"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!"
"Calm down, Fluttershy! Breathe!"
Fluttershy was laying curled on the ground of the Everfree Forest, breathless and groaning in pain. Minor scratches and cuts covered her legs and the side that she had landed on.
Twilight was pacing around her nervously. "Does anything else hurt? Can you stand up? Here, we'll help you. Come on."
Twilight signalled for Rarity and Dash to come over and help her. With the two unicorns' magic and Dash lifting with the help of her wings, Fluttershy unsteadily got to her hooves. Tears were in her eyes and she gritted her teeth against the pain.
Dash winced. "Ohh, that doesn't look good…" she said quietly.
Fluttershy had been galloping at the back of the pack. Her eyes had been darting nervously around at the landscape. As a result, she hadn't been fully paying attention to where she had been running and didn't see the fairly large root sticking up out of the ground.
"Oh no, Fluttershy!" Pinkie exclaimed in despair, "Ohhh, don't worry. It'll be fine. Here, let me give you a hug! Hugs make things better!"
"No!" Dash cried out, blocking Pinkie's advance, "Don't touch her. You might damage it more."
"Is…Is it really bad?" Fluttershy said through painful breaths.
Dash turned back and studied Fluttershy's right wing. It was bent at a sickening angle, the bone completely broken. When Fluttershy had initially tripped on the root, she had extended her wings in surprise, and in the tumble she had landed on one of them and crushed it beneath her weight.
Dash swallowed. She was by no means a medical expert, but she was the only other pony with wings in the group and Fluttershy couldn't move the wing enough to examine it herself.
"We…we need to set it and then wrap it up," she said quietly. Fluttershy winced at the word 'set'. She gulped and shivered, but said nothing.
"Fluttershy…" Twilight said with unease, stepping up to the Pegasus' good side.
Fluttershy shook her head. "Don't talk. Just do it." Her voice was heavy with reluctance, but there was also a sense of determination to get done what had to be done. "It's not going to heal right unless you do it." She paused, lightly shuddering. "So please…do it. Quickly."
Twilight paused to admire her friend's bravery. She didn't have wings of her own, but she had read quite a lot about them and knew that they were delicate and sensitive. In most cases when a pegasus, or even an animal, broke a wing, they would be anesthetised before the wing was set. However, they were too far away from any hospital and within the boundaries of the Everfree Forest. Options were slim.
"Okay," Twilight spoke, "Pinkie, get the gauze tape out from your saddlebag. It's the stuff in the white packaging. Rarity, grab the antiseptic from her other saddlebag. Some of these scrapes look like they need attention. And Fluttershy?"
The pegasus turned to look into the concerned eyes of Twilight.
Fluttershy inhaled deeply upon realizing she had been subconsciously holding her breath. She took a few very deep breaths in an effort to calm herself.
Rarity and Pinkie trotted over to her with the supplies Twilight had requested. "Good," she said to them, "Just hold those for me until we need them."
Twilight then stepped around to the front of Fluttershy, who followed with her gaze. The pegasus was trying and struggling to keep her anxiety from getting a hold of her. Her breathing was quick and mildly panicked.
Twilight eyed Dash and subtly instructed her to approach Fluttershy's damaged wing. "Okay," she said to the yellow pegasus, holding out her hoof, "now just hold my hoof. You can hold it as tightly as you-Ack!"
Twilight's eyes widened in surprise as Fluttershy ignored her hoof and instead leaned forward to hug the unicorn tightly. She buried her muzzle Twilight's mane and neck and gritted her teeth.
Twilight gave Dash a look, who immediately took Fluttershy's broken wing in her hooves. Fluttershy inhaled sharply and stifled an exclamation of pain. She hugged Twilight harder.
"Hold still," Dash said firmly. She then carefully observed Fluttershy's wing to ensure that she did the right thing. "Right…looks easy to set. You ready?"
"Be careful, Dash," Twilight said.
Fluttershy sniffled through the tears that were flowing. "Do it, please."
Dash nodded. Then, she took hold of the part of the wing that was out of place as firmly as she could with her hooves. She had to move it slightly to ensure that the task would go off without error.
"Ah!" Fluttershy cried before groaning into Twilight's mane.
Dash took a deep breath. "Okay, hold still and don't move. Three…two…"
Fluttershy took a deep breath.
The timid pegasus' cry of pain rang out through the night air, spreading through the forest and causing countless birds to fly from the treetops in panic. It was agonizing even to simply hear, especially coming from Fluttershy.
