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Chapter 15 -10th. Day of the Third Month, Year 11 AE.

It has been a long time, O diary, since I have had so glorious a day.

I am like a pressed flower that has by some magic regained the vibrancy and fragrance of a bloom in the field upon being removed from betwixt the pages of the book that had been used to flatten it.

Morning arrived on dainty hooves and fluttering wings of snowy white, as darling Crimson and I found ourselves pounced and then pranced upon by my dearest Dawn Heart, to a merry refrain of "Wadybugs Awake!" and glad exhortations to "Wake up, Cwovuh! Wake up, Cwimson!"

Defending the sovereign territory of our bed from this winsome invader, I let out a battle cry like a diving pegasus warrior and with a mighty heave overturned the dear filly onto her back. Striking like a quaray eel, I threw off my covers and went in for the tickle, blowing a veritable bushel of raspberries into her tummy to much squealing and flailing of legs and wings. [1]

While the routed besieger of Castle Clover gasped and giggled in my grasp, I looked up to see Cookie standing in the doorway to our bedroom with a wry smile on her face. With a chuckle she said it was high time that Crimson and I had our turn being awakened in this fashion.

With the probing mien of a magistrate questioning a scofflaw brought before the bench I asked my dear friend if she had put Dawn up to this, calling for order in the court with another raspberry to the belly.  She merely laughed and beckoned me to come to the kitchen to help prepare breakfast.

I gave Dawn an earnest hug and bade her follow her co-conspirator to the kitchen while I performed my morning ablutions, telling the dear poppet I would be joining them shortly.

Arising, I gave my darling Crimson a peck on the cheek as he settled his head back upon the pillow for a few more leisurely moments abed, and then tarried a bit longer as he drew me into a less perfunctory kiss. Indeed, O diary, it had been far, far too long since I had had the time to be so wifely with my beloved. Far too long.

I threw open the shutters and gazed out the windows of our bedroom as I washed my face. Through the diamond shapes formed by the glazing I marked the long sought and finally realized blue diamond as it flickered dimly against the grey-white of a late winter sky. It seemed pale and ephemeral in the daylight, faded to near invisibility against a firmament lit by the stronger light of the sun.

Its true glory would always be at night, thought I, as I pondered it on this first day of its existence, but t'was meet, as the darkness by its very nature has more need for illumination. Those fearsome foes of pony kind who move against us in the shadows would see it and know we fear no longer.

Dawn once more intruded upon my woolgathering, having been sent by Cookie to hurry me along to the kitchen. I took the occasion to point out to her our newly wrought beacon in the sky above. Her rosy eyes lit up, as she stared up at it with a gasp of awe, her hooves upon the window sill.

Then she turned and hugged me. "I love her!" she said, before bounding from the room with a flutter of wings and rustle of little hooves on the dry reeds laying upon the floor. [2]

By the introspective light of a candle as I pen this days testament I must take a pause at this, O diary.

"I love her?"

"Her?"

Were I a simpleton I would pass that off as merely a giddy filly's careless misspeaking. Alas, the bliss of ignorance has always eluded me, and I do not rest easily in its comforting shadows.

Is this the inevitable result of this spell? Have we called forth a sister for our miracle child, who will alight among us in a decade's time? Or sooner? Or longer? There is much as yet unknown, that only time will tell in its fullness.

Welladay. Perhaps next time her excellency the Chancellor will be more easily dissuaded from demanding I hang a great purple horseshoe or something up among the lights of the heavens. Methinks I shan't press this issue for now with our nation's illustrious leaders. I shall take council with Cookie and Pansy, and otherwise we shall just have to wait and see.

Unconcerned by these possible omens from the mouths of babes, I hied myself to the kitchen and was soon swept up in the hustle and bustle of the household that I heretofore had been shut away from among my charts, tomes, and crystals.

I am an indifferent cook, having developed just enough skill to not starve or poison myself during my student years, but I had a marvelous time lending a hoof under Cookie's culinary command. Soon we all sat down to a hearty meal of wonderfully fluffy scrambled eggs, thick slices of rye toast spread with sweet honey-butter, and creamy porridge topped with more butter, spiced with nutmeg, and mixed in with raisins, crushed walnuts, and precious slices from our dwindling supply of the autumn's delectable harvest of apples.

While our breakfast was indeed celebratory, I also make note of it as the first time since breaking our all day fast on Hearth's Warming that I truly enjoyed a meal. Too often I had merely shoveled down a cold plateful of whatever Crimson or Cookie brought me in my cloistered study as I sat miserably poring thru my grimoires or rendering a parchment into a tangled, inky bird's nest of charts, glyphs, and equations.  

Excused from cleanup duty ("For today." said Cookie with a gimlet eye and a half smile), I went outside with the foals to play in the snow that had freshly fallen in the night sometime after we had all finally gone to bed. I don't think I have ever had so marvelous a time since I was a tiny filly in the snow covered courtyard of my family's house in the old lands. It was many years, O diary, before those of us who lived through the terrible, endless winter before the founding of our fair land could take any pleasure from the sight of snow falling.

We rolled up a snowpony of prodigious size with the help of Dawn's burgeoning magic. It truly was a sight to see when Powdermilk came outside to check on us. Oh how we laughed when we saw him gazing stolidly up at our hoofwork, looking like a miniature copy of it. Methinks I saw a smile and heard a chuckle from him as he escorted us back inside for mulled cider and a bite to eat for midday.

Pansy returned in time to join us, having gotten up before the dawn (And before dear Dawn as well.) to join Fletching for early cloud clearance duties over Fort Everfree and parts East.

As we made a meal of Cookie's incomparable rarebit (A dish we all have forgiven and learned to love again since the tribulations of moving to our new home. In Cookie's hooves it is a sublimely hearty and satisfying lunch.) talk fell to planning for Pansy's upcoming nuptials.

Pegasi, it seems, are rather informal in their wedding traditions, with the gathering and temporary hosting of a widely flung and extensive roster of friends and relations being the greatest logistical challenge to undertake. Apparently, blood feuds lasting for generations have resulted from a failure to invite every last conceivable acquaintance to bear witness and feast afterward.

Dear Pansy said something about not having to worry about her mother's side of the family in that regard, but didn't elaborate further. Here is another thing said in passing that strikes me oddly upon putting it down upon your pages, O diary. I shan't pry, but it does make me curious.

As I lent a hoof cleaning up that delectable meal, with minimal protest and much thinly veiled approval from Cookie regarding my day's granted respite from such chores, my inestimable earth pony friend and housemate asked a most flattering favor of me.

Since, said she, I was free of my burden of recreating the warming heart, and since, she hoped, I was not so thoroughly sick of books that I wanted to wall off my study and library and forget they even existed, perhaps I would see fit to undertake the instruction of her children in "unicorn book learning" as she half-jokingly put it.

