Chapter 4 - Summer Solstice. Year 10 AE.
I awoke some time later, with my horn still throbbing slightly in its socket and twirling spots before my eyes that fled as I opened them to see the ceiling of my bower above me. By the length of the streaks of light coming from the window, I estimate it was sometime mid afternoon, which meant I had been out for hours.
I felt a stirring against my side, and looked down to see little Dawn nestled against me, her sleeping face streaked with tears, which explained the damp patch on my belly. I reached out to stroke her mane, so piteous did she look, but my hoof froze as it came back to me how I had come to be here.
What to my waking eyes seemed a small filly in troubled sleep, I now recalled as the blazing font of raw magical power I beheld with my dreaming eye, and knew full well the fear that Commander Hurricane must have felt, having sensed the vast thunderhead hiding within this tiny puff of cloud with her pegasus instincts. My own instincts whinnied at me to bolt from my bower and flee to the fastness of the dungeons, so strongly that I began to tremble.
This caused Dawn to awaken with a whimper, and when her eyes fluttered open to meet my gaze, she sighed my name with such sweetness, with such a look of relief on her little face, that my heart melted and bade my fears to gallop far away while I sat up to take the dear poppet into my embrace and nuzzle her cheek.
I turned with a start at the sound of my dearest Crimson asking for some of the same for a faithful husband who'd sat vigil at my bedside. And lo, there he was, looking worn and haggard as I doubtless looked, but he could have been thrice rolled in a hogs pen and still be ravishingly handsome to me for the love that shines in his eyes, and thus did I grasp his hoof and pull him close for a kiss.
When our lips parted, I became aware of a soft clearing of a mare's throat in the doorway, and looked to see dearest Pansy standing there, clad for travel with her pack and saddlebags secured for swift flight.
She begged our pardon in her usual deferential way, and approached my bedside to give my hoof a squeeze and my cheek a quick, sisterly kiss. She explained that she was about to set out with a small detachment of pegasi for Mane Hat to bear Chancellor Puddinhead and whatever other delegates the earth ponies thought it prudent to send, meeting my eyes with a nod of promise that she would make well sure that darling Cookie would be among the party even if she had to bundle Milkweed and all of the foals in a wagon and haul it herself overland.
I held her hoof to restrain her and begged her tell me what had happened in my lady the Queen's audience chamber before she left. Pansy assented with reluctance, telling me that she'd held off departing on the long journey to the coast until I'd awakened, but it takes little beyond a pleading, pouting face to get her to acquiesce in such matters.
She related to me that I'd met little Dawn's eyes as if I were about to speak to her, while my horn glimmered with the dim light of a minor spell. (It still amazes me, o diary, how perceptive our pegasi brothers and sisters are. That Pansy, while knowing naught of practical unicorn magic, could discern by sight how powerful a spell might be. Truly, they have eyes like hawks or falcons. But I digress.)
A moment later, she said with a shaking voice, I let forth a shriek like a banshee, and a flaming beam of pink light, so bright that it hurt to look upon, shot from my horn and cut a burning black swath in the vaulted ceiling above, while more pink light streamed out of my eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth. She said, in truth, I looked like one of the carved turnip lanterns the earth ponies make to fend off bogies and bogworries on The Night of Wandering Spirits. Then, she said, I reared up violently and fell flat on my back with my legs rigid and my face utterly blank.
I must confess, o diary, that my face was doubtless just as blank when she told me this, for my magical aura is usually more the green of my namesake flora. I cast another wary glance down at little Dawn, who seemed for now to be content to let me hold her in the crook of a foreleg.
Noting the direction of my gaze with her sharp vision, dear Pansy said that seeing me struck down by this mysterious fit had a terrible affect on the poor little filly, who stood staring in horror at my prostrate form with trembling legs and wings, and then broke down with copious tears and loud wailing. As she stood and wept, she began to glow with a white light, her pink mane flowing and blowing in a strong wind that not even the pegasi could feel.
Pansy gripped my hoof a bit tighter as she breathed a sigh of pent up tension. She told me that all the ponies in the audience chamber were on the verge of panic, with some of her comrades in Hurricane's guard taking wing and hurling themselves out the very windows. The audience chamber rang with cries that the newcomer had struck me down where I stood, and the pitch of terror rose as they wondered if they might be next.
