“Hurry up, everypony! She’s gonna leave us behind!”
Three colts, two fillies, and one young dragon trotted down the dusty and dark halls of the old and dilapidated Castle of the Two Sisters, trying to keep up with their overly enthusiastic tour guide. It was easy to tell which of the foals had already taken the annual Nightmare Night tour before and which ones hadn’t judging by their proximity to the only two adults. The ones who had taken the tour several times already hung back, admiring the decor or taking notes for an extra credit essay for Cheerilee. Unfortunately, none of them could take notes as fast as Princess Twilight Sparkle could talk.
“Originally designed by Melvin the Manticore, the walls of the Hallway of Echoed Voices were imbued with the magic of a very complicated echolocation spell — designed by Starswirl the Bearded, of course —, which allowed one’s voice to be clearly carried from one side of the hall to the other,” explained Twilight with great enthusiasm. When she reached the end of the hallway, she stopped and turned around to face her small crowd. “Any questions?”
One of the older foals, a dark-blue colt, raised his hoof almost immediately. “Me, me!”
“Yes, Diamond Dusk?”
“How come we weren’t allowed to wear costumes this year?” he asked, wincing when the filly next to him gasped very loudly. “And how come you’re not wearing your silly costume about that funny old stallion with the dirty beard?”
“It’s not a funny old stallion! It’s Star Swirl the Bearded!” Dreamdrops exclaimed, taking out a history book from inside her saddlebag and shoving it towards him. “He’s the bestest con… conjurer?” She looked at Twilight for confirmation, and continued when the princess nodded encouragingly. “To ever exist! And besides, it’s not silly! Miss Rarity made that costume for her, and it’s very pretty,” she added.
“Okay, okay!” Dusk said, handing back to the book to Dreamdrops without bothering to open it.
“We’re not wearing costumes, Dusk, because not only were we in the forest before, where it’s dirty and muddy, but this castle is also very dusty. We wouldn’t want your costumes to get torn or dirtied up,” Twilight explained. When they started the annual tours, Twilight had proposed cleaning up the castle for the event. However, her co-tour guide had been very insistent that the castle should be left dirty for an even spookier effect. “Would you want your fearsome knight costume to be all messy and icky?”
Dusk bowed his head. “No…”
“Hey, everypony!” Spike interrupted. He pointed towards the end of the hallway. “Who wants to come with me to the other end of the hall so we can try out the echolocation spell?”
Just as he finished his sentence, two of the five foals galloped away, leaving Twilight alone with Dreamdrops and the two youngest foals: Shiny Bit and Night Star. Dreamdrops was the first to test it out by whispering “Princess Twilight is the best princess” for the entire hallway — and Twilight — to hear, only for Diamond Dusk to whisper back that “gee, isn’t somepony a princess’ pet”.
The exchanges went on for several minutes until Frosty Brush, the other colt and Dusk’s best friend, decided it would be very fun to start imitating Nightmare Moon. It took Twilight almost ten minutes to convince Shiny Bit and Night Star that she’d protect them if Nightmare Moon actually did make an appearance. Even then they still clung onto her like glue while the group moved on to the next area of the castle: the throne room.
Riding on Twilight’s back, Night Star instinctively held on tighter to the alicorn’s neck when they entered the throne room. “Princess Twilight?” She gingerly poked the back of Twilight’s head and leaned up a bit so as to whisper in her ear. “Is… Is this where Nightmare Moon and Princess Celestia had the big fight?”
Twilight nodded and pointed at the hole in the ceiling, drawing the attention of the others. “Princess Celestia chased Nightmare Moon off into the sky, after which she used the Elements of Harmony to banish her to the moon for a thousand years,” she explained, trotting towards the middle of the room. “Now, does everypony remember what the elements stand for?”
Though several hooves shot up in the air, Frosty Brush answered without waiting for permission. “Sharing, niceness, truthiness, funniness, staying with your friend, and awesome princess powers!”
“Awesome laser beam princess powers!” Dusk added.
Twilight blinked. “Well, you’re technically not wrong…” She cleared her throat and continued with her history lesson. “Anyway, the Elements of Harmony were originally part of the Tree of Harmony, which we visited before coming here. When Nightmare Moon returned on the thousandth year, my friends and I used the Elements to defeat her and restore her to her former self.” Her horn started glowing and she created an illusion to show six stone orbs. “Arguably the most powerful force in Equestria until their return to the Tree of Harmony, they were the driving force behind my study of the magic of friendship, and subsequent—”
A loud thunder-like sound interrupted her explanation, making all five foals shriek in terror and huddle around Twilight and Spike.
A sinister laugh suddenly echoed throughout the room. “Defeat me?” a voice asked, purple smoke seeping in from the walls. “What an amusing statement.”
“Maybe one year I’ll get to finish my story,” Twilight muttered under her breath, softly enough that only an amused Spike could hear.
They watched as the wisps of smoke gathered together to form a large tornado. Without warning, the smoke vanished and in its place, standing menacingly over the ponies, was—
“Nightmare Moon!” five voices shrieked, one voice in particular muffled when its owner buried her face in the back of Twilight’s mane.
“Well, well, well! I should commend you on having the courage to come into my lair,” Nightmare Moon said, taking a few steps towards the group. “Though I cannot say it was particularly wise to do so.”
Night Star tore her face away from Twilight’s mane and dared to look at Nightmare Moon. “Y-You awful, dumb evil-face!” she yelled, loud enough that she couldn’t hear Twilight’s terrible attempt at muffling an amused snort. The filly climbed up Twilight’s head and pointed an accusing hoof at the dastardly mare. “Princess Twilight will save us! Sh-she’s the bestest con—” She paused for a bit. “C-Confuser since Star Furl the Beardy!”
“Conjurer, Night Star,” Twilight whispered. “Conjurer.”
“Hah! Twilight Sparkle the Great Confuser? A fitting name. Though, I am indeed confused at why there are no offerings at my hooves,” Nightmare Moon remarked before laughing. “Alas, your ‘Great Confuser’ will not avail you. How can you expect her to protect you when a single mouse can send her screeching and cantering out of her lab?”
“That was one time!”
“Actually, Twilight, it was more like… three times,” Spike corrected her with a smug smile.
Nightmare Moon smirked at Twilight, shaking her head. Another loud noise and the mare of everlasting darkness disappeared, only to reappear right next to Dreamdrops. The filly shrieked and stumbled back on her rump, trying to get away from the older mare.
“Well, well, Dreamdrops, is it not?” Nightmare Moon asked, receiving a slow nod in return. She lowered her head and smiled, glancing at the walls. “The walls of this castle have told me much about you, my little pony. Is this princess truly not your favorite one?”
“I-I’m not afraid of you!” Dreamdrops dug her hoof inside her saddlebag and shakily presented a small satchel filled with assorted sweet treats. “I brought you candy!”
