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    A crisp wind chilled Twilight Sparkle, her wings rustling at her side. Truthfully, she would have liked this meeting to happen inside Carousel Boutique, where she would be warm, but fitting a dragon inside there was, well, impossible. 

    So, there they all were instead—they being herself, Princess Luna and Cadance, Pinkie, Applejack, as well as Spike and Rainbow—all gathered in a prairie on the outskirts of Ponyville. Rarity had stayed back in the boutique to work, under the promise Twilight would fill her in on important parts of the discussion. 

    “All right,” said the youngest Princess, not wanting to beat around the bush, “we need to figure out what to do about Princess Celestia because she’s not answered any of the letters we’ve sent her.” She turned to Spike. “Right?”

    Spike, lazily lying on his stomach, sighed. “Right.”

    “Which is concerning,” Twilight continued, “because we’ve sent her at least twenty in three days.”

    “Twenty?!” Pinkie yelped. “Why wouldn’t she reply?! I wish somepony sent me twenty letters in three days.”

    Rainbow snorted, lying on Spike’s back. “If someone sent me so many letters in a week, I wouldn’t reply either.” At Twilight’s pointed look, she attempted to be useful. “Isn’t there any way of knowing she’s read them?”

    Spike blinked. “No?” 

    “‘Kay, cool. Just askin’.”

    “We know she is reading them,” Cadance pointed out. “Spike, she answered your letter about Auntie Luna being freed, didn’t she?”

    “Yeah. I mean, she basically said, ‘Ok, great, thanks’, but she did, yeah.”

    Twilight repressed a sigh. That had been the case with Princess Celestia every single time, hadn’t it? The few times she’d replied had been short and concise, nothing like the literal essays she used to send Twilight back when she was still a unicorn student. 

    It was relieving that she replied at all, but… was she safe? Or all right? Clearly not entirely if she couldn’t bring herself to reply more than a few words.

    Ugh. 

    “We do not know her situation,” Princess Luna said, her tone slightly defensive. “You all recall the painting there exists of her, don’t you? We do not know what Discord did to her, and it is likely she needs to store her energy. Besides, most of the news we’ve given her has been good, so she may not see the need to expend energy replying.”

    Twilight frowned. “That may be so, Princess, but that’s not really helpful for us.”

    “Maybe not, but we should be grateful she  is able to reply at all, even occasionally.” 

    Twilight wasn’t quite happy with that answer, but there wasn’t really a point in getting into a discussion about it. 

    “I guess this means we shouldn’t focus on Princess Celestia right now, then. Let’s figure out Cadance’s situation first. If we free her first, we can—”

    No,” Cadance interrupted. Immediately. “We need to save Auntie Celestia first.”

    Everyone turned to her, surprised. 

    “Uhhh, now, Princess,” Applejack said, politely. “Don’t mean be to rude or nothing, but we need to save you, too, and you’re right here, so focusing on somepony we don’t know anything about doesn’t seem smart.”

    Cadance winced. “Yes, I understand that, but look.” She pressed a hoof against her chest, her brow furrowing. “I’m fine. Really! We need to prioritize Auntie Celestia. I am perfectly capable of dealing being in this state for a bit longer, but we don’t know how Auntie Tia is managing, so she comes first.”

    “She has a point,” Twilight said. “Cadance isn’t at risk right now. Princess Celestia might be.”

    Cadance’s smile reappeared. “Thank you, Twilight.”

    “Again,” Applejack said, “not to be rude, Princess, but Princess Celestia ain’t exactly helping us find her.” She turned to Twilight. “How many letters have you sent her asking about where she is, and how many has she replied to?”

    “…None.”

    “Exactly.”

    “Where is she supposed to be again?” Rainbow asked. “In a fountain  or something?”

    Twilight grabbed a notebook lying next to her, re-reading her notes. “According to what Discord told Cadance centuries ago, she’s supposed to be behind a waterfall, not a fountain.”

    “Yeah, same thing.”

    “How is that the same thing?” Pinkie asked, cocking her head to the side. 