Cookie went on to explain that while foals of her tribe are taught such basic letters and numbers as they need to function in the marketplace or go on to learn a trade, any further education must be painstakingly sought after on one's own time and at one's own expense. She hoped it wasn't too much to ask, since we were all living together out here on the frontier, that I might share some of the knowledge contained in my vast store of books and scrolls, and give her sons and daughters a "leg up" to use her phrase. [3]

Of course I told her I would be both honored and immensely pleased to do so. The look of genuine gratitude on her face when I agreed was all the reward I would need for such a labor of love.

Well I know what such a thing would mean for her daughters and sons, and for her. As I have often remarked in your pages, O diary, my dear friend has revealed to me much of the depth and breadth of her knowledge, but with the telling gaps and inconsistencies of the self-educated.

Again I marvel at how this remarkable mare has taught herself rhetoric, civil law, mathematics, philosophy, at least five languages, and has gained a passing familiarity with classical poetry and the history of all three tribes, all acquired by the sweat of her brow in the precious intervals when the steady cadence of earth pony life allowed.

To have a patient guide through these thickets of information, who can impart context and clarity, that is the value of being taught, and the sacred duty of the teacher. I shall endeavor to do my best, hopefully with more kindness than the old grump ever mustered in my time under his tutelage.

Thinking upon it, I see further benefits to this arrangement. Dawn Heart will be in need of education in "unicorn book learning", and will probably benefit greatly from learning alongside Cookie's children.

Thinking upon the old grump, I must consult with him when next he comes jingling among us regarding our wonder filly's magical instruction. I make no pretensions to being as qualified as he is when it comes to teaching so prodigious a pupil, but if there is any way I can be of assistance I would gladly stand ready to do so.

I spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing my study, carefully filing the notes from the crafting of the beacon spell in anticipation of their being bound into more suitable tomes. Books needed shelving, dust needed sweeping, puddles of wax needed to be scraped from my desk so that it might be recast into candles. It was a most productive and salutary endeavor, another step on my return to normalcy, rather like that first bath and brush down after spending long days abed recuperating from an illness.

Then back to the kitchen, where I was swept up into the hurly burly of preparing our supper along with Pansy, Powdermilk, Crimson, and Cookie's girls. As I have already noted, O diary, before I entered my lady Queen (then Princess) Platinum's service and became accustomed to the castle staff taking care of me, I found cooking a tedious chore at the best of times. How different it is when a kitchen full of happy, chatting ponies shares in the tasks together.

Tonight's repast was a fine pie of leeks, turnips, and carrots stewed in red wine and baked in a crust, served with fried oatwurst and pickled cabbage. I rather suspect that Cookie has studied alchemy as well, for how else but magic might she turn the shriveled, late winter contents of our root cellar and the dwindling stocks of our pantry into such culinary gold?

Afterward we saw the sun down with music and word games by candlelight, putting the children to bed in waves to ease their passage from wakefulness to sleep with minimal protest. First little Graham is laid in his cradle, then Dawn and Cookie's girls (the most chaotic of the bedtimes, especially if Ginger is in one of her moods, so Cookie informs me), then young Oatmeal, who by virtue of his age and general good behavior is allowed to stay up for an entire extra hour longer than his siblings.

I spoke more to the young lad tonight than I have since we all moved in, back when he assisted me most ably in setting up my study and library. He's a thoughtful young fellow, as I have noted before, prone to long pauses as he carefully chooses his words. We spoke of the prospect of my teaching him, and I asked him what subjects he was most interested in learning. He informed me, after the expected pause for thinking, that he was keenly interested in geography and natural philosophy. [4]

I do recall his fascination with my collection of atlases when we installed my books in their new repository. At his mother's prompting I brought out my folio of maps from the old lands, and taught him the names of countries we'd abandoned to the encroaching ice and snow in the great migration before it was time for him to go to bed.

And that brings me to the present moment, as I sit in the glow of the embers in the main hall with quill and journal, listening to Cookie and Pansy quietly chat while my beloved Crimson plays a calming air on his viol and Powdermilk sits quietly and bestirs himself to answer with a nod or a monosyllable to his wife's periodic entreaties to stir the fire. I find I am filled with a warm feeling of contentment, surrounded by dear friends and at peace.

Cookie has just declared it is time for us all to be retiring, informing me that my special dispensation to stay up as late as I wished had ended when the blue diamond ascended. With a wry smile she told me I would need the sleep if I was to be ready for the break of Dawn tomorrow.

Thus I shall close, O diary. I met my darling Crimson's eye shortly after Cookie's final rap of a hoof on the floor, and all I shall say is that while I may now be under orders to go to bed, I won't necessarily be going to sleep anytime soon.

Good night.  

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[1] Indeed, 'tis quite true that Princess Celestia of Equestria, Sol Equus Invictus, Grand Protectress of the Realm and Regent of the Sun, is
exceedingly ticklish, especially in the general area of her abdomen. I must commend my most dignified royal sibling on her bravery in allowing this chink in the royal armor, as it were, to be revealed. Especially now that she is tall enough for one of our subjects to reach this spot without even having to bend one's neck very far. I would gladly bestow a peerage upon the pony brave enough to try it. -P.L. [5]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[2] And I still do, despite a marked tendency for excessive sass I'm seeing expressed in these extraneous hoofnotes, Woona. Are you
trying to give poor Twilight another conniption? -P.C. [6]

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[3] Universal education for young ponies of all types was established roughly fifty years after the Royal Pony Sisters' defeat of Discord, initially established as a Ministry of the Crown under Princess Celestia's auspice, with schoolmasters and schoolmarms trained in Canterlot and installed in schoolhouses across Equestria under the supervision of a Minister of Education.

It was at this time that the early precursors of the Pegasi Flight Schools were also founded. Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns was established much later, shortly after the beginning of Princess Luna's exile. The public school system as we know it now was reformed and organized into its current state roughly eighty years ago as of this writing.

Princess Celestia informs me that these initial forays into teaching all the foals of Equestria their "three R's", regardless of their social class or background, were very strongly influenced by her memories of learning at Lady Clover's hooves alongside Smart Cookie's children. Curricula and class sizes have changed, but the emphasis on group learning and a positive atmosphere of sharing knowledge guided by a patient, dedicated teacher is a tradition we have maintained. I have only to look at the wonderful work my friend Cheerilee does as Ponyville's schoolteacher to see Lady Clover's legacy still carrying our fair land into the future.

Hello, Cheerilee. I hope you enjoy this text and can use it to enhance your history classes. (Certain obnoxious interjections that I am still ignoring notwithstanding.) I bet you didn't realize the flowers that make up your cutie mark were perennials.

[4] This chapter is quite full of foreshadowing, isn't it? Students of history should be well aware of the daring exploits of Captain Oatmeal Raisin-Cookie, one of the founders of the Equestrian Rangers and the determined leader of the explorers who mapped upper Equestria and parts north on hoof. One particular text I recommend is his memoir: "'Oatmeal, Are You Crazy?' Being an Account of My Adventures on the Northern Frontier and the New Lands I Discovered Despite the Neigh Sayers"

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[5] One would have to be a brave pony indeed, with a predilection for enclosed spaces in exotic locales. -P.C. [7]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnotes:

[6] I'm merely attempting to provide a bit more context to this account, O sister beloved. You and I are living relics, after all. Like you, I have come to prefer emphasizing the "living" rather than the "relic" part of that. -P.L.