Twilight opened her eyes, having shut them out of squeamishness. She saw Dash sighing with relief. The damaged bone in Fluttershy's wing was now properly back in place. Aside from many missing feathers and a small spattering of blood, the wing looked a lot better.
"Help me wrap it," Dash said, turning to Pinkie Pie, "Wrap the gauze all the way around her body but under her good wing. It needs to be held in place."
Pinkie nodded and stepped forward to assist Dash. Rarity took her cue and also stepped forward to apply the antiseptic to Fluttershy's wounds.
The yellow pegasus was still moaning and crying on Twilight's shoulder. The pain from the setting of the wing had been unbelievably excruciating. Though the soreness in her wing was now ebbing away, the sudden spike she had experienced was fresh in her mind.
"All right Fluttershy. Good job," Twilight said soothingly to the sobbing pegasus, "We'll wrap it up and it'll heal up just fine. You were very brave."
Fluttershy nodded but said nothing. Her tears subsided and eventually she released Twilight from the tight embrace. She sat still on the forest floor, letting her friends mend her injuries and occasionally wincing when they touched a painful spot.
"Th-thank you…" she muttered as Dash finished applying the gauze strips to her.
"Hey, no worries, Fluttershy! We're just glad you're okay!" Dash responded.
"Exactly," Twilight agreed, "We're always here for you, Fluttershy. Don't you ever forget that."
Fluttershy nodded and gave a small smile. "Yes, thank you everypony. Thank you so much."
Finally, Dash, Pinkie and Rarity stepped back, having finished their tasks. Fluttershy's injured wing was wrapped tightly, but not too tightly, to the side of her body in white gauze wrappings. Her other wing rested atop the wrappings freely. A couple of bandages were placed upon some of her more serious cuts.
"How do you feel?" Twilight asked.
Fluttershy moaned lightly. "A little better…The pain is going away."
Twilight let out a huge sigh. "That's a relief. It's a good thing you didn't hurt it any worse."
"Yeah," Dash said, stepping to the front of Fluttershy's view, "If you keep it wrapped up and don't, you know, hurt it, then you should be fine in no time."
Fluttershy nodded. "Thank you so much Rainbow. And you too Twilight. And everypony." She ducked her head down. "Sorry I fell…" she muttered quietly.
"Oh, don't be silly," Twilight said, "It's not your fault. Accidents happen."
Fluttershy sighed and sat down, resting her mind after the stressful experience.
Twilight was rubbing her forehead with her hoof. "Okay…" she muttered, deep in thought, "All right…I think it should be either Rarity or Pinkie Pie." The two mares gave her an inquisitive look while Fluttershy gave a confused one. "Which one of you would be able to take her back home?" she asked the two.
Fluttershy gasped. "What?!" she exclaimed, suddenly standing again, "What do you mean?"
Twilight gave her a compassionate look. "Fluttershy, you're hurt. You've got a broken wing. I can't let you come with us, you might hurt it even more."
"She's right, Fluttershy," Dash said, stepping over, "You have to be careful with a broken wing. You have to rest and let it heal. It's really, really boring, I know, but you have to."
Fluttershy shook her head violently. "No! No, I don't want to leave!" She wore a hurt, pleading expression on her face. "Please, I-I can't leave!"
Twilight was mildly surprised by Fluttershy's adamant behaviour. "Don't worry Fluttershy, it's okay. You don't have to put on a brave face just for us. I could tell that you didn't want to come on this journey anyway."
Fluttershy was still shaking her head.
"You're hurt," Twilight said, stepping forward, "I won't be responsible for putting you in danger like that. We don't know what we're gonna find on this journey. You have to go home and rest."
Fluttershy seemed to be on the verge of tears. "But Twilight," she pleaded, "I…I can't leave you! I can't let you go…without me…and without Pinkie or Rarity too! You can't lose one of them too! I-I mean…"
"My wing already feels a lot better! I-it doesn't hurt any more. I know I can't fly, but I don't usually fly anyway."
"Twilight, if I hurt my wing any more, it'll be my fault, not yours. I promise I'll be careful with it. But I can't quit now! I can't! Please, don't-"
"Fluttershy!!" Twilight exclaimed, cutting off the rambling pegasus, who closed her mouth and listened.
Twilight gave her a concerned look. "Fluttershy, why are you so determined to stay with us? I thought you were scared earlier. I thought you didn't like big adventures."