“Ah-hah! So at least one of you was wise enough to bring tribute.” Nightmare Moon took the bag, careful not to rudely snatch it from the filly’s hoof, and poured its contents inside her mouth. Once no candy remained, she disappeared,reappearing on the other side of the room, although she appeared to have phased with the walls for a second. “I am pleased by the filly’s offering, and will allow her the chance to escape unharmed. But the rest of you…, the rest of you must all give me an offering, and then—” She pressed her hoof against the wall and a secret passageway opened up. “Go through the Slide of Nightmares!”
As soon as she finished talking, several of the foals rushed towards her, their previous fear all but gone. Several “me first!”s were heard as they all started pouring their bags of candies at her hooves and lined up in front of the slide leading to the garden outside.
“Is this the one with the loop, Princess Luna?” Frosty Brush asked excitedly.
“Nay.” Luna leaned down and smiled. “This one has three loops,” she replied to the cheer of the foals, who immediately started going down the slide. Luna poked her head inside just as fast and called out: “Be careful, children! Your guardians will be most displeased if your backsides are not returned whole and ungobbled!”
An amused Twilight watched as they disappeared through the tunnel one by one, Spike included. It was then that she felt somepony gingerly poke her head again.
“Princess Twilight,” Night Star whispered meekly, “will you slide down with me, please?”
Twilight laughed softly and nodded. “Of course! And if Nightmare Moon tries to gobble us, we’ll throw the candy at her face,” she suggested playfully, smiling when the filly nodded effusively.
“You were super scary this year, Princess Luna!”
Sitting outside on the garden, Luna swallowed the candy in her mouth and bowed her head at the foals gathered around her. “Thank you, Shiny Bit. I am pleased you found my performance frightening. I recall a certain foal—” she glanced at Frosty Brush, who promptly decided to intensely stare at his lollipop “—confided to Twilight Sparkle last year that he thought I was losing my touch’.”
“Alright, we better hurry up. It’s almost nine o’clock, and Cheerilee should be here in a few hours to take you all home,” Twilight announced, taking a lollipop out of her mouth and levitating several logs of wood for the campfire. While Spike busied himself with lighting it up, Twilight clapped her hooves together. “So, as always, s’mores and then…” She narrowed her eyes and in the spookiest voice she could muster, which admittedly wasn’t spooky at all, said: “Scary story time…”
“Oh, oh!” Shiny Bit chimed in. “I know one! How about the story of the evil teacher?”
“No way, that one is really boring,” Dreamdrops said, brushing him off with her hoof. “How about ‘The Night of the Zombie Ponies’?”
“Pffft, that was last year’s story,” Dusk retorted, rolling her eyes. “How about—”
“The night the moon turned purple?” Night Star offered, taking out a little drawing pad and showing everypony a crayon drawing she’d done of a purple moon shining over a house.
“Don’t be silly, Nighty,” Frosty Brush said. “You can’t turn the moon purple…” He looked at Twilight. “Right, Princess?”
Twilight furrowed her brow. “Well, in theory you could, but it would take a very powerful spell,” she muttered, unaware of how the eyes of the foals lit up at her words.
“Can you paint the moon purple?!” they asked in unison, getting up and jumping in their spots. “Pleeeeeease?”
“Paint the moon purple? I don’t think Princess Luna would like that much,” Twilight replied, throwing Luna a look that said ‘please agree with me’.
Luna smiled instead. “I have no objections.”
“Oh.” Twilight laughed nervously and shook her head. “Sorry, my little ponies. Even so, my magic is powerful, but not powerful enough to paint the moon purple. The only time I was able to manipulate the sun and the moon, it took having the magic of four alicorns all at once.”
Five pairs of ears dropped. “Aww…”
Twilight smiled sympathetically and looked at Luna. “I’m sure you can do it, though,” she suggested, giggling when the foals all immediately turned their once again excited gazes towards Luna.
“But they requested you to do it, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna shot back. Her small smile soon grew wide and taunting. “You are the Element of Magic, are you not?”
Was… Was Princess Luna daring her? She turned to look at the foals helplessly. “But…” Her words only made their sad, pleading eyes grow bigger. The way Night Star clutched her drawing certainly wasn’t helping, either. “Oh, alright,” she relented, her sigh drowned out by collective cheering. She stood up and looked towards the moon, trying to remember an appropriate spell for the task.
Spike ran up to her, not looking nearly as excited as everypony else. “Twilight, are you sure this is a good idea?” he asked, glancing at the foals. “I’m not sure everypony is gonna be as happy as them if the moon suddenly turns purple.”
“If I could actually do it, it would be a terrible idea, Spike,” Twilight whispered back, “but I can’t paint the moon. The worst and best thing that will happen now is that we’ll have five disappointed foals when the moon is still perfectly white.”
“If you say so…”
Twilight nodded, trying to reassure him. After all, she would have never agreed to even trying if she wasn’t a hundred percent positive she would not be able to do it. Just picturing the aftermath of a purple moon was enough to give her a headache: mass panic, everything suddenly turning a shade of dark purple? No thanks. The only thing that would come out of this was proving she was right and then moving on to eating s’mores.
She went back to trying to find an appropriate spell. She remembered one she had used to help paint Applejack’s farm once. Though she remembered the spell, she couldn’t help but feel there was a detail about it she was forgetting. Oh well, she thought, no use bothering about that since nothing will happen anyway.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Here goes,” she announced, hearing whispered voices fall completely silent. A purple aura surrounded her horn, then her entire body as she murmured the spell under her breath and opened her eyes to take a long, good look at the celestial orb hanging in the night sky. She nearly lost her concentration at hearing the words “magic laser beam” being whispered, but bit down a smile and finished the spell.
To Dusk and Frosty’s delight, a beam of magic shot out of her horn, aimed straight towards the moon. A minute later, the beam fizzled out and disappeared, followed by silence as everypony stared transfixed at the white sphere in the sky. They waited, and waited, and waited for what seemed like an eternity to Twilight, but was really only a minute. That was enough for her, however, prompting her to turn away from the moon and towards the others.
“See? I told you it wouldn’t work,” she said. “Now, how about we— What’s wrong?”
Spike, the foals and even Luna were still gawking up. Twilight felt her stomach drop as she came to terms that such a reaction could mean only one thing. “Oh no…”
Spike slowly nodded. “Oh yes…”
Twilight took several deep breaths, steeled herself, turned around, and when she looked up, learned that she should never underestimate her abilities ever again. Stroke by stroke, almost as if with a paintbrush, the moon started turning purple right before her very eyes, the foals too distracted to gasp and scold Twilight for the extremely rude swear word that left her lips as her hoof hit her forehead. She watched as everything surrounding them was tinted a light shade of purple and suddenly got much darker. Oh Celestia…
“That’s awesome!” Dreamdrops exclaimed, setting off a round of praises for the distressed looking princess. “isn’t it, Princess Luna?” she asked, tugging at the princess’ foreleg.
