As the flames in her bed champers flickered and dances uninterrupted in the starry evening, a weary alicorn princess slowly removed her elegant jewellery and laid them on the pedestal. She sighed feeling a great sense of neglect and hatred being thrown across her being. She couldn’t even hear the gentle crackling of the warm, inviting flames of her fireplace that both illuminated the room providing both a warm and inviting atmosphere for the benevolent ruler of the kingdom of ponies. All the most priceless decorations of her chambers, all he most lavish and cherished possessions from rare artefacts to even gifts from one loving subjects all that she treasured the most, seemed to do nothing to ease the tension of her heart right now. It had only been one week after Tirek was imprisoned again after running rampant across her kingdom. His appetite for consuming the magic of her subjects only heightened his powers making him more and more powerful to the point where not even her most gifted student, whom had already been given her own powers along with her sister and niece, could not stand against him. To make matters even worse, she had trusted the actions of a known trouble making former tyrant to apprehend Tirek to begin with; Discord.
Before the ease of the pain that had unfolded would be settled knowing that despite everything else the resolve came through and all was well again. Twilight Sparkle, her student and the newly recognised Princess of Magic and Friendship, had once again saved the day for all of Equestria and the world. Tirek was back in the underworld of Tautaurs and peace and harmony had been restored. Or so she thought…
“Why did you trust Discord in the first place?! You knew he couldn’t be trusted!”
She could clearly hear the protest of several of her subjects outside her throne room earlier that same day as they learnt the truth of who it was that sent Discord to stop Tirek to begin with.
“My fillies have nightmares non-stop! Every night they cry and can’t sleep because of what happened and neither can I!”
The horror they must have all gone through because of the agony that those two working together must have caused must have left greater repercussions than she could have imagined.
“Celestia, we are getting tired of your mistakes!”
“Say whatever you want to about Twilight and her anxieties, she was still the one at the end of the day who manages to pull through in the end accounting for your actions yet again!”
“What have you done to help us at any point without sending off your student and her friends?!”
“You’ve had so many failures under your reign, it’s both hard and embarrassing to keep them all straight!”
The ranting’s had been going on and on for days afterward all being directed toward her. And worst of all, she could say nothing to defend herself from the hurtful truth. Despite her best efforts, the revelation was true; her reign was just one, long list of mistakes. Her failure to prevent her sister’s change into Nightmare Moon, her failure to secure Discord properly, her inability to realise the dangers during her niece’s wedding, her failure to fend off the vines from the Everfree Forest and now the recent attack that took place throughout Equestria because she had placed too much faith in Discord. Though he at least finally came to understand the importance of friendship, it seemed that others believed that Celestia herself was failing to learn anything herself. It seemed ironic, the mentor to the pony who did so much and saved so many was the one who was learning so much more than she had done, though it was a series mistakes that made her suffer the most from the wrath of her own subjects.
“We want Twilight Sparkle to be our new princess!”
“You’re useless Celestia! Step down at once!”
“You don’t deserve your title! What kind of ruler puts their subjects lives in so much trouble?!”
Her silent sobs against her pillow were interrupted by a gentle knocking at the door. She gently rose her head and levitated a handkerchief to wipe her tears before turning to allow whoever it was to enter. The doors opened gently and there stood three other alicorn princesses; Luna, Cadence and Twilight.
“My little ponies” Celestia attempted to say without choking on her words “What brings you here so late in the evening?”
“We came here to make sure you were feeling alright auntie” Cadence said offering her most sincere smile of support as the door behind the three closed. They gathered around and lay next to the weary eldest alicorn.
“We have heard about the vial slander being said against you, dear sister” Luna said as she moved to nuzzle Celestia lovingly,
“These things being said about you are simply wrong and-”
“They are the truth, aren’t they?” Celestia finishes with her face turning away in disgrace.
