel if time is a linear line, because that means that once Future Twilight went back in time, she destroyed Past Twilight’s free will.”

Luna watched as a single point came into being in the black featureless sky. “One dimension, no length, no height, no width, existing for the smallest determinable length of time – a quantum unit.”

Luna looked toward Destined smiling approvingly, wanting to see how developed his idea was.

“Time has inertia. Attempts to make changes will frequently result in no change in the long run. When Mama Twilight attempted to warn her past self of a future problem, she in fact created that problem. That is the classic self-fulfilling prophesy syndrome, but it's also a graphic example of how temporal inertia works. When Starlight Glimmer made far more substantial changes to the time-stream, the results were far more dangerous, and yet eventually the time-stream was restored to its proper course. Temporal inertia acts in many ways, but does not preclude free will. If Mama Twilight had not chosen to fight Starlight's actions, would time have righted itself? That is a matter for debate, although I suspect that you might have some ideas of your own.”

“Perhaps, but I would not dream of muddying the waters of thy theory. Go on.”

Destined nodded. “I came up with a few ideas to try to explain time travel. That’s why I started to meditate a few hours ago to try to compute it with all of my capacity. Would you like to see my latest model?”

Luna nodded but couldn’t help but chuckle. “I would indeed, but I fear it might take a little longer than thou might think. Thou hast been meditating not for mere hours, but for days! Didst thou not think it strange that I am here conversing with thee? My realm is the world of dreams, not thy mindscape.”

He blinked a few times. “I’ve been in here for days?! I knew it would take time, but that much?!” He sighed a bit. “Mom is going to kill me!” he couldn’t help but groan. “Well, would you like to see anyway before I get grounded?”

Luna snickered and nodded. “The deed is done, so thou might as well show me the fruits of thy labors.”

Destined floated around her a few times as he grinned. “The best I can come up with is this: time is not linear like we all think. Instead it is instance based. In an infinitely small unit of time, all that is, was and ever will be occurred. However, we are just experiencing it slowly due to our limited cognitive ability. To ask when something occurs is meaningless as it is every time and all the time. To ask where is also meaningless because without time to determine distance, all things are both infinitely close and far away.”

That one small floating point started to divide and diverge again, lines connecting to them as a rotating tesseract started to form in front of them.

 

 

Luna thought for a few moments. “Hmm, thou didst mention all that was and all that will be, but what about all that could have been? Remember the alternate realities that Twilight did experience in her struggles with Starlight Glimmer? What of those?”

Destined nodded in acknowledgement and his horn glowed even brighter as he backed up quite a bit from the display. “I actually thought about that. I think that all actions were taken in an instant, creating this!”

The resulting dream construct was truly baffling and the dreamscape struggled for a moment. The infinitely dense, constantly moving... cloud was the best way it could described... took Luna a long while to even determine that it was entirely made up of a series of counter-rotating connected points which were always moving and always changing.

“The dekeract – a ten-dimensional theoretical M-space construct. I don’t even know how the dreamverse can show this.”

Luna winced, realizing that he was in fact borrowing upon her own ability to perceive higher-order magical constructs. “Methinks I know why thou hast lost track of time in the real world. Thou hast not merely envisaged the temporal matrix, but been enmeshed in it. Beware, my student! Even alicorns might get lost amidst its complexity. Thou dost dabble with disaster.” The construct slowly started to rotate, and she could see all of the many inner workings, far more than Destined could ever see.

The alicorn colt continued his explanation. “It is my idea that everything that is, was and ever will be was created in this M-space construct. Twilight wasn’t going through time; she was changing her reference point. That's what teleportation is – changing your relative observation point. Instead of shifting your physical body, you have to let the construct shift around you. I think this is why teleporting takes so much energy and how time travel is out of the reach of almost everyone. They try to push themselves through time, when in reality they just need to change their perception. However, even this is dwarfed by what contains it, and this is the latest step in my progress so far.” His horn started to glow brighter and brighter as the strain started to build.

Luna gasped “Careful, child! What art thou doing?”

Several of those spheres started to form, and then one monstrous form contained them all. By the time the dream construction was finished, something that could never ever exist in normal three dimensional space was created. The dream realm was on the verge of buckling under the mental strain being put upon the mind creating it. The sixteen dimensional construct acted like a cage to hold the many star-like points: a septendecapetadakon. Destined panted heavily as he floated in the void, that strange structure resonating and humming as the infinite number of points moved and merged with one another before splitting off once more. “This... this is the forefront of my meditation. Each star-like point is a universe, and the universes grow, form, fade and are reborn inside the overarching space. Beyond this, I cannot fathom what else there could be. This is as far out as I can go. To ask when or where is meaningless; you are everywhere, and you are everywhen. You both are and are not; any identifying relative observation point is rendered moot. You can’t even say that you ‘are’ because there are an infinite number of points where you are, and when you are not.”