“Indeed, that was most impressive, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna replied, admiring her transformed moon for a few moments before turning to Twilight. “However, as impressive as it may be, our subjects were not consulted, and a panic on the day of our favorite festival would not do.”
“Er, right.” Twilight looked at her artistic masterpiece and prepared to paint it white again. Horn glowed first, then the rest of her body, and before the foals could protest, a second beam of magic shot towards the moon. Like before, it fizzled out after a minute and Twilight waited for the moon to return to its original color… Any minute now… Come on… Come on… After five full minutes, however, it became horribly clear that her second spell hadn’t worked.
Luna’s previously amused smile disappeared almost entirely, replaced by an unimpressed stare. “We are waiting, Twilight Sparkle.”
A very nervous laugh was the reply she received. If Luna had started using the ‘royal we’, it could potentially mean Twilight was in royal trouble. “Uhm, let me just…” Twilight glared at the moon and tried the spell again. And again. And again, and again, and again, until she happened to glance to the others and was terrified into inaction by the glacial stare Luna offered..
“Twilight Sparkle,” Luna said, her tone of voice turning colder than the night wind. “If this is meant to be a Nightmare Night prank, we do not find it amusing.”
Considering there were five foals she was supposed to be looking after, panicking was not really a viable option. Or rather, she could panic as long as none of the foals ever realized that Princess Twilight might have accidentally left the moon permanently purple. She wracked her brain trying to remembered the exact details of the spell, but after an unsuccessful minute, decided the best course of action was to just read the spell off a book. If memory served, she had seen a copy of the ancient spellbook inside the library of the old castle. “Alright, there’s a spellbook that can help. I just need to go to the library and get it,” she announced, pointedly ignoring Luna’s murderous glare. “O-Or maybe I’ll just teleport it here. Ha ha…”
Gulping down, she visualized the spellbook and successfully teleported it outside to her. Thank Celestia, at least something had gone right. She opened the book and leafed through the pages for the painting spell, grinning victoriously upon finding it. “Ah-hah!” As her eyes started scanning the lines of text, her smile slowly faded away until she simply stared at the page with a completely blank expression. “Oh.”
“Oh?” Luna asked.
It was at this very moment that Twilight knew she had to get out of there. Thankfully, being an alicorn princess had tremendously increased her powers. Maybe her teleportation spells had also been doubled to the point where she could safely teleport herself away from Equestria and live in hiding for the rest of her life! She knew enough about survival in the wild to manage. After all, life in exile would be so much nicer than facing the wrath of Luna when she found out that—
“‘Oh’ what?!” Luna barked, suddenly standing in front of Twilight and peering down at the book, trying to decipher the meaning of the upside down letters. “What does it say?!”
Twilight meekly looked up, finding that she had tragically forgotten all her teleportation spells. “Oh…?” she squeaked, trying to offer the single most dazzling smile she could muster — one that screamed ‘aren’t I charming?’ and ‘please don’t banish me’. “Oh, I was just thinking that it might be interesting at a scientific level to observe the consequences of living with a purple moon for a few days. It could prove to be fascinating to study the changes it might bring to the planet’s ecosystem and—”
“ENOUGH! Give me that!” Luna commanded, snatching the book away from Twilight and turning it around so as to find out the terrible news that would surely send Twilight into exile. “’The first step is to visualize the desired object, after which…” Luna mumbled the spell to herself, loud enough so that Twilight could count the words until the dreaded revelation. “’The spell can be used several times on the desired object, but in order for it to work again, one must wait until…”
A long pause.
Luna slowly lifted the book out of her way and looked at the other princess and her sorry attempt at maintaining her dazzling smile. “Until the object has dried off?” All of a sudden, Luna smiled gently, and Twilight had never been more afraid in her entire short life.
Luna turned to look at the foals. “Children, we are about to have an astronomy lesson. Pay attention.” She then turned to Twilight again. “Twilight Sparkle?” she asked sweetly, closing the book and floating it over for Spike to hold. “You are extremely knowledgeable, so surely you must know the exact surface area of our moon, do you not?”
“…The moon’s surface area is about fourteen point six million square miles, or thirty eight million square kilometers.”
“That’s like five times the planet!” Night Star exclaimed, looking up at the moon in awe.
Luna smiled at Night Star and shook her head. “The moon is not nearly that large, little one. It is only about one-fourth the size of our planet. One fourth that”— she turned to Twilight, and the smile vanished —”is now covered in purple paint. Twilight Sparkle? You will now tell us how long it will take for our moon to dry off,” she instructed, and without bothering to wait for Twilight’s squeaked ‘yes’, she lowered her head until she was at eye-level with the younger alicorn. “And you should know a wrong answer will not only make us most unhappy, but our act as Nightmare Moon will not longer be merely an act…”
“Hi, everypony! Why are you all cooped up in the library on Nightmare Night? Talk about boooooring!”
Five foals excitedly looked up from the table they had been sleeping on to find Ponyville’s party pony hopping inside the library. A little further away, Twilight Sparkle looked away from the chalkboard she had been writing a series of long and complicated mathematical equations on.
“Pinkie?” she asked, raising her brow. “What are you doing here? Where’s Cheerilee?”
“Oh, she had to stay in Ponyville to help Mayor Mare with the big surprise! So she asked me to come instead,” Pinkie explained.
“Big surprise? What big surprise?” Twilight and the foals asked in unison, earning a shocked gasp from the mare.
“What’d you mean ‘what surprise’? The moon surprise, of course, sillies! Don’t tell me you haven’t seen it!” Pinkie exclaimed. “Somepony made it so that the moon looks purple! Everypony is going crazy about it!” She shook her head and sighed. “I knew I should have come to make sure you didn’t stay in the library all night!”
“Crazy about it?” Twilight asked, alarmed. “But I sent Spike over to Ponyville so he could tell the others what had happened!” Oh dear, had something happened on the way over? She had put up barriers against Timberwolves, but maybe she had missed a spot?
“Oh! I saw him talking to somepony in front of the Ponyville Express offices.” Before Twilight could question her further on the matter, Pinkie began looking around for something, or somepony. “So, where’s Princess Luna? She’s the one who made the moon look purple, isn’t she?”
Everypony turned around towards the lone alicorn sitting by the window, staring out into the vastness of the Everfree Forest with a miserable expression. The purple moonbeams reflected on her face, painting a rather poetic picture. “Five nights,” she repeated, unaware of the pink mare now sitting behind her and curiously peering out the window.
“Five days and nights? Is that how long the illusion is supposed to last?” Pinkie asked.
“No,” Luna replied softly, still gazing out the window. All of a sudden, so fast that even Pinkie was startled, she stood up, turned towards Twilight and pointed an accusing hoof at her. “Five nights for the moon to dry! Five!”
“I already said I was sorry!” Twilight protested. “I’ll find a way to fix it! And besides, YOU dared me!”
