Note to those reading the multi-chapter “The Enchanted Library” : This is the original fic that inspired the proper EL multi chapter. This is NOT canon to the multi-chapter as this was written without having a continuation planned therefore had I used this as canon, there would be a lot of plotholes and difficulties and it would be a mess. Take this as a first draft, of sorts. Again, if you are reading the multi-chapter, please keep in mind this is not canon to that timeline or fic so there will be contradictions if you compare. Thank you!
The Enchanted Library
“Mommy? Can you tell me the story of the princesses?”
“Sweetheart, your little sister is sleeping. We might wake her up.”
“Oh, please, mommy?”
Once upon a time, in the distant past of our land, there were four beloved princesses, not just one. They brought joy to the kingdom, reigning with wisdom, compassion, and boundless love for the souls throughout the earth, the sea, and the sky. The eldest princesses, sisters as beautiful as the sun and the moon which they raised, ruled over the kingdom in unison.
The Princess of the Sun, with a coat of pale pink and rainbow colored mane, was the eldest sister. Every morning she raised the sun, bringing forth the day for her ponies to play and bask in. She encouraged learning and teaching above all, hoping to inspire her ponies to strive for greatness.
The younger sister was the Princess of the moon, her coat blue as the night she brought forth, and her hair shining with the stars she painted for her ponies. Her task was to care for the ponies in their sleep, guarding their dreams from frightening thoughts and visions.
The third princess was a mare who ruled over the fields of crystal, whose enduring love for her ponies nurtured the land, blossoming warmth and joy into the hearts of even the coldest of beings.
Finally, the fourth and youngest princess, though not as skilled in governing as the others, possessed magic skills unmatched throughout the kingdom and a love for knowledge that ran as deep as the questions in the universe. The sound of her quill scratching against scrolls was rumored to be the endless melody that permeated the castle’s library, even in the late hours of the night when all but her rested their eyes. Her only companion besides her beloved books was rumored to be a fearsome creature of purple and green, who loved her greatly and was greatly loved in return.
However, for everything good in the world, there must also be an evil. For the world strives for balance.
There lived a Spirit of Disharmony in the world who, at one point in time, had sought to remake the world into his very own playground. He cared for nopony but himself, and the only laughter he brought forth was his own as he turned ponies into twisted versions of themselves.
At one point, the princesses worked together, and managed, through discourse and diplomacy, to tame this wild monster. They made peace, and the Spirit of Disharmony was appeased, for a time.
So, things went on. The four princesses ruled in peace and harmony, and the Spirit was allowed some mischief as long as nopony was harmed. Until, one terrible day, a great offense was made towards the Spirit of Disharmony, and calamity befell the land.
As a child, the Everfree forest had once been a source of fear for Rarity, tales of the horrors hidden within a warning for her to never set hoof inside it. Now, after having crossed through its pathways and labyrinths so many times, it had become a place of wonder and beauty, leading her inside her very own private fairytale.
Though it was still morning when she left Carousel Boutique, one would think twilight had descended upon the forest, rays of sunshine barely making their way through the trees surrounding her. The smell of musty leaves wafted through the air, filling her nose with the scent she had once found awful but had now learned to appreciate. Dried leaves cracked under her boots as she listened to the sounds of the forest: owls in the trees, wild animals and bugs scurrying through the ground, and the distant howling of timberwolves.
Timberwolves didn’t frighten her, of course. The path she had been instructed to take was the safest one, and Rarity trusted the instructions considering they came from somepony who had called Everfree Forest her home for quite a long time.
Even though she had securely attached her saddlebag to her sides, the fabric thumped against her coat with every quick step she took. She hoped the contents of the bag would not break; they had been an expensive purchase, after all, even if their eventual owner would never find out the exact price. She paused to take a look inside the bag, making sure all was in order. Once done, she glanced to her side and saw a light in the distance. If it had been any other day, she’d have paid Zecora a visit, but she was already running late to see the other inhabitant of the forest. She had grown strangely attached to her most recent… odd friend, and she’d honestly hate to make her wait.