[7] I assure the readers it would be
well worth it, for the sake of historical scholarship alone. I warrant the sound my sister makes when properly raspberried in her midsection has not been heard for untold centures. Surely your inquiring mind wants to know, Twilight Sparkle. Perhaps the next time we have you over to dedicate a stained glass window or something you might have an opportunity. -P.L. [8]

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[8] Such an inquiry would hardly be relevant, or particularly informative, especially in the medium of print. I would like to assure my esteemed mentor and immortal sovereign that I would never, ever succumb to such a ludicrous impulse. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye! [9]

[9] And just to be clear in case my prior hoofnote caused any undue confusion at an apparent contradiction of intent, I am still ignoring these intrusions into my hoofnotes. [10]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[10] Not to worry, my dear student. Even if you attempted such an inquiry, I've learned some fairly effective blocking maneuvers with my wings over the years, and my reflexes are still pretty good for a multi-centinarian. Rest assured my royal undercarriage shall remain safely un-rasberried. -P.C. [11]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[11] I know a challenge when I read one. We'll just see about that. -P.L. [12]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[12] Bring it on, Princess Squawks Like a Plucked Phoenix When Goosed in the Brisket. -P.C. [13]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[13] Verily, 'tis most assuredly ON! -P.L. [14]

Translator's Hoofnotes:

[14] Still ignoring them. Still ignoring them. Still ignoring them. Still ignoring them.

The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.


Chapter 14 -9th. Day of the Third Month, Year 11 AE.

We have done it.

The new beacon has risen in the skies of Equestria. Huzzah and glad tidings to all pony-kind. Long may our kingdom stand and prosper.

Do not mind the tears that stain your pages, O diary, they are naturally tears of triumphant joy, not of shame and regret.

And gratitude.

By all the powers, the price that I might have paid for this to come to pass would have been more than I could bear.

I have little doubt that even now our praises are being sung in the vaulted halls of Castle Canter, among the high colonnades of Cloudsdale, and atop the roofs of Mane Hat, and for their part Cookie and Pansy are well deserving of the accolades, but I would that my name be struck from the roll of honor.

I most certainly do not deserve to be known as "The Clever" for what I have done this day.

While glad I am that the cool blue light of the great diamond now shines among the stars, it will always be a reminder of this night to me. And so, O diary, I will write an account, blurred by my tears and jumbled in my weariness, so that the truth shall ne'er be forgotten. The wrong I have done, and the grace that I received despite it all, I shall carry with me to my final rest.

Once again I must begin by filling in the gaps in my reminisces caused by my extended dereliction of my chronicler's duties. The long months of the winter wore heavily upon me after the events of Hearth's Warming, and my days were marked with growing frustration. I was like a chained dog, constantly straining against my tether and barking at any who came near.

My careful study of the crystalline heart produced by our last failed effort produced little of relevance, as I have exhaustively detailed in my lab journals. Deciding it was a needless distraction, I had Cookie pack it away among the other Hearth's Warming decorations.

Would that other distractions would be so readily shut away, that was my attitude during those bleak months. I look back with chagrin and understand that in my obsession with completing my task I was becoming more and more distant, impatient, and irritable. The interruptions seemed constant, coming from all directions and at all times.

The occasional clamor of the children, particularly on days when it was too cold or wet for them to go outside, would scatter my thoughts like a stone cast among the fish in one of the reflecting pools in the gardens of Castle Canter. I would bear it for a time and try to ignore it, hunching over my desk with quill biting deeper and deeper into whatever parchment lay before me, until my intemperance would burst like a chestnut upon the fire and I would shriek like a harpy over my shoulder and slam my door. Often repeatedly for emphasis.

Cookie, bless her, took stern steps to ward my study from these outbursts, but at times she would become cross with me, comparing me to her sire, a who by her account was the sort of stallion who would come home from his day's labors to settle in like a brooding dragon in its lair, compelling all in the house to walk on tip-hooves and speak in hushed voices lest they rouse him in wrath from his rest. As the months wore on, she became more and more fed up with my peevishness, and now I shudder to think what might have happened between us had I the temerity to directly upbraid one of her foals.

The racket of the children scarce compared to the uproar when her excellency Commander Hurricane arrived, flush with our carefully composed letter regarding Pansy's pledged troth to Fletching crumpled in her pack. I found my pegasus friend's husband to be hiding beneath my desk shortly afterward, quietly pleading for asylum.

Having no patience for such tomfoolery I cast him out of my study, callously plugging my ears with sealing wax at all the subsequent screaming, shouting, and shaking of the very rafters as Hurricane got the drop upon him. He managed to slip out of her hammer lock and dive out a window, I was told, and led her on a frantic chase across the broad skies of Equestria. I did notice that Pansy was a more than a bit cooler in her attitude toward me afterward.

All was mercifully quiet after that, until Hurricane brought the poor stallion back some days later, trussed up and half out of his wits. I was thereafter compelled to attend a large, calamitously noisy celebration that started in the main hall and spread to the courtyard, the roof, and the clouds above when Hurricane declared Fletching "acceptable" and summoned all of her warriors to drink to Pansy's health and toast her upcoming union.

And if that weren't bad enough, during her stay, the Commander would frequently barge into my study and demand to be appraised of my progress on recreating our nation's beacon, spinning ominous tales of griffons, dragons, and other barbaric creatures massing on our borders to rumors that we ponies had lost our magic and were ripe for attack. Her final words to me before she returned to her troop formations on the northern border was to "snap it up". As though the pressure upon me was not already unbearable.

Most irritating to me of all, however, were visits from the old grump, who would turn up in my study without a sound save the clatter of his bells to peer over my withers at my work like he'd done in my bygone student days, leaving me fuming with naught but the clicking of his tongue or a wry shake of his head as he left.

Part of me wanted him to just give me the answers I was so painstakingly seeking, although he told me with a dismissive chuckle that he knew nothing of the spell I was researching when I snappishly demanded them from him. Part of me desperately wanted to see him sat upon by an immense, incontinent dragon, a desire that was received with just as many chuckles on the day I snarlingly made it known.

Since our brief meeting at Fort Everfree, he hadn't darkened the doors of Paradise Estate until shortly after the New Year was rung in. Then all of a sudden on one blustery day he showed up and somehow inserted himself into the household with all the brazen aplomb of a stray cat inviting itself inside a creamery. And even more infuriatingly they all took to him almost instantly, especially the children, who called him "Gaffer Jingles". Even Crimson declared to me that he was "An affable enough old fellow once one got to know him". It was many days before he saw ought but my back as we lay in our bed after he said that.

The one benefit to his being underhoof, that even I in my intemperate mood would admit, was that he had undertaken Dawn Heart's beginning tutelage in magic. They would walk among the sleeping trees of the orchard, or wander the forest, speaking of everything and nothing at all. Far and wide did they range, sometimes as far as Saddle Lake or Fort Everfree.

