A/N: What's this? Two new stories in one night? Awww shit, dawg.

All ponies are humans...somewhat. By that I do not mean anthro...but until further notice, envision all ponies as humans...you'll understand more later on in the story.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters associated with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, nor the original story.

Chapter 1: Eclipse

As the moon nestled itself into the welcoming arms of the horizon, its sister, the sun, rose from behind me, bathing the waiting world with morning's first light...effectively chasing away the night.

I let forth a smile of contentment as the breeze caressed my bronze locks, the fabric of my shirt and pants ruffling ever so slightly as well. It was because of mornings like this that I woke every day. It was for days like this that I had waited centuries as my true sight was bestowed upon me for the first time.

It was for a world like this that I lived.

I watched from my solitary balcony as the many people of the city began to wake as well, opening shops, escorting children to school, or, like me, simply enjoying the morning of a new day...a better day.

"Another job well done." I whispered to the air. I then straightened my cloak and the rapier along my waist before making my way back inside to begin my day of work.

My stroll through the hallways that made up my home was slow and quiet, and I allowed myself to run my fingertips along the smooth marble that made up the many walls of the massive structure. It was a wonder that such a thing was built by the hands of men, and even more so that it was done as a gift. It was strange in a sense, but then I did not understand many things about the world. Perhaps with time, I would understand this too.

Time will tell.

"Your highness!" shouted a voice from behind me.

I turned to see a young man in his teens with a penchant for writing and a talent for interrupting times of relaxation for me. All the same, he was simply doing his job, so I did not fault him for it.

I offered a smile to the young man and responded, "Ho there Quickwrite, it is good to see you this lovely morn. What news do you bring?"

The obsidian-haired boy made his way to me before stopping and catching his breath, having obviously been trying to find me for a good while now. After a few deep gasps he responded, "Well first you are due in the throne room, as it appears that-"

"I know, I know." I responded dismissively.

"Right." Quickwrite replied with a nod. "Very well, the next order of business on the agenda is swordplay training at midday with Armsmaster Shining Armor in the Bloodletter's Grotto." At this, he cringed a bit. "By Celestia, they could have named it better than that."

I allowed myself a coy grin as I stated, "It is said that the ground is red not by the rock, but from the countless drops of blood that have been shed there, both by friend and enemy alike."

"Charming." my companion commented with a look of disgust. "Anyhow, it appears that other than a request to attend a knighting ceremony, you are free for the day."

As we continued to pace the halls I turned to my company with a raised eyebrow. "Really? Are you positive there is nothing more?"

"Would you like there to be?" Quickwrite asked with a wry grin.

I rolled my eyes and said, "Not particularly. I just am surprised to have nearly an entire day to myself. Whatever shall I do?"

"So long as you don't meet up with dragonboy..." the young man grumbled from beside me.

I turned to him with a frown and shot back, "This 'dragonboy' is a dear friend of mine, so I would appreciate it if you did not disrespect him."

"Right...apologies milord." he responded meekly. "Just...please try and refrain from destroying everything this time. I thought I was going to be beheaded or something."

"A beheading has not occurred since before the princesses ruled, Quickwrite." I corrected him with a chuckle.

"Fine, banishment then, whatever." he growled.

I just laughed louder as I remarked, "All of this stress will give you an ulcer. Perhaps you should learn to have some fun."

"What I consider fun is being able to sit down with a good book and not have to worry about you breaking anything." he responded with a huff. "Do that for me and I'll be having fun."

The two of us walked for some length of time before arriving at a familiar set of double-doors.

My companion bowed his head slightly before stating, "I shall await you at the knighting ceremony. Good luck."

I offered a smile and a nod to my charge before he retreated, so I nodded to the two armored guards and they opened the doors and escorted me inside.

The room was very familiar, and yet foreign each time I walked the plush line of carpet that spanned the door to the steps leading to two specific thrones. Even as I did so yet again, it still felt new to me, and fresh. An odd sensation to be sure, but not unwelcome. It simply reminded me of my pleasure to be here, and the joy I felt every time my feet fell upon the stone floor.

