Greetings and salutations, friends!
I have of late found myself heaped with honors that I hope in my heart that I am worthy of, and one of these is the product of many long weeks of painstaking work that you now hold in your hooves.
It's difficult for me to express the gratitude I feel to my mentor and sovereign, Princess Celestia, and to my dear friend and co-sovereign, Princess Luna, for graciously allowing this account of their birth and early lives, as penned so many centuries ago by one of the very founders of our fair nation, to be translated to modern Equestrian and published for the edification of scholars and interested lay-ponies alike.
I wish I could convey to you in the mechanical medium of print the sense of pure history that wafted like perfume from the pages when I first opened the unassuming, canvas and cedar wood bound folio that Princess Celestia presented to me from among her most carefully kept personal effects, now so delicate from long years that only eyes and magic may safely touch the aged and tenuous parchment, and then only in the presence of carefully controlled atmospheric conditions created by the highly trained and dedicated pegasi of the royal archives and illuminated by a light spell of the proper heliothaumic balance.
The mechanical precision of modern moveable type on milled paper will scarcely do justice to the palpable imprint of Clover the Clever's personality writ on each page in delicate yet concise High Monoceric script. Add to that the astounding clues left behind by the legendary authoress of her moods and thought processes: Words, sometimes even entire passages, scratched out and rewritten. Precious doodles in the margins. (Lady Clover was fond of drawing spirals when thinking deeply upon a subject, or floral designs if she was at peace. When a whimsical mood took her, her little caricatures of her friends and family are at once charming and awe inspiring, when one realized that they oft times depict figures from history that we all reverently study in school.)
One discovery that simply took my breath away was the realization that certain pages bore what could only be the marks of Lady Clover's tears, falling on the pages that contained some of her most emotionally charged testimony. (Honestly, if I hadn't foalishly squandered my single use of the Time Spell enshrined in the Starswirl the Bearded Wing of the royal library, I would have been sorely tempted to use it to go back and give her a hug.)
This is all to say nothing of the prosaic details that chance and daily use left behind: The frequent dribbling of beeswax from late nights under the light of a candle. The staining rings of drinking vessels carelessly placed on a page (For shame, Lady Clover!). The occasional splatter of ink from a snapped or overloaded quill.
This book had lived, by which I mean it was a part of the endless actions and reactions, causes and effects, the ever forward march of changes with the passage of time, bound up with the trajectories of the objects and ponies around it. What's more, it had lived before and alongside some of the oldest beings now in Equestria.
As I studied this priceless book, I came to feel as though its authoress was hovering at my withers, serenely floating among the cloud of reference materials I needed to translate the text. I hope in some way you can experience that feeling yourselves as you read this. She is a comforting presence, and I personally would like to think I would have gotten along quite well with her. Both princesses have said to me that I would have, with knowing smiles on their faces I can only begin to fathom with my comparatively tiny store of experience.
Speaking of their highnesses, I should probably write a bit about the subjects of this manuscript now that I've hopefully introduced its authoress. (If I should be so bold as a subject of said subjects. Ha ha!)
For those of us living in the modern era, Princess Celestia has always just been. A fixture, a center, our benevolent ruler, as unchanging and steady as her sun in the sky, and yet unknowable because of that ineffable combination of distance and familiarity. She is ever present, and therefore we think we know all we need to know about her.
Princess Luna is, as I have discovered is often the case, the equal and opposite of her royal sister. Her absence from history, save as a dimly remembered cipher obscured by the distorted shadow of the folkloric bogeymare her fall from grace left behind (that dark reflection further divorced and abstracted from the mare herself by her redemption and the healing of her heart by the blessings of love and harmony), has made her a mysterious figure in the eyes of the ponies of Equestria.
Thus it is my hope that by presuming to select specific passages from Lady Clover's diaries, a narrative might be put together to cast a bit more light, so to speak, on these marvelous mares who raise the sun and moon for us. Their origins, while rather unusual and definitely quite magical indeed, are what tie them to us all and to our land and history.
It is with great love for them, and a desire that understanding might translate to deeper love from you the reader, just as I have tried to translate Lady Clover's High Monoceric into modern Equestrian, that I present this narrative.
