A purple pony sat at a desk in her tower pouring herself over many old books. She would read one, grab another, throw a third, and repeat until finally she was sure. Something bad was coming. She had seen the signs in her story books and fairytales of old and cross checking them with historical documents told her everything she needed.
She ran out of her tower as quick as she could and made a path straight for Celestia’s castle. Only as one as intelligent and grand as her teacher could understand the danger here. She knew knew that if nothing would be done then the vile Nightmare Moon would surely be resurrected soon, just not where or how. She ran past many of the upper class doing little and the guards doing even less. Up the castle steps she galloped before coming to a stop at the grand doors of the castle. Throwing a hoof to her face she realized she had forgotten to bring her research. “Evidence is always the most important part.” She muttered as her horn flared up. Her body was wrapped up in a web of light and she popped out of reality for but a moment, only to reappear at her tower. Using her magic she grabbed and filled her saddle bags with everything she had been studying before once more running out of the tower.
Out of breath but now ready she opened the castle’s doors. Up the stairs she trotted and around several corners she went in search for her beloved teacher. She was not in the gardens where they would bask in the sunshine with picnics nor was she in the library where they would read fantastical stories. With the fun places checked she headed for the throne room instead. Gently opening the doors and poking her head into the large room she found Celestia writing some paperwork on the throne. Happy her search was over she entered.
“Princess Celestia, I have urgent news!” She called out loudly.
“Oh Starlight Glimmer, I have some important news as well.” Celestia replied with a warm smile.
Starlight wanted to tell her the important news but she could never talk over her teacher or interrupt her either. She instead sat on the red carpet and listened to everything Celestia had to tell her. Just as Celestia was finishing with the information, one piece stood out. “What do you mean I am moving to Ponyville?!” Starlight shouted before throwing a hoof over her mouth.
“Never fear, it will be only for a short time. They are taking care of the summer sun celebrations and the town has been growing so much of late that I thought it good to have a change of scenery. I want you to oversee the preparations.” Celestia explained as she walked along the halls of the Canterlot palace. Leaning down she whispered, “Do have some fun and make some friends while you are there.”
Starlight nodded and agreed. What else was she supposed to do, say no to the princess of the country that also was an immortal god that literally rose the sun every day? Oh no no that could not do at all. The princess had gave her a goal and she had to go and see it through. Running back to her room her horn lit up and in an impressive show of magical skill she pulled objects, clothes and mementos all to herself before shrinking them down and fitting everything she owned in a single large suitcase. Starlight was so quick that the royal escort had only just gotten the carriage ready for her when she popped up ready to go with a smile.
Flying down from the mountain city of Canterlot to the small rural town of Ponyville below she had much to think on but what distracted her was that the “small rural town” was in fact much bigger than she remembered. There were clearly new buildings here that were more modern and larger than the rest and the town border had pushed so far in some directions that it now bordered the Everfree Forest.
“That can not be right.” Starlight muttered to herself. “I saw Ponyville only some years back and it did not look anything like this.
The flying carriage landed near the town center. After giving the pegasi drivers a wave goodbye Starlight pulled a long list out of her saddlebag. There were many things to do and she would rather get them done now rather than later. The first thing to check on was the apple orchard on the east edge of the town that would be taking care of catering. Rolling the scroll up she suddenly was sent flying to the ground as a jogging purple pony collided with her.
“Sorry.” The purple pony said.
“It’s fine. Ehm, how do I get to Sweet Apple acres?” Starlight asked.
The purple pony simply swept up the scrolls she had dropped and pointed in a direction. Before Starlight could ask more the purple pony had already ran off. She shrugged. It would be rude to keep a pony who was clearly very busy doing something. Heading in the direction she had been given Starlight quickly found the houses thinning out. In their place sat patches of construction, noisy places with many ponies rushing around to build things as quick as was possible. The skeletal structures of these buildings were impressive even now as many stood taller than most other buildings in the town and some others were so wide that you could fit several houses in the space. As she turned a corner Starlight found these patches to end suddenly, as if an invisible line had been drawn between town and outskirts.