Most of all, it reminded me of how privileged I was to be here again...as a loved one.

"Nightblade!" shouted a young voice just before I was nearly knocked over by a small body barreling into me.

I caught the force and cradled the small child against my chest with a laugh. "Cassie, it is wonderful to see you again. It feels like many moons since last I have gazed upon you. Have you grown?"

The young bronze-skinned girl nodded furiously. "Mmhmm! Mama said I grew bigger since last month! Soon I'm gonna be as big as you!"

"I believe it, dear sister." I responded with a loving grin. As I continued to make my way to my destination I asked, "Have you done as Ms. Shade asked? Have you done your homework?" The young girl averted her eyes and I sighed. "Well I guess if it is unfinished I cannot take you to the Lunar Tower tonight..."

She gasped as her golden locks fell upon her face. "Oh, I'll do it right now!" The child jumped out of my grasp and ran down the hallway beside me, a guard trying his best to keep up with the youthful female.

"You always did have a way with children, my son." quipped a gentle voice from behind me. "Though I must admit I am pleased that it is with joy this time instead of heart-wrenching fear."

I barked a laugh and nodded as I turned to face the speaker. "Yes indeed. My, how times have changed, yes?"

The target of my weak joke stood, her long multicolored hair wafting in an ethereal breeze that was as eternal as time itself. Her golden-wrapped sandals made no sound as she quickly descended the stairs and embraced me tightly. "I have missed you, Nightblade."

I smirked as I returned the embrace and remarked, "It was for but four months, mother...but I appreciate the sentiment."

The dark-skinned beauty pulled away from me with a playful grin and said, "I miss you every day you are away, dear...whether it be one or one-thousand"

I looked down at the slightly shorter woman and asked, "Is it too much to hope that she missed me as well?"

The sun goddess' smile wavered and she trailed her hands along my sleeves. "Please give her time, my son. This is very complicated and very difficult for her to handle. It has only been a month since this happened. Please understand..."

I gave a smile to the pleading woman and grasped one of her hands in my own. "It is alright, mother. I do understand and I will wait as long as it takes."

The skin of a soft bronze hand caressed my pale cheek as she responded, "I only regret that father could not see you before death took him. You are so much like him."

I sighed and dropped my gaze. "Not enough for some to forget the past, it seems." Beloved mother was opening her mouth to respond, but I shook my head with a smile. "It is fine, really."

The princess of the sun smiled warmly and nodded before stepping away and taking her place upon her large throne. "Well, I assume you know why you are here then, yes?"

"Unfortunately." I quipped with a sigh of resignation.

The solar princess rolled her eyes with a grin. "Come now, you act as if I am sentencing you to death or something. It is your birthday tomorrow!"

"I do not have a birthday." I corrected.

The powerful woman's dark hand found my own as she answered, "You were born the day I discovered you. It was the day that your new life began, which is a birth in itself. It is a special day for me and I wish to celebrate it. Is it not special to you as well my son?"

"Of course it is, mother." I responded with a warm smile. "Forgive my need to be precise."

The glowing monarch shook her head, causing her multicolored wavy hair to ripple softly. "Do not think ill of it. It is that logic that makes you so special to everyone you meet, along with so much more."

No matter how many times it was said, praise from her always made me feel better. It made me feel loved...and important.

If only the truth were similar.

I gazed back at my loving guardian and gave her a warm smile that spoke of love and affection. "Thank you, mother. It always bring joy to my heart to hear such things from you." I then smirked. "So when am I to meet this famous protege of yours? I have befriended her loyal assistant, but have yet to meet the young woman herself."

"It is ironic you should speak of her, as she will be here at the knighting ceremony today." the solar goddess responded happily. "The man to be knighted is none other than Armsmaster Shining Armor, her older brother."

I raised an eyebrow and asked, "Wait, is she named Twilight Sparkle?" A nod was my response. "Wow...I am now so much more eager to meet her now. Shining Armor speaks very highly of his younger sister."