After a few dozen more minutes of trotting, Rarity couldn’t help but smile upon reaching her coveted destination: an immense oak tree, covered in vines and foliage. It didn’t matter how many times she saw it, a strange sensation of awe and humility overcame Rarity whenever she was in its presence. She had always felt something rather… magical about it. No doubt a lingering influence of its history and the secret that lay buried beneath its roots. The only thing that gave away the tree’s unnatural history was a single oval window near the top, light shining from within the cracked glass.
With great care, almost fearful of somehow disrespecting the ancient oak, she stepped over the large roots sticking out of the ground and reached the base. It was muddy and dirty, and though her common treks against the forest had made her a little less abhorred by filth, it was still the one thing she disliked of the forest. The sacrifices I do for her, she thought, levitating to the side a pile of filthy leaves and rocks, unearthing a worn-out wooden trap door. The doors creaked open and revealed a tunnel with stairs she used to go underground, a glow in the distance guiding her path.
Much like the old oak tree, the sight at the end of the stairs still left her short of breath no matter how many times she saw it. An extensive room lay before her, filled with seemingly endless rows and rows of bookcases and illuminated by magical chandeliers which floated across the ceiling. “Hello?” she called out, taking off her boots and putting them next to the tunnel’s entrance. The entrance of the tunnel was pockmarked with scorched holes and scars, giving the odd impression that somepony had tried to blow their way out of a tunnel despite it never having been blocked in the first place. “Anypony home?” she called once more, turning away from the door.
Neatly stacked piles of book towered over the mare as she maneuvered around them, trotting further into the depths of the library in search of her friend. One day, she hoped to be spared of the silly hide-and-seek game she was forced to play every time she visited. Eventually, she reached a spiral staircase that lead to the floor below, where even more bookshelves could be seen.
“Are you planning on ever making an appearance?” she called out, her voice echoing in the floor below. She waited a few minutes for an answer but when none came, she sighed and straightened herself up, mumbling under her breath, “Honestly, do I always have to send books tumbling down to grab her attention?”
With a startled “Eep!”, Rarity turned around to find a mare sitting behind her. “Twilight, must you really feel inclined to frighten me all the time?”
Twilight didn’t reply immediately, looking at Rarity with narrowed eyes and a sombre expression. Her lavender wings were neatly tucked against her body whilst her horn tasked itself with levitating an open book, indicating she had been reading before Rarity arrived — then again, when wasn’t she reading? There was an ethereal aura surrounding Twilight, which only served to emphasize what an unnaturally beautiful sight she was to her. There was also the matter of her mane which, much to Rarity’s neverending jealousy, was still as flowy and twinkling as ever. The things she’d do for a shampoo that made her mane act in such a fabulous way.
“Did you bring the book?”
Nopony knows for certain what brought such anger to the Spirit of Disharmony. Some legends say he simply wished to take over the kingdom, while others claim his peace treaty with the princesses was broken when they denied him a simple request. After his initial anger had subsided, he apologized to them, claiming the intent of overlooking the act of insolence he felt had taken place. The princesses, clever and wise as they were, doubted his sincerity and tasked themselves with retrieving the only magical weapons that could defeat him.
However, when they reached the hiding place of the magical gems, they discovered they had been stolen by the Spirit, his unsettling laughter echoing through the halls of the castle. The Spirit scattered the precious gems across the land, leaving them only the one that rested inside the crown of the youngest princess.
The kingdom in peril, the four princesses devised a plan to find the stolen gems and defeat the villainous Spirit of Disharmony. The princess of love and kindness was to stay in the capital’s castle, ruling in stead of the others and preventing fear and discord from entering the hearts of ponies. The other three princesses set off on a journey to retrieve what had been lost, traveling in three different directions and falling for The Spirit’s ruse.
Unbeknownst to the three princesses, he followed them during their quest and plotted against them.