There would have been a stampede for the exits had her Commander and my Queen not taken hold of the situation when they did. Hurricane unslung her spear and ascended over the heads of the assembly, brandishing it and ordering all in attendance to keep still and silent, and threatened that the first pony who tried to bolt would get skewered like a roast apple at the harvest bonfires. I cast another nervous glance at Dawn when I heard this, o diary, wondering what her reaction would be if she saw the Commander make good on this threat. Still, a palpable threat apparently trumped a hypothetical one, and the courtiers and remaining pegasi warriors subsided to a skittish stillness.
My lady Queen Platinum, Pansy told me with a gentle smile, was on her hooves and galloped to my side, casting off her crown so that she could listen at my chest. She on the verge of tears, my dear pegasus friend told me, when she arose to declare she could hear my heart beating, and that I should be borne forth to rest in my bower and be seen by the royal doctors forthwith. She declared her parley with Hurricane adjourned, and bade her court to disperse peacefully and return to their homes.
Darling Pansy, in her usual self effacing way, said she helped a little by getting Dawn to calm down, taking her into her wings and holding her tight. She stopped glowing and subsided to sniffles and sobs as she buried her face in Pansy's shoulder. I gave the dear filly a gentle squeeze, which caused her to give the sweetest of coos and snuggle into my side with a sigh.
I cannot help but marvel at this quiet pegasus' bravery yet again, remembering her steadfast embrace when she, dear Cookie, and I huddled together on the frigid edge of extinction with the Windegos closing in around us to lap up the last sparks of warmth from our hearts. And now her embrace cooled the raging inferno of this strange foundling's unknowable power, and she gave it despite the chance that she too might be smote senseless or dead by its capriciousness.
This I told her, which caused her in turn to blush softly and give her usual shrug and soft smile. Would that she could give me one of her comforting hugs now, but alas I shall have to wait until her return, as she pulled her hoof free from mine and took her leave, desiring to be on the wing to Mane Hat before the sun sank below the horizon. I wished her xasteriá in the fashion of the pegasi and she departed from us with a final kiss on little Dawn's forehead.
I sat in thought for some time, before I was jarred from my reverie by a loud growling from my stomach, with attendant pangs that reminded me with some vehemence that I'd not taken any food nor drink since last night's stargazing session with Crimson. Little Dawn stirred, her face alight with puzzlement, and pointed at and named my belly with an unmistakable note of question in her voice.
Almost as if on cue, my beloved husband returned, having slipped discreetly away while I spoke with Pansy, bearing a platter and a pitcher in his magic. With a flourish he laid the tray beside Dawn and I, and my stomach growled even more forcefully as I saw it was laden with a tall stack of honey soaked barley cakes and bowls of freshly picked blackberries and clotted cream. The pitcher bore cool, clear water from one of the castle's cloistered springs. This, he poured into a hovering goblet for me and a small cup for Dawn as she and I gazed at the bounty that he'd brought, me in hunger and she in curiosity.
I plucked a blackberry from the bowl with my magic and proffered it to her, but she merely stared at it, repeating the name as I told it to her. Seeing that I needed to perhaps demonstrate the concept of eating to her, I took up another plump berry and popped it into my mouth, chewing and swallowing it with relish. Mystified, she imitated me, snapping the floating morsel out of the air from my magical grasp.
O diary, the look upon her face when she tasted its sweetness, I daresay she was as thunderstruck by the new sensation as when I had been when I'd attempted to scry the depth of her power. She met my gaze, her voice trembling in awe, as she breathlessly repeated the word "bwackbewwy" to me.
My spirits were instantly lifted at this display of innocent joy, and with a laugh I picked another juicy looking one, this time dipping it in the clotted cream before offering it to her. I was taken aback by what she did next, as she pinched her lips closed and averted her little snout. She then met my gaze and pointed at it and said "Cwovuh bwackbewwy." Bless her heart, I realized that it was my turn to eat, and so eat it I did, savoring both the sweetness of the berry and the sweetness of this child as well. She was on her hooves and bouncing as I dipped another berry in the cream and gave it to her, and its taste sent her prancing and gamboling in a little circle on my mattress as she sang the new words she learned. And thus, between us, we licked the platter clean and emptied the pitcher, as my dear Crimson watched with a bemused smile on his face and a gleam in his eye.