"Cassiopeia speaks of you the same, Nightblade. You are more loved than you believe...a trait you and Twilight Sparkle share in common." the princess responded gently.

I sighed and lowered my gaze to the steps in front of me. "I will allow myself love when I have atoned for my past, mother. Merely having the love of you and dear Cassie is far more than I deserve."

"What would calm the storm in your heart, Nightblade?" she asked with concern.

I leveled my gaze with hers - icy blue eyes staring back at warm magenta - and said, "The acceptance and forgiveness of Princess Luna. Though it may be impossible, it is all that will sate the hunger within my soul...the desire to do what is right."

A knowing smile crossed her face. "It is that desire that will assure your victory in that endeavor, my son." She then inclined her head towards the far door leading to my next destination. "Shining Armor will be waiting for your arrival at midday. Get yourself some breakfast and see to him next." The sun princess looked into my eyes pleadingly. "And please go easy on him this time. I would wish to do without a verbal tongue-lashing from his wife."

I smirked and replied, "I will try, princess."

"Very well...off you go." the warm monarch replied with a smile.

As I took my place at the large banquet table, a young servant was beside me nearly immediately. She smiled warmly and asked, "Is there anything I can get for you today your highness?"

I placed a finger on my chin in thought for a moment before nodding. "I fancy a roasted tomato sandwich on toasted rye with oregano and olive oil, along with a glass of Canterlot Special Reserve 1042, please."

"Very good, your highness. I shall pass it onto the royal cooks and they will have it out to you in just a moment." she responded happily.

I waited until the young woman left before slumping in my chair a bit, letting out a loud sigh of mental exhaustion. It was times like this that I truly loathed...times that allowed my mind to wander of its own accord, mostly down dark paths that lead only to suffering. It was not a second later, however, that I felt another presence approaching, but this one very familiar and friendly.

I smiled as I heard the subtle footsteps of my company approached and greeted, "Good day, Spike."

"Hey, Prince Nightblade. How have you been?" the young drake-blood asked with a grin.

I turned my body to face the young man and responded, "I have been well, my friend. How have you been since last we met?"

"Twilight's been working me pretty hard, but it's all good." was my response.

I smiled and added, "I am to meet her today...or so I have been told."

"Yeah," he started with an excited smile, "she's going to be there with her brother when he gets knighted. Finally you get to meet her!"

I chuckled a bit and closed my eyes. "If she is a friend to you, then I am most excited to do so. I have heard great things about the young mage."

"It's worth the wait Prince Nightblade, I promise." my companion said with a grin.

I noticed a cook approaching from the culinary hall and nodded towards him. "Have you eaten yet Spike?"

The young drake-blood nodded with a fanged grin. "I have. Twi and I had some breakfast at Sugarcube Corner with our friends before we came here." His emerald green reptilian eyes then eyed me curiously. "Are you really excited to see her or are you just saying that?"

I shook my head with a smile as the plate of hot food was set down before me. "I am being completely truthful, Spike. I have heard much of her and I am most interested in making her acquaintance."

"Cool." he responded with a simple smile. "I'll be sure and tell her that she'll get to meet my friend at the ceremony then, okay?"

I nodded as I levitated a fork and knife to the plate and began cutting. "Of course, my friend. I am looking forward to it." I then lowered my voice and questioned, "You have not told any of my true identity, have you?"

"Of course not." the green-haired boy assured. "Who you are is your own business, and when you're ready to tell everyone, then I'll stand by you."

I looked to the confident young man and nodded with a smile. "And I thank you for that, my friend."

"Well, I'll be heading out then. No doubt Twilight's going to want my help to make sure everything's on the up and up before the ceremony starts." he replied with a groan. "Will you be good without me or do you need anything?"

I chewed and swallowed a bite of the perfectly-seasoned meal and shook my head. "Not at all. I am capable of handling things, Spike. I appreciate your readiness to assist me though."

The young man nodded once more before standing up and jogging out of the banquet hall, leaving me to finish my meal alone.