Rarity smiled at her, opening her bag and levitating the newest edition of Daring Do. The moment she had introduced the series to her, Twilight had been completely hooked and practically begged to be brought the rest. “Now, when have I ever failed you?” she asked, secretly delighting in the excited grin on Twilight’s face.
Twilight’s happy moments where one of the things Rarity had grown very fond of, if only by how rare they used to be. When they first met four months ago, she was always so serious and cold, but sometimes… Sometimes she’d loosen up a little and offer a glimpse of who she really was before solitude forced her to put on a mask. It was a delight to notice the veil was being used less and less; just looking at Twilight jumping in spot like an over-excited filly made all the bits spent worth it.
“Ah, ah, ah! Wait a minute, darling,” Rarity said, levitating the book out of reach before Twilight could take it, trying not to giggle at her friend’s vexed expression. She lifted her hoof towards Twilight and smiled delicately. “I believe we had a deal, did we not?”
Twilight blinked in confusion until her ears perked up. “Oh, right! Sorry.” With a crackle of magic, Twilight disappeared and sounds were suddenly heard downstairs. She had promised Rarity to compile geology books that emphasized on rare gemstones in exchange for new books. A rather unequal deal, yes, but Twilight couldn’t be blamed considering her… unfortunate predicament.
Before a second had even passed, Twilight teleported in front of Rarity again, several heavy looking tomes floating behind. “I marked down the important sections for you to read, and I included a map with circled areas on where to find the gems,” she explained, placing the books next to Rarity and finally claiming her end of the deal. “Don’t forget to fill in the form!” she called, already rushing to the other side of the room in the company of Daring Do.
Rarity picked up the books and went down the same path. On her way, she passed by a large basket on the floor, a pillow and folded blanket inside. She was always curious about it when she passed by, but she now knew better than to ask. The first time she noticed it, she’d inquired if Twilight had a pet, and the scowl she was given made her feel like she had asked the single most awful question to ever be asked. Had it had once belonged to the creature mentioned in old ponytales? A fearsome creature of purple and green, who loved her greatly and was greatly loved in return.
Rarity had resigned herself to never finding out, what with Twilight being so private about her affairs and always making it a point to ignore Rarity’s questions about her past. What secrets lay hidden in the alicorn’s past? For that matter, how long would it take before she trusted Rarity enough to say them?
The younger of the sisters was the first to succumb to The Spirit’s ploy. She had been resting in a cave near the mountain of smoke, trying to contact her sister through dreams, when The Spirit ambushed her. He cast a curse on her, trapping her forevermore to live in the cave as a spirit herself and allowing her solely to raise the moon at night.
That was the first night ponies started having nightmares.
Then came the elder sister, who valiantly fought against The Spirit from dawn until dusk, letting her guard down when The Spirit told her of her sister’s fate and allowing him to trap her in a cave near a raging waterfall, cursed to live for eternity as a spirit in a place none were ever to find.
The youngest princess sought out the answer in the pages of her books, hiding inside a secret library buried underneath a growing oak tree in a barren land betwixt a thriving village and mountain. However, mere days before she left on her quest, a nearby villager revealed her location to The Spirit, who had been disguised as a wandering pony.
Wicked as he was, The Spirit tricked the creature of purple and green into believing the princess had left without him, and loyal as he was, he deserted his post at the base of the tree and went after an illusion, never to be seen again. With the fearsome creature gone, The Spirit entered the unguarded library and cursed the young princess, taking away her physical form and leaving her to eternally watch over the books she so loved.
The Spirit, not yet satisfied with what he had done, stood next to the tree and transformed the barren land around it. He raised his left claw and summoned a dangerous forest to hide the oak tree, hoping to plunge the mare in darkness and despair. He raised his right paw and imbued life into the fallen branches, creating howling beasts of wood and fright to deter wandering ponies from venturing into the forest and finding his prisoner.