Luna sputtered, aghast. “Me?! Well!… Well, yes, but I didn’t think you would leave it permanently purple!” she defended, a blush creeping on her cheeks. “I was merely teasing!”
“And it’s not permanently purple, either!” Twilight continued.
Luna narrowed her eyes and, after scowling at Twilight for a good minute, turned back to her window to brood. “It’s still five nights,” she repeated, pressing her forehead against the window. “If this were Celestia’s sun that had been turned a different color, you’d have already turned Equestria upside down trying to find a solution,” she muttered, pawing piteously at the floor.
“Princess, the moon is just as important as the sun, and I’ll find a way to fix it, alright?” Twilight said earnestly, her expression softening a little at the sight of the miserable alicorn.
Pinkie looked away from Luna. “Wait, let me get this straight. Twilight, you actually painted the moon?!”
“Yeah!” Dusk chimed in, delighted to have something exciting to talk about. Twilight could hardly blame him. Even Princess Luna’s rage had been quelled after half an hour of sitting through string after string of quickly written equations and hasty explanations. “She did it with her laser beam attack!”
“Twilight, you have a laser beam attack, and you didn’t tell me?!”
“What’d you mean ‘didn’t tell you’? Pinkie, you’ve seen it before!” Twilight replied, rolling her eyes and looking back towards the chalkboard. “In any case, I really need to figure out how I’m going to fix this in the next hour and discussing my magic abilities isn’t helping me concentrate.” She lifted a piece of chalk and got back to writing simple (for her, of course) equations. If she could somehow triple the power of the drying spell she had found in the spellbook, it should take approximately fourtee—
Everypony (except Luna, who was still busy pouting) turned around, and to Twilight’s immense relief, found an out-of-breath Spike running into the library, waving a rolled-up newspaper with his claws.
“Spike! Finally,” a smiling Twilight said, once more trotting away from the board. “How did your talk with Mayor Mare go?” In a few moments, he’d tell her that he had explained the situation just as she had instructed him to do, and nopony in Ponyville was panicking. That’s why he was the best assistant in all of Equestria, and she was incredibly lucky and grateful to hav—
“Huh? Oh! I… I didn’t talk to her, sorry,” he confessed, effectively wiping away both Twilight’s pleased smile and any further praise on what a good assistant he was. Before she could demand an explanation, he shoved the newspaper in her face. “But that’s not important! Take a look at this special edition newspaper from the Ponyville Express!”
Grumbling, Twilight reluctantly took the newspaper, unfurled it and felt the blood drain out of her face. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me…”
Holding an apparently freshly printed special edition of the Ponyville Express, Twilight couldn’t help herself from staring in horror at the bolded, italicized and underlined headline: “Nightmare Purple?! Moon Mysteriously Turns Magenta!”. A photograph of the colored moon taunted her below the headline, followed by an article on the… moon’s new design and what seemed to be at least fifteen pages more about the subject. “H-How is this even possible?!” she exclaimed aghast, running a hoof through her mane. “It hasn’t even been two hours!”
“Let me see!” Princess Luna, her brooding momentarily halted by Twilight’s outburst, used her magic to snatch the newspaper away before the lavender mare could start reading the article. She scanned the first page of the newspaper before throwing Twilight a look that perfectly encompassed horror and anger. “Twilight Sparkle! Do you realize what this means?!”
Twilight laughed nervously. “Uhm… the Ponyville Express is very fast at publishing newspapers?”
“If this is how a simple town is reacting to what has happened, do you realize how the other cities in the kingdom must be reacting?! How Canterlot must be reacting?!” she snapped, waving the newspaper wildly in the air. “When Celestia finds out what we’ve done…”
Twilight winced, trying to hold her ground. “Princess Celestia might be able to help us, though. I’m sure she’ll have a solution?” she offered, an action she quickly regretted at seeing Luna’s expression turn ever more sour.
Luna snorted. “A solution? What, shall we politely ask my sister to please move her sun next to the moon for quick drying? Have her cook it to three point five million degrees until lightly brown and hope for no permanent damage to the moon’s surface?”
“Honestly, have you gone completely insane?! Celestia just came back from an exhausting diplomatic visit from Saddle Arabia, and you yourself were present when she demanded she not be disturbed tonight!” Luna rambled on, stomping her hoof against the floor. “If we wake her and she sees my moon in such a state, she’ll help only after she’s thrown all of us into Canterlot’s dungeons for creating mass havoc!”
The foals and Pinkie, who’d been silently listening to the argument, gasped in united horror. “The dungeons?!”
“Princess Twilight!” Dreamdrops squealed, clutching onto Pinkie. “I don’t want to live in the dungeons!”
“Or we might be banished to the now purple moon!” Luna continued, oblivious to the foals increasingly terrified expressions.
“Banished?!” Pinkie screeched, picking up Dreamdrops and holding her tight. “I can’t be banished to the moon! I have a pastry contest next month! And it’s so cold in the moon! My hoofsies will be freezing, and how will I make a cake if my hooves are too cold? Can we bring a heate—”
“Pinkie…” Twilight groaned, taking the newspaper back. “You weren’t even here when it happened! And nopony is going to be thrown into any dungeon! Or be banished to the moon!” she exclaimed with frustration before gulping down. I hope….
Now that everypony had ceased believing they’d all be thrown into the dungeons — or worse, expelled to the moon — Twilight cleared her throat and read aloud from the article.
“‘For the first time in recorded history, our planet’s glimmering moon has somehow turned a different color! However, is this truly an unexplained event, or is it more than coincidence that this happened on Nightmare Night, the annual festivity dedicated to the Mare in the Moon? In order to find out what’s happened, we had an exclusive interview with Ponyville’s very own’… dragon?!” She turned to look at the the dragon in question, shooting daggers at him with her eyes. ”Spike! I can’t believe this! This is what you were doing instead of talking to Mayor Mare like I asked you to do?!”
Spike winced, taking a step back and lifting his claws defensively. “I-I’m sorry! They offered me a ruby to get the exclusive, and I’d never been interviewed by the Ponyville Express before!” he stammered. “B-But look!” He went over to her and started turning the pages of the newspaper. “I voted in the poll!”
“Poll?! What poll?” Twilight asked, taking a closer look to the page Spike had stopped at. As he’d said, the entire page was dedicated to a poll hosted by the Ponyville Express where ponies had sent in their votes on: “What color should the moon have been painted?! And over two hundred ponies voted already?! How is this even pos—”
“They’re voting on the color?!” a horrified Luna exclaimed, putting her hoof on her chest. “Is my moon’s natural white glow not good enough for them?!”
“Look, look!” Spike exclaimed, pointing at one of the options with his claw. “I got to pick the names for the colors! And I voted for ‘fashionable white’, of course.”
