The Night Will Last Forever
Ch 7 Ghost in a Ghost Town
New Lunar Calendar
-Immediately after the failure of Project: ICARUS-
Celestia had never seen these things on such a scale in thousands of years, she ran into the ruined town of Ponyville, shocked by it's pitiful state. She had no idea Nightmare Moon would cause so much tragedy and destruction.
Another quake shook her out of her reverie, she turned her attention from the charred buildings to the flashing source of the chaotic magic.
Her friend. Floating above a crater that was tearing itself into the ground. A ball of intense magic surrounded the purple unicorn, shooting out lightning and waves of magic through the now empty town.
Celestia ran towards the pulsating magic, desperate to try and reach Twilight to stop the mayhem and save her.
She shielded her eyes from the intense light, edging closer and closer as the magic began to press her back. Soon her eyes adjusted to the brightness and she could see a figure inside the swirling orb of magic.
A unicorn squirming and desperately trying to control herself. Her eyes were shot wide open and light was pouring out of them.
"Twilight!" Celestia cried out over the roaring winds and shaking earth.
Another wave pushed Celestia back another few feet, she grunted and lowered her head to push closer and closer to epicenter of destruction. She strained against the invisible barriers keeping her from her student.
"Hold on, I'm coming! Please...just...hold on!" Celestia yelled to the purple unicorn.
Twilight was still screaming in panic, trying to keep the magic from ripping her apart.
"HELP!" Twilight screamed, "PLEASE! Someone help me!"
Celestia furrowed her brow and pushed harder against the rushing winds that kept her back from Twilight. The closer she got the stronger the winds became; Celestia felt like she would be ripped to bits by the powerful winds, but she kept going.
Every muscle in Celestia's body was straining to keep her upright. She pushed harder and harder towards Twilight.
"P-PRINCESS?! PLEASE! Y-you have to help me!" Twilight yelled, "I can't...STOP IT!"
"I'm coming! Just hold on!" Celestia answered.
Celestia now started to feel bruises on her body where the magic constantly pushed against her. She pushed harder. She was now only a few feet away from the raw power.
"I'm here! I'm right here, don't worry!" Celestia yelled out to Twilight.
"I-I CAN'T...I CAN'T...I...I can't stop....it." Twilight felt an overwhelming presence come over her, one that erased every doubt in her mind, like she had didn't have to worry about anything anymore.
The ferocious magic began to subside, it stopped ripping the ground apart and started to slowly fade.
"Don't worry. I'm here, I'm right here." Celestia said calmly.
Twilight stopped squirming and let her inner peace take control.
Twilight jerked suddenly as she felt a final wave of magic pulse out from inside her, hitting Celestia in the chest and knocking her backwards. The wave passed over the whole town and dissipated. Twilight fell to the ground in a heap.
"Celestia...thank you....I couldn't stop it..." Twilight said through her panting.
Celestia said nothing, trying to recover her breath. She felt like she had just survived a hurricane.
Twilight lay on the ground, barely able to move. Her eyes started to well up against her will, she didn't bother stopping herself.
"What have I done?" Twilight said desperately.
Celestia winced and dragged herself over to Twilight and placed a wing over her body.
"Shhh, it's okay, it's over, it's all over. You're free now."
"Oh Celestia, I'm so sorry, I didn't want any of this. I just got so angry I..." Twilight shut her eyes again, trying to hold back her tears this time. "I just wish I could see your face and hear your voice telling me everything was ok..." Twilight sobbed.
A look of confusion crossed Celestia's face, what was she talking about? She was right here next to her. Celestia brushed a hoof across Twilight's forehead, not a single hair on her head moved.
"Twilight? Twilight talk to me." Celestia shouted and looked down into Twilight's eyes.
Twilight didn't answer, she just kept staring straight ahead into the sky, completely oblivious to Celestia's touch or her words.
Celestia's eyes widened as she realized was wrong. She banged her hooves on Twilight's chest, she didn't react to anything Celestia did. Twilight couldn't hear or feel her at all.
She tried pushing aside a pebble and found she couldn't move it. She was completely unable to interact with anything around her. It must have been that last wave of magic that affected her.
"I'll be fine Princess, don't worry about me, I'll live." Twilight said to the empty air. "But more importantly, I know that I have you right here beside me."
Twilight smiled a little, still staring straight ahead. "I may not be able to see you or hear you, but I know you're here with me, I can feel it. I can feel you here."