    “Anyway,” Twilight interrupted, privately laughing at Pinkie voicing her exact question. She grabbed a map lying next to her, spread it out before everypony, and gestured to some spots she’d circled. “This is the most updated map of Equestria I could find. According to my research, if Discord trapped her behind a prominent waterfall—at least, one notable enough to show on a map—she could be either in Neighara Falls, Rainbow Falls, or Canterlot Falls.”

    Rainbow flew down to look at the map and then whistled. “Man, wouldn’t it be messed up if it turned out she was under Canterlot this entire time?”

    “She isn’t,” Cadance replied, a hint of aggravation in her voice. “That was one of the first places I had searched after Discord’s visit. In fact, I’ve had all those three places searched for centuries, and we’ve found nothing.”

    Twilight deflated. “Ok. Well. Great. Now what?”

    Rainbow stared at her. “Uhhh, duh? We have to look again. Cadance’s searches were useless. Her guards are useless.”

    Cadance spoke before Twilight could politely ask Rainbow Dash to maybe stop commenting for a minute. “Rainbow Dash,” she said, no longer hiding her aggravation, “I understand you have never liked my guards, but I don’t appreciate your snide comments.”

    Rainbow frowned. “What? This has nothing to do with that. Hello?” She looked at everypony, tapping her hoof against her forehead. “Have you all forgotten about the literal curse every single guard in Equestria has that makes it so they can’t find them? Of course they haven’t found squat in centuries! They can’t. We have to go and look again now that we’re not cursed.”

    Twilight blinked. “Oh. Wow! You’re right, Rainbow Dash!”

    “Of course I’m right,” Rainbow replied, flying back up to Spike. “Don’t know why you’re so surprised.”

    Cadance softened, her ears lowering. “…I apologize, Rainbow. I shouldn’t have accused you like that.”

    Rainbow shrugged. “S’okay.”

    “But those places are still huge,” Twilight remarked, looking back at her map. “Looking through all of them will take months.”

    “We should just ask Princess Celestia for help again,” Applejack replied. “Let’s tell her we’re coming, and we need information so to please tell us something. It doesn’t have to be long or nothing. Just something we can go on.”

    Twilight sighed, grabbing a parchment and pen. What’s the worst that could happen, she thought to herself as she wrote yet another letter. That she didn’t reply? 

    “Here, Spike,” she said a few minutes later, levitating the parchment towards the dragon. “Can you send this, please?”

    He did as instructed, and the entire group fell into a momentary awkward silence which was eventually broken by Princess Luna addressing Pinkie. 

    “Little one, have you decided already what we’re to have for dinn—”

    A loud gag interrupted her, and Twilight turned to Spike just in time to see him burp out a parchment. 

    Again, a silence fell over the group, though now it was more stunned than awkward in any way. 

    “Holy crap,” Rainbow said. “That was fast.”

    Pinkie jumped up, thrilled. “Ooh! I wanna read it, I wanna read it!” she squeaked, snatching the parchment and opening it up. She opened her mouth to read, except instead she closed it immediately after, a great frown appearing on her face. “Oh…”

    Twilight felt her stomach drop. “Oh?” 

    Pinkie’s nervous eyes shifted towards everyone. “Oh, uhm…” She looked back towards the letter, cleared her throat, and read aloud: “No. Do not rescue me now. Cadance must be your priority.”

    In the back of her head, Twilight wished Rarity hadn’t decided to stay back and work at the boutique. She really felt like she needed moral support right now.

    “Right,” she said, instead, because what else could she say?

    “No,” Cadance replied immediately, further making Twilight wish Rarity were here. “Absolutely not. Twilight, write her back and tell her we’re coming for her first.”

    “But Cadanc—”

    “Twilight Sparkle,” Cadance cut-off, “do as I say right now.”

    Twilight, bless her, tried to stay diplomatic. “Cadance, I understand you’re—”

    “Fine, I’ll do it, then.” She levitated the parchment and pen past a very frustrated Twilight and wrote aloud: “Auntie Tia, I am fine. We need to rescue you first. Where are you? Love, Cadance.” She then rolled it up and floated it to Spike. “Send it.”

    Spike hesitated, his eyes darting back and forth between Cadance and Twilight. “Uh…”

    Unfortunately for him, Twilight wasn’t helpful. She didn’t know what to say, or do. 