Twilight squinted her eyes, reading aloud. “‘Fashionable white’? ‘Party pink’, ‘dashing blue’, ‘honest orange’, ‘shy yellow’, and ‘nerdy purple’? Spike, these seem oddly familiar. Also, Rarity’s coat is light grey, not white. Shining Armor’s coat is white, for exam— ”
“Give me that!” Luna quickly took the newspaper away from Twilight and looked at the poll results. “Hah! Fashionable white has seventy-seven votes! Surely the highest numb— eighty four?!” she screeched. “Eighty-four ponies want my moon to be pink?!”
“Ooooh!” gasped Pinkie, clapping her hooves with excitement. “I’m winning! I’m winning! What’s my prize? Is it a heater for when we get banished to the moon?”
Twilight rolled her eyes and finally went back to her beloved chalkboard so as to find a solution to her problem. Admittedly, it was proving to be rather hard to concentrate with everypony arguing behind her back.
Luna, still extremely troubled by the results of the poll, had gone off on a ramble. “What’s wrong with the natural color of my moon?! It is the purest of colors, and my subjects would rather it be pink?! The crescent moon in my cutie mark is white! Should I dye my cutie mark pink now?!”
Deep breaths, Twilight.
Deep, deep, deeeeeeep breaths.
“Princess Luna? Can we vote too?” Shiny Bit asked, his question directly followed by enthusiastic gasps from the other four foals. “I’ve never voted before!”
Now, about that drying spell, Twilight thought to herself, erasing the previous writing on the chalkboard to start all over with new equations while floating over the spellbook and flipping through the pages.
“What a splendid idea, little one!” Luna cheered, stomping her hooves against the floor to show her approval. “We will all write down our votes on small pieces of parchment, and Spike will deliver them personally to the newspaper so our voices will be heard, and we can correct this grievous mistake.”
“I have to take them all the way to Ponyville?! But I just came back from there…”
…and if I combine the spell from page thirty-eight with the one from page ninety-three, as well as the magic redirecting spell Celestia taught me, it would take… Twilight had become so lost in her calculations that the voices behind her became background noise which her mind barely processed. She was far too deep in concentration to point out that Luna spelling out ‘fashionable white’ for the foals to write on their ballots was technically cheating, or to notice Spike trying to slip away before he was sent off into the woods again.
In fact, her attention only faltered the moment a small blank piece of parchment floated over to her, which she made a conscious effort to ignore. She had better things to do in that moment than participate in a silly poll caused by that night’s events. It didn’t matter that the caster — Princess Luna, no doubt — was now insistently pressing the blank paper against Twilight’s face. She needed to ge—
“Twilight Sparkle!” Luna’s voice boomed. “Spike cannot leave until he has all the votes!”
“Oh, alright, already!” she growled, taking the piece of parchment, floating over one of the crayons the foals had used and scribbling something down. “There! Happy?! I voted for Rarity as my favorite color! I mean, pony! I mean, fashionable white as my favorite pon— I mean… Oh, nevermind… Just take it.” She folded the parchment and levitated it over to Luna. Then, she looked at the chalkboard and floated it up in the air, chalk and all, before trotting away with the chalkboard in tow.
“Twilight?” Spike asked, distracted from his escape plan. “Where are you going?”
“To another room. I need to focus, and I obviously can’t do that here,” she replied. She stopped for a moment and looked back towards Pinkie and the foals. “Pinkie, please take the children back home. It’s already late enough as it is.” With nothing further to say, Twilight offered a sympathetic glance at the small ‘awww…’ that came after her request, and went on her way towards the smaller, more private room next door.
Minutes later, once she had finished installing the board in the other room, she took a deep breath. Finally, some peace and quiet. Letting out a contented sigh, she reached for her piece of chalk and started writing again. Or, at least, she would have started writing again if she hadn’t forgotten her chalk in the other room. Not really wanting to go back with the others quite yet, she turned around and looked through the room, hoping she might luckily find a stray piece of chalk.
To her misfortune, however, there was naught a single chalk to be found. There were only a few cushions, some broken quills and empty inkwells, Pinkie Pie sitting on a chair, dusty old books, a leftover bag of chips Spike had forgotten, and a few anci— Wait a second. Her eyes immediately went back to the pink pony happily seated on the chair. ”Pinkie?! I thought you were supposed to take the foals back home!”
“Aww, but they all wanted to stay and help!” Pinkie objected, offering Twilight her very best puppy-eyed face. “They’re super worried about you!”
Twilight’s expression softened a bit, and she sighed. “Alright, I suppose. I’ll explain to their parents and Cheerilee later then. They shouldn’t be so worried, though. I’m sure Ponyville isn’t panicking, and I’m sure Princess Luna was exaggerating when she said Princess Celestia would banish us to the moon.” She turned back to the board and erased her previous writing once more. “I mean, Princess Celestia doesn’t just banish ponies into the moon for… painting the moon.”
But what if she does? No, of course she doesn’t.
“I mean, really, what’s the worst that can come out of this?” Twilight continued, starting to ramble off. “Sure, some ponies might be a little bit worried, but really, we’ve had worse. The moon staying purple for a few more days isn’t the end of the world… Unless…” She turned away from the chalkboard and to Pinkie, her eyes wide. “What if Princess Celestia is disappointed I couldn’t fix this? I’m the Element of Magic, aren’t I? This should be a piece of cake for me, shouldn’t it?!”
Pinkie blinked twice before looking at Twilight with a rather concerned expression. “Uhm, well… Some cakes are hard to eat, you know! I mean, even Spike has a hard time with Mrs. Cake’s Super-Crunchy-Rock-Hard-Cherry-Meringue cake! Twilight…?”
“—And then, when she sees I can’t do something as simple as drying the moon, she’ll think I haven’t been studying anymore! And then what if she takes away my princess status?! But not just that, she’ll take my wings away too! And then all of Rainbow’s flying lessons will have been for nothing!” Twilight continued, now lost in her very own world of increasingly catastrophic predictions. She then gasped and backed up against the board and whispered: “And then there’s the war.”
Twilight nodded slowly, staring at Pinkie with terror. “The other nations on the planet… They’ll think this is an attack, or a declaration of war…”
“B… Because you painted the moon purple?”
“They would come from both sides of Equestria. The zebra nation, the gryphon nation, and everypony else. It would take weeks — no, years — of political meetings to convince them it was not a sign of ill-will. And then…
“After all that, Princess Celestia… Princess Celestia is going to banish me to the moon!” Twilight declared, running up to Pinkie and shaking her by the shoulders. “Pinkie, I can’t be banished to the moon! What will I even do there without you and the others?!” She suddenly stopped shaking Pinkie for the briefest of moments and narrowed her eyes. “I suppose it would be an interesting experiment to document life on the moon. I could write a very interesting resea— What if she doesn’t let me take parchment to the moon?! Or books?! There aren’t any libraries on the moon!” she gasped, resuming her frantic Pinkie-shaking.