Fluttershy sat on the ground and gazed downward at her hooves. "I…I just…"
"I mean, you know how bad a broken wing is…probably better than I do. It'll be too dangerous for you."
Fluttershy shook her head again. "I want to help…"
"Fluttershy…What's this about?"
The pegasus sniffled, a few tears forming in her eyes. "Twilight," she said, with a tremble in her voice, "I just have to. If there's a chance…If there's even a small chance…then I have to. I can't leave her behind, even if she might not be there. I just…I just…"
Twilight's gaze softened in realization. "Ohh…" The rest of the group was silent. Twilight thought back to her own reasons for undertaking this journey and even the reasons she began observing all the strange happenings in the first place.
Twilight understood perfectly. She knew that the same motivation was driving her. Even a small, slim chance had been enough to start this whole escapade. Her friends had been so sceptical in the beginning, that she hadn't thought of the same motivation being felt by any of them.
"I know you're right, Twilight," she said sadly, "I know we might not find anything there…and if we do, then she might not be…" A sob escaped her throat and she found herself unable to complete that sentence. "But if she's out there, and she's in trouble…then we have to help her. No matter how small the chances are that she's there."
Twilight nodded slowly in understanding.
"I know what you mean," Pinkie said, stepping forward to give Fluttershy a hug, "I was trying my hardest and I'm still going to try my hardest. Just in case…"
"That's real dedication there, 'Shy," Applejack said, "That's somethin' t'be proud of."
"But darling," Rarity interjected, "you're hurt! It's just not safe for you!"
"I know I'm usually the 'wild and dangerous' one, but Rarity is right," Dash said, "A broken wing is no small matter."
Fluttershy hung her head. The group of seven friends sat in silence for a few minutes, deciding what to do.
"Well…" Twilight spoke slowly. Fluttershy lifted her head to gaze hopefully at the unicorn. "I suppose…it really wouldn't be right to send you home."
Fluttershy's face lit up and she smiled brightly.
"But you're going to have to be careful!" Twilight said, cutting off any response from the pegasus, "You have to stay in the middle of the group. With that wing, you're our weakest link, so we have to keep you safe. And whatever we find at the end, if it turns out to be some big battle or something dangerous, you have to stay back. Promise?"
Fluttershy nodded eagerly. "Oh, thank you Twilight! Thank you so much! I promise I'll be careful! I just couldn't bear to be left behind! I couldn't imagine the thought that because of me not being there, Luna could be…" She trailed off again.
Twilight gave her a quick hug. "Come on then. Let's get out of this forest before something else happens." With that, she began to trot forward again.
"But Twilight!" Dash said, quickly flapping her wings to catch up to the unicorn, "Are you sure about this? She's hurt!"
Applejack approached Twilight's other side, with Spike still riding on her back. "Twi, I dunno abou' this…"
"Girls, I trust Fluttershy," Twilight said firmly, "I know she'll do her best. And she's not stupid. She knows that she has to be careful and to favour her broken wing. We might need all the help we can get, so let's just hurry."
"Twilight?" Spike spoke up, "Do you really think there'll be a big huge battle for us soon?"
"I don't know, Spike. I really don't know. We're heading into the complete unknown right now." Twilight glanced back at Fluttershy, who was galloping behind her and keeping up with her speed. "That's why I'm worried about her…"
Luna heard the prison's door open again.
"High, you left the light on."
"We're trying to kill a demon, not cause global warming. Don't be stupid."
"Sorry! It was a mistake. They happen."
"Shut up, you two."
Her ears perked up. That last voice belonged to somepony new. She didn't recognize it. She stepped forward and tried to get a look at the newcomer, but the chains and the angle of the hallway prevented her from seeing.
The three ponies were standing at the far side near the doorway, not yet making their way down to her cell.
"You leave her in the dark, eh?" the unfamiliar voice was saying, "I like it. Gives her a taste of irony"
"Indeed, sir," Comet replied, "It is completely pitch black down here when the light is off."
"Have you checked the bars recently? This place is quite old, they may have shifted."
"Yes sir. About a week ago, and they're perfectly sturdy. She's tried to get out, but the chains are successfully holding her back."
Luna now heard the clopping of hooves as the three ponies approached her cell. First she saw Comet step into view, followed by High. The two regarded her with their usual mix of smug superiority and disgust. Then the third pony stepped into view.