These outskirts stretched on ahead of her for a great distance and even from here they were truly beautiful. The very air seemed to smell like fruits and flowers all in bloom while the grass grew thick and lush. She passed several ponies sleeping in the shade and having picnics along the hills while several others in simple uniforms worked to pick the trees overflowing with large apples. Peaceful could not even full describe the mood here and it made her wish she could just lay down and spend the entire day under the shade of these trees. The stone road quickly turned to packed dirt and the trees grew denser. So much in fact that it reminded Starlight less of an orchard and more of a great forest. With a large farm and several buildings coming up she took a right onto the property.
“Well how do you do Miss Starlight, name’s Applejack and here at Sweet Apple Acres we sure do love making new friends.” An orange pony called out with a wink.
“H-how do you know my name?” Starlight answered as she tried to stop her legs from shuddering.
“Pays to be in the know and know who from who!” Applejack replied while pushing Starlight further into the farm. “I hear you are the one checking on the celebration so I figure you would be wanting to sample our food?”
“Well… Yes.” Starlight replied as she got pushed onto a chair that has been laid out in front of a massive table. It was quite the scene and being in the shade of a huge tree was quite nice as well. Applejack rang a triangle hanging on a post and just like that dozens of ponies with apple based cutie marks appeared from seemingly nowhere.
“Now, why don’t I introduce you to the apple family. Each one has a signature recipe that they would sure love to use in the celebration so no pressure!” Applejack explained as the hoard of ponies lined up without a word. “You got Apple Fritter, Apple Bumpkin, Red Gala, Red and Golden Delicious, Caramel Apple, Apple Strudel, Apple Cobbler, Apple Brioche and Apple Cinnamon crisp!” She listed out as each put a plate of fresh food matching the name down on the table. “There is also my sister Applebloom, my brother Big Mac and of course Granny Smith.”
“Well I see that food is handled so I should be going…” Starlight spoke up just as Applejack shoved a piece of pie in her mouth.
“Aw come now what about tasting? And we need to sort the orders out too.” Applejack quickly added. Starlight admitted there was a lot of food and since it was her job she did have to make sure it was all up to standard. As they ate however Applejack started to talk more and more about the costs of things, catering is hardy cheap and you had to balance so many things lest you be wasteful in one way or another. Starlight tried to listen but between all the family members and taking notes on each of the dozens of meals she found herself swept up in so much chatter. “I was thinking of doing a reverse bi-standard order of 3 for 2 over a set amount of… Tsk where is my manners. How about you just sign this here invoice so we can let you get back to work.” Applejack said while putting a piece of finely cut and gold trimmed paper down on the table.
“Oh sure let me see.” Starlight replied but a second later the young filly Applebloom caught her attention.
“Sorry we were taking so long.” Applebloom spoke with large and adorable eyes looking up to Starlight. “We really do need to get back to work. It is harvest season at the same time as the celebration and we are all tired.” Starlight looked from pony to pony and came to the conclusion that she had been rude, taking up so much time and not even telling them what food was good. She had so many more to test… Nodding she signed the paperwork and slid it back.
“Thanks. Sorry for taking so long, all the food was nice so just order it all.” Starlight spoke as began to trot away from the crowd of Apples. Applejack bid her farewell and much thanks for understanding.
“Did I do it right?” Applebloom asked her big sis once Starlight had gone.
“Perfect, easiest deal we made and now we can invoice Canterlot enough to pay for several new acres!” Applejack replied with a grin.
With catering now sorted out the next thing on the list was to check the weather ponies. The celebration needed both a sunny day and a calm night and so even a single stray cloud would not do. She knew that they would be somewhere above ponyville but once more she found herself lost in this sprawling town. As she entered from the south she spotted a pink pony with a single cherry inside of a heart for a cutie mark standing outside a rather large and ornate looking building. Waving to her she trotted over to get some help.