“Tw-Tw-Twilight, I-I rea-lly th-think that—”
Twilight let go of Pinkie and started trotting in quick circles around the dizzy mare. “And if I can’t read, I can’t keep studying! And if I can’t keep studying, I won’t be able to earn a chance to be in the Princess’ good graces again, and if that happens…” She drifted off, coming to a stop. She then teleported in front of Pinkie and took her by the shoulders. “Pinkie. Do you know what this means?”
“That we should sit down and stop shaking Pinkie Pie so this morning’s cake stays in her tummy, please?” Pinkie asked, eyes rolling around.
Twilight solemnly shook her head. “No. It means we have to find a way to turn the moon white again before sunrise. And there’s only one way to do it.”
Twilight took a deep breath. “We’re going to have to hold a P.L.E.A.S.E.”
“No, Pinkie! A Ponyville Lunar Emergency Anti-banishment Scientific Event,” she clarified, and then narrowed her eyes. “And we’re going to hold it right now.”
“You’re all gathered here,” Twilight began, her eyes closed as she concentrated on her speech, “because you are the very best minds we can get at the moment. As such, you are the most qualified to find a solution to the problem Equestria is now facing.” She paused and took a deep breath. Her mane looked rather messy, and she seemed to be lightly twitching every so often. “After much deliberation, I think it’s time we hear your ideas.” She opened her eyes and observed as the five great ponies and single pink mare sitting with her around a circular table struggled to finish drawing their solutions.
“W-Wait, Princess Twilight!” Shiny Bit stammered, frenetically using a red crayon to color something in his parchment. “I haven’t finished coloring yet! Nighty used up all the blue crayons!”
Twilight nodded gravely. “I understand.” After all, having incomplete scientific papers and solutions would not do. “Five more minutes, then.”
“It’s happened,” Spike said as he looked to Twilight and the others. Having just come back from Ponyville, he was a bit out of breath, clutching in his claws the updated version of Ponyville’s Express newspaper. “She’s lost it. She’s completely lost it. Again.” Just as he finished speaking, the newspaper was forcibly ripped from away from his claws.
“Ha-ha! Rejoice, children!” Luna cheered, floating the now open newspaper then shoving it in Twilight’s face, only for the latter to promptly shove it away. “‘Fashionable white’ is victorious with a hundred and thirty votes! Our voting was not in vain!” She then turned to Spike, gave him the newspaper, picked him up with her magic, and shook him several times. “Quick! You must repeat your journey to Ponyville and bring back more of these pleasing results!”
“Oh no, you’ve lost it too…”
Twilight turned back to the others. “Alright, five minutes are up!” she announced, watching as they all ceased their drawing and attentively looked back at her. She looked at Frosty, who was sitting opposite her. “Let’s start with your idea, Frosty.”
Frosty blushed a little now that all eyes were on him. He cleared his throat and presented his drawing. “This is the Super-Big-Manedryer Two-thousand!… Er, no, Five-thousand!” On his parchment, he’d drawn the moon out in space, and beside it, a manedryer slightly bigger than the moon was drying it off. The manedryer seemed to be plugged into a volcano which protruded from the drawing of their planet. “We just have to plug it to a volcano for power, and then we can turn it off and the dry the moon super fast!”
Pinkie nodded approvingly. “Oooh, neat! I could use that for my mane! It takes forever to dry!”
Twilight, instead, only smiled sympathetically. “That’s a very good idea, Frosty, and I commend you for thinking of using thermal energy to power it up, but we can’t get nearly enough metal to build it before dawn. Don’t be discouraged, though!” When he gave her a small nod and smile, Twilight looked next to Frosty, where Dreamdrops was seated. “What about you, Dreamdrops?”
Dreamdrops cleared her throat and presented her drawing, apparently depicting Princess Luna… shaking the moon? “Uhm, well, I was thinking that maybe Princess Luna could just shake the paint off?”
Dusk snorted and rolled his eyes. “That’s gotta be the worst idea ever! Typical from you, Dreamdrops,” he proclaimed, earning a scowl from the filly. “Where’s the paint gonna go then, huh?”
“I don’t know. Into space somewhere, loser!” Dreamdrops exclaimed, sticking her tongue out at him. “Duh!”
“Then something else is gonna turn purple, dummy!” he retorted.
Shiny Bit gasped and looked to Twilight. “Princess Twilight, I don’t wanna live on a purple planet!”
A long-suffering sigh escaped the princess’ lips as the two arguing fillies hmph’d and turned their backs to each other. “Nopony is going to live on a purple planet, Shiny Bit.”
To Twilight’s great dismay (and Dreamdrops’ great pleasure), Dusk’s idea turned out to be unfeasible, as well as the one suggested by Shiny Bit. Pinkie had been no help considering she had drawn an idea for her pastry competition instead of a solution to their lunar problem. Twilight finally turned to the excitedly grinning little filly obviously impatient to show off her great idea. Night Star had been the one to come up with the idea for a purple moon; perhaps she’d be the one to know how to fix it.
“Alright, Nighty, let’s see what you’ve got!” Twilight exclaimed with an enthusiasm she didn’t quite feel. She was reminded of Rarity by the way Night Star waited a few moments to show her drawing, seemingly wanting to create some type of suspense. When the drawing was finally and proudly presented, Twilight found herself staring at what seemed to be something covered by a long, white drape. “Uh… A ghost costume with no eyes?” she ventured, feeling herself grow hopeless.
Night Star quickly shook her head. “No, no! It’s a big blankie to cover the moon with!” she clarified, reaching over the table to give Twilight a closer look.
Twilight blinked several times, staring intently at the drawing. “That’s…” She slammed her hoof against the table, grinning madly. “That’s perfect, Night Star!” With newfound excitement, Twilight got up, clapped her hooves and, definitely not having lost the last shred of sanity left in her, said: “Okay, we have at least six hours to sew together a white blanket big enough to cover the moon, and then nopony gets banished!” Her horn glowed for a second, and suddenly piles and piles of all kinds of fabrics appeared all over the room. “These are all the white fabrics from this castle and mine. We have to start by stretching them out and placing them together!”
The five foals let out a high-pitched war cry as they galloped to the fabrics, starting to unfold them while Pinkie hopped towards Twilight, followed by Spike, who pointedly ignored Luna’s orders for him to return to Ponyville.
“T-Twilight? Are you… serious about this?” he asked tentatively, throwing very worried glances at the foals and fabrics. “Why don’t you go back to the chalkboard and—”
Twilight dead-panned. “Of course I’m serious, Spike. Do I not look serious?”
Pinkie squinted her eyes. “That definitely looks like a super boring serious face to me, alright.”
“Thank you, Pinkie!” Twilight turned around to look at the foals and furrowed her brow. While there was a lot of white fabrics in her castle and The Castle of the Two Sisters, she could see that it clearly wouldn’t be enough to cover the moon. There was also the small detail of where would she get enough thread and needles for the project. She had at least six spools of thread in the castle, but she’d need much more.