Celestia sat in disbelief, she didn't know what to say. She wouldn't be able to wrap her in a tight embrace again, or give her the words of wisdom she needs. But if Twilight could feel her, then she would stay by her side as long as she could. It was the least she could do to comfort her.
It was all she could do.
Twilight's breathing slowly got more and more steady as her body calmed down. Her head slowly fell to the side as she drifted off to sleep.
Celestia looked over at her friend and smiled. If they were going to be with each other, then they would, whether or not they could talk with each other.
"Good night." Celestia kissed Twilight on the forehead, "My faithful student."
Celestia dropped her head back onto the ground and let herself drift off into sleep.
-Three days later-
That was what Twilight felt the most, that was what kept banging inside her heart like a ferocious drum. No matter how she thought about it, the guilt was still there. The guilt of having been unable to stop herself, the guilt of having succumbed to the influence of Nightmare Moon.
Life was very different now, almost surreal. She could barely believe any of this was happening. She couldn't believe she was walking through the streets of a town that was bright and alive just over a week ago.
But now they were all gone because of her. Nightmare Moon had waltzed right in and tore the town apart using her. Everyone else fought as hard as they could, and they might have succeeded if it were not for her being controlled by Nightmare Moon.
Twilight looked up at the grey sky. That eternal grey cloud was still looming over the empty town, not content with it's victory over it. The town had tried to stop it, they tried to fight it, but in the end nothing worked. They lost their lives trying.
The town was empty, the streets were nothing but charred stones and echoes of ghosts. Except for her.
Now what was she supposed to do? Could she somehow make all of this right again? Could she ever be redeemed for her mistakes?
"No, there is no way." Twilight said under her breath. "No way to I can do any more."
Twilight suddenly felt incredibly sad. She felt hopeless and small. There was nothing that could make up for this. Nothing! She was a terrible pony who had done a terrible thing! She was awful and there was nothing she could d-
She stopped and felt a wave of inner peace run over her. It was Celestia, she just knew it. Celestia was there with her right now, putting a wing over her shoulder and telling her that it was alright.
That she forgave her.
Twilight stopped walking down the street and wiped a tear from her eye.
"Thank you Princess." She quietly said. She knew that the Princess would understand her; she always did.
As long as she kept faith that Celestia would always be there to keep her going, she could survive. She would always be there, her guardian angel, watching over her and giving her the strength she needed to even bother living.
But the question remained: what now? She didn't know if she had the strength to make it to another town. Maybe it was for the best if she stayed here, she reasoned to herself.
Celestia sighed as her student stopped in the road and wiped her eye. She could tell the days of loneliness were starting to take it's toll on her. She wished she could bring her to her old room in Canterlot and tuck her into bed.
"It's alright my faithful student. I forgive you. Never forget that." Celestia whispered to her.
Twilight couldn't hear her of course, but it didn't matter. Twilight could feel her heart reaching out to her, Twilight could tell she was with her, and that was enough.
Out of everything that had happened to the Princess: watching Nightmare Moon take over her sister's mind and body, losing her kingdom, and having countless lives lost, this had to be one of the worst things that had happened.
Watching her friend be so low hurt her the most, nothing else hit her quite so personally. Her kingdom was bleeding and crying out for her under the crushing hoof of Nightmare Moon, but Celestia felt she needed to be here, it felt right.
"Just remember you aren't alone anymore, I'll be right here." She said to Twilight. Twilight sniffed a little when she said it, and Celestia swore she could see a faint smile in the corner of her mouth.
But what should she do now? Now that she had lost everything in a single night, what could she do? She was powerless against Nightmare Moon now that had been stripped of most of her own magic.
What was it that had allowed Nightmare Moon to win? When she had banished her sister to the moon with the Elements of Harmony, she had imprisoned her with a power she had no say over. Since Nightmare Moon had taken the Elements of Harmony, she must have found a way to control them by herself.
But what could she do about it? She had to stop Nightmare Moon and take back her sister, she just knew she was in there somewhere. She had even reached out to Celestia one last time by sending her away from the meteors on the moon to save her.
She just knew Luna was somewhere inside that horrible beast of armor, and Celestia could only imagine what terrors that darkness was doing to Luna at this very moment.
Nightmare Moon had to fall, but until Celestia had the strength to do it, she would have to mend the heart at her side. Twilight would be the last goodbye she would ever have to give.