“Hello, my name is Starlight Glimmer. I am looking for the weather team?” She asked. The pink pony looked her way slowly. She blinked almost lazily. Those eyes had so much weight and Starlight could feel herself being made small under them.
“You are new to ponyville hm. It can be quite confusing, most still expect a bunch of houses in a field.” The pink pony walked over to her with a slight swing to the hips and a rhythmic waltz to her steps. “Pinkie Pie, the pleasure is all mine.”
“Ok.” Starlight replied as Pinkie circled her. Those eyes looked everywhere while her hoof steps were as soft as silk upon the ground.
“Come.” Pinkie said as she moved around and into the huge building behind her.
Starlight found the inside to be amazing. The entrance was a huge room that had plush seats and sofas set up around coffee tables, a large desk further into it and twin grand staircases curving up and around. Everything was pink, purple, black and gold. Even the lights seemed to have a red tint to everything. Oh and the air. It was thick and spiced thanks to several hanging censers but through it was this slight almost sweet scent that made Starlight’s body feel all warm. Pinkie lay herself down on a sofa that sat away from the other crowds of ponies and gave Starlight a wave to join her. “Is this some kind of restaurant?” Starlight asked.
“You could say that, everypony who comes to the Cherry Pie arrives hungry but always leaves satisfied.”
“Uh-huh, sounds nice but it sure does look expensive.” Starlight commented as she looked around the gilded halls and decorations.
“We are very accommodating.” Pinkie replied with a smirk. A peach colored pony with red and yellow hair came to them in an instant. She dropped off two shapely glasses full of tropical looking juice, topped with ice, and complete with slices of strawberries. “Thanks Sunset.” Pinkie said with a wink before giving a nod to Starlight to try some herself. Starlight took it with her magic and took a sip. An avalanche of fruit flavors washed over her, leaving her shuddering and head spinning. Despite the effects she quite enjoyed it and so took a bigger sip.
“So ehm, why am I here again?” Starlight asked.
“Wanted to welcome you to the town. Heard you are overseeing the celebration.”
“Oh right, do you know where the weather ponies are?”
“Relax. It is not even noon yet.” Pinkie replied as she took a long drink of the fruit punch. “Why don’t you tell me a bit more about yourself.”
“Grew up in Canterlot. I am Celestia’s pupil and current star of her school for gifted unicorns. Currently I am here to check on the celebration and my word does this drink tastes nice.”
Pinkie let out a small laugh. “You need to slow down sweetie. See the sights while you are here, we have a lot to offer. Both us and this town.” Pinkie spoke slowly and true to her words. Pausing for another swig of her drink she continued. “I know that I do love my work but even I have to drag myself out of my bed sometimes. What about you?” Pinkie asked.
“I prefer to study or get work done and then return to study.”
“Oh, you enjoy hitting the books. I do love a mare that knows how to enjoy the grind.” Pinkie finished the drink just as Starlight was realizing that it was not normal fruit juice. “Do tell, are you more of a hardcover or soft?”
“I… what?” Starlight replied as she began to get lost in the sea of warm sensations her body was feeling.
“You know. Cheese or crackers? Sausage or gravy? Long walks on the beach or short walks in the woods? Screws or bolts? Glazing donuts, petting the bunny, chewing the fat?” Pinkie continued as her sly smile got wider and wider.
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Starlight replied with a loose roll of her head.
Pinkie leaned in close to her and waved for Starlight to get closer. She just managed to lean a bit closer without falling off the seat. “Do you like cock or pussy.” Pinkie whispered into her ear. Starlight sat frozen for a second before her face turned the brightest shade of crimson and she shot to her hooves. Falling over the table she got up and scoffed.
“W-what kind of… Of all the questions… Such a bad word… I have never…” Starlight ranted as she made for the door in staggered steps.
“Hey sweetie, town hall has maps. Do take care of yourself.” Pinkie shouted as she finished Starlight’s drink. Watching Starlight stagger out of the door in a huff Pinkie could only giggle. “Oh she is just a treat.”