The noonday sun was shining on my pale skin as I made my way to Bloodletter's Grotto, confident that this activity would allow me to expend my excess energy and clear my mind at the same time. It was a simple practice that came as natural to me as magic or even breathing, but it still offered enjoyment.

As I entered the manmade cave, I let my eyes wander over all of the others gathered there. Some were not much older than Spike, while others had clearly seen battle on more than one occasion. It was a sad truth of the era our world was in, but one that warriors relished all the same.

The age of peace was at an end...now, was the age of war.

By what mother had explained to me, it was not always so. In fact, the last enemy before now to rise against the kingdom of Equestria was...well, me. A tad depressing when I thought about it, but a truth I had come to terms with in order to cleanse my soul. Even King Sombra's return had not caused as much upheaval as I had, but it was a past that I was bent on atoning for now.

It was why I felt so indebted to her...to Luna.

"Defend yourself!" shouted a gruff voice from in front of me, and I had just enough time to draw my sword before a large battleaxe nearly crashed down on my head. I flourished my rapier and deflected the powerful blow to land on the stone beside me, and was met with the smiling face of the armsmaster. "Well done, Nightblade." He then turned to the others gathered and added, "You see? A true warrior is ready at all times, even when deep in thought." The blue-haired man then turned to me with a smile. "If only I had another twenty men like you..."

I chuckled. "If there were any more similar to me, you would be out of a job, Shining Armor." I then reached forward and grasped his wrist firmly, as he did the same. "It is good to see you, armsmaster. I trust the past few months has treated you well?"

He grinned. "It has. I got married, fell under a changeling's mind control spell, and defended all of Equestria from a changeling invasion...not to mention I helped Cadence repel the return of King Sombra."

I raised an eyebrow and asked, "Changeling invasion? Of what do you speak?"

The battle-hardened man grinned and asked, "Has Princess Celestia not told you of the changeling invasion?" I shook my head with confusion. "Well, it was all planned around my wedding to Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. The changeling queen herself imprisoned and impersonated my bride to be, feeding off of the love I held for her and thus, becoming stronger. Eventually she had the power to attack Sun Princess Celestia head-on and win."

"Mother has not told me of any of this." I mumbled with growing concern.

Shining Armor smiled. "Possibly because she didn't want you to worry. Well, it's no big deal really. Twilight found my fiancé and freed her, which broke the spell over me and allowed my magic to come unhinged. Princess Cadence then offered her own energy to me, which allowed me to recast the barrier spell and banish the changeling threat from Equestria." He then lowered his eyes to the ground. "Many were lost that day, though."

I patted the commander's shoulder with a smile. "You did what you could, Shining Armor. If the changeling queen's magic was so strong to possess you, there was naught anyone could do. If not for you and your sibling's quick actions, all of Equestria would have fallen that day."

"Thank you Nightblade." he responded with a smile. The tall man smiled and gestured to the crowd that had gathered. "So what do you think?"

I rubbed my chin and replied, "I think four will be fair for today."

Shining Armor nodded and pointed to four tall recruits in front. "You four, front and center! Grab a weapon and prepare for battle!"

A young brown-eyed female of the four chosen asked, "You want all four of us to fight against the prince? Are you sure that's smart?"

I watched as the armsmaster thought for a second before nodding. "You're right." He then pointed to a tall burly man with eyes of solid black. "You there, get in there as well."

Without hesitation the giant of a man nodded and strode over to the weapon rack, grabbing a sword that was nearly as large as I was.

"Alright Nightblade, are you ready?" the armsmaster asked, and I nodded. "Combatants, are you ready?" The five gathered around me nodded. "Very well, begin!"

At that statement, all five fighters rushed me at once with weapons raised high with intent to kill.

"By Celestia Nightblade, it seems you get stronger every time I see you. Tell me what you eat so I can feed it to my men." Shining Armor quipped as he tended to a large gash on my forehead.

I shrugged with a smile. "Same sustenance that you consume, armsmaster. I simply have had a much longer life with which to perfect my skills."

"Right." the two-tone blue-haired man said with a grin. "I forget about that from time to time. I have to remind myself that you're unique in that respect."