She would make Twilight's last days as good as she was able.
No matter how few they might be.
-One Week Later-
Twilight brushed another pile of soot into an alleyway with a charred broom. She had been making an attempt to clean the streets as best she could, even if she was the only one left to roam them.
Her and the invisible princess.
There was that word again: invisible. Princess Celestia was invisible, Twilight couldn't see her or hear her, and she hadn't even felt the touch of another pony in close to two weeks. She could feel the princess in her heart, but she was starting to wonder if maybe she was just loosing her mind.
She certainly filled all the qualifications for being insane: loneliness, deep heartache, and possibly hallucinations. She could easily be making things up in an attempt to stave off a mental breakdown.
But every time she felt like she was alone, she would feel a small presence pushing into her feelings. She would suddenly feel like she was under the wing of someone who cared about her very much, and she felt less alone.
She was incredibly lucky to have Celestia here, she would have given up days ago if she didn't. If Celestia wasn't here she probably would have just curled up in a ball and waited out the rest of her miserable life.
Yeah, she was lucky, lucky to have somepony nearby, even if she was just making them up.
A mane of light colors blew in the empty wind as Princess Celestia stood in the remains of Ponyville. She brushed some of her hair out of her face and remembered something. Her crown was gone.
The golden crown had been missing ever since she woke up in the plains surrounding Ponyville. She guessed that Nightmare Moon took it, because she still had her golden metal shoes and necklace.
The loss of her crown just made her remaining items all the more precious to her.
Celestia closed her eyes, she had been watching over Twilight as she pushed away another pile of soot. She could see it in Twilight's eyes, she was starting to give up. She was starting to think that it was all over. But every time she did, Celestia always gave her another nudge on the back of her head and saw Twilight smile a little.
But another thing bothered her, something she couldn't do anything about. Twilight had become less and less receptive to her encouragements. She thought that Twilight had begun to think that she really was all alone.
She could try and calm Twilight's mind, but without being able to speak to her she could only hope Twilight believed she was there.
It was all she could do.
A white pony walked through a field of bright green blades of grass.
Her eyes were looking at the brand new world around her, everything was fresh and enticing to her.
Everything had a sense of newness about it, it was all un-tainted by time.
She looked around, taking in all these foreign things coating her vision. In her brand new existence she was eager to explore everything around her. When she woke up under that thing she called a tree everything was new.
She had never seen anything before, she had no idea what to make of herself or anything else. She didn't even think of the mere idea of thinking, she simply took everything as it came.
In her short existence she had already discovered her own life and discovered what it meant to give things names to identify them. Now she was starting to feel something else; she was starting to feel like she was accomplishing something, the sheer idea of doing started to form in her head.
It excited her, she was excited by the idea of doing things because she wanted to, not just because it was instinct.
Her thoughts started to shift as she wandered through the bright colorful world. Thoughts of naming everything she saw and learning about the world filled her head.
Hours turned into days, the white pony still wandered aimlessly through the bright lands, filled with tall mountains, flowing rivers and pure colors. Soon she had grouped together almost all of the objects she saw, giving the groups titles to express certain properties: everything that had petals she would call a flower.
Days turned to weeks, she had wandered all over the lands and continued to find more and more things to explore. She soon gave names to the oceans and the mountains, the valleys and the forests, and she began to remember locations so she could navigate between them.
Weeks turned to years, the mare had named everything she could possibly see, even the air in the sky. She started to see things deeper, see them less as foreign objects and more as tools that could be controlled. She had discovered that they would not react to her no matter what happened to them, they would not harm her if she were to damage them in any way.
She soon learned she could use the objects around her to do as she pleased. She felt like she was in control of the world, nothing could question her authority over the land. This thought gave her another new idea: confidence.
But as she walked among her new kingdom, she began to realize something else as well.
She was lonely.
-One Week Later-
Celestia hung her head, it had been another sleepless night. That made two nights in a row, and she was almost certain tonight would be the same. Twilight was still with her, still staying alive in this graveyard of a town, but she was wearing thin.
It was not her body but her mind that was waning. Celestia could almost feel Twilight withering away as she wandered Ponyville's remains. It must be killing her, seeing all the damage from what she had inadvertently caused.
Celestia had been easing her mind as best she could, but it wasn't enough. Twilight would often go into the back room of the library, the only building left standing, and close the door, staying inside for hours. And Celestia was unable to open the door to enter.