Luna gasped and fell to her haunches. The pegasus in partial royal guard attire stepped forward to the bars to gaze in at her. She stared in disbelief, her jaw muscles struggling to work.
The pegasus smirked. "Well, we finally got you. I hope you're enjoying your stay." His voice dripped with sarcasm.
"Navy Shield?!" Luna finally managed to blurt out. Her mind was struggling to fit the pieces together. Navy was an extremely high-ranking guard in Canterlot Castle. She had seen and interacted with him countless times. Luna knew him as a hard-working, steadfast pony who was always dedicated to what he did. So what was he doing here? Why was he talking to these two criminals? Was he working with them? Was this his plan?
Navy raised his eyebrows. "Oh, you recognize me? I figured that would've been difficult, what with all of the guards looking the same."
"Of course I recognize you!" Luna shot back, indignant, "You're one of the best guards we have! I've issued you dozens of commands, and we've talked plenty of times too!"
"Well good for you," Navy said snidely.
"I don't understand…I- Why aren't you- These are criminals! They've captured me! Arrest them!" A part of Luna's mind still refused to accept that Navy was actually working with these ponies.
Navy chuckled. "Now why would I arrest these ponies?"
"You…you can't be serious. You're working with these traitors?!"
Navy laughed again, louder this time. "I'm not working for them! I'm their leader! I'm the boss!"
Luna was floored.
"You seem surprised…"
"How could you…How dare you do this to me?" Luna said, shocked, "This isn't like you, Navy! I've always seen you as somepony to respect! Somepony who we could trust. You've always been loyal to Equestria."
"I am loyal to Equestria," Navy snapped back, "but more than that, I am loyal to Her Highness Princess Celestia. Her protection and wellbeing comes before all other matters. I was going to be one of the first to warn her about you, but when some ponies beat me to the punch and I saw how Celestia reacted towards them, I knew I had to be more careful."
"Enough of this madness, Navy!" Luna began to shout, "Let me out of here! I could've expected this from simple fools like the two who stand behind you, but never from you. You're better than this, Navy! I know you!"
"And I know who you really are," Navy cut in. He then chuckled. "You should be saving your energy. It's pointless to keep up that disguise, so you may as well drop it."
"There is no disguise to drop!!"
"Enough lies!" Navy shouted, suddenly extremely angry. Luna recoiled at the fierce expression on his face. "I saw the panic and chaos you caused on the Summer Sun Celebration when you returned. If it weren't for Celestia's star student and her friends, you would still be causing panic. But because of them, you had to disguise yourself. Just sitting and waiting for the chance to strike. Well, I'm not going to give you that chance, do you hear me?!"
"I…" Luna found herself unable to respond. His passion had surprised her.
"You're a monster. You killed Celestia's younger sister. And if we hadn't stopped you, Celestia would've been next. Am I wrong?!"
"Please…you are wrong. What can I do to prove it to you? I'll do anything!"
Navy chuckled sadistically. "Oh? Begging for your life now?"
"Just tell me what I can do."
Navy gave a wicked smile that made Luna cringe. "I think I like this side of you, Nightmare Moon. Weak, humbled…pathetic. It suits you."
Luna felt the tears begin to form, but she did her best to keep them back. "It's…it's really not about me. It's about Tia. If you kill me, then…then she'll be devastated. It's gonna tear her apart." She gazed at the two other unicorns in the room before returning her sad gaze to Navy. "Is that what you want?"
Navy scoffed. "Celestia will be glad we've purged the land of your evil wicked ways."
Luna sighed in exasperation.
"C'mon, boss," Comet said from behind Navy, "Let's go. We've got stuff to do."
"Yes. You're right," Navy responded. He spared a final glance at Luna through the bars of her cell before turning and exiting the cell block. The other two unicorns followed.
"Turn the light off this time, High."
With a click, Luna was once again shrouded in darkness. There was a loud slam as her captors closed the door behind them. Less than a second later, blue flame phased through the wall and formed another scroll.
The early morning hours of Luna's final day passed overhead and Twilight and her friends spent them running and chasing Spike's flame. The sun had risen not long ago and the travellers found themselves on an open field with a path running through it parallel to the Everfree's treeline. The impressive mountain upon which Canterlot was situated stood tall in the distance.
Spike inhaled deeply and then expelled blue flames over yet another scroll, alighting it and sending the flames to fly through the air. Dash took off after them. This activity had become second nature to the two after having done it so many times. In total, they had sent about 15 scrolls with Spike's blue flame.
