Epilogue: Refracted And Reflected
Ponyville sat at the edge of the Everfree Forest: it was scenic and perfect, beautiful mountains in the distance to the north, with calm, smooth slopes… and to the south, a massive, intricately detailed statue of a massive wolf, frozen in mid-pounce, petrified and covered in clinging vines. Water spilled from its jaws, filling the pool it rested in: it served as a strange, natural fountain, and foals liked to tell spooky stories about how Garm came alive during Nightmare Night and gobbled down all the ponies he could find, before the dawn's light froze him solid again along with his three brothers, who stood at other points across Equestria.
Nature was wild, but Ponyville was well-protected: Pegasi maintained the weather when necessary, but otherwise let things go their course. They were blessed with fertile soil and wonderful crops, and it was a friendly, lively, happy town. The ponies were joyful, proud Equestrians, part of a country that was barely aware of their existence. In the distance, there was majestic Canterlot… but most of the city was ruins, although the castle was in a state of repair, and was the ruling seat of the local Baroness. She, along with a series of others, controlled and maintained Equestria and the surrounding lands… but more often than not, the Baroness could be found in Ponyville, what she called her 'true home.' She was in love with the small village… and the fact that she was treated like a normal pony there.
The door in the ancient, enormous tree opened, and Celestia emerged, no crown on her head, golden peytral plate over the winged unicorn's chest inscribed with the symbol of Equestria instead of inset with a gemstone… and she smiled over her shoulder as Twilight Sparkle followed her out with a blush, flapping her black-edged wings, her own dark peytral plate gleaming as a dozen or so books floated behind her as she struggled to organize them into her open saddlebags. "I… I know, I'm trying, I am!"
"Twilight, please." Celestia shook her head with a quiet laugh, saying kindly: "Now you know it's not that big a deal, I just need to go away for a few days to check on the repairs at Charger's Crossing. It's our only link to the northern baronies after all… and besides, Spike will be there for you, won't you Spike?"
"Yes ma'am." Spike poked his head out with a grin, waving at them, then the dragon adolescent blushed a bit as Rarity's hoof gently grabbed his shoulder and pulled him backwards. "I'll. Be right back."
"I'm going to get a squirt bottle!" Twilight shouted at the doorway, but Celestia only laughed and shook her head before she glanced up with a smile as Twilight turned and grumbled under her breath… and then she softened, glancing up at Celestia and asking quietly: "So do you remember…"
But Celestia only shook her head slowly, saying quietly: "I remember I had a sister once. A sister… who was very, very important to you, and to me. It's why I thought we ourselves were siblings… but you're much more like a daughter to me, I know now." She stepped forwards, hugging Twilight for a short, firm moment, and the violet pony blushed but smiled radiantly as she returned the hug. "You should talk more with your friends about it. Please remember to spend some time with them and not just doing errands for me."
"I always do." Twilight glanced over her shoulder, smiling a little as in the distance, she gazed towards the market where Applejack had several carts of apples and other goods set up, Rainbow Dash lounging back and eating their food more than helping sell it, as Apple Bloom giggled and Scootaloo rambled excitedly to her hero as he smiled indulgently down at her. "I'm actually going to go see Zecora shortly, I think."
Celestia nodded, and then the two looked up at a pair of arguing voices to see the Pink Twins approaching, Fluttershy trailing behind them: Pinkamena and Pinkie Pie, the latter with a colorful umbrella hat on her head and the former with several piercings in her ears, glaring from beneath her straight mane as she snapped: "Well then stay the hell out of my way! And… oh look. Princess Sunshine and Sparkles."
Twilight sighed, then she looked towards Fluttershy as the quiet Pegasus slipped forwards with a soft smile, her eyes tender as she leaned forwards and traded a tight hug with the winged unicorn. "What are they arguing about now?"
But Fluttershy only smiled and shrugged, indicating it was the same as always, as Celestia looked curiously down towards Pinkamena. "You still haven't told me why you call me that, Pinkamena. I'm not a Princess."
"Because I've always called you that." Pinkamena said moodily, and then she grumbled when Pinkie Pie wrapped a foreleg around her and threw the other in the air.
"Just like I've always called her Lemon Drop!" she declared… and then she winced and fell over when Pinkamena quickly stepped away, glaring up at her before skittering to her hooves with a wince when Pinkamena attempted to sit on her head. "Well, you kind of are."
"Well you're kind of shut the hell up." Pinkamena retorted, and then she shook her head moodily before seeming to calm a little as she glanced towards Twilight Sparkle curiously. "You going into the Everfree Forest?"
Twilight frowned a bit… and Pinkamena grinned slightly, leaning forwards as she said teasingly: "Don't you remember all the stories I've been telling you, about Nightmare Moon? Keep an eye out, Twilight Sparkle… you never know who you might see. You just gotta keep your eyes open."