And thus were the seeds of my terrible mistake sown, as the dear, sweet poppet would intrude on my solitary toiling to proudly show and tell me what she'd learned. Now I would own that she had been making remarkable progress, for while the tricks she was learning were simple foal's lessons: levitating small objects, lighting and extinguishing candles, changing the color of a kerchief and the like, when one considered the vast power she was keeping under control without something exploding I should have been quite effusive indeed in praising her.

Instead I was at best cordial to her, but increasingly brusque as I would hustle the poor filly out of my study as soon as she'd gotten to the point, with hasty, wooden expressions of approval, followed by the door slamming shut and the bolts being thrown.

I think there was a festering jealousy underlying my thoughts, among other things, as I envied the old grump stewarding this precious child in my chosen calling rather than me. I would like to pretend that my affection for little Dawn kept me from being too harsh with her, but now I know it was but a flimsy veneer over the senseless poison that I had been accumulating in my heart.

It was early in the afternoon when poor Dawn came bounding into my study, disrupting my papers with her flapping wings and excitedly proclaiming that she was able to float more than one thing at the same time. Barely looking up from my work, I muttered something vaguely complimentary but pointed, both in tone and in the direction of the door.

Her enthusiasm undimmed, she began to pluck up random objects in the golden glow of her magic and cause them to float lazily about my little chamber. By chance I looked up to see her lift my confounded star-gazing glass from its bracket to join the books and bric-a-brac drifting like flotsam in the air.

Something inside me drew taut like a bowstring, and my temper flared. I shouted for her to put the accursed thing down with such vehemence that it startled her, and she let everything drop. The gazing glass, my gaudy treasure, the vain symbol of a lowborn candle maker's daughter risen to undeserved heights, fell to the floor with a sickening crunch, the casing burst and the lenses shattered.

I almost cannot go on, O diary, but in penance for my shame I feel I must. In my foolish heart 'twas like when my alchemy table was set alight in my clumsy youth. The hot rage filled me, boiling up and vomiting forth as a tirade that now leaves my insides feeling like the shards of blackened glass that were left behind.

I called her a little monster. I called her a freak of nature. I called her Nemesis. I accused her of ruining my life. I told her she was responsible for uprooting me from my home and casting me away from all I had known and out into the wilderness. I called her a curse on my days and a bane on the existence of all pony-kind who destroys everything she touches.

Then, may my hoof shrivel and blacken in the ice of an endless winter, I struck her across her sweet, innocent face.

It is etched in my minds eye, O diary, the blank look of stunned betrayal that washed over her bruised visage, then she turned with a sob and fled. Wretched fool me, still drunk with self-righteous anger, I slammed the door behind her and turned, muttering invectives under my breath as I set to cleaning up the mess in my study, scarce realizing what I had done, and scarcely taking notice of a noise like a peal of thunder that shook the house a few moments later.

As I knelt, contemplating the ruins of my oh-so-precious gazing glass, the study door exploded into flinders, bucked aside by Cookie. A whirlwind filled the room, tossing papers in all directions as Pansy charged in. With a growl like an enraged wolf she lifted me by my throat and shoved me hard into the wall, demanding to know what I had said and done to Dawn Heart.

I choked, O diary, not from my undeserved friend's iron grip, but on a surge of sick realization that rose from my wilting heart at the depth of the wrong I had just done. I broke down, and confessed all to them through a torrent of bitter tears that has not yet quite abated, begging them to take me to the poor filly so that I might plead for her forgiveness.

My blood chilled in my veins when Cookie informed me in a cold voice that they did not know where Dawn Heart was, as she had fled the house. I took to my heels and galloped to the courtyard, staring out past the twisted, smoking wreckage of the front gate in wide eyed horror at the empty fields and bare trees blowing in the wind of a gathering, late winter storm.

Edging into hysteria, I begged them to summon the stallions so that we might search for her, in turn pleading with fate to be kind as I declared she cannot have run very far.

My wretched heart sank further as Pansy gave a terse shake of her head, reminding me that she had been teaching Dawn to fly since convalescing from her broken wing. Cookie gave a well deserved twist of the knife at my incredulity, flatly stating that the poor filly could barely get me to acknowledge her achievements in magic over the past several months, thus it stood to reason her learning to fly escaped my notice.

Desperation seized me, as visions of a thousand terrible fates befalling the filly buzzed in my head like hornets, their stings all the sharper with the fear that I would never get the chance to tell her I was sorry.

Scarcely pausing to throw on a cloak, I lit my horn like a blazing torch and charged pell mell into the frigid rain, frantically calling Dawn's name at the top of my lungs. Dear Pansy took wing to try and catch me, but I flung her aside with a surge of thoughtless magic, and glad I am now that I did her no harm save a roll in the cold mud of the courtyard. I heard Cookie telling her to forget me and go instead to Fort Everfree to summon the yeomane warders while she roused the stallions.

I know not how long I stumbled aimlessly through the fields, shouting myself hoarse after my precious Dawn. Hours and hours, I should think, as the grey light behind the clouds began to fade and fill the cold air about me with a deepening gloom.

Ever more the fool I strayed into a marshy valley, the cold turf subsiding to frigid mud that clung to my weary legs and dragged me deeper with every laboring step. Undaunted in my frantic search, I pushed on, howling for Dawn as exhaustion numbed my body more insidiously than the cold. Unaware of my situation until it was too late, I suddenly found myself stuck fast.

O diary, how my heart guttered like a dying candle when a hissing voice bubbled up from the creeping mists, telling me that dawn would not be coming for me. I thrashed, frantically glancing about in the greenish light of my horn, going still but for my panicked, panting breaths as a terrible black thing, like a swaybacked, bony horse made of oily smoke and tar, rose up from the muck that I had sunk in up to my chest.

It slithered in a gyre around me, whispering dread rhymes to kill all hope and courage. The thing's words are burned into my memory, O diary, and I fear I shall hear them in my nightmares for the rest of my days. "Grindeylow, down, down ye go, drowned and gone where none will know. In too deep, who will weep? Evermore yer bones will sleep."

It came to a stop before me, and extended a pulpy tentacle from its forehead as it fixed my gaze with the milky white eyes of a corpse. This horrible appendage it stroked ever so gently down my cheek, leaving a chilling trace of slime like the path of a snail. It gave a mirthless chuckle, whispering that my fear was exquisite. I could not move. I could not even scream.

I was never so grateful to hear the jingling of bells.

Then came a booming laugh, that caused the fiendish thing to flinch like it had been whipped. "Bogworry! Go back to your slurry! You've come to the end of your luck! We've naught to fear, begone from here, flee back to the slime and the muck!"

The creature puffed itself up like an adder, lashing the tendril on its forehead as it hissed its defiance, only to let out a shrill shriek a moment later as it burst into an inferno of blue flames. It thrashed convulsively and dove beneath, leaving only a soggy hiss and a lingering, acrid curl of smoke to mark its passing. The blue fire remained, radiating calm and assurance from Starswirl's proud horn as he towered over me with a stern look on his face, his beard fluttering in the fitful breeze.