She wondered what Twilight was doing in there, but occasionally she would catch a glimpse of the inside of the room as Twilight entered or left. She saw writing parchment and a red quill laying on the table, with a stack of scrolls next to them.
Almost every day the pile of scrolls grew. Celestia guessed Twilight needed some time to herself, and that room was now her only sanctuary, even from Celestia. She was worried however by the pile of scrolls; what was she writing that she couldn't say to her out loud?
Hard, everything was hard now. Moving was hard, eating was hard, writing was hard. She could feel herself whittling away into nothing with each passing day. She had managed to find a large source of food in a cellar next to the Carrot Farm, which had kept her from starving, but she ate less and less every day.
She felt like their was nothing left to do; there was nothing left to work for, so why bother wasting your time? Why bother wasting your time living if you have nothing to live for?
"No!" She thought to herself. There was something worth living for, she just had to find it. Even if it was just keeping Celestia from being alone, if Celestia was still here in the first place. But maybe she left. Perhaps Celestia had gone off to try and repair her kingdom.
She probably would find somepony who could do some good, somepony who she could guide to rebuild everything. Celestia couldn't be her though, she had only helped bringing all this destruction in the first place. What help could she possibly be?
At least she had the room in the library she could go to, it was the last place she knew where she could be truly alone. Not even the "ghost" of Celestia could follow her in there. That's all she was now, just a ghost. There was no way she was really here, that would be impossible.
Even though Celestia was probably gone for good, she still had one thing to keep her from going completely off the deep end. She would often go into the back room and write letters to the princess, something she was told to do when she got to Ponyville.
And she was going to keep doing it, whether or not it mattered anymore. She had to focus on the only task she could still do, writing letters to the Princess. It had been the sole thing that had kept her mind away from the terrifying thoughts that plagued her mind.
"You are not alone Twilight, I won't let you be alone." Celestia said.
Maybe someday somepony might read them?
"Don't forget life is worth living no matter what."
Maybe even the Princess, that would be nice.
"Would you read my letters Princess?" Twilight asked to the air.
"Yes I would Twilight."
Twilight waited a few seconds and hung her head. "Of course not..."
She sighed and looked over at her letters and a candle she kept lit next to the scrolls. Her eyes focused on the small fire, it's graceful flickering holding her attention, drawing her to it. She stared at the candle, entranced by the flame.
Twilight blinked and started pacing around the library, her mind filled with a new idea.
"She's not going to read these anyways..." She thought to herself.
Twilight walked over to each door and locked them.
Celestia sighed, Twilight couldn't feel her anymore. She hadn't even responded to her no matter how loud she yelled. Maybe Twilight wanted to be alone, maybe she didn't want anypony to see her anymore.
Well even if she wanted to be alone Celestia wouldn't let that happen, she would stick with her whether she knew it or not. She watched Twilight pace back and forth in the library, occasionally glancing to the back room which contained the letters she had written.
Celestia walked out of the library, sensing Twilight wanted some space to herself. She wouldn't be able to comfort her while she was pacing like that anyway, Twilight would just bump her out of the way without realizing it.
She watched Twilight for another hour before Twilight closed the front door to the library. Celestia guessed she was going to sleep for the night.
The sky was always a boggy shade of grey, reducing the entire sky to a lifeless mass. It disgusted Celestia how Nightmare Moon had coated everything in this dull evening, it was a mockery of the perfectly crafted nighttime her sister had always made.
The day cycles remained the same, the sky was lighter in the day and darker at night, but it was all muted and blended together. It was as if day and night meant nothing anymore.
She leaned her forehead on the door to the library. She wanted more then anything to prove that Twilight wasn't alone, that she had someone right there with her. Celestia sighed and removed her golden necklace from around her neck.
She used her magic to place the necklace on the ground against the door. She had worn that necklace for hundreds of years, and now here it was, and maybe it would stay here forever.
A legacy of centuries left on the doorstep of one lonely pony.
Celestia walked across the street to a pile of burnt straw and lay on it. Maybe in the morning Twilight would find her gift.
The white mare stretched out her legs in the perpetual sunlight. The world around her was beautiful, the sun always bright in the sky, the water was always cool and refreshing, and the plants were always in bloom.
As gorgeous as her world was, she still felt like it wasn't enough. It felt empty. Now that she knew just about everything she could know about it, it didn't satisfy her. She wanted something else to explore.