    Princess Luna intervened, her tone gentle but firm. “Cadance, you are here now. Celestia isn’t. It is smarter to try and help you first rather than—”

    “I said no!” Cadance snapped back. “Look at you two! Look at what that demon PUT you through! Aunt Celestia could be just as bad or in worse of a position! I’m fine. We are helping Aunt Celestia and that’s that.” She shoved the parchment against Spike’s chest. “Send it, Spike!”

    When Spike turned to her, Twilight sighed. “Send it, Spike.”

    Reluctantly, he did as told, and not even five minutes later, he burped out a parchment in reply. 

    “Geez,” said Rainbow, “wish she’d been this eager to reply the dozen other times we’ve messaged her.”

    Cadance snatched the parchment in her magic and opened it up to read. Twilight watched, and took a steadying breath at Cadance’s sudden infuriated expression. The alicorn threw the parchment against the ground and stood up, besides herself. 

    “Why is she being like this?!” she demanded. 

    Twilight floated the parchment over and read aloud: “I cannot be saved until Cadance is. There is no other way. This will be my last statement on the matter.”

    “Concerning,” said Princess Luna, darkening. 

    “That’s it?” Rainbow blurted out. “That’s all she said?”

    Twilight passed the letter to AJ, who nodded after reading. 

    “Eeyup.”

    Cadance stamped her hoof on the ground. “What does that even mean?! How is that supposed to help?! Why can’t she be freed first?!”

    Twilight stood up, trying to calm her sister-in-law. “Cadance… Princess Celestia wouldn’t say this if she didn’t believe it or had a reason to. She has to know something we don’t.”

    “Then why the heck isn’t she telling us?!” Rainbow shot back, surprisingly incensed. “This is dumb!”

    “Exactly!” Cadance replied. 

    Twilight was taken aback, suddenly feeling ganged up on. “I… I don’t know! But I trust her.”

    Applejack grimaced. “Trust her? Ain’t trusting her judgment about what to do with Discord a thousand years ago the reason we’re in this pickle right now, though?”

    Now that got Twilight to shut up, if only because she felt she’d just been hit by a train. Because Applejack was right, of course. 

    “Applejack is right,” Princess Luna said, driving the point further. She sounded remorseful. “There is no other way around it. We are all in this predicament right now because my sister and I gave you well-meaning but ill-planned advice. If anyone’s decisions should be scrutinized, it should be my sister and I’s.

    “Furthermore,” she continued, Twilight sitting down on the ground, terribly upset, “if my sister is indeed in a situation as taxing as the ones we were in, we cannot count on her being in control of all her faculties. She cannot be trusted to make decisions.”

    “But… But it’s Princess Celestia,” Twilight insisted, defensive. “She knows she made the wrong decision a thousand years ago! She told me that herself back then! Do you really think she wouldn’t think through anything she tells us?!”

    Princess Luna did not falter. “I, too, knew I’d done wrong a thousand years ago. I knew I’d done wrong a month ago, and yet that did not stop me from trapping a entire town in nightmares because I thought it was what I had to do, now did it?”

    “That was different!”

    “It really wasn’t, Twilight Sparkle,” Princess Luna replied coolly. “Regardless—”

    “No, not regardless! We need to save Cadance first! She’s here now!” Twilight insisted. She turned to Cadance, defiant against her friend’s upset glare. “You have to know something about how to free you! Or what to do about you!”

    “I don’t, Twilight,” Cadance replied icily. 

    “But how can you not? Haven’t you and your changelings been looking into this for centuries?” Twilight questioned, standing up again. “Surely you have a clue or—”

    “I don’t,” Cadance interrupted, just as intense. “I never looked into how to free myself! I focused on you three because you were trapped in a library alone and—” She pointed to Princess Luna. “—she was trapped in a sunforsaken mountain all alone, and Celestia was in a waterfall while I lived in a castle with friends and family and a life of luxury! All right?!”

    Twilight stepped back, feeling like she’d been gut-punched, everything falling into crystal clarity. She stared at Cadance, bewildered. Flabbergasted. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. 