And I know just the place to get everything.
She closed her eyes, lit up her horn and giggled with satisfaction when an absurd amount of fabrics appeared, completely covering the ground in a tapestry of multicolored cloths of different kinds. Saddle arabian silk, incredibly soft velvet, flannel, and just about every type of fabric one could think of. Next to Twilight, a beautiful hoof-woven basket with an ‘R’ painted on it appeared, filled to the brim with spools of thread and needles.
“Uh, Twilight?” Spike asked, walking over and looking at the newly teleported fabrics with a very concerned expression. “Where did you get all these? Because they kinda look like they’re the ones from Rarity’s boutique…”
“That’s because they are!” she cheerfully replied, clapping her hooves together and smiling widely. “No one’s getting banished tonight, Spike!” That said, she levitated a pile of multicolored silk, and to Spike’s horror, turned them all completely white.
”Twilight!” he yelled, clutching his head in between his claws. “What’re you doing?! Rarity’s going to be furious!”
Around them, everypony else had stopped what they were doing to look at the scene between the mare and her assistant. Luna took a few steps towards her but stopped when Twilight let out a series of high-pitched giggles.
There was a crazy glint in her eyes as she looked at the dragon. “Oh no, no, no, Spike! Rarity’s not going to be furious, silly! She’s going to murder me!” Another giggle and suddenly a different pile turned milky white. “There goes the velvet! Oops!”
Spike threw himself on her, clinging to her foreleg. “Twilight, stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop! You don’t have to do this!” He looked around helplessly at the others, who could only stare, unsure of what to do.
Twilight started laughing and lifted the foreleg to which Spike clung. “Oh, Spike, Spike, Spike! What’d you mean ‘I don’t have to do this?” She suddenly used her magic to pry him off her foreleg and levitated him so they’d be face to face. “Don’t you see?” she asked, her expression going completely blank, making him gulp down and clutch his newspaper for dear life. ”Desperate times call for desperate measures.”
She then dropped him to the floor and let out another stream of manic giggles, levitating the large amount of un-whitened fabrics into the air. “Hey, maybe I’ll paint them all at once! Get ready, everypony! Here comes a fourteen point six million square mile large blank—”
”NO!” Spike roared, jumping and throwing himself on Twilight’s face, completely blinding her eyesight with his body and holding on to her ears.
“OW! S-Spike!” Twilight yelped, stumbling a few steps back and shaking her head in attempt to get him off. “What the hay are you doing?! Get off me!”
“No! I won’t let you ruin any more of Rarity’s things!” he yelled, desperately swatting away at Twilight’s horn with the newspaper in an attempt to stop any more magic from coming out. “No, no, no, no, no!”
“Spike, that hurts! Stop it!” she ordered, stumbling around blindly. It didn’t help that whenever she tried to use her magic to levitate him away, a newspaper swat would make her magic fizzle out of shock. In the end, she resorted to trying to tear him off by hoof, but sweet Celestia, she was worried he’d rip her ear out by how tight he was clutching to it.
And then, it happened.
Still fighting against him, she kept backtracking until she accidentally slipped on a freshly painted silk, falling on her rump and ripping the fabric while she was at it. Fortunately — or, as it would turn out, unfortunately — the impact was strong enough to send both Spike and the newspaper flying off her head. She watched as Spike landed on his back, spitting out a fireball from the shock. It was then that it felt to her as if time slowed down while she looked on in complete and utter horror as the fireball went straight for the newspaper, colliding with it and turning it into smoke.
Spike covered his mouth with his claws. “I-I’m sorry! I didn’t—”
“NO!” she screeched, getting up and galloping over to the spot where the newspaper had disappeared, desperately grabbing at the fading smoke and trying to bring the newspaper back somehow. “Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, n— AUGH!”
“ENOUGH!” Luna bellowed, levitating Twilight over to her and shaking her. “I can’t watch this any longer! It was just a newspaper and Spike will go fetch us another one! Now, I demand you collect your bearings, filly, before I banish you to the moon!”
“B-But h-he sent it to Princess Celestia…”
Luna blinked at her a few times before her eyes went wide as the moon itself. “He WHAT?!” She unceremoniously dropped Twilight to the floor and rushed over to Spike, taking him in her hooves and magiking his mouth open. “Bring it back! Cease the fiery envoy! Your Princess orders you to bring that newspaper back!”
“I can’t!” Spike exclaimed helplessly.
Luna turned to Twilight and offered the same helpless expression as the dragon. “Twilight Sparkle!”
“M-maybe she’s a really heavy sleeper!” Twilight said. After all, she remembered as a filly once barging into Celestia’s quarters to see the sun rise, and Celestia didn’t so much as budge even when Twilight practically started jumping on her to wake her. Besides, there was also the fact that she had been worn out by her trip to Saddl—
And then, Spike belched and a single lone sealed scroll landed on the floor.
Nopony moved, spoke, or did anything except stare. Spike, Pinkie, and the foals stared at the two princesses, and in turn they stared at the scroll on the floor in panicked silence for almost fifteen minutes.
It was Luna who finally spoke up. “Well, Twilight Sparkle?” she prompted, glancing at the other alicorn. “Are you not going to read it?”
“Me?! Why do I have to read it? She’s your sister! You should be the one to read it!” Twilight replied.
“Well, she’s your mentor!” Luna shot back, engaging in an approximately fifteen minute long argument on which one was closer to Celestia and therefore obligated to read the scroll.
“I want to read it! Pick me!” Pinkie finally exclaimed, raising her hoof. Not even bothering to wait for a reply, she cheerily trotted over to the scroll, unfurled it, cleared her throat, and in the most official-business voice she could muster, started reading: “‘My dearest Twilight Sparkle.'” She paused, took a deep breath, and continued. “‘I’m dying to hear how this happened. Your friend, Princess Celestia.’ Aaaand that’s it! Oh, wait!” She squinted her eyes and pressed the scroll against her face. “‘P.S. I strongly advise you and my sister stay where you are. I’d prefer finding you sooner rather than later.’ And now that’s it!”
It was over. That was the thought going through Twilight’s mind. It was all over. Goodbye Equestria, hello moon. She tried taking several deep breaths, turning away from Pinkie, but felt the blood drain from her face at the sight of Rarity’s fabric dripping with white paint. It was at that moment that she came to a horrible realization.
Rarity was going to murder her.
On second thought, maybe getting banished to the moon wasn’t so bad after all.
But… but what if Celestia forgave her, and she was sent back to earth to face Rarity’s wrath? What if Rarity’s is the punishment?! Twilight’s thoughts became more and more catastrophic, she failed to notice the entire room had gone strangely quiet. —and then when Rarity’s finished with me, Celestia will come and—
Twilight looked up and laughed nervously at the sight of Celestia, bags under her eyes and a very unimpressed look on her face. Suddenly, the foals, Spike, Luna and Pinkie huddled behind Twilight, almost as if trying to use her as a shield against the princess.