She felt like she wanted something to challenge her, something she didn't know anything about and could explore. She started to long for more, she felt like she needed someone else here that was like her.
If anything else like her even existed.
As the white pony wandered her lands she noticed something odd. Something was changing, everything was growing darker. She looked up into the sun and saw it was lower in the sky than where it had always been.
She looked around, the sky was growing a deep orange and red. The sun started to slowly sink behind the edge of the world. She reached out to the sun and pleaded with it not to go, but it ignored her.
When the sun disappeared beyond the horizon the light began to grow dim. The orange-red sky faded to a dark blue, covering the lands like a blanket. The mare looked around, her sun was gone and the light was slowly going out.
She ran to the foot of a mountain and ran inside of a cave, seeking shelter from the encroaching darkness. The mare huddled into a ball, her bright pink hair curling around her face. After a few minutes she opened her eyes and looked outside of the cave.
Outside was something she couldn't describe.
The bright blue sky was gone, replaced by a dark blue one. All throughout the new sky were dots of shimmering light, each twinkling in the onset of the new darkness.
It was beautiful, the mare couldn't stop staring up into the new sky.
She had never seen anything like it since she first arrived here years ago. It was so foreign and strange, yet the foreignness gave it an entrancing quality about it, it practically called out to her.
She carefully stood up and took a few steps out of the cave. She looked behind her up the side of the mountain and saw something else shimmering in the sky. It was a large bright circle of rock. It was almost like a small sun, although not nearly as bright.
What was all of this? This strange, dark new coat that had enveloped everything. It had it's own lights and even it's own sun. She decided to name the new source of light in the sky.
And the tiny dots glistening around her in the sky as well.
And finally a name for the new darkness itself.
As she stared up into the moon she saw a piece of it shine and begin to move. The small light broke off from the moon and flew away from it. As it moved away from the moon it grew larger and larger.
The mare could see the object glow brightly as it got closer and closer to her. She watched the light, her eyes glued to the falling dot. The light disappeared into a forest and made a loud crash as it hit the ground.
The mare crouched as the ground shook under her hooves. The trees and plants shook from the impact for a few moments.
She waited for any more objects to fall, but all was silent. She stood back up and pondered investigating it. It was something strange in her world, it practically forced her to come towards it.
With a sense of curiosity the mare carefully crept out of the cave and made her way to the site where the light had landed.
-The Next Morning-
Something bothered Celestia as she was sleeping. It was a smell, a certain invasive kind of smell. Celestia coughed as the invasive smell got into her mouth, shaking her awake. It smelled almost like...
"Oh no..." Celestia jumped to her hooves as she saw the library surrounded in a blazing inferno. The entire top of the tree was on fire, burning off leaves and branches.
A column of black smoke rose high into the sky. Bright orange flames arose from all around the library. Celestia ran to the front door and banged on it as hard as she could.
"Twilight!" She yelled out over the blaze. She gave up pushing on the front door and started running around the tree looking for a way inside.
She only saw boarded up windows and burnt bark all over the tree. The fire was slowly reaching the bottom of the trunk, burning everything in it's path. Celestia flew up to every window she saw but she couldn't see through the oppressive flames.
"Twilight are you in there?" She yelled at the library.
"Please answer me!"
Only the sound of burning wood answered her.
She quickly looked around for any signs of hoofprints or another way to tell if Twilight made it out. She found nothing, and even her golden necklace lay in the same place against the door, the flames eager to consume it.
She banged on the door again, yelling for Twilight to answer her. She was powerless to do anything, the flames kept her back like a wall of stone, she couldn't find any way inside.
She ran down the nearby streets and alleys, looking for Twilight. But she only found more soot and ashes of the old buildings.
She shook her head in frustration. She couldn't let Twilight die like this, she had promised to protect her.
Celestia desperately banged on the door until she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She looked over and saw a figure in a brown cloak standing in the street looking up at the fire.
"Hey! Did you see anypony leaving this library? There might still be somepony inside!" She yelled to them.
As she ran towards them she could see their face. They were looking up at the fire with a look of slight disappointment. They were wearing a saddlebag and had a vial filled with liquid on the ground in front of her.
After a moment the figure reached down and put the bottle in their bag then turned to face Celestia. The figure removed her hood to reveal the face of a zebra with glowing yellow eyes.
She looked Celestia right in the face and gave her a sinister smile.