Thank you for reading. Sincerely yours.
Chapter 1 - Summer Solstice. Year 10 AE.
I take up my pen in a state of amazement, o diary, for the events of this longest day have given me much to ponder.
I am weary to my very bones this night, and yet I do not think I would be capable of sleep. Even if I had drunk Castle Canter's royal cellars dry of strong spirits. Even if my husband were playing the sweetest of airs upon his viol. Even if I were attending one of the old grump's lectures on a hot day with all the tower windows shuttered against light and fresh air. I am almost painfully awake, and thus I have risen from my bower and returned again to my study.
The castle is still, save for the scratching of my quill, and the light of my own horn shall have to suffice for writing, as I do not wish to further disturb those who may have borne this day and had better luck in laying their heads down to rest, or those who are not so lucky and now strive to slip from wakefulness. For my part, I must find solace in pen, ink, and page.
A great change has befallen our newly forged land, and yet I know not what to make of it.
Were my dearest Cookie here at my side, rather than in far off Mane Hat (I am too numbed now to even comment on that particular flight of her esteemed ladyship the Chancellor's boundless fancy, but as usual, o diary, forgive my digression on this subject. Mane Hat. The mind still reels.) I think in her plain spoken, earth pony wisdom, Cookie would tell me to keep my eyes, ears, heart and mind open to take things as they come.
Darling Pansy is even now on the wing to that distant port city, to retrieve those earth pony worthies and bear them hence via sky chariot to our mountain fastness. She would probably again urge caution (which is indeed her answer even to choosing which relish to pour upon her portion of greens at the feasting table), but her quietude should in no pony's mind betoken timidity, for she is as the veritable iron horseshoe 'neath velvet stocking. Even the Commander, in all her bluster, flash and thunder, is well aware of the steadfast strength her faithful former batsmare provides us all.
The old grump would urge me to be methodical. I smile to myself as I write, realizing that in his obnoxiously inscrutable way he still speaks to me through the wise council of my friends. If I think on their hypothetical advice and imagine the jingling of bells to accompany it, it all becomes clearer to me.
Thus shall I be methodical, and start at the beginning as I record my testament of these momentous events.
It all began the night before, as we all kept the late watch in observance of the solstice, awaiting the dawn that we might do honor to the Solar Guild and their work bringing forth the sun on every other day of the year, with voices raised in song and flagons raised in celebration.
I was doing more to honor the Stellar College and their sometimes thankless work, seated in my usual spot atop the high tower with Crimson at my side, observing the stars through the wonderful arrangement of precisely ground Veneightian glass lenses and brass tubes that my royal lady the Queen had bestowed upon me in her boundless generosity at the last celebration of the founding. I still marvel at the ingenuity of this device, a product of collaboration between earth ponies and unicorns. Yet another symbol of the bounty bestowed by cooperation and friendship.
Far below us in the castle courtyard, the strains of the late night terpsichore could be distantly heard, with my lady Queen Platinum leading the dance amongst the flowers, ribbons, and fairy lights of our Midsummer revel, bedecked as were her court in the most splendid of finery. My husband and I had begged her majesty's leave to withdraw from the dance to make merry in our own fashion, which had been granted with much jest and knowing winks from the courtiers, all taken in good humor. (In truth, I am by no means a dancer, having been born with four left hooves. More sport would indeed have been made at my expense from my staying on the dancing green than from taking my leave of it.)
That is not to say, o diary, that mayhap stargazing would not be the only activity my beloved and I might get up to atop the tower, so to speak. It wasn't long before my stallion was playing his usual game, composing sonnets comparing me to the stars and constellations and doing his level best to bring a blush to my cheeks and get me flustered and giggling while I tried to record and catalog the movements of the celestial bodies. Between the jug of red wine between us, the heady warmth of midsummer, and the steady pink glow of the Warming Heart over the castle, my face was indeed quite as rosy as my beloved's cutie mark.
Alas, this was a night for a different sort of magic, of much greater portent for us all.
It was Crimson who noticed it first, his poet's glib tongue going still as I attempted to sight the gazing glass on the constellations above the western horizon. With an urgent press of his hoof upon my shoulder and a hushed voice, he bid me to behold the fiery beacon that had graced our skies since that frigid night when the bond between our three tribes was forged.