Twilight watched Dash take off and began to follow her rainbow trail. Fluttershy galloped behind her. For the most part, the injured pegasus had been keeping up with the pace quite well and showed no signs of slowing down. Twilight was still worried, however. In fact, all of her friends were.
They had exited the Everfree only five minutes after Fluttershy's injury. After that, they had crossed a river, with much complaining from Rarity, and passed by a small village in the distance. Nothing else of interest had happened to the group since the accident.
Rarity groaned near the back of the pack. "I hope we find something soon. I'm really getting worn out."
"Twi!" Applejack called, "How much longer we gonna go?"
"Let's send off one more scroll after this one. Then we'll rest."
"I guess that'll do. Y'all right there, Fluttershy?"
The pegasus nodded and said, "Don't worry, I'm fine!"
The group continued running along the path through the grassy field as the sun rose above them. Dash had seen fairly far into the distance where the flame had gone so they were able to run for longer before they needed to send another scroll. Morning arrived, which moved into Noon. It was almost one before they decided to send the next scroll.
"Quick break, everypony. Catch your breath," Twilight said to the group.
Everypony took a seat on the ground and regained their stamina. The exception was Dash, who was flying above them high in the air.
"Dash, what are you doing?" Twilight called up to her.
"There's something in the distance. It's along this path," Dash responded.
"What is it?"
"It looks like a house."
"Amazing," Twilight said without a hint of enthusiasm, "Get down here and give your wings a quick rest."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah…" Dash muttered before lowering herself to the ground.
Fluttershy was panting. "Fluttershy? You okay?" Twilight asked her.
"I'm fine," Fluttershy said, "Really I am. I just need to catch my breath."
"If something's wrong, you tell us to stop, okay?"
"Twilight…please stop worrying. I'm not going to do anything foalish."
Twilight sighed. Five minutes passed before the group decided to have Spike light the next scroll. With a deep breath, he sent the blue flames forward once again with Dash in hot pursuit. As they had done many times before, the other five took off following her rainbow trail.
However, a few minutes later, Dash returned to them. "I lost it," she said quickly, "Send another one."
"Go forward to where you last saw it and then we'll send it," Twilight said, formulating a solution quickly in her mind. There was no point in having Dash follow the flames over the path she had already followed them across. Dash nodded and flew off again.
The group paused momentarily and watched her shrinking figure until she stopped moving. Then Twilight nodded to Spike, who exhaled over another scroll, alighting it in blue flames.
The five then continued their gallop but again Dash returned to them shortly after.
"It's going inside the house I saw!" she exclaimed.
All five immediately perked up their ears, eyes wide.
"You sure?" Twilight asked.
"Yeah! It, like, went right through the wall."
Twilight gave a huge grin. "Excellent! Well, everypony, it looks like we've arrived!"
"Oh, that is superb news!" Rarity said, "I'm ever so glad the journey wasn't any longer than this."
The mares were all smiling and sharing excited glances. Fluttershy seemed to be stuck between anticipation and anxiety.
"All right. Let's get closer so that we can see this house," Twilight announced to the group, "Dash, stay on the ground with us, just in case."
They quickly proceeded along the path through the field. After a short while, they began to see the house in the distance. It was small and quaint; the sort of house built for a single family. It was situated halfway between the path and the edge of the Everfree Forest.
As they got closer, they were able to make out more details. They could see a single, large window at the front of the house next to the front door. Curtains were drawn across it. The house was only one storey tall and contained a simple stone chimney. The roof was a deep chestnut brown and the walls were painted a light grey. There was another window on the side of the house that they were approaching, which was also blocked by curtains.
When the group was about 100 yards away they slowed to a crawl. By outward appearances, it appeared that the house was either unoccupied or contained somepony who did not want to be disturbed. It was an extremely inconspicuous house. The six would've passed by it without a second glance if the flames hadn't led them there.
"So…this is our destination, is it?" Rarity muttered.
"Yeah…" Dash said, stepping up next to Twilight, "What do we do now?"
There was a definite feeling of tension and anxiety within the group as they stood facing the house.
"All right, everypony. We gotta be careful," Twilight said, "Right now, we have no idea what to expect. We can't let them know we're here just yet…"
Twilight glanced at the faces of her six friends. Dash looked like she was ready to go flying in, hooves flailing, without a second thought. Applejack and Pinkie seemed apprehensive but prepared to face whatever or whoever was in the house. Rarity and Spike, for the most part, just seemed relieved that they had reached their destination. Twilight could see signs of anxiety on Spike's face, however.