    “What? Are you— Are you serious? Cadance, that doesn’t matter! Just because we had it worse doesn’t make your situation any less important! None of that matters!”

    In turn, something inside Cadance snapped. 

    It matters to me, Twilight!” she boomed, emotional to the point of tears. “Shining Armor wanted to rescue me first, and I told him we shouldn’t focus on me until all three of you were found. I made him promise. I told him that he and I could never have the life we wanted as long as you were all trapped. So I made him swear to me he would put you all first. And then he did, and then he died!

    Every word poured out of her like a rushing cascade, seeping out without control and direction, directed only by the intensity of the pain. 

    “He died thinking he failed, Twilight! He worked himself to the bone not just for you three, but because he wanted to respect my wishes, and he died thinking he’d done nothing to help his wife. He died and I wasn’t able to hold him when he did because I told him you three came first!” She gestured to herself, barely able to speak. “I took that away from him! So we’re going to free all three of you first. Okay?”

    No one said anything. Least of all Twilight, who struggled to keep tears at bay. 

    “Please,” Cadance continued, softly now, apologetic almost. “It matters to me.”

    Twilight sat back down, remorseful. “…Okay.”

    “Thank you,” Cadance replied, sitting down as well. Another moment of silence, and she continued, softly, “Where do we go from here?”

    Twilight remained silent, wrapped in her grief-striken thoughts. Trying and trying not to think of her brother and… and… 

    She lifted her hoof, reaching for her necklace and squeezing it tight. She wished Rarity were here so, so badly. 

    Princess Luna stepped in, taking charge. “It seems our next course of action is to find information on my sister, then. Cadance, perhaps you, Pinkie and I can get a head start and head back to Canterlot soon. There might be useful information in the libraries there.”

    Twilight felt the urge to point out it was unlikely there was any information there that Cadance wouldn’t have found already, but… she didn’t. 

    “All right,” Cadance replied, her ears lowered. Twilight couldn’t bring herself to look at her,  looking at her own hooves instead, but Cadance definitely sounded just as upset as she felt. “Can we leave tomorrow afternoon?”

    Now Twilight looked up at her, contrite. “Tomorrow afternoon?” she asked, helplessly. “I thought you’d be staying a few more days?” 

    Sure, they’d just had a ‘fight’ and all, but Twilight enjoyed their company still. She didn’t want them to leave. 

    “I’m sorry,” Cadance said. “It’s… It’s not safe for me to be outside the castle for so long. I’ve already stretched it out enough as it is.” She paused. “And… I want to go home.”

    “…Okay,” Twilight replied. 

    “We’ll head off tomorrow, in that case,” said Princess Luna.” I’ll have one of the guards staying here send word to Lieutenant Shield so they can prepare for our arrival.” When nopony said anything, she stood up. “I believe we’re done here, then?”

    Twilight nodded, half-heartedly. “I guess we are.”


    The sound of the sewing machine filled the air, rhythmically drowning the sounds of Twilight’s troubled mind as she buried her face in a pillow on Rarity’s couch for the umpteeth time. 

    “So, survivor’s guilt it is, then,” Rarity said, her eyes focused on the dress she was finishing. She laughed dryly. “Discord certainly did play his cards well with all of you, didn’t he?”

    “Mmm!”

    “I really can’t understand you when you’re talking against a pillow, darling.”

    “Ugh!” Twilight lifted her head. “It’s just—! It’s STUPID! She knows she has no reason to feel guilty! Or to think she deserves to be freed last!”

    Rarity turned her gaze towards the alicorn currently pouting on the couch. “Twilight, dearest, I hate to point this out but—”

    “I was stupid too when I did it!” Twilight interjected. “And so was Luna! So she should know beyond the shadow of a doubt that what she’s doing isn’t right!” 

    “But that’s exactly it.” The unicorn turned back to her machine and continued with her task. “My point here is that her knowing won’t help, and out of all three of you, she’s the one who is least likely to just have a come-to-Denza moment. If we are to rescue Cadance, we have no choice but to rescue Celestia first.”

    “Rarity. Did you not read the letter I showed you? Princess Celestia said she can’t be rescued until Cadance was. Why would she say that if there wasn’t a good reason for it?”