I chuckled and said, "Unique is as good a word as any. Though I would-OW!"

I turned my eyes to the man tending to me and he smiled sheepishly. "Sorry...still getting used to healing spells."

I sighed and closed my eyes. "It is all as well, armsmaster. I thank you for your assistance."

Shining Armor looked me over once more before wiping away the blood from my forehead with a dry rag. "Okay, looks like you're all set." He then narrowed his eyes at me. "You better be there tonight, Nightblade. If I go up before the princesses to be knighted and you're not there, I'm going to come after you with a vengeance."

I raised my eyebrow at the soldier with a smile. "You may be the only one who could possibly make that sound like a threat to me, Shining Armor. Well, worry not...I shall be there."

The tall man patted my shoulder with a smile. "Good. Now go and get cleaned up and dressed. The princess will have a fit if you show up in those tattered clothes."

I looked down at my noble suit to see that it was indeed nearly cut to ribbons. I smiled sheepishly and responded, "Yes, perhaps a change of clothes would be wise. Very well Shining Armor, I shall see you at your ceremony." I then turned on my heel and strode towards the palace.

After washing up, I opted for a flashy pants suit that I only wore for special occasions. It was a pale icy blue to match my eyes, with black diamond buttons. The outer seam of the slacks were embroidered sapphire thread (to offer magical support), and the collar of the jacket rose low over my neck. Lastly (and my most favorite part of the suit) was the starfire silk cloak meant to go with it, that while a darker blue than the rest of the suit, it shimmered in light with the colors of the rainbow.

After getting dressed and fixing my hair into the wild style I commonly wore, I fixed my rapier at my hip and set about making my way to the throne room.

As I entered the space where the ceremony was to be held, I took a quick look over the many people who had gathered there. It was odd to see so many in one place, and even stranger that I was to be among them now.

"Nightblade!" shouted a familiar young girl's voice. I turned towards the source to see young sister Cassiopeia walking towards me in the most lovely dress I had ever beheld her wearing.

I smiled at the young girl and said, "You look wonderful, Cassie."

She giggled and took my hand in hers. "Thanks! You look nice too, big brother!"

I gently squeezed my sister's hand lovingly and responded, "Thank you, Cassie. Let us see to mother."

The two of us approached the crowded throne and made our way to the top, much to the chagrin of the many people gathered in an attempt to win the princess' favors. I ignored the scowls and strode up the steps to our beloved princess with a smile.

When the sun princess noticed us, she smiled warmly. "Good evening Nightblade," she then looked down at the young girl by my side, "and good evening, Cassiopeia. I trust the two of you are behaving yourselves so far?" The two of us nodded and this earned us another smile. "Good." She then looked back to Cassie. "Dear, could you please go play with Philomena for a moment? I would have a word in private with Nightblade."

"Okay mommy!" my younger sibling exclaimed before bounding away to chase the mythical phoenix.

Mother then stood and announced, "Please excuse me for a moment. I will return momentarily." She then nodded to me and I followed her off to a room behind the throne.

When the two of us arrived to the private room, the solar goddess levitated a glass container to her hands and opened it, smelling the brown liquid inside before pouring some into two drinking glasses.

I took the glass in my hand and watched as mother sipped the liquid, so I did the same...and immediately regretted it.

As I coughed and sputtered, her soft hand patted my back as she remarked, "It's meant to be sipped, not gulped. Take your time, son." She took another sip of her drink before releasing me. "Now...we need to talk about tonight."

I cleared my throat and slowly sipped the sharp liquor before asking, "What must we discuss, mother?"

"Well," she started, sporting a warm grin, "I would present you to my...our people tonight...as my son."

My heart quickened and my mind raced at this declaration. "R-really? I mean, are you sure that is a good idea?"

"I am." she responded calmly. "It has been far too long already, keeping you a secret from everyone."

I nodded slowly before asking, "Am to be introduced as Nightblade or...?"

"I do not think they would be ready for that just yet." she answered solemnly. "For the people to accept your true self, you would need the backing of both ruling monarchs of Equestria...and as you know, Luna is not quite ready yet."