For ten busy, exasperating, heartbreaking, joyful years as we went about the work of building this our new nation, it had lit our sky along with the sun and moon, a constant symbol of harmony between ponies of all kinds. As I turned my head my eyes grew wide and my mouth hung agape. The great heart of pink, magical flames had started to pulsate, growing larger and smaller in a steady rhythm. I felt a pounding in my very chest that matched its tempo, and at once the realization came upon me like dawn breaking over the distant hills.
The Warming Heart had begun to beat.
Our attention was positively riveted upon the pulsing, so much so that we scarce noted the rising of voices and clattering of hooves in the castle below. Thus my husband and I were quite startled as my lady Queen Platinum herself burst through the trapdoor.
I had never seen her in such a state of agitation, her finery in disarray and her flaxen hair trailing in loose strands 'neath her crown, her fair features flushed, gasping for breath from galloping all the way up from the courtyard. My husband, a true gentlecolt and a courtier to the last, laid his blanket across her withers and presented her with a glass of wine, then averted his eyes from this understandable lapse of the royal dignity.
When her majesty had recovered herself somewhat, she demanded to know the meaning of this strange portent in the sky, asserting that I had cast the spell that had created the Warming Heart, and should know what was going on. I replied that I knew not how this change had come to pass, and was as mystified as any as to what it meant.
Would that I did know, for the look of dismay that overtook my lady liege's harried visage at my answer was most piteous. Truly, the only thing worse than turning to one whom you trust to have all the answers in a time of trouble and hearing them say 'I do not know', is to be the one so trusted and be forced to give that answer.
A chatter of fear stricken voices arose from behind her majesty in the silence that passed between us, and I realized that a train of servants and courtiers had followed the Queen up the spiral stairs of the tower, with her ladies in waiting craning their necks through the trapdoor, looking as piteous as their queen in their disordered gowns and headdresses. I look back on that moment with great pride in my lady, as she regained something of her regal bearing and bid them be still.
She turned back to me, a look of clarity on her face, and asked what I would advise. Wait and see was my reply, and now as I pen these words I again hear the jingling of the old grump's bells as accompaniment to my answer. This her majesty accepted, and so it was that she joined Crimson and myself in an anxious vigil on the highest tower after she'd dismissed her servants with some guardedly reassuring words.
A wary silence had fallen over the formerly celebrating castle, and many of its denizens did retreat to their bolt holes, barracks, and bowers, to tremble away their wakeful midsummer's eve 'neath blankets or even their entire beds.
Through the remainder of the night did we three abide beneath the open sky, fear giving way to cautious watchfulness, watchfulness in turn giving way to weariness and boredom as the steady beating of the magical beacon became almost hypnotic. Soon I found myself keeping watch alone with my thoughts, as my husband and her majesty each in turn nodded off. (One of them snores like a dragon, o diary, although as my lady's loyal servant I shall keep mum on which of them it might be.)
Presently, I remembered my ingenious gazing glass, and turned its lenses upon the Warming Heart, watching it pulse as the pink flames played across its surface. At the time I was uncertain as to whether I was seeing things, due to my attenuated state of wakefulness and the wine bottle now drained to its dregs at my hooves, but an impression of something stirring inside quite held my fascination through the small hours of the night.
I awoke my companions with a cry as the first rays of the sun shone gold in the eastern sky. We three, and surely many other pairs of wondering eyes about the castle if not across the face of Equestria, all watched as the Warming Heart, still beating a steady rhythm, began to sink down toward the main courtyard below.
Her majesty and I wheeled and bolted to the stairs, leaving Crimson lunging to catch my treasured gazing glass as I sent it toppling in my haste. (Earning him a kiss when he later told me of its rescue. In spite of all that has transpired I would have been heartbroken to find it shattered on the stones of the tower.)
After half tumbling down the stairs and tearing through the halls of the castle like pegasi through the clouds, we threw open the oaken doors leading onto the green. (Regrettably banging the noses of the guards who stood their posts outside. I must remind my lady to join me in making amends to those two unfortunate stalwarts for their bruises.)