I fell weeping hysterically into his embrace, nearly knocking him onto his rump, as soon as he'd lifted me with his magic out of the mire and set me on my shaking hooves. With unaccustomed gentleness he rocked me and stroked my back. "There there, poppet. All will be made right."

I blubbered about poor Dawn Heart, bitter self-recriminations and apologies pouring from me with every ragged breath. The dear old grump smoothed my sodden mane, and told me not to fear. He had a strong suspicion as to where she was, assured me she was safe there, and said he would take me to her.

Then, laying a hoof alongside his snout, he gave me a knowing grin as his horn flared with a blinding white light, and I suddenly felt like I'd been yanked tail first upward through a chimney, tumbled about like dice in a cup, then unceremoniously dumped out onto my croup on the rounded stones of a gravelly riverbed with a loud snap of magical energy.

Blinking soot out of my eyes as the smell of smoke lingered in my nostrils, I cast about to find my bearings, and saw the stockade walls of Fort Everfree atop its promontory in the near distance. My jaw dropped in shock. What magecraft was this, that we had traveled so many miles in the barest blink of an eye? I looked up with awe at my old mentor, and he let out a chuckle and gave me a smug wink.

I struggled to my hooves as the old grump casually brushed his jingling cloak off with his tail. I realized we were standing at the mouth of a grotto in a cliff wall. A soft, pale glow was emanating from inside.

Cutting off my stammered questions with a toss of his head that waggled his tangled beard, and bade me follow him in, keeping still and silent until he said otherwise. Too worn out to argue, I did as he commanded, and fell into step behind him.

Inside all was quiet, save for the soft sound of a filly weeping. Starswirl held out a hoof and shushed me, stopping me short as I nearly bolted forward. There before us, dear, beautiful little Dawn Heart sat, her wings drooping and her head hung, in the gentle, radiant light of a crystalline sapling that glittered with iridescent colors, all the shades of the rainbow, at the tips of its delicate, diamond shaped leaves.

Now solemn, he approached her, his bells hushed and comforting with the steadiness of his gait. He spoke to her in low, gentle tones, too low for me to hear even in the silence that pervaded the air.

Dawn saw me, but I could not bear to meet her gaze as she rose to her hooves and cautiously approached me. The words stuck in my throat as I forced them out over bitter sobs. I was sorry I hurt her. I did not mean the terrible things I said. I was a horrible, wretched failure as a caretaker and as a pony. I begged her not to hate me. I begged her to forgive me.

And she did.

She kissed my dirty forehead and hugged me and told me she loved me. Forever. No matter what.

I never shall be worthy of such boundless love, O diary. But what else can I do but accept it as the gift that it is?

I love her. Forever. No matter what. [1]

It was some time before I was able to stand upon my hooves and see clearly, but when I finally did I looked about and noticed that the strange little tree was glowing brighter, and that tiny berries of red, purple, and pale pink had appeared on three of its branches. In a hushed voice, raw from my day's exertions I asked my old teacher these questions: What was this place? What was that mystical tree?

He turned to admire its gleaming loveliness. "This, my dear, is the reason I have been spending so much time loitering about the backwaters of Fort Everfree. You are only the second mortal pony to ever lay eyes upon it. I discovered it as a mere seedling when I wandered these new lands after the Founding, and have been both guarding and studying it ever since." (As I write this now, O diary, I must wonder at his reckoning of my being the second mortal pony to be here, in regards to what I am next about to write. What about Dawn? I know she is not a normal filly, but what might that mean?)

I went on to ask him how he knew Dawn would be here as she nestled in to my side with a wing over my withers. Said he. "I have often brought little Dawn Heart down here to see how the tree reacts to her presence. She likes it here, and from what I can tell it likes her. It is in some way attuned to her, although I am unclear how."

This my dear, forgiving poppet affirmed with a weary nod. As I looked her over with the mist of overwhelming emotion receding from my eyes, I saw that she was nearly as bedraggled as I, with grime dulling her pale coat and burrs and nettles tangled in her lank mane and ruffled plumage.

Starswirl smiled down upon her and lit his horn to lift her onto his back, then beckoned me to follow. "We ought to be heading back. Alas, we will have a bit of a walk ahead of us, my dear. I don't believe any one of us are up for another apportation spell." (I must press him more about this in the future.)

As we trudged through the receding drizzle on the road to Paradise Estate, the dear old grump spoke softly to me over the steady rhythm of hoof falls and jingles, keeping his voice low so as not to rouse a slumbering Dawn. "Have you ever wondered why I wear these bells, Clover?"

I admitted that I had, my curiosity perking my ears despite my bone-deep weariness. It was a question that like so many others usually brought only a brusque dismissal and a command to pay better attention to my studies. "Before this child appeared among us, I was the most powerful wielder of magic in all the lands. This is no vainglorious boast, merely an observed and quantifiable fact. I have worn these bells since my youth, because ponies feared me, and wanted advance warning when I approached."

After a few more jangling hoofbeats he continued. "I have always been an outsider. I do not know much of friendship, or of the closeness of family. That is my lot and I bear it. I strive for the greater destiny of all pony kind."

He leaned in and met my eyes with a bleak gaze, cold as distant stars. "That is not to be this child's fate. Never do anything like this ever again."

I swallowed hard and and nodded emphatically, and we went the rest of the way in silence, save for the warning rattle of his bells.

We were welcomed warmly and with great rejoicing by those keeping vigil for us at Paradise Estate. Captain Leaf was there, and took up his horn to blow the signal for "all is well", which soon echoed in response over the hills and vales. In straggling groups the searchers returned, gathering around the dear old grump by the fireside as mulled cider was brewed and tales were told.

Cookie bundled Dawn and I into a hot bath, and as I held her and combed the tangles from her silken mane I remembered the first bath we shared together mere months ago, recalling the lessons I had learned back then. Then we dried off, each had a bowl of Cookie's hearty vegetable chowder with fresh baked bread, and were put to bed.

But sleep eluded me, O diary, even as the house went quiet with the departure of the warders and the settling in of the husbands and children. I arose after having merely rested for a time, wrapped in my blanket, and wandered out into the gardens. The sky above had cleared of clouds, and now the stars twinkled in a velvet blue firmament, accompanying the pale glow of the moon.  

A gentle voice called out to me from above, and I turned to see dear Pansy perched upon the roof wrapped in her dark wool warrior's cloak. She fluttered down beside me, as the crunch of hoof steps in the snow behind us heralded the approach of darling Cookie, who came from the kitchen's back door wrapped in a shawl and kerchief. With wry smiles they both declared that they had been unable to get to sleep.

For a while, no words passed between us, only the closeness of three old friends who'd been tested once again. Presently, I whispered my apologies for the wrongs I had done, and once more I was blessed with the gift of forgiveness. The warmth of reconciliation rose within me, from my broken, mended heart, and I felt it rise up to my horn and blossom forth as a flickering flame.