    “We can’t trust Celestia’s decisions, remember?”

    “We can’t trust Cadance’s either!”

    Rarity turned her sewing machine off, perching her glasses atop her head before looking at Twilight. “Twilight… I don’t know why Celestia said that. But she didn’t tell us, so for now all we can do is do what makes sense, and finding her first is what is. If survivor’s guilt is what’s really trapping Cadance, then freeing Celestia will free her too. Honestly, that sounds like a dream come true! And think of how fast we’ve figured out Cadance’s issues! Why, I’m practically earning a degree in psychology!”

    “You’re killing me, Rarity,” Twilight said. “That’s what you’re doing.”

    Rarity fluttered her eyelashes. “Good thing you’ve got experience with dying, then?”

    Twilight buried her face in the pillow before she gave Rarity the satisfaction of seeing her smile at that. “Mmm mm mm!”

    “I can’t understand youuu~”

    “But we have no leads on Princess Celestia!” Twilight protested, removing herself from the pillow. “Except for a waterfall!” She sat up. “Let’s say we look in Neighara Falls, and Rainbow Falls, and Canterlot Falls again. That could take months. And then let’s say she’s not in any of them! Then what? Are we supposed to check every waterfall in Equestria? It would take years to do that! Yet Cadance is right here!”

    “Twili—”

    “What if she’s not even in Equestria? Discord never said she was in Equestria!”

    “First of all, she must be in Equestria because of that painting near Granite’s Rest. Which, incidentally, is where we should go first. There has to be some clue to Celestia’s whereabouts there. There’s your lead, Princess.”

    Twilight wanted to protest, but… that was a lead, yes. It was something

    “Fine… We should go as soon as possible then. Maybe the day after tomorrow?”

    “Ah ah ah!” Rarity frowned at her. “Absolutely not. We’ll be going there in a week when my vacation is over.”

    The pillow once again found use. 

    “Mmmmmm!”

    Rarity went back to her machine, completely unperturbed. “Whine all you want, my love, but you said I’d have my vacation and I will. Besides, that should give you a week to collect yourself, mm? You can prepare research or something of the sort, I don’t know. Also, please give my pillow a rest before you damage it.”

    Fine,” Twilight muttered, defeated. “I just… I wish we had an actual lead. Something real beyond a painting! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I almost wish Discord was here so I could question him.”

    Rarity frowned. “Darling. Don’t tempt fate.” She paused. “On the other hoof, I’d love a chance to sock him in the face with my sewing machine, so maybe do tempt fate.”

    Despite herself, Twilight couldn’t help but giggle at that mental image. She allowed herself to forget about her frustrations for a minute and appreciated her partner, who seemed very pleased she’d made the alicorn laugh. 

    “Thank you, Rarity,” Rarity said in sing-song. “You always do know how to make me feel better when I’m winding myself up! Whatever would I do without you? Have anxiety attacks every five seconds, no doubt!”

    Again, Twilight giggled, completely charmed. “No, I wouldn’t.”

    “Yes, you would,” Rarity said, turning to Twilight and shutting her machine off as she gasped theatrically. “Dear stars, you’re having one now! Twilight, my goodness! I simply must come over there and ease your worries! Hold on, I’m coming, beloved!”

    And just like that, Twilight’s giggling turned into full blown smitten laughs as Rarity joined her on the couch, giving her exaggerated hugs and kisses. 

    “There, there! Shh, shh!”

    Stoooop!”

    “Shhh! Shh! No anxieties shall be allowed in this boutique!”

    Rarity relented, allowing her intense cuddling to become a gentle one which Twilight relished right up until she thought about the entire situation for five seconds too long and…

    “Ugh…” she murmured, burying her face in Rarity’s chest. “Why is everything so complicated?” 

    “Darling… Chin up,” Rarity murmured, lovingly rubbing circles on Twilight’s back. “We’ll find a real lead very soon. We always do.”


    And a new chapter is up!