As he stood to take away the empty dishes he leaned in to whisper in my ear that he looked forward to the day when he could watch me nurture foals of our own so well. I blushed and bade him stop being such a knave and go fetch us warm water and a washcloth to clean the purple stains that commemorated our solstice meal on our muzzles. He gave me a bow and a flourish and another kiss on the cheek, then sallied forth on his new quest with a merry laugh.
Dawn and I were still sticky with honey and berry juice when my lady Queen Platinum appeared at my door, eliciting further blushes and a flustered bow from me as the clever little filly pointed at her majesty and called her name based on my startled exclamation at my lady liege's arrival.
Lacking any better ideas, I proceeded to give my lady a more formal introduction to little Dawn Heart, apologizing for our unseemly state. Her gracious majesty tossed her flaxen mane and assured me that I needn't be so formal since we weren't at court, and dismissed the knights and ladies in waiting who attended her outside with a flick of her horn, slamming the door behind them in a most perfunctory manner with her magic.
She then lifted her crown off and set it on my bedside table, unclasped her stately cloak and laid it across my old dowry chest, removed her jeweled shoes, and then climbed up on the mattress with Dawn and I, letting out a sigh of surpassing weariness as she settled down beside me. She sat patiently as the little filly clambered across me to give her a kiss on the cheek and a hug with a wing, not seeming to care that the eager child was smearing berry juice on my lady's immaculate pale coat.
Dear Platinum turned to me and asked me in a soft voice to speak to her of all that had transpired that day, and give her my honest thoughts on what it would mean to the realm and to the ponies who abided therein. She told me that she'd spoken at length with her high ministers of the court as queen and advisers. She'd spoken with Commander Hurricane as states-mares and leaders of their respective tribes. Now she wished to speak to her most trusted friend.
And thus we spoke mare to mare, with little Dawn nestled between us with her wings spread across our withers, listening intently if not understanding as we talked. Crimson returned, startled then solemn as he left a vessel of warm water and a cloth, then backed out with a bow. I told Platinum of all I'd observed and experienced this night and day, of all I'd discussed with Hurricane and Pansy, and of all I hoped Cookie and even Puddinhead, in her inexplicable way, might help us to make clear.
As I made myself useful cleaning the cloying remains of our meal off of Dawn and myself, while the dear filly wriggled and giggled in my grasp, Platinum became pensive and digested what I had said as she dabbed away the stains of our newcomer's kisses. She said she understood what Hurricane had said about power quite well, expounding that physical or magical force weren't the only sorts of strength that could do great good or wreak great woe if used capriciously. Political and social power could ruin lives if wielded selfishly or without thought. I will own to moistened eyes as she met my gaze and thanked the maker above that she'd had me around to help polish and shape her with my wise council into a more thoughtful ruler than the flighty, arrogant princess she was in her youth.
She cast a wary look at Dawn and took my hoof in her own, and said that it was imperative that this child be brought up with wisdom, kindness, and humility. She feared for Equestria and ponykind if a being of such power and innocence were allowed to become corrupted by that power.
Therefore, she said, that when the earth ponies arrived and we convened our meeting, she would recommend that I be appointed official tutor, mentor, and guide to Dawn Heart. Well it was, o diary, that I was laid upon my bed, for in truth the immensity of what she asked came crashing down upon me and would have sent me tumbling to the floor for the second time today had I been standing.
The stunned silence was broken as Dawn's little tummy rumbled, and she declared in her simple way that more blackberries and cakes were in order. She giggled in innocent glee as her charming request caused Platinum and I to break into uproarious, honest laughter.
With a wry chuckle still on her lips, my lady the queen arose and put on her raiment once more, and bid us come with her to partake of the midsummer feast, which was well underway by now. When I demurred at the thought of little Dawn causing an uproar among the nobles and courtiers, my queen nodded thoughtfully, and then declared that we would repair to her majesty's personal chambers, where we might enjoy our repast in less hectic surroundings.
And thus did I while away the rest of the day in the pleasant company of my beloved husband, whom in her graciousness my lady the Queen sent for to join us, and the mysterious filly whose arrival brought with her I know not what changes for our new forged nation. These I strove to lay aside for later as they laid us out a splendid table in her majesty's opulent chambers.