Our eyes wide with wonder, I gathered my wits at Cookie and Pansy's urgent reminder of the wishes of our leaders, and concentrated on the shape and color of the brightening corona of light, bidding them to join me in doing so. As if in a lucid dream it shifted to a serene blue color, and assumed a four pointed shape, rising like a great kite above us until it gracefully took its destined place in the heavens, at home among the stars and companion to the moon.

More tears rolled down my face as my friends, my sisters by other mothers, rejoiced and embraced me.

We have done it.

My beloved compatriots have since gone to bed. I snuggled in beside my darling Crimson but to no effect, as the events of the day still roiled and rattled in my head.

So again I rose and found my way to my study, lit a taper, and strove to take down my account into your waiting pages. Now, O diary, I am all but empty, having poured it all upon you. I think at last I shall be able to sleep, and pray that my dreams are untroubled.

Until next I lift my quill, goodnight.

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[1] I must humbly apologize, Twilight Sparkle, to you and to the publisher for the droplets of moisture that spilled upon this portion of the manuscript. I accidentally spat out a mouthful of tea I was drinking due to some unexpected revelation that is not worth mentioning. That is absolutely what happened. -P.L. [2][3]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[2] Of
course it was, my ever beloved sister. It is good to keep a hoofkerchief handy in case of just such an occurrence. -P.C.

Translator's Hoofnote:

[3] Don't worry about it, Princess Luna. I "spat out my tea" several times as I was translating it. No real harm done.


The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.

Book of Days - Part 14
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Chapter 13 -30th. Day of the Twelfth Month, Year 10 AE.

O diary, my ever patient confidant, woe that the dust lay so thickly upon your cover now that I finally return with quill aglimmer.

Much has gone on in the long months since last I turned your pages to put thoughts to parchment. The lingering glow of late summer was burnished to autumnal gold by the ever busy hooves of our earth pony brethren, passing with rich harvest feasting and the thundering of hooves to shake the leaves from our as yet untamed orchard. With the typical industry of their tribe dear Cookie and her family laid in plentiful supplies, filling Paradise Estate's larders near to bursting. Then snug as mice we tucked in for winter's coming.

It was a far gentler draping of the white veil than those of us who lived through the Great Migration recall, O diary. Now the crisp air rings with the laughter of well-fed foals playing in the snow and the rustle of friendly pegasi wings marshaling the soft grey clouds overhead rather than the growling of empty stomachs and the joyless exultations of the windegos at pony-kind's muttered grudges.

For my part, I have spent much of the time shut up in my study, hard bent at my research, listening with suppressed yearning to the muffled sounds of daily life going on outside like echoes of a distant, partly remembered dream. I ruefully look back on the days of my fillyhood, when many was the time I would have given the tip of my horn for a chance to shut myself away from the hurly burly of my family's household with a book in my hooves. How different is solitude when it is forced upon one rather than sought. In frequent moments of weariness I thought that I would switch places with my younger self in an instant.

But I have my duty to my lady the Queen and her co-rulers, and to all of the pony tribes, and to our brave new-founded land, and thus I soldier on at the task of plumbing the mysteries of the Warming Heart and seeking a method to reproduce it. The work is slow and tedious, and I shan't dwell upon it in your patient pages, O diary, as I have emptied enough vessels of ink onto the parchment of my laboratory notebooks in detailing my painstaking progress, if indeed progress it can be called.

I have come very close to success on the eve of the Feast of Hearth's Warming, now but a few days past. One might almost call the date ironic were it not chosen specifically on the chance that by some vagary of magic making an attempt on the same day might increase our chances of making the thing come to pass. And that was not the only way in which we attempted to reproduce the circumstances of the first appearance of the Warming Heart.

Cookie, Pansy, and I fasted the whole day, a colossal undertaking in itself as we took a hoof in preparing the customary founding feast for the benefit of our respective families. (Or families to be. More on that later, O diary!) By dear Cookie's wan reasoning, spending a day cooking up such sumptuous fare for our loved ones while not touching a single bite surely equaled the hard months of near starvation on the seemingly endless road from the Old Lands to Equestria. We resolved to celebrate a second feast when a new beacon adorned the skies that night, or at the very least to gorge ourselves on the day's leftovers in consolation for a failure whilst drowning our sorrows in mulled cider and brandy. With this promise we kept our spirits up and tried to focus on making the best of the day for the foals' sake.

It was indeed the joy of the little ones that sustained us as the hungry hours dragged by. Our darling Dawn Heart was almost incandescent the entire day, as it was her first Hearth's Warming and every experience was new and wondrous for the dear filly. She helped Crimson, Powdermilk, and Fletcher locate and drag in a massive log for the hearth. (The latter handsome swain has become an ever more frequent guest here at our little manor house, even though dear Pansy's wing has long since completely healed. But once again, more on that later!) She capered with Cookie's children as they decorated the traditional earth pony Winter's Promise tree, its brightly painted wooden fruits and strings of cranberries signifying the return of bounty once the snows had been cleared in the spring. [1]

I shall never forget how caught up in the caroling she was. Our dear poppet is a great lover of all music, as I have oft attested before, but the Hearth Warming songs we have sung since the founding seemed to touch her especially deeply for some reason. She sat enraptured as we all raised our voices to the pleasing strains of darling Crimson's viol, joining in beautifully as she learned the words with much repetition.

I suspect that the songs sung in the presence of the Warming Heart on its first day among us resonate on some deep level with Dawn Heart's being. Would that I could capture sound in your pages, O diary, to please the ears of future scholars who might read this account long after we are all gone. Alas, they shall never know the sweetness of her voice. [2]

Once the feasters had been sated and the table had been cleared and gifts retrieved from the stockings hung on the hearth's mantle[3] and the foals sent to bed, we three miserable mares, grumbling from both our mouths and our stomachs, repaired to the fenced gardens behind the house, now sleeping frozen beneath a glittering blanket of packed snow. There we shivered together, sheltered from the biting winter wind only by our cloaks and a makeshift shelter of stones and ice that I had bidden the stallions to build, representing the bleak cavern redoubt where pony kind weathered its darkest hour on that desperate night a decade ago.

Presently, Cookie entreated me to start working my magic before she lost all feeling in her posterior. At my other side a soft clearing of the throat and the scrape of a hoof pawing at the crusted snow indicated that even stoic Pansy's immense patience was wearing thin. So I began, sparking my horn to life as I instructed my faithful friends to concentrate on the mental image of the Warming Heart. As I have related in my laboratory journals, my task was to channel my magic and to focus on transforming the flaming pink heart into a blue diamond as it manifested.

We huddled together, our brows furrowed and our hooves interlocked, trying with all our power to will a blue diamond version of our nation's magical beacon into being. I felt some echo of the power of that first Warming Heart surge through us, but it was different in a way that I strain to describe. It was sort of cool and crystalline, reflective rather than radiant. As suddenly as I felt the sensation it dropped away, and we all gave a start as something landed at our hooves with a thud. I opened my eyes and stared in disbelief.