Once there, we found a ring of wary servants and guards, keeping their distance from the Warming Heart, which now hovered a scant three hooves above the grass. There it sat, diminishing in size with each beat as wisps of its pink flame sublimed into the hazy morning air.
O diary, here my pen shakes in the grasp of my magic, as I think back upon what happened next. As the sun's golden light poured over the castle's battlements, the last of the Warming Heart's fire faded, leaving behind a pair of downy wings, as white as fresh fallen snow, which unfurled from around the slender body of a filly, her sleeping countenance wreathed 'round with silken tresses of the same glowing pink hue as the vanished beacon. A tapering horn that shone like a flawless pearl in the dawn adorned her serene brow. What manner of creature might this be? This I asked myself for the first time today, and as yet I have not discerned an answer. I have ne'er seen her like in all my days.
She settled gently to the green grass, her long legs folding beneath her in a motion so graceful I am near breathless at the memory of it, and lay still in the silence that had fallen over us all.
For long moments all the ponies stood watchful, with more and more glances being cast toward myself and my lady the Queen along with low murmurs of uncertainty. With her majesty close behind, I swallowed hard and willed my shaking legs to bear me forward toward this unearthly vision, who stirred at my tread upon the turf and raised her head, her eyelids fluttering open to meet my fascinated gaze with eyes the color of a pristine rose gleaming with drops of dew.
Again, o diary, my breath catches in my throat as I recall and try to describe the smile that lit up this gleaming creature's face at this moment. Scratches of ink on dull parchment can scarce convey the innocence, joy, and love that animated this Elysian filly's countenance.
She let out a wordless exclamation, not quite a laugh, nor a whinny, nor quite the cooing of an infant foal, but containing the sweetest essence of each, and struggled to her hooves, her wings flailing as she came blundering toward me rather like a tall stool that had been cast down a staircase. I was knocked back upon my rump as she reared up and threw both forelegs and wings about me in an embrace that nearly squeezed the very breath from my lungs with an uncanny strength for such a delicate slip of a girl.
Lacking any better course of action, as the Queen and her other subjects looked on in wonder, I went ahead and hugged this mysterious newcomer right back.
Whoever, or whatever, she was, she certainly seemed friendly enough.
 Lady Clover is referring here to her mentor Starswirl the Bearded in a difficult to translate Monoceric colloquialism that has largely dropped out of modern Equestrian usage. While it could be translated as "grandfather", "old stallion", or "greybeard", it doesn't imply direct kinship, it is also not purely neutral in tone, carrying as it does the implication of a mildly disrespectful or chiding tone. Modern readers should consider it a gentler, masculine version of our term "nag". While samples of Lady Clover's more formal writings refer to her teacher in highly honorific terms, it can be seen in her personal diary that the reverence that modern histories ascribe to our authoress was not quite as pronounced in reality. I find this quite wonderful, actually, as it adds something of a more equine element to these distant figures of history and legend.
 Here I feel I should give a little context regarding Lady Clover's husband Crimson Rose, who is largely obscured in the historical record by his wife's illustrious career. What records survive to our time tell us he was a lesser scion of a lesser branch of the Chromatic Houses of the old unicorn nobility, which are now not as widely known outside of certain rarified quarters of Canterlot. Remote from any hope of inheritance or title, but still highly educated and well brought up by his family, he'd become something of a bon vivant and poet in the royal court of the unicorns.
From what I've been able to glean from sections of Lady Clover's diaries not referenced in this account, it may have been Queen Platinum's hoof that nudged them together, and it's often inferred that the match was beneficial for them both on a social and economic level. Both families approved the marriage for their own reasons: Lady Clover, as is well known in our histories, was a daughter of the artisan class.
She hailed from a prosperous but humble clan of candlestick-makers, for whom marriage ties to one of the lesser noble houses was a considerable boon. For the house of Crimson, familial bonds with one of the Crown's closest advisors and a mare of such political prominence was highly desirable.
I'll also note, and I don't think Lady Clover would consider this a breach of her privacy, that based on clear threads of evidence woven through her diary, the clear headed scholar and the courtly poet were passionately in love with one another, a fact confirmed for me in discussions about the text with my sister in law Princess Cadance, whose word on such matters I trust implicitly.
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