I sighed in defeat. "I understand mother."

The solar princess moved closer to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. "My son, I am sorry...but unfortunately my sister's emotions are one of the few things not under my control."

"At least one of you is proud of me. That is more than I can ask for already, I suppose." I voiced to the air.

"I have been proud of you since the day I truly knew you, dear." the comforting woman said from beside me. "And Luna shall be as well, with time."

I nodded slowly with a smile. "I suppose I can live with that for now."

"Good." she responded with a loving smile. "Now then, let us return to the waiting masses. I would have you stand with Cassie until the ceremony is over, and then I shall announce your importance to the gathered crowd."

"One question, mother." I pleaded, to which she nodded. "Everyone was aware of the birth of Cassie, and so she is no surprise...but how are you to explain a grown man as your son?"

The sun goddess reached up and touched her index finger to my nose playfully. "You let me worry about that, Nightblade. You simply focus on being the kind and respectful man that you are, and all will be fine."

"I shall try." I returned with a playful grin of my own.

The both of us finished off our drinks before readying ourselves to reenter the throne room. Before we could do so, my elegant partner stated, "Remember, wait for me to call you. Until then, keep Cassie safe and occupied."

"Understood." I responded quickly.

As the two of us made our way back to the large throne room, I calmly took my place amongst the crowd next to Cassie, who was busy conversing with none other than Spike. The three of us made "small talk" while we awaited the beginning of the ceremony, mostly about Spike and his draconic abilities. True dragons were rare on the planet, but drake-bloods like Spike were even rarer. In fact, he was the only known living hybrid in almost two-thousand years...which made him the most exciting subject in the world to a certain young girl.

After a few minutes of aimless questioning between Cassie and Spike, both princesses took the thrones and Celestia cleared her throat in preparation to speak. "Citizens of Equestria, we must thank you for gathering on a most momentous occasion." She then gestured to the younger sister that sat beside her. "Luna and I wish to commemorate this as a day when the noble actions of Armsmaster Shining Armor saved Canterlot and likely all of Equestria from the might of the changeling swarm. Captain, if you will."

At this request the burly man stepped forward to the two princesses with a stoic expression. He was dressed in full Celestial Guard armor, along with the finest sword that Steelhead, the palace blacksmith, had made in ages.

As Shining Armor arrived at the foot of the steps leading to the princesses, the two monarchs descended as he kneeled, and arrived to stand just in front of him with swords of their own ‒one of gleaming platinum, and one of the darkest voidsteel.

"Captain Shining Armor," Princess Luna spoke loudly, "you have saved us all with your courage and dedication. Even in the face of insurmountable odds, your unshakable will to protect and even your love for the crowned Princess Mi Amore Cadenza allowed you to cast out the evil that had befallen our beloved home." The normally stoic princess of the night nearly lost her mask of indifference as she gently added, "We...I am eternally in your debt."

I thought that the amount of emotion in her voice was odd...perhaps I would ask mother about it later.

Luckily, before the illusion of stoicism was lost on Luna, the solar princess stepped forth to stand beside her younger sister. "That was beautiful, Luna. Thank you." The taller royal sibling then looked to the kneeling man with a smile. "Captain, I could not have said it better myself. Your heroic deeds that day saved our home...and our subjects. You have my eternal gratitude for going above and beyond the call of duty that day."

Both princesses then coated their swords in magic, one aura of gold, and the other of a vivid blue. As I watched, both blades then became part of a swords dance between the two monarchs. Their metallic waltz symbolized exactly what Equestria was as a kingdom – beautiful, graceful, and deadly.

The dance between the two princesses ended with a clang of steel and a wave of power as both blades clashed with each other. I watched as the eyes of both goddesses became an opaque white with power, and they spoke as one.

"Captain Shining Armor, your heart is pure and your diligence true to Equestria and her people. Forevermore you are a Celestial Knight, the ever-watchful eye of the kingdom. You are the blessed shield that protects her."