There, lying at the center of our little half circle, was a lump of pale blue crystal, about as large as a pony's head, and shaped like a faceted heart. [4]

Our shocked reverie was broken as Cookie burst into uproarious laughter, flopping back onto her back and kicking her hooves in the air. A scowl darkened my countenance as my ears levered back, but before I could say something intemperate, I felt Pansy's gentle hoof on my shoulder. "Well." Said she, in her ever-tactful way. "It was a really good try."

At that, my frustration and annoyance instantly evaporated as the absurdity of it all struck me. We had indeed produced a blue diamond version of the Warming Heart, although a bit more literally than our leaders had perhaps hoped. I started to giggle, then chortle, then chuckle, then with a peal of mirth I flopped onto my back next to Cookie, dragging Pansy down with us where we three madmares proceeded to roll about in the snow in a fit of uncontrollable hilarity.  

Eventually Cookie clambered to her haunches, shivering as she produced a stout flask from the folds of her cloak and proffered it to me, saying it was a bit cold outside to be doing this sort of thing. I brought out my little bottle and traded her, taking a swig and then passing it over to Pansy in exchange for her own secret vessel of spirits, observing that it was perhaps not a good idea to partake of strong drink on such empty stomachs. As one we resolved to go inside and break our Hearth's Warming fast, bearing the object with us as a pretty ornament to grace the tree. We placed it at the top, where it sparkled like the contents of my fair lady Queen Platinum's jewelry box.

The evening's final surprise came a bit later, as we gathered about with our stallions in the glow of the fire after plundering the larder for a much less grand but just as scrumptious reprise to the prior day's foregone feast. As we sat together afterward, talking softly of the day's festivities and our magical misadventure whilst admiring the way the light of the fire and candles reflected on our newly conjured decoration, I recall an almost palpable feeling of mutual affection suffusing the room.

All of a sudden, Fletcher rose from his place beside Pansy and turned to face her, then took a knee with visible shivers coursing through his wings. In a faltering voice that gained strength as he spoke, he asked her for her hoof in marriage, saying something poetic to the effect of his heart drifting like a cloud but feeling suddenly blown by an inner wind to pledge his troth to her.

With no sound but a gasp of breath Pansy leapt to her hooves and took the handsome stallion of her fancy into a passionate kiss, the sudden flaring of their wings wafting a warm breeze around the room from the rosy embers of the hearth. Not to be outdone, we married mares turned to our mates and tenderly kissed them as well, and after many toasts raised and well wishes for our newly affianced friends we all retired to the warmth of our beds.

In the ensuing days I have returned to my research, performing experiments on the crystal and cross referencing my notes. It occurred to me today, O diary, to bring you forth from your undeserved exile to make note of my personal impressions of this first failed experiment.

I'll close now, as Pansy has requested that Cookie and I help her craft a letter to her excellency the Commander breaking the news of her betrothal without resulting in the breaking, so to speak, of her betrothed. A challenge, to be sure, as Hurricane will surely hold any stallion with the temerity to woo her right-hoof mare to a punishingly high standard.

Xasteriá and good morrow for now, and hopefully, O diary, the dust shall not be so thick upon you when I return.


Translator's Hoofnotes:

[1] Astute readers will doubtless recognize the Pre-Equestrian origins of what we now know as the Hearth's Warming Tree. Time, fashion, and cultural iteration have changed the decorations that we hang on our holiday trees in modern times. I find it a fascinating study of how the three tribes distinct cultures have melded. The earth ponies' symbolic evergreen is now adorned with colored lights, glass spheres, and metallic gemstones from the unicorns, while the pegasi contributed tinsel, flocking, and stylized snowflakes. Some ponies still hew to the old ways, however. My dear friend Applejack's family decorates their tree in a fashion that would be quite familiar to the earth ponies of Lady Clover's era.

[2] Princess Celestia smiled at me when we were discussing this passage and declared that ponies hadn't invented irony yet. As is often the case I have difficulty telling if she was being facetious or not. [5]

[3] The tradition of stockings hung over the hearth and placing small presents therein on Hearth's Warming Eve originates among the unicorns. I find its mention here very interesting because we begin to see the early stages of cultural amalgamation, as all the members of Cookie, Clover, and Pansy's household contribute their tribes' unique ingredients to the this microcosm of the Equestrian melting pot.

As the least physically hardy of the three tribes (and as the inventors of knitting) the wearing of stockings under winter boots was quite common in the old monoceric kingdoms far back as the Paleo Pony Period. Naturally during the winter months these stockings would be hung over a warm fire to dry after their wearers came inside.

As a culture, the tribe of my birth is known, perhaps fairly, perhaps not, for a certain amount of ostentation. The hiding of small, heartfelt presents in pockets, under pillows, and eventually in these hanging stockings was a way to avoid extravagant shows of generosity in favor of just brightening somepony's day a little. Minor teleportation spells were often employed to secret sweets, money, or small gemstones without the recipient being any the wiser.

Suffice to say, around Hearth's Warming it further behooved a pony to check their socks before putting them on.

[4] One unforeseen trend that I have noticed while discussing the content of this manuscript with friends, mentors, and family is its capacity for causing princesses to give vent to recently swallowed beverages in the form of an aerosolized cloud. This was the unfortunate result of me informing my sister-in-law of the events detailed in this passage over chilled glasses of crystal berry punch.

Princess Cadance was quite as amazed as I was at discovering an eyewitness account of the origins of the Crystal Heart in the words of one of Equestria's founders. When we later pressed Princess Celestia about it, she merely smiled that inscrutable smile of hers and replied that it certainly
was interesting, but little more than trivia until the Crystal Empire resurfaced. Now that our sister kingdom to the north has returned, I believe this shall be a very interesting question to research further. [6]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[5] Aye, and doubly ironic that after so many years there are ponies who yearn to
not hear her voice once in a while. -P.L. [7]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[6] Most ironic indeed that you refer to the Crystal Empire as our
sister kingdom, my faithful student. -P.C.

[7] Especially when I get all gossipy and start talking at length about a certain baby sibling of mine when she {excised by royal order} -P.C. [8]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[8] You
shut up about {excised by royal order}  -P.L. [9]

Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:

[9] Whoopsie! You nearly gave it away
yourself that time, Woona. Now who doesn't know when to stop talking?-P.C. [10]

Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:

[10] AaaaAAAAaaaugh!!!!  -P.L.


The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.

Book of Days - Part 13
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deviantID

WarrenHutch
Warren Hutch
United States
Hey
My nom de plume is Warren Hutch, and I'm mostly a lurker around here. My main repository of artwork is on FurAffinity, since most of the stuff is pertinent to that particular slice of web country.

Still, I've got a couple things that might interest the folks around here that I'll post from time to time. I'm much obliged if you want to stop by and check 'em out.

Current Residence: Boston, MA
Favourite genre of music: Ska, Funk, Surf Rock, Electronica, Hip Hop, Chap Hop, Nerdcore
Personal Quote: "Good is relative, Better is Absolute"
Interests
The advent of the Sisters, Princess Cadance, and the Royal Family of the Unicorns.

After watching the recent Season 2 finale, I've been mulling over some ideas in terms of the nature the Princesses that we've seen in canon. This is a ramble based on my own headcanon, so take it with a grain of salt. I'm sure genuine canon will blow several holes in this eventually.