Filling out a book borrow form was the only thing Twilight was absolutely resolute about when lending Rarity one of her books. Rarity thought it was a silly thing to do considering she was the library’s only visitor in centuries, but she had learned not to question some of Twilight’s habits.
“Twilight, why do you keep these old forms if you know the books are never going to be returned?” she asked, slipping her freshly filled-in cards inside a box holding thirty-two small forms filled in with names of ponies and books, as well as the dates in which the books were borrowed. Not a single one, however, had a return date marked down. Rarity picked up one of the cards and waved it at the couch Twilight was sitting on, wholly absorbed in her book. “Some of these are nearly four centuries old!”
“Organization. Just because my situation isn’t common doesn’t mean I shouldn’t run the place like a proper library, and a proper library is clean and organized,” she replied, not bothering to look up from her book. In retrospect, that was an answer Rarity should have foreseen. “I’d go out and look for them myself if I could.”
Rarity laughed, picturing Twilight going on a quest to find her missing books. “How fortunate for them that you don’t charge late fees. I can scarcely imagine how much the descendants of Mister… Hoofington would owe you,” she said, putting the card back in its place and going over to sit on a chair close to Twilight’s. “Why didn’t you ever stop them from taking them? I very much doubt anypony could have put up a fight against an angered alicorn princess.”
Twilight finally looked up, brow furrowed. “Cel… My mentor always told me that knowledge is something everypony should be allowed to have and…” She looked back to her book, and Rarity detected a hint of bitterness in it… or was it sadness? “Nopony wants to stay much longer after meeting me.”
“Well, darling, you can’t fault a pony for being rather intimidated by you, particularly when you have the habit of appearing behind them and berating them for looking for books in the wrong section,” Rarity noted, floating over one of her books and flipping it open to one of the pages Twilight had bookmarked.
“You were looking for books about gemstones in the cosmology section,” Twilight shot back, turning to look at Rarity. “You weren’t even in the same floor as geol—”
“Alright, alright!” Rarity interrupted, remembering the event very well. After all, one does not easily forget having a princess spirit save them from a falling tower of books, only for their saviour to demand why they weren’t using the Dewey Decimal System to find what they wanted. “Nevertheless, I now know my way around this library very well, thank you very much.”
“Oh, really? Then would you mind please bringing me the fifth edition of Studies of Ancient Ruins from the architecture section? A.K. Yearling has made several references to certain architectural designs, and I’d like to get better references,” Twilight asked, smiling innocently at her. “I’d go get it myself, but I’m at the best part of the chapter. You know your way around here now, so it shouldn’t be much trouble.” She put down her book and crossed her forelegs, innocent smile transforming into an offensively smug grin. “Right?“
Rarity didn’t miss a beat, immediately accepting the challenge if only to wipe that smirk off the Twilight’s face. “Fine, I shall,” she declared, trotting off and ignoring the amused tone in which Twilight ‘thanked her for the trouble’.
Truth be told, Rarity hadn’t the faintest idea of where the archaeology section was, and she knew Twilight was well aware of this, but she’d be damned if she gave Twilight the satisfaction of admitting to it without even trying. She stepped into the labyrinth of books, making a left in the psychology section, then heading straight into the Saddle-Arabian section, and then into the why-aren’t-there-any-signs-anywhere section.
After five eternal minutes of searching in vain, she reached the other side of the room and happened upon a desk she had seen Twilight using before. Every other time she’d seen it when not being used by her friend, the desk had always been completely empty. This time, however, open books and used sheets of paper lay scattered on the surface of the desk, and a map of Equestria had been magically pinned on the adjacent wall. Curiosity tempting her into forgetting Twilight’s challenge, Rarity approached the desk to see what Twilight had been working on. Some part of her knew she had no business at all prying into her friend’s private work, but she couldn’t resist. Even after four months of friendship, Twilight Sparkle still remained very much a mystery to her, and she’d be lying if she said it was a mystery she wasn’t dying to unravel.