Twilight sighed and shook her head slowly, before smiling as the conversation lapsed into other thing and other ponies came to see Celestia off… but an hour later, as she strode quietly through the forest, she frowned a bit as she heard voices on the road ahead.
"Luna, stop being crazy. You're crazy." said a voice she recognized and yet didn't at the same time, like somepony from the distant past… and Twilight frowned a bit as she peered around a corner apprehensively, trying to remain quiet… and she gazed in surprise at the sight of a charcoal earth pony standing at one side of the road: he looked like he might be even larger than Big Mac, scars over his body and features, and standing beside him was a young Pegasus with a metallic-white coat, giggling: a little larger than a filly, with a cutie mark of a red mirror on her flank, her mane and tail and eyes all vibrant scarlet.
And across from them was a tall winged unicorn… and the sight of her made Twilight's breath catch in her throat. Beautiful, with a mane that flowed like starlight, an ivy necklace hanging around her neck from which a black pearl dangled as she stomped her hooves aggressively, glaring at the male as she snapped: "Scrivener Blooms, thou art insufferable. We spent a decade, a decade, fixing the problems presented by Ragnarok, and allowed them to find themselves, without rushing the process, 'lest their minds and emotions be harmed by a sudden influx of memories! We spent a decade gathering souls, and then gave those souls bodies, only able to hope for the best and that they would awaken to new life as if from a long sleep… and then we have had to hide out here in the forest, watching and protecting them as they awoke and slowly adjusted to life for yet two years more, convinced themselves they have always lived like this and we were forgotten! We do not wish to be forgotten, we wish to join them once more… we are happy our friends are alive and well, and will do anything it takes to protect them, but I know that thou wishes as strongly as I do to rejoin our friends… to fill in the gaps in their memories and reunite with them! 'Tis a crazed joke that only Pinkamena and Zecora know of us, and only Pinkamena has ever wanders out to visit us in our little sanctuary!"
"Luna, it's. My problem isn't that you want to go and introduce yourself to everyone in Ponyville, and see if… they're ready for things." Scrivener Blooms said flatly, looking at her mildly. "My problem is that your 'sane and logical' reasoning behind doing this is so you can declare: 'Hey, Twilight Sparkle and Celestia, look at me, I'm super-pregnant!'"
Scrivener sat back a bit, flailing his hooves at the air as Twilight stared in surprise, then couldn't help but giggle… and then Luna glowered at Scrivy and stepped forwards before she slammed a headbutt into his face, knocking him flat on his back with a wheeze, and Twilight covered her mouth to repress her laughter… before her eyes widened as memories, as emotions, as wild thoughts swirled through her head, and she slowly straightened, staring at them and trembling a bit. She couldn't place how… she could barely remember much, apart from a draw she could barely explain towards these ponies, that told her to go out, to speak to them, to see them… but before she could, another figure stepped into the road.
"Would you two please keep it down? You're louder than a drunken circus clown." Zecora said flatly, the zebra glaring from Luna to Scrivener, and the male mumbled a bit as Luna only grumbled and sat back on her haunches with a moody look to the zebra. "And since I have heard the conversation, please allow me to add this observation: I don't know if the ponies are ready yet, to learn of the fate that in the past they met."
"Zecora, I have waited two years. 'Tis two years too long on top of the decade I have already endured…" Luna retorted, and then she stood up and added briskly: "Now, thou may be a prophetess or shaman. Thou may be powerful and wise, and demonstrated thou knew in some way, shape or form what was to befall our beloved world. But I am a pregnant, frustrated Valkyrie. Can thou predict what will happen if I do not get my way shortly?"
Zecora didn't seem to have a response for this, the zebra leaning backwards slightly as Luna leaned forwards… and then Twilight Sparkle strode out from around the corner and into the road, the three ponies and the zebra all looking at her sharply as she stared at them, and then she smiled awkwardly and said quietly: "I don't… remember exactly who you are. But I think… you were very important to me. You all were… and I… I'd really like to know more."
For a few moments, they only studied her… and then the zebra shrugged a bit with a smile, stepping carefully aside as Luna and Scrivener strode forwards, Scarlet Sage blushing as she half-shyly followed and gazed over the violet unicorn slowly as Luna and Scrivy both smiled, then glanced towards one another before they stepped forwards and hugged her fiercely around the neck, Twilight blushing in surprise… but then slowly settling her head forwards with a soft smile as the winged unicorn said softly: "Then come with us, Twilight Sparkle. We have a strange and terrible and wonderful story to tell thee. I shall begin it now, though, and perhaps our names will help… I am Luna Brynhild, and this is my husband, Scrivener Blooms… and our daughter, Scarlet Sage."
And Twilight Sparkle smiled softly as she gazed warmly at the three ponies, blushing a bit… but gladly following into the darkness of the Everfree Forest, somehow feeling more at home now than she had ever been, even in the comforts of Ponyville.
Falling down is the best way to appreciate the value in getting back up.
November 26th, 2011 – January 5th, 2012