I'll start with my belief that Celestia and Luna as immortal demigoddesses were not born in the conventional sense of having two parents, but manifested rather like Aphrodite from the sea foam, or any number of other mythic deities who sprang fully formed from the elements.

In this case, I believe that both Sisters were born from the fiery heart that manifested in the sky when the three pony tribes came together to found Equestria. If I were to flesh out the story I'd posit that Celestia, the eldest, was born when the morning sun rose on the longest day, making the Summer Sun Celebration also her "birthday". After her arrival, I imagine the heart would be much reduced in size, softly glowing and only visible at night, until during a full moon on the longest night, Princess Luna, the younger sister, came into the world. Both Princesses, in addition to being granted power over the sun and moon, also represent aspects of all three pony types, as they were born from the harmony of the tribes.

(On a side note, the flaming heart seen over Canterlot at the end of "Hearths Warming Eve" in my mind is a traditional firework or illusion cast by unicorns to commemorate the original manifestation of friendship between the tribes.)

I imagine that shortly after the Sisters were born, they were adopted as honorary members of the hereditary royalty of the unicorns, making them the "daughters" of the unicorn monarch (perhaps of Queen Platinum, after she succeeded to her father's throne). This would make them adopted sisters to the monarch's children, and aunts in turn to their children, so on and so on through generations until everypony with any connection to the unicorn royalty would be considered the Princesses' nieces and nephews. Technically, Prince Blueblood or Princess Cadance would be great great great great(to the nth degree) nephew or niece, but since there's only so much space on a scroll or so much breath in a herald's lungs, they just say "niece" or "nephew".

This idea further explains why as rulers of Equestria the Sisters stayed with the title of Princess rather than assume the mantle of Queen, as they are adopted members of the royal family rather than blood relations. There may even be a nominal King or Queen of the unicorns still, but true power has been in the Princesses' hooves for a long time and it would at most be a ceremonial position like most modern day kings and queens on earth.

I'm not entirely certain how the Sisters' battle with Discord features into this. I might well imagine that the Sisters were alive before the villainous chaos spirit's arrival on the scene. Perhaps without the flaming heart to remind the ponies their divisions and quarrels would have given him more and more power until he took over, eventually forcing the Princesses' into a conflict with him, until such time as they used the Elements of Harmony to defeat him and took back control of the day and night.

Now regarding Princess Cadance, I believe that she isn't an alicorn so much as she is a winged unicorn. I imagine that shortly after the founding of Equestria, there was a fair bit of intermarrying to cement political and social ties between the three tribes of ponies, and thus pegasi nobility would marry into the unicorn royal family. Eventually, hybrid ponies with both wings and horns would arise, perhaps exclusively to Canterlot royalty. (Which is a damn sight better than Hemophilia as a sign of royal breeding.)

Crossbreeds with earth ponies would be a lot less easy to spot, as in the case of Pound and Pumpkin cake where having unicorns or pegasi in the bloodline could result in a typical looking specimen of any of the three types, even though technically they would be hybrids. I also imagine that perhaps cementing ties between ruling families wasn't as important with the earth ponies as they seemed to be operating in a more egalitarian mode, with an elected chancellor instead of a hereditary ruler.

Perhaps winged unicorns pop up among pegasi populations as well, but I see it as being much less common if not nonexistent due to the logistical difficulties of a ground bound pony marrying into a pegasi family. A lot depends on when the cloud walking spell Twilight cast in "Sonic Rainboom" was invented, but even if it dates back to pre-Equestrian times (which I doubt, due to the conflict between the tribes), it would also mean that the earth pony or unicorn bride or groom would be essentially a prisoner in their home in a pegasi community.

Further evidence, in my mind, that Cadance is a unicorn with wings rather than an alicorn is that she's mortal. She's seen to have aged from being a teenager when she was babysitting Twilight. I presume she's capable of bearing children to Shining Armor, and I also presume she will grow old and eventually pass on with him. (Of course, these are purely assumptions, but there is no canon support for the idea that Celestia or Luna ever married or produced offspring, so it's essentially a very open area to interpretation.)

An immortal would probably avoid marriage to not have to go through their beloved fading away before their eyes while they stay the same. Even if Cadance was a recently born immortal, I'd presume that as benevolent members of the royal family Celestia and Luna would gently nudge her away from bringing that sort of heartbreak onto herself.

Also, her magical ability to create love between ponies seems more on par with a typical unicorn's special magical talent, like Rarity's gem finding or Shining Armor's shield spell. (Whereas Twilight, as a magical prodigy capable of duplicating other unicorns' unique abilities, is a bit more a-typical.) This, and the fact that she has a normal mane rather than the flowing, etherial mane that marks the power of the royal Sisters, points to her more natural origins.

And so that's how I think Cadance fits in to the world of Equestria, as a mortal scion of the unicorn royal family, a descendent of pegasi nobles and unicorn kings and queens, honorary niece to the Sisters as are all the nobility of Canterlot, and future mother of Shining Armor's children and Twilight Sparkle's nieces and nephews.

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:iconccb-18:
CCB-18 Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Just noticed a few things due to your absence on your FA gallery, and your lack N.U.D.E adventure comics:

1) Did you have anything in mind for Valentine's Day?

2) 
Any plans for comics for Easter or St. Patrick's Day? 

And 3) 
Just noticed that you've not done your traditional "First-Day-of-Spring" comic as of yet?

So, what's the hold up? I always look forward to your latest strips...
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:iconstavner:
stavner Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015  Student Writer
Happy birthday!
Reply
:iconccb-18:
CCB-18 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've tried to view your FA gallery, but for some reason the website seems to be down. Got any ideas why?
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:iconimascrabblefreak:
imascrabblefreak Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm so happy to find more of your pony art here, as I absolutely adore all of your covers on fimfiction. Do you perchance do commissions?

~Super Trampoline
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:iconwarrenhutch:
WarrenHutch Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2014
Thanks! Glad you like it!

I'm afraid I'm not taking commissions at the moment, but I'm flattered that you'd ask. :)
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:iconholycross9:
HolyCross9 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
Greetings, WH.  Do you remember a TV show known as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch?  Well, the reason in asking is because I have a fictional character in a fanfiction I'm writing who sounds exactly like one of Sabrina's Aunts, Hilda (played by Caroline Rhea).  The only problem is, I don't know how precisely how to precise describe her voice verbally.  So, if you don't mind me asking, how would you generally describe Caroline Rhea's voice? 
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:iconwarrenhutch:
WarrenHutch Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
I'm sorry, I can't really help you. I've never watched a single episode of that particular show.
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:iconholycross9:
HolyCross9 Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014
It's alright.  Thank you anyway though.
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:iconholycross9:
HolyCross9 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014
Greetings, WH.  If it's not too much to ask, how's Movie Magic coming along?
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:iconwarrenhutch:
WarrenHutch Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2014
It's coming along at its own pace. Other things have been occupying me as of late, so I can't really say more than that. :)
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