After throwing her head into the town lake for a moment Starlight managed to pull herself to the town hall. Sure enough she had somehow managed to miss the giant signs pointing to the visitor’s section. One bought map later and she was back on track with the preparations. The weather team tended to circle from one side of the town to the other and they should be around the west side currently. Taking a look to the sky and finding it was still before noon, just as Pinkie had said, she decided to go check on them later. The decorations and main celebration was taking place at the ground floor of the town hall after all so it would be smart to do things closest to farthest… It also did not help that her head was spinning so hard that Starlight did not know if she could make it across town.
Heading down from the visitor's section she and across a few halls she exited out into a huge ornate room that had a balcony overlooking a large area. It already looked quite nice but since later today Celestia herself would be giving a speech here Starlight wanted to make sure the decorations were perfect. “Hello, my name is Starlight Glimmer.” She said to a white unicorn who had a single diamond for a cutie mark. She stood looking over a large box of gemstones. Pushing up the glasses she wore, the white unicorn gave Starlight a look through her long mane and turned away shyly. “What is your name?” Starlight asked.
The pony gave some quiet muttering back and continued to pull out gemstones, only to then put them back into the box. Starlight gave a cough to try and break the silence and a quiet “Rarity,” was finally given.
“Nice to meet you rarity. Are you in charge of decorations?”
“No.” Rarity replied as she adjusted her glasses.
“Ah well, do you know who is?”
“Hm. Can you tell me where they are?”
“So… Are they here?”
“Great, ahem, so what are you doing?”
“Finding Dazeinite.” Rarity replied sounding the most confident yet. She picked out the last of the gems from the huge box and left them on a nearby table for the others.
“Do you need help with that?” Starlight asked, trying to be nice.
“Nope.” Rarity answered as she used her magic to lift the massive box full of large stones straight onto her back with ease. “Good bye.” Rarity added as she left through the larger doors.
After waiting for the head of the decoration team to come back she did a quick check before promptly leaving to go see the weather team, followed by the music team and a few others. With everything working perfectly she decided to head to her new home for some rest. It was nice enough home to be fair, a large and well built house sitting on the edge of the river that flowed through the east side of the town. It had tons of books in the upstairs bedroom area and the downstairs was very well furnished, having some things that even Caterlot did not have. So much so that there was even a booklet on the new and fancy additions as well as how to use them. Flicking open the book she skimmed through it before stopping to read a page a few times over.
Curious, scared and more than a little doubtful she read the passage for the tenth time before putting the book down. Scanning the walls she found it. A switch near the front door. Slowly stepping over to it she raised a hoof and hesitated for a moment before flicking it. The lights came on above her and she instantly flicked it back off.
“Lightning… In the walls?!” She barked terrified. Sure some places had gas lighting and central plumbing but a full city sized electrical grid? Witch craft… crazy pony hubris! Too tired to deal with such ideas for the time being she lit up some good old normal candles for when it got darker and took one upstairs to check out the bedroom. Placing the candle on the stand she found the bed to be impressive. Easily a double and a half and able to fit three ponies if they so wished to share the space. Laying down on it her eyes felt heavy all of a sudden. Not realizing how drunk she still was she only had to close them for a moment to fall asleep. It was a quick rest but a deep one and by the time she woke up it was very late. She had no doubt missed a good part of the day celebration but the night half would be starting soon and that had Celestia’s important speech. A quick brush of the teeth and mane later and she was ready to take on the night.
The sight she was greeted by however shocked her. The entire area around town hall had tents selling food, areas to dance and small games to play. The heat and bounce of the celebration was beautiful, spectacular even. Lamp post like pillars used carved crystal bulbs to shine bright but soft light over wide areas allowing ponies to play in the cool dim of night as if it was still daylight. Spotting Pinkie pie talking to a few large stallions that looked surprisingly nervous and shy she stopped in her tracks. Pinkie only gave her a single glance before Starlight decided to take the nearest right down the cracks between some tents. Popping out she continued her slow trot to the town hall but found herself in quite the line of others waiting to get in.