Little Dawn learned many new words and the fine dishes that they were attached to, marveling at each new flavor with untrammeled wonder. (Although I am not surprised, o diary, that the dear poppet has a tremendous sweet tooth, and a tremendous appetite as well, which rivals her physical strength and magical power in how shocking it is to behold.)
My lady the Queen was mostly involved with the main festivities going on in the grand hall, but made a point to stop in and visit with us for a time. Her excellency Commander Hurricane also stopped in, having been persuaded to spend the night as a guest of the royal court rather than return to her encampment on the western border, since tomorrow the earth ponies would join us. She slipped into the room and settled by the window as Crimson tuned up his viol and played for us, her normally stern face glowing with a soft smile and gently misted eyes as she sat and calmed her fierce warrior's heart to the sweet airs my beloved could spin from his instrument's strings.
Dawn was enraptured as soon as he began to play, drinking in the melodies with her ears as eagerly as she'd emptied the bowls of blackberries my lady the Queen's servants had been bidden to bring us. She laughed and pranced and capered at the lively, merry reels, and went still and sweetly attentive at the slow, sad ballads and rustic folk tunes of the old lands.
Finally, as the sun glowed red on the horizon at the end of its longest day, the soft strains of Crimson's viol weighed down the dear filly's eyelids, and in turn did her head fall gently into my lap as we sat together on one of my lady's brocade cushions. Bidding us good morrow, Hurricane took wing to find a cloud to sleep on, while Crimson and I thanked my lady's servants and retired to our rooms, carefully carrying Dawn with us in a cloud of magic. We emptied my old dowry chest and removed the lid, and then filled it with pillows and blankets to make the little filly a bed, laying her gently down in it and then bidding one another good night.
I lay awake, unable to sleep, thinking hard on all that had happened, until the distant sound of revelry in the castle dimmed down to the stillness of the late hours. And thus I come to where I began this entry, and so I wonder if
Dawn is awake and wants to sit up with me. More to come later, o diary. Good night. 
 The Night of Wandering Spirits was an ancient precursor of what would eventually be known to modern Equestrians as Nightmare Night, although it was much more a vigil against the numerous ephemeral creatures that haunted the remote corners of Equestria. "Bogies" is as close as I can translate Lady Clover's generalized term for a class of scary or mischievous spirits that could be driven off with hollowed out turnips or gourds carved with funny faces. These eventually evolved into the jack-o-lanterns we carve from pumpkins in modern times.
Bogworries are a a dreadful cousin of the windegos and dust devils (thankfully just as rare in these peaceful times), that appear as inky black equine specters with a sinuous tendril growing from their forehead like a twisted unicorn's horn. They haunt lonely bogs and swamps, and feed on fear just as their horrible relatives feed on hatred or despair. They are particularly averse to laughter and smiles, and will flee if boldly ridiculed. So if you ever meet one remember to "giggle at the ghosties" as my dear friend Pinkie Pie would say.
 Still adorable. Again, I'm paraphrasing from the original High Monoceric.
 Sadly, Lady Clover and Crimson Rose's union thus far had been childless, which was not for lack of trying as some very private passages attest. I say "sadly" for Lady Clover's sake, even though in light of her accomplishments as a luminary, mage, and politician she lived a truly full and remarkable life, because she deeply desired to raise a family as well, and the passages where she dwells on the possibility that she can't are frequently passages where I discovered evidence of her tears that I mentioned in my forward. I wish, from my historian's perspective, that she could read ahead in her diary and see what was in store for her.
 I must beg Lady Clover's posthumous forgiveness for even partially reading these, and I promise they were hastily moved past as soon as I'd realized what they spoke of. I also must thank Princess Celestia once again for her patience and gentle guidance in getting my face to return to its normal shade of lavender afterwards.
Translator's Co-Sovereign & Mentor's Sister's Hoofnote:
 Poor old Clover didn't know the half of it. I find it endlessly ironic that I was the one who wound up with a reputation for gobbling things up.- P.L. 
Translator's Mentor's Hoofnote:
 Quiet you!- P.C. 
 Lady Clover cut off suddenly here, the addendum with explanatory note was much more hastily scrawled.
 With all due respect, your highnesses, I'm going to stop letting you proofread my monographs if you're going to clutter up my hoofnotes with this sort of nonsense.
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