The map itself had been circled in different spots, each of them marked with either the letter ‘c’ or the letter ‘l’. Is she… is she trying to track down the other princesses? She looked at the mess on the desk and found she recognized the closed book, if only because it was her property. Legends And Myths Of Equestria. Giving the sheets of paper a closer look, she realized they were all notes about her curse and about the book, specifically the myth (or so had Rarity once thought of it) concerning Twilight.
The day she presented Twilight with the book was the first time the mare had ever mentioned the name of the other princesses. It was, as well, the first time Rarity had seen tears roll down Twilight’s cheeks. She opened the book to the proper myth and was surprised to see several parts of it had been striked-out in pencil, as well as annotations having been made on the page’s sides.
The Spirit returned to the kingdom’s castle and told the last princess of the terrible fate that had befallen her beloved friends. As his final act of villainy, he cast a curse upon her, dictating that neither she nor any of her bloodline would be able to find the trapped princesses, and even if they were indeed found, they could never be set free from their prisons.
Once The Spirit left the land in a whisk of smoke, the princess ordered the knights of the kingdom to both search for the missing princesses and spread word of the tale for hope remained as long as the sun and the moon rose and fell with each passing day.
Practically jumping away from the table in fright, Rarity turned around and found Twilight behind her, a particularly unimpressed expression on her face. Oh dear, why did I have to look at her things? Wonderful job, Rarity, you’ve upset the spirit of a pony princess. Do put that in your resumé. “T-Twilight! Honestly, if you keep doing that, I’ll have to walk with my back to the wall at all times!” she said, trying to laugh in a not so blatantly nervous way.
Twilight briefly glanced at the desk before looking back to Rarity. “You… do know this isn’t the architecture section, don’t you?” she asked, her expression softening a little.
“I— Of course I do!” Rarity scoffed unconvincingly, flipping her mane in an offended manner. “I… merely took a detour in the alchemy section, nothing more! I’ve heard you can alchemize gemstones so my curiosity got the best of me!”
“The… alchemy section,” Twilight repeated slowly, raising her eyebrow and smiling. “I see.”
Rarity took in the alicorn’s expression before closing her eyes and letting out a very long sigh. “There is no alchemy section, is there?” She waited patiently for Twilight’s smug confirmation, but was instead surprised to hear something she hadn’t been expecting. Opening her eyes, she was greeted with a giggling Twilight — and it was downright adorable. Maybe it was how genuinely happy Twilight looked or maybe it was how unusual it was for Twilight to giggle so childishly, but whatever it was, it was highly contagious, and Rarity had a hard time not joining in the laughter.
“Before you ask, there isn’t a fashion section, either,” Twilight teased, an amused grin painted all over her face.
Rarity smiled, playfully rolling her eyes. “Oh, hardy har har.”
“It’s okay, Rarity, you’ll learn it eventually,” Twilight said, turning around and heading back towards the entrance. “I’m stuck here forever, so I have a lot of time to help you learn it.”
“Twilight, wait!” Rarity called, grabbing the other mare’s attention. “You…” She looked back towards her book on the desk, the sheets of papers and finally, the map filled with c’s and l’s. “We will find a way to get you out of here, you know?”
For a full minute, Twilight contemplated Rarity in complete silence, processing what she had said. Eventually, her lips curved into a soft smile. “Thank you,” she said. “You know, nopony ever came back after they found my library but… I’m really glad you did.”
And so, as years and then centuries passed, the princesses were never found and their tale became lost to the ages, ending up as a bedtime story for foals. There are those who still believe in the tale, however, and beg for all to listen closely to the sounds of the trees.
“Perhaps, if one does, the sound of the quill scratching against paper will be heard from inside a hollow tree, the youngest princess still waiting inside to be found. The end.”
“She must be lonely…”
“Well, maybe somepony found her and became her friend.”
“Really?! Tell me that story!”
“Darling… it’s late.”
“… Alright, alright. Let me see…”
There was once a mare who didn’t believe in fairytales…