“Sister, no. No one could have known that Discord would have-”
“No!” Celestia cut her sister off raising her voice, “You don’t understand! How can you possibly understand what it is that the words my subjects say to me when they are right?!” The room went silent for a moment. No one said anything as the look on Celestia’s face slowly turned from hurtful anger to fresh tears once again. She turned away only to mummer under her breath,
“No matter what decision I have made, no matter how hard I try to put help keep this kingdom protected, it comes back to haunt me in the end. My legacy has been one of a series of failures. So many lives endangered, ruined all because of my mistakes” she slowly gathered herself and walked to her balcony opening the doors and making her way into the evening. The other alicorns soon joined her though they kept silent as the eldest continued expressing her own doubts to then,
“Years ago, I failed to heed the warnings of you my beloved sister” she said as she turned to her left to see the blue alicorn beside her, “and I was left to banish you to the moon for a millennium” she looked up at the now vacant moon. Luna though she held no further grudge against her sister for her actions, still knew that Celestia had a heavy burden on her heart for what she had to do. “And to think, all you wanted was for ponies to notice your beautiful nights while I foolishly ignored your pleas”. While Luna did gain her recognition after her return, it was still a difficult process to reconnect with many of the little ponies who had feared her for so long because of her attempts to conquer the kingdom upon her return. Though she has been able to gather their trust again, many still held resentment for her sister’s actions which necessitated her fate to be imprisoned on the moon.
“And you Cadence” she turned to look at the young pink princess to her left, “How foolish I was to assume that that shape shifting monster was you when your heart is purer than that. How she cruelly used your husband to invade my land and endanger my subjects and for me to fall before them when I fought with every last ounce of strength I had. It was humiliating enough that I had to suffer a defeat before my subjects, but to know how I could have prevented it to begin with, hurts more than anything else. I am such a fool, such a disgrace”. Cadence could still remember the horrors of what her wedding had become with the invasion of the Changelings, how their queen had manipulated everyone to her whim and managed to make them all betray Twilight and take possession of her beloved husband Shining Armour. Her own treatment as she as imprisoned beneath the city within the caverns served as a nightmare for her knowing how badly things could have turned out had it not been for her sister in law, Twilight Sparkle.
“And to you Twilight, my most faithful student” Celestia continued as Twilight came along side Cadence, “You have done so much and learnt to much more than I could have ever imagined. The pride I feel for you from your earliest accomplishments to your latest triumph over Tirek had always left me in confidence that you would always be there for all of Equestria. And how do I repay you for all you have given for this land? By failing you most of all” she said wiping away another tear. “I failed to listen to your warnings about the wedding, I failed to trust you with apprehending Tirek, I failed to help you save Equestria, the Crystal Empire and even being able to set a good example of rule for you. I feel less like a competent teacher and more like the problem that your answers always seem to solve. You were the one who inspired so much, while all I did was just make the problems to begin with or made them worse”.
The three alicorns simply looked on as the eldest looked up slowly at the moonlit night, the ever present rantings and fury of her subject still ringing in her ears as if they were still right in front of her. Her wings drooped down as she felt like the last of her dignity and her restraints give way under an everlasting weight of doubt. She could no longer contain herself as she spoke up again choking on tears between brief pauses of her sentence,
“Every time, every single time I try to do what I believe is right, I am proven wrong! Every time, I am putting lives in danger unnecessarily when there was no need to! I am always making the worst choices, taking the worst chances and in doing so needing everyone else to resolve them… and I try, I truly try to make a difference for the best… but, but…” there was a long silence as the three slowly moved in closer to her; her eyes shut tight as she failed to contain the tears streaming down her face and her hind legs giving way as she rested herself down on the marble balcony. She slowly opened her eyes and looks straight at the moon before continuing softly,
“It all started with this… the moment I sent my sister to the moon, was the moment I was destined to be a failure… and its predictions were true… as are my subjects. I’m a failure…” she said, suddenly her voice gaining more and more volume as she cried out, “I’m a failure, a failure, A FAILURE!!! I’M JUST A COMPLETE FAILURE!!!” she could no longer control herself and broke out into tears as she landed against the floor covering her head beneath her forearms and she cried harder than anyone else could have remembered her doing before. All the years of agony that she had to live with, all the years of regret, the years of guilt and the years of having to let these events toil upon her, finally game out all at once as she broke down and cried like a mother losing her new born child from the cruel hand of fate. The only comfort she had was from three alicorns who were gathered around her holding her and letting all the dread slowly be released one tear at a time. It felt like hours had gone by before Celestia’s tears slowly began to dry away and her cries turned to gentler and gentler sobs. The time was now close to dawn, but that didn’t seem to matter to the three princesses. Twilight levitated a handkerchief to Celestia’s face and wiped away her tears before looking up with, much to Celestia’s surprise, a heartfelt smile; along with Cadence and Luna.