Both swords were then leveled at the kneeling man and the auras commingled as they wisped towards the armsmaster. The powerful magical energies swirled around his body for a moment before coming to rest on his forearms. Where once there was bare skin, his forearms now bore ancient Equestrian word...from the time when the people of Equestria were permanently equines. It was a language only known and kept alive by the royal family, and for good reason, for within the words was the power of the heavens themselves.

For a brief moment the words flashed, but then they dimmed to become permanent markings upon the armsmaster's wrists ‒ one of orange, and the other obsidian.

With the ceremony completed, both princesses touched their swords to the kneeling man's shoulders as they spoke as one, "Arise, Celestial Knight Shining Armor." He did as requested, and the two princesses again spoke in one voice. "Do you swear to uphold the laws of Equestria, to protect her with your very life?"

"I do, my princesses." he responded with a smile.

Both of the princess' eyes stopped glowing, and Princess Celestia smiled warmly. "Henceforth you are counted among the legendary Celestial Knights, and with that title, you carry their hopes and will for a better Equestria. Congratulations Captain Shining Armor."

"There is no greater honor, princesses." the cerulean-haired man responded with the utmost respect. At this point, the silent crowd erupted with thunderous applause, causing Shining Armor to beam with happiness and pride.

The solar princess then smiled and nodded as he walked away, but then leveled her gaze with the many people gathered. "Thank you all for coming to this momentous occasion, as the knighting of Shining Armor is not the only announcement I have for my subjects today." She quickly glanced at me and said, "All of you know of my beloved daughter Cassiopeia...but I in fact have another child as well." A collection of gasps were heard and the lunar princess eyed her elder sister with confusion and a little fear. Celestia was steadfast and continued on with, "Yes...I have another child...a son." She then looked directly at me and motioned me forward. "Approach, my son."

Where once I was easily able to blend into the crowd, all eyes were now on me...including the very shocked and frightened gaze of the younger celestial sibling. It was nerve-wracking, and I had to force myself to continue my stride towards the thrones. It was easily the second most uncomfortable experience of my life so far, but I persevered and soon was standing beside the two princesses ‒ one with a genuine smile, the other with a confused grin.

The solar princess then looked over the crowd with a confident smile as she stated, "I present to you my adopted son, Prince Nightblade."

"Adopted from where?" I heard someone shout out, though I knew not who.

Mother simply smiled and said, "Where does not matter. Does where we come from decide who we are? No, it does not...neither does the circumstances of our birth. Who we are is who we choose to be...and he has shown that he is deserving of love and respect."

For a moment it looked as if a full-scale riot were about to begin...until I heard someone say, "Your princesses approve of this man...is that not enough?"

I looked to see Luna staring out over the crowd after this utterance when she added, "Thousands of years of trust you have offered Our sister, and yet you cannot trust her decision to love a man as her own child?"

Suddenly all the people gathered looked very ashamed, and began to avert their collective gaze.

The sun goddess noticed this and smiled. "Be not ashamed or afraid, my subjects. Know only that I love him as I do my dear Cassiopeia, and I ask that you please respect him as such." Celestia then sat on her throne as the smile refused to leave her face. "That is all for this evening everyone. Please be safe on your journeys home and thank you for coming. You are all dismissed."

As the many people gathered began to clear the room, I looked to Luna and asked, "Why?"

The lunar goddess looked to me with a sigh. "We cannot say We trust you yet...but We trust Our sister. Do not delve too deep into the meaning of my actions." With that said, the dark-haired woman stood and left the throne room, leaving me very confused.

"Nightblade," I heard a voice beckon from behind me, and I turned to see mother standing with a young woman by her side, "I would like you to meet my personal protégé, Magister Twilight Sparkle."

I let my eyes take in the woman's physical form. She was shorter than I by nearly an entire head, and her hair was solid black, save for a pink and violet stripe that ran through it. She radiated raw power the likes of which I had only ever felt once before...

'Wait a minute...'

With a gasp, the realization struck me. I could only stutter out, "T-the Element of M-Magic?"

I felt my knees collapse, and the entire world went black.