Twilight finally rested her gaze upon Fluttershy. "All right, Fluttershy. You st-"
"No! Not here!" Fluttershy suddenly interrupted, "I have to at least come to the house!"
"But…" Twilight started to retort, but fell silent when Fluttershy gave her a pleading look. Twilight sighed. "Fine…just stay near everypony. Don't wander off."
Fluttershy nodded her head.
Pinkie gulped nervously. "Wh-what…do you think is in there?"
"Don't get scared Pinkie," Twilight said, "Don't panic. It's probably nothing hostile, but we don't wanna be stupid either. We have to be careful just in case."
"C'mon, already!" Dash said impatiently, "Enough talking. Let's get over there!"
"Um, yes. I agree with Dash," Fluttershy said quietly, "I-um…Sorry if that offends you…"
Twilight turned around and faced the house in the distance. She sighed and said, "All right, let's see just what's going on."
"All right, Navy Shield sir! I will begin preparations."
The two unicorns and the royal pegasus guard had returned to the main living quarters in the house. Navy had paced over to the window on the far side and had drawn the curtains slightly.
"Um…sir?" Comet said, concerned.
Navy was glancing up at the afternoon sky, seeing the sun partially hiding behind clouds.
"Sir, are you okay?"
"Soon…soon the Nightmare will be over…" he muttered quietly, "I'm so sorry that it took so long, Your Highness. Your mistakes cannot and will not be blamed on you. From now on, may Equestria bask in your eternal light."
Comet stood still, unsure of what to say. High had already retreated to a room in the back to retrieve something.
Navy turned to face the unicorn standing behind him. "Your valiant efforts in defeating this monster will not be forgotten. You, High Noon and Ray will go down in Equestria's history books."
Comet smiled. "I do not care about that, sir. It wouldn't matter to me if Equestria completely forgot about me. All I care about is defeating Nightmare Moon and saving our land."
Navy chuckled. "You're a good pony."
"Thank you, sir."
"If only more ponies were like you and I."
The two shared a moment of silence before Navy spoke quietly again, returning his gaze to the window. "I'm sorry she put you through all of this, Celestia. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there those thousand years ago…"
Comet stepped up to the window beside him but didn't say anything.
"Your love for your sister has blinded you to the truth…" He paused. "But I cannot blame you for that. Nopony can. It's not your fault Celestia, so do not be sad."
"Her Highness will be okay once we destroy the Nightmare, won't she? The tome said killing the demon would reveal her true form."
Navy nodded. "I predict that she'll refuse to accept it at first. She will probably be angry at us. But do not criticize her for that." He gave a lengthy pause. "I know what it's like to lose somepony close to you. I know what she was going through then and what she's going through now."
A noise from behind caught their attention. They turned to see High exiting from one of the rooms holding an ancient book aloft with his magic.
"Ah, here is Mister Noon with the tome. Excellent," Navy said. He turned to Comet and flashed him a grin. "The sun will be setting soon, comrades. Let us begin our preparations."
Celestia stood in front of the mirror in her bed chambers. The reflection of an alicorn with a limp, dull and grey mane stared back at her. She let out a heavy sigh. It had been nearly a month and her mane was still the same. It was very distressing.
In general, things had been going relatively well. Celestia had been spending more time with the public and performing her royal duties. She regularly held court, met with dignitaries and delegates from Equestria and beyond, and took time for herself to engage in relaxing activities like roaming the gardens, sipping tea or flying. To any outside observer, it appeared that Celestia was 'back to normal', and she thought so too. The only remaining symptom was her mane.
The unusual and magical behaviour of her mane had never been a topic that was fully understood, not even by her. When she had been growing up, it had simply gotten more colourful and animated as the years went by. She was beginning to think that it was going to stay grey like this forever, perhaps as a symbol of the permanent loss of somepony she had held dear to her heart.
She shook her head and turned away from the mirror. She had to take her mind off of such depressing topics. She needed some form of escape. The Princess glanced around her room, her eyes eventually falling on her writing desk, covered in quills, parchments and a bottle of ink.
A smile graced her lips.
Celestia trotted over to the desk, took a seat before it, and magically gripped one of the quills. She dipped it in ink and began to trace it across the parchment.
My faithful student, Twilight Sparkle…