“Sister, I am glad to have finally seen you release your feelings like this. And I know that it will take some time to fully regain the trust of our subjects considering all that has happened, however” Luna said turning her smile to a sorrowful frown as her mood changed to that of seriousness before she continued, “Let me set this straight for you” she ended by sitting at her sister’s left side looking up at the moon also. “A millennium ago, I did indeed envy your praise for the sun and I did allow the jealousy of it to ruin not only myself, but you as well. Your actions in forcing me to be banished was brought upon by what I believed was an act of jealousy, even upon my return I felt like no one would want me to be their princess of the night, nor even a friend” she finished looking away from the moon and back up at her sister. “But while I was at the Nightmare Night celebration in Ponyville, I learned something that I had never before tried in the time before and that was simply to interact with my subjects. Had I only went with you to be involved with the subjects of generations past instead of waiting for them to come to me, instead of demanding their attention from me, then perhaps there would have been no need for me to have turned into that monster and for you to have banished me. I always believed that it was a matter of demanding what I wanted, but you can never demand anything without anyone understanding why it is. You have to earn it before you can share yourself to others first, learn how they can stand on the side of the arguments and how they can help you too” she finished with a smile. It came as quite a surprise to Celestia for her little sister to admit her guilt in such a humble way, from remembering when she was so resentful for her nights being ignored a millennium ago.
“And for your decisions may not have always been for the best auntie” Cadence spoke up resting at her right side smiling sweetly “And it is true that things have been difficult for you to judge as is the case for any ruler to do. However, the mammoth tasks which have been demanded from you were tasks anyone could falter in no matter how old or wise they maybe”.
“But what ruler would-” Celestia tried to speak up, but was interrupted by Cadence putting a hoof gently to her maw as the pink princess continued.
“I know that you failed the day of my wedding to keep me safe, but what would you have told all the nobles? The wedding was to be cancelled? All your efforts, all your donations, all your time and energy will have to be sent back another day? Then another day afterward, or after that making them feel your kingdom is unsafe entirely? How could you have done anything for the Crystal Kingdom empire when you and Luna fought with all your strength but Sombra still had the last say in the matter, what could you have done? Risk damaging the ice to possibly ruin the empire inside and endanger all the lives trapped not knowing if they were also frozen or not? Sending off your student, a powerful magical pony without the Elements of Harmony to keep her or her friends safe from harm to apprehend someone who steals energy? All these factors were difficult decisions to make for anyone; no one could have made any better or worse decisions because there would always be a consequence that follow off making this possibly worse”. Cadence smiled as she nuzzled her dear aunt and finally, the newest and youngest alicorn looked forward sitting in front of Celestia with the warmest of all smiles upon her face.
“Anyone can make mistakes princess, even we can. For all the praise you give to me on my accomplishments, I still made plenty myself. How I wanted to prove to myself that Pinkie Pie’s so called Pinkie Sense was a load of nonsense or how I was freaking out over a deadline report which caused you to come in and undo the mess I made, or how I ended up allowing Discord to trick me into thinking ill of the same friends who taught me better than that about friendship. I failed many times myself like with the wedding rehearsal, though it still hurt about what you all said, I should have gotten proof instead of just mouthing off acting like a filly throwing a tantrum, that could have prevented so much. I should have simply written to you if it was okay to send you a friendship report when I had learned something instead of causing that mess. I should have asked you more questions instead of letting things get more and more out of hoof, but I didn’t. The point is, we all make mistakes, but we all get better with them as a result of it all. You’re not a failure princess and you never were despite what was said. You were a pony like anyone else who as Cadence said have been left in an awkward enough situation and had to deal with an abundance of tough choices as to what to do for the sake of all of Equestria. And for all the mistakes made, at least you tried to resolve them. When Discord tricked me into thinking my friends were not my friends at all, you sent me back all those letters of friendship to remind me. When Chrysalis revealed herself, at least you tried to defend your subjects. When Tirek came about, at least you gave Discord a chance to prove his worth when even I was still unsure as to trust him myself” she ended with her eyes closing and bowing her head respectfully and saying,
“You did do more than you give yourself credit for Celestia”.
“But how?” Celestia said looking directly at her beloved student “What good have I truly done? If anything I feel like the biggest of all my failures is that I had failed you Twilight. You look up to me, you idolise me, respect me… and yet it is your efforts that save Equestria. I feel as if for all my teachings, I have failed to teach you the most important rules of leadership… not to follow my leaderships” she fell silent as her tears began to return, but the handkerchief that was illuminated by Twilight’s magic aura returned to wipe away her soaked face.