Luna looked at the humming construct, finding beauty in its complexity. “Then thou art saying that our concept of time is merely our path through those everywhens, and the inertia that I mentioned is just the most probable of those paths?”

Destined nodded. “It even gets more confusing because our consciousness is traveling along all paths. That’s why when Twilight and Starlight had their fight, she ran into several different Rainbow Dashes; they represent the different paths she could have taken. So to say that there is Future Rainbow Dash or a Past Rainbow Dash isn’t accurate. Rainbow Dash is at everywhere and everywhen and in every-state, but she can just perceive one possible path. Rainbow Dash just is.”

Luna stared at the projection in front of her. That massive construct was hypnotizing. The more she stared, the more detail she found, and it only urged her to look deeper into it. She realized how deep that one could see was proportional to one’s magical strength. Destined couldn’t perceive many layers, but Luna had yet to reach her limitation.

The entire thing slowly rotated as Destined floated over, looking somewhat tired. “Are you finished yet? You have been studying it for something like an hour,” he said with a smile.

Luna took it all in and stored it in one part of her vast mind to study it in detail later. She arched an eyebrow at him. “Now thou dost know how thou didst end up mired in this for days. I would suggest that if it is thy desire to study this further, thou dost not do so alone. Methinks that thou hast given the scholars much to think about. Right now though, I see that the most likely timeline has very worried parents in it. Unless thou hast something more of urgency to show me, I would suggest that thou withdraw from this dream-state and wake up to the real world.” She took a deep breath. “I had best depart thy dreamscape to ease thy transition. Tell thy parents that I shall come to the House forthwith.”

Destined nodded and smiled as the constructed faded away. He looked a lot less drained once it was gone. “I'll see ya in person soon, Auntie!”

Luna chuckled softly. “Farewell for the moment. I will see thee anon, and perhaps give thee lessons on the prudent amount of time spent in meditation, no matter thy perception of it!”

When Luna exited the dreamscape, the first thing she noticed was Leatherwing screaming mere inches from her face.

“PRINCESS LUNA, WAKE UP! YOU'RE GOING TO BE LATE FOR EVENING COURT!”

Champion was standing by the doorway, watching to see if Leatherwing’s efforts were effective.

Luna just stared at Leatherwing. “What art thou talking about, Leatherwing? Night Court hath ended already this evening.”

Leatherwing blinked in surprise. “You have been asleep since yesterday evening, and all day and into the beginning of the next night. Night Court is due to start in five minutes!”

Luna sat up with eyes wide open in shock. “The moon!” Luna looked out her window and saw that the moon was close to where it was supposed to be, but not exactly.

Champion spoke up. “Celestia came by in the morning to see why you didn’t lower the moon. I said that you were dealing with a complex situation in the dreamverse, so she lowered and raised it for you, but it seems off.”

Luna shook her head. “A mere couple of decades and she gets out of practice!” Her horn glowed and the heavenly body’s course was corrected. She then turned back to Champion. “Prepare the court for my arrival. I will be there momentarily. Leatherwing, we shall depart for the court after I make a quick call to House Path. We will be visiting my herd when the night’s proceedings are done.”

Champion bowed and ran down the hall, accompanied by his retinue of thestrals. Leatherwing started the familiar task of packing some of Luna’s travel things, although she didn’t require much; most of what she needed was already at the House. After all, it was her home away from Canterlot.

Luna called House Path, and as soon as she heard the griffon changeling on the line, she asked, “Free? Is Destined awake and okay?”

Free laughed, and in the background she could hear Twilight and Rose yelling, most likely at Destined. “Yeah, he woke up, and ended up getting scolded not two seconds after he came to.”

“Yes, I have no doubt that he's being chided, but let me just say one thing in Destined’s defense – I was equally deceived by the passage of time in his dreamscape, and I had no idea that I was disassociated from my usual awareness. It's a warning for caution on the subject of his meditation, but he has accomplished much. I will be coming over after Night Court to talk about this more. I must run now. Love thee!”

“We'll be waiting here when you show up. See ya later, Hon!”

Luna shut off the crystal comm and galloped to the throne room to start her Night Court.

# # # # # # # # # # # # # #

Author's Note:

And the moral of the story is that it's okay to be a thinker and a dreamer, but your parents will be ready to scold you when you wake up! 

Art by Kat Miller a.k.a. Foxenawolf . I tried to get her to draw a septendecapetadakon, but for some reason she balked at drawing a sixteen-dimensional construct. 

   
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