“Busy eh?” A voice asked from behind her. Turning she found a blue pony with a bright rainbow mane, and a rainbow quill cutie mark to match.
“More so than I expected.” Starlight replied.
“Everypony wants to see Celestia. I am looking forward to the speech myself.”
“I am sure a lot are.”
“Durr but did you know that 600 years ago the celebration used to have jousting and live combat to see who would win the grand prize?” Dash randomly told her.
“I didn’t but those were common activities of that time period.”
“Oh oh, do you know that the grand prize was suncake? There is not even a record of what a suncake is!”
“I… what?” Starlight asked as her train of thought had been tossed off a cliff.
“Name’s Rainbow Dash. The library has all kinds of silly, dusty, story books you know... Oh hold that thought, my soup is ready.” Rainbow said before suddenly skipping off into the crowd of ponies.
Starlight could only shake her head at the strange pegasis and thankfully the line was moving pretty quickly. Within a few minutes she entered into the main room of the town hall to find it all lit up beautifully with more crystal lights. Just as Starlight had slipped into the crowd the show had started. A line of musicians loudly played the introductory royal tune and the lights started to dim. Just as it all faded to black a spotlight lit up on the mayor of the town.
“Fillies and gentlecolts, as mayor of Ponyville it is my great pleasure to announce the beginning of the Summer Sun Celebration!” She paused to let the crowd cheer her on before continuing. “In just a few short moments our town will witness the magic of the sunrise and celebrate this, the longest day of the year. Without any delay, it is my great honor to introduce to you the ruler of our land, the very pony who rises the sun and the moon each and every day, the good, the wise, the bringer of harmony to all of Equestria… Princess Celestia!” The mayor waved a hoof up and the spotlight rose on the balcony above but when the curtains were pulled back there was nothing. The crowd quickly fell into quiet murmurs and whispers.
“This can not be good.” Starlight muttered to herself.
“Remain calm everypony. There must be a reasonable explanation.” The mayor spoke.
“Maybe she is eating suncakes.” Rainbow whispered into Starlight’s ear, causing her to accidentally bump into the ponies next to her. Giving a shy smile as an apology the crowd began to murmur something louder and all eyes were drawn up to the balcony. A blue mist started to form and swirl, it looked as deep as the night sky and was even studded with shining stars. It spun and stirred before suddenly disappearing with a poof. In its place stood a jet black mare with royal looking blue armor.
“Nightmare Moon…” Starlight spoke out loud in fear.
“Oh my beloved subjects. It has been so long since I have seen your precious little sun loving faces…” Nightmare Moon said. Her voice was quiet as the cold wind of the night and as elegant as any queen.
“What did you do with our princess?” A voice shouted out from the crowd. Nightmare Moon let out a small laugh.
“Why, am I not royal enough for you? Don’t you know who I am?” She replied with a glare that left everypony feeling small, and scared.
“Anti-Celestia? Queen Licorice? Oh what about... “ Dash listed before Applejack crammed a small cake in her mouth to keep her quiet.
“Does my crown no longer count now that I have been imprisoned for a thousand years? Did you not recall the legends, did you not see the signs?” Nightmare moon asked as her misty night sky like hair coiled around her.
“I did and I know who you are.” Starlight called out. “The mare in the moon, Nightmare Moon!” The crowd loudly gasped and whispered to each other over this most dire of news.
“Well well well somepony who remembers me. Then you also know why I am here?”
Starlight stepped forward from the crowd. “Yes and I won’t let you.” Her horn flared up with brilliant sparks of magic but Nightmare Moon simply laughed at her.
“You would challenge me? The one who defeated even Celestia?” Nightmare Moon asked as she looked down to Starlight. She hesitated and her magic faded. She knew she was nowhere near as strong as Celestia, she was the greatest and most powerful after all. “That is what I thought. Remember this day you foals for it is your last. From this moment forth, the night will last forever!” With that her misty mane started to swirl and spin into a storm, lightning crashing against the walls of the town hall. Windows shattered and ponies ran in all directions to escape.