    Very pleased with this one, too. I’m definitely feeling the positive effects of having left Fimfiction and not stressing out about reception there! Additionally, as some pre-readers pointed out, I’m VERY happy with the dynamic going on between Rarity and Twilight. I always hoped TEC was where the two of them finally “leveled up” and worked completely in-synch and it’s really reassuring to see that’s what’s happening!

    As always, thank you for reading and feel free to shoutout any typos or w/e in the comments (you can privatize the comment if you want!).

    Additional thanks to my wonderful patrons who’ve supported and encouraged me through my website transition! <3

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    39 Comments

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    1. bones
      Nov 12, 22 at 9:22 am

      This is absolutely lovely I love their dynamic

      1. @bonesNov 12, 22 at 11:54 am

        thank you!!! im glad you’re liking it c:

    2. Anonymous Guest
      Oct 10, 22 at 12:49 pm

      Turns out Rarity IS the princess-finding expert.

    3. AFanaticRabbit (Ashley)
      Sep 29, 22 at 6:22 am

      Well this was a heavy and delightful chapter at the same time. It probably should have been obvious why Can dance was still trapped.

      Meanwhile, more adorable couple moments. Gosh I love these two being cute together.

    4. Ryebuck Junction
      Sep 24, 22 at 5:11 pm

      Hi! I started reading the Enchanted Library about three days ago (yup, read it all the way to here in that time; stars, it’s addicting!), and I want to say: I love how the story is going so far!

      This trilogy has quickly become one of my absolute favorite pony fics; I feel it has a great balance of heartwarming romance and fluff and kisses with some of the heavier topics of guilt, regret, and grief you touch here.

      I just wanted to say thank you for writing and sharing with us.

      PS: I think you just made RariTwi my favorite ship :3

    5. Comment has been marked as private.
    6. Cedric Bale
      Aug 2, 22 at 9:46 am

      I was thinking about this story today and wondered why I hadn’t seen an update since Ch.2, and then I vaguely remembered reading a blog post at some point… and then I felt absolutely stupid when I realized what had happened, lol. Now I’ve finally read this chapter, and I can’t help but feel a little frustrated at this situation.

      They know from Cadance’s curse that Discord’s games/curses can have infectious elements to them, and from Luna’s curse that they can have memetic elements (spreading through concepts and ideas) — it seems stupid to disregard the possibility that Celestia CAN’T tell them why they have to rescue Cadance first or else risk spreading some aspect of her curse to them. Maybe they’re right, and maybe Celestia is just being irrational, but they shouldn’t just completely disregard it. I understand Cadance and Luna, and probably Twilight too, all have good cause to be very emotional concerning the matter, and ‘very emotional’ as a mental state is not the most conducive to thinking clearly, but as someone looking in from the outside, it’s frustrating. I hope they figure something important out sooner rather than later. (pretend there’s a sad pinkie emoji here)

      Unrelated to the story, but rather to the website, I’m not sure if it’s just my browser or what, but there’s some bug that causes my curser goes batshit insane when I mouse over the formatting options at the bottom of the comment box and it makes it very difficult to click them. Also I’m not sure how much control you have over the site, so maybe it’s not reasonable to request features, but if it’s in any way possible, could we get keyboard shortcuts for the formatting options? i.e. Ctrl+I for italics, Ctrl+B for bold, Ctrl+U for underline, etc.? Not super important of course, but using Ctrl+I to italicize things is burned into my muscle memory and it’s driving me nuts, lol

    7. ShadowLDrago
      Jul 7, 22 at 3:00 pm

      Guilt, self loathing and lies are the chains that bind the Princesses to their prisons. And not just Discord’s lies. The lies they tell themselves.

    8. ShadowLDrago
      Jul 7, 22 at 3:00 pm

      Guilt and self loathing are the chains that bind the Princesses to their prisons.

    9. Melody
      May 4, 22 at 10:06 pm

      This is really just wonderful. I’m so excited for you, and for all the wonderful ways being on a new site is going to help with your writing, and all the wonderful ways we readers will get to benefit from that. It just feels so nice to read Twilight and Rarity acting this way.

    10. Green
      Apr 17, 22 at 4:53 am

      “Little one, have you decided already what we’re to have for dinn

      Always glad to see more Luna and Pinkie interaction