“Good evening,” Celestia said flatly.
“Good evening,” nine high-pitched voices replied in perfect terrified unison.
“Lovely moon tonight, wouldn’t you agree?”
“A curious thing happened earlier this night,” Celestia continued, the copy of the Ponyville Express now floating next to her. “This very interesting newspaper fell on my face while I was sleeping.” She waited for a reply, but after being treated to silence, she looked through the pages of the newspaper and continued speaking: “It says here, in an exclusive interview with Spike — which was quite good, Spike — that Twilight painted the moon purple under request of some rather creative foals! Is this true, Twilight?”
Twilight gulped. “I… Well, uh, I… I…”
“Wait!” yelled the foals, rushing to Celestia and clinging to her legs.
“Please don’t banish Princess Twilight to the moon, Princess Celestia!” Night Star asked, tears brimming around her eyes. “She tried really hard to fix it, promise!” she insisted, her plea followed by a string of ‘please, Princess, please’ coming from the other foals.
Twilight couldn’t help but feel touched by the foals’ gesture, and she was relieved to see Celestia giggle down at them.
The Princess gingerly picked up the sniffling Night Star and lifted the filly’s chin. “Goodness, banish her to the moon? Where did you even get that idea?” she asked, looking up at the two guilty mares who were quite obviously avoiding eye-contact. She turned back to Night Star and smiled warmly at her. “Don’t worry, my little pony, I have no intention of punishing Princess Twilight. Though, might I suggest you perhaps ask simpler things for her to do next time?”
After Night Star nodded her understanding, Celestia put her back on the floor and looked at Pinkie. “Pinkie Pie, I gathered from Cheerilee that you were to escort the children back to their homes? Would you be so kind as to please do so? I’m sure Spike will be glad to accompany you.” Without waiting for Pinkie or Spike to reply, she looked down at the foals and nodded towards Twilight and Luna.
“Say thank you to Princess Luna and Princess Twilight, children.”
A string of cheerful “thank you”s and “goodbye”s were quickly uttered by the five foals who were then escorted out of the castle, seemingly relieved in knowing the Princess of their hometown would not be moving permanently to the moon. Once they were gone, Celestia turned back to the two visibly relaxed mares.
“Would one of you care to explain?”
Twilight stepped forward. “I… I will.”
It took her a good twenty minutes, but Twilight explained everything: from the spell, to the unfortunate condition, to her mild panic attack, all the way up to Night Star’s solution. Celestia listened quietly the whole time, her brow furrowed and sporting a frustratingly unreadable expression. It didn’t make sense that Celestia was letting her get off scot-free. There had to be a catch, didn’t there?
“I took the liberty of stopping by Ponyville, and Mayor Mare was able to maintain control of the situation. It seems as if Ponyville Express’ poll kept the entire town well entertained,” Celestia said once Twilight had finished talking. She then turned to Luna. “In any case, Ponyville is not the only town in Equestria, so I’m afraid you will have to spend the rest of the night visiting the other cities and explaining the situation.”
Luna bowed her head. “Yes, sister.”
“Off you go, then.”
Sighing, Luna trotted out of the room, leaving Twilight alone with Celestia.
“I suppose I’ll have to handle the neighbouring countries,” Celestia noted, mostly to herself. “I’ll send messengers in the morning and explain the situation.
“But, what about the moon?” Twilight interrupted. “We can’t just leave it like that…”
Celestia giggled and shook her head. “No, we can’t, which is why you will be tasked with painting it back to its original color, Twilight.”
Twilight nodded earnestly. “Yes, of course! The paint should dry off in a few days, so I’ll cas—”
“Oh! Perhaps I should have made myself more clear. You won’t be painting it in a few days,” Celestia interrupted, shaking her head. “You’ll be painting it tomorrow morning, bright and early!”
Twilight raised her eyebrows. “Tomorrow morning? But the paint won’t be dry by then so I can’t use the spell!”
“Which is exactly why you won’t be using the spell,” Celestia replied, smiling sweetly. “But don’t worry about it now. We’ll discuss your punishment tomorrow morning seeing as you, young lady, have a full night ahead of you.”
Twilight blinked, gulping down. “A… full night ahead?”
This… this did not bode well.
Celestia nodded and giggled. “Yes, I’m afraid. You see, I happened to run into somepony while in Ponyville and…” The sound of a closing door in the distance interrupted her briefly. “Oh, there we go. I was wondering what was taking so long.”
“Twilight?” a voice called.
“Oh, please, no,” Twilight whispered, taking a few steps back and shaking her head, watching as Celestia quietly waved goodbye and left her to her own devices. “Oh, please, no, no, no…”
“Twilight~? I know you’re in here somewhere, darling~! Come out, will you? I oh-so-badly need to have a few choice words with you.”
“Right, and so this is the throne room. This is where Princess Celestia chased Nightmare Moon off into the sky, after which she used the Elements of Harmony to banish her to the moon for a thousand years,” Twilight explained, trotting towards the middle of the room. “Now, does everypony remember what the elements stand for?”
Out of the more than seventy ponies — a mix of foals, mares and stallions of all ages — that had gathered around her in the throne room, only twenty or so raised their hooves. Twilight was quite pleased that such a huge crowd had turned up, but really, couldn’t they have come a little bit prepared?
Then again, maybe Rainbow Dash was right, and they really had all come just because of last year’s event. Honestly, Twilight didn’t want to remember it. Sure, the scientific research she had done while on the moon had been fascinating, but the punishment…
“You’ll be painting the moon by hoof!”
“… By hoof?”
“… Princess, I mean no disrespect, but are you being serious?”
“Oh goodness me, yes. Dead serious. Nevertheless a simple task for you, I’m sure. It’ll be quite easy to manipulate hundreds of paintbrushes to work at the same time, so it should only take a few hours at the most.” Celestia tilted her head to the side. “Besides, it’ll give you quite a lot of time to try to remember never to cast a spell without fully remembering all its implications, hm?”
Twilight shook her head, trying to suppress the memory. It had been a year already, and she still didn’t feel like seeing a paintbrush ever again. She took a look at the crowd and found solace in the fact that her misfortune had at least brought interest to Equestria’s history.
“Let’s see,” she said, looking at all the ponies with their hooves raised. She noticed a little filly smiling brightly at her. “Uhm, you, the orange unicorn in the third row. Do you know the answer?”
“Nope!” the filly boldly exclaimed. “I wanted to ask a question, please!”
“A question?” Twilight asked. Well, answering a question couldn’t hurt. Who was she to deprive a growing filly of knowledge? “Alright, little one. What’s your question?”
“Can you please, please, please, please paint the moon blue this year?”
“Oh, for ponyssake.”