“Its simple Princess; very simple” Twilight smiled again her eyes glowing “despite all the misery you had to endure, all the pain you had to work with and all the choices you had to pull yourself through, you kept on going”. These words soon had Celestia slowly lift her head in surprise and confusion at once with this statement as Twilight continued, “You may have failed to save the Crystal Kingdom, but you fought to seal away Sombra so he could be stopped and you gave me the information I needed to help save the empire. You gave me inspiration to study the lessons of friendship to help learn about the magic it holds to save us all on many occasions. You taught me how to have faith in those who would not normally be given any chance to be made and most of all, you handled it for the longest time by yourself”.
“Doing so much yourself, raising the sun and the moon, ruling an entire kingdom alone, ruling over your subjects and keeping them from harm while balancing my teachings and Cadences’ upbringing proving how much you care about us with all your heart, pushing yourself to try and be the best. That’s what I admired about you the most princess. You claim that it was my efforts for saving Equestria? If it wasn’t for you, I would have never been inspired to learn about any of these things to begin with. Anyone can smite an evil foe or slay a monster or even reverse the effects of madness with enough effort, but they are only able to do that with the right teaching and knowledge to accomplish this; those same things that you taught me. You taught me not only how to research things correctly and how to find ways to help Equestria, and not only how to become a better pony to become a princess, but how to become a better pony than I was before when I believed for so long that it was nonsense. And everyone owes you so much princess. Including me” she finished with a long loving hug.
“And me auntie” chimed in the pink alicorn hugging her closely.
“And me as well dear sister” finished the blue alicorn as she held her sister closer still. Celestia had never had her heart filled with so much joy before but she had no words to describe them. Instead she simply unfolded her wings and wrapped them lovingly around her little family; her sister, niece and in heart, her beloved student whom was like a daughter to her. She held them close only smiling as new tears after a moment from all four of them expressed their love and their bond together. Celestia knew that she had made mistakes, but she had also left some good to come from it by teaching more than she herself knew. The belief to inspire and set a better example not through always getting things resolved herself, but getting things resolved altogether. The four eventually left their embrace when the clock on the wall chimed the time of dawn. Celestia knew it was time to begin to raise the sun. It was going to be another day and she knew it would be another day of ridicule and resentment from angry subjects.
“Don’t worry sister, we will be here for you to help get trust restored in them again” Luna said with a smile resting her hoof on her elder sister’s shoulder.
“I know it won’t be easy to make them see what it is we see in you and your judgement, but we will help you get through this and will help them see that you are worthy of your crown and title” smiled Cadence.
“And no one is going to allow them to take that away from you no matter what” Twilight smiled. “Right now though princess, it’s time to announce the start of a brand new day”. Celestia smiled as she held up her head slowly and her horn illuminated the night, bringing forward slowly the glorious sun. Away the night slowly drifted beyond the shadows of the city of Canterlot and the rest of the land of Equestria. The rays beamed brightly as the clear the deep blue sky gradually turned a beautiful sapphire blue announcing a new morning that had arrived. Slowly Twilight stood up to watch the last of the night disappear behind the mountain side as she said,
“Now is the time for a new day for us all princess. A time to begin working a better Equestria we can all make everyone see. A time for-” her speech was cut off by a grown from her stomach announcing that food was needed. Twilight blushed as she giggled nervously and finished up with “Um… first I think it’s time for breakfast”.
The other three giggled too as they headed off for the doorway out to the corridor, though Celestia had stayed behind to put get dressed in her usual attire of gold and gem jewellery. She was stood in the mirror at first looking doubtful as she held her crown in her hooves but was interrupted by a single,
“Sister, we are going to be late! It is pancake Tuesday you know?”
“I will be along in a moment” Celestia called back. She was about to leave her crown behind, knowing the pain she was about to face, but then she remembered all the loving words of support from her little family. She huffed quietly to herself and levitated the crown onto her head with dignity and humbleness. She then stood up and trotted after her fellow alicorns to the dining hall knowing that she would face her subject head on, not in a threatening manner, but one with a firm stance of her rule. Though she has made mistakes, she will work with them all to be corrected no matter what, knowing that with her fellow princesses, the message of harmony throughout Equestria has not gone unhindered in spite of its perils. She knows this because that it’s what her family has taught her most of all; to never give up on anyone.
It was the dawn of a new day in Equestria.
